Thursday, November 27, 2008


Right now I'm in the middle of watching the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed hosted by Ben Stein that came out earlier this year. I've watched the first hour and my impression so far is that it seems a bit one sided. Until they mentioned Hitler.

My first reaction was, "Are you serious?"

First I have to mention that I am not a film critic and I know as much about science as the average 24 year old college student.

Mitochondria: The power house of the cell.

Anyways, the first half of the film talks about how Intelligent Design is pretty much laughed at by real scientist and if, as a scientist or teacher, you mention Intelligent Design not only could you lose your career but you could also be blacklisted. Harsh. So then the film continues as to how real scientists that promote evolution go on the attack on Intelligent Design because they have some ulterior motive to sneak God back into schools.

"Okay, that's kind of pushing it but moving on..."

And then out of the blue David Berlinski, a leading critic of evolution within the intelligent design movement, raises the claim that Darwinism influenced the Nazis.

And that's when I had to stop watching (i'll finish it in a moment) and start blogging. At first the film sounded a bit one-sided, then it moved to a hint of propaganda, and then it took a swan dive into a festering pool of conspiracy theories.

My personal views on Intelligent Design? I see no reason why Intelligent Design can't at least be given a chapter alongside all the other scientific theories in a high school science book. I see nothing devious by just mentioning that some people believe that a Designer out there may have had a hand in designing this incredibly complex Universe we call home. I also believe that if there is a significant amount of evidence that supports a certain theory then I see no reason why that theory can't be taught. I believe evolution can work hand in hand with a First Cause God. So yes I have no problem with Evolution. Evolution DOES NOT lead to the Holocaust. Here's an example as to what the film is implying.

Darwin-->Theory of Evolution--->God does not exist-->Religions are fairy tales with moral teachings--->No need to be moral--> Heil Hitler!

Talk about a serious case of Six degrees of Adolf Hitler.

Now, Ben Stein does say that Darwinism does not equate with Nazism. But he then goes on to say "If Darwinism could inspire such horrific events in the past, could it be used to rationalize similar initiatives today?"

Darwin--> Theory of Evolution--->God does not exist-->Religions are fairy tales with moral teachings--->No need for moral--> Heil Hitler!-->Abortion, euthanasia, etc.

There's a whole list of controversies you can read up on about this film, but there was one particular highlight that I did enjoy. They showed a short clip from this 3d animation made for Harvard's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

The Inner Life of the Cell

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"I read the news today oh boy"

I don't remember the actual date but I do remember the first Beatles song I heard that made me into an instant fan. It was Hello, Goodbye off of their Magical Mystery Tour album. I think I was 7 or 8 years old when I heard it and I instantly fell in love with their sound. At the time I was too young and preoccupied to even care who the Beatles were but I can instantly recognize their sound when I listened to the radio after school. I didn't know they had broken up and that John was killed before I was born. I didn't even know about all the scandals and drama that surrounded them and even if I knew I wouldn't care. I was an 8 year old who just happened to be a Beatles fan. But not everyone fell in love with the Beatles as easily as I did nor had they forgiven them.

[Excerpts taken from CNN]
When John Lennon remarked in 1966 that the Beatles were then "more popular than Jesus" his comments prompted outrage in the United States. But this weekend the Vatican's newspaper paid tribute to the band on the 40th anniversary of the release of the "White Album" in an article interpreted by some as a papal pardon for Lennon.

So after 40 years of pain and suffering the Vatican decided that it was time to turn the other cheek and forgive these young boys for their reckless comment.

Steve Turner, author of "The Gospel According To The Beatles"
It's very hard to say what John Lennon would say now if he knew that the pope had forgiven him or the Catholic Church had forgiven him because on the one hand he wrote to an American evangelist called Oral Roberts and said he had been very sorry. But in a book he said he was very glad that it had happened because it effectively ended the Beatles. Because that tour was so bad that it became the last tour the Beatles ever did. So he thought, "Thank you Jesus for causing this to happen -- because you gave me a solo career."

So was John wrong about his comment? I wasn't around for "Beatlemania" but from what I do know it was pretty crazy. I don't recall the last time I saw Christians storming into churches feverishly worshiping the Lord like the teenage girls that were throwing themselves at these new rock gods. So, in a sense he was right, they were more popular than Jesus at that very place and time, but he wasn't saying (I think) that they intended on replacing Jesus Christ but that more people (at least young people) were buying their records instead of attending church. At least now John can rest in peace knowing that he's been forgiven by God's number 1 man on Earth.

R.I.P. John

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Our Father...

I just finished watching an episode of Moral Orel On Demand and I felt compelled to comment on the episode. First, a little background on the show for those that haven't seen it.

