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Desperately Needed...an Uncertain Faith!


jerryb
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"Faith is at it's weakest when it treats dogma as if it were an ancient fortress that must be defended at all costs". Jack Good...The Dishonest Church.

 

I shudder to think of what may already have been lost in our efforts to maintain the religious 'status quo'.

Jack Good goes on to say," Even while religious leaders have been insisting on trust-worthiness from others, they have been reluctant to speak the truth to their own people".

I would add, not only reluctant...but 'scared to death' to be truthful about what they REALLY learned in seminary.

Many of us on this board have have gone through an intense and painful time of questioning, dismantling, and reconstruction in our struggle to develop a sensible faith.

Even now, as I try to sing the old hymns I was brought up on...the bad theology almost takes away the melody of my song. And I find myself wondering...did I

really fall in love with the old hymns...or just their melody?

How about you? Can some of you share a bit about your similar struggles..so I won't feel like 'The Lone Ranger"?

 

 

Blessings in the New Year,

 

 

Jerry

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You're definately not alone!!! In a very childish (but somehow satisfying :huh::P ) way, I often stop singing for the "bad theology" parts!!!

 

I came to the conclusion that helps me: Just because idiots do it, doesn't mean it's idiotic. :rolleyes: Even the Westminster Confession notes that the church will not be perfect until Jesus returns.... just other fallible human beings... just like me... how annoying! But, how little to do with my relationship with God. Y'know???

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I haven't been to church in 6 years, but I KNOW that I couldn't sing the songs at the Kingdom Hall. Yech! JW hymns are so, so, so ... horrible. Every single one of them seems to celebrate the "end" and the "new earth." Such a nice, politically correct way to say that they are all looking forward to 99% of the worlds population being tread in "Jehovah's winepress." :huh: Ugh.

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AletheiaRivers:

 

"I KNOW that I couldn't sing the songs at the Kingdom Hall. Yech! JW hymns are so, so, so ... horrible."

 

I agree whole heartedly! They are SO, terrible sounding! The only church that's music is worse is SDA! Followed by the Chrstyle Cathedral! They sound like a mixture of a watz from Mozart's day meets a Walt Disney tune from the 50's meets a Nazi war time march! The JW org is SO very affraid of contemporary sounding music! :rolleyes:

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I've left a lot of my ideas on the thread I started, but I think there's one from many years listening to people talk about the physical principal of uncertainty that is near the crux of the problem.

 

People come to black-and-white thinking naturally. So when many become aware of uncertainty, they react nihilistically. Even some good physicists did that in response to Heisenberg's principle. Yet the reality of that is that such uncertainty is quite small. One can fly a spacecraft to Mars today with incredible accuracy knowing nothing of quantum mechanics or relativity. It just requires good computers, a good method of course correction for all the factors that knocks a craft off course, and an understanding of the science of the whole thing.

 

The uncertainty of spirituality is much worse. What is spirit? Who is God? What do I make of all these things people say about both? As with physical uncertainty, though, there is nothing about this that negates that there is one best way to go through a spiritual life. Uncertainty is manageable, as soon as one admits to it. Otherwise, course corrections just have people going in circles.

 

There is a point in this where I have felt tension with my fellow liberals. Does everyone go the way that's best for them? This is like something that conservatives say that everything is God's will. It takes pressure off you to do anything differently. Sometimes specific applications of these ideas look pretty ridiculous, though. I volunteer for a charity now. To say that all my clients are on the way that's best for them is ridiculous. They have sufferred much more than necessary to build character, to realize the evils and hypocrisy of a world that neglects them, and turn to God. People don't just go wrong by themselves, whether it's the materially needy or others who are materially well off and just spiritually needy.

 

That doesn't mean it's up to me to fix everyone, but it's impressed me that there are many ways to go off course in one's life. It's not uncertainty that does that as much as people are going the wrong way, and it's very hard to tell them that.

