Lenten book, Free of Charge
“Prelude: The Rose”

“in its essence freindship seems to consist more in giving than in recieving affection” (12).
This is not only the nature of God, but also the charge He has given us to do here on earth: to give more than you recieve.

“…love passionately desires the prescense of the beloved. Yet it was that same love that took deliberate and carefully planned steps that would lead to [His] absence” (12).
We thirst for the Living Water that the Lord is for our souls. SOme part of us, our heart and sold, know what we are destined and desire for and we can perhaps only know this through his absence in our physically-focused world. The Lord orchestrates everything. Everything is planned from our physical features, the flowers and clovers we weaved together as children, and the Gift of the Cross. It all has a purpose. How great is His absence, so that we are broken in this world and turn to Him to heal us, to love us, and give us life!

“To give is to lose” (14).
Modernity asserts that when we give, we ought to recieve in turn, that it is our right. We are supposed to profit at every point in our lives, or we really aren’t living. That is a Lie.

“‘But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart'” (16).
This quote from The Little Prince says quite simply what is often so difficult for mankind to grasp, let alone try to live out. Volf goes on to write that there is more to giving than truely seeing with the heart, but also for the hand to give generously (16). We are always busy judging each other and others, too; it all leaves us barren and blind. No one is joined or loved through such limitations.

“The gift of care made it his rose, the only one in the whole world. …He was a boy in love, vibrating with desire and yet strangely at rest. He had found what he was looking for” (16).
When everything else is taken away from us, all we truly long for is care and love; someone who’ll care and love us, for whom we can offer nothing but the same. We do that for our Lord, well, we would like to anyway. Instead, we have come to expect God to just shower us with goodness at no cost, without ever working for it. But we can show love to our God, show that we care, by giving unto others. If only we could disabuse ourselves of the justifications we offer and the way that society retorts that there is no such thing as true altruism – we have no profit for our loved ones, nor for ourselves.

Can we make giving meaningful again, past the point of boasting? Can we make it holy again?

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I have selected a Lenten book to read, and I bought it before all the Catholic book recommendations came pouring in last week and this weekend. The title of the book is Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace by Miroslav Volf. The Archbishop of Canterbury has named it the Lenten book for 2006 and as it wasn’t too expensive (not above $20) I bought it. I plan on finishing it by Easter Sunday.

I started a journal for my New Year’s resolution, but as I have somewhat fallen out of that and only occassionally try to live out my resolutions (Ephesians 4:31-5:20) I have decided to use the rest of the notebook on my reflections of Volf’s book.

Foreword:
“…God gives and loves by nature as surely as a duck quacks by nature – God’s love isn’t some kind of acquired skill” (10). [emphasis added by me].

I don’t have to workd and endeavor for God’s love. All I ever have to do is accept his Son’s death on my behalf, in my place, and know (and live) to what He finds pure and pleasing. Like it says in Matthew 11:31-32, the yoke is light, barely at all to be considered a burden. It will lead me to the Light.

Religion has no place at gym – Opinions

I don’t know where you stand in your faith, or how upset you can get with the misperceptions the media and other people at large hear and then spit back out into the world. Perhaps I could excuse it if I were right there to correct them, but it just creates problems when televised or printed media continue the idea that Catholics are not Christian.

Quite frankly, I do not understand why others would assume that we are not Christians. I know and love and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I declare that He died on the Cross for me, embodying all of mine and all of your sins. Yet, they have the nerve to make a grave assumption based on the fact that the Catholic Mass is ritualized? Or because we have strict requirements for our priests?

Somebody skipped thier high school European History class that discussed Luther and Calvin in the 1500s. Maybe I could excuse it if you were uneducated, but the article is written by a fellow USC student, my peer and contemporary. It is a little disappointing.

Can you offer any other explanations for why people say that we are not Christians, because I am drawing a blank.

But I am definitely writing a letter to the editor regarding this, setting it straight: Catholics are Christians. I’ll post it below in italics for you.

The letter:
There is an important error in Angela Meyer’s article (Feb. 22) concerning Christian songs being played in the USC gym due to the SCycling instructor’s request.

The Catholic Church is the true church of Christ founded on the apostles over 2000 years ago. The term “Christian” has had a variety of meanings and interpretations in our day and age, and unfortunately, many people as a result have become confused over “Terms.” One basic essential Biblical point is that the term “Christian” applies to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, and that He is the only Son of the one true God, and died on the Cross for their sins. However, only focusing on that aspect is not doing justice to the term “Christian.” The Catholic Church has had an over 2000 year history in the whole of Christendom, but to boldly state that Catholics are not Christians is not only ignorant, but unfounded to say the least. The mistake is made in either looking at erroneous historical facts, or not looking at Christianity as a whole throughout the 2000 years of its existence.

