Archive for the 'Theories on the Word' Category

26
Dec
10

Jesus the Vegetarian?

I’m not willing to just sign onto this 100% blindly…too many people have come up with too many wild-seeming theories about Jesus, from him being gay and doing John (or doing Mary Magdalene, for that matter) to being a fan of capitalism…but among the various non-standard theories about Jesus, this one is among the more intriguing and plausible:

Might Jesus have been a vegetarian and against the killing of animals?

Read this story, which Son of Blue hipped me to:

www.huffingtonpost.com/kamran-pasha/was-jesus-a-vegetarian_b_276141.html

Feel free to drop back in and discuss. I don’t have any deep thoughts of my own to post right now, so maybe I can start a discussion/debate amongst us all here.

06
Apr
10

Eternal Inheritance

So, Tit for Tat invited me over to comment at one of his recent posts (here) and some of the commentary has me putting on my dual hats…one marked “faith” and the other one marked “skepticism.”

I can think on both sides of my brain…I can think on both sides of my spirit, too.

There is a lot of talk about “Why do we need Jesus to save us if the story of Adam and Eve is likely allegorical and thus there is no original sin?”

I’m not going to go there precisely. I’ve already made some comments over there and probably will have the chance to make more. But I did want to put into perspective some related issues, and follow Jesus’ lead by doing it parable style.

“Son, I have a great inheritance for you…a trust that shall be yours…but I need you to do certain things, and act certain ways to take charge of it when you are of age. If you cannot do these things, I cannot let you inherit it.”

“Why, Father?”

“Because I need to know that you are ready for it, and equipped to learn those things you will need to know to use and manage it wisely.”

“All right Father.”

But the son did not do what was required of him, and it was clear to his father, who wa patient, that he would not.

“Son, because I love you, and because I know you have faults and the world is full of distractions, I offer you a way to make right on what you have done, and correct your course, so that you can still show yourself ready to inherit what I offer.”

“Thank you Father.”

But despite his opportunities to do so, the son did not correct his ways, and eventually found himself imprisoned for some of his wayward actions. After he had been in the prison for some time, with every opportunity to examine those things and that had led him to this point, his Father asked, “Do you understand now, and are you ready to change? I love you, and wish to see you do well. But you must choose your path, for you have no more chances.”

That’s it. No big exciting finish. Because the fact is, the end of the story is unknown and isn’t the same for everyone. Some people don’t even have to get to that last step to get the message.

God gives us a path to follow. Christianity is not the only faith, and as much as I fully believe it is the best path, and that it is the culmination of a plan that God put in place to show us the way, the fact is that many faiths touch upon the same basic themes. Many of us talk about those things as if they are natural parts of our morality and as if they are things that exist outside of spiritual teachings. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But isn’t it interesting that we’ve traditionally gotten those lessons, through the ages, in the form of spiritual or religious doctrine.

And yet we still turn away from the path we’ve been shown, and we still refuse to reach out to God and explore our spirituality. We still refuse to acknowledge our very fundamental failings and we show no remorse for having stepped off the right path. We have no shame. No repentance. No desire to change and grow spiritually. Instead, we focus on ourselves, and how great we are, and how flawed everyone else is.

And yet God gives us another chance. He sends his son, who lives the right way and teaches us the core things we need to know. And we kill him because in the end, many of us don’t want to change and don’t want to hear what he has to say.

Now, this is a point at which, as I’ve noted before, people say, “But if the Garden of Eden is allegorical, we don’t need Jesus.”

But we do. That’s just it. We didn’t change on our own. We aren’t willing to. So we have an example, and someone who is able to be a true intermediary between humans and God, and judge fairly. We have someone who paid the price for us. The price isn’t paying for original sin, but for all sins. The sins we continue to commit, the ones we’ve committed before, the ones we are going to commit in the future. Jesus wasn’t a sacrifice for some single original sin but to repair the rift between God and man that has almost always existed. Even if you can’t see his death as making sense in washing away sin, at least see it as yet another example God sets forth for us:

I sent my son, to teach you in peace and love, and show you by example, and heal you, and do miracles, and still you killed him rather than listen.

