Well, Pat Robertson is at it again. I once commented on him saying Alzheimer’s was a valid reason for divorce. Now he’s saying the tornadoes in the midwest could have been prevented had people prayed more. He said this week:
“If enough people were praying He would’ve intervened, you could pray, Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms,” Robertson said on CBN’s The 700 Club.
That right! The tornadoes so far have killed 39 people and caused untold millions of damage, including erasing entire towns, but that number could have been a bit more palatable if those people prayed lots and lots.
And that toddler who was ripped from her family’s arms and dropped ten miles away, may have lived if those parents just prayed more.
What a horrible and naive thing to say, Mr. Robertson. Why do you keep saying these things?
Once again, Mr. Robertson, this is not one of your finer moments. I understand how you get to this conclusion when reading through the Bible, but it is a delicate and inconsistent premise that you present. Philosophical and painful situations like this require some more study, tact, and thoughtfulness. You seem to miss this at important times. It’s not easy, but it must we done.
I know I am not perfect by any measure, but with regard to this issue, I am ashamed to share the label ‘Christian’ with you.
>Sometimes, as a Christian, it’s okay to just simply say, “I don’t know,” or “I’m not exactly sure.”
Sometimes that’s the most honest and accurate answer. Shame on you.
Here is the segment. Watch it yourself and decide.
Here is an heated news report from the land down under and to the right a little (New Zealand). It is a segment about a church that has put “Jesus Heals Cancer” on it’s billboard outside (pictured to the left).
The sign has created quite a stir because some people say it is false advertising since there is no way to verify this claim. And they are trying to get it taken down via government regulations to that end.
In particular, there is a mom in the report whose son has leukemia. Obviously, this is a grievous situation for any parent to deal with. Since Jesus didn’t or isn’t healing her son, she wants this sign taken down forcibly.
Also interesting is the second half of this segment. It really brings into question what free speech is and to what end the government, with regard to faith, can curb speech for the sake of the ‘safety’ of the general population. You know, because religion only hurts society since it holds and promotes ideas that allegedly can’t be proven.
It makes you wonder how far this can all go. If you have 7 minutes definitely watch it below.
Have you heard of Planned Parenthood? According to their own site, “For more than 90 years, Planned Parenthood has promoted a commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning.”
Sounds great, right? Well, if you read the news then you know they certainly have an agenda that is perhaps not so magnanimous. It’s important to know that our tax dollars go to this organization. That means your money goes to providing abortions–and also their messaging and marketing.
Below is quite an ‘interesting’ cartoon aimed at young people put together by Planned Parenthood. It appeared on their site up until 2005, and it is quite disturbing. Some would call this propaganda, which, after watching it, I can understand. It seeks to convey a positive message about Planned Parenthood via the cause of their superhero, Dionysus: The Superhero for Choice.
Some interesting points as you watch:
- Remember, this is geared to young people (teens, tweens).
- The superhero is named Dionysis–the god of the grape harvest, winemakingand wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology.
- Dionysis talks about the protection of free speech and then proceeds to murder the pro-life demonstrators (Yes, you read the correctly.)
- She also drowns (to death) a creepy old man (because anyone telling kids about abstinence is, right?).
- It is purportedly promoting choice, unless of course you choose traditional values. Then you deserve to die.
- Conservative values are ‘misinformed’ by their very nature.
- By the way, abstinence works every time it’s tried. Something this video misses.
This weekend I saw a dark comedy slasher flick and it got me thinking about Hell. (Incidentally, it was called Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and it was hilarious. I think it is destined to become a cult classic in line with the Army of Darkness. Be warned: It’s got plenty of blood and guts mixed in with the humor.)
Anyway, I started wondering why I like horror flicks so much. Am I I really messed up? Am I facing the very limits of gore and fear thereby proving my manhood–like some American Indian right of passage?
>Horror films are primal, with little pretense, and they quickly get to the point of illuminating true character.
I’m no expert, but I think every successful horror film has a singular purpose, and it’s not to be gross. The grossness simply helps accomplish the goal.
