Today we will be discussing an issue of Guide magazine. Guide Magazine is a weekly magazine circulated at SDA churches. It contains the week’s Sabbath school lesson, along with some stories and puzzles.
Guide is given to the Juniors. I probably need to backup and explain what that means.
So, Seventh-Day Adventists have Sabbath School classes for children of all ages. They changed the ages up a little bit since I was a kid, to make the Sabbath School classes line up better with school grades. So instead of advancing with age you advance with your school grade. Here are the divisions of Sabbath Schools as I understood them growing up:
Cradle Roll: Really really little kids. Think Babies and toddlers. I believe Cradle Roll goes up to (or used to go up to) age 4.
Kindergarten: Approximately ages 4-7. Give or take. The weekly magazine for this age group is called Our Little Friend
Primary: Approximately age 7-10. 10 is the cutoff point for Primary, at least, it was when I was a kid. The magazine for this age group is called Primary Treasure
Junior: these are your pre-teens, ages 10-12. This is the target audience for Guide Magazine.
Teens: teenagers from 13-16 or 17 ish. These unlucky lovelies are unfortunate enough to put up with Insight magazine as their serial publication. I was unable to score any issues of Insight, so I will not be reviewing them.
All churches have at least these divisions, unless they are teeny tiny churches with like only 5 children. Some churches will also have a Young Adult Sabbath school class, an Earliteen class, or a collegiate class…. But not all churches have that. Some churches just kind of expect you to start going to the adult classes once you hit age 16-18ish. This is particularly true of smaller church who may not have a whole lot of children.
The particular issue of Guide Magazine that we are snarking on is the September 24th edition of this year. Here’s a picture:
Oh boy, a story on Amethysts. I’ve been studying rocks and gems lately so I actually read that article first. But we’ll get to it.
First, we have a one page article written by a woman who’s picture is shown. I’ve decided I’m not naming names. In any case, this lady got a message at 6am that there was severe weather in Michigan….when she lived in Arizona. She thinks the computer thought she still lived in Michigan because her old house was in her name. Ok, but don’t most phones nowadays only show weather alerts from places you actually are? When I visited Arizona, it only showed severe weather alerts in AZ, not Michigan.
This incident somehow led the writer of this article to think about “the big picture” instead of a small puzzle piece.
It can be a crazy, mixed up world when you get a tiny bit of the truth, but can’t see it in a whole, big picture. But please, always remember that God truly does see the big picture. And it is all about the fact that he loves you like crazy and wants you to spend eternity with him.
Don’t worry kids, if you move to Arizona, God will know.
Now we come to the cover story. I don’t see why it’s a big deal that Connie never owned an amethyst? I mean, they’re not exactly something that everyone owns. However, they’re also not something everyone couldn’t own. Amethysts aren’t really that expensive. They used to be, and then some large mine in Brazil was found. You see, amethysts are really just a purple variety of quartz. They sell them at the local New Age Bookstore for $10.
Guide acknowledges this in a small box at the bottom left corner of the page:
Until Brazil’s large deposit of amethysts were discovered in the 19th century, amethysts were as expensive as rubies and emeralds, and at one time were available only to royalty. Today it is the most valued variety of quartz and is a very popular stone.
I’m not sure about it being the most valued variety of quartz, but it is extremely popular.
In any case, all hype aside, this is actually a cute story. So, this girl and her family went camping, and a man comes up and asks if they know of a place he can pan for gold. This girl had apparently found a really good place last year, so she told him. The man, James, thanks her, and tells her that he is a jeweler, and that as a reward for telling him where the gold is, he would give her a gem of her choosing. The girl’s favorite color is purple, so she picks amethyst.
Ever since I could remember, the rich purple of the stone had always caught my eye, but I had never been fortunate enough to own one.
Probably because you never asked. Either that or your parents had hangups with buying anything from the local new age bookstore because ZOMG NEW AGE. But really, if someone wishes to own an amethyst, there’s nothing substantial stopping them.
