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July 9th, 2017

03:55 pm: Why I rely on Christian Science

For those of you waiting for The Ninth Commandment, I am working on it…but it hasn't come together yet. 

In the meantime, here is a short testimony. Some people ask, "Why would you rely on prayer rather than medicine, if it means that you have to suffer pain? Especially for something modern that medicine can put a quick end to: Why not just go to the doctor?"

The answer is: It depends on what your premises are. What do you think causes illness?

If illness comes from physical causes, then avoiding physical cures is foolish. 

But…if illness is the result of a spiritual cause, than applying physical cures might calm the symptoms, but it won't solve the problem. It's like taking a painkiller but not splinting your broken leg.

Have you ever drempt that you were thirsty, or had to pee, or were cold? Then, in the dream, you rushed around trying to solve this problem, but no matter what you did, you never got anywhere–until you woke up and realized that the issue had to be solved on the waking level–nothing you could do in your dream would actually solve it?

It's like that.

So…an example: once upon a time, I had poison ivy all over my face and hands. My face swelled up, my body oozed and iched. And, since I am not a person who endures itching well, it spread and spread. 

It was not pretty…or comfortable.

A brief aside, during this period, I went around with dark glasses. If I removed them, people looked freaked out. But my kids, three little boys, did not seem disturbed at all. I wondered about this and asked John why he thought that the children were not scared of me. 

He said: "They see you with the eyes of love. And I see you with the eyes of a science fiction writer, and you look like Odo from Dark Space Nine, so I think it's cool."

But I digress.

So…I had to decide what to do. Did I take some kind of medication? Put on some kind of cream? Or endure it and rely on prayer?

I picked prayer…because I wanted to solve the real problem, not just sooth the symptoms. So I prayed and prayed and prayed.

It iched something fierce.

Days went by. Then weeks. Five weeks.

I prayed and prayed and prayed. It still iched.

Then, one night, I woke up all of a sudden and discovered that something was entirely different.

I had previously forgiven someone who had been responsible for causing me a gread deal of harm. But, when I thought about him, I still saw him as having ogre-like qualities. I just didn't mind anymore.

But that night–after five weeks of itching, when I woke up, I suddenly no longer saw this person in a negative light. I just saw what was good about him. I could remember the harm…but without any sting.

Instead, I saw all the good, wonderful qualities that had been there all the time but which previously had been eclipsed by the dark image.

Now this might not sound like a big deal, but I have talked to other people who have had similar experiences. They have told me that escaping the sting that comes from such experiences is impossible.

That it cannot be done.

That this shadow, this spector of past trauma, will be with us forever.

So, from that point of view, this change in my perspective was an amazing thing. One might say miraculous.

Soon after this healing of the spirit, the poison ivy disappeared from my face. A bit of it continued for a week or two on my arms and shoulders, but one day I just dismissed it as no longer legitimate (something that happens in prayer sometimes), and…it was gone the next time I bothered to think about it.

If I had stopped praying and used medicine, I could have gotten on with my life much more quickly. I would have felt less irritable much sooner, which might have been nice.

But I probably would still be facing that ogre today.

Because I would not have kept praying. I would not have put my life on hold for weeks and spent the time turning to God, searching for healing. And that was what was needed to be free of the real irritation that I had been carrying around with me for a long time.

And this is why I rely on Christian Science, even when there might be an "easy modern fix"…because what I want is true healing.

Not just for the itching to stop.

In the midst of this period, when I was so miserable, I was sitting in bed reading testimonies and the Bible and such, I looked over at my baby, and he had poison ivy all over the back of his neck. His skin was red and irritated.

I couldn't bear this–the idea that the baby would be so uncomfortable, the way I was. I turned to God with all my heart.

When I looked back, the poison ivy on the baby's neck was entirely gone. His skin was normal and smooth.

God is good.

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

June 18th, 2017

03:42 pm: Funny Healing for Father’s Day!

Happy Father's Day,

In honor of this day, I would like to honor our Heavenly Father with a report of his amazing–and amusing–power.

I am working on my next article on the Commandments and morality, but in the interm, here is one of my more amusing healings.

One day, some years ago, I realized that I was seriously ill. Being a Christian Scientist, I decided to turn this over to God. I was scared, terrified, but I called a Christian Science practitioner, pulled out my Books (The Bible and Science and Health: with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy), and got to work. I spent the whole weekend studying, praying, and reading Christian Science periodicals (The Journal and The Sentinel, best magazines ever.) 

After a bit, between contemplating the truths of the Bible and reading many testimonies of healing through prayer, the fear ebbed some. By the end of the weekend, I felt less terrified, and a sense of peace had come to me.

I wasn't healed yet. It would take another six months to a year, some frightening moments, and a lot of prayer before perminent healing came, but…

After that first weekend, I suddenly realized that I had been healed–of disliking bananas and monkeys.

All my life, I had hated bananas, their taste, their smell, and I had not cared much for monkeys either.

The day after this first weekend of prayer, I realized that this dislike had entirely vanished. I could now eat bananas, stand in rooms they were in, and could see the charm of monkeys.

Why this particular healing, I have no idea!  

As my eldest son likes to say, "God is odd."

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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June 15th, 2017

03:09 pm: Signal Boost: For Steam and Country

New book from Superversive Press!


