Christians are smashing metal songwriters? Really?

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I have a thing for Gregorian chants, my kids tend to roll their eyes and then flop themselves on the sofa when they see my cds come out, and you can do the same as this post is centred on that topic. Now that blog etiquettes (warnings) have been dispensed with, this is what I would like to ruminate about.

“As a metalhead I must say, The Christians are smashing metal songwriters!”

I burst out laughing as I read this comment which was in response to the translation of a 13th century Latin Catholic hymn, “Dies Irae”- Day of wrath.

The translation of this glorious hymn goes something like this…

Day of wrath and doom impending,
David’s word with Sibyl’s blending,
Heaven and earth in ashes ending!

Oh, what fear man’s bosom rendeth,
When from heaven the Judge descendeth,
On whose sentence all dependeth.

Full translation can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dies_Irae

Metal songs, not that I listen to any or that I even vaguely claim to posses any knowledge of the genre, are known to be powerful, intense and even demonic, hence the raucous laughter when reading a comment stating that Christians are great metal songwriters! Humour aside it drove home a very startling fact that often tends to be missed, there is fine line between right and wrong. Religion, I speak for the catholic faith but I doubt that other religions differ greatly, is about peace and love. Turning the other cheek, loving your neighbour as your self and most importantly loving your God with everything you have, mind, body and soul.

Yet, how many righteous religious wars have we fought? How many inquisitions, hangings, and witch burnings have we condoned? How many dark secrets have marred many a religious institution? A quick history lesson makes you sing the song of the black eyed peas, “where is the love?”

A religion of love and peace, where the son of God himself and many of his apostles thereafter, chose to surrender themselves to torture and death rather than speak one evil word of anger or hatred, yet we the disciples of that order have perpetrated war and murder in his holy name. Aren’t we the ones who are truly lost? Is it any wonder that today bystanders declare us ‘similar’ to a genre that is often associated with darkness?

Many Christian friends have asked me why I don’t evangelise, spread the word, and generally talk of my intimate relationship with the God. How can I? How do I explain that I ‘see’ all that is wrong and yet choose what is right? That there is so much that I do not understand, so many questions that I have no answers to, numerous mysteries that plague me night and day, and yet in the knowledge of him that matters most, my lord and my God, I am calm. How do you explain that which is too enigmatic to even define as a question?

The simple truth is you can’t find God without bumping into the devil first. Trust me when I tell you that Adam and Eve had no true realisation of God until they listened to the devil. Due to the unfortunate way the human mind, soul and brain works, we can’t truly understand or even recognise the truth until we are first convinced of that which is false. The proverbial other side always looks greener, and until we cross over and see for ourselves, like the famous doubting Thomas, we will never truly be convinced.

The Israelites when crossing the dessert were not impressed by the supernatural column of cloud by day nor the column of fire by night, the manna from heaven was too bland and the parting of the Red sea, old news. Christians, priests, nuns, deacons, preachers, like their predecessors tend to get lost in the dessert and the world only hears of their doubts and failings but not of their journey home. So to all the sceptics and watchers, rejoice when you hear of the lost for that’s when the shepherd goes out looking for his sheep and who knows you might just catch a glimpse of him.

That’s the beauty of Christianity, even when you are truly lost you are actually closer to being found, that’s the Christian paradox, only those who are truly lost can be saved, everyone else is just pretending to be found. Fear not if you are one of those who has never crossed the line or have been true to the faith since birth, God has not forgotten you. Life with a lot of help from the devil will visit you, will shake your world, will bring you to your knees and then from the depths of your darkest despair when you call out, the light will shine.

Now you know why I don’t talk of my faith but only smile and say, “Your time will come, hang in there!”

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Rejection is the new measure of success.

REJECTION

I was reading an article about rejections, Dr Seuss, the beloved author of children’s picture books was rejected 27 times. Just before he lost all hope, an old friend agreed to publish it and it sold 600 million copies. Two things come to mind, one that success is difficult and you should never give up; secondly, the decision makers (editors, publishers etc.) need to find a different line of work.

