Did You Know…… how verifiable the Bible really is?
Often as Christians we are faced with questions concerning the ‘veracity’ of the Bible. There are many various objections to being able to ‘trust’ its contents; but here are just a few.
"The Bible has been put into so many different translations, how can we really know the original content?”
Actually the New Testament was written in Greek; and millions still speak Greek today. There are many who read the original, Greek version, of the Bible daily.
“There are no copies of the original writings; so how do we know what it originally said?”
It is true that there are no original writings that came straight from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John or Paul’s hands, as they have long since crumbled into dust - but that has little relevance when compared to other ancient writings. When we look to the oldest (i.e. ‘extant’) copy we have, we then see how long it was written after the original. The earliest copy we have of Caesar’s ‘Gallic Wars’ is dated 1,000 years after he wrote it. Demosthenes, the great Greek statesman, wrote his words around 354 BC – the earliest copy we have is from 1200 years later. The earliest copy of Plato’s writings is 1300 years after he wrote them. Homer’s Odyssey? The earliest copy we have is 2200 years from the original. And almost all of these writings have maybe 1-5 copies at most.
Let’s compare the Bible.
The earliest copy that exists of the Gospel of John, the Rylands Manuscript, is dated 125 AD. John wrote it in the 90’s. Hence, the extant copy we have is perhaps 30 years from the time he wrote it. We have many extant copies of manuscripts from the 2nd century – within 100 years from the originals, and even greater lengths of manuscripts from the 3rd century and on. And copies? We have 5,750 early Greek copies of the New Testament; and 25,000 more of other translations. In fact, if we no longer had any copies of the New Testament, we can find over 86,000 references to it in the early writings of the Church Fathers, which still exist. We could reproduce the entire New Testament from them alone.
Since there is no dispute ever raised concerning the veracity of Caesar’s Gallic Wars, or Plato’s Dialogues, Homer’s Odyssey or any other ancient writing – then as Sir Frederic Kenyon of the British Museum has noted – any and all objections to the authenticity and textual reliability of the Bible have been removed. For if we were to throw out the Bible as being ‘unreliable’; then we would have to throw out any and all references to ancient history that we have. The Bible stands on a foundation enormously greater than any of them.
And so.... did YOU know how verifiable the Bible really is?
(Information obtained from “Skeptics Answered” by Dr. James Kennedy)
When I was a kid, I remember reading about those cruel, horrible Roman people who threw Christians to the lions simply because they were Christians! It was awful, and I couldn’t imagine a world where such people existed.
But it has occurred to me lately – the Romans had, what they thought to be – good reasons to persecute Christians. After all, Christians were atheists who refused to worship the Roman gods, they insisted on different behavior AND the fact that they wouldn't worship the Roman Gods was the reason all kinds of terrible woes had begun to occur in Rome. The Roman leaders were simply pointing out those facts – and of course, the people believed them. Those hateful Christians were obstinately claiming to worship a God named Jesus Christ and willfully refusing to worship theirs. Of course it only made sense that Rome should be rid of them.
The Roman people, in fact, were no different than oh… say…. Americans today.
Today there is a new god that America worships – it is the god of ‘freedom’, ‘choice’ and ‘sex’. These gods are good ones. They have given women ‘freedom’ to make whatever ‘choices’ they choose – always a good thing, right? They have given people sexual freedom to ‘love’ whomever, and whatever, they wish. And more ‘love’ is always a good thing, right? These are certainly admirable things that EVERYONE should be on board for – right? And if you are not; well then you must be an awful, hateful person.
Much like those Roman Christians long ago.
For you see, American Christians today are still spouting the same old tired lines as their Roman forebears. They claim things like ‘God’s Word is the only truth’ and ‘freedom is only good if restrained by virtue’ and ‘rights are only good if coupled with duties – and the greatest duty is thou shalt not kill.’ In fact, they even label things ‘life’ that Americans have determined, in their wisdom, are no such things. Things like unborn humans, sick and elderly individuals who have been convinced they are better off dead than alive – you know, worthless things like that.