 

Her father's been pronounced dead. Destructive earthquakes ravage the countryside. An invading army looms over the horizon. And Zaira's day is just getting started…

Abandoned at an early age, Zaira von Monocle found life as the daughter of a great adventurer to be filled with hard work and difficulty. She quickly learned to rely on only herself. But when a messenger brought news that her father was dead and that she was the heir to his airship, her world turned upside down.

Zaira soon finds herself trapped in the midst of a war between her home country of Rislandia and the cruel Wyranth Empire, whose soldiers are acting peculiarly—almost inhuman. With the enemy army advancing, her newfound ship’s crew may be the only ones who can save the kingdom.

For Steam and Country is the first book in the Adventures of Baron Von Monocle series by top-10 Amazon best selling space opera author, Jon Del Arroz.

 "Witty, charming and downright thrilling!  Del Arroz nails the feel of good old fashioned Steampunkery with wit, aplomb and of course… panache." – Nick Cole, author of the Dragon Award winner, CTRL ALT Revolt

"FOR STEAM AND COUNTRY is a rousing girl-powered fantasy tale. I thoroughly enjoyed this action-packed airship adventure!" – Laurie Forest, author of The Black Witch

 

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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June 13th, 2017

04:10 pm: Choose This Day…


Liberty's back!

 

"Choose you this day whom ye will serve" Joshua 24:15

When I was young, I was a crusading, socialist Liberal. As I grew older, became a Libertarian. Then, as I have recounted elsewhere on this blog, I hit a point when I withdrew from politics worked hard to understand each side.

I became a person who chose to "see with eyes unclouded by hate."

Standing thus, this is what I have seen:

The Left Has Left Me Behind
There are a number of strong beliefs that I still hold that I held in my youth. Back then, they were Liberal beliefs. Now, the same exact believe is considered Right-Leaning. The leading edge of the Left has plunged by me and rushed off to entirely new places from what they used to believe.

Sadly, many of the new positions of the Left are in direct conflict to what they used to stand for.

The Left Is Exclusive, The Right Is Inclusive
Other's experience may be different, but, over the last ten years, my friends and comrads on the Left have repeatedly declared me to be on the Right the moment I disagreed with them on one issue. Meanwhile, my friends and associates on the Right have continued to welcome me and address me as one of their own, even when I pointed out all the ways in which I disagreed with them.
 

Christ is On The Move
You see it at the corner store, on the subway, at get-togethers, in the bookstore ,yea, even on Facebook: Christ is on the move! 
People who were afraid to talk about their religion before are suddenly feeling freer about doing so. Those who felt that they had to hide their faith are begining to lift their head and look around to see that they are not alone.

It appears as hearts lifted, as lives improved, as healings, as changes in finance, but–strangest and perhaps most wonderful of all–as dreams and visions appearing to Muslims. The phenomena of Muslims having dreams or visions of Jesus or other Christian figures is growing. You hear about it in books, from God Reports, whispered from Christian clergy in America, and, most recently, from an article in the New York Times.

Choose Ye This Day Where Ye Shall Stand!
So, it has come to me that the time has come to take a stand–no logner to just watch with eyes unclouded by hate, but to join and act. This does not mean that I need to allow my eyes to become clouded or to cease to have compassion for all my friends and all their views. But it does mean that perhaps more is expected of me.

Aslan is on the move. The time has come to grab a fist-full of mane and mount up! We know from the parable of the hired vineyard hands that we will be accepted, even up to the eleventh-hour. But I don't want to look back and see that I could have done so earlier and accomplished more.

But Where To Go?
I cannot join the Left, as they have become a bastion of intolerance and a panderer of vices.

I cannot join the Old Left, because while I believe their heart is in the right place, I don't believe their creed is correct. Among other things, it calls for a reliance on man instead of God–as it requires the belief in an underclass who needs to be propped up by seizing the belongings of others. This makes those who have more feel guilty or dishonest, which is bad enough. But, even worse, it convinces those who have less feel that, rather than strive to better themselves, they must compete for victim status, creating ever-growing crowds of entitled who have bought into the idea that their good can only come from another.

I cannot join the Alt-Right, for I believe all men are created equal as the Image and Likeness of God.

I cannot become a "Conservative" because no one knows what that word means anymore, and many people think it means Republican–and the Republicans don't seem to stand for anything but themselves.

I want to support morality, Christianity, virtue, self-reliance, tolerance towards those who believe otherwise, and charity.

So, hence forth, I shall stand with the Last Crusade (Christ, Constitution, Civilization.)

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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May 28th, 2017

03:31 pm: God Heals!

As I speak with friends and associates, I often discover that some people have no idea that healing through prayer is possible. Some are like my husband who, when he was an atheist, said: If it were true, it would be in the papers. We would hear about it everywhere. 

Sadly, that is not so.

Here is part of a recent article from the Chrsitian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine that includes substantiated reports of healing through prayer. It is a long article, so I will post the rest another Sunday.

Enjoy!

The fact of healing in Christian Scientists’ experience

From the March 20, 2017 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

From the Office of Committee on Publication

The ninth chapter of John in the Bible recounts that when Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth, the response of the local leaders was to deny that the healing had occurred. When the fact of the healing couldn’t be denied, the leaders sought to discredit Jesus, describing him as “a sinner” and contending that the healing couldn’t therefore be attributed to him. When the man who had been healed insisted that it was Jesus who had healed him, they “reviled” the man and cast him out of the temple.

