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Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

The Best Easter Gift So Far

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Easter is an interesting time of the year. Of course, friends and neighbors have been involved in Lent for a few weeks now. I’ve covered a story on Ukrainian Egg decorating—a rather impressive and fancy process. My husband came home from church with a palm branch (the cats play with it). But, I have to admit, the most impressive 2013 Easter happening, for me so far, is reading a book by Marcus Borg. Not really thinking about Easter, I checked out the book, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time (published in 2001) and began reading with the hopes it would keep my attention. It did.

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Although I’ve never heard of the man before, Marcus Borg apparently is well known in both academic and church circles as a Bible and Jesus scholar. Moreover, his vocabulary is bigger than mine, but I hung in there and kept reading his book. I’m sure I didn’t catch the full meaning of his “metaphorical historical approach to interpretation,” but I did catch enough. Borg points out the difference between a metaphorical and a literal interpretation, and his reasoning is sound.

A literal interpretation would render the resurrection as an event that occurred only once. Whereas, a metaphorical interpretation can admit an ongoing resurrection. It reminds me of the definition for resurrection as found in a revision of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, “Resurrection: Spiritualization of thought; a new and higher idea of immortality or spiritual existence; material belief yielding to spiritual understanding.” This can happen right now.

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Literal interpretations lead to exclusivity and contradiction. Literalists serve a convention or culture, whereas, Borg points out, we can rather be liberated to be God’s image. Our salvation doesn’t come through rituals, syllables, or words, but by letting go of an old way of being, and embracing a new way of being.

The old way of being is to insist human words are infallible or inerrant. The fact is: reading is an interpretation. Borg says, “There is no such thing as non-interpretive reading.” Readers are using their own discerning judgment when reading. But the meaning of anything sacred can “go beyond particular meanings of the texts in their ancient contexts.”

We have revisions of the Bible to show its surplus of meaning, and allow it full voice. The Bible is a lens through which we see God, but we need to remember, not to believe in the lens, but to believe in God.

Believing in God is not hard for me. Reading Marcus Borg’s book reaffirmed that I don’t need to believe in the Bible, or some other religious book, but can focus on believing God. This affirmation, I’d have to say, was a great Easter gift.

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Movie Review: The Magic of Belle Isle

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Rated PG, The Magic of Belle Isle is watched with relief. A washed out celebrated author, Monte Wildhorn (played by Morgan Freeman) takes up summer residency in a house that neighbors a single mother and her three daughters.

Directed by Rob Reiner, The Magic of Belle Isle reveals the pains of loss and the confusion that juxtaposes divorce. However, credit to script, characters focus on one another’s talents and contributions to society. The few innuendos associated with sexuality were regarded as inferior to the assets of humanity and creativity–a plus to the movie.

Monte Wildhorn regularly used his excellent grasp on the English language, supported with an extensive vibrant vocabulary. The single mother played the piano beautifully. The daughters were genuine sisters that expressed concern for one another’s well fair, yet still exhibited impatience.

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Monte Wildhorn was supposedly a drunk before the neighboring house of feminine wisdom tempered his goal to self-destruct through alcohol. Morgan Freeman’s performed admirably the part of a jaded author, however, sloshed people slur their words more.

Typical to Hollywood, no one has real money problems in The Magic of Belle Isle. As a viewer, I had to remind myself that usually single mothers are working a job, driving an older vehicle, and not granting their children expensive birthday parties.

A feel good movie that makes you wonder why life doesn’t turn out like this for everyone, but yet still offers the possibility.

109 minutes, Filmed 2012

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Emotional Affairs Stab Happiness in the Back

posted by Cheryl Petersen

The studies are out. The statistics are alarming. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy reports that 20% of married couples have been impacted by emotional infidelity.

Infidelity has been redefined in the 21st century.  Infidelity has been broadened to include, not only physical affairs, but also emotional affairs, which can be challenging to untangle and end.

Under the disguise of “innocent fun,” extramarital emotional affairs are often at first excused as meaningless. The social attachment, however, deepens. We become secretive or defensive. Marriage and families are ultimately harmed.

An emotional affair makes a woman feel younger or better about herself. An emotional affair makes a man feel more virile or important. These emotional swings are a fun break from mundane life at home. Moreover, clandestine communication is too easy, with facebook, myspace, texting, and flirting at work. But the end result is a stab in the back of your happiness.

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Every marriage needs continued improvement in order to thrive, and to seek emotional support from someone other than your spouse is not an answer. Excited emotions come and go. Emotions pass away. If strong emotions died in a marriage they will die in an affair, so transfer your energy to improving the marriage. Granted, working on your marriage might not seem as thrilling as an emotional affair, but in the end happiness becomes sound and satisfying.

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Christ Jesus left us the Beattitudes, the attitudes linked to happiness. For example, “Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5) Jesus didn’t say having a bigger house will satisfy, or turning on your co-worker, or hottie, will satisfy, but pointed out the power of thought and that we are able to direct thought toward an emotional satisfaction of strengthening marriage and family.

There is nothing wrong with having friends outside a marriage. But, we want friendships that encourage strong healthy marriages.

It’s not a mystery, we can untangle an emotional affair. We can understand how the human mind works and identify with the spiritual mindedness that brings out the best in us and our marriage. We read in 21st Century Science and Health, “There is a large class of thinkers whose excessive prejudice and conceit twist every fact to suit themselves. Their creed teaches belief in a mysterious, supernatural God, and a natural, all-powerful devil. Another class, still more unfortunate, are so depraved that they appear to be innocent. They repeat empty talk while looking you placidly in the face, and they never fail to stab their benefactor in the back. A third class of thinkers build with steel beams. They are honest, generous, noble, and are therefore open to the approach and recognition of Truth.”

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Strong Emotions Outside a Marriage

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Human beings are designed to relate. We socialize, communicate, narrate, and associate. In the 21st century, we connect. And, sometimes we connect with someone we really like. The emotional juices get racing, and we can find ourselves fascinated.

Emotional relationships can result in marriage, or a physical intimacy that oftentimes grows into a family. But, with the relationship and family come responsibilities and challenges. And, as time passes, sometimes, the happy emotions get smothered in a boring routine.

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Today, technology has made it so we can connect with others in a blink. What if we are married but meet someone else who recalls those happy emotions of by-gone days? Life is more exciting. We perk up. We dress nicer. We make an effort to get to know the person better because we feel so good when we are around them.

To connect beyond a normal friendship is an emotional affair. And, they don’t last, no matter how you define it. An emotional affair is not the element for a soul-mate, any more than sawdust is the ingredient for chocolate cake.

The emotions will ride themselves out. Don’t stay on an emotional roller coaster headed for a derailment. Put that energy into your marriage. Put space between you and the person who evokes the strong emotions until the emotions are under control. Research and realize the rationale behind the confusion until you are no longer confused by the emotions. To stay faithful is to feel good about yourself.

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