The Romans had no such compunctions in their day either. If a child was unwanted at birth, the Romans simply left them in the cracks in the city walls at night so that the wolves could finish them off. Why would an unwanted child be allowed to live? But those stupid Christians would go at night and check all the cracks to rescue any infants put there. And women! Whereas Roman women had the right to be used by men for their sexual pleasure and amusement anytime they wanted, Christians insisted that women were made for greater things than that! They claimed that women were to be valued simply for being made in the image of God -and that they were deserving of respect, honor and purity. This simply put burdens on women, and impeded their fun!
And even sex! The Romans were very advanced in their day, and sex was simply just a way to amuse them. Most men had free rein to have sex with free women, their slaves and young boys – whoever and whenever they wanted. But then those ridiculous Christians began teaching that sex outside of marriage was wrong. They even claimed that immorality of all kind was harmful to people, and eventually to society. They conjured up foolish warnings of things like the slow collapse of the great Roman Empire if people did not turn back to their God.
And so you see how easy it is. American people, just like Romans before, see nothing wrong with government slamming of Christians. After all, these Christians are trying to prevent women from having ‘Choice’ (to kill their unborn child); and they refuse to pay for contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs because they claim it violates God law. Even though everyone else, like Roman society before them, disagree with them! They even refuse to accept that homosexuality is simply another lifestyle choice. They continue to claim that God’s law is clear, and that they will not violate it!
And that is why bakers and florists and teachers and clerks must be punished today for not accepting the opinions of the majority and those in power. And the more you think about it; the more you realize that what Chicago's Cardinal George claimed a few years ago is true:
“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square”…. and yet the successor of that bishop-martyr “will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”
Did You Know…what some current ‘Heresies’ are?
Last week we looked at the definition of a ‘heresy’ and saw that it is the willful acceptance of incorrect doctrine of the Christian faith. This week we will look at some of them that persist today.
There are 2 ancient heresies that are most currently held by those who broke away from the Catholic Church and formed a new ‘Protesting’ (i.e. Protestant) church 1,500 years after Christ began His Catholic Church. One heresy is the denial of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, claiming that the Eucharist is only a ‘symbol’ of His Sacrifice. Another is shown in the cry of ‘Solo Scriptura- Scripture Alone’! This heresy claims that one must only look to Scripture for answers, and must ignore the tradition of the Church. In essence, each individual must examine Scripture, and determine his or her own meaning of it. (This is in large measure why there are over 33,000 different versions of the Protestant faith today.) Yet both of these heresies were addressed in the very beginnings of the Faith.
The oldest text from the early church, written somewhere between A.D. 48 and 90 (@15 to 56 years after Christ’s crucifixion) is called the Didache (meaning ‘Teaching’). The word that the Didache uses repeatedly for the Mass is ‘Sacrifice’. The liturgy was seen as participating in the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As noted in the Didache: “It is this sacrifice that was spoken of by the Lord.” It goes on to note that believers must: “On the Lord’s own day, gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks.” The Greek word for ‘give thanks’ is eucharistesate, which can also be written as ‘make Eucharist’. The Didache goes on to give instructions such as: “First confess your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure.”, and other things that we would recognize as still part of our Mass today.
The Didache was probably written in Antioch, Syria (where the believer’s were first called “Christians”) even before some of the New Testament documents were written, showing the clear unbroken witness of the Eucharist - from the 4 Gospels onward. Yet St. Ignatius of Antioch was already writing to refute those who were claiming that the Eucharist was not the true body and blood of Christ. He spoke of those who: “From the Eucharist and prayer they hold aloof, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ.” St. Justin, in 155 affirmed this by noting: “The food that has been made the Eucharist by the prayer of His word, and which nourishes our flesh and blood by assimilation, is both the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.”