 

So what is the right way? I think it's the way the works, not just for me, but for everyone. Any of us can see our way and those of others. If we're honest, we can see what's wrong with both. If we're humble, we can get help with that. I've been impressed by my getting help from God, just praying to God. That led me to being a Christian again, a liberal, charismatic Christian. It's a lonely thing to be, but that's where empiricism has brought me. If there's a better way, I'll listen, until I know what's wrong with it. Is there something better than that?

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AletheiaRivers:

 

"I KNOW that I couldn't sing the songs at the Kingdom Hall. Yech! JW hymns are so, so, so ... horrible."

 

I agree whole heartedly! They are SO, terrible sounding! The only church that's music is worse is SDA! Followed by the Chrstyle Cathedral! They sound like a mixture of a watz from Mozart's day meets a Walt Disney tune from the 50's meets a Nazi war time march!  The JW org is SO very affraid of contemporary sounding music! :rolleyes:

 

Actually, it's the message of the songs (although there are exceptions) that I think are horrible. The music is horrible too, but I don't really care about the melody as much as I do the message. JW's could take all the same words and put them to incredibly wonderful contemporary music, and I'd still think they were horrible. :)

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AletheiaRivers:

 

"I KNOW that I couldn't sing the songs at the Kingdom Hall. Yech! JW hymns are so, so, so ... horrible."

 

I agree whole heartedly! They are SO, terrible sounding! The only church that's music is worse is SDA! Followed by the Chrstyle Cathedral! They sound like a mixture of a watz from Mozart's day meets a Walt Disney tune from the 50's meets a Nazi war time march!  The JW org is SO very affraid of contemporary sounding music! :rolleyes:

 

Actually, it's the message of the songs (although there are exceptions) that I think are horrible. The music is horrible too, but I don't really care about the melody as much as I do the message. JW's could take all the same words and put them to incredibly wonderful contemporary music, and I'd still think they were horrible. :)

 

 

Beach and Alethia,

 

I know where you're both coming from....and for my part,there is a certain sadness in my not being able able to sing the songs I heard so often in The Weslyan Methodist Church of my youth.

I spoke in my original post about having to 'dismantle' much of the dogma of those earlier years...and I asked' what do we use for a 'replacement'? What have you all used in your own spiritual journey as replacements?

Looking forward to your thoughts,

 

Jerry

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I've left a lot of my ideas on the thread I started, but I think there's one from many years listening to people talk about the physical principal of uncertainty that is near the crux of the problem.

 

People come to black-and-white thinking naturally. So when many become aware of uncertainty, they react nihilistically. Even some good physicists did that in  response to Heisenberg's principle. Yet the reality of that is that such uncertainty is quite small. One can fly a spacecraft to Mars today with incredible accuracy knowing nothing of quantum mechanics or relativity. It just requires good computers, a good method of course correction for all the factors that knocks a craft off course, and an understanding of the science of the whole thing.

 

The uncertainty of spirituality is much worse. What is spirit? Who is God? What do I make of all these things people say about both? As with physical uncertainty, though, there is nothing about this that negates that there is one best way to go through a spiritual life. Uncertainty is manageable, as soon as one admits to it. Otherwise, course corrections just have people going in circles.

 

There is a point in this where I have felt tension with my fellow liberals. Does everyone go the way that's best for them? This is like something that conservatives say that everything is God's will. It takes pressure off you to do anything differently. Sometimes specific applications of these ideas look pretty ridiculous, though. I volunteer for a charity now. To say that all my clients are on the way that's best for them is ridiculous. They have sufferred much more than necessary to build character, to realize the evils and hypocrisy of a world that neglects them, and turn to God. People don't just go wrong by themselves, whether it's the materially needy or others who are materially well off and just spiritually needy.

 

That doesn't mean it's up to me to fix everyone, but it's impressed me that there are many ways to go off course in one's life. It's not uncertainty that does that as much as people are going the wrong way, and it's very hard to tell them that.

 

So what is the right way? I think it's the way the works, not just for me, but for everyone. Any of us can see our way and those of others. If we're honest, we can see what's wrong with both. If we're humble, we can get help with that. I've been impressed by my getting help from God, just praying to God. That led me to being a Christian again, a liberal, charismatic Christian. It's a lonely thing to be, but that's  where empiricism has brought me. If there's a better way, I'll listen, until I know what's wrong with it. Is there something better than that?

