Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘God’

So, the following blog is emotional diarrhea.  I suggest that you do not read it.  I apologize.

I am not struggling with death, I am struggling with dying.  For the last 24 hours I have been thinking about how I want to die.  How do you want to die?  Or a better question:  How do you want to live?  You see, my father is not dead.  I can’t even say that he is dying, but he is alive.  I should be happy that he is alive, but I am not.  I want him to be living.  I have never understood the difference between being alive and living more than I do right now.  It is amazing how unprepared I am for this situation.  Why am I so unprepared for this?

In part I am angry at the church.  I have been to church most of my life.  My father is a pastor.  I have read the bible from beginning to end.  I believe, have faith in, trust and obey God.  I can think of the countless number of sermons I have heard regarding death and the afterlife, but not one of them ever addressed the fine line between life and death.  I have been thinking about Terri Schiavo.  Remember her?  She was big news for a while.  Terri Schiavo had a heart attack in 1990 and suffered severe brain damage.  For several years, doctors attempted to improve her brain function, but eventually she was diagnosed as being in a vegetative state.  In 1998, her husband petitioned to have her feeding tube removed.  Terri Schiavo’s parents attempted to block her husband’s petition.  It made national news.  Several politicians, including the President of the United States, George W. Bush got involved.  After years of court battles, people protesting in the streets, and massive news coverage, her feeding tube was finally removed in 2005.  Luckily, my situation is nowhere near the severity of that case, but all I can think of is how dare we get involved in that family’s business?  How dare we!  Why do we fight to keep people alive under any and all circumstances?  Is it the sanctity of life?  Is this what the Bible teaches?  Does a woman in a vegetative state in bed for well over a decade glorify God?  Were her parents just happy that she was alive?

I think people are afraid of death.  I don’t care if you are an atheist or a lifelong bible thumper, you are not likely to run in to death’s arms.  You will most likely go kicking and screaming.  Whether you are the atheist praying to the God that you don’t believe in as your plane is crashing to the ground or the believer that is praying to not be taken to that supposedly awesome place called heaven, no one wants to die.  As I stated in my last blog, I have no fear of my father’s death.  He will be going to a great place, but he is not in a great place right now.  How long should he remain in his current state?  How long would I want to remain in his current state?  The whole situation pisses me off.

In part, I am angry at science.  I know how the body works.  I know what every drug that is being pumped into my dad’s body is doing and what it is for.  I look at the blinking screens and can explain to you what each number means.  I also know that if it weren’t for science, he wouldn’t be alive right now.  I blame science for being in this current situation.  Before all of our medical technological advances, people died.  It was sad, but it was part of life.  Science teaches that if we can just figure everything out, we can cheat death.  Who would not be happy about this?  Babies are being born now that would have certainly died 10 years ago.  You can smoke and be 100 pounds over weight and be confident that there will be a drug that will allow you to continue to live in your “horrible life decisions” state.  Major disorders are being cured at the genetic level.  Our current generation believes that technology will fix everything, so why worry about your diet, exercise or health?  And why should they worry?  Technology is doing amazing things right now.  Eventually, no one will die.  Right?

I don’t know what the answers are to my situation or any other situation that involves death and dying.  I want him to be more than alive, I want him to live.  I wish I could talk to my father about this and discuss our current situation and ask him what he wants to do, but I can’t right now.  But one thing is for certain; I need to talk to my family about this; my wife, my mom, and eventually my kids because I would prefer to not be in this situation again.  I don’t want people fighting and trying to figure out what I would’ve wanted.  It is difficult to deal with the death and dying of a loved one.  Everyone is dealing with the issue in their own way and everyone is stressed and sad.  I don’t want my family fighting.  I don’t want my family to stop living while I am dying.  I want my family to bask in the knowledge of my love for them and trust that death will not be the end of me, but just the beginning.  I also want my family to focus on how awesome I was in life.  For all those reasons, you can let me go.  But if I am going to make sure that happens when the time comes, I am going to need to have the hard conversation about death.  If you are still reading, and if you haven’t already, maybe it is time for you to have the hard conversation now too.

