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There are times when I really appreciate Christianity, and this is one of them. From columnist Michael Gerson and today's edition of the Washington Post. I'm posting the whole thing here, but highlighting the sections I found particularly meaningful to me. Do I "believe" any of it? Not so much. But I love the message. No matter your faith (or lack of it) I hope this sparks a little point of light in your day.

Peace, peeps.

Quote

 

WASHINGTON -- On no real evidence but with absolute certainty, I would submit that the defining emotion of our time is anxiety.

Some anxiousness, of course, is natural to a species whose ancestors were hunted on the savannah. But now the economy seems to manufacture it. Rapid cultural change encourages it. The media amplifies and monetizes it. Social media spreads it. Politicians feed it and send it into battle.

When a society is defined by anxiety -- when it ceases to believe that change involves progress -- it becomes stagnant and inward looking. When the spark of confidence and purpose is gone from a human life, the temptation is to become angry or depressed (or angry and depressed). We try to numb ourselves with infinitely varied sources of digital distraction. But still, in the unfilled spaces of the day and night, the dark thoughts come. Silence is filled with self-recrimination. And despair can take root like a slow-growing cancer -- not currently fatal, but always there.

It is in this kind of mood that I recently re-read the Christmas story. And most of the main characters exhibit a very different mental state. Mary, Simeon, Anna, Zechariah and Elizabeth (oh, just go look them up) were living in a kind of hopeful expectancy, a confident longing. They face weird circumstances -- angelic visits, retributive muteness, an unsought pregnancy -- with a deep confidence that some divine plan is unfolding. It is an approach summarized by Mary's response to her surprising news: "Be it unto me according to your word."

This attitude is something more than optimism, which is largely an innate trait rather than a philosophy of life. Urging someone to be more optimistic is like urging someone to have higher cheekbones or bluer eyes. And the world in which Mary and the others lived -- that didn't offer a bed to a pregnant woman and soon slaughtered a bunch of infants -- would not have yielded to the power of positive thinking.

The cause of Mary's confidence turned out to be someone entirely unexpected -- something that required an openness to entirely new ways of thinking. God came, as J.B. Phillips describes it, "with an almost frightening quietness and humility." It is an idea that remains difficult to swallow: the humility of God. But according to the story, God came to our spinning planet as a kicking, crying child. It was a symbol -- and perhaps more than a symbol -- that God had taken the side of the vulnerable, of the poor, of the underdog. A sign for the ages that hope arrives in ways we would never imagine -- in this case, with an umbilical cord.

The whole thing could have been easily missed. Other than some brief, angelic music, it was a small, domestic drama. But it split time between BC and AD.

The Christmas promise is that individual lives can be similarly divided. It means that human beings for all time can live in confident expectation, because the author of our story will eventually make all things right and new. It means that silence can be the stillness of God's presence. It means that hope can take root in human lives like a seed, like a child.

I have more sympathy for those who call the story projection and rubbish than those who pass by the stable with indifference. They are strolling through an earthquake without noticing. If false, this is a great fraud on humankind.

If true, it is the grandest truth. Yet accepting it requires us to think in a different way. In this view, God did not arrive as a tablet or laws or a philosopher's argument, but as a homo sapiens. "All those years of waiting," says Frederick Buechner, "until finally the holy dream became a holy face." And then a man who declared: "Let not your hearts be troubled."

This does not promise the removal of suffering or tedium from life. It only promises that life has a direction, and a destination we will know when we reach it. So we can live with courage in the midst of confusion, and patience through mad times. So we can be pilgrims rather than wanderers. So we can believe that love and justice will eventually win, in spite of all the anxious anger around us and within us.

Is it true? This year I can only manage to catch glimpses of a star, to hear fragments of a song, to see the outlines of a face. But it is enough to make out the message: Fear not.

 

 

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Fear not?

Possibly easier to do so when you're not being mutilated, tortured or dying of a horrible disease.

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On 12/25/2018 at 6:30 PM, Arcadia said:

There are times when I really appreciate Christianity, and this is one of them. From columnist Michael Gerson and today's edition of the Washington Post. I'm posting the whole thing here, but highlighting the sections I found particularly meaningful to me. Do I "believe" any of it? Not so much. But I love the message. No matter your faith (or lack of it) I hope this sparks a little point of light in your day.

Peace, peeps.

 

Thanks for sharing that. 

Funny, Christmas is usually the one time a year I accompany my husband to church and this time, the sermon had a very similar message. 

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1 hour ago, besleybean said:

Fear not?

Possibly easier to do so when you're not being mutilated, tortured or dying of a horrible disease.

"Fear is wisdom in the face of danger. It is nothing to be ashamed of." ;)

But I also love the quote "be brave" from the novels. Bravery imo is hope and action in spite of fear. If religion helps some people to be brave, then it's serving a good purpose, I think. 

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Heh, that reminds me of this post conversation on Tumblr.

Quote

Anonymous asked: What do angels actually look like per the bible?

