Little things that changed my life

I’ve started a list craze. I know, I know, it’s probably not the most intelligent way to write a blog, but I seem to either keep writing something that’s too long or something that’s too short. Anyway, I’ve been reflecting on what makes me me, and I realise there are so many things that I do due to little things that have changed me. Not big things, like becoming a Christian or even learning how to ride a bike [so many stories right there], but little things. Things that could probably happen to other people and have no effect whatsoever. Here are six little things that have changed me remarkably. Six things I’d like to give a shout out to.

1. Reading Harry Potter. On my eleventh birthday, I got really excited. This is before the word fangirl was invented- “back in the day”- but if you’re a Potterhead, you’ll know why. Anyway, I waited all day and night for someone to turn up at my door, for an owl to fly to my window. I wasn’t sure if I actually was one, but then, neither was Harry. Anyway, it’s safe to say nothing happened [I’m just a muggle, unfortunately], but I still live in hope that I’ll either give birth to a Mudblood [sorry for the derogatory term] or marry a wizard. Either way.
That’s not actually why Harry Potter changed my life, though. The biggest thing about it was when Dudley was described as looking like an idiot because his hands were swinging by his sides. That’s why my hands are always in my pockets- because I just remember wondering if maybe I looked like that. Then there is all of the deeper stuff, like wondering how people can be so cruel to others, and finding myself sympathising for the first time in my life, with the villain [Severus and Tom, when they were just kids. I mean, come on]. Reading those background stories, when I was in primary school, was the first time I’d ever fully realised that even bad people have to start somewhere.

  1. Stepping on a stick insect. When I was in primary school, I was walking along one day chatting to someone, and I stepped on a stick without thinking about it. In year six, the CSIRO came to our school with these beautiful little stick insects and taught us all about them- I fell in love with them. The way they walked, the way they moved- I’d never seen anything so beautiful, and graceful. That day, when I stepped on a stick insect, I cried. Seeing it try to walk away, and it slowly bleed to death- today, about six years later, I still remember it vividly. I still want to cry.
    That is why, to this day, I still look at the ground as I walk. I don’t know whether you’ve ever realised you’ve destroyed something beautiful- a vase, a phone, a life- but I cannot describe the feeling you get in your chest.
  2. Seeing the pigment in my dog’s eye. A lot of my stories have to do with Enzo, I think. Sitting in the sun one day, I basically saw right through to the iris, and it was crazy. It looks like golden foil, insanely detailed, like something so small sat down with a paint brush and spent weeks creating it. I just stared into his eyes until he tried to lick me [I guess he got a little confused], but for me, it’s moments like those that reinforce my faith. I know the science behind it, and I still can’t even look at something as simple as an eye without being blown away by the wonder of God. No wonder we call him the Creator- there are few more accurate names.
  3. The melon bet. At the end of last year, despite the advice everyone around me tried to give, I dropped Maths. I was trying my hardest, listening intently in my class, writing notes, doing homework, studying for hours, and still failing. That’s a pretty harsh feeling, that helplessness. Anyway, after failing so many tests, I made a bet with my friend that whoever got the lowest mark would have to buy the other a melon. It wasn’t exactly the season for them, but we both really like melon. On my side, it was rockmelon, on hers, honeydew.
    The situation taught me to make light of every situation. You can’t be the best at everything, but you can try to make the best of everything. At the time, it was a desperate attempt to make the time a little easier. Just so you know, she won the bet, but is now taking 3 unit. Go figure.
  4. Seeing turtles in a box. A few years ago, I went to Indonesia with my parents and Nan. We spent the majority of our time in Jakarta, the capital, and did a lot of shopping as well as seeing the tourist sites. Fun fact, there’s a shopping centre that’s pretty central to the city- it’s kind of a tourist site and a place to go shopping. We were wondering around, looking for something nice to buy, but I was already pretty depressed. A bit of background to the country is that a lot of it is currently in poverty. The majority is classified as “third world” and the people, although a lot of them are friendly, will do whatever possible to make a few dollars in order to survive. It can take its toll very easily. Seeing people like that, especially coming from a first world country, made a very impact, but seeing animals almost killed me. There were monkeys in cages that should be holding birds, chains on their ankles and hands. There were dogs tied next to streets with hundreds of motorbikes on them at a time- there isn’t enough space in the country for the people in it.
    That night in particular though, I walked past a bucket full of baby turtles. They could barely move, and turtles themselves are endangered. It wasn’t just that, though. They were trying to climb up the side of the bucket, making futile attempts to escape, but they were kilometres away from the sea, anyway. They just kept trying and failing, and in that moment, all I wanted to do was buy them all and set them free. What would their owners do anyway? What would they feed them? Where would they keep them? Just the thought of the life they had ahead of them, it really struck me how different the life these people had.
  5. Seeing deaf people sing. I’m going to end with a happy one. I was at Hillsong Conference earlier this year with my dad, and we got there pretty late, so they put us in the back. It was kind of hard to see, and we were on the bad side of the stage. I mean, its round, but you still can’t see what’s going on in the main section. Anyway, we were cold, we were tired, and we were sort of grumpy that we couldn’t see. As we all got up to sing, though, I looked in front of me and saw this lady waving her arms about. I realised we were looking directly at the area where the deaf people congregate, and they were signing the words to the music.
    I have written on here somewhere that one of the coolest things about church is listening to everyone sing and just being a part of that, but these people weren’t part of that. They didn’t care, though. The way they looked, like they were worshipping, and it was just them and God. I understood what worship was, in that moment. So often we make it about us and those around us, but for these people it was just them and God. They didn’t mind who saw them, and they weren’t concentrating on or even being inspired by everyone around them. They were just in the moment, and enjoying it. It was pure, and it was beautiful.