Another point on which the early Church Fathers did not waver was the importance of understanding Scripture within the Tradition and Community of the Church. St. Polycarp wrote that “whoever interprets according to his own perverse inclinations is the firstborn of Satan.” The heretics Arius and Euryches both aroused horror by seeking to interpret Scripture in ways contrary to the Fathers who had gone before them. Nonetheless, St. Jerome summed up the Church Father’s view of the importance of knowing Scripture when he wrote: “A man who is well grounded in the testimonies of Scripture is the bulwark of the Church.” He also noted: “To be ignorant of Scripture is to be ignorant of Christ.”
And so.... did YOU know what ancient heresies other Christian churches now accept today? Next week we’ll look at some other heresies throughout the years.
(Information obtained from “The Fathers of the Church” by Mike Aquilina)
Did You Know……what a ‘Heresy’ is?
Last Week we looked at who the ‘Fathers of the Church’ were, and how they fought to keep their ‘family’ (members of the Church) together. It was not long before those fights took shape in something called ‘Heresies’. A ‘heresy’ is different from ‘apostasy’, which in turn is different from ‘schism’. Whereas heresy is the willful acceptance of incorrect doctrine, apostasy is the flat out renunciation of the Christian faith. Schism occurs when, in an attempt to preserve a particular orthodoxy, one breaks away from union with the Church and Papacy. Heresy got its name from the Greek word for ‘choice’ – hairesis – when that choice goes against the clear teaching of the Church, which, as we’ve seen, has been maintained unchanged since Jesus Christ and His Apostles. “Pick and Choose Catholicism” is nothing new; and yet it has always been condemned – and most vocally so by the early Fathers of the Church.
Heresies ran the whole gamut of ideas. Some were simply justification for immoral behavior, others were promises of magical powers. Since we humans tend to want to ‘know’ everything so as to have it within our control – many heresies were attempts to explain unexplainable mysteries – such as the Trinity or Incarnation. And of course there were always the heresies created by people who saw sin in the church and wanted to remake it in a better ‘image’. They sought a ‘newer, more pure’ church with a better chance at avoiding sin – forgetting that as long as their church was made up of humans – there would be sin!
As you can imagine, in the history of our Church there have been many, many heresies. Some of the first ones are seen in the New Testament itself. The ‘Docetic’ heresy claimed that Jesus only appeared to be human and to suffer and die, but in fact was nothing more than a spirit inside some kind of mechanical human body. It is believed that St. John speaks against this heresy when he exclaimed “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God” (1 John 4:2-3).
St. Paul and St. Jude appear to be fighting against a different heresy known as Gnosticism. This was an elitist hyper-spiritual heresy emphasizing secret revelations. In his letter to his protégé Timothy, St. Paul is believed to be arguing against this heresy when he closes with: “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid profane babbling and the absurdities of so-called knowledge. By professing it, some people have deviated from the faith.” 1 Timothy 6:20-21
To the Fathers of the Church it was essential to fight against these heresies because Doctrine was absolutely necessary for the continuation of the faith. To believe in a Jesus defined by each heresy was to believe in a Jesus who did not actually exist. For if men could redefine Jesus – then ultimately the reality of His teachings and life would do no more than reflect whatever man’s popular opinion of the time was. And if that occurred, then the faith was lost. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8
And so.... did YOU know what a ‘heresy’ was? Next week we’ll look at some that have been accepted by many Christians today.
(Information obtained from “The Fathers of the Church” by Mike Aquilina)
Did You Know…
…who the ‘Church Fathers’ are, and what ‘Apostolic Authority’ is?