[Excerpts taken from Wikipedia]

Moral Orel is an American stop-motion animated television show currently airing on Adult Swim. The show is rated TV-MA due to its strong sexual references and dark, satirical humor. It has been described as "Davey and Goliath...meets South Park". Despite advertising for the show, which portrays it as being in the vein of the Davey and Goliath cartoons that it is stylistically similar to, Dino Stamatopoulos, the creator, has stated that it is less a direct parody of that, and more a parody of 1950s and 1960s style sitcoms. The main character is Orel,...who constantly tries to live by the show's description of the Protestant Christian moral code. It seems, however, that most of the citizens of Moralton do not live the way a staunch Protestant is supposed to. Instead of loving their neighbor, they mock homosexuals, teach their children to close their minds to anything non-Christian, disavow rational scientific explanations of the universe's origins as fiction and heresy, distance themselves from nature, dehumanize non-Christian faiths, and mock the Catholic Church. Most episodes of the first season had a similar formula: Orel would hear a sermon in church on Sunday, then proceed to have some sort of misadventure based around his (often misguided) attempts to live by that lesson.

This description of the show is spot on. It contains a lot of dark humor and is not to be watched by anyone who can not stomach religious humor. You've been warned.

So how do we say the Lord's Prayer? Do you use debts or trespasses? Does it matter? Would God even listen to another second of your prayer if you use the wrong word?

Even though the show is exaggerating a tiny word difference in the Lord's Prayer (click here for a line by line breakdown and history of the Lord's Prayer) that causes strife between two neighbors it's actually not far off from the theological differences between Christian denominations.

Should infants be baptized? How do we baptize them: by aspersion, affusion, immersion, or submersion? What day should Christian worship on? Can we pray to saints? Is salvation attained by Faith, Works, or both? What about the Rapture? What about Hell: do people burn in Hell forever or are they annihilated? The list of theological differences go on and on and on.

But the only characters in the episode that were willing to swallow their differences were the kids: Christina and Orel. Although the adults learn to "repress" (instead of confess) their sins so that they can continue sinning without feeling guilty ("guilt is for Catholics") the kids were the only ones that looked past the differing theology not as sin but as just differences. The two eerily similar families could have coexisted peacefully as neighbor and friends only if they hadn't let their variations on the Lord's Prayer get between them.

[Taken from Wikipedia]
Although many theological differences and various modes and manners of worship divide Christians, according to Fuller Seminary professor Clayton Schmit "there is a sense of solidarity in knowing that Christians around the globe are praying together…, and these words always unite us."
As dark and twisted as this show is the producers made an incredible point on how some varying Christian denominations see and deal with each other.

Monday, November 24, 2008

ABC show on a "Modern Day Prophet" Canceled...

Bad news came last week for all Eli Stone fans out there when ABC officials told the producers they're not planning to pick up any more episodes. Canceled.

For those of you that haven't seen Eli Stone you missed the boat. There's no point in watching now unless you want to be let down in a few months when they air their last episode.

[Excerpt taken from Wikipedia]

A...drama set in a law firm where a thirty-something attorney, whose name is the title of the show, begins having larger-than-life visions that compel him to do out-of-the-ordinary things. Eli suffers from an inoperable brain aneurysm that causes him to have realistic hallucinations which often relate to the plot of that episode, and he may in fact be a modern day prophet.

It's a very cute and interesting show. Of course it has the usual drama any prime time show has but it keeps the sex and profanity to a minimum and actually brought themes of justice, compassion, and love mixed with a sense of a true American pop religion. Eli consults an acupuncturist, Dr. Chen, to help him decipher his prophetic visions which relates to a case directed to by "a higher power". His vision sometimes predicts the future and saves lives as in the case when he kept seeing visions of a devastating earthquake that takes out the Golden Gate Bridge (did I mention this takes place in San Fransisco).

And now it's canceled. I sent an email to ABC letting them know that after Lost ends in 2010 I'm entering into a lifelong boycott of their network. I know that sounds a little extreme since before Lost I never watched ABC in the first place. So I guess I'll continue not watching ABC after 2010.

A Blogger's Faith

I am, or at least have become, a Blogger. I am still new at it and I admit I'm not the best writer but I love it. It is a creative outlet in part, a way to let out any thoughts that may be wandering in my head that need a place to rest. I chose Religion (in general) to blog about because it is such a vast, interesting, and controversial topic to write about. I don't try to force my beliefs (either on this blog or in the real world) on anyone anymore because it seems to contradict the whole spirit of faith in the first place. You can't force faith on anyone, nor can God. Now there may be believers (in "insert name of Faith Here") that may wish to force there beliefs on other people but even then how can one know they are believing out of their own free will or out of fear be it intimidation, peer pressure, or on pain of death?

Does God say then,"That was great work you did back there making that sinner feel guilty so that they will turn back to worshiping Me." I can't imagine a God so consumed with collecting as many worshipers as possible that He would result to violence to strong arm people into obedience. Even then some Holy Books warn of punishments for those that choose not to worship the Almighty. What then? Do we blindly follow those commands and force Humanity to bow or do we let our lives be an example of how religion has changed us for the better (Warning: Your Religious Experience may Vary)?