Peace

Peace. Huh. What is peace?

Is it the lack of fighting? If so, why do we fight to obtain it?
Is it the enforcement of justice? If so, then what about the innocents who are now on the wrong side?
Is it the forgiveness of the victims? If so, then who decides who the victims are?

The winners? The friends of the winners? The biggest group, the one with the most casualties, the ones with the biggest guns?

Peace, to me, is important. It’s a bold statement, but I wonder if it is to everyone else?

It’s funny that we watch people fight about peace. People who are not a part of the conflict, but for some reason want to be. Need to be? What within us wants to fight- do we actively seek it?

I believe peace comes from love. Love does not keep a record of wrongdoings, love doesn’t rejoice in evil but in goodness. All of the ingredients for peace have been written down by those that have gone before us, but we think we know it better. We think we can win this one. No one ever wins a war, though. Your history book may say so. The graveyards will not.
Some say peace comes from within, others say it comes from quiet. Well, I don’t know if we’ll ever achieve enough quiet for that, and if we’re all looking inwards, then aren’t we just being clever about avoiding looking at what is without?

I think peace would come if we all stopped fighting- that’s the most literal and practical way to think of it. If the cessation of war, both in other countries and in our homes, actually happened though, I think people would then have to take the scariest step and find peace in their hearts. War stops, anger rears its head and we go back to the beginning. It happens with friends, enemies and strangers. In “1984”, George Orwell wrote “war is peace”, but perhaps peace is war. War with ourselves. Our anger, jealousy, fear. Our resentment, bitterness and “justice”. What is justice? Justice is for God to dish out. Until he does, who are we to say we can do it better?

My prayer and my hope is that we will stop fighting each other and start fighting ourselves. What if peace can be found in the silence? The silence of no shouting, shooting or death. What if peace can be found within? Within our homes, our countries, our relationships? What if peace is not unobtainable, but rather, sitting under our noses waiting for us to look down in humility, instead of out there, where the grass is greener and “they” are “wrong”.

Peace.

Deep Breath [Doctor Who] (review)

I am an avid Doctor Who fan. I own a TARDIS blue bow tie [which I wear], a bunch of badges [my favourite of which says I ❤ ❤ the Doctor], and I know a bunch of useless trivia related to the show [did you know that David Tennent is now married to the woman who plays his daughter in one of the episodes?]. However, the most recent episode was a bit of a disappointment.

We waited for months for Peter Capaldi. In anticipation, I looked high and low for clues as to the way he was going to play my beloved Doctor, and although I must admit, I didn’t make the 4.30 am cut, I did sit get all prepared- too bad it was too cold for my Doctor Who glow in the dark TARDIS pyjamas. Within the first few seconds, though, I felt something was wrong. The new Doctor is mean. He doesn’t have the dark and mysterious but somehow humorous charm of 9, the quirky fun of ten, the adorable cuteness of eleven- he’s different, and that’s good. But he’s angry. He’s dark. And he’s very grumpy.

I don’t care that he’s old. I loved Vastra’s speech about him revealing himself. It’s okay that Capaldi’s a little older than Smith- I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who think he’s very attractive anyway. Eccleston was a lot older than Smith, and so was Tennent. They were still our Doctors, though.  Heck, the next Doctor could be 16 or 60. His lines weren’t what bothered me. It was that they were there because of his frown.