I have always been a writer and as a child I believed that one day I would see my works published. My educators seemed to doubt my supreme faith, luckily I was never one to blindly confirm. As a dyslexic I can understand their reluctance to envision me at some book-signing event. In retrospect, I must be the only dyslexic who wants to be a writer and loves words; I mean they rarely stay still. However, blessed with an overactive imagination it’s hard not to pen the echoes of strange worlds and capture the spirit of the glorious characters that abound in them. Dyslexia is why you have spell check, and why you enlist the help of friends and family to edit and proof read, not a reason to give up your passion.

For those who have been following my blog, you would agree that my take on life is anything but stereotyped. Some see a glass half full, while others lament a glass half empty, I however rejoice on the glass fulfilling its role and the fact that my thirst can be quenched.

My biggest grouse is with the naysayers of life, the judges, the evaluators, the critics etc. we all cross paths with them eventually to get the joy sucked out of our lives. These qualified analysts claim to have God’s ear, and hence the supreme confidence with which they declare you not fit, not good enough, not appropriate, will never succeed, will never amount to anything in life etc.

They are predictable and spend their lives demanding that we, the free-spirited, conform to their rules and reasoning. How do you pigeonhole creativity, passion, and talent? “Too different and silly” the unanimous reason for rejection is what makes the books of Dr. Suess so loved.

How many stories have we heard, of successful entrepreneurs who disagreed with the experts only to start their own common sense line that took them laughing to their banks? What we need is a little bit of Edison in our lives, ‘I haven’t failed 500 times but I have found 500 ways that don’t work’, this is how I remember the quote from childhood but today Google reports it as 10,000 times. The moral of the story still holds true, never give up and don’t listen to the naysayers. Rejections are the hallmark of the greatest achievers; the one commonality being they never accepted it.

 

Perfection is Ugly!

You knew
You knew (Photo credit: James Broad)

Hug

No, that’s not a typo, it reads exactly as it should. Beauty is imperfect, natural and spontaneous; everything else is just the opposite. Perfection comes out of an assembly line from a lifeless machine, each product exactly like it’s predecessor. A masterpiece is unique, has soul, its flaws make it even more valuable and it doesn’t get better than a human being.
Show me anyone and I can point out a million faults but what always intrigues me are the quirks. As a writer I am always seeking out the nuances that distinguish a character, my heroes are always the least brave and the dysfunctional. The only common trait they have is the willingness to learn from their mistakes.
It was probably a self-absorbed writer who remarked that creative people are like God, breathing life into ideas and colours. As lofty as the comment is you can’t deny that artists share the mindset of God. We celebrate the flawed, the broken, the lonely, the meek and the humble. There is always so much depth in the songs of the broken hearted and the mirth of a man well versed with misfortune is heart warming, not to mention inspiring.
So what’s with the fascination with perfection that has got the world all twisted? Why does beautiful only mean flawless? When did our definitions get so limited and shallow? Why should handsome only mean muscles and a defined jawline? When did acne which meant that you are now officially a teenager, become a symbol of shame? Freckles used to mean cute but now a concealer promises to hide it. People on the heavier side used to be known as jolly and large hearted, today even Santa is a size zero. When did we get so insecure that being natural meant foundation, lip-gloss and mascara?
The human mind and heart are instinctively tuned to beauty, the real kind. All the bright colours, the glossy lips, the darkened eyebrows and the bronzed cheekbones are so perfect that after a while they begin to look ugly. Have you ever had a friend who always wore glasses and then switched to contacts? Do you remember seeing them for the first time and remarking that they looked different and that you liked them better with spectacles? I have two beautiful little angels and they love to play with my makeup, they climb on chairs, reach for my lipstick, colour themselves silly and then run to me asking, pretty?
No, a compassionate heart, a genuine smile, a hearty laugh, kind words straight from the heart, soulful eyes; these are the things that are pretty and warm my soul. Masking all that with paint in a bid to be perfect is what kills the human spirit. I am not against makeup, in fact I love to experiment but I can step out with out any on and not feel uncomfortable. I apply makeup because I like it and not because I am defined by it. It saddens me that there are some women who are uncomfortable in their own skin. Who told them that they are not beautiful or that beauty only means looking perfect, all the time, and every time? Like a wise person once said, you maybe one among a million but for that special someone you are one in a million. That person will find you beautiful even when your hair goes grey and wrinkles cover you entirely, because beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder. Try to remember that when you look into the mirror next time.

