Virtue vs. Holiness–Sister post.

By my sister, from a class we were taking.  3/1/2017:

Lack of morality is running rampant in our nation, today. One only need turn on the TV to see the promotion of drugs, sex, abortion, lack of responsibility, and lack of virtue in general. Still, do we need virtue? Is taking back our virtue, our standard of acceptable morality, the way to fix things? Will it help us, as individuals as well as a nation, to recover from this moral dryness?

One Webster’s dictionary definition of virtue is,

“Moral goodness; the practice of moral duties and the abstaining from vice, or a conformity of life and conversation to moral laws . . .”

Virtue is like a moral code of conduct or the action of living up to that code. People’s “codes” may vary, but a few suggestions come to mind. Generosity, kindness, decorum, temperance, purity, marital loyalty, honesty, etc. Our country could use a little of that, right?

This brings me to my next question: Was Jesus virtuous? 

Whoa, whoa! Stop. Of course Jesus was virtuous! He didn’t commit one sin–not one! I can’t even go one day without sinning. How much more virtuous can you get? 

“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 KJV)

You’ll notice the key word here is holy. Is there a difference between virtue and holiness? What is holiness?

John Eldredge talks about this in his book The Utter Relief of Holiness:

“For years I thought of holiness as something austere, spiritually elite, and frankly rather severe. Giving up worldly pleasures, innocent things such as sugar or music or fishing; living an entirely “spiritual” life; praying a lot; being a very good person. Something that only very old saints attain . . . Yet in order to make human beings what they are meant to be, the love of God seeks to make us whole and holy. In fact, the assumption of the New Testament is that you cannot become whole without becoming holy; nor can you become holy without becoming whole.”

He later goes on to cite Hebrews 12:7-13.

“‘Endure hardships as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.’”

Mr. Eldredge then says something very singular.

“ . . . Severity is not the point; discipline is not the point. The point is the restoration of your creation. Whatever holiness truly is, the effect of it is healing. That’s what it does to a person.”

When Jesus took our sins to the cross, He also gave us something in return: His holiness. Now God sees us not as we are, with our sin, but as we can and will be as He continues His work in us. Our accepting His gift of eternal life and salvation allows Him to gradually change our sin and chains to righteousness and freedom. It’s not that we don’t experience freedom and righteousness when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. He helps us to live it out through His holiness in us. Adhering to a moral code doesn’t do that for us. It doesn’t change us; it doesn’t make us good on the inside. 

A nation’s society is made up of people. You can hold a standard up for them to follow, but that doesn’t help them to follow it. I may have a list of characteristics I want to live out; that doesn’t enable me to do so. 

Matthew 5:20 “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Our righteousness has to be greater than the Pharisees’. They weren’t holy. They were concerned only with appearances, with outward shows of goodness. They adhered strictly to a moral code. They had virtue without holiness. Holiness is the true goodness that comes from God. God’s Spirit is called the Holy Spirit. The fruits of His Spirit are, “love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) What does this tell us? Holiness is the wellspring from which true virtue comes. It cannot be the other way around. We cannot acquire holiness through virtue. Anything less than God’s holiness is flawed–Pharisaic–and it’s putting a load on people’s backs that they can’t carry.  

Here’s another reason why holiness is superior to earthly virtue. It’s a relief. Eldredge, in his book, says,

“Look at it this way: Ask the anorexic young girl how she would feel if she simply no longer struggled with food, diet, exercise–if she simply never even gave it another thought. . . . Ask the raging person what it would be like to be free of rage . . . Take the things you struggle with and ask yourself, ‘What would life be like if I never struggled with this again?’

“It would be an utter relief. An absolute, utter relief.” 

Jesus didn’t struggle with sin. It couldn’t touch Him. His virtue came from an inner holiness that drew people to Him. Giving people a list of dos and don’ts will not help them become free from sin. Jesus helps them. He gives them His holiness. I consider holiness–Jesus–the answer to society’s problems today. He is the only way to be free–free from wanting to sin–free from even being able to sin. That is what I want for my life. Jesus’ freedom. 

Thanks sis for letting me post this–Natasha.



Friends or Family?

Well my family has left for vacation, and I am staying at home.

