Feedback… Sharing With You

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Soul Restoration Phase One ~ Complete

Soul Restoration Phase One ~ Complete (Photo credit: Viewminder)

I had the opportunity to fill in a feedback form regarding the divorce and separation course I have been on, my second one in a series of three, run by my church.  Each course last 13 weeks, but is spread out over around five months. The courses are amazing.

What part of the course has been the most significant and why?

All of it!  Being divided into groups was the best part –  even though I did not like that at first. But this enabled me to get closer to some people. They feel like a little family. It turned out to be helpful having an all-female group. I think that enabled me to be more open and honest.

What part did you least enjoy?

At first, being divided into groups! I really missed some of my old ‘friends’  who are on the same timeline as me. However, by getting more involved in the Church I have been able to get to know them, and lots of new people, better. Getting involved with the Church had to come in my own time, though. It came to me (or God did) when the time was right, but once it happened it happened quite quickly.

Ah, yes, there was just one instance when X prayed for the UK government to make the ‘right’ decision about marriage for homosexual couples, and she said, “We know what we want the outcome to be…”  Well, no, the ‘we’ there is the Church – , not necessarily individuals within it or in that room that night. I was  taken aback by that. I don’t have hugely strong views on that particular issue but I do have my own views and experiences with gay people: many of my former friends (more acquaintances now, but through circumstances not judgement) are gay. The homosexuality issue is probably the one ‘foundation’ of the Church’s code of beliefs, that I can not concur with, no matter what the Bible says. So, I would just say that as the divorce and separation group is open to ALL, not just Christians and members of our church, it might be advisable to not pray on behalf of everyone in the room, ‘cos you don’t know exactly what they believe.

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Matchmaker, matchmaker…

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One peril within a church setting is people trying to matchmake.

It is understandable: they too have found love again within the church. And many of these couples are very happy. Naturally they want to pass on this form of good news to others.

But it is a dangerous game. Firstly, only you and the other person can really know if you are a match – and that takes time, and a lot of it. Also, if you believe that God will bring a mate to you then maybe it is best for others to back off? I don’t know. Seems to make sense to me.

A friend who had given up on men, but not in a bitter way, has just had a man ‘brought’ to her, right out of the blue. She is a Catholic. I have met some lovely men within the church and outside it but none have become anything other than friends – and not yet deep friends. It’s too soon for that. Friendship takes TIME.

I was talking to a new friend and I was so impressed with how she and her H have committed to their marriage and worked out a road map to help them on their way. They are only in their 20s yet have more sense than many of us who are much older and made mistakes – big ones. The fact that churches run marriage courses is a tremendous boon. I truly believe that these should be mandatory – at least some sort of marriage prep course – for everyone.

Let’s face it: as far as I know there is only the church that routinely runs these sorts of courses. I guess Relate and others do but it is not part of our culture to attend them. We believe in the power of romance, of soul mates and such like. It’s all guff.

What we need is guidance, Godly or otherwise.

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Apple

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Am trying to post while using someone else’s Apple computer. It’s a nightmare. Took me ages to access my account and now the mouse keeps going haywire. Strange times. Let’s see if I can get the hang of this…

Quick Step

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I seem to be getting more likes, more quickly for this blog than for other blogs or blog-type writings I have done. I wonder why that is? Not that I have amassed great amounts of comment or numbers of followers but interest has been relatively swift in take-off. Maybe there are more people out there who are interested in the sacred and spiritual elements of life than I thought. People (my ‘auntie’ for one) say the internet is all about sex. Clearly, this is not the case!

I keep posts fairly succinct and also visual as I realise people have many  interests and love to peruse the net but do not have the time nor the inclination to read long chunks of text. Using Zemanta helps too as it livens up the text and creates links to other bloggers etc.

A friend asked me why I was using WordPress as the platform for this blog whereas previously I had used Blogger. Well, WordPress looks more professional somehow, cleaner, and a greater number of serious bloggers use it and read it. That is what I have been told and this seems to be the case.

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King’s Cross By Tim Keller is Terrific Read

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http://timothykeller.com/books/kings_cross/

St Mark writing his Gospel

St Mark writing his Gospel (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

Pastor W bought me a book last week. He just bought it for me from Amazon! That’s how kind these people are. He said it was really helping him and he thought it would help me too. It called King’s Cross and is by Timothy Keller. It’s a terrific read, looking at Christ via Mark’s gospel. I studied Mark’s gospel through a great course called Christianity Explored last year.

I may frustrate some readers by not going into detail about my thoughts and insights on all this stuff I am reading. The reasons are simple: this type of material is fresh to me. Just reading it is quite a challenge, not because I am insanely thick but simply ‘cos it’s NEW. I am not so arrogant as to set down my thoughts on everything I read when I am only just coming to work out what it is I am reading myself. Does that make sense?

I am reading a couple of chapters a night of King’s Cross. It is an exciting read. Maybe when I get more used to reading material of this nature my critical faculties will work more acutely.

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Prayer Power?

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Prayer Space.JPG

Prayer Space.JPG (Photo credit: bhsher)

I did a little research on the net recently about the power of prayer and whether it actually “works”. I guess one’s answer depends on what we mean, each of us, by ‘works’. Do we mean as in  an instant result?

Today’s church talk (I can’t call it a sermon ‘cos they don’t come across as preachy) was about the ‘inbetween times’ – the times when you can not see God at work in your life. The talk was based on the life of Joseph. I suppose that even when you pray but don’t see the results that you want God is still at work ‘cos his timeline is not the same as yours.

