Sunday, 27 September 2009

An Index and Genocide

So, to give you a quick-link index of the Mormon/Evangelical discussion:

MY INTRO
CAV'S INTRO
PART I: GOD
PART II: PEOPLE
PART III: CHURCH
PART IV: CULTURE
PART V: QUESTIONS RE:MORMONISM
QUESTION RESPONSE

I'm still open to answer questions or receive comments if you feel so inclined! I think it's a pretty cool project - one that has been very helpful and interesting to me. It's so difficult to get accurate or purely honest comparisons between belief systems, but Cavan and I tried hard...

On another topic, the pro-life display was back at the uni this week. This time, the pro-lifers were toting something new, in addition to the rest of the display. Last year, they received a fair bit of flak for calling abortion "genocide" because unborn babies aren't an ethnic or religious group (therefore, rendering ridiculous the label "genocide"). So this year, Campus Pro-life was handing out pamphlets entitled "Is Abortion Genocide?" which I think was actually quite well-written and well-argued.

The pro-death crowd had some new tricks, too. Among them:
- setting up tents on the spot where the pro-life display is usually set up in an attempt to physically keep Campus Pro-life from putting up their signs (CPL simply relocated)
- writing signs proclaiming that Campus Pro-life was disregarding "privacy policy" (no mention of which privacy policy this might be) by filming the event and all the people who viewed it - despite the fact that the cameras weren't even turned on and were just there in case a riot broke out and the CPL had to prove to police they weren't responsible for it...
- a chalk petition (I think that's what it was) on the sidewalk of people who were pro-choice.

And, of course, the same old slogans advocating a woman's right to her body and the barbaric nature of coat-hanger abortions. This time, however, there were no TV cameras, so everyone was much better behaved.

Perhaps the most compelling argument offered by the anti-life people is that the pro-life display is "unauthorized" (which is only half true). It's rather funny, actually, because I'm pretty sure the tent village and chalk were also (completely) unauthorized, but who cares about that? I find it odd that although they claim that for "legal" reasons the CPL display should be taken down, their counter-displays only say (paraphrased) "The pro-life position sucks," and not "Those people are breaking the law."

Because, of course, we know they can't actually make that claim. Way to argue your position. What a sad, sad, state to be in...

On a happy unrelated note, I said hi to the Sunday School class I'll be teaching this year. The kids seemed rather excited to see me. :-D

“The thug is aware that loudness convinces sixty persons where reasoning convinces but one. “ Mark Twain

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Part V: QUESTIONS RE: MORMONISM

PART V
QUESTIONS RE: MORMONISM

DO MORMONS FOLLOW GOD OR MAN?

God. The prophet is only the Mormon leader insofar as it is believed he speaks for God. This is exactly analogous to how the children of Israel followed God even while they followed Moses.

DO MORMONS BELIEVE THEIR PROPHET IS INFALLIBLE?

That Mormon prophets have stated opinions or shown cultural biases that have later turned out to be incorrect or misinformed can be demonstrated. What is believed, however, is that the prophet will never lead the church astray, and that he and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will always collectively lead the church members to Christ.

That said, Mormons are taught that it is not only recommended, but crucial, for them to maintain a personal relationship with their Heavenly Father, and that they can and should pray and study and do what they can to find personal confirmation of what their leaders are telling them. Mormons should have faith that their leaders are called of God, but that faith should be borne of study and prayer, not inattentive hope. Where exactly the balance should be drawn here is another item of hot debate among Mormons.

CAN BLACK PEOPLE HOLD THE MORMON PRIESTHOOD?

Yes. Until 1978, however, the church did not allow men of native African descent to hold the Priesthood. Some Mormons would argue that this was a reflection of human error in the days of the church's inception, but in any case, most Mormons believe that it was within the designs of God.

IS MORMONISM AN OFFSHOOT RELIGION?

Mormons consider themselves to be the restored church of Jesus Christ, and many Mormon would be uncomfortable thinking of themselves as a Protestant, because they believe themselves to be part of the one true church, not a category of churches. However, with that said, many marks of Protestantism are evident in Mormonism, including the lack of icons and d├ęcor in chapels, the relative lack of rituals and rote ceremonies, and the emphasis on a personal relationship with the Saviour. Joseph Smith grew up in a Protestant environment, and this undoubtedly had an effect on how he administered the church. It would well be argued that Mormonism is, in fact, an “offshoot” religion, and falls tidily into the Protestant category.

