Tuesday, January 25, 2011

BBD - The Fall of Man

I've decided to start a series called the Bible Broken Down, or BBD for short. It will really be my thoughts and commentary on things I am learning as I get more involved with studying the Word of God, aka The Bible. Even if you aren't Christian, it may give you summaries of things that we believe, so feel free to peruse. Questions/comments on beliefs/theology are welcome, as long as they are respectful. A strong foundation can withstand any question. And I'll do my best to answer or give my opinion. Just keep in mind that I am no theologian.

Ok, so just an explanation for those who may not be familiar - The Fall of Man refers to that instance where everything just went downhill. You may have heard the story of Adam & Eve: Eve gets tricked by a snake to eat the forbidden apple, shares it with Adam, God finds out and banishes them from the Garden of Eden. From that day forward Man is cursed. It feels like everyone always blames Eve. Adam represents men and Eve represents women, so we've been fighting for ions, lol.

I am recapping a great discussion we had tonight. Above is the abbreviated version that we are used to hearing about Adam and Eve. But let's just look at this a little bit further. Some of what I learned tonight was pretty surprising, because I had never looked at it that deeply.

So God creates the world. He makes light, water, animals, you name it. When you get to Genesis 1:27 (NIV version)

So God created man in his own image

God creates man. He doesn't yet have a name, but we later find out it's Adam, so I will call him Adam. God tells Adam

Genesis 1:29
"I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground - everything that has breath of life in it - I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

So Adam has it made. He can eat anything he wants. He's the only human around. Him and God are chillin.' God then made the Garden of Eden and he put Adam there to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:16
And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

The establishment of rules and boundaries. Now where was Eve? This was an interesting question that was asked. Because I guess I assumed that Eve was around when God originally said not to eat the forbidden fruit. But nope, Eve hadn't even been created yet. Eve does not come into existence until Genesis 1:22. Moving right along to the next chapter we are hearing the conversation between the serpent and Eve.

Genesis 3:1-3
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden' ?" The woman said to the serpent "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it or you will die.' "

Ok, a lot just happened right there. First of all there is no text surrounding how Eve found out the rule about not eating the forbidden fruit (fruit, not necessarily an apple by the way). We almost have to assume that Adam told her because God never said she couldn't touch the fruit. Adam might have added that in - he's like, hey don't eat from that tree, matter of fact, just don't touch it. Sometimes we just want to get our two cents in when we should just leave it be. Next Eve is talking to a serpent, not a snake slithering on the ground. It wasn't strange to her that she was having this conversation so the serpent probably resembled her or something that could comfortably hold a conversation with an upright person.

So then the serpent is trying to trick Eve. See, he's already playing on the fact that she is tempted to taste the forbidden fruit. It's the human instinct - as soon as someone tells you don't touch this or don't do that or don't EAT that, that is exactly what you want to do. Even though they had EVERY other fruit and tree in the world.

Genesis 1:4-7
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened...

The serpent is manipulating what Eve says that God said to make her doubt herself. He may have touched the fruit to show that it didn't kill him and if one part of her statement was false, then probably the other part is as well. He's trying to get her to see the unfairness is not being able to have that knowledge. He is prodding her temptation. She wants to taste the fruit, c'mon who wouldn't want to know what the one thing in the world you are not allowed to have tastes like? And where is Adam? The text says that he was with her. Why did he know stop her from talking to the serpent? Or why, oh why, did he taste the fruit? Because he also wanted to know what this fruit tastes like and he just saw his wife taste it. What's the harm, right? Even though God who has given them everything and directly told him not to. He is going to listen to his wife, who was being tricked by a serpent.

And as soon as Adam eats the fruit they realize that they have done something wrong - this is their eyes opening. The begin to know the difference between good and evil. Before they were living in pure utopia, where they didn't have a care in the world. And so the curse begins. God is furious and he calls for Adam - Where are you? Adam tells Him he was hiding. God asks him if he ate from the tree. And he says

Genesis 3:12
The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."

Talk about throwing under the bus! Not only does he just put it all on Eve, he blames God too - 'if you hadn't put that woman with me . . .' So if you continue reading the rest of Chapter 3 you will see that God curses the serpent and makes him crawl on his belly (now he is a snake). To the woman he increased pains in childbearing. And to Adam man is cursed to work the land.

Genesis 3:19
"...By the sweat of your brow will you eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; from dust you are and to dust you will return."

(Where we get the expression 'ashes to ashes' that they say at funerals.)

