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cockroach-3I had an interesting day today, and in it, I got to practice some loving-kindness… although it was towards something I never tried it on before – cockroaches.

I guess I had better explain this some; you see, I volunteered today to do some charity work for the United Way, and they asked me and a group of others (that I did not know) to show up to this house and paint the inside of it. It seems that the place is home to a nice group of 3 older ladies, one of whom is bed-ridden, and it was in a bit of disrepair. Although, it seems the place was also home to many more beings than we were told.

The walls of the house were not really in need of painting, they were just caked with layer upon layer of roach droppings, and they were everywhere. I am talking broad daylight, and hundreds upon hundreds of the little buggers just hanging out I plain sight like they owned the place. It was very interesting to observe.

I noticed a few things though, and here are some of my observations…

Firstly, I had taken a vow to cause no harm to any sentient being, and for me that also includes insects. When I was younger a sight light what I saw today would have given me the willies, but today there was no apprehension or disgust to be found in me. I just saw all these roaches and knew that I was looking at another living thing, and it did not bother me at all. Not anymore. And, unlike the rest of the people in the room working with me, I had compassion on them. Yes, I felt sorry for the ladies living there, that they were in such a circumstance, but I also had compassion for the insects there.

Secondly, instead of swatting at and smashing and scurrying about the roaches so I could paint, I simply talked to them (yes I talked to them) or at other times just waited and thought kind words towards them, and asked them to move so I could paint… and they moved out of the way.

Thirdly, these ladies were not messy and their home was quite orderly and neat… other than the roaches and their droppings, and so I inquired into the matter a bit with them. You see, although they themselves are very clean and tidy people, the neighborhood that they live in has gone down-hill, turning from a once lovely little place and into the ghetto, and their neighbors do not share their particular views on hygiene and upkeep. So, if all the homes around them are inviting roaches… they get them too.

Finally, I could not help but wonder the whole time what good we were actually doing there. These ladies approached the charity looking for help and the solution they were given was that we would paint over all the roach droppings… but the roaches are still there. Nothing was done to actually solve the problem at hand. I immediately thought of tons of little proverbs and ways that this could be used as a life lesson, or a sermon about taking care of the real problem and not just ‘white washing the tombs” if you will. I considered many of my own areas in life that I need to deal where a lesson or analogy could also apply… and I found a few.

One of the volunteers was a pastor of a local church and asked the ladies when we were done if he could pray for them and they said yes. As he prayed for them and their health, in my head I offered up my own thoughts of loving kindness towards the roaches and wished them and the ladies happiness and that the roaches would leave and find a new home in which there was not this conflict between them and others; so that they may all be happy, healthy and at ease.

Nobody should have to live like that though, I know that these ladies deserve a clean, healthy environment and I wish them well. I am also grateful that I myself and in a safe and warm home today that I can enjoy.

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I must admit that today does not find me in the best of moods. If I were to be very “mindful” about the whole thing, it would have to boil down to my frustrations on wishing to find a Teacher to guide me a bit more skillfully on this path that I am on. However, seeing that this is my blog… I am going to take this time to bitch about it instead. I must admit, it feels good to let it all out sometimes.

Tonight in my Sangha marked yet another in a now long-running series of dharma talks that are really just self-help books wrapped in a bit of meditation and the occasional quote from some Buddhist text. I am just sick and tired of it. I am tired of looking around the room at every Buddhist meeting I go to and seeing that I am either the only guy, or one of two guys in attendance. I went to one group (not my Sangha) the other week ago and the lady leading the group spoke on how meditation can help us get healed from past rejection and hurts. I was one of two guys there, and the thing ended with about 20 middle-aged ladies crying on each other’s shoulders over how their dads were not there for them, someone was mean to them in high school, or over some marriage that fell apart. The whole thing ended in a sobbing, wet, group hug. I returned last week, hoping that it was a fluke, and it was none the better. I go to meditate at someone’s home and have to sit through a dharma talk by one of those mellow-voiced monks, smiling, sitting in front of some picture of a flower or something, and talking about the power or love and how beautiful we all are. Tonight in my Sangha was yet another (and they do this a lot) night where the lady reads from a self-help book written by some other lady about how meditation can help us all get over our fears…  fears of rejection, or failing, of being ugly, fat… whatever.