I have gone off on too many tangents. My original focus was on Blogging, but that is the beauty of blogging. I can go off on as many tangents as I please without making any sense. This is not for others but for me. I guess you can say it's a bit therapeutic getting this all out in my own private environment. Others are welcome to read, comment, and debate but this is still my own pulpit. I can go on and on about a certain topic or I could just post a solitary link without comment.

But I do this primarily because it is so difficult to talk about Religion to just about anyone. Most people have there set beliefs and the minute you state that you believe otherwise or follow different creeds immense walls shoot up, alarms go off, and warning signs flash up in your head.

Warning! Warning! Their Religious Experience varies from yours! Abort! Abort! Abort Conversation! Take all precautions, enemy combatants are in range. Raise Shields! Bring weapons Online!
That's why recently I've become careful with what I say when it comes to the topic of Religion AND especially in the South. You never know who you're going to offend unless you are part of the majority. And I'm not. I'm far from it.

But in closing I think it's only far to share what I do believe.

  • First and foremost I can at the very least consider myself a Monotheist. I believe in one God. I don't say there IS a God as if it's scientific fact but that I believe there is a God.
  • I was raised Christian my entire life so my Religious experience is similar to most people here in the Southeast. But that's where the similarities end.
  • I was raised a 7th Day Adventist. I am not a practicing Adventist anymore but, on a subconscious level, still slightly think and consider myself an Adventist. I do not follow any of the creeds but I tend to sometimes think like an Adventist on certain occasions (for example: I sometimes catch myself thinking "Is this sinful?" when I bite into a delicious ham sandwich.)
  • I am very open minded when it comes to listening or studying other faiths. I especially find it interesting when I find close similarities between faiths I thought (at one point) had absolutely nothing in common (i.e. Christians and Muslims are both awaiting for Jesus Christ to Return to Earth to reign and to destroy the Antichrist). This is where I start to get hateful glares from some Christians because they equate Islam with the Devil.
  • And this leads into my final point since I could go on for awhile on what I do or do not believe. I can not believe that only one Religion has all the answers or is the only way to commune with God. I can not say to a Hindi, "You can not be praying to the God Almighty because you worship idols." Or to a Muslim, " You are not saved because you do not believe that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate". What I am saying is that I CAN NOT judge a fellow worshiper (or non-worshiper) of God and tell them that they are wrong. I am not God, I do not claim to know God's mind, and so therefore I can not pass judgment on others spirituality or lack thereof.
I want to not only understand the different creeds and rituals of different Religions but I want to dig past them. This open-minded view I have allows me to better understand my fellow Man, and by better understanding I can increase my love towards my fellow Man.

Mark 12:28-34
28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'There is no commandment greater than these."

32"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

34When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How to reach Enlightenment through a Video Game?

I for one don't know much about mysticism and enlightenment (especially Kabbalah which gives me a headache just thinking about it) but I do find it very interesting. Which is why I was surprised to hear about a PS3 game in the works that deals with just that.

[Statement from the Official Website]

The Night Journey is a video game/art project based on the universal story of an individual mystic's journey toward enlightenment.

Visual inspiration for The Night Journey is drawn from the prior works of Bill Viola. Narrative inspiration comes from the lives and writings of great historical figures including: Rumi, the 13th century Islamic poet and mystic; Ryokan, the 18th century Zen Buddhist poet; St. John of the Cross, the 16th century Spanish mystic and poet; and Plotinus, the 3rd century philosopher. The interactive design attempts to evoke in the player's mind a sense of the archetypal journey of enlightenment through the "mechanics" of the game experience - i.e. the choices and actions of the player during the game.

The player's voyage through The Night Journey takes them through a poetic landscape, a space that has more reflective and spiritual qualities than geographical ones. The core mechanic in the game is the act of traveling and reflecting rather than reaching certain destinations - the trip along a path of enlightenment.

The game is being developed with video game technologies, but attempts to stretch the boundaries of what game experiences may communicate with its unique visual design, content and mechanics. The team has created a set of custom post-processing techniques for the 3D environment that evoke the sense of "explorable video," integrating the imagery of Bill Viola's prior work into the game world at both a technical and creative level.

Other than the fact that I don't think the average gamer will play this game I can't see how this game will work. Most video games has the player move through levels to achieve goals or finish objectives. Although I have read that there will be some goals or levels to achieve before moving on the main objective of the game is to explore and reflect on what you explored. It is a very interesting idea but I don't know how it will sell in the market once it's released. It might have a small following of devoted players but I can't imagine kids getting psyched about reaching enlightenment in "The Night Journey".

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Exodus 20:3

Okay, I admit it. I do favor Obama, I don't worship the ground he walks on but I think he's a swell guy. Now I know this is my 3rd blog on Obama, and my second in a row, but this recent video caught my attention.

So let's break this down. The sign says "America we have a Muslim president This is sin against the Lord! Exodus 20:3." Let's take this line by line.

America we have a Muslim president...

[Excerpt taken from The Raw Story]
The pastor of the Mark Holick is pastor of The Spirit One Christian Center in Wichita, Kansas where the sign is being displayed.

