International Women’s Day

International Women's Day - celebrate choices

The International Women’s Day theme this year is Balance for Better. I wanted to write about Eve… you know – the first woman according to.

Why write about her?

Two reasons. She brought balance, and because she has long been blamed for the Bible something she did not do… sin.

What does Eve have to do with International Women’s Day?

Several things, actually. Christians and Jews see her as the first woman created. From the information I could find the creation story in Islam is a little different, focusing more on the creation of mankind.

Sticking with the Christian viewpoint because I know that better… Eve often wears the label ‘the one who sinned,’ and who tempted her husband to sin.

That she is a secondary creation and subordinate to man is another misconception.

Refuting the misconceptions

Celebrate Eve on International Women's Day
By Michiel Coxie - Web Gallery of Art: Image Info about artwork, Public Domain

First, that she was secondary and subordinate. Read this and judge for yourself…

And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
Genesis 2: 18 NKJV

Does that sound secondary? ‘A helper comparable to him.’  My understanding of helper is someone very skilled and trustworthy. Comparable, to me, means of similar standing.

Dictionary.com says this…

Capable of being compared; having features in common with something else to permit or suggest comparison.
Worthy of comparison.

Eve brought a balance that could not be achieved by Adam alone.

Now to the sin. Who was the sinner? Again, according to the Bible…

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Genesis 3: 16, 17NKJV 

If you read the full text at the start of Genesis 3 you will see that the serpent made a concerted effort to seduce Eve into taking the fruit. He manipulated her.as well as deceived her… subtly.

Note: God gave the instructions to Adam.

Question: Did Adam tell his wife? The text does not say but by reading the conversation she had with the serpent, she knew of the restriction. Nevertheless, she gave in to the temptation.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 
Gen 3: 6 NKJV

Yes, Eve was tempted.

At any time, Adam could have intervened and pointed out what was happening. He said nothing… Moreover, he did not object when Eve handed him some fruit. Instead, he ate it.

So, who was the sinner? Adam was the one instructed by God. Adam was the ‘head of the household’ and Eve the helper comparable to him.

Another question: Should he not have protected the one he had been given as a helper?

Eve, unfairly has worn the blame all through the years.

I trust I have given you ‘food for thought’ – and it is not the forbidden fruit. We were given minds to think and to make free choices. Eve made a poor choice. Are we not all guilty of that from time to time? (Both males and females.)

So, on this International Women’s Day rejoice

No woman is a subordinate creation. Woman is different to man and has a skill set that complements a man and brings that balance to his life…if she chooses to be in a relationship. If not she still has an important skill set.

Balance is better, yes, and to achieve that balance we all have choices; we need to use them wisely.

Musing on International Women’s Day,

Susan

Is Christ Divided?

Divided

Is Christ divided is a question the Apostle Paul asked in a letter to the Corinthians.

Addressing problems among them, he says…

What I mean is this: Individuals among you are saying, “I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
1 Corinthians 1: 12, 13. Berean Study Bible

This lack of unity flourished throughout the 1st century AD and was addressed by other church leaders.

Anyone who has read my Apostle John series of books, or even the blogs, will know I have a great interest in the Gospel of John and his letters. One of the statements/instructions he made was…

By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13: 35

To many observers this would seem to prove that there are NO disciples.

Why? They were divided.

There are so many ‘varieties’ of beliefs. Sadly, many of these varieties are still at ‘war’ with each other, sometimes even within one group.

There is another scripture… Jude verse 3

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints.”

Could it be that already the white horse of Revelation 6 had started its ride?

Mistaken Identity

An article by Chuck Missler says

“What is surprising is how many Bible expositors find themselves misled on one of the most dangerous “mistaken identities” of all. The first world dictator was Nimrod, “a mighty hunter,” whose Hebrew name means “let us rebel,” given by his contemporaries to one who ever had in his mouth such words to stir up his band to rebellion. The final world dictator seeking global domination will also be an “Assyrian” who is here characterized by holding a bow and riding a white horse. It is interesting how many confuse this counterfeit with the rider of the white horse in Revelation 19.

