Congo and Cameroun, Bolivia of the heart. Thoughts gleaned in the two-thirds world. Love affair with language. Can rootedness be non-geographical?

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What do I do with evidence?

“Often the Christian is accused of taking a “blind leap into the dark”.  This idea often finds itself rooted in Kierkegaard.

For me, Christianity was not a “leap into the dark”, but rather “a step into the light”.  I took the evidence that I could gather and placed it on the scales.  The scales tipped in favor of Christ as the Son of God, resurrected from the dead.  The evidence so overwhelmingly leans toward Christ that when I became a Christian, I was “stepping into the ligh” rather than “leaping into the darkness.”

If I had been exercising “blind faith”, I would have rejected Jesus Christ and turned my back on all the evidence.

Be careful.  I am not saying that I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is the Son of God.  What I did was to investigate the evidence and weigh the pros and cons.  The results showed that Christ must be who He claimed to be, and I had to make a decision, which I did.  The immediate reaction of many is, “You found what you wanted to find.”  This is not the case.  I confirmed through investigation what I wanted to refute.  I set out to disprove Christianity.  I had biases and prejudices not for Christ but contrary to Him.

Hume would say historical evidence is invalid because one cannot establish “absolute truth”.  I was not looking for absolute truth but rather for “historical probability.”   -quote from J. McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Evidence I”.IMG_0681

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Something about the Bible for Me to Think About

“Although it was first written on perishable materials, and had to be copied and recopied for hundreds of years before the invention of the printing press, the Scriptures have never diminished in style or correctness , not have they ever faced extinction.  Compared with other ancient writings, the Bible has more manuscript evidence to support it than any ten pieces of classical literature combined.  ……..to be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament.” – Montgomery, McDowell.

“the textual critic of the New Testament is embarrassed by the wealth of his material.” – Metzger.

“Jews preserved (biblical manuscripts) as no other manuscripts have ever been preserved.  With their massora (parva, magna, and finalis) they kept tabs on every letter, syllable, word and paragraph.” – Ramm.IMG_1764

I want to see things as God’s poetry being written in my life. To see all things this way requires trust in God, from me. So be it. I resolve to continue trusting God.

A lover of God’s poetry in our lives.  That’s what I want to become, more.  Become more able to see God’s loving wise hand at work in every single thing about my life, and to trust Him for each thing, not only the things that affect my self but also the things that affect my loved ones.

No sub. Just an entry for this day.

Have decided to write the blog in very plain short fashion and without pictures, for awhile, maybe just a few lines each morning or every few mornings.

I find myself in a difficult season, right now. I’m very anxious. So, I’m trying to stay opened up to God, every second, for God to teach me and guide me through my anxious season and for God to be able to, because of my openness to Him, walk with me closely each step through my anxious season, as my friend. I know God’s here with me, and, but, I believe God works in each of our lives through our voluntary partnership with Him thereby waiting and holding back (God waits and holds back partially, is what I mean) until we choose His partnership, choose His intimate holy Presence in our lives, choose walking with Him. It’s a respect thing. I believe God respects us. And waits for our invitation to Him, to walk with us intimately. He does not force Himself on us humans.

Onwards, to a little bit of a different topic. I love reading and, there’s a book on spiritual disciplines that means a lot to me – it’s put out by Intervarsity Press and is by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, and is a kind of a user-friendly and detailed and down to earth compendium on the PRACTICE AND APPLICATION in LIFE, of, for lack of a better term, “spiritual disciplines”. It’s absolutely FILLED with Bible passages, so I find it a powerful aid to worshipping God.

I was dipping (AGAIN!) into a few pages of this book this morning, and I was in the section on contemplation as spiritual practice. And, I realized that I’m a contemplative. I never named that, about myself, before. I think it’s an okay thing, to be, not better and not worse than other types of personalities and temperaments, of which there are, of course, many. Here are two sentences from the book that helped me to know that this is my tribe.

CONTEMPLATIVES

“The practice of contemplation includes noticing how symbols can give meaning to particular actions.”

And, (one of the)”God-given fruits of contemplation is freedom from a preoccupation with self that keeps you from focusing on others.”

This second one, the “FRUIT”, is one I’m asking God to make and keep to be a reality in my life. I think that having a contemplative temperament COULD, if it’s not Holy-Spirit directed, become an excuse for too much navel-gazing or rumination, and I don’t want that to be the case with me. So anyways, today, this morning, I bring this post to a close, hereby, and out I go to work and to do and to have my focus and my day be in the service of God and others. I’ll see you here tomorrow morning, or, in a few mornings from now! SHALOM (peace, holistic well-being) (in Hebrew) to you…

Our lives touched briefly, thrice.