 

 

Good post David,

 

Your quote "that's where empiricism has brought me" is certainly true in my life too. But...do we have anything better to fall back on? The dictionary says empiricism means" the practice of reyling on observation and experiment. I am truly coming to believe that 'experiencing' God is the safest, surest way to suceed in the spiritual life. Everything else is pure speculation and hearsay. After all..what 'qualifys' anyone else to tell us how we should experience and conceptualize God?

Thanks for making me think a little harder.

 

 

Blessings as you walk....

Jerry

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I spoke in my original post about having to 'dismantle' much of the dogma of those earlier years...and I asked' what do we use for a 'replacement'? What have you all used in your own spiritual journey as replacements?

 

What do I use as a replacement for attending the Kingdom Hall and the dogma I was taught there?

 

I read ... A LOT. For the past few years, reading has been my "church." I read anything that touches my heart, brings me to "thin places" and closer to God. This includes philosophy, poetry, theology and science.

 

I meditate. I garden. I sing. I pray. I talk to people on bulletin boards and with my husband.

 

All that said, I'm seriously considering going back to church (probably a local Episcopal church), because Christianity is social, and I've been isolated for a long long time.

:)

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I spoke in my original post about having to 'dismantle' much of the dogma of those earlier years...and I asked' what do we use for a 'replacement'? What have you all used in your own spiritual journey as replacements?

 

What do I use as a replacement for attending the Kingdom Hall and the dogma I was taught there?

 

I read ... A LOT. For the past few years, reading has been my "church." I read anything that touches my heart, brings me to "thin places" and closer to God. This includes philosophy, poetry, theology and science.

 

I meditate. I garden. I sing. I pray. I talk to people on bulletin boards and with my husband.

 

All that said, I'm seriously considering going back to church (probably a local Episcopal church), because Christianity is social, and I've been isolated for a long long time.

:)

 

Aletheia....I really relate to your post today. I too,read everything I can get my hands on in spiritual matters. And I especially like what you said about coming to "thin places". Boy...have I been in some "super thin" places lately! But..through it all, I believe God is slowly, pain-stakingly leading me out into a 'new spiritual atmosphere' where the air is rare and precious.

And I truly understand what you said about missing the social part of christian worship. I am trying to visualize a concept of some kind of 'meeting',or get-to-gether,where I could share with those who are like-minded. But..we all live so far apart,that that seems almost impossible. However...about three years ago, my wife organized a meeting of her Weight Watcher pals at our home, with the empasis on something called Spiritual Pathways. The first year, six people came from all over the united states and spent the weekend. IT WAS PRICELESS!

The second year...10 came....this year 12. This eclectic group is made up of Pagans....progreesive christians...and even a couple of fundementalists. You can talk about anything spiritual...only rule...noone can say"that can't be". The food has been fabulous...the friendships made priceless..and all of our spiritual lives have been broadened. I just wish it could happen monthly instead of yearly.

Sorry...I ran on there. Doesn't take much to excite me.

 

 

Blessings in your walk,

 

Jerry

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I spoke in my original post about having to 'dismantle' much of the dogma of those earlier years...and I asked' what do we use for a 'replacement'? What have you all used in your own spiritual journey as replacements?

 

What do I use as a replacement for attending the Kingdom Hall and the dogma I was taught there?

 

I read ... A LOT. For the past few years, reading has been my "church." I read anything that touches my heart, brings me to "thin places" and closer to God. This includes philosophy, poetry, theology and science.

 

I meditate. I garden. I sing. I pray. I talk to people on bulletin boards and with my husband.

 

All that said, I'm seriously considering going back to church (probably a local Episcopal church), because Christianity is social, and I've been isolated for a long long time.