I’m not completely alone, my grandma is still here.

This is going to be the longest I’ve gone without seeing my family. Three weeks. It will be hard, my siblings and I are each others’ closest friends.

We spent our last full day together with another friend, and then watching our favorite anime together, (it’s My Hero Academia if you’re wondering.)

One thing we talked about in passing was how we’ve had difficulty befriending someone we know, and it seems like they don’t really want us to.

I pointed out that church (where all but one or two of my friends are) is supposed to be family, as the bible says, but if you look at how we’re instructed to behave to each other, it sounds more like friendship.

Proverbs even says better is a friend close then a brother far away, and there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Then I pointed out that we three have always been family, and we have always related to each other as sisters, but that it was only the past 5 years or so that we chose to also become friends.

Up until 13-14 I’d say, I treated my sisters like sisters. People who annoyed me, and who I could annoy, with no fear that it would end our relationship. There is a security in a healthy family, room to grow up and develop, while making plenty of mistakes along the way that family blows off, while it would end most friendships.

Of course, the biblical way to treat siblings is nothing like that, but as most adolescents, I didn’t care.

But after returning to Christ, I began rethinking how I acted. It didn’t change a whole lot until my sisters did the same thing, but overtime we began to build our relationship into something very strong. We enjoy it now. We enjoy each other’s personalities, and we are our closest confidantes. We have the kind of sibling-hood you read about.

And sometimes that amazes me, because I know it didn’t have to be that way. I’m so glad we all chose to become friends. (There’s actually a show on Disney Channel that addressed this idea, Liv and Maddie, “Sisters by birth, friends by choice.”)

I was comparing it to the Church family. Once you become a christian (as our doctrine goes) you are part of the family. And the basic instructions off the bat are that we accept you as such. overlook you faults the way a family would, and be your support. If we fight, we also forgive quickly.

That’s a family dynamic, a baby Christian needs that because they will get a lot wrong in the first year or so. That’s okay. I did too. And I was raised in Church. You cannot teach spiritual maturity, only exhibit it and hope it will benefit other people. I had my  mom as an example of it for years before I learned to emulate any of it.

A new Christian is only beginning to be a new person. And that makes them immature. We are meant to show grace.

The sad thing, a lot of churches do not even reach the family dynamic. They don’t accept people, they don’t forgive, they don’t support.

This does not mean that it doesn’t work however. The problem with corporate church is that the same flaws tend to creep in as with businesses and charities, many just don’t do what they should because management skills are not adequate.

Which is why I think the church was never meant to be a corporate experience, but there are people who find a way to work the system.

Many churches do find the family dynamic. But what the New Testament instructs us in is far closer to friendship in many ways.

We are not just to support each other, but to find each others strengths and talents, and develop them. We no longer just accept, we are also to correct, to sharpen each other. To hold each other accountable.

Family can do this, but it is something that comes more naturally into a really good friendship. Family can be too close to see the problem. Friends build distance on purpose by having diverse interests, getting space from each other, and so they learn more about the other person because they see them from more angles than if they lived with them constantly.

The church is designed to meld these two dynamics into a hybrid I think only is possible in spiritual ways. It is really difficult to explain until you experience it. My family became my friends. I hope someday to have friends who will be family.

The trouble is, churches can not really support friendship. I have a church that supports family a lot. Better than most places do. But it is still trying to figure out friendship.

A lot of discipleship we do is focused on family, one girl who’d been through their school of ministry even admitted to this. Not a lot of it is focused on friendship.

Yet, I think a lot of what the epistles show us is how to be a friend as well as a brother or sister.

I think in Acts, the apostles already had a family dynamic, but after they started to travel and organised, they had to have friends.

My dad has learned the hard way that family can be heard to organize to do anything if everyone acts as and individual. It takes the build up of friendship, the learning to work with a very different person, to speak their language, that allows for teamwork.

Some families achieve this with seeming ease. My family never had been particularly good at this except in crisis situations. I think it depends on how well the family knows itself.

A lot of friends now are not on this level, thanks to the lack of interaction we have except through technology, but you’ve probably met or known people who still have this teamwork ability. Hopefully you are one of them.

And my whole point to my sisters was that this ability is a choice to develop. That is what makes it different.

