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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Once when I was babysitting, I threw a deck of cards on the floor.  Then I sent the various children on scavenger hunts.  The younger ones were sent for colors or shapes.  Then I could send some kids for certain numbers, or odd numbers, or even numbers.  The siblings who were old enough to know addition or subtraction could be sent for “two cards that add to nine”, or “three cards that add to thirteen”.

 

For more flexibility or to mix it up, ask for kids to bring you however many cards, as long as they add up to an odd number, or to a number greater than ten and less than twenty.  You could have the kids bring you one card, and then send them for a card that could be added to that specific card in order to reach a specific other number.  You can have kids of similar abilities race for the same answer, or you could give each kid their unique assignment and then say “go” to see who can complete their task first.  If the kids you’re working with don’t like messes, you could lay the cards out on a table in rows (it would be fun to sometimes have the cards in order and sometimes not).

 

This kind of activity helps kids to realize things about numbers and math that they wouldn’t necessarily if they were just memorizing tables.  I like it for the additional reason that it uses supplies that many people have around the house, and that it can incorporate younger and older children.  It is active.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I spent some time recently thinking about how I would help someone evaluate whether public school or homeschool is better for their family, especially coming from a perspective, like most American Christians do, of public school being normal.  In this I don’t want to be attacking public school or defending homeschool, but this article is informed by many of my reasons for preferring homeschool. 

 

What are your kids getting from public school?

What useful? What positive? What harmful?

 

What impact do their peers have on them?

When they’re getting along?  When they’re not?

 

Would your kids benefit from being in a smaller class size?

 

What is in the curriculum that would affect their worldview?

 

What other things are they being exposed to without wise guidance?

From peers? From libraries? From field trips?

 

What is the impact of being bound to a school’s schedule?

On sleep? On nutrition? On transitions between environments and authorities? On routine?

How much of their time at school is actually being used for education?  (Why do they still have to come home and work on their scholastic education via homework?)

Is a day structured around expectations and performance healthy for them?

 

Would they benefit from more interactive education?

Do they need more time to be active?

Do they need to slow down on only one or two subjects?  Could they benefit from forging ahead on a couple of subjects?

Would you like them to learn something that is not in your public school’s curricula? (Cooking, shop, business, Bible)

Would you like them to get a different perspective than what is being offered?

Would you like them to learn in a different way (more hands-on, more interactively, more self-study, more memorization, subjects integrated with one another)?

 

What message does it send them to be sent away for long parts of each day? How does your attitude impact their perception?  How should parents maintain honesty (for example, about being grateful for the break when kids go to school) with their children, while not burdening the kids with the shortcomings of their parents?

What message would it send them to be kept at home, unlike most of their peers?

 

What are they getting from time not in school?

What useful? What positive? What harmful?

 

Do you have enough time to give them what they need?

Do you have enough time to teach them what God has entrusted you to teach them?

About Him? About character? About how to flourish in the story God has given them?

Do you have enough time to build your relationships with them?

Do they get a (patient) chance to build their relationships with their siblings?

 

What are your reasons for not homeschooling?  Time? Focus on younger kids? Financial? Focus on other people? Focus on personal improvement? Stress? Intimidation? Inadequacy? Cultural normalcy? Influence culture? Perks of props and facilities and extra-curricular activities in public schools? Child’s socialization? Child’s practice with exposure to the world? Less strain on the mom-child relationship (not being teacher and mom)? Incorporating other adult influences for example and discipline? Hassle of truancy or curriculum laws?

Are your reasons based in truth, idealism, fear, selfishness?

 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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What Makes A Culture?

Can an individual have their own culture, or must the aspects be shared by a group?  How much can be absent or altered without losing (collective) culture or (personal) identity?

When I think of culture, one of the first things to come to mind is food.  When I get a chance to visit another country, I want to experience their food: the tang in the air, the flavors, the different ingredients.  I’m curious whether food is mostly served at home or at a restaurant?  If Asian markets are any hint, pre-packaged foods are popular in China.  But Asian cooking involves all sorts of raw ingredients I’ve never heard of here in the United States.  Here also we have one of our cultures that only eats either frozen foods or fast foods or snacks.  But aren’t there still places in the world where cooking from scratch is an art?  Some cultures encourage bonding over sharing food in various degrees from a family meal to a family-style where the food is served all in giant platters into which people dip their hands to hospitality.  On the other end of the spectrum is the more formal dining experience, at a restaurant, with plates individually prepared, courses served.  There are cultures more receptive to buffets (my grandparents from Kansas *loved* them), or short-order cooking.  There is something special that some cultures encourage about preparing food together.  Some places esteem cooks highly, while others relegate the cooking of food to the lowliest classes (or women or slaves).  In some cultures dessert is a special treat, for holidays maybe – while some have a dessert at least once a day!  Which cultures care about nutrition?  Which about presentation?  Which about exotic flavors and innovative dishes?  Which focus more on comfort food and cravings?  What are considered comfort foods in various cultures?