Any horror movie worth its weight in screams and gore uses the monster to reveal what’s truly lurking within. As the characters feel trapped and isolated with no apparent way out, the impending doom exposes their true qualities. Sometimes self-serving characters transform into sacrificing heroes. Or characters you like at first end up leaving everyone behind to save themselves. The monster without reveals the monster—or the savior—within.
That’s why I love them. The evil is easily identifiable.
>And I think the evil portrayed in horror movies perfectly matches what hell is to Christianity. The idea of hell reveals a lot about the Christian faith and those who believe in it.
It’s no secret that hell is probably the most uncomfortable aspect of the Christian faith. For many years I was content to ignore it and simply think, Everyone goes to heaven. When that stopped making sense—in light of the evident evil in this world—my conclusion evolved into this: Good people go to heaven, bad people go to hell. But that started to break down, too, as I realized that “good” is measured on a sliding scale, and everyone has a different standard. Some twisted minds even view obvious evil actions as good.
I realized I had to do some more investigating of this idea of hell, though I wondered what good could come from it. To say that I hate hell, and that I especially hate talking about it, is a huge understatement. But if I’m going to find the true value in the teachings and person of Jesus (and the Bible), I have to deal with this issue.
And so I did. It something we all need to do.
Earlier this week I posted Rules, Rules, Rules in which I discussed rules, Christianity, and the Bible. So let’s assume we’ve gone to the Bible and looked through all the Christian rules we’ve learned or been told, but we’re still not sure of what to do. I’ve got an idea.
I’ve been pretty chunky most of my life. Each time I’ve been motivated to lose some weight, the solution has been the same:
>If it tastes good BEWARE.
The problem is that I don’t like the taste of healthy food. I don’t like broccoli or tofu or brussel sprouts. I like nachos slathered in sour cream and cheese with a tall glass of cold Coke. I like giant chocolate milkshakes. Not to mention ketchup making most things better, along with a long list of condiments.
Yes, I’m talking about sin. It’s an ugly word. It’s not that God is like some Supreme Cosmic Judge wanting to police and then judge everything you do.
>It’s that sin is destructive.
You and I need to know we are wonderful and terrible all at the same time. There is a healing a helping Dr. Jekyll in us. But there is also a destructive and, well, devilish Mr. Hyde lurking.
I’m not trying to your hurt your feelings. I’m not trying to crush your self-esteem. I’m not trying to dirty your self-image. You’re still a beautiful flower about to bloom and a delicate butterfly ready to flutter.
You just need to know your potential—both good and bad. You need to know your appetite—for excellence and evil.
>So if it feels good: BEWARE.
Wrong is fun. Wrong isn’t good. Wrong is sin. Sin is wrong.
Have a great day!
It’s the holidays. It’s a time when we see family…and try to ignore awkward tensions and not fight. Speaking of, did you know noted atheist Christopher Hitchin’s brother is a devoted Christian? AWKWARD! His name is Peter Hitchins. I wouldn’t want to be eating with them on Christmas no matter how good the ham is. In any event, this is a time when we celebrate the birth of Christ. To many, this is a great relief and brings peace. But others see it as an event that brings judgment and pain–since they don’t believe. Here is an amazing excerpt from Peter Hitchin’s book on this very matter:
What I can recall, very sharply indeed, is a visit to the Hotel-Dieu in Beaune, a town my girlfriend and I had gone to mainly in search of the fine food and wines of Burgundy. But we were educated travelers and strayed, guidebook in hand, into the ancient hospital. And there, worth the journey according to the Green Michelin guide, was Rogier van der Weyden’s fifteenth-century polyptych The Last Judgment.
I scoffed. Another religious painting! Couldn’t these people think of anything else to depict? Still scoffing, I peered at the naked figures fleeing toward the pit of hell, out of my usual faintly morbid interest in the alleged terrors of damnation. But this time I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open. These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation. Because they were naked, they were not imprisoned in their own age by time-bound fashions. On the contrary, their hair and, in an odd way, the set of their faces were entirely in the style of my own time. They were me and the people I knew. One of them — and I have always wondered how the painter thought of it — is actually vomiting with shock and fear at the sound of the Last Trump.