An EVANGELICAL aside: The thought behind “true Church” vs. “category of churches” is interesting. While people usually attend the church they believe has gotten the most doctrine correct, it would be odd for an Evangelical to say that Evangelical Missionary churches, for example, are more true than Baptist or Alliance churches - they're all within the category of Evangelical churches. Some of the content may be more true or less true from one denomination to another, but the church itself isn't more true. That being said, some people would disagree with this paragraph, and churches outside the Evangelical realm do start getting rather questionable...

ARE MORMONS CHRISTIAN?

This question is a little confusing. Ultimately, it comes down to how one defines “Christian.”

If “Christian” is someone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the only path to salvation and who tries to follow Him in every way, then the answer is unquestionably “Yes.”

If “Christian” means someone who believes in the Trinitarian doctrine then the answer is “No”.

The important thing, however, is that Mormons consider themselves Christian, and Mormonism teaches that they have a lot to share with the Christian community, as well as having a lot to learn from them.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Part III: CHURCH

PART III
CHURCH

THE APOSTASY AND RESTORATION:

MORMONS believe that the fullness of the Gospel was lost with the ascension of Jesus and the death of His apostles. Although some basic tenets of Christianity survived through the ages and the Bible stayed mostly intact, the Church of Jesus Christ was lost until it was restored in 1830 through Joseph Smith the prophet. At the time, it was called the Church of Christ, but later the name was changed, due to revelation, to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (“Mormon” was a derogatory name used for them that they have since adopted as a shorthand reference to the church and its adherents.)

EVANGELICALS believe that the truth of the Gospel was twisted and abused as, over time, it became a political tool. The Protestant Reformation helped turn it back in the right direction, but the fullness of the Gospel is only found in an individual, personal relationship with God, and not in a regulated religion. Although there is a large push to "Restore the Church", the main theme is not to correct doctrine, but to re-establish the Church as a dynamic body of active believers within society.

ORDINANCES:

MORMONS believe that the principles and ordinances necessary to save a human soul are first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second, repentance, third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and fourth, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands of those who hold Priesthood authority.

EVANGELICALS believe that a man need only accept Christ's forgiveness to be saved. Good works do not cause salvation, because only Jesus has power to save, but Christ orders that His followers do good works. People debate what faith without works will accomplish, and whether a “Christian” who does not obey Christ's orders is really a Christian. Some people hold to eternal security, which is the idea that once a person is saved, he or she remains saved forever, but there are many people who believe it is possible to lose one's salvation.

AUTHORITY:

MORMONS believe that a man must hold Priesthood authority to administer any of the formerly mentioned ordinances, or to perform a number of other ordinances, such as administering the Sacrament or blessing the sick. Priesthood holders are always male. They generally receive the Aaronic Priesthood (which allows them to perform some ordinances) at age 12 and the Melchizedek Priesthood (which allows them to perform all ordinances) around age 18. Of primary importance is the fact that Mormons believe the Church of Christ cannot be conducted without Priesthood Authority, and that this authority is received by the laying on of hands from one who already holds it. The Mormon Church keeps a record of every Priesthood holder and how a person can trace his Priesthood back to Joseph Smith, who received it from Peter, James and John, who came to Smith as angels, and who in turn received their Priesthood authority from Jesus Christ.

EVANGELICALS believe that the Bible is God's word and provides all the the truths necessary for the conducting of the church. The vast majority, if not all, of Evangelical leaders would not claim authority over anything spiritual, but only over practical matters of how the church is run. Some denominations believe that pastors shouldn't even have that amount of authority, but that the church should be run entirely by lay people. No special authority is needed to perform miracles. It is only the authority of Christ that is actually at work, and so anyone who has received Christ can act in His name.

Christ is the High-Priest for all people, and the only mediator between God and man. Anyone can approach the throne of God through Christ, so in a way, every person who has accepted salvation holds the priesthood. Typically, though, Evangelicals state that no one holds the priesthood, since functionally, everyone is on equal ground.

ORGANIZATION:

MORMONS believe that the church is to be fashioned after the design of old. Specifically, they have a Prophet who stands in as the mouthpiece of God (modeled after Peter), apostles, seventies, bishops, etc.

EVANGELICALS believe all sorts of different things. God is to be at the head of the Church, but pretty much everything else is up for grabs. It's typically considered an issue of personal preference or practicality.

SCRIPTURE:

MORMONS believe in the Bible. They believe that while some minor translation problems, both deliberate and accidental, have slightly corrupted the information therein, the Bible has remained miraculously intact and true. Joseph Smith started a retranslation of the Bible which was almost complete before his death, and his translation altered less than 2% of the King James Version, and the majority of the changes were clarification issues. Mormons believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, translated from its original Egyptian by divine guidance.