The fact of healing in Christian Scientists’ experience over the years has often encountered similar denial and disbelief. This isn’t surprising, and it certainly isn’t personal in nature. Today, as in Jesus’ time, Christian healing challenges the limits of finite mortal thinking. It calls into question the basic belief of life in matter—the mindset within which people typically reason and think. And it does so, not just theoretically, but practically, as Christ Jesus did. It’s evident, as the Science of Christianity brings out, that he saw and thought about life in very different terms than the rest of us ordinarily do.

The blanket denial of Christian healing today has its source in the materialism that colors so much of contemporary thought, especially in the academic community. The two commentaries reprinted below respond to this denial. They don’t dismiss the questions raised by many who are skeptical of Christian Scientists’ healing practice. They acknowledge that serious questions deserve serious and thoughtful answers. They were written in the conviction that patience, understanding, truth—and Christian Scientists’ actual healing works, more than words—will ultimately find response in the hearts of honest thinkers.

A commentary in the Sierra Vista (Arizona) Herald, “Healing and the nature of humanity: A Christian Scientist’s view”:

Is human experience limited to what can be measured with scientific instruments? If not, what is the nature of reality? A Herald column [by a sociology graduate student] raised these and other issues that thinking people, religious and nonreligious alike, have wrestled with through the ages. As a Christian Scientist, I agree that questions so important need answers grounded in reason and practical experience.

More than a century ago, as sociologist Emile Durkheim gathered data to support his theory that religion is the product of human rather than divine activity, religious leader Mary Baker Eddy sought evidence for a “scientific” Christianity based on spiritual law. Eddy viewed the unmatched life and teachings of Jesus Christ as the supreme example of divine truth. But she agreed with Durkheim that believing wasn’t enough. As she wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “The hour has struck when proof and demonstration, instead of opinion and dogma, are summoned to the support of Christianity …” (p. 342).

Eddy felt that Christians need to live and demonstrate—not merely preach—Jesus’ teachings by following in some measure his example of healing sickness and sin. For her, genuine Christian healing wasn’t “supernatural,” a matter of praying for miracles, or even “having enough faith,” as one might have in a placebo. As she understood it, turning to God in prayer for healing, as Jesus’ disciples had, involves deepening of character, genuine moral uprising, spiritual growth in grace and understanding, the purifying of a heart in communion with God.

What was the result? In Eddy’s day, William James, a leading secular philosopher and trained physician, said of the healings that were occurring: “I assuredly hold no brief for any of these healers…. But their facts are patent and startling….”

More recently, a rigorous “Empirical Analysis of Medical Evidence in Christian Science Testimonies of Healing, 1969–1988,” published by the denomination, examined more than 10,000 instances of physical healing in published accounts. Some 2,337 of these comprised significant healings of medically diagnosed conditions, involving hundreds of specialists, hospitals, X-rays, and follow-up examinations, including 222 cases given terminal or life-threatening prognoses by physicians.

The diagnosed conditions healed included cancer (27 healings), tumor (42), polio (16), tuberculosis (68), pneumonia (38), heart disorders (88), kidney disorders (23), broken bones (203), childbirth complications (71), meningitis (9), appendicitis (24, 8 acute) scarlet fever (16), rheumatic fever (16), cataract (11), diabetes (12), pernicious anemia (13), rheumatoid or degenerative arthritis (12), gangrene (2), glaucoma (3), hepatitis (7), leukemia (3), multiple sclerosis (6), blindness (7), vision deficiencies (48), goiter (13), curvature of the spine (8), epilepsy (13), crossed eyes (3), and cleft palate.

Such healings have often been dismissed as “obviously” impossible—the fantasy of deluded believers—or as examples of some as-yet-unexplained power of the human mind. To this day, objective examination of prayer and religious healing by physical scientists remains infrequent and problematic.

Yet these healings happened. Even in this technological era, it’s hard to brush aside so many experiences. As a Christian Scientist wrote in a church publication, denial and disbelief “can’t erase the simple, striking fact of healing, often in defiance of medical expectation, in so many thousands of people’s lives.”

Of course, a list of conditions healed doesn’t illumine the individual human encounter with the power of God, divine Love. The practice of healing is humbling, and no thoughtful person would say that authentic Christianity is easy. Christian Scientists are deeply conscious of how much more we have to learn about this power and practice of Love and how it heals.

Still, such healing has tremendous meaning, not only for Christian Scientists but for humanity—for understanding who and what we are. Are we just transient biological packages, or is there more to each of us, an irreducible spiritual identity at our core? As the book of Job declares, “There is a spirit in man.” The great breakthroughs of spiritual inspiration that have moved humanity forward haven’t necessarily fit what people at the time considered explicable in material terms—and still don’t today.

Diane R. Hanover
Christian Science Committee on Publication for Arizona

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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May 21st, 2017

07:29 pm: Morality and the Tenth Commandment, Part Two-B

First part of this essay is here.

As I mentioned in the first Tenth Commandment essay, I originally thought that I would find nothing for this commandment. But when I prayed to know if there was anything I should cover, two ideas came to me suddenly. 

This is the second.

