Sunday, June 19, 2011 0 comments By: Suzanne
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 0 comments By: Suzanne

The Birth (Of A New Theme and A Man)

ahhhhhh, FINALLY! I am going to do what I have said I was going to do...I am going to discuss Christianity from my perspective. I will no doubt be offensive to Christians. This is not done for the sole purpose of being offensive but it is something that happens when you don't believe what they believe and are willing to talk about it.

I am not a Biblical scholar. There are many others who have done what I am doing, and have done it better. I encourage all of you to check out Bart D. Ehrman's books. I may reference them form time to time. I may make mistakes in my assertions so please feel free to point them out. But do it in a constructive way. Any comments that are purposely inflammatory, may be deleted. 

Throughout my study of Christianity I will discuss different parts of the Bible, Christian history, and basic Christian beliefs. The Bible I will be using for now is the New King James Version. The reason for this is basic: I already have it in the house. I realize it is not considered the best study Bible by scholars and I would prefer to use the New International Version or the New Revised Standard Version but the study Bibles in these version can be pretty pricey and that is not something I am able to afford right now. On the other hand, many Evangelical Christians are firm believers in the King James Version being the direct word of God, so in a way it will serve my purpose just fine. :)

The first thing I want to discuss is the basic well known stories of the Bible. First being the birth of Jesus. Please read all the way to the end of this post if you plan on making comments. We all know the story, right? Mary was visited by an angel and told she would bear the son of God. She had never known the touch of a man, so it was to be a virgin birth. Joseph, her betrothed, was also visited by an angel and told to believe in Mary's story, that her child would be the prophesied Savior. They traveled to Bethlehem in order to be "counted" for the census, only to find there was no place for them to stay. The ended up staying in a manger among the animals. Three wise men, seeing a star that told of the Savior's birth traveled to pay their respects to the baby and brought him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Ok, sure...

There have been others who suggested that maybe Mary had become pregnant by another. It is always possible, of course. Matthew says that Mary was found with child, "before they came together." He does not say she was a virgin. He simply says she and Joseph had not had sex. This is the reason Joseph first thinks to "put her away secretly" until the angel comes to him in a dream and says the child she has conceived is "of the Holy Spirit." hmmmm, it still doesn't say she wasn't with another man. Is it possible that way she conceived a child "of the Holy Spirit" was through sex with another man? Christians would say no, I say we can't know. Matthew uses a quote from the Old Testament to make his case, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel." Matthew says that "Immanuel" means, "God with us" but this part is not in the OT and Immanuel is never mentioned again. Also, this quote is taken out of context. How are we to know that this is the child mentioned in the OT? Because Matthew believes it is? The angel that tells so much does not say this child is the Savior of the Jews prophesied in the OT. Moreover, the angel told Joseph to name the child Jesus, not Immanuel. In my view, Matthew is stretching here to make his case and try to make Jesus fit into the prophesy.

Matthew skips directly from this to "after Jesus was born in Bethlehem." There is no mention of the travel and hardships of finding a place to give birth that is common in the well known story. Now when the wise men come, they are first interviewed by Herod who tells them to go look in Bethlehem. By the time they find Jesus, he is referred to as "the young child." He has apparently aged at least a year, maybe more. They did not come to him immediately after his birth. After they leave, Joseph is warned to flee to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. (side note, does anyone else think of "The Wrath of Khan" when they say the word wrath? just me...) Herod then puts to death all the male children from two years and under "according to the time which he had determined from the wise men." This also puts down the idea that Jesus was still an infant. The young family stays in Egypt until the death of Herod and then travels to Nazareth.

Now let's look at the differences in the other Gospels. Mark has long been said by scholars to be the source for both Luke and Matthew. First, let's look at Luke and then we'll see how they changed Mark. I find it interesting that Matthew begins with the birth of Jesus and then tells of John the Baptist paving the way before him, whereas Luke tells of John's birth first. To me it is telling in who is more important to the story. We'll discuss John the Baptist another time.

Luke has no issue in calling Mary a virgin right away. This makes me wonder why Matthew did. Luke describes exactly how Mary comes to be pregnant, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God." I don't know about you but this calls to mind the many stories of Zeus visiting women and impregnating them. As far as I know, no one ever said those women were holy and not all of their offspring were god/desses. Some yes, but others were sprites, or muses, or whatever.

