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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual’

I watched Moana for the first time yesterday. I’m kind of ambivalent about it, since I can think of some good and some bad messages, and as a 32-year-old, wasn’t all that captivated by the story (though I appreciated the quality of the animation).
Maybe because the setting is more tribal and not so Western, and maybe because of Disney’s motif of sort of refuting some of its earlier fairy tales, I was partially hopeful that this would be a story less about following your heart and more about courageously and sacrificially submitting to the leadership and community you were born to.  I was disappointed.

 

It wasn’t the demi-gods or coconut-demons or fire-monsters or reincarnated/ghost grandmas that most concerned me about this movie; it was that message of how to find out who you are meant to be: Disregard your parents and authority figures.  Be inspired by stories and legends.  Find some distant ancestors whose way of life is most appealing to you, and believe it’s an integral part of you.  Don’t prepare; just literally let yourself be thrown into something, and then pursue it with all the publicly rebellious determination you can muster.

 

One thing that complicates this for a Christian is that some of Moana’s discernment is based on the spiritual encounters she has.  There is no true God and Savior Jesus Christ in this movie, so other things stand in for the role He plays in directing our lives and gracing us to fulfill our “destinies”.  If the water-spirit that is so influential in Moana’s journey were actually the Creator God of the Bible, her story would be less concerning.  But it isn’t, and I believe that there are other spiritual forces in the real world, not only in fantasies, that stand-in for the place God ought to have in our lives.  And these beings are not good, not neutral; they are in evil opposition to the loving Lord of the universe.  What kind of message is it sending us and our kids to trust these kinds of spiritual experiences to direct us?

 

Moana did keep in mind and heart, always, how to serve and care for her people.  This is one of the better aspects of the “find your purpose” theme.  I was telling my brother that if they’d written the story of her father encouraging her to be different from him, while holding these same values of service to the tribe, I’d be way more excited about all of it.

 

Also a positive, in Moana, Disney has released another film that demonstrates the need for teamwork.  Moana and Maui each come to realize that they are more effective with each other’s help, and that the other does really need them in order to save their world.

 

I think I am actually most intrigued by the character of Maui, who wrestles with his own identity questions.  When we first meet him in person, we quickly recognize a dominant trait of arrogance, but later we learn that this is sort of a cover, a compensation for a deep insecurity.  The complex ways these issues affect his choices are fascinating; and over-all, I think they send a good message to audiences.

 

In the end, Moana does have a suitably communal argument for everyone having something to contribute, be it a peculiar chicken, a teenage girl, a demi-god with or without his hook, an experienced leader, or the village crazy lady – and the value of embracing what others have to offer.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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One of my good friends smiled when I told her I was reading a book about aliens.  “You read such varied subjects,” she laughed.  And I do, but I definitely see them as connected.  In the same way that there are so many points in which I am disappointed with traditional (as opposed to biblical) church because they are all connected to a basic definitional idea of church, these varied subjects (Iceland, aliens, church, relationships, history, biography, philosophy) are part of a worldview.  You may call it the homeschool culture.  Or maybe it is the Christian bookstore (I doubt it).  A lot of my connections come from being a Creationist.  I’m a fan of logic and words (logos), two indivisible concepts.  The history of God, the world, science, cultures, languages, laws, and on and on all fascinate me. 

 

In this case I can trace my reasons for reading this book (Alien Intrusion by Gary Bates) to several things.  First of all, when I was in grade school my dad got Chuck Missler’s newsletter from Koinonia House.  These newsletters promoted edgy concepts of apologetics and Bible interpretation/prophecy such as the Bible code, Edenics, a variable light speed (he’s big of physics, and smart enough to handle it), and aliens.  Chuck Missler has tapes on the Martian Monuments, the Nephilim, and the alien phenomenon in general.  Though I haven’t read or heard much from him on the subject, the impression I get is that Alien Intrusion is in majority agreement with Missler’s position. 

 

Secondly, who is not fascinated by accounts of alien encounters and UFOs?  I’ve seen the TV specials, watched Star Wars and Star Trek.  I read CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy in which he invents a population on Mars and another on Venus in order to delve into the idea of free will.  Stars and astronomy and theoretical physics all hold that appeal for me, too.  And I cheer for the underdog.  All these ordinary people have experiences that the official authorities deny or deride.  HOWEVER, whenever I watch a TV special about aliens or read an account purported to be true, I get the chills.  I am assaulted by fear and nightmares, and a sense of spiritual attack – doubt. 

