Theological ThinkTank

Reading Records: Call of the Wild by Jack London

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***SPOILER ALERT also TW: Harm of animals******

I know, I know… Two book reviews in less than a month. I was just as shocked. But truthfully I was so happy to see that I actually finished two books within a reasonable time. And despite the last book’s memoir theme, this book a little more imagiative. To the point a movie was made with Harrison Ford (always read the book–even on this one, I would say it’s better to read the book.) And admittedly I listened to this one on audible while taking my long dog walks within a few weeks.

However, this book has a long standing history with me. In sixth grade–we were given a list of books to choose from and I selected Call of the Wild by Jack London. To be honest-it was mostly because I loved White Fang the movie and thought since the author was the same that it would be the same “connection with the wild spirit” as his other book. So, I wrote a brief report, barely read any of the book and turned it in.Little did I know that my teacher knew I had not done my work, explained it to my mother and she not only grounded me with a massive room clean but also forced me within 1 weekend to actually re-read the book & write the correct report. It was a hard but nice lesson in responsibility and honesty.

So when the movie came out this year–I made a special effort to make sure to read the book again. And while I saw the movie, absolutely loving it, I still worked thru original story of the book.

Call of the Wild is a work of fiction by Jack London with a dog as the main character. His name is Buck and it starts with Buck’s kidnapping and travel to the new world of the Yukon. He is beaten, traded, locked into a sled dog team that delivers mail across the territory in the harshest conditions. It finally ends with the Buck being pushed to the breaking point and a gentle soul of a man comes along and nurses him back to health before Buck journeys into the wild wolf pack.

The book was beautifully written. It had this harsh but strong appeal to it, like one walking thru the hard snow in the Alaskan territory. I know its Jack London’s specialty (see White Fang and several other short stories), but it was as if you were Buck the dog. Feeling each of this trials, his struggles, his joyful moments where he becomes on with the wilderness and those depressing moments where he learns some humans beat dogs for sport.

I will say I am glad I just listened to this book. I think having something tangible in my hands would have made it more difficult to digest, especially the parts of animal torture. Especially because at the time I was walking my dog. But if you have seen the new movie–I believe for once this movie actually stays true to the book. And not in the sense not it describes EVERY detail. But it does include the book’s message. It embodies the word “inspired” or comparable. The creative liberties the writers and directors took were respectful, classic and well done. It also allowed for children to understand the books teachings (like beating a dog is bad) without going into the painful almost chalkboard scratching pain inducing feeling you get from reading the book.

So if you have not read or listened to this book (or even if you have), I recommend it highly. Even if you love animals. It will be a true classic pleasure!

Stay Tuned…

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Don’t worry Muse-loving readers– the frequency of the blog posts may go down but the content is coming. I have a long list of blog ideas to work through and eventually I will get back up to posting when they are complete.

Counter Productive

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So a couple of posts ago I talked about how excited I was to finally have someone look and see if I’m officially autistic. I was so excited, typed out 2 pages of all things i could remember from my childhood that may be associated with being autistic and tried to prepare for this meeting. I prepared myself mentally and physically and couldn’t fathom the idea that in all this excitement the inevitable happen: We had to reschedule.

Now-don’t get me wrong. Life happens. I get that. And the impression I got from this psych in the one live communication I had with her over the computer was that she was confident in helping people where they needed it. So here I was — need helping–and reality and stereotypes stepped in. Something or someone else decided it wasn’t to happen that day. I also keep mind that she was providing a free service (another reason why I am just getting to venting about this) and that I may be lower on a priority list than others who pay and need more immediate services.

person with head down in arms on top of several notebooks and glasses on notebook with the appearance of being overburdened with the items at hand.

But to me–it was immediate. I had finally found something that would either help self-validate my concerns about myself or at least point me in the right direction. Now–with that meeting less than 2 days away–I am anxious/upset/nervous about trying again to meet up online. What if it happens again? Do I make sure I tell her how I feel? And my emotional well-being is so irregular right now due to LIFE that I 1) want a break and 2) know it cannot happen that way.

Hopefully Friday will come with meeting with this psych and things I really want to talk about will happen.

A little randomness

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I haven’t run out of topics I swear. But occasionally I like to not focus on all the series things and do something fun. So today, I searched “Holidays for April 17th https://www.checkiday.com/4/17/2019 ) and I thought I’d look at the things that our calendar is stating we are to celebrate today lol.

NATIONAL CHEESEBALL DAY

While I’m sure we have all made a nice habit of enjoying these little delights due to staying inside– today is an excuse to eat some more. Nice!

ELLIS ISLAND FAMILY HISTORY DAY

https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org

Check this link out to see if your family came thru here and honor the day! I think i see someone from mine that came over in 1909 from Hamburg Germany!

and the random piece of history? — Today in 1986 the world’s longest war where a shot was never fired ended today. It was between the Isles of Sicily & the Netherlands. It was a total of 335 years-wow!

