100 Days

I saw a post from a former pastor of mine.  I consider him a friend and mentor – at least, I considered him one.  It’s a confusing thing.  I still love and respect him, admire much of his character and have nothing but the deepest appreciation for the things he has taught me over the years.  But, I feel conflicted, too.  Our ideologies are not the same, and though I have faith in God, I would no longer characterize myself as a fundamentalist Christian in any form.  Over the past few years my friend has become increasingly more vocal in political and religious matters, something I will certainly never criticize, however it has highlighted the rift that is between us when I compare what we think and believe.  He is unabashedly both conservative Right and conservative Christian,  even when those two viewpoints are in direct contention.  More recently, he has taken to bashing both the Left and the Islamic religion, often conflating the two in order to make a skewed point.  Given his background as both an IBM engineer and a teacher of Philosophy, I have no doubt he understands faulty logic- but he no longer pays heed to that in service of rhetoric.  This depresses me.  There was a time when he measured the character of a person by when they were willing to keep their mouth shut.  Have we moved so far past civil discourse that even good men step over the line to protect what they see as their way of life?  Is the perceived threat to Christianity, whether it is by political, social or religious agenda so great that we must forget our principles?

I hope not.

Confusion is from Satan

Confusion is from Satan, go away.

This was said to me today in an online discussion. A friend of my wife’s,  a nice lady with some strong religious convictions, had posted a link purporting that school children in California were being indoctrinated into Islam. The link in question was about a mother who found a homework assignment on world religion offensive.  Apparently knowing a few things about a religion that 1/7 of the world believes in is a Bad Thing.  Before I go further, it is only fair that I say that I have disagreed with her posts in the past, too, so we do have a bit of a history of disagreement, and her frustration with me stems, in part, from that history.

The lady was posting the link so that others would be edified in what schools are teaching their children, that they might stand up for the Truth.  She posted two supporting links, here and here, but I don’t think she read them.  Being who I am, my first response to her post was that I had similar lessons when I was in school.  I thought it was a good thing.  She didn’t care for that response. Her reply to me where those two links as well as a reference to 2nd Peter regarding false prophets.

I could not rebut the 2nd Peter reference, as the moment you unilaterally declare something to be the work of the Devil based on your interpretation of Scripture, the discussion on that point is done.  I did note regarding her two links that the students were not made to “pray”, as the act of reciting a written verse is not prayer without the element of faith.  More so, I learned those same things in world studies.  It isn’t indoctrination to learn the basic tenets of a population’s belief system.  The nice lady said these kids were being forced to learn religion(I suspect she meant Islamic religion), which shouldn’t be allowed and was certainly not allowed when we went to school.  I kindly pointed out that I was required to sing songs of praise and worship from Kindergarten through 12th grade, attendance mandatory.  I even got to play a religious figure or two in school plays.  I was one of the three wise men in first or second grade.

The end result of this discussion was that she admonished me for not standing up for the Truth and then basically said I was the Devil.  Her only intent, she said, was that she share this news so that parents know what is being taught in the classroom and can then stand up for the Truth.  Yes, she capitalized Truth.

I was frustrated, but I dropped the argument at that point.  My intent wasn’t to antagonize her, merely to stand up for the truth, as it were.  My take on the situation was that the children were not being indoctrinated.  Nor were they being lead by a false prophet.  Knowledge and understanding are good things, especially from a Biblical perspective. What frustrated me about her posts, the issue that I have, is in her well meaning attempt to showcase another apparent attack on Christianity in America, she perpetrated a series of lies.  That these lies might strengthen some people’s convictions in Christ are beside the point, as I firmly believe that one cannot defend any truth by lying about it.  By perpetuating these false outrages, we make Christians of all denominations look like fools.  If we are commanded to go forth and make disciples of all peoples, how can we expect to do that if we continually build walls of lies between us and the rest of the world?  Faith in God does not require a lie in order to prove that you believe in Him, we shouldn’t need a lie to defend our faith in Him, either.