 

Answers in Genesis advertised Alien Intrusion on its website, a Creationist, Christian investigation into the phenomenon.  I knew what to expect from the book just from things I’d heard suggested as explanations for the alien phenomenon in Christian circles.  Intrigued to get one well-researched, relatively safe treatment of the subject, when I saw the book at our Christian bookstore several years ago, I picked it up.  The cover is a pretty, typically alien teal with the curvy shapes and stark glaring brightness contrasted with shadow (covers – I’ll admit – are big sellers to me).  And initially I took some casual Sunday afternoon time (commercials during a Bronco game) to flip through the contents.  What I read so disturbed me that I once again got chills and fear, and had to set the book aside. 

 

In the intervening years, I have picked the book up a few more times, re-read the back cover, and scanned the contents page.  Finally this month I had the guts to sit down and start reading Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection from the beginning.  Some friends were discussing aliens and Nephilim; Dad and I attended a Steeling the Mind Conference at which the book was being sold again.  And my walk with God is in a good spot, well-supported by regular Bible study (alone and with groups) and frequent prayer.  I would not recommend that a Christian read this book outside of such precautions. 

 

The content of this book is definitely for mature audiences as well, since it describes (with proper restraint, but also with enough detail to establish patterns in sightings and encounters) disturbing physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual occurrences. 

 

There are several benefits of reading the book straight through.  The first is perspective.  Gary Bates starts slow and gradually builds, almost imperceptibly delivering the clues that led him to his conclusions.  Another advantage is the tone.  Rather than moving from intense moment to new revelation to intense moment, the book breaks up the information with summaries, inserts about sci-fi books and movies, and gradually more Bible verses.  A final plus from reading the text is that the book is an apologetic for more than just an explanation of UFOs.  Through descriptions from witnesses, historical comparison/research, and logic, the book defends belief in the supernatural, absolute truth, creation versus evolution; and the Bible as the reliable and honest account of history, supernatural beings and intentions, and even the future. 

 

Alien Intrusion isn’t some wild call to a UFO cult or to buy gear from Roswell.  It isn’t a conspiracy theory pamphlet (at 340 pages with so many footnotes, that would be a stretch of a definition anyway).  Nor is Mr. Bates an indiscriminate believer in every UFO and alien claim made by anyone all over the world.  He is interested in evidence, in logic, in corroborating witnesses – and he is out to find the truth. 

 

One of the most interesting discoveries uncovered by this book (not that the author made the discovery, but he is surely one of the biggest providers of the information to the public) is in the field of alien abductions.  The abduction responds to an abductee claiming Jesus’ name.  In fact, researchers have collected descriptions of interrupted abductions, all of which ended when Jesus was spoken.  Some abductees who experienced this said that the presence abducting them seemed pained by the name, and the abduction did not resume.  Several claimed to be Christians, while others came upon the name by chance. 

 

Abductions and alien encounters are universally acknowledged to be much more frequent among those who have at any point in their lives dabbled in the occult: in New Age, in psychics, witchcraft, or even Satanism.  The after-effects of an encounter are typically deeper and more devoted involvement in New Age beliefs and practices.  Even the crop circles hoaxes were, when infused by willing visitors, sites of unusual paranormal feelings, sightings, and events. 

 

This book considers the possibility and probabilities of aliens and UFOs having an extraterrestrial “natural”/evolutionary origin.  Are they really space-creatures who journeyed from other planets to meet us?  The frequency of sightings, the distances from which they must come and resultant time involved, along with the lack of any evidence of these beings communicating with us through radio waves or other indirect methods – or even signs of entrance into our atmosphere, make such an explanation virtually impossible.  The UFOs and beings act in a way more consistent with an inter-dimensional being (yes, in the scientific, physics sense).  They appear and disappear, change shape, and move at velocities that defy the laws of motion. 

