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…

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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.)

October 23, 2010

I Wish Believers Had Faith In…

Posted in church, culture, film, marriage, psychology of religion, scripture, theology at 8:03 pm by Jerry

I wish believers had faith that same sex attractions were not sinful.

I wish they had faith that same sex marriage is righteous, Godly, beautiful.

I wish they had faith that wherever the bible seems to stand on a committed same sex romance, someday, God would reveal to biblical scholars and theologians that same sex marriage is God’s plan.

I wish believers had faith in THIS kind of love.

April 2, 2009

You Gotta Love Her

Posted in marriage, scripture at 9:37 pm by Jerry

Tonight, while cleaning up after supper and discussing how much we enjoyed spending the afternoon together, I mentioned that I was planning on doing the dishes this afternoon but I wouldn’t miss out on the time we had. Becky says…

You know, dishes are like the poor. They’re always with us.

Jesus couldn’t have said it better.

March 2, 2009

Old, Old, REALLY Old Sex

Posted in church, culture, history, marriage, politics, scripture at 12:49 pm by Jerry

Here’s an article sent to me that I thought worth posting. I’ve quoted passages that I think are particularly valuable for someone who is about to read biblical passages used to condemn homosexuality…

Providing a Historical Context

Biblical writers had no concept of sexual orientation or sexual development as we understand those today. Therefore, passages that reference same-sex sexual activity should not been seen as comprehensive statements concerning homosexuality, but instead should be viewed in the context of what the ancient world that produced the Bible understood about sexual activity…

..Biblical scholars have employed the social sciences to study the relational and gender patterns of the ancient Mediterranean world—the world that produced the Bible. Professor Mary Tolbert summarizes that research with the following words:

The single most important concept that defines sexuality in the ancient Mediterranean world, whether we are talking about the kingdoms of Egypt or of Assyria or whether we are talking about the later kingdoms of Greece and Rome, is that approved sexual acts never occurred between social equals. Sexuality, by definition, in ancient Mediterranean societies required the combination of dominance and submission. This crucial social and political root metaphor of dominance and submission as the definition of sexuality rested upon a physical basis that assumed every sex act required a penetrator and someone who was penetrated. Needless to say, this definition of sexuality was entirely male—not surprising in the heavily patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean.

Genesis 19

This story is not a condemnation of homosexuality, but is a story about rape and inhospitality. In other biblical texts (Ezekiel 16:49, Luke 17:28-29) Sodom’s ‘sin’ is not identified as homosexuality, rather, their sins were pride, failure to help the poor, and lack of hospitality to foreigners.

Leviticus 18:22; 20:13

this prohibition in Leviticus was an attempt to preserve the internal harmony of Jewish male society by not allowing them to participate in anal intercourse as a form of expressing or gaining social and political dominance. These verses in no way prohibit, nor do they even speak, to loving, caring sexual relationships between people of the same gender.

Romans 1:26-27

The “natural intercourse” of that day which Paul was referring to was “among unequals with the dominant partner always an adult male.”

In other words, all of today’s sexual acts between partners of equal status would be considered “unnatural” to biblical writers. Male and female may have been considered spiritually equal before God in the first century, but when it came to sex.. equal status was a sin.

So for all heterosexual wives in today’s church who think the private lives of our contemporary society should only have sexual practices in the biblical sense, I ask you, “Will you welcome others to judge whether your husband is truly dominant over you, greater in public and private status?”

November 12, 2008

Love vs. Ideology

Posted in culture, film, history, marriage, politics, religion, scripture at 3:45 am by Jerry

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 28, 2007

Leaving Jesus at the Altar of Thought Control

Posted in marriage, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, psychology of religion, scripture at 10:09 am by Jerry

Lately, I’ve been wondering about the Christian value of “free will”.

I’ve read and had conversations with many Christians who argue for the existence of free will by saying something like – you can’t truly love someone if you don’t have freewill (as if the choice itself rather than the act authenticates love). Nevertheless, if God couldn’t (or wouldn’t) look into the future of possible Universes to decide which one he was to create, and – if the present Universe is not completely governed by the laws of causality, then – there would seem to be room for the ever-popular “FREE WILL”.

According to bible-based Christology, the volition or will of a Christian will be sacrificed to God when they enter into heaven so that God can make it perfect, thereby – making it so that God’s followers will always choose what God wants.

1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12 (NASB)

10After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 5 (NASB)

I suppose, if I knew that someone who was all-good, and had the power to give me a righteous brain-washing (and was willing), I’d consider having it done for the simple purpose of stopping myself from harming others and myself. But I have a hard time imagining myself handing someone control over every facet of my mind because I’ve never met anyone THAT trustworthy! (And as you can see from four previous posts of mine, I don’t think the God presented in the bible is “all-good”.)

