Thursday, May 31, 2007

Alright then

OK, I'm gonna wrap things up on this debate with this post. Because if I don't, it could go on for far to long without accomplishing anything.
For those of you who haven't been around for a few days, scroll down to my post "It's about time" and read back up to here. I'm tired of linking everything back to where this has already been...

relax the world will keep on spinnin said...
what you dont get is how small and insignificant humanity is -- how our place in the cosmos is so unimaginably small that it is difficult to grasp --

Actually it's not so difficult to grasp. It brings more meaning to my faith because I believe that a God who could create the universe in all it's grandeuer can still care about me. And not just me, but every living being that ever has, or ever will, exist.

the error in your faith is believing in something that does not exist -- if you really think the spirit talks to you i would consider getting your head examined --

I've had my head examined and the doctors said I was fine.

why if jesus can heal the blind -- why didnt he heal blindness??

Because Jesus' example was to the individuals not to the masses. Like I said at the very beginning of this conversation, the church was never meant to be an organized religion. It was never meant to be an institution. It was meant to be individuals acting out their faith own behalf of others. If Christ had simply done away with everything that ails us then there would be no purpose to teach us to care for the needs of others, there wouldn't be any needs for us to care about.
And, just in case you're thinking of asking why God doesn't just do away with evil, then consider that if He did that you wouldn't have the freewill to reject Him. Because doing away with evil means doing away with the very possiblity of evil, but once the possibilty exists for someone to make a choice to do something that would hurt or negatively impact someone else, then evil exists. And what would you do then, smartypants, if you didn't have a choice in the matter?

and if your man made god gave dominion over beasts - fowl and fish -- why didnt he give it over viruses and bacteria???

God did give us dominion over viruses and bacteria in the form of anti-biotics. Not to mention that there have been countless holistic and naturopathic treatments for all manner of sicknesses for centuries. Many of which were know to many of the early religions, but as science grew many of these ancient folk-remedies were lost. Have you never heard of the healing properties of many plants and herbs? According to my faith those things were made by God, the fact that we're just learning about them again tells me that we were the ones in error, not the ancients.

because none of it is real and the founders of your religion had no knowledge that organisms they could not see were the deadliest of all -- it is flawed and you know it --

And why does the missing information about such things make a religion flawed? That's what I don't understand about your position. Learning is a progression. To assume that because religion began at a time while learning was still in it's infancy, doesn't mean that it wasn't true. Just like new discoveries in our future won't invalidate what we believe now. Like I've been saying all along, 2+2=4 will always be true even when we're working with calculus or quantum physics.

the bible is a complete fabrication as is all religion -- it gave people hope and reassurance and it was used against them for control -- thats all it boils down too

No, the Bible is not a complete fabrication. The historical texts are confirmed by contemporaries of the age in which they were written. The time-lines offered (with the exception of parts of Genesis) regarding who lived when and where and which kings and civilizations were in power at what times are all accurate. You can check that out for yourself in an encyclopedia.
What you complain about in the way of being used for control is the same thing I was complaining about in my first post. Organized religion, when placed into the hands of people - or men, since I know that's what you're thinking - becomes something it was never meant to be. Why won't you see that, for the most part, I am on your side when it comes to orgainzed religion. I'm talking about faith in a Creator, not the man made rules of religion.

your arguments are ridiculous and you lie that you have rock solid faith -- it is undeniable that it is causing you distress -- but you can not admit it

My faith does not cause me distress it is my inability to live according to what I believe at all times that causes me to struggle. Is that a good enough admission for you? That I struggle with my own shortcomings? But this confession is nothing new. I have always said it. I get the feeling that you want to hold me up to an even higher standard. I never claimed to be perfect, in fact I deny it anytime it's mentioned - even as an exaggeration of what they mean - did you expect me to be perfect?

i guess you cant be disappointed after you are dead -- but even that response was silly and you know it -- you have nothing

It was meant to be silly. It's too bad we can't read tone or inflection, otherwise you might have been able to tell when I was smiling at what was being said. I'm not taking this whole conversation so seriously, or as personal as you think I am. Some of it, maybe, but not all of it. But you're the one who made the flawed analogy in the first place.

why if your man made god invented everything -- why didnt he tell that to the indians or africans or any of the other indigenous people that populated the planet but were yet to be discovered??

because you believe in a myth -- that gives you a false sense of security -- nothing more and nothing less

Dunno. All I know is this. There are certain underlying truths that exist in all religions and cultures throughout the globe and over the span of history. I'm not about to argue about how much of the truth exists in each one because that would take too long. But I don't believe that any of the cultures you mention, or even the ones you don't, are completely ignorant of a God, or Spirit, or Something greater than themselves.
As for my sense of security. Like I said, if I'm wrong I haven't lost anything. So it's not about my need to feel safe and protected.

you dont live your life as you should and you think that because of your faith you have a license to "sin" and hurt people because you will be forgiven -- when if your spirit is talking to you why dont you listen to it? why dont you live as an example instead of being a hypocrit? your man made god sure does give you alot if excuses not to do the right thing

No, I don't think I have a license to sin. I know that I will be forgiven when I do sin, but the reason why I even began this conversation is because I don't always do what I know I should do. I admit that freely. I know I'm a hypocrite, but anyone who holds up a higher standard of behavior will ultimately fail to keep it at times. Otherwise, I do try to live as an example. I'm sorry that you don't see that. And it's not God who gives us excuses to do wrong, He gives us grace so we won't be so distressed by our shortcomings.

you seem to act like you have some moral highground that other people can not possess because they dont believe as you -- but you dont show them in your actions -- you are merely words -- false promises -- empty reassurances all in the name of your man made god -- you need to let that go and wake up -- stop promising things you cant deliver -- perhaps a demon is in your head -- because that sure would make more sense

