Life and Tests

John Shore has a post about Chad Holtz entitled Chad Holtz now believes in hell. As to homosexuality . . . ?  You can read John’s post or do an online search to get more information about Chad Holtz, but what I want to highlight here is an insightful comment under John’s post by sdparris.  Whether it is applicable to Chad’s situation or not, I think that it contains wisdom when it comes to recovery, meeting life on life’s terms, and facing life’s challenges:

“You are in the triumphant phase. You played by the rules and it worked. You’ve conquered the beast, in a way, making all things right in the world, or so it seems. It[']s a great feeling and right now everything lines up.

“Why do we say let[']s see what happens in six months? Because that is when the afterglow starts to wear off and life starts becoming real again. What got us into the mess to begin with rears its head again, and we find ourselves once again struggling. If, as you said, you had an addiction, expect it to happen. Its rarely a one time shot, but something people have to make conscious choices over for a while, sometimes for a lifetime. God sure can help you with the struggle, but the choice is ultimately yours…

“Expect life to continue to throw you curves. Your marriage took a big hit. Your relationship with your friend and family is altered. Hopefully for the better, we all want that, but experience has taught several of us that reality often is not what we want. I do hope your relationships continue to be strong and thriving.

“Life is the ultimate lesson plan, sometimes we ace the tests, sometimes we get F’s. Thankfully, we often get to retake those failed tests. The trick is to not get the same grade next time, which can be easier said then done…Personally, I keep making Fs or D- on the ‘do not worry’ quiz.

“Finally, if hell is the capstone belief of the Christian faith, then I must ask, for what purpose does it serve? And why is it so important to you? Does it matter that you have decided to go the conformist way and others haven’t? Is one’s belief in a horrible afterlife that important? Or is it something else that is important: that freedom in Christ, the realization that He loves us where we are, where we were, where we will be, warts and all? To me the concept of hell is of far lesser importance then the concept of life, living it as best we can, with the purpose of Loving God with all that I am, and my neighbor as best as I can (which is somewhat impossible at times despite best efforts).”

I especially appreciated the part about life giving us tests.  I feel bad when I look back at the mistakes I have made, especially when it comes to social faux-pas.  But, fortunately, life gives me opportunities to do things better the next time.

Published in: on July 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aspies in the Church

On Rachel Held Evans’ site, there is an excellent post by Erin Thomas on Embracing Faith As an Aspie.  The post is excellent, as were many of the comments.  But my favorite comment was by lainiep:

“As an aspie female myself, I resonate with a lot of what Erin has to say. One of the difficulties with Asperger’s Syndrome is that it is often very difficult to find safe community. Ironically, this can be particularly difficult in churches that emphasize ‘relationships,’ ‘transparency,’ etc. For many people in these churches, someone who needs time to get to know others is clearly broken and in need of fixing.

“(An aspie is also vulnerable to abusers/bullies/power-trippers in churches who use the rhetoric of community.)

“Until churches are willing to acknowledge that genuine relationships take time to develop and stop expecting instant intimacy, aspies may have a difficult time finding a suitable worshiping community.”

And Maddie_Faddenoid has a good response to that:

“I don’t have aspergers but I’m introverted and I can relate to that so much. I went to a church that was all about ‘relationships’ and ‘accountability’ and I felt under a lot of pressure to share my biggest struggles and deepest vulnerabilities with people I wasn’t totally comfortable with because I didn’t know them very well at all. It was difficult. I was treated as if I had something wrong with me and it was hur[t]ful. The super-extroverted youth pastor just didn’t get me at all and would leap to hurtful conclusions about me, my family, my upbringing and what he considered to be ‘my issues’ (none of his ‘counsel’ was solicited). It’s horrible to have to justify who you cannot possibly help being when who you cannot possibly help being is treated as defective.  This was all in the name of relationships and accountability.”

Jay Gilbert on Chick-Fil-A, Boston, and Chicago

In an online discussion, Jay Gilbert made the following insightful comment about the Chick-Fil-A controversy and how government officials in Boston and Chicago are treating the business:

“I fully support boycotting the restaurant (I have for years), but I think no government official has any business exerting this kind of pressure over someone’s spoken opinion. This is exactly what the First Amendment is about: letting citizens say what they think, letting other citizens respond in appropriate ways, and government staying the hell out of it. In Chicago it’s even worse, where an alderman is proudly blocking a long-standing Chick-Fil-A building permit. Is that where we want this to go? 50 years ago this would have meant you supported the government shutting down the businesses of anyone who spoke in FAVOR of gay rights.”

Published in: on July 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Insightful Quotes of the Day

I have two insightful quotes for today.

1.  Ezra Klein, Is the Obama administration the best vehicle for conservative health care ideas?

“The fact of the matter is that the key policy ideas that reigned over conservative health-care policy thinking from 1989 to 2009 are included in the Affordable Care Act. These include, but are not limited to, the individual mandate, health insurance exchanges, price transparency in the provider and insurance markets, limiting the tax preference for employer-sponsored health care, and transitioning the system in general — and Medicare in particular — away from fee-for-service payments.”