The Fathers of the Church are a select group of early Christian teachers who met 4 criteria:
1. Orthodox Doctrine 2. Holiness of Life 3. Church Approval 4. Antiquity
In essence, these were Fathers who “strove to keep their household together, to preserve the family’s patrimony, to teach and discipline their children, and to protect the family from danger.” They considered the church to be a newly born family and they took great care to protect it. This can be seen in the 2nd century when the African lawyer Tertullian confronted skeptics by likening them to poachers on his estate: “Who are you… Marcion, by what right do you chop my wood? By whose permission, Valentinus, are you diverting my streams? By what power, Apelles, are you removing my landmarks? This is my property… I hold sure title-deeds from the original owners themselves, to whom the estate belonged. I am the HEIR OF THE APOSTLES.” (emphasis mine)
Tertullian called himself an ‘heir of the Apostles’ because from the very beginning, the Fathers took great care to show that their teaching was not their own, but rather stretched back to the beginning of the Church. As time went by, it became more and more important for a teacher to demonstrate his continuity with Apostolic Teaching & Authority – with those who had been taught by Christ Himself. St. Irenaeus was the first to show how apostolic succession had been institutionalized in the line of Bishops all the way back to the Lord’s Disciples. By the 3rd century, teachers began to justify their doctrine by showing a ‘catena’ (Latin for ‘chain’) of unbroken teaching stretching all the way back to the founding of Christ’s Church. By the 5th century this practice became a requirement.
Even so, the Fathers were all very different men. Stretching over a period of about 500 years, they were different in ethnicity and temperament. Some were calm, some were hotheads, some were active, some were contemplative. They also had many different jobs. Some were preachers, some lawyers; some were military men, some hermits. They lived in different cultures and spoke different languages; but they all shared the main attributes of Holiness and Orthodoxy. And they all shared the belief of being an inheritor and protector of the revelation of God regarding His work of redemption through Jesus Christ. The entirety of their message was ‘The Good News’: “Christianity came into history as a fact. It was and is the fact of a new life given by God through Christ and in the name of Christ.” Yves Congar, 1968.
Preserving this Good News was important because within months of Christ’s death, there were those who were wishing to change that message – to make it more attractive to their listeners. Even in the New Testament there is evidence that the battle had already begun – but that’s best left for another “Did You Know” episode!
And so.... did YOU know who the ‘Church Fathers’ are, and what ‘Apostolic Authority’ is?
(We will meet some of them in person next week, and you’ll get to see them put their Apostolic Authority to good use!)
(Information obtained from “The Fathers of the Church” by Mike Aquilina)
Note: the above is a series of teachings on the Christian faith that I have put together for our Church's bulletin each week. They examine the history of what we believe, and are based on the historical writings. Susan Fox
Did You Know…
…that we celebrate our Catholic Mass exactly the same way the 1st disciples did?
In the year 155, the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius questioned St. Justin about followers of Christ, and what they were doing when they met in secret. He had heard rumors of 'eating flesh' and 'drinking blood', and so he wondered if Christians were cannibals! St. Justin’s written response to Emperor Antoninus Pius was this (see if it sounds familiar…):
"On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.
The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.
When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.
Then we all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves... and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.
When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.
Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.
He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.
When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: "Amen."
When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.
The food that has been made the Eucharist by the prayer of His word, and which nourishes our flesh and blood by assimilation, is both the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."
And so.... did YOU know that over 2,000 years later - we in the Catholic Faith are still worshipping in Jesus' and the first Disciples exact same way?
Do you want to feel your skin crawl?
If so, make sure you visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. Something that you think has only ever occurred in a horror movie will stare you straight in the eyes.
It’s a collection. A rather odd collection.
For you see, the Nazi were not only murderers and torturers – they were also pretty good businessmen. They had a penchant for collecting things; though they are probably not the things we would collect. They also had a penchant for selling things; though – once again – probably not the things we would sell.
Their collections were made up of human goods: eyeglasses, baby shoes, gloves, - pretty much anything and everything they took from their victims right before killing them. These baby shoes, eyeglasses, etc. now fill up entire rooms at the Holocaust Museum. Which is kind of freaky when you consider that each one of the millions of articles belonged to a person. And that person is dead.
But hey, in the Nazi’s eyes - why waste it?!
Yet their evil went even a step further than 'collections'; for it was human body parts that they sold. Forget random collections, they surmised, THIS could make us some bucks! Human hair makes great wigs. Human skin makes awesome lining... Need we say more?
Who knew the riches this would produce?!! Well, they did. And so before they murdered their millions of victims – they stole their body parts. Big business - evil horrible business – but big business nonetheless.