I did not have a “religious experience.” Nothing mystical or inexplicable took place — no trance, no swoon, no vision, no voices, no blaze of light. But I had a sudden, strong sense of religion being a thing of the present day, not imprisoned under thick layers of time. A large catalogue of misdeeds, ranging from the embarrassing to the appalling, replayed themselves rapidly in my head. I had absolutely no doubt that I was among the damned, if there were any damned.
And what if there were? How did I know there were not? I did not know. I could not know. Van der Weyden was still earning his fee, nearly 500 years after his death. I had simply no idea that an adult could be frightened, in broad daylight and after a good lunch, by such things. I have always enjoyed scaring myself mildly with the ghost stories of M. R. James, mainly because of the cozy, safe feeling that follows a good fictional fright. You turn the page and close the book, and the horror is safely contained. This epiphany was not like that at all.
No doubt I should be ashamed to confess that fear played a part in my return to religion. I could easily make up some other more creditable story. But I should be even more ashamed to pretend that fear did not. I have felt proper fear, not very often but enough to know that is is an important gift that helps us to think clearly at moments of danger. I have felt it in peril on the road, when it slowed down my perception of the bucking, tearing, screaming collision into which I had hurled myself, thus enabling me to retain enough presence of mind to shut down the engine of my wrecked motorcycle and turn off the fuel tap in case it caught fire, and then to stumble, badly injured, to the relative safety of the roadside. I have felt it outside a copper mine in Africa, when the car I was in was surrounded by a crowd of enraged, impoverished people who had decided, with some justification, that I was their enemy. There, fear enabled me to stay silent and still until the danger was over, when I very much wanted to cry out in panic or do something desperate (both of which, I am sure, would have led to my death). I have felt it when Soviet soldiers fired on a crowd rather near me, and so I lay flat on my back in the filthy snow, quite untroubled by my ridiculous position because I had concluded, wisely, that being wounded would be much worse than being embarrassed.
But the most important time was when I stood in front of Rogier van der Weyden’s great altarpiece and trembled for the things of which my conscience was afraid (and is afraid). Fear is good for us and helps us to escape from great dangers. Those who do not feel it are in permanent peril because they cannot see the risks that lie at their feet. (The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith, 101-104)
We all know the popular Jesus—the one who said so many generous, patient, tolerant, and graceful things. Everyone loves the popular Jesus. Everyone likes to quote him in speeches to support personal causes. At Easter and Christmas, the popular Jesus helps sell merchandise and fill churches. Many forward-thinking people quote the popular Jesus to resolve problems. World leaders tackle current events relying on the words of the popular Jesus.
But that’s not who I’m taking about.
>The unpopular Jesus is not that marketable. Some of his statements are blunt and tactless. These aren’t quoted much.
Here’s one of them: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.”-John 14:6
He also said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” -John 5:24
And this: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”-John 11:25-26
Clearly, Jesus needs to brush up on his marketing techniques. Some people don’t even know Jesus said things like that.
Many people don’t understand that Jesus came to call people to a decision, because God calls people to a decision. Jesus wanted to communicate in word and action how much God loved them, so they would choose to love God.
>Anyone who’s interested in spiritual matters must decide if he believes these words of the unpopular Jesus, and if he’ll accept them.
I have another question: Does God, through Jesus, require exclusivity? And is that even fair?
For some reason, I have a problem with allowing God the right of exclusivity.
If God doesn’t allow each individual to discover his or her own way to the afterlife, I call him cruel. I even say he isn’t transcendent, or any kind of God who’s worth loving, especially if the resulting consequence is an eternity absent from his presence (hell, if you will).
But does that really make sense?
After all, I practice exclusivity in my own life. And others expect it from me. If I told my wife on our wedding night that she would have to let me share love sexually with others for the sake of love itself, our marriage probably wouldn’t work. I might try to convince her that the more love we share with others, the more love we will contribute to the world. I could love my wife, the neighbor lady, and the woman in the grocery store and whoever else was willing to share. This communal love would bring more good, and the universe would become a better place as we added and added and added, right? She would probably call me a pig and send me packing—appropriately so. She wants exclusivity in our relationship. She wants fidelity. That is, if I truly love her.
>So I think my problem with the idea that God would require exclusivity is actually something else. It’s a problem with a relational expectation I don’t think God should have.