The Apostle John wrote…

White horse of Revelation 6

Here is the first: “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Rev. 6:1-2).

Christ previously had revealed the meaning of the white horse. His disciples once asked Him, “…when shall these things [the destruction of the Temple] be? and what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3).

Christ is the One speaking in both Matthew 24 and Revelation 6. He is addressing the very same questions in both chapters. He answers by listing, in time sequence and order, the events and trends that precede the end of the age—and thus His Coming.

Some have thought that the rider of the white horse is Christ Himself, however, in context consider, that the white horse that John described here in Revelation 6 represents false ‘christs.’

The one on this horse is a counterfeit of the true Christ and a counterfeit of His Second Coming, described in Revelation 19:11-16. There the real Christ wields a sharp two-edged sword, while the false christ is represented as carrying a bow with no mention of any arrows. This is an important difference.

Divided and conquered?

Does this rider explain the differences, the dislike, the accusations between Christians? Perhaps.

So how do we find this ‘faith once delivered’?

Perhaps we will not, not until Christ returns. However, in the meantime should we not be striving to be known for our love for one another?  John 13: 35

Way back in the Apostle Paul’s time, people were choosing who they preferred. “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”

 Judging by the continuing divisions down through the centuries, we might as well face it. We will never feel close with some people. There are others we may not even like, but we can love them, from a distance, and pray for them. 

Many different plants grow together.

Growing together

Thank you for reading my musing,

Susan

Christian is as Christian does

A Christian should be different in a positive way

I do not like My Kitchen Rules, an Australian cooking competition, but I know many people who do. Actually, to be honest, I never watched the programme until recently; the trailers were enough to show me it was not something I would enjoy. However, after a week in hospital without a book, no computer or laptop and no reading spectacles, I was bored and watched the episode where the home-schooled, ‘devout’ Christian brothers were to cook.

As the title of this blog says, ‘Christian is as Christian does’ and I saw not one ‘skerrit’ (atom/fragment) of Christianity in the behavior or attitude of those two young men. (Clearly, ‘skerrit’ is an old Scots saying from my childhood. I have added an approximation.)

The Christian Difference

As with the image at the top, Christians are different, Christians are supposed to be different, but not in the way I saw those two young men on My Kitchen Rules. I would guess that very few of us who claim the name ‘Christian’ live up to being the kind of witness we should be. I would also guess that most of us try.

Why did I let it bother me? Many reasons, but I guess primarily because it gives those of us who ARE trying to live like Christ a bad name.

What does Christian mean?

I will let someone more ‘skilled’ explain.

“Christian” literally means “of the party of Christ” or “follower of Christ.”

Acts 11:26 says, “and the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch” (emphasis added). A disciple is more than a student; a disciple embraces a teacher’s ways as their ways.

Early believers were called Christians because they believed Jesus’ teachings, they accepted Jesus’ death and resurrection as the payment for sin, and they emulated Jesus in the way they lived. These things are still true today. Simply put, a Christian is a follower of Jesus.
https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-is-a-christian.html (Emphasis mine.)

What was Jesus’ way?

In a nutshell… had a reputation for being good and caring. He healed often and in most places where He went. Yes, He was honest, as those two young men claim to be… but Jesus was not cruel, nor did he provoke people.

I have not seen other episodes of My Kitchen Rules 2019 but from what the young men said, they expected to be attacked because of their own behavior in previous episodes. One example I found was here… https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-6667929/MKRs-Christian-brothers-Josh-Austin-ask-rivals-theyve-cosmetic-surgery.html

I did not waste time watching it, I just read the text.

If you want to check it out here is a list of links… https://www.nowtolove.com.au/reality-tv/my-kitchen-rules/my-kitchen-rules-josh-austin-quotes-54037

Jesus and the Pharisees

Simply put (and this is a huge subject) Jesus tried to correct and help the Pharisees turn their focus on what was important to God.

Jesus rebuked them in Luke 11:42, “But woe to you, Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

Christian is as Christian Does

  • Yes, a Christian should be honest. Privately with the person.
  • Yes, a Christian should tell the truth, but not to cruelly hurt someone else, or to make him/herself look ‘good.’

