One Faith Many Paths: Carla Lapre

For this month, I am interviewing Carla Lapre.  I met her on Christian Anime Alliance.  I think she is a very interesting person, and I admire her frankness.  For this reason, I thought she’d be an excellent person to interview.

1. Why do you believe there is a God?
That’s a challenging question. The Bible makes it clear He was and still exists. Plus if you look at the wonders of animal, bird, and plant life, how can you not say there is a God? Beauty and creativity couldn’t have happened by chance. Also, amidst the chaos, Someone must be in control or else things would escalate far worse then they may seem or have been in the past.

2. What was your childhood like?

I grew up in a home where both my parents were dedicated Independent Fundamental Baptist Christians. Early on, it didn’t seem so bad. Had lots of friends who went to Sunday School with me, and later on AWANA meetings. I accepted Christ at the age of 7 and got baptized a couple weeks afterward. Plus I went through elementary and high school in a private school that was located in the church I attended for most of my life.

You’d think school was fairly pleasant. Hardly. I got bullied a lot for no particular reason. Personally I think some hated the fact that I have a good memory (and at the time read a LOT) and could spit out facts like nothing. Plus I didn’t understand a few things about what was happening to me physically as I approached my teen years. I think part of it was due to the culture clash between me and my mom. She was born and raised in the Philippines, not to mention her body is different than mine, so there were certain issues regarding personal grooming and being attractive that she didn’t bring up with me, let alone grasp why it was important.

Before my sister was born, my dad stayed home to take care of me, so we grew very close. Still, even he couldn’t understand my “rebellion” that cropped up countless times as I got older. Maybe it was because he was a bit of one himself and he didn’t like seeing it in me. I don’t know.

I know it seems like my childhood sucked, but there were some fun times. Making up stories and pretending with my childhood best friend before she moved away. Learning how to swim (and later teaching my sister what I knew to the point where she learned to swim). Staying up late at night with my sister ’cause we thought an 8pm bedtime on school days wasn’t fair. There were a lot of good memories as well.

3. How did you meet your husband?
We met while in college, long before he decided to enlist in the Navy. At the time, I was in my last semester completing requirements to get out with my associate’s degree, as well as to be able to transfer to a state university. Aaron was just into his second year. Around that time, I was hanging with a group of other students my husband and I refer to now as “the drama squad” (and I don’t mean a theater group). One evening, shortly after my 19th birthday, I sent a pretty stupid text to a guy I thought I was in love with. He showed it to his friends and, well, they turned on me. Until things cooled off and they accepted me again, I was alone. I first saw Aaron during a game session before this fallout, but it was a few days after they didn’t want me around them that he saw me by myself and joined me where I was sitting. The rest is pretty much history .

4. Have there been any moments that have tested your faith? Have they made you stronger? If so, how?
There have been several moments in my life where I had what I call a dry spell in my faith, the most recent being the loss of my unborn baby. In each case, I slowly had to remember that God never failed and each time, He brought me through. In light of the miscarriage, I was part of a women’s Bible study, going through the different names given to God throughout Scripture. The night after the miscarriage happened, I was lying in bed, unable to sleep, my husband snoring softly beside me. I was angry. How could God have allowed this to happen? But I knew it was foolish to be mad at Him and slowly recalled everything I learned in previous study lessons, and what the names we covered meant. Finally I was able to tell Him how I felt, that I was hurt, angry, and confused, but that I trusted He was God and would take care of me.

5. Is there anyone in your life that inspires you to be a better person? How?
My in-laws. I’ll not go into detail, but my husband’s family has and is still going through something that would have easily torn them all apart. Even though they believe differently than I do in some areas (they’re Catholic), I’ve noticed they demonstrate a lot more love and openness than I’ve seen in some Believers growing up. As far as how to live my faith, I would call them, especially my mother-in-law, role models.

As far as being a Navy wife goes, it’d probably be my best friend Ann Marie, whose husband was (at the time) an officer on the ship my husband is now assigned to. We met during the long deployment last year. She helped me understand how things operate, and she’s definitely an amazing woman in that she and her husband have been apart longer than Aaron and I have during our (almost) 2 years of marriage and the love and trust between her and her hubby is still strong.

6. What is your current profession?
You mean a job? I’m currently a consultant for The Pampered Chef.
7. Do you have a favorite biblical figure? Why is this person your favorite?
Having just finished 2 Kings recently, I would say my favorite is King Josiah. When he heard the message contained in the book of the Law they found in the temple, the first thing he did was tear his clothes in anguish, knowing how screwed the nation was and how fierce God’s judgment was going to be. I think that was a big deal that the king–the king!–rent his own royal garments and humbled himself in that manner, rather than protest or try to justify his own actions. The other thing was that when he told the people it was time to get serious about worshiping God, he meant business. Destroyed EVERYTHING that pointed to false Gods. We need more people like Josiah.

