A Closer Look at a New Yahoo! Contributer Network Producer, Angella Graff

by on March 7th, 2015
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Angella and I met at her baby girl’s birthday party shortly after I moved to Tucson, Az. Her and my younger brother had been friends who had not seen each other in awhile. She invited him and my kids and I to a party. From then on I knew we would click really well. It is hard to find real people in the world nowadays.

A better surprise is the fact that Angella volunteered to help me with a class project for my religion and cultures class. I had to find a non-Christian volunteer to interview. So here we are and she also happens to be a writer, so please enjoy getting to know Angella on a spiritual level…

My Interview in part:

Viktorya: 1. Please give your readers a little information about you, your family and your background.

Example, were you raised in any particular religion?

AngelIa: come from a heavily religious family. My dad’s side of the family are French Catholic, but converted when they came to America to Protestant, non denominational to be specific. My mom’s side of the family began as Atheist. My great grandfather, Rev. Murel L Mann was converted just after he married my great grandmother, Doris. They moved to California where he completed his Pastoral Degree at Point Loma Nazarene University. They then moved to Phoenix, Arizona where he helped start the Nazarene movement, moving north from Phoenix to Prescott, Az.

By the time I was born, my grandmother, his daughter, Ruth, had converted to Catholicism. I was baptized Lutheran, and brought up until I was about seven between Catholic churches with my mom’s family and Baptist with my dad’s family. My dad’s family eventually found a church, a non denominational church and my mom loved it. She became really close with a lot of the members and we went pretty regularly.

When I was ten, I was baptized again, this time in the non denominational church. I remember having to take a baptism class where we were supposed to study for six weeks and take a little test before we could be baptized to show that we understood what we were getting into. I had spent a lot of my early years reading the Bible, so when the children’s pastor started asking me questions, I had all the answers. They graduated me on the first night, and I was baptized on the following Sunday.

Viktorya: I can definitely see where you were hungry for the Lord. Not too many kids have a desire to read the Bible. That is incredible.

Angella: I remained a self-proclaimed Christian all through high school, though I had already begun to research different belief systems and practices. I think I dropped the title ‘Christian’ when I was about seventeen.

Viktorya. Please let us know about your education and the most valuable passion you have towards your education/major/degree. What moves you to become who you are passionate about?

I started my degree in Psychology, but after the first semester, I switched over to an English major. I considered getting my degree in Journalism and have always been very passionate about writing. It was in my first year of college that I took a course called Comparative Religions and that same semester I changed my degree again to a history degree.

Viktorya: Wow, that has touched on all my passions in regards to degrees. However, I am just working on my Bachelor’s in Psychology. It’s amazing how we change our mind so much and sometimes still don’t quite follow our passion. What happened when you decided to change your major to history?

Angella: When I transferred down to Tucson to continue my education, I took a class for history called History of the New Testament. It was in that class that I befriended my professor and she coached me into the Medieval Theology degree. It centered around the history of the Christian Church, starting around the time that Paul of Tarsis started converting the Gentiles.

Viktorya: Awesome, Paul is one of my favorite Apostles. If it weren’t for him, some Gentiles may never come to know the Lord. Not to mention, look where he came from. He was literally murdering Christians after the ascension of Jesus. Then Jesus knocked him down and blinded him. I guess it may sometimes take that to get our attention. he was an amazing man of God, I can agree. So tell me some more about Paul.

Angella: Not only did Paul become an obsession, but the history of the time was so rich and so intricate that I couldn’t stop pursuing it. What drove me the most was, I grew up with a very fixed idea of what things were like in the time of Jesus. In church, we were never given a lot of fact or history, just what was in the Bible. The Sunday school teachers portrayed it like nothing else existed in the way of history except what was in the Bible. This showed me how much more to it there was.

Viktorya: That is so interesting. We must definitely seek the Lord in all things. I sought Him, entirely before He filled me with the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. I was not a church member, except for the fact that I had strayed from my Catholic childhood. I was so lost and so hungry for Him. I got down, prayed and He filled me with the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. The only people around were my kids. it was definitely an enlightening encounter. Enough about me, though haha. Give your readers an example of something that happened while growing up in a Christian church.

Angella: I remember one time, sitting in a Sunday school class when I was about fourteen, and we were going over the dangers of alcohol. Someone said, “But didn’t Jesus turn water into wine?” The teacher looked us all in the face and blatantly lied, “It was non alcoholic wine. Alcohol wasn’t yet invented in the time of Jesus.”