Holick told KSNW, "The main point of the marquee is to cause the Christians to understand he is not a Christian, Again, they will call me and they will tell me that he's not a Muslim because he is a Christian. That's not the point. The point is he's not a Christian."

So I guess the point Mr. Holick is trying to make is that anyone who is not a true Christian is a Muslim. So Taoist, Buddhist, Hindus, and I'm guessing even Christians who don't share their same beliefs are heaped together under the term 'Muslim'. Not only is this a black and white, Us vs. Them, with us or against us view it paints all other religions and viewpoints with the same brush effectively destroying diversity. In a sense Mr. Holick and those that believe likewise are an island of truth in an ocean of lies. There is no point in thinking differently because all other viewpoints are false. Believe like us or perish before God's wrath. This is sad but it exists.

This is sin against the Lord! Exodus 20:3

The verse in question Exodus 20:3 states "You shall have no other gods before me." Now this furthers Mr. Holick's belief that if you are of a different faith then you must be worshiping a different god, a false god. He doesn't even accept the fact that other faiths have different views (if any) on the same God but that they are so completely lost that their faith is being guided in the wrong direction.

In fact you could rewrite the sign to say "America we have a Godless president This is sin against the Lord! Exodus 20:3." A different faith is equated with no faith at all.

But the main, and sadly repeated, myth is that Muslims are THE enemy. There are a variety of books out there that explains Islam without the bigotry and the fear that has been bred into the Western identity. A couple that I've read recently and highly recommend are

  • Peace Be Upon You: Fourteen Centuries of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Conflict and Cooperation by Zachary Karabell
  • Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam by Andrew Wheatcroft
I don't believe Muslims are the enemy in this case or even a threat to the U.S. Ignorance and blind hatred is what will tear this nation apart not people who read from a different holy book, call God, Allah, and pray 5 times a day. I repeat, Ignorance and blind hatred from anyone.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Obama: The Last Anti-Christ

I have not thoroughly read on the subject and history of the Anti-Christ but I do know it's a long one. Not only is this one of Christianity's biggest boogie men (second only to the Devil and probably on the same level as Muhammad) it is one of the most highly used and misunderstood titles. Depending on how you read and interpret the Bible there can contain little to no clues on how to spot the Antichrist. Here's a site with a handy list of clues to help spot the Antichrist.

Meaning: against Christ, or an opposition Christ, a rival Christ.

The word is used only by the apostle John. Referring to false teachers, he says (1Jn 2:18ff; 1Jn 4:3; 2 Jn 1:7), "Even now are there many antichrists."

  1. This name has been applied to the "little horn" of the "king of fierce countenance" (Dan 7:24f; Dan 8:23ff).
  2. It has been applied also to the "false Christs" spoken of by Jesus (Mt 24:5, Mt 24:23f).
  3. To the "man of sin" described by Paul (2 Thes 2:3f, 2 Thes 2:8ff).
  4. And to the "beast from the sea" (Rev 13:1; Rev 17:1-18).

There is a laundry list of those that have been identified as the Antichrist throughout history, and also in modern times. I'm not going to go through them but you can check them out for yourself. But this is how it works. You pick your target (in this case Barack Obama) and you make a list of reasons why said person matches up with Biblical prophecies. Of course when you don't do your homework then people won't believe you next time you were to spot the REAL Antichrist.
According to The Book of Revelations the anti-christ is: The anti-christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal....the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything is it OBAMA??”
This was part of an email that was sent during his campaign to scare Christian voters from voting for the Anti, I mean Osama, oops, I mean Obama. You can read more about it here. But just to point out the obvious 1) the Book of Revelation does not say the Antichrist will be in his 40s, 2) Can not say that he will be of Muslim descent because Islam would not be around until centuries after the book was written, 3) as far as I know the Book of Revelation does not use the term "Antichrist" but only describes a series of beast which the Christian church has tied to the identity of the Antichrist.

So how does Obama fit into all this? Well, I guess Newsweek still has the Post Election Blues (or PEB for short) and thought this might get people into talking (or buying) again like they did during that euphoric high people experienced that climaxed on election night. Here's the article.

So my question is why are Christians afraid of the Antichrist? Because if Obama is the Antichrist then he would be fulfilling prophecy. And if that's the case the End Times are here indeed and all those that are Christians will be raptured any day now. If you're wondering how much time is left just take a look at Rapture They have a handy Rapture Index Gauge that takes all the current events and boils them down to a number. The higher the number the higher the chance the Lord will be coming soon. Now this is not a joke site, but it is run by people who are truly trying to spread the Gospel to get people ready for the Rapture. But why wouldn't Christians have voted for the Antichrist based on that email? I mean if you want the Lord to come sooner you wouldn't delay prophecy by not electing the Antichrist. In fact (if he is) Christians should come out and march in the streets in support of Obama. Why should they worry if they're going to be taken up into the clouds before the start of the Tribulation.