I just never expected the Daily Trojan to perpetuate a misconception that many Catholics are trying to put behind themselves and be considered Christian.

[Me]
Sociology, Psychology
Jonathan Dumlao
San Jose

Oh. I see that my bluntness has scared you away once again. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? Once someone reveals the evils they know, and why they are known to that particular person you don’t want to have anything to do with that person. Look, folks it’s not contagious! Besides, if you back away from your sister in Christ, doesn’t that say something about how much you stand in your faith? You’re supposedly willing to take on the Liberals, but…

You have got to be willing to take the fire, to withstand the heat, even if it means that your eyebrows get singed. If we are instructed to either be hot or cold, but most definitely not lukewarm; then I say, bring on the heat. It’s like cold ice cream or hot soup. How would you like lukewarm soup or hot ice cream, and it’s not merely melted, but hot?

At least I entered the fire, and survived by the Will of God. I know the heat like you don’t know. I am willing to fight it. But if you can’t bring yourself near to someone who has survived it, how on earth are you going to get close enough to the source to fight it? Or fight it with the vengeance you ought to be fighting it with?

I’ve got compounding problems. To say where exactly they begin is part of the problem. How far back am I supposed to go? How far back do the issues run? How much am I supposed to, or should I reveal?

These aren’t relatively new questions either. They are in part what ended an e-mail conversation between myself and a man from the Catholic Center on campus last week. They are what have kept therapuetic relationships taut and cautious. They are what drives me to be vague and elusive on-line at times. These questions also drive me to reveal certain events and information to one person and not to another, which can get confusing when you all sit together and talk to a bunch of people and they all know different amounts of information.

Santeria is only one experience I have had. I did not participate voluntarily, but I had to do it. What was I going to do otherwise? The common line I use to explain my experience is “Chicken blood smells bad.” It does, but so did the herbal bath and the incense and the powders. I was scared and humiliated. I can’t remember if it was senior year of high school or if it was freshman year of college. All I know is that it was in the spring and I had homework I would have much rather done in place of the initiation rite.

Mom has continously seen it fit to involve myself and my sister in her Santeria practices. I remember being involved little by little around the age of 13 or so. Mom would walk around the house and our rooms sprinkling herbal waters everywhere. Or she would involve me in the tarot card readings not too infrequently. Several years ago, Dad convinced mom to burn her tarot cards. That did nothing to slow her down. She found a different santero and paid out more and more money for rituals, herbs, and readings. When she walks into bookstores she heads straight to the “new age/wiccan” section. Apparently the “magic spells” aren’t a far cry from the Santeria potions and lotions. She’s got her candles lined up in the kitchen windowsill. They look like candles to the saints, but that’s just the guise for the gods that the santeros adopted back when Santeria was developing in the 1500s.

She hasn’t involved me since the initiation rite, to my knowledge. I wish my experiences ended there, but they don’t.

I am a former cult member. More information on the group here.
I transfered from CSU Long Beach to USC in the spring of 2004, and I found this great Bible study group that was so friendly and open to new members it was amazing. For a long time all I did was bible study with them. Even during the summer months away from campus I kept up contact with them for other Bible study sessions and luncheons. It was in the fall semester in which I jumped headlong into the group, spending at least 8 hours a week doing Bible study with the group.

The woman I had done Bible study with at CSULB emailed me, as she was concerned about the amount of time was I spending with the group and told me that if they were the “Los Angeles Church of Christ” to leave since they were a cult. That sounds really similar to one of the names of the group (Local Church in Los Angeles), so I did a quick Google search on them and found tonnes of negative responses to the group. That was October 4th 2004. I officially left on October 14th. By the 22nd, I was approaching denial and withdrawal.

I am not going to recount everything in my post-cultic experience, but I think I need to put the spiritual attack from a week or two ago into it’s correct perspective.

Once I left the cult, it felt like I was dying; God’s prescence in my life was oppressive, and I felt like if God continued to be a part of it in any way I was going do die. So, once I told God to get the f*** out of my life, a weight lifted off of me. But soon that wasn’t good enough. He was still there and I needed out, I told God that He was dead to me. But that wasn’t good enough. I still didn’t feel free and I hated God just oh so much. I came to realize that God was suffocating me, and that He was my Enemy. But my new Enemy had an enemy. Are not the enemy of your enemy your friend? Yeah, you can obvioulsy see where my train of thought led me to: more Darkness. I turned to Satan.

But I believe now, I began believing on August 8th 2005.

But now I have to wonder, does my past open me up to Satan’s exploitation? Am I somehow putty in his hands? Am I more suspectible to his Lies and Deciet now?

Because I don’t want to be.

So you can see how I can just have a spiritual attack and react to it like a pebble in my shoe — pull it out and move on. Sort of.