I’ve noticed that different cultures have different modes of posture.  Some use chairs, and some cushions.  Some have sofas, others benches.  There are places where squatting is more common than sitting “Indian-style”.  Related to this, I think, is hygiene: how often do the people bathe, and by what means?  What are their toilet facilities like – or do they use fields, dig holes?  How do the people view health, view disease?  How do they treat it?  Do they use prayers or rituals?  Exercises?  Medicines?  Drugs?  Herbal remedies and nutrition?  Oils?  Mineral baths?  Other practices like chiropractors would employ?  Do they gather the sick together in hospitals or tend them at home?  Are there doctors?  How much treatment is limited to professionals?  Do they believe in preemptive medical care like scans or vaccinations?  At what points do they choose not to treat a person any more?

How are drugs and alcohol viewed?  Sometimes there are whole cultures built around the common experience of these substances.

What do people wear in various cultures?  What are the conventions; that is, is it normal for anyone to wear pants?  Robes?  Hats?  Certain colors or fabrics?  What is the style?  How often do fashions change?  How are they changed?  Does appearance matter as a form of art or more a form of modesty?  Is clothing more about the aesthetic or the functional?  How is clothing used to demonstrate distinctions in gender, age, class, employment, marital status, etc.?  Do people alter their bodies for the sake of appearance: foot binding, neck stretching, piercings, tattoos?

It seems to me that different cultures hold different ideas about acceptable risks.  Is it acceptable to let a child play near a fire?  Jump off a log?  Play where he might encounter a snake?  Get into a fist-fight with another child?  This is not exclusive to children, though.  In some cultures taking risks is involved in a rite of passage.  Risks are joined in together, to form social bonds.  Other cultures are much more conservative and careful, I think.  What do people put on the other side of the scale when they’re weighing risks?  Are fun and excitement of any relevance to them?  Competition?  Appearance?  Or do they only consider practical things like preparing for invasions or hunting for food?

Art is such a huge sphere for culture that I don’t even know where to begin.  Cultures have their favorite mediums, subjects, colors, motives.  I can only suppose that certain fonts are the preferred writing of specific cultures, since the fonts on grocery stores appealing to diverse cultures are unique and identifiable even in the United States.  People groups have their own favorite sounds of music, their customary scales in which their music is played or sung.  Some have more instruments than others.  Dancing varies from culture to culture in complexity and energy and purpose.

There are other forms of entertainment that vary depending on the culture.  Even the predominance of entertainment can be a mark of a different culture.  Sports are observed as entertainment, or played for entertainment; in some cultures it seems to be one more than the other.  Some sports are preferred by certain cultures, probably by way of other aspects of their culture (energy, reserve, risk) and inheritance (what did their parents play or watch?).  The complexity of toys, items used for play and entertainment, is also different in foreign places.  Some toys focus more on athleticism, others on skill and focus, and others do most of the work for you, performing for your enjoyment.  Toys can be scientific or domestic – little representations of the working world.  On the other hand, they can be silly escapes from the real world.

Architecture is probably a form of art, too.  But I think it transcends art in that buildings often serve additional purposes.  So, is the architecture of a culture about efficiency? Beauty?  Community?  Symbolism?  Do they use materials found at hand, or manufactured, or transported to the building site?  How big are they – are they too big for one family to raise themselves?  Do people try to live in the same place their whole lives, or are they ambitious for bigger buildings?  Do they live in natural formations like caves?  Do they dig out holes in the ground?  Do they live in trees?  By rivers?  Do they dig wells or irrigation trenches?  Do they build dams?  And how much do all of these things influence other aspects of the culture, like family and friends and food and business?

An aspect of culture in my own country so glaring that I failed to recognize it at first is materialism.  How many things do people own?  Is it a status symbol to own more?  Is sharing encouraged?  Do people show love through gifts?  How do people feel about financial sacrifice?  Do they invest in material things or in businesses – or adventures?  Where do they keep their goods?  Are things owned by individuals or groups or everyone?  Is there a distinction between land as property and removable objects as property?