 

Are the aliens good?  Are they our space brothers sent to help us reach the next stage of our evolution?  No, they are known liars (until we discovered there was no life on the moon, they said they were from the moon, the Mars, then Venus, then every other planet in our galaxy until they said they were from the Pleiades and Sirius and far away stars systems; their foretelling of future events has also proven false) whose impact on lives is in the negative.  They create pain, confusion, withdrawal from friends and family, and fear in their contactees.  Certainly some people become willing to endure these encounters, and enjoy the profit and attention generated by their experiences.  Many people have ended up harming themselves and others, submitting themselves to abuse or even death, as a result of encounters with these beings. 

 

Are aliens new?  No.  The history of the world is filled with accounts that, names and stories apart, tell of the same phenomenon of supernatural visitors with the same message, the same techniques, and the same affects as aliens today.  These include elves, fairies, pagan gods and goddesses, and even demons.  The world’s most reliable history book and document on spiritual realities, the Bible, also describes these phenomenon, giving the origin of these beings and their purpose.  According to the Bible, men have worshiped these beings in conjunction with the starry hosts, sorcery, channeling, and witchcraft throughout history.  These beings consistently reject a literal understanding of an authoritative and infallible Bible, though willing to plagiarize the Bible and to claim to be characters from it. 

 

The Bible also warns against interaction with these beings, predicting the harmful results to individuals who do.  It warns against behavior and worship often connected with these encounters, the same behavior on which the New Age philosophy is built.  Historically, every extra-biblical religion has incorporated some or all of these things, and many religions and cults have founding stories similar to abduction or channeling accounts (including Islam, Mormonism, New Age, and Scientology). 

 

Why now?  Why in this century is there a massive increase in the number of sightings?  The Bible describes a time of deception and world unity under this deception.  Given other biblical prophecies compared to the times in which we live, many Christians would agree that end times events are advancing towards the climax of the spiritual battle being waged for millennia over the souls of men.  Another reason for the flood of alien sightings and paranormal encounters is the cultural openness created by people and by the church.  The world has embraced relativism.  It has reacted against two world wars and nuclear weaponry.  Men and women have embraced lewd sexuality like never before in this country.  Evolution is the common theory of origins (universally taught by any alien visitor or proponent).  And the Church, those who have been saved by Jesus’ blood shed as he substituted Himself to take our punishment for rebellion against God, has been silent and wishy-washy on truth.  We have compromised the Bible, leaving truth up for grabs or a popularity contest.  A world desperately seeking answers, craving authority, and coping with the inherent longing for purpose and connection with their loving Creator God has been left in the dark because the Church will not be salt and light. 

 

Get informed.  Accept the biblical description of a supernatural (spiritual) reality.  Proclaim the truth.  Live by it. 

 

For my part, this book challenged me in my willingness to believe in a supernatural world.  It’s all safe and comfortable to believe in a supernatural God if He doesn’t do anything supernatural.  If He just sort of works circumstances out for the best, I’m ok with that.  But what about miracles?  What about angels and demons?  What about supernatural judgment?  Reminded of the spiritual war being waged, and of the power of the beings deceiving men who have no accepted the truth (found in the Bible, enabled by an “encounter” with Jesus that is utterly unlike the alien encounters), I am challenged toward compassion on the foolish people I see wandering my world.  How can they believe abortion is ok?  How can they give themselves over to extramarital sex?  How can they not see that an economy built on debt is destructive?  Why are cults and false religions so popular?  The answer is that they are deceived.  A battle is being fought in the “inter-dimensional” realm of the angels and demons.  To these people, their senses are out of their control.  Reality really does feel like it is relative or changeable or insignificant. 

 

Like all of the Masterbooks I have read, Alien Intrusion includes a strong defense of biblical inerrancy and a frequent, well-explained and relevant description of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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(read after Part 1)
 
If God sent undeniably fantastic events and figures upon the world, what would we do?  After we had reconciled ourselves to a new world completely different from that we’d imagined, would our lives be better or worse?  In Narnia (spoiler warnings, but these books have been out for fifty years, so I don’t feel sorry for you) after Aslan was back and the dryads and nyads were dancing about with the fauns, badgers, giants, mice, bears, and chipmunks, there was a celebration.   Flowers bloomed.  Telmarines joined the festival, freer than they had ever been for seeing the world as it truly was. 
 