8. What is your denomination, or do you just consider yourself a Christian with no specific denomination?
I go to Calvary Chapel Newport News. I don’t label myself (e.g. Baptist, Lutheran, etc.) ’cause labels limit and divide.
9. What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
John 16:33, especially the last part.

10. What do you think is the worst misconception of Christianity?

That is another hard question. There are a lot of misconceptions regarding Christianity, and for many of them I can understand why the person saying so would believe such a thing. I think what I would say is the “worst” is that Christians are all about filling butts in the pews and converting everyone they meet into a complete clone of themselves. Unfortunately for some churches and/or denominations, that is their mindset. The minute I sense a church or even a Believer who cares more about having more people in the service or “changing” someone from the outside, I’m immediately outraged, because that is NOT what Jesus said. Is it any wonder people think “I’ll get right with God AFTER I clean up my act”, when it’s really the opposite?

It’s one thing about the IFB church that my sister and I hated. We had to go door-knocking with our parents every weekend, dressed in Sunday best (though I tried to break away wearing jeans eventually). While I won’t disagree that some people have gotten to know the Lord by that method, I’m not a big fan of it. As my sister once put it, that method of “witnessing” treats people no more than tally marks in the “number of people I led to the Lord” column. Um, clarification. YOU (the person) don’t lead anyone to the Lord. The Holy Spirit calls and directs them. He just chooses to use you as the instrument. It’s not about the holy roller.

11. Does it bother you when people criticize Christians for being hypocrites?

I actually think it’s pretty stupid when people call us “hypocrites” ’cause ANYONE can be a hypocrite in some area of life, not strictly religion. I know I was for a time, and I’ve no doubt I have the potential to do it again, but that shows I’m human and as a Believer, I struggle with a sin nature.

12. Have you ever had any moments of doubt? How did you overcome them?

I’ve had plenty of doubts growing up. I think the biggest ones involved whether or not my sweetheart and I would have a future together, and then later, the miscarriage. Part of the reason was I believed what people (specifically my Fundie parents) tried to drill in my head instead of looking directly to God and what He has revealed about Himself in the Word. In regards to losing our baby, I had to remind myself and accept once again that God knows what He is doing and His plans are for the best, even when they don’t make a lick of sense to us.

Would you like me to interview you for this project? Email me and I’ll interview you! My e-mail is:
rocklobsterjwt@gmail.com. You’ll notice when you click on that, the subject “interview” is in your subject heading. I will only accept interviews if “interview” is the subject.

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Film Freak: Real Steel

Genre: Sci-Fi

Distributor: Touchstone/Dreamworks/21 Laps/Montford Murphy

Director: Shawn Levy

Running Time: 2 hours, 7 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Summary: Charlie Kenton is a promoter of a new sport: boxing robots.  He decides to team up with his estranged son Max to create the newest sensation.

Review: I have to say this movie pleasantly surprised me.  I only expected this movie to be silly, but still enjoyable.  I thought it was interesting that the movie wasn’t nearly as futuristic as I thought it was going to be. In fact, the robot-boxing was the only futuristic element.

I thought the relationship between Charlie and Max was developed very well.  At the beginning, we could easily tell that Charlie was more concerned with finding a winning robot than trying to heal the rift caused by his wife’s death.

The designs on the robots were very good.  I especially liked Noisy Boy, the second robot that Charlie attempted to promote.  All the robots had a unique look to them.  The imagination was very good.

One thing that really impressed me was Dakota Goyo, the kid who played Max.  I learned through the commentary that Shawn Levy actually let Dakota ad lib most of the performance.  When I learned this, it made him feel more genuine.

All in all, I found this movie very enjoyable. I’d recommend it to any sci-fi fan.

