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Disturbing the Universe

The musings of author Christina Knowles

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December 2013

Book Review: Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx

I was very impressed with the beginning of this book. Marx does an excellent job, in Part I: Bourgeois and Proletarians, analyzing and explaining the historical anthropological cycle of the plutocracy and the downward spiral of the working class in the free market. The way Marx describes the corruption and greed of the business owner is prophetic of the crony Capitalism of corporate America today.  I believe he was spot-on in his interpretation of this cycle of abuse and profit and the devaluation of the blue-collar worker; however, his solution to the problem (Part II: Proletarians and Communists) is entirely too radical, and quite frankly, scary. Marx’s vision of Communism assumes an honest and benevolent leadership, which is not likely if we look at historical evidence.

For example, Marx calls for the complete abolishment of land ownership, including personal homes, not just private businesses, “centralization of credit in the hands of the state,” and “centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.” The last two, in particular, sound like nothing more than a means of controlling the population. But what I really don’t understand is why Marx thinks that the abolishment of land ownership and private wealth will automatically result in the dissolution of religion and the family unit. This makes no sense to me since neither is dependent on wealth or ownership for their survival. Marx does not specify that the state be required to raise the children as part of the manifesto. He does state that there should be a free public school system, which we have, and which hasn’t dissolved the family unit. I think modern Socialists and possibly even Communists would be horrified at this “Brave New World.” However, in the next section, Marx criticizes the Socialist movements of the day, including the German Socialism, which led to Nazi control. He even predicts, to some extent, the brutality of this movement.

Finally, in Part IV, Marx encourages a violent uprising to achieve these changes, which modern Socialists, at least Democratic Socialists, condemn. I can see why many Socialists today do not align themselves with Marx.

Even though much of this manifesto is repulsive, I give the work 3 out of 5 stars for the insight and explanation of the social problems inherent in a free market run by the wealthy elite.–Christina Knowles

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FORGIVENESS: NO, IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT ME MOVING ON By Christina Knowles

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of well-intentioned and heart-warming Christmas-themed stories in order to boost my “Christmas spirit,” or really, because my Christmas spirit is just fine, to revel in the warmth and love that defines the season. However, this activity has brought forth, in abundance, the manifestation of this one pet peeve of mine. It is this idea of forgiveness, the common notion of today that forgiveness is not about the other person, the person whom I am forgiving, but instead it is about me, the forgiver. Right away this should ring some alarm bells, but wait. Before we talk about that, there is more to this modern notion of forgiveness. It is commonly said that we should forgive our transgressors even if they do not confess or ask forgiveness, even if they don’t think they did anything wrong because, after all, it’s about me, not them anyway. And finally, and I hear this from more people than not, they say they always forgive, but they don’t forget, meaning of course, that they will forever protect themselves from those who hurt them by never really trusting them again, always expecting the same behavior to someday resurface in the future, and in general, only saying they’ve forgiven them when in fact they haven’t at all. This is my pet peeve because it doesn’t really seem like forgiveness at all. I decided to go to the author of forgiveness, and see what He had to say about it.

First of all, it occurred to me that when God forgives us, it is to save us, not Him. We need it. It is not to help Him in anyway. He does it because 1) He loves us, 2) we need it, 3) He wants to continue in close relationship with us, and 4) we are willing to confess and repent of our sins. It is clear from the word of God that we are to model our forgiveness on His.

1 John 1:9 (ESV) says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Our forgiveness depends on our confession, and we need it to be cleansed.  The scripture also says that if we don’t forgive, we will not be forgiven. We do need to forgive in order to be forgiven ourselves, but I believe this means not refusing our forgiveness when someone asks it from us.

In addition, Psalm 103:8-14 (NKJV) states, “8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.” I interpret this to mean that God does not hold those sins against us, waiting for us to commit them again, even though we will. He does not distance himself from us to protect himself. He understands that we are dust, but He gives us a completely clean slate, a fresh start with no relational conditions attached to our forgiveness. If we forgive, we have to accept that person, fully allowing him/her to be in a position to hurt us again, or we have set conditions on our love, and harbored the fear that he/she will commit this offense again. Of course, we are only human and cannot fully forget when we’ve been hurt, but to me forgiveness means making a daily, conscious effort to treat those we’ve forgiven as if they’ve never harmed us, expecting the best from them, and not closing off our hearts to them.  We can’t continue in a close relationship with someone without consciously “forgetting” his/her transgressions against us. If we don’t consciously try to forget, we are likely suppressing anger, which eventually turns to bitterness and ultimately destroys the relationship.