Books like: How Buddhism Can Help You Get Over Past Hurts. How Mindfulness Can Help You Lose Weight. How Meditation Can Heal Past Family Wounds. How Buddhism Can Heal the Wounds of Daddy Not Being There Enough. How Meditation Can Help You Get Over Not Having A Prom Date.

Tonight the topics in the discussion ranged from how someone is afraid they are fat, or another that they are not as smart as their sister or another girl, how someone is afraid they are not as good looking as the next girl… Then, someone else mentioned how Truth sets us free, and used the example of how they are afraid that someone may be bad for them or hurt them, and that if they got over that fear and gave that person a chance… it would all work out and that person would wind up being nice, good, and good for them.

That was when I offered my own thoughts on the matter.

I said that Truth does set us free, but noted that all of their examples were warm and fuzzy, flowery, and that the Truth is not always that way. Truth is truth. Sometimes it is not flowers and sunshine. The Truth is that person who you are afraid of hurting you, may, in fact, hurt you. Or, to take the opposite position, you may be deluding yourself into thinking that someone is good for you when the Truth is that they are bad for you. The truth IS that you may be overweight, maybe that other person IS more attractive than you, and maybe your sister IS going to always score just a little bit higher than you on that test in school. So what? Really, so what? That truth is also liberating, and can set you free. Isn’t the point to embrace reality? Being trapped by irrational fears that are holding you back from enjoying real life is delusion. However, fooling yourself into thinking that life is a bed of roses all the time a delusion that holds you back as well. Embrace the reality of the situation, and then you can effectively deal with your shit.

Seriously, I think there has to be more “Suck-it-up-ness” and “Deal-with-it-ness” in the practice.

I then told a funny story from my own life to make the whole thing a bit more human and light-hearted.

When I was in High School I started to get into acting. My junior year I landed a key role in my first-ever play. On (and several days before) opening night I was petrified with fear that I would forget my lines and make a fool of myself–scared to death of it. So what happened?

Well, I forgot my lines.

Yup, totally froze, right up there on the stage, lights on me, in front of hundreds of people. Totally bombed, and forgot all my lines within the first few minutes of the first act. I was embarrassed, scared, horrified… but I somehow managed to fumble my way through the scene, exit the stage, and not freak out. Then all the sudden, this enormous sense of ease came all over me. Why? Well, that was my worst fear, and it just happened… and I am still standing… I am still ok. I lived. After that was over, the fear was gone, and I went through the rest of the performance without any problems. I did many a play and musical after that night, and never had that same crippling fear of forgetting a line again. It already happened; it sucked, but I got through it, and it no longer had a hold on me.

So there is truth in that as well. Maybe you have to face some fears. Maybe everything is not always ok. Maybe you need to lose some weight. Maybe you are not the brightest bulb in the bunch. Maybe that really bad thing you just don’t want to happen IS going to happen, and maybe you are going to have to learn to be OK regardless. Maybe you will soon learn that it really isn’t that big of a deal anyway.

So what is your worst fear? So what if it were actually realized? Really, so what?

P.S. I hope that this rant did not come across as my saying that what is wrong with Buddhism today is that we have too many females in charge. Not at all! I know some great “no nonsense” Buddhist ladies. Besides, most of those books I am complaining about having to listen to were written by men (eunuch’s?). But, I think this current movement of reducuing Buddhism to a non-religious self-help philosophy is sad, and that it has to go. I do wish that there were more strong males in the practice for me to relate with though. I had to do studies for churches (growth, lack of, and demographics) before where it was found out that teachings like this touchy-feely self-help crap will only drive most males away, and then when new ones come… they will leave after seeing that there are no men there to relate with. Then the vacuum continues.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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three step programThis is an honest question that I am putting out there for anyone to answer.

