In the film “Dead Poet’s Society” Robin Williams plays John Keating, an English professor at a boys’ prep school. He starts the year by leading his class to the hall where the school’s early class members are enshrined. Keating tells them to look closely at the pictures, “They are not that different from you, are they? Same hair cuts, same hormones. Invincible, just like you feel…They believe they are destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope. Did they wait too long to make their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see, gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you…Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” It is a powerful scene. The psalmist gives us a similar message, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Life is but a vapour. None of us knows which day will be our last. At the same time, none of us wants to waste our life. We want to know that what we did was “meaningful.” But what is the meaning of life? Which actions matter and which ones don’t?
The secret to life?
The meaning of life is a questioned often pondered by filmmakers. In City Slickers, Billy Crystal plays Mitch, a middle age man facing midlife angst. His buddies take him on a desert cattle drive, led by a leathery, tough-as-burnt-biscuits old cowboy named Curly who commands instant fear and respect. Crystal’s character cautiously develops a bond with Curly.
On a side trip to save a pregnant cow, Curly asks, “Do you know what the secret to life is?” He holds up one finger and says “This. One thing. Just one thing. You stick to this and the rest don’t mean (nothing.)”
Mitch replies, “But what is the one thing?”
Curly cryptically smiles, “That’s what you have to find out.” Unfortunately, Curly keels over, before disclosing any more information. Mitch later has an epiphany while rescuing a calf in a flash flood. He realizes that the “one thing” that gives life meaning is not some universal truth; it is what you decide it is. Mitch decides his ultimate meaning in life is his family.
Whose story is this? Continue reading…
By Jesse Jost
God gave us the role of ambassadors of his heavenly kingdom to our earthly nations. We are to communicate His message of love and reconciliation in a way others will understand. When an ambassador travels to a foreign country, he must learn the native tongue. He can’t just speak his own language and feel like he has done his duty. He must also seek to understand the baggage that words or concepts may have accrued.
The spirit of Christ-like love compels us to put the needs of those around us ahead of our own. I think the way this applies to communication is that when we speak, we don’t just focus on being articulate and polishing our words; our goal is to make sure the person we are speaking to accurately receives the message we are sending. We need to ask the other person to repeat what we said in their own choice of words to see if what they received matches up with what we meant.
Your backstory is showing
To achieve clear communication, we need to be sensitive to be people’s backstory – how their past shaped the way they feel about certain words. People often hear a term, and shut their brain off after assuming what you mean by it. We can’t merely attack or defend a term; we need to be aware of how our audience is using the term, because that is what they will hear you attacking or defending. For instance, I talk to people about avoiding sexualized dating, and occasionally call my alternative “courtship.” A person in my audience may have experienced “courtship” as fathers controlling adult children, and that you are worthless if you have dated or have had premarital sex. This is not at all what I meant when I said “courtship,” but that person’s past associations caused them to assume I was teaching those other things as well. We could get into a sharp debate about “courtship,” but until we take the time to listen to how we are each using the term, we will never reach an understanding.
In the homeschool community right now, many cases of abuse are coming to light. Abuse of authority, abuse of scripture, abuse of family roles, and even sexual abuse. These are terrible and it is our mission in advancing Christ’s kingdom to deal with these abuses and defend the oppressed. Continue reading…