Monthly Archives: April 2007
The Word of God & Prophecy – ‘Weigh In’ Time – Part 1
(SVS) But this (for me) is always a little suspect “The Lord spoke the words in my post, they are not mine. So then, they are to be obeyed and followed, as should His words in the NT be obeyed and followed” (Tim).
There is an equation of what Tim says/writes that puts his stuff on the same level with the Tanakh/gospels/letters. However, within the writings we see this is not quite true. The quotes of Tim are always harkening back to the Tanakh/gospels/letters as authoritative and he isn’t elaborating on anything new (but more like a bible study on a topic).
But (for me) I have to raise concern on the issue, should I consider my blog inspired by God? It’s most definitely inspired by the interaction with the word of God (as is the writings I see above) and with the living of my faith (experiences). But I do not claim any extra authority on the issue except that I follow Jesus’ teachings and elaborate on them. I know Tim you won’t agree with me on this but I am just raising the obvious questions which need to be in place.
(Tim) Jason, it is this simple and I will never say otherwise: This blog is not inspired it is the Word of the Lord, literally. I hear the voice of the Lord and write down what He says. Period…thats it…no discussion, no debate. It is like dictation, He dictates I write, unless I indicate otherwise in the Letter or post.
So then, should you test what I have written down according to the scriptures? Yes, I have helped with this, Biblically, in my “Discernment of True and False Prophets” blog. Is the Word I am sharing with you the Word of the Lord from His mouth? Yes. Is it equal to the Bible most definitely!..same Author. Rather the issue is not with me, (I know Who speaks to me and that what He says is True) the issue lies with those to whom I share God’s words, in the receiving…to believe or believe not. I have delivered the message as the Lord had commanded me.
How do you digest this discussion – let me know? Feel like adding another book to your bible?
Christianity & Atheism Dialogues – Best Attack Wins!
(1) From someone at the whywon’tgodhealamputee’s.com website:
“The 11 second pause that Dawkins takes is actually him deciding whether or not he will throw the vile cretins out of his home because when they asked him that question he knew that they were c*cksucker theists. If it were me I would have reached for my shotgun and blown those f*ckers away. But to each his own. Get in touch with reality.”
All this is over a video showing Dawkins pause when asked the question “Professor Dawkins, can you give an example of a genetic mutation or an evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in the genome?”. I have to say I find this response to a debate over such a stupid subject shocking (in the least).
(2) From a Rational Response Squad member’s (Mr Gawn) rap song:
“F*ckin’ Christians, if I can’t convert ’em I’ll burn ’em. Learn ’em a lesson with my Smith and Wesson straight in they sternum.”
For a site that talks down to religion for violence – this is quaintly the same thing they blast against.
(3) An Atheist Allison said this:
“Well should we not demonize rapists? con-artists? polygamists? People who steal the last 10 dollars from a desperate old person for a fake healing? That’s Christians.”
Does that even seem like a fair characterization about Christians? Is this going to lead to a peaceful discussion amongst people of various ideologies?
(4) From a Christian named Frank at ‘Atheism Sucks’:
“As I said, if you align yourself with them (RRS), you’re a sick-minded facist.”
“I’m not surprised people made fun of the color of your hair when you were a child. It still looks like you need some growing to do”
This is some of the ilk coming out of Frank’s mouth during his debates with Atheists. In this blog he is seen ‘cutting down’ 8 various atheists. He also has been accused in this blog by another atheist for saying some racist & vicious things (also of hoaxing them). Is this representative of what we learn from the teachings of Jesus about dialogue with our neighbor?
This seems to be a growing problem in the society we live within. On one side we have radical thinkers like Harris and Dawkins making religion look like the cause of all problems. On the other side we have some Christians yelling just as loudly back in their faces – spewing garbage in the name of ‘defending the faith’. Both sides are using rhetoric that betrays honest dialogue and seem to embellish the realities of either situation – or is this an accurate portrayal of either side?