That's of course if you believe in the Pre-Tribulation Theology and not the Mid or Post-Tribulation view.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Truely American Girl Scouts

When I was growing up I never knew much about or even was a part of a boy scout troop. Since I was raised as a 7th-Day Adventist growing up the only youth organization I participated in were the Pathfinders. We would go camping, hiking, have marching competitions, other various outdoor activities, and earn honors (or badges). Things that (I think) are similar to what they do in boy scouts. That's about all I know about boy scouts, well that and the various membership controversies they have had over the years.

Even though the Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts, youth organizations were started as a secular group without official ties to any single faith they profess that a certain level of spirituality is fundamental in the growth of the Boy/Girl Scout.

"All Members of the Movement are encouraged to:
  • make every effort to progress in the understanding and observance of the Promise to do their best to do their duty to God;
  • belong to some religious body;
  • carry into daily practice what they profess."
This, I believe, is great for the largest youth organization to not only profess but instill into the hearts and minds of this nation's children (that's if you ignore the membership controversies surrounding atheist, agnostics, and homosexuals). But even as a secular group I can't help but associate Boy/Girl Scouts with Christianity. That is just the connection I make when it comes to the scouts. Scouts=Christians. I'm not saying that they are Christians because they welcome people of all faiths (except those without faith) into their organization. Take a look.

I believe this is a good step towards American attitudes towards Muslims. To associate such an American (actually British-born) organization like the Girl Scouts with something as foreign (to many Americans) as Islam and see it thriving is amazing to witness especially with our crippled relationship with the Islamic world. Now this group is not a breakaway Islamic Girl Scout group since Girl Scouts do not support any one faith. These are just troops that have a majority of Muslim girls. I guess it's the image of a Muslim girl wearing a hijab and a troop uniform that is so awe inspiring to me but to others might make their stomach churn. Because, honestly, to the average American most Muslims are considered terrorist. If they're not planning to blow up a plane, or attempting to promote Sharia Law in America then they are about to burn a U.S. Flag.

I am not trying to be offensive, I am just trying to paint a picture as to how (I think) most Americans see Muslims. I do not see them in this light at all but am trying to make a point.

The fact that Americans CAN stomach a Muslim in a hijab and a troop uniform and even get the attention of the local news brings a smile to my face. Of course after we (yes, I voted for Obama) voted in our first black President with the name Barack Hussein Obama I believe America is ready to stomach a whole lot more. I can feel those smiles impatiently waiting to blossom.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

That's Friggin' Religulous...

I have not seen Religulous yet but I plan to when it comes out on dvd. Until then all I have is clips on Youtube and movie reviews. I used to watch Bill Maher's show on HBO (when I had HBO) and loved his straightforward and frank humor.

When it comes to religion, at least for me, questions are key to further understanding God and Man. There are those that choose to stand by the answers given to them by their religious leaders and I believe that's perfectly fine as long as it encourages love and compassion for Mankind. But there are also those who will defend their beliefs and fight tooth and nail to the death instead of talking, and trying to understand why their opponents might believe otherwise. Questions are what brought me to my current beliefs, but I understand that my beliefs are just one of many and I am also willing to sit and listen to other viewpoints.

When believers focus on the true spirit of their religion much good can come out of it: Love, Compassion, Justice. And Bill Maher makes an excellent point that none of us have the answers (or even part of an answer) and that is why we must continue asking questions and learn to live with them.

And to Bill Maher's question as to why would a loving God allow pain in the world? My answer would be that I don't have an answer. So instead of spending a lifetime trying to answer that question let's come together and try to alleviate some of that pain. Can we do this without religion? There are plenty of organizations that are doing this now without the need of any religious institution, creeds, or beliefs. I don't believe you need to have faith in God to help out in a soup kitchen. It's not like if and when someone becomes an atheist they turn into this monster without any morality or compassion. I believe in God because I can take one look at nature and see an order too complex to be born out of chance. Now 20 years down the road that may or may not change but my morals, love, and compassion for my fellow Man will not change.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Brother Micah, where art thou...

On campuses across the U.S. students are getting bombarded by preachers spouting hell fire and damnation on their way to class. This "confrontational evangelism" is used by the likes of such preachers as Brother Micah (Micah Armstrong), The Pit Preacher (Gary Birdsong), and Brother Jim (Jim Gilles).

Warning! The following footage contains strong language.

Brother Micah and Sister Elizabeth at UCF

Radical Preacher Takes on Ohio State Students

I find this movement fascinating and very entertaining because it gets people talking. I highly doubt anyone can get half as many students to have a decent discussion on God, Religion, and spirituality without making it confrontational. People just don't care. Well not everyone, but the vast majority are not going to go to a seminar or a debate just because they're interested. I know I would but the very reason these campus preachers "spread the gospel" in this method is BECAUSE they can get huge crowds to show up even if they don't agree with their beliefs.

But then it gets better. Some people in the crowd shout back and get into extremely heated arguments which 9 times out of 10 involves the campus police showing up to calm things down.

And the confrontational preachers, what is their defense when they're getting booted off campus? Exercise of free speech. I do believe they have every right to speak their mind in these designated free speech zones as long as it's at a reasonable volume so as to not disrupt class and as long as it does not incite hatred or lead to violence. Why can't they just sit down and peacefully discuss Jesus and his teachings? Like I said before, no one would stick around long enough to listen. You may get a few curious faces but that doesn't grab your attention half as well as "you still suck _____, queer!"

What is the point of all this? Some Christians (and I'm not trying to demonize Christianity) are desperately trying new methods to reach as many people as possible. This is In-Your-Face Christianity, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Christianity, Confess and Repent NOW Christianity. This confrontational evangelism screams of desperation. A desperation that screams for your soul's salvation and for the church's salvation. Young people are flooding out of the churches never to return and without the youth how will the church grow? How will the gospel spread to every nation? Will Christianity die out and retire to the history books like so many other religions? I think not, but that underlying fear still exists however small it may be. Even though I may not agree with all or part of Christianity I do not wish its annihilation. That would be a terrible loss for humanity.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is "Right Now" right?

Right now I'm suppose to be researching for a project due sometime next week but something moved me to write instead just to pass the time until noon. Why noon, you ask? Well because at 12:00pm sharp I will be allowed to register for my spring classes. Why is this a big deal? I don't know yet.

Every single minute of of every single day actions throughout your life buildup like legos, one on top of another. Building, building, building. But what is the design and what will the final result look like. I don't know. But every action one takes guides you to another set of options, which when decided, will guide you to another set of options. When I enter the library should I use the computer lab on the first floor or fourth floor? If I spend 2 minutes on every floor looking for an available computer and if I don't find one do I check out a laptop? With my laptop in hand, where will I go to sit down and work?

If I go left, what did I miss by not going right?

If I take this particular class what will I miss in the other classes? And if I fail this class is that a "sign" that I should have taken the other class instead?

Even typing this blog right now is a decision I made which may or may not affect the rest of my life be it good or bad.

What I can do is this: decide every choice that comes across my path with my best judgment. I will soon find out whether it was a right or wrong decision but I can not live in the fear that my decision may come out wrong in the future nor regret making a past decision because I might have made a mistake. All I can do is learn from my mistakes and decide wisely for next time. No regret. No Fear.

Hmmm, should I eat the food they serve on campus or wait till I get home to eat a delicious sandwich? Or maybe I can eat at Jack-in-the-Box.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Car 'Believes'...

Letting other people know where you stand with (or without) God just got a little easier, at least in South Carolina. You can read the entire article here. In a nutshell South Carolina just passed legislation that allows the DMV to begin making custom Christian-themed license plates bearing the words 'I Believe'. Of course we live in the south so just think of all that extra revenue that will flow into the DMV. Unfortunately Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a.k.a. The Pagan Party Poopers (or The PPP for short), has already filed a lawsuit against the South Carolina officials. Their argument is that " the plates amount to state sponsorship of a particular faith" .

Whenever it comes to the hotly debated "wall" between church and state my stance is that there should be ZERO tax dollar funding to any religious organization that (at least intentionally) promotes their faith upon other people. Mr. Bush's Faith-Based Initiative is at least trying to help folks in need, unlike this which is just a fancy way of letting fellow travelers know that God is in the passenger seat.

Of course California can always counter with a license plate bearing the image of Our Lord the Flying Spaghetti Monster.That's of course after they're done deciding whether or not homosexuals are allowed to be as miserable as most heterosexual married couples.

On a side note...
I usually don't post this frequently I just reposted my old "God Blog" posts from my old blog.

Mr. Deity


The following material may be offensive with those who are uncomfortable with religious humor. It is not my (nor the creators) intent to offend but to entertain. If you are fine with religious humor then continue reading, if not, you've been warned. Enjoy.

Mr. Deity Episode 1: Mr. Deity and the Evil

Mr. Deity Episode 2: Mr. Deity and the Really Big Favor

So, what do you think? Now, I thoroughly enjoy this show precisely because they don't attack religion (in fact this show does not attack religion at all) with grotesque, over the top, crude humor found in South Park and Family Guy (although I do enjoy watching both of these shows). So, how may it be offensive? Because this show plays off of a certain religious view (Christianity mostly) and these views of God are considered completely SACRED to some people. Note: They are not poking fun at God or the Christian view of God but are using certain Christian theological statements and articles of faith as a vehicle (along with humor) to make a point about certain questions that all religions try to answer. Why does evil exist? Why is there sin? Why does God Punish people in Hell? Why does God not answer my prayers? The list goes on and on.

We watched a few of these in my religion class on Tuesday and I thought they were hilarious. I had to restrain myself from laughing too hard and looking like a fool. I believe this show raises some thought provoking questions outside of the "theological box" while also entertaining the audience. I believe they are also in talks with HBO to make this into a show but I haven't read anything recent on their progress.

By the way, if you do find religious humor offensive and did not heed the warning then you might be a little peeved right now, so all I can say is well, deal with it.

Recall This!

Now that I have children of my own I hardly have the spare time to blog let alone play video games (although I set aside some time in the wee early hours for the Wii Fit). I recently found out that Sony is again in trouble with another religious group over the musical content of their, now delayed, new game Little Big Planet. Their previous snafu was over a virtual representation of the Manchester Cathedral of England in their 2006 game Resistance: The Fall of Man. You can read about it Here.

This time it's about a snippet of song lyrics that contain Koranic verses found within Little Big Planet. Just google Little Big Planet Muslim lyrics and you'll find serveral articles. But in a nutshell concerned muslim gamers notified Sony that it might be offensive to some members of their religion. That so far sounds reasonable if it were offensive in the first place. Now I understand the reason for censorship and why some people find that they have to be "politically correct" but it's kind of, no, IS ridiculous when Sony decided to pull the game off the shelves so they can remove the offensive content.

Here are some reactions from two influential members of the U.S. Muslim community.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Personally, I find the song to be beautiful and touching. But I respect the views of those who have taken offense and I appreciate that Sony has as well. To be fair, I believe Sony is under no obligation to recall the game given that the song was not of their own making, but that of a devout Muslim who allowed them to use it. However, I think they made an admirable decision to respect the sensitivities of their customers who were offended, which is a wise decision from both a marketing and community relations perspective.

Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), sees nothing admirable or wise in Sony's action. Instead, he warns Muslims not to expect others to bow to their every concern and businesses not to cave. Western liberties are at stake here:

Muslims cannot benefit from freedom of expression and religion and then turn around and ask that anytime their sensibilities are offended that the freedom of others be restricted. The free market allows for expression of disfavor by simply not purchasing a game that may be offensive. But to demand that it be withdrawn is predicated on a society which gives theocrats who wish to control speech far more value than the central principle of freedom of expression upon which the very practice and freedom of religion is based.

I completely agree with Mr. Jasser. If ANYONE got offended with ANYTHING then anyone can get anything pulled off the shelf for any reason. If I don't believe in aliens and I find it offensive that a video game company is coming out with a new game featuring aliens then I can get that game pulled from the shelves, right?

Alright, now to the heart of the issue. There are two hot button issues that most people take great care when it comes up in a conversation: politics and religion. Without going into politics, the issue here is about the mixing of music with verses from the Koran. It's not the fact that music is inherently evil (that i'm aware of) to muslims but that to them the Koran IS the holy word of God and you don't mix something holy with something potentially unholy. Now I could go on and on about Koran Reciters (who kind of sing the Koran) and the various rulings and views on music within Islam but I'll just stop there and get to the point.

Mr. Jasser said it best, "The demand to censor, as well as Sony's willingness to bend at the request, is counterproductive to freedom of speech." There is no one voice that speaks for all muslims but if certain countries want to ban the game, then let them. But there is no reason to delay a product just because it might offend someone. If it is truely offensive then it shouldn't even make it to mass production. But of course if for some reason something does get through it's interesting to see how anyone may have missed it.

When I worked at Wally World my fellow associates and I had a good laugh about these "oddly shaped straws" for a good two weeks before they got recalled. A product must go through several stages and be given an "ok" stamp before being mass produced. I just want to know what the people who designed and gave approval to release this straw were thinking AND what they thought it looked like to them. A Rocket ship? I know I wouldn't want my kids using these straws even though they might be too young to connect the dots. Now here is a very, very good reason to issue a recall.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Obama Mocks the Bible

Really? Check it out for yourself...

Whatever your religious or political beliefs are you have to understand the point he's trying to make. He asked the question which passages of scripture should we use to guide our public policy. Since the scripture in question is the Bible we have say that he means the ENTIRE Bible. What he is saying is that if we, as a nation, decide to base our public policy on this book then the whole book is fair game to be used. When he says "folks haven't been reading their bible" he means that there are passages, if taken literally, would send chills down anyone's spine if they were enforced. Now the vast majority of Christians say that the New Testament Laws override the Old and therefore makes them null and void. The issue is about 1) which passages to pick (of course avoiding the nasty ones) and 2) how to interpret them. If you pick only the passages that coincide and support today's morals and interpret them in a 21st century context then you can safely build your public policy with a clean
conscience. Obama's point is that even if you build your public policy on a religious text you still come across these two major hurdles of picking the right passages and how to interpret them and eventually we end up deciding what WE THINK what God says is morally right or wrong by modifying God's law.

Now I believe it is perfectly fine to base your public policies and laws on morals found in and beneath the scripture but not on scripture itself or even any single scripture alone. Basing laws on "do not steal, do not kill" the morals themselves instead of an interpretation of the words in the scripture themselves [for example:
If you are in a fistfight with another man, and his wife grabs your private parts, you "shall cut off her hand." (Deuteronomy 25:11-12).].

In fact there is a story of one such man who tried to follow all 700+ Biblical laws in the Bible for an entire year.