Then we’ve got the dinosaur. You put a dinosaur into a television show, look like you’re going to take it somewhere and abruptly change your mind and set it on fire. Well, that was depressing. The episode also seemed to repeat so many things. I don’t expect new villains every episode, but surely they could have done it a little better. The house that had people who reused the body parts of their victims (“Deep House”), the dinosaur (from “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”, the first episode of the last season), Victorian times where Clara has those cute little curls at the top (“The Crimson Horror”). The poor creature that was just scared being murdered [ah, “Vincent and the Doctor”]. And did the Doctor say “you wouldn’t have done that if you were AMY” at one point?! There’s certainly a lot of reminiscing.

And then there was the whole push or jump thing. Did he get nasty or manipulative? Scary stuff.

 

I think, BBC, you’ve got to step it up a notch. I hope it’ll get a lot better, because the best thing about Smith was that we all got him oh so wrong.

A Few Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me

I started wondering a while ago which things people don’t seem to know about me. Well, here’s a blog post of all of the things that make me- well, me.

  1. My full first name is Patricia and I do not like it. I go through this every time we have a substitute in the class and they mark the role. As I introduce myself as Patty, it’s no wonder that sometimes people turn around and are like “oh, I thought your name was Patty?” Yes, it is, but I was born Patricia. I will probably start using it when I’m around 70.
  2. I’m half Indonesian. It would appear that a lot of people find it cool I can use chopsticks and handle a bit of chilli. My mum is from Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, and family dinners are usually at Chinatown’s finest, so I’ve grown up around a lot of my Indonesian culture.
  3. I have acute claustrophobia. I don’t like lifts, underground garages, crowded rooms, bathrooms without windows, small cars with five people in them, boxes, cupboards, walk in fridges, or classes with no empty desks. When I was a kid, there were two times I got locked into a bathroom- once when I was very young and locked the toilet [and then couldn’t remember how to unlock it], so the firemen had to come and get me out, and then again when I thought that a lock without a handle on it would be easy to open and it wasn’t. I was stuck in there for about half an hour before my mum came looking for me. She made me climb back in through the window I got out of to unscrew the lock. Now I don’t like small places or ones where I can’t get out easily.
    Apart from that, I don’t like loud noises, and so when I’m in a room/car/hall with too many people speaking, I can’t stand it for too long. *shivers*
  4. I much, much prefer it when people just say things to my face. I cannot stand not knowing, beating around the bush, being in limbo or the cold shoulder. If you have something to say to me, I would honestly prefer you just say it. There have been quite a few problems with friendships where people feel uncomfortable expressing themselves, and all I want is an honest opinion. Tell me! Message me! Smoke signal me! [Another fun fact: I don’t know how to read smoke signals, but I’m willing to learn.]
  5. I used to be obsessed with reading. Like, literally obsessed. I used to have a gas heater, and the switches would light up so you could turn it off at night without having to turn on the lights. I used to turn around the heater and read by those little lights. It’s a wonder I didn’t burn my eyebrows off. I also mastered turning the light off silently [the trick is to balance it between on and off], and reading by this plastic candle I bought at a Carols by Candlelight. There were times I would be so absorbed in a book, I’d just turn on the shower and sit on the toilet seat with it, or walk in, get wet, and walk out again to read. I tried propping my book up on the toilet seat while I was in the shower, but I got frustrated because there was no way to turn the pages. Ah, those were the days.

 

Anyway, there’s a small insight into my world.

The Automatic Grammatizator [review]

Book written By Roald Dahl

This I found in the children’s section, surprisingly, of one of my favourite book stores. Although often paired with one of his more famous stories, such as Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Witches, it was a fact unbeknownst to me that Dahl also wrote young adult and, frankly, adult stories as well. When I saw this book, I figured it would be a light hearted read, and so I picked it up. It was rather a rude shock.

This particular compilation of stories reveals a rather haunted side to the author I’d never seen before. Including stories about a man who bets fancy cars in return for other people’s fingers, and a woman who leaves her husband in an elevator while she goes on holidays for two weeks, the fantasy element is replaced with a tone more macabre. A lot of them are quite fun, in a way, possessing a dry humour contrasting to the light wit in his other stories, but I would have to say they are not for the faint hearted. I particularly enjoyed seeing more of the fun that the underdogs have. You can see in characters like Matilda, Charlie and James [with the giant peach] that Dahl enjoyed turning the underdogs or those not particularly upheld in society into his heroes. In stories like the Butler, it is always the side man that gets portrayed as the smarts and the main man that is the dim one. I like that about the collection. There are certainly a lot of surprises.