Cultures have their own stories.  “Own” is here used loosely, because I have found common threads of story in many different cultures.  There are fables about the origins of things, and love stories, and stories of wars and sacrifice.  Some stories even have comedies, the sense of humor varying from culture to culture (and individual to individual).  What is seen as a hero?  Is it the man who slays the most enemies?  The man who rules the most living men?  The man who sacrifices himself?  Different cultures have their different monsters.  They have their own dominant fears, just as they have different favorite virtues.

Values shape cultures.  It seems that in America the dominant culture values independence, and speaking our mind.  I’ve heard of cultures that value the good of the whole.  Some value honor, others hold preserving life as a higher value.  Some value youth, and others value the elders.

Religions are often associated with and intertwined in cultures.  Is there one sovereign God?  What is He/he like?  Are there many gods worshiped?  Are certain animals or plants revered?  How is worship carried out?  Through song?  Pilgrimage?  Sex?  Sacrifice?  Sacred words?  Eating?

Cultures have often established their own rituals to recognize significant events like birthdays, coming of age, marriage, and other accomplishments (like graduation).  They have special ways of holding funerals.  They bring their own unique takes on holidays.  What fun, to see images and artifacts from Christmases in other places or ages!

Language is one of my favorite aspects of culture.  Is it important to the culture?  Is it precise or more personal?  Is it written or mostly spoken?  Is it tonal?  How appropriate are metaphors, slang, and profanity?  What are the customary greetings?  Besides the words spoken, what other gestures are included?  What gestures are seen as essential to good manners, and which ones are abhorrent?  Which ones are just the convention?  One tribe I heard of rubs its nose while thinking, but it is more common for my culture to scratch our head or chin – or to frown.  Does the culture encourage more or less expression of one’s own thoughts – or feelings?  Which is predominant: thoughts or feelings?  Is expression mostly communicated by gesture, action, word, or art?  Accordingly, are the people of the culture more generally reserved – or exuberant?  Are they loud or quiet?  Does everyone speak at once?  Do they take turns at anything they do?

How intimate are their friendships?  How many friends does a person tend to have?  Do they share their friends with their whole family, or is it a private affair?  How do they play?  Is playing part of friendship?  How do they show honor?  How do they respond to dishonor?  Is dishonor a casual joke or a serious offense?  How are reconciliations brought about?

There is diversity in any culture, large or small.  How is that balanced?  Is it suppressed or embraced?  Is there competition more than cooperation?  Do they try to come to unity, or to sameness?  Are differences displayed?  Analyzed?  Intentionally created?  What things are used to emphasize (or manufacture) what they have in common?  I know in some places religion does this, in others wars bring people together against a common enemy, and in others it is the common experience of standardized schooling that prepares them to respond in similar ways to things.

I don’t know if there are cultures without classes, but given that in most there are, how are relationships between the classes?  Is there mutual respect?  Is there resentment?  Are people generally content with the life to which they were born?  Do they practice cruelty or charity towards the classes that are more needy?  Is this voluntary or institutionalized?

How big is one’s sphere in their culture?  Who does a culture encourage friendship with?  Who does it encourage responsibility towards?  What are members encouraged to aspire to?  How much is proximity a factor?  What kinds of transportation do people use (walking, driving, biking, boating, flying, carting, carrying)?  Do people travel for social reasons or economic ones?  Or are there environmental reasons to practice a sort of migratory lifestyle?

Here in the United States we have many cultures living side by side, some whose “boundaries” are only a block or two from a significantly different group.  And with technology the way it is today, we can converse with people far away, travel quickly to see them, view photos they took, and purchase art created in foreign cultures.  How aware are people of other cultures?  (How aware are they that theirs is distinct?)  Are they interested in them?  Do they want to integrate good things from other cultures into their own?  Do they integrate foreigners?  Is this by means of cooperation or an initiation and instruction?  Are they willing to adapt their own culture?  Do they resist change?  Do they try to replace every culture they meet?  Do they replace the cultures of peoples they come to dominate?  Do they have compassion for foreigners or other cultures?  Do they feel superior?  Do they covet what other cultures have or are?

To an extent, family structure is different in cultures.  How do husbands relate to their wives, and what is expected of each within the home?  How do people come to be married?  How many wives may a man have?  How do parents relate to their children?  Who else bears the burden of child-rearing (community, grandparents, school, nannies)?  What kinds of discipline are used?  Are children seen and not heard?  Are they seen as trophies or contributors?  How important is extended family?  Is family more important than friends?  Are there specific obligations towards family members?  How does a family unit relate to the rest of the world?  How much is the government involved?

