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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                    Friday, June 25 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Who do you trust?

I've mentioned before that I was raised by a Christian mother and an agnostic father (Dad became a believer and was baptised and joined the church after I was grown and living out of state). I don't mean to play amateur psychologist here, but it takes no analytical sophistication to say that from earliest childhood I trusted my mother but was fearful of my father. In retrospect, I can't say he was a mean, and certainly not a violent, man, but he considered that respect was gained through fear, and he wanted his sons to fear him. So we did; that was our main impression of him. I've always thought it was a no-brainer to conclude that my early childhood affinity for Christians and things pertaining to spiritual life was a result of the fact that I didn't fear but rather loved, and felt loved by, my mother, and trusted anything she ever seriously told me.

I was reminded again of this recurring line of thought the other night while watching the movie on CBS, The Cider House Rules, earlier this week. The elder central character in the movie is a "doctor" (his credentials are suspect, which is why I put the word in quotation marks, to mean "so-called doctor") who runs an orphanage for boys. I may have missed the first 10 minutes or so of the story so might have missed some key to his personality, but a striking facet of his personality was revealed when the board of the orphanage was asked to consider inviting a foreign missionary to join its staff. The aging doctor opposed this, saying the thing he didn't like about the candidate was his Christianity. But otherwise, the doctor was a kindly man who was drawn by the screenplay as dedicated to the children in his charge.

I've seen his "type" before, the type of people who are suspicious and negatively predisposed to religion and religious people. Was their early exposure to those concepts the opposite of mine? Were the people who betrayed them in one way or another professing Christians, perhaps strict and quick to mete out discipline in the name of Christian belief and perhaps education (the media depictions of mean nuns in parochial schools are so stereotypical these days that when we see a movie in which the nuns are kind and actually dedicated to their charges, many of us who have little or no direct experience of nuns from our own childhood, are surprised by the reversal on the current "type").

I think it's a biblical principle, taught in various characters' stories, that it's a proper human tendency to identify with the God of the person we trust and love. Certainly this is true of Ruth, the gentile wife of a Jewish husband who, upon her husband's death clings to her husband's mother, Naomi, and declares lifelong loyalty to her mother-in-law and her God, the God of Israel: "For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God" (Ruth 1:16b). Ruth remarries and has another son, who turns out to be the grandfather of David, the prototype King of Israel and the ancestor of Jesus the Christ.

My favorite such story is that of Joseph, in Genesis. Of the 12 sons of Jacob, he is the one most loved by his father. He is the first of only two sons born to Jacob's beloved wife Rachel, who died in childbirth when the second son of that wife, Benjamin, was born. It's probably because the other 10 sons of Jacab (by other mothers) saw their father's favoritism toward Joseph that they hated him. But it was likely also that because Joseph felt especially loved by his father that he in turn felt strong love and loyalty to his father's God, and from early childhood was blessed by dreams sent by God, and he grew into one of the most nearly perfect "types" of the Messiah-Christ in the whole Bible.

Though his brothers thought they made an end of Joseph by selling him into slavery to Egypt, Joseph never lost faith and confidence in God, and grew in such favor in Egypt (through more dreams and the interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams through God's help) that he became the first of a line of Hebrew "prime ministers" in foreign nations. His brothers' act of hatred was used by God through the faithful Joseph to save their fledgling race from dying out. "You meant it to me for evil," Joseph tells his brothers, decades later when they have come to Pharoah for grain to survive severe famine. "But God," Joseph continues, "meant it for good" (Gen. 50:20).

Therein is the whole gospel of the Old Testament, the heart of Judaism.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Warning signs of Insanity...

  • You like to sit in cornfields for prolonged periods of time, and pretend that you're a stalk.
  • You try to make a list of the Warning Signs of Insanity.
  • People offer you help, but you unfortunately interpret this as a violation of your rights as a boysenberry.

Sent by Mary Ann Losiewicz 

Thought for today about growing older

Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.

Sent by Karl Essex 

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