Each one of us are witnesses, whether claiming to be Christian or not.

Actions speak louder than words.

We all need to look at what our actions are saying. We need to ask if they match our words.

Christians should make a positive difference

Okay, complaint over. Guess who will not be watching another episode.

What I will have to be watching is – do my words match my actions?

(A constant challenge.)

How do you fare in this challenge?

Just asking

Susan

Adventures with a Spider

spider web

A different sort of blog this week. As the top image might suggest, it is about a spider – but if they fill you with horror or alarm, fret not. I do not intend to fill this post with pictures of spiders.

The other night I was heading off to bed when I saw a rather large spider racing at me. I was not calm, but there was only me to deal with it.

Oops it was heading in the direction of my bedroom. “No way Jose.”

To corral the spider
Spider not shown

I stopped its dash, trapping it with the oxygen tube. (There is 59 feet of it.)

I needed to reach the spray, not photograph the spider.

Spider refuses to give up

It was determined. It knew where it was going and kept turning back, until eventually it figured out it could step over the tubing.

I made a dash for the kitchen cupboard, grabbed the spray, and sprayed in the direction I had seen it last. It was one of those spiders that come toward the threat, so it ‘charged’ at me.

(Some of them do.) Blasted it with the spray, and sat down, watching it. I have been tricked before. Yes, it faked death. But, as I said, I know their tricks LOL. So, I gave it another squirt of spray and went to the kitchen for a glass I don’t use anymore and put it over the top of the spider to stop its charge to my bedroom.

(It was outside my bedroom door. Not comfortable with that.)

The spider was sprayed and trapped

If you cannot be calm, act calm. I sat down on lounge chair, maybe watched a bit of TV but mainly watched the spider resurrect itself and try to get out of the glass.

Half an hour later it was still trying to escape, but I needed to go to bed. So, I carefully positioned the oxygen tube around the glass and made sure there was enough spare tubing in the bedroom so I wouldn’t pull it and knock the glass over.

If it wasn’t dead in the morning, it would be after Gail, my home help, vacuumed it up.

There you go… a slice of life in an Aussie summer when everything wants to come in in search of water and/or escape from the heat.

Susan

P.S.

I was outside spraying before Gail arrived.
(That way, hopefully, unwanted intruders will have walked through the spray first and not be so fast on their eight legs.)

P.P.S.

I did not call out, or shout at it like this poor man who triggered a large police response, who arrived with lights and sirens. (Someone thought he was killing his young child.)

Warning: there is an image of the spider in the story.

Man and spider spark police emergency

Leadership or Authority?

leadership shows care

Many people have authority over me – but are they leaders? Are they showing effective leadership?

Some people try to take authority over me – to lead me, or to try to make me a follower, or fan.

Authority and leadership are two vastly different things.

dictionary

The Meriam-Webster Dictionary definition on this narrow interpretation of authority…”The power to give orders or make decisions: the power or right to direct or control someone or something.”

This would accurately describe many people we encounter under the guise of leadership. Currently Australia is approaching a federal election. Candidates for office want the leader’s position. Do they want to run the country – or do they want authority. Sadly, from what I see – and it is only a small part of the picture… from news items and unavoidable advertisements, the majority of people seeking public office are obsessed with self, and their own promotion.

That’s not a leader. At least not in the area of effective leadership.

What is effective leadership?

Someone who cares for the people he leads, someone who finds ways to make it easier for them to achieve their goals. Sound unrealistic? Probably is in this day and age – but there are still some people like that around.

A memory from my childhood comes to mind – seeing sheep being moved to another field. The shepherd followed them. His dogs ‘worked’ them to the gate and along the lane. So who was the shepherd? The  shepherd had the authority, he had trained his dogs, but if you look at the principle that leaders are the ones who ‘go first’, who make sure there are no dangers or obstacles in the way – I guess one of the sheep was the leader.

Contrast that with – “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”
John 10: 27 (Berean Study Bible).

Did you ‘catch’ the last phrase? – “and they follow Me.”