I don't act as if I have any moral highground, I act as if there are greater expectations for my behavior because of what I know and believe. And that's what makes it difficult to attain those goals all of the time. You should try it, just to see that it's not as easy as you seem to think it should be for me.
I don't assume that my faith makes me any more moral than anyone else. I don't believe that people who don't believe as I do are any less moral than me. I said it at the beginning of this that I don't assume that your lack of belief in an immortal soul makes you any less respectful of the dignity of others. I'm just telling you that my sense of dignity and respect for others comes from the notion that I believe that everyone has an eternal spirit.
I dont deny that there is a possiblity of some demonic activity going on when I screw up. I am not one of those who believes that Christians are immune to such external forces. But I'm also not one to say "The devil made me do it.". I know that I always have freewill, and sometimes I screw up on my own. I guess that's what it means to be human.
My question though, is this: why do you seem to think that being a Christian is supposed to somehow make someone perfect?

i got nothin but love and respect and i know i made you mad -- but really look at the whole big picture here --

I know you got nothin but love for me. I got nothin but love and respect for you too. I'm not mad at you for this. I told you I like a challenge. I like it when other people's ideas lead me to think outside the box. And some of what you've said has done that.
But I have serious doubts that you have any real respect for me. And this is where things do get very serious for me.
If you respected me then you wouldn't be trying so hard to convince me to give up my beliefs. I've been nothing but respectful of you. I haven't tried to convince you of anything other than the fact that I have my legitimate reasons for believing what I do. I haven't made any derogatory remarks about your convictions. I haven't attempted to belittle or accuse your convictions in any way. But you've made it a point to use insulting language thru all of your comments. You imply that my faith is nothing but a myth, a lie, an illusion, that I must believe these things because I'm needy, infantile, childish, indecisive. You never give me the benefit of the doubt that perhaps I have looked into the information available, and I have exercised my logic, and I still choose to believe that God exists.
Again, I'm not mad about any of this, but I do feel very disrespected by it all. As if you're so much more enlightened than I am. As if your education somehow makes your views more deserving of respect than my faith does mine. And yet you call me arrogant.

i guess when you lie to yourself so long you begin to believe your own lies

I could always say the same thing to you. You have no more solid evidence of your non-god than I have of my God. Eventually the truth will be known, but if I'm wrong I'll never notice it because I won't be alive to realize that I'm not alive anymmore.

you are not liberated by anything if you have to cling to it with both hands for guidance and direction because you are too weak to make a decision on your own

And you're not clinging to your beliefs with both hands? Again, you started this discussion. I didn't try to tell anyone that what they believe isn't right or true. Why do you feel such a great need to convince me not to believe what I believe. Or are you grasping at straws for your own convictions?
Like I've said all along, I do make my own decisions. I do act on my freewill. And sometimes I screw up. So, if I ask for guidance, I don't see that as a weakness, but a strength of character to realize that sometimes I'm going to need a little help. And what's so terrible about that?
I find it funny that, in one sense, you want me to make some strange admission of guilt to needing your help to understand what is true. Yet you condemn me for believing that I need help in life. Hmmmmm....

how are you making the world a better place? praying?

how much money did you donate to humanitarian causes? how many homeless people have you fed? how much time do you volunteer for others? NONE NONE NONE

dont even go there that your faith is helping people -- you help no one but yourself

When was the last time you looked into my checkbook to see where my money goes? How do you know what I do or don't donate to local food banks? Would you like me to show you my tax receipts from last year to verify how much I give to charities? You don't know what outreaches of my church I'm involved in. Have you forgotten that it was an act of generosity on my part that actually lead us to start talking in the first place? So perhaps you'd better rethink that accusation. And the worse part of this accusation, you know my financial situation and I still give even though you don't know about it.
That, too, was very disrespectful of you. I didn't know you had such animosity towards me.

dont make your blog public if you cant handle someone disagreeing with you or challenging you --

I'll leave my blog public. I can handle a little disagreement. If I couldn't handle a little disagreement then I could've either deleted, blocked anonymous comments or moderated them. But I allowed your opinions to be posted, and not only posted, but re-posted so everyone would have the chance to see what was being said. I think I'm being quite fair to you and your positions.
Besides, I'm not the one who visits blogs anonymously (but I understand there are other reasons for that too). I'm not the one trying to tell you that you believe a lie. I'm not the one trying to convince you that what you believe is a myth. So don't try to act like I'm getting all bent out of shape over what your saying. I'm just not liking the lack of respect you're showing for my opinions, and beliefs. I wasn't being disrespectful of your views, I'd appreciate the same courtesy.

thats the typical christian response -- oh no a person picked on me and questioned me and i lack the intellect to actually make an argument -- blind faith corrodes the mind

Nope, sorry, I have intellectual reasons for my beliefs. I've laid them all out for you. I've countered each of your positions and I did it without trying to degrade your own. Somehow you can't seem to make a point without coming back to simply using insulting adjectives, sterotyped generalizations or your own perceptions of what it is that I believe. You are simply so blinded by your own anger with organized religion, especially the institutional christian church, that you simply refuse to see what I'm saying. But that is your right.
I hear what you're saying. I understand what your trying to get at. I know that most Christians aren't living their lives the way they ought to, based upon what we claim to believe. I agree with you on many points when it comes to the failures and oppressive nature of organized religions and institutional church. But you are so upset, so hurt, so enraged, by these things that you can't even see that I am on your side - up to a point.
Why won't you see that? Just because you don't want to believe in a God? Fine, I can accept that. That's what it means to live in a free society. But why do you feel some need to change my views or my convictions or my beliefs? If you were really as tolerant as you claim to be, you wouldn't have a problem with my faith. You wouldn't have a problem with me stating my beliefs freely here at my public blog.
Instead, you've become the mirror image of all the things you claim to dispise about the church. You would rather I be converted to your point of view than to allow me to have my own differing ideology. Isn't that what you're trying to do? You seem to think that you have such a superior intellect to mine that you have to make me change my way of thinking.
And don't accuse me of condemning your beliefs with what I've just said. I'm challenging you on how you're presenting them. I'm challenging you on how you defend your positions. That's all.

you know i thought this was all in good fun -- its unfortunate you took it so personally -- but shouldnt that spirit tell you that you are making a big deal out of nothing?

