Monthly Archives: February 2010

I’m confused now

As you probably know, I moderate religion forums. I’ve been working with a large spirituality site called Beliefnet for going on seven years now. Most of the forums I work with are Christian, although I have moderated forums debating Judaism. To me, it’s a very interesting way to learn about people-not only to learn about their faiths, although that is a very large interest. One of the most fascinating things is watching how people interact with each other and behave when talking about things that are as highly-charged as religion is. I’ve seen and participated in some rather interesting meltdowns and support sessions. In fact, I came about this job because I was seriously struggling with my faith and I found a lot of help and friendship from many people there. If anyone tells you you can’t find real friends on the internet, they don’t know what they’re talking about. I’ve also met a lot of people who aren’t so friendly and learned some things that caused me a great deal of pain, but I guess that’s to be expected.

I joined Beliefnet in part to try to answer some of the doubts I was having after coming out of a relationship with a man who had some beliefs I simply couldn’t accept. Some of those beliefs were completely foreign to me, but some of them are beliefs I used to share to some extent but later found not to be true. I’ve shed some light on those beliefs and explored new ones, hopefully somewhat growing along the way.

Unfortunately, doubts are still my constant companions. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I learn or who I meet, there are always the lingering questions. What does God think about ‘topic X’? What should I believe about ‘topic Y’? Do I even have to have a belief about Y at all? How should I see or read the Bible? What if I don’t understand what I’m reading? What do I make of all of the conflicting things I hear, from outside the faith as well as within? What’s really important? How much of the Bible is true?

Apparently I’m not the only one dealing with these doubts. Here is a post from a friend of mine from the Christian-to-Christian Debate forum on Beliefnet:

I am not sure that Jesus said everything he has been credited with. I have been reading Genesis, Exodus and Numbers again and most of it still makes no sense to me. And please don’t tell me that if I had the Spirit in me, I would understand it! Whoever wrote this, I believe, put God’s name in places it should not be. Or else it is all made up. I have tried over the years to believe in the OT because I thought it necessary to be Christian. I just cannot believe this is the God I feel in my heart. If anyone can make it all fit together, I am happy for them, but I don’t believe God expects anyone to believe all this. There are some very good stories but all the killing ordered by God is nothing but rubbish.

Here’s my reply on the forum thread:

I’m so glad to read that I am not the only one who feels this way. My church has an OT passage as part of the order of service, but lately I have had a hard time understanding what is being said. I thought it was just me, since a lot of the time I can’t focus long enough to understand even the simplest things. There are not words enough to express how distressing and frustrating this is for me! However, I just don’t know what to make of so many things in the OT…ceremonial laws, why God hardened Pharoah’s heart, the destruction and death, etc. I just *don’t get it*. I keep hearing in my head the ‘if you had the spirit, you’d get it’ that you mention above, a throwback from before…but then I wonder why it is important for me to know this stuff?

Sorry to babble, but I’m glad to know I am not the only one who just says, ‘WTH???’ with some parts of the Bible.

I don’t really know a good ‘tie-in’ for this. Sometimes it’s just so frustrating to talk to other people about what you believe when you don’t know what it is! I’ve heard so many statements and cracks from atheists and agnostics about how all religion is evil because the God we believe in did some really awful things. I would normally have a good comeback for them, but I don’t really know what to say when even I can’t make sense of some of the ‘darker parts’. Most of the time I can tell myself that the stories could just be a statement of fact rather than a recommendation for the future-for instance, I don’t hear very many pastors singing the praises of slavery (anymore) or Levirate marriage. That would be quite an interesting sermon, wouldn’t it? I could also say that some things are instructions to the Jews about things that Jesus later spoke against-kosher laws, for example. He said that “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean’, but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean'” (Matthew 15:10-12). That is all well and good for parts of the Old Testament, but that still does not explain why a God who claims to love us would do things like strike someone dead just for trying to keep the Ark of the Covenant from falling?

Also confusing is how there are so many conflicting teachings and doctrines…Calvinism, Pelagianism, etc. Some parts just feel wrong to me, like predestination-the idea that God chooses certain people to go to Heaven, as I understand it. But wouldn’t that also mean that God chooses certain people to go to Hell? That would be the other destination from Heaven, right? I don’t know. Then there’s the teaching that someone has to be a Christian in order to go to Heaven and avoid Hell, but then the fact that not everyone has even heard of Jesus; at least, not by that name. There’s the way that most of the world’s religions have similar teachings about how to treat people. There’s the fact that there are so many Christians who are nasty and judgmental and so many non-Christians or non-theists who live out everything Jesus taught, even if they don’t know or acknowledge it. The friends I mentioned above from Beliefnet who helped me through really rough times with my faith were mostly non-Christian and sometimes even anti-Christian, with a Luciferian or two thrown in there. Some Christians were great too, but others were kind of snotty. You’re not supposed to make the simplest and respectful joke about Jesus around some people, although I’m sure He has a sense of humor. Wouldn’t He have to, to deal with us? Look at the platypus. 🙂 There’s the way that so many Christians make such a huge deal about the gender of who a person sleeps with but doesn’t think twice about kicking someone when they’re already down. Most confusing of all, however, is the idea that the Bible is completely inerrant as written but also the idea that mostly the parts about faith and life are inerrant but the science stuff isn’t.

