Thursday, July 29, 2010

Musings on Mythological Origins

I am reading a book entitled Parallel Myths by J.F. Bierlein. I have only read the first couple chapters. It is fascinating to discover how many everyday words are derived from mythology. Common words like cereal, chaos, chronology, days of the weeks, months of the year, and even the number of days in a year all have a mythological origin.

While stories are seemingly given preeminence in today’s postmodern culture, it is really only a reemergence of what as been common to humanity for centuries. We live in a culture that values creatively weaved stories over cold facts. Lectures, essays, research papers, and the like, pale in comparison to those who can weave their message into a creative story or recounting of a personal experience.

Just the same I have a love for both forms of communication. I enjoy the lectures, essays, and research papers as well as the eloquently fashioned stories and personal testimonies.

The etymology of many a word has a story behind it that gives it greater context and meaning than the definition found in a dictionary. These words traveled down through oral stories of mythic proportions into words we have no context for other than our common usage.

Pouring a bowl of cereal we do not give any thought to the Roman god Ceres meaning Mother of Barley. Nor do we think of the Muses (the patroness spirits of culture) when we enter a museum. Just the same, these words bear a history worth investigating.

The romantic as well as the brainiac in me beckons me to learn about the origin of words. Thus, I read on to discovery their history as I delve into a fascinating book concerning world mythology.

Causes of Atheism

There seems to be some interest in my Helium article on the causes of atheism. The link to this article is here.

Note: this article is not speaking in reference to individual reasons to align with atheism, but with great brevity addresses the cultural and historical context of atheism and new atheism. This is by no means a comprehensive article.

I chose to address it in the historical movement context rather than citing various reasons individual people are atheists for those answers are diverse and I would do them an injustice to lump them into a handful of reasons.

Just the same, all feedback is appreciated.

Monday, July 19, 2010

True Hope

True hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is a product of faith in God. The first verse of Hebrews chapter eleven elaborates that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Scripture also records that Jesus is our hope of glory. All these eternal things are not ethereal concepts, but substances of the nature of God personified in Christ. Hope, faith, love, truth, life all of these are in Christ.

When I say these things are in Christ, substance of His substance, I am not referring to wishing, blind acceptance when there is no evidence, emotions of romance or affection, doctrines, or biology. I am talking about eternal substantial hope, faith, love, truth, and life. I am talking about them in their true form. A form that is available for us to experience tangibly in Christ.

We do this when we encounter Him. Each encounter with Him reproduces what He is eternally into us. Thus, we have hope because we connect with His substantive reality of being. Our hope is not wishful thinking, but something so real it resonates within us and awakens us to the eternal reality.

Christians believe with such tenacity because we have been made alive on the inside and our inner man knows the reality of that which we profess.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Growing Healthy Children

My 7 year old niece was a bundle of energy the other night. She would not settle down to bed. My husband asked her if she wanted to settle down, or if she needed something to do. She ignored him and continued her rambunctious actions. He calmly requested she accompany him into the other room where she would be given something to do. Somewhat confused at the request, she followed, unsure of what awaited her. He picked up a broom and dust pan and handed it to her as she pensively looked up at him. At his request, she began to sweep the kitchen. He checked on her in about five minutes and asked her if she was tired now or if she needed something else to do. She was tired now.

Danny Silk’s book Loving Your Kids on Purpose provided the illustration of how to lead children without resorting to threats and punishment. He teaches how to avoid the “I’m bigger than you, so you have to listen to me and do what I say.” My husband and I have borrowed from the instruction we learned in this book on multiple occasions with our nieces and nephews. The difference is astounding. It really works.

The two biggest principles illustrated by Silk are to give children safe choices rather than telling them what to do. Secondly, he advocates allowing the consequences to be received by children rather than punishment. For example, his daughter leaves her lunch at home that she was given the responsibility to pack and take to school. She calls her mom. Guess what? Mom is going to allow the consequences to fall upon the child. She will not drive the lunch to school. The child now has to learn how to procure for herself a lunch by either speaking to the office about loaning her money for her lunch, or sharing lunch with a friend. She chooses the latter. Moreover, she never forgets her lunch at home again.

She never had to face an angry parent who was displeased with her. She never had to be grounded. She simply endured the consequence of her action.

Adults primarily live in a world of consequences rather than punishments. If we fail to pay our electric bill, the electric company will simply turn off the power. If we fail to show up for work, we will lose our job, not as a punishment, but as a consequence.

Children are fast learners and they are very smart. Allowing the consequence to befall them will enable them to learn early in life that each action has either a positive or negative result. If they are sheltered from the consequence they will not learn to develop maturely in that area. If they are met with disdain and punishment they will only fight harder to do the thing which is forbidden. Such is the rebellious human nature.

If however, they are met with unrestrained permissiveness where all behavior is permitted unchecked and without consequence, they will become unruly undisciplined adults. Consequence is good and helpful in maturing a child into a responsible adult fully capable of managing their own freedom, hence adept at self-governing. Such an adult will not encounter the consequence of the law of the land, for he has learned to govern himself without need of anyone parenting him any longer.

There is a proper place for punishment, but it is typically reserved for out right rebellion rather than child like behavior. Rebellion is not something that is good for the child and proper punishment fitting to the level of rebellion should be delivered out of love for the child struggling with this in his heart.

The job of the parent is to prepare the child to live in freedom thereby being one who does the right thing when no one is looking. Moreover, the parent is to cultivate this into their child’s very being rather than just their external behavior by protecting their child’s heart. They do this by having their child’s trust and respect, for a child who honors and respects his mother and father will enjoy a long and prosperous life. This attitude of the child speaks both to the parents’ and the child’s character and heart nature.

The atmosphere the parents cultivate for the children will be reproduced in their lives. If the parent cultivates an atmosphere of royalty where each child is a Prince or Princess in training to be a King or Queen they will grow up to be thus. However, if an atmosphere is created where the children are managed as inferior members of the household and are seen as more trouble and hard work then that will be the reality that defines their identity.

The parents set the tone for what kind of atmosphere will be reproduced for many generations onward. Many times, parents have their own atmospheres that need adjusting before they can extend a healthy atmosphere around their children. In order to make this adjustment they need to take time to get their own hearts and perspectives in line with what is true first.

Children are treasures from heaven. If you cannot look at them and have hope and joy for who they are and who they are growing up to be, something needs adjusting and that something starts with the parents and then is reproduced by them into the children. Today is a new day to start fresh with a true perspective and right heart.