One guy at Atheism Sucks named Beast Rabban has been very articulate and has won me over as ‘fan’ of his writings. He stays balanced and quite accurate about his portrayal of history – and I have never seen him resort to ‘calling names’. I can also say the same about the atheist thinker Dagoods – who has also won me over – for his candid questions and balanced portrayal of his ideologies. Both of these people represent the hope of conversation that does not lead into mud-slinging or vicious diatribes about either’s beliefs/views. They know how to stay civil even in the midst of tough questioning and have the ability to be candid and kind.
I am going out on a limb here and I think we need to open our eyes to some of the things being said around us. As responsible people of the faith let’s pick up the books of Dawkins and Harris and read them – and you’ll be quite interested to know what they believe about you…they raise good food for thought but some of their ideas are quite narrow-minded. In the same breath we need to start taking a look at what is coming out of our fellow believers mouths and raise the obvious questions about how what’s being said is smearing our faith teachings. Call it a dual responsibility to call some people to the carpet that promote what I think leads to ‘hate’.
I’ll leave it with this little tidbit from Greg Koukl which I think speaks volumnes in the debate:
“He asks this in this illustration. If you were walking down a dark street at night in the center of Los Angeles and you saw 10 young men walking towards you, would you feel more comfortable if you knew that they had just come from a Bible class?” This mentions 2 things which I think are key for each side to remember…can you see what they are?
The Tipi Ceremony & Breathing New Life into Old Teachings
Today was the first time I got to take part in building a tipi (or actually ‘raising’ a tipi). The tipi consists of 15 wooden poles, some rope, a canvass outside (used to be buffalo hides), wooden stakes, and teamwork. I got to tie the 3 main poles together that were the bare-bones of the beginning of the tipi. Then like 7 of us worked together to build the whole thing (which is quite the process but apparently can take as little as 10 minutes to do). This was part of my new socialization effort (getting out there with others) and it felt great.
The elder who helped us build the tipi taught us about the tipi and First Nations society. All the poles are equally important in the strength of the structure. Tipi’s face certain ways due to the way the wind blows. He explained how they would fortify these things so both wind and extreme cold wouldn’t phase the ‘home-owner’. He explained some traditions like: the tipi belonged to the woman (as her place to raise kids in case the husband left), at marriages a tipi was given to the new pair, the tipi was also used as a cart to move from place to place, and if someone was ostracized from the community was a lone man wandering (since his presence hurt his whole community). I was in awe in some way after putting up the tipi and then sitting in it an learning about it. I had one of those epiphanies sitting on the ground in the tipi.
I started to think about the rabbinical lifetstyle and their ownership of their teachings, and I thought about Jesus in the gospels as a rabbi (teacher). It then clicked in to me about what the teachings are meant to be that are written down, they are meant to be elaborated on by us. The teachings are not ‘stone’ but ‘clay’ and are within the hands of the skillful worker. They are not ‘static’ truths but something we are to ‘own’ as ours also and elaborate further upon. They are in some sense alive and still moving.
I see this stronly in Jesus’ teachings and how he challenged previous assumptions about the law. He made changes where things were being mis-represented and offered new experiences in their place (he updated them with his life in some senses). I saw this from the elder as he spoke about old traditions and why they existed – for the safety and cohesiveness of the society – but things changed from 1860 to 2007. I no longer live in a tipi and community is not what it once was – not as dependant person to person one with another. Things changed and teachings also do in some ways.
The elder spoke on about traditions and the power of observation (which has not changed) on university grounds (an intellectual community). I started to listen to the elder intently and saw his ownership of his knowledge and how things changed from his elders to him (but he changed few things and elaborated). Now this is what he was showing us – here is what I have learned in life – do the same and pass those on also. I saw the what a pastor should be, a rabbi should be, any teacher needs to be – someone who lives and elaborates on what he knows and then teaches what he learned from that living (and only on that can he teach).
Now I read a lot of Jesus’ teachings and remember practically the whole gospels, but rote memorization is nothing. I see that learning with these teachings means ‘owning’ them – elaborating on them – becoming them and them becoming mine. I can say ‘love your neighbor’ but what does that mean to ‘me’? What is love? Who is my neighbor? How do they connect? These are things I have to look into and start to ‘own’. Then when I have learned (or continually learn about them) then I speak.