Guess that means that Jesus, the Leader, leads. He goes first, making the way safe.

So – an effective leader…

  • Inspires others
  • Serves the people he is responsible for
  • Creates an environment where trust can grow
  • Takes care of the people in his or her charge

And, like Jesus and His faithful followers –

  • Puts the lives of others before his or her needs.

Leadership is service.

A leader can be a mother, or father, a husband or wife, neighbor to a widow or widower.

Leadership is service

You don’t have to be the person in charge of a large company, or group… wherever you are, you can lead.

Take an interest in those around you, visit your neighbor, email the person you are too far away to visit, give some of your time to make a phone call.

.

Leaders CARE

If you want to be an effective leader, start with the small ways you can demonstrate care. In time it will become a habit, and when you do end up with responsibility for the people in your charge – caring, creating an environment of trust, and being respected by those in your care will happen.
A good leader will make a positive impact on someone else’s life. Aim for that!

Just thinking,

Susan

P.S.
I chose the featured image along the top because it suggests the leader is encouraging those behind, not marching on to be first.

Christmas through the ages

Christmas and Mithraiism

When I was a young child in Scotland, Christmas was not celebrated. My mother, by then a lone parent, went to her work in a textile factory for her usual twelve hour shift. Remembering back, I looked it up to see if my memory was correct. Yes, it was. Christmas did not become a public holiday until 1958.

“A 1640 Act of the Parliament of Scotland made the celebration of “Yule vacations” illegal. England, under Oliver Cromwell, also imposed a ban on Christmas at around the same time. Despite the repealing of the Act in 1686, the suppression of Christmas in Scotland effectively lasted for 400 years, with December 25 only becoming a public holiday in 1958.”
Several sites record this, including https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/christmas-and-new-year-traditions-in-scotland-1-3226062

Yule, Christmas past
Yule, Christmas past

Christmas in the new American colony

An early law book of the Massachusetts Bay Colony reads as follows:

“For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offence of others, it is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon such accountants as aforesaid, every person so offending shall pay of every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county.”

They also felt that due to the holiday’s loose pagan origins, celebrating it would constitute idolatry. A common sentiment among the leaders of the time was that such feast days detracted from their core beliefs.

A look at the history of Christmas

Bilble, open

The Bible records the birth of Christ but never any annual celebration not even after His death as Saviour.


So, looking to history – when was the first recorded celebration of Christmas?

The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.

Ah, Emperor Constantine.

Was he indeed the ‘first Christian Roman Emperor? Or was he merely trying to unite his vast empire with its many religious beliefs?

Roman beliefs

Emperor Constantine merged the cult of Mithra with that of Christianity, a ‘cult’ that was developing rapidly.

He declared himself a Christian but at the same time maintained his ties to the Mithra cult. He retained the title “Pontifus Maximus” the high priest. On his coins were inscribed: “Sol Invicto comiti” which means, commited to the invincible sun.

Interesting.

Mithra, the slaying of the bull

Christmas in the 19th Century

With the appearance of the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church, a revival in the traditional rituals and religious observances associated with Christmastide occurred. This ushered in “the development of richer and more symbolic forms of worship, the building of neo-Gothic churches, and the revival and increasing centrality of the keeping of Christmas itself as a Christian festival” as well as “special charities for the poor” in addition to “special services and musical events”.
Historian Ronald Hutton believes that the current state of observance of Christmas is largely the result of a mid-Victorian revival of the holiday, spearheaded by Charles Dickens, who “linked worship and feasting, within a context of social reconciliation”.

Dickens was not the first author to celebrate Christmastide in literature, but it was he who superimposed his humanitarian vision of the holiday upon the public, an idea that has been termed as Dickens’ “Carol Philosophy.”

Modern celebrations of Christmas include more commercial activity in comparison with those of the past.

Christmas in the U.S.