We have no choice about our family. We need to accept hem no matter what.

But within the family we tend to have friends. It won’t be every remember, an not the same for every member you do have it with, but there will be the odd person here and there.

I have a bond with family I only see once or twice a year because we are family, but I have a different bond with people I choose to be around and are not related to me except by faith or being in the human race.

I realize a lot of this post may only be interesting if you are a christian, but it was something I had not realized before, and I’ve been in church my hole life. Plus, it’s always interesting to think about social circles like this and how they work.

Plus my real point that friendship is choice, it doesn’t just happen, is one I think many of us need to understand. Myself included. Movies show friendship as something that can happen in an instant…sometimes it can, but I have never found those friends to be the ones I am likely to see the most often or talk to the most… Maybe God in his wisdom reserves the instant friendship bond for a more eternal significance. The people you surround yourself with are going to round our your rough edges, and that’s better for you.

Until next time–Natasha

Speaking of friendship, it is a factor in the book series I am publishing on Kindle, here’s a link if you want to check out the first two installments, more coming once I replace my laptop-

You can also visit my author page and ask me questions about the series if you’re curious about how me and my coauthor came up with the idea.

Thanks for your support!

Aftermath–plus special announcement at the end.

“We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”–C. S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man.)

I’ve written about this brilliant little book before, but one thing that interests me that I have not really touched on is what happened in the aftermath of it.

The system in England when Lewis wrote that books was followed pretty quickly by America, it was probably already in place in the rest of Europe at the time, at least the countries at the forefront of our minds.

Nazism, the great evil of the War, was leading to the abolition of most men, but Lewis was concerned that what they were teaching schoolboys (and girls no doubt) was going to lead to the abolition of all men, in feeling if not in biological form.

Wise men saw where it was going, but where has it taken us now?

We live in the Post-Modern era. It is rightly called that, if we mean by modern Modernism, which Lewis and his predecessor G. K. Chesterton were both very much concerned with. Modernism was not about being modern in a fashionable sense, like it’s usually used now, or referring to technology or medicine. Modernism was the principles, or lack thereof, of thorough rationality. Which Chesterton showed in his book Orthodoxy to really be irrational.

It is basically materialism, but with odd ideals on top of it, that really make no sense whatsoever if you take the idea literally that nothing has any value except in our own emotions.

But as Lewis pointed out, the men who taught this didn’t believe it themselves. They were teaching values in spite of themselves. The problem is, even if they were better than what they taught, it had the same effect on their students as if they hadn’t been.

My parents, and perhaps your parents generation were the prime victims of this teaching’s first effects.

You’re probably familiar with how psychology got very popular in the 60s-90s, and it still is now. It was beginning before then, but at least in America, it really took off once we began pushing religion aside and needed explanations for all the phenomenon’s sin and human nature used to explain.

We’ve come full circle almost in the pat few decades, we’ve come back to realizing that psychology explains nothing. Now we are looking to physics and other such things, we’re looking to sexuality, we’re looking to race, we’re looking to everything except what originally worked for people: Religion.

My dad had behavioral issues as a kid, and born when he was, he was medicated, put in Special Ed and diagnosed with mental illness, he tried rehabilitation. Like many people of his generation, and ours, he also tried drugs.

It’s strange that drugs and psychology both took off at around the same time. (People can bicker about dates, but a few years or even a decade on the grand scale of time is pretty much the same time.) Both were around before then, but they got popularized, jsutfied, studied, and theorized about. They came to be seen as normal.

Clearly they aren’t the same thing, but strange that the very thing that told us that our dependence on substance was a problem coming from deeper issues did nothing to stop us from abusing substances.

Have you noticed that to highlight a problem in society is no to weaken it, but exposing it makes it become uglier, more used, more prolific, draws more people in.

Exposing it just to comment on it, that is, real solutions are different.

But Psychology did not fix anything, it diagnosed things. Medication could not fix those problems, in face many meds make the problems they treat worse. My dad went off his, and does better now that he did while on them. (Of course, you should be careful about getting off medication, the process is difficult and should be walked through with a doctor’s help. He didn’t quit all at once.)