Luke does talk of the census that we know of in the story. What I have never understood is the "everyone to his own city" idea. Who does a census like that? No officials make people all travel to the city that they originated from in order to be counted. The purposed of census to know how many people are in each city. If they all leave and go "home" then you can't get an accurate count anywhere. This to me is a made up reason in order to place Jesus' birth in the place that the Savior is prophesied to have been born. In this story it is not wise men who come to Jesus, but shepherds who have been told to by an angel. There is no mention of a great star leading the way. After the birth, and presentation at the temple (not told in Matthew), the family travels directly to Nazareth. According to Luke, they do not go to Egypt because there is apparently no threat from Herod. If so, it is never mentioned. 

Now to the "source." Mark does not talk about the birth of Jesus. He launches into Jesus' story when he is already a grown man. This is very telling, considering it the source of Matthew and Luke. To me, Matthew and Luke needed to establish Jesus' divinity. Mark did not feel this was necessary to tell Jesus' story. His actions as a leader were more important than any claim of divinity. In Mark, it simply says as Jesus was baptized by John, he came up from the water and "He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, 'You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'"

What are we to make of this? If I had never known anything else of this story, my first impression would be that Jesus had an epiphany. He realized that he was special and should lead others. After all, don't Christians say we are all the children of God? How is Jesus different in that way?
Wednesday, February 9, 2011 0 comments By: Suzanne

Worst Blogger Ever?

It's official I am the laziest blogger ever. :)  We had almost a full week off last week due to snow and I still didn't blog. I would like to now take the time to whoever is reading this to say...THANK YOU! You are probably the only reader I have left! hahahaha

Snow...snow....and more snow. I live in Texas, btw, not Illinois, where I got away from as soon as I could because I HATE SNOW. We got dumped on last week. Monday night it came in with a vengeance and covered us with a mix of ice and snow. My driveway was impossible to get out of and just when I thought we would be ok, we got more snow on Thursday. I was stuck in my house until Saturday morning.

This was the view out my front door when I woke up Tuesday morning. I love how it's so compacted it doesn't even come inside when I open the door! It just kept on coming...

Here's my back porch. Unfortunately, I have a sliding glass door, so I was not lucky with the snow staying outside this time.

And then of course my back yard. The dogs were less than pleased.

I know a lot of Northerners laugh at us when we freak out because of snow but here's a couple things you should understand. 1) of course, we just don't get it that often so 2) we don't have the infrastructure to take of it, meaning we don't have salt trucks (we have about 2 sand trucks for whole state) and we certainly don't have any snow plows (very few of us even have snow shovels, I know I don't) so it sits there till it warms up enough to melt and then 3) we don't normally just get snow, we get ICE STORMS. Our ice storms are brutal and driving on ice is impossible.

Last Tuesday I'm sitting at home (because the entire state has shut down and I didn't have to work) and hear this commotion outside. My neighbor is trying to get his truck down the street. He's gunning his engine for all it's worth. The truck goes about an inch and then slides back two. I watch fascinated for a few minutes before I decide to be nice and see if there's anything I can do to help the guy get back home. After trying paper bags under the wheels (those just shot out the other side like they were coming out of a cannon) and cardboard boxes (not much better) another neighbor comes out. He pushes on the back end while I hop in the bed to give the truck a little more weight. I'm not a skinny girl but I'm not very big either. I was not enough weight. I finally ask the guy where he was trying to go, because it was obvious he wasn't giving up and going home. "I just needed to get a couple things from the Dollar General." In disgust I turned around and went home. The Dollar General is two blocks away. He could have walked there and back in all the time it took to mess with the damn ice. Just before I left he says, "I've never had so much trouble driving on snow before. I drive on snow all the time." He has Tennessee plates. If I didn't already think the guy was a moron, I would have pointed out that this was not snow, but ice. I just didn't think it would matter at that point.

So what does this have to do with my theme of Living Compassionately? I tried to be compassionate. I swear I did. I went out and spent a good 30 minutes in below 0 weather trying to help this guy out, trying to convince him to go home. There's only so much you can do when people are stupid.

Friday I was finally so sick of being stuck in the house that I went out with my garden rake ( shovel) and raked the snow off the drive, then I had to break all the ice and scrape it off the drive. Here's the before:

Unfortunately I did not get my rear in gear and start working on this mess until about 4 in the afternoon. So by the time I got to the end of the drive, the top had re-frozen. lol Saturday morning it finally got above freezing and EVERYONE'S driveways were passable. Oh well, mine was best though because I had a head start.

