Posts tagged ‘God’

Responsibility in the Blogosphere | Ethics

www.snopes.com

http://www.snopes.com (Photo credit: biggraham)

Recently, I came across a blog that quoted and commented on an article that has been widely circulated, mostly in email, but is full of misinformation.  I know bloggers aren’t professional journalists and do not belong to any ethical society.  However, discovering that a blogger may not realize the power of their words available online disappointed me.  That at least one reader questioned the report’s validity pleased me, though.  In my comment, I provided a link to the Snopes article referring to the report.

Snopes is one of a few online resources known to research without bias whether a reported fact is indeed the truth.   Most often, such services focus on the distribution of emails and the online publication of materials that are distributed en mass and have the ability to significantly sway person’s opinions and therefore behavior.  Sadly, when it comes to some very important matters such as the interpretation of research statistics, language, and literary work, the complexity of the necessary investigation and of the detail needed to accurately present results is far too involved for a service like Snopes to undertake.   In fact, often times, such is the topic of countless volumes and only the most dedicated and discerning reader can come close to an accurate assessment of the truth in what s/he is examining.

I respected the blog reader’s willingness to read what others write with a spirit of discernment.  Hopefully she does the same with what she hears.  If we are to be seekers, ministers and bearers of Truth, one important ingredient is doubt.  We are not to doubt the Truth, but rather what is presented to us as Truth until we can discern validity to the best of our ability through careful consideration of the motives of majority opinion, well-rounded study, dialogue with experts in their field, reasoned argument, and earnest prayer. God gave us brains and the Spirit to guide us for a reason.  Even well-intentioned persons are capable of great folly, whether by accident, lack of discipline in spiritual stewardship, or the misguided ignorance of spiritual immaturity.  We all have room to grow and we can best do so by exercising the “muscle” of our brain and practicing virtues for the development of our souls.

Aside from personal responsibility in such situations, I’ve been wondering as blogging becomes more popular, what if any measures should be in place to encourage accuracy in the report of “facts”?  How can we do so without infringing upon free speech?  Who would be responsible for regulating such?  I think we can all recognize the difference between slant versus lie.  Even if one source says, “General Smith strode to the mic,” another says, “walked to”, and a third says, “ambled up to,” they all agree on the fact that the General moved towards (apparently on his feet) and arrived at a specific microphone.  Mass dissemination of misinformation has the potential to create or prevent change in ways that have significant negative impact.  What responsibility do I have to help prevent such?

If you enjoyed this article, consider reading the following related post on this blog,  On Blind Faith.  Your comments on one or both are greatly appreciated.

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You CAN be Perfect!

Figure 20 from Charles Darwin's The Expression...

Image via Wikipedia

To affirm, simply put, is to add firmness to. To affirm yourself, therefore, is to add firmness to you and to your self, to strengthen both your definition of yourself and your very being. Start by affirming what is known truth – you are human. What does it mean to be human? A human is not all powerful. A human is not all knowing. A human is imperfect. A human feels. Emotions convey a message. Fear tells us we do not know something. Fear is  useful. Fear is normal. Fear is to be expected. We have no reason to fear fear. Likewise, we have no reason to act is if we are fearless or to avoid anything that might evoke fear. Doing so reflects a form of perfectionism. Do not be afraid to fail or to succeed. You can be perfect – perfectly human, perfectly you.
We are meant to strive toward perfection, but neither to reach it nor to expect to reach it. To have a different mindset is to challenge God, to believe we can be equal. To judge ourselves unworthy of God’s love and mercy reflects an expectation that we can be perfect. Thus we manifest our true sin, pride. In refusing God’s love and likewise refusing to love ourselves, God’s creation, we withdraw our trust in God alone. We again forget we are of God. We no longer clearly and consistently recognize God. We begin to fail to see the God in others, but rather see only the façade which their separation from God requires them to create. We, in turn, seek affection from them instead of the God within they are meant to manifest. Hence, God is no longer our first and only love. We lose our way. We separate ourselves even further from the source of our very being, the only Perfect, in whom when we are ultimately united we are perfected in love.
So quit trying to be perfect. When anxieties arise, recognize the feeling as a reminder that you are human, just as you are meant to be. Rejoice that you do not know everything because it is not your responsibility or your burden. Affirm that you not only have a right to be afraid, but that it is normal to fear. Yes, I say rejoice that you have been wonderfully made, that you are extraordinarily ordinary. Rejoice that you know God and that God’s strength is yours for the asking. Just for today, choose to be, strive to be perfectly human. Tell yourself, ” I am perfectly human, naturally flawed, extraordinarily ordinary, wonderfully unique. I am meant to feel and to fail, to find favor and forgiveness in the fullness of God, forever and the only the Perfector of Souls.”  AFFIRMATION: Just for today, I accept and rejoice that I am a human being, created and loveable just as I am.