:)

 

In the category of "for what's it's worth" ... I isolated myself "for a long long time" (35 years) from church participation. I re-discovered a part of myself on returning. I was unsure at first, being an intuiting - introvert ... but it has slowly worked out for me :P

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I spoke in my original post about having to 'dismantle' much of the dogma of those earlier years...and I asked' what do we use for a 'replacement'? What have you all used in your own spiritual journey as replacements?

 

What do I use as a replacement for attending the Kingdom Hall and the dogma I was taught there?

 

I read ... A LOT. For the past few years, reading has been my "church." I read anything that touches my heart, brings me to "thin places" and closer to God. This includes philosophy, poetry, theology and science.

 

I meditate. I garden. I sing. I pray. I talk to people on bulletin boards and with my husband.

 

All that said, I'm seriously considering going back to church (probably a local Episcopal church), because Christianity is social, and I've been isolated for a long long time.

:)

 

Aletheia....I really relate to your post today. I too,read everything I can get my hands on in spiritual matters. And I especially like what you said about coming to "thin places". Boy...have I been in some "super thin" places lately! But..through it all, I believe God is slowly, pain-stakingly leading me out into a 'new spiritual atmosphere' where the air is rare and precious.

And I truly understand what you said about missing the social part of christian worship. I am trying to visualize a concept of some kind of 'meeting',or get-to-gether,where I could share with those who are like-minded. But..we all live so far apart,that that seems almost impossible. However...about three years ago, my wife organized a meeting of her Weight Watcher pals at our home, with the empasis on something called Spiritual Pathways. The first year, six people came from all over the united states and spent the weekend. IT WAS PRICELESS!

The second year...10 came....this year 12. This eclectic group is made up of Pagans....progreesive christians...and even a couple of fundementalists. You can talk about anything spiritual...only rule...noone can say"that can't be". The food has been fabulous...the friendships made priceless..and all of our spiritual lives have been broadened. I just wish it could happen monthly instead of yearly.

Sorry...I ran on there. Doesn't take much to excite me.

 

 

Blessings in your walk,

 

Jerry

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I spoke in my original post about having to 'dismantle' much of the dogma of those earlier years...and I asked' what do we use for a 'replacement'? What have you all used in your own spiritual journey as replacements?

 

What do I use as a replacement for attending the Kingdom Hall and the dogma I was taught there?

 

I read ... A LOT. For the past few years, reading has been my "church." I read anything that touches my heart, brings me to "thin places" and closer to God. This includes philosophy, poetry, theology and science.

 

I meditate. I garden. I sing. I pray. I talk to people on bulletin boards and with my husband.

 

All that said, I'm seriously considering going back to church (probably a local Episcopal church), because Christianity is social, and I've been isolated for a long long time.

:)

 

Aletheia....I really relate to your post today. I too,read everything I can get my hands on in spiritual matters. And I especially like what you said about coming to "thin places". Boy...have I been in some "super thin" places lately! But..through it all, I believe God is slowly, pain-stakingly leading me out into a 'new spiritual atmosphere' where the air is rare and precious.

And I truly understand what you said about missing the social part of christian worship. I am trying to visualize a concept of some kind of 'meeting',or get-to-gether,where I could share with those who are like-minded. But..we all live so far apart,that that seems almost impossible. However...about three years ago, my wife organized a meeting of her Weight Watcher pals at our home, with the empasis on something called Spiritual Pathways. The first year, six people came from all over the united states and spent the weekend. IT WAS PRICELESS!

The second year...10 came....this year 12. This eclectic group is made up of Pagans....progreesive christians...and even a couple of fundementalists. You can talk about anything spiritual...only rule...noone can say"that can't be". The food has been fabulous...the friendships made priceless..and all of our spiritual lives have been broadened. I just wish it could happen monthly instead of yearly.

Sorry...I ran on there. Doesn't take much to excite me.

 

 

Blessings in your walk,

 

Jerry

 

 

OOPS! Sorry for the double post....technologiclyy challenged.