I use to be a Jesus follower…

[The bible paints a metaphor of the body of Jesus followers as a virgin betrothed to Jesus the bridegroom. And whenever Jesus followers die in this world they walk down the afterlife-isle to be married to Jesus – a match made in their heaven.]

..but I left him at his altar of thought control.

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.

January 23, 2007

Coaching My Champ

Posted in family, fatherhood, marriage at 12:16 pm by Jerry

So we wouldn’t forget, Becky and I both decided to write about our time at the hospital when our family of two became a family of three.

We arrived at the hospital at 1:30 p.m. We found out she was dilated at 5-6 cm. The resident doctor asked if Becky wanted the epidural, and Becky said softly, “Yes.” I followed immediately after with a prominent “YES,” revealing my need to protect my love from pain. The doctor saw that our message was clear and said that there was a line up for the epidurals, but it wouldn’t be long.

I got the odd chuckle from doctors and nurses when they saw that I always had my pocket watch in hand, timing contractions, how far they were apart, and how many there were in the last hour. But they didn’t seem to mind when I had all the information about Becky’s record of contractions over the last hour, afternoon, day, or the last couple of days.

At 4pm I began to worry how long it would take for Becky to get her epidural. She could be dilating faster than the epidural line was moving and I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it! So I went to find the nurses to communicate my concerns. I know they caught the urgency in my voice but I don’t know if that was the reason they bumped Becky up in the line. Either way I was glad to see that they finally took us up to the delivery room for Becky’s epidural at 5 p.m.

But then, as some of you may have read in Becky’s post, we waited up to an hour everytime (4 times!) after postponements of the epidural. Becky’s first nurse (who stayed the most with Becky) said, “You are, undeniably, the best patient I’ve ever had… and I’m talking about the best out of my good patients.” Becky was awesome. She was an athelete while she worked through her contractions, dilating up to 7 cm.

Finally, the epidural was in, which was another pain hurdle for Becky. The aneasthesiologist was pretty impressed with her too. Not long after, Becky said, “Oooo, this feels nice.” Then we joked about her becoming addicted, or at least — highly recommending the drug to others. With the pain gone, we waited and watched as the moniter revealed a declining blood pressure number.

After her water was broke by another resident doctor, Becky was also given some natural hormones to help things along. Eventually, she was fully dilated at 10 cm but still waiting for the baby to move down from a “-1 position”. While we waited, we enjoyed listening to music and watching the monitor spit out rolls of paper revealing a record of her contractions.

At 5:20 a.m. our doctor, with the resident doctor, were prepared to help Becky with her delivery. I so badly wanted to cry while Becky was experiencing the pain of getting Emma out into the world. But she needed a strong, stable partner. She needed a familiar, secure voice beside her. I found this out fast after about the third time of running back and forth from the sink to cool off the damp cloth to wipe her face and forehead. She started pushing early (due to an early contraction) and I was a second or two late for the count. She said, with a sound of desparation in her voice, “You’re not counting!” I never missed a beat after that.

Aside from Becky’s pushing and my counting, crazy Becky found a moment or two to provide a source of comic relief for everyone in the room by commenting on the need to hear that she had been making MORE progress than “a little,” and asked to put the baby back in her pre-labor position. That’s my wife. No wonder why I fell in love with her.

Somewhere in the middle of Becky’s 80 minute labor we also shared an “I love you” between one of the contractions/pushing that reminded us both of the “us” that has been there since two years ago. I kept running my fingers through her hair (the way she likes) and reminded her of how strong she is. Then our doctor grabbed my attention, pointing out that my baby’s head was showing!

I could actually see the great progress Becky was making with her pushes and consoled her with this knowledge through the following contractions. For the last bit Becky was told to make short pushes so she wouldn’t hurt herself more than she needed to. Our talented doctor was truly on top of things. She quickly moved the umbilical cord that was wrapped around the baby’s neck and gently held/helped the baby while Becky pushed our child out.

“IT’S A GIRL!” said our doctor. We were so happy. Becky said, “I wanted a girl!” Then we went on and on about how beautiful she was while tears fell from our eyes. The resident doctor asked if I’d like to do the ceremonial cutting of the umbilical cord. I confidently said, “Yes” and after, the baby was wisked away to be washed by the nurse and checked by our doctor. It wasn’t long and our baby girl, our Emma, was in our arms stealing our hearts.

Becky and I are so happy. This experience of bringing Emma into the world has brought her and I even closer together than we were before.

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