But I do not merely say ‘love your neighbor’ as copying the text but elaborating on the text – love the people both close to you and not so near – love them with the things you ‘own’ and ‘are’. I might as well also say ‘love everyone as much as you can and when you can’. I see why there was paraphrasing in a lot of Jesus’ teachings and within Paul, it’s about ownership and pure understanding. Why recite the 10 commandments (everyone knows them in that community) when you can say ‘you break one you break them all’. It’s a deeper understanding they came to about the essence of the law and what ‘breaking’ them meant to them. This is a paraphrased sentence that shows an understanding of what they learned.
But the bible does not stop with the writer’s. It keeps moving and living within is and our elaborations of it. I see lots of books on my bookshelf about new writer’s elaborating on what the gospel teachings mean to them. I see this in blogs also. We become the words as the words become us. Maybe this was part fo what John meant by ‘the word made flesh’ (in reference to Jesus – but also holds a deeper meaning for us to). We are now the flesh that holds those words – what are we learning and elaborating upon? What have we decided to own and make part of our teachings?
An Evil Intent/Spirit and Learning
By now the news of Virginia Tech has reached you at your blog or local newscasts, irregardless of where you are now. The tragedy has claimed many lives and left many injured, needless to say, this was a needless crime and left many broken. It left me thinking about the person who did it and what his mentality must of been; an ‘evil spirit’.
By the word spirit I mean ‘intent’; the intent of the perpetrator was ‘evil’ so thusly he had an ‘evil spirit’. The person had become evil in his thoughts and then committed an atrocious act in which many innocent people (and their families) suffered a horrible consequence. He had besieged his life ‘aura’ with the intents of evil for which he could act upon – I am guessing many years in the making. What was the good creation of God now reflected an evil aura of a person. Or as the old saying goes ‘evil is as evil does’.
How does this relate to Virgina Tech? Had the perpetrator thought about his life and intents – had he really challenged his life for a better direction (repent/change) – this was all avoidable. The real problem started when the perpetrator let things into his mind concerning ‘evil’, about vicious hatred for his neighbor, and lastly decided on plans of action for the ‘evil’ intent. If someone says he was ‘possessed by an evil spirit’ they are accurate – he became ‘owned by his his own evil intent/spirit/persona’ that it produced a horrible consequence. The actions spoke about someone so ‘evil’ that most of us have a tough time comprehending his thoughts.
I have seen the media play the blame game (ex: ban handguns) about ‘why this happened’. The problem is they want to find blame from exterior circumstances when we know who did it, with what, and are slowly coming to realization of ‘what he was thinking’. The problem is never removed from the perpetrator (in all situations I have seen) and will not be found in better legislation (of which many of us hope). The problem starts in the human heart (ie: mind, emotions, values, and perspective on life) and works from the ‘evil intents’ of a human being – by human means. Then we realize the chaos and perplexity of the human with undealt/unresolved issues.
What is note-worthy is ‘what do we learn from such a moment’? The idea of ‘repent’ makes a lot of sense for all of us. Unless we also change our thinking about our neighbor than these horrible things will continue to linger in society (for someone will also hold these grudges of evilness and then one day ‘act upon them’). The change needs to start with us, then work forward in our interactions with others – we need to reflect a ‘good spirit/intent/persona’ – one that allows us to work one with another for the betterment of our lives. The idea starts with us and we present it in our actions to those around us. In the end, we present a life (a life’s spirit) that represents a ‘good way of living’ and in essence, changes those who know us.
We need to learn from the tears we see shed, the pain that happens to those who do not deserve the consequences, and the fear inflicted upon the victims. We need to honor the victims by living a life that helps to prevent this from happening – vis a vis – a healthy lifestyle that seeks the best for all people we interact with (who knows maybe you stop the next perpetrator by friendship). I am seek to honor those slain, and playing blame with the scenario does little for anyone, but honor comes when we stand opposed to letting the same evil from the perpetrator into our spirits/intents….which can simply be seen as ‘not caring for human life/his neighbor’. All I am asking is ‘let’s care a little more for those around us in desperation’ – lest we see others fall to this damage over and over again. Peace.