Some people view laws and government as providing order and security, or as being the at-the-ready conflict resolvers, while others expect the government to oversee all of the individual’s (and group’s) needs.  Some expect the government to enforce justice, and others are content with a system built on bribes.  Do the people believe it is their place to submit, or to reform, or to revolt?  In some places, the government is not only expected to take care of needs, but to take on big societal problems, and solve them.  Governments tend to look out for their own interests, but whether the peoples are ok with that or not is not so universal.  Some governments take in a vast number of citizens, whereas there are some whose range is limited to the immediate family of a Bedouin tribe.

Is business conducted in a personal way?  Does a person go door to door offering their goods or services?  Is there a public common market or do consumers seek out goods and services at specific phone numbers, websites, or stores?  Is a transaction considered between equals, or are service providers a lower class?  Are the servants recognized as members of a household or anonymous functionaries?  Is there a mindset of professionalism?  Who desires the professionalism – professional or consumer or both or neither?  How influential are corporations – the idea that no one person is responsible for the good or service being sold?

There is such a variety of technology, and tools, that are used in different societies, and these can be both representative and influential.  What things are used for communication?  For building?  Transporting?  How much of life is taken up by work?

What is the general schedule?  What is the work week?  How many hours in a day are work?  Is work a means or an end?  Which hours are devoted to sleeping?  When and how do people wake?  When do they play?  When do they have social activities?  Do they work together or finish their work and then spend time together?  When do they eat and how often?

If a group’s language is forgotten, and they move from the land of their buildings and ditches; if they stop playing with their old toys, and their clothing no longer distinguishes them clearly from one class to another – but they carry on a secret family recipe from the old, old days when all those things had been in place, have they lost their culture?  Can they share their recipe, market their spices and vegetables to other people groups, and still have their culture?  When do we say a culture has become distinct?  When do we say it has merged with another?

Should we try to preserve cultures?  Or is a way of life gloriously defined by the personalities and abilities and histories of the people who make up the group?  Is there a difference between dissolving a culture and replacing it?  What harms does the structure of tradition found in a culture cause?  What benefits does it provide?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Abdicated Discipleship

 

This week I read an article at The Wall Street Journal, spring-boarding from Rick Santorum’s recent controversies about birth control to a commentary on the societal effects of contraceptives.  For my purposes, I’m going to sum up part of their report:

 

Before birth control, women stipulated that they would only have sex with a man willing to take care of any resulting children (either only married sex or sex with the promise of marriage should she conceive).

 

After birth control and legal abortion, many women became willing to have sex, feeling like there was less potential responsibility attached.

 

These women’s willingness to fornicate raised the pressure on other women to also fornicate – even when they were less able to use birth control, or unwilling to abort.  Men began expecting sex as part of a premarital relationship – and if one woman wasn’t willing to give it, they could leave her and find someone who was, without commitment.  Why sacrifice yourself to take on the responsibilities of marriage?

 

As I read the above view of history, my brain worked to find the solution.  Obviously my hope is to marry a good man who believes that sex is sacred to marriage, and hasn’t jumped on board with the trends in this country.

 

Men in the secular world pressure women to have sex or do without relationships.  Men in the secular world make marriage hard to come by.  But what’s the excuse for men in the Church?  Why is marriage hard to come by for a Christian woman?

 

The norm, the expectation, for a man living in the United States is to go through a series of dating relationships, enjoying the benefits of intimacy, eventually getting around to marriage when he’s been with a woman for a long time and has a good job to (not support her and her children; she works and there will be far less children than in marriages of the past; but:) fund the engagement ring, wedding, and honeymoon.  Men in this country are not taught self control or responsibility – nor the value of marriage and fatherhood (only obligations of the two).  They are not equipped.

 

Because our secular world doesn’t tell stories about good men pursuing women with purity, marrying them, and fathering children – our Christian men are also unequipped.  No one is training the men outside the Church, so the men inside the Church aren’t being taught the necessary life skills either.

 

Isn’t that last point part of a much bigger problem?  Since when did the Church depend so much on the unchristian world to teach and disciple people?  Why don’t we have an alternative story, an alternative school of sorts?

 

Is it because the Church has made it our goal to blend with the world around us?  Is it because we have refused to be separate and holy, refused to be creative, and refused to labor in building the kingdom of God?  We convert citizens of the world to belong to thekingdomofGod– but is our task to transform their institutions as well?  Or have we been given a different kind of material to build a completely unique society?  Are we building their culture or God’s?