In their current standard works, Mormons also have the Doctrine and Covenants, a series of revelations mostly given to Joseph Smith, primarily concerning the administration of the church, although some new doctrines are introduced. There is also the Pearl of Great Price, which contains some of Joseph Smith's retranslation of the Bible in addition to a book giving an expanded account of Abraham from the Old Testament.

EVANGELICALS vary on this issue. Many believe the Bible is inerrant, while others reject all the writings of Paul. It's interpreted in many different ways, ranging from a completely literal interpretation, to grammatical historical, functional/midrash, and allegorical interpretations. There are many different translations floating around with varying degrees of accuracy, but which Bible one uses is generally considered just a personal preference.

There is no officially correct version of the Bible, just versions that are preferred for different things. In English, the NIV was the most accurate and easy to understand for a while, which made it the most popular, but the King James and New King James are preferred by many fundamental Christians. The NASB is currently considered, by academic standards, to be the most accurate translation of the ancient texts that are still around, while the Message is considered the most readable, but least accurate.

There is also disagreement over whether the Bible is truly complete - for example, some people accept certain apocryphal books, while others would immediately claim that any scripture apart from the Bible is heretical.

CONFESSION:

MORMONS believe, for the most part, that repentance is a private matter between the individual and the Lord. When they teach their children or people new to the ideas of the church about repentance, they say that the process includes recognition (of the sin), confession, restitution (of damage caused, where possible) and forsaking the sin. Usually confession is done by prayer to one's Heavenly Father, but in the case of serious sins (such as sins of a sexual nature, and probably ones that would get someone in trouble with law enforcement - the guidelines given the church on this are actually somewhat loose) one must go to the bishop of the ward and confess this sin in a private meeting with him. The bishop does not forgive sins. Rather, he determines whether the sinner's position in the church needs to be altered by probation or disfellowship (removal of one's Priesthood office) and possibly excommunication. In most cases, the bishop will advise the confessor as to whether he or she should continue taking the Sacrament and help talk the person through ways to overcome this sin and obtain the desired forgiveness from God. In general, confession should be a positive experience in which the confessor receives additional support while trying to work through a difficult time of life.

EVANGELICALS believe that confession of sins is exclusively between the sinner and God, though people are strongly encouraged to confess sins to one another, generally within a mentoring relationship, to a friend that has agreed to hold one accountable, an elder, a small study group, etc. The pastor is happy to help a person find ways to overcome the sin, but sin is not "officially" confessed - at least among the lay people.

BAPTISM:

MORMONS believe that baptism is a covenant with the Lord that they will always remember Him and keep the commandments which He has given them. A baptism is only valid if it's performed by someone holding the Priesthood, if the subject is entirely immersed in water and is baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. There also have to be two witnesses present who also hold the Priesthood. Furthermore, the baptism must be followed by a confirmation, which is when two or more Priesthood holders lay their hands on the head of the recipient and command him or her to “receive the Holy Ghost,” at which point the Gift of the Holy Ghost is given. Mormons endlessly debate the details of what the Gift of the Holy Ghost is, but essentially it's entitlement to the constant companionship of God's Spirit as a guide and comforter, so long as one lives up to the covenants made at baptism.

EVANGELICALS have differing beliefs about water baptism, usually dependent on denomination. Most, if not all, believe that baptism is a symbolic act signifying the death of the self and resurrection with Christ. Many denominations perform baptism by immersion, but some by sprinkling. Some denominations believe that baptism is necessary for salvation, but many do not. Baptism is usually performed by a pastor in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but can be performed by pretty much anyone. Baptism is considered a public declaration that a person has chosen to give his or her life over to Christ, and so there must be witnesses, though there are no hard rules about how many.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is considered an entirely different thing. Many denominations believe that every Christian automatically receives the Holy Spirit upon first accepting Christ, while other denominations believe that a person will not receive the Holy Spirit until they have received the laying on of hands and been prayed for by believers who are already filled with the Holy Spirit. Still others believe that a person can ask by themselves to receive the Holy Spirit. What the indwelling of the Holy Spirit means is also debated. Some say that unless someone can perform miracles - in particular, speak in tongues, he or she has not received Him, while others place no such emphasis on miracles. There is also disagreement on whether the Holy Spirit can leave a person or not.

