Christianity Explained

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Survivor

Survivor

A friend of mine suggested I read Chuck Palahniuk’s book Survivor which is the story of a man named Tender Branson who is a survivor of a religious death-cult known as the Creedish.  It’s an interesting story, although I wouldn’t call it great literature.  As with most of Palahniuk’s books, there are some great lines that either made me chuckle or just stuck with me afterward.  I thought I would share just a few.

“Eternity was going to seem like forever.”

“The bad news is we don’t have any control.  The good news is we can’t make any mistakes.”

“I’m not stupid, but I’m getting there.”

“Even the garden of Eden was just a big fancy cage.  You’ll be a slave the rest of your life unless you bite the apple.”

And my favorite…

“What people forget is a journey to nowhere starts with a single step too.”

But I would have to say my favorite quote of Palahniuk’s is from his book Choke.

“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it’s only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think, the way they see themselves, the way they see the world — you can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.”

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Discovery and Confirmation

For more detail on the discovery go to Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun

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An Atheist Comes Out

Many of you probably remember the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma earlier this year.  It inflicted terrible devastation and many people were killed.  Afterward, CNN host Wolf Blitzer interviewed a survivor.  A woman whom he prodded into trying to thank the Lord for saving her.  Instead, she announced she was an Atheist.

Well, here’s the back story on that event describing how she survived the tornado and how she came to be in that interview.  And finally, how in that split second, she made the decision to come out as an Atheist to the world.

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The Rest of the Story

The Baptist church I drive by every day going in and out of my neighborhood has a new sign up this week.  It says:

“There is only one mediator between God and man, 1 Timothy 2″

When I arrived home, I pulled out my King James Version of the Bible and began reading 1 Timothy.  Here is what it says:

Exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.  For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come into the knowledge of the truth.

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

According to my study Bible, the apostle Paul wrote 1 Timothy during the time of the “notorious” Roman emperor Nero, hence the reference to kings and those in authority.  But the sign is pointing out that last line about Jesus Christ being the mediator between God and men.  I assume this is similar to John 14:6 that says Jesus is the way to God.

Jesus is the way

From a Catholic perspective, I’ve never been quite clear on that entire Jesus vs. God thing.  We were taught about the Trinity; God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost being different incarnations of God, they are all one and the same.  That way even though there were three versions of God, it was still a monotheistic religion.

Maybe the Baptists see this differently, but if Jesus is God, how can he be a mediator between man and himself?  In the Catholic faith, the priest is needed as an intermediary between God and man, hence the sacraments such as confession being performed by the priest for the congregation.  I guess there are different versions of mediation required.

But why would God need a mediator?  He used to talk directly to people, Moses to give the commandments, Abraham telling him to kill his son, etc.  Why would an all-powerful God need a mediator?  And why an only son?  If God created everything, why does he limit himself to one son?  I guess these are questions I’ll never know the answers to.

But I digress.  What really struck me most was the remaining verses of 1 Timothy that I think the people who put up this sign forgot about…the rest of the story as they say.

Whereunto I am ordained a preacher and an apostle, I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.  I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but which becometh women professing godliness with good works.

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness and sobriety.

First, I like that Paul has to remind us of his position and that he isn’t going to lie to us.  Then he goes on to say “men” shall pray and explicitly excludes women.  As the passage continues, it appears Paul is blaming Eve for the fall of man and therefore, subjugating all women as the weaker sex to be subservient to men.  Eve lead Adam astray and therefore no woman can be trusted to be in a position of authority over a man ever again.  And besides, Adam was here first; Eve was created as an afterthought.  This is where the Catholic Church gets its idea that women can’t be priests.  Not from God, but from Paul.

I wonder how the Baptist church feels about this part of 1 Timothy? Maybe I need a mediator to figure it out.

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The Cult of Seriousness

As a follow up to my post a few weeks ago featuring a video of Lawrence Krauss talking about the purpose of education, here’s a video from Tyler Dewitt discussing some of the issues with how science is taught today.  I think he does a great job providing a concrete example of the problem with science education and discusses a very simple solution.  Make it understandable and get rid of the cult of “seriousness” as he calls it.

