Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A New Heart - Holy Mackerel!

Ezekiel 36:26
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." NIV

One of the biggest problems with Salvation is the potential for sin associated with the persistence of the self into the afterlife.  As many, if not most Christians will fess up to, they still make mistakes and they still sin from time to time in one way or another.  But in the afterlife, supposedly no one will sin in the Kingdom of God.

Clearly, something has to change.

God will give the Saved a new heart, and a new spirit, such that they will never stray again.  But at that point, will they really be themselves anymore?  Or will they simply be puppets resembling their former selves?  And why not just start out that way, instead of condemning billions to the eternal junk pile as ultimate failures?

While our mistakes, errors, and failings do not, or at least should not, define us, the potential for imperfection is what helps us identify and value the best qualities and achievements within ourselves and others, what drives us toward continual improvement and mastery, and what reveals to us the true nature and need of grace and love.

As much as I hate to be wrong, I know it makes me a better person.  It would be a shame to lose that facet of existence for all eternity.  To err is human.  :-)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Divorce Limbo

Let's face it: marriage is a mixed bag.  We don't really know what we are getting into.  At least most people don't.

Me?  I was different.  I, sure as Hell, knew what I was doing.  Given that I don't believe in Hell, you know that means I didn't really know what the Hell I was doing either! ;-)  (As I've mentioned, my first marriage didn't last.)

Many marriages, especially in the Christian world, appear to be an act of free will.  I live in the U.S.A., and, as much as anyone does, I chose my first wife.  And I chose poorly.  (Of course, it does take two to tango, so she was quite foolish to choose me as well!)

But wait a minute.  Did I choose my wife?  Matthew 19:6/Mark 10:9 both say:

"Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

Oh, so it wasn't me who chose my spouse poorly, but rather God.  But wait again!  God can't choose poorly.  Duh!  And that's why God forbade divorce.  And that's why Jesus forbade divorce.

Now if you are foolish enough to get divorced from God's chosen companion for you, like me, you may find yourself thinking: 

Hey, God made one marriage happen.  Why not let God make another one!  After all, per 1 John 4:8, "[w]hoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."  So what could be wrong with more love?

Wrong!  If you have divorced, you should consider yourself in divorce limbo for the rest of your life, where the only person you can marry would be your ex-wife, unless she has been with another man.  Even if you feel the urge to marry someone else, you will be committing adultery if you do so (Matthew 19:9).

Of course, there is nothing different in the desire to marry another spouse after a divorce, other than (hopefully) a little more wisdom.  Yet given that God Jesus disapproves of subsequent marriages, then it certainly won't be God guiding you to your next love.

Well, I married again.  And not only did I marry again, but I married a divorced woman, which is explicitly forbidden by Jesus (Matthew 5:32/Luke 16:18).  Oh, the shame.

Anyway, I've got to tell you, I think I did a much better job picking out my second wife than God did with the first one.  ;-)  This is true love.  Yup!  We atheists have found God!  At least if you buy into the whole love = God thing...

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Point of Vectors

You know what you are by what you were.  Usually that works to your advantage; providing stability, a sense of purpose, and a sense of direction heading forward.

In the grand scheme, we learn the history of our respective counties to know our identities and directions as citizens.

In the same vein, our personal history defines our own identity and individual direction.  But sometimes, if not usually, our histories contain some "blemishes," for lack of a better word.  These blemishes can, and often do, affect the relationships we have and the choices we make, ultimately affecting the direction we take in life.

These blemishes affect the direction we take because emotionally, and/or logically, they point to the next steps of our behavior.  And those next steps lead to others, and those lead to others, etc.  But they don't have to.

Not to trivialize it, but after a blemish has happened, it is just a story, and you find yourself at a point where you choose to continue that story, or to break away on a new path.

You choose the narrative going forward at each moment in your life:  Either you are offended, an orphan, a victim of abuse, a liar, a thief, etc., or you were offended, an orphan, a victim of abuse, a liar, a thief, etc.  What is history truly is history.  Whether or not it lives on in our minds is our own choice.  Depending on the type blemish, it can be hard to let it go and leave behind, but that's where history is; behind us.  None of us claims "I am five" when we're actually twenty-seven years old, yet we all were five.

I challenge you to know yourself, not by who you were, but by who you actually are now, and who you seek to become.  A new vector can start at any point.

I'll leave you with a classic Buddhist tale to ponder:
Buddhist monks were forbidden to touch women, but one day a particular monk noticed a woman in distress who needed to cross a river to get to her family.  The monk picked up the woman and carried her across the raging river torrent.  Other monks had seen this activity, and they became indignant of the helpful monk.  They scorned him fiercely for breaking his vows by touching a woman.  The helpful monk replied in his defense:

"Friends, I set the woman down at the river bank.  Why do you still carry her?"

What are you still carrying?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Waxing Political

In case you don't live in Ohio, you may not be aware that it's time for another presidential election in the U.S.  As usual, the religious talk shows and some churches are giving their non-specific, but blatantly obvious political plugs for candidates whose names end with the letter "R."

I heard one radio show (Family Talk) that was playing a recording from a church service, where a former American Family Radio exec was speaking about the fundamentals of (political) economics.  It went something like this:
"If you make $100, and you go into a restaurant where everything costs less than $100, then you have complete freedom to get anything you want there.  But if someone takes money away from you, then they take some freedom away from you.  Because if you only have $80 left, you can no longer buy something that costs $90.  When somebody comes up to you with a gun and takes money from you, they take freedom from you and it's called theft.  When the government takes money from you, and they can do so with men with guns, they take freedom from you and that's called taxes."
I was thinking to myself, hmmm....
"If I have $100, but I can't drive anywhere to spend it because there are no roads, then I don't have freedom.  If I have $100, but my house has been destroyed due to a hurricane and there is no one to aid me in rebuilding my life, then I don't have freedom.  Etc.  On the other hand, if I chip in $30 for the collective good, to get roads and disaster relief, to protect the nation, to help ensure quality medication, to make sure that the water is safe to drink, to provide primary education, etc., then I'll have much greater freedom than I would ever have with just $100, and an entire nations of millions will share in that enhanced freedom with me."
Are the economic principles really that difficult to understand here?  Our government isn't perfect.  In fact, in a lot of ways, it really sucks.  And I am all for reform and responsible spending.  But to come at the problem from the perspective that keeping all of your money ensures you the most freedom, let alone that it is best for the nation, is fundamentally wrong.

Vote with your head.