 

In God’s kingdom, singleness has great value – not in avoiding responsibility and commitment, but in refocusing those virtues to the building of this other culture.  In God’s kingdom, marriage is part of the typological design, where institutions and interactions breathe testimony to and imitation of the love of God.  It is to be sought and desired by those called thereto, prepared for and invested in.  Bearing children in a stable family is made to bring the next humans up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  It is not supposed to be a regrettable consequence of giving in to lust.

 

Are there common features of the Christian community and the kingdom of the world to which the Church has lazily abdicated its roles?  Of course.  One of the powerful tactics of our Enemy (against whom we are supposed to be waging offensive war – in other words, building God’s kingdom for His purposes using His ways) is to take things that were created to be an instrument in the godly culture, and to take them out of their context and twist them just enough that they are ineffective.  By doing this, he gives people the impression that they are still practicing the good things God ordained.  They are also in little danger of those practices accomplishing what God intended them for.  And the more we get used to the twists and decontextualizations, the more the Enemy can bring the things farther away and the more he can morph what they actually are, still lying that they are the things we read in the Bible.

 

1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

 

1 Timothy 4:4-5, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:  For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Grandma Jerry

My grandma always wears a brooch when she wears a blazer.  She wears earrings every day.  Almost everything she eats gets salted.  Buffets are some of her favorite places to eat, along with Village Inn.  She loves fried chicken and chocolate cake.  Dogs eagerly jump up in her lap.  Electronics baffle her.  She recycles greeting cards.  In fact, all over her room you can find creative little innovations – the kind that work whether they look pretty or not.  But there are also many things she has around just because they are pretty: Kleenex box covers, music boxes.  When we were little, she would sit at her table and color pictures with us; I used to think she was condescending but now I think she really likes to color.  For years she has listened to books on tape, now on MP3.  A day before her 18th birthday she married my grandpa, together parenting their two sons and one daughter, all born inKansas.  She knows about wheat farming, mail routes, watering gardens, and driving in the evening in the country hoping to spot some deer.  Every glass at her table gets a couple ice cubes before dinner is served.  The Price is Right gets turned on every day, and she likes to know the temperature outside.  When joining others in their interests, she dives in, trying to look the part and keeping notes even on the names of referees at sporting events.  Her memory isn’t very good, and both of her knees are bad.  Her laugh, though, will always be wonderful.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Submission has come up a lot lately in my life.  I very much value authority and submission. But I don’t understand parts of it. Can you correct someone in authority over you? How do different authorities share their roles – church has authority, husbands have authority, fathers and mothers have authority, government has authority.  Can an authority delegate his leadership to someone else? For example, if God told Moses to lead the children ofIsrael, could Moses sit back and assign others to lead them? What role does delegation play?  What if God intervenes and exercises His authority directly (He told Isaiah to break the Mosaic Law, and he didn’t go to the priests or the king or the assembly to get permission)?  If there is no one exercising authority over me, is it my job to find someone to whom to submit?

 

Friends have challenged me on my interpretations of Church leadership.  Does God even give actual authority to elders, or is it more about responsibilities and respect?  Does an elder have a right to tell me when and where and how or how not to use my spiritual gifts? Can he tell me to go on a mission trip or to host a poor family in my home or to quit my job? Could a father or a husband? Do I have to get approval from my authority for every choice I make? If not, how do I know which ones to get his ok on?  Do those who were formerly under authority and are appointed to equal authority really exercise equal authority?  Who are elders accountable to?

 

I’m also wondering whether men, in general, ought to be followed by women, or only specific men: husbands, fathers, Church elders.  Paul says he does not permit a woman to have authority over a man (in church), and cites the order of creation, but does that mean women ought to never lead a man? Or is it bad to submit to a man who does not have a specific authority position over you (husband, father, elder)?  If a man has (any kind of) authority, does that mean he gets to tell you what to do (make me a sandwich; read this book; call your parents) or is the authority different somehow? Does it matter the sphere of authority?

 

One book I read as a study in discipline is a parenting book called Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.  It raised more questions.  What happens when kids become adults – do parents have the same authority over them? If a parent’s authority is derived from their responsibility before God to train up their children, then is it ok for other people to help parents?  Are there limits to the amount of a parent’s job that a babysitter, teacher, friend, or relative can take – can they discipline?