Why is it that in order to have a proper Christian theology a belief in the physical resurrection of Christ’s mortal body is such a pivotal matter?

It has beome so integral that it has made it’s way into the Apostles’ Creed, many congregation’s core beliefs, Sinner’s Prayer; it is considered to be one of the fundamental things one must profess to be “saved”. I simply ask why?

I am not going to waste anyone’s time by insulting their belief in Jesus; nor am I going to stoop to such trite, juvenile conclusions such as:

i) His body is missing conveniently because he never existed
ii) His followers stole the body
iii) Zombie Jesus!

I think that having a missing body does more to complicate matters for the argument of Christ than it helps; instead of people arguing if there was a historical Christ or if he was pure fabrication, we could just say “and there is his body–see“. I see no solid theological argument as to why he could not have left his old body in the tomb, gone to heaven in spirit and still be Christ.

If the body was stolen that would imply that the bible is actually truth, and according to the bible it would have been quite a task to get that body out of there. Also, the body would have to be put somewhere eventually, and seeing that it would be considered a holy relic, would eventually turn-up somewhere. Besides, if the disciples knew their Messiah was a total fake I highly doubt they would have allowed themselves to become persecuted and martyred in order to keep the world’s longest running gag going.

I kind of like that; thinking of it all as the world’s longest running joke. From Wikipedia,

A running gag is a literary device which often takes the form of an amusing joke or a comical reference and appears repeatedly throughout a work of literature or other form of storytelling. Running gags can begin with an instance of unintentional humor that is repeated in variations as the joke grows familiar and audiences anticipate reappearances of the gag.

Finally, even though Zombie Jesus makes for some very funny posters, stickers, t-shirts, and now the new motion picture (I have got to see that one); it does nothing to really help us… except maybe laugh.

Anyway, my question is why it so important? What does a resurrected Christ with his old body accomplish for the religion that a Christ who died, went to heaven in spirit and then got a new body can not?

Christians believe that the resurrection is basically their souls entering into the Kingdom of Heaven. Some also believe that they get new “perfected” bodies in heaven; others that they eventually come back to earth in these new perfected bodies and live on a new earth.

Christians do not believe that they keep their old bodies. They believe that these current bodies of flesh simply decay and die. Furthermore, they do not believe that if they were missing an eye here on earth that after the resurrection their new body would be missing an eye as well. Or that if they are fat here they will be fat there; that if they lost a leg in the war they are going to be limping around heaven for all eternity. So I do not see why the idea of Christ needing to keep his old body is one of importance to this community of believers. It actually seems to disagree with their own beliefs on what happens to their own form after death.

Jesus however seems to have not received a perfected body, like a good Christian would, but instead is still lugging around his old one. We even see him coming back down to the earth sometime later in the Scriptures, and he still has physical wounds, and holes that people can see, touch, and stick their fingers into. I feel kind of sorry for the guy; since all the Christians get shiny new bodies, and he has to spend the rest of eternity with a scarred up back, holes in his hands and feet, and  God knows whatever other kinds of damage–I hear that thorny crown leaves one hell of a rug burn.

The Jewish religion, unlike the Christian on, does/did (depending on the various sects) preach that the resurrection was of this current physical body; there was no new perfected one. In fact, looking back at Christ’s preachings on the resurrection of the dead and the second coming–it pretty much reads like Jewish philosophy and not a very Christian one.

The whole theology of his resurrected body seems to be very un-Christian to me. It is starting to look to me like Jesus was “gasp” more of a Jew than a Christian.

Anyway, if anyone can explain any of this to me please feel free to do so. This is not an argument, this is me posing questions and seeking answers.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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gazeatstarsWhen I was a child I, like many others, had some rather rough years. I do not think that my particular story is any more dramatic or piercing than any others; except in the fact that to me it is, since it is mine.

