Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The National Anthem: Beat my chest bang my drum and shout from the rooftop

This one has been the one that has given me the most thought of the final three. I knew what “today in parliament would be” and I had a basic construct of “the epilogue” but the national anthem, that one has troubled. I figured it out after waking up from the nap that I just woke up from, in short I figured it out five minutes ago. If you want to split hairs you can say this is improvising on my part but it really isn’t.
For those of you intent on splitting hairs
So yesterday I had a conversation with a guy who ridiculed my blogging, not the first and won’t be the last. People have a funny impression of bloggers and a lot of the misconceptions come from those who pay too much attention to shows like gossip girl. This is a theory, because I have not watched gossip girl, granted in a moment of weakness I actually thought about it, what can I say I was bored. Anyway the main point of the conversation was why do you blog. I’m not someone who people want to sit down and read his every thought like my father. And I’m not a thirteen year old girl talking about celebrity gossip. So why do you blog?

I’m quite the charismatic thinker, so the moment I thought of this I immediately pictured myself standing on a rooftop in some African warrior attire, with the Rambo polish under my eyes, can’t leave that out, beating my chest and banging my drum simultaneously telling the world why I write. It’s not a poem, it’s not a song. Its words, it’s my National anthem
I would be the guy in front, just of a negroid persuasion
I write because I can, I write because I should. It helps keep me in check because I frequently put my thoughts down somewhere, not just on the blog. I keep track of who I was and what I want to be through what I write and what I wrote. I write to tell everyone what is important to me, I write to tell them in my own weird way how much of a mess it is in my head and yet I am willing to use my hopelessness for Gods cause and he is more than willing to take my poor something and turn into something more.

I write not for the fame or the prestige, in all likelihood I will not get it. I write not to have my name exalted or thought of more. I write not to look like a deep thinker because I’m not, I’m actually quite stupid. I make the same mistakes over and over and over again and yet because God keeps picking me up I can’t help but tell someone something. I write not to speak of me, I write to speak of him through me. If all you see in what I write is me then I have messed up, really messed up. I write because unlike words that fade away these remain in the collective, stagnant, waiting to be used for me or against me. These words that remain up there long after my voice has faded in sleep, silence or death will be there to remind me of who I am and who I was.

I write because to some extent I am driven by my passion. I try not to let it control me but every once in a while it does. My passion for my God and my passion for my country. My passion that leads me to write about what’s wrong and what’s right. Leads me to write about how people conclude too fast or sometimes think too little. All this is my opinion but I write because I have a message for the collective that I want them to know and me sitting in my quiet corner of the world does nothing for that. I could watch the world rot and scoff or I can do what I can, I can write.

I write because this is my journey, my journal of my Journey in Cyprus. I write because I figure this is not the end but merely a chapter of my life. I write because I want to savour these moments that I have had over here, the words will help me remember the time. The words will refresh the memory, the words will pain the heart and drive it on to do more. If I ever become complacent I will look back on the thoughts of a younger me and be ashamed. If I go from strength to strength I will look back on the thoughts of a younger me and nod with approval.
As I look back later on in life, I wonder what I will see

I write to help others but I especially write to help me. Because I know I am weak and I constantly need reminding. Every time I put my hands to the keyboard I come to a burning realisation of my flaws and my falls. There are times when I want to write and I know that my life has not been what I want to write and this is a burden that has brought me back to my lord in prayer many a time. I write to let those I speak to rarely know what’s happening with me. I write for many reasons but as I stand here on a roof top, granted a proverbial one, rhythmically beating my chest and my drum, granted a metaphorical drum, the main reason why I write is because I have a deep desire in me to speak of my God and whether you listen and read or not, I’m not sure, but because he has done so much for me… How can I not write?

The Epilogue: Things that hit me in season 3

I wanted to call this lessons learnt but couldn’t bring meself to put that into the tittle so there you go. As for season 3, this is me third spell in North Cyprus, I have been home for the summer break twice making this season 3. So after nine months in North Cyprus a couple of things have come across to me clearer. Some I knew and needed emphasis and others are just plain old new. They are in no particular order but the important ones are mentioned and emphasized.