James goes and gets the amethyst, but then his wife comes up and insists on charging the girl $10 for it. Here is where I wish I knew what time period the story takes place in. $10 isn’t that much to us, but if this happened in like, 1970 something, that would be a substantial sum for a child.
The girl’s dad coughs up the $10, and James goes back to the van to put it in a box, then brings it out to her. Everyone goes their separate ways. That night, the girl opens the box with the amethyst.
I wanted to look at the stone, so I took it out. As I did so, some of the cotton came out. I started to put the cotton back in the box when I gasped in surprise. I could scarcely believe my eyes. Instead of an empty box, I saw 3 stones that had been hidden beneath the cotton –a large smoky topaz, a square cut emerald green stone, and a brilliant round white one. They were all faceted to perfection.
So James found a way to pay the girl for telling him where the gold was, even if his wife wouldn’t let him give away free gemstones. I bet the wife hit the roof when she found out that James had given the girl stones that were actually valuable.
Next is a word puzzle. We’re skipping over it.
Our next story is Dashee and the Mud God, part 2 of 8. Part 1 was in the previous week’s Guide, which I do not have. We will be going over part 3 in another post.
The story so far:
Dashee, a young Hindu boy in India in the late 1920s, takes part in the festivities surrounding the forming of the mud god for the year. In the middle of the ceremony 2 missionaries appear. What they say raises questions in Dashee’s mind, but he tries to forget them in the excitement of the ceremony.
Hang on a second… the missionaries interrupted a ceremony? That’s so rude. Do they want these people to hate them? If you want to preach, don’t do it in the middle of a ritual. Respect the culture around you. Jeez.
“Dashee, look! The elders are gathering to choose the devil man now.”
Yup, very promising start there. Also, I know this was probably explained in last week’s issue, but, Devil man? I thought we were talking about a mud god.
Dashee looked up. He’d been so deep in thought, he hadn’t realized that the old elder had finished forming the bird out of the sticky black mud…he had been thinking about the clean missionaries and their words about the God of heaven. He wished that he could learn more about the God they had spoken of.
Clean missionaries? Really?
And maybe I’m missing something, but isn’t the term “old elder” a little redundant? Maybe not. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. We’ll let it slide.
Why does Dashee want to learn more about these missionaries’ God? What exactly did they say? I know, I know, I’m missing half the story…. moving on.
Dashee watches as a man is chosen. Chosen for what, I don’t know. Everyone dances around him as music is played. And by music I mean drums, and everybody knows that drums are evil.
The villagers began to pass around toddy (a drink made from the sap of the palmetto tree)
Gee, good thing you said something. When I hear the word “toddy” I think of something completely different.Actually, reading on, I still think you mean something different, because the story goes on to say that the more toddy they drank, the louder they got.
Per the all knowing Wikipedia:
In India, palm wine or toddy is served as either neera or padaneer (a sweet, non-alcoholic beverage derived from fresh sap) or kallu (a sour beverage made from fermented sap, but not as strong as wine).
I learn something new every day. This sounds fascinating, I want to try it.
Anyway, so there’s drums, drinking, and dancing. They call upon “the spirits” to possess the man, who I’ll just call V. V eventually starts jerking around and says, in an abnormal voice:
This bird is our god. He will bring us good crops this year. He will make our children healthy and keep sickness from our animals.”
Sounds pretty vague… like something you’d make up if you wanted to please those who had chosen you.
The villagers bring out “a little thatched hut on a platform” and cart “the devil man” around the village as they sing and chant. Instead of following this procession, Dashee goes home to help his mother prepare food. The residents of the village spend the next 3 days and nights feasting. We get a description of some of the food:
- Mettie–a candy made of raw brown sugar
- puffy rice balls
The last night of feasting everyone goes to bed early, because the next day they have to go to work. Most members of the the village work in the bizarre as “coolies.” I have no idea what that means, and the writer isn’t going to tell me.
