Tru here wishing you happy HAPPY days in December! Since I hold it as especially private and intimate, I rarely share my spiritual perspective. So I am hoping that my sharing this spiritual context can enrich YOUR relationship with a loved one who has dementia symptoms. (And to my own family, this is documentation of my wishes for this matter.) Please remember that this is MY personal story; your own friend or family member may have no trouble remembering and enjoying new spiritual perspectives.
My thirst for spiritual relationship began very young and was a driving influence for my life. At my insistence for prayer and such things, our family found a church and began regular attendance there well before I became a “Christian” at five years old. Now my spiritual perspectives have changed dramatically, but memories of WHY I myself made those changes are growing dim. Why do I no longer celebrate the special days that my loved ones celebrate? For past two years I have been forgetting why my spiritual perspective has changed. Since my husband has never dropped the “Christian” traditions, I suspect that he will get tired of answering my questions for why I decided that we should no longer celebrate with the traditions I remember. … And actually asking is rather useless since even within minutes of his answer I forget the words and my mind is again asking “WHY”. Now I remember that I will not understand anyway, so I try to avoid asking. It is unspoken but very much on my mind. … And it makes me uneasy.
Since early childhood I very much enjoyed the tradition of tramping thru the woods with the family, Friday after Thanksgiving, searching for the perfect tree, and the sharp scent of pine filling the house. Glass and porcelain ornaments now hang suspended at various places in our home throughout the year, but probably in the next year or two you will again find a decorated tree in our house — because I cannot remember why I decided not to. In my childhood and during our children’s youth, we spent many happy hours in elaborate decoration of “Easter” eggs. Soon I suspect you will again find me enjoying those activities, because my theological understanding is going backward in time, as well as all my other memories. Most events from the last five to ten years are not well-retained at this stage of my life, and I suspect that time period will go further backwards as my symptoms progress.
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So far I have not questioned my “Torah-observant” practice of 7th-Day, probably because I do not see it as restrictive but rather as a weekly celebration. It is simply the tempo of the week — so why NOT celebrate? ((smile))
But internally I am now questioning my other “Torah-observant” practices. I know that eventually they will fall away since my family does not hold those same values … and I accept that as okay when it happens. I do not want to repeatedly wonder why I have restrictions, and don’t want my family to try to convince me to continue a practice that I no longer understand WHY I am doing it. I call that “ritual without reality”.
What happened? After many (30) years of informal language studies from ancient scriptures, I began Systematic Theology study in 2006, using the well-accepted seminary text of Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, (supplemented by an extensive set of free audio classes I found, personally taught by Wayne Grudem). At that point, my un-labeled cognitive symptoms prevented “standard” time expectation for finishing these six courses in various aspects of systematic theology. It took extra time to finish them, but finish I did. However, I ended up feeling more uncertain than when I began; my “foundation” of Bible history did not feel as solid as I had expected it would. So this feeling triggered a larger perspective of study. 2006 to 2008 were spent with intense analysis for textual content in larger perspective of when and where text originated; how, why, by whom, for whom, and in what circumstances it was produced, what influences were at work in its production, and what original oral or written sources may have been used in its composition. (I discovered this wording for “Biblical Criticism” at theopedia dot com and found it quite accurate to my personal studies.) My selection of source material began with those acceptable to seminary-level study, but gradually realized these were pre-selecting “acceptable” as according to that seminary’s perception for message of scriptures. Sources personally “acceptable” as source material began to vary widely and I ended up taking some courses from Yale in the mix along with many others. I ended up doing a huge amount of reading and accepted few of these “sources” at face value, but in turn questioned the documents these “sources” used as their own source-documents.
I researched and battled out my personal belief statement before I even realized that I was beginning to lose those reasoning abilities. (But of course I lost the belief statement LOL.) Since I have spent all this time and energy in research and decision, I strongly object to others confusing me by trying to change my mind with an hour or two of reasoned or emotional arguments now. I no longer have ability to understand your arguments … or to even understand my own rationale for my decisions. But I have made my decisions and I remember that they were extremely well thought-out. Do not try to proselytize me with whatever YOU believe or don’t believe (spiritually and politically); it is of no benefit to either of us, because I no longer have the ability to make those kinds of decisions.
I took lots of notes during those years (none of which I can now understand), and was devastated at my conclusions. Dropped membership in local “Christian” church, and I cried myself to sleep almost every night for two years at the dis-illusion of my “Christian” Biblical foundation. Many persons become bitter with these discoveries, but my RELATIONSHIP with Creator remained firm. However, after those two years of study my theological stance changed dramatically; I changed my legal name to Truthful Loving Kindness in 2007 (based on Hebrew term “chesed v’ emet”), began Torah-observant practices late 2008 (seven years ago) and formally requested conversion in a rather progressive-minded Jewish congregation (2011 Apr 27) while continuing personal study on origin of Hebrew language. My conversion request was denied, but my conclusions continued to evolve for the next year or two and I continued worshipping with them from 2008 thru 2014. Now (2015) I remember meaning for very few of the Hebrew words in the songs or scriptures. The tunes and rituals are vaguely familiar, but do not have the visceral connection of my own childhood traditions. I suspect that as my symptoms continue to develop I will especially NEED those childhood hymns to keep myself grounded, so I guess it is a good thing my request was denied because I am again in search of a congregation … while I can still be involved in decision-making process. Meanwhile I plan to invite a few friends every week to just sing songs; everything from first two verses of “How Great Thou Art” to “What a Beautiful World” … or whatever anyone wants to sing. We will open our mouths for sound to come out ((smile)).
I remember the vocabulary for what I do believe (and what I disagree with), but no longer remember any of the reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with specific doctrines of organized religion. … And yet I need to have local persons in like-minded (monotheistic) worship. Long-distance, internet-based connections do not meet the need for voices raised together in song, or a gentle touch on the shoulder. My needs are changing.
Since my dementia symptoms continue to advance, it is definitely a time to reach for those common worship traditions which I will probably need in the future. I pray to find a local congregation soon. … or maybe we will just continue to sing songs (( smile )).
Tags: Spirituality, symptoms
Other Blogs on related issues:
… My Faith and My Dementia
… My Motivating Hopes
… Focus on Essential Priorities
… Hold My Hand
2016 Update at https://truthfulkindness.com/2016/12/27/hol-ctxt-hist-sx/
Alphabetical Links to materials I use most:
- Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972, Orthodox Jewish beliefs, Theologian, Philosopher, & passionate champion of inter-faith dialogue): I have read a number of them, but my absolute favorite book by him (which is the only one I can still even now understand and enjoy) is an anthology; “I Asked for Wonder”. This is source of my favorite quote: G0d is of no importance unless He is of supreme importance.
- Christian Bible Study website favorites are https://bible.org/ and https://www.blueletterbible.org/
- Complete Jewish Bible (from Messianic Jewish Publishers) is my favorite “Messianic” translation of Bible at http://messianicjewish.net/bibles-commentaries-new/bibles.html
- David Aaron (mystic Jewish Kabbalah beliefs, Founder-Dean/Isralight Institute) at http://www.rabbidavidaaron.com/
- David Flusser (1917-2000, Orthodox Jewish beliefs, Professor of Early Christianity and Judaism) resources at http://myshalomonline.org/books/david-flusser/
- David Fohrman (Orthodox Jewish beliefs, Professor of Bible Studies/Johns Hopkins Univ.) and Founder at https://www.alephbeta.org/
- ISR Bible (Institute for Scripture Research) is my favorite “Hebrew Roots” translation of Bible at http://www.isr-messianic.org/
- James Tabor (Noahic beliefs, Professor/Christian Origins and Ancient Judaism/Univ. N. Carolina) resources at https://jamestabor.com/
- Jeff Benner (Hebrew Roots beliefs, Ancient Hebrew Resource Center) resources at http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/
- JPS Bible (Jewish Publication Society Translation) is my favorite “Judaic” translation of Bible; it includes both languages of “oldest known” Hebrew and English Old Testament at https://jps.org/books/jps-hebrew-english-tanakh-deluxe-edition/
- Nehemiah Gordon (Karaite Jewish beliefs) at http://www.nehemiaswall.com/
- NET Bible (New English Translation) is my favorite “Christian” translation of Study Bible at https://store.bible.org/store/category/70
- Open Yale Courses at http://oyc.yale.edu/
- Shmuel Safrai, D.Th. (1919-2003, Professor Emeritus of Jewish History/Hebrew Univ, recipient of many literary prizes for his research, including the Jerusalem Prize (1986), and the Israel Prize (2002), the State of Israel’s most prestigious honor) articles at http://www.jerusalemperspective.com/author/shmuel-safrai/ (and free download of “Spoken and Literary Languages in the Time of Jesus”) at http://www.scribd.com/doc/142329017/Shmuel-Safrai-Spoken-and-Literary-Languages-in-the-Time-of-Jesus
- Skip Moen PhD (Dean/Dept Biblical Leadership/Master’s Int Divinity School) resources at http://skipmoen.com/
- The Theology Program (Orthodox “Christian” beliefs) at https://bible.org/theology (who also publishes my favorite “Christian” Study Bible)
- Torah Study Website favorites also include http://www.chabad.org/ and http://www.aish.com/
- Wayne Grudem (Orthodox “Christian” beliefs, (Professor of Theology & Biblical Studies/Phoenix Seminary & General Editor for ESV Study Bible) offers free audio recordings from 2005-2014 at http://www.christianessentialssbc.com/messages/ Seminary text is available thru Amazon, as are the books that most above people have written.
Text time: 13.25 hrs in 3days, plus graphic revision 1.5hrs
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