Posts Tagged ‘god

06
Jan
12

Burn That Book!

My brothers and sisters in Christ…

We all know the insidious power of the media to corrupt the minds of young and old. And so I know that you, like me, despise books that fail to promote the values we hold dear as true followers of God and Jesus.

We won’t stand for the distribution of a book that features incest and adultery. We won’t tolerate a book that condones the conquering of sovereign nations on the basis of religious zealotry. We won’t sit idle while people sell and promote a book that uplifts the weak, poor and sickly over the needs of the strong, wealthy and attractive. We will shout from the rooftops against a book that advocates communist-like sharing of wealth and equal dispersal of money to all in need.

My friends, I know of a book that does all this.

And more.

For hundreds upon hundreds of pages.

The Bible.

For the good of our noble, true and powerful Christian cause, we must destroy all copies of this vile publication immediately.

I realize this will leave a bit of a void in terms of reading material for good Christians. Thankfully, I have a series of 12 books (one for each apostle) to fill that need. Just send me $999.00 for the full set.

What Would Jesus Invest In? — Be Fruitful and Multiply…But Only If You’re White — Jesus: Founder of the Tea Party — The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth, But Don’t Let Them Have It Just Yet — God Loves a Good Capitalist — Sex the Right Way: You Can Rape Your Wife But Don’t Touch Another Man’s Butt — Shoot All the Scientists — The Last Trustworthy Jew Was Paul the Apostle — Thou Shalt Not Kill…Unless It’s a Negro or Queer —  Thou Shalt Not Steal…Except From Your Employees — Jesus Loves a Good Profit Margin — God Wants You To Keep All Your Money So That the Godless Heathens Can’t Use It

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29
Nov
11

Lack of Focus

Or, perhaps, the title of this post should be “The Wrong Focus.”

Some of the most fervent people pursue their missions from entirely the wrong standpoint, and so it is with many conservative, fundamentalist Christians, because they aren’t really as focused on the fundamentals as their descriptor would suggest.

See, my problem with the “fundies” isn’t so much that they want to promote biblical ideals and Bible-based behavior as it is that they put at the top of their agenda subjects on which Jesus didn’t really focus and/or that are only hinted at vaguely in the Bible…while also putting at the bottom of their priority list those things on which Jesus spoke most clearly and directly.

So, on the one hand, they’ll pick out a Bible passage about ancient punishments for hitting a pregnant woman in the belly and killing her unborn child, along with God’s words in the Book of Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” and say, “See! God hates abortion! Let’s go have a huge campaign against women controlling their own bodies and hijack freedom of choice and science while ignoring more pertinent issues that affect more people.”

Never mind that causing the death of a woman’s fetus in an act of violence or irresponsibility was a crime because it assumed the woman wanted to give birth and you took that away from her (i.e. took the life that she had charge of). Also never mind that the quote from Jeremiah is about foreknowledge and foreplanning on God’s part, not about when life begins. Never mind that Jesus never once mentioned anything about fetuses, and his words are the ones Christians should focus on most.

And then, on the other hand, with poverty rising, kids and adults going without food, healthcare becoming increasingly inaccessible and the rich hoarding more and more of the money just because they can (even though they don’t need that much), you’ll see fundies cringe at any notion that even hints at socialism or talks about fairness and sharing, even though Jesus spent huge gobs of his time talking about economic fairness and taking care of the less fortunate.

Not to mention the fact the early Christian church essentially practiced communism, or something very close to it.

But they’ll ignore that and point to his parable of the talents and claim Jesus was a free market capitalist even though the parable is talking about spiritual growth and responsibility, not wealth creation.

Shaking my damn head…

30
Dec
10

Where I Need God and Where I Don’t

I have some thoughts that have been rolling around my head; just haven’t been in the right mindset to put them to words on this blog (writing fiction so much lately is eating up my time and energy, so that’s part of it).

Until I can, I just wanted to share a quick thought with those who criticize the practice of religion or the pursuit of things spiritual:

Don’t mistake me for someone who needs God to make sense of the world or to explain how things are. This isn’t a case of needing the existence of a higher power for lighting and rainbows to be explained or to make sense of where the universe came from. Science has proven more than up to the task of breaking down the physical world and explaining a lot of those things. I look to God for making sense of the things that science doesn’t touch and probably never can: The things of the spirit. That is the place where I need God, both as a guide and as an endpoint to seek.

And argue all you want that there is no spirit. No soul. No existence beyond the current prison of our flesh. I don’t need you or science to prove that such things exist. I have seen them and I feel them and they are real. If you chose not to recognize them and are satisfied with that, more power to you. But telling me that the spiritual isn’t real doesn’t make it so, and where science cannot tread, there I will seek a higher power.

07
Dec
10

God May Be Immutable; the World Is Not

While I have begged off further involvement in a debate here a while back about the Catholic Church’s reputation and the Vatican’s legitimacy (see here), my opponent David made an interesting comment about God’s immutability and I’ve been planning to address that subject ever since, as well as contraception (since David and I went pretty heavily back and forth on the rightness or wrongness of birth control), and the ways the two issues tie together in some ways.