Something else that makes some of the stories a good read is the care he’s put into them. One of the stories, for example, is set in a war. It’s called Katina, and honestly made me cry. As it’s aimed at young adults to old ones, I think there are a few themes that I hadn’t previously found in Dahl’s books. You honeslty don’t know what the story is going to be able when you get to it. It’s amazing.

All in all, I’d say it would be worth a read. I wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t get to the end of the novel- it’s at the end of most of the stories that the king hit is delivered- but if you ever find a copy, sit down and have a squiz. You won’t be disappointed.

My Testimony

I was reading a site on things people could write in their blogs and one of the authors suggested that bloggers write something personal relating to their niche. I found myself wondering what my supposed “niche” was, and I think I’d describe it as things that may somehow make the world a better place. Books people should read, nifty tricks on how to do stuff better. I once heard of a book called “for all things, inquire within” [something like that, anyway], and I think that is what I’d like my site to become. For that reason, here is a story I hope will inspire- it is my own.

Well, I was born to two Christians- Jason Ayres, born and raised in Australia, the middle child, fair dinkum [he actually says that from time to time] and Sherly Ayres, nee Winata, from Indonesia having just studied in New Zealand. They were brought together by their pastor, went to the same church, and a few years later, I was born. I think one of the things that impacted me most growing up was seeing the two cultures clash. I didn’t fully understand what Christianity itself was for a very long time, but both of my parents, no matter what had happened during the week, always found it imperative that they get me to youth, church, Sunday school, scripture- whatever I wanted to go to that had to do with God. They always referred to their ministers, their Bibles- church has been a part of my family for as long as I can remember, and it was special. I wasn’t sure why it was so, but I could see the way my parents relaxed as they walked into church, and the strength of their relationship because of that.

Both of my parents have disabilities, as well. My mum got polio at the age of three months old, and it causes complications for her as one foot is smaller than the other. My dad has mild cerebral palsy, and a brain injury, as well as the fact that he wears glasses. At school, sometimes kids would ask me [in the way kids do] why my dad walks funny or why my mum speaks funny, and that was a bit confusing for a time. When I finally got ‘round to asking, though, my mum said she had stopped minding a while ago about her disability because it was what “God” wanted. She wasn’t sure why, but he had given her that lot in life, and she had learned to be content with it, and see where it took her. In that way, I’ve always been close to my mum. She doesn’t complain, and she doesn’t whinge. She just lives her life, and it’s important to her. Same with my dad. They’re inspiring that way, and they always manage to find a way to draw strength from their faith.

Anyway, so I found myself attending church every week, eventually bringing along friends to youth. I knew my Bible stories backwards, and I could almost quote all of the books of the New Testimony [almost]. I lived what I liked to think of as the Christian life, and God meant something to me. I wasn’t sure what or why, but there was this time that the Gideon’s came to give everyone in my year a small Bible, and some people just threw theirs in the bin, or in the library book return chute [rather inventive, I suppose]. One girl, however, said, probably without thinking, “oh, I wonder why they give us this piece of s***” and I broke down crying. There was just something about it, the way she said it, the way she held it, perhaps, and I guess that is when I understood that I must have a soul, because something was certainly reaching out to that little red book.

The defining moment for me was when I went to a Christian camp near Ingleside named Camp Kedron. I’d been going since I was little, as a friend had invited me along, and this particular camp, the last talk just happened to be on the farmer sowing his seeds. Some fell on rocky ground, some grew and were strangled and some just grew and grew [it’s somewhere in Luke if you’d like to have a look]. Anyway, I think the problem I’ve always had with my faith is that it is so easy when you’re at a camp or at church to think everything is going to change. You’ll read your Bible every day, and you’ll talk to your friends about Jesus as soon as you see them Monday morning. The man speaking- I only remember him as “Mark”- called it “camp faith”, and I found myself listening to him describe me word for word. It was just one of those moments. Anyway, at the end of the service, I made a decision to commit my life to Jesus, and try a lot harder to listen to what he had to say.