When I was five years old, we lived by a lake. In the middle of the lake was a raft. Many happy childhood hours were spent climbing onto or diving off of this raft. But this particular day, I remember standing on the raft with a friend and discussing what we would do if we were king of the world.

“Wouldn’t you be queen of the world?” asked my friend.

Even at five, I knew that queens were weak. No, I insisted, I would be a king.

As I grew older, my distain for things feminine only got stronger. Some of it might have had to do with being forced to wear boys skates. My father wanted me to hand my skates down to my brother when I outgrew them. I was told that a girl could wear boys skates, but a boy could not be seen wearing girls skates. So I had to forgo lovely white skates like my mothers. My skates would have to be black.

Very soon, I was quite proud of my superior black skates. I still own black skates today.

When my brother entered Cub Scouts, I desperately wanted to be a Cub Scout, too. Brownies was boring. I would dress in blue and go along to the meetings and hope that I would be allowed to do what the boys did.

If someone had told me that I could actually be a boy, I would have jumped on it in a second. I would have thought Heaven had come to earth.

I could tell similar stories about how I stopped liking make-up, wearing dresses, and many other things that were related to being feminine. I looked down on everything feminine. I liked boys, but I also wanted to be a boy.

I completely and utterly believed that masculine and feminine were social constructs, only brought about by environment. So I was going to raise my children to be independent of such things.

It was a three year old boy who changed my mind.

I grew up as a dancer, raised by a dancer. I loved the joy of dancing, but, like most Liberal gals, I hated war. I hated fighting. I wanted to do everything I could to stop all violence. I tried to give my son less violent toys, but that didn’t stop him from using them as weapons. But it wasn’t that that cracked my worldview.

One day, as we were watching something downstairs, he cried out in joy, “They’re hopping and dancing and fighting!”

I stood there with my mouth open. This little boy, so cute, so sweet, equated dancing with fighting. He thought fighting was fun.

This floored me. Fighting? Fun?

I began talking to other young mothers with boys. They had had the same experience. They gave their boy a Barbie; he used it as a gun. Then there was the experience of a woman who went on to write a book about the differences between men and women. She refused to give her daughter any feminine toys…and walked in one day to find her cuddling a baby doll. Surprised, the mother moved closer to find that the doll was a blanket her daughter had wrapped around…a fire truck.

A few other things happened during the same period. I had always been an independent gal. No man was allowed to hold a door for me. And if they tried? I objected! I spoke out!

Until, one day, I was pregnant and carrying a baby in a carrier. The baby was heavy. I was tired. A man stepped forward to open the door for me, and, this time, I felt…

Grateful.

A similar thing happened with carrying things. I was strong! I could carry my own bags, boxes, trunks! I didn’t need any man’s help!

Until I was trying to lug groceries and two little boys, and I stood there, looking at the family gentlemen talking while I worked and noticed how much stronger their arms were than mine. So, I asked them to carry the bags, and I never looked back.

I began to be very grateful that, back when I had wanted to be a Cub Scout, no one had told me that it was okay, I could be a boy.

I always wanted to be a mom, even when I was little, but I also wanted to have a career. We all thought women should work. We gaped in astonishment at the one girl in high school who wanted to be a housewife.

Really? Are you crazy?

I was determined to have a career and earn my own way. The idea of staying home and letting my husband earn our keep was both offensive and shameful to me.

Eventually, I ended up at home, though, because it was a better deal than me working when the kids were young. Still, I felt embarrassed and unhappy about it.

I was at a party one day, and someone asked me, “What do you do?” I said, “Writer,” even though I hadn’t published anything yet—because NO ONE wants to say, “Stay-At-Home Mom.”

People sneer when you say that. Everyone knows this.

Later that week, I was thinking about this incident, and I suddenly realized: I had HATED working. Yeah, I had a job that was interesting and kind of fun, but getting up, going every day, sitting there whether I was busy or not, the whole experience was really painful.

And now? I got to spend the whole day with my kids. True, it was really, really hard. The kids had all sorts of struggles. Some days, I was in tears. But other days…we went to the park, or Mom’s Club, or read books or played in the grass.

It was truly wonderful.

I had it good!

So, the next time I was asked, “What do you do?” I said, with pride: “I’m a stay-at-home mom!”

But I got to wondering: Why had I had to go through all this? Why had the world told me that I would be happier as a man, acting like a man, doing man’s things, than as a woman?

Why had I been taught to look down on all things feminine? Why had I thought that men and women were the same, except for what experience and nurture taught us?

So, I looked into it.

I found out that this idea: that all other species the males and females act differently by nature, but in humans, it was all nurture had been invented by one guy. In the 1960s, a psychiatrist named Dr. Money came up with this theory. He began telling people this was the case and popularizing it.

His work went terribly, terribly wrong. The boy he helped turn into a girl at a young age lived a miserable life that ended in suicide.

The guy came up with his idea with no research and no evidence, He made it up out of his head, and yet, he managed to convince the rest of us of his crazy, crazy theory.

Now our whole society believes it.

Now, about now, you must be wondering, what in the world does this have to do with the Tenth Commandment

I have known for some time that in the Goetia, a 16th Century book on demons, one of the main powers the demons are said to have—other than teaching liberal arts—is conveying dignities and honors. It isn’t a thing we think about much today, but apparently, they were much in demand back then. Enough that someone would endanger their soul to get one.