This post may be a bit of a ramble. Apologies in advance if so.

God is, reportedly, immutable, unchanging and eternal. I really have no argument with that (though I also have no proof of it). I know a lot of agnostics and atheists do reject the unchanging nature of God, and they often contend such notions with talk about God’s personality shifts in the Bible, but I disregard that line of argument. I disregard it in part because I believe it is less a case of God changing than of God changing the way He approaches people.

And really, how could He not?

Humanity has evolved (genetically, socially, technologically, etc.) in so many ways. God had forged multiple covenants with humans not because He cannot make up His mind but because dealing with us is an ongoing process, and guiding us toward the next steps in our spiritual development (in this life and beyond it) is an ever-shifting process.

Now, Jesus pretty much put a final stamp on the basic theology and the priorities we are supposed to have. Given the period in which he appeared historically speaking, it was probably as good a time as any to make a “final” covenant that would carry humans through until God’s plans were complete in terms of our time here on Earth.

However, I cannot help but notice that Jesus didn’t talk about nearly as many things as the apostles did after he was gone, and Jesus certainly didn’t emphasize the minutiae of the Old Testament laws. I cannot help but notice that Jesus kept it pretty simple and basic. I also cannot help but notice that while Jesus himself followed Jewish law for the most part, he didn’t uplift it as something to be a slave to, and he broke it in cases where it was irresponsible to follow the law simply for the sake of the law.

And here’s where I get to contraception, boys and girls.

First off, let’s toss that Onan shit out the window. Anyone who can read that story and still say it was about masturbation being evil and contraception being evil has totally and completely missed the point that Onan was punished because God told him he needed to get a child on a certain woman after all his brothers had died and Onan failed to do so because he didn’t want to. If God was so mad at masturbation, why kill that guy, after centuries upon centuries of masturbation and coitus interruptis, and no one else? God had a mission for that man, for some reason, and Onan defied God and did so in a highly disrespectful manner. End of story. Don’t anyone argue with me on that point. Don’t even start. Jacking off was NOT the sin in that story.

Now, you can point to various things in the Bible and extrapolate that God wanted men and women to marry and have lots of kids. Great. But let’s take that in context. The world was not overpopulated at the time. Women were often little more than baby-makers, sometimes little more than chattel, and so from a societal standpoint, they weren’t considered useful aside from family-rearing. Also, families needed new blood to keep things going and run the farm (or herd the sheep, or make the boats, or whatever). Fathers needed heirs. Infant mortality was high. Many women died young thanks to birth complications.

So, of course there is going to be a focus on marrying people off and having them breed in those times. Particularly as regards Isreal, because if God set them as his messenger and the venue through which Jesus would come, so He’d be particularly keen on them making plenty of babies and remain viable on the Middle Eastern stage. So, for the Bible to support “be fruitful and multiply” made sense then.

But that is not the world we live in now. Many things in the world today are not covered biblically and attempts to use the Bible to deal with current issues based on anachronistic origins end up ringing untrue for that very reason. End of life decisions, abortion, pornography, electronic interactions and a ton of other things are all things that not only didn’t really factor into daily life (or at all) in Jesus’ time (or before) but also don’t even have any logical parallels with things covered by the Bible.

So, times change. The Bible is meant to be a guide, not a lawbook. It doesn’t change to keep up. God doesn’t check back in with us to give us the Commandments version 25.1 or something. We are expected to try to act as much in concert with the Holy Spirit as possible. But when something like the Vatican makes blanket rules and says they will never change and we’re going to keep doing it because we have been for 2,000 years (or longer) doesn’t make sense.

Is it really sensible to think that God wants married people to have sex only when they plan to make kids? No. Sex is also a relationship-bonding experience. It is, I dare say, a spiritual experience when I give my wife an orgasm, when I get one, or when we both come together (blessed be those nights…and sometimes mornings or afternoons). If God’s goal was only for us to breed, why not leave us with mating seasons and specific sexual cycles? Why have it be something that feels so good and cements a loving relationship so well, and have it only be for baby-making? So, right there, we’re already off track when contraception is condemned because of the notion that every sexual act should be potentially procreative.

Jumping to the next point, does it really make sense in this resource-strapped world, with so many poor and so few rich but so much wealth in the hands of a tiny number of people, that God wants us to breed like bunnies? Is it really wise for us to do so? No. It makes us poor stewards of the planet. China has population control policies, and look how huge THEY are. What if they didn’t have such policies? What if every married couple in the United States in these modern times had families of six to 15 kids or something. When my dad was young, that was tenable. Now, it’s environmentally irresponsible and financially untenable. Did God not give us free will so that we could exercise some common damn sense?

Contraception is not evil, and attempts to make it so are simply a game of maintaining the status quo for the sake of comfort or habit or plain ignorance.

Is is because we change that we were sent the Holy Spirit, and why we have to try to listen to that spirit of God. It is because we change that God approaches us in different ways at different time. And for a long time now, it’s been right and appropriate for God not to overtly reveal himself, because it is through the search for Him and our attempt to forge a relationship with Him (by whatever means, Christian or otherwise) that we show we are honoring those things spiritual.