It was only a few weeks after that, I think, that I found out my uncle had been diagnosed with lung cancer. To put it into a bit of context, this was an Uncle I had never met. In a way, my parents have been protecting my from half of my dad’s family for a very long time. They’re into a few things that, as I grow older, cause my heart to break, and I also find it hard not seeing them as often as I’d like to- it’s a complicated situation. All the same, this was an uncle who meant something to my cousins, and my cousins mean something to me. They mean rather a lot to me, actually- being an only child, I enjoy being like a kind of surrogate sister when I can. Anyway, I was up late one night and my dad was going to visit my uncle in hospital, so I decided to write him a letter. I’m adding this to my story simply because at the time, I realised that there are a few parts to being a Christian I hadn’t heard about before but I knew existed. There are practical ways to live out love, and grace, and peace, and at the age of eleven, I figured the best way to do that was to give this uncle something, perhaps, that would make his day a little better- a little easier at least. He never got a chance to write one back, but I do know he got baptised that day, right there in his bed. I know that it meant something to him. I know that family extends beyond whatever ties we had through different marriages, to something deeper. I know that I’ll get to meet him some day, and that’s a good feeling.

Anyway, to finish up, I still go through struggles- we all do, I suppose. I’ve been a Christian for 5 years now, and I’m relieved to say it hasn’t gotten any easier. I say that because there is something in me that likes a challenge, and something in all of us that likes knowing it’s all worth it. I want my story to inspire people because there are struggles for all of us- I grew up in a Christian household, but I wasn’t a Christian myself until I was 11. For some people they have the same situation and they don’t have their own faith until they’re 71. My message would be that we all need to own our own faith, and make it personal; also that there will always be challenges, and they can be tough, but you’ll get through them and they’ll be worth something. That Christianity isn’t just a title- we all go through tough times, yes, but I’m living proof God makes them bearable.

Favourite Images of Today

There are a lot of things on the ‘net today, but one of the things that are often blended into the background are the photographs. There are so many amazing and beautiful images posted each and every day, and I’m not talking about the kind that come in a square or with a toaster filter. As technology advances, so does the clarity of moments captured.

Anyway, I had a bit of a dig and these are some of the best I could find in a day. Feel free to post links to photos you think should be on here.

shark

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/

In this photograph there is an animal that kills billions of its own kind every year- that doesn’t discriminate in what it eats, murders or destroys and that believes it owns its territory, ruling through sheer power and force. Swimming next to it harmoniously is a shark.

That’s a bit of tongue in cheek, and I can’t remember who originally said it, but I think it sums up this photograph. Too often we worry about what sharks want to do to us, but this photograph seems to simply say that if we’re not too scared of each other, things go a lot better.

 happy goat wall

Two words. Happy. Goat.

http://www.frogforum.net/attachments/general-discussion-news/42856d1354218981-identification-tiny-frog-needed-please-smallest-frog.jpg

frog

This is a ridiculously tiny frog that I thought was adorable. Unfortunately, it’s apparently extremely poisonous [which doesn’t explain why she picked it up with her bare hands, but oh well]. It’s crazy to me, to think that something that small still holds all of the things it needs to be alive. It wouldn’t even be able to be seen if the photo was one her, and the frog was in front of her. So detailed, so small- only God could be so great.

http://awayforabit.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/tb6gkwwe.jpg

porc

This is a baby porcupine. It’s absolutely adorable [unlike its cousin, the baby echidna…]. Thankfully, they don’t get that spiky until they grow up a bit, but I just found it really sweet.

http://www.sunnyskyz.com/images/webpics/fjeru-tiny-baby-turtle.jpg

turtle

I tried not to dominate this post with baby animals, but I really couldn’t help it. This is a baby turtle flipped onto its back- I hope it’s not dizzy. To be honest, though, it kind of looks like it’s posing J

http://www.girlfriend.com.au/gallery/celebs-celeb-pics-doctor-who-world-tour-sydney

doctor who sydney

There are quite a few other funny ones on the site- I’m pretty sure he wasn’t certain who was taking the photos at the time, but I like this one not just because it’s Doctor Who related, but because Jenna-Louise Coleman [a.k.a. Clara Oswin Oswald] looks so sussed, like she knows what’s going on while Peter Capaldi [a.k.a. Doctor 12/14] looks a little confused and like he’s so proud to have his arm around her, pretty much encompassing the relationship between their characters on the show.

http://hungryaustralian.com/2014/07/sweet-potato-and-corn-soup-and-friends

soup

This is from the lady who won the “Best Australian Blogs” competition. She writes about recipes, etc., but the photographs she takes of her dishes for her site are truly phenomenal. They’re clear and pretty, really putting her work on show in more ways than one.

My Family And Other Animals [review]

One of the best penguin classics I have ever picked up is the autobiography of Gerald Durrel. A lot of them can make you question the word “classic” [although there’s always the term “classic hits and classic misses”], but Penguins are a good punt as a general rule because they’re always ten bucks and so, either way, you’ll get your money’s worth. It looks pretty good having them on your shelf too. My Family and Other Animals, however, made me laugh, and it’s one I think everyone should read.