So recap:
God creates the world and then makes man. He puts man in the Garden of Eden and tells him to take care of it, only not to eat from the tree in the middle; everything else was his choosing. God creates woman from man. Man apparently tells Woman about the rule with the tree. Serpent asks Woman if she can't eat anything in the garden. Woman says, "no we can eat everything but from that one tree. " "That one tree? Really? Why is that?" Woman says "if we eat or touch it we will die." Serpent convinces her that that's not the case. Woman eats fruit from tree and gives to Man. Man, knowingly, eats the fruit. God finds out and it's a wrap. Cursed is the serpent, Woman, and finally Man. Man and Woman kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and from reaching the Tree of Life. This is the Fall of Man.

Ultimately it looks like God blames Adam a bit more because he was the one He had directed on eating the fruit. He still holds the serpent and Eve accountable, but from that day forward Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden and never allowed to eat from the tree of life.

There's lots more that could be discussed, but I just wanted to share some of the interesting points we discussed. Hope you enjoyed!

Image taken from http://www.socksoff.co.uk/walls05.html

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Tutor's Dilemma

First of all STANDING OVATION to all the teachers out there!! You guys are shaping our future, and it is definitely not easy.

Easy is an understatement. Here's my story:

I signed up to tutor as a volunteer through my church. You don't really find out too much about the student, just their name and what grade they are in. So we had our first session and I met with him and his mother. We'll call him Daniel. So he's a 13 year old in the 6th grade.

Week One - we reviewed his progress report and looked at the subjects he was having trouble in. I asked that they bring books or homework next time so that I know what types of things he's doing in school.

Week Two - No books or homework. This kid comes empty handed to tutoring. Ok, this is mind boggling to me, because what exactly am I supposed to tutor you in kiddo? So somehow he said he was taking Spanish class, so I started doing basic Spanish with him. We practiced counting to 20 and telling time. This gets a little tricky because I wasn't sure how much he had learned, so I really wanted to help with things he was learning in school, rather than teach him more advanced things.

Around this time I started venting to my friends. I was encouraged to not give up on this little inner-city at risk youth, because I could be the one that helps him. And someone asked me - "What does he want to do when he grows up?" and I had no clue. I guess I hadn't bothered getting to know him and what he wanted to do. Note to self.

Week Three - Still no homework or books. Honestly, at this point I was pretty ticked off. I'm driving out of my way to help this little brat and he doesn't have any homework or books with him. Seriously? So we do some more math that I make up, but I'm not really feeling like I'm helping him because I have no idea if he's even learning this stuff in school. But keeping in mind with what others had suggested I started asking him questions about what he wanted to do when he grew up. Of course - he wants to play basketball (Why is this every little Black boy's dream?? argggg). I asked him what position he plays and he told me center. Well he must have short classmates because he wasn't that tall. So I ask him what else he likes "I don't know" - the all too common line I was soon to hear for weeks.

Week Four - It's a new year. I want to start fresh and put back what happened behind us (I was pretty upset with his mother for not sending him with homework/books/etc). So we meet and he FINALLY has brought some work!! I was holding in my joy and giggles until I saw that he was a handout that the substitute teacher gave out. Oh well, this is what we work on. So it's an assignment about the life cycles of animals and plants. I made him read the page out loud and then we STRUGGLED to answer the questions. Each time he writes down something he puts the pencil down, as if he doesn't know that he needs to finish the WHOLE page. And then he's guessing. You remember in 6th grade how the answers were in the paragraph; you just had to find the sentence that had the question in the form of a phrase. So we go to answer the questions and he's saying words that sound like they would be the answer and looking up at me for confirmation. So I tell him to stop guessing and if he's not sure he should reread the paragraph. So that was a grueling hour. All the while he's giving me this attitude like I don't want to read this; I don't know the answer; I don't want to be here. At some point he says I want to do Spanish and I say well you did not bring any Spanish homework, so we are going to work on what you brought. (My tone here is merely frustration. I was nicer to the kid).

Week Five - We had a week cancelled due to the snow, so this was this past Wednesday. I had told his mother he was not cooperating so nicely, so she decided to sit in on the tutoring session. I know she meant well, but I'm not sure it was the best idea. Firstly we had actual 6th grade homework - math word problems, so for the first time I actually know what he's working on. Secondly, his mom had given me a workbook to work on with Daniel whenever we had spare time. So the word problems are not that difficult, but again I'm not sure how the teacher does it so hopefully I'm not confusing the kid. The problems are as such:

There were thirty airplanes in the sky that day. Four-fifths of them were blue. How many were not blue?