It has been a lot of fun. I have enjoyed the challenge. I have enjoyed the general way in which we've been able to get differing ideas out into the open. That's always a good thing. I just don't like the way so many of your comments have been either insulting, belittling or degrading.
I dont see how you can suddenly act as if this was something we should be making light of. Is it a big deal? Not in the grand scheme of things, no. But all of a sudden it seems like your trying to back-pedal on what you've been saying. If you didn't mean to insult me, if you didn't mean to hurt me, if you didn't mean to disrespect me, then why did you go to all of the trouble to make your point so strongly with the words that you chose to use? I was just trying to get my point out there, and I hoped you might have enough respect for me to simply agree to disagree. But you kept pushing for me to give up, to surrender to your will, to cast aside my faith simply because you think I should. Who really made the big deal out of this?
Yes, I accept my own responsibility in it, but I'm not about to let you make it look as if this is all on me.

i never back down from a challenge -- you should know that and you could have let it go but you asked me for a reply

so dont complain when i do

I never back down either. And I was serious about wanting a reply. I don't have any fear of what you have to say. I can stand up to the challenge, or else you would be right about me abandoning my faith. If I weren't up to the challenge, I would've simply deleted your comments and pretended they never existed. If I can't handle a little bit of questioning, then I have no business saying anything about what I believe. But I held my ground and I did so without trying to tell you that what you believe is a lie.
Perhaps next time you'll offer me the same courtesy.

maybe i am trying to enlighten you and your faith is not allowing it -- it rejects it -- it wont listen to reason or see the facts -- it wont let you question it -- thats unfortunate

Again, I could say the same to you. You just won't allow yourself to see the truth in what I believe. But I wasn't trying to enlighten you. I'll gladly accept any truth that you have to share with me. But you haven't given me anything but your own opinions, and your own perceptions of what I believe. I was merely sharing my perspectives. You were the one trying to change mine. I'm sorry you were unwilling to listen to what I had to say without feeling the need to enlighten me.

much love from a non-believer :)

And much love to you from a believer. That doesn't change just because I don't agree with you.
I'm going to say this though.
In both of our lives we hold to our own beliefs. In my life I believe in God, in yours you believe in random chance. Both require us to put our "faith" in something that we cannot prove with certainty. Still, we would like to see things change in this world. We would like to see our actions improve the world. So why does it seem that we are enemies, just because our motives are different? Why should our motives keep us from cooperating to bringing changes into the world?
And that was the original premise of the post that started this thing; my desire to do better in my life and in the world. Shouldn't we be encouraging each other to do that much, no matter what our beliefs?

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

OK, let's talk about this

OK, this started here, and lead to here, and now were here. Just keep reading...

my reply said...
You dont feel you are under any distress?

No I don't. It's not distress, it's life. Sometimes life gets a little uncomfortable. Sometimes life takes unexpected turns. Sometimes life brings great joy or great sorrow. Haven't you learned that yet?

In my prayer time I hear the Holy Spirit dealing with me on certain things in my life that I haven't let go of, things I'm not trusting Him to take care of for me. But I'm not holding back from Him anymore. I've finally told God that it's time for both of us to "Put up, or shut-up.". Either I believe Him or I don't, and either He proves that He is in control, or He is a liar. And I don't believe that God is a liar. My responsibility in this world is to do what He tells me, His responsibility is to make sure I have the resources that I need in order to do what He tells me.

--- What is that supposed to mean?

It's a simple statement of my recognition that I am not the end all to be all.

You need to do what HE tells you -- HE is in control --

And if I struggle, and in struggling resist what I believe to be what God would have me do, then am I not making it harder on myself by not submitting to God? Am I not bringing more distress into my own life. Yet, when I submit, I see that things change, and quite often they get easier. And that's why I wait for His direction.

I am not so arrogant as to believe that I control every circumstance of my life. I have no control over many things which happen in this world, the weather being only one of many things, so I trust that my God does know what is happening and is willing to help me out when I don't see the big picture.

-- Yet you say you believe in free will -- quit whining to your man made god then and get on with your life -- its like an oppressed woman who lets the men in her life dictate how she will live her life --

First off, I'm not whining. I'm merely sharing my perspective on things. It is my blog after all. And you were the one who came here to post your own perspectives. And I'm not deleting them. So I obviously have no reason to feel threatened by what you have to say.
I do get on with my life, but, again, I am not so arrogant as to believe that I have all of the answers that I need in order to live the best life I possibly can. So I seek external guidance from a Higher Source.
I am not oppressed by my God, I am liberated by Him. It is unfortunate that your perspective of what my faith is places me in the same category as the things which I stated I was in opposition to in my original post. I do not live by a list of rules, a list of dos and don'ts. I live in the knowledge that God has higher expectations of me, but not so high that I feel overburdened by them. A lesson that organized Christianity ought to learn, and preach.

You do not seem to have enough faith or you are too dependant on your illusion to make your own decisions -- you have to wait for him -- you are being too needy -- he gave you what you wanted why do you feel this need to constantly have direction like you are a child who is incapable of making their own decisions -- you waste your time by waiting for this god to help you and life is passing you by -- how can you are happy and satisfied in your life??? thats a lie if i ever heard one

What makes you think that I'm not making my own decisions? I don't believe I mentioned sitting on my ass while I wait for a bolt of lightning to strike at my feet and get me moving. I live my life each day in the expectation that He is helping me along the way. Do I ask for additional guidance or help when things get a little uncomfortable? Of course, only an idiot would refuse to ask for help from Someone whom they believe to be there waiting to help. My life is by no means passing me by. Just because I say I wait for further reassurances doesn't mean I'm not going on with my life, or that my life is not satisfying or fulfilling.
And it is merely your perspective that leads you to believe that I expect my God to lead me like a child. He has given me freewill by which to make my own choices and intellect by which to discern their effectivness in my life. I exercise both constantly.

you are a prime example of how this man made god has reduced his flock to infants -- just as humanity was evolving and religion was developed -- none of those founders had a clue about the universe or anything -- religion is the answer to your inescapable demand for comfort - reassurance and your other infantile needs --

my child knows more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion -- my child is more educated than they ever hoped to be ---

Yes, it is fortunate that your child has the benefit of millenia of accumulated knowledge. Something that the founders of any religion did not have the benefit of. And yet, the ancient wisdom is where all of the accumulated knowledge came from. I agree that it is time to discard some of the foolishness of religion, but we don't discard all of the ancient wisdom just because we have more information now. We don't throw away 2+2=4 just because we have Quantum Physics.
Do I have some inescapable need for comfort? No. I've taken Pascals wager, and I will lose nothing if I'm wrong. If I have lived a good life in the hope of something more afterwards then it doesn't matter whether I'm right or not. I'll never know the difference.

what did that bigot paul say -- when one is a child -- one thinks and speaks as a child -- but when one becomes a man -- one puts away childish things ---

your infantile need for your god has reduced you to someone who can not think for himself -- just like a child you act and think under your illusions

Again, I have no need for God as some entity of my own creation. I choose to believe, just as you choose not to believe. My choice to believe is not about the comfort I get from it, but the truth I believe it reflects. Your choice not to believe is based upon the truth you believe your non-belief reflects. Or do you simply have some great need not to believe in a God?

religion teaches you to be extremely self-centered and conceited -- it tells you that god cares for you individually -- and that you are special and the earth was created with you in mind -- this is evident in your words as you practice your religion ostentatiously

Actually it teaches me not to be self-centered or conceited. Because I'm not the only special individual in this world. In case you missed it in my first post, I want to find ways for my faith to have a greater positive impact on the other people out there in the world. How is that conceited?

you are waiting for something to happen -- you are in distress -- you act as if your faith is rock solid yet you want your god to put up or shut up -- as if you are some chosen child who has been chosen to hear illusions -- your words are quite disturbing and child-like

your own inner war with yourself and your faith has left you unable to make decisions -- unable to relate and have compassion for others -- the arrogance of your religion has reduced you to a puddle of nothingness with the false assumption that you will live forever

My faith is rock-solid. I know that God will act on my behalf when it serves the best possible good. I know that it's not all about me, but about what is the most beneficial to the most people. But that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to reap some benfit from my actions. And if the feeling that I've accomplished something good is all I get, then so be it.
As for any inner war. I'm not the one who came to your blog to try to denegrate your convictions. I'm not the one who felt some irresistable urge to disagree with someone who was simply expressing his own views and perspectives on life, faith and how they ought to impact the world in a positive manner at his own little corner of the internet. I didn't come to your blog and start to demean your convictions as foolish or childish or illusions of a man-made nature. Had I seen anything as such I would've simply allowed you to speak your piece. As I said before, I'm not threatened by your perspectives. You're entitled to them. But when you come to me, and basically overhear my soliloquy, and then feel some need to tear down what it is I was saying, then I suggest that you're the one who's struggling with your beliefs, or non-beliefs, as it were. Do my views, not those of organized religion, but mine personally - because that's what I'm offering here -, threaten you? Am I such a horrible person for wanting to do better in this world because I believe that my God would like me to do that?

how disappointed you will be upon your death to find that you could have been living your life and enjoying it -- instead of wasting it on your man made god -- you have not cleared your mind of illusion in any way --

OK, that makes no sense. If I'm dead and there is nothing else, then how can I feel disappointed? But I already told you that I've taken Pascal's wager, and I choose faith because I have nothing to lose if I'm mistaken. But you, on the other hand...

let go of your ego and know yourself -- find yourself -- let go of the illusion -- happiness can not be given to you -- you have to find it within yourself

find yourself and stop whining about god and how he has all these plans for you -- that illusion alone is not free will -- is not making your own decisions -- if your man made god was real he is probably telling you to get off his back and shut up with your incessant whining -- he has better things to do than worry about poor you --

Again, you're making no sense. Let go of my ego and find myself. Isn't that what ego is all about, "self"?
I really think you're mistaken in your views of what my faith is. You have been distracted by organized religion and institutional churches, those things I was arguing against in the first place. This isn't just about me, but about my proper place in this world and what I can do to make a positive change in it. Do I believe that God would want that from me? Yes. So how is it not being myself to fulfill such a noble calling, just because I believe God would want me to, and not because I have some other alterior motives?
Well, if God is who and what I believe Him to be, He isn't bothered by my "incessant whining". He's probably pretty happy to know that I thought to turn to Him with my concerns. In much the same way that I don't mind it when my kids, and I'm sure you don't mind it when your child, comes to us with a concern. But I'm sure that little example only reinforces your thoughts about religion turning people into needy, infantile, children.

oh god answer me -- show me the way -- if he provides you with all you need -- why are you in a constant state of distress and uncertainty??

Because I'm only human and I still need to grow. That's why I say I'm waiting for things to happen in my life. I know I still have a lot to learn. I'm not so arrogant as to believe that I can solve all of the worlds problems by myself. But I believe that when I've learned enough, I'll be able to make the best mark possible on this earth.