MIRACLES:

MORMONS believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth. Notably, by "revelation", Mormons believe that the canon is not closed, and that God still reveals Scripture to His children that have equal bearing to, and may possibly be more contemporary than, the Bible.

EVANGELICALS believe different things on this topic. Some believe that if you can't perform the above-mentioned miracles, you aren't saved, while others believe that if you do perform them, it's satanic. Many Evangelicals believe that there are still prophecies and revelations from God today, but it remains only that they “may” be the word of God, and so they are not included with the Scriptures as canon.


WORK FOR THE DEAD:

MORMONS believe that those who did not accept the Gospel in this life must still receive the saving ordinances of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, and the Endowment. All of these ordinances require a body to receive, so the spirits of the dead are unable to perform these ordinances themselves. For that reason, Mormons frequently do proxy work, or work for the dead, in which someone is (for example) baptized “for and in behalf of” a deceased person. The spirits in the Spirit World then have the choice to either accept or reject these ordinances.

EVANGELICALS have no equivalent to work for the dead.

TEMPLES:

MORMONS build structures called temples which are distinct from their regular meeting houses in both design and purpose. In temples Mormons will perform proxy work. Also, Mormon weddings take place in temples, and every Mormon receives the Endowment ordinance. The Endowment is one of the most controversial aspects of Mormonism because there are parts of the ceremony which Mormons are explicitly commanded not to talk about. The Endowment is not nearly so sensational as people like to think. Essentially, in the endowment, they tell the story of Adam and Eve using a great deal of symbolism. During the Endowment, Mormons are asked to make three promises, which are essentially to remain chaste, obey God, and devote themselves entirely to the building of the Kingdom of God.

EVANGELICALS don't build temples in this sense.

GENDER ROLES WITHIN THE CHURCH:

MORMONS claim that men and women have very specific, complementary, and equal roles in the family of God and in their own mortal families. The Priesthood is largely an expression of the man's role. The Priesthood is the power of God granted to man to accomplish His purposes. To attempt to use it for personal gain, maintenance of power or control, or in any way as an accessory to sin is a severe crime against God. It is the power and responsibility to serve others. Nonetheless, the church is by and large a patriarchal society, a fact for which it receives no end of flak from critics.

EVANGELICALS have varying views on this. Some church denominations and individual churches are more patriarchal than others. There are women pastors in some cases, but they're largely outnumbered by men. It's more usual to find women in elder and administrative positions than to find women pastors.

Cavan will post Part IV: CULTURE at 12:01 AM

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Part I: GOD

PART I
GOD

THE GODHEAD/THE TRINITY:

EVANGELICALS believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct parts, sometimes called persons, but one God. A common, though not perfect, comparison is an egg - although the egg shell, egg white, and egg yolk are three distinct parts, they form one egg. It's a concept that is impossible for humans, in their limited understanding, to fully comprehend.

MORMONS believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct individuals. God the Father and Jesus Christ both have bodies which are similar to human bodies, although perfected and superior in form.

THE NATURE OF GOD:

EVANGELICALS believe that:

God is omnipotent - nothing exists that is contrary to God's supreme will, and there is no possibility of anything or any group of things ever growing strong enough to exist or behave contrary to God's supreme will. God allows free will, but if He decides to intervene, He can.

God is omnipresent - although it can be said that God's spirit sometimes leaves people or places, God is not confined to any particular places, nor bound by the aspect of travel. God's attention is everywhere at all times.

God is omniscient - nothing can be hidden from God. He knows everything there is to know.

God is eternal - God exists outside of time. In human temporal understanding, that means that God has always existed, exists now, and will exist forever. God is self-causing; no one created God, and in this timeless existence God is immutable - He does not simply exist eternally, but stays the same for all of eternity.

God is holy - God is set apart from His creation, and apart from the things that tarnish His creation. God is pure, blameless, and human minds cannot entirely comprehend Him.

God is infallible - God is absolutely trustworthy in every matter. There is no possibility of God doing something that goes against His nature. His power will never decrease; neither His attributes nor His personality will ever change.

In being these things, God is transcendent. There is no one like God, there never was anyone like God, and there never will be. He is beyond us. God is the creator of all existing things, be they physical or spiritual.

MORMONS believe that:

God is omnipotent and omniscient. There are universal laws that God keeps. For example, the law that required someone to suffer on behalf of our sins. Whether God is the Creator of these laws or whether He simply keeps them is uncertain. Mormons will sometimes squabble about the details of this.