Historian Stephen Nissenbaum contends that the modern celebration in the United States was developed in New York State from defunct and imagined Dutch and English traditions in order to refocus the holiday from one where groups of young men went from house to house demanding alcohol and food into one centered on the happiness of children. He notes that there was a deliberate effort to prevent children from becoming greedy in response.
Christmas was not proclaimed a holiday by the United States Congress until 1870.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_controversies

There is a lot more I could write but this post is long enough…
Christmas is an invention of men, not a Biblical fact.
I suppose that is justification for the rampant commercialism of Christmas today. In saying this I also have to say there are many people who celebrate the 25th December as the birth of Christ.
I do not, but respect your right to keep this date as a celebration. Allow me the same right… to NOT celebrate what I see as a pagan holiday.

Whatever you do, be safe. Statistics for this time of year are depressing… suicides, accidents, and family fights, to name but a few.

God bless you and keep you safe,

Susan

P.S. The header image is a mithraeum (a temple-cave dedicated to Mithras) found in the German city of Saarbrücken.

The Gorilla and the Grasshopper

Gorilla

Who is the gorilla and who is the grasshopper? Well, in my post the gorilla is Amazon and the grasshopper is me. I figure I am less in the sight of Amazon than a grasshopper but the connotation of mites is not pleasant.

Why do I make this comparison?

Because my exchanges with Amazon customer service have been frustrating, when I managed to find them, and without resolution or reply to my question. I also understand that to them I am not important.

The Gorilla

Like many victims of the Gorilla’s algorithm I lost many honest reviews. Some were from people on my mailing list – and I didn’t tell them to leave 5-star reviews. A few might have, but I do not know who had left them. All I knew was that the review total dropped. What I did notice a few weeks ago was a puzzling notice when I clicked to review in order to put a direct link into the back of my latest novella..

Amazon, the gorilla stomps

So, I checked my books and novellas.
Hold the Faith – has the notice.
Grow in Grace – has the notice.
Light of Truth – has the notice.
Keep the Flame – has the notice.
Hell Shall Not prevail – you guessed it – has the notice.
After the Thirty Days – has the notice.
No Evil Shall Befall You – has the notice.
Clash of Faiths, now also has the notice.

Apostle John Fiction and spin-off novellas, cover images
Amazon gorilla gatekeeper

Shock, puzzlement, annoyance, and then another doze of bewilderment set in. Because every one of my books had that notice, and still have, I had no choice but to brave the gatekeeper and contact Customer Service.

I say ‘brave the gatekeeper’ because the few times I have tried to contact Amazon customer service the ‘hoops and pages’ to go through are daunting. Then ‘Contact Us’ requires choices from a series of drop-down choices… none of which have ever fitted my query.

The Grasshopper

Well, I went through the hoops and reached a chat option. (Email was not an option.) After reiterating all that I had put in ‘Other’ in order to move forward, the person asked me to wait while he/she checked.

I did.

Thew grasshopper

When the person returned it was to tell me that someone would contact me by email within twenty-four hours.

That didn’t happen. Another day later, I jumped through the hoops again and spoke to another operator – who did the same thing… asked me to wait while he/she checked. This time the reply was slightly different. “The reason for the delay is that there is an issue. I promise it will be sorted within twenty four hours.’

Truly – the person said ‘promise.’

email icon

Well it was more than twenty-four hours, but an email finally arrived.

 

This is a copy of the text.

Hello,

When we detect unusual reviewing behavior on a product, we place limits on review submissions. We may limit the submission of all reviews or limit reviews to Amazon Verified Purchase reviews. We place limits on reviews to preserve trust in customer reviews.

While we are unable to determine when the limits may be removed, customers are free to try submitting reviews later.

My question had been ‘Why is there a notice on each of my books and novellas saying, ‘We are currently unable to accept a review for this product.’

However, I now had an email address so didn’t need the customer service hoops, so replied to the email and said that the reply did not answer my question… and asked my question again, with some additional, appropriate information. Also, what is unusual reviewing behavior?

The next reply was even less relevant.

Customer Reviews are removed for the following reasons:

• The review violates our Customer Review Creation Guidelines (http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines).
• A customer can decide to remove their own review.
• The review is on a page that incorrectly links multiple items. We remove these reviews when we separate the items.