Yes, I had some hard times at home; my father made it quite known to me at as a child that I only existed because the birth-control went wrong, and their religion frowned upon abortions. My sister was the perfect, favorite child, who could do no wrong; mother was timid and dominated– afraid to venture out, speak up, or fully come into herself.

Yes, some things were a bit off, but nothing extraordinary… right?

Father was a pastor, and I lived in what I thought was your typical Christian home. He seemed to have a nack with “combating” the supernatural; he and my mother wound-up specializing in counseling people who the church deemed to be demonically oppressed or possessed. They even had a special crucifix that hung on the wall at all times that opened up to reveal an emergency exorcism kit; complete with holy water and all. I got to spend the typical Saturday morning watching Scooby-Doo, or some other cartoon, in the living room while trying to phase out the screams and curses coming from the adjacent room, as mom and dad were casting a demon out of somebody.

I rejected Christianity back then as a child. I saw little evidence of a changed nature in the lives of those Christians around me, and I felt nothing inside of me that spoke up as a witness to a God living inside of me.

Fear however, was inside of me.

The one thing I did get from those creepy-ass years (thanks dad) was an unhealthy fear of the supernatural. I never heard nor saw God, a miracle, an angel, or anything to make me think that something was out there pulling for me. However, I grew up with such a fear of demons, witches, and the devil, that I could no longer sleep at night.

I had no awareness of divine good, but I sure as hell feared evil. To help myself through those times I used my imagination. I had a good imagination; I loved to daydream and draw; I even made up an alter-ego of myself that feared no evil. I would write, draw, and dream away of his many heroic adventures. He wore a mask, he grew up in an ancient small village, he had these little rituals that he would do and trinkets he could use.

Later on in life while visiting an art gallery I stumbled upon a travel exhibit of old masks. For some crazy reason there was a copy of my imaginary hero’s mask there. Unbeknown to me, as a child I instinctively gave him a pretty traditional Shaman’s mask. Intrigued by this I studied the religion some, and came to find other settings, rituals, and items from my childhood stories in there. This intrigues me, but I have no answers for this phenomena.

Having no “real God” to pray to as a child was difficult for me, and many of my problems if confessed to mom and dad would only result in more scorn and rejection. Having nothing else to talk to–I started talking to the moon about things. It was helpful to me, I always loved the moon. It was something that was always there, watching over me; bright and lovely, glowing like a warm smile. I spent many a night out in a field looking up and talking to her.

Her, that’s right–I felt like the moon was a she. I even gave her a name as a kid; I named her Chandra. Funny that now I know that Chandra is the name of a lunar deity in Hinduism. Go figure; and by the way… my astrological sign is Cancer (Moon sign). Another thing that intrigues me, but I have no answers to as of yet.

I wish that I could say that I managed to keep this childhood openness and awareness going throughout my entire life; however, that would be a lie. Eventually I “grew up“, did away with such childish things, and started serving the Lord like my family expected me to. Why? What happened?

I held on to about the age of 17; that was when my girlfriend, whom I loved dearly, tried to kill herself. She had grown up in a very physically abusive home, understandably had some emotional issues over this, and was in recovery from drug abuse when I met her. When we first met we were 15. I stayed with her through many a rough time; loved her; and always believed that our love would see us through all of this.

One night she came home and her mother was high again. Mom beat her, and she went running out the door. Depressed and distraught, she decided to self-medicate to make the feelings go away. She went to a dealers house and he got her high; while she was high, he raped her. She then tried to take her life.

She did not succeed, but she got taken away to some “home” in some other State, and she was not allowed to contact anyone from her previous life–including me.

When I broke down in front of my parents and explained to them what was going on in my life, and the pain that I was going through, that she had gone through, they told me exactly why all this had happened to my girlfriend. They told me that Jesus put me in her life to save her with the gospel of Christ, but since I was selfish and unbelieving I messed the whole thing up. Instead of saving her I dated her. Instead of giving her Jesus, I fell in love with her; I was carnal and slept with her. If I would have acted sooner, she would have not have been raped that night, she would not have tried to take her life, and God would not have had to have taken her away from me.