I imagine that, even if it were in a catastrophic form of judgment that God reasserted the reality of things outside our world able to pierce through, there would be a revival of saving faith.  There would be joy and wonder and courage.  Even if the awakening is slower and more gradual, even if it is happening to the unsaved as much as to the believer and a mass of the world reembraces paganism in a revolt against naturalism, GK Chesterton points out that the last things the pagans did is convert to Christianity.  That was their climax.  CS Lewis hints at that, but I think he sees paganism as something to be fulfilled, or seen without human’s taint.  The revelry at the end of Prince Caspian is a pagan one redeemed because it is governed by, and centered around Aslan. 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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The various temptations of a single woman’s life:

1. To want companionship to cure the loneliness: just a friend who is so often there that it doesn’t matter so much when he isn’t, a friend whose conversation is lively and intelligent and equally willing to listen to and interact with me.
2. To want the security of having a major point of the future decided and knowing exactly what is required of me. On a spiritual level the Bible answers this question sufficiently for each day’s choices, but on a lifestyle level, the Bible is frustratingly silent about the activity of an unmarried woman.
3. To want romance: flowers and notes and special attention and stories to share with friends, to have the flutter of expectation and the thrill of affection.
4. To want a leader, someone to follow and help and believe in, who is capable of leading, strong and visionary and full of faith. A girl sometimes just wants a man to tell her what to do.
5. To be sad, full of pity and despair and just wanting to stop hoping so that I can cry.
6. To be aloof, proclaiming disinterestedness in anything I don’t already have, lying so that hope is kept silent and so that life is a series of functions. To lose passion, releasing it for the safer state of not caring.
7. To fill the various temptations with temporary flirtations or imaginings, books or movies, or the stories of the romances and lives of friends.

There comes a point when guarding against all these various temptations is impossible. I stop being pitiful, only to be assailed with the temptation to watch a chick-flick to fill my yearnings. I applaud myself for not wanting romance and find that I want security.

So instead of trying not to fall into this trap or that snare, I need to focus on what I know I need to do. Love God. Talk to Him. He is leader, companion, listener, giver, refuge, planner, lov-er, and passionate. Serve Him. Don’t think about myself and all those wants. Take them to Him when they overwhelm me. Share with Him the poignant ordeal of waiting. And be ok with the reality that nothing I expect has to happen except what He has promised.

I don’t want anyone to think I want to be single forever. Hearing friends admire my patience drives me crazy; I don’t want them to imagine that waiting is easy. But I will wait, if only because I know that I cannot get what I deeply want any other way. The question is: will I wait well? Waiting is sacred, an activity of God who created time and invites us to imitate Him in it, to share in what He feels as time marches on between beginning and end, desire and fulfillment, initiation and consummation. But waiting is not a virtue. Patience is a virtue, and contentment, kindness and selflessness. Will waiting produce and demonstrate these in me?

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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Emergent Cloister – Emerging Church Nothing New

Idiosystematic, a critique of change in the Emerging Movement

John MacArthur on The Emergent Church

Evaluation of the “gospel” in Rob Bell’s Nooma videos in 3 parts.  Part 1. 

Part 2

Part 3

A long review of Rob Bell’s book, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

Doug Pagitt on whether Good Buddhists go to Heaven

Brian McLaren sounds like my brother’s Buddhist friend explaining John 14:6

 

Too many web pages open – and most of them are about the Emergent Church.  Rob Bell and Nooma, Brian McLaren’s broad-way interpretation of John 14:6, and a variety of Christians warning other Christians about the subtle heresies of the Emergent authors and leaders.  I have a lot more links about Rob Bell, and I think that’s because he’s more accepted by the people I know.  He doesn’t push everyone into joining the Emergent Movement.  But he’s a part, and basically he wants to infiltrate the existing Church with emerging theology – which is actually more philosophy, because God is a song in everyone’s heart.

McLaren, Pagitt, they say things that are extreme.  The links I have up for them are not ones that say: when McLaren said this, he was wrong because…  No.  The links I have for them are from their own mouths or pens, self-explanatory in their heresy.  Yes.  Heresy.  The Bible may not be all about who gets to heaven and who goes to hell, but it is about something; it’s about God, the God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Jesus is the center; not only His teachings or His compassion, but also His fulfillment of prophecy, His divine miracles, His judgment, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, His return.  The Bible is about having a relationship with God, God dwelling with individuals, but it is about grace.  God chooses.  God pursues.  God enables the relationship when we rebel and deserve to perish. 