Which brings me to Planned Parenthood.
I first heard of the fact that abortionists were selling the parts of the unborn children that they were ‘terminating’; (i.e. murdering before their natural date of death) – over 20 years ago in the early 1990s while on a lobbying trip to Washington DC. I saw the advertisements, and the price sheets. Hearts were one price, heads another. Eyes were listed; so were limbs. These were body parts that were sold to researchers - and I had been a biology major in college. I knew that, in order to get perfect specimens, one needed to get them while the creature was still alive. That's why we anesthetized the mice while we cut them up to make 'slides'.
Therefore, if they were able to 'sell tissue' and have it still be viable - it was being taken while these beings - in this case not mice but humans - were still alive.
I was actually so upset when I saw these things, that I got on the next flight out of town. The evil seemed so incredibly oppressive. “You mean,” I stammered, “that politicians KNOW about this?! You mean…. They are doing NOTHING?!!” I no longer had the stomach to stay and talk to a single one of them.
Yet it is kind of amazing that the Big Business of Abortion has managed to keep this particular fact quiet for so long – until today when Life Legal Defense Foundation published the actual video footage showing the complacency of Planned Parenthood in arranging the whole thing – between mouthfuls of salad. For as the PP director shoveled salad into her mouth, she paused to discuss the ‘heart’, ‘lungs’ and ‘lower extremities’ (“I don’t know what they want them for, but good for them! They are pretty easy to get!”) that they are making a killing on – figuratively AND literally!
Kind of takes one back to Nazi days, doesn’t it?
And I have to ask – wasn’t the entire world furious at the German people? When the truth was unveiled, and it turned out the German people kind of knew – and yet did nothing to stop it – weren’t we mad? Didn’t we claim that they had NO EXCUSE!
So…. What is ours?
Glenn Spamer Jr. is dead. His friends are in shock. How could a 32 year old have died so young? Everyone is trying to get their minds around it - who would have thought....?!
He supposedly played the guitar, I watched the clip. Awful music at even more awful decibels - but that is apparently what his friends have concluded as to the "reason" God has "taken him home" so young.
God needs some awful music in heaven.
It's agreed upon by his acquaintances though - Glenn must be "rockin out in heaven" as we speak...
I don't know Glenn Spamer, never met him. However, I do know that he introduced someone very dear to me to crack cocaine.
As in ... crack cocaine.
My dear one had come out of rehab for prescription drugs. It had been a long hard road for her; but she had finally gotten the drugs behind her and was beginning to pick up the pieces of her fractured life. And then she met Glenn.
He was apparently so cool, and such a 'rocker' that he got her addicted right away. He moved into her apartment where they were able to have one long drug fueled party after another. In fact, she stopped speaking to me when I had to call in the state authorities to protect her 12 year old daughter - who just so happened to be 'hanging out' on the weekends in the love/drug fest. For some strange reason - I thought that it might lead to bad things. But hey, what do I know?!
And so now Glenn is dead.
As in... dead.
What a shocker.
At least apparently to his friends.
And it makes me wonder. Is this really how stupid we have become? Is it really that big of a stretch to imagine that if one lives a lifestyle involved with drugs, inner city crime, and irresponsibility - one just might come to a bad end?
And what about the blasphemous references to God? Let's face it - what kind of a 'God' is this?!!!
My loved one - thanks to Glenn - is now living on the streets. The drug dealer she has since hooked up with tried to kill her a few months ago. She's back with him now that he's out of jail. He beats her unconscious regularly. She takes heroin now too. Recently, when those who cared for her tried to help her get out of her addiction - she physically attacked, and injured, them. My dear one, just a few years ago, was a loving wife and mother. Today she's an addict with nowhere to go. I pray for her constantly, but live in dread of the phone ringing. Could this be the horrible call?
And yet the man who has helped to destroy her life is just hanging out with God; rockin away?
No consequences? No apologies? No acknowledgement of wrong-doing?
Is Hitler up there "rockin out" too?