The story follows a little boy and his family as they decide to drop everything and move from their home town in England to a little island named Corfu in Greece. The culture swap paired with Gerry’s interest in animals and insects combine to make a beautiful story as he speaks with honesty and humour about his brother, sister, mother and dogs, all of whom go through interesting adventures of their own.

I think what’s best about the story itself is the way it is written. There is, of course, a sense of nostalgia about it all, but it doesn’t have the faint musty feel that some autobiographies possess. Rather, it is a man who still has the sparkle in his mind’s eye that he had as a child, and that makes the novel a fun and easy read. There are lots of laugh out loud moments, and a few that make you wonder- I sat in the sun reading it with my dog, and afterwards, all I could think about were how many traits he possessed, and what a truly wonderful creature he is. It makes for quite a few special moments of your own, as you read accounts of his. He describes everything in vivid detail and part of me wondered if it was, in fact, just a fiction with a main character with the same name as him. Durrel writes of living a life I think we’d all like to live once in a while, and it’s a great feeling to live almost vicariously through his tale.

From me, it’s a five out of five.

Ten Myths About Christianity

The media is often found talking about Christianity, and they don’t always get it right. Just as if I were to write a blog post on Buddhism with all of the things I’ve learned in Studies of Religion, I feel there’s often a personal perspective missing or not talked about as the facts are skimmed over and perhaps sometimes twisted. I’m talking about media as encompassing everything- television shows, radio talk shows, movies, magazines and newspapers. Especially shows like “A Current Affair” and “Today, Tonight” [there should be a comma there] who are always happy to tell us how much we’ve been ripped off when we give our offering at church. I think it’s about time these myths got defunct, so whether you’re a Christian or not, here’s the truth on church.

  1. There are a hundred rules you have to follow. I was asked recently if Christianity is one of those really strict religions where you have to do all these things. It really isn’t. The entire basis of Christianity is that we just can’t. You can have all these rules, but they’re impossible to follow. When Jesus went around preaching for about 3 years, there are countless times when he was asked questions about the laws- which were the most important, when to follow the rules, what to do if x, y or z happened. Jesus not only broke the rules in the eyes of the extremely religious [for instance, healing someone on a Saturday- the Sabbath, when you’re not meant to do anything] but he summed up everything a person should do in one sentence [rather than 217]. “Love God, love each other.” You love God because he loved you, and you love others because God loves others. Through this, you’ll find yourself becoming more like Jesus, if that’s what your aim is, because under those two laws come everything else.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

-Mark  12:30-31 (NIV)

  1. Offering is compulsory. This is a corker. The amount of television shows I have seen trying to tell the world that they are throwing their money away when they decide to give money at church, it’s a wonder people still give. But they do. Giving is something that comes from the heart. It is something you decide to do, not under pressure from a speaker, or in the spur of the moment while the music swells, but because God asked his people to build his house. If we all attempted to do that separately, not only would we have a million empty churches, but it’d all go to waste; it is because of this that we give to our church. Churches use the offering for electricity bills, and maintenance. They use it to pay the people who have preaching as their full time job. Churches aren’t organisations, but use the money they are given to benefit the greater society.
    The thing is, that if you don’t want to give, you don’t have to. If you’re feeling pressured to give, and you decide not to, then no one will turn around and bully you. The bucket passes by people every week- some people put in two dollars- some people put in hundreds. It is completely up to you as an individual. The idea that pretty much encompasses what offering should be is that the amount does not have to be equal, but the sacrifice should be.

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

-Mark 12:41-44 (NIV)

  1. Women are inferior. I think this is one that is unfortunately backed up by some bits of history, and still even practiced around the world today, but it is not one that is Bible based. There are a lot of Bible verses subject to interpretation, but none of them say that it women should be oppressed or men should somehow dominate them. Furthermore, such oppression is not within the character of God, which is loving and has good plans for all of us.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

-Jeremiah 29:11

It’s simply the way some people, throughout history, have interpreted it. It’s not up to people, though, and when we look back to the Bible, it doesn’t work that way. Different things that are to be taken into consideration is that the husband is the leader of the family. While the wife submits to his will, he has to listen to her, and it should be a relationship based on love rather than fear. There’s also the debate on whether or not women should preach in church [you already know my views on that], but throughout that, it is still argued on the side against it that women are not inferior- they just can’t preach. Oh well. At the end of the day, no one should live in fear or under anyone’s judgement or rule but God.