Nevertheless, I’ve come to see that God, in his faithful love for us, doesn’t want us to devote ourselves to whatever “god” on the smorgasbord tickles our fancy. So I settle on a connection with God being relational in nature, and, therefore, exclusive in practice—in a healthy, authentic way.
>I have to ask myself whether I’ll accept such a nonnegotiable relational expectation from God.
Will I allow him to require loyalty and faithfulness? If so, I have to allow him to define that loyalty as he sees fit.
I think it’s fair to let God require exclusivity in the relationship. And I don’t think it’s about a monopoly on belief, religion, or belief systems. It’s about God wanting a relationship with us and wanting us to spend eternity with him. Certainly, any of us is free not to establish that relationship.
I know it’s only Monday and we’re not ready to be serious, but too bad. Here is a chilling video of religious intolerance that really makes you wonder about the Middle East. The chills really start at the 2:25 mark.
In light of the very interesting Atheist 10 Commandments by Pen Jillette, the taller half of the noted magic duo Pen and Teller, that I posted about, I wanted to talk about faith, belief, and doubt.
>For me, faith isn’t about fantasy, as many atheists hold. No. It’s about possibility and potential in light of the unknown.
We all rely on a set of beliefs or core values, not necessarily religious in nature, that guide us at unsure times. Perhaps people seek the advice of good friends, parents or grandparents, take a class, or read a book. The resulting beliefs and values they develop aren’t visible, but people trust in them.
So isn’t it true that we all look at the situations we’re facing, consider what we believe, and then leap?
This functions much like faith. For the most part, we’re all trusting in things we can’t see—a type of faith, to some degree.
>Don’t get me wrong, I still doubt from time to time. But I think it’s normal to doubt.
In fact, I don’t even view doubt as the opposite of faith. Some think it is, but that’s unfair. In the same way that caution isn’t always the opposite of risk, or fear isn’t the opposite of courage, doubt is not the opposite of faith. They can be present at the same time. There’s always a measure of caution when balancing a risky decision. There’s also a sense of fear to sober us as we advance in a courageous endeavor. And there’s always a sense of doubt that tests and purifies my faith as I step forward with it. I just believe what Jesus said is true.
>To me, faith is the unknown revealed and explained.
Having faith may seem irrational to you—and I assure you, it is. With faith it’s strangely possible to acknowledge the unexplained, face it, embrace it, and move forward. It’s not a mindless devotion to antiquated ideas or benevolent ideals, but a calculated conclusion in the light of present reality: there’s more unknown than known. It’s a coming to terms with the mystery of life. It’s the strength to keep a conviction when surrounded by questions. It’s discovering twenty variables and one truth, then holding to that truth regardless of the present ambiguities. It can go against better judgment and modern thought, while being the wiser approach.
Faith is a gift.
Faith captures my imagination.
Faith pushes my potential.
Faith inspires dreams of possibility.
Faith explains foundational questions of the unknown.
And yes, faith is the basis of very healthy and productive of divergent thinking, rather than being conformed to convention and reason. Because whether it’s science or faith, we all have to suspend our limitations in order to test, consider, and discover what is true.
There’s been a lot of talk of Heaven, Hell, and everything in between. As of late–and this is nothing new–many popular Christian leaders are challenging mainstream Christianity’s understanding of these things. While these subjects are uncomfortable, especially Hell, they are necessary. Why?
>Because in the end, nothing else matters.
The trend seems to be to create a sort of faith that doesn’t ‘offend’ or ‘judge’ anyone. After all, the logic is, we know God would never judge anyone. To do this, you must begin to water down Jesus because he said plenty of offensive and judgmental things that don’t get a lot of airtime–if you’re trying to create a feel-good faith.
>That means we must decide how much Jesus really matters.
The focus of this trend seems to always come down to the same thing: being good, doing good, and making the world a better place. This is often put in the context of healing: heal hearts, relationships, and even the environment are often the focus. Overall, I agree. But it’s the vanilla version of Jesus that doesn’t seem right.
If being good and making the world better is the goal, wouldn’t it be more effective to leave off any mention of God or Jesus?