 

One point Mr. Tripp really tries to drive home is that parents don’t have authority because they are bigger, older, better, stronger, or smarter.  They have authority as God’s representatives to their children.  Therefore, they don’t get to decide what purposes – and in some cases, which means – they have in raising their children.  Training is not for the parent’s convenience or pleasure.  They must be good examples of submission (to God) for their children, who are likewise learning to submit (to parents and God).  The children are not theirs; they are God’s.  So God says parents are authorities, not buddies; trainers, not dictators; fellow humans, not gods.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Fifteen adults and ten kids filled the house of my friends and long time fellow Pigfesters for a Pigfest of their own this weekend.  There was a craft project (pig masks) for the kids, and plenty of farm-fare for our feast.  Lasting about four hours total, we covered five full-length debates and two miniature ones (something introduced last year at the Pigfest of June 2010).  The three guests who had never before participated in a Pigfest all jumped in with the appropriate gusto.

 

The so-named “Great Commission” applies only to the 11 original apostles, and as it is poor hermeneutics to force its expansion to all Christians, we ought to demote its greatness.  (Mark 16:14-18) was read.  Evangelism would still not be out of order, but it is not – as is commonly preached to believers – commanded to everyone.  “Those who believe” in Mark’s account of Jesus’ final command would then refer not to all who are likewise preaching the gospel, but to those who have received the apostles’ message with faith (certain signs are predicted to “follow those who believe.”)  Both Matthew and Mark specify that Jesus was speaking to the eleven apostles when He gave the commission.  Did Jesus expect only those eleven men to reach the whole world, as the commission instructs?  The biblical concept of “whole world” could have meant merely Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles (everyone else).  Also it could have meant the known world – evidence is that Paul (an apostle who was not one of the eleven) was seeking to take the gospel to Spain because it was one of the ends of the earth.  Christians with callings besides evangelism are not failing when they don’t preach the gospel, if this commission does not apply to them.  Are we exalting the command we’ve appropriated and exaggerated over other commands or callings?  Did the “Great Commission” apply to Matthias, who was selected to return the number of apostles to twelve; and if so, does that mean the command and promises applies to all who, by authority of or recognition by the original apostles, succeed them – or even to all who have the calling or gifting to apostleship?  Does not the command itself, to make disciples, indicate that the converts are to become like the apostles and thus inherit their mission?  When Jesus says “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” is this very instruction exempt?  Essentially, whatever is preached today in evangelism is the apostles’ very teachings (or at least those recorded in Scripture) so that in a way it is still those men who are being used by God to fulfill this commission.

 

Fathers should work outside the home, because it is more efficient.  Not all dads, though, are inefficient working in the home.  Different occupations and different house layouts and different family styles would change the efficiency of working from home.  For example, working at home would function better if the work was done in the downstairs shop or in the smithy across the yard or the fields behind the house.  If women and children would leave the men alone while they’re working, instead of taking advantage of their presence as though the men had nothing else to do, more work could be done.  However, women have much work to do around the house that they manage to get done despite the presence of children – and, where applicable, of husbands (who sometimes by their proximity can cause as much distraction and hindrance as children).  When men are home they have the advantage of not missing out on their families.  If some milestone is reached, he can witness it or participate in it.  But he would be sacrificing socialization with other workers, other fathers and husbands, that he would typically get at work.  Also the possibility of distraction – and distance from the other people working on the same project or employing the man – does make his work less efficient.  There is value in kids seeing dad work.  Are they going to be brought “out of the home” to witness that – or even to participate in it?  It seems to be assumed that more is better in time spent with family, but there can be a limit reached after which it is healthier for the family relationships for each member to get out, to be around other people who have nothing to do with their family.  Working outside the home is an opportunity for that.  (It was interjected that the same could apply to women, needing breaks, and a weekly activity like MOPS was suggested – though that usually involves considerably less time away from the family than a man’s career would.  Maybe men should get out of the house only once a week, like the women?)  It is a concern that the children of men working from home are getting used to an unrealistic world that will not always be available to them (Mommy and Daddy won’t always be around to give them attention and help, and it is not likely they will be able to find jobs with such flexibility to allow them to be home with their families most of the time either.)  Agrarian societies are more ideal, a blend of working as a family and having access to home but also getting out of the domestic environment.  Are we going to revolutionize society back to a work structure that would be more ideal?  Is it worth it to try to live like agrarians when the jobs we have are technology- and information- based?  How much does the marriage relationship of wife as helper apply to a husband’s work?  Could he benefit from having his wife’s help in his work?  Or is the wife’s help limited to raising the kids and keeping the house for him?  Can she help him with his job once he comes home from an away job?  Fathers are given the responsibility of teaching their children, and being at home more often is the best way to do that.  They can also, then, emotionally support their wives who would be crazy being home alone with young children so much.

