March 29, 2013
Demonology and the End Times are subjects that I’ve experienced very little education about in the churches or bible schools I’ve attended. I didn’t know if it was because the jury was still out on the biblical interpretations of these subjects or the cringe factor of these subjects alone. I still don’t know. But every now and then I hear Christians refer to Satan and his demons, or the End Times, when trying to articulate a past or future consequence.
This video I just watched draws attention to the need to separate the causation of evil from God…
…and it reminded me of my own struggle over the passage in Isaiah 45:7 that says,
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things.
This verse isn’t just saying that God can be a trouble-maker, but that he creates “calamities” or “discords”, which sounded (and still sounds) similar to the behaviours of the greek gods I’ve read about. (See also Amos 3:6; and Lamentations 3:38.) And though it’s obvious to some like myself that God (or the gods) is portrayed as a cosmic bully, I’ve heard many attempt to justify this behaviour as divine corporal punishment for the immoral acts of humanity. In other words, God responds to our actions he disapproves of with violence.
This is just another example of how I end up in a place that challenges the view of God being perfectly good. But when I express this result, I’m consistently approached by Christians saying that no one is qualified to challenge God’s moral behaviour. We can’t fault God… we have to blame it on ourselves if it’s a moral calamity and on Satan and his demons if it’s a natural calamity… Or.. I mean.. natural calamities are a result of humanity’s moral calamities… The science? …Well, I guess we just don’t know why natural calamities happen.. or why God chooses to let them happen.
This weekend is Easter weekend. What use to be a time to celebrate the heart of what my religious culture brought me up on. “Jesus Saves!” But saves me from what, exactly?
From death? How is that naturally possible or even good for the natural world?
From sin or imperfection? How is this accomplished with free minds?
From Hell? Really? He’ll keep me from anything good just because I don’t like the guy?
From Satan and his demons? Who’s going to admit to this… out loud… in public?
If God/Jesus exists, I wish he would save us from the disasters/calamities he supposedly said he creates himself. You know? If the so-called “Saviour” could start saving us from his own crap first, that’d be cool.
January 25, 2013
If someone lookin’ to kill me came at me with a club or a rope (especially a rope), I’d like to think I’d have a fighting chance to protect my life. A knife would be different – unless the attacker was horribly coordinated! I think if the artist put the killer in this picture in a wheelchair (just one example), the availability to kill with a gun would become far more apparent.
And what about mass murder? Compare a scenario where there are six potential victims (at least two of them adults) and one killer with a knife vs. the same scenario except the killer has a gun. The more skilled the gunman is the more distance he (or she) can put between himself and the victims (not to mention the emotional distance). The knifeman doesn’t have that luxury. The chances of all six of the potential victims being killed by the gunman is far greater than if the killer only had a knife.
I say, let’s have fun at a firing range all we want, and then leave the guns there – locked up.
If people want to be soldiers, they can join the army.
December 9, 2012
I REMEMBER struggling, as a christian, over the subjectivity of one’s own mind. I struggled with the basic facts that we are fallible and ignorant. And my response was: how do I know anything I believe is true? I can make a mistake about my beliefs and/or I might lack crucial information that would drastically change my perceptions of reality (or as I use to call reality: “The Puzzle”).
It’s like trying to count all the stars at night. What are the chances you over-looked or imagined a bunch of stars that were or were not there? And who said you could actually see all the stars that are out there anyway?!
There were many times when I was humbled by another believer’s insightful knowledge. And, the more I read from thoughtful believers about the faith we shared, the more I realized how little I knew and didn’t understand about what I thought I knew. And yet, I had so much to teach!
More and more, I became uncertain about many of my religious convictions. I became less attached to them as I use to be, some more so than others. After all, I felt I needed to prepare myself to let a belief go if I was shown by others skilled in the knowledge of the bible/theology that I was wrong.
But I wasn’t gonna hand over every belief of mine to be tested. Not just yet. I maintained my belief in God and the bible as God’s revelation. Even though I didn’t know how I could justify those beliefs. All I could say was: “I just know because I have faith“. And then I would find myself struggling over the subjectivity of one’s own mind, again.
Sure, I wasn’t the only person who said their faith gave them knowledge, but everyone’s faith is different. And, more likely then not, one’s divine knowledge contradicted with another’s divine knowledge (much like the writers of the bible). So, I reminded myself that no one has all the pieces of “The Puzzle”. But that reminder didn’t make it easier for me to preach across the pulpit about the meaning of one Puzzle piece without knowing what the whole Puzzle is about.
Then I wondered: how does God, even God, know the whole Puzzle if The Puzzle is never finished? After all, The Puzzle is always changing over time. And even if there was a beginning and end to The Puzzle, and therefore time itself, wouldn’t there also be a beginning and end to God?
“But God is beyond time,” is the cliche conclusive response I’m use to hearing in the church. But they couldn’t explain to me what that statement, they used, actually meant.
Time is the measurement between the beginning and end of a movement. If God is beyond time, then God is beyond movement. How can a non-moving God be alive? And how does a non-moving God create anything?!
Lewis doubted his thoughts but he wouldn’t doubt his feelings about the thought of God’s existence?
And are all thoughts equally distrustful?
And isn’t “upsetting a milk jug” a mistaken analogy for natural selection?
June 13, 2012
There was a time in my christian past when I was afraid to be *emotionally* swayed by evil ideas.
But, eventually, I became more confident “in Christ”, rejected my fear of views opposed to christianity (I deemed them unworthy of my fear because I had faith in a greater power), and started studying what atheists thought about christianity — not to test my faith, but to make it stronger, deeper. I wanted to use “my God-given mind” to be intellectually intimate with God, not just emotionally intimate.
Most of my life I studied what/who I was or wasn’t by reading from Christian voices. But I believed I had reached a point of maturity in my faith where I was ready to contemplate what non-christian voices had to say about my world of belief. It was long overdue! After all, I was an evangelical! I should be able to hear from those whom I wanted to evangelize (share the knowledge of Jesus) with. I should be able to *explain* to them the obvious truth of the Christian reality.
The more I read about atheism, the more I adapted my explanations in an attempt to present a more reasonable one. And as a result, my theological views slowly moved from a more conservative leaning to a more liberal leaning, and eventually becoming an atheist myself. Some may think this is reason enough for them to not contemplate the views of atheists, and that my faith wasn’t as strong as I had thought. I disagree.
“Faith” is one of those words that believers (in my experience) put far more meaning into than any dictionary could (or would?). One aspect of faith is the kind of willpower to maintain a commitment — no matter what. Another is the relational/emotional attachments like love. Here, faith in God is more than just a choice. It’s innate, inevitable, a part of the unconscious core of your being. These two descriptions alone show how “trust” is not a proper synonym for “faith” in the mind of a believer, and probably why we often hear the cliche, “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.” (To me, this just explains how all religions can be claimed as ‘relationships’.)
So, was it my lack of willpower that lead me to apostasy? No, it didn’t weaken. My willpower was as strong as ever until I purposely pulled it away from my commitment to Jesus. Then, was it that I fell out of love for God? Had I neglected this spiritual relationship to the point of ruin? No. I was more devoted at that time then I had ever been.
The problem was, next to the abundant willpower to commit to God and loving devotion I had for God, my relationship with God lacked an intellectual intimacy that could satisfy my conscience. I couldn’t get close to proving God’s love unless I ignored gratuitous suffering and biblical genocide. I couldn’t prove God’s existence outside of anecdotal evidence from a Christian society. I couldn’t even make the christian ideology seem like the most probable explanation for our reality. I couldn’t provide a reasonable explanation of the belief I had dedicated my whole life to. My theology seemed so lame compared to a materialist explanation — even though a materialist explanation didn’t explain everything.
I know I shouldn’t expect reasonable explanations to legitimate all my life experiences. But reason is an important part of the human experience. And I just couldn’t live the rest of my life like so many of the faithful over the centuries before me, who had embraced the unsatisfactory ineffable stance that, however indirectly, justified ethical dilemmas within the troubled Christian theology. I NEEDED a reasonable explanation. My moral journey required it.
And so, despite the strength of my former faith in God, for the good of my soul, my conscience, it was necessary that I break away from this being who I loved more than family and friends but couldn’t entrust my life with. It was necessary that I reject my commitment to: a God that seemed irresponsible and a belief that seemed intellectually unlikely. And after I rejected this spiritual relationship, feelings of love for “God” did remain, although, the feelings grew more and more nostalgic while “God” shrunk into the size of an imaginary friend – what I now accept “God” to have always been.