If they do it again, then once they confess and repent, we are to forgive again, as many times as it takes. Luke 17:3-4 (ESV ) says, “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” As many times as people repent, we are to forgive them, but I can’t get away from the fact that they must repent. Here’s another example in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV):If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” I don’t think we are being asked to forgive and forget without true repentance because God will not forgive us when we do not have true repentance. Don’t misunderstand; I believe we should love them anyway, regardless of repentance, and maybe we need to “let go” of the hold someone’s harm to us has on us so that we can move on, but this is not forgiveness.

Of course there are those who do not realize that they’ve done something to harm us. In Luke 23:34 (KJV) it says, “Then said Jesus, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’” Sometimes people don’t know they’ve harmed us, but as it says in Matthew 18:15-22 (NKJ) “15 Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’[a] 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” It seems to me that we are to lovingly confront those who have harmed us and give them a chance to ask forgiveness, but if they do not, we leave them alone; we don’t forgive them and deal with them as if nothing happened.

So if we are to model our forgiveness on God’s, it seems we cannot merely pretend to forgive, saying we have, and then expecting them to hurt us again, and protecting our hearts from them until that day. Nor can we just forgive and treat someone as if they’ve never done anything wrong when they refuse to acknowledge that they’ve hurt us, refuse to confess, or to turn away from doing it in the future. Instead, we need to tell them they’ve hurt us honestly, and if they confess and apologize, then we whole-heartedly forgive them, putting the past behind us, entering into an open and vulnerable relationship with them as Christ has done with us. We do this in love for them and God, not for ourselves, although we do receive benefit from it.

I realize that if you do not believe the Bible is the Word of God, then none of these examples matter to you. However, the premise holds true. Ask yourself if you have truly forgiven if you no longer trust those who hurt you, or if you change the way you act around them, or distance yourself from them to protect yourself. Would it be easier to forgive them if you knew they were sorry and meant never to hurt you again? Can you truly forgive someone who is not sorry and has no intention to change?

I’m not sure where this modern interpretation of forgiveness has come from or why it has so invaded our philosophy, but I prefer God’s idea of forgiveness. It is more honest, genuine, requires effort and sacrifice and often help from God, and most of all encourages and preserves genuine relationship.–Christina Knowles

Being Thankful Is Pure Joy by Christina Knowles

This year, as well as last, I participated in the 30 Days of Thankfulness Challenge on Facebook.  This is where each day of November you post what you are thankful for. I did it last year and really enjoyed it, but this year I really took the time to think about what I felt particularly thankful for each day. I learned a lot by being grateful every day. I learned that when I am thankful and take the time to really sit in that feeling, I am so much more content. I think it made me happier and those around me as well. I wish this challenge wasn’t just a once-a-year thing. I plan on doing this at least once a week on my own just so I don’t slide back into self-pity and discontentment. Here’s what I was thankful for this month:

Day 1: I am thankful for Randy Knowles. I love you, Randy. You are the music of my life and my soul mate. 4842_1117002859404_765152_n

Day 2: I am thankful for my mom. I love her sooo much it hurts. See my blog: “How Could Someone Like Me Come from Someone Like Her?” I needed a whole blog for this one.

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Day 3: I am thankful for my beautiful daughter, Valerie, and the relationship we have. I could not be more proud of her. I love her more than words can express. I would gladly give my life for her. I ache for her when I don’t see her for a while, and I cry myself to sleep when we fight. Thank you, God, for making her my daughter and my friend.

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Day 4: Today I am thankful for Lee Fullbright’s friendship and encouragement. She is an award-winning author of a fabulous book called, The Angry Woman Suite. I read it in my book club, loved it, and reviewed it on Goodreads. She liked my review and contacted me personally. She started following my reviews because she found them “insightful.” After emailing back and forth several times, I got up the nerve to tell her I was planning on publishing The Ezekiel Project. I asked if she would read it and give me an unbiased review. She loved it! Since then she has given me so much advice, given me reviews, answered my questions, and has offered to help me promote my book. She even gave me a quote to use for the back cover. I feel like I have gotten to know her over the course of these online conversations. She is a generous, kind, and beautiful person. I feel so blessed to have met her.

Day 5: Today I am thankful for cold evenings in front of warm fires with my husband and my dog. I am thankful for fall and winter–the cuddling under blankets, snow days, sipping hot chocolate and watching old movies, sweaters and boots, frost covered windows, electric blankets, fuzzy slippers, Thanksgiving with family, Christmas and all that entails–love, hope, peace on earth, joy of a newborn savior, family, sappy Lifetime Christmas movies, Richard Paul Evans’ Christmas books, Christmas shopping, baking Christmas cookies with Valerie, decorating, tromping through little shops in Old Colorado City, candlelight church services, Christmas dinner at my sister’s, and seeing our kids and grandson.