Jesus is the example of just how far gone we are. And the symbol that even then, after we kill him, he and God are still there for us. That they haven’t given up on us.

And so people ask, “If God goes through all that trouble, then why have Hell? He should be willing and able to give us chances until we get it right.”

Why?

At a certain point, we simply have to choose. We have to show that we are ready to change and grow, just as in my clumsy parable above. Anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows my views on Hell and what its purpose is, and that I think there can be redemption even from that place…up to a point. But eventually, there is a final choice. The question “Have you learned anything yet?”

And many are not going to repent. Or be critical of themselves. Or take the steps necessary to move on and grow.

I find it highly unlikely that our purpose is simply to go to Heaven and be a bunch of lazy bums. I think God has many more destinations and plans for us. He is preparing us to take on responsibilities and powers. If we have the spirit of God inside us when we become born again, then that means power. Power to use constructively and creatively, I believe.

But power requires responsibility to be used well.

Redemption isn’t about kissing God’s ass and behaving because he tells us to or because he’ll punish us if we don’t. Redemption is about seeing what’s wrong with us and wanting to fix it. Asking for the help of God in making us better than we are, and better than we ever thought we could be.

Because we don’t seek improvement, not really. Just look at how we approach life. We look for cures to problems that we wouldn’t have if we lived right in the first place. Why create ways to burn off fat or vacuum it out when we could have stopped heaping on our bodies to begin with, long before? Why do self-help gurus so often tell us to look for the things in our past that shaped our decisions, but so rarely ask us to explore what the fuck is wrong with us that we let those past events dictate future behavior. Humans don’t like accountability. And yet it’s exactly what God is looking for.

That work begins on Earth, ideally with going to God through Jesus. But the process doesn’t stop there. Too many Christians think it does, and too many non-Christians think the Bible tells us that once we’re born again, we can do anything and be forgiven.

Redemption isn’t carte blanche but rather a sincere step in doing the right thing.

The question is, will you take that step early on, or will you wait until you’ve gone through hell and back (perhaps literally) to clue in?

That’s a choice every person makes for themselves. But there is nothing wrong in God expecting us to make that choice for ourselves, and ultimately giving us the kind of inheritance that we have earned.

04
Mar
10

That Old, Old, Really Old Time Religion

In my previous post (here), one of my faithful readers, The Word of Me, brought up in the comments that fact that many Old Testament tales—such as Adam and Eve, the Great Flood, and so on—don’t bear up under scientific scrutiny.

And certainly, he’s right. There is no evidence of a global flood. Humanity didn’t begin 7,000 years ago. Language differences didn’t begin at the site of the Tower of Babel. I could go on, but I won’t, because it isn’t necessary.

His point was that is such material is false, then the whole Bible is suspect, and must be assumed to be false. And therefore, taken to the logical extreme, if there was no Adam and Eve and original sin or any of that other stuff, there would be no need for Jesus and therefore Jesus wasn’t the son of God. Not that there is a God, of course, in TWOM’s view.

I don’t fault TWOM’s reasoning. That is, if you begin from the standpoint that the Bible is a pack of myths or lies or both, then it all falls apart.

But why do all the stories in the Old Testament have to be literal? Particularly those appearing in Genesis.

It is a fault of both the atheist/agnostic camps and the fundamentalist/Bible literalism camps that the stories in the Bible must be true in order for God to be true. Both sides are dead wrong.

Look at Jesus. He told parables. He didn’t say, “this is an allegorical story” when he told them. He told them as if they were stories of real people and real situations. And it’s clear that many of those stories, perhaps none of them, had to do with real scenarios of which Jesus was aware. That did not, however, diminish the importance or value of those stories for teaching lessons and revealing truths.

The Son follows the example of the Father. Why can’t the Old Testament stories be parables writ larger, speaking to greater truths? Truths about human failings, broken connections with the divine, the need for redemption, the love of God, and so much more.