Now, we live in the information, option generation. In the aftermath of all that identifying, we’ve become clueless about what to do.

Relationships have been diagnosed, studied, and tested; the result? We have a really hard time maintaining even eye contact.

Are they directly related things?

I think so.

Exposing how bad we are at relationships did not help us fix them. It made the revelation overwhelming.

Before, people knew some folks were bad at relationships, but those who were were seen as responsible for their own actions. Since no one thought it was genetically inevitable, people could try to improve, or could be ignored by the general public if they chose to remain unpleasant. Not knowing how deep our mental problems supposedly went, we thought we could move on.

Having it blown so completely out of proportion crippled us. Because it made us think we were powerless to do anything about it.

Doubting our ability to control ourselves is now common phrasing for young people. “That’s just the way I am.”

But we took it further.

It was too depressing to live in that, so we began to take these things that were exposed so that we could not hide them anymore, and we began to say they were not bad, not shameful, after all. Instead they were cool, enlightened, they were our identity.

It’s okay to be gay, it’s okay to have mental health issues, it’s okay to have a disability, it’s okay to do what makes you happy.

Not all the above examples are on the same level of crazy of course, but they all stem from the same thing, a desire to take a shame and turn it into a pride.

In some cases that may be okay. But we’ve gone way, way too far past that line.

I do not blame young people all that much for being so stupid, not really.

When I read books written in the 60s-80s, I often find them depressing.

The infamous Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus was one of the most insulting things I ever read on the difference between men and women. A lot of authors who commented on it were condescending to both genders.

Like our differences can be summed up in quirks. Try it and it fails you, you’ll never find any one thing that makes men and women different other than our sexual organs, if you look only at what we do and what we enjoy and what we hate and how we think. The difference is harder to pin down then that, anyone who tires just makes fool of themselves.

When the explanation for differences was so stupid and limiting, it’s in line with human nature to throw it out and go to the opposite extreme, that there are no differences. That’s insane, but it’s less boring. Youth do like exciting things.

Plus, the new and different aspect is attractive to many people.

If you look at any popular attitude held now, you can trace it back to evolving from an attitude the previous couple of generations have. We have mutated it into something different.

We now speak less of the values they valued, and more of vague ideas about self-fulfillment. But it all make sense, that age of reason led to discrediting pleasure and fulfillment as in our own minds, leaving the young people weaponless to defend pleasure on the grounds o fr eason, the natural result we that young people ignored reason, ignored common sense, and ignored restraint.

Now we have this mess.

IF you listen to how we talked now, it’s becomes obvious. People acknowledge that there are reasons to ear healthy, exercise, and focus on happy things; but then make a joke out of doing none of those things. They laughed it off, but behind the humor, there’s a secret guilt, and a secret bewilderment.

Why, if it is so obvious, do we find nothing compelling about reason? And why, if it is so unimportant, do we make a joke out of not following it that hides a note of serious concern.

We are unsettled. We are drifters. The previous generations removed the foundation of our lives, tried to put a weak one in it;s place, but like sand, it crumbled when the floods of real problems struck again. It was never going to hold up.

But, lacking both  a solid foundation, and now even a sandy one, we have none. Hence our myriad of problems that center around confusion, uncertainty, and depression. Our general feeling of purposelessness.

We now do not have the logical skills to explain why we feel this way, only words of mental illness, social anxiety, and being addicted to screens.

We laugh at it because we have no idea what to do about it.

This, I present to you, is the aftermath of the abolition of Man, our humanity is not gone completely, thanks to God and the preservation of some values even so, but it is hanging by a thread because our defenses are so weak.

We are glorifying our weaknesses because we have been robbed of our strength and glory.

That is what happened. And it turns out, abolishing man’s strength and glory is very close to abolishing man himself, it is good for us that God redeems our weaknesses, or we would have no hope.

But we do have hope. That’s what this blog is about after all. That even dry bones can live again.

It is now almost the third or fourth anniversary of when I started it with just that premise. And I still think that  a return to truth is the only way to preserve hope.

So, with that in mind, until next time–Natasha.


I have now published the first two parts of a series I wrote on Kindle!

It is about superheroes, mystical creatures, and mysteries.