I'm sorry, but if this is someone's version of 'God'; then this is the most uncaring Being I have ever heard of. It's like the Principal giving an ice cream to the Bully after he pounds some little 3rd grader into unconsciousness. Like the 9/11 terrorists getting a high five and their own personal plane. Like an ISIS member getting a big hug, regardless of the headless spirits standing around him.
Really? .... REALLY?!!
And I realize that this is truly what happens when we decide not to burden young people with 'religion', and the Bible. They get stupid-er. Since the source of all wisdom IS the Bible - it's no big surprise that Glenn's friends can - with straight "I'M . COMPLETELY . SHOCKED!" faces tell themselves such idiocy - and actually believe it.
Sadly, we have forgotten - to our peril - that God is not only a God of Mercy. He's a God of Justice too. And no matter how much we like to ignore that pesky little fact - it's one of the main reasons God is Good.
In case you are one of those people who has never been told this fact, then let me close with a thought. There are consequences to our actions. Eternal consequences.
And it just might be in your eternal best interest to start acting like that might matter now...
It happened again. Once more I stood among a group of people. They were laughing, I was confused. But this time, as it dawned on me what was going on, I grew angry.
Last time, when I sat among a group of teachers who were laughing at a photo of an antique hoe found in Virginia - because it made them think of a 'hoe', i.e. whore - I was saddened that for so many adults, a deviant sexual act would be their first thought. It had never occurred to me; but it was their immediate response.
But this time, it was different. This time, it was children. And I saw, in an instant, how we have willingly killed their innocence.
I was introducing books for the 'Literary Circle' readings. I would hold up a book, tell a little about it, and let my class of 11 year olds decide if it was one they wanted to read. Having introduced all but one, I grabbed the final book to hold it aloft. It was about a boy their age living in Virginia during the Civil War. His family had died at the hands of Yankees, starvation and disease; and now he was living with his Uncle - who refused to fight in a War he did not believe in. It is a wonderful book about principle, honor, understanding and acceptance. It essentially showed that there are different kinds of patriotism - in this case - different shades of Confederate gray.
Hence the title: Shades of Gray
That was as far as I got. As I held the book up and announced its title, the class exploded in giggles and laughter. I stood there confused. What was funny?
Was there lipstick on my teeth?
Did they think the picture of the boy on the front looked dumb?
I turned around, was there something on the black board behind me? I stood there clueless, and finally said, "What in the world are you all laughing at?"
And that's when it came out. "Mrs. Fox," they giggled, "Shades of Gray - like '50 Shades of Gray'!!" And they erupted in laughter once again.
And this time, this time, I got mad. It was such a clear moment of the crime we are committing against our children - and it made me angry to see it.
I stood looking at them, and they slowly quieted down, smirking as they did so.
"You know," I began, "that I don't watch television, or pay attention to the stupidity that comes out of Hollywood." (I had often talked about that, and how they needed to turn off the idiot box, get outside and live a life. They are always amazed that someone could go through life without daily anesthetizing their brains with the garbage on television, and often ask how I 'do it?' - like it's living without oxygen or something.)
"And so," I continued, "I would like to point something out to you. When you saw this title, the very first thing that came to your mind was a pornographic book. A pornographic book. And you are, at most, 12 years old."
They began to shift a little in their seats.
"And yet," I noted, "it never even occurred to me, a grown woman. I know about this book, but I don't put evil into my brain - and hence, evil is not the first thing I think of. But it WAS, for you. I want you to think about that, because what you put in your mind will come out in your life. And in this case - a pornographic, evil book... came out first."
The smirks were gone. There was dead silence in the room as they all looked at me, eyes wide as saucers, mortification on their faces.
As I turned to walk back to my desk, I heard a girl whisper, "my mom has it on the kitchen table!", and I stopped.