Dashee is thinking, this entire time, about the white missionaries. He decides that if they don’t come back soon, he’ll head on over to their compound.
The missionaries decide to spare Dashee a trip. They come to the village and ask if they can tell stories. The villagers, much happier now that their ceremonies aren’t being disturbed, sit down and listen.
What stories are the clean white missionaries telling? You’ll have to come to Sabbath School next week to get the next issue of Guide to find out. I happen to have next week’s edition, we’ll be getting to it in a later post.
Mud: Off road discoveries with RA.
There’s a caption that says:
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS YOU WERE ABOUT TO ASK ME (maybe).
RA tells us that he usually lets the kids ask the questions, but today he wants to answer some of his own.
Translation: not enough children are writing to me, but I still had to come up with an article.
Question 1: How do animals know where to migrate to? How do they know where they’re going? …..How do they even know when it’s time to go?
Scientists aren’t actually sure, says RA. He says that they might use cues about the weather, or perhaps they are guided by the earth’s magnetic field. Perhaps they navigate by the sun and stars. All he really knows is that God created some amazing creatures who do things we can’t explain yet.
Question 2: why do my fingers and toes get wrinkly when I’m in the water for a long time?
This is pretty interesting. Apparently our skin is covered with its own oil, and when we stay in the water too long, this oil comes off and our skin absorbs water. Some scientists say that when this happens, it is easier for us to pick things up when our hands are wet.
Translation: we evolved the ability to do this because the wrinkly skin helped us to be able to pick things up with wet hands. Which I’m sure is a handy skill that came in handy at some point as we evolved.
Question 3: Are cats the only animals that purr?
No. Here’s a small list. I already knew about elephants, because I’d read a book about them recently. But I did not know about:
RA goes on to say that purring has been known to lower blood pressure. He leaves out the fact that purring can release feel-good hormones that release depression. I read about that in a book recently, too.
Question 4: Why do I yawn when I’m sleepy?
RA basically uses an entire paragraph to say that scientists aren’t sure.
I am pretty sure that it has something to do with the lack of oxygen in the brain, but I could be wrong, I don’t even remember where I read that.
He concludes with a small paragraph saying that he can’t wait to ask God all these questions. I may or may not have just yawned.
Out Of This World Storms.
First the article discusses hurricanes on earth. Then the writer moves on to talking about storms on Saturn. Apparently Saturn has great white spots, which are really huge storms that pop up every 30 years or so. Then we move on to talking about Jupiter’s red spot, which is a really big storm that’s been going on and on for… well, as long as we have been observing Jupiter. Then the article moves on to the meat of the matter:
We see storms on earth and other planets, but sometimes the storms are right at home or on the playground or at school. I’m talking about storms between people.
This is usually the point where pre-teen me would stop reading and start skimming.
Most fights between people are because someone did or said something that hurt another person.
Wow rocket science!
When we get mad, our sinful reaction is to do or say something hurtful in return. (That’s how Satan wants us to react), and all this does is to cause the storm to go on and on.
I don’t exactly think it’s a sinful reaction to want to punch someone in the face, especially if this person is being especially bigoted.
The author goes on to say that we need to be careful with our words, because God will judge us. If we want to know how God wants us to react to storms, read Luke 6:27. Mercifully it is not quoted, so I looked it up.
27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Be good to your father, little Snowperson, even when he is screaming and shouting at you. Yeah, fuck that.
On the next page is a caption: DID YOU KNOW?
This is a brief article about a paragraph long, talking about all the junk that’s up there in space. It would actually be interesting to read about what all that junk is and how it got up there. Instead the writer says that there’s not much we can do about the junk we put up in space, but we can do our part to take care of the planet God has given to us.