Because people don’t just covet things, like donkeys and maidservants. They also covet ideas, like honors and dignities.

And yet, it was not until I sat down to pray about what to write in this series of articles that I suddenly realized the sad truth, that for most of my life, without even knowing it:

I had been coveting the dignities and honors of men.

Sadly, I fear I am not the only person in our modern world to have made this mistake.

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

07:19 pm: Morality and the Tenth Commandment, Part Two-A

I have decided to separate my Last Crusade articles from my spiritual articles and have divided my previous articles accordingly.

This is a Last Crusade article. If you are not familiar with the Last Crusade, you can find the articles here and here. It is a new movement devoted to Christ, Constitution, Chivalry.

The Last Crusade portion are here:
Intro
Tenth Commandment, Part One

The spiritual portion are here:
CS
Healing of the singer

The premise of these articles is: The Ten Commandments is a fundamental part of Christian and Jewish believe and of Western Civilization. In the last hundred years, ideas have been introduced which make breaking these Commandments seem not only excusable but virtuous.

In the past, there were always men who preferred vice to virtue, but they usually said so. If a man drank absinthe or smoked opium, he knew that this act was disapproved of and might eventually cause him harm, but he didn’t care.

He might think himself justified; however, he didn’t believe that he was committing a virtuous act when he did these things.

But imagine that someone mixed absinthe with juice and told children that it was good for them and would help them grow. Or that they put laudanum in gummy candies and told children it was vitamins. So that the next generation would drink absinthe and consume liquid morpheme—and suffer the bad side effects—without even knowing that it was harmful.

That is the state that we have come to be in morally…where the arguments in favor of breaking the Ten Commandments are so well-crafted that we now believe that doing so is a virtue.

Last week, we examined the Tenth Commandment and the common modern argument:

Nobody needs more than a certain amount to live.  Over that amount is excess and should be taken away to give to the needy.

This argument, in many different forms, fuels much of todays politics. And yet, no one points out that to want to take your neighbors cars or tvs or vacations…is coveting. Even good people, who would never covet their neighbors good fortune often fall for this sugary lie: that it is okay to take the wealth of the rich.

Before I go on to part two, I want to stress that this not a political issue. This is purely a moral issue.

A moral person can believe, “We all need to do our fair share, rich and poor alike, so I believe in high taxes and many government benefits.”

But no one can believe, “The rich don’t deserve all that they have” and not be violating the Tenth Commandment.

On to Tenth Commandment, Part Two

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

May 14th, 2017

03:10 pm: Christian Science in Germany

This excerpt from Christian Science In Germany by Frances Thurber Seal was originally part of another post. But I thought it might be nice to give it its own spot. It is one of my favorite healings and always serves to uplift my thoughts and remind me of what is truly possible with God.

 

A young American lady who was studying singing in Dresden and who took her meals at this pension, had a copy of Science and Health, and was most interested to meet someone who could tell her more about Christian Science. On Sunday morning after my arrival I went to her room and we read the Lesson together.

When we had finished, we sat talking, and presently there was a rap at the door and another American lady entered, saying that she was looking 12 13 for a Christian Scientist. She stated that she was a cousin of Mark Twain, and had witnessed the healing of his daughter from tuberculosis through the ministrations of Christian Science many years before. A young Russian girl who was living in the pension with her was in great trouble because of some serious illness which had come upon her. The girl was studying for the Royal Opera in Moscow, and the physicians had just informed her that she could not sing again for three-quarters of a year, and probably never. She was in despair, and this kindly American lady asked the hostess the cause of her sorrow. When told that there was no human help for the girl, this lady remembered the healing that Christian Science had brought out in her family so long before, and she went to the American church to inquire of the rector if there was a Christian Science healer in the city. He said he knew of no one, but that a young music student had told him she was interested in Christian Science, and he thought she would know if there were any Christian Scientists in the city. He gave her the address of the young woman, and she came in at the close of this, our first Sunday service. She announced that she was looking for someone to heal this sick girl, and my hostess said at once, “Here is a lady whom God has sent to heal the people.”

Arrangements were made, and early Monday morning the Russian girl came to my pension. As she spoke only Russian and I knew only English, I Christian Science in Germany called for my hostess, who talked with the girl at considerable length. Then, turning to me with a surprised look, she related just about what the American lady had told me the day before. I asked her to tell the girl to be seated, and I sat down to give my first treatment in Germany. My hostess then retired. I knew nothing of the method of a Christian Science treatment, but turned to God for wisdom, and as I saw the omnipotence of God, the error quickly vanished from my thought. I arose and said goodbye to the young girl. She came every morning for five days. On the fifth day she talked quite volubly, and I again called for my hostess to ascertain what she was saying. The young girl said she was perfectly well, and had been so since the first treatment, and had been singing as she usually did. When asked why she had not said so, she said she did not realize that she should tell me and it made her happy to come.