 

Saint of the Month: St Therese of Lisieux

Born: Jan 2, 1873

Death: Sep 30, 1897

Patron: France

Symbol: Roses entwining a crucifix

Feast Date: October 1

Therese was the youngest of nine children.  Her mother died when she was five, causing her to be raised by her older sisters and her aunt. When two of her sisters became Carmelite nuns, she decided she must be a nun as well.  But when she first attempted to gain admission, she was refused.  That is, until a year later when she got some help. But by that time, she had contracted tuberculosis.  However, she resolved to live the rest of her life for God.  At the encouragement of her superiors, she wrote her autobiography, The Story of  A Soul. (I highly recommend this book)

What I find most interesting is what happened in her twilight years years.  The disease had taken its toll not only on her body, but also her psyche and she began to doubt God’s existence.  But she persevered and realized God wanted her to see the darkness within those who who don’t believe in God. She fought against her despair and prayed for those who did not believe.  I also find it fascinating that she believed that serving God did not mean you had to go out and change the world (although she did wish to go to India. When Mother Theresa of Calcutta chose her profession, she had read Therese’s autobiography, and this inspired her to go to India) In the words of her autobiography, you could “do small things with big love.” She believed herself to be a little flower in God’s field, which is why we Catholics call her the “Little Flower of Jesus.”  Through her, I have learned that even my small tasks of kindness can be a testament to God.

 

 

 

My Top 10 Favorite Writers

Note: in case you can’t tell, I’m officially a brony. Expect an article about that soon.

I love to read. I learned how to read at a very early age, thanks to my mother.  She read to me often and encouraged me to read on my own for fun.  Through her, I learned not to see reading as a chore, but as a source of entertainment. So I will now present my favorite writers. With each one, I’ll even provide my favorite book by that writer.

10. Neil Gaiman I’m slowly getting into Neil Gaiman. I love his imagery and the way he blends into fairy tale within the trappings of his stories.  He takes the familiar and makes it new, modernizing folklore for a whole new experience.


Best Work: Coraline–This story is excellent. Here’s a child who wishes she had better parents. But when gets them, she realizes they don’t really love her.  They just “want” her. She realizes her parents actually love her and their restrictions are a good thing.  This knowledge shows her who truly loves her. It’s the kind of story children need.

9. Rick Riordan–Rick Riordan makes mythology fun. I love how he asks what if all the myths were actually true. I believe there is nothing wrong with exposing children to mythology. He shows that the ancient world is still alive and well.  We cannot do without the influence of paganism. If we do, we lose a huge part of our culture.

Best Work: Percy Jackson and the Olympians–I’m gonna cheat and count the whole series. I can’t pick one book from the series because they’re all  good. I like how he re-imagines the Greek gods and even gets Hera right!

8. L. Frank Baum–If the only thing you know about Oz is what you saw in The Wizard of Oz movie, you’re missing out. That movie only scratched the surface.  If you were to go deeper and read all fourteen of the books he wrote, you’d see a whole world rich in imagination. A world where all the rules are well thought out. You’ll meet Princess Ozma, who actually has responsibilities. It’s not just a title to her–she takes her royalty.  I urge everyone out there who loves the Wizard of Oz–check out the books and read what you’ve been missing. You won’t be disappointed.

Best Work: The Lost Princess of Oz–Here is Ozma at her best. Against a villain who has studied her and magic and meets her as an equal.  The Nome King, her usual nemesis, is a pushover compared to this new villain.  The Oz books aren’t cute, flowery books. They are awesome!

7. Lloyd Alexander–Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain gave us an excellent take on the King Arthur mythos.  Taran is a boy on a quest to become a great hero, but does not realize where true heroism lies. In each book, he comes closer to true heroism, but every time he gets a shortcut method, it’s lost.

Best Work: Taran Wanderer– The fourth book of the Chronicles of Prydain is Taran’s coming of age story. In this story, he meets the people of the Free Commots, whose life is their craft.  These people sort of become an extended family for him and through them he learns many life lessons he didn’t learn on his farm.  I especially love the encounter with Annlaw.

6. J.K. Rowling–Unlike some people, I actually gave Harry Potter a chance before forming an opinion.  I’d get into a long diatribe about how Harry Potter isn’t evil or anti-Christian, but that’d be going off topic.  Instead, I’ll just say approach her books with an open mind before forming your opinion.

Best Work: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire–I was already a fan of the Harry Potter books when I got to this book, but this book really cemented the series for me.  This book caused a major change from bright and cheerful to downright dark.  The stakes were raised much higher than they were in the previous books.  I also like how J.K. Rowling actually expected her readers to grow with Harry.  I’ve seen very few franchises actually take children that seriously.

5. Douglas Adams–For years, people have been telling me how hilarious the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series was.  Then I sat down to read the books and discovered how right they were (well except for Mostly Harmless).

Best Work: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy–If you don’t laugh at least once while reading this book you need a new sense of humor.

4) Isaac Asimov–Asimov was one of the architects of modern-day sci-fi. He came up with the three laws of robots, which we still use today. He also blended genres, came up with great post-apocalyptic stories, and more.