Since discussing God and Jesus can so often be divisive, why not create a new secular humanist faith that avoids all that? One that’s totally dedicated to promoting good deeds and good will among all. This would probably be more readily accepted. Coexistence and harmony between all creation—man, animals, and environment—would create universal peace and a heavenly state. Who could argue with that? This less offensive, more congenial religion would probably have more impact on society and culture as a whole.
>All we have to do is leave God and Jesus out of the equation.
Sounds familiar? Isn’t this an application of Christianity that is some quasi-universalist, pseudo-Buddhist, completely indistinct Frankenstein of a religion in which, although it claims so, Jesus is not really essential?
So what do you do with statements of Jesus like:
“…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” -John 14:6
This implies that without acknowledging Jesus as supreme and central, you’re actually lost. This Jesus always gets explained away to fit the Frankenstein faith. It just doesn’t seem right.
Ultimately, everyone must decide for himself or herself.
From the land of the absurd comes a horrific tale. Unfortunately, this story is real.
A West Palm Beach jury awarded a couple 4.5 million dollars for the wrongful birth of the their son. That’s right. You read that correctly. The wrongful birth of their son. The West Palm Beach Post writes:
During a roughly two-week-long trial that ended Wednesday, Mejia and Santana claimed they would have never have brought Bryan into the world had they known about his horrific disabilities. Had Morel and technicians at OB/GYN Specialists of the Palm Beaches and Perinatal Specialists of the Palm Beaches properly administered two ultrasounds and seen he was missing three limbs, the West Palm Beach couple said they would have terminated the pregnancy.
Now, I do not claim to know how this feels. It just seems backwards and upside down. I mean, what the heck are they going to tell their son as he gets older? I mean what do you say?
“Dear son. We love you how you are, but we would have aborted you had we had the chance because of the hassle your disability has caused us all, including you. Luckily we got millions for your accidental birth to make this all better. Nighty, night. Kiss, kiss. Sweet dreams tonight!”
Ouch. Sad. Very sad.
This will only end bad. How do you live with all this? They need prayer and mercy. And that child is valuable to God. I hope he understands that one day.
That’s really all I have to say about that. What else is there?
[Update: Rob Bell is going all Hollywood with an ABC show loosely based on his life]
I’m not sure if you know who Rob Bell is. Within Christianity, he’s kind of a big deal (pretty much the inverse of Jason Berggren). Well, he’s jumping ship.
Most recently, he has gotten a lot of attention for his book Love Wins. I read it and had several problems with it, which I wrote about in my post Love Wins, Christianity Loses, and God Lies. Why? Well let me just let you read some of my summary points.
From reading Love Wins I gathered that apparently all us crotchety, outdated, grandpa-like Christians need to realize (or else!):
• When God says He will reconcile all creation to Himself, He means everyone can get into Heaven regardless of your belief in Jesus
• God will let people decide to accept Jesus even after death, if necessary He will take as long as needed to convince them to come in
• You’re making people think Jesus came to rescue us from God, whom you seem to think is hot-tempered, switches modes, and is inconsistent
• While there needs to be room in Christianity for a wide range of opinions and views, there just isn’t room for your finite views on Hell, sin, or salvation
• Don’t worry about confessing the name of Jesus to be saved, just make sure you are living His story out in your own life
• There is a vein of God’s story in every culture, so whatever that plan of salvation is, it is perfectly acceptable to God and don’t judge them either
• Jesus died on the cross because that’s what they needed and understood back then, and that wouldn’t need to happen today since we’re, like, way more smarter than that
• Being ‘spiritual’ is probably enough for God, so don’t worry so much about being Biblical
• The Hippies had it right because it is actually possible to meet Jesus through smoking pot
• If Jesus and Christianity have put a bad taste in someone’s mouth, God doesn’t necessarily need them to follow Him because wherever they find truth is fine with Him
These are some things I even wrote about in my own book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith:
Since discussing God and Jesus can so often be divisive, why not create a new secular humanist faith that avoids all that? One that’s totally dedicated to promoting good deeds and good will among all. This would probably be more readily accepted. Coexistence and harmony between all creation—man, animals, and environment—would create universal peace and a heavenly state. Who could argue with that? This less offensive, more congenial religion would probably have more impact on society and culture as a whole. All we have to do is leave God and Jesus out of the equation. No biggie.