  1. God is mean. Within religion, the idea is generally that God created the world and us, so he is therefore powerful. Then we of course spread off into different directions [some people don’t think God is a he, or a god, etc.], and a lot of those branches have different opinions on the nature of God. In Christianity, the idea is simple- our God is one of love, and he is often described as the perfect father figure. Although not everyone grows up with a perfect father, I think it’s often easy enough to discern what the perfect father figure is, and our father in heaven is that and more. He is not just the father of Christ, but we are often called his children as well.
    2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

-John 3:2

None of that fits within the idea that God is in any way cruel or mean. The idea of a perfect earthly father doesn’t go with one who hits his children or his wife [the church is also described as the bride of Christ], neither does it fit with one who is distant and scary.

He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.

-Psalm 144:2

You can have a healthy fear of God [Exodus 18:21], which means you don’t muck about with him, and you know that he means what he says, but that comes with a love of him, a relationship with him, and a trust that he will use his power to do what is best for you. He’s great like that.

  1. It’s us and them. I think regularly it can seem like, when you walk into a church, it’s different from secular life. Oftentimes that can be a good thing- the people are happier, the music is cheerful and the food is great. It’s a sneak peek into what heaven is going to be like some day as we hang out with our Christian brothers and sisters. The problem is, though, that that can cause a disassociation with the outside world when we step outside of a Sunday morning. Suddenly everything seems a lot bleaker, and compared to the people you’ve just met, I reckon society seems a little meaner as well. It isn’t so, however. We’re all people, and even if you are already a Christian, you once had no idea about this awesome life yourself. It’s always helpful to remember that there is no us and them- not with atheists, not with Muslims, not with Jews and not with those who have no religious leanings at all. Christ came and died for us all, and there’s no love in attempting to separate ourselves from the rest of the world.
    For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that whomever believes in him will never die but have eternal life. 
    John 3:16It can also be a dangerous thing, though. If you like a certain thing about the people in your church, then you perhaps try to be like them in order to fit in. Why should that not spread to the rest of your life though? When the thinking of them and us comes into play, either you begin thinking that you’re better than everyone else or you start acting in two different ways. Living a double life, as one can learn from Hannah Montana, can be quite perilous. It’s better to try and live the Christian life, be the same person, seven days a week, and that sort of living can have positive repercussions.

3-36 “No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It’s put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they’re going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.”

-Luke 11:33 (MSG)

  1. Modesty is key. This one is a bit fiddly. I would say that it largely depends on how it is used.
    Firstly, it’s used in a literal sense, and that’s okay. It isn’t really explained, but the general idea is that one shouldn’t wear something too revealing- no low cut tops, no short cut skirts. I think it needs to be used in moderation. If we track the idea to the source, it’s simply so that the praise and glory doesn’t come down to the women, but to God. People shouldn’t be the focus of church services, but Jesus.
    Something that might help with this idea is comparing two different translations. 1 Timothy 2:9.
    New King James Version: 9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,
    The Message: And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.

On this note, I’d like to add that this is a trend men could follow. Although we should look nice and presentable when we attend church, as a sign of respect, something we should all look at while getting dressed is who we are getting dressed for. Ourselves and others are not acceptable answers. Wearing something that looks nice, sure, but isn’t distracting in any way [which includes loud colours, over packing jewellery, etc.] so people can concentrate on what they’re there to concentrate on.
Something I’d like to tack onto here is that modesty isn’t just for within church. A low cut top or a guy wondering around without his shirt on can be very distracting in ways that a Christian does not want to be distracted.
As Cher said in Clueless, “sometimes you have to show a little skin. This reminds boys of being naked, and then they think of sex.” Unfortunately, it’s all too close to the truth, and as we try to be loving to one another, it’s a lot kinder to try and help other avoid temptation.

 

The second way modesty gets talked about is through not being proud. Once again, something that’s got to be used the right way. I reckon we’ve all seen it go both ways- you praise someone for something and they either go on and on about it or pretend like there’s nothing to be praised about. Frankly, both qualities in a person can be a little annoying. See, there’s a difference between being proud and taking pride in something, just like there’s a difference between having a drink and being a drunk. The distinction is in the permanence of the state, the thinking of the individual and the amount that is had. If you’re always really proud of yourself, and think there is nothing wrong with you or anything you do, you are proud. If you do something really well, yet still realise that you have faults, you can have pride. Pride’s like a knife- sharp, useful and dangerous when used in the wrong way.