God is not omnipresent because He has physical form. However, His influence is omnipresent, which is where the Holy Ghost comes in. The Holy Ghost is an individual entity, but is also subject to God and allows Him, in a sense, to be omnipresent.

Mormons also believe God has transcended the human concept of time, and yet they do believe the statement, "As man is, God once was, as God is, man may become." They don't fully understand how this process works.

Mormons believe God manipulates matter through His power, which is essentially the Priesthood, although they're not sure what the exact process for doing so is. It may be a sort of telekinetic deal, moving it with "mere thought." Matter itself is eternal. God does not create something out of nothing, but rather organizes extant matter into the desired objects. Also, Mormons do aspire to become creators themselves, gods and goddesses, but they understand that they will be eternally subservient to God, similar to the way a child is always subservient to his or her father. We believe that we are part of a huge family and in that way connected to everybody else.

It should be noted that many aspects of the nature of God, including those discussed above, are debated hotly by Mormons. Though Mormons have been given, in great detail, the information necessary to obtain salvation, things that are not crucial to their salvation are not mentioned or discussed at any length in Scripture. Such things will be explained when they are necessary. This doesn't stop Mormons' ravenous curiosity, however.
One thing Mormons basically all agree on is that God the Father did in fact have a human experience not unlike the one everyone else has, and that people can aspire to become creators like Him.

THE PERSONALITY OF GOD:

EVANGELICALS believe that:

God is righteous - this stems from His being holy. He cannot bear to even look upon sin, much less act it, and so God's rule is entirely righteous and just - in both His own thought and His dealing with people.

God is loving - this balances God's righteousness. He wants the best for His creation, and goes to great lengths to see the best come to pass for each individual. He chooses to be merciful, even though there was absolutely no obligation on His part to look after us following the appearance of sin.

God is personal - God is not an impersonal force, but desires a relationship with each person. He is active in the lives of people, and can be thought of as a holy father, teacher, friend, and lover.

God is perfect in every way, and is best summed up with the the phrase "God is Good" - to the point that Good does not describe God, but God describes Good.

MORMONS believe pretty much the same thing. Commonly, they will refer to the concepts mentioned above as "righteous" and "loving" as "just" and "merciful." This is, of course, splitting hairs, but the just and merciful nature of God is a common topic of discussion in Mormon Sunday School classes.

THE NATURE OF CHRIST'S STAY ON EARTH:

EVANGELICALS believe that Christ was immaculately conceived and was born as a human in order to take the sins of all people upon Himself, die, and be resurrected, thereby providing a loophole in the system of God's justice. Christ knew of His purpose and His special relationship with God the Father. Jesus was born without sin and never sinned. He was capable of never sinning because He is also God.

MORMONS believe basically the same thing, but they believe Jesus was born without any special knowledge of His calling or identity. This was revealed to Him as He progressed and was obedient to His Father's commands.

DEATH AND RESURRECTION:

EVANGELICALS believe that Jesus died on the cross, but paid for everyone's sin by descending to Hell in their place. His bodily resurrection was a demonstration of the victory He has over death.

MORMONS believe that the Atonement of Jesus Christ was suffered primarily in Gethsemane, in which Jesus paid the spiritual price for all the sins of all humans. Jesus' death on the cross was also a crucial part of mankind's salvation, because Jesus' resurrection was the precedent to the resurrection of all individuals. Jesus' resurrection was permanent, and He still has His body, as all humans, good and evil, will be forever reunited spirit and body.

EARTH, HEAVEN, ZION:

EVANGELICALS, in many cases, believe that Heaven exists in a different realm, outside of time, like God, but there's a lot of debate on the matter. There is endless discussion over how to interpret the book of Revelation, and that goes hand-in-hand with different ideas about how Earth is going to end up, and what Heaven is like. Zion is generally just another term used for the geographical location of Israel, of which Jerusalem is the capital.

MORMONS believe that Earth is the future home of God the Father and Jesus Christ, because after the Second Coming, the Earth will be cleansed entirely and become the Celestial Kingdom. Mormons endlessly debate what exactly "Zion" is, but one thing that is set in concrete by Mormon Scriptures is that Zion will be one of the capital cities of the Celestial Kingdom, located in present-day Missouri. Jerusalem will be the other capital city.

Part II: PEOPLE will be posted at Flossing Philosophy tomorrow at 12:01 AM

Friday, 18 September 2009

Intro to Something You've Not Seen Before

ANNOUNCING!