>So why is Rob Bell leaving his church?
From the church’s own site it says:
Feeling the call from God to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities, our founding pastor Rob Bell, has decided to leave Mars Hill in order to devote his full energy to sharing the message of God’s love with a broader audience.
What do I think? I think it’s good and bad.
In a way, Rob has been part of my life for eight years. I have read nearly all of his books, used several of his NOOMA videos as a basis for small group discussions, and listened to hundreds of his teachings (I even explained why I stopped listening to him on July 29th, 2007, which is another story altogether). I have deep affection and great respect for Rob. It is hard not to.
But I’m worried.
Now Rob is free to go off the deep end. He doesn’t have the responsibility and role of ‘pastor’ to hold him accountable and measure his actions against. That’s not a good thing.
>Perhaps, since he doesn’t seem to hold to some foundational Christian doctrines, this is the right thing to do.
Of course, I wish him all the best. He is an amazing communicator. In fact, I am jealous of his ability. I guess I should think what the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 1:8:
“The important thing is that in every way, whether for right or wrong reasons, they are preaching about Christ. So I am happy, and I will continue to be happy.”
I’m still worried, though.
Why? Rob has a lot of influence due to his gift of communicating. I am afraid that Rob will further present an application of Christianity that is some quasi-universalist, pseudo-Buddhist, completely indistinct Frankenstein of a religion in which, although it claims so, Jesus is not really essential.
I know I have many problems and likely have some of my interpretations of the Bible wrong. I’m human. That’s a certainty.
>I’m just worried that Rob will get away from the urgency and importance of knowing Jesus, that he died for our sins, and that we must believe, accept, and follow him in order to spend eternity with him.
So farewell Rob Bell. I do wish you well–with some caution.
You may be familiar with the new atheist movement. Its leaders (albeit informal) are Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. I once reviewed a book by some aspiring new atheists in the movement called The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. In a strange way, it was a fun read. And probably to all the contributers disappointment, it only served to strengthen my faith.
No, it’s not to indoctrinate children like you barbarian religious nuts do. Of course not, he alleges. His is much more noble and altruistic. He simply wants to to teach children to ‘think freely’.
>Yes, let’s all teach children how to think freely by telling them that there is no reason or purpose to life–that any thoughts or ideas leading to that end are just figments of their imagination.
Don’t you feel free? Me too! My bones are filled with hope at the thought of nothingness.
Admittedly, I haven’t read the book. But my thoughts are based on some of his interview highlights. I find it interesting. Watch it if you’d like:
I usually post something funny on Fridays. Today, I’m doing it different since I highlighted this child Pentecostal preacher.
Often in the news, is the Israeli Palestinian conflict. As a Christian, it is something I follow for obvious reasons. In contrast to what the communist professor Noam Chompsky says, I am not pro-Israel because I am actually anti-semitic. Israelis are accused of being imperialists and occupiers, while Palestinians are accused of terrorism and anti-semitism. In fact, a vote in the UN is supposed to come up this month on creating a Palestinian state. Sounds great, right? Not so much.
The Palestinine Liberation Organization (PLO) ambassador to the US, Maen Areikat, told reporters in Washington on Tuesday that the Palestinian state his regime is trying to gain recognition for at the UN next week should be free of Jews.
>So how is peace achieved?
Here is a great video that explains the Israeli Palestinian conflict in about five minutes, believe it or not. I highly encourag you watch it.
I’ve been told that the Bible has no credibility many times. I’ve heard it on tv over and over. Recently I heard it from a political analyst who was commenting on a Republican debate of presidential hopefuls. The remark was also an underhanded criticism of the folks who associate themselves with the modern Tea Party movement. These groups tend to have faith in common.
The basic point was:
>These people believe in the Bible, which is clearly filled with myth, so how can we trust them with national policies? If they are willing to base their lives on non-facts, it would be stupid to give them control of our country.
It was condescending, arrogant, and elitist. As if big, centralized, statist policies are all based in fact? Please.
Back to me essential point.
