eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Tuesday, November 15

The Power of Evil (Comment on Turning the Other Cheek)

Sherilyn said...
My understanding of the "Turn the other cheek" passage is that it is about not allowing evil to have control over you. If some one asks you for your shirt and you give him your coat too, you have taken control over the situation through charitable will and you have not accepted evil to have power over you.


It's interesting to me that the comment seems to be more focused on the person turning the other cheek (cheeker). I had been thinking almost entirely about the person to whom the other cheek is turned (cheekee).

My initial reaction to the comment, while focused on the cheekee, was that it essentially aided evil. Now instead of the "evil" person having a shirt, he has a coat AND he has approval and support for his wrongdoing.

However, I misread it. I was thinking that it was a person who took your shirt. If someone asks, then the meaning is changed significantly. It has more to do with being generous. I'm not sure if this was what was intended originally. I suppose it doesn't much matter. What matters is understanding the best way to be. The idea of generosity strikes me as perhaps more important than the particular wording.

Being generous with a person who is hurting you can have varying effects. It could encourage them to continue harming you and others since it seems to bring them acceptable results. It could encourage them to follow your example and be generous themselves. It could result in a mixed reaction - a person who continues to be "greedy" and also sometimes generous.

It depends on the individual. If one is dealing with a random stranger, then maybe it is right to give the person the benefit of the doubt and treat him generously. Some people, though, seem unresponsive to generosity.

It has been suggested to me that perhaps such a person "needs" more (generosity). How do you tell whether a person needs more or "needs" some other kind of help? What if they need more than you have to give?

I like the idea of not letting evil have control over you, but it strikes me as being a bit self-centered and "prideful" (often considered to be undesireable moral traits). "It doesn't matter what the other person does, I will be good." So? What of it? Doesn't one deserve to feel good about being good? Or does it take the focus off connecting with and helping someone else? Maybe what helps isn't always generosity?

Ah well. I can see I'm not going to come to conclusions about this just yet.

Monday, November 7

Around Austin - Part I

Although I have lived in the Austin area all of my life (except for a short time before I was 2 years old), but I hadn't been inside the Capitol building since I was a kid. I've walked around on the grounds since then but somehow never made it inside...

A friend came in from out-of-town a few weeks ago, so I took advantage of it as an opportunity to finally make it inside. The building itself wasn't terribly exciting, but I had a great time taking pictures and wandering around looking at things inside. I think it's cool that the building is made of "pink" granite.

I browsed the gift shop and found a nifty packet of seeds for red bluebonnets. Weird, I know. I'm curious to see how they turn out. I've always had a special fondness for bluebonnets, roses, and daisies. Roses - my grandma would often (and still does) take me outside to help tend her plants and look at her roses. She has a contagious enthusiasm for them. Daisies - I remember my father giving me a bunch when I was a little girl. We were very close then and they remind me of that feeling of being loved. I don't have any particularly special memories of bluebonnets, but this is Texas. They're part of the symbolism of the Texas attitude of independence, self-reliance, and friendliness. Plus, I just love the idea of a blue flower.

The only problem with the red ones is that I'll have to be careful about putting them too close to my true bluebonnets. It seems blue is dominant and the red will eventually cross pollinate with them and become blue after some generations. It's a bit disappointing because I think the red and blue mixed together will be lovely, but I don't want to have to keep re-planting the red ones. Then again, up until now, I didn't know red ones existed.

Tuesday, November 1

Turning the Other Cheek

Thinking about the previous post has me thinking about this particular idea. I wasn't sure where it came from, so I looked it up and found that it was said in different ways in different religions:

You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Christianity. Matthew 5.38-41

I had thought that turning the other cheek meant something like "looking the other way". It goes beyond that, though. It suggests that if someone does something wrong to you, you should give him the opportunity to do even more to you. If he takes something, then you should offer him even more.

Even more surpising to me is the idea is that the wrongdoer will be punished more fully if no punishment has been given out by people. In a sense, then, the advice is to heap revenge upon the wrong person by refusing to punish him and therefore lessen the punishment he'll receive from God. The benefit to the victim is being rewarded by God and also learning the virtue of patience.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals upon his head."
17.Christianity. Romans 12.19-20

Ouch.

This idea doesn't work so well if you don't believe in an all-powerful God to unleash vengence on evildoers. Is there a rational reason for turning the other cheek?

The Moon the Klan Plan

The KKK is coming to town. Of course, there are folks planning a peaceful counter demonstration. One group is planning to moon the klan.
I'm tempted...