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To address David's point. Dave, what I would recommend is to read the book, WHEN GOD BECOMES A DRUG by Leo Booth. This book is very great at showing people how to reconize your past unhealthy religious past and how to replace them with nEW positive HEALTHy ones. Then I would recommend TEN WRONG THINGS I LEARNED IN A CONSERVATIVE CHURCH. Both of these books help people who have since become Progressive but want to remain Christian or spiritually positive.

 

Now to address Aletheia. You are right about the K.Hall song's being morbid or opressive. What about that one that goes, "LET"S WATCH HOW WE WALK AND WATCH HOW WE TALk..THUS STUMBLE NONE IN OUR MINISTRY!" This is like the BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU! song :blink::lol:

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I am now goign to the UCC church but I did go thru a very long period of not believing

in much (I don't think I was an atheist, more an agnostic); and then going to various spiritual activities. When to a pagan "service" once though it was more by accident..

Yes I missed the old hymns. But funny thing, Christian Science sings most of the protestant

hymns (and some just awful ones written by Mary Baker Eddy who is one of the most awful poets imaginable-- don't believe me, read Mark Twain's hilarious and rather mean "Christian Science. Not one of his better works but hilarious.). These Eddy hymns are filled with such bad verse that I was never sure what they meant if they meant anything at all. "Bless brother birds that soar and sing and on the same branch bend. The arrow that doth wound the dove darts not from those who watch and love." Yikes. She could win the Bad Poet award.

 

But most of the hymns are the standard protestant music with drastic revisions in content. For instance: all mention of mortality is cut; CS is substituted for references to holy spirit in many cases-- heck, CSists think CS is the holy spirit; no mention of martyrs or that sort of thing; emphasis on positive and happy. "A Mighty Fortress is our God" by Martin Luther loses the mortal, the ancient foe, woe. But goes on happily about how we "place" reliance on God. (Place is such a CSy word in this context.) But though I prefer the more Protestant words (UCC does make its own revisions for inclusive language). I can never remember them when I here the music. I am playing some of this on the recorder now and remember all the sappy CS words. Oh well.

 

Gee, that was fun! :-) Thanks for bringing up hymns. (I'm sure you all now know more than you need.

 

 

--des

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As a church musician in the UMC for over 25 years, I thought I'd share my thoughts on falling in love with the melody more than the words. The composer Felix Mendelssohn once said that, for him, music conveys meaning far better than words in many cases. In the secular arena ,few of us know what Auld lang Syne means , but the music conveys images of things ending and going on to something new. The Australian song "Waltzing Matilda" is another example of a fun song to sing, but few people know what the heck they're singing about .

 

In the sacred arena the hymn "Come thou Fount of every blessing " is another example of a beloved melody, but the words are enigmatic for contemporary Christians. I still don't know whar "raising my Ebeneezer". means.

 

In a sunday school class I was in , when I was a child , one of the kids asked the teacher if we could sing that song about "Andy". The teacher said "Andy, what song is that" ? The student said" you know, "Andy walks with me Andy talks with me ....."

 

 

MOW

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As a church musician in the UMC for over 25 years, I thought I'd share my thoughts on falling in love with the melody more than the words. The composer Felix Mendelssohn once said that, for him, music conveys meaning far better than words in many cases.  In the secular arena ,few of us know what Auld lang Syne means , but the music conveys images of things ending and going on to something new. The Australian song "Waltzing Matilda" is another example of a fun song to sing, but few people know what the heck they're singing about .

 

In the sacred arena the hymn "Come thou Fount of every blessing " is another example of a beloved melody, but the words are enigmatic for contemporary Christians. I still don't know whar "raising my Ebeneezer". means.

 

In a sunday school class I was in , when I was a child , one of the kids asked the teacher if we could sing that song about "Andy". The teacher said "Andy, what song is that" ? The student said" you know, "Andy walks with me Andy talks with me ....."

 

 

MOW

 

Mow..... I can't tell you how many times I've found myself hummimg"Waltzing Matilda"...but I still don't know the rest of the song. I think I first heard it as the

sound track of a TV movie...but I can't remember the name of the movie. BUT....I do remember the MELODY of the song. This proves the point we are talking about...we sometimes DO fall in love with the melody of the old hymns,

without taking the time to study the bad theology.