>Sometimes it seems, with regard to discussions with those without faith, that any source seems to be more valid than the Bible. Even one with only one or two copies citing a particular event holds more weight (so long as it casts doubt on Christianity) than the thousands of manuscripts of the Scripture. If two books record the same event, the Bible is automatically wrong. Why? Well, because it’s the Bible, of course! Aren’t you paying attention? This is something I especially noticed in the atheist book The Christian Delusion which I reviewed.
>So, was the Bible manipulated to spread propaganda for God? That seems unlikely when you consider how the Bible includes so many ugly details about people who claim to follow God. People like King David, the prophet Samuel, and the apostle Peter certainly don’t always come across looking good, and that would seem to reflect poorly on God. If I were trying to persuade people through propaganda, I’d leave out details that tarnish my reputation.
This is something I explore in The Idiot Genius Contradiction–and it is quite a contradiction. Skeptics like this hold that the Bible is brilliant and stupid all at once. Somehow both are true. Somehow it has zero credibility but controls peoples lives better than anything else has for the last 2,000 years.
>This argument lacks credibility, if you ask me.
I didn’t want to do this for several reasons. Mainly, because I thought everyone else would. But then I realized they probably wouldn’t. When something big, emotional, and traumatic crosses our paths, sometimes it’s easier to forget about it. But sometimes there is value in remembering the thing you want to forget forever. It can clarify what’s important to you. In a sense, by remembering the hard things you refresh your list of priorities.
I remember it like it was yesterday…
I was living with my wife in our first house in Ft. Lauderdale. I had taken a job at an insurance repair business as a supervisor of a small crew. We repaired water and fire damage, mainly. My wife and I were also deep in the process of helping start a church in Miami, FL.
This particular day I was working alone. My job was to go to south Miami(Kendall, I think) to do some punch-out on an apartment building that the company had the contract on. I have always been a news junky, so I had the radio on in my work van while driving.
Just as I had arrived there was a new flash about a small commuter plane that had accidentally flown into one of the World Trade Center buildings. Of course, in a short time I would learn that both those details were quite wrong.
At that point, I had no reason to be overly concerned or worried. I thought it was awful, but I had no idea. So I gathered my tools and went into the apartment building to work.
I set up and went to work. I put on my little portable radio and started painting a door jam. While I was working and listening a second plane suddenly hit the other World Trade Center building. That’s when I knew it wasn’t an accident.
From there, the news was patchy. I was lacking focus and momentum, because I was a little afraid by this time. I continued working. I was dragging, but what else could I do?
And then the first building collapsed.
The news wasn’t clear on this at first. That’s because it was so unbelievable. Eventually, the truth was clear: The building was gone. I was in shock and sick.
The other one fell.
By this time, I couldn’t work. I decided to take an early lunch. Mind you, I had only been working some 30 or so minutes. So I took my lunch in the van and listened to the radio. And listened. And listened.
Finally, I decided I couldn’t work. I was just so distraught. So I packed up, went home, and watched the TV coverage all day and late into the night. I couldn’t watch and couldn’t stop, all at the same time.
I went to work the next day. I also continued to watch the news coverage at night. But by the weekend, I couldn’t anymore. It was just too much. And that is the main approach I’ve taken since then.
I remember only when necessary.
Several years ago, I flew up to Connecticut to help my Dad move. He lived in the south west portion of the state, which functioned as a suburb of New York City.
Through the course of the day, neighbors would stop by to wish my Dad well (we were pushing out the next day). One neighbor got to talking. We all sat on the grass in the spring sun. They had a beer and I had a Coke (since I hate beer, and all).
He got to talking about his big brother. Stories of childhood, being best friends, best men at each others weddings, etc. ensued. So I asked if his brother lived in the area.
That’s when he told me all about September 11th. And I remembered it all over again. His brother worked in one of the buildings.
He proceeded to recount the events of the day—from his perspective. He cried all the while. This was a big dude. He was a construction worker, big and burly. So it had quite an impact on me. I looked at the situation totally different. I’m glad he shared his story. In that moment, it brought clarity and does just as strongly every time I remember.
Remembering the things we never want to remember is hard. But sometimes it is good to. It helps us think on what is most important to us.
What were you doing that day?