She then asked if she could come again at Easter. When I asked why, she said she would have her examinations at that time, and if she should pass, her father would permit her to finish her studies and prepare for her opera engagement, but if she were to fail, she must go home and give up her career. I thought I understood what she meant, but wanted her to express it, and said to our interpreter, “Ask her what I have to do with that.” With a radiant face the young girl replied: “Nothing but fear could make me fail to pass my examinations, and I have 14 Christian Science in Germany 15 had no fear since the lady first spoke to God about me; I cannot know fear if she will pray for me.” She had been told nothing of Christian Science; all that had been said to her, aside from asking her to be seated, was that she might come each day until she was entirely healed. Certainly, this was a demonstration of what our Leader means when she says that Christian Scientists should teach “by healing” (Misc. Wr. 358:4), for this girl learned that it was God who had healed her, and that “perfect love casteth out fear.”

A remarkable thing in connection with this incident was that my hostess, Miss Cotton, was born in Russia and lived there the first twenty-five years of her life. She was the only English lady I met in Europe who knew the Russian tongue. It was her native tongue, although she was an English citizen. That I should be a guest in her house when this girl came to me was positive evidence of divine guidance. The girl’s name was Felicita, which means “joy.” This was a happy augury

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

May 7th, 2017

08:42 pm: Morality and the Tenth Commandment

First post here.

This is the second in my series of Last Crusade articles. (If you are not familiar with the Last Crusade, you can find out more here and here.) 

These posts will examine the question: Are there areas in our lives where matters of morality might have been clear 150 years ago that are no longer clear today? 

The purpose of this inquiry is not to point fingers or assign blame but to examine our own conscience with an end to discovering whether there might be moral laws that we are unknowingly breaking which could interfere with our ability to heal through prayer.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am going to examine the Ten Commandments in reverse order.

 

The Tenth Commandment:

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. (Exodus 20:17)

When I first began considering this topic, I actually dismissed the Tenth Commandment. “Everyone knows envy and coveting is bad,” I thought. “That hasn’t changed in a hundred and fifty years.”

Then, I prayed, asking God if I were overlooking something that I should be aware of, and I thought about what people believed 150 years ago. Two things came to mind. After I considered those two things, and several others, I realized that there was so much to say on this topic that I will have to address it in two parts.

Here is part one:

The first thing that came to mind as I prayed on this topic was a scene from the movie Cinderella Man, which is based on a true story about a boxer in the first half of the Twentieth Century. During the depression, he could not find work to support his family. Eventually, he was forced to accept government help.

Later, when his fortune changed, and he began winning bouts, he paid back the money he had been given by the government.

This scene really struck me because, today, few would do that–pay back their "entitlements". Most people wouldn’t even hesitate to take government handouts. In fact, they demand them.

But, back in the 1800s, most people believed that accepting charity—government or otherwise—was something that you should eschew unless absolutely necessary.

The second thing that came to mind was an incident that happened last summer. A dear family member, who is known far and wide for kindness and gentleness, was discussing economics with my husband and sons. When she began speaking about the rich—and why it is justified for the government to take their money to give to others—such a look of hatred and disdain came over her face that, to this day, my husband speaks about the incident with wonder. He had never seen her, before or since, have such a nasty expression on her face.

Thinking of this incident, I recalled many others I know, including my youthful self, who are kind and loving people, but whom display antagonism toward the rich, anger at them for not sharing their weath, and I realized something that shocked me:

Coveting someone else’s things because you want to give them to another is still coveting.

If we want to take our neighbor’s donkey, we are coveting.

If our neighbor has fifty thousand donkeys, and we want to take one for ourselves, we are still coveting. We are looking to our neighbor for good instead of to God, Love, the source of all supply.

If we want to take one of those fifty thousand donkeys and give it to our other neighbor, who lives in a mud pit with only insects for companionship ( or, perhaps, food) that is still coveting.

Not only that, but here we are making two moral errors:

First, we are coveting good from our donkey-rich neighbor instead of from God

Second, we are seeing our mud-pit-dwelling neighbor as a needy mortal instead of as the image and likeness of the One Altogether Lovely—a child and heir who can expect all he needs met by Our Father.

What is more important for our particular inquiry: No normal Christian—Christian Science or otherwise—living in the 1800s would have held our modern opinion on such matters. They might have envied the rich, but they would have been aware that this was breaking the Tenth Commandment, as it would not have been couched in pleasant "help the poor" verbage.

They believed in charity and in good works, but Communism and Socialism were fringe ideas that were looked down upon. They did not believe it was right to take a rich man’s things to give to your poor neighbor.

Not only did they not generaly believe in it—it could not be easily done. There was no income tax at that time. It was still specifically outlawed by the Constitution. (This was before the Sixteenth Amendment, which altered the Constitution to allow for individuals to be taxed. There were, of course, property taxes and tariffs and such. )

Does this mean that everyone in that day and age was against the government doing good works or that we, as Christians, can never vote for such things?

No, it does not.

But, if we wish to be virtuous and just, we must examine our motives:

Are we voting for a given measure because we feel that it is okay to gouge the rich, “they can afford it,” to support the poor “who cannot fend for themselves”?

Or are we acting from a cheerful sense that we must “all chip in together” to accomplish some good?

If the first…then we are definitely breaking the Tenth Commandment.

If the second—or if we are acting under any other motive that is neither self-serving nor resentful—then we are not violating the Commandment.

Our motives are good.

(What policies we should vote for—and all other questions of what is best in politics and economics—is beyond the scope of this inquiry, which is merely an examination of personal morality.)

So, in regard to our question:

  1. Have we fallen into the error of thinking that it is okay to covet, so long as we do not want our neighbors belongings for ourselves?
     
