February 9, 2012

“Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child”

Posted in bible, church, culture, family at 7:26 am by Jerry

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).

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January 13, 2011

What Changes For Social Justice Are You Looking Forward To?

Posted in art, atheism, church, culture, family, history, politics, religion, Secular Humanism at 7:32 pm by Jerry

Here’s something I’d like to see changed:

40 Down, 40 To Go?

Posted in family, fatherhood, friends, history, marriage, secular humansim, soup at 8:09 am by Jerry

Looking back through the years, I would have never imagined being where I am.

I couldn’t have imagined the wife I have, the daughter we’ve created, and the good friends we regularly get together with.

I wouldn’t have imagined the books I’m reading, the arguments I’m joining, the drinks I’m drinking.

I wouldn’t have imagined taking the job I have, making the sacrifices I make, having the fun I’m having.

It makes me wonder what’s next…

December 12, 2010

This Secular Humanist Welcomes Christmas

Posted in art, culture, family, fiction, film, friends, holidays, poetry, secular humansim at 8:02 am by Jerry

Christmas can mean so many different things to so many different people.
But I think what might be the greatest meaning we can all share,
If we care to think that sharing Christmas is fair,
Was said best by Dr.Seuss in his popular book,
Listen, or take a look:

Christmas day is in our grasp,
So long as we have hands to clasp.
Christmas day will always be,
Just as long as we have we.
Welcome Christmas, while we stand,
Heart to heart, and hand in hand.

November 2, 2010

I Think I’ve Already “Found” My Life

Posted in atheism, family, fatherhood, film, friends, marriage, scripture, songs, theology at 8:57 am by Jerry

Every now and then I end up mentioning the valuable point that its reasonable to require evidence for the existence of a “God” before praying to this God, much less believing this God exists. And still, this point is so easily brushed away in my encounters, as if it has nothing to offer. Instead, I get hypothetical scenarios like, “But what if God did make his existence a matter of fact for us all? What then? How would you respond to his existence?”

Well, there’s so many questions I could come up with, questions I’d like to ask God. In fact, there’s so many that my list of questions would probably outlast my lifespan. But, if God were to turn to me and others, saying the same kinds of things written in the Christian bible, like:

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. “For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”

Matthew 10:34-39 NASB

…And if God were to turn to me and others, saying, ‘It’s not your questions that will eventually decide your destiny, its your loyalty. So, are you with me or against me?’ …how would I respond?

Well, it’s hard to say I know exactly how I would respond in the future. However, I can’t help but think there would be a strong possibility that I would love others more than I would love God. And even if God managed to be my greatest love (which sounds so strange from a materialist’s point of view), if any of those whom I love just a little less than God choose not to be loyal to God, and therefore eventually are separated from this Kingdom of God that I’d be living in, how could I be satisfied with such a separation? How could I be content while being separated from those who I still have so much love for? (And God better not suggest to wipe away all my memories of them. THAT would piss me off!)

So, if this God does exist, and eventually reveals himself to all, there’s a strong possibility that I wouldn’t forsake my life for a life with him. Because, the more I think about it, the more I think that I have indeed “found” my life. My life is with those closest to me, those whom I love the most. And, based on 30 years experience of loving “God”, I think the earthly love I’m able to experience is far greater than any kind of love I could have for God. So, instead of an eternity of mediocre love with a supreme spirit while being separated from the love of others I care about, I’ll take the greatest kind of love I’ve ever experienced within a mere human lifespan. And with these loved ones, like the song goes… “Forever is our today”.

*This video is about warrior (sword wielding) immortals outliving those they love, those closest to them. (It’d be great if this video above manages to stay available. The song suits the post and I’ve been enjoying my second time through the Highlander TV series, too.)

February 9, 2010

Global Genocide: the Means to a Christian Utopia

Posted in atheism, family, film, friends, religion, scripture, theology at 8:26 pm by Jerry

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (Genesis 6: 5-8)

And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Matthew 17:17)

For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:37-39)

..through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…  ..the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:6-7, 10)

January 2, 2010

Pop Theodicy Part 1: Parenting

Posted in atheism, culture, family, fatherhood, politics, scripture, theodicy at 10:00 am by Jerry

Freewill Among the Naive

Genesis 2:9 – And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil… 16And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

What kind of father or mother would plant a poisonous tree (literal or metaphorical) in their children’s playground and think a warning makes it okay?