They told me that not only did I miss my God-given opportunity to help her, but I also made her life even worse; for now she will probably never get saved, healed, or get to heaven; since now she thinks Christians are people like me…

I then repented and decided to enter into the ministry.

It took a while, but I am slowly starting to shake-off all this Christian craziness that my family heaped on me. The guilt and shame goes deep though, and it is hard to break. I do have beliefs that guide me in my pursuit though,

  • I do not believe in a literal Christ (who lived, died, rose again); I believe the story was an allegory
  • I do not believe in the Devil or demons
  • I hope that if there is a Higher Power, it would inspire me to love, heal, have compassion, peace, and motivate me to help others
  • I question if I could not also find those very things in myself without a God, if I spent time and energy working on myself, my relationships, and on helping others.

I am trying to reject all the fear and pain; while still maintaining my childhood-instinctive faith. I am trying to talk to the moon again. I am trying to rid myself of the fear of the supernatural. I am trying to awaken my sleeping alter-ego once more for another adventure.

Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up.

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I feel a bit playful tonight, and I am burning out with all this thinking. So lets do something fun for a change! Tonight we will start our first Theology For Dummies class — complete with badly drawn graphics.

01We had one of those “why do bad things happen to good people” talks and “if God is God then why does evil exist” lessons the other week. A professor told everyone there that God and Evil co-exist only because Evil exists outside of God.

This by the way is poor theology, and the reason why we are covering this lesson here today.

Anyhoo…

Start off by picturing God. Hard to do? Here is God (pictured above):

02Got it now? Great! Now picture everything. Yes everything. Almost there? Life, the universe… everything. Got it? Everything exists inside of God. This is a pretty basic concept; most people seem to get this one quite easily.

So if everything exists inside of God then what exists outside of God? Nothing exists outside of God. Nothing.

Now that is not to say that outside of God there is a lot of nothing; like there is just a bunch of boring black space or something.

04It’s not like if you could get in a ship and drive it to the edge of God and then break-through him, you would then be driving in the nothing.

Not only would it be boring — it would be heretical.

And mean.

That would probably hurt God.

Oh, where was I? Right, Nothing.

05We are also not implying that there is some-thing called The Nothing (like in The Neverending Story) which exists outside of God that is waiting to eat you when you drive your ship outside of God.

Although that was an awesome movie! That wolf thingy gave me the creeps for like weeks. Um…

No, when we say that there is nothing outside of God we are stating that there is no outside of God.

Everything is inside of God, and there just is no outside of God.

06In order for there to be an outside of God that would mean that God would have to be inside of something; meaning that something would be containing God.

Not to get all “deep” or anything, but you need to realize that a lesser can not contain a greater. So basically 3 could never contain 5, but there are 3 in a 5. Better put — something of a smaller size or value could not hold something of a greater size or value within itself.

So if God was contained within something, this something would have to be another God who is greater than our God, and that would just be silly! Pfft! Two Gods. Ha.

07Now for the statement that evil exists outside of God to be true there would have to be a few factors in play. One of these would have to obviously be that there is an outside of God; which we already think is crazy-talk. The other factors are even more disturbing though.

If there is an evil that is outside of God then it is independent of God. Also, we can all agree that this evil acts in direct opposition to God. Finally, not being within God this evil could have not possibly been created by God.

This would leave us with a Being that would be a God unto himself; able to bring himself into his own existence, sustain himself without God, being totally independent of God, and be on a level or direct and equal opposition of God.

08In closing, Evil exists inside of God, since there is no outside of God. Um, or if there is an outside then God is not really the final God, and he is just a god inside of the God who is the final God. Oh, and Evil would be a god as well.

Everything all clear now?

This concludes lesson one.

This will be on the final exam.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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Faith Without WorksI have been considering this one for a while, so I thought I would share it with you all. For most Christians, it seems that the pinnacle of their belief centers around the concept of faith; having faith, claiming things by faith, asking for more faith, losing faith, gaining faith, acting on faith, or believing things on faith.

