Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Flitting Things

I have a pretty addictive personality. It’s just a part of who I am, I don’t really know why I get addicted to the things i’m addicted to, but as long as it’s not crack cocaine or something I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to live with it!

When I was 16 I wouldn’t leave the house on a Saturday night unless I had set the tape recorder (yes, good old VHS) for Casualty and knew my best friend was also recording it, you know just incase mine didn’t work or I missed a few minutes off the start or the end! This was back before the days of the miracle invention that is iPlayer! But I literally would not leave the house unless I knew there were two machines taping it!
I even wanted to become a paramedic for a while until I realised I didn’t really like gore and I’m not that great in medical emergency situations, I tend to flap about a lot! But where is this going you ask me?
well... my latest obsession, though I’m going to use the word fascination here, is with the Amish! I’ve been watching the Channel 4 series ‘Living with the Amish’ and I’m hooked! The way other people live their lives has always intrigued me, be it in a religious order, in cultural antithesis to me or just in a different geographical location. I’ve said it once and i’ll say it a million times people fascinate me!

The Amish live their lives so close to the rest of the world yet they are so separated from it. They wear simple clothes, work really hard, have simple pleasures and for the most part they seem really happy. They genuinely like what they do and how they live their lives. I think sometimes I envy that simple life that they have, no credit card bills to pay, no Facebook to waste their lives on, the knowledge that there’s a huge extended network out there of people who are willing to give you a hand with things, just because it’s the right thing to do.
But then communities like this make me angry because they are depriving their children of a chance to see how wonderful the world really is. Yes there is joy and beauty in the stillness of the woods and creeks in Pensylvania and Ohio but there is also joy in the bustling city and the roaring ocean. There are other cultures, other sights, sounds and tastes.
“Taste and see that the Lord is Good” Psalm 34:8

I want to taste and see everything wonderful that God has created on this earth. I want to go to the desert in Africa and look up on a cloudless night to see the heavens teaming with uncountable, unreachable stars that seem so close you could touch them. I want to stand at the top of the Empire State building and look out over the most famous concrete jungle in the world, and see the city dwellers carry on below. I want to climb to the top of Macu Piccu and hear the Peruvian jungle hum with life, just like it did when the Inca’s lived there. I want to see the architecture in St.Petersburg and in The Vatican marvel at the roof of the Sistine Chapel. There is too much good on this earth to spend a lifetime in one small corner of it.

The book I finished reading today (#2) was the autobiography of Elissa Wall, a girl who escaped the strict regime of the Fundamentalist Later Day Saints (FLDS) a breakaway sect of the Mormon Church who practice Polygamy. She was married at 14, abused by her husband, manipulated by the ‘church’, suffered multiple miscarriages and escaped the FLDS community at age 18.

Stolen Innocence tells the story of her childhood, the beliefs of the FLDS movement and her life after escape. The book was disturbing to me in many ways. It does not surprise me that people can be as brainwashed as she was before she realised she needed to leave, and neither does it surprise me that their Leader Warren Jeffs (who is currently in prison) could be so cold, manipulative and repulsive. What did surprise me however was seeing that even when she knew something was terribly wrong, as did many others around her, she still didn’t think she could leave. The hold the FLDS had and still has to this day on their community is frightening. When I read about religious cults like this it helps me think about my own beliefs.
Jesus being born of a virgin, walking on water and rising from the dead are all pretty bizarre things. But then i look at Christianity and I see the freedom that can be found in Christ, the grace, the humility, the total transformation that being a follower of Jesus can cause. There was no freedom in Elissa’s early life, and even though she has escaped the FLDS and started a family of her own, she still grieves for the people she loves who are still inside the closely guarded community, who are still under the control of manipulative men and young girls who will go through the same ordeal that she suffered.

I don’t have all the answers and I certainly don’t claim to know all there is to know about what others believe and what they don’t. But I like what Emily Dickinson once said;
“Opinion is a flitting thing, but truth outlasts the sun”

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