Random facts: divinaton

I have recently been seeking inspiration for artwork in odd places.. tonight it has been Schotts Original Miscellany’, which I always find hugely funny and occasionally interesting…
So tonight I stumbled across a list of techniques of divination.
Divination being:
div·i·na·tion

play_w2(“D0304200”)

(dv-nshn)

n.

1. The art or act of foretelling future events or
revealing occult knowledge by means of augury or an alleged supernatural
agency.

2. An inspired guess or presentiment.

3. Something that has been divined.
The bible clearly tells us that divination is wrong. In my naiveity the only time I had heard the term used previously was when my dad talked about water divining…;)  So I was surprised  at the extent of this list which I won’t print in full but includes:
Anthroposcopy: Observing facial features
Augury: Behaviour of birds
Osteomancy: Studying bones
Arithmancy: Analysis of numbers
Bibliomancy: Interpretatation of random (often biblical) texts
Pegomancy: looking at fountains and springs
Ornithomancy: Studying patterns in the flight of birds
Well I had no idea… all I can say is that if you are studying the flight of birds and ashes or bones to try and predict the future, then that is far more nuts than believing that a guy who rose from the dead 200 years ago can speak to us all today…
That said, in several places the bible suggest that divination does work, but just that God doesn’t like it. But how muchb does he not like it? and how much do we do today that could be seen as a form of divination? forecasting the weather? future patterns in the stars, even looking at body language…
At the risk of being contraversial, one could say that prayer is divination, couldn’t one? I mean speaking to a higher, supernatural force, and often hoping to discern the future in the process?  Even the word ‘divine’ is suggestive of God, perhaps not our God, but a God or divine being…

Prayer battles or battling with prayer…

'cold prayer' photo (c) 2008, Keith Riley-Whittingham - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/Prayer is definitely a battle at the moment… and not in the spiritual warrior kind of way. I don’t know why, but I seem to be going through a phase of finding it nearly impossible to pray. I mean little arrow prayers are fine but real prayer, real concerted quiet time with God, I just cannot do it. It’s like my mind is battling with me. Partly I think it’s because I have been too tired to get up early for my quiet time before everyone else is up, which I am really missing. And on top of that the school hols have now started so quiet time during the day is almost impossible.

But then, if I do have time I plan to sit down and pray, and I just cannot switch off my brain. I cannot focus on bible reading, my mind just wanders off, I cannot have quiet prayer time without losing track, or I start planning tonights dinner or what we will do tomorrow. I don’t know maybe I just need to embrace that now is not a season for too much prayer, the kids are at home for 6 long weeks and it’s not easy to find time. But at the same time I feel totally lost without it. I know people say you can be prayerful in all that you do, but for me that’s just boll**ks. I really need time to just ‘be’ with God, to just sit in silence and be in his presence. It’s like a necessity, just as eating or sleeping is. So to be without it, or to struggle with it is horrid.
I want to be chilled about this and just think it’s a season, but that’s like taking a holiday from God and even if that were possible it feels so wrong…

Danniella Westbrook & celebrity Christianity…

Thanks to Talking Christian for flagging up an article about Danniella Westbrook’s recent conversion to Christianity, via twitter which has got me thinking…

So it seems that the former addict and actress has given her life to Jesus, which is wonderful. On top of that she is planning to use her celebrity status to further the kingdom, and has donated cash from her fee for being interviewed to her church.

If the reports are true then I am truly delighted for her, she has had a troubled past and now seems settled with her husband and kids in LA. The report in the Mirror is actually quite positive, amazingly so, in fact and doesn’t seem too condescending abour her dramatic turn around. The Daily Mail report is far more scathing (there’s a surprise), but not as bad as one would expect….

Danniella says:

“Gucci and Prada used to be my God. Now I have given my life to the Lord,” she said. “If you had told me two years ago that I was going to be Christian, I would have laughed. I used to tell people, ‘I’m way past saving.’