2.  Jonathan Krohn, I Was a Right-Wing Child Star.

“I was tired of the right using me as an example of how young people ‘get’ what they’re talking about — when it’s obvious that I didn’t get what I [was] talking about at all. I mean, come on, I was between 13 and 14 when I was regurgitating these talking points! What does a kid who has never paid a tax bring to the table in a conversation about the burden of taxes? What does a healthy child know about people who can’t afford healthcare because of preexisting conditions? No matter how intelligent a person might be, certain political issues require life experience; they’re much more complicated than the black and white frames imposed by partisan America.”

Published in: on July 8, 2012 at 5:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Quotes of the Day

Here are some quotes for the day!

1.  Rachel Held Evans is looking for feedback about topics that she should cover for her blog.  I especially liked Katy-Anne’s comment (which I have slightly edited in my quotation of it):

“I read here all the time. I LOVE the ‘ask a…’ series, as it appears most do. I really, really don’t like the faith and parenting guest posts.  To me, if I want to read mommy bloggers, I’ll go read their blogs, which I actually avoid like the plague most of the time.  (And I’m a mom lol).  Personally I’d like to see a little less humorous/personal stories, but not have them cut altogether.  I come here for intelligent discussion and to read topics that make me think. :)  I think you have just enough on faith and doubt.  I enjoy the book and movie reviews and think you do enough of those.  I do like the theological discussion and also think you do enough of those to keep my interest. I would love more on your experiences in the Christian writing and publishing industry (a lot more ha), and more opportunities to ask you questions or at least read Q&A from other people who asked questions. :p More writing/blogging/publishing tips, and while I care about your eye that doesn’t capture my interest but I still come back anyway. :) Those are just my thoughts. :)”

Those are my thoughts, too, only I’d add that I also like Rachel’s blog because it critiques evangelicalism and the evangelical sub-culture, as well as allows people to share their stories about leaving or returning to church.

I hope I don’t offend Mommy bloggers!  I tend not to read posts about raising kids because I myself am not a parent.  At the same time, I have enjoyed posts about trying to teach kids faith and spirituality (see here, here, and here).

2.  Finding Truth has an excellent post, Tecumseh the Prophet.  Prophecies have been attributed to the Native American leader Tecumseh.  Finding Truth astutely asks:

“So if you’re a Christian, I’d like to ask what you think about this information. Did Tecumseh really prophesy these events? I know that some liberal Christians might be comfortable with the idea that God could have used him as a prophet even though he wasn’t a Christian. Of course, I know many other Christians who would disagree with that. But if they choose to dismiss these stories about Tecumseh and just file them away as coincidence, that still leaves some questions.

“It’s easy to see the similarities between these stories about Tecumseh and the stories about Jesus. Tecumseh’s followers gave us the first hand accounts of these prophecies, and the fact that many Indians from various tribes united behind him is added evidence in his favor. Otherwise, why would they have followed him? Of course, none of these prophecies were written down at the time they were spoken, because few Indians were literate. Jesus’ followers believed he did many amazing things as well, and many people eventually followed him. But again, none of those events were recorded until decades later.

“In other words, we have as much reason to believe Tecumseh was an actual prophet as we do to think Jesus was really the son of God. If you believe one of these claims, but not the other, why?”

I myself am open to the existence of the supernatural or the paranormal in all sorts of settings, Christian and non-Christian.  In terms of why the supernatural shows up when it does, though, I’m not entirely sure.

Quote of the Day: Michael Craft on Good Christian Manhood

Kathy Escobar has a good post, Ex-Good-Christian-Women, in which she talks about the burden Christian women carry of having to meet (presumably certain evangelical) expectations of what it means to be a good Christian woman.  Kathy then asks if men have similarly been burdened by false ideas of good Christian manhood.  In response to this question, Michael Craft says the following (and I have edited what he said in minor ways):

“Hmm…false idea of what it means to be a Christian man. I’m going to have to blog about that. You hit a large nerve on that one! I stopped going to men’s meetings because I tired of the Christian man ideal that would be taught. I never felt valued as a man and went away feeling discouraged and condemned. Almost every men’s group I attended taught that you MUST be the spiritual leader in the family (I believed in a shared responsibility).  It always seemed to be our fault in our marriages because we sucked at being a good enough husband.  If I would actually share something honestly about a problem I was having, I would be treated like a child that needed disciplining. I learned quickly NOT to EVER share AGAIN.  Too many insecure pompous men trying to show off their peacock feathers of macho spirituality with their inane advice! In my ministry to recovering addicts, I come alongside them in the ditch with them and relate to my fellow strugglers.  I don’t give them the ‘You must victorious, brother. You must be an overcomer. You have to be the head and not the tail’ garbage that Ive heard over and over. I share my weaknesses and love them through their situation. I refuse to act above others. I easily could have been a addict if God hadn’t intervened years ago. I know now that I was going against the flow of popular Christian thought and paid a heavy price.  I’m out of the mainstream church and viewed as a rebel but I see more of God out here in the wide spaces of the ‘frontier’ than in the ‘city’ of the institutional church. Thank you once again my dear friend and mentor in our wild living in the faith. You have once again lifted a discouraged heart!”