March 31, 2012
“To express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself… now that, my friend, is very hard to do.” – Bruce Lee.
The cultures we grow up in may have different ideas about who we should be, what we should do – what it means for us to be a successful human being.
Fighting your culture’s image of a successful you may demand the ultimate martial art skills within one’s heart, mind, and will. Training your body to be skilled in fighting can be a reflection of this internal fight for authenticity.
And if you can’t help but fail at being something you’re not, there really is no other option. Your only real choice… is to fight for an honest expression of your whole being.
February 9, 2012
I expected this blog post to be controversial among evangelicals due to the subject matter AND how it was presented (“Jesus showed himself to be particularly concerned about children, and we ought to be, too.”). But I honestly didn’t expect the kind of responses Prof. John Stackhouse is getting in his comments section (although, I’m not at all surprised at how poorly he responded to the comments).
Believe it or not, I remember my twenty-some year old parents being more than “particularly concerned” about how to raise their boys. Looking back, I can’t say the “main reasons” my parents hit me was that they were “lack[ing] the imagination or the determination to actually find out about other forms of discipline that do work”… or that they were “too tired or lazy to do anything other than whack [me] when [I was] bad” (see Stackhouse comment in thread #2). No, I think the main reason was because they thought they were being faithful to God.
In fact, I remember (though not word for word) my Dad expressing (confessing?) his struggles over what to do when me and my younger brothers mis-behaved. He said he and my mother had done a lot of praying about it, and finally, the pastor in the church we were attending at that time sanctioned parents to hit their children by justifying it with his interpretation of biblical verses found mostly in the book of Proverbs. And yet, though my Dad grew up with this model from his own parents, and was taught by his moral advisers that it was God’s Will to hit his children, I could see that he hated doing it. And I don’t know if his conscience was at all soothed by getting use to it over the years, either (with each consecutive child there was less hitting). So allow me to emphasize a very important point I’d like to make here…
My parents thought they were acting on the best moral values available.
Later, when the four of us boys were moving out of their house, one by one, they made sure to communicate with us that they know they weren’t perfect parents. But they said it was their hope that we would learn to be better parents than they were, just as they had learned to make their own improvements on the parental examples they were given. They said they believed that each generation of parents made improvements based on what they didn’t like about how they were raised.
These days there are so many different parenting styles out there (some made fun of in the movie above). And there are even more disapproving judgements being made of each other’s parenting styles. I’ve personally come to a place where I think that every parent is different, every child is different, and in every home methods are developed that have practical value for all who live in that home. However, when it comes to child abuse, a line has been crossed. Which begs the question: Is “spanking” (read: hitting your child hard enough that they don’t want it to happen again) child abuse? According to some of the comments following Prof. John Stackhouse’s blog post, corporal punishment isn’t abuse when it’s “mild spanking done in love” (see evedyahu’s at the end of thread #2).
June 30, 2011
Now that my martial art training has returned to include punching and kicking again (Baguazhang has no punching, and my Baguazhang training had yet to include any kicks), I’ve been reminded of the Karate lessons I took over twenty years ago.
I was surprised to find out that the kicking and punching I’ve known for so long was still following Karate techniques (that is, the Karate that I was taught).
When I punched in my Wing Chun class, my elbows were not in front of my center and I was punching with my first two knuckles (yang) instead of my middle two (yin). And when I kicked in my Wing Chun class, I was sending my thighs into my core and then trying to send them and the rest of my leg back out to my opponent. My Wing Chun Sifu showed me how to use my core to send my whole leg out to my opponent in one thrusting move.
All this time while I had been studying Baguazhang, I never thought that within my fighting arsenal, I still had Karate techniques. Huh!
May 11, 2011
Have your cameras ready because the May 21st Flying Zombie Feast is getting closer!
Yes, I said, “Flying Zombie Feast“. Because, as exciting as it will be to “meet the Lord in the air”, little is being said about who else will be there with the Lord…
1 Thess.4:16-17: For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and THE DEAD IN CHRIST WILL RISE FIRST. Then we who are alive and remain will be CAUGHT UP TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
Yes, always. An eternal kingdom of the undead. Have fun with that.