Our lives touched briefly, thrice.

The first time occurred a number of years back, during a period of about 4 years when I was immersing myself every Sunday afternoon for four hours in a church of about 150 monolingual Quechua persons who met to study and worship God one half a block from the central square of our city, Cochabamba, Bolivia.

I’d set myself to become part of this group of people partly because I wanted to learn deeply and well the Quechua language, which is not one of the easier world languages.  My personal goals for fluency in it were high, and I felt I needed more conversational and listening exposure, combined with an experience of sustained immersion in an authentic Quechua cultural context, in order to progress effectively toward reaching my foreign language and culture acquisition goals.

Every week during that time frame there were visitors from several different rural areas of Quechua Bolivia and a weather-worn woman in, maybe, her early sixties, with a strong distinctive face and her older, infirm-seeming husband always beside her, and a string of children and grandchildren always with them, their whole family from Pocoata, was one of them.

So, that was the first time our lives touched briefly.

The second and third times, the most significant times for me, were when one afternoon a year or so after this, I stood working in my kitchen upstairs  preparing an evening meal for some guests who were invited to come over, and for our own family.   I’d been helping our kids with their homeowork, getting in my self-set quota of self-set language study hours and calling some ladies about information for our weekly study.

My heart sank a little when the property front gate bell buzzed twice, then thrice, for our apartment.

Setting the timer for the bread loaves I’d just shoved in the oven, I opened the door and raced down the creaky rainforest mahogany front stairs, flew across the tile portico, the cement walkway and impatiently jerked open the heavy property gate.

“YES??”

I took in the petite, weary-faced figure in front of me.  Her face had deep lines and crows’ feet etched by the harsh Andes sun and a harsher lifetime of toil among the rocks and clods of dirt on the hardscrabble Quechua farms of the high mountain regions.  Dirt lay under her fingernails and a strong unwashed odor emanated from her.  Hers was traditional rural Quechua clothing – homespun wool, coarse, faded and worn, undyed.  Some of it looked like rags.

Her long black hair, streaked with gray, greasy and smelly, lay parted in the middle and falling down her back in two thin scraggly braids.

Black eyes, deep-set and infinitely tired, looked into mine.

I remember glancing down and noticing that her little wide bare feet were encased in mud-crusted coarse homemade sandals made of recycled rubber truck tires pounded together with cheap iron nails.

Her toenails were long and scrappy and even dirtier than her fingernails.

She carried no purse or wallet – only a faded and ragged striped homemade carry-cloth (agwayo), resting on her back, the thick ends knotted across one frail shoulder.

“Good afternoon, my sister.”  In Quechua.

“Good afternoon, Sister.  How are you?”

“My husband is very ill.  He almost died.  I took him to the doctor and, the doctor says he must have an operation to take out his gall bladder, tomorrow.  We don’t have the money to pay for the operation.  May I borrow one hundred dollars from you?  I promise to pay it back in exactly two weeks from today.”

Socially acceptable REASONS for turning her down were already on the tip of my tongue when, from the outside street I heard footsteps approaching, then saw the tall form of my husband come up beside the woman and he greeted her in Quechua.  She re-iterated her story , and he told her “YES”, went and got a one hundred dollar bill, and placed it in her hand!

She thanked us profusely and quickly melted away.

I was VERY ANNOYED with P. and told him so!  We both “kissed the money goodbye” forever, and forgot about the whole incident.

Two weeks later, to the same time of the DAY, our doorbell rang again and I flew down those stairs and pulled open the round-topped heavy wood and metal door, expecting my teenage son who had stayed late at school to play basketball.

It was SHE, in the same clothes, same rubber sandals, same raggedness, same smells.  She held a crisp one hundred dollar bill in her outstretched hand, and gave it to me.

“Thank you, my sister. May our Great God bless you and keep you.” She held the money out to me. Shocked, I slowly extended my hand and she laid the bill in my hand, as I slowly thanked her, and then asked her how her husband was.

“Fine, now”, she joyfully told. “He’s home recovering, and doing well. Goodbye!”

She melted away, again, down the street.

2 Bolivian Quechua Friends conversing with P. in the Q. language and working on their weaving, the figures of which have been handed down orally and through imitation and practice for a thousand years.

2 Bolivian Quechua Friends conversing with P. in the Q. language and working on their weaving, the figures of which have been handed down orally and through imitation and practice for a thousand years.