I’m looking forward to Michael’s post on this topic.  Here’s the web site for his ministry.

Quote of the Day: Volnaiksra on Trying to Smooth Over the Bible’s Hard Passages

On his blog, The Dubious Disciple, Lee Harmon has a book review of Paul Copan’s book, Is God a Moral Monster?  Lee was not particularly convinced by Copan’s attempt to smooth over some of the troubling passages of the Bible, such as the Israelite conquest of Canaan, which entailed (in some parts of the Bible) Israel being commanded by God to kill every man, woman, and child among the Canaanites.

Volnaiksra left the following comment under Lee’s post (and you can read Volnaiksra’s blog here):

“It’s always a little bit heartbreaking when apologists try to take the super-positive message of modern of Christianity (God is love; you’re his treasured creature; the Christian God is above all human pettiness and can be trusted to give us peace and justice; Christianity is all good news, etc.) and transpose it back onto the Bible.

“The backpeddling and philosophical gymnastics they need to employ to twist the Bible’s assorted nastiness into something that approximates holiness are so athletic and creative that you kind of want to root for them. And when they finally exclaim triumphantly ‘see? The Bible is wonderful!’ from atop the arguments they’ve lovingly constructed, you almost don’t have the heart to point out that they’re standing on a tangled web of sticky-tape, plastic and holes that’s about to collapse into a sorry mess.

“Once, while [perusing] the religion section of my local bookstore, I came across a book called something like ‘The Problem verses’. The mission of the book was to try and catalog, and briefly explain, all those tricky passages of the Bible that seemed offensive, unfair, or cruel. I guess it was meant as a reference for newcomers to the Bible who were a bit alarmed by what they saw in it, and was intended to help them see those verses in a more palatable light.

“It was one of the thickest books I’ve ever seen in my entire life, and was a good 50% thicker than the Bible itself. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

Quote of the Day: Carson T. Clark on Christian Apologetics

In a recent post, moderate blogger Carson T. Clark characterizes a lot of Christian apologetics as follows:

“Generally speaking I can’t stand the self-assuredness, snooty condescension, intellectual pride, defensive posturing, offensive aggression, judgmental tenor, graceless attitude, petty one-upmanship, scriptural proof-texting, oversimplistic assertions, binary categorizations, rhetorical strategies, academic format, absence an any true personal transparency (about doubt, frustration, confusion, etc.), unwillingness to acknowledge sound points made by the ‘opponent,’ refusal to admit ignorance (or a sheer lack of expertise) in certain areas, and just plain stupid arguments that I’ve typically heard espoused in this field. All of which is why I’ve tended to avoid christian apologetics like the plague.”

Carson goes on to say that a recent talk by Tim Keller (which Carson posts) has given him hope about Christian apologetics.  Whether you have the same positive impression, you can judge for yourself.  I watched the video earlier today, and there were things that I liked and disliked.  But I loved Carson’s characterization of much of Christian apologetics.

Intelligent Quote of the Day: Brett

My friend Felix has a feature on his blog called “Intelligent Quote of the Day.” I also have an intelligent quote for you: this is under BryanL’s post, Changing Your Mind, and it’s by Brett:

“I used to be a cessationist until I witness healings taking place and saw the gifts worked out. So the experience changed my stance. I used to be a Calvinist until I had people in my life who had horrific tragedies, and until I had somebody from the other side explain their perspective to me, and I changed my mind. I just couldn’t accept the ‘It’s all for God’s glory and good pleasure’ crap that I always heard [John] Piper say. It was just too barbaric and my conscience would not allow me to believe that it was as simple as this.

“I would like to say, though, that I think when you’ve been on one side of the coin and you switch to the other, chances are you’re probably not going to switch back. I was once a Calvinist, and I honestly do not ever see myself ever going back. Scripture is just too gray and my experience will not allow me to, even if someone I respected changed their views on it.

“But, my opinion still stands, an extremely respected individual and one you look at as a leader changed his mind about a doctrine you believe in, and personal experience are two key factors. Evidence (scriptural/exegetical) is another one, but I don’t believe it’s as strong as the first two. For me personally, at the bottom of my list is historical theology. This is the first on many people’s lists (they act like the church fathers already have everything figured out so we should just believe them, and none of them are really consistent with this but they talk like they are). I frankly could care less what the most important (or popular) church history fathers said about something. I actually think the extreme zeal many in my life have had towards historical theology has led me to disrespect it greatly. There is too much darkness and sin behind the curtains (Augustine was a jerk, Luther was a jerk, Calvin was the biggest jerk of all…why would I want to get all my theology from jerks?)”

Published in: on October 24, 2008 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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