Mean Girls morph into highly critical women.

English: Crying boy
English: Crying boy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I stress on the word morph, to highlight that there is no change or improvement just a repackaging. I studied in an all girls school, went to an all girl’s college and worked in a women only department, talk about BAD luck. When the female species decides to be good, it is a blessing, like rain on a parched land, it is refreshing. The reverse is also true, with memories that can haunt and sometimes traumatise the victim for years.

Individually they are rendered quite powerless though I have had the greatest misfortune to cross paths with the evilest types (yeah more than one!) who can singlehandedly wreck your life. Now before you roll you eyes and brush aside this post as another emotional rant, read on, it is nothing like that.

I will spare you the details, I see many sigh with relief, what I want to highlight is emotional bullying. As I prepare to send my oldest to school, I was reading upon the school literature aimed at educating parents with children preparing to attend school for the first time. School bullying is a growing epidemic, and even in a peaceful, friendly city like Adelaide, it is becoming a problem.

I was reading upon some articles and instances of bullying, when I realised that many of the emotional side effects mentioned were very similar to what I had experienced. I always thought that I had just crossed paths with some really mean characters, but as I study the type and scope of bullying I realised that I was subjected to emotional bullying which is as bad if not worse than physical bullying. While physical bullying can result in instant public humiliation, harmful gossiping, spreading malicious lies and general defamation in private circles can erode one’s confidence and inflict invisible wounds that fester and infect your very soul.

Before you start feeling sorry for me don’t, like I told my mom, “Don’t worry I am too shallow for these things to affect me!” To which she replied, “Oh thank God!”

Yup, that’s closure in our family, if it hasn’t killed you; it’s good for you. Apart form the whole martyr syndrome that we Catholics tend to love so much; ironically my worst tormentor was catholic and we were studying in a catholic convent, there is a bigger picture.

Before I continue, let me please stress that in no way am I endorsing emotional bullying nor am I negating the pain and trauma, experienced by fellow victims. This is about me and my personal journey of how I have evolved through pain; especially that bone crushing, soul ripping kind tends to either break you or remould you. If you are rigid you break but if you surrender to the mercy of God, it renews your mind and spirit.

For the longest time I ignored dealing with the pain and just ignored it, hence the shallow aspect. As a mother whose child could be either a victim or a perpetrator or hopefully neither, I have been forced to confront my hidden issues, the pain that I had brushed aside has welled up.

In a moment of prayer, a why me moment as I call it, I hit upon a revelation, it was painful and at first I wanted to brush it aside as nonsense. There was a moment of, this is so cruel and I thought God is all love, which finally abated into God knows best. In his wisdom I remain.

I am a fiercely opinionated woman and by my own admission I am rarely wrong. Yeah, you get the hint; I have all the classic makings of a mean girl or critical woman. However, because of the trauma inflicted on me, I know when not to cross the line. Having suffered first hand for thinking different, I now respect different lines of thought and I am more understanding. Being constantly targeted out of sheer jealousy and spite, I can honestly say that I do not experience jealousy, that ugly emotion has no place in my life.

My repeated affliction with girls/women who considered themselves more cultured and intelligent, their constant verbal assault of my happy, giggly nature as immature and childish has led me to appreciate, not just tolerate, women (in their thirties) who like to dress in princess outfits and crowns.

For all of those women who roll their eyes at these happy childlike women and remark, “OMG! She is so fake, it’s annoying!” my message to you, close your eyes or turn away but please keep your comments to yourself. Words hurt so if yours don’t bless then practise silence, after all being cultured and intelligent also means allowing for freedom of expression.