When Friends Disappoint: The Case of Few Partners in Prayer

"Praying Hands" (study for an Apostl...

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It seems that often times, Spirit speaks to me as I’m speaking to others. I’ve decided that such responses are applicable answers to the issues of many more than the one person to whom I’m writing, so I’ve decided to change some key details, so as to share them with you all. This is probably the first in a non-sequential series.

Recently, after a long absence from a social site, I returned to discover a post from a friend that she was disappointed that only a very few of her hundreds of Socialsite Pals had joined her only intermittently to pray for the victims of the disasters in Japan. She declared that she didn’t want to be Pals with such unloving people.

This was my response…

Dearest Kyoko, I can see from your story about not being joined in prayer, that you were very hurt emotionally.  I don’t ever think a person is wrong to express feelings. I noticed though that you used the phrase “call people on the rug”, asserting that it was the right thing to do. To me, this implies judgement. Perhaps you don’t mean it that way. In any case, it is not always wrong to express judgement, but we must do so very cautiously. So, I just want to share a few thoughts, not to correct you, but only to spur your reflection on the matter. I’m well aware I don’t know the details of the situation for any involved. Please don’t feel obligated to explain or feel that you must defend yourself. I’m just going to throw out some scenarios. What doesn’t apply, you can ignore.

You said you were praying hourly. I wonder how many of your Socialsite Pals even knew. The way Socialsite picks “top stories” for my Frontpage, sometimes I forget to click over to “most recent” and miss important stories. Other times, when I’ve been long absent or a lot of people have published, I might miss someone’s story that is hardly an hour old because I get tired of scrolling back. (Granted, this doesn’t happen as much on my current Socialsite account because I’ve limited my Pals but it’s a frequent occurrence on the site I use most!) And perhaps others, like myself, were not even on Socialsite. Now of the ones left, some may have been praying and not publishing. Some may be of the type who have hearts of prayer, offering up prayer for the intentions of those in need or in concert with the intentions of those they care about without remembering all of the details to pray specific words, but nonetheless God hears their prayers just as loudly. Some may have offered fewer prayers but with a deep sincerity that few can manage. Some may have desired to be in hourly prayer with you but could not, perhaps because of exhaustion or obligations to family. We all have different callings. Further, intercession is a spiritual gift. It is not everyone’s gift, and it is no better or worse a gift than any other.

What I’m really trying to say, Kyoko, is that it benefits us and others to believe the best of others unless we have hard evidence to the contrary. Where evidence exists, confrontation is best made directly and privately, allowing the person to make amends rather than potentially shaming them such that they turn further from God. Even when evidence is present, it behooves us to be forgiving, realizing that persons sometimes fall short not because they are uncommitted or uncaring, but because they are ignorant of their own limits or struggle with pride in admitting those limits. Forgiveness is not something to be asked for but something to be silently offered – giving the problem back to the person it belongs to for our own piece of mind. At a point much earlier in my spiritual journey, your admonishment of your Socialsite Pals for not joining you in prayer would have felt like a hard and undeserved slap in the face. I likely would have felt betrayed by someone I trusted to accept me. At the same time, I may have felt wrongfully ashamed for not measuring up to your expectations, the expectations of someone I admired. I don’t know how many, if any, of your Socialsite Pals are young in their spiritual journey (which has nothing to do with how long ago they accepted Jesus the Christ as their Savior), but in my Christian youth, feeling rejected, I would have probably quietly disconnected from someone who could help me grow and then drifted farther away from the embracing love of my Lord.

As I said, I don’t know the specific circumstances regarding your request to your Pals. I also know nothing of their replies, their reasons for not joining you. I merely wanted to offer you a perspective you may not have had the opportunity to discover. God bless you. You are a beautiful woman, inside and out. I hope we continue to have the opportunity to grow together by Spirit’s guidance.

The Spirit Takes Flight – poem with image

"The Spirit Takes Flight"

I created the above image by combining primarily photo manipulation techniques with a little computer graphic painting. The original photo was of a sunset taken by me outside of a memorial service for the mother of a long-time neighbor and family friend. The photo’s setting and artistic process, as much as the final product, inspired the poem I wrote (below) to accompany it.

The Spirit Takes Flight
~~to the all the artists who inspire my poetic muse~~

When I stand on my head,
as the sun slips away
and imagine the sky
in soft shades of gray,

I see the white wings
of the Spirit take flight,
shielding me from
the onslaught of night.

copyright 01/20/11

As a Lamb – image

This is one image in a collection I’ve created titled, Jesus the Lamb. They originated as a photo of a color acrylic painting by an anonymous artist in Saint Louis, Missouri. I used photo manipulation tools from at least 8 different programs, as well as using computer graphic painting tools. The last step in this particular image was the addition of the words.