Whether there was a literal couple named Adam and Eve doesn’t matter. Whether the global flood really covered the Earth, or flooded a mere nation or valley, or never happened at all, also doesn’t matter. What matters is that God has shown Himself to humanity for millennia, most notably through his son, whose message and legacy endures, against all odds, even to this day.

14
Sep
09

All In the Head?

openmindSo, I’m having a bit of writer’s block on the novel, so I guess another day or two will pass before the next installment(s), though I think I’ll be picking up steam on that project again soon. In the meantime, I’ll go and get spiritual instead today, since Miz Pink seems to have dropped off the radar again temporarily (I blame the dang kid that insists on being changed and breastfed regularly…two activities that I’m sure make typing pretty near impossible).

So, what I want to talk about is the whole idea of sinful thoughts being as bad as sinful actions. A popular belief among many conservative, Bible-belting-you-over-the-head types.

A belief which, I have to say, is a total load of horsecrap.

Jesus talks about this notion a bit, supposedly, as chronicled in the Gospel of Matthew, and here’s one snippet:

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh o­n a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew chapter 5, verses 27 & 28)

Now, by way of an aside, there’s an interesting discussion about what adultery really means, right here, but you can look at that later. It doesn’t have any bearing on my arguments here. Also, before I start making my arguments, I’ll remind those of you who are still confusing me with a theologian that I’m neither a linguist nor biblical scholar, so take my ravings here with an appropriate dosage of salt.

I don’t think that Jesus’ argument was really that thinking about sex outside of marriage, for example, or thinking about killing (which he mentions right before the adultery thing), for instance, are as sinful as actually doing the acts.

First, Jesus talks about the heart, not the mind. That is, we’re talking about true feelings. Intense motions. Intentions. Not mere passing thoughts. Fact is, as humans, it’s pretty much impossible to never look at someone with sexual desire. Flat out impossible. The issue is more this: Did you think about sinful activity with a real fervor and serious consideration about doing it?

If so, there is where your sin may lie.

But more to the point, perhaps, let’s look at the context in which Jesus is speaking. This was the ancient world. People didn’t typically live in cities, and cities of the time were still much smaller affairs than what we have today. Therefore, to look at, say, a woman with serious lust was a problem in part because this is a woman you have access to.

If I look lustfully upon a woman on the commuter train of a major city, chances are I won’t really have a chance to act on my desires. I don’t know where she works. I don’t know where she lives. The most pressing danger of “sinful” fantasies is that you might actually act out the sin. In the ancient world, looking at some dude’s wife with lust meant you might have a very real chance, regardless of which woman in town you chose, of knowing how to find her and giving yourself an opportunity.

So, the mere thinking of a thing isn’t sinful.

Because, let’s face it, if that were the case, good intentions would be enough to save us in the eyes of God. Because if thoughts are as good as actions, then wanting to do something good is just as powerful as actually taking action, right?

Of course not. We are supposed to take positive actions, not simply intend or wish them.

Finally, another nail in the coffin of the notion of sinful thoughts being as bad as sinful actions: Jesus thought sinful things.

Oh, don’t get ready to stone my ass, now. Satan tempted Jesus. Jesus led a sinless life, despite knowing the power and allure of sin. Jesus couldn’t possibly have gone his whole life without considering the possibility and implications and consequences of doing a sinful act. He had to be capable to considering the possibility of sin, or he couldn’t be tempted. He had to know what it felt like to desire things that were wrong, or he couldn’t have understood his human side. Plus, if he was incapable of even considering sin, then what was the big deal about his sinless life? If it was some cakewalk for him, then the whole exercise meant nothing.

Just because you think a thing doesn’t make it so.

Nor does it define your true intentions.

09
Aug
09

The Nature of God

eye_of_godA lot of people get hung up on the concept of any kind of god, much less an all-powerful creator of the entire universe. They scoff at how ridiculous it is that such a being could exist, even as they don’t skip a beat accepting that they live in a universe that must, then, have popped up infinitely out of nowhere.

