Tag Archives: faith

Heaven is Real?

“For a while in my teens, I was sure I had it. It was about getting to heaven. If heaven existed and lasted forever, then a mere lifetime spent scrupulously following orders was a small investment for an infinite payoff. One day, though, I realized I was no longer a believer, and realizing that, I couldn’t go back.”

—Alan Alda, actor and freethinker

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Faith and Doubt

“I respect faith, but doubt is what gives you an education.” -Wison Mizner, Playwright


Welcoming Death As An Absolute End?

Most theologies, be they Christian or otherwise, are established to deal with death, pain, and the business of living. We do our best to avoid death and yet, knowing that we will one day succumb to it we construct a hereafter that comforts our souls. We do this even though we have no proof of what a “heaven” is supposed to be. We live as if we will live forever and will one day visit the stalwarts of faith and family we have learned to love. Some of us are convinced of this. 

I am currently reading “Socrates Cafe”, a stimulating book. Within it I found the following quote by Walter Kaufmann that got me to thinking. Perhaps it will jar your thoughts a bit as well.

“Let people who do not know what to do with themselves in this life, but fritter away their time, hope for eternal life. If one lives intensely, the time comes when sleep seems bliss. If one loves intensely, the time comes when death seems bliss. The life I want is a life I could not endure in eternity. It is a life of love and intensity, suffering and creation, that makes life worthwhile and death welcome. There is no other life I should prefer. Neither should I like not to die. As one deserves a good night’s sleep, one also deserves to die, Why should I hope to wake again? To do what I have not done in the time I’ve had? All of us have so much more time than we use well. How many hours in a life are spent in a way of which one might be proud, looking back? For most of us death does not come soon enough. Lives are spoiled and made rotten by the sense that death is distant and irrelevant. Not only can love be deepened and made more intense and impassioned by the expectation of impending death; all of life is enriched by it. Why deceive myself to the last moment, and hungrily devour sights, sounds, and smells only when it is almost too late? In our treatment of others, too, it is well to remember that they will die: it makes for greater humanity.”
-Walter Kaufmann


Kicked to the Curb

“The moment that anyone, however prayerful or thoughtful or earnest they may be, comes to a conclusion other than what we’ve defined as acceptable, they get kicked to the curb.”  -Rob Bell, former evangelical pastor

http://johnpavlovitz.com/2014/12/10/the-continued-crucifying-of-rob-bell-and-what-it-says-about-the-state-of-modern-christianity/


Comfort in Conformance

There is a core belief that when certain topics arise, particularly around politics or religion, they are best ignored. It is assumed that if you go into those deep waters you will soon drown in unsubstantiated facts and opinions. Based on certain prejudices that are sure to overwhelm a fact-based encounter, these prejudices reveal one’s animosities and cultural influences. When pressed for their argument’s support an emotionalized reaction is often what you get with name-calling and sarcasm about one’s ancestral heritage. Pedigrees are often questioned and identification with a non-affiliated group is put to a stringent litmus test. Why does it have to end this way? Either, “you do (this) or I will do (that).” Fill in the blanks. Apparently, conformance is comforting.

What does conformance look like in a group? It is the picture of satisfaction, no worries, straight thinking – think the same, stay away from conflict, always have an answer even if it might be a trite one. They say; “No matter, we have faith. Faith in what we believe. We have enough faith to carry us through any question or criticism about our belief system.” That is the essence of conformance. You either accept it or you are considered an enemy to a way of life and thought.

In most cases positive human interaction and the appearance of social harmony is dependent on thinking similarly. This kind of phony congruence becomes a roadblock to new ideas and solutions for it is often in disagreement that learning takes place. I learn when someone picks apart my argument, takes on my thinking, challenges my thought processes and conclusions. So, why are we threatened by questions calling out our thoughts, revealing our thinking errors? Because we are uncomfortable being wrong! It can be embarrassing, especially when an idea from outside the group penetrates the group in spite of strong resistance.

Thinking is the core of our conscious being. It is where we process the data that presents itself in various forms to our organs of perception. And, since we take our conclusions seriously, while observing them up close and personal, they become an intimate part of us. The result of this process is that we find ourselves becoming defensive when challenged, the worst kind of hindrance to an open mind. Being on the defensive is uncomfortable and emotionally draining.

So, what does one do in the pursuit of truth and clarity? If that is your desire be prepared to accept the possibility there will be those who will distance themselves from you as it is you and your ideas that make them uncomfortable. Refusing to conform, some of the greatest thinkers have even sacrificed their lives for the truth as they understood it. That takes a great deal of stamina, confidence and a clear mind with the realization that it will be uncomfortable, very uncomfortable, and perhaps lethal.


Courage To Examine One’s Christian Faith Or, Running Into Cowardice!

Most people assume that what they were taught as children is true, particularly religion. After all, it was taught them by parent figures, and who could one trust more than Mom and Dad? What one learned as a child, assuming authority figures have told the truth, is accepted as true. It is difficult to question ideas of parent figures and people we trust who taught us the basics of living, loving and learning since by doing so we are questioning whether or not we really believe what they taught us is truth.

 

Religious ideas come primarily from the culture and geography we have been born into. We do not generally seek out the truth in other faiths or religious expressions, no matter how “true” they may appear. Most rely on “authorities.” Many of us trust without so much as checking sources or credibility. This is supposed to explain the common questions that inevitably come up over a lifetime. And, most of us have never checked the potential veracity of foreign faith expressions. After all, they are foreign and are not of our culture, how wrong can one be, we conclude in superior tones.

 

Assuming there is waning interest in religion, especially Christianity, conservative types are feeling threatened and appear to be plotting to take away the freedom of speech and expression we have enjoyed in this country. This is due, in part, to the fact that much of what is being accepted by the general public is contrary to a Christian worldview. Many Christians give the impression they are threatened by the many changes to law, lifestyle and religion. Many of the general public have accepted the ways of Christianity while not having much investment in it and expecting the Christian core to capably defend their position.

 

But, have you noticed? Many Christians are feeling they need to go underground. They sense they are not wanted nor believed. And so, to protect themselves, their families and friends, they have disappeared, away from the prying words of people like myself who question the very foundations of their faith. Can’t be questioning one’s faith. After all, the proof is with them. Or, is it? I call this cowardice. Believe but will not defend. Make statements that presuppose one has the truth but when pushed to defend those statements become defensive or disappear altogether. I call that cowardice. I see nowhere in Scripture where the Christian is to cut and run. Doesn’t that cut across the grain? If it is truth and the Bible says to defend it then where are the stalwarts of the Christian faith? Hiding under ground?

 

I Peter 3:15, 2 Timothy 4:1-22, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Titus 1:9, 2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Timothy 2:24-25, Philippians 1:16, Acts 17:1-34, Matthew 5:11-12, Jude 1:3

 

Where, in any of the Scriptures cited above does it say to cut and run? Is there a citation I missed? Could you fill me in and put me right with a Scripture or two? If you have chosen to go underground with your faith, how is that defending the faith? If not, I call it what it is, cowardice! You can run from cowardice. You can be a defender of the faith. Why aren’t you? Isn’t that your job as a Christian?


We Don’t Know Yet?

“I have never understood why the fallback position to unanswerable questions about the universe is that an all-powerful, all-knowing being intervened. To me, ‘we don’t know yet’ is a fine response.”

—Robyn Blumner, columnist and editor, The St. Petersburg Times, Aug. 8, 2004