Now, my questions to you:
Why are you so down on the idea of me trying to make the world a better place? Why are you so troubled by the idea that I think God wants me to make a positive impact in this world? If my beliefs are merely an illusion, then why does it matter to you if it leads me to do good? What do you have to fear from me reaching out to others to show them love and concern and a desire to help them live a better life? Why does it matter to you that I believe it's my God who wants these things to be done? What if I had never mentioned God wanting me to accomplish anything? Why does my faith make my hopes of doing something good in this world invalid?
And please make a note of the fact that I don't mention converting anyone to my faith. That's not up to me. If that's what God wants, then He can work that out with whomever.

I'll be looking forward to reading what you have to say. So, comment away...

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

In response

Well, "sorry - i couldnt help it", allow me to address your concerns regarding my previous post.

I hate to do this but I have to say something -- I read over what you said many times --

No, I don't think you hated to post your comments or else you would've resisted the urge. But that's OK, I don't mind a challenge to my convictions. It keeps me thinking outside of the box.

Your religious distress is at the same time an expression of real distress and a protest against the distress -- religion and blind faith in god is the sigh of the opressed person -- the heart of a heartless world -- the spirit of the spirtiless -- you are under an illusion -- you are submitting to an illusion -- illusions are all around us -- and the main illusion you are under is that through your faith you will never die -- that is the bottom line in religious faith -- and the horrid illusion is perpetuated by a man-made god --

Yes, I am under religious distress, but not as a matter of my faith, but as a matter of what organized religion and the institutional church have become. My faith is neither blind, opressive, heartless or spiritless. It is invigorating and expressive and rich with joy and wonders. It is no more an illusion than anything that you might believe in. If, perhaps, you believe in nothing more than random chance and chaos, than you still have a faith. It's merely a difference in where you place your faith.
Do I believe that I will live forever? Yes, I do. But why is it such a horrid illusion, to think that one's soul, spirit, or essence might continue after their flesh has turned to dust? On the grand scale of things, if we looked at each other as beings who will continue on after the body has died, then perhaps we might be willing to treat one another with greater dignity and respect than we do otherwise. Because we might recognize that we are dealing with eternal beings and not temporary creatures.
Which is not to say that in your system of belief you do not treat others with dignity or respect, but only that in my own heart I find a greater desire to treat others that way, even though it doesn't always show. So how is this such a horrid illusion, especially if you see that the entire point of my previous post, the one to which you posted this comment, was that the church needs to start acting like we do believe that human beings are more than mere flesh and blood, that they are, indeed, immortal. And wouldn't God want us to act in such a manner?

Here is my question -- you believe in an all powerful creator god -- who conceived you -- shaped you -- who supervises and guides you -- who has given you eternal life and happiness ---

Why doesnt this belief make you happy?

Why are you so distressed and uncertain?

It isn't a matter of my beliefs not making me happy. Again, the point of my post was about the way in which the organized religion of Christianity, the institutional church, has become something that it was never meant to be. It's more like a Political Action Committee, a Country Club, or a Social Networking Organization, not a living, breathing, active, ministry of Christ on earth. The church is no longer about meeting the needs of the hurting and helpless. Instead it is about burdening others with rules and regulations. And that ought to make us unhappy. Otherwise, as I said, I'm not dissatisfied with my faith, but with what the organized religion has done to the faith of others.
As for the uncertainty. Faith is something that grows. Your faith does not become spiritually mature at the moment you first believe, any more than your intellect becomes ready for calculus once you've learned how to add. So, uncertainty is a part of the spiritual growing process just like making mistakes in your multiplication is a part of your intellectual growing process. We learn from our mistakes, in all areas of our lives.

its as if christians possess some secret of the universe -- yet they can not find happiness under their own illusions -- you wait for this god to tell you what to do -- how to live -- yet you are filled with uncertainty and distress -- if you have been given the gift of eternal life --

why do submit and wait for a false spirit to direct you?

Again, you're talking about the effects of the organized religion that have kept people from experiencing what real faith has to offer. Should I have less distress in my life? Probably. But without the struggle, there is no growth. Have you ever achieved anything in your own life without some struggle, without some hardship, with out some solid effort toward the achieving? Why should faith be any different?
And if I struggle, and in struggling resist what I believe to be what God would have me do, then am I not making it harder on myself by not submitting to God? Am I not bringing more distress into my own life. Yet, when I submit, I see that things change, and quite often they get easier. And that's why I wait for His direction.

you already believe you are saved and have a place with your name in it in heaven -- what are you waiting for? your man-made god to tell you how to live and the choice to make?

didnt your god give you free will? why do you need continued reassurance and direction if he gave you the ability to think for yourself?

did you forget that?

stop waiting for something to happen and live your life and be happy -- you have faith that you have achieved the ultimate cheat of cheating death itself -- what are waiting for? what more do you need? why is it never enough?

I'm not waiting for anything. Which was another point of my post. I'm living my life, but just because I mention seeing things changing for me in the future doesn't mean I'm not doing what I know I'm suppose to be doing already, or that I'm not moving in that direction. Perhaps you're familiar with an old buddhist saying "Chop wood. Carry water.", which simply means to live your life in the physical even if you're waiting for something spiritual to happen. Well, that's what I'm doing, and that's what I'm encouraging others to do. Be mindful of the spiritual, but not to the detriment of the physical. But also allow your spiritual to have an impact on the physical, especially when it comes to meeting the needs of others.
And I am exercising my freewill. I choose to live according to my faith. Why do I need further reassurances? Because it's always nice to know that others recognize your efforts. You never accept a compliment? You never accept praise for a job well done?
And one last time, I think you really missed the point of the post if you think I'm not being happy. I am quite happy with what I believe. I'm enthralled by the fact that I've cheated death - on more than one occasion, too. That's why I continue to live my life in my faith, even when I screw up. I know that my mistakes are not the end of my beliefs, but one more step in my growing process.

