Friday, December 29, 2006

Don't Hate on the Church-

"Surely it is fair to say that science is to the "science" that inspired exterminations as Christianity is to the "Christianity" that inspired Crusades. In both cases the human genius for finding pretexts seized upon the most prestigious institution of the culture and appropriated a great part of its language and resources and legitimacy...The failure in both instances to distinguish best from worst means that both science and religion are effectively lost to us in terms of disciplining or enlarging our thinking." - Marilynne Robinson, The Death of Adam, 'Darwinism.'

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Unnecessary Selfishness

In Phillipians 2, Paul exhorts Christians “to do nothing out of selfish ambition, but consider others better than yourselves.”

This is relatively challenging for me to do even for my family and friends, the people I actually like. But sometimes I can pull it off, because I like them, and they deserve good treatment.

They deserve it. But what about those people whom I don’t like? What about those people who do not deserve special consideration?

Paul seems to anticipate this question by pointing out that Christ, who was God, put you, a mere mortal, ahead of himself. So whatever the distance in worthiness that separates me and the person I think undeserving of my consideration, it must be small relative to that distance between Christ and myself.

‘Yeah,’ I thought, ‘but it’s easy for Christ to be generous. He has all the resources of God to draw upon. Even his stint here on earth, as unpleasant as it turned out, must be a relatively small portion of his experience compared to what I presume was eternal heaven both before and after his time on earth. I, on the other hand, only have the meager resources of my own life.’

But then I realized that’s not true. My belief is that I too have eternity from here on out. So, if putting others ahead of myself requires a little of my time, that’s okay – I’ve got all eternity. My belief is that God has adopted me as a son, and is now overseeing my life and bringing to bear on it all his resources in heaven and on earth. So, if putting others ahead of myself costs me in money, or dignity, or whatnot, that’s okay – I’ve got all the resources of God behind me. I don’t need to be stingy; I can afford to put others ahead of myself.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What does God expect from us in this life? I mean this question practically, not theoretically. I know He expects us to love God, and our neighbor, and to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. But I don't know a single person who claims to have achieved anything close to those goals. So what can we actually expect to achieve - in this life - in terms of our spiritual aspirations?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ya' feel Me?

What do you feel when you pray? If I'm having what seems like a "good" time in prayer, I get this tingly, airy, spacious feeling in my chest. I won't pretend otherwise: I tend to think this feeling is God, like a mystical haze, ebbing into me.

Other times, "bad" times, I feel...nothing, nothing but a dull numbness.

I know there's probably neither scientific nor theological reason to think this tingly feeling is God's presence or that the lack of a feeling is God's absence. In fact, science and theology probably agree that, in fact, there's no reason to think my "feelings" are necessarily linked to the actual presence or experience of God. But I'd be interested in hearing about the subjective experience of others. Do you feel anything when you pray? Do you feel God?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Messages from the Devil:

Given your current circumstances, you should feel insecure. Seek money and success if you want to be more secure.

You need to worry about yourself, otherwise no one will. If you think about others before yourself, then who will look out for you?

Are you important enough? It's important that you be important and successful, and that others know it.

Worry about your future: what is going to happen to you and your life? You should be scared.

You need to be more physically attractive to have more value as a human being.

Seek pleasure; it will make you feel better.

These are based on a recent conversation I had with my cousin.