*Remembering Never is something I repost each year, since there’s no better way for me to say all this.
You know those people who picket funerals with signs that say “God Hates Fags”? I reference them in my own ABC interview. Here is the son of the founder Fred Phelps. His name is Nate Phelps and he is an atheist. It’s no wonder, right? Here is an interview he did that I find extremely sad and interesting. As a Christian, it’s should be mandatory. It’s heavy, but worth watching.
Here is a disturbing video of children playing a very disturbing video in Pakistan. It seems to be a suicide bomber game they are playing. I don’t know much about it; if it is meant to be funny or a mockery. Either way, it chilled me when I watched it. Sorry for the downer, but I thought I should post it.
Did you know that Christians are supportive of Jews and are Pro-Israel because they are actually anti-Semitic? That’s what the notorious M.I.T professor, activist, and Communist Noam Chomsky says.
Well, because Christians want to hasten Armageddon, the end of the world, and the return of Jesus. And apparently we are tricking Jews back to their Holy Land only to quicken their slaughter and world war as depicted in the Book of Revelation. Their presence in the Middle East seems bolster this end, so we are manipulating events to bring the end times.
This is Chompsky’s view of Revelation and most Christians interpretation of it. Watch the hard leftist who teaches our young adults partially funded by tax-dollars in the interview below. It’s disgusting, arrogant, and ignorant:
There are a few elements of Christianity that often get avoided. For obvious reasons, we don’t like talking about some strange areas and elements of our faith. Perhaps, rightly so. I mean who wants to talk about sin, Hell, or the Devil? No one.
If you don’t know, I attend North Point Community Church. Yesterday (Sunday), my church ventured into the weird zone of Christianity and talked about Hell in the series Shocking Statements of Jesus. Of course, it was done very tactfully. I’ve been attending there 6 years and listening to their messages for 9 years, and I can’t remember this subject ever being breached so clearly. I’m probably wrong, but at the moment that’s what I seem to remember.
Now, I understand why. Weird Zone Christianity doesn’t help a church grow, make friends, or make for good marketing. But it needs to be talked about. Why? Because it brings the gut-level perspective we so often need.
I’m not saying we need to talk and learn about that stuff all the time. But if we don’t ever talk about these things, it gives the impression that we have to apologize for God or be ashamed of what He says? We have to be familiar with and be willing to talk about the full council of God (as I call it). That includes the harder issues (like hell even), but apologize, hide, avoid, or feel ashamed? No. It’s all part of the territory. Otherwise it also gives the impression that those areas of Scripture aren’t all that valid or worth defending.
We need to keep in mind what’s really going on here, because it can even affect our day-to-day. For example, perhaps a fellow Christian has a habit or personality trait that drives you nuts, maybe you even think it’s a negative trait that needs to change. No one’s perfect, after all. As time goes on, you never talk about this trait with them and eventually decide to end the relationship because you deem it ‘unhealthy’. Sure, you pray about it and for them, of course. That’s the spiritual thing to do, right? Not really. You’ve lost perspective of the big picture and what’s really going on here.
The spiritual thing to do is to talk to your fellow Christian right away as is modeled in Matthew 18:15. Go to him or her, because there is a real enemy here–and it’s not that so-and-so is too sarcastic or talks too much. The real enemy wants to get a foothold via some stupid trait and ruin your relationship and ruin all the peripheral relationships as well.
When something as simple as a personality trait never gets talked about it can lead to gossip (as you’re likely talk to other people about this problem, but never talk to the actual person you have a grievance toward), pride (as you become oblivious to your own flaws), and religiosity (since you’re ‘praying’ for and about this, but never actually doing what the Bible says and go to the person). And by the way, ‘going’ to the person does not include dropping a bomb on them and listing all the things wrong with them as reasons for ending the relationship. That’s mean and cowardly–and not spiritual. And the enemy wins here as pain and destruction rain down on these relationships.
If we don’t talk about sin, Hell, and the Devil then we don’t really understand the good stuff of forgiveness, Heaven, and God. And we won’t understand reconciliation and how important it is to handle relationships correctly.
So I am trying to learn to talk about the weird zone of Christianity tactfully in order to keep the big picture in perspective.