Viktorya: HAHA! I just have to laugh at this. Wine is WINE! Too funny. That teacher must not have prayed before service. I just wished that people would quit lying about the truth of the Word. Yes, wine can make you drunk, just like the Bible says. Jesus turned water into wine. The Bible even states that a little wine is good for you. However, we shouldn’t indulge, just like with anything else, such as food… (uhm cough cough) Anyways, go on…

Angella: I had avidly studied Ancient Egypt since I was in first grade (my passion started young!) and I knew that was a lie. Normally the quiet girl, I raised my hand and said, “That’s a lie. The Egyptians invented beer long before Jesus. And actually in the Old Testament, before Jesus was born, it talks about the Jews getting drunk on wine. Also, in the New Testament, the Apostles are accused of being drunk when they are talking in Tongues. You lied!”

Viktorya: As a person who has experienced talking in tongues (baptism of the Holy Ghost) I can say that it makes you feel pretty good ;) Of course there is no hangover, no sloppiness or sickness. It is pure genuine Holy Ghost. That is why the Bible calls it New Wine…. the best ever… It’s awesome. So what happened after that… LOL

Angella: I was literally kicked out of that Sunday school class. It drove me crazy. I thought, why not just explain that alcohol can be acceptable in very small amounts for very special things. Why tell a lie, especially about Jesus?


Viktorya: Oh that is horrible and no one had the right to kick you out and especially for being wrong. So now I am guessing that you are having second thoughts about Christianity? Perhaps it made you more curious. I believe He has a plan for you, but what else did you do?

Angella: When I began the history of the bible courses I was able to validate so many of my questions. It drove me to keep studying and keep studying. Even though the degree has done nothing except serve as a conversation piece, I still can’t regret a day I spent studying about everything I love.

Viktorya: Wow, there is so much honesty and sincerity in that. How amazing to be passionate about knowing. Tell us a little about your religious journey. Where were you before you discovered your beliefs? Please go into detail about the beginning of your journey and about your

beliefs.


Angella: Well as a young child I always questioned everything. Why this, why that, why does this happen, What does that mean? I was never one hundred percent convinced that what they were teaching us in Church was right. Even though I had memorized all their right answers, I wasn’t sure they were actually right.

It was that moment, I mentioned before, when the Sunday school teacher lied to us, that I thought, “These people don’t really know anything.”

Viktorya: Ha, I understand the thing about memorizing LOL… ridiculous. I tell my kids that there is no meaning in memorization, but a prayer comes from the heart. It would be like memorizing the same thing that we would say to our kids each morning! What’s the difference… still robotic and totally psychologically ridiculous. There is no relationship in that! About your path?

Angella: When I began my religious study path in college, a lot of questions were answered for me. My professors studied, from a historical point of view, the inconsistencies of the Bible. They shared their evidence for when it was written, by whom, and why. I did a long study about the differences between the Pharisees of Jesus’ time and the Pharisees of the time when the Bible was written. I was able to study the subtle nuances that shows how the Bible was written as Political Propaganda for the time, trying to convince the Romans that it was okay to be Christian, because the Jews were the bad guys.

Viktorya: That is interesting! I still am a Bible reader and follower but I am not so closed minded that I don’t listen to others… ;) right? ha Did you keep seeking?

Angella: I studied everything I could. I went to multiple churches of multiple religions. I meditated, I did yoga, both of which I still do to this day… as much as I can being a mom, anyway. I studied the Tao, which was very influential on my view of life and spirituality. I studied Eastern and Western Religions. At one point I even dated a Mormon and for six months went to church with him and met with the Missionaries to extract every ounce of information I could to learn and study.

Viktorya: Ha! Really, now that would be one way to do it ;) Like a P.I. Spy lol… But anyway..

Angella: Eventually, I came to my own conclusion about life. I think the beauty of my “belief system” is that it isn’t one structured system for everyone in the world. My belief system is very simple; do what is right for you. Live an upright, morally sound life. People seem to think you can’t have morals without religion, but I disagree. It’s a concept that’s been around and adopted by almost every religion on the planet. Don’t cause another human being harm, be it physical, emotional or mental. Think before you act or speak. Be kind. Be generous. Help others. The less negativity you have in your life, the happier you will become. The more positive energy you send out, the more will come to you.