 

5 Minutes:

We should stockpile chocolate for trading during hyper-inflation emergencies, rather than precious metals.  Chocolate would be difficult to store and transport since it melts.  Are higher chocolate concentrations better, like gold over silver?  (You can always add milk and sugar later, right?)  Maybe we shouldn’t bother, because if hyper-inflation comes, we’ll all be in big trouble and won’t be able to protect our stockpile.  So perhaps it would be better to invest in a non-precious metal: lead, like John Wayne.  It would be tempting to eat your chocolate currency yourself.  Then again, this could be seen as an advantage.  This trade good, unlike precious metals, is useful for something.  It has some nutritional value: protein, iron, sugars – along with being an aphrodisiac.  As people consume the chocolate, the amounts remaining become increasingly valuable.  Now is a good time to pursue a chocolate investment as the world’s chocolate supply is being threatened by war in Libya (one of the world’s largest chocolate producers).  It could be to our advantage to employ a community effort to invest in chocolate, choosing carefully who is to be in charge of “loss prevention.”  As a short-term measure, which is unlikely for a hyper-inflation scenario, it might actually work.

 

Practical Christianity is more important for knowing (pleasing and trusting) God than reading Scripture for oneself.  For most of history 75 percent of the Christian world has been illiterate, so this is the only reasonable conclusion.  Examples of practical Christianity are: the sacraments (including penance/confession of sin, baptism, communion, confirmation/laying on of hands and praying for a believer to receive the Holy Spirit, marriage, praying for the sick, holy orders including Christian ministry and missions and monasticism), evangelism, testimony/sharing what Christ has done for us, oral Scripture reading/hearing, almsgiving, listening to God, rest in Christ/finding out what it means that Christ fulfills the Sabbath for us, peace-making/judging disputes.  Also suggested was James’ instruction to care for widows and orphans.  If someone is able to read, reading Scripture is the most important way to know about God.  What about pleasing Him or trusting Him?  Life experiences or examples leave us all to assumptions about the character of God, and to doubts when faced with discouraging events – lacking the assurance of a clear description of God from the Bible.  People with different experiences from one another could wind up believing in a different God.  We also run the risk of worshiping traditions, the rituals of the religion (similar to pagan religions), and our own works rather than worshiping a worthy God.  What differentiates us from the other religions is the revelation of God in His book.  But are we equating reading Scripture with understanding God?  Who is to say that by reading we get an accurate interpretation or comprehension?  The disciples were recognized as unschooled men whose power came because they had been with Jesus.  Perhaps the most important thing is to spend time with Christ – but how is that done?  Christians have always had access to some Scripture (even if it was only passages different members had memorized).  Originally most Christians had a familiarity with the Old Testament, at least.  In the Old Testament, Israel was commanded to write the words of God in prominent places where it would always be in their way, so God must have seen it as important.  David also highly valued his ability to “meditate” on the Law or the word of God.  When the temple was finished, this great practical work of faith, it was culminated with the reading of Scripture, with reminding the people of the precept-style truths.  Public reading could substitute for private reading in most of these instances.  Scripture itself tells us to do what we hear.  But how do we know what to do if we don’t read Scripture?  So certainly personal Bible reading comes first.  Do we feel like we can get all we need to please God by private reading – as personal as Christianity is – so that we are missing out on better ways (taking advantage of the community, the Church, that God has given us)?  To know God you have to heed His word.  Scripture has been written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit so that God is not limited to what we have read in the Bible to guide us for our daily lives or to reveal Himself to us.  The Bible says “Don’t be ignorant” four times: spiritual gifts, the return of Christ, and two other things – possibly one of them is Scripture?  (Addendum: List of verses about not being ignorant, in addition to 1 Corinthians 12:1 )

 

5 minutes:

Unicorns have existed, will exist, and appear throughout the Bible.  Scriptures in Numbers, Job, Psalms, the prophets (esp. Isaiah), and Deuteronomy use a unique Hebrew word translated in the King James as “unicorn.”  It may not mean the mythical beast we think of: a horse with wings and a horn and magical powers, but it does not mean “wild ox” as other versions translate it, including NKJV.  The very context rules out an “ox” interpretation.  Also there are 7 other words that actually refer to oxen; the Old Testament authors weren’t lacking such a word to use; they obviously meant something else.  What did they mean?  When the Western (Christian) world first encountered rhinos in Africa, they called them unicorns because of the single horn on a rhinoceros’ nose.  Also we have discovered fossils of extinct deer with one horn on the head.  However, a deer would not likely be strong enough to fit the Bible’s descriptions.  On the other hand, one of the passages describes the unicorn as “skipping,” an unlikely activity for rhinos.  Usually the animal is associated with strength and not being able to be tamed for domestic purposes like plowing.  Isaiah’s mention of unicorns is in an as yet unfulfilled prophecy, so unicorns, whatever they are, must also exist in the future.  (Addendum: Blue Letter Bible entry for the word “unicorn” including occurrences and Hebrew dictionary  This scene from The Gods Must Be Crazy was also referenced. )