I faced them again, and said, "You know, when I was a little kid, and again when I was raising my kids too, it was universally known that the job of a parent is to keep evil away from your child. In the past, parents have literally fought to the death to do so; to protect their children's bodies, minds, souls and hearts - their innocence - from corruption and evil. No one, no one, would ever think it was a good idea to introduce it to them. If your parents are introducing evil to you; then perhaps you need to ask them a simple question - "Why? Why, as my parent, do you want to bring evil into my life?" Maybe they just don't know what they are doing."
"Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34
2,000 years later, you would think we would have finally attained that knowledge, and stopped acting so stupidly. You would think we would have finally stopped choosing sin over goodness, degeneration over virtue, death over life - but I guess not...
Yet this time, as I witness - first in my law practice and now as a teacher - the brokenness our intentional ignorance has wrought among families and children; I almost wonder if we stand without excuse.
Hollywood has ruined us. No, not for the usual reasons - which are pretty obvious; but for something else - something more... normal. It has given us a false image of how lives are ruined, and how families die.
I watched a new movie last night; it was the same type of Hollywood story - the big brother with a dazzling ballplayer career pending, the little brother drunk and causing an accident. Big brother loses the use of his hand, little brother is not heard from for 20 years. The family dies - emotionally. This makes for 'edge of the seat' angst. But it doesn't much make for reality.
In Hollywood, 'family death' is always something big; something unforeseen; something so 'out of our control'.
But that's not how relationships die. They don't die by drastic tragedies at the speed of sound. They die by mundane words, or lack of them. They die by small actions, or lack of them. They die, in essence, by inches.
You know why drownings are so terrifying? Because they are so quiet. They are also so easy. The phone rings, the toddler is left in the bath for 'just a minute'. The gate is left open by mistake, the pond is next door and the screen has a tear in it... Easy. We could see it coming any second - and because of that - we don't see it coming.
No, we've grown to believe (and to reassure ourselves) that it is a huge catastrophe that ends things. That way, as long as we're not causing houses to blow up, knives to be thrown, lamps to be smashed - we're okay. People (and relationships) will stay alive, we will have yet another day... I mean, how could it be as quiet and simple as 'the gate left open'?
But that actually IS how relationships die. Yet another late night at the office; surely the wife/husband/child will understand. Or one more committee to chair, with resultant meetings - surely those dear to you will applaud your dedication to duty. Or that co-worker who is so witty; surely there's no harm to your marriage in just hanging out with him/her. Or your teenager who doesn't seem to really want to be around you; surely it's perfectly fine to let him/her spend hours on their own on the phone/at the mall/on the computer. Or your brother/sister/grown child who just plain irritates you; surely they'll 'get the joke' when you needle them at the family holiday. You 'tease' them, about their job, their kids, their faith, their politics, their beliefs and so on. Soon they come to the family dinners less and less. One day they just don't come at all.
Death by inches.
The list is endless; but it's there.
And it's so 'normal'.
And then one day you wake up and find that nobody loves anyone anymore. The little hurts have added up so high that they are like a mountain to get around. And who trusts anybody to really try to 'get around' them anyway? It's been years since it seemed like he/she cared - what's to start it now?
But the grace in all this is that the opposite is also true. Once again, if you look, you can see the Hand of God in this design. For families that grow healthy and strong don't need super human effort either. You needn't win the lottery, buy the brand new car, be a rock star. All you need do is be there. Listen, laugh, love - and forgive. There can even be a lot of mistakes mixed in - families don't care so much as long as there is honesty, humility, and love. Heck, admitting your own mistakes just might ensure that they feel even safer around you; since they won't worry so much about making some of their own...
Families, relationships, and love grow - by inches also. We needn't have a rocket ship to zoom to perfection. Inches are just fine.
The nicest thing, actually, about the reality of inches is that if you fall - you haven't fallen so far after all. And if you advance ahead - it's never so stupendous as to blind you with pride. And if you want to try to win it back - it's not overwhelming. It's inches - slow, steady growth. Small actions that gradually build lives, and relationships, back up. Nothing spectacular, nothing superhuman - just mundane. Just usual, just typical, just normal.
And that seems to be the best measurement of all.
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to hope in Love.