Side note, we got more snow today. I am really, really not happy with this year's winter.
Saturday, December 11, 2010 0 comments By: Suzanne

New Paths - Important Goals

I made a decision yesterday that will change my career path. In the past when I've thought about leaving music therapy I have been very sad, which led me to believe it was not the right decision. At least, it was not the right decision at the time. Maybe it was simply because I was not ready to give up on my dream (this is what I've wanted to do for a very long time) or maybe it was because I had not discovered the right place for me; where it was I supposed to go after music therapy. I believe I have found it.

As a music therapist my favorite population to work with has been the PPCD classes. For those of you not familiar with the Texas educational terms that means Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities. The children in this group are aged 3-5 with a wide range of needs, from severe autism to needing just a little extra instruction before going on to the general population. I've worked as a music therapist with children in these classes that will, in all likelihood, be in special education classrooms the rest of their school careers and I've worked with children that went into regular kindergarten classes afterward. I even worked with a young boy who only said "hello" when I met him at age 4 and was speaking in full sentences and ready for general ed by the end of that same year. I am good with this age group and am most comfortable doing "my thing" as a therapist and some time teacher.

If you've read my posts in the past you know that right now I am not working this age group. Right now I am doing music therapy with elderly with Alzheimer's. While I find that I get some satisfaction from working with this group, I also find I am simply drained by the end of the day in a way I never was when working in the schools. I am drained in a way that tells me I was right to believe I am not truly equipped to be working in this population. It is not right for me. I've been working on getting a program off the ground in the town I live in that will be private therapy for children and young adults with disabilities. I've been working on this program for more than 6 months now and have exactly 0 clients. It going nowhere and I am getting frustrated. Frustrated to the point that I have been having visions of taking any fulltime job I could find just to be able to have a fulltime job. 

My first thought was just to go find a job at one of the universities here. That would mean secretarial type work but I can do that. I haven't been happy doing what I love for awhile now so I'm sure I would fine doing something I don't love if I knew I could save money to do the things I do love. Then I had lunch with a friend yesterday and my world changed.

She said she had considered leaving music therapy too. She had gone to the extreme of getting her certification in Special Education and even applying to the different school districts around here. In the end, her job situation changed and she decided to stick with music therapy. It got my brain rolling. One of the things I had considered doing in the past was getting my certification as an elementary music teacher. I even went to the orientation meeting for the alternative certification program to see what I needed to do. I decided it wasn't for me as I KNOW I simply wouldn't make a good music teacher. But I also know I would make an excellent SPED teacher. I don't know exactly why I know this but I am sure of it and suddenly that's what I wanted to do. It's all I could think of as I left my lunch with my friend. I went to see a piano student (the one I got instead of an actual music therapy student in the place where I'm building my new program) and as he was 10 minutes late I stood there and thought about this program. How it's going nowhere. I know that programs can sometimes take years to get off the ground but I have put my all into this for more than 6 months and have seen no return. That's extremely discouraging. My first thought was to take on more private clients outside the area. I've done that before and the driving is horrible but the pay is good. "Ok," I thought, "get those clients so you are working and seeing a little income and let this program build as slowly as it's going to need to." But I still wasn't satisfied. "So this contract thing is going to be life?" No, I am not happy with that.

I sat through my student's lesson and was really irritated that he had not only not practiced but had been playing "Chopsticks" all week and wanted to show me. I said to him, "It's wonderful that you are having fun with the piano, but just because everyone else in your family knows how to play Chopsticks that doesn't mean that's what you should be practicing. Hopefully, if you practice what I give you, you'll be able to play much better than all of them someday." Hopefully, my extreme irritation did not come through. Trying to live compassionately after all! :)

Then I was driving home and it came to me. I WILL take on those extra clients, but not just to make money while I wait for this program to kick in to high gear. I will do it so I will have the money for alternative certification. I am going to become a SPED teacher. And I was relieved. I was happy about it.

I think that means I've made the right decision. I know it will take a couple years for this to come to fruition, but I have a goal.

This morning it came to me why this made me so happy. Goals are important. I haven't really had a set goal for awhile now. Oh yeah, build the program to make it a fulltime position but that wasn't really something I could see as goal for some reason. THIS is  goal. And goals make us strive to be important.