My favorite holiday is almost here! Christmas was, is and always will be my favorite holiday. No not because of the present (though that is a nice touch) it is because of the spirit of Christmas. If that doesn’t make sense then I am sorry to say you don’t have it…the Spirit that is. But that is easy to get some Christmas spirit, just open your heart and be kind to someone, that is a great start. You never know you might like it! Well that was random, it has been a very long week, I just wanted to take a moment and wish all my readers (regardless of your religious persuasion) a Merry Christmas!
This post is a bit stream of consciousness and a bit reflection. I was out Christmas shopping today, people were pleasant enough but not once did anyone say Merry Christmas, not once did anyone say Happy Holiday’s, it was kind of sad. It didn’t make me sad, it just seemed sad. Have we become so disconnected or are we so afraid of offending someone? I wished everyone a Merry Christmas that I spoke with today and the majority reacted surprised but happy. The only note of Christmas Spirit I have seen so far has been in two Salvation Army red bucket collectors. One was so filled with the Spirit of Christmas that he still has me smiling more than a day later. Why? He was standing in the cold, singing Christmas/Religious songs, opening the door for people and wishing them a good day. He had such an impact I almost wonder if he was an Angel to be able to impart such goodwill in such a casual way. I hope everyone gets to experience that this season, but it will never happen if we don’t share a little cheer with each other. Then while reflecting on these happenings I saw this video (see below) which has nothing to do with Christmas, it is actually an advertisement, it does give pause to the idea that even the smallest gesture can have an enormous impact.
Remember that Merry Christmas is not reserved for the day or so around Dec. 25th, it the greeting we use during this season to say hello and goodbye, to help us remember the reason for the season and to spread good cheer.
May the Blessing of this season be upon you, Merry Christmas.
When a Wise man thought about the depth of the judgments of God, he asked, “Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?”
He heard a voice answering him, “Keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgment of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.”
– From The Life Of St. Antony The Great (Anthony of Egypt is the Patriarch of all the Desert Fathers and of all Monks.)
How does this help us as a Martial Artist? As a Christian it always amuses me how God gets blamed for everything yet credited for little. We see things from our own perspective and assume omnipotence. The funny thing is most of us don’t even know ourselves and what is in our own hearts, let alone to be in a position to judge the justness of a given situation. Instead we should be focused on our actions and the state of our soul. How often does a student look with envy at the abilities of another student thinking they are naturally better than themselves. Unknown to them are the countless hours this student with “natural ability” practices. What St. Anthony was driving at is, in focusing on things we can not control, we take away from time that could be spent in perfecting ourselves. That is not to say we exclude thoughts of others, but that we do so without envy, we take lessons from the world around us without letting the events distract us from perfecting ourselves. Instead, we to often use lessons from the world to justify our current selves.
This might sound a little high minded but it is the essence of Martial Arts training, perfection of ones self. Unfortunately unlike the above passage, Martial Arts training deals with the perfection of your mind and physical self. Many mistake Martial Arts training and this sense of perfection for religion. The broadening of our senses through training can give us a feeling similar to that of a higher connection, it is a false connection. Unfortunately many are willing to deceiving themselves as this false religious feeling elevates them to the station of God, even though they believe it a connection with some larger Universal force or power. This is the trap of many pursuits, Martial Arts, Higher Education degrees, any practice which expands the powers of the mind and body, yet neglects the soul.
I will leave you with that to ponder, to comment upon, and hopefully, to stimulate awareness.
At least not when a gun is pointing at them!
“He was as close to me, almost, as this camera is and it was pointed right at me,” Husfelt said. “I was trying to turn kind of sideways. … It’s just all reactionary. Who knows what you do in a situation like that? We were all scared and doing a lot of praying, I can tell you that.” CNN
The story of the gunman at the School Board meeting struck me as ironic. Here we have an institution (School Boards) which typically route out any semblance of religion or religious expression, including the Pledge of Allegiance, …praying. Of course the article doesn’t say who they were praying to, but I think it is safe to assume it is a higher power. I wonder if the School Board members were concerned that they might offend someone while they were praying? It is understood that we do not know anything about these men, they all could be Church going men, but the irony in life is sometimes so striking it cannot be overlooked without comment.