 

Well, according to Ezekiel 1 they might look something like this…

tumblr_inline_o3lmw316WQ1qgy3tu_500.jpg

According to Daniel 10 something like this…

tumblr_inline_o3lnfmAoj41qgy3tu_500.jpg

According to Isaiah 6…

tumblr_inline_o3lngpxF5x1qgy3tu_500.jpg

In Ezekiel 10…

tumblr_inline_o3lnjdbxcH1qgy3tu_500.jpg

Again in Ezekiel 10…

tumblr_inline_o3lnkwwXTL1qgy3tu_250.jpg

Basically, when the people writing Scripture tried to describe what they saw when they saw an angel… they run into the end of their imagination… they can never quite seem to fully explain it because they had trouble even comprehending what they saw, let alone being able to describe it to someone else.

 

tumblr_inline_pf09gcjTbE1qdqnkl_250.gif

 

Yeah, that’s usually how people responded to seeing them in the Bible…

 

There’s a good reason why angels’ standard greeting is ‘Do not be afraid’.

 

I used to listen to this radio show and one thing I remember because it was so funny was a Christmas special where an angel showed up to tell the shepherds about the birth of Christ.  The conversations went:

Angel: “FEAR NOT.”

Shepherds: *screaming*

Angel: “I SAID FEAR NOT.”

Shepherds: *screaming LOUDER*

Angel: “WHAT PART OF FEAR NOT ARE YOU NOT UNDERSTANDING?”

 

So demons are fallen angels but they don’t look scary because they’re fallen, that’s just what all angels look like…

Maybe that’s why so many Christians see visions of Saints or the Virgin Mary instead…like Jesus is all…no, no see being human made me realize sending Angels might not be the best idea. I don’t know if humans can handle this. So I’m gonna just send mom

 

God: The humans are scared.

Mary: Fine. I’m on it.

 

Jesus: It’s either Mom or the thousand eyed flaming wheel, Dad, do you really think the humans are gonna be chill with that when they’re terrified of spiders already?

God: Hey now, some of those spiders eat birds.

Jesus: …Dad…

God: …To be fair, Australian wildlife was my dark creation phase.

...

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11 hours ago, Artemis said:

To be fair, Australian wildlife was my dark creation phase.

This explains everything. :D 

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tumblr_pmnirj7pcO1vwdhok_640.jpg

 

I found this Tumblr post with a bunch of Christian memes, and some of them were pretty hilarious.  :lol:

 

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tumblr_pmnirjHH5M1vwdhok_500.jpg
 

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tumblr_pmj6viMKaB1sqn3dv_500.jpg
 

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tumblr_pmj6vjnGbu1sqn3dv_500.jpg
 

tumblr_pmjc1a5Qic1t4fwz7_500.jpg

 

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tumblr_pmnirlpAHT1vwdhok_500.png
 

tumblr_pmnirkqU6e1vwdhok_500.png
 

tumblr_pmnirmpEtw1vwdhok_500.jpg
 

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I only get about half of those. :wacko:

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Ah well.  I tried.  :P 

 

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Which ones would you like explained?

This is, after all, the educational forum.

 

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Okay....

On ‎2‎/‎23‎/‎2019 at 1:58 AM, Artemis said:

 

tumblr_pmjc1bhWDm1t4fwz7_500.jpg

 

 

On ‎2‎/‎23‎/‎2019 at 2:00 AM, Artemis said:

 

tumblr_pmj6viy4Ss1sqn3dv_500.jpg

 

On ‎2‎/‎23‎/‎2019 at 2:01 AM, Artemis said:

tumblr_pmnirlpAHT1vwdhok_500.png

tumblr_pmo3mk0bLu1s98wdu_500.jpg

 

tumblr_pmo3mlWZsj1s98wdu_500.jpg

 

Why are these funny? You have 30 seconds to respond …...

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Well I can't explain why they're funny, but I can provide context.  :smile:

1. The book of Mark comes right after Matthew in the Bible.

2. The 10th plague of Egypt (death of the firstborn), today remembered as the Passover, which finally gave the Hebrews their freedom from enslavement in Egypt.  God told the Hebrews to mark their doorposts with the blood of sacrificed lambs, thereby indicating the homes of the faithful, so the angel of death would pass them over.

3. The story of Jacob and his twin brother Esau.  Esau was the older twin, so he had the "birthright"/blessing of the firstborn, which basically conferred greater position and inheritance.  Esau returned from working in the fields one day, famished, to find Jacob with a pot of stew.  Esau asked for some, but Jacob only agreed to give him a bowl in exchange for his birthright.  Which seems outrageous, hence "Well that escalated quickly."  But Esau, stupidly and carelessly, agreed, resulting in a life-long sibling feud.  He was really, really hungry.

4. In "Jurassic Park", the T-Rex spots its prey by motion, so you escape its sight by standing perfectly still.  In the book of Exodus in the Bible (the story of Moses and the parting of the Red Sea), the Israelites lost faith and took to worshipping idols (specifically the golden calf) while Moses was gone receiving the 10 Commandments from God, and they got in big big trouble.  They did that a lot, lol.

5. King David desired Bathsheba, but she was already married to Uriah.  She got pregnant after sleeping with David while her husband was away, and hoping to hide the pregnancy, he sent word to Uriah to come home and "attend" to her.  Uriah refused to leave his post, so David sent him to the front lines of battle, knowing that he would almost certainly be killed as a result.

 

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Whoa, I would never get those on my own.

Or with help of anyone I know in real life.

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Okay, now I understand why #4 is funny. :D 

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The only joke I didn't get was the one with the T-Rex because I never watched Jurassic Park. :D

 

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