At 12:01 tomorrow morning (which shall be the next time your clock says 12:01... or 0001 hours if you have it set to military time) Blogger shall publish for me the first section of a series of posts that blogger bud Cav (from Flossing Philosophy) and I have been working on.

See, it's hard to get straight answers from Mormons on what exactly it is they believe, or how it differs from what we [Evangelical Christians] believe. Also, apparently Mormons have a fairly limited understanding of what we more "mainstream" Christians believe (maybe that's why they can't tell us what's different). So Cavan, who is a member of the LDS Church, and I have worked together to write out a straightforward comparison of Mormon and Evangelical beliefs.

There are five sections. The first will deal with beliefs about God, the second will deal with people, the third with church, and the fourth with culture. The fifth section will answer several questions about Mormonism that have no counterpart in Evangelical Christianity. As I said, the first section will be posted on my blog tonight at midnight (or one minute thereafter), then the second section will be on Cav's blog the following day (also at 12:01 AM) and so on.

I highly recommend that you check it out and post comments - on my BLOG, not on FaceBook - if you have any questions, or wish to contend with what I have stated as the Evangelical viewpoint. Seriously, Cav doesn't bite, so don't be scared to ask for clarification on anything.

"If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research." Chris P. Ross

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Fiery Misinterpretation

Yesterday night, as my brother and I were driving home (or rather, I was driving home and J-man was sitting in the passenger seat), my bro suddenly said "What? Fireworks?" or something towards that end. Sure enough, I looked where he was looking, and there were fireworks going off. Nice fireworks, too, obviously not put on by some kid in their backyard.

Interested, we put it to a vote and unanimously decided between the two of us to take a (long) detour home in order to get closer to the fireworks.

Here was my thought process:

"Fireworks? Why fireworks on such a random day? Wait... what day is it, anyways? Next week will be the 18th... which means today is the 11th. Of September. September 11th? What the... Why would anybody be lighting fireworks, which are usually considered celebratory, on 9-11?"

Now slightly concerned that there may be a crowd of jubilant Palestinians or other "unwesternized" Muslims invading my city, I continued driving towards the colourful explosions. Trying to plot my route to the fireworks was hampered by the fact that I didn't know where they were being set off from. In order to amend this situation, I began to list off nearby places conducive to crowds and fireworks.

The first one I listed was Spruce Meadows.

"Oh, yeah," I said to my brother, after musing aloud about the possibility of an anti-American militant Islam fireworks crowd (which he didn't quite buy), "Spruce Meadows is hosting the Masters tournament this week."

Ah. So we finished our long detour home, watched an episode of Babylon 5 and didn't have any nightmares at bedtime, after all.

"It wasn't the reaction I was expecting. I thought a couple of things might have landed on my head." Dennis Wise

Friday, 4 September 2009

Opinions on Demand

Suddenly people want my opinion.

That's not usually the case. Perhaps that's one of the reasons I've started this blog.

But now, this year, my volunteer life is going to mainly consist of giving my opinion. And people are welcoming it.

Firstly, I shall be co-leading a Bible study with the grade 11 and 12 girls at my church. That is to say, parents will be trusting me to correctly interpret and instruct their daughters in highly important matters. Not that they haven't already been trusting me with their 7 and 8 year-old children with much the same, but most parents of second-graders don't expect me to have to explain more than "Jesus is the answer for everything and He wants you to obey your parents!" That preconception is entirely untrue - I've got some critical questions from the kids (in particular from one girl whom I've quoted several times on this blog) - but still, the chances are not high that I'm going to get into a discussion about pre-Adamic man or dispensationalism with even the smartest of them.

I suspect that the chances I'll get into discussions about pre-Adamic man or dispensationalism with the eleventh and twelfth-grader girls are also fairly low, but still much higher. And parents and church staff will be trusting that I can give a fair opinion that is usually correct should such questions arise.

Of course, I'm excited because I can build relationships with these awesome girls, not because I'm glorying in the power I shall wield.

Secondly, I shall be a journalist for my school's newspaper, the Gauntlet. Mainly as an opinions columnist, though I've also offered to cover theatre events and proofread from time to time (I wonder what that says about my personality).

There aren't many people who actually take time to read the Gauntlet, but apparently the editors get quite a bit of hate-mail and are generally disliked by the Students' Union members. I've always liked browsing the paper, at least, even if they do publish a lot of crass articles. At any rate, I'll be happy to contribute to anything that idealizes free speech.

“It is the nature, and the advantage, of strong people that they can bring out the crucial questions and form a clear opinion about them. The weak always have to decide between alternatives that are not their own.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer