A man with inoperable cancer decides to attend an event led by a wellknown faith healer as a last ditch hope to stay alive. Despite pleas from his family and his doctor to avoid the "charlatan," the man goes anyway. Though he is a little skeptical, he does feel a mysterious "something" go through his body when the preacher pronounces him cured.
The next day his doctor assures him the cancer is not only still there, but that it is, in fact, getting worse. But the man is confident he has been healed. He begins to exercise daily, take his medication faithfully and even thanks God every day for bringing him in contact with the healer who made this all possible. Though the doctor is correct, the cancer hasn't disappeared, the man's sudden zest for life and newfound hope is truly inspiring. The doctor had given him just three months to live, he has now made it over six months and there's no end in sight. But then one day the man sees a story on television that exposes the faith healer as a fraud. His doctor and family members call him to make sure he saw the story so that he could now know the truth. He assures them he did. He feels foolish and ashamed but within days the truth sets him free; he dies in his sleep.
Though I have doubts about faith healers myself, I told you this story to make an important point. While there are clearly times when we need to know the truth about what is going on in our lives, there are just as many times when the truth is the worst thing we can know. Was the faith healer "wrong" to give the man false hope? Well, since the man experienced a sudden and miraculous new zest for life and lived twice as long as had been expected, it is ard to say it was "wrong." But what about the others the faith healer treated who weren't so ucky? Now surely he was "wrong" to give them false hope. After all, they didn't receive any benefit.
Believing that something called “the truth" is the ultimate goal of enlightenment and that knowing it will set you free presents some interesting questions.
Who will decide what is ultimately true and how can we be sure they aren't lying to us? And once the "truth" is determined, how can we be certain there isn't another discovery just around the corner that will prove our current "truth" to be false? Can we ever know what is "really" true or can we only believe certain things to be true given our current understanding of reality?
And how do we address the issue of truth in art? If the goal of enlightenment is to discover “the truth,” that is, the model of thought that most accurately maps to physical reality, then wouldn’t a crystal clear photograph be more valuable than, say, a “sloppy” portrait by Van Gogh? Too bad Van Gogh didn't have a camera. He could have created a more valuable (i.e. more useful)work of art and saved himself a lot of time, and perhaps an ear, in the process. Of course this is ludicrous. There are times when a photograph is more “truthful” than a painting and vice versa. A police officer would probably find a suspect's photograph more "truthful" than an artist's rendition, whereas a patron of the arts would be the other way around. Who’s right? Whose “reality” is more true? Who knows. Who cares. Perhaps the better question is, whose “reality” is most useful at the moment?
So will the truth set you free? It can. But free from what? Just remember our hypothetical cancer patient and how well the truth served him. Perhaps there are times when a beautiful illusion beats reality hands down
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Perhaps its the terminology. Perhaps its because the Bible only believers think they have all the truth...and the ACIM folks resent that mindset.
I am always on the lookout for truth. I think it can be found in so many different places. My home base is the Bible and my touchstone...my benchmark...the truths contained there...at least as God has revealed them to me. (I know that what I find to be truth not everyone does. Not sure how to explain that....or reconcile someone else's truth with my truth, but for now, I've got to go with what has been revealed to me...)
No moral to the story. No real point to this post other than to muse, "outloud" and perhaps spur some similar musing for anyone reading.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I came across a commentary on the Huffington Post article, The Great Gay Awakening, on a blog I follow called "Losing My Religion." The Huffington article is written by Cathleen Falsani. She starts the article by saying:'
Some of my dearest friends are gay.
Most of my dearest friends are Christians.
And more than a few of my dearest friends are gay Christians
She goes on to say:
As an evangelical, that last part is not something that, traditionally and culturally, I'm supposed to say out loud. For most of my life, I've been taught that it's impossible to be both openly gay and authentically Christian.
And that is the big question...can you be openly gay and authentically Christian?
Even assuming that committed gay relationships are a sin (and I don't believe they are) isn't that akin to asking the question "Can you be openly overweight and authentically Christian?"
The Bible does condemn gluttony after all.
And can you be divorced and remarried for other than purely biblical reasons and authentically Christian?
You get my point, no?
And that was pretty much the road the author took "back in the early 90's" Even if it was a sin she felt called to love rather than judge. And she says that loving them was easy…but
Finding clear theological answers to questions about homosexuality has been decidedly not so.
She quotes Jay Baker (Tammy Faye’s son) a well known evangelical Christian as saying:
Examining the original Greek words translated as "homosexual" and "homosexuality" in three New Testament passages, Bakker (and others) conclude that the original words have been translated inaccurately in modern English.
And how about this little tidbit...which I haven't run across in any of my reading....
The word "homosexual" first appeared in an English-language Bible in 1958.
So since homosexual is not an a word in the original language of the New Testament...but rather a word coined by the translators....what does the original word actually mean? According to Baker, it refers to
male prostitutes and the men who hire them. The passages address prostitution -- sex as a commodity -- and not same-sex, consensual relationships, he says.
So was it a new revelation in 1958 that caused the Bible guys to coin a new phrase that plummets a whole lot of people to the "abomination" category. Making up words as we go caused a whole lot of trouble with other concepts like...oh....hell for instance.
And we all know that the Bible has been used to support all kinds of heinous, bigoted, unfair, ridiculous practices. And the church...the mainstream evangelical church...has bought it....promoted it, and enforced it all in the name of “for the Bible tells me so” when in actually the Bible says no such thing....
The church has, at best, lagged behind...and at it's worst, it has actually been the oppressor many times throughout history. Can anyone really trust the evangelical church to be their moral beacon?
Baker says we must "weigh all the evidence."
And everyone should...prayerfully and with an open mind take another look at the scriptures. And, guys especially, should try to get past what I’ve heard referred to as the "ick factor." The "ick factor" is the emotion that is evoked by a mental image of two guys having sex. Truly, it should not be part of the equation...not is it any of our business.
One of the commenters at Losing My Religion took issue with the statement about the church always being behind saying that
….there have been some denominations where this isn’t anything new. the UCC ordained a openly gay pastor in 1974. and before the the Unitarians were way out in front. so the church means the Evangelical one.
He also provides a link to a list of other progressive "firsts" for his denomination...
Will there come a day when we look back in a "remember when" kind of way...and think of the time when homosexuals were marginalized and held in disdain? I think it will happen, but just like there are those who have not caught up to the civil rights movement and still think the white race has a leg up on every other ethnic group, there will be some who will drag their feet. And, like with the civil rights movement it won’t be right….
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
French political theorist Montesquieu observed wryly in 1748: "It is impossible for us to suppose these creatures [enslaved Africans] to be men; because allowing them to be men, a suspicion would follow that we ourselves are not Christians."
The above snippet was buried in an article originally posted in the Washington Post and then reposted and commented on here and there all around the web yesterday. The article was called, Five Myths About Why the South Seceded.
But the quote took me far, far away from the original purpose of the article which was to debunk certain myths about the causes of the civil war. It made me think more about the psychology behind the quote rather than the historical events it referenced. Namely...Denial.
If, back in Motesquieu’s day the status quo was discarded...and enslaved Africans were seen as they truly were....men....then a + b would have to = c. If they were indeed men...and if they continued to be enslaved, mistreated... as if they were somehow lower or less, then what would that do to the whole, "We are Christians" concept? Pretty much shoot it all to hell.
And so...flash forward to the present and homosexuals. Can you see any connection? The Christian right is anti gay. You've heard the drill. It's not normal. It's an abomination. They are lower....less. And if Christians ever stop seeing it....seeing them...that way well....what parallels can be drawn with Montesquieu's quote?
I am a Christian. I am not anti gay. I think the verses in the Old Testament used to condemn committed homosexual relationships are as outdated as the requirement to stone adulterers, the ban on garments of mixed fabric....banishing my daughters to the back shed when they are having their period....or not ordering shrimp the next time we hit Red Lobster for lunch (which is pretty much never since I am not much of a seafood fan)
And....I think the verses in the New Testament that appear to condemn homosexuality only do so if taken at a King James surface glance. If the customs and taboos of the time are taken into account....along with the word meanings in the original language, I think the infamous verses penned by the Apostle Paul are condemning the depraved temple worship popular at the time. Not committed homosexual relationships.
But there are risks in considering that the gay couple down the street might have relationship as legitimate as their own....that homosexuals are not lower or lesser. Any inklings along those lines might be best avoided. Otherwise, what suspicion might follow? What kind of a shadow might that cast on their Christianity? Perhaps better to ignore the truth...and go on believing what they've always believed. But….
When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken, or cease to be honest.
Just something to consider…perhaps something to peer into a bit more closely….to ponder….
Sunday, January 16, 2011
This weekend...in between bouts of January "spring cleaning"....I found three quotes that string together nicely. And so, in this post...I am stringing them.
I found two of them on annie's facebook feed. The other came from notes I was looking through....excerpts from a garage sale book I found a summer or two ago. Spiritual Notes To Myself by Hugh Prather. It was a quarter at the garage sale....totally worth
it. And now the quotes...
God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination, and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, "O Lord, Thou knowest." Those things belong to the deep and mysterious Profound of God's omniscience. Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints ~ A W Tozer
Hmmmm...election, predestination, sovereignty….guess these things fit in the Psalm 139 too lofty for me category. At one point I wanted to know. Correction. At one point, I demanded to know. How His Sovereignty interplays with our will. The purpose of evil. Why is there suffering? At lot of stuff just does not seem fair in this physical realm. In fact, it seems downright unfair. Even though in life I haven't personally gotten the short end of the stick too many times, I can get pretty offended for those who have. And I still...ten years later....don't have definitive answers. Just a handful of theories, musings..... ponderings. Guess I am not theologian material...but I'm pretty sure I'm not nearing sainthood either.
Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair ~ G K Chesterton
That does seem like a better plan since demanding answers is a bit like beating your head against a wall.
And the quote from Spiritual Notes To Myself?
Here I am moving from point A to point B to point C in a fog. But God gently replies "Take my hand and I will lead you out of the fog" Then I get stubborn and say, "you didn't answer my question."
We ask God which apple we should buy, and think divine Love leaves the one with the rotten core for someone else. We may even think God saves one or two from the crash and leaves all the other to burn to death. We actually believe that what favors our body is a sign of God's grace.
Do I really think god doesn't know my question? Hugh Prather
Of course he knows our questions. And in due time....when God deems us ready...he will will whisper the answers…..
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Out of all the news and discussions, accusations and controversy swirling around the Arizona massacre, something else stood out. Something that deserves more than a few snippets mentioned here and there in the news coverage of this story. The heroism of two husbands who tried to protect their wives from the attack...using their own body as a shield.
From the Washington Post about Mavvy and Dorwan Stoddard
Dorwan Stoddard, 76, died shielding his wife from the barrage of bullets. Mavanell "Mavy" Stoddard, 75, was shot in the leg several times but is expected to recover, friends said.
"He was a hero," said neighbor Marge Osterman.
Friends and church members knew well the Stoddards' love story: They were high school classmates in Tucson who moved away, married other people and made a life. When their spouses died, they moved back and reconnected. Both were leaders in their church benevolence ministry.
"They normally go out to breakfast every Saturday," said their pastor, the Rev. Mike Nowak. On this Saturday, Mavy told Nowak, she had wanted to tell their congresswoman that she was doing a good job.
I read somewhere else that Mavvy talked to him for about ten minutes after the shootings, his breath labored...and then he stopped breathing.
The other couple.....Dorothy and George Morris...high school sweethearts
Dorothy Morris, known to her friends as "Dot," was a retired homemaker and secretary who lived north of Tucson in Oro Valley, Ariz. Dorothy died in the shooting. Her husband George, a former Marine and retired airline pilot, remains hospitalized after suffering two gunshot wounds. One of the couple's daughters said George Morris tried to protect his wife of 50 years by throwing her to the ground and trying to get on top of her to shield her. The couple both grew up in Reno, Nev., and were high school sweethearts.
How much these two men must have loved their wives…
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I've been reading a lot the past few days about the shootings...and murders in AZ...that included the murder of a 9 year old girl who attended the event with a neighbor to learn more about the political process. She had been elected to the student council at school. Ironically, Christina Taylor Green, was born on 9/11/01. When I see Christina's picture, I see a beautiful little girl, sparkly eyes, big smile.
Her picture takes me back to when my kids were that age. And, since Christina is a girl, I think back on both of my girls at age 9.
As a mom, this really hits where it hurts. We go along pretending that we have some control over the wellbeing of our children. We monitor their friends and activities. We warn them about talking to strangers and being ever vigilant about not ever going anywhere with anyone they don't know. We watch what they eat and how much they sleep and what medications they take. When they are teenagers we warn them of the dangers of driving distracted, or in the snow, or alcohol abuse. We give them curfews and guidelines. Always trying to forget that...out of the blue...in a split second we can lose them. A car crash, an illness, an abduction....a crazed gunman nursing a grudge against an elected official. Wrong place/wrong time taken to the nth degree. And just like that...gone.
Christina's dad was quoted as saying,
We were four people. Now we're three.
And that is every parent's worst nightmare.....
Thursday, January 6, 2011
From time to time, when I check my blog stats...one of the posts that comes up again and again in the most viewed posts is the one entitled "CS Lewis and Prayer." In fact, I checked just now and it was the number one viewed post for the week....and the month. Apparently, even though I didn't have a clue when I named the post, CS Lewis and Prayer is an oft used search query and google has sent many visitors my way because of it. So CS Lewis is a popular guy....and a popular search on google.
Recently, I came across a blog dedicated entirely to the words of CS Lewis.... quotes from Lewis along with the author's thoughts and opinions and views about the quotes. It is called Mere CS Lewis. I just added it to my google reader...and you should add it to your RSS reader of choice. Check it out HERE.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Just want to include two links to finally end this series of posts on Christmas. The first link is to a page that lists cases where the ACLU did indeed fight on behalf of Christians. Check it out here.
The other link is to a very illuminating article about the origins of the Christmas Wars…with other interesting opinions (both in the article and in the comments) about how many atheists view Christmas. The article is called