  1. We all sing and clap and dance/ we all sit and read and whisper. Everyone’s a little different, and the same goes for church. As with clothes, you may choose to wear something a little different, but as long as you’re wearing some, it’s okay. Different ways of worshipping apply to every church. There are the conservative, the loud, and the places akin to going to a concert. There are services for the old, the young and the busy. The same manner does not apply to every church, and so no one should be afraid of attending a service, or even attending a few different ones. Same with the clothes analogy, it may take a while to find one that fits just right, and it’s more fun when you shop around.
    Something that I feel I should mention, though, is that there will almost always be singing [whether old songs or new], and a sermon [where the pastor explains a little bit of the Bible, or an idea, etc.]. There will be praying [which is when you talk to God] and other people in the church. The rest, I’m happy to say, varies.
  2. You can’t trust a priest. Something that’s saturated the media for way too long is the scandal with priests and little kids. I say all too long because my heart honestly goes out to all of the people who were abused as kids- it should never have happened this way. I have lived a pretty care free life, and priests, pastors, Fathers, etc. have always been a figure of someone I can trust and talk to. I cannot even picture what it must be like to have that trust betrayed.
    I really want to say, though, that not all clergymen are not worthy of trust. Everyone is different, and being a bad person doesn’t come with the job. There are still good priests out there, who you can trust and talk to. I suppose the saddest lesson to be learn from this is that you just have to be a little more careful before immediately trusting someone- anyone. However, there are still men [and women] of God out there. Nobody is perfect, but not everyone is dangerous.
    17 Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?
    -Hebrews 13:17
  3. You’ll be swamped with people trying to convert you if you ever attend church. If you go to a church service and no one comes to welcome you or talk to you, something’s wrong- you will almost always have someone smile at you, or come over for a chat. However, one of the biggest stereotypes that people go into church with is the “bible basher”. I have been going to church for pretty much my entire life, and I have only ever met a handful of people who tried to tell me their religion. I say their religion because church is never a place you should feel uncomfortable, or out of place.  Rather, it’s one of the only places I’m certain everyone can fit in. There may be a talk at the end about raising your hand if you feel compelled to accept Jesus, but it’s called accepting because you’re not being forced to take it. There are no padlocks on the doors, there is no security guarding the gate- if you’ve just gone for a look, good on you.
  4. Just because you go to church you’re a Christian. It doesn’t work this way and it’s never worked this way. As the saying goes- if you sit in your garage and honk, it doesn’t make you a car. I don’t really think there’s any more to be said on this subject, but it is a common misconception. Not everyone you meet in church will be a Christian- that is, someone who follows Christ and has a personal relationship with him.
    You can’t even piggy back your parents or your friend’s relationship with Jesus. Not everyone has “that moment”, but everyone should be able to survive on their own faith. If you’re not going to church because your friend isn’t, or you’re not reading your Bible during the week because youth is cancelled, it’s about time you had a peek at your faith to see if it’s still thriving.
    |
    21 Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only the ones who obey my Father in heaven will get in. 22 On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, “We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles.” 23 But I will tell them, “I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!”
    Matthew 7:21-23 (CEV)

Anyway, I hope this has helped as a basic understanding of what really goes on in church. The best way, however, to clarify your questions, is to check it out for yourself.

 

Bible verses from: https://www.biblegateway.com

Pride, Prejudice and Zombies [review]

Written by Seth Grahame Smith, this is a parody of the classic Pride and Prejudice, and a good one. It follows the basic story, and includes all of the main characters, but it’s a bit easier to understand. The problem for a lot of people, including myself, is that the way stories were written a hundred years ago is [quite frankly] boring, and the language is difficult to understand. I found that, because I actually had to read Pride and Prejudice for school and couldn’t get it, reading this first made sure I got the general gist of the storyline [and could therefore follow it while reading Jane Austen’s version] but I was actually interested in what I was reading. Adding zombies can do a lot for a book.

The basic storyline for both novels is that there is a family where there are only daughters. Across the way live two gentlemen- the grumpy Mr. Darcy and the nice Mr. Bingley. The two daughters that the novel mainly follow are Elizabeth [who has a love-hate relationship with Darcy for most of the book] and Jane [who’s got her eyes on Bingley]. Chucked into the story for a bit of fun are Charlotte and Mr. Collins- for further information on their characters, you could watch “Lost In Austen” [first airing in 2008, it’s a BBC miniseries]. Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, however, takes away the sort of aloof-ness or traditional feminine qualities the girls possess as they fight for love alongside killing zombies. It may sound a little corny, but when you find yourself reading Austen’s tale, there are so many moments where the storyline may get lost in dialogue or pages and pages describing something, and you’ll look back and be able to join the dots.

I would recommend reading it, especially before you read the classic if you haven’t already. It’s humorous and light in a way that a 21st century teen understands.