Hope this brings a little joy into your lives. I may start slowing down on blogs here but don’t worry–I’m still here!

Worship and Being Autistic

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Wow-Yesterday was Easter. Until this year, arguably one of the most heavily packed church seasons. A day that typically, any autistic would be super nervous about since 1) there is an overload of sensory stimulants from increased volume of people, food (honestly things that smell horrible) and energies; 2) it is hard to read people on what their doing because it is a holiday and neurotypical people like to communicate differently on these type of days and 3) did I mention the sensory stuff? Did I? OK-just checking.

As my previous blog discussed, my son colored in my Bible. And part of our discussion came up about what we worship. We determined that while the Bible is sacred and holy, we do not worship it, the paper that it is on or the people who wrote it. We are called to worship God. And it got me thinking– what would worship look like from an autistic point of view? I actually have been thinking this a lot–when I got to church, trying to wonder if what we’re communicating would translate to someone who communicates differently. It’s not something a lot of people think about normally– let alone in church.

Well, first is how we define worship. It is adoration to God. I would argue it does not need to be proper. It does need to be set apart. Something of praise and singing (maybe) and thanksgiving. Hey-King David danced naked in front of the Ark of the Covenant in worship of God (yep-look it up and NO, I do not recommend this at all in public.) But other than that-it really doesn’t have any guidelines. Prayer is part of worship. Singing definitely. Reading of the Word and a message for sure. And even communion is part of worship-gathering together to eat at God’s Table. when you break it down-it truly is fantastic. I love worship. probably my favorite thing to do. But that’s because I’m musically talented.

For an autistic though–any one of those things could be a trigger or a sensory overload or the opposite where its a hyper focus and they (**cough me cough**) cannot stop. (As a side note: I would have no problem living in a sanctuary or church. It’s always beautiful in my mind. Maybe i have all those overnight sleepovers at church to thank as a kid, who knows.) So I think as Christians we need to thinks/see/live worship differently. Just as we are experiencing now. Maybe for an autistic, it is a prayer room. Where one spends time in silence to God. Or maybe its a blank canvas with all types of markers and crayons. Or drums set up perfectly in line to bang against for a good 20 minutes. Or to just be silent. Talking is not necessary for worship. Or maybe its turning off the lights. Or using a favorite smell (oils are good for this) for incense to focus your mind and senses on God.

I wish I had photos of this–but after I traveled to Munich, Germany, I was part of running a 24-7 prayer room for a week in the downtown area of my school town. We were allowed in a location that was going out for lease. We were able to build it up a little and maintained a small bed/sleeping area for the overnight security and managed to keep people praying for an entire week. And while it did not last long ( there are 24-7 prayer rooms going on around the world actually)– I felt that it was more of a 24-7 prayer/worship room from the way we ran it. We have a bible reading corner with different types of Bibles, a map of the world where you could pin things to pray for those around the world. We had a news source area if you were motivated to prayer for certain situations. And we did have worship a couple times, including communion for those who wanted to participate. (if you want to see what is being done, here’s the group: https://www.24-7prayer.com . Or read the book “Red Moon Rising”-dang the imagery is great)

Then second-what do we worship. Well, that’s easy (you’d think). We worship God. But sometimes during the week, in other realms, we don’t really worship him. We worship the green coffee god, or the money god, or the “i need to fit in or be popular’ god. Worship should be God focused. If you get lost about it, pray. Seek out healthy places of worship. For a while, I couldn’t focused so I listed to a christian radio station. now-don’t get me started I feel the Christian Rock scene is complete outdated and needs a revamp and redefinition-but-I did it to help keep me focused on God. And it helped. I don’t worship my Bible. But having its pages to interact and explore with helped me reopen myself to worship. Circling back around to the original comments–My son getting involved in the only way he knew as an autistic 3year old kid was a little worship together as a family. Sometimes I hope he comes out of childhood remembering.

If you’re autistic and Christian-let me hear your ideas for worship? Anything you’d like that doesn’t happen at your church? Anything you love about your services?

Autistic and Holy Good Friday 2020

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Today is Good Friday. We are at the “high-low” of Easter Holy Week. The week that sorta feels a lot like this COVID-19 quarantining this year. Up and down emotions, confusion, darkness and solitutde. So I thought after a major discussion happened on my facebook post about my child coloring my bible (romans 8 to be exact-one of my undergrad professors would be proud), I thought I would look into what “holy” translates to someone who is autistic.