———————————————————

How do I want to die?  If all goes well, the earth will be attacked by aliens.  I will discover the weakness in the mother ship and everyone knows once the mother ship is destroyed, the remaining ships will follow.  Using a disguise of cabbage and cranberry juice poured over my body, I will sneak into the mother ship, killing at least 10 aliens with hand-to-hand combat, steal an alien weapon, grab the keys off a dead guard that I had to shoot, release the earth prisoners, which would include the President, hand the alien weapon to the President and explain to her how to get out of the ship safely, of course she will say, “What about you?”  I will say, “Mrs. President, it’s the 4th of July, and we haven’t had our fireworks yet.  It’s time for the big finale.”  I would then place my arm around her and give her a big kiss and say, “If you don’t mind, could you give that to my wife.”  The president and the other prisoners would run out of the ship.  I’d make it to the engineering room, overload the engines, find a button that will destroy the whole ship.  The alien commander bursts into the room, looks at me, I look back at him and say, “Yippy Ki Yay Motherfu…” -BOOM!!!  The whole world looks up and sees the explosions of all the ships and the Earth is saved.  The President says, “We owe our lives to that man.  We will honor him for years to come.  He was a father, husband, a great American, …” and then as a smile comes over her face, “and a great kisser.”  Pan out, show awesome alien ship explosions, cue 1812 overture and roll credits.  I’m just sayin’ …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love it when you stay to watch the credits and there is more movie.  Especially if after watching the credits it suggests a sequel.  For example, after I explode the mother ship, it turns out that by pushing the button, it automatically placed a force field around me.  I am encased in this bubble and I begin to float down to Earth.  I am shocked that I am still alive.  I start to laugh hysterically about how I just cheated death (This is important to any great movie.  Americans hate it when the hero doesn’t survive.  See blog above).  As I am floating down to earth, I stop laughing, quickly sober and realize, “Crap!  My wife is going to kill me because of that kiss!”  Continue credits.

Read Full Post »

So, I am on a journey half way across the country to see my father, who is gravely ill.  He is currently being kept alive by chemicals and machines and it is likely that my trip will not end well and it is very hard on me.  However, I am struck with thoughts that are going through my mind as I drive across this great land of ours.  More specifically, I am struck by the thoughts that are NOT going through my mind.  My dad is going to die and that is a sad fact.  Whether today, tomorrow, or by some miracle years from now, one fact remains:  He is going to die.  And I am surprised, no shocked at how confident I am of where he is going upon his death.  This is not a sermon, nor some sort of trick to convince my readers to believe in God and Heaven, but a confession of my true feelings.  It is not his end that my mind is focused on, but his whole story.  It is like a book or video game I wish would not end, because I feel like I am just getting into it.

In times of death, we obviously focus on death.  For many people, death drives their lives.  You may even know people who are religious and all they can talk about is what happens when we die.  It is kind of like Jurassic Park III.  I hated that movie.  However, when I really examine my movie watching experience; in retrospect, I was enjoying the movie until the end.  The ending was so bad, it is all I can remember from that movie.  We can be so focused on the end, it can ruin the beginning and middle.  If you want me or anyone else to believe in God, don’t talk about heaven or hell, just show me a story worth reading.  I think my father had a story worth reading.

My father used to smoke.  I must have been around 10 or 11 when  I asked him, “Why don’t you smoke anymore?”  He said he prayed about it and God took it away.  End of story.  After my parents divorced, he would pick me up on the weekends.  Sometimes he had to work on the weekends.  He was a bus driver.  He still picked me up, and I would ride with him on the bus all day.  It was during these trips that I learned to give up my seats for the elderly and those with physical needs.  I saw him talk to everyone, often bringing up God in conversation in the same matter of fact tone as the story of him giving up smoking.

My father also use to annoy the hell out of me.  As soon I learned to drive I made sure that I never visited him without my car just in case I needed to make a quick getaway.  He was the king of unasked for sermons, advice, lectures, stories, teachings, “you know what your problem is”isms.  It got old.  My father could also say some pretty racist things, at least in my opinion.  At some point, I learned stories of how people, specifically white people would treat him growing up.  Now I am amazed that he talked to white people at all.

I loved family vacations.  Family vacations taught me to be aware of my surroundings.  My father would ask me what a sign would say as we drove.  He would do this with little time, so I had to read fast to complete his challenge.  Eventually, I learned that if I read and memorized every sign that we passed, I would always be able to get the sign questions correct.  It is amazing how many stories like that are running through my head:  Driving across country; turning a one-story house to a two-story house;  trips to “see a man about a dog or horse”, a phrase that I still do not understand; showing up unannounced at my house; lecture after lecture about every subject under the sun; mini-sermons; and more mini-sermons.  It has been a neat story, a story I wish would not end, at least not right now.

