Thursday, October 31, 2013

The widow, the fatherless, the stranger and the poor

7:10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

(King James Bible, Zechariah)

Emily is Smiling is one of the blogs I found when I was searching on the Internet for people who want to be candles for God. This post is written for Emily, in response to her posts about her 7 experiment.


Beyond what you say, in the introduction on your blog, about your heart for orphans, I see orphans, and some of the world's most ravaged people, as all-pervading themes in the blog. In the posts about your 7 experiment I see some parallel themes, including the extravagance in our lives, yours and mine; and learning to free ourselves from slavery to our passions and possessions.

Your heart for orphans and for ravaged people brings to my mind one reason I've seen in the Bible for  God's recurring wrath against Israel: its mistreatment of the widow, the fatherless, the stranger and the poor. The theme of the extravagance in our lives brings to my mind some connections I see between that and the ravaging, which might possibly have been in your mind also. The theme of learning to free ourselves from slavery to our passions and possessions is the part which seems to me to correspond the best with my break from Internet discussions. The only way I've found in the past to manage my Internet addiction has been to abstain altogether for a few months at a time. This time I abstained for just three weeks, the first three weeks of a three-month cycle of personal growth that I'm experimenting with. I had some experiences during that time that might interest you (or not, I'm not sure), but before that I want to write about what we can do for the world's most ravaged people, near and far.

A new idea came to me, from a Bible passage I found when I was searching for passages about the widow, the fatherless, the stranger and the poor:

19:9 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.
19:10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.

23:22 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.

(King James Bible, Leviticus)

I'll be pondering that, as part of my preparation for some following posts.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Climbing a Mountain

photo credit: Jim Habegger
via Blogger
I was pondering all the things I'm trying to do, that I'm hoping to do, and that I need to do, and feeling a little overwhelmed. Then I grouped them into these categories:
  • Daily living.
  • Working with Patty on her English teaching.
  • Top priorities in learning to know and love God.
  • Other.

I don't feel any pressing need for now to try to improve on the daily living, working with Patty, or my pursuit of the interests in the "Other" category. For the top priorities, I've decided to try giving myself one task to try to complete, each week.

Your Place or Mine?

photo credit: Jim Habegger
via Blogger
Thinking about the issues RVCBard raised in a post about diversity in theater, gave me some new ideas for my own initiatives.

The first thought that came to me was to turn the question around, from "What can I do to help increase the participation of Those People in what I'm doing?" to "How can I increase and improve my participation in what Those People are doing?" That would include, but not be limited to, whatever they might be doing that could serve the same purposes.

I've already put a lot of effort into learning to spend time in fellowship and collaboration with some of the people I've seen being stigmatized and marginalized the most, in their comfort zones, for other purposes. Now I'm considering it in the perspective of learning to collaborate on performance initiatives. The first thought that comes to me is to look for performance initiatives of theirs, and/or other initiatives that could possibly serve the same purposes, where they might be willing to include me. Immediately some wide open doors with welcome mats come to mind, that I've been scorning.

Update for some imaginary friends

Photo credit: Jim Habegger
First I'll list and discuss some efforts and experiences as they come to mind. Then I'll search for some lists that I've made before, and write about those later. I might also write about some of my visions, goals, strategies, lines of action, and possible fruits and signs of progress.

* List of some recent and current efforts.
1. To learn to nurture the spirit of faith and the love of God, in myself and in others.
2. To practice and promote loving devotion to the interests of the Universal House of Justice.
3. Three weeks of intensive efforts to meet people and make new friends, with a break from Internet discussions.
4. To practice and promote richer and more personal communications when we're tempted to use impoverished substitutes in their place, like posting on Twitter and Facebook.
5. To learn to be a better person, a better friend and a better neighbor, especially to some of the people I see being stigmatized and marginalized the most.
6. To learn what to do on the Internet to help open people's hearts more to God, and attract them to His Kingdom.
7. To learn to project the kinds of personal and community development that the House of Justice is promoting, into Internet neighborhoods.
8. To practice and promote better conduct on the Internet.
9. To learn to never depreciate anyone, and to free myself from all ill will.
10. To practice and promote freedom from prejudice.
11. To practice and promote fellowship across religious and other ideological divides.
12. To learn, practice and promote what all of us can do for the most ravaged people all over the world.
13. To learn to encourage and support my friends, near and far, in the kinds of personal and community development that the House of Justice is promoting.
14. To help Patty with her English teaching.
15. To learn Chinese.
16. To use and  promote freely shareable and modifiable software and artistic creations.