First–let’s look at holy in the Bible itself. The word “holy” is used all throughout the Bible and is comes from the root word meaning “dedicated” or separated ( Click here to see Strong’s connections) In Genesis, humans are, from the beginning, holy, for we are definitely separated from the rest of creation (humans get two creation stories — that’s a whole other toipc–and created in God’s own image (actually–holy means to come from God.) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the entire tribes of Israel are considered holy for they are separated from the rest of humanity to be the image and reflection of God. Holiness and holy action is discussed throughout Exodus as Israel leaves Egypt and wanders the desert. David is a holy king, appointed by God to be different, to be sacred, to be set apart. By the time Jesus comes, we are all called to be holy. Even in Romans (chapter 12) Paul calls Christians to be holy sacrifices. Yeah, we could spend hours upon hours studying what this term looks like in the Bible-but I also have ADHD. So I’m moving on.

So what does this mean for an autistic? And what does this have to do with my son coloring in my Bible?

First-if we, as holy already in the eyes of God, are called to act holy, then autistics are already holy in their nature. They are already set apart. Now-I am NOT saying that others are not. But autistic people typically struggle with being different then others. Being pushed aside, set apart and not for positive reasons. Actually- Neurodivergent in its nature meanings being differently wired. And as an autistic, my different-ness is actually something I can related to in being “set apart for God.” That’s a blessing truly. It’s comforting to know I can related to being different because, well, I already am. Since I was a child (and maybe I have my parents to thank for taking me to church for many years), I never thought me being different as a bad thing.

More like the orange sprinkle in a bag of mixed colors. And I was just being myself (my true self) and that was the only thing that mattered. I pushed what may have been misunderstanding and confusion into “well, I am just going to be me.” I still tried doing the right thing. I truly took to heart “what if God knew this”… which terrified me some times but it was never pushed in our house or church really… and I work hard to still have a relationship with God to make sure I am reflecting what “holy” looks like thru autistic female adult mothering eyes/actions.

Second-being holy does NOT have to deal with communication or socialization. It can be a physical sense of being set apart (wow- social distancing can be holiness in a way!) or it can be a mental separation-for some actions are revealed differently only thru your intentions. So, if I don’t know how to communicate. Or figure out how someone does something– its okay. That’s what not makes me holy. Actually, biblically speaking, its your relationship with God (which can be reflected in how you interact with other people–but not by their judgment, by God’s alone) that does more to reflect your holiness. If you reflect God, then you try to act like God and the judgement of you, your actions and your heart are left up to God. So-my son-who I know is 1) already holy in his human nature and 2) a child innocent of doing things intentionally so his mental actions are not yet fully formed and 3) does not know how to read/write/communicate that well –MAY consider coloring in my bible with pink crayons that I gave him as a gift of holiness and definitely is a gift of a adorable memory he will give me for years. It will help me to remember how one Sunday morning, due to quarantine rules and worshiping from home, my child interacted with me in service in the only way he knows how–by coloring in Romans 8.

Of Course-Being Good Friday-don’t forget that holiness does have hope in it. If we, as Christians, are called to be holy, then we are called to be the reflection of the Holy Spirit-a gift that was given by the One God who defines holiness. I know it is dark and bleak. But I hope that the holiness we reflect and we see around the world will win out the day. I know it did thousands of years ago. And I truly believe it will now.

So go be Holy. It’s easier anyways. And await the excitement that is coming Sunday!

How & What We Say And What It All Means

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I have been interested in language all my life. Well-the study of language. I enjoy seeing where words come from, how they have traveled through cultures and histories and what different languages look like and how they are all interconnected. Maybe its because it helped me remember words and their meaning better if i knew a word’s story or maybe its because just always had problems learning words and needed all the details.

So of course when I went to college and decided I wanted to be a theology major– I wanted to incorporate my love of language into my theology for my undergraduate thesis. Not only was it suggested I change my focus (no one in our faculty had a huge speciality in it and we did not have a linguistic program at school and therefore there was very little support), but I was told their just wasn’t that much material out there to do a research topic.

So since then I have made it my life’s goal to try and work together the idea of theology and linguistics (or the study of language-yes, those things can be different.) I spent most of my undergrad and seminary years not only in classes but understanding God, Jesus and the Biblical text with commentary, but also taking multiple language courses in hopes to find the right path towards discovering something new in the language/theological world. After I graduated, I worked on studying linguistics directly (almost got a second masters I was so interested) to try and find a way.

Let me tell you: when you tell a Sara she cannot do it-9 times out of 10 she will find a way to do just that thing. Thank you hyper focusing and my internal drive to find that one totally unique thing. See “nth” reason why I have a hunch I’m autistic.

So the other day I was thinking about how all of this works in with my autistic self. Sorry if this part is a little random but I was thinking that how and what we say in our theology is very important. Don’t get me wrong, our actions are equally important. More important sometimes. But the right words can have a lot of power. But How we communicate with people, especially those who may not use words or pictures in their minds, reflects on how we envelope them into the church. I also realized liturgy can have a crucial play in our linguistic theology. Think of chanting monks versus the rock n’ roll praise band.