The Vatican needs to get up off that no-contraception policy, as do many other Christians and non-Christians. People need to stop calling God a victim of capriciousness and multiple-personality disorder simply as a way of disregarding religion.

And we all need to keep up with the times. But that doesn’t mean throwing out Jesus’ teachings. It means keeping them in context.

21
Oct
10

Co-signing away your soul

I cannot take credit for the following quote, but I can’t help by smile ruefully and nod my head as I read it. It’s sort of the religious/spiritual equivalent of the Tea Party candidates who tout that we need to remain true to the U.S. Constitution, but who don’t know what the Constitution says or what the amendments to it are.

To most Christians, the Bible is like a software license. Nobody actually reads it. They just scroll to the bottom and click “I agree.”

That came from a Twitter account known as almightygod (I didn’t know my Father in Heaven had signed on to Twitter until now ;-)), and I don’t know if the owner of that Twitter account is the originator of the quote or simply passing on something he or she heard, but it’s a gem if I ever saw one, regardless.

02
Aug
10

Blessings Abundant, No Matter What I Think

I’ve been a bad, bad boy with my posting around here. (Or lack thereof, I should say)

Sorry about that.

Also haven’t talked much spirituality lately. Not much of that Christ thing. Or God thing. Religion and all that.

I’m sure for some of you that’s been a breath of fresh air (*chuckle*) and others probably feel I’m slacking a bit on my faith walk since I’m not talking about it much.

But I have been thinking about blessings lately. This is a dicey topic, though. People both inside and outside the faith will zero in on talk of blessings and a often-interrelated topic called “faith.” If a person starts talking about their blessings, someone else will ask, “Well, why doesn’t God bless the poor and starving people in [insert community or nation here].” A person may talk about how their blessings are through their power of faith, and then by extension other Christians will say, “What? Are you saying my life sucks because I don’t have enough faith? Not everyone can prosper!”

And so on. And so forth. Ad infinitum.

But the fact that my life is blessed, in so many ways. When I look at it, I have no reason to complain, really. I still do, though. I think about what I don’t have instead of seeing all the things that I do possess and do receive. Do my blessings overflow my cup? Hell, no! Am I comfortable and prosperous. I wish!

But am I provided for?

Yes. Most definitely.

Over and over in my life, Mrs. Blue and I have come up on near disaster, only to have just the right amount of salvation (often in the form of unexpected money) arrive just before things reached crisis stage, or soon enough afterward to clean up the damage.

There was a point not so long ago that I wasn’t sure we’d be able to continue living in our house. Now the mortgage is paid off. Sure, the oil bills in the winter are still a bitch. Sure, we don’t have any money to fix the many things that need fixing inside this old house. But no longer does a mortgage hang over our heads; just taxes and insurance.

A couple months ago, we weren’t sure where Son of Blue would be going to college. His ACT scores were only average, thanks to horrible math scores (almost everything else was outstanding, particularly his verbal/writing/reading scores, which made the score that much more heart-wrenching). He had only applied to a few universities, a couple of which were pretty elite. Not only did he find a perfect school in the late application process, but he got some grants and scholarships. We were still concerned up until this week, because the remaining costs were still high, but now he’s got more scholarship money coming from the university, and all we have to pay for now is some $5,000 or so a year for room and board.

My wife needed a surgery that she had long put off, and Little Girl Blue needed dental work, and I still need to get an elective surgery done. None of those things would have been possible if insurance coverage hadn’t landed in our lap by a means that I can only call “the grace of God.”

I could go on and on, but I won’t.

I need only look at the terribly improbable turns of my life and know that if it’s coincidence or blind luck, then I should have hit a winning Lotto by now.

But it’s not just me.

So many people in the world are blessed, even if they don’t think so and even if we don’t think they are.

As terrible as it is that people have to live on things like a few dollars a day in pay in some nations, the fact is that they survive. If they didn’t, the population numbers would go toward extinction fast in those nations. And as hard as life might be, they still find reasons to celebrate and they still have happiness. Is life peachy? Probably not. But do they get by? Yes. And in this world, that seems to me miracle enough.

Why do hateful and horrible people prosper? I don’t know, but I have a feeling their “blessings” may in many cases be as fleeting as life itself. Why do so many good people have to scrape or endure horrors in their lives that they don’t deserve? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s so that those who can help will have someone to help. Maybe it’s supposed to be an object lesson to us how few people are truly without blessings, if we simply look at the world and its people as a whole.

If we look beyond the surface and into a wider realm. Of blessings. Of faith. Of spirituality. Of the next life (of next lives, perhaps…who knows how many stages and evolutions lie beyond this life?).

I know some of those who don’t believe in any higher power or life eternal will likely  launch into me now for not being sympathetic enough to the suffering in the world. Or they will chide me for putting my faith in something invisible; putting my hopes into some eternal life that is unproved by science.

That’s their right, if they chose to do so.

But I look at the blessings in my life, and realize how many people have blessings in their lives, too, no matter how much rougher they are even than my own life.

There is suffering in this world. There is no doubt of that. But the blessing and the evidence of God, I think, is in how little suffering and death there seems to be, compared to how much it seems like there should be.

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.




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

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