Who Ever Heard of Maundy Thursday?

Monday, March 25, 2013

When I grew up, we always went to church on Maundy Thursday. It was an important day to my father, and it's an important day in my current denomination.

But many Christians don't even know what it is.

Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper. That's when Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Passover meal in an upper room and Jesus initiated the Lord's Supper (also called "Holy Communion" and "the Eucharist"). The same meal where Jesus told his disciples that they were to serve one another and washed their feet as an example to them.

The commonly accepted derivation of the term "Maundy" is that it comes from the Latin word "mandatum," meaning mandate or commandment. After washing the disciples' feet, Jesus told them, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." (John 13:34 ESV)

Jesus left the upper room with a heavy heart. He knew he would be crucified the next day, but he did it for us because he was our servant.

And our Lord.

That's why I celebrate Maundy Thursday.

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The picture is called "Christ Washing the Feet of His Disciples," and the artist is Nicolas Bertin. The painting was created sometime around 1720 or 1730 as an oil on panel.

A Non-Review of "The Bible"

Monday, March 18, 2013

I don't watch shows about lawyers because the inaccuracies drive me crazy, and I've purposefully avoided watching "The Bible" on the History Channel for similar reasons. I do, however, have Christian friends who watch it, and their opinions differ.

Some enjoy the program and have told me they find the series true to the text. Others think it concentrates too much on the violent episodes in the Bible to the exclusion of stories that show a loving God. Or, as Lutherans would put it, they think the show contains too much law and not enough gospel.

Whether I agree with the approach or not, I can understand it. Violence sells, as they say. Normally that's a bad thing, but maybe it isn't this time. To those of us who know it well, the Bible is an exciting book. Still, it is easy to portray it in a boring way, and boring doesn't capture viewers. Violence does. And if that's what it takes to get someone interested, I'm all for it. Especially if viewing the series makes people curious enough to ask questions and read the source.

Besides, God can use anything for His purposes.

So even though I'm not watching the show, I'm glad others are.

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The picture is titled "David Slaying Goliath," and the artist is Peter Paul Rubens. The painting was created around 1616 as on oil on canvas.

Spring Forward, Fall Back

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring forward
To save an hour of daylight.
Put it in the bank
Until the dark of winter.

Fall back
Into the evening gloom.
Open the vault
To lengthen the days.

Empty the treasure chest
Of sunlight and illusion.
Evening hours borrowed from morning,
And then returned.

No hour gained,
No hour lost.
Each day still with twenty-four
To run it's course.

Minds are easily deceived,
But you can't fool Mother Nature.

Poem © 2013 by Kathryn Page Camp
Spring picture © 2011 by Kathryn Page Camp
Fall picture © 2012 by Kathryn Page Camp

Criticism or Critique?

Monday, March 4, 2013

These two words, criticism and critique, share a dictionary definition but often create opposite emotions. Many people view criticism negatively but critique positively.

Both should be positive, even when they are negative.

I belong to several groups that exist to encourage and, yes, to criticize. To criticize the material, that is, not the person.

The Highland Writers' Group is an in-person critique group that meets weekly to critique members' works in progress, and Calumet Toastmasters is a Toastmasters International club that meets semi-monthly to listen to and evaluate members' speeches. I also have an on-line critique partner who is most helpful of all. The picture shows me with Celeste when we met for lunch during my vacation last summer.

There are two things I've learned (among many, of course). First, if I want to improve my craft, I can't be sensitive. Second, if I want to improve my craft, I must be sensitive. The definition to avoid is "quick to take offense; touchy." The one to embrace is "responsive to external conditions or stimulation." (These two definitions of "sensitive" come from the fourth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.)

Several years ago, I was writing an overtly Christian novel and sharing it with the Highland Writers' Group for critique. I found myself constantly irritated by the criticism from one member. He appeared to be antagonistic to Christianity, and most of his comments showed that he misunderstood what I was trying to say in this paragraph or that one. My immediate reaction (in my head, not my mouth, fortunately), was "You aren't my audience. Christians will know what I mean."

Then I went home and thought about it. Yes, he wasn't my intended audience, and maybe a Christian audience would understand what I wrote. But maybe it wouldn't. Equally important, what if a non-Christian picked up the book and read it? Better to reword a few paragraphs than to risk being misunderstood.

With minor variations, this experience has been a theme in the critique experiences I have found most helpful. If I quickly take offense and discount the criticisms, I don't learn anything. But if I think about what was said and respond offensively rather than defensively, my writing is the better for it. Yes, I still reject some of the suggestions I receive, but not until I have considered them carefully.

Because even negative criticism can be a positive experience.