However, in the early church they would have laughed at such a concept; for to them faith was seen as just the preliminary step that the immature took on their way towards real maturity — or knowing. The word for this knowing was gnosis.

The desired end result of faith was to move into this knowing, not to simply have faith in-and-of itself.

I am sure that the early founders would find it even more humorous that today people take great pride in who can blindly believe the greatest number of things without ever knowing them or experiencing them to be true; yet we regard these people and refer to them as our Giants of the Faith.

Real knowing or gnosis is the real life application, as in working knowledge, of the item that was at first taken on faith. So the desired sequence of events should be broken down like this:

Knowledge (not gnosis) > Faith > Knowing (gnosis)

Just so there is no confusion, let us explain the difference between knowledge and knowing (gnosis). It is the difference between knowing something as purely factual information, or on here-say, and having the revelation of experiencing this knowledge in real life. Kind of like knowing the bible says you can raise the dead verses actually going out and raising one from the dead. You can have knowledge, and have all the faith you want, but until you do it — it’s dead; literally in this case.

I like to look at it in terms of our knowledge of outer space. I know it is there, I read books on it, had lessons in class, and I have the general idea as to what it may be like up there; I have knowledge on weightlessness, and understand it to the best of my abilities. This is knowledge.

An astronaut however has gnosis. He (or she) was in outer space, and was weightless. They know the thing better than you or I ever could. This is the working knowledge of gnosis. You can read all the textbooks or watch all the sci-fi you want, but you will never know weightlessness or space travel as they know it.

When the bible states that “faith without works is dead” it does not mean that your religion means very little unless you do good deeds (although some more good deeds would be greatly appreciated); it means that faith without coming into the fruition of works, gnosis, a working knowledge is nothing, dead, or useless.

Say a person comes to know the Law in the bible and they are convicted on their errors; here is the desired breakdown of that and the resulting sequence of events:

  1. Person comes into knowledge of the Law; thinks “I should not be doing ______”.
  2. Person comes to the knowledge that through Christ “I do not have to do ______”.
  3. Person does not feel like they can do it, nor have they experienced gnosis; so they act on faith.
  4. Person comes into knowing they are set free, and experience the working knowledge of being healed of this.

Churches these days stop at number 3 — they stop at walking in faith; they will walk in this faith at times for the rest of their lives, and will still struggle with the same problems over and over; never seeing any real results or freedom.

So the next time you are made to feel like you are less of a person than someone of faith for asking for some simple proof (or working knowledge) — don’t. Realize that faith was only meant to be a baby step to get people through into the adulthood of actual works. In any other aspect in life if one were to stay that long in the baby stage, and never reach maturity we would call it retardation; so it is nothing to brag about.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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Respect The Ant

Observation 1: Pop-Up Books In School

I am burning out a bit with school so I doubt this will be too incredibly deep. I find myself knee deep in books; Voltaire, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, Watchman Nee, Plato, C.S. Lewis, Emerson, Thoreau, Augustine, Calvin, Brother Lawrence, Tozer; as well as my studies on the Bible, The Gnostic Scriptures, Dhammapada, Tao, Benjamin Hoff, The Vedas, Upanishads, The Bhagavad Gita, Thich Nhat Hanh; as well as psychic development/intuition texts by Sherrie Dillard, and healing with Douglas De Long.

Please note that none of the above authors/subjects was I required to read for school; I read all of that for fun. So you can add on top to that all my required reading.

I say none of this to taught my intelligence; reading does not show any capability of intelligence on my part, other that I am capable of reading.

The study of religion is a passion of mine; I wish to to know who God is, and, unlike others in my school, do not pretend to know who he is already. I do not profess to be Christian.

Speaking of my “required reading materials” in bible college they hand me textbooks which can be better equated to children’s pop-up books and wonder why I am not impressed. I take my pursuit of God a lot more seriously than these Christians seem to take it, and they take me for a fool.