Someone prayed for me today. After she asked me how I felt. I wasn’t quite sure if I felt much different though I was very pleased to have her prayers. There have been times when people have prayed for me and I have felt a definite lifting: Pastor W; Life Group people; my ‘mentor’, BH.

But I also read that prayer – when you know that a lot of people are praying for you – can put pressure on you for a certain outcome. I can see this.

OTOH, certain people I trust, like HT, say it definitely works.

Ask and it shall be given, eh?

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Eminem: How To Reconcile One’s Musical Taste to Christian Living

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Cover of "Everything But the Burden: What...

Cover via Amazon

One thing I have pondered is how do I feel about singers and bands I like whose material is offensive and seemingly ‘unchristian.’  This has taken me back to The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem. Man, it’s harsh! But it’s so good too.

I have just reread an essay (admittedly, I skim read it) in the book Everything But the Burden: What White People Are Taking From Black Culture edited by Greg Tate. I am no intellectual  I am bright, and university educated and I did study the subject of minstrelsy, the Gothic and black popular culture informally at university level a few years ago but I have not got the intellectual brain of some of my friends (all male, as it happens). Black popular culture is also the subject of my other, now static, blog.

However, the essay has given me some pointers. Its author, Carl Hancock Rux, compared Eminem to Pentheus, the protagonist of The Bacchae by Euripides. Pentheus is a  “moralist, anarchical warrior.” Eminem, he says, goes way beyond this. Eminem and his various personae, like Slim Shady, are complex. Like Rux says, he’s not part of the black hip hop culture – he goes WAY beyond that. He is a true outsider who “dresses himself in the garments of the outcasts.”  His world, the world he raps about, is not real, it’s surreal. He’s a “horror rapper.”  Sometimes he’s a moralist, a preacher, sometimes he seems like the very devil himself. But anyone who has grown up in the 2000s can’t really ignore him.

So this gives me something to go on. Artists like Eminem are the antithesis of those who sing worship songs BUT they are here to say something, to make us look at ourselves, what we are sold, our hopes and our projections.

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Terry Callier – Gospel Funk Soul Brother

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Terry Callier – gospel, jazz, northern soul beat Click the link to hear and see his song Don’t Want to See Myself Without You. It’s about discovering God for the first time.

Thanks to my friend DP for putting me onto this. Not quite sure I liked on first listen – giving it another go now and it’s growing on me – certainly very lively. Very funky.

DP has amazing taste in music. Has introduced me all sorts I would

Terry Callier

Cover of Terry Callier

never have known about otherwise. I know nothing about Terry Callier. Will Google him.

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Pray without ceasing…

ON THE WAY

Sounds like a controversial title. We are always encouraged in church settings to have and keep our ‘quiet time’. This is simply a time set aside usually in the morning for a short reading and prayer.

While I have nothing against praying and reading scripture, I have grave concerns about this model. It can potentially breed a false sense of achievement. I have clocked in my 10-30 minutes with God and I’m off the hook. Just one of the ways to appease my conscience and myself feel ritually better. My fear is that it can foster a works-based religious exercise.

And religion isn’t really what I see discipleship with Jesus to be all about… I see it as a relationship. And in a relationship affection creates a desire for greater intimacy. Instead of just checking in every morning in a dutiful way, what about spending all day with an awareness…

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You’ve Got (E)mail Followers

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Friendship

Friendship (Photo credit: Bonito Club)

A few of my real life friends are now following this blog by email (their number does not show up in the tally of Followers). 

Very pleased as this blog is different from other writings they have seen from me. Am maintaining anonymity as it frees you up to write more, erm, fulsomely.

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The Book of Eli

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English: Denzel Washington and Anne Hathaway a...

Denzel Washington and Anne Hathaway at The Nobel Peace Price Concert 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://screenrant.com/book-of-eli-reviews-vic-41561/

Just watched The Book of Eli for the first time on TV. A strange film. Mad Max meets Ben Hur meets The Road.  I did guess that, by the end, the book was within Eli – that he no longer needed a physical copy of The Bible. It had some interesting things to say about faith and the battle between good and evil was well played out by Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman. Is Eli the messiah? The second coming?  In a way he is, for he is a conduit for God. Through him the book, the Word, is released into the world and its purpose, in the right hands, is for good. Once he has fulfilled his task he must die. (And note how his travel companion is a prostitute, a Mary Magdalene character, with whom he does not have a romantic relationship).

As a film in itself the constant sepia tone the directors used was over-stylised and the film’s tone and pace were ponderous to say the least.

The film had mixed reviews when it was released in 2010. I include a link to a review, above.

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Codependent No More

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Cat Behavior

Cat Behavior (Photo credit: Feral Indeed!)

A church connected to mine runs a course for those overcoming addictions and codependent behaviours. My friend, MG, asked me: “What is codependency exactly?”  I know exactly what it is and can usually recognise it when I see it (now, not previously) but describing this behaviour in a few sentences is very difficult.

Wikipedia says, among other things: “Codependency is defined as a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition.”  It goes on: “It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships.

Other characteristics of codependency include denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, control and a very strong tendency to caretake. Codependent people almost always have very poor boundaries. Codependency is often a progressive condition.

The classic book on the subject is Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. I highly recommend it.

I have known a number of codependent people, or rather I have seen people who exhibit codependent tendencies. I’m not talking about extreme circumstances like with alcoholics here but people who are in unhealthy relationships based on need rather than equality and genuine like/love.  We can all fall into these relationships at one time or another. The tricky thing is… how to get out of them.

 

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