I like blogging and learning from all kinds of people out there – and there are many conversations I am yet to have that I don’t have yet (ex: inter-faith discussions). But I think I will become a moderate intellectual.
‘Do all things in moderation’ – I don’t know who said that but they are accurate with those words. I have noticed that becoming too intellectual isn’t helping me a single iota and in some cases I am losing touch with the people around me (we seem to be communicating on various wavelengths). So I have decided this isn’t quite the point of the gospels (or the bible in general) so I will be moderate in this idea.
I am a very researched dude on a lot of subjects and have found that those subjects (and research) do very little for the value system I want to build within my life (ex: developing levels of compassion for the people around me). I figure I am wasting my time on a lot of this study since it’s ‘ends’ have very little to show for it (ie: no value added). So I am a moderate logical person, a moderate rational thinker, a moderate reasonable person, a moderate intellectual.
Cause sometimes real life just defies logic, defies rationale, defies reason, or defies the intellectual aspects of life (or are just greater in weight than they are).
I think the values we pass onto one another just means so much more than anything ‘smart’ we might say. The teachings of Jesus lay down some pretty radical ideas about ‘helping others out’ – none of them being out-smarting the next dude – and a good load of them go against modern ideas of wealth building (or question the what is true wealth? – a poignant question for all of us in Capitalist gov’t’s).
Idea’s like ‘lose your life so you might keep it’ require critical thought but also a detailed action plan. The idea ‘take up your cross and follow me’ is merely a call to action. These ideas redefine known logic. Logic has little to no value ouside of the action it can give? You want to think deeply about something – how about helping the poor within your community? It’s logical, thoughful, and an action packed with meaning (deeper than words can truly convey). It’s one of many avenues one might peruse for helping the ‘least of these’.
It’s like saying ‘blessed are the poor’ and then doing nothing for them. What’s so ‘blessed’ about debating the saying and doing nothing about it? And that seems to be the strength of the gospel (good news) – that logic and reason can help but at some point they can never make you understand it – that which needs life needs the living.
That’s how I became a moderate intellect.
Finding Meaning in the Gospels
What is the meaning of the gospels? I mean, why was it important to save these pieces of literature exactly? Is it to find the problems within the stories – to find the ‘matching pieces’ or the ‘not so matching pieces’? Should I hang their validity on another’s doubts about the claims?
I am not here to defend the gospels – they don’t really need it. But I am writing to support what they do stand for – that is the values they teach and the meaning within them for ‘life’. The gospels don’t seem to be history books (or there would be more history in them). The gospels don’t seem to be philosophy books (or there would be longer debates on ethics). The gospels don’t seem to be pure mythology (or there would be fantastic creatures to think about besides humans). They seem to be just plain old theological texts (humans and understanding God).
Maybe it’s nieve of me to think this but I think those gospels are about developing a better stance with humans via God – and this is placed squarely in the teachings (finding values, truths, and spirituality) we can read and live. The gospel is an idea about living the things we are taught and not much more beyond that. We learn in those teachings values about what God places value upon (or doesn’t) – and that we should seek out those same things. It’s a long process of life experience that happens while in the midst of the teachings (continual and has no end). We learn, we challenge, we live, we change. If there is a need for a heaven it is because this process never ends. The challenge is always to try to find God in the daily living experience.
People can deny their faith based on intellect alone but that does little to change the meaning of the writings, nor should it. The writings most plainly exist for humanity to experience the values of God and in these we find a whole hoarde of ideals: comfort, compassion, hope, faith, love, ways to deal with pain/hurt, contentness, acceptance, fulfillment, etc…none of the which are isolated alone to mere intellect. In these teachings I see the embrace of humanity one with another for the betterment of society around them (and within them). I see a value system that meets and greets you as an equal partner in the journey – that journey for the way, the truth, and fuller meaning to life. Examines all parts of the human journey and does so in connection human to human in light of God’s words.