Our courses have been edited, dumbed-down, and gone over with fine-toothed combs in order to skip over any of the heresies, hard questions, embarrassing mistakes, or difficult subject matters that we may otherwise blindly stumble upon and loose faith over. We are being told the synopsis of a synopsis of a synopsis, and only those of which co-inside neatly with current church doctrine or philosophy. If I want to really learn what Origen actually taught, know the lives of Abelard or Luther; if I wanted to actually know what the Gnostic’s taught;  to learn of Platonic Christianity (Neoplatonism), or what nominalism was – I would have to read my own books, and on my own time.

They are not preening the next generation of scholars; they are breeding the next generation of idiots. This has been a point of frustration for me.

These poor kids are going to get their heads spun around once they get out into the world and are faced with some actual theological debate, and tough questioning.

Observation 2: Pseudo Intelligent Pastors

On Saturday I had to attend a church service where the pastor decided to talk on what he calls two primary things that you must understand and believe in to be a Christian; the first was a literal 7 day creation as stated exactly in the book of Genesis. Supposedly you can not be a real Christian and believe in evolution or intelligent design.

Personally, I always liked saying that I believe in Uniformitarianism just to be difficult.

He lost the majority of his audience on this topic; I do not think it was a good move to inform the majority of your perish members that you do not think they are really “saved”. His major argument against evolution was the scenario of; what would happen if a fish developed lungs? His answer was that it would drown. Funny enough, his evolution believing congregation pointed out that actually you would get what is called a lung fish. It did happen, and they still live to this day…. not drowned yet.

I took all that with a grain of salt though. I do not actually care if Genesis is accurate or not, and it has no basis for my faith or lack thereof. It does not bother me if this man thinks me to be un-Christian; I don’t even call myself one anyway, but if I ever do I would hope that it be based on who I think the person of Christ is; not my position on the lung fish.

His second point though did really bother me. He got onto the topic of why suffering exists in this world. He said that he was going to answer the great question of how if there was a loving, kind God – there could be suffering and evil in his world. He said that as a Christian you have to believe that “evil exists outside of God”.

Evil exists outside of God? What the heck are you talking about? Your answer to how God can allow evil to exist is that the evil exists outside of God? At first I thought that maybe he just misspoke or chose his words unwisely, but he said it again and again He even brought it up on a PowerPoint presentation; there it was, bold and underlined, evil exists outside of God.

Let’s actually think this through for a moment. A primary theological principle of Christianity is that NOTHING exists outside of God. Nothing. What is outside of God? Nothing is outside of God. All of reality, space, time, existence, and non-existence is held within God. Outside of God there is nothing. Or better put, there is no such thing as an outside of God to be outside of. All is within God.

In order for there to be something outside of God there would have to be a thing/being who was independent of God, did not need God, and was not created by God. If we take this further and say that this being was evil, in direct opposition to God (his will, and his plans) then this being would have to be a God on his own to accomplish such a feat.

To a theology major his discussion was nothing but gibberish, and the worst part was that he is a professor at and is on the board of the bible college.

As a side note however, I would like to point out that with Christianity on the decline in our society I see little logic in further fragmenting it by informing people that they are not really Christian (or Christian enough for you) over such issues. Is there not something more important that truly binds you all?

Furthermore, if I were to speak of 2 major points that people had to “get down” to be in a certain religion I think I would choose something dealing with purpose and passion. People need purpose and passion; passion is contagious, and purpose breathes hope. What is going to truly revitalize your church? You all being on the same page about creation; or you all living with a contagious passion? Agreeing on the dogma of original sin; or living holy lives that inspire others?

Observation 3: A Pound Of Bacon At All Times

My roommates eat meat at every meal; they snack on bacon like Cheez-Its. At all times (I repeat: all times) there is at least a pound of pre-cooked bacon in the fridge; just in case. They are Christians, and they all are over weight. One likes to hunt, and likes to tell funny stories of how he likes to brutalize animals. Everything from shooting coyotes for fun, to sticking fireworks up cats butts and lighting them on fire. My room is right next to the kitchen and I get to wake up every morning to the smell of the next pound of bacon being cooked.