But you know what, I’m going to cut folks some slack for having trouble believing in an all-powerful, ominprescent universal God, and I’m going to tell you why it doesn’t matter, pratically speaking, whether you make God “infinite” and maybe, just maybe, it will be easier for you to consider He might exist if you can scale the possibilities down to something more manageable.

Creator of the Universe

OK, so what if He isn’t, really? Technically speaking, the Bible really only spends significant time talking about His role in creating the Earth and managing it, and spends precious little time on anything temporal beyond our little corner of our little galaxy.

By considering that He might “only” be creator of the Earth and the life here, I don’t think I’m exactly de-powering Him that much. Relatively speaking, any being that might have arisen in the universe and possessed the ability to create life and give that life a spiritual side as well is still a creator that is, for all intents and purposes, the ultimate creator…at least relative to our puny human abilities.

All Powerful

All right, maybe God isn’t everywhere at once. Maybe He isn’t all powerful with infinite abilities. Maybe He doesn’t reach beyond this planet. Regardless, this is still a level of power that might as well be infinite. I know I’d certainly give more than a passing bit of respect for such a being.

Perfect

A common criticism of God is that if He were so damn perfect, why is the world so messed up? I’ll pass on my usual argument that we humans messed it up, really. Instead, let’s define perfection. Still working on it? Good luck. Do phrases like “without error” or “faultless” really help here? If a being exists who created this world, whether as a sick game, or a social experiment, or a proving ground for spirits that He will send forth, or the setting for a strange conflict, or whatever, the fact that He created this all would make Him more perfect than any of us.

Look, if I create a story on the page, I’ve created my own world. It is, in a sense, perfect. Even if I make a continuity error or contradict something, those things can be changed to bring everything back in synch. The story hasn’t been changed substantially, but it loses the jarring element(s). If I start an ant farm in my house, I might as well be “perfect” because the changes made in those ants’ lives are being dictated by someone with almost total control over the environment.

So, perfection, like the other things I’ve mentioned, is a relative thing.

I know this post isn’t likely to turn any agnostics or atheists my way. In fact, it is probably much more likely to get me branded a heretic by some Christians for even considering these possibilities.

The point is that it doesn’t matter whether my God is master of the universe or master of the world. If the former seems too much to stomach, the latter…while easier…still makes God so much more powerful than I am that it hardly matters.

And given the level of creative and destructive powers we humans have, is it really so hard to consider that a being might exist who found it fitting to create life on this planet and who finds it necessary to remain largely invisible to us?

Aren’t we, as humans, striving toward reshaping worlds and perhaps creating our own? Don’t we conduct experiments without the knowledge of the animals or people involved sometimes? Don’t we change the nature of the game midstream at times for very good and proper reasons?

Why is it so hard to imagine a being greater than us that might do similar things for even higher purposes than our own? And wouldn’t such a being be worthy of some kind of respect, for any number of different reasons?

15
Jun
09

Drive-by Scripture, 2 Timothy 3:16

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness

Been a while since I’ve posted a drive-by scripture, so here we go, with Second Timothy, chapter 3, verse 16.

Much is made about how the word of God is infallible. In other words, the Bible is the final word and it’s not wrong in any way, shape or form.

I believe that. And I don’t believe that.

Having spoken recently on the translational issue with my post “Lost in Translation,” it should be clear that I have differing levels of regard for various translations. To some degree, even differing levels of trust.

I wholeheartedly believe that the structure of the Bible as it stands is pretty much inspired by God. The Catholics and the Protestants have a slightly different take on books that should or should not be included, but the differences are minor in the end. I believe there is value in some of the books that are not in the Protestant version, as well as some important books that are not in either Catholic nor Protestant translations of the Bible.

But at the same time, humans have had their grubby little hands all over the word of God, and mistakes, personal interpretations and the like are inevitable when human error gets brought into the mix.

But this, I think, can be a good thing as well as a challenge. While I believe that we can never truly understand God while we are in this world, tethered to our bodies and our carnal needs and desires, I believe we are meant to search for Him and seek Him continually, even if we are among the faithful.