There may be over 20 parts in all, at 0.99 an installment (lowest price possible), if you would like to check it out, here’s a link to find it, the series is called “When It Started.”

What’s Your Name?

“Who can give a man this, his own name?” –George MacDonald. (Unspoken Sermons.)

Hi, I’m back today with a much more mystical subject than I’ve been covering, (and by the way, mystical is not the same as mythical, mystical can be real, but very hard to understand unless you are a Mystic.)

What brought this on was recently watching the Anime Best Picture winner “Your Name.” I was both skeptical and hopeful when I heard about it, and so my siblings and I decided to try it out. We’ve only discovered we like anime over the last year or so, and we’ve been slowly trying different kinds. (I seem to like Slice of Life best aside from the shows I’ve gotten into.) I loved Koe no Katachi, a different anime movie, so I thought, what the heck?

And I thought Your Name was one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen, from a visual and story perspective, though not without its flaws.

However this is not a movie review, watch it if you’re into that sort of thing, otherwise don’t bother, if anime turns you off. But the concept of the movie was something I did want to talk about, because part of what  I liked about it was how similar it was to other things I’ve read, and it’s mostly read, since I’ve seen few movies tackle the subject.

The movie centers around a couple different ideas which I’ll list here for clarity before breaking them down.

  1. The idea that Love transcends Time and Space
  2. The idea that there’s power in knowing someone’s Name.
  3. The idea that people are destined to meet, despite whatever impossible obstacles seem to stand in their way.
  4. The idea that time is interwoven, not just a long line of events.

The first two are the most important, and the ones I feel the most informed of, if you could call it that.

I happen to be a fan of Madeleine L’Engle’s first three books in the Wrinkle in Time series, my favorite out of the three is “A swiftly Tilting Planet,” it’s amazingly complex for such a short book, and it focuses on Joy, and Love, like all three of the books do, as well as Time Travel.

What’s interesting about it is that just like in “Your Name” the boy in this book time travels by going within someone else. Only it is several different people and all male. Also he other person’s conscious remains. he just blends into it, giving them help when he can but only subtly. they can’t know it’s him or it would scare them too badly. It is not possessive, but sharing, like a passing traveler.

The boy, Charles Wallace, goes within for the same reason Taki in the movie does, it is to redeem people and save others. There is a disaster int he book that is going to wipe out the world because of an evil man, and he has to redeem the parents of this man and save some of them also. Taki has only to save an entire town, but it proves just as difficult.

Interestingly, both stories share the theme of someone forgetting quickly as soon as they come out of it, what happened. Only, instead of Charles Wallace forgetting, it’s Meg who is only helping him by a sort of telepathic connection they have (more spiritual than mental) and because she is not there, it fades from her mind. Like a dream. Other characters in the book have dreams that are actually from Charles Wallace’s life, while he is within them.

I find the similarities astounding.

Here we have the idea that lives can be shared across time and space, and it is because of love, joy, and the need for salvation (in every sense of the word) that it happens. We have the idea that our spirits are not bound by time, space, or our minds. Because Meg’s mind may not be able to retain it (her brother has a rare mind that is able to, not many people do) but her heart and spirit can. In the movie, the two people’s minds are only able to remember for a short time what happens, but their hearts and souls remember always.

It’s actually a common idea in Japan that people can be connected and share sorrows and joys, especially with lovers. And the idea is actually not unbiblical. I’ve heard stories of people sharing feelings or some other kind of connection in the spirit, or even physical pain.

But and even more important thing (at least for the average person who probably won’t expereince that kind of trascendential existance in this life) is the second thme. The power of names.

I again turned to L’Engle, this time her second book int he series, A Wind in The Door. In this book Meg learns more about her task in the universe (in Church we would call it spiritual gifting or calling, the secular world also calls it a calling, rather mockingly, but also with some seriousness.) It is to be a Namer, and she does not get it. She asks her teacher about it:

Meg: “Well, then, if I’m a Namer, what does that mean? What does a Namer do?”

Proginoskes: “When I was memorizing the names of the stars, part of the purpose was to help them each to be more particularly the particular star each one was supposed to be. That’s basically a Namer’s job. Maybe you’re supposed to make earthlings feel more human.”