As I sit on the fence, I am grateful I didn’t turn into a mean critical woman, and if experiencing first hand the trauma they inflict was the only way to keep from becoming one, I say, “Bring it on!”

Meditation, or is it just me?

meditation

This musing is a reaction to an article about another blogger’s journey with vipasana mediation. 10 days of doing nothing but sitting 12 hours straight, in an attempt to still one’s mind. As a blogger and writer the whole purpose of stilling one’s mind is beyond me. I am like the NASA probe searching for a thought wave, constantly on the prowl for some illuminating thought that I can transcribe into words. My mind is a podium for unceasing debate, in the words of René Descartes,

I think therefore I am.

Even as I sleep my mind is in constant chatter, my dreams are more tangled than Shakespeare’s web of lies. I am always on the Internet absorbing news, ideas, latest research, discoveries and constantly analysing theories. I relish religious discourses where I can logically defend my faith. I am constantly scouring anti-Catholic sites, assimilating all their objections and I try to find valid answers to all their contentions. If there is a point that I cannot clarify then I thrash it out mentally and devour religious literature until I find the answer. Offcourse, all this goes on internally, I never voice my opinions publicly, for me religion is a very personal matter and not for public debate, which brings me to my point, I love to think.

Unfortunately there are days, mostly when I am on a zero sugar and low carb diet when my mind just goes blank. These periods that I dub as writer’s block which are more like thinker’s block are the most boring and depressing episodes of my life. No thoughts, no emotions, no adrenaline, no reaction, just empty space, floating through a void; most depressing. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to be in that state! It’s like dying; at least it’s for me.

Oh the joy to be alive, to feel emotions that cause your heart to pound, the blood to rush into your veins, to experience your head throb with anger or excitement. Why would anyone want to give all that away, even for a nanosecond? As a religious person I know that there are times one should be still and listen to the Lord, but for me that is usually when fear or trouble crowd my existence, which is very rarely. Usually I am in an animated discourse with the Lord about this and that, or I am usually bugging him for an answer or just in awe of him. Stillness is not a prominent feature of my religious life and the Lord hasn’t led me to doubt my journey.

As I watch my 4-½ year old, run wildly around the house chasing an imaginary animal, whilst screaming at the top of his voice, I can only smile and say, “yeah, he takes after me!”

Lent- Peace and love to all on Earth.

 

Nederlands: Lent (Nijmegen) H.Hartbeeld bij RK...
Nederlands: Lent (Nijmegen) H.Hartbeeld bij RK kerk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the Christian holy period of Lent, 40 days of introspection, fasting and prayers. Not many Christians observe it and as there aren’t any fixed rules, many just don’t let it affect their lives. My mother is a very staunch Catholic and my father; a merry soul believes his special relationship with God exempts him from ritualistic traditions. It was very interesting growing up in my home, my mother a fervent prayer warrior who prayed unceasingly on her knees through most of the night and hurried about the housework all day, exhorting us to keep praying. As a kid I hated school but I remember preferring to study than join my mum in her never-ending novenas and rosaries. My Dad was way cooler, rarely went to church and was well versed with the DE Silva method, mediation, psychology, mind control, hypnosis, and the like. He had a well-stacked library with rare finds like Ben Sweetland’s I WILL, ESP, Works of Carl Jung, Psych symbology, along with regulars like Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Edward De Bono etc. While most kids read fairy tales, I would read Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie. My elder brother and I used to play mind games, like trying to materialise the family TV into our bedroom cupboard. When thoroughly bored we would try ESP, I would draw a symbol and mentally project it to him and he would clear his mind and try to receive it. I was 8 and he was 10, in hindsight we should have played more in the park! My mum though staunchly religious never brushed aside any of these new science practises and in fact encouraged us to explore the sciences. I remember she would keep telling us, Einstein says we use only 2 % of our brains, so use more! This dialogue was especially more prevalent during exam times. That was mum, madly in love with God but so fiercely intelligent and she found a perfect balance. Science and religion were never in conflict, God had created all, including science and mankind only discovered what the almighty had already set in motion. Dad on the other hand always struggled with religion, the traditions were nonsensical to him, the rules and regulation another form of thought control. He was always intrigued with conspiracy theories, the Bermuda triangle, secret societies and was always researching the latest theory. Mum, whom dad called a brainwashed sheep of the church was always at peace and never lost her faith. Dad, the wise one, was always deeply troubled and made many hurried decisions based on fear, doubt and insecurity. I learnt early that what is right varies form society to society but truth varies form an individual to an individual. Personal truths are what empowers a person, a solid one like the one my mother had, grounded her and gave her stability; a varying one like my father’s made him a boat tossed about in the stormy sea. It is for this very reason that Lord Jesus had declared, “know the truth and the truth will set you free.” So as we enter this holy period of fasting, prayer and self-reflection, I take time out to quite my mind and to find out my truth. I intend to reaffirm my beliefs and strengthen my resolve. I hope I can be half the role model my mother was and instruct my children in the way of our ancestors. Peace and love to all the inhabitants of the Earth.

