January 13, 2011

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.)

August 16, 2010

Turning 40

Posted in film, friends at 1:24 pm by Jerry

A good friend of mine sent me this video because this November I will be able to say that I’ve seen this side of the sun 40 times. I love it. This comedian knows what he’s talking about.

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)

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.

March 24, 2009

…Pants On Fire!

Posted in atheism, church, culture, family, friends, history, scripture, theology at 11:08 am by Jerry

It was more than 30 years ago that I started praying on my bed every night of my childhood…

“Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

If I should die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Amen.”

It was more than 25 years ago, while reading over, again and again and again…

“For God so loved the world,

That He gave His only begotten son,

That whosoever believeth in Him

Should not perish,

But have everlasting life.

John 3:16.”

…I cried through a prayer, thanking Jesus “for dying for my sins”.

It was more than 30 years ago that I started praying before every meal up until my late teens…

“Come Lord Jesus, be our guest,

Let this food to us be blessed.

Amen.”

During my teens my bed-time prayers became increasingly personal, expressing many of the thoughts some may write in a diary (or fear to). Many of those prayers were filled with emotional expressions like a warm smile or a flood of tears.

I was born into a family and culture that have been Christian for generations. I was not taught that I should skeptically look for empirical evidence of the existence of God. I was taught to develop critical arguments to defend the particular version of theology passed on to me from family, church, and Bible School. But questioning the existence of God or the bible as God’s revelation wasn’t a consideration. And while playing guitar and singing songs (some written by yours truly) in at least 4 Christian Rock bands across Canada and into Australia, I still never considered acknowledging the viewpoint of those who haven’t taken on the presupposition that God is real and he reveals it in his Son and the Spirit that worked through the Biblical writers.

After about the first 6 or 7 years of Bible College I came to an understanding that it is healthy to listen to everything others say with a skeptical mind in order to have an informed sense of trust or mistrust (or both) in what they say. After a summer of preaching, leading worship and youth groups at an average-sized church in Winnipeg, I continued to pursue a Master of Divinity. When my pride in my acquired seminary training in theology had somewhat subsided, I re-discovered that it was also healthy to be skeptical of my own assumptions – not just for intellectual growth, but also to benefit how I relate to others.

Just recently it has been suggested to me by someone who has known me (or at least about me) since I was born that either I’ve been lying throughout my two active (ie.blog) years as an atheist about being an atheist, convincing all those close to me..

OR

I lied throughout my 30+ years as a Christian about being a Christian, convincing all those close to me.

Maybe I lied about both! That’s right, folks! I am THAT good of a fraud! I have consistently fooled all those close to me through every word and action of mine concerning my heartfelt fundamental beliefs!

December 11, 2007

Defining Love

Posted in atheism, church, culture, family, friends, marriage, psychology, religion, scripture, soup at 5:20 pm by Jerry

“Love” is one of those words that are mutually expressed in conversation despite a lack of mutual understanding in its meaning.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 NASB)

According to this biblical passage, either there’s no such thing as an atheist or atheists cannot experience true love. Both are presupposed fallacies and possible explanations for the confusion over “what I believe”. I assume, when people say they just don’t know what I believe anymore, what their really wondering is where does my heart find meaning and purpose, what is it attached to or what does it rest on. In other words, where does my heart find security and significance?

I find, though, when I respond to this concern my answer is never good enough for a religious person. Maybe it’s because a religious person sees my life as cheated out of the extras in their lives, I don’t know. They have an extra reality called the supernatural. They have an extra life beyond the grave. They have an extra Being who is extra extra powerful and extra extra knowing. And because of all these extras, they have extra hopes for the future.

I think my life has just as much depth and fullness (sometimes more, sometimes less) than any religious person. So, if I do the math, I can only assume that I’ve been able to take greater advantage of the meaning naturally gleamed from this world than some others have. But my point is not to create a hierarchy of meaningful lives here. Rather, it is to emphasize the opportunities atheists have to enrich their lives here on earth. Now, to answer the interest in where my heart finds security and significance: I believe in Life and the Love it creates.

Whether life is intelligently designed or love is attributed to a god (Ishtar, Aphrodite, Freya, Radha, Jesus, Kama, and so on), I find security and significance among all the living and a world of exploration in the love that life creates. That’s right. I think life, good old fashioned naturalistic life created love. Yet some have told me that the evolutionary reasons (survival) for the naturalistic world to have created love diminishes love’s meaning. I fail to understand this kind of reasoning because I just don’t see how the evolutionary process diminishes love’s meaning – unless your losing some mystical extras presumed in love’s definition.

I think a close association between God, Life and Love makes some worshipers feel that an attempt to clarify what ‘love’ is would be irreverent or impossible because the true meaning of love is ineffable in the mystical sense. And even for those of us who feel our experience of real, beautiful love cannot be diminished by any explanation of it, we fear the loss of our own meaning of the word, our own poetical definition from the depths of our being that need not be mystical to be ineffable.