How to Love Stupid People

warning about stupidity

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I first must make clear that ignorance is a lack of knowledge, skills, or understanding. While stupidity is often interchanged with the word ignorant, its theoretical meaning differs vastly. The outcome of both may produce the same actions, but stupidity is in fact a character defect rather than a condition. Both may prevail unceasingly until death, but the latter is far more difficult to eradicate. Stupidity in the sense that I mean it here is better equated with a lack of willingness, a mental attitude that dismisses evidence and experience and reason, the source or sister to insanity – that being the repetition of destructive or self-destructive acts with the expectation that the consequences of one’s actions will magically lose their destructive force and may in fact result in the opposite. Ignorance is relatively easy to remedy – feed the mind and the rest will follow. Stupidity however requires patience, fervent effort, and diligence. To step beyond stupidity requires a deep humility, so deep as to see ourselves exactly for who we are with no judgment at all – positive or negative. Many are not capable of such honesty. Second, before I continue, I want you the reader to know that neither ignorance nor stupidity can be generalized to every part of a person’s being. So, like my co-contributors (as you’ll see this theme elsewhere), I could never truthfully or with good conscience call a person stupid or ignorant, except rarely perhaps if I qualified in what manner or area. For we are all stupid and ignorant in some manner to some degree at different points in our life.
Now, why is such clarification necessary? It is needed because it is a groundwork upon which we may develop empathy, grow in our ability to forgive, find serenity and live with joy. Never have I come to a point of perfection in these goals, but also never have I gotten a start without first building on my understanding of my own and others’ ignorance and stupidity in any situation. Furthermore, failing to do so has sadly led me to act “unrighteously” with a self-righteous attitude more than once. Recently our prayer group discussed how to handle being accused of something unfairly by someone in fact guilt of what they accused you. Sometimes we hold certain persons to higher expectations because of their intelligence or their charisma. We think they ought to know better. We must remember that we’ve all been privy to experiences uniquely our own and each experience affects how we assimilate learning from the next. Therefore, even two children brought up in the same household with the same parents in what seems much the same way experience life differently and therefore do not share exactly the same knowledge, skills, and understanding. So back to the issue our group discussed, I do not wish to focus on the details but just to offer some general thoughts. Without a doubt, knowing little of most people’s lives, it behooves me for my own peace of mind to assume that a person acts unkindly out of ignorance rather than stupidity. Afterall, I have a much better chance of positively influencing them and less reason to take their actions personally.
So, it is important to bear in mind that the strength with which one conveys her/his convictions or the hurtful manner in which s/he delivers them does not negate the presence of ignorance. In fact, it proves it all the more. For a person who is not ignorant of how to be assertive has not reason to be anything but assertive, for in communication nothing is gained and more is lost by aggression, passive-aggression and passivity than by assertion. And since it by communication that we relate, a most necessary aspect of our humanity and our spiritual growth, a person not ignorant of assertion would choose to be assertive. Only someone with no interest in spiritual growth or righteousness AND yet with knowledge of how to be assertive who chooses to act in an unassertive manner could be found entirely at fault in choosing to thus communicate. Of course such a person would likely not care enough to consistently be assertive, for they would likely not care about the rights of others and neither would they likely care what anyone thought of their choices. In such a case though, does not Jesus advise us two things? One, we are told to set right in their pathway those of our OWN Christian community and then only according to the administration of justice upheld by our community. Two, where the gospel is rebuked, we are to shake even the dust of where we have tread from our feet. On a final note I must say, if I persist in choosing to feel slighted by others’ ignorance, I am stupid. Now, certainly, much more could be said on this subject, but I think we have found an adequately place to let the issue rest. God be with you.

Hearing God’s Voice

up the garden path

Image by seriykotik1970 via Flickr

People often ask me how I discern God’s voice from some evil spirit’s or my own ego’s. I share this guidance because it is what I do and it seems to lead me on a righteous and serene path when I am faithful to its practice. I can’t honestly say though that what i think is God’s voice always is; that is for each person to discern for him/herself.

Ask “What’s the next right thing to do?” When two completely different sources – in voice or print, direct or indirect – give you the same answer, go with it. The echo is your assurance that the answer harmonizes with your soul, that it is the voice of Spirit.

God speaks to us constantly, but far too rarely are we listening. If you do not ask and actively listen with just one thought in mind, you can neither be sure you didn’t miss the echo and are only stretching to conform an unrelated message to Your Ego’s desire nor be certain of the context of the guidance you have been given thus sending you in the right direction but down the wrong path.

However, do not fret, even when we head in the wrong direction or down the wrong path, God is constantly calling us back and so with due diligence we shall arrive. Some of us just enjoy a more “scenic” route to Enlightenment, Nirvana, Heaven. When I can though, I prefer the shorter path, however difficult or narrow, because I am convinced the Eternal Valley is of greater splendor than any route which might lead me there.

In a future post, I will share some of my experiences applying this practice.