Learn It All Again…

I just heard this new song called LEARN IT ALL AGAIN TOMORROW by Ben and his mother Ellen Harper. It is from a new folk music album they recorded together titled Childhood Home.

This song reminds me about how many times I’ve had to re-learn the lessons in life – how often I’ve had to “learn it all again tomorrow”. Lessons in decency, kindness, compassion & understanding. The lessons may be spiritual, mental, behavioral or physical. The physical lessons are the ones we easily remember and are able to advance from – for example, walking. Once you learn how to walk you don’t need to relearn (unless some medical reason or accident forces you to). Muscle memory allows you to continue walking without thinking about it. You can then “mature” and learn something new or move to the next level by learning jogging and running. Even spiritual lessons tend to be more knowledge based and once that knowledge is gained it is not necessary to relearn the same thing. But behavioral/mental lessons are a whole different ballgame because they deal with behaviors and being in a way that requires flexibility. Each situation is different and each individual is different so flexibility is the key and this is why we often have to relearn the same lessons in different situations.

The bad and the beautiful:
So many people think of themselves as deeply flawed for having to relearn life’s lessons. Or as many Christians would say, “It’s because we are born sinners”. But I would like to point out that no one is a “born sinner” our weaknesses of character, and bad behaviors are learned/nurtured from our culture and surroundings. And many people go on acting as they’ve always acted – badly – without any recognition or thought of “Why do I…?” or “Should I…?”

Once a lesson is learned you will be “doing” what you’re supposed to be doing. You will have an awareness, or what Buddhists call Mindfulness, about yourself and others and be able to respond appropriately – if not initially; then, as a corrective measure – Whether it is compassion, understanding, peace-making, tolerance, etc – you will be doing it and others will learn from your example. They will see the change in you.

***************

Here’s the good news. We should not think badly of ourselves for having to relearn life’s lessons as new situations arise. You and I are not bad, flawed or weak for having to relearn things like compassion, decency, respect, etc. When you were formed/created/born – just like the story of creation in the Bible – God said, “It is good.” You were born innocent and good. That innocence and goodness still resides within you and me. We should be grateful for the opportunities we have to relearn those lessons we need in order to be more adaptable. I am. It isn’t easy because whenever we interact with someone new their responses will be different so we will have a new opportunity to relearn a positive way interact with (and react to) them.

Your belief in Christ will NOT save you…

Today I’m writing about the institutional church’s emphasis on missions, evangelism and promotion/marketing the salvation of the soul. For too long I have heard that if we only believe in Jesus then we will be saved. But this is untrue a fallacy and deceit. Okay some readers may start quaking and shaking because I’m challenging one of the basic tenants of the what has been preached as “the faith”.

The problem arises when, in our challenged attention span, we fail to understand the scripture/teachings in the larger context and what it means for our lives. For example, Jesus said, (in the ever popular verse)

“For thus God loves the world, so that he gives his only-begotten son that everyone who is believing in him should not perish but have life eonian.” – John 3:16(Concordant Literal New Testament – CLNT)

Out of context this verse clearly suggests that belief alone will save. But wait! What is the larger context where this appears? To understand the context we must read the entire section where this verse appears – John 3:1-21 in addition to the larger context of Jesus overall teachings throughout the gospels. Jesus is having a conversation with one of the Pharisees named Nicodemus who was a chieftain. Briefly, Jesus talks about how the times have changed and are changing. Previous perceptions of heaven are re-evaluated. Throughout his ministry Jesus talks about Heaven being here and now. In this section of scripture he points out that the Pharisees were making distinctions between celestial and terrestrial existence/being. Jesus says in verse 13 that the only one who has gone to heaven (as the pharisees teach) is the one who has come from heaven. In short, Jesus brings heaven back down to earth. The “one” he speaks of is the only-begotten son of mankind. And the belief in what the only-begotten son of mankind has done (bringing heaven down to earth) is what saves mankind. He then goes on to say that our actions here on earth reflect what we believe. So it’s not the belief that saves us. IT IS our actions here and now that reflect what we believe that matters.

So it’s not so esoteric as a “soul” that is so often preached in churches. It has nothing to do with heaven as a separate place to escape from this existence or find as a reward for believing. Belief alone will not save; it is how our actions are determined by our belief. As is written in James 2:19-20

“…the demons are ALSO believing and shuddering. Now are you wanting to know, o empty man, that faith apart from works is dead?” (CLNT)

Many translations turn that question into a statement. But it is in fact a question and the writer goes on to say that actions are not separate from belief. Actions illustrate and are inseparably linked to belief. No wonder so many so-called Christians, church workers and religious people are accused of hypocrisy and bigotry; saying one thing while doing another. It’s our actions here and now in this existence that show what we truly believe. Our actions at work with our co-workers, customers, suppliers, investors shows what we truly believe. Our actions at home with family and neighbors shows what we truly believe. Our actions in our “play” or social activities show what we truly believe. Going to church or saying we are Christian doesn’t mean squat! Anyone can, and does, do that. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter heaven. He continues by saying that the people who experience heaven are those who do Gods will. In other words, not most who go to church or say their Christian will never experience heaven as Jesus taught. Only those whose actions are in line with what Christ taught will experience heaven on earth as he taught.

Enjoy this delightful satire

“attention customers…”

I have worked in the service industry all of my adult life – that totals 35 working years. Here in the United States there is a phrase that has been tossed around the service industry so much that it has become and is perceived as a behavioral truism to be honored, revered, respected and upheld at ALL costs.

That phrase is:

The customer is ALWAYS right!

This type of “truism” has served no one – not even the customer. It has made businesses make concessions where none should be made just to avoid bad press. It has made some customers abusively use the perceived truism as a weapon to get what they want. Worst of all I believe it to be wrong, incorrect and without benefit for individuals and society.

It would be better to say, “The customer is sometimes right and sometimes wrong.” But people will reject that because no one wants to take responsibility for being right or wrong – or, take responsibility for determining who is right or wrong. According to the business satisfaction model currently in use – it’s better to just pay the customer off and give them what they demand.

What’s the cost?
IS there a cost?
How does this behavior affect the economy?
Does this behavior encourage more greediness and entitlement?
Or, does it simply uphold the golden rule by being willing to “take a hit”?
Does this behavior ultimately hurt?
Who does it really hurt?
How is the person who feels entitled and determined to get what they feel they deserve hurting themselves?

What do you think?