Day 6: Today I am thankful for my eclectic group of friends. I appreciate them for all their differences and for what we have in common. I can share everything going on in my life, and I know I’ll get honesty, sympathy, and even a kick in the butt if I need it. Most of all they accept me no matter what, and I can count on them if I need them. We also have crazy good times together.

Day 7: Today I have a splitting headache and have had a terrible day with student behavior, so I am thankful for Excedrin . . .and daisies, just because I like daisies.

Day 8: Today I am thankful for my science fiction class. I love, love, love those kids. Fourth period is the highlight of my day. I look forward to our amazing discussions of social and political topics. We talk about everything imaginable in there, and they are all respectful and open-minded with each other. They treat me like a queen, they all rush in excited to learn, they pay rapt attention, they share all kinds of interesting things with me, I learn from them every day, they say the nicest things to me, and today they even gave me a round of applause when I gave them a speech about education being so important.

Day 9: Today I am thankful for Christmas music. I’ve been listening to 102.7 and they are already playing Christmas music. Listening to these songs moves me, softens my heart to God; they make me cry. It helps me realize the depth of the love of God in a world where I don’t recognize it very often.

Day 10: I am thankful for my sisters and brothers and all my extended family. I feel truly blessed that I have good, loving, compassionate people in my family. I am close to my sisters. We are always there for each other, we hang out, and we talk about all kinds of things even though we are completely different from each other. I have always been close to my brothers too even though they are more than ten years older than me. They’ve always been the proud and protective type. Unlike some families, my siblings were always nice to me and never picked on me. I love my sisters-in-law and my brother-in-law just like they were my blood siblings as well. I have tons of nieces, nephews, and grand-nieces and grand-nephews as well. They are all wonderful. In my family, I always feel loved.

Day 11: Today I am thankful for veterans. I’m not a super pro-military girl, but I am not naive. I know we need a standing army to protect ourselves, freedom, and the oppressed and helpless who cannot protect themselves. I appreciate the fact that soldiers are willing to do this and to put their lives on the line for our country and the people in it. I also realize that soldiers don’t choose the wars we fight, but do their duty.

Day 12: Today I am thankful for people God has put into my life who speak truth to me that I need to hear and sometimes (often) resist. They put effort into me and my spiritual struggles; they care, they pray, they listen, and they talk to me. There are several and probably some who care and pray that I don’t even know about, but today I am particularly thankful for Dan Hooker and Suzy Remington. God has used them in my life, and I am so grateful.

Day 13: Today I am thankful for my home. My home is my sanctuary. It’s where I can’t wait to get back to whenever I leave. It’s where I cuddle up with my husband and dog after a day out in the cold, harsh world, and I’m completely loved and accepted. It’s where kindness, peace, and love are the rule, not the exception. I’d rather be at home than anywhere else.

Day 14: I just got back from my book club, so right now I am very thankful for books. Reading is my favorite past-time, and I love reading almost any genre. Many people read for entertainment, and although I find it entertaining, I read to learn. Reading teaches me about other people and about myself. Reading allows me to live endless lives and experience things I would never be able to in real life. It also makes me think about things in new ways, examining things with a different perspective. Books make me smarter. Smarter is good.

Day 15: 25 years ago today, God gave me this wonderful baby boy. I am thankful for my son Daniel. He is a sweet, compassionate, generous, and loving man. He is a good husband and father. I am so proud of him. Right now his wife may be going into labor way too early. His little boy, Levi, is not supposed to come until February. Please, God, keep Levi where he belongs as long as possible. Keep Morgan safe as well.

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Day 16: There’s a lot to be thankful for today. Obviously today I am thankful that my grandson Levi was successfully delivered and was able to breathe and even cry yesterday afternoon. He is so precious, beautiful, and amazing. Looking at him, it is impossible to deny the miracle of creation. I am thankful for modern medical advances as well. When I was having children, little guys like Levi did not have much of a chance being born this early, but I have the utmost confidence in his future. I am thankful for my daughter-in-law. She is a warrior-mom! Her attitude and faith and love for Levi were indefatigable. And again for my son who is the epitome of love and responsibility personified. I am thankful to God for all this, but also for waking me up to life again, and showing me it’s okay to hope and feel and love even if I can be hurt because sometimes things work out, and these joys keeps us from being destroyed by the things that don’t.

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Day 17: Today I am thankful I have a job where I get to talk about what I love–reading and writing! I am also thankful that I get 14 weeks a year off, plus snow days! I am thankful that I get to work with teenagers. I love my students.