I like this. I wish this article had been…. I dunno, longer and more fleshed out. A lot of conservative Christians don’t think it matters how we treat the planet, because Jesus is coming soon and why should we bother when we have an apocalypse to prepare for?
But you know what? If I was God, and I gave someone an entire planet to look after, and I came back and found out that they had completely trashed it, I would be pissed. And you know what happens to entire races of people when God gets pissed…
Christians should be the most staunch environmentalists in existence. After all, they are the ones who believe they will be held accountable for how they treat the planet.
FUN, FREE, AND DEADLY
No, the next article is not talking about vaccines. The sub caption reads, “the innocent flyer offered a dangerous opportunity.”
So, the Adventists put out flyers for their next Revelation seminar?
In any case, the little girl in the story, who I’m calling Casey, notices a flyer on the windshield of their car and asks her mom about it. Casey doesn’t know what a “free psychic reading” is.
“A psychic is someone who says they can tell another person’s future,” mom explained.
Citation needed. I feel like psychics actually do way more than this, but whatever.
Casey thinks that that sounds like a fun activity, and that since it doesn’t cost any money, they should give it a try. But mom says that psychics are not fun, they’re dangerous.
When Casey asks her mom how that could possibly be dangerous, Mom starts talking about a bible story in acts 16. She summarizes it, but I’m going to skip that and quote straight form the Bible.
16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
There you go. Messing around with Psychics is dangerous because if you expose them, people will beat you. Or…. something…. actually I really have no idea why the mother in this story tells this particular Bible story, because she totally leaves out everything after verse 18. All she says is, “When Paul and Silas cast out the spirit, she was no longer able to predict the future.”
Um, ok, and? That still doesn’t explain how psychics are dangerous.
Besides, the girl in the bible story wasn’t predicting the future. She was calling out Paul and Silas for being apostles of Jesus. So, by your definition, was she really psychic?
Casey wants to know if all fortune tellers have spirits in them. Well, no, the mom admits. Some of them are just clever fakes. Unfortunately, she doesn’t go into all the ways someone could fake being psychic. I think this is unfortunate, because, even if one believes in evil spirits, most psychics really are just “very very good at reading people.” It would be way more interesting to read about the various ways people do this than to hear more fear mongering about evil spirits.
Casey asks her mom if it’s wrong for a Christian to see fake psychics. Casey’s mom then tells her that the Bible forbids witch craft, because seeing a psychic is totally a form of witch craft.
I bet if I actually talked to an actual psychic, she would be offended at being lumped in with the same category as witches. Not because it’s wrong to be a witch, but because “witch” and “psychic” are not synonyms.
Mom and Casey get out their iPhones and look up Bible verses about witchcraft. Mom goes on to talk about another thing that seems harmless but isn’t–the Ouija board.
I have heard lots of horror stories about Ouija boards growing up Adventists, and really really wish my friends, D and S, would find one so I could play with it. I want to see if there’s anything to this nonsense.
Casey admits that her friend Sally had a Ouija board at a sleepover once. Casey tells mom she didn’t participate, of course (yeah right) but that she felt weird about it.
“Nothing really scary happened, but I just felt weird. Like something wasn’t right.”
That’s because you’ve been told your whole life that it’s wrong to play with a Ouija board.
According to this story, however, I am wrong. The mom in this story explains that Casey felt weird about it because that was God warning her to stay away.
Casey thought for a moment. “Sally wanted to have a seance, too. Is that witchcraft, too?”
Oh good god. How old is Casey? These questions she’s asking sound like they are coming from someone very young. It is not possible to get that old on Planet Adventist without knowing that seances and Ouija boards are “Wrong.”
I also kinda want to call bullshit on Casey clearly having a non SDA friend. If this was the case I am guessing that Casey and Sally were not allowed to remain friends after this conversation.
In any case, here is a list of things that have to do with witchcraft, according to the mom in this article:
- Tarot cards
- Palm readings
Casey asks what astrology is, and the mom explains that people who read horoscopes in the newspaper are practicing astrology.