Many dispute the fact that there are no atheists in foxholes Or at the wrong end of a gun… regardless it is doubtful there are any atheists afterwards…
On a more self-defense oriented note, the female board member that reentered the room and tried to disarm the gunman was brave and very lucky. Luckily the crazy gunman seemed to have a problem with shooting women and let her go. Her actions may have stalled is shooting spree enough to allow the security guard/retired police officer to get there in time to help. It did not seem that she had any formal self-defense training or martial arts skills, just a purse! Her situation truly illustrates why everyone should have some exposure to formal training in a defensive art, you never know when or where you may find yourself in need of defending yourself.
I asked God to take away my pain. God said, No. It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. God said, No. Her spirit was whole, her body was only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience. God said, No. Patience is a by-product of tribulations. It isn’t granted, it is earned.
I asked God to give me happiness. God said, No. I give you blessings. Happiness is up to you.
I asked God to spare me pain. God said, No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.
I asked God to make my spirit grow. God said, No. You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, No. I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things.
I ask God to help me LOVE others, as much as he loves me. God said, Ahhhh, finally you have the idea.
Keep reading and the title will make sense…
As most of you know I usually attempt to avoid religious topics since my intent is to present information to facilitate your growth as a Martial Artist. As such, you can incorporate your religious beliefs with my thoughts, reflects and training techniques as you see fit. Today however, I want to post a comment from another blog that caught my eye. The main topic the comment responds to is the assertion that God does not exist and Jesus was a fictional character, of course the author cites minutiae to support this idea. Not surprisingly many of the commenter’s support his opinion. I am not insulted or offended by these types of views, you see I believe in free will. So with that preamble here is the comment in play write format that caught my eye:
Mad Max | August 12, 2009, 7:18am | #
SCENE: THE HEADQUARTERS OF DECIUS COMICUS, ANCIENT ROMAN PUBLIC RELATIONS CONSULTANT. TWO SINISTER-LOOKING JEWISH CLIENTS ARE TALKING TO DECIUS.
PAUL: Here’s the deal, Decius – we want to create a new religion, a religion for which people all over the Roman Empire will be willing to die, but we don’t have a good founder figure. We were hoping that you could use your creativity to make up a founder for our religion.
PETER: We were both impressed by your work on the superheroes Battus Manus and Homo Superbus. We want you to create a fictional character like that, only we’re going to try and convince the world the guy really existed.
DECIUS: A tall order, indeed. How about this: I’ll invent a great religious leader who came to Rome to preach justice and righteousness. His enemies killed him by the sword, but he came back to life again.
PAUL: That’s interesting, but we’d like to make a couple changes. First, instead of having our founder come to Rome, have him live out his entire life exclusively in the Jewish lands on the east of the Mediterranean (except for a side-trip to Egypt). I mean, why would we want to have him come to Rome to preach righteousness?
DECIUS: Uh, because Rome is the capital of the world?
PETER: Nah, it would be more authentic if he spent all his time in our neck of the woods. It’s an obscure area, and your Roman officials often kill locals accused of sedition, so it will seem more plausible that he died there.
PAUL: And another thing – instead of having him die a hero’s death by the sword, why not have him crucified?
DECIUS: But that’s a disgraceful and ignominious punishment! Dying by the sword is much more honorable than getting tortured and hanged like a common criminal! That would be a major stumbling-block in trying to win converts!
PETER: True, but we were thinking that, a few centuries down the road, a death by crucifixion would make for some cool artwork.
PAUL: And we don’t want a wretched Jew to die any kind of honorable death, even in fantasy.
DECIUS: But, *you’re* Jewish.
PETER: Yeah, but we’re self-hating, like Woody Allen.
DECIUS: Very well, then. And since you want to persuade people that this guy is real, I’ll bribe a Jewish historian in town – Josephus by name – to mention your guy in that history of the Jewish Wars he’s working on, so as to delude the world into thinking your guy existed. I’ll also put out the word to pagan critics of your religion that they should avoid insinuating that he didn’t exist – their denunciations should focus on other issues.
I couldn’t have made the point better myself or I would have! It is funny to me that people have such a hard time believing in God given all the things they are willing to believe. I’ll leave the examples to you…
Let me know if you want more posts centering on Religion.