  2. Or worse, have we forgotten that wanting to take a rich man’s things—no matter how rich he is, no matter how big the company—for ourselves?

Here ends part one. Next time, a brief look at a second, quite different, aspect of coveting  present in modern society.

I originally ended this with an example of a healing by prayer from the book Christian Science in Germany, but I felt it deserved its own post. You can read it here.
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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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April 25th, 2017

06:23 pm: The Pinching Shoe That Is Beauty and the Beast

When I wrote my Ruining Beauty post, there were folks who complained that I shouldn’t review a movie I have not seen. I felt they had a good point. Sometimes things sound bad in review, but work well in the actual story. But I also felt that I didn’t want to pay money to see a movie I suspected I might not enjoy.

A young woman I know works at a movie theater. This is her last week, as she is quitting, but she offered me one last free ticket to see the movie of my choice before she left. (Her job included a free ticket for a friend each week.) My daughter asked her for a ticket for me to see Beauty and the Beast. (She knows I love the cartoon version.) So, I decided to go.

 Incidentally, my daughter saw the live-action Beauty and the Beast. She was bored. “You like that kind of romance and music,” she said, when she came home. “I don’t like.”  Not sure what to make of that, but even she talked about how beautiful it was.

It was going to be beautiful, right?

How bad could it be?

Imagine that you had been given a really handsome shoe. It looked like one of your favorite shoes from years past, but it was even more beautiful, more finel-made…only every time you took a step, it hurt your foot.


Watching the live action Beauty and the Beast was like that.

First, it was beautiful, utterly breathtaking. Almost every scene was a feast for the eyes. And certain things were really well-done. Emma Tompson as Mrs. Potts was spot on (even while washing a spot off), though a few of her lines were given to the feather duster. Lumiere also was wonderful, though not as funny because of changes they made in the characters around him.

I am not going to go through the film scene by scene, that would be far too painful—for both of us. Rather, I want to mention briefly the categories of errors I saw over and over:


I tried to find a picture to show how angry she looked much of the time, 
but none of those shots are online.

1) Girl Power Rules—anything dainty, feminine, or gentle that Belle did, any time a male character might have been in charge, had to be removed or dealt with badly.

Belle could not handle Gaston subtly, while being amused and above the fray, as in the original. She had to be angry and bossy.

She couldn’t look lovely in a long skirt. She has to wear modern boots, which jarred me out of the picture every time I saw them—though it took me a while to realize what was wrong—and have her skirt pinned up to show off her bloomers on one leg in an outfit that the real Belle would never have worn.


Belle's weird and unattractive (from some angles) dress.
compare with–look how long these dressed are, and no hiking boots:


 

She cannot give her word to stay in her father’s place (giving her father a reason to not immediately rush back to try to rescue her.) She has to not give her word, push her father so that he stumbles out of the cell and falls down, and then try to climb out a window.

So now she’s there because she’s tougher than an old man, not because she is a girl of integrity, who keeps her word until she is truly frightened. (Which also didn’t work. Live-action Belle just looked petulant and angry and like she is leaving the castle because the Beast told her to go, so she’s going! Not because she was frightened. So when she says, “You shouldn’t have frightened me.” The line doesn’t make sense.)

She can’t be cheerful and filled with joy. She has to be angry and petulant. Funny thing though—for all their attempt to make her top dog, the Belle who got angry and seemed resentful after Gaston expressed his desire to marry her seemed much weaker, much less in charge of her life, than the cheerful girl who just laughed off the foolishness of Gaston’s pretensions.

It was as if the scriptwriters were working from a bible that said: “The female character must have agency at all times,” which doesn’t make for good storytelling, especially about a young woman in an earlier age encountering a huge, scary beast.

Worse, when plot and feminism came into conflict, the plot always lost. (This is why we object to message fiction, folks. It’s not the message that is so bad, it is when the message shoves the plot aside and knocks it down the stairs.)
 


We can't have a noble character, that would confuse the viewers!
 

2)  The Faramir Effect—Anyone here remember The Lord of the Rings movie, where they totally, utterly ruined the character of Faramir. Why? The reason given was, “To show that the ring was truly evil, everyone had to be tempted by it.”

This principle shows a lack of the subtleties of storytelling. But it was the ruling principle in the live-action Beauty and the Beast.

Belle couldn’t be odd and beloved—because the prosaic locals didn’t understand her love of books but still valued the pretty, cheerful girl. She had to be hated by villagers who sent all their boys to school in lockstep but made the girls sit in the town center doing laundry. Villagers who threw her laundry into the mud when she dare teach a girl to read! (Shocked gasp!)

Because she can be the only reader—no longer the only bookish girl—boys going to school were added, girls slaving were added, teaching another girl to read was verboten, and during LeFou’s song, he has to stop to make a crack about being illiterate because…if even a soldier like LeFou can read, it will take away from how evil the One Ring is…er, I mean how odd Belle is.

Gaston cannot be a vain man who is a little too taken with himself because everyone in town adores him. He has to be a bully, a lout. But!—ONLY when it doesn’t violate Rule #1. When he’s among other people he swaggers and bullies, but when he talks to Super Fem…er, sorry, Belle, he has to stand several steps below her and plead.