By the way...my wife has made a large part of her living as a church organist for the past 30 years.

Thanks for your post.

 

Jerryb

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JB

 

I believe that Waltzing Matilda was popularized in the 1950's movie On The Beach. It was sung by herdsmen in the outback and is a traditional Aussie song on the order of our Home on the Range, or maybe Red River Valley. I know what a few of the words mean but not all of them.

 

The movie starred Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Tony Perkins, and Fred Astair in a dramatic role that didn't require dancing. I believe that Astair won a supporting actor oscar for his role.

 

The story is based on a novel by, I believe Nevill Shute, and posits an end of the world scenario after the northern hemisphere destroys itself with nuclear weapons and the rest of life on earth is slowly snuffed out by spreading radioactive clouds. A wonderful book and movie, and I highly recommend both if you like being emotionally moved. The song was extensively used throughout the film as background music.

 

flow.... :unsure:

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JB

 

I believe that Waltzing Matilda was popularized in the 1950's movie On The Beach. It was sung by herdsmen in the outback and is a traditional Aussie song on the order of our Home on the Range, or maybe Red River Valley. I know what a few of the words mean but not all of them.

 

The movie starred Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Tony Perkins, and Fred Astair in a dramatic role that didn't require dancing. I believe that Astair won a supporting actor oscar for his role.

 

The story is based on a novel by, I believe Nevill Shute, and posits an end of the world scenario after the northern hemisphere destroys itself with nuclear weapons and the rest of life on earth is slowly snuffed out by spreading radioactive clouds. A wonderful book and movie, and I highly recommend both if you like being emotionally moved. The song was extensively used throughout the film as background music.

 

flow....  :unsure:

 

Thanks for the reminder Flow. Of course now....I'll have to hum the song all day tomorrow. It is a catchy tune,but now that you've explained the movie...I remember seeing at least a part of it, and it made a profound impact on me.

 

 

Jerryb

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However, Waltzing Matilda is really an old folk song or a rather old song (circa late 1800s). It might have been popularized in a movie, but I remember singing the song in grade school. They did explain all the words, but I don't remember much.

 

BTW, I agree re: hymns as music vs. the actual message or the medium is the message perhaps. Many hymns were written by great composers (ie Ode to Joy). I think this is where some of the modern music suffers, it just isn't as good music.

 

(BTW, most of the CS hymns written by Mary Baker Eddy were not very good music either. And I also don't know what they mean.)

 

--des

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OK I had to google it. "Waltzing Matilda" is a song about a tramp who steals a sheep while he's boiling water. He does this while on the land of a "squatter". When the troopers come he jumps into a stream rather than be arrested by the police . His ghost is still heard by the stream singing " you'll go a waltzing matilda with me" . As near as I can tell the phrase "waltzing matilda" seems to mean to go on a journey. The song seems to have an anti-authoritarian theme since the tramp would rather jump into the stream than be arrested by the police.

 

MOW

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In an earlier post I mentioned the phrase " raise my Ebeneezer" which is found in the hymn " Come thou fount of every blessing"

 

This refers to a series of epic battles between Israel and the Philistines as recorded in 1 Samuel chapters 4 thru 7. In the final battle Samuel is sacrificing a lamb to God while the Philistines are attacking. God than caused loud thunder that confused the Philistines, and the Israelites were able to drive them from the land. "Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebeneezer saying 'thus far the lord has helped us' (1 Samuel chapter7 verse 12 NKJV )

 

 

MOW

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MOW :

 

I knew it was something like that since it has always been one of my hauntingly favorite melodies. But then so have Beethoven's 9th, The Green Leaves of Summer, and See Me Feel Me Touch Me Heal Me.

 

Thanks for your work . The part I knew about was that a billabong was a stream or spring in the outback. Always a very refreshing and sacred thing in the middle of vast dryness.

 

I especially liked the part about anti-authoritarianism. Is that anything like antidisestablishmentanianism ? Sounds like some stuff from the 60's to me.

 

flow.... :blink:

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