To protect the privacy of our customers, we do not share information about specific reviews with anyone other than the customer who posted it.

Stomped on by the gorilla. I did try in the Amazon Facebook group and they sent me an address, but all that happened when I used it to ask my question was a similar ‘off-topic’ reply.

Susan M B Preston, author

I am glad that my writings are not ‘exclusive’ to Amazon. If their algorithms do this to many people, Amazon might find it is a monkey in the room, not the gorilla.

Stomped on but not squashed,

Susan

Covet Explained in Fewer than 140 Characters

you covet my parking space

This week I have had to venture on the roads. I would rather miss driving at this time of year, just as I would prefer to miss going to shopping centres. Whether on the road, shopping centre carpark, or the shops themselves the absence of consideration is obvious. As I thought on it, a strange ‘light bulb moment’ went off in my mind. On the road, other drivers covet the space your vehicle is taking; in the shopping centre carpark where parking spaces are hard to find you might find a line of vehicles whose drivers covet the space you have.

Covet is an old-fashioned word

What does it mean?

“To desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of other:
Example: To covet another’s property.”
www.dictionary.com

 

The definition by the way is less than 140 characters, including spaces. I checked.

covet, character count

Now I will expand on that definition in more than 140 characters.
(Twitter has increased the character limit to 280 but I will go over that.)

In the Bible covet is mentioned in the tenth commandment. “You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbour.” (Abridged version.)

If you want a New Testament version, well, I think Jesus’ summary of the ten given in two commandments covers it.
“And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Mark 12:31

Covet is a strange word for lack of consideration.

Well, covet has another meaning in the dictionary “to wish for, especially eagerly: 
Example: He won the prize they all coveted.”

self-centered

When it all boils down to a basic set of words, it is self-centeredness.

Why would I say that? Because if you peel the layers back like an onion, you might find it is putting your needs before those of others.

like the layers of an onion

If you leapfrog in and out of the traffic to get that little bit ahead. Chances are I will join you at the next set of traffic lights.

My nerves will be calmer.

If you are charging at me with your shopping trolley expecting me to get out of your way quickly, I won’t be able to.  I have to take a portable oxygen concentrator when I go to the shops, we cannot dodge a ‘speeding trolley.’

I will stop and hope you see me.

So, do not covet the space on the road, the carpark bay, or try to intimidate others out of your way in the shopping centres. Love your ‘neighbour’ as yourself.
We are all on this planet together, so we are neighbours.
Slow down, it might save your life.

Thinking again,

Susan

 

Does Your Listening Pass The Test? 7 Things You Can Improve On Today

In our busy world ‘listening’ is becoming a casualty. Could it be we are being trained to have a very short attention span?

Maybe so.

For example…

There are ‘tweets’ – 280 characters,  which includes punctuation and spaces.

Text messages instead of talking on the phone

Facebook – ‘Like’ instead of commenting.

The trouble is not everyone is on Twitter or Facebook (or Pinterest, or Instagram etc.)

Question…
Do you know, actually know, if your friend (or relative) is going through a tough time? Hard question – are you really interested? Sometimes we are not, so be honest. Say – kindly – I don’t have the time at the moment. Or, if you are preoccupied with one of your own matters, tell the person that, rather than only half listening.

Blocks to Listening

  • You are thinking of something else
  • You don’t want to hear
  • You only hear some of what is said
  • You listen to respond, not to hear what you are being told
  • You have already concluded what they are talking about
listening ear

You want to listen and understand?

Here are those 7 things you can improve on today…

  1. Pay attention
  2. Focus on what is being said
  3. If you are unsure – ask what they mean
  4. Be patient if the person you are listening to is having difficulty explaining
  5. Try to see what they are saying from their point of view
  6. Observe the non-verbal signs – also consider the volume, tone of voice, and expression of the speaker.
  7. Be patient. Don’t assume a pause means the speaker is finished.

And another important one –
Watch your own ‘non-verbal’ response to what is being said.

It can encourage or put a person off.

1 response to listening

Listening is a skill that is vanishing.

In our busy lives we have many pressures to deal with and tend to be self-focused… or focused on our own problems.