A brief note for those waiting for the end

With the Supreme Court ruling firmly in the books it has come to my attention via social and news media outlets that the End Times are surely near. While I am in awe of this truly remarkable feat of prognostication, especially given that the Bible is quite clear that no man shall know the date, I feel compelled to point a few other things out.

1st up is that while the United States has often felt the need to identify itself as a Christian nation, it is by no means the only one in existence.  Should the U.S.A. suddenly go the way of Godless heathens, there are still roughly eight to nine hundred million other Christians out there in the world today…

2nd is that while the our learned Supreme Court has now acknowledged that the government should stay the hell out of marriage, this ruling has not suddenly changed the sexual orientation of the members of this apparently fallen nation.  I was, of course, very concerned about my marriage and possibly reassigned sexual orientation, so I immediately conducted a rigorous scientific investigation into my sexuality.  After watching Die Hard, Terminator 2 and The Transporter, I have determined I feel no compunction to rip the clothes off of Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzeneggar or Jason Statham.  Fearing that I might only be attracted to the pretty boys, I also watched Fight Club and some god awful Ashton Kutcher film.  Alas, no feelings of desire or unrequited love came to me while I snacked on my soda and popcorn.  Comfortably convinced that I harbored no feelings of attraction towards the opposite sex, I can rest assured that the ruling has not suddenly turned us all into a nation of homosexuals headed for the Pit.

3rd point.  Although it is popular to beat one’s Christian chest and proclaim with passionate moral authority that the world is indeed facing the End Times and is headed straight to Hell, I have to ask, “How is this a problem?”  A Risen Christ back on Earth is something Christians are supposed to be looking forward to.  Paul expected Christ to return while he was still living, and he desperately looked forward to that moment.  Additionally, if He is coming back soon, we won’t be here.  There’s that whole Rapture thing, remember?  And finally, according to the Bible, the world has been going straight to Hell since at least the writings of Revelation.  The destination was never in doubt…

Hopefully this helps to put a perspective on current events, and for those of my fellows that have not had the time to reassure themselves of their sexuality, you can rest assured on the results of my very thorough experiment.

 

To each their own…decision.

I happened to be reading this article when my oldest son looked over my shoulder and started reading along with me.  This lead to a conversation of sorts with him, which I rather enjoyed.

At first my son was actively against the shop owners.  He said he would have sued the owners, too.  Not because of any particular leaning so much as he views all discrimination as wrong.  I explored his thinking on that for a bit and I was satisfied with where he was coming from, but then I told him how things might have been different in Montana.  I shared with him how, in lot of states, the right to refuse service to anyone is available to business owners.  I also shared with him how customers have the same right not to go to a particular business.  They can complain to others about it, too, which usually works out better that just suing somebody.  It was fun to discuss the various alternatives.

We spoke on a lot of different topics related to the situation and the fun thing for me was watching him consider other viewpoints than his own.  He didn’t dismiss things out of hand, he spent time thinking about where the shop owners were coming from and why.  He considered other ways to handle the conflict and what some of the results were.  At the end of the day he held to his own opinion, for his own reasons, but he thought about things!  It was a great father/son moment, but it also made me laugh and think about how often I can’t have that kind of conversation with an adult…

Paul had it wrong…

During church today I had time to ponder why so much of Christianity is about living life after death, for focusing on everything but the world as it is right now.  It’s not that I don’t believe in a better life after Christ, I do, but it seems to me that we are using the promises of our future to give up on our present, even to the point of actively ignoring or making it worse.  Paul said do not be of this world, but I think he had it wrong.  Everything God did has the world as its framework.  From Eden to the end of Creation, everything focuses on our world here.  All of God’s promises, his parables, are in the context of what He created here.  My way of thinking is, God is in all of us.  His divine spark resides in everything he created and as such, we should not be ignoring our duties here for the life that comes next. Everything we do should be in the context of being better, of making things better, of reflecting the glory of Christ and God now.  The parable of the talents shows that we should take what we are given and make the best of it.  The funny thing is, it required action immediately, with results that occurred many times over.  It was the recognition that was given at the end, not the results.  Just my two cents.