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Monday, June 18 2001

Disciples, 2

(Note: Though the details of the first portion of this entry may seem "religious," they are used to illustrate a broader point affecting all people, whether "religious" or indifferent to religion.)

The concluding statement on my Saturday entry, "All Christians are called to be disciples of Christ, but I suspect that there's a difference between the real discipler/disciple relationship and the teacher/student roles," inspired me to take a closer look at that claim, Almost in contradiction of that statement, "discipline," which is derived from "disciple," is used in all institutions of education to mean "field of study," suggesting that all students may be in a sense disciples. And behind the evolution of "discipline" as meaning "field of study" is probably a direct link to the monastic practices of the first millenium (and continuing in some parts of the world even now), where every brother and sister (or monk) are under discipline to spiritual fathers and mothers,

The churches that I had in mind in that entry where "discipleship" as a model for personal and church growth is pursued, are evangelical Protestant churches where each elder (whether minister in the full sense or the less formal sense of ruling elder, deacon, or congregational teacher) tries to disciple a core group from the congregation. But in the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church of the first millenium, all monastic life was a form of discipleship, though the word "discipline" was more often used to describe it. Even now in Orthodoxy, furthermore, every believer is encouraged to attach him- or herself to a "spiritual father" or mother and to be under that person's discipline. As used here, "discipline" doesn't mean "strict control" so much as "guidance" or "counsel." The universities of our century are outgrowths of monastic centers and monastic teachings of the first millenium.

Beyond monasteries where discipling is a way of life, the military is another human and ancient institution where friendships often rise beyond (or transcend) camaraderie, in which discipline is normal, and life (rather than just the study part of it) is shared and often put on the line for the group or another member of the group. Though the Christian West thinks of the first disciples as the Twelve who shared their lives with that of the Messiah, historians say that it was common in classical Greece and Rome for esteemed teachers to have full-time disciples.

My pursuit of the concept "disciples" is to shine light on our discussion of friendship. I tend to think of "friendships" as being thrust upon me rather than chosen. There has to be a "clicking" in the course of an acquaintance to convert it from that casual level to the higher level of genuine friendship. I don't think of many of the teachers I've had in my life as "discipling" me, but on the other hand, those who have had the profoundest impact on my character and guided my life are ones whom I esteem and love more than most of my day-to-day friends.

In a technical sense, a disciple may be a student whose whole life is shared with his teacher. In a more practical sense as pertaining to friendships, a disciple may be one whose whole life revolves or seems to revolve around the relationship with the leader/friend, even though it may not be shared in the same living quarters or even the major portion of waking hours.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Handy Woman

A blonde, wanting to earn some money, decided to hire herself out as a handyman, and started canvassing a well-to-do neighborhood. She went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he had any jobs for her to do.

"Well, you can paint my porch. How much will you charge?"

The blonde, after looking about, said, "How about 50 dollars?'

The man agreed and told her that the paint and other materials that she might need were in the garage.

The man's wife, inside the house, heard the conversation and said to her husband, "Does she realize that the porch goes all the way around the house?"

The man replied, "She should, she was standing on it. Do you think she's dumb?"

"No....I guess I'm guilty of being influenced by all the 'dumb blonde' email we've been receiving."

A short time later, the blonde came to the door to collect her money.

"You're finished already?" the man asked.

"Yes," the blonde replied, "and I had paint left over, so I gave it two coats."

Impressed, the man reached into his pocket for the $50.

"And by the way," the blonde added, "it's not a Porch, it's a Lexus."

Sent by Zan

Three more to grow on

"The secret to success is to find out what the poor people are doing. Then don't do it!" Rabbi Goldberg
"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of 'liberalism,' they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened." Norman Thomas, US Socialist Presidential Candidate
"Economic history is a long record of government policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of economics." Ludwig von Mises

Selected
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