Tag Archives: Religion

What if they’re right?

This post was inspired by one from my friend Steve:

http://newwhine.blogspot.com/2014/10/what-if-i-am-wrong.html?showComment=1413422547445#c3372567103006826529

I’m afraid I don’t have any wise words for him since he’s been at this whole “Christian thing” a lot longer than I have. I presume so, anyway. The only thing I can think of to say is that I ask a lot of the same questions. For instance-

I’ve heard a lot of talk in my time as a Christian about ‘standing up for God’. Specifically, speaking up for Him and publicly denouncing sin. Lately I have been part of a lot of discussions about things such as sexual orientation and tolerance where I spoke and acted against the stance presented by many conservative evangelicals that these things are ‘sin’ or ‘wrong’. That I and those like me who say that sexual orientation is not chosen and present arguments that the Bible is not inerrant and that people should tolerate homosexuals are ‘lukewarm’ or ‘compromising God’s truth so that the world will like us’, ‘ashamed of the truth,’ etc. I usually pass it off, but last night I had a thought*:

What if they’re right?

What if the stance the fundamentalists’ or conservative evangelicals’ take on this subject are right, and that I really am ashamed, afraid to stand up for God, or pandering? On other things, what if the Bible really is inerrant? What if I really am ‘lukewarm’, whatever that means? What if Christianity really is the only way? I know what Jesus said about no one coming to the Father except by Him, but I’ve wondered whether or not it’s possible for someone to know Jesus but call Him something else. I remember when I first came to Him, it felt like I finally had a name for something I’d known was there all along.

What if I really am doing wrong by not talking about my faith or trying to ‘witness’ to non-Christians? I don’t have a problem with telling others what I believe, but I don’t always go out of my way to discuss those things with people I know aren’t interested. I talk about those things a lot online and in church, but those are places specifically dedicated to those subjects; as much as I admire those who do, I’m a bit shy to go up to strangers in a parking lot and hand out fliers the way a very nice Jehovah’s Witness once did for me. I like to think that I’d be able to do that if I were so led, but I don’t find myself in such situations very often-only when around other religious people. What if I really should be trying to convert them, though, rather than agreeing to disagree and accepting their having another religion, or not having one at all? I love learning and talking about other people’s beliefs, but I don’t usually find myself wanting to try to convince them to turn from their way onto mine.

What if my choices in entertainment and things like my continually indulging in sins like my bad language and lusting really will put my soul in jeopardy?

What if I really do believe the wrong things, and it is believing the right things that makes the difference in salvation? What if my study of other religions and the intricacies of our faith and the Bible (like meanings of particular words or context or how it came to be) is distracting me from my faith and just believing? What if I really am being overly critical and judgmental to my former coreligionists, or if I talk badly about them too much? I wonder if I really have lost my salvation, or am in jeopardy of that, from my ‘straying’ or worldly views?

I would never suggest to another person that their salvation may have been lost because of changes in thinking, so I wonder why I am doing that to myself?

I don’t know if I am just being paranoid, over-thinking, etc, or if this is God telling me to adjust my ways. I know I am a work in progress, and that there are things in my life that I need to get rid of and repent of. I’m just confused sometimes, and I get so many different ideas. I am very offended a lot of times by the actions of some of my fellow Christians and beliefs about things like homosexuality being sinful or that I am thinking the wrong way…I just wonder sometimes if perhaps I wandered too far from my evangelical/fundamentalist past and unknowingly threw the baby out with the bathwater. I haven’t really changed my belief about the major things such as who Christ is and the Cross. That’s probably the important thing, but I don’t know.

I’ll stop babbling now. I am a master worrier, and this might just be an example of my mind over-wandering.

 

 

*Yes, I do have ideas. No, hell hasn’t frozen over.

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A Good-And Long Overdue-Change Of Mind

It’s not *my* change of mind I’m talking about here, although I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Don’t worry, I’ve got the fire extinguishers handy in case anything starts burning. 🙂

My friend J posted this on Facebook today, and I just felt the need to share it. It’s “old”, but it’s an interesting viewpoint on an issue that has been breaking my heart.

http://www.salon.com/2011/03/27/presbyterian_minister_changes_mind_about_gays/

I for one am glad to see someone change their stance on Christianity and homosexuality. It breaks my heart how hateful I’ve heard some of my ‘co-religionists’ being. Actually, I should probably say, ‘former co-religionists’, because I no longer belong to a church or denomination that would condemn someone for something they can’t control. To be honest, I’m kind of embarrassed to ‘claim’ some of the people this pastor says he used to be and that he mentioned being in his church. I’m including myself here too, since I used to be one of them.  There are even some people I used to know who I simply *can’t* claim. Here is a quote from the article that says a lot of what I feel:

The truth is, I was put out that this was an issue. Feeding the hungry, preaching the gospel, comforting the afflicted, standing up to racial intolerance — these were the struggles I signed up for, not determining the morality of what adults did in their bedrooms.

I don’t really understand why it’s an issue either. Aren’t there a lot more important things we should be thinking about as Christians trying to figure out how to best live our lives in service to Christ? I’m not saying that sexual sins shouldn’t be thought of because a lot of them should-things like adultery that can destroy marriages, pedophilia, etc. I just don’t see why this *particular* issue-the issue of which gender a person sleeps with-is really all that important, or even interesting. I’m not saying that all people who hold to the “traditional” view that homosexuality is a sin are somehow knuckle-dragging bigots; if I did that, I’d have to include some people very dear to me. It just bothers me that so much more attention is paid to this issue at the expense of others.

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What *is* sin, exactly?

I’ve never been very good about reading my Bible or putting time aside for God. I know I should but, every time I start a new ‘kick’ of reading or devotion, I seem to fall to the side as the ‘regular’ pressures and distractions of life come to me. Even if I *do* remember, there’s no guarantee that my mind will stay where it should be for long. One minute I’ll be reading the Sodom and Gommorah story in Genesis…that usually leads to a mental recitation of the scene in Dogma where Loki and Bartleby (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in all their glory) are shopping for a gun while recounting stories of raining down fire and brimstone. From there, I’ll go over other Kevin Smith movies in my head until I find myself arguing with Jason Lee about whether or not the cookie stand is part of the food court at the mall or playing roller hockey with Dante on the roof of a convenience store. I suck, by the way.

I usually pass it off as a function of my bipolar/ADHD, but that only goes so far. I usually try to fight it, but today I’ve decided that I’m not going to. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

I know so many people who think of religion as a series of ‘dos’ and don’ts’ for life. Some groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention-my former ‘stomping grounds’-put more emphasis on the ‘don’ts’. The Episcopal church, on the other hand, seems to focus more on things like prayer and service-things we ‘do’. That’s how the liturgy in my church looks, anyway. I suppose each group has to teach the Gospel in the way that works for them, but these things greatly affect what kind of relationship a person has with God. For instance, do they love Him or fear Him? Do they pray to praise Him or only pray to ask for things? I’ll admit I do the latter most of the time. Do they feel like a beloved child, or do they feel like a bug who gets ‘zapped’ if they go too far in the wrong direction? Or is it all of the above?

We’re taught that the reason sin and death even exists in the world is because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Basically, all of humanity inherited that tendency from them. Maybe that’s true and maybe that’s where the emphasis on sin as an act comes from, but I’ve come to see it in a different way.

My family has been touched with a lot of medical conditions-high blood pressure, high cholesterol, alcoholism, breast cancer, sinus issues etc-that have a strong genetic component. That’s not to say that they can’t happen independent of such things, but those of us who have such conditions in our families have to be especially vigilant to make sure that the negative effects don’t happen to us. We have to eat right, exercise, lay off the liquor and carry tissues around with us everywhere we go and have everyone in school make fun of us. Okay, that last one was just me, but you get the point. It seems pretty obvious that the condition of sin can be better controlled by staying away from things (and people) that cause us to stumble. I’m definitely not disputing that because I’ve had to take such measures myself on a number of occasions. Perhaps you have too.

What happens, though, when the illness ‘hits you’? If you get a sinus infection, you go to the doctor for antibiotics. When you get cancer, you have several treatment options. If you fall and break a bone, you go to the hospital to get a cast. In other words, you deal with it. You don’t sit around and blame God (much) or expect a cure to happen instantly. You do whatever you have to do to get your condition treated and get on your way.

Perhaps we should see sin the same way-a condition that needs to be treated? I’ve heard of churches referred to as a ‘hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints’. Perhaps the treatment for the condition of sin takes place in church among a community of other believers and starts once you begin to trust in Jesus as your savior. When I had the hip replacement surgery to repair damage from an accident about eight years ago, my faulty hip was replaced with a new one that gave me back the range of motion I lost. Perhaps my new hip can be likened to the new heart and new creation we become when we come to Christ, and the damage it repaired to the punishment He took when He died on the cross?

Also like my hip, we can’t stay idle. My surgery was over in five and a half hours, but it took a while before I was able to do much for myself. In order to walk again, I had to do a lot of work. The therapy exercises were painful and difficult at times, but I had to keep at them so that my muscles could heal and get strong enough to support my weight. There was no ‘shortcut’…it took as long as it took. Such is the Christian life…difficult at times, but we have to keep on going and working in order to grow stronger in the faith. The process of becoming more and more like God is like my recovery-it happens over time and takes as long as it takes.

I have recovered very well, but there will always be precautions I will have to take to ensure that I don’t dislodge my new hip. Otherwise, I’ll end up right back where I started and might even do more damage. I have to trust that the doctors know what they are talking about when they tell me how to care for my new hip properly. To give another example, my ‘recovered’ friends will have to keep working their Twelve Steps and live their lives differently so that they won’t fall back into the trap of drugs and alcohol that got them in trouble to begin with. It’s not easy, but the effort is worth it. Maybe the same can be said about our walk with God…we have to trust that He knows what He’s doing? Without this trust, we’re liable to fall even harder than before? This isn’t to say that we’ll never stumble or fall again…in fact, it’s pretty much a guarantee that we will. There’s always the temptation to have just one more cigarette, to put off laying off the junk food and soda for ‘just one more day’ (another issue of mine) etc. With the support of others, however, we can continue on the right path. Could this be likened to the way that we’re always going to have trials and tribulations but, with the support of Jesus and our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can get through them?

I don’t know…I’m probably getting way off track and sounding like a blithering idiot. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. I guess what I’m getting at is that our faith isn’t just about what to do and what not to do-it’s about a lifelong change, a lifelong effort at a relationship with God and becoming like Him. Sin isn’t an act so much as a condition, a condition that will need to be taken care of. It takes time and work to ‘get better’, and we have to trust that the Person who we’re trying to serve knows what’s best for us. We can’t do it by ourselves or in our own way. The support of a community of believers can help keep us on the right track, and help pick us up when we fall.

Speaking of which, I’d better go eat something before my mind goes and I start typing even more nonsense. Oops, too late. 🙂


My first by-line!!!!

Well, my first article that has my name on it that isn’t on one of those ‘content farm’ websites that anyone can post on. Yes, I understand that this means you will all know my real name, but half the people who read this blog already know it anyway. As for the rest, well, my name is pretty common. I’ve found several on Facebook in my area, with the exact same spelling…and that’s saying something! Anyway, here it is. Feel free to tell me how much I suck. 🙂

http://www.religioustolerance.org/richey01.htm

I really like this website. I’m so excited that they went ahead and published this essay, because I really respect their work and have seen that they are pretty picky about what they publish.  I’m not getting any money from this, but I don’t much care. Just my name here is good enough for me!


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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The things that made a difference

A 6th century mosaic of Jesus at Church San Ap...
Image via Wikipedia

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ – 2 Corinthians 5:17

I was fifteen when I first heard about Jesus.  Now, I know what you’re going to say, ‘a person growing up in the Bible Belt who hadn’t heard of Jesus? How is that possible?’ Well, it is. It’s not that I had never heard of Jesus so much as that I hadn’t heard about Jesus. I knew the name, but it was like knowing of Abraham Lincoln or something-I knew the facts and the common stories, but they didn’t mean anything to me.  My family went to church up until I was about eight but, really, show me an eight year old who actually pays attention in church! I knew Bible stories, but only because my mom had gotten me a huge book of them to keep me quiet and awake during the service. Suffice it to say, I didn’t know about Jesus in any meaningful way.  It took meeting some very good and caring friends to get me to learn anything beyond what you can find on a Christmas TV special.  I’m not going to go into too much detail about them here because I don’t want to get off track, but I experienced the type of ‘transformation’ the verse above references.  It wasn’t my personality that changed so much as the way I saw everything around me and, by extension, saw myself.  Here are some of the ways my life changed when I first became a Christian:

First, let me start by telling you what didn’t change. Here’s one thing-I didn’t ‘get morals’. I had morals before, and roughly the same ones about how to treat other people that Christianity teaches. I keep hearing some people say or imply that people who don’t have a religion can’t have morals, and that is completely untrue. I had parents before, and those parents taught me values before. Also, it’s not as though the ethics of relationships are unique to Christianity! Many of the world’s religions teach similar things about how to treat other people, even if worded differently. Christianity happens to be the faith I chose, but I don’t pretend that we have the monopoly on knowledge of God. I don’t really have to be agreed with; In fact, I am often the first to defend the rights of others to live and believe whichever way they feel led, provided no one is being hurt.  Some differences might be hard to swallow at first, but they’re certainly not as important as loving our neighbor as ourselves, with everyone as our neighbor.

Besides, it’s not like I was a huge troublemaker before! I didn’t *kiss* anyone or even have a real boyfriend until I was seventeen so I didn’t sleep around, haven’t committed any crimes beyond traffic tickets and I still have never been drunk. I’ve actually always been kind of a goody-two-shoes, although I don’t like to admit that. 🙂  I’m just naming these things because they seem to be the ones I hear about most often. I do have somewhat of a ‘potty mouth’ sometimes and have definitely lied, but I’ve never really understood the fixation some people have about sexual things being more important than a person’s basic attitude toward themselves and other people. *Shrug* I guess you could say that I also struggle with not judging others…

I didn’t find a quick fix for my problems, nor did I have an assurance that I wouldn’t have trials in the future. In fact, it was pretty much a guarantee that I would.  The assurance was in that I wouldn’t be alone when I did.