 

“But the first time I came to this church, I felt ­something so spiritual and amazing, I wanted to cry.
“After a few visits I found myself walking up to the altar to ask the Lord for forgiveness for my sins.
“It was an incredible ­experience. I have realised that there have been things I have struggled with, like guilt, that I would have never found a solution for. Because there are things that a therapist cannot give me – that I can only get from Jesus Christ.”

‘I truly believe God has saved my life and I
want to bring the message back to England and open a church there. The whole
point about this church is that it is fun. There is no reason why religion has
to be boring. I believe there is a gap in the UK and we can fill that
gap.’

Are we interested in this? Is this just gossip for the Christian world? I am not a Mirror/Mail reader and neither do I look at the gossip mags, Hello, Ok! and all the rest. I couldn’t care less what the latest celeb fad is and I hate all the trivial condemnation and judging of people because they are in the public eye. However… I have to admit that I looked at this link, and I was interested, but all it is, is celebrity gossip with a Christian edge, right?

I started writing so much about her, about the church and then I thought, man, am I as bad as the tabloid writers? I am making judgements about her and her church (not all bad I should say!), why am I doing this?! I am a Christian, she is now my sister in Christ… so I deleted the lot. I am left with this, a few observations, and a knowledge that I can be a tabloid reader too, just when it’s in my kind of zone… (scary…).  and as I said I am truly delighted for her and her family.

discernment…

So, as I approach my delayed (possibly last) meeting with my vocational advisor I feel ready for a battle! not really sure why. But I think it has something to do with the fact that I have had several people telling me over the last few months that discernment is about jumping through hoops, doing as one is expected, just to get through. This has felt totally wrong to me. I am not someone who hides their feelings. I tend to be outspoken, people know where they stand with me. I don’t want to be going through this process hiding who I am. And aside from that I am not desperate to ‘get through’ anyway, this is about being called by God to a vocation, it is about doing His will, not furthering my own ambitions (because lets face it it’s not what I would be choosing..) and being dishonest doesn’t exactly fit with Gods will, does it?

I am never going to fit into the mould they want anyway – I will never be anglo-catholic (famous last words..), I will not be traditional. So why should I give them the impression that I might? I mean, I don’t want to seem arrogant or not open to new ideas, because I am, totally open and hopefully not arrogant! but it seems bizarre to be going into an organisation almost pretending to be someone else. Because isn’t that what it’s down to? if I deliberately withold what I think, or allow them to think something about me that isn’t true, then that is basically lying. I think it’s fair to say that if I were in a different diocese things may be different. I may not be feeling so pressured in this way, but that is irrelevant because I am here and that is not about to change.
So I feel, approaching this meeting, that I need to be totally open with her. Obviously I won’t be rude (!) but at the same time I need to be totally ‘me’. I am also aware that there is a chance this may jeopardise the process, or that they will give me a heap more stuff to do on the back of it, and so it is with some trepidation that I write this, but above all, I feel that if this is Gods will, then it will happen. And I need to do this being true to myself and to my God. End of…
So tomorrow I will let you know how it went and if I am still in the process or not! wish me luck, or better still, pray!

Illness… again

Ok, so, a quick update on the whole mystery illness thing… (total aside but Martyn Joseph wrote a song called ‘Celebrity’ which has a great line: ‘…and a mystery illness to make her even sexier…’ to which I will not comment ;)  )
Anyway… as I wrote a while back, all the blood results were negative, although actually what they didn’t tell me was that they hadn’t had the HIV result in, so I had an agonising wait while the GP called them up and proceeded to have a lengthy chat, which turned out to be about their procedures rather than my result, but all I could hear was ‘..yes…right,  oh, ok, right, yes….’ anyway it was fine and clear so at least I know I am not suffering from anything really horrid. So today she finally officially diagnosed me with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) no real surpirse there, and to be honest I think it was only because she had exhausted all other channels. I am being referred to the local clinic but apparently the wait is huge, surprise surprise…

I’m not really sure what it means other than a label and now I am being defined by illness which I hate, but at the same time I feel peaceful about it all.  And it’s not ideal, but I am incredibly thankful it’s not worse. And in a funny way it kind of gives me permission to say not to a lot of stuff, which I have been trying to do anyway. I think maybe it had to take something like this to get me to really stop. To really take a break and rest. To be still. So for now I am going to enjoy that time. I have or am giving up all regular commitments, except for one (to keep me sane!) and it feels right. So for now I am going to enjoy being a mum and housewife and enjoy having time to rest in Him. I seem to remember saying that before….

