An Honest Opinion

It was lunch time on a Tuesday afternoon and I was starving. As I perused the menu options I considered which would serve the purposes of both filling my painfully empty stomach and be the most pleasing for my taste buds while doing so. When I saw tacos in the hot line my heart skipped a beat. I could barely control my excitement as I gingerly carry my two overstuffed pockets of cheesy, meaty goodness to my usual table. After witnessing my first rather ravenous bite, one of my teachers inquired as to the quality of my meal. I replied through a second bite that the tacos were delicious. Despite a slightly skeptical look, my teacher quitted the table presumably to retrieve his own plate of tacos. It was not long after his return, however, that he indignantly informed me that I lied to him and the tacos were no good at all.

This anecdote serves as a platform on which to introduce a few questions on the matters of opinion, honesty, and truth: How should an opinion be formed and what use does it serve? How valuable is an “honest” opinion? Do opposing opinions invalidate each other or should we accept the opinions of others? Is even the truth simply an opinion? The irony of these questions is that one can try to answer them but even those answers are little more than an individual’s perspective. So keep in mind that what follows is only one humble but honest opinion.

According to the Oxford dictionary, an opinion is defined as, “A view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.” This makes sense since anybody can have an opinion on any topic with little to no knowledge to back it up. Doctrine is similar to an opinion except that it is an interpretation based on our understanding of the word which has an internal meaning that is the Truth. A refined doctrine is based off a great deal of fact and knowledge of the Word. According to the teachings of the New Church doctrine must be formed by interpreting the Word and learning doctrine taught by others (Sacred Scripture 53). First you start with a foundational doctrine, which you need in order to understand the word because without doctrine the internal meaning of the word is impossible to comprehend (Sacred Scripture 51). Then you must go to the word on your own to discover more truths. You can then mold your personal doctrine based on your foundational doctrine and your new found truths from the Word. This process can be seen in the formation of opinion as well. Continue reading An Honest Opinion

Kindness

Acceptance has evolved slowly over time, and greatly over the past five years. Racial equality, Gender equality, LGBTQ equality etc. I tear up every time I see a story about someone who is able to be him or herself freely and comfortably and be accepted by their peers, their workplace and society as a whole.

Yet still, there seems to be an influx of hate groups lately. As progress in equality is made, unthinkable acts of violence are committed. I feel my blood boil when I hear stories of hate and anger over the color of a person’s skin or over an external difference beyond our control.

I taught high school choir in Georgia for six years, and now teach high school choir in Michigan. The school where I taught in Georgia is diverse. 20% White, 20% African American, 20% Asian, 20% Hispanic, 20% everything else. Culture did not decide who would be friends with whom. An Indian student had an Indian dance recital, and her whole choir class went to see her show. I asked one day where the best Vietnamese food in town was, and an African American girl said “Linda Tran’s family has the best restaurant- duh!” A boy who came-out his freshmen year was class president and voted prom king his senior year. A Hispanic soccer star patiently explained the rules of the game to an Asian boy one day in class. A boy with autism brought his favorite snack to share with the class one day- bananas. Even though other students brought cookies or chips to share, no one giggled at the banana option and instead they thanked him and supported his choice of delicious fruit. Continue reading Kindness

The Lord’s Prayer (All Around Me)

Every week, during our Sunday worship service, we say the Lord’s Prayer together.

Our Father Who art in the heavens,

Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
As in heaven, so upon the earth.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
for ever.
Amen.
(Matthew 6:9-13)

While I do usually focus on the content of the prayer and the words I’m speaking, sometimes I listen in awe to the voices around me.

I hear the strong voice of my pastor before me, leading us in prayer while at the same time making his own supplications of God.

I hear the voices of the school-aged boys in front of me, some dutifully reciting the words they’ve learned through years of nightly practice, others struggling with this new communication with the Lord. Continue reading The Lord’s Prayer (All Around Me)

Should We Love Our Politicians?

I was thinking about Matthew, the tax collector, the other day, and how the Lord selected an unpopular worker to be His disciple. And how well Matthew justified His choice. As usual, the Lord showed His freedom from prejudice in giving his servant the chance that he never dreamed of, one that changed his life, and our lives as we read his gospel. The Sermon on the Mount, that most radical testament to Christian conviction, commands us to love our enemies, which must be one of the most difficult instructions ever issued. We are obliged to banish the ‘eye for an eye’ impulse and confront one of the greatest spiritual challenges of our lives. And although politicians are not necessarily our enemies per se, the instruction includes our attitude towards them.

I must admit that there are certain people who make my toes curl, whose presence on the TV ruins my day. ‘You lying cheat’, I think judgementally, and if I were Shakespeare I would shout ‘avaunt’. But we belong to a rational and charitable faith and clearly cannot continue as we are. Many politicians are the modern equivalents of the unregenerate Matthew, out for their own advancement, but we know from the Writings that the Lord can use these flawed folk for the good of mankind. We can judge their actions on the surface but are not able to separate the wheat from the chaff, which constitute the internal man or woman. So we are obliged to operate on the benefit of the doubt. Continue reading Should We Love Our Politicians?