Archive for April, 2009
I find myself less and less interested in moderate Christianity. I know it is not something I will believe, as in faith, but at least the people are nice and interesting, and not afraid to ask questions and to live in the mystery of their faith, as opposed to the fundamentalist bull shit certainty of faith.
It’s a reasonable place to be for the family, moderate Christianity, my wife can feel her spiritual connections, I can feel my not-being-preached-at-or-talked down-to connections. I don’t worry so much about the kids being taught they are going to hell.
And it is good to be learning still about Christianity. Out-studying those around me makes my unbelief more defensible, both to them and to myself. It has been an interesting trip to this point and I’m learning how to use my mind in ways I haven’t before, so that’s good. I enjoy the bible stories as far as that relates to studying history, and that means the history of how and why the texts were written, not the stories told in its narratives.
But I’m losing interest. I don’t really want to discuss how you are loving God and loving other people because God is real to you, even if you leave room for interpreting who or what that means. Even if I am happy that you find that kind of meaning for yourself. Because the bible is patently more and more false to me.
It is easy to skewer the fundamentalist inerrent view of scripture, but it is a lot harder to do so with the progressive versions, which leave a lot more wiggle room in interpretation. I don’t want to practice it, and I am tired of wading through the arguments. There’s a lot more things in life to worry about, work, family, home, etc, and I make enough of a piss poor job of those things as it is.
Feeling flat and unmotivated. Need to find some way to be myself, whatever that is anymore.
Here are some quotes and comments from the Easter sermon at my church yesterday. I found the content upsetting. A recent comment on this blog mentioned that I was “chased away” by a certain kind of thinking in the church. I agree with the commenter, and it was a helpful reminder as I processed through the material from this sermon. I would rather be chased away from this stuff than to sit on the fence with it. And I’m sorry, but this post is something of a rant. Maybe I’ll double back later and look for more constructive elements to pursue.
The sermon basically went, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. And I would sacrifice my life for one of my children, but I wouldn’t for someone unlovely. But God did.
The second half, maybe half an hour, was essentially an extended altar call to take advantage of having “unbelievers” in attendance. The altar calls at this church seem to have drifted over the years more and more into emotional appeals and away from expository teaching. Maybe that’s the church, maybe it’s just me. Probably a combination of both.
There were so many quotes to choose from in this particular sermon! I cut the number way down to make this more readable. Reading the quotes, think of a lot of yelling in the delivery. Because WE SHOULDN’T WORSHIP GOD WITHOUT BEING PASSIONATE!!! Even if it means sermons sometimes YELL THINGS THAT ARE NOT TRUE, which is ok, BECAUSE WE ARE DOING IT FOR JESUS AND YELLING IT MIGHT MAKE YOU BELIEVE IT WITHOUT THINKING TOO MUCH!!! LIKE WE DO!!!
Quote: “You may look around you and think that the people here were well suited to Christianity. But you are surrounded by people who were unlovely, worldly and rebellious. There is no one beyond the love of God.”
Paraphrase: You know and we know that you are a bad person. God knows it too. But really, we were bad people at one time too, so we can relate with you. You still are a bad person, but we are not like that anymore.
Quote: “Do you think you are innocent and righteous? … Would you, innocent, righteous one, stay in your seat if I showed a video of the hidden moments in your life here on the overhead screen? What do you think, no one knows about your life? God knows! Nothing is hidden from him, but he loves you anyway.”
Paraphrase: I know you make the assumption that you think you are innocent and righteous. You must, or else you would believe what I believe. That’s how I know you are arrogant before God.
Quote: “For those in this room who do not believe, turn from that unbelief and experience the love of God for you.”
Paraphrase: Believing is somehow strangely a choice you make, not actually what you think. And I know what you need to believe — the same thing I believe, so do it.
Quote: If you say, “I have not believed,” or, “I no longer know if I believe,” you can make that choice to believe right now. Friend, as long as you are alive it is not too late to believe. Will you believe, so you would not perish?
Paraphrase: Again, you can choose to believe what I do. Did I remind you it is the only correct belief? And I called you “friend”, so you don’t have to think about whether or not this is true, you can just trust me that it is even though I have never met you. Just like when you buy a car from a used car salesman!
Quote: “An action is required, and that is to believe and respond in faith. Confess, “I believe, I surrender.”
Paraphrase: How many ways can I tell you, belief is a choice, rational thought and decision making need not be involved. Submit to me, I mean the bible, I mean Jesus…
Quote: “Only foolish scoffers think to laugh that Jesus said he would return soon 2000 years ago and has not returned yet. It is because of his incredible patience that he has not yet returned, because of his love for those who do not yet believe. Whoever does not believe is condemned. You condemn yourself by not believing in the name of the only son of God. Every person we meet will live eternally in heaven or as a dreadfully lost soul. Friend, you will live eternally, you will not return to a place of nothingness.”
Paraphrase: Jesus couldn’t be wrong, so I can make up what he must have meant. And friend, did I tell you about the used car I bought from a trustworthy salesman?
Quote: Friend, if you will receive Jesus you will live forever with him. I do not say this to intimidate you with fear, but if you do not believe in Jesus, you will spend eternity separated from him.
Paraphrase: Friend, you can believe me. Remember, I’m your friend? And I wish that this wasn’t manipulative, but I can’t help it, because it is what the bible says.
I just added a new page at the top — “book list”. These are books I have read or (re-read) since July 2008, my deconversion period. I prepared little write-ups for most of them but just put a list there ’cause it was starting to look a mess. Feel free to let me know if anyone would like a brief review or recommendation about any of these. And feel free to add your own book recommendations in the comments.
I use a shotgun approach at the library, taking out a bunch of books then skimming them to see which authors I am interested in reading. Then I can borrow or buy more selectively. I have substantially read most of the books on the list, but have not read them all in their entirety, and a few I just skimmed and returned. I listed the recreational reads too, because I can get obsessive about this stuff and need to take it a bit easy.
I am currently finishing up “Crazy for God” by Frank Schaeffer and have loved it, I hope to do a brief review here soon. Just finished “Through the Narrow Gate” by Karen Armstrong before that, also an excellent book. I have always especially enjoyed autobiographies.