But before I get into them a bit of back ground. When I first came to North Cyprus I was coming on my own, which is a typical story among those who go to study abroad, I’m not looking for sympathy or applause, I’m just painting a picture here. I knew no one and it was pretty much this one guy in foreign land. I travelled with three other Zambians but had little or no interest in talking to them much let alone befriending them, now they are friends though some more than others. My plan when coming here was keep your head down, get your degree and get out. In short I was an assassin on a covert military operation. I even did the John Rambo polish under the eyes bit.
That was me ready for battle, but i cant do the lip thing, I'm a smiler

Fast forward to this spell here, season three, and a lot has changed, a lot has also remained the same. This here is a little bit of that.

Hit 1: Never mix Coca Cola and Charger. So charger is this energy drink that is sold on campus. It is by and larger probably the most consumed bevy on campus. It is cheap, ridiculously cheap, it does the job and doesn't taste too bad either. Naturally I like it. Plus a six pack of it costs slightly more than a single can of Coke, in short, SOLD!! And they have cases and cases of the stuff, it never seems to run out. I am a huge fan of the Coca Cola Franchise and A big, not huge, fan of the Charger one and so it really pained me to discover that you should NEVER drink Coca Cola followed soon after by Charger, not even Charger followed by Coca Cola. What can I say, I was looking for a solution. Nuff said.
I did this in season two as an assignment. Just to show my fascination with coke.
Not and addiction, A fascination
Hit 2: This I learnt in my infancy but has been proven true this semester in particular. It’s from a song they taught us at bible club called “Read your bible pray every day” which coincidentally is about… you guessed it, reading your bible and praying every day. The hit comes from the second verse which says “Neglect your bible, forget to pray and you’ll shrink, shrink, shrink. And you’ll shrink, shrink, shrink. And you’ll shrink, shrink, shrink. Neglect your bible forget to pray and you’ll shrink, shrink, shrink.” Massive depth eh... but what can I say, it’s taught to 5, 6 and 7 year old's so it has to be basic. But the lesson rings true and I have felt it deeply

Hit 3: You fall down, you get up. This is more spiritual than physical or academic so those looking for a motivational section, you’re not in luck. When in a spiritual stupor, when at the bottom of the ditch. When you feel so dirty and filthy you have no place else to reach but up. So reach up and ask God for forgiveness and to “restore your soul” and “lead you beside the still waters”. God is all knowing and saved me in full knowledge of the absolute depravity of my heart and how often I would stray. He did not weigh the opportunity cost, he did not think once or twice about me being a good investment. He picked me knowing all my flaws and saved me. So in my stupor, I learned to reach up. This however is a lesson I will learn more and more till my dying day

Hit 4: The world is a bad, no, a terrible place but what are you going to do about it. One of the problems with studying abroad is a lot of the people who do come here are people with the mind-set of children. I’m not making fun, it’s the truth. Its people who think life is all fun and games and lack seriousness. I saw this more and more and it baffled me, I would sit and talk about how I have given up and I’m not interested in helping people who don’t want to be helped but God taught me different. I did not hear a sound from heaven or see a vision but in my time of quiet surrender it hit me that my attitude was not an attitude that is befitting of one who is Christ-like, after all that is all a Christian is. The difference between a Christian and a scoffer is not in terms of sight. In reality they both see the same evil and a lot exaggerate to the same degree. The difference is that the Christian is driven to do something about it, to show people the light of Christ. There is a thin line between Christian and scoffer in that sense and I was sitting with the scoffers for quite a while. I hope not to go back.
You can keep standing and point out problems or you can actually do something to show the the light
Hit 5: Talk to somebody. To date I’m not sure if I am noisy or quiet. I like to think of it as me having a switch that I can flick at will and turn into loud me or quiet me but truth be told, I’m not really sure. The problem with quiet me is that he keeps it all in and the problem with keeping it all in is that eventually it becomes too much and you either burst or break. It helps to have people around you that you can talk to about sensible things and speak to about your struggles. Being in Cyprus has made that very difficult but this time around I have generally managed. I will only mention one name because he is unlikely to read this, Miz, thanks a lot mate. The other/s you have been invaluable.