I am vegan by the way. I consider all life to be sacred.

Yesterday I was taking a nap and woke up to a smell so thick and sickening that I ran out of my room and had to throw up. They were cooking up a few pounds of ground beef for dinner. I guess even the smell of meat now makes me sick to the stomach.

Observation 4: We Can Respect An Ant

On Sunday I had the chance to participate in a 6 hour long Buddhist meditation, or Day of Mindfulness. We were told to all arrive early (since being late would be disrespectful to the holiness of the day) and everyone was there early; none were late. It was amazing. Over 20 of us were there; from ages 20 to 60. It was held in a small, cold recreation center of an apartment complex. The floor was cold, hard, and uncomfortable; we sat down and meditated in stillness for hours. Everyone was silent and respectful, for the day this place became sacred. Nobody moved, got up, or made a noise. If your leg hurts you deal with it, if your foot falls asleep then great – you can meditate on that. Got to go to the bathroom? Hold it.

For lunch it was the first time in a long while that I got to eat with other vegans or vegetarians. There was no meat in sight. There still was no talking, it wasn’t an enforced rule, but we simply did not want to ruin the moment with it. However there was community; without rule or speech everyone simply began passing around and sharing their food and drink with the others gathered there.

We noticed that a family of ants had come in from the cold and made their way onto the floor with us. We smiled at them and shared some food with them as well. When it was time to start meditating again everyone was careful where they stepped and sat so as to make sure that none of the ants would be harmed. All life is sacred.

Observation 5: We Can Respect An Ant; You Can Not Respect Your Own Church

Sunday night I went to a different church service with a Christian friend of mine who does not go to the bible college. I actually like this church, and I enjoy their worship services a lot. I appreciate the fact that when they worship I can tell that it is towards an awe-inspiring God instead of them just asking for stuff fromtheir buddy Jesus. They praise the Father for his worth, glory, magnitude, majesty, holiness; and this I can revere and appreciate. I can also join in this with them since I believe in revering a God as well.

I came early, paying this church the same respects I gave to a rec-center just a few hours earlier, and walked inside. On the way there I grabbed a coffee, but I noticed a sign that said that this was a holy place and that we should not bring food or drinks inside. I felt bad and immediately dumped my almost full coffee out and threw it away. I noticed that nobody else was there yet other than the pastor and the worship team. Service time came, and eventually some people started to drift in. Most people wandered in about half an hour late, some totally skipped worship; arriving even later.

They had to be reminded a few times to stop talking, and to make sure their cell phones were off. My friend started to laugh and nudged me to point out a series of people walking in with their cups of coffee; some of them brought in food to snack on as well.

Worship was still amazing, minus the fact that in the row behind me the family had decided to bring in their children’s toys for them to play with. That was a bit distracting. It is hard to concentrate on worshiping even a divine God when a baby rattle is going off behind your ear, or a race car is scurrying across the pew.

The pastor began to preach on the cross, and on the Eucharist since we are nearing Easter. He announced that they were going to take communion that night, but before they did he wanted to church to take a moment of silence and do some real reflection on their lives. He asked the church to be still for just one minute. People started talking. He reminded them to be silent as a cell phone goes off; and gets answered. He pleads with them to be silent before their God and reflect, as the couple behind me loudly starts discussing how their week at work was.

I stood up and I told my friend that I had to leave. I said,

Your people don’t even take this seriously, how am I supposed to?

They can’t even be quiet before their God for a minute, I was with a group of people who were silent for 6 hours before theirs. We treated a rec-center with more respect than these people treat their temples, and we treated an ant with more reverence than these people show to your Lord’s communion. I was offended. I am not even Christian, and I was offended. I guess you are all lucky that you have such a laid-back God who does not expect much from you. If the bar were any higher I do not think the majority of you would still be going there; it would get in the way too much with your busy lifestyles, and petty demands.

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