Best Work: Foundation series. It’s basically the Roman Empire…but in space. With robots.

3) J.R.R. Tolkien–Come on, do I even need to explain? If you haven’t read any of his stuff, you should.

Best Work: all three Lord of the Rings.  If you’ve only seen the movies, you’re missing out. Sure, he takes a real long time to read, but it’s worth it.

Number 2 is a tie.

2a) C.S. Lewis–I love what he has to say about Christianity. His journey from atheist to Christian is fascinating.

Best Work: The Screwtape Letters–This is an excellent example of unreliable narrator, but then, it’s demons writing letters. At the same time, it made me realize how easily I’ve been tempted at times.

2b) Roald Dahl–He started out writing for adults and then decided to write for children. And best of all, he knew the best way was to write at their level, without talking down to them. He was scary, but then kids actually like being scared.

Best Work: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory–If you’ve seen the movie (and I’m talking about the one Tim Burton didn’t make), then you probably already know how good it is. The book is even better!

and now for the finale:

1. Mark Twain (a/k/a Samuel Longhorne Clemens): Don’t believe those claims that he was racist. He was actually the exact opposite. I love his sense of humor. My favorite line from him has to be “I have been on the verge of being an angel all my life, but it’s never happened yet.”

Best Work: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn–I was so surprised when I learned why he wrote this book. He actually was a supporter of the abolitionist movement. Even though we no longer have slavery in the United States, I still think this is a book that can teach us.

 

One Faith Many Paths: Enid Appelget

For this month, I decided to interview Enid Appelget. She is a former missionary who is now a mother of four children, one of whom has Asperger’s Disorder. I met her on Christian Anime Alliance when she heard I had Asperger’s, and she decided to privately ask me questions. We eventually formed a great friendship.
1. Are you a convert to the Christian faith, or have you been a Christian since childhood?
“I can consider myself a nominal Christian since childhood because I have been knowing about the Bible, Jesus and what he did for us since I was a kid raised as a Catholic.But it was not a relationship of love and trust and open communication between us. Then, when I was 18 years old I was born again, like Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:1-18.”

2. What denomination are you?
“Non-denominational. Where ever I get to live I go to any church where the word of God is believed and preached and there is sound teaching about it. Where believers in Jesus Christ love Him with all their heart mind and soul and want to be honest in everything to each other and to God. I do prefer ‘Protestant’ churches.

3. Which version of the Bible do you use for study?
“Reina-Valera. Spanish is my native tongue and that is the most used version and the one I grew up reading and listening to. I think it could be the equivalent to a New KJV, but better.”

4. How many children do you have and what are their names and ages?
J (10), D (9), J (7), M (4). And, yes, you can call me a busy mom, lol. (Note: she didn’t want me to give her kids’ names.)

5. Children with Aspergers and/or Autism are somewhat difficult to raise. What advice can you give to parents?
Do research and follow your gut instict as a parent when it comes to treatment, therapies or/and intervention. Search for all the posible help available for your child and your family as a whole. Do not compare your child or family to other families, you are not better or worst, is just different. Do not forget to take care of yourself in all areas (mental, spiritual, emotional and physical). You need to be in optimal conditions to be able to help your children and be a blessing for all in your family without burning out.

6. You said you were a missionary. What was that like?
It was AWESOME! I was able to see God working in people’s life in front row, sort of speak. I worked as a missionary with Youth With Missionhttp://ywam.org/ and God took me to many places working alongside many other Christians to take the God News to many and teach the words of Jesus to fellow believers, too. I grew a lot as a person with a lot more respect and admiration for my brothers and sisters in other countries.

7. What person in your life has shaped your faith the most? Why?

“That, is a hard question. I really never thought about it until now that you ask me. Let me think…Well, I think that more than one person was a group of teachers, during that year I was in a Bible School, in YWAM. They taught me how to think outside the regular mainstream Christianity and to search and investigate what I believe and why. I am still working on that. Learning and changing never ends.”

8. What is your favorite verse of the Bible?
Another hard question. I like so many bible verses. BUt I will go for the two that moved me to get closer to Jesus, to surrender my life totally to him: “If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9, and Luke 12:8 “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God”.

9. What do you think is the best thing about being a Christian?
Not being afraid of the future. Being filled with hope and joy. And getting to relate to God as my Lord, as my friend and as my father.