He goes on to explain that their enenmies, the Echthroi, are trying to destroy the world by doing just the opposite:

“I think your mythology would call them fallen angels. War and hate are their business, and one of their chief weapons is un-Naming – making people not know who they are. If someone knows who he is, really knows, then he doesn’t need to hate. That’s why we still need Namers, because there are places throughout the universe like your planet Earth. When everyone is really and truly Named, then the Echthroi will be vanquished.”

In “Your Name” the problem is not that the characters forget who they are, but that they forget each other, every time the barrier of time is reinstated between them, they forget. And eventually forget even that there was a person they were trying to remember. Though they have a vague idea that they are always searching for someone or somewhere or something. Because they cannot remember the name they don’t know who each other are. It echoes L’Engle’s idea so closely, it’s bizarre.

Knowing your own name is important, so is knowing other people’s. But why?

George MacDonald had some very profound thoughts about this, in his Unspoken sermon about names he notes that the names we give each other are just shadows of what a real name is, since the real name, that God will give us at the end of time, is one only he and we will know, and only that one person will have.

“The true name is one which expresses the character, the nature, the being, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man’s own symbol,–his soul’s picture, in a word,–the sign which belongs to him and to no one else. Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. For no one but God sees what the man is, or even, seeing what he is, could express in a name-word the sum and harmony of what he sees.” 

(Link to the full sermon here:

Taki and Mitsuha are not names that sum up who they are exactly.

Mitsuha means “third leaf” and is similar to her grandmother’s, mother’s and sister’s names, which are first leaf, second leaf, and fourth leaf, in that order. It symbolizes he place in the story as a carrier on of tradition, but not her personality.

Taki means waterfall or water plunging. He does plunge into water in a sort of vision in the movie, and that is when he is able to save Mitsuha and her village by switching with her one last time. But it doesn’t sum him up.

In the end, that’s not really the point. The names in the movie do just what MacDonald points out our human names for each other are meant to do, identify us to ourselves. Help us distinguish each other, honor each other, and of course, remember who is who.

But as MacDonald and L’Engle both point out, there’s a higher reason for names. Names carry our identity.

My full name (which I don’t use on this blog and won’t actually give here for privacy reasons) mean “joy/rejoicing, Christ’s Birthday, and guardian/one who guards or protects.” If you knew me in real life, it makes sense. Even on this blog, it makes sense.

I’ve been told many times my name was no accident. Not everyone is blessed with a good name. In India many girls are cursed with a name that means “unwanted” there’s a group that takes in some of these girls and allows them to legally change their name into something better. If your name has absolute no positive connotations, I’d suggest you consider going by something else, but most names do have some good meaning.

Why is it important?

It might surprise you.

In the Bible a lot of stress is put on names, I’d say more than almost any other religion. Names are seen as so powerful that priests could not even write the full name of God because it was so holy, they abbreviated it to “Yah.” The bible doesn’t actually say not to write God’s name, that I know of, it’s more of a Hebrew culture thing added later, but that is how seriously they take it.

The second commandment is not to misuse the name of God. Sadly, even Christian often don’t take this one seriously.

But even so, other names have power. Abigail’s husband Naboth, who disrespected King David, name means fool. Sometimes bible names come to mean that thing because of the bearer (I think Ruth is like this, it mean friend), but Abigail tells David he is just as his name suggests, meaning it already meant that and his parents clearly sucked.

Judah means “praise,” and David was of the tribe of Judah, as was his son Solomon, both of whom wrote psalms and considered worship to be very important.

Jesus means “deliverer”, Emmanuel means “God with us.”

The list goes on and on and on, any important Bible figure almost always has a name that connects to their purpose. Noah means “rest or peace”, Jacob means “usurper”, Moses means “drawn out”, and if you know their stories, it all makes sense.

But even more importantly God himself tells us names are important.

Phil 2:9 “Therefore God has also highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.”

In Exodus 3:15, He tells Moses his name is I Am Who I Am (Yahweh) “This is My name forever.”

Google verses about names if you want an even more in depth list, but even this tells us names can be eternal, and higher, and powerful. Names mean authority.