clear your mind of illusions

I have.
I have cleared my mind of the illusion that this life and this body are all there are to my existence. I am more than this flesh and blood, and so are you, and so are all the other people on the face of this earth. And I take great comfort in that thought.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

It's about time

I've been feeling it for some time now, that God is about to do something really big in my life. And not just in my life, but in the lives of those around me. And probably even in the world.
Lately I've had this real deep sense of dissatisfaction with Christianity. Not as a faith, I still cling to it wholeheartedly as a faith. But I am horribly dissatisfied with it as an organized religion - an institution - as it were. And from many of the conversations I've been having, with people that are close to me, I know that most of them are feeling that way too.
So, when P.Dave posted his own "Assertions" (or at least his first of several) on this topic. I figured it was about time I start to talk about what I've been thinking about.
First off, P.Dave is right when he says that the institution that is called Christianity is dying, and that it ought to die. The Church, as an organized religion, has made far too many enemies out of far too many people. The world no longer recognizes Christianity as something spiritual, as a faith. Instead, it is seen as a political movement, or a moral code that certain Christian leaders would like to see imposed upon everyone else by law. And of course, that is not too far from the truth of what the Church has become.
In his sermon this morning, P.Dave brought up the idea that Christians have taken to using the same tactics as the groups and organizations that are said to be in opposition to what Christains claim to believe. But Christianity isn't supposed to be about that. As Christians we are supposed to be different. Jesus never said anything about fighting fire with fire, or "an eye for an eye", except that we aren't suppose to live our lives that way.
So I'm sitting here asking the same question as Roberta Flack and Ronnie Hathaway:
Where is the Love?
OK, that was just corny. But I hope you're getting my point.
If Jesus told us anything about how our society ought to see us, He wants us to be known by our love, and by our fruit. If we truly love, as Chirst commanded us to love, then the world might start to recognize us by how we behave towards others, not by the causes or organizations that we're against. The world might see the fruit of our convictions as we get out in the mud and the blood and the heat and the cold trying to help the people in this world who have nowhere else to turn. The world might see that Christianity is really alive and doing what it has always been meant to do; to tell everyone that they've been reconciled to their loving Creator, not condemned by His followers.
And just what does this have to do with the feeling that God is about to do something big in my life? Well, let me just say that I'm seeing some changes coming my way. In my prayer time I hear the Holy Spirit dealing with me on certain things in my life that I haven't let go of, things I'm not trusting Him to take care of for me. But I'm not holding back from Him anymore. I've finally told God that it's time for both of us to "Put up, or shut-up.". Either I believe Him or I don't, and either He proves that He is in control, or He is a liar. And I don't believe that God is a liar. My responsibility in this world is to do what He tells me, His responsibility is to make sure I have the resources that I need in order to do what He tells me.
And in all of this, I have only one commandment to obey: To love. To love God, and others as myself.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Quote for 5/26/07

"All things entail rising and falling timing. You must be able to discern this."
Miyamoto Musashi


Thursday, May 24, 2007

So nice

The weather is beautiful, and I have the next 4 days off. I think I'll go outside and enjoy what God has given us.


Sunday, May 20, 2007


I have always loved the view from the uppermost parking lot of Kennywood Park. And I really love the way the steel mill looks in the background.

This is one of my favorite pics. Ya got the Pitt Fall on the left, Phantom's Revenge in the center and the Thunderbolt to the right, and kinda in the background - like it's a reminder of Kennywoods past.

OK, everyone, let's go inside...

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Let's have some fun

The view upon coming through the tunnel.

Now, just so nobody gets lost, here's your map.

Three brave young ladies on the Skycoaster. I nearly got the shot of them coming straight down at me. I so wish that had turned out.

The Thunderbolt. A classic coaster

Phantoms Revenge. One very mean coaster. Too bad there aren't any lights on it or the track, I had a great angle to get a few shots of it comingright at me. But without the right lighting, the didn't even look like a blur.

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My favorite "rides"

That's right, these are my favorite "rides". Remember what I said in a previous post about The Potato Patch, and the most awesomest french fries in the whole freakin' world ... ???

Well, here they are !!!

Of course, I only wish the dipped cones here were really that big.

And how can you go wrong by deep-frying something that is already so wonderfully delicious as an Oreo cookie? Where's my gallon of milk?

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Other stuff

This si such a great place. There's history here.

I couldn't really tell ya why I like this windmill. I just do.

And perhaps you might remember an old post from a few months ago, I have a picture of a disturbing statue of Colonel Sanders. Well I also reference another disturbing statue in that post. And this is it.

I'm sorry, to this day, this statue creeps the hell out of me.
But I'm OK, now.
I think this is a pleasant enough pic to end things with.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mr. Not-So-High-Tech

Yes, that's me.
I don't have a cell phone, not anymore, at least - it's just an expense that I don't feel I need at this time.
I don't have an MP3 player. I'm just fine with listening to my CD's when I'm in my car, at work, or lounging around the house - though I admit that sometimes I will listen to the ones I've downloaded onto my computer while I'm playing around or blogging.
But I do have an answering machine !!!
I just picked it up at my "happy place", better known to the rest of the world as Wal-Mart.
I just couldn't avoid it any longer. Too many of my friends (right JT?) have been complaining about not being able to get in touch with me when they'd like to make plans or invite me to hang out on short notice. So, I broke down and dropped the $15 on a brand-spanking-new Digital Answering System. Not just a "machine", but a "System".
Isn't that special.

Now, if only I could get someone to call me...
Anybody... ???

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The Running Man

That would also be me, today. Single parenting, at my best.
Had to run to Wal-Mart - obviously, or I wouldnt have posted the other post.
Have to run Bob to Kennywood. It's the Gateway School District Picinic and he's planning on meeting a few friends there. I'll be meeting him later on in the evening at my favorite ride - The Potato Patch...
(for those of you not from around here, that's where they make the most awesomest french fries in the whole freakin' world)
But in between all of this I have a little banking to do. A little bit of grocery shopping to do. I have to look for a new lawn mower, since mine died the last time I tried to mow my lawn. And I have my grand-nephew's 1th birthday to go to in the afternoon with Mom.
Now that I think about it, this makes my Mom a great-grand-mother...