I will see my father tomorrow.  The end of his story is likely to be sad, but unlike Jurassic Park III, it is not the end that I will remember most, but the beginning.  It is not the end of my father that has made me who I am today, but all the other parts of the story.  You see, I am not on this journey alone.  My son is with me now.  I am sure I annoy my son at times too, but when I think of my story, I think of my dad’s story.  His story has led to my story.  It is not the end.  Think of it more as a sequel.  Thanks Ron.

————————————————————–

On this trip I have learned that my son is really into Sponge Bob.  As we stopped at a rest stop to have lunch, he was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.   He asked me, “Where does jelly come from?”  I told him I am not exactly sure, but I am sure it involves mashing up fruit and adding sugar.  He was visibly shocked by my answer.  So, I asked him where did he think it came from?  He said, “From squeezing jellies from the ocean.”  I couldn’t help but laugh and luckily he laughed too.  I told him he was watching too much Sponge Bob.  I’m just sayin’ …

Read Full Post »

So, I am not just quoting a John Lennon song, but introducing the topic of my blog:  What if there was no hell?  My wife subscribes to Time magazine, and this was their cover story.  It is in regard to Rob Bell’s new book: ‘Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived’.  Now, full disclosure, I have not read the book, but I am a huge fan of Rob Bell.  Bell has a video on sex that might be the best discussion of God and sex that I have ever seen.  Although I have not read his newest book, I found the Time magazine article interesting.

In Bell’s book, according to Time magazine, he proposes the possibility that Jesus Christ died for everyone, both past and present and basically, a loving God would not condemn anyone to hell.  Rob Bell is an evangelical teacher and heads a church of

Not your typical pastor

about 7,000 and apparently his evangelical brethren went crazy at the mere thought of a lack of hell.  Now, I know that some of my readers are atheists, so the idea of no hell is not a difficult concept to swallow, but for many people it is unthinkable.  Why?  Well, if you grew up in the church as I did, the idea that there is no hell is just about as heresy as saying there is no heaven.  For many people, evangelism without hell is like physical trainers without fast food, they both would be out of a job.

I may have mentioned before, I am a Christian.  I am not perfect.  I have made many mistakes in my life, both big and small, but I must ask myself:  Would my beliefs change if I was convinced there was no hell?  My beliefs wouldn’t change at all, and I am not convinced they should, nor should evangelists around the globe.  It has been my experience that very few, if any, have converted to Christianity out of fear of hell.  I am not going to try to convince my readers that there is a hell, but I do believe that hell exists.  In my opinion, hell is where God is not.  Like Bell, I believe in a loving God, and in His love, I believe He will not force anyone to be with Him that does not want to be, and therefore, the existence of hell.

I believe in the redeeming power of Christ, both on Earth as well as after, but have a hard time believing that Ghandi is in hell. 

In hell? I dont think so.

Now, keep in mind, I am not a preacher.  I did not go to seminary, and simply put, I am no theologian, but I can read and I consider myself pretty smart.  Let me share with you two Bible verses that might indicate that things are not as simplistic as many people believe them to be (which is the heart of the problem: people want their beliefs and lives to be simple and certain, but to discuss this would require another blog).

In the book of Matthew, chapter 19 (23-24), Jesus tells his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

If you google this passage, you will find a variety of different interpretations, but I want to give my simple take on this passage: Not everyone is getting in to heaven because they may be unwilling to do the things necessary to enter heaven.  We could argue at length what those ‘things’ might be, but I think Jesus is talking about those that put their trust and beliefs in non-God items, like money.  Again, it is just my opinion.

The second passage from the Bible I would like to share is from Luke 23:38-43 where we learn of a conversation among Jesus and two criminals being killed on the cross:

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The above passage from Luke would suggest that getting into heaven might be a little easier than that whole eye of the needle business.  The point I am trying to make is that many people are going to be surprised at who they see in heaven.  On the same token, many will be surprised at who is not in heaven.  One thing I am certain about, if there is a hell, I do not decide who will be there and who will not, and I am quite thankful for that.  As many churches remain stagnant or are losing members, churches like that of Bell are growing and doing well.  I don’t think churches should abandon their beliefs, as I believe Rob Bell is quite biblically sound, but I do think the church needs to have a more open door policy rather than behaving like an exclusive social club with dress code, passwords and secret handshakes.