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Selfishness

The internet is all abuzz about Senator Rob Portman’s announcement that he’s changed his position on gay marriage.  He is a Republican after all, and we all know where that party stands on this issue, so I’m sure it took some courage for him to announce his change of opinion.

What I don’t understand is why it took someone in his own family to come out as gay before he changed his mind.  In this case, his son.  I personally see his change of opinion as a selfish act on his part and in some respects it makes me angry.  I’m certainly glad he’s changed his opinion, but I’m angry at what it took before he could see the need to change.

Here’s what he said:

“I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over twenty-six years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.”

Now that it affects someone he knows and loves, he’s decided it’s important to support gay marriage.  Why did it take someone close to him to be affected by his views before he understood their impact?

Why was it not obvious that other parents and relatives of gay and lesbian children want this as well for their sons and daughters?  What is it about intolerance toward a group different than you that blinds an individual to their plight?  I think it’s a demonization of a group that allows a person to think of them as less than human or as “others”.  That makes it easier to deny them rights and to treat them differently.  If you don’t view them as equals, why treat them as such?

They say familiarity breeds tolerance, and in this case that is apparent.  But tolerance can also come from empathy.  You don’t have to have the exact experience to try to understand things from another reference point.

As I said, I’m glad he’s changed his views.  We’ll have to wait and see if this has any larger impact on the issue.  I certainly hope it does.

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Overcome Ignorance

As much as I agree with Lawrence Krauss that the purpose of education is to overcome ignorance, the problem with the people who don’t like the idea of the Earth being more than 6000 years old or that evolution happened is they don’t care if it’s valid science.

These facts from the world of science conflict with their religious beliefs to the point of shaking their very foundation.  If evolution happened, then there was no Adam and Eve and therefore no fall from grace and no original sin and therefore no need for a savior.  This destroys their entire world view and no amount or reason or logic or calm discussion regarding the merits of the science will assuage their views.  It just won’t happen.

Now, I’m not saying don’t teach science correctly, certainly do, but there will continue to be a segment of the population that will rebel against it.  They will complain to their school boards and principals and to their elected officials.  And some will pull their kids from public schools so they can send them to a private religious school or home school them so they won’t be exposed to these supposedly corrupting concepts.

The issue we need to figure out is how to combat this way of thinking.  Just pushing the science on them is not the ultimate solution.  Do I know what the solution is?  No, but I feel we’ve got to come up with a way of teaching science at a young age to instill the idea of critical thinking and reasoning, not just wrote memorization.  We need to reach kids way before these controversial concepts are taught so when they do hear them they have the tools to be able to think clearly and regard these concepts with reason and not emotion.

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My Only Choice

As anyone who knows me is aware, I’m not a big fan of the MP3 format for audio.  I feel the compression and lossy format leaves the music sounding diminished and hollow with a boomy base.  I prefer to purchase CD’s and rip them to my library using FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Code).  In this way, I can preserve the fidelity of the recording without any loss.

In fact, I’ve never downloaded a single MP3 song…until now.

Read the rest of this entry »

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God’s Gonna Getcha

My Dad was a big fan of bluegrass and country music, so I heard a lot of this style of music growing up and I still enjoy a good bluegrass tune on occasion.  After he passed, I received some of his music CD’s that included bluegrass, country and gospel music.  I don’t regularly listen to them, but I recently ripped them to my SONOS library.

Well, the other day while my SONOS was shuffling through my song library, a track came on from The Lewis Family called Gods Gonna Getcha For That and I couldn’t help but smile as I listened to the lyrics.

The song seems to be about God’s retribution if you decide to sin and don’t follow his rules.  It’s like the cosmic version of the boogey-man.  You know, an amorphous imaginary being used by adults to frighten children into compliant behavior.

Here’s the chorus:

God’s gonna getcha for that

God’s gonna getcha for that

There’s no place to run and hide

For He knows where you’re at

God’s gonna getcha for that

God’s gonna getcha for that

Every wrong thing that you do

God’s gonna getcha for that

Catchy, ain’t it.  I couldn’t find this exact version on YouTube, but here’s George Jones and Tammy Wynette’s version of the song.

Enjoy.

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