Hit 6: Never leave to tomorrow what you can do today. My first semester upon arrival in season three I relied on talent alone to get me through and to some extent it worked. I’m not claiming to be Leonardo Da Vinci or anything but I am fairly good at what I do. But it was the most unfulfilling semester I have ever had, school wise, on other fronts it was quite productive, see The Troublesome Roommate. So I promised myself that come the next semester I would push myself to do the necessary when necessary and this semester that has just ended has been my best. Little or no procrastination led me to finishing my final project almost three weeks before the final, which is quite rare. School wise it has been fulfilling and I hope to go from strength to strength in that regard.
I could learn a thing or two from the soldiers will to call home and the feeling afterwards

Hit 7: This is my last to mention. It’s not the most important neither is it the least but it is something that I have had to learn and is not easy for a person like me to remember and continue. I’m not the clingiest individual and this practice has cost me quite a few friendships along the way. I would always phrase it this way, “I communicate little so the little counts when it happens” but the truth is I need to hear from the mother ship, not just my mum but her too, more often than I do. It is a hard lesson for me to keep track of but I hope to one day be good at it. The lesson simply put is this CALL HOME. Unfortunately or is it fortunately I won’t have the chance to practice that soon as I am going home but we’ll see how that works out in Season four

Monday, 16 June 2014

Today In Parliament: My conversations with a homosexual

When I was younger, this is before I turned 10, I had this suspicion that the local TV channel would play all the cartoons that they cut off prematurely towards the end of broadcast. No idea where I got that from, probably one of those things my brother told me to test how gullible I was. So whenever my parents would slip up and forget to tell us to go to bed, which was very rare, they are as consistent as clocks my folks, its borderline ridiculous. Anyway whenever they would forget I would sit quietly looking at the TV hoping my theory was right, I was silent because any noise and they would remember I was there and send me to bed.  I distinctly remember how after the final show there would be three things that would follow, that was the only thing ZNBC, the local broadcaster, were consistent about. They were: Today in Parliament, The Epilogue and The National Anthem. After these the screen would go blank and there would be an annoying high pitched sound that would not go away, to my utter disappointment.

As I was thinking of how to wrap up my Journey in Cyprus for the summer break I remembered this slice of my childhood and decided to go with that. For the few who have read my Journey in Cyprus and have noticed my silence for the past month or so, I have been writing exams. I would rather write during my next spell here than have this as my last instalment and go home prematurely. That and I think my Dad would kill me if I failed, just kidding he would just give me a mental beating, he has that down to a science. So down to Today in Parliament: My conversations with a homosexual.

A couple months back I came across a man on the interweb who was a pastor but after announcing his homosexuality to the congregation was no longer a pastor. Now he runs a blog about a lot of things but the main point of it is reconciling his homosexuality with being a Christian. After reading through what he had to say, I was intrigued into seeing what he had to say about the bible’s pretty much obvious anti-gay message. Below lies our correspondence, it is ongoing but I will give you what is there so far. A few things before you read the content of it. Firstly I will not disclose his name or blog for personal reasons, a few of you will understand. Secondly, the way I tackled the situation is my way of doing things and you might disagree but what can you do, its my Journey in Cyprus. Lastly, and I will build on this more at the end, the Bible will only ever speak to us if we prayerfully read through it and look at it as what God wants to say and not what we want it to say. So here you go

Mwansa: I found your blog through a picture that I was searching for to illustrate my point on my blog. Funny name you got for yours though. My question is how do you reconcile your message with the bible's blatant anti-gay message? The closest I can get to an answer would be you believe the bible but not all of it but I would like to hear your answer

Other Guy: Hey Mwansa! Thanks for the message.
Reconciling my faith and my sexuality was a journey that took upwards of 15 years. I came from within deep fundamentalism, and God brought me to the message of grace over the course of years.
I would first respond that, yes, I do believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. I believe that the Holy Spirit compiled all 66 books together. However, I do not believe it is a Constitution. It has been translated numerous times, in numerous languages, and if you read it at face-value, you aren't going to get to the heart of the message therein. Everything must be contextualized in its proper language. So, while in seminary, I went back to the Hebrew and Greek. This took years of study, but I have compiled an abbreviated version if you're interested in reading:
*left out for my own reasons as stated above*
On this page, I take the seven verses used against homosexuality, and go back to the original language within context. Take a read of the articles if you're interested in learning more.
At the end of the day, it falls to this, though: Jesus always erred on the side of love when dealing with religious matters. No matter where you land on this issue, theologically, just remember that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, just for the purpose of reconciling the world to Himself - Himself being love embodied (1 John 4:8). So, always focus on this aspect of the message. Is my theology leading me to love? Or leading me to exclusion? These are the questions I think Jesus would have us ask. Always remember to test everything (1 Thess. 5:21). This includes new teaching, and old.
Much love, and I look forward to hearing from you again.

Mwansa: I have read a couple of your clobber verses posts and I must say, it’s an interesting view of things. I still don’t agree with you in the least. In my view homosexuality is a direct assault on the institute of marriage and that is the one I would like to hear you reconcile.
I’m given to understand that marriage is a sort of metaphor or earthly example of Gods relationship to the church, one man one woman. Now changing the principle of marriage from one man to one woman to man and man or woman and woman is changing the example that God left to us for us to see our relationship with God. The paradigm changes completely.
My take on homosexuality is that it’s not just a love/sex issue, it’s a lot more than that. It's a direct contradiction to the marriage issue and a contradiction to that is a contradiction to the entire idea of the church a couple steps lower than that leads us to a domino effect if you will that alters the message of the bible and I believe that to be impossible.
So my question is, how is the homosexual "movement" not an attack on Gods principle of marriage? How do you reconcile the two?
Lastly I wanted to mention that the bible does not frequently speak against homosexuality because it is frequently speaking for marriage. Speaking for one is in reality speaking against the other

Other Guy: Sorry for the late response. It's been a busy time. I will simply say that I don't believe it's an "attack" on God's principle of marriage, because our current understanding of marriage does not come from Scripture - it comes from Victorian England. Scriptural marriage is, in fact, polygamy, with many different facets. For example, if a man died, his wife was to be married to his brother, etc. These mandates were even in place during Jesus' time. Even in the era of the New Testament, marriage was about property investment, and had little to do with love. Look into the history of marriage, and you may be surprised by what you find. Almost every one of our marriage traditions come from this time when a woman was "bought" by her husband from her father. Marriage is a social contract that the church adopted.

Mwansa: Ahhhh.. Another point where I disagree. The law given by Moses might not have expressly or explicitly spoken against that but the new covenant is the one that explicitly speaks of how the relationship between man and wife is a replica/parable/metaphor of the relationship between God and the church. Hence polygamy and homosexuality are direct attacks on Gods image of marriage. If you make both parties male, the picture is skewed. Both parties female, once again the picture is skewed. If you add another in the picture, whether male or female the result is the same. A skewed picture.
Lastly, the ceremony may vary according to one’s location but the principle behind Christian marriage is the same, should be the same all over. Marriage should help us picture and understand the relation of God with his bride, the church.
Am I making any sense?

Other Guy: I understand the metaphor. I've taught the metaphor numerous times. But, Jesus used metaphors every time he spoke. Just because he used a metaphor didn't mean he was giving a direct command. Jesus also said that the Kingdom of Heaven is like: A farmer (Matt. 13:24); A mustard seed (Matt. 13:31); A king (Matt. 18:23); A net (Matt. 13:47); A merchant (Matt. 13:45); Yeast (Matt. 13:33); A barn (Matt. 3:12); A sower of good seed (Matt. 13:24); A treasury (Matt.6:19); Father's house -Jn14:2. None of these - or any of Jesus' metaphors - are meant to be taken as literal commands, but rather as ways of understanding God. When Paul speaks of this in Ephesians, I think he is doing the same thing. He is saying husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loves the Church. The same goes for 1 Corinthians. As far as the verses in Revelation that speak of "the Bride," surely you can't take those verses literally, either? Not even scholars take Revelation literally.
The reason I speak of metaphor and literality is because I want you to see that you are using *one* theology - a theology that is not even explicit in Scripture - and you are using it to further oppression of individuals that cannot help the way they feel, and their feelings are just as natural as your feelings toward the opposite sex.
There are a few things I want you to consider, however. Many scholars believe David and Jonathan's relationship was an intimate relationship. There are even verses that allude to a sexual relationship, such as when Saul tells David that "his mother's nakedness has shamed them," which is a phrase that means sexual shame, and he uses it towards David and Jonathan's relationship. Also, when Jesus heals the Roman Centurion's servant. The word the Roman uses (in the original Greek) is not a word that translates to a common slave - it's a word that translates to lover. We all know it was common practice for gay Roman men to have relationships - intimate, deep monogamous relationships - with those in servant hood. Jesus would have been very familiar with this common, social norm. Does Jesus condemn him? No. In fact, he turns to his disciples and says that there is no greater faith found in all of Israel than in this man.
These speak pretty loudly, my friend, as to how God feels about homosexuality (whenever it is in the context of intimate, monogamous relationships). But, just like you, I am speaking about Biblical metaphors and allusions. There is one thing that the Bible is metaphorical about, though: love.
1 John 3:23 (fun fact, this is actually the Bible verse that is tattooed on me!): "And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us."
Furthermore, the one thing Jesus prayed for before his death in the Garden in John 17 was unity of the Church. This didn't mean that we all agree on everything. But, it meant that in those disagreements, we learned how to love one another anyway, and didn't force our views on one another. To further that, Paul spoke at the end of Romans about those that thought different things about the faith. What did he say to do? Agree to disagree. I believe that's where we are today, and what we should focus on as we move forward. I do love you, brother, and I hope that you get to a place where, even if you can't agree with the theology of LGBT Christians, you will at least not allow your theology to further oppress others, my friend.

Mwansa: I hear but I figure you misunderstood my point, particularly my phrasing of it. A parable tells something about something not everything about something. For example when Jesus equates the kingdom of heaven to a net he was concentrating on one aspect of the net in fishing, that aspect being that the fisherman chooses which fish to keep and which fish not to keep, if memory serves me right. It does not speak of all aspects so it does not speak of how some fish can escape some nets because of the size of the holes in it etc. So when marriage is being spoken of in the New Testament, especially in the Pauline epistles it speaks of the monogamous relation between the two in some cases and the sacrificial love in others and a couple more other points, well more than a couple but I think you get my point.
I personally doubt that David and Jonathan’s friendship had sexual connotations but it was described as love passed that of a woman. This to me signifies the level of the bond or friendship between them, however I take caution in making it seem like an everyday thing because such a friendship is only mentioned once in scripture.
The roles of the man and the woman in a marriage are different. It’s nothing feminist/sexist, it's all biblical. And the major difference is seen in the relation between God and the church and how the relation between them should be emulated by husband and wife. If you make it man and man or woman and woman doesn’t that skew the picture? The roles in the relation that I am speaking of are those mentioned in Ephesians 5 vs 21-33. The whole wives submit and husbands love part

For those who have read this far I would just like to add on a paragraph of me own thoughts on this. The entire conversation as at now is before you but I can still only speak from my perspective. The bible should always be viewed as what God is saying to us and a lot of the time what he is saying is not things we want to want to accept. We all want to view God as a God who does not hate anything or gives light spanking when we are wrong but that is not what the bible says of him. Let us see God and all that is to do with the Christian life through the lens of the bible and not whatever other lens we choose because it is only then that we will ever really know the real Jesus. A band called Downhere have a song in which they ask “Oh can anybody show me the real Jesus?” the answer to that is yes, the bible can and your answers are all there