OK, I have to get moving before I put myself behind schedule. I expect to have pics from Kennywood later on, tonight or tomorrow.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Quote for 5/17/07

"Faith is not simply a patience that passively suffers until the storm is past. Rather, it is a spirit that bears things - with resignations, yes, but above all, with blazing, serene hope."
Corazon Aquino


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Stream of uuuuuhh... I dunno

Writer's Workshop tonight and our topic of writing was an experiment in Streams of Conciousness.
OK, perhaps you've noticed that I haven't written about our Writer's Workshop in some time. That is, in part, due to the fact that for one reason or another, we haven't been having it weekly. For one reason or another, one of us, or another of us, haven't been able to make it. And when there's only three of us involved, it just sucks the life out of the workshop when one of us is missing.
But anyways...
Among the most noteworthy things discussed tonight in our Streams of Conciousness session:
Oreo cookie serving sizes:
According to the package, 2 Oreo cookies is one serving.
Yeah, right...
Who eats only two Oreo cookies when they're eating them at all? I mean, seriously people, who stops at just two Oreos? I know that I'm the guy who's sitting there with a bag of Oreos and a gallon of milk and I'm not stopping til they're both gone!
Nacho flavored tortilla chips:
Becca came to the conclusion that the flavored powder on a particular brand of nacho flavored tortilla chips has a similar consistency as the powdered cheese that comes in pre-packaged mac-n-cheese, and that the only thing missing is a liberal sprinkling of chili powder.
JT was just very intent on letting us know that he really likes pickles. Which is very odd coming from a man who has convinced our pastor's daughter that fruits and vegetables are a sin.
I kid you not.
He has done a spectacular job of proving, through the scriptures, that fruits and vegetables are a sin. And how does he prove this?
In the garden of Eden, what get's Adam and Eve kicked out of the garden? They eat the forbidden fruit.
Why was Cain's offering rejected by God? Because he was offering fruits and vegetables.
Who did Jesus call to be His disciples? Not farmers, fishermen.
When Jesus fed the 5000, what did He give them? Not fruits and vegetables, loaves and fishes.
Just something to think about people...

OK, I'm gonna stop now before somebody gets hurt.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Nice to have a choice

So, it's election day here in the grand Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and we have a wonderful Ballot Referendum to vote for, or against. But I'd hardly call it a choice.
To paraphrase the Referendum; we, the voters, are being given the choice between an increase in the personal income tax, or in the state sales tax. To put this in the most easliy understood terms. We get to choose how our state government gets to screw us...
This wonderful option comes from the desk of our Governor, Democrat, Ed Rendell. So much for the pro-choice party. I guess as long as our choices are limited to what they want us to choose, we can have whatever they want us to have. And the even more horrendous part of all of this; this measure is suppose to make up for the unrealized gambling revenue that was supposed to give us all a property tax reduction.

So, let me get this straight...
Our Governor wants to increase either our income or sales taxes so he can give some of us a refund on our property taxes, that, of course, will not be anywhere near the same percentage as the increase in the other taxes.
And people wonder why I'm a Republican.

I think I'll go clean my guns now. Somebody be sure to wake me when the revolution begins.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Love your Mom today

Today is Mother's Day.
For those of us who still have our mothers, we should call ourselves blessed. For who on this earth could ever love us as much as our mothers have? I know that I have been blessed to have a really good relationship with my Mom. So I thank God, everyday, for giving me to be my mother's son.
But I'm also painfully aware of some of my closest friends having lost their mothers some time ago. My heart goes out to them today as this day serves as something of a less than happy reminder of their missing relationship. It does take a toll on one to be missing someone so important in your life. For them, I ask God to remind them of the good memories that they shared with their mother while they did have her.
And I do realize that not everybody has had a very decent relationsip with their mother. To them I can only pray that they find healing in their hearts to mend the love that they must have been missing for so long.
Happy Mother's Day


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Quote for 5/12/07

"Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Quote for 5/10/07

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous."


A new season

Well, Bob and I finally got to go down to the creek for the first time this season. It was such a beautiful day that we just couldn't resist. It's something of a tradition for us these days to get out and do a little exploring together when it's nice enough. Not that there's so much to explore, it's just great to get outside and enjoy the weather and the scenery.

It's not the prettiest waterfall, but it's nice for where we are.

Bob even has a little clearing that he comes to when he wants to get away from everything.

It almost looks like it's pointing at something.

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The Bear

My friend/sister, Merry, often refers to my son, Bob, as a bear. In part because we both have some Cherokee blood and she believes Bob's "totem animal" to be a bear. But also because of this pic taken during last years first excursion down to the creek. Yes, with his bare (bear?) hands.

So is it any wonder that he set out to catch more fish again this year.

And doesn't he look like a bear the way he's so focused on it?

Unfortunately he couldn't manage to grab one this year, but he came pretty close.

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The way of the wild

Pigeons roost in this overpass.

Apparently the raccoons know this. And, being the ingenius little critters that they are, they've figured out how to get into the nests.

But I suppose that pigeon eggs aren't always enough. Sometimes it's the pigeon they're after.

OK, I'm sorry for that moment of natural brutality, struggle of life and death thing. Here's something that reminds us of how amazing the wonders of God's creation can be.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Be a blessing

This is going to be a very simple post.
Tonight at church, JT mentioned two prayers he heard over the weekend while he was at a retreat with our pastor, P.Dave.
The first prayer was your typical prayer; "God, please bless us, our families, our friends, the people we hope to reach... etc..."
The second prayer was not typical; "God, please show us how to be a blessing to each other, our families, our friends, the people we hope to reach... etc..."
And it was our unavoidable conclusion that as Christians, we ought to be not only praying that, but living that everyday.