Sometimes I wish we could just eliminate words like ‘love’ and create a new word for each of the many meanings that can be found in it. Some languages do this already. Take the five Greek words for ‘love’, for instance. In the Greek, the words “Xenia,” “Storge,” “Eros,” “Agape,” and “Philia” are all translated into the English word “Love”. (If you’ve grown up going to church, you’ve probably heard these definitions with extreme emphasis on Agape as Godly love that completely outshines all others, even though the others, we are told, are not without purpose.)

After re-exploring the five Greek concepts of love, I discovered I already had my own personal revamped definitions of love too:

XENIA (known as love offered to strangers) = a consented act of service between those of their own species.

STORGE (known as family love) = a consented act of service between those considered a refuge.

AGAPE (known as unconditional love) = supporting humanity’s instinct for Xenia and/or Storge with a dutiful commitment to the political/social necessity of Xenia and/or Storge despite the lack of happiness found there in.

EROS (known as erotic desire) = a consented act of service between those with a mutual sexual attraction.

PHILIA (known as friendship love) = a consented act of service between those with a mutual attraction of minds; ‘soul mates’

(Notice how my definitions of Xenia, Storge, and Agape do not require or rely on the consciousness of physical or emotional feelings to perform the acts of love. Eros, however, does require a consciousness of one’s physical feelings; and Philia requires a consciousness of one’s emotional feelings.)

Now that I’ve articulated my current definitions of love, I’ll be analyzing them, contemplating overlaps or the lack there of, and looking to read material out there that will restore the true definitions of the greek words while helping me to develop my own.

April 7, 2007

Definition of Hell

Posted in church, culture, family, friends, psychology, religion, scripture, theology at 9:13 am by Jerry

Hell: having family (and/or friends) consider the possibility that you deserve to suffer for an eternity because you don’t have imaginary conversations with a guy you’ve never met (a guy, who people of questionable objectivity, described two thousand years ago as a loving Creator BUT willing to remain unaffiliated with children of his forever).

I find it interesting when people who abhor the practice of fortune-telling are so eager to be fortune-tellers of the soul.

February 11, 2007

Family Guy

Posted in family, fatherhood, friends, marriage at 7:25 pm by Jerry

While Becky and I show off our beautiful grrrl to everybody, it’s interesting to hear the comments from people when they hold Emma in their arms and talk about family life. They’ll talk about their experiences raising children and ask how ours has been developing. And then, some, will comment on how it wasn’t long ago that I was looking and sounding like someone far from this experience.

People often commented on my singlehood before I met Becky. Some wondered if I was gay because they didn’t see me dating girls (I guess they thought I’d hide my boyfriends somewhere). I often say I was a “hermit” for a number of years, even though hermits rarely live in cities. I was definitely a loner.

People got confused when I answered their concerns about me with, “I’m not closed to getting married in the future.” They’d follow with a look on their face that said, “Then, get on with it!” So I’d say, “But I’m not on the hunt, either.” Which would frustrate them as well. I didn’t run away from girls. I had plenty of friends that were girls, but I found myself enjoying my alone time more than alot of the time I spent with friends. When I’d admit that to others, I became suspicious if they thought I was becoming one of those psycho-killer loners (wouldn’t you wonder if you saw a hint of fear on peoples’ faces when you admitted your reclusive nature).

I was very picky. I wasn’t gonna just get together with any girl. I didn’t know much about what kind of girl I wanted to get romantically involved with, but I was certain what I didn’t want. I knew I wanted someone I thought to be intelligent, someone who had a common-sense/wisdom about the world, someone who was aware, not blinded or chose to blind-fold herself from what was out there or right in front of her face. I wanted someone who I was attracted to, for many reasons. I wanted an independent girl, courageous, yet graceful.

Then I met Becky.

Two to three outings and I was smitten. I found myself calling this grrrl constantly while thinking to myself, “Why am I doing this? This isn’t me. I don’t have feelings for her, do I?” My mind had yet to comprehend what had happened to me. I was in love. I didn’t know it, but it soon became clear.

Not long after being a couple, I admitted to Becky that I felt like we were married. She said she felt the same way. That settled it.

I use to warn family and friends, “I may never get married, I may never have children.” And here I am, a family guy. Today marks the day I’ve been married to my beautiful wife for two years. I’m even more smitten than I was before. And sharing parenthood has also brought Becky and I closer together.

Looking back, I don’t regret or think bitterly about my “hermit days”. If I was still there, I’d be happy, not regretting being single either. But that’s not my destiny. My destiny is a life with a beautiful, intelligent woman and a cute daughter. It’s been a great journey, a journey that gets better with age.

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