So there are two ways to do that problem. We know that 1/5 are not blue, so take 30, divide by 5, and you get 6. But there's another way. 30 times 4/5 would be the number of blue planes (24), so then 30-24 is the number that is not blue = 6. Anyhow, this is just an exercise in interpreting the problem into numbers and then doing the math. So I walked Daniel through the problem, always making him write on his paper. So after 3 problems you would think he would kind of get the hang of it. Nope, not really. And at this point I don't know if he really just doesn't get it or is it because he's not trying. Mind you it doesn't help that his mom is there also answering the questions (out loud) and then he repeats what she says. I would silently shake my head at her and then continue to ask him the question. And then she would tell me that he's lazy and I really don't like people talking about their kids right in front of them. So I respectively nod and go back to the kid and say ok let's try this. I will have to talk to her about that on the phone.

Anyhow, he tried so many excuses to not do the work. He asked to go to the bathroom. Normally I would say yes but his mom was there so said "no, you can go when you are finished." I noticed that he did not use the restroom before they left to go home, so it had been just another tactic (Note to self). He was constantly rubbing his eyes and leaning back in his chair like he had better things to do. And then he mumbled to himself, but loud enough for us both hear, "I don't want to be here."

So that's where I am with this kid. I'm not vested. I could stop tutoring him anytime I want, but I really feel like there's a way to get in and then once that happens it will be better?

So I posted on facebook that I needed my teacher-friends' help. Here are some of the tips I got:

  • A couple comments on how you can't tutor someone that doesn't want to be tutored
    True, but little kids/teens need to be guided. They don't know what they need yet, so just because they don't want to do their homework doesn't make it an option. In college you can choose not to do your homework, you're an adult
  • Find out what he's interested in and related the schoolwork to that
    Great idea. So I know he likes basketball and skating. More on that later, I thought of a possible activity
  • Search online for information. Maybe he's afraid of failure. Try books at the library. Also, you could try talking to the teachers
    Great ideas!! So I looked online and found some interesting videos and games that we could play (assuming I can get WiFi on my laptop at the church. Or at least I could suggest the websites to his mother. I probably wouldn't talk with his teacher, since that is really something his mother should do. I was also able to find curriculum of schools in this state (not necessarily his school) and that was very helpful to see what they are learning in other subjects
  • Disguise learning into games
    We are on to something people!!
  • Relate it to rap
    Ok mad respect to the teachers on TeacherTube.com. I found some hilarious stuff on there. And then I saw some videos from School House Rock - do you guys remember that? That was great, so I will definitely be utilizing some videos. As for me and rapping about fractions? Ha! We'll have to see about that.
  • Offering Rewards
    I will consider this but it becomes iffy when I'm buying things. I could give him fake money each time he gets something on his own; then at the end of the school year if he has enough fake money he can have a basketball or something? I think those are only 10 bucks or so. (Although this is a whole different topic on bribing kids to succeed; when does it become hurtful?)
  • Another friend suggested I showed him "Scared Straight," a tv show that used to take juveniles into prisons and basically have the inmates rough them up and scare them.
    I watched a couple of the episodes and well, wayyyyyyyy too much profanity so unless I find a censored version, I won't be able to do that.

So I love that so many people gave me their ideas. I did some more research online and came up with some other options. Tell me what you think - I will be using some of these this next Wed.

  • He doesn't want to do his homework. He wants to play video games and basketball. So how about I pull a reverse psychology Bill Cosby trick and tell him ok, then we won't do homework today. If you want to be a basketball player you have to practice for hours a day. And then take him outside (well I'll watch him from the inside) and have him practice dribbling for an hour with his left hand in the cold. (muhahahahah. Ok sorry, not but really this is an idea).
  • I made a list of jobs that I found online (These are all powerpoint slides I made).

    There are about 5 jobs on the list that you don't need a high school diploma for - because if he doesn't finish 6th grade he won't get into high school. Working at McDonald's or serving tables or driving a taxi cab. Max salary is about $23,000/yr. So then I'm thinking I show him that list. Then show him some cars that he might want to drive when he's older. Lastly I ask him to choose where he wants to live and he can choose the type of dwelling space. The whole point is to show him that he needs to make more money to buy the that he likes, and in order to do that he has to finish 6th grade. If that's not as tangible then I was going to have him furnish his house and go through IKEA ads and stuff so that he could pick out his furniture and decorations. We'd also go through the grocery circulars and maybe that would help him realize how much stuff costs.