God, let me be a blessing to somebody today.

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Ya learn something everyday

I don't remember how it came up in church, but it did.
Pray for the bees.
OK, I do know how it came up. I asked for specific prayer requests and someone mentioned the bees.
Apparently, bees are dying off at an alarming rate because of cell phone towers. It seems that the radio waves that are being emitted by the towers either kill the bees or prevent them from reproducing. Either way, it puts a great deal of agriculture at risk of not being pollinated. Without the pollination, the agriculture doesn't produce a sufficient crop to sustain the farmers, or to provide produce to the general population. Not to mention all that wonderfully delicious honey that they won't be making.
Now, for those of you who know me, you're already aware that I am the consumate capitalist. But that does not mean that I don't have any concern or compassion when it comes to environmental or other such issues. Something has to be done, whether it is for the sake of the bees, or for the well being of our farmers, or even to keep us all from feeling the pinch in our pocket books when we go to buy our favorite fruits and vegetables.
Now, JT suggested that we hire someone to put little tin foil hats on all of the bees. But we all know how ridiculous that suggestion is. The tin foil would disrupt the tiny little bee's already aerodynamically unsound bodies from flying, and then they'd have to walk everywhere.

But seriously...

This is a problem.
One aspect is the fact that cell phone towers are money makers for the people who own the land that they're built on. The various companies will pay out hundreds of dollars a month to rent a small chunk of land for their towers. The people, or even the communities that hold the land, are usually happy to have the additional income or revenue. Not necessarily a bad thing, because wealth is not static. If someone has more money to work with each month, they will spend it on "stuff" (goods or services), and somebody, somewhere, has to produce that "stuff". And that, my friends, is called simple economics.
But that doesn't mean that we should be willing to sacrifice such an important resource (our beloved bees) just so we can make a few extra dollars each month. And we really don't need all the "stuff" that we always seem to think is so important.
The one major flaw to capitalism is the materialism that it inevitably breeds. Otherwise, I would call it a perfect system because it works with our human nature to incentivise people to be more creative in their endeavors to make life easier. The profit motive has yet to be outdone as a means of motivating people to do work. But with the materialism we tend to get selfish, too. And that's my next point.
A part of the problem is the fact that cell phones have become so prevalent in our society that nobody seems capable of surviving without them. Or so we've been lead to believe. Has anybody else noticed the total lack of reasonable conversations that actually take place on cell phones? How many times have you witnessed an argument on a cell phone? How many people spend hours a day on their cell phones saying a lot of nothing to people that they'll be seeing in a half an hour anyway? And how many times have we heard the excuse, "It's just for emergencies.", but they're always talking to somebody? Especially teenagers !!!
I'm sorry, but we survived for centuries without cell phones. The world will not end if we cut down on our usage. We won't die if we lose our signal as we pass through the quiet little town beyond our suburbs. If we don't find a way to curb our obsessive preoccupation with our own self importance we will suffer for our arrogance. This situation with the bees is only one symptom.
We need a little corporate responsibility on this issue. We need the leaders of this industry to think about what it means to be a responsible corporate citizen on this issue. But we also need everyone to be a little less selfish, too. This isn't a problem for somebody else to solve, this belongs to all of us. It's not something we should pawn off on our legislators and tell our government to solve. This is our chance to be responsible citizens for ourselves.
At least, these things would be a good start.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Signs 5/7/07

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Quote for 5/5/07

"Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."
Max Ehrmann

Yeah, I agree with that.
Whether we like it or not, too...


A less than happy ending

I'm sure you've all been able to guess at what's been keeping me so down lately. If you haven't then here's what's going on.
Trish and I are ending our relationship.
I'm sure that some of you are probably wondering "why?" since we looked so happy in the pictures that I posted a few weeks back. Well, allow me to say that I can be a real jerk at times.
Without going into too much detail, I'll just let everyone know that I did, and said, some things that were very thoughtless and disrespectful. It was never my intention to hurt Trish, but I did. And I truly regret my carelessness with our relationship.
But there's more to it than that.
We both knew that this day would probably come. It just came a little bit sooner than I expected it to. Because there were other factors influencing her decision to end things with me. The biggest of which is a job in another state.
You see, Trish has been going to school for the last 3 years for Business Management. She finished her classes a week or so ago and sent out several resumes to potential employers. The response was immediate and enthusiastic. She will be taking a position in South Carolina sometime this summer.
Ending things with me now was a way for her to avoid putting us both through a long drawn-out and dramatic "goodbye" while trying to get everything in order to move. I don't blame her. I actually have a great deal of respect for her for doing things this way.
We had talked on several occassions about how much she wanted to get out of Pennsylvania (ranked 48th in job creation over the last four years). So, we both knew that the possibility of our relationship ending for this reason was almost inevitable. I just didn't think it would happen so soon.
But there is a bright side. We are going to remain friends. In spite of the fact that she was very hurt by my stupidity and selfishness, she doesn't hate me. She still thinks I'm a good person, I'm just not right for her. We both think that there is a perfect someone out there for each of us. And we both want the best for each other. So we expect to keep in touch even after she moves.
Not the happiest ending to the story. But at least we'll have good memories of it. We both really enjoyed the time we had together.
I wish her all the best in the world. As far as I'm concerned, she certainly does deserve it.

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Quotes from 4/2007

Friday, May 04, 2007

Coming soon

I just wanted to let everyone out there know that I'll be posting something significant very soon. I just need to get a few of my thoughts in order before I do that.
I also want to thank all of you who've commented or e-mailed me to offer some words of comfort or concern. I do appreciate it. My heart is doing much better now. And all will be revealed shortly.


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