 

I read a McLaren page to my brother, and afterward I asked him, “Isn’t that horrible?  That someone can teach that about John 14:6?  I don’t understand how he can believe that.”  My brother added that the sad thing is, McLaren had a lot of cool stuff to say mixed in with the bad theology. 

 

Emergent books are like that.  Especially the beginning is usually full of the enthusiastic, God-acknowledging, people-loving, truth-seeking community we’re looking for.  And then, slowly at first, the authors begin to slip in their man-centered words, and then they talk about worship and evangelism.  I wonder if the authors or editors intentionally include the controversial things in the latter halves of their books.  My friends read these books very trustingly.  Without being too critical, they think these books and teachers are just encouraging us to have a personal faith, to fulfill Jesus’ command to love. 

 

But if I read closely, and look at other things these guys have said, I start to wonder…  Faith in what?  Who is the Jesus they say commanded love?  What is worship?  What gospel are we bringing to the world through our love and concern for social justice and community? 

 

Rob Bell interprets Peter’s walk on water as faith (or little faith) in himself.  The Jesus these guys mention omits mention of condemnation, hell, judgment, and sin.  Their Jesus was an all-inclusive non-judgmental type.  If we must acknowledge Jesus criticized some people, it was the favorite bad-guys, the hypocrites of Judaism, the exclusive and legalistic Pharisees.  Good followers of Jesus would be the opposites of the Pharisees.  Their gospel is some vague idea of the kingdom of God, a culture where people interact with God and love each other, all accomplished here on earth by Jesus’ trusted followers.  Their gospel is joining God on His mission to make the world a better place. 

 

They don’t talk about the gospel of life for the spiritually dead, or salvation for the sinners who have earned the eternal wrath of God.  Without acknowledging our horrible guilt and God’s just right to wrath, we have no ability to understand His grace and His love and His sacrifice.  Without acknowledging our total depravity, religion is not only not about the awesomeness of God; it inevitably plummets to being all about us. 

 

Which is maybe why the emergent definition of worship is so disturbing.  Worship to them is recognition of the spiritual.  It can be expressed in more than music because candles are also spiritual, and painting is spiritual, and the beauty of nature is spiritual.  To me, to the Bible, and to the English language, worship is recognition of the worth of its object.  Yes; worship has an object, not in name only, but an inspiration.  We don’t just sing praise songs because we feel like it, or because it’s a spiritual experience.  Worship is not an experience; it’s an action.  It either proclaims God’s glory or yields to it.  We sing because God, about whom and to whom we sing, is worthy of it.  Worship is more than music because our lives, sacrificed to His service and to His glory, can be a response to His wisdom and sacrifice and glory.  God spoke light into the world, and created the nature we like to paint.  He has done great things; therefore we will not keep silent.  We will thank Him for His goodness toward us, marvel at His attention, proclaim His mighty works to the nations. 

 

What worship should never be is about us.  It should never be about recognizing the spirituality of a candle-lit room.  Our songs cannot be about how much we love God, unless they are the overwhelmed effusions of people who cry on Jesus’ feet in gratitude.  It isn’t about the art, or the environment, the sensation; worship is about the Almighty Creator of the universe who knows my name and who died for a wretch like me. 

 Rob Bell says in his Rhythm Nooma, “An infinite, massive, kind of invisible God—that’s hard to get our minds around. But truth, love, grace, mercy, justice, compassion…the way that Jesus lived. I can see that. I can understand that. I can relate to that. I can play that song!”  But Isaiah said, “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.”  I relate to – and worship – a God who is bigger than me or my comprehension!   

A month ago or more I watched Persuasion on PBS’s Jane Austen season, and commented that the best thing about the movie was that it made me want to re-read the book.  The best thing about studying the Emergent Movement is that it makes me want the real thing, the solid truth against which I need no guards.  I read the Bible to see what God really said, who Jesus really was, to find the passages where Jesus is the Savior, the Man of Sorrows, the Almighty God.  And I get caught up again in the story.  The story that has to do with my day, right now, but that casts me to my knees.  I despised and rejected God.  I betrayed and abused Him.  And He loves me.  He will never leave Me.  He died for me.  He gave me a beautiful day, and His pure Word.  He enables me to teach about Him, and to coach my friends in study of His Word.  Truth.  His understanding is unsearchable, but whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. 

 

1 Corinthians 2:12-16, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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