Heck, everyone knows this, think of even a couple hundred years ago when black people had “slave names”, names usually not in proper English, that they would change when they were freed or they would finally get a last name like a legal citizen would have. Changing the name was a sign of being able to be though of as an intelligent human being. Even before they really were, by most people.

Even in fiction, every writer knows, names are important. My character’s names always come to me, and then unless I use them, no other name will stick in my head. After awhile I started looking up the names when this happened and was shocked to discover that (at least when they were real and not made up ones) each name had a meaning that matched the purpose I had for the character, and something about their personality too.

Even when we don’t know a meaning, a name has immense power. There’s a whole cultist idea about this, but let me say, names don’t dictate everything. They help, sure, but you still choose what you do with your name. So don’t worry about it if your name has a personality associated with it that you don’t like. (I prefer not to look into that stuff at all, I stumbled on some by accident. It was scarily accurate in some ways, but wrong in others. No one can fully predict who you will be except God.)

Well, this ran long because of all the quotes, but it was interesting. I hope it inspired you to go look up what your name means, it might surprise you. And until next time–Natasha (Christ’s Birthday.)

Sound off.

I’m not sure if this will be a philosophical post, by my usual standards, but I’ve had this thought going through my mind lately:

You remember my post about my struggles with asl class?

Since ASL 1 I’ve had the same problem in every class, I find myself getting sleepy and my attention wandering.

This happens in spoken classes too, but I found it to be much more immediate in ASL.

I finally decided it has to be the silence. I’m one of those people who needs almost no noise to sleep, so when I’m in a  very quiet space, it’s easy to go into sleep mode.

But this time around in ASL 4, I have a new edge to this feeling. Perhaps it’s been getting more pronounced with time, or maybe it’s the attitude of the class (as I mentioned before in Greatness: a blog essay inspired by deaf events. It’ll be listed as my previous post at the bottom.) The sensation of missing something is growing on me.

It’s kind of like a hunger. I didn’t really become aware of it till I noticed that when I leave class and my classmates and I immediately resort to English once outside the door, there’s a part of me that breathes a sigh of relief. I’m missing: Sound.

Who knew you could miss voices? But it’s not just voices, it’s any sound at at all, beyond meaningless scraping of chairs and clicking of pens.

Think about it, for many people even written words carry an idea of sound, you can hear the person’s tone in them, even if you’ve never heard anyone actually talk this way, you get a feel for their unique voice. Other people think more in images, I’m not one of them, but for a lot of us, sight and sound are almost inseparable.

I consider myself a visually oriented person overall. I like reading, watching stuff, and doing things that require visual detailing. But I missed how many of those things also involved listening. In fact, I play music while I write fairly often, I listen to things when I knit or do puzzles. I get bored very easily when there’s a lack of sound. I enjoy driving when I can hear my favorite music or talk to a passenger, I loathe it when it’s too quiet.

This can be a flaw to some extent. We need peace and quiet every now and then. But it’s also important to recall that peace and quiet are never total silence. The more you search for total silence, the more the simple sounds of nature and city life will strain your nerves.

People complain the city is too noisy, but nature is noisy in its own gentler or wilder way. I visited a state park recently, it was very quiet of city sounds, but the wind was blowing so strongly you had to speak loudly to be heard.

The sound of silence dis actually very bizarre if you ever hear it uninterrupted. And awkward. Sound is a part of this world.

To me it’s strange that there’s a group of people who’ve never experienced it at all.

I suppose you cannot miss what you’ve never had.

Still, as I’ve said, my reliance on sound is treated like some sort of reverse handicap in Sign Language. It has many advantages to it, yet it’s as if it’s only condescended to being used.

I’m not sure why so much stress is put on separating sign and sound as much as possible, except in music videos, when it’s hardly going to reflect real life.

Actually, the presence of sound in a classroom is far more realistic to how anyone in real life is going to  use signing. It’s not like hearing person can just turn off their ears, they’ll have to learn not to be distracted by sound.

Actually, I find sign great for focusing when it’s too noisy to hear myself very clearly. But when it’s already quiet, voice seems better.

Anyway, I’m not really arguing for which is better at the moment, just for not separating the two of them so much.

I wonder if Deaf people feel the same about a lack of hand movement in conversation.