Harry Potter and Christianity: more reflections

Ok so now I have actually seen the last HP film I have more to write! Having written the last post I found myself watching the movie with a different eye and kept on noticing all kinds of Christian links throughout it. Rather irritated myself actually as I just wanted to watch it, but anyway… So now, I just feel, more than before, that there are so many opportunties for Christian teaching through the HP stories. I think also as the stories have gone on, and become much darker, they have also become less real, if that makes sense. The first book is quite tame, a nice story appealing to kids, could almost be actually happening. These later ones are much more hollywood blockbuster, huge special effects, less appealing to kids in a realistic way, so whilst I know there are critics who suggest the stories can make children interested in the occult, I think it just doesn’t make sense with the later stories.

Here are a few things I noted whilst watching:

Of course there is the immensely obvious battle of good against evil that runs throughout all the stories. It has occured to me before that Voldemort could be the very incarnation of the devil. His self-serving plan to take over the world, to have people subservient to him and if they don’t comply they get tortured with the cruciatus curse, or killed. It’s like his followers are his little demons. In the bible, in Mathew 8 we see demons reacting to Christ, saying are you here to torture us before the alloted time? They beg not to be cast out but to be sent into the pigs. It’s rather like Voldemorts followers (many of whom follow him out of fear, as we see I think with the Malfoys) begging not to be sent to him, they would rather a different awful fate than having to face his wrath.

In the last film: Deathly Hallows Part 2, towards the end we see the ‘good guys’ at Hogwarts desperately sending out charms or spells to protect the castle and the way they are portrayed, stood there all muttering in a strange language just made me instantly think of people praying in tongues .and as an amazing sort of shield appears to cover the school it’s like they are covered in prayer, in Gods love, in his protection.

Love is a massive theme running though the books. It all begins as Harry is saved from the killing curse by the love of his mother which we see echoed throughout the movies: when Harry kills Professor Quirrell in the first book it is apparently because Quirrell can’t stand to feel the love that Harry carries within him. In this last movie, again we see Dumbledore discussing the love of Harry’s mother that protects him.

 Then in this movie we also see Dumbledore appearing in some sort of afterlife (made to look rather like the stereotypical heaven – lots of white and ethereal looking)  which reminded me of Christ appearing to his disciples after his own death, reassuring them, helping them. Which is rather what Dumbledore is doing here with Harry.

so, anyway, just a few thoughts. I loved the movie by the way, although I nkew the story it was edge of the seat stuff!

good quotes

Ok I need some help blogging friends…! I am finally being creative again after about 8 months off from all things arty. (Quite hard for an artist…)  Anyway, I’ve always had an obsession with fonts and text, but never really found a way to use them in my work. So now I am… but I need some inspiring, yet short, quotes that I can use in my work. I’d like to use things that could be religious but not overtly. Hinting at love for example or creation or goodness or something…! Not explaining this well but for example: ‘Love is Enough…’

Any ideas? If I use your suggestion I will send you a print of the work once its done :)
thank you!

Persecution of the church

Last night I led some study on Acts 7:54-60, the stoning of Stephen. I have to admit I went off on a bit of a tack but I found the parallels between Stephens ‘trial’ & death, and modern day treatment of Christian prisoners in other countries quite staggering.  It is quite almost unbelievable for us in the West, that in the 21st Centruy, some 2000 years after the death of Christ (and St. Stephen) people are still being treated in this way for their faith. Organisations like Voice of the Martyrs, CSW and Open Doors show many current cases where Christians have been imprisioned without proper trial, without appeal, and in appalling conditions, simply for their faith.