(It was the weirdest scene in the movie: Alpha male Gaston suddenly transforming into a whimpering beta wolf. Which made Belle’s petulance at his imploring seem all the more like an overreaction.)

Gaston cannot come up with a “cunning plan” to trick Belle’s father into agreeing to let him marry his daughter. He has to try to murder Maurice and then bully LeFou into lying about it.

He cannot be admired by LeFou and the bimbettes, who he treats with jovial good will. He has to pettily have his horse kick mud on the women and abandon LeFou at the end to be squashed by a piano.

Oh…and there there’s the bimbettes. They can’t be sweet, cute girls who swoon over Gaston and cry when they think he’s going to pick someone else. They have to be mean-spirited witches, like Cinderella’s stepsisters, totally unpleasant and not cute in the least.


Vs.

 

These are two cases, but there were many. Each time the plot, characters, etc. came in conflict with the Faramir Effect, the plot, etc. took a dive.

 

3) Mommy! Someone’s Mean On The Internet!—I know many people are fond of TV Tropes, but words cannot express the horror and dismay I felt when I first saw that such a thing existed, and time has only proven my fear to be well-founded.

Yes, it can be fun to glance at the website, but the first thing I thought when I saw it was: Oh, no! Now, people are going to start picking apart stories like corpses, and labeling them rather than enjoying them.

Tropes are like the tricks of the trade of a magician. If someone laid out every move every magician made, with arrows showing where to look at all times to see the trick, no one would enjoy the show any more.

When people stop and guffaw, “Oh, look! He used the Mom’s-Head’s-On-Backwards Trope!” (or whatever), they stop enjoying the magic.

But worse, far worse than anything I previously imagined, is when DISNEY starts worrying about the tropes.

The last several Disney movies I have seen have all had the same phenomena over and over—someone is so self-conscious about the tools of their trade that they have to stop and point a finger and try to be funny about it. It is as if they are ashamed at their storytelling, instead of caught in the magic.

The worst offender of this was Moana. The self-conscious pokes at their own tropes—breaking the fourth wall to do it—really took me out of the movie, (except for one—where they didn’t break the fourth wall, which I actually thought was quite funny.)

But Beauty and the Beast did this, too, though not as badly.

It’s not just tropes…one can see in these movies where they are painstakingly rushing to fill in things that they have been criticized online for not having. Instead of ignoring their critics and telling a good story, they rushed to fill in every single little thing that might not make sense.

Nobody stops in the middle of spelling their boss’s name in song to suddenly announce that they are illiterate, unless the writers are mocking the subject. That kind of mocking really draws the viewer out of the movie. (Not if it were Aladdin, where the genie did a lot of it, but when it happens out of nowhere. And so stupidly. Either have him spell the name, or leave that section out of the song. And the genie wasn’t embarrassed about what he did.)

The snow in the scene with Belle and the Beast in the original was just to show time was passing. Here it had to be explained.

The Beast was a selfish child who had temper tantrums in the original, and his servants were his loyal servants. Here, he had to be this way because of his wicked father (okay…how did the father come to be that way? Another wicked father? Is it wicked fathers all the way down?) and the servants had to be guilty of something.

Belle’s mother was dead in the original. Here this had to be explained—in a scene that did NOTHING for the movie.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful scene. Really beautiful and haunting. But it didn’t change Belle, alter her outlook or her purpose. It didn’t even help her connect with the Beast—who had also lost his mother as a young man. It had no effect because it was added in without the story being rewritten to support it.

And this, even though they did set up that she was curious about her mother—but there was no follow through, no result from this that altered her life. It was too important a thing to be touched on so lightly and was treated too lightly in the story to be worth the amount of time it took.

What it did feel like was: “People on the Internet have criticized us for not saying more about Belle’s mother…so here’s an Easter egg for them.”

But, as John said, it made the father look like a coward—fleeing rather than staying with his dying wife?

And many moments were like that…as if they were rushing to address every criticism rather than trying to write a good story. And, of course, by doing this, they opened the way for new criticisms.

If Belle can get to Paris and pick up a rose-shaped rattle with a magic book, why didn’t she use the book to instantly reach her father? (Which is kind of a bigger loophole than any in the original.)    

Nor was this scene added without a price. By adding distractions, additional plotlines, they took attention away from the secondary characters. In the original, Cogsworth was the butler and in charge, and Lumiere was always going around his back.—which made him witty and clever and a delightful rogue.

In the live-action version, Cogsworth is just some kind of hanger-on who only has a few lines and never acts very pompous…and therefore is less endearing and funny. Much more time is spent developing the servants’s lives in the live-action, but somehow at the loss of character personality and wit.

 

In conclusion:

There were many, many more things—some good, many bad—that I don’t have time to mention. As a writer, I found some of the things that seemed wrong, the pinches in the shoe, a bit frightening. I wasn’t sure how their decisions differed from the kind of decision I make in my writing…and I wondered how a writer tells when they are overdoing something vs. making it clear enough.

And yet, the result was: that so many notes just seemed to be out of place, off key.

Overall, the feeling I walked away with was: This had been a marvelous movie that had all sorts of things arbitrarily stuck into it to fill out agendas other than “tell a good story”—rather like taking a nice leather shoe and stretching it to fit a donkey instead of a human foot and then trying to wear it.

Poor Walt.

He would have been appalled.

 

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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