Perhaps especially if we are among the faithful. For I believe that true faith and a closer relationship with God forces us to really think about what the Bible is trying to tell us, instead of expecting it to give us simple answers. And I think that truly coming to God forces us to question our faith, ourselves, and even the version of the word of God that we open to read.

02
Jun
09

The Plot Thickens

jesus-weptSo, I don’t know how deep today’s message will be, but at least it has a spiritual bent to it.

Thing is, on the way to Little Girl Blue’s daycare today, I was thinking about some of the novels I’ve been reading lately. And, for that matter, thoughout my life. And it struck me that many of the novels I read have a “hero” or a very small number of heroes. That is, there is one person or a couple people who hold the fate of the plot in their hands. It might be the prophesied deliverer in a swords and sorcery epic or the brilliant tactician in a space opera or the detective who puts all the pieces together in a crime novel.

And then there are other novels and series I read, where it is more an ensemble thing, much like I am doing in my own novel. There are key characters, but no single person is the lynchpin and in some cases, critical characters will never meet or have any reason to interact.

I don’t prefer either type of novel, really, though I do appreciate the reality and complexity of an ensemble piece, even as I relish the focused drama of a hero-oriented story.

The Bible, my friends, has both aspects. Now, I’m not calling the Bible a fiction, mind you. While I think some elements are symbolic or metaphorical, overall I think it is an honest account of God’s plans and the history of humans. Yes, you can quibble over whether God really created the Earth in seven days and made Adam from the dust of the Earth, but then you’re just arguing semantics. Some very complex things are couched in simple terms. But the fact is that God created things, God has a plan for us, we have gone astray from that plan, and He made a way for us to get back in line with it.

But getting back to my original observation, the Bible gives us an epic ensemble piece in the Old Testament, and a hero/savior one in the New Testament.

The OT gives us this sweeping account of where we went wrong and all the missteps we took along the way. There are victories and defeats, successes and failures, love and anger, joy and sorrow, and so much more. Many players, some more effective than others, shape the flow and direction of the story.

And yet it is all a set-up. It’s really a prelude to the NT, when Jesus arrives. Because then we have the hero that everyone else has been paving the way for. The story God gives us takes a sudden and dramatic turn, and becomes very focused. What we end up with is Jesus’ story, and even though there are other people in the NT who are movers and shakers, they are all responding to (and uplifting) Jesus and his role in things. It’s all about the Christ and the fallout from his arrival (most of that fallout good, but with its bitter and bittersweet aspects, too).

It’s interesting that the Bible gives us the harder to absorb and more thorny ensemble piece first, and only gives us the more personal and in some ways easier to digest hero tale last.

I don’t know what that means, if anything. I just thought it was interesting to note.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

_________

Jeff Bouley

To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

_________

E-Mail

You can reach Deacon Blue/Jeff Bouley at deaconbluemail@gmail.com.

_________

LinkedIn

For my public profile, click here.

_________

Tales of the Whethermen

My superhero fiction blog, click here

_________

Raising the Goddess

My parenting blog, click here

Copyright Info and Images

For more about images used on this site, and copyrights regarding them, as well as usage/copyright information about my own writing as posted here, click here.

Deac Tweets

  • @Frowzytwo I'm reminded of that especially as I overhear some of the radio programming when she's in a car 1 day ago
  • My daughter's discovered "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" and is completely taken w/ game. My tween has gone "old school" (b4 her time anyway) 1 day ago
  • RT @JoyAnnReid: None of those things has a basis in factual reality, but it's a strong belief among many on the right (and again not just t… 1 day ago
  • RT @JoyAnnReid: It's based on a broad belief that undocumented migrants are a) criminals b) welfare queens or c) stealing jobs from working… 1 day ago
  • RT @JoyAnnReid: Hatred of undocumented immigrants and a desire to get rid of them is a common feature of Trumpism (and not just lower incom… 1 day ago

Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 836 other followers

February 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728  

%d bloggers like this: