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Showing posts from February, 2014

The New Mother Teresa is...a Man?

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His story reminded me of Mother Teresa. I thought he was an internet hoax. No one could possibly be that good. No one could be that kind. No one could be so self-sacrificing. But he's real. And he's inspiring. His name is Elder Dobri (or Dobri Dobrev). He's a 99-year-old Bulgarian man who lost most of his hearing in World War II and currently spends his days begging for money. But here's the most remarkable thing: the money isn't for himself. He gives all of it to orphanages and churches. I first learned about him through The Meta Picture (the images from his life are inspiring) and then confirmed the story on Snopes.com . He's real— unbelievably real. I often marvel at individuals who are able to cast off the world and devote their lives to the service of others. Here is one of my favorite quotes from Elder Dobri: "We have two wills, one from God, the other from the devil. And we are in war in our minds."  Elder Dobri is definitely

Leonardo da Vinci's Love for Life

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I've been reading a most fascinating book. It's called Learning from Leonardo by Fritjof Capra. In this book, Capra draws upon his intimate knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci's personal notebooks to demonstrate the sheer genius of da Vinci's scientific achievements. Truly, in nearly every conceivable field of study, Leonardo da Vinci was a jaw-dropping genius. As I was reading, my attention was immediately drawn to a quote by da Vinci: "Qui non estima la vita non la merita." "One who does not respect life does not deserve it." Ouch. I've thought a lot about that little quote. I thought about how eight years ago, I was so miserable and depressed. In the days leading up to my suicide attempt, I felt like my life had been completely drained of color. I felt like life was pointless, painful, and demeaning. I didn't respect the life I had been given and I failed to see the abundance of life that surrounded me. In contrast, Leonardo cle

Does The Scarlet Letter REALLY Represent Adultery?

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My favorite book is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and it's also my favorite love story. Oh yes, it's a love story. The Scarlet Letter is set in 17th Century New England and tells the story of Hester Prynne, a woman that is punished for adultery and forced to wear a scarlet letter 'A'. Hester's adulterous affair had produced a child, and unbeknownst to the townsfolk, the father of that child was Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Hawthorne is a master of symbolism and his book is filled to bursting with wisdom and insight about sin, guilt, and human nature. I read it at least once a year and each time I'm struck by new insights. Last October, I had a thought occur to me which I had never before considered: does the scarlet letter represent adultery? We know that it represents adultery for Hester's Puritan society, but is that what it means to her? Think about it: Hester wears the scarlet letter for the rest of her life—until the day she di

The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish

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In 1833, Russian author, Alexander Pushkin , wrote a fairy tale about an old fisherman who captures a golden fish. In exchange for freedom, the golden fish promises the old man that he will grant any of his wishes. The fisherman tells the fish that he does not want anything and immediately sets it free. When he gets home, he tells his wife what had happened and she gets very angry with him. She reminds her husband about their broken trough and tells him to go back and ask the fish for a new one. When the husband asks for a new trough the golden fish happily grants his request. Realizing that the golden fish is magic, the wife begins to ask for things without restraint: a new house, a palace, to become a noble lady, to become the ruler of her region, to become the tsarina, and to become the Ruler of the Sea so she could control the golden fish completely. As her husband asks for each of these items, the sea becomes more and more tempestuous. When the old man asks that his wi

C. S. Lewis, "The Silver Chair," and Addiction

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Not long ago, I read C. S. Lewis' book The Silver Chair and stumbled across some pretty powerful symbolism: the Green Witch and the Silver Chair are symbols for addiction. In this chronicle of Narnia, two children—Eustace and Jill—are sent by Aslan to help rescue Rilian, a prince who has been put under the spell of the Green Witch.  Prince Rilian first encounters the Witch (although he doesn't know it) when she appears in the form of a snake. The snake is described "great, shining, and as green as poison." The snake kills Rilian's mother. "The Prince took his mother's death very hardly, as well he might," and Rilian frequently rode out into Narnia, seeking to kill the beast and avenge his mother's death. As time goes on, people begin to notice a change in Prince Rilian: "There was a look in his eyes as of a man who has seen visions." It is later revealed that Prince Rilian had given up his hunt for the snake and was being e

The Great Stone Face | Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of my favorite authors and his book, The Scarlet Letter , is unquestionably my all-time favorite novel. Hawthorne also had a great talent for writing powerful, symbolic short stories (read Young Goodman Brown —your life will never be the same). I recently read another of Hawthorne's stories entitled  The Great Stone Face . I could write half a dozen blog posts on this single story for it is filled with majestic , yet simplistic symbolism. The story tells about a young man named Ernest who grows up in a small, rural town (most likely in the state of New Hampshire). High on the cliff of a mountain near the town, formed out of a cluster of rock, was what appeared to be the face of a man. For countless centuries, this Great Stone Face had overlooked the valley like a titanic guardian. It was a happy lot for children to grow up to manhood or womanhood with the Great Stone Face before their eyes, for all the features were noble, and the expression

The Step to A New Life

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My Anasazi Blanket As some of you may know, I used to work at the Anasazi Foundation , a wilderness therapy program for at-risk youth. After five years and many memorable experiences, Anasazi had become my home away from home. When you first begin at Anasazi (either as an employee or as a client) you participate in what is called a "blanket stepping." Two blankets, one old and one new, are placed upon the earth. A SageWalker sits upon the old blanket and invites the other to sit across from them. On the old blanket, many sacred things are discussed, among them are the principles of forward and backward walking and an invitation to move forward. At it's core, walking forward is to make good choices that encourage us to love others and to have a heart at peace. Walking backwards is to make wrong choices that fill us with enmity and encourage a heart at war. When we symbolically leave things behind on the old blanket, we then step onto the new blanket, symboli

Mother Teresa and Spiritual Hunger

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"Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness." - Mother Teresa In doing some research about Mother Teresa, I was led to a beautiful speech written by Jeffrey R. Holland. Here is a selection of that talk: Some time ago I read an essay referring to “metaphysical hunger” in the world. The author was suggesting that the souls of men and women were dying, so to speak, from lack of spiritual nourishment in our time. That phrase, “metaphysical hunger,” came back to me last month when I read the many richly deserved tributes paid to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. One correspondent recalled her saying that as severe and wrenching as physical hunger was in our day—something she spent virtually her entire life trying to alleviate—nevertheless, she believed that the absence of spiritual strength, the paucity of spiritual nutrition, was an even more terrible hunger in the moder

Doubt and Pride

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I love the play Cyrano de Bergerac . It's a wonderful love story told in beautiful, passionate prose (and it's also the inspiration for the movie Megamind— another favorite of mine—but this isn't the place for that). Not long ago, I was reading Cyrano  and I came across a rather intriguing line: This new-born babe, an infant Hercules! Strong enough at birth to strangle those Two serpents – Doubt and Pride. I thought about that for a while. Two serpents: Doubt and Pride. I love symbolism in Greek Mythology, yet I had never heard these serpents being referred to as Doubt and Pride. But come to think of it, the serpents of doubt and pride have a close connection with another serpent— the serpent. For it was Satan who appeared to Adam and Eve in the form of a snake, tempting them to eat the fruit of the tree—contrary to the commandment of God. In tempting them to eat the fruit, he was tempting them to doubt God. Doubting God is only possible when we think that God