Day 18: Today I am thankful for all the selfless, loyal, and loving dogs I have had the pleasure of loving in my life, and who loved me unconditionally. I don’t think I can live without a dog in my life. When one passes on, I feel a hole inside that can be filled by nothing else. I am so thankful for Inky, my first dog, who taught me unconditional love and true loyalty, and also was the subject of my first fiction writing! I will always love you, Inky. Clancy, I loved you too even though you weren’t in my life very long. You made me feel special because you would only listen to me. My beloved Mulder dog, I still grieve over losing you, my friend and constant companion for 13 years. You were with me in good times and bad and all you cared about was being with me. And now my sweet baby, Chacho. He’s more precious to me every day. I love you, Chacho. You are the most unique dog I’ve had, you moody little person dog. Thank you, God, for making dogs.

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Day 19: It may sound petty after my earlier choices for being thankful, but today I am thankful for technology. Medical technology which enabled doctors to operate on my grandson while he was still in the womb, technology that saves lives every day. But I am also thankful for the internet and the devices that seem, on one hand, to dehumanize us; however, they provide us with so many previously unrealized opportunities. Because of the internet, we can expose so many things to the public that we have a right to know, we can have even more of an impact with our freedom of speech, and it is much more difficult to hide things from the American people or any people. We can keep in touch with those we would normally never have a chance to speak to, and as a writer, I have a platform with which I may share ideas through blogging, publishing poetry, stories, novels, or even status updates on Facebook. We also have a world’s worth of information at our fingertips. It might sound odd coming from a product of the 60s, but I love technology.

Day 20: I am thankful for the earth. What an amazingly beautiful place to live. I love the changing seasons, especially when the snow starts to fly. I love the mountains, forests, oceans, and jungles. Trees, grass, flowers, butterflies, stones, and even dirt are all beautiful and nature grounds us, balances us, and brings serenity and life.

Day 21: Today I am thankful for art. Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, Modern Abstract, and Surrealism are my favorites, but I love it all. I love oils, acrylic, pencil, pastel, charcoal, watercolor, and collage. I love sculpture and pottery. Architecture styles such as Byzantine, Gothic, Tudor, Roman, and Tuscan are fabulous as well. I love everything artistic, including crafty art such as scrapbooking, candle-making, etc. I thank God for creativity.

Day 22: Today I am thankful for delayed starts and snow days. They are like waking up and finding out it is Christmas when you didn’t even know it was coming.

Day 23: I am thankful for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the revolutionaries who fought for it. Without it, I’d probably be in jail right now. I tend to speak my mind, so I’m thankful for freedom of speech in particular.

Day 24: Today I am thankful for the holiday season. I love Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve always loved the Christmas season because I love the feeling that overcomes most people this time of year, peace on earth, good will toward men. That’s why cheesy Hallmark and Lifetime movies play non-stop at my house from now until December 31st. I love how normally indifferent people seem to care about their fellow “travelers to the grave,” as Dickens put it. I love being thankful for all the wonderful people in my life and the things I enjoy. I love that people wake up and want to help others. I wish this concern would last all year. I know it does for some, but it doesn’t pervade the masses like it does this time of year. But this year, I’m overwhelmed with love for Jesus and thanking God that he wrapped himself in human flesh to save all mankind. This is how I felt the first Christmas I was a Christian. I want to feel this way every Christmas. Rediscovering the joy of my salvation. I intend to celebrate every minute of it this year.

Day 25: Today I am thankful for second chances. I am a big fan of them. People always say, “Everyone deserves a second chance.” That may be generally true, but not in every case. We may need one, but do we really deserve one? Sometimes it takes many chances for a person to come around. Few people have taken backsliding to the extremes I have, actually declaring myself an atheist for awhile. I am amazed that God bothered pursuing me and giving me a second chance when I most certainly didn’t “deserve” it. I am thankful we have a God of second chances.

Day 26: Today I am thankful for life and health. Humans are both astoundingly resilient and terribly fragile at the same time. One sudden accident or a burst blood vessel and we could be gone, just like that. But we can also withstand devastating conditions and completely recover. The fragility of life makes us appreciate each day more and live more fully. The complexity and healing abilities of the body are mind-boggling. We are truly amazing creations.

Day 27: Today I am thankful for my grandchildren. They are sweet and beautiful, and I love them so much. I wish I was retired, so I could knit them sweaters and make cookies for them and just see them more often.

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Day 28: Today I am thankful for everything, really everything.

Day 29: Today I am thankful that I live in Colorado. Colorado is a wonderful place to be. I love the weather, the mountains, the forests, and the waterfalls. I love deep snows without the bitter cold. I love that it doesn’t get too hot in the summer. I especially love Christmas in Colorado.

Day 30: I am thankful for thankfulness. Being grateful has taught me how I should live and what my focus should be. This has been the best month I can remember in so long, so today I am just thankful for being thankful.

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