  • The next idea was to pretend he was a high-paid basketball player and give him fake checks for $500,000. Then I tell him that 1/5 of that money goes towards his agent and he gets to keep the rest. Then he makes out a check to the agent. When he forks it over and gets it wrong I show him how even if he's a basketball player people can steal from him if he doesn't know basic math. If he says then he'd do it in his calculator then I whip out the calculator and hand it to him. If he says that he'd hire someone to check the numbers then I would tell him that they would steal from him too and there's no way for him to check it.
  • Lastly I can show him the youtube videos and raps on fractions, although that might not work if I can't get onto the internet at Church. So I don't want to count on that.
  • Additionally, I think there are some things he can do at home that would help, but I don't want to offend his mother. For one, when I was in 6th grade I got to watch tv for an hour and then I had to do my homework. If he's not doing his homework then he should not have privileges such as playing video games, watching tv, or talking on the phone. I don't think his mom can check his homework (which is a downside) but she can at least see that he shows his work.

Ok that's if for now. Let me know what you think I should do for Wednesday. And I'll keep you guys informed of how this goes. Hopefully he will not be a statistic and we can reach him!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Senseless violence

After yesterday's shooting in Tucson, Arizona, aimed at assassinating Congresswoman Gaby Giffords, six people were killed and Giffords is in critical condition after being shot in the brain. Democracy was happening at the time of the shooting, with a community meeting with the Congresswoman and local citizens.

They have a suspect right now, and are investigating.

The only thing I want to say is that the freedom of speech is not only about saying whatever you want, but also having to peacefully listen to others. And this is an example of how someone who doesn't agree with a bill being passed or political views (I presume) took violent measures to make their point. That is not what the 1st amendment is about. That is not what democracy is about.

Condolences to all those affected.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

2011: I dare you to Live

Happy New Year!! It is 2011. For some reason I am super excited to be starting a new year. Why is that? I think it's because of all the new things that the flipping of the calendar entices. That the old year is finally behind us and whatever did not get done can be forgotten and we start over.

Take the plunge. To me, 2011 is about trying more things that you've never tried before; to challenge oneself; to possibly walk across your own personal tightrope, 1000 fee up in the air.

2010 was great and I tried a ton of things from oil painting, to building a bridge, to starting a new job, to putting myself out there on the love front, to letting go of things that were not necessarily beneficial to me and to learning how to say no (You can't do everything and go everywhere).

So I was reading Melanie's blog of things she has learned as she is turning 30 and it was a great list. It reminded me of all the knowledge I had picked up in the last year. The life of a twentysomething is very unique. You still get away with acting young and childish, but at the same time you have not yet reached your full potential and you know it. You know that there is a ton out there awaiting you, you just have to go and get it. Well, there's something umm, let's see, "special" about turning 30. It's not like there will be a drumroll and everyone gasp's saying "wow, she's 30," but there is definitely a HUGEEEEEEEE difference between 29 and 30. So us twentysomethings enjoy the fact that we are still young enough to do what we want before this wretched number. Well I'm not 30 yet, no where near it as far as I am concerned, but it is an ever present reminder that now is the time to get things done, to make moves.

There are a ton of things that I plan on working on this year, some of which I choose to keep blogless. One thing I will share, that has been an ever present theme over the last 2 years is about people. I have trouble moving on from people. A friend of mine reminded me that everyone comes into your life for a reason, and not all of these reasons are permanent. There were people that you met that you were meant to be close to in high school, college, grad school, work, social activities, Church, the gym, etc. And perhaps you had a great relationship with them at the time, but things change and it's ok to not have that same relationship when one of you moves on or has a major life change. It makes logical sense, but for some reason this was a very hard idea for me to grasp. I've been holding on to some things or getting mad about them, when really I should just reflect on the good times, appreciate those, and get on with my life. So I will work on doing that in 2011. I simply do not have the energy to spend keeping up with people who are not thinking about me.

The other major goal is to get back into shape. Mainly it's tackling the dreaded middle expansion region we all face as we get older and our metabolism slows down. I don't think I ever went through the Freshman 15 in college. I think I actually lost weight because I didn't have that much time to eat. But, now is the time to get into the best shape of our lives; before marriage and kids ruin your figure forever, lol. (somewhat dramatizing).

I am excited to start a new year because it is the ritualistic cleaning of the chalkboard and starting with a fresh slate. In 2011 I dare you to Live.

Photo Credit: http://www.colinoproperties.com/images/2008/10/tightrope.jpg