The Stoning of Stephen

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

I think sometimes people are just not in a position to hear the truth, they aren’t capable, the time is not right or they are just not ready. As the Priests covering their ears in this passage above, it reminded me of my children when they don’t want to hear what I am telling them. And if they really don’t want to hear they shout too… Usually this is when I am telling them a painful and uncomfortable truth, like ‘don’t play with that you will hurt yourself’ or ‘you can’t have another cake because it is tea time’. They don’t want to hear it but they still need to.
In the King James version of v 54 above it says: ‘they were cut to the heart…‘ And isn’t that how God speaks to us? right to our hearts…  And when hearing the truth in this way, there are really two outcomes. Either one accepts it, submits to it, to the spirit; or one gets angry and refutes it. And we see how the Priests in the high council react when they hear the truth, and it’s really not all that friendly…

So when I look at the cases of Christians being persecuted around the world and the horrific treatment they get, the torture and so on, it seems so similar to the way the priests reacted with Stephen. They cover their ears, yell and drive him out of town and kill him. Now we see in accounts of Christians persecuted in recent times; Judges, guards, and people in authority reacting in extreme anger to those brought before them. I understand that often the reasons people are arrested is due to blasphemy against the religion of that specific country but either way is it natural for their to be such extreme reactions?

It does put everything in perspective though doesn’t it? People talk about the persecution of Christians in this country, for not being able to wear a cross to work, or having a palm cross in their van (and I am not saying we shouldn’t address these things) but that isn’t real persecution is it? These people are not at risk of their lives or their family lives…  They are not having to be on the move, to watch their every step… We are so lucky that in this country we can openly go to church, we can openly wear a cross (even if not at work), we can offer to pray for friends in need without fear of real persecution. I have friends who have gone to be Missionaries and I know that they are putting their lives on the line and living in secrecy., every day. I have huge and new found respect for them and what they are doing.

Sunday afternoon naps

Napphoto © 2011 Judit Klein | more info (via: Wylio)
This is from Jon Acuff at ‘Stuff Christians like’, made me chuckle…!

Dear Sunday Afternoon Nap,
You are so beautiful.
I want to write you haikus.
I want to petition Yankee Candle to make you into a scented votive.
I want to get you one of those greeting cards that plays music when you open it.
Mine would play “Lady in Red” by Chris de Burgh. Why? Cause at the end he whispers “I love you.” And I do, Sunday Afternoon Nap, I do love you.
There you are, hidden at the end of the week. Waiting on the last day before work begins anew. Calling softly, “Take a nap. Turn off your iPhone. Unplug one last time before the tide of the week rushes back in.”
But I ignore you all too often. I fill my days with activities and think of naps as wasteful. I watch cheesy movies on TNT, unable to break the power of such films as The Chronicles of Riddick, once I’ve watched 13 seconds. I can’t escape the couch if there’s a Vin Diesel movie on. Or, I run errands. I catch up on emails. I fill my Sundays so full that I miss you.
Occasionally though, you sneak back up on me. I get a summer cold, the most annoying coughs of all, and I am forced to take a nap. And then I’m back in your wonderland. Reunited in sleeptastic bliss.
Why do I ever forget how awesome you are Sunday Afternoon Nap?
God tried to tell us. All those years ago when he spoke about the importance of the Sabbath. It’s one of the ten commandments! Maybe the Sunday nap isn’t technically mentioned in the Bible, but I guarantee I could find it in the Message version. There’s got to be at least one reference to the “land of nod” somewhere in the Bible.
He warned us. He pleaded with us to rest. In Isaiah 30, we’re told: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” It’s so true, I usually have none of it.
I’m going to change though. I promise. I’m going to work on our relationship. I’m going to be a new man with a new plan and a pillow.
Forever yours in slumber,
Jon

It’s that Isaiah ref that got me too…  ‘but you would have none of it..’ oh man, is that me? having none of it? I am trying to turn a corner, really! After tonight I just have one commitment over the summer and otherwise I am on a break…woohoo!!!