No sub. A day’s post, from today. Enjoying living in the moment…

Sometimes it seems to me that when persons who’ve grown up in, or spent a lot of time in, foreign and unusual (to them! to start off!) settings, and then have spent time again in the “home country”, and then go out again to yet another new foreign setting, when they get to that setting they feel TONS of similarities to the foreign settings they lived in before! There’s an affinity there, for the person – their heart’s already bonded there. Instantaneous. Automatic. Something’s very familiar, even though it’s not!

It was that way for me when I was 26 and first arrived in Bolivia, after having grown up from age 2 to 18 1/2 in Africa.

How can I work on being more present to God and being more present to others?

Do they still call roll in high school in the States, with the teacher opening the home room class period by murmuring through a list of first and last names, mispronouncing some of them, after each of which a teen shouts “present”?

Present…Presence… together in the here and now. In the increasingly fragmented world we live in, popular psychology is full of counsel to all of us to “stay more in the here and now”.

Really, where else could we stay? Our past is gone but in memory, and our future does not exist but in dreams. Memories and dreams can be immensely important and are a huge part of each of us! I don’t agree with the people who say, “All we have is the present”. That’s not true unless we happen to be a baby in utero, or one newborn, or someone on their deathbed. What an immensely valuable gift from God are both our memories and our dreams for our futures!

So much of God’s Word seems to be written in present tense! Psalm 23 says, “He leads me beside the still waters; He restores my soul.” Not, “He led me, last October 29th.” Or, “Once, a long time ago, I had a wonderful one-time experience of God restoring my soul – I remember it as if it were yesterday!”

In Acts 2:28, Peter (quoting the Psalmist) says, “You, God, make known to me the way of life. You enrapture me, diffusing my soul with joy, with and in Your Presence.” (AMP)

When I cultivate in myself the ability to “be more present” to God, and the ability to “be more present” to others, God’s love will grow in me and shine out to others, through me.IMG_0943

God’s Provided Some Baby Clothes!

IMG_0043God’s provided some baby clothes for use through “Word and Deed”,  including wonderful newborn home-designed and made CLOTH DIAPERS for single moms and their newborns in the hospitals,  for “Saturday Afternoon Babywashing” outreach in the central plaza, and for the new pre-schooler’s nutrition and Christian education center/daycare, in the jungle.

Praise the Lord!

Reading and Writing in Ancient Times and Today

Thoughts come to mind last night and this morning, on books, reading, writing.

Read recently that in ancient times almost all reading was done aloud.  I think it was probably done more slowly too.  It was a group activity, communal.  Non-isolating.  Nice.  I imagine that the reading part of things felt group-ey and cozy, and then, afterward, the individual’s thought processes, going on alone and in privacy in the person’s head, the cogitations ABOUT what had been read, felt complementary and a fruitful offshoot from the communal reading experience.  Verbal processors would also have felt free to discuss together with others the readings that had taken place, even down to quoting and dissecting exact phrases and words.

Looking at the timeline in the front of my Bible this morning I see that papyrus to make paper and ink for writing were discovered by the Egyptians as long ago as 2500 B.C.  The first libraries then appeared!  I love a good library.  Have one on my Kindle, these days…

Language across Culture addressing Human Idiosyncracy

Language fascinates and intrigues me.  Once a week here in Cochabamba on Mondays I walk to the home of a very old friend of mine who is also my former Spanish language tutor from when P. and I first arrived in Bolivia and spent our first five and a half months in the country immersing ourselves more-than-fulltime in the process of foreign language and culture adquisition under the formal direction of my friend and others.

Now I go for one hour once a week mostly for the pleasure of friendship but also for the benefit of a nudge toward broader and richer Spanish vocabulary, foreign accent reduction and conversational correction of ingrained speech pattern errors.

My friend’s been passing me some TREASURES!

They’re ancient SAYINGS, originally from Spain, passed down through the generations orally and nowadays fast being lost forever, even within more classically-oriented, traditional upper class Bolivian sub-culture.

They can’t usually be found in books.  My friend keeps each of these in her memory, ingrained in her by the repetition of her mother’s voice in her ear through all her years growing up and living with her mom as an adult.  Oral tradition and learning is huge in Bolivia, and here are some prime examples:

“No alabes ni desalabes hasta que pasen cien navidades.” (Don’t either complement or criticize somebody until a hundred Christmases have passed.)

“Quien por su culpa padece al Diablo se queje”  (He who suffers because of his own poor decision can complain about it (in vain) only to the Devil!)

And, my all-time favorite:  “Si quieres del mundo gozar, ver, oir y CALLAR!”  (If you want to enjoy to the maximum your whole existence on this earth, OBSERVE, LISTEN and SHUT UP!”)IMG_2435