There are just so many things that don’t sit well, but how do I know that I’m not ‘making God in my own image’? I’ve been accused of that, along with ‘picking and choosing’, quite a bit. I’ve been so tempted to just toss it all out the window. I think the only thing that has kept me from doing that was Jesus Himself…I’ve seen Him working through people and things no one would think of, and it was unmistakable who was behind it. I can’t help but wonder if the same being or spirit that I call Jesus is present in other faiths or ideas, but called something else. Not much else about Him makes sense, but this seems to. However, I’ve heard numerous times that this is the wrong doctrine. Maybe the doctrines, which were written by people, are what’s wrong. Maybe it’s more about being in imitation of Christ than about what you know. Not that knowledge is bad; in fact, it is a very good thing. But I wonder if it’s really the only thing, or even a very important one.

I’ve been told that if a teaching or doctrine portrays God as anything other than a loving Father-type is false. This doesn’t mean that you’re going to get whatever you want, whenever you want it. This is another teaching I’ve heard that bothers me. My earthly father didn’t give me everything I wanted, and there was a good reason for it. Not everything I wanted was something I needed or was good for me. That has been my experience of Jesus too. I’ve had rough times and trials but they weren’t anything I didn’t eventually get through. That gives me hope, a lot more hope than knowing all the ‘right’ doctrines ever did.

If anyone has any ideas as to how to get through some of this confusion, they are more than welcome. However, I’ve found a tremendous amount of comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who sometimes feels like their head is a bowl of alphabet soup.

Speaking of soup…time for lunch!


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Satan’s response

As you might have heard, Pat Robertson made a comment about the earthquake in Haiti happening because they ‘made a deal with the Devil’.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/01/13/haiti.pat.robertson/index.html

Video:

In case anyone cares, Robertson is a televangelist who hosts a show called ‘the 700 Club’ . The show is on Trinity Broadcasting Network, a Christian television network that seems to me to cater exclusively to the fundamentalist/evangelical set…if you’ve never heard of either, you’re not missing anything. My ex watched that all the time and even though we broke up in 2003, my eyes are still rolling and my esophagus is still recovering from the excessive vomiting. I’m not saying all f/e-s are like Robertson, but he’s been doing this show for so long that a case can be made that he’s lost whatever marbles he’s had. But I digress. I’m sure he’s done some good, somewhere…I like to think we all have capacity for good, anyway…I’m trying to see all people as children of God just like me, but sometimes it’s pretty hard…

Either way, I found this ‘response’ from Satan that I just *had* to share:

Dear Pat Robertson,
I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I’m all over that action.

But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I’m no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished.

Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth — glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven’t you seen “Crossroads”? Or “Damn Yankees”?

If I had a thing going with Haiti, there’d be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox — that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it — I’m just saying: Not how I roll.

You’re doing great work, Pat, and I don’t want to clip your wings — just, come on, you’re making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That’s working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.

Best, Satan

Here’s the link to the blog I found it in:

http://spritzophrenia.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/satan-replies/

Well, I thought it was funny, anyway.

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Late night ruminations

I was wondering something the other night when trying to get to sleep.

Every time I’ve gone to the doctor for things related to my accident-or any time I’ve discussed it, period-one thing I always mention is that I don’t remember anything about it. I don’t remember what happened or the first two weeks in the hospital; the only information I have about that is what others have told me.  Almost without fail, the idea that perhaps the lack of memories is God’s way of protecting me is mentioned.  It’s usually related to post-traumatic stress…a very good friend of mine was also once in a really bad car wreck but she does remember a few things, and those things have given her nightmares or extreme anxiety about things like starting to drive again. Truth be told, I don’t want to remember any of it, or any more than I do.

I wonder if perhaps the fact that I don’t have as loud of a ‘biological clock’ as some I know or the fact that my husband and I both take medicine that lessens the sex drive was God’s way of helping me deal with not being physically able to be intimate in that way, or with not having kids?  There are other ways of being intimate, but some things cause me a great deal of pain, if they are even possible now. I don’t often feel like even trying. I can’t bear the thought of that part of my life being ‘over’, since in some ways it had just barely gotten started.  Even if we decide we don’t want kids, I want not having them to be my decision, not one forced upon me.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program…


Why I Haven’t Been Here (as though it really matters…)

I’ve been a bit busy lately. I’ve been looking for writing jobs online, just so I can say I’m doing something. I’m kind of sick of people telling me what I should be doing instead of sitting around doing nothing and making excuses. Okay, no one has come out and said that last part, at least not to my face, although the implication is sometimes there. However, I’ve heard it said enough times about other people behind their backs that I have good reason to believe that at least some people I know are saying it about me. GRRRRR! I’ve worked pretty much steadily from age 15 to age 31 (I applied for disability then, after beating my head up against the wall and trying for longer than I really should have), but somehow I’m still a lazy bum!!!! Anyway…

I answered an ad for a non-profit Alzheimer’s project…turns out it is a website one woman is trying to get set up for an organization that could eventually bring in money but isn’t paid right now. That’s fine with me, since I might get paid later but I get experience and publishing credit regardless. But it seems that I can’t remember her instructions when she gives them to me, even when I write them down.  I get excited and I sound like I know what I’m talking about, but shortly thereafter it sounds as though I haven’t registered anything.  This is really frustrating…I seem to be the same way with my Beliefnet volunteer job…I feel like such an idiot. I don’t remember a lot of stuff in church either, and just last week I was coming back from the lady’s house and it took about two extra hours to get home because I got lost *twice*!!!! Sev still says I’m smart…if that’s the case, then I’m the stupidest smart person I know. 🙂

This is partly why I got fired from two jobs in two weeks-I think I catch on, but I can’t seem to remember or really ‘register’ things. This is part of why I am on disability…if this keeps up, I’ll never work again. 😦 😦 😦


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