Harry Potter & Christianity…

Harry Potter has been a discussion point in our house recently and not because the last movie has just come out, but because our son is reading the first HP book. For us, we were never going to ban the books or movies as both my husband and I and our oldest daughter have read/seen them anyway, before our renewal of faith and before it was even an issue for us. So now my 7 year old is at the age when he is reading for himself, he has asked to see the movies and of course HP is everywhere. And even if it wasn’t there would be something else. We feel that we cannot ‘protect’ him in cotton wool, or our other children. That they are in the world but not of the world. It would be foolish for us to ban them (even if we felt so inclined) as they would resent it and us, and would end up watching them with friends or when older. We take the approach that our children are brought up in a Christian home, they get Christian teaching from us and at church and we monitor what they read and see anyway so if any issues arise we can discuss with them.

I have Christian friends who would not allow their kids to watch anything witchy or wizardy including Sabrina the Teenage Witch, HP and others. I also have Christian friends who let their kids watch whatever they like. I don’t think there is necessarily a right and wrong. However we do find ourselves saying to our son that he can’t take the book to church (not that he would have time to read it anway!) because some people would be offended by it.

It is true that some Christians are very anti Happy Potter, even now. I was looking up some references for this post and the links below show a range of opinions, from the ‘it’s all satanic’ to teaching Christian imagery in HP at Yale…

MTV:  In an interview for MTV, JK Rowling discusses her faith and the links between Christianity and HP.  An interesting read and one that seems to debunk any kind of Satanic theories as she herself professes to be a church going Christian.  In a reference to scripture on tomb stones, she says:
They’re very British books, so on a very practical note Harry was going to find
biblical quotations on tombstones,” Rowling explained. “[But] I think those two
particular quotations he finds on the tombstones at Godric’s Hollow, they sum up
— they almost epitomize the whole series.

and this is a very interesting quote about her own faith..

The truth is that, like Graham Greene, my faith is sometimes that my faith will
return. It’s something I struggle with a lot,” she revealed. “On any given
moment if you asked me [if] I believe in life after death, I think if you polled
me regularly through the week, I think I would come down on the side of yes —
that I do believe in life after death. [But] it’s something that I wrestle with
a lot. It preoccupies me a lot, and I think that’s very obvious within the
books.

This just makes me think she is an intelligent person who is not just accepting all she hears and reads, but questions and challenges where necessary.

 
The Bible and culture blog:  This is mostly a review of the new movie, but I liked this:

Magic by definition is the attempt of humans to control forces larger than ordinary life, something humans have always been trying to do since Day One. Miracle, by definition is a top down view of things, believing God is in control and will intervene and help, even in stupendous ways at times.

Indeed, wouldn’t we love it if we had our own way all the time! And actually don’t a lot of us attempt to control what is around us, and yet we don’t get all uppity about that do we?

e church blog: Links to another article, which is worth a read.

Ms. Neal, for her part, is not worried about anyone reading the books. Rather
than being a means for corrupting the youth with witchcraft and the like, she
says, “The Harry Potter phenomenon was the greatest evangelistic opportunity
that the church has missed.”

This quote refers to Connie Neal, an author who received death threats via email after praising the HP books back in 2001. Death threats… how Christian is that? And I agree with her too, the church has missed a trick, much of the HP series uses Christian analogy and just the fact that Harrys life was saved through the strength of his nmothers unconditional love seems a sermon in itself… and if anyone did have an issue with whether it is Satanic or not, what a great way to turn it around and use it for furthering Gods kingdom…?

Christianity Today blog: Looks at a guy who teaches theology at Yale and has taught courses around the HP books. Interesting!

and for good measure and balance, here is one that thinks HP is of the Devil…
Christian blog.com

so for now our household will be enjoying the Harry Potter series for years to come and at least I can say I have thought about it!