 

Free speech or just an excuse to be insensitive?

English: Kids at shore
English: Kids at shore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Humour at the cost of hurting another individual, that’s cool? Really? How is it ‘Free speech’ if it costs a tear and stabbing pain to another? Here is an excerpt that got me agitated, again.

I’m not surprised you get along well with all the other neighbours. If you put fifty children with Down’s syndrome in a room there is going to be a lot of hugging.

The only way the writer could ‘get back’ at a mean neighbour is to compare him to someone with disability? So according to the writer people with challenges are to be looked down upon, ridiculed, basically the children of the lesser God? I have worked with Down syndrome children and I assure you there is nothing derogatory in being compared to them. They are sensitive, kind, honest and the gentlest creatures on God’s Earth.

I know he was trying to be funny and was exercising his ‘Free Speech’, but I beg to differ. It isn’t ‘free’ if another pays the cost of expressing it, with tears and pain. I love humour and often do indulge in a little ‘smart alec’ dialogue delivery where the recipient, usually my mom, decides to chase me with her rolling-pin. However, I do respect the fine line between hilarious and insensitive. I was once laughing my head off at a Friends episode when my elder brother walked in, took me aside and spoke these words to me, “It’s ok to laugh with someone but never at someone. Is this entertainment for you, laughing AT someone.”

I know he was being a little too critical, since these characters were universally loved for being comical and not because they were ‘stupid’. However, it did highlight something in my mind, the fine line between respect and entertainment. I never watched another episode of friends again, as I wasn’t comfortable with the idea that I was laughing at someone, even if that was someone I loved and admired. In hindsight, it should read, especially because it’s someone whom I love and respect.

I had a friend who rationalised her name calling as, ‘it isn’t mean if it’s true’. For e.g., A horrid teacher can be labelled a B*&^% if she truly is mean and obnoxious. I agreed with that reasoning until I met a dog lover who remarked, “Who says female dogs, a bitch is mean or obnoxious?” That got me thinking and I realised that dogs are faithful and basically a man’s best friend, it isn’t an insult to call a man a dog but it’s insulting to the dog if the man is horrid. Unless off course, if you consider dogs to be repulsive or to be despised.

Which is exactly what the writer is equating people with Down syndrome to be, despised. If you meant to insult someone and you did it by comparing them to people with disability you are insulting people with disability, that’s not free speech that’s mean, rude, backward and unintelligent. You can’t justify your statement saying it was targeted towards the mean person and you meant no disrespect to the people with disabilities. You just compared them to a mean and obnoxious person, how is that not insulting?

Wake up people, just think before you speak or write and if you do, then have the humility to apologise and say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t realise what I was doing.” There is nothing more painful than someone justifying his or her wrong; it’s like being hurt all over again. Spread a little love people, I’m done with the hatred and the name calling, aren’t you?