I didn’t check my brain at the door. One thing I’ve been asked is how someone who’s as intelligent as I am can possibly be a Christian. Do I really have to tell you why this is offensive? 🙂 I understand how some of the anti-science, anti-academia, anti-questioning-anything-your-leaders-say things you’ll hear out of some people seem like Christians don’t think.  I completely agree, those things don’t sound very thoughtful.  However, I think you will find people who do not think for themselves in pretty much any group. It’s more of a personality trait than anything else. I have never stopped asking questions, and probably never will. Anyone who knows me knows that I won’t ‘just shut up and drink your Kool-Aid’ just because someone tells me to-in fact, being told that is likely to make me even more persistent! What’s great is, I don’t have to stop asking.  Some Christian groups do teach the sort of strict ‘uniform thinking’ mentioned above, but that’s certainly not all of them. The Bible never claimed to be a science book or complete history text anyway. Besides, there are other types of intelligence.  Faith can meet an emotional need, which IMO is every bit as important as an intellectual need.

And, well, let’s see you try to get through the book of Deuteronomy-most of the Old Testament, really-and still think Christians are brain dead…:)

Here are some things that did change, that were added to my life:

I finally had a connection to something outside myself, and larger than myself and the world I can see around me.

It was finally beaten into my head that ‘it’s not all about me’.   I had concern for and connection to the rest of the world’s people before, but this bond became even stronger. That doesn’t mean I liked everyone or everything, but it does mean that I began to see the whole world as my neighbor as opposed to just my ‘inner circle’ or those I could see around me.

I finally stopped having to know absolutely everything.  Growing up, I couldn’t stand the idea of something being beyond my comprehension or not being ‘kept in the loop’ .  I guess you could say I was a typical teenager, thinking I knew everything and that my reasoning was flawless. I put tremendous pressure on myself in this way;  I always did very well in school but didn’t think I had much else going for me. Proverbs 3:5 says to ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.’  I don’t take this to necessarily mean that we shouldn’t try to make sense of things, but that we should understand that there are going to be things that are not for us to know at this point in time.  This might sound simplistic, but it really brought a relief. For someone who was as strongly driven by academics as I was, admitting that it is okay not to know something is a major feat. Even now, sometimes I drive myself insane trying to understand things…why people are how they are, etc…but then I remember the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. “Now we see things imperfectly, as in a poor mirror, but then we will see in perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely just as God knows me now.” (1 Cor, 13:12). Now, I know what you’re going to say…’how do you know the Bible is even true? There are so many contradictions in it, so many things have been found to be false.’ But like I said above, the Bible is not a science book.  There is a difference between ‘truth’ and ‘fact’, as the parables and mythology that has been passed down through the ages will show. Even if you put no stock in the Bible or Paul at all, what he says still makes sense.  There are some things we just aren’t going to know in this life…and anything that can drive that through my thick skull can’t be all bad!  That leads me to the final (and biggest) realization:

It seemed as though I finally had a name for an essence, a spirit, that I had known was there all along but couldn’t identify. I think I always felt that there was some sort of higher power ‘out there’, that there was something that kept the order in the universe. I can’t emphasize enough how comforting it can be to believe that it’s not all up to me and that there is some sort of pattern, some sort of reason to the the world and our lives. It certainly has not been smooth sailing, definitely. I will be the first to say that I’ve had it rough at times and that I’ve considered tossing it all .  I’ve had some times when I felt I’d be better off without my faith or thought God deserted me. I seriously thought He hated me; few things will make you feel farther from God than depression, especially the kind that comes with mixed bipolar states.  However, through the caring of some good friends, I began to see again that He never left me.  Just as I originally came to know and believe, I was shown the way God cares for me through the care from other people. There are too many people to thank, so I guess they’ll just have to know who they are.  On this tip, I will end this essay with one of my favorite Scriptures:

‘And now abide in faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.’ -1 Corinthians 13:13

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Inspiration Courtesy of SNL

In honor of Epiphany, here’s a bit of fun that also contains a bit of truth. I was in church yesterday when I thought of this cartoon, specifically the first part. It’s from a series of Saturday Night Live cartoons called ‘Saturday TV Funhouse’. I’m a pretty big SNL fan, and have been for a long time; this was IMO one of the funnier running sketches. You’ll have to go to the site linked to see it, though, as I’m not able to upload video from that site and I couldn’t find this on YouTube. Enjoy!

Fun With Real Audio-Jesus and Christmas

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