And I also disagree with the final statement that Jesus would "never advocate turning the other cheek to terrorist and enemies of America". First, it's arrogant and presumptuous to even state that anyone would know 100% how Jesus would feel on our present global situations. I cannot say how he would feel or think one way or another but I assume (and I might be 100% wrong) that
if you interpret "turn the other cheek" to mean not to fight back (whether with each other or with their oppressors the Romans) then it means we as a nation are not going to make an exception for our enemies. Love your enemies? Maybe, maybe not. We still decided what's wrong or right.

But if you're going to read the Bible in it's original context you must understand the cultural background of that specific book and the time when it was written. The Israelites were a tribal people and you must understand that their laws, at the time when they were written, applied to their tribes and not worldwide. So by trying to apply, at least Old Testament, Jewish Laws and morals to modern times they sound barbaric. The same problem occurs with Islamic Shariah Law and that's why I believe it's having problems within the Muslim Ummah (community) in the 21st century.

It's all about interpretation. Now, I'm
not trying to side with Obama in this blog, I'm only trying to clarify this specific misconception.

Mission Statement

As my first blog on Blogger I hope that I don't screw up too much since I'm not the best writer. First impressions are everything. I have been blogging for years on other sites but I've never really written anything worth writing except my daily accounts and personal feelings. Now my free time gravitates around my family, school, and all things God. I hope to trigger intelligent conversations about God although I do not consider myself a scholar by any means, just a voice.

Whatever the object of my interest has been my appetite has always been healthy. Lately (in the last 3+ years) my appetite has fallen upon Comparative Religious Studies, and because of the vastness of the subject I will be dining happily for years to come. The more permanent factor is the depth of the subject. Sure, studying J.R.R. Tolkien's elvish language, Sindarin, is a fascinating subject not only in the past and future etymological constructions but it falls far short in purpose and meaning compared to the complexity (and strangely, simplicity), devotion, and awe of Religion.

From the Bhakti Yoga practices of Hinduism, to the mystical practices of Sufism restoring within themselves their primodial fitra, there is something in comparing the social, moral, and spiritual teachings of the World's Religions that speaks to me. To know that when I turn 80 I would have but scratched the surface, to have understood the meaning of one letter of one name of God/El/Allah/Deus/Ishvara/Θεός/




829519475412398501 (this long string of numbers represents the true name of God in the movie PI).

But I do not wish to understand God by means of disection, like a lab student and his cow brain. I do wish to collect puzzle pieces and take a lifetime putting the puzzle together. I find that the act of putting together this puzzle more rewarding then the finished product. Because what else can you do with a finished puzzle then to glue it to cardboard, frame it, and hang it on your wall awaiting "Ooos and ahhs" from friends and family.

Does this mean that I will choose to become purely an observer watching and taking notes on my clipboard as ants walk up to their chuch/synagogue/mosque, pay their tithe, whisper their prayers, and return to their homes? Yes and no. I do have a personal view and interaction with God of my own that I wish to strengthen, and I hope to learn of others views and interactions with God in hopes of growing from those experiences. Why keep the knowledge of joy you find in your favorite movie to yourself when you can tell others why it stirs you? And also in hopes someone will reciprocate and inform you why The Fountain is such a beautiful and breathtaking film (trust me, it is).

What is it about Hinduism, with approximately 1 billion adherents, that makes it the third largest religion? What is it about Islam that makes it the fastest growing religion in Europe? What is it about the Latter-Day Saints that makes it the 4th largest denomination in the U.S.? (Their LDS missionaries are very interesting to talk with, if you haven't already.) In my studies I wish to know how and why others perceive the Creator, not for any selfish goal to "just know" or to be a know-it-all but to collect that little piece and add it to my God-sized puzzle. And in adding that piece I might appreciate and love my fellow man and God that much more.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

About the Puzzle

A God-Sized Puzzle is my personal quest to learn how others interact with and perceive the Divine. This blog is a means to understand one another, and by understanding I can come that much closer to love and appreciate everyone I meet. I see beauty in all religions and I hope to dig out gems of universal truth from all traditions and implement them into my life. I seek to look at how others view God from every possible angle including the ones who don't care to look. In this way I can weave these pieces together to create a personal mosaic where I draw my daily spiritual strength and hope to transform myself into a more loving and caring human being.

Friday, November 7, 2008

About Me

First and foremost I am a husband and a father. I am not a part of any religious institution or denomination considering myself spiritual but not religious. I was raised as a Christian (SDA) and still consider Christianity as the foundation for my spirituality and the language I speak to communicate my beliefs. I believe truth, connection, and purpose can be found in all religions (but not exclusive to religion) and I hope to dig out these gems and share what I've discovered. Comparative Religious Studies is my hobby whenever I can squeeze it into my busy day as a Mr. Mom. I recently graduated from MTSU in May 2010 with a B.S. in Audio Engineering while minoring in Religious Studies. I welcome open dialog from all walks of life. Just drop me a line in the blue comment box to the right