Ummm or they are just reading them for shits and giggles?
Casey wants to know what’s so wrong with reading horoscopes for shits and giggles, except she doesn’t use the phrase “shits and giggles.”
Her mom did just explain that it was witchcraft, right, which the Bible says to stay away from? I’d think that would be her answer now, but no, instead she says,
“Because we don’t’ want to read something that predicts our future. The Bible says that our future is in God’s hands, and we should trust him to take care of us…Jeremiah 20:11 says “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future…. God promises us that his plans for us are good, so we don’t need to worry about it. We can just trust Him with our future.”
And look where that fucking got me. It wasn’t until I stopped trying to figure out what the fuck God wanted me to do that I was able to move forward in life. But I had to take control of my own future, because there isn’t a god to do it for me.
The article concludes that God’s plan is the best plan, and that’s where this ends. There’s a word search at the bottom of the page, and I pull out a pen because I love word searches.
After that, we have our Bible story:
THE FUGITIVE HEIR
You can all skip this story if you want and just go and read 2 Samuel 9. I’ll summarize:
King David thought one day about his good friend Jonathan. Jonathan was dead, but did he have any relatives? David sent his servant, Ziba, to go find out. It was found out that Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son. So David takes Mephibosheth back to the palace, where he gives him all of Saul’s old stuff and treats him like his own son. Oh and Meph is a cripple, which is illustrated in the accompanying comic at the end of the magazine. This illustration bothers me for reasons I can’t put my finger on.
Taking Meph under his wing is supposed to demonstrate what an awesome king David is, because most kings only search for their predecessor’s heirs so they can kill said heir, but David did it so that he could treat this person with kindness. Isn’t that just like God? This story helps us see how much God loves us. Like David loved his enemy, we are supposed to love our enemies.
Then comes the Junior Sabbath school “lesson,” which is really just a list of things you’re supposed to do throughout the week. Nobody actually does these. At least, no one that I knew ever did…. Here’s a picture:
The writer in this article talks about how, as a child, he had a tangerine tree. He was very proud of his tangerines, and loved to give them away and show them off. At this point I’m wondering how he’s going to lose said tree, because stories that start out like this usually end that way.
But this story is different. The story ends with the writer growing up and planting his own tangerine tree, only to wonder why it won’t grow. Finally he notices the tag that it came with, which reads, “Dwarf plant.” Silly pastor, it was never meant to grow.
This story is a good example of why you should always read the labels before you buy something. Whoops, that’s not the moral of the story…
The moral of the story (Wheel of Morality turn turn turn….)is that unlike this plant, we are supposed to grow. We need to give ourselves the same attention the pastor gave the tree when he was trying to encourage it to get big already.
We need care and exercise–spiritual exercise. Cross Training.
That’s the end of the article. And…. ok? Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get it.
On the next page is the Earliteen Sabbath School Lesson, for those churches that have an Earliteen division. Please don’t ask me what the fuck that is because by that point I was in Academy, and we all went to the same Sabbath school.
I’m not taking a picture of it. It’s just like the above picture, only with a slightly different lesson, which seems to be about growing in Christ. Not growing as a person, mind you, but growing as a Christian. Which is totally more important.
On the very back page of the magazine is a comic illustrating this week’s bible story. Here’s the part I don’t like:
On the back cover of the magazine, there are little interesting facts about random stuff. They call this the FACTory. Get it? Heh.
In any case, that’s the end.
So, what did you guys think? Do you want more articles like this or is this not something you would be interested in reading? I have only one more Guide to get through, and also some other magazines that I think may be of interest.
Actually, unless someone still attending a church sends me any, I’m not likely to do any more of these. I just happened to have nabbed these on a recent mission to the local church. These magazines were generously donated. I even made sure to ask before I took them, and they said I could have them. There, consent.