If you have the time, take the time – to listen. You might be the only person the other feels will understand.

Listen to the crying person

During my recent stay in hospital I met other patients who only needed someone to listen. They did not need solutions or suggestions, they were inundated with those from doctors, nurses, and other staff members.

Speaking to someone who listened helped them clarify their own thoughts.

Thinking again,

Susan

Saturnalia synchronized

Temple of Saturn, Rome

What do I mean ‘Saturnalia synchronized?’ 
Well, at this time of year the custom of Christmas is loosely based on the ancient festival of Saturnalia. I discovered a great deal about this pagan Roman festival when researching the background for one of the books in the Apostle John Series. So, let’s build from the Roman celebration of Saturnalia and go from there

Roman Saturnalia

Originally celebrated on December 17, Saturnalia was extended first to three and eventually to seven days and ended on December 23.

  • All work and business was suspended.
  • Slaves were given temporary freedom to say and do what they liked
  • Certain moral restrictions were eased.
  • A mock king was chosen (Saturnalicius princeps); the seasonal greeting io Saturnalia was heard everywhere.
  • The cult statue of Saturn himself, traditionally bound at the feet with woolen bands, was untied, presumably to come out and join the fun.

Sounds remarkably like what I remember hearing in school history lessons. The medieval ‘Lord of Misrule,’ so I looked that up too.

Saturnalia, and lord of misrule
Engraving :The Illustrated London News :Scanned by Terry-Lynn Johnson, Lakehead University. This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose

In England, the Lord of Misrule – known in Scotland as the Abbot of Unreason was an officer appointed by lot during Christmastide to preside over the Feast of Fools.

The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying.

Sounds like Saturnalicius princeps revisited.

Saturnalia to Christmas tree

One of the earliest stories relating back to a tree for Christmas is about Saint Boniface. In 722, he encountered some pagans who were about to sacrifice a child at the base of a huge oak tree. He cut down the tree to prevent the sacrifice and a Fir tree grew up at the base of the oak. He then told everyone that this lovely evergreen, with its branches pointing to heaven, was a holy tree – the tree of the Christ child, and a symbol of His promise of eternal life.

Next step… In the 1840s and 50s, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert popularized the Christmas tree in England. Prince Albert decorated a tree and ever since that time, the English, because of their love for their Queen, copied her Christmas customs including the Christmas tree and ornaments.

Next addition to Saturnalia

Over many centuries and through many cultures the fantasy of Santa Claus (in various names) has evolved and become part of the Christmas tradition.

It began with St. Nicholas, a fourth-century Catholic bishop of Myra, (Roman province of Asia Minor, now Turkey) His parents died when Nicholas was a young man, leaving him with a healthy inheritance.

Santa at nativity
Santa Claus was never at the manger

Legend of Saint Nicholas

Determined to devote his inheritance to works of charity, Nicholas discovered a destitute father who had three daughters. It was impossible to find husbands for them because of their poverty.

To save the father from giving his daughters over to human trafficking, Nicholas provided bags of gold for each of the daughters. Using the gold as a dowry, each of the girls were married in due time. This inspiring story resulted in Nicholas being recognized as an example of generosity for all people, young and old.

And on it went...

Devotion to Nicholas spread from the Middle East into Greece and Russia, where he is still recognized as the patron saint.
In time, Nicholas began to be honored also in Europe, and then in England where 400 churches were dedicated in his honor in the later Middle Ages.

Following the Reformation, Protestants abolished the veneration and traditions associated with saints. Only the Dutch Protestants preserved the ancient tradition of a visit from St. Nicholas on Dec. 6. They referred to St. Nicholas as Sinter Klaas.
Newspaper article

'Chinese whispers'

In that game, the phrase at the end is different from the one at the start. Likewise with Saturnalia’s synchronizations.

Saturnalia was a festival honoring the pagan Roman god Saturn. Like many other ‘festivals’ over the years it was ‘Christianized.’ However, there is nothing Christian about Saturnalia, nor any of the additions which were absorbed, or synchronized into the pagan celebration.

More musings,

Susan