 

Scripture is what has been traditionally and historically what the people of God have accepted as Scripture, not what the authors originally wrote.  (Example the passage in John 8 that “earliest and most reliable manuscripts” do not contain would be considered Scripture.)  The miraculous preservation of Scripture has been a doctrine taught by the Church and used as a defense of the authority of the Bible.  Basically it is taught that God has guarded the Bible, the words He wanted His church to have, throughout the centuries.  How long does something have to be unchanged or accepted in order to count as “preserved”?  Are we talking about translations, too, or texts based on the translations – especially the Septuagint?  If preservation is God’s miraculous way, and He intended for us to accept as Scripture the books as originally written, why didn’t God preserve the original manuscripts themselves?  Does this proposition increase the necessity of historical analysis – or decrease – and what does that say about the centuries of people who did not have access to the archaeological information we are uncovering today?  Is the preservation doctrine even biblical?  “Not one jot or tittle will pass away.”  It seems historical that there has been a miraculous preservation of the Bible – compare to Homer or even Shakespeare.  Isn’t a changed text, as the resolution suggests has happened, evidence against preservation having fully happened?  Are we allowed to start “affirming” or “accepting” some new parts to books or entirely new books now?  The original process of canonization included checking for authorship of passages.  But the number one rule was “Has it been accepted by the Church as Scripture?”  The texts we have received have been the Byzantine versions because they were more organized about copying and spreading their texts.

 

Due to the amount of corruption in our current government system, we should exploit technology to make representatives accountable.  Democracy is possible, not too unwieldy, with technology today.  All citizens could have a voice in the way they want their representatives to vote if we set up some computerized system for tallying input.  Then if congressmen and senators do not follow the will of their constituents, we could vote them out of office next term.  The object would also be to reduce the influence of lobbyists: the loud minority.  Apathy, now and after a technological system is established, would be at least as great a problem as corruption.  But perhaps people would be less apathetic if they were given new hope that their voice mattered.  As the system stands today, to have any impact we the little people would have to start at the lower levels of primaries – it is very unlikely that the candidate that we really want is making it to the full election, and then who wants to vote for the lesser or slower of two evils?  Technology could make it easier to participate in small ways, easing citizens into involvement.  Most people who are eligible to vote shouldn’t, because the bills being considered – even if they were read in their hundreds of pages entirety – are too complicated to be comprehensible to the layperson.  In a more accountable, participation-oriented system, the bills would be necessarily written in the language of the citizen, which could be a huge advantage.  But most people who can vote shouldn’t because people are selfish, and a more democratic system like this being proposed would turn into a war of personal interests rather than the representative ideal of good men making decisions for the common good, seeing the big picture.  Technology could potentially eliminate the party system by giving voters more access to information about candidates.  Then we could vote based on character, actions, and positions instead of on affiliation.  However the party system does make the election process less cumbersome.  It is assumed that candidates identifying themselves with a certain party adhere to its platform positions on issues.  Also rather than going through each of a thousand candidates, you can seek for the ones in the party that most represents you – although we may need more than two parties to accomplish that.  However, if your attempt is to defeat the lobbyists, even in a technological system like this, they can be louder than the majority because they will participate whereas the average man still doesn’t think it’s worth it.  The way to stop lobbyists is to make it criminal for a citizen not to vote.  We could still use the technology to inform the legislators of the ideas and opinions of those whom they represent – but not in a way so directly affecting voting.  And the communication could go both ways fairly easily.  Christians are becoming a minority voice, similar to lobbyists.  If we empower the majority, what risks will that have for us and our children?  Persecution strengthens individual faith and the Church as a whole.  But should we pursue persecution, vote it into being?  Even increasing the voice of the people won’t fix corruption because the majority will be wicked, or tends to be.  And every vote continues the slide away from righteousness.  Monarchy, as archaic as it sounds, has the best chance of a truly righteous government (though you run the risk of occasional or even frequent tyrannical rulers as well) because while the whole people will very likely never be God-fearing, one king here and there might.

 

Also suggested, though not debated:

Caffeine and alcohol ought to be regulated, only consumed by prescription.

 

People don’t say what they mean, either, so you don’t know any more about them than you do about a dog’s dream. (quote from Get Low)

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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