So maybe we can start and inquiry here…who is with me?! comment below!

Both-And of the Either-Or

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This blog is definitely more consistent with my blog’s theme: Musings of an Afterthought. The idea of a mild trail of thoughts after the original thought is mentioned. I thought I would give insight into my processing. This will not be very grammatically correct or orgsnized. Have fun!

Here it goes: The modern society likes to create division. The Either-Or dilemma. Only two sexes (make/female). Only two afterlives (heaven/hell). Only two of anything.

But in reality-the world isn’t like that. Afterlives have levels (even traditional thinking has three with purgatory at minimum) and science has discussed the truth that many species have more than just the either or option of sex. (Not fully researched right here and not opening up the political discussion-be nice in the comments.)

Cropped shot of a group of unidentifiable businesspeople joining their hands in a gesture of unity

I think as an autistic and ADHD person – we are created to see the both-and of the world. Its. Ot exclusive, just that we are internally programmed to look outside the norm. In school I was always “standing on the fence” of the theological debate (hi friend who knows this!) or trying to compromise or work in both opinions or perspectives. I remember reading somewhere that Autistic people are more likely to struggle in trying to balance things because we want it to be good for all. And yes-I have experienced this struggle personally.

But I do think we need to spend more time figuring out how things work together better than apart. More Both than Either.

Just a thought… comment nicely… or see you next time !

The movie going experience

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Anyone who knows my husband and I knows we like to go to the movies. My husband has a screenwriting degree and really I come along for the ride. Why not, right? It’s also an escape from the craziness of real life. But connected to my issues with transitions, I thought I would discuss a problem I’ve been having every time I see a movie.

Now this is going to be hard to explain. Mostly because its almost like an “out of body” experience. Only after talking with other autistic/neurodivergent adults did I understand what it is. It’s a transition issue. No matter what kind of movie I see (horror/action/romantic comedy), I come out of the theater still living in the world of the movie. I feel I have sucked in the soul of the movie or the sense of being from watching the characters. I know it sounds weird, but while it is like staying the fairytale you’re watching on TV, it can be very dangerous if I see a thriller or horror. For example–seeing Midsommar at 11pm on a weekday was extremely dangerous because it was a psychological thriller. It took me watching goofy kid movies to sleep. Watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood with Tom Hanks was amazing but it really tug on my heart strings. I came out of that movie with enough time to walk to my car parked on the other side of the parking lot of a mall so I was able to decompress a little.

So my therapist explained it is similar to having issues transitioning from one task to another. You see-when I watch a movie-I am in the large dark theater, typically with surround sound and so all my senses are engrossed in the movie. even to the point where the popcorn and sodas are necessary to function and digest the film. So I get sucked into the world (which takes the 1.5-3 hours of the film) and therefore when I come back, I am actually adjusting my senses back to “reality.” What’s crazy–I didn’t realize I was doing it until I recognized myself kinda “acting out” recent movies I’ve seen pretending I existed in their world. Current movie transition/connection issue?–the deep personal links the music from Frozen 2 has with my personal life and therefore I have been sorta half stuck in that world. Yes-i have almost started cosplaying Anna and know all the worlds to the songs. Grant it–it doesn’t help that one is Disney, a huge interest for me.

Any else relate to this issue? Don’t worry-no judgment from me. I was just trying to figure out why I do it or what triggers it (even though its almost every movie now) so I can better prepare myself after a movie.

Misty Rosey Colored Memories

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Do you ever try and recall your first memory? Or feeling? Just try–thinking back as far as you can go. Guess what? — I really remember mine.

I was little, can’t remember how old, but my mom for what I felt took me to a nearby babysitter for some reason. I remember feeling not scared, just off. And that I had to figure out how this place worked… instead of just letting myself go and play. They gave me pop cycles, which I to this day still hate because they’re sticky but also I can’t bite down on them, I’d rather just drink the juice. I mean, I wasn’t sad or upset. Just…there. 

The thing I remember being in a bunk bed, lower level for a nap. I was confused because I was happy it was a bunk bed ( I always wanted one because I have to change how I sleep… can’t sleep facing the end of the bed they say ( so exactly like my son it’s super crazy similar.) yet I was not sad but … maybe scared… just unsure how I was supposed to feel about a place I liked yet wasn’t mine. I was in middle ground, in limbo. In a place I didn’t understand.  And that today is where I never like hanging out. I like to know my environment. Know the limits and the rules and play within certain guidelines. Complete freedom doesn’t scare me…but it is a little chaotic, unhealthy and dangerous. 

So its weird because its not a significant memory yet it stands out so clear in my mind. I really don’t have any main memories until I’m older-like elementary school age. 

What’s the first thing you remember? Do you want to remember it? Is it something that builds who you are today? Comment below!