I have some other specifics that I share with others as well. I believe in reincarnation. I believe that you are brought to earth each time with a specific purpose and the more you fulfill your purpose the closer you come to ascending to a higher consciousness. I believe in the concept of collective consciousness between all humans on earth. I believe some are more aware of it than others. I believe you encounter the same souls throughout many lifetimes, which is why people have instant bonds with other people when meeting them for the first time. I believe that the Earth is its own consciousness and we are part of that. I believe we are here to protect the Earth, care for it and in turn the Earth will do the same for us. I also believe everything happens for a reason, whether that’s predestined or spontaneous.

Viktorya: Wow, so many people believe in reincarnation. I am just glad that when it’s over, it’s over. I will just wait for my Bridegroom :) ha! However, I do believe that you reap what you sow, no matter good or bad. That is a Spiritual Law. What’s the most important part of your belief?

Angella: But what I love so much about my belief is that it leaves room for everything else. Whether it’s Jewish, Muslim, Hinduism, Taoist, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh… you can believe anything you want. The fundamental of my religion is, do what is right for you. It doesn’t really matter what you believe in, as long as you stick to that belief and stay strong in it, especially if you know it’s right for you.

Viktorya: That is also very interesting. I believe that if I felt that way, I would be not so sure about what I believed. I wouldn’t feel the security of my true beliefs and what I felt in my heart as well as my experiences with the Lord. That is very very interesting, to say the least!

What has your faith or your god done for you in your life? Do you have religious encounters with

your higher power or ultimate reality?

Angella: My faith has brought me peace. It’s given me the answers I was looking for. It allows me freedom to accept others, no matter what they believe and enjoy them for who they are. It frees me from the constant worry about other people and what they believe and it frees me from the fear that a lot of the Western religions cause in their ultimatum… Believe or burn. It allows me to provide my children with an open book, and allow them to explore every option out there to find the one that is right for them.

People assume a lot that I don’t believe in Jesus. I think that’s ridiculous. I absolutely believe in Jesus. I absolutely believe in God. I just don’t believe the particular way they’re presented in most of the Western Religions. But you will never, ever hear me say that Jesus didn’t exist, or that he didn’t do amazing things, or that he wasn’t a very, very enlightened being.

Viktorya: You know what, Angella, I can definitely agree with you. It is sad that “Christians” aren’t practicing what they claim to be. To be a Christian is to be Christ-like and follow Christ. Most don’t and it is really sad. He didn’t die for our sins in vain, that is for sure. He definitely didn’t die for our sins so we can keep sinning either. Spirituality is more than being brand. Tell the readers about your spirituality.

Angella: I feel, honestly, that I have spiritual encounters every moment of every day. Whether it’s the feeling of peace or serenity, or whether it seems to be that every bad thing that happens to me tends to have the best possible outcome. Sometimes it’s working in the public when everyone, literally everyone, seems to be in the same, terrible mood. That, to me, proves collective consciousness.

Viktorya: If you were trying to convert someone, in 10 words or less convince us to be converted.

Angella: Follow your Path. You will find where you belong.

Viktorya: What is the path to salvation in your religion?

Angella: In a sense. I believe that if you follow your path, things will be easy for you. The further you stray from your path, the harder things are. When you’re far from your path and you begin to make your way back, things just start happening. Doors start opening, you find love, you find happiness, you begin to receive the things you need. That, in itself, is salvation. And as for afterlife salvation, I believe the more you stay to your path, the more you can learn. When you’re not constantly battling the current, you’re free to absorb everything around you, and that brings you closer to a higher consciousness. So I suppose not specifically like a “heaven” but salvation all the same.

Viktorya: Can you share some of your religious practices with us?

Angella: Honestly I don’t have any specific practices. I try to meditate to keep my mind clear, though I don’t always have the time for it. I try to exercise, yoga being my exercise of choice. That helps me combine exercise with meditation and keeps me centered. I try to be generous and kind. I try to be self aware all the time, so when I’m being needlessly cranky or mean or judgmental, I can pull back and try to understand why I’m feeling that way.

Viktorya: I feel that many religions can practice yoga, simply because it is a form of meditation and relaxation. That is vital for our well being.

Angella: I’d just like to add that in my belief system, every religion is the right one, because it’s right for the people who really believe in it. That’s not to say that every action is right. I don’t believe killing people is the correct path for serial killers, or that cruelty is meant to be. We all have a choice. Things may be predestined but we’re always subject to straying from those predestined things and that’s when it gets ugly. Self awareness is the key to avoiding all of that. Being able to take accountability for your own actions and letting people take accountability for their own is the true key to world peace.

Viktorya: That is a very interesting perspective to have. I agree that we have to take accountability for our own actions. Predestination is another entirely different belief and can use another interview – ha! Thanks so much for your time in sharing your spirituality with us.


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