I’m trying to reconcile my enjoyment of signing with my craving for sound. I don’t know if it would be so much of a problem if I didn’t find it made class so much harder to focus in. I think if we were allowed to even have music (wordless or turned down low) it would wake us up a lot.

Interestingly, I’m not the first person to note this hunger for sound. I recalled while I was writing the opening paragraphs that there’s actually a chapter devoted to this in The Phantom Tollbooth. A book I’ve read several times but never thought of in relation to this. Which is weird, because there is literally a Sound Keeper who stops all the sounds in a valley because she gets greedy for them and doesn’t trust the people to use them well. She spends her time listening to different kinds of silence, but is still able to speak within her castle and hear other noises. Milo, the protagonist, finds this selfish. She hasn’t stopped using sound, but she won’t let anyone else use it. He ends up releasing all the sounds again.

The Sound Keeper hated Dinn, the representation of chaotic noise in this book. All the sounds we hate most, like fingernails scraping a chalk board. Yet at the price of beautiful sounds like music, laughter, animals, familiar homelike things, was a little peace a quiet really worth it?

In fact, the sound of laughter later saves Milo and his two friends’ lives when they travel through the dangerous  mountains towards the end of the story.

I’m not sure quite what profound conclusion to draw from all this, other than science has recently discovered a kind of sound to be the thing that binds atoms together at the smallest level.

Hebrews 11:3 says God created the things which are seen (visual) from things that are unseen (His voice.)

Sound came before sight, oddly enough. Maybe that’s the reason it’s tied to us to tightly.

Well, that’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.

Why do we need each other?

I stated in my last post that I don’t think people are better off alone, but I got to wondering, what is it about each other that we need?

You ever wonder that? People say “I need you” but how often do they elaborate on why?

Depends on the person. I think for most it goes along the lines of “I need love. You can love. So I need you.”

In all honesty, though, we suck at love. This is probably why relationships are so complicated. Make it out to be just that peopel are different and complicated, but with a little real love, none of that would matter. We’re just bad at love.

Yet the little bit of it we manage to provide each other is just so good, we don’t want to live without it.

Hence, we need each other.

There’s no shame in that, we are designed to need love. C. S. Lewis broke down human love in his genuis little book “The Four Loves” and pointed out that all human love is need love, because even the love we give, we need other people to want. We need to be needed.

He also goes on to wonder why God would create us, and create, in a way, a need in Himself to love us. But the nature of love is to want to multiply.

What exactly does love give us that we need?

Well, it gives us security. Relying on other people for that is risky business though. What if they stop liking us. Do you like your family 100% of the time? Do people always like you? Do you always act likable?

NO. To all three questions.

Love gives us room to grow. A second chance when we slip up.

Love gives us happiness that is all its own, not one that wec an describe. Some poeple minimize love to security and sex, but it’s more than that, we’re just not sure what to call it. It’s led many to concld elvoe is its own brand of happiness.

When we don’t feel love, or loved, we feel miserable.

I sumbnit to you though that it is worse to feel unloving then unloved. It’s somehow unnerving to feel nothing. To feel selfish all the time.

And so I conclude that we need each other, not becuase we need love, so much as we need to love.

God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. We read that and assume man was lonelhy because he needed love. BIt man had God, God who provided all the love in the world, lavished it on us, what more coudl yhou need?

But God doesn’t need us. as much as He enjoys our worship, we never feel it’s something HE must have.

And Man, mad ein God’s image, had the capacity to love someone who needed them. NOt just ot worship-love. Because God adores, but He also blesses, and man needed to bless.

Of course he had the world, but animals and plants don’t quite feel the same do they? They don’t have a higher understanding of love, so it’s not as satisfying, though still valuable to love them.

The desire to love something at our level is one God must have, being three equal persons in one, and so we have it too. Even beasts have that.

So God made woman for man. But man is designed for woman also. Because we need to love, not just be loved. And we minister something to each other that no other creature does.

It seems weird to pose the question of why we need each other, and answer it with we need to be able to love. But how often does the world get things backwards? It kind of makes sense doesn’t it?

Maybe you’ve heard the song “Hey Brother” I think in it’s own way it sums this up. The song is about being there for your family. But I like the tone it has of just enjoying helping them out.