At the end of the day, whether you are a believer in God, an atheist, or think we were planted here by aliens, isn’t it at least worth considering alternative ways of thinking?  If your beliefs can’t survive alternative ways of thinking; then do you really believe what you believe?  It’s something to think about.

———————————————–

Last Friday, I got a vasectomy.  It went great, thanks for asking.  I was going to regale you with the details of the operation, including the moment I laughed out loud and the nurse asked what was wrong, but I might save that for another blog.  I do, however, want to tell you about the Dr.’s instructions I received for post-operation, specifically, the “Call immediately if you notice:” section.  I am to call the doctor if, my temp is above 100.6 (normal), unable to urinate (makes sense), drainage, redness or bruising greater than quarter-size at incision site (of course, standard warning signs), and swelling greater than softball size (WHAT!?!?!)

Did someone call the doctor after their testes swelled to the size of baseballs and get shunned?  “Sorry sir, baseball size is pretty normal.  We are very busy here at the doctor’s office.  Please don’t call unless they reach softball size.”  Who draws the line for when to see a doctor?  Three hour erection?  No problem.  Four hour erection, get to the hospital immediately.  Who drew this line?  I have had zero problems, but trust me; I was not going to wait beyond baseball size, or even tangerine, OK, plum size and that’s my final offer.  I’m just sayin …

My line.

Read Full Post »

So, yesterday I played golf with a friend of mine.  In the golf cart was an advertisement for the Martini Lounge.  The last time I had a martini was at a bar in Chicago where transvestite sang for entertainment.  I told him I was not a fan of martinis, nor transvestites, but not for the reasons you might think.  Martinis, mainly because they are pretentious, and transvestites because they wear too much makeup.  I hate makeup.  It is why I hate clowns, Shakespearian actors, Halloween, and anyone who works for or shops at Mary Kay.

The conversation continued into a more controversial area and that is homosexuality as a sin and laws that have been proposed to prevent certain lifestyles, such as gay marriage.  I realize that this is a hot topic for many of my readers.  Hell, it is a hot topic for many Americans, but I do not want to discuss whether or not homosexuality is correct or not.  Quite frankly, I don’t care, but I am interested in the concept of what I will call “The inequality of sin”.

If you are a Christian, or a believer and follower of the Bible, you are aware there are a number of commandments on how one should live.  The Bible is considered by many as the Word of God and when one does not live by the Bible’s commandments, and therefore God’s Word he is committing a sin.  The Bible also clearly states that “… all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” — Romans 3:23.  And this is a point that my friend made.  “Everybody sins.” He said.  I said, “You are right, but the problem is we do not treat sins equally.”  Whether you believe in God or not, whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Hindu, or Jewish, I bet you do not treat sins equally.

If homosexuality is a sin, then so is sex before marriage, living with someone you are not married to, wanting what is not yours, such as your neighbor’s wife, adultery, and my favorite, divorce.  We don’t view people living lifestyles in these “minor” categories as major issues.  And we certainly wouldn’t dream of proposing legislation to regulate divorce or living arrangements.  It is kind of hypocritical, isn’t it?  But this is an issue for everyone.  Regardless of your beliefs, my guess is you too have your pet sins.  Here is an example: If a man is convicted of being a pedophile, serves his time and is released, where does he live?  In your town?  My town? The neighboring town? An island?  Even if he reforms, never commits that crime again, he is forever labeled and will find it difficult to receive forgiveness anywhere, and I mean ANYWHERE.  Would I be OK with a pedophile living near me and my family?  Hell no.  But I am aware of my areas of hypocrisy, are you aware of yours?

My church starts a series called “Everybody” next week.  I am looking forward to it.  I believe the church should be more inclusive than it currently is.  If you have ever read the Bible, you will know that people absolutely loved hanging with Jesus.  You also know that he hung out with people who were CLEAR sinners.  People hated him, in part, because of the people he was associated.  Think about it.  The Christian church just 2000 years ago was a handful of people, and now has a membership of millions … millions.  The church was the place to be.  When was the last time you heard of the church as the place to be? Jesus was the man.  I believe if you met Jesus you would like him.  You would want to hang out with him.  Jesus was clearly a cool dude.  He was your bud, your pal, the kind of guy you could throw up in the back of his car and not get mad.  Where is His church?  I want to belong to a church that loves EVERYBODY and people feel welcome within its doors.  I want EVERYBODY to know that they are loved.  Does it mean you must agree with everybody, no but it does mean that we all have issues and we all have fallen short.

I don’t care who you are, you don’t treat sin equally, but if you did, you might not look at that particular person with such disdain and realize, we all got problems.  I don’t agree with everyone the same, but I want to love everyone the same.  I am not there yet, but I strive to be.  How about you?
—————————————————-
Whenever I go to the grocery store and walk through the detergent aisle I think it smells fragrant.  I walk and smell the perfumes and fragrances and have the same thought every time:  This would be a great place to fart.

Read Full Post »

So, a couple of days ago some good friends, Nick and Laura stopped by to see the baby.  They visited for a while.  Nick brought over a couple of cigars (I am very glad that he did not believe that this was a gift reserved for boy babies.  Good on ya Nick!) and a 4-pack of Guinness.  Laura brought something, I don’t know what it was, I was too focused on the stogies and beer.  I know it was pink and I am sure Violet will wear whatever it was at some point.  Anyhoo, after oohing and ahing over Violet we went out to lunch together and had some nice conversations.  The main subject of one of our conversations was prompted by Laura who asked us if we plan to vaccinate Violet and our overall opinion on the subject.  That particular conversation has led me to write this post.  However, before I do, I want to talk about something else: Is there anything more of a couple activity than visiting someone’s baby?  Seriously, unless you are married, no guy chooses to go see someone else’s baby that they are not related to.  And even then you are only going to go if it is very very convenient.

So, it got me thinking: What activities signify that you are in a serious, most likely to get married relationship?  Nick and Laura, the first part of this post is dedicated to you.

A la Jeff Foxworthy:

If you are a guy and you attend an event that has anything to do with babies, i.e., new baby, christening, baby shower, bar mitzvah, or bris … You might be in a serious relationship.

If you are at a wedding, and you are with someone and you are NOT wondering which bridesmaid or groomsmen you might be able to get with that night …  You might be in a serious relationship.

If you have to set your alarm to get your girlfriend or boyfriend to the airport on time … You might be in a serious relationship.

If the boys or girls say “Let’s hit the town tonight” and your response is “Sure, but let me clear it with my partner first.” … You might be in a serious relationship.

If a HOT guy or girl walks by, and you do NOT notice (more for guys), you sir, are whipped, and … You might be in a serious relationship.

OK, now back to our regularly scheduled program.  So, we were talking about vaccinations and how there is a population of people who believe that vaccinations have led to more harm than good in their children.  And it got me thinking about the human need to understand the cause of something.  We need to know why something happened.  We especially need to know why bad things happen.  Let me give you a few scenarios to illustrate this point.

If you take your car to the mechanic for an oil change and on your drive home from the mechanic your car breaks down, or you hear a knock, or something is clearly wrong, who are you going to blame?

If you are in perfect health, not a hint of sickness, and you take a trip to the hospital, and within an hour you are as sick as a dog, where did you pick up the bug?

And finally, if you have your child vaccinated, and within 24 hours of the shot your child appears different to you or is later diagnosed with autism what is to blame?

Please do not get me wrong, I have the utmost respect and love for parents raising children that have conditions that are not considered typical or are difficult to manage.  My oldest son has seen his fair share of professionals to diagnose and assist us with his development.  The point of this post is simple, although we need to know the cause, the cause is not always clear, and the “obvious” cause may only be obvious to us because of coincidence and our strong human desire to know the cause of an unfortunate event in our life.

We all address potential coincidences differently.  For example, I believe in prayer.  If I pray for someone to get better and they are miraculously healed, I will thank God.  However, if you do not believe in God, you will thank modern medicine or call it a coincidence.  For even I know that not all my prayers receive miraculous results, so it can be difficult to know coincidence versus Divine Intervention.  If the outcome is good, divine intervention, if the outcome is bad, other explanations are needed.  One must be careful, because you can not have it both ways.

In general, humans have major problems with randomness and mistakes.  We hate randomness because we need to know why things happen and we will go to great lengths to connect A to B.  We also hate mistakes, or more specifically, we hate accidents.  Why?  Because we need to blame someone or something.  If it is an accident, than it is no one’s fault, and we hate that.  Living in a no-fault culture is detrimental to health and well-being.  Everyone and everything makes mistakes.

A while back I went to the ATM to withdrawal 20 bucks.  The machine deducted 20 dollars from my account, but money did not come out.  This has happened once in my life.  Luckily, these machines have cameras, and I wrote a letter to the bank and the 20 dollars was placed back in my account.  So you see, even machines make mistakes.

I would hate to be a doctor for this very reason.  Doctors are humans, but they are expected to be perfect.  How can a doctor be perfect? Yet they are expected to be, especially if it is your child.  When something goes wrong during surgery, we need to blame someone.  Keep in mind, neglect is different from mistake.  If doctor is proven to be negligent, I get that, but I do not understand how someone can lose their job over a mistake.  But if it were my kid, God forbid, I would definitely need someone or something to blame.  I get it.  This is why I understand why so many have blamed vaccines for autism.  It also did not help that a now defunked scientific article was written about the time parents were looking for reasons for their child’s autism.

Approximately 10 out of 10,000 babies have autism, a relatively low percentage.  What is the likelihood that most if not all of them were caused by vaccinations?  But it can give a parent a reason, and that is important.

Let me leave with you one final example.  This is an example of how our minds work and our brain will literally create an image with meaning that may not exist.  In 1976, the following picture was taken on the surface of Mars.

A shape that is about two miles long near a region of Mars called Cydonia.

There was a huge uproar from the public regarding the meaning of this incredible “finding” and the evidence of life on Mars.  To put the situation to rest, NASA took pictures of the exact same site again in 2001.  This time with the benefit of better technology.

The picture on the right was taken in 2001. Do you still see a face?

Pictures were taken from http://www.msss.com/

We often see things that are not there.  Our brain is excellent at creating reason for everything.  I think a great movie to watch is The Invention of Lying (http://the-invention-of-lying.warnerbros.com/).  It will give you something to think about regarding beliefs.  Keep in mind, I recommend this movie as a believer in God.  Nonetheless, we all want to know why things happen, but unfortunately sometimes things just happen.  I don’t think everything is random, as matter of fact I think most things are not, but I do believe random plays a part in my life.  I know I certainly make mistakes and sometimes accidents occur where there is no one to blame.  You may like this post or not, you may agree or not, but one thing is for sure, I wrote it (Cause and Effect).

———————————————-

Why is hair being disgusting so dependent on its context?  It is the same hair isn’t?  Fingers through someone’s hair, OK.  Finding hair in your soup, not OK. I’m just saying …

Read Full Post »

If you read my first post, you will know that this blog is for entertainment purposes only.  However, the following post is surprisingly serious. 

So, one day on my way home I saw a very large electronic sign flashing “God Bless America”.  I have decided that I am sick of this saying.  First of all let me state for the record that I am a Christian, but I am definitely not the same Christian I was in college (details for a later blog).  For some of you reading this, the word Christian will either conjure up bad or good feelings.  For me, being a Christian does not give me the magic formula on who and who is not going to heaven or hell.  I realize that for many it does and for good reason.  If you believe in the Bible, and I do, it seems quite clear on what one must do to enter heaven.  But another thing that is quite clear to me is that I am not the one that decides who gets in and who does not.  It is also very clear to me that many may receive last-minute reprieves (see thief on the cross). 

One of my favorite Christian authors is C.S. Lewis.  He wrote the 7-book series The Chronicles of Narnia.  They made two movies from this series “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and “Prince Caspian”.  In the final book, “The Last Battle”, three of the four kings, Peter, Edmund and Lucy are in the New Narnia (essentially C.S. Lewis’ heaven for the Narnia world).  Susan is not there because she no longer believes in Aslan (the Jesus/God character) and the times she spent Narnia.  But there is a person who is there, and it surprised me when I first read it as a kid and it is my favorite section of any religious type book.  A believer of Tash (the book’s representation of the Devil) was in the New Narnia (Heaven).  What?!?  Here is an excerpt:

—But the Glorious One [Aslan] bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, though knowest how much I understand.–

I love this.  It also suggests that there are people who do evil things in the name of God and will NOT be in heaven.  It also suggests that God reads the heart.  This is a very comforting and hopeful belief to me because about 50% of my friends, very good friends are non-Christians.  Now, if you are reading this and you consider yourself a Christian and you do NOT have non-Christian friends, think about that … seriously.  Think about the fact that you do not have a diversity of friends and ask yourself “What would Jesus do?” (Another saying I detest, but I digress).

Although I have been highly disappointed with churches and many church people, I am not throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am far from being a saint, but that is one key difference I have made about my faith.  I am not a saint, and trying to hide the fact or act like I am better than anyone only makes me worse.  And this may be the main reason I do not believe I know who is getting in and who is not.  If your ability to get into heaven is depended on me or any other Christian, than that system sucks!  Because a lot of Christians suck.  It would be like if I gave my three-year old son a message to give my neighbor that a criminal is about to break into his house and kill him.  If you are a Christian and you want others to be a part of it as well, be better.  Hence, why I hate “God Bless America!”

Here’s the thing: Why would you ever say God Bless America?  What is the point?  Are you trying to separate the U.S. from others that may or may not receive God’s blessings?  Are you requesting special treatment for our country?  Have we done anything as a country to deserve God’s blessings?  Or is this truly a prayer that God make us happy?

First of all, what is a blessing?  Now, depending on the source, you will find different answers.  For example, a popular Christian website states “In short, all of God’s goodness and promises are blessings. When we do not see those things happening, we must seek to find the cause.”  The problem I have with this is the idea that if your life is going well or if good things are happening then you are being blessed by God.  The alternative is that you are being “cursed” and the website actually uses this word.  This is ridiculous.  I believe this is a popular belief and it is why many of my friends are turned off by Christianity.

All actions have consequences.  Whether you are a Christian or not, believe that statement.  Your life may suck because you make bad choices.  Don’t blame God.  And quite frankly, if you are having troubles in your life it is often those difficult times that bring you to an ultimately better place in your life.  You have no idea what a blessing might be in your life, the question is, how are you handling your own trials and tribulations?  I have both personal and family stories that would lead me to believe that we were cursed.  However, many of those events turned out to be blessings.  If curses exist, they exist for everyone, in the form of actions having consequences.

I looked up the word, blessed in Greek.  The word often used in the Bible is “eulogeo”.  I believe this is where we get our word eulogy. Here is a list I found on how the word has been used in the Bible: to praise, to invoke blessings, to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers such as to ask God’s blessing on a thing, pray God to bless it to one’s use, or pronounce a consecratory blessing on.  Finally, it is God causing one to prosper, to make happy, or to bestow blessings on.  To be favoured by God, blessed.

Obviously, “God Bless America” falls in that last line in which we ask God to favor us and make us happy.  But wouldn’t we want this for everyone, or just the people we believe are special?  I pray that God blesses ALL of my friends and even a few of my enemies.  What would the world be like if everyone was happy?  What would the world be like if we did not ostracize groups of people for not believing as we do?  Would more people want to be part of a group that welcomes and loves, or would they more likely shy away from a group that separates and hates those that “don’t belong”?  There are a lot of people in my life that have beliefs that I do not agree with, but I hope and pray that they have never felt ostracized, belittled, or treated in a negative way because I believed differently.  Does this mean that everyone is correct in whatever they believe?  I never said that, but I will say, I can disagree with you without taking away your rights, treating you poorly, and attempting to separate you in a negative manner.

I hope that God blesses America, but I also hope God blesses France, Ethiopia, Australia, Turkey, and even Iraq.  Does everyone believe in God, no, but if they had to depend on you for their belief, how do you think that would go?  Or do they even know you, because you can’t afford to hang with the non-believers, which is pretty much all Jesus did.

———————————————————

At Church, a friend of mine was talking to my wife.  While she was talking to her she had her hands on her tummy (my wife as of this post is still pregnant, a week over due and huge).  As they were talking to each other she kept her hands on her tummy and was lightly rubbing it the entire time.  I am watching this and thinking “Should I be paying for this?”  Nice inappropriate way to end this post, huh?  Or very appropriate?  I’m just sayin …

Read Full Post »