James Bond was a class act, these guys are pathetic!

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I’m angry, really palpitating, shaking mad! The nerve of some people, serial womanisers, Casanovas, call them what you like, I call them scumbags. Facebook is crawling with idiots looking out for ‘lonely, married women’. I am a PR professional so I get a lot of friend requests on FB and I usually accept it without a thought, it’s social media you can’t exactly have privacy issues! I have a separate one for friends and family where I post pics of my kids and have extremely strict privacy settings. On my PR id, I got contacted by a jerk asking me to ‘start a friendly relationship’, assuming that he mistook me as single I wrote back saying that I was happily married and mother of three. He still wrote back, an extremely long email detailing how wonderful he is, an excerpt below:

I Don,t like to play games or people that play games , i have nice heart, clear mind, very romantic, very warm Hearted, loving and caring, loyal and well behaved, from decent family, i am into many things like traveling, computers,gardening and many other things.

I’m a straight forward person, and i want to build nice friend/relationship which will last long and never ends with someone kind and nice and honest, committed and loving I’m not a materialistic person and i am always after nice hearts.

Currently i am working on a contract ,but I can move and travel, i am sure that you will like me more when you meet me. the type of woman i would like to meet she should be,caring,honesty ,understanding,loving,truthful and have a sense of Humor……I will love to know somethings about you.

After nice hearts? He is loyal and from a decent family, really? I wonder which families train their sons to prey on vulnerable women and ‘play games’? Some people are just down right, morally depraved! For politeness sake I haven’t copied my response to him but I can assure you my language was quite colourful. Normally I’d brush it aside but what got me seething mad is the ‘evil’ intent and malicious nature of the man. Here is an excerpt form his previous email initiating the ‘looking for a wonderful woman’ to which I promptly replied that I was married.

What a nice and sparkling smile.
I Read your profile,It is my pleasure to contact you, Am searching for a sincere and trusted Woman of God that will teach me the way of God and i believe in God you
will be the one, when i stumbled on your profile.I got entangled in that wonderful smile, couldn’t stop myself from saying hello. Please always wear that smile.

I wonder which ‘God’ told him to contact a married woman, the God of Casanovas maybe? Why would a married, woman of God, start a relationship with another man? Is it just because I accepted his friend request that he assumed I was, ‘lonely and looking for a companion sent by God?’ It enrages me to think that there might be so many genuinely hurt and lonely women out there, looking for the ‘the one’ and all they get is a moronic excuse for a human being.

What about all the elderly, widowed, lonely single women, they would easily fall for this kind of crap, thinking it was genuine and straightforward. I despise people who like to prey on vulnerable and lonely people, it’s just so wrong. How can these people live with themselves? Is it all just a game to them, to play with a woman’s inner most hopes of love and a life with someone she cares about? How does someone get over a trauma like that? If you know anyone who has gone through this, I would love to hear about it.

God is a lousy business man!

He trades our pain, sorrow, sinful baggage, and everything negative for his joy, peace and grace! He isn’t partial he loves the saint and the sinner just the same! His reward for the faithful believer and that for the prodigal disciple is the same – eternal life!
Not a very good business man when u judge him through the eyes of the world. In the world we trade for profit not loss, we reward the loyal far more than the others, and we definitely have favorites!
Perhaps that’s why atheists cannot believe in a God, how can there be someone who is so perfect, love us despite all our faults? All that power and yet he chose to be born in a manger and die a torturous death for all of us. Unbelievable!
Christians are here to tell u just that! God loves u even if u don’t love him or know him or believe in him. He loves you just the way you are because he made you. You are beautiful in his eyes. Not matter what you have done, where you have been or where you’ll end up: he loves you. He won’t hang up when u call ,he always has time for you and there isn’t a problem or situation too big for him to handle. He isn’t a self-righteous, annoying, judgmental disciplinarian but a kind, patient, compassionate, understanding, loving and ever forgiving Father.
All you have to do is call out to him, he is waiting….

by Antonia Rapheal