Freewill For The Criminally Insane

Genesis 3:1 – Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Revelation 12:9– And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. [underlining mine]

What kind of Supreme Judge and parent, with knowledge beyond a shadow of a doubt that an individual will cause the most harm to humanity in the near future, leaves this criminally insane individual free to roam into his or her children’s playground?

Conclusion: God isn’t fit to be any type of parent and should have his children taken away from him for Contributory Negligence.

December 31, 2009

Personal Infallibility

Posted in art, atheism, church, culture, family, fiction, friends, history, psychology of religion at 8:35 am by Jerry

It’s quite possible that faith first starts with having no impulse (naivete?) to intellectually challenge an experience of some kind, be it received through parental indoctrination, a social confirmation of parental indoctrination, a rejection of an ultimately unjust reality, some sort of mystical/ altered state of reality, or other sociological/psychological mediums.

Then, when that naivete is overcome by the everyday human experience of disillusionment (to whatever degree), inquiry or the all too popular “faith seeking understanding” stage can be entered. And so, whatever that experience was, it now involves reason.

But how far will that reasoning travel? Will we take it beyond our ignorance into some level of agnosticism, acknowledging that we could be wrong about not only the truth of the experience, but also the reliability of the medium through which we received that experience?

Faith has been said to be more than just an act of belief. Faith can also involve or imply a commitment to a pre-agnostic version of that experience, adapting one’s everyday decision making according to this version, thereby developing one’s personal investment in that version.

December 27, 2009

My Twinkling Star

Posted in family, fatherhood, film, songs at 3:13 am by Jerry

One of my little girl’s Christmas presents was a toy piano. Not only does she enjoy playing on it, she also decided to surprise her Mom and Dad with an unprompted performance. We wondered if such a performance could be repeated, and with a camera focused on her as well. I’m so glad it worked out…

October 21, 2009

Excerpts From An Apostate’s Letter To Family

Posted in atheism, family, history, religion, science, scripture at 4:03 am by Jerry

Dr. Sagan’s quote, that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” seems to fit in here and is the sole reason why I no longer believe in a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation story, or that Earth ever experienced a global flood, or that the sun stood still in the sky, or that the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years. There is not just a lack of evidence, but evidence to the contrary. And, as it follows, if the material claims of the Bible can not be substantiated, how am I supposed to take the spiritual claims seriously?

…Do you entertain the claims made by Mormons or Muslims or Moonies? You do not. Because there is no reason to. When you (rightly) ignore the empty claims made by other religions it is because they do not pass through the filters of reason set up by your prefrontal cortex. Of course, these other religions make the same exception you do about their inability to give evidence for their claims. You must, they say, on faith accept that Mohammad ascended into the sky on a winged horse, or that Native Americans are descendants of Israel or that Sun Myung Moon is the Messiah. Unsurprisingly, you don’t accept these absurd claims. And you shouldn’t. But consider for a moment the claims made by Christianity in light of the same standard you set for evaluating the claims made by other religions.

When you determine that the Catholic claim of immaculate conception is ridiculous, you are using reason. When you determine that the Pentecostal practice of glossolalia is useless, you are using reason. When you conclude that the Lutheran latching-on of the doctrine of infant baptism is absurd, you are using reason. How is it that the beliefs you hold are exempt from this same kind of rational scrutiny? Before you’re tempted to retreat from the question by responding, “I am able to discern truth because the Holy Spirit guides me”, consider the probability that, of all of the 38,000 different denominations within Christianity alone and of all the different beliefs, that your particular portfolio of beliefs are all of the correct ones.

Isn’t it time we recognize reason as a gift and begin subjecting our own beliefs to the same scrutiny and criticism that we use in every other area of our lives? (bold mine)

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