* List of some recent experiences.
1. At the English corner.
2. At the Library.
3. In our neighborhood: basketball, diabolo, origami, tai chi, outing for retired people, water bucket, exploring, neighborhood center.
4. On the street with my map.
5. Memorizing scripture passages
6. Reading "Heroes of the Dawn."
7. Communing with nature.
8. Practicing healthy uses of anger.
9. Reading and posting in atheist forums and blogs.
10. Reading and posting in blogs of people who might want to be candles for God.
11. Reading and posting in some other blogs.
12. Practicing writing Chinese.
13. Taking photos for a blog series on the lions of Guilin.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fasting from excess and the American Dream

photo credit: Jean Fortunet,
via Wikimedia Commons
In a blog post, 5 Books I'm Reading, Emily wrote:
My friend Sammy and I are going to have a Bible study this summer and challenge ourselves with a seven week fast.  Coming back from Kenya this summer opened my eyes to the ridiculous focus on materialism and excess.  I'm eager to remove my gaze from all worthless things.  I do not want any part of my life to become an idol over the Lord.

Do I believe it's a sin to use social media or own a closet of clothes or eat a bunch of good foods?  No.  But I want to stretch myself out of my comfort zone and keep the Lord's heart as my own.  Sometimes these material possessions can become necessities, and nothing but Christ should be a necessity in my life.
In a later post, Preparing for the 7 Experiment, she wrote:
7 features seven different fasts from excess and the American Dream, focusing on the topics of: clothes, spending, waste, food, possessions, media, and stress ... Jen Hatmaker expanded on six reasons that people fast in the Bible: mourning, inquiry, repentance, preparation, crisis, and worship.

I chose to focus on three over the next two months:
  • Inquiry: Does God want me to "go" or "stay"?, as well as a few other questions I am asking the Lord during this time.
  • Repentance: for my selfish heart and love of excess and focus on pleasing others above pleasing God.
  • Worship: because the Lord is so worthy of my fasting with a sincere heart, out of my own motivation.
Emily's blog is one of the ones I found when I was looking for people who want to be candles for God, hoping to learn to encourage and support them. I've been following her blog and trying out some of her ideas. I'm not doing the 7 experiment, but I took a break from blogging and Internet discussions for 3 weeks while I was practicing a "meet people and make new friends" marathon off line, and I thought my experience with that might be relevant somehow.

I'm still pondering how my break from Internet discussions might have helped my progress, what it might have to do with Emily's experiment, and what to say about it. I might need a few days to review what Emily has written about her experiment, to get some ideas. I'll be out of town this weekend, and I have some other things to catch up on, before I spend more time on this. For now I'll just post some thoughts that were running through my mind one day at the beginning of my marathon.
  • 3 month cycles of development
  • starting this cycle with 3 weeks of intensive efforts to expand my circle of friends
  • bringing myself to account each day
  • bringing myself to account each time before posting, as a way of learning to manage my Internet addiction
  • ideas I've tried for meeting people
  • finding a friend I can talk to about my efforts and progress in learning to be a better friend and a better neighbor
  • basketball, walking street, riverside, tai chi, origami, diabolo for meeting people
  • English corner experiences
  • neighborhood experiences, including invitations, water buckets and basketball
  • experiences reading Emily's blog
  • finding people to study and practice with, using wisdom from heaven
  • hearing from two long-lost friends, and from high school friends, during this friendship circle expansion phase
  • floating to the top of the world, watching people smiling, laughing and having fun on the walking street.
  • flying high with Patty, at our lake, on our balcony, and elsewhere (bits and pieces blog)
  • cooking, laundry, dishes, groceries
  • examples of where some of my time goes: trying to get Skype to work, translating manuals and instructions
  • memorizing a verse for my workshop with Patty, which turns out to be about being the best person I can be, and doing all the good I can do
  • practicing my Chinese writing
  • ideas for after the three weeks: slide shows about some stories of community building; helping to improve the quality of training and mentoring; learning to accompany people in their efforts to be better friends and better neighbors.
  • opening my heart more to God
  • Heroes of the Dawn
  • temptations to post in my blog and other people's blogs and on facebook
  • The Lions of Guilin
  • camera problems
  • some people I want to focus on in learning to be a better friend
  • what to do for the most down-trodden people all over the world
  • learning how to help open up people's hearts to God on the Internet
  • projecting the framework for action onto the Internet
  • free software and systems, public domain, commons