Going where God leads us (being faithful on the big things… starting with the little)

One of my favorite Biblical parables is that of the talents, and it is one that was often taught in elementary school. There are two versions, that which is found in Matthew (25:14-30) and the other in Luke (19:12-27). In any case, one question I remember coming up is why the servants were given different amounts. In one sense, it doesn’t really matter; we see that the master has chosen correctly, and those servants who were given more were faithful with what they were given.

The other day, though, I was trying to recall the passage about being faithful in the little things, and I found it in Luke 16:10. Those who are entrusted with big things don’t usually start off in doing the big things; they are entrusted with little things, do what they should, and are rewarded with being entrusted with even bigger things. Those servants who were given larger amounts were, assuredly, servants who previously had been faithful in smaller things.

This touches on things going on in my own life at the moment. I feel as though I am on a journey of faith, and that I have been called to do something of great consequence. I feel as though I need to accept this and follow, performing my role in the story, and God will do His. It’s kind of frightening, for it’s like Peter walking on the water – in faith he can do it, but without, he can’t. But it has also been working to deepen my faith, to trust God more, and to reach out to others who strive toward that same type of faith for support. It’s a big thing, yes, but I feel as though I have been being prepared for a long time toward this with the little things. I pray that I am up for the challenge. I don’t know exactly where this road will go, but I work on trusting God in this matter.

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A bit about religious experience

Life has a funny way of getting crazy. For us, these last couple of years have been crazy, filled with both the good and the bad, lots of stress, and an abundance of God’s grace. As a result, I’ve really had very little time to sit down and write, though the thoughts are constantly going through my head.

As a kid who was raised around Protestants, one thing that was constantly emphasized was having an “experience” of God or of Jesus. This, of course, makes sense, because without any sort of Liturgical consistency, without believing that what we partake of in Communion is the true body and blood of Christ, basically the best one can hope for is some sort of religious experience.

For me, this didn’t sit right, though I didn’t understand why. I think part of it comes from the fact that when one “accepts Christ into your heart”, there is supposed to be some sort of feeling of certainty that one does, in fact, “belong to Jesus”. Even from the time I was very little I tried to do the thing that God instructs in the Bible, and I wanted to go to Heaven and be with God when this life ends. But I don’t know when I “accepted Jesus”, because I think I asked for it each time we were invited to in school, and I daresay a good number of other times as well. I don’t want to say it was meaningless, because, of course, it’s not, but I never had the kind of religious experience I figured would accompany the certainty of the enormity of such an action.

Many years later, I became an Orthodox Christian. It was comforting, on many levels, that the idea of religious experience is really downplayed. One doesn’t need a miracle to worship, to pray, to integrate ones’ self into the fabric of the Church. Things ‘otherworldly’ are met with some skepticism, with the realization that we, as mere mortals, can be tricked and confused by many things disguised as ‘religious experience’, and that we ought to be wary of it.

The down side to this is that it seems like many believe that the only people who have genuine ‘religious experiences’ ought to be monks, nuns, and clergy. Therefore, now being an Orthodox Christian, when I do feel like there has been something in my life that one could call ‘religious experience”, it’s hard sometimes even to discuss it. I’m sure that this is the case for some Protestants as well, but I grew up around people who regularly told stories of the inexplicable that they chalked up to God’s working in their lives; God called them to do this, God made something happen, etc. Surely it’s not a bad thing to acknowledge that when we endeavor to follow God, He works wonders in our lives. However, when this is the only thing that people have to try to ascertain whether one is on the right path, it can be a dangerous thing as well.

Music on Monday

Mandy Harvey – “Try”

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This clip has been storming the internet. Ms. Harvey has an incredible talent, and she certainly had to fight to recapture it once she lost her hearing. The song is particularly meaningful, as well, because it captures part of her struggle, which she’s masterfully translated into music, and turned into a piece that is universally understood at a similarly deep level.

I also love what Simon Cowell has to say to her at about the 5:00 point in the above video. He, being in the business that he’s in, has seen an awful lot of the good and the bad of the industry. There are all these people who go into show business for all kinds of reasons, but what is extremely rare is someone who not only has the talent and drive, but who also is inspiring at the same time. Mandy Harvey has worked harder than most to have gotten to the stage of “America’s Got Talent”. The woman practices endlessly not just to be able to sing, but even just to continue to talk, because it is extraordinarily hard for deaf people, even if they could hear for decades, to maintain an intelligible speaking voice once they became deaf. Inspiring in so many ways…

An interview with Mandy Harvey from earlier in 2017, I believe.

Thanks to Bookworm Room here for the “tip-off” – http://www.bookwormroom.com/2017/06/08/mandy-harvey-musicality-deafness/

Real News and #FakeNews

After the terrorist attack which took place at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England on May 22, a satire blog, Scrappleface published a post with the following headline: Youth Issues Cry for Help from Manchester Arena. Being satire, this is obviously “fake news”.

The reason the entire post is darkly hilarious, though, is not because there is anything funny about a terrorist attack, but that what is written in satire is so close to what actually gets published from major world news outlets. Take for example, a tweet on the same subject from the New York Times asking “What Led Salman Abedi To Bomb The Manchester Arena?” (archived at Weasel Zippers). Here we go again with the predictable “unanswerable” question about what the terrorist’s motive could have possibly been. For any sane person, the answer is clear. Although the main perpetrator may have had other “issues”, there was one obvious answer as to what his guiding principles were here.

No wonder that more and more people consider the New York Times, et al., no better than silly internet satire sites, and for all the furor that has been going on about #fakenews, it really would help if these “real news” sites would stop publishing things as ridiculous than silly internet satire sites.