And this I saw in the gospels, a way of living that doesn’t make light of human life, nor forgets it’s roots are in something bigger than I can hold. When I think I have all the answers to life I soon realize it’s not all about me – and I don’t. How can I be so sure of myself while another’s life breaks into pieces? In the middle of that connection, human to human, I see the embrace of the gospel message – ‘love that person, do good to the people that haven’t seen it yet’. If I look deep inside myself I see that same person – broken and afflicted, lonely and hurt, sometimes alone. There is something very compassionate about teachings that tell us ‘to love our ‘supposed’ enemies’ and ‘do unto the least of these’ – I think in that we look ourselves square in the eyes – and the pains we want healed can be.
But if you never see these things within the gospel and have some self-centered view of this book (or it has to meet so and so standard) – then you missed the miraculous part. You went looking for water to turn to wine when all you needed to see was a stranger’s heart-beat at the first sign of hope. You wanted to see angelic visions when all you needed was to open your eyes to your child’s smile. You wanted to see a stone move but a stone isn’t what’s causing the addict all their pain. And you think the miracle of the gospel is dead. There is better news waiting in your next handshake than in your next blog.
Truth and the Search for it
I have come to the realization that ‘truth’ is not something that is ‘concrete or static’ in some senses. I realize now that the ‘truth’ of something we come to realize as we live it – or experience it. Also that our interpretations of scripture are very dependant on what we know and learn – and sometimes this is a process also (which takes a lot of time). I have realized it is worth the time to do in study and research.
I admit to having a perspective on a variety of beliefs – but they are only perspectives – and can be enlightened via experiences in life (ex: discussion or practicing a belief). I have views on the church system, values within the bible, the bible as God’s words, creation, etc. But these things are open to change since I may not have them at their ‘purest’ meaning and this is the short-fall of being a limited human. So I think things change as more is revealed in life – ideas morph – values get updated – and perspectives get new shades. It’s a process of human learning and I personally am happy thus far with the changes.
But for me the point of the exercise in human learning is the value system. If values are not impacted by my studies then the point of my study is intellectual garbage – an array of ideas that produce nothing of any real consequence in my day to day living. It’s not about not being intellectual – it’s about intellectualism helping to build values into my life that will be of help in daily life. This I learned from the Jewish perspective and has impacted my value system in leaps and bounds.
You see we can be open enough to discuss any issue and be able to learn from it – something we can carry with us (into our lives). The same ideal I see embedded within the gospels. The ideas are very strongly within those works about ‘building a value system’ or ‘building upon these teachings like a house’. And the parable Jesus uses about the houses is quite the point of Matthew’s gospel. Building upon Jesus’ teachings (as the foundation) is the purpose of the writings. Now when they mean building – they mean using these teachings as a guide to your value system – which will be in a state of flux but it never strays far from the original idea.
An example would be Matthew 5:37 and the whole ‘yes’ and ‘no’ idea. We come from our own original idea on the value – maybe we don’t mind not being ‘people of our words’. We read the passage and challenge an ideal we held. We then come to a conclusion of ‘yes I will adopt it’ or ‘no I will reject this’. If it is ‘yes’ then we change our value system to become in line with what Jesus taught. In this we accept to do things like being honest and forthright about what we are going to do when asked, we become people that can be respected for ‘what we say – since we will follow through’. We have just started to change our value system and by living it in life we further embed the reality of the teaching. But the reality of it is – we read then live it – then we make the real concensus of ‘does this make life better’? So the reading and doing need to both exist in order for there to be some verification of the value (and the text).
I guess what I am saying is the bible is important for the teachings of Christ and way of life he presented to us – and that’s seems to be the reason the writings are important. I also think the salvation of Christ is very important but I think the accpetance of that idea is represented in how much we value the teachings of that very same person (Jesus). I guess they go hand in hand.