10. What is your reaction to the claim that Christians are often hypocritical and prejudiced towards those of other faiths? Have you met anyone who isn’t Christian in real life, and if so, have they treated you kindly?
Woah, those are three questions in one I will see how well can I answer them.
Hyprocrisy happens. And it is not just in people claiming to be Christians. It is the nature of man to say one thing and do other, because many times we want to fit in and not be seen for what we are. It is trigger by fear of rejection and other times because of pride. Prejudice is as ugly as Hyprocrisy but maybe more damaging. We are not to judge people in order to reject and condem them, that is not our goal or responsibility. We are to consider people where they are at and meet them there with God’s truth about themselves, and let them choose. We surely and lovingly can point out ANY wrong behavior or belief the way we would like others to point them in ourselves. Yes,I have met people that are not Christians and many have treated me kindly.

11. What advice would you give to married people?
Keep dating your spouse, preferibly once a week, even if it is just a walk around the neighborhood. Do not think that she or he knows what you want or what you are planning because they already know you well. Communicate ideas, feelings or plans in a timely way. Follow godly and biblical truth and advice in every aspect of your marriage.

12. You lived in other countries before moving to the US. What was it like there?
What was it like there?…It was hard, but I knew that we were where God wanted us to be at that time in life.
Would you like me to interview you for this project? Email me and I’ll interview you! My e-mail is:
rocklobsterjwt@gmail.com. You’ll notice when you click on that, the subject “interview” is in your subject heading. I will only accept interviews if “interview” is the subject.

X-men: First Class

Genre: Superhero

Studio: 20th Century Fox/Marvel/Bad Hat Harry

Director: Bryan Singer

Running Time: 2 hours, 12 Minutes

MPAA: PG-13

Summary: Set back in the 1960’s, this movie chronicles Professor Xavier’s and Magneto’s first formation of the X-men, who wish to promote peaceful co-existence between both humans and mutants.  Their first mission: to stop the evil Hellfire Club from escalating the Cold War during the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Stars: Kevin Bacon, James McAvoy, Oliver Pratt

My Rating: 9/10

Review: I’m a huge fan of the X-men, in fact they’re my favorite superhero team.

What I really like about the X-men is that is really a metaphor for race relations. The relationships between humans and mutants were inspired by the civil rights movement, with Professor Xavier inspired by Martin Luther King, while Magneto’s methods would be similar to Malcolm X.  I thought it was great how the movie showed the way the X-men’s first team.  We even see how Magneto and Professor Xavier first met.

The story had typical superhero style violence. THe movie gave hints that Magneto was already stating. He saw nothing wrong with killing people as a means to his end. He doesn’t share Xavier’s pacifist vision.  This puts him at odds with Xavier. He wants revenge for his childhood in the Nazi concentration camp.

I did have two problems with the movie, the first was its sexuality. There was an unnecessary scene where Moira disguises herself as a stripper to get into the Hellfire Club.  I was also displeased with Hugh Jackman’s cameo.  The sole reason for Wolverine to appear? Just so they could squeeze in the one f-word limit the PG-13 rating allows.  Just because you have the limit doesn’t mean you have to meet it.

Other than these, I actually liked the movie. I think 20th Century Fox has finally gotten past the failure of X-men: The Last Stand, which was the worst of the series, in my opinion.

Joan of Arc

Born: Jan 6, 1412

Death: May 30, 1431

Patron: France (along with St. Therese of Lisieux). She is also known as the Maid of Orleans.

Joan of Arc is one of the most compelling saints. I know a few Catholics (and one non-Christian) who consider her an admirable figure in history.

She was the youngest of five children in a peasant family. When she was twelve years old, she had her first vision.  It was eventually revealed to her that she would aid the Dauphin and save France. She was laughed at by Robert de Baudicort, the commander of Vaucoulers. But when her prophecies came true, she was sent to the Dauphin. After a n examination cleared her of heresy, she was allowed to lead an expedition to relieve Orleans.  She had two  victories and on July 17, Joan was present at the crowning of Charles VII. She failed to capture Paris the next month and was captured sold to Britain.  This resulted in her trial for charges of heresy and witchcraft.  She was eventually burned at the stake.  But in 1456, she was declared innocent by Pope Callistus III and canonized in 1920.

To me, Joan is a compelling figure because of her unwavering faith and duty to God and her country.  She didn’t care if people believed her.  She didn’t care that she would be deemed a heretic.  Some might see the declaration of heresy as proof of the “error of religion”, as she was not believed, but think about it: would you believe her? If she told you “I had a vision that I would save France”, wouldn’t you scoff too?  She knew what God wanted of her.  We have to stand up for what we believe in, even when others think it is wrong.  That is what Joan of Arc means to me, not the crime that was committed against her.