What do you think about this – is the search for ‘truth’ something that changes over time? Is our salvation linked to our value of the teachings of Jesus? Just ideas I am throwing out there for further discussion.
First Nations Christianity Value System
I am a First Nations person from Canada and I come from a strong history of First Nations and Metis peoples (history and cultures). I am going to give you a little glimpse into a model for faith that is being used within FN Christian circles – oh it’s not very kosher – but then again – neither am I.
First Nations people use the circle a lot – and in particular something called the 4 Directions (I happen to be Cree and Ojibwa) as a teaching mechanism. This is part of my FN history and I think the model of the 4 directions can be used in synch with the Christian value system – or as a way of teaching about our faith in First Nations circles.
The 4 directions are encompassed in a circle – which symbolizes that life is continuous and that all things mesh together in life (from birth to death – and then our next generation carries that on again – and the circle continues). There are 4 stages to life – birth, youth, adulthood, and elderly and in each stage of life you are in constant learning mode with the 4 aspects of human self.
The 4 aspects of the human self are: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – and in this you are always struggling to remain balanced in each area (and each area effects the other). This is the model that relates to our value system (what we value as important).
(1) Physical: We are physical beings and this is part of the balance act. We need to eat, sleep, be healthy, work out, etc. If we lack in the physical area it can effect our life in a diverse ways. Being overweight causes some to lower their self-esteem (ex: emotional and mental effects). If someone has a healthy sleep pattern it can also boost their productivity and emotional state (ex: more happy). We also interact one with another all the time – and this is relationships – and part of that is physicality.
(2) Emotional: We are made of emotions and being out of balance here effects us deeply. If we develop ideas of low self-esteem this can result in a variety of ways to find balance (ex: addictions, anger, pity). If we are emotionally healthy we deal with our pains and hurts in a constructive way – where we learn from them and heal. This is also only one part of the 4 aspects of self and relying simply on emotions can de-value the aspect of the mind (or overlook it for ‘feeling good’).
(3) Mental: As humans our mind is something we always use and we need to find balance here since this is the aspect of the self that acts as a filter (or choice). If we are allowing our mind to consider ideas of racism, hatred, de-valuing others, etc…then the mind is being used to develop ideas that ‘hurt us’ and ‘slant our perspective’ (which isn’t very balanced). We need to use our minds in constructive ways and to help us develop logic that keeps harmony with the other 3 aspects of our self.
(4) Spiritual: We are created by the ‘Great Spirit’ (God – Creator) – which means we have to develop our spiritual selves also. This includes all the aspects within faith and communicating with God (via books, ceremonies, teachings, prayer, etc). To deny this aspect leads to an imbalance in our ‘selves’ – we become too intellectual, too emotional, or too physical – and we lose some of the strength our faith can bring to us (ie: there is a definitie humility in knowing we ‘are not the final answer’). Our spiritual aspect is in balance we develop ideas of humility, good relationships, and faith that builds us and others ‘up’.
The meaning of it all is that we are inter-connected within us and if one part suffers – then it all suffers – and balance is something we forever live to develop and perfect (throughout our whole lives). With my faith I have to use all aspects of my ‘self’ and become a healthy person – whether it be physical (action), emotional (feelings), mental (intellect), or spiritual (faith and hope) aspects.
This is my history, I am not a Jewish person, and God was revealed to my people(s) as well – as a Creator with values very similar to Christian values. In some senses, this is my Tanakh (OT) and I have to respect my culture and lineage (as a service of love to what God gave us). For me, it all lines up quite well and the teachings of Jesus help to develop a greater and deeper understanding/affection of God (also can help one to create a balance they desire). I don’t see a mis-harmonization of the Christ-ian faith (Alliance churches have this focus) with the First Nations teachings – actually – one can elaborate on the other (and bring greater perspective for a worldview).
What do you think about a system like this – is it serving the purpose of the teachings of Christ? Does it help to build a model (value system/paradigm) for some people to make sense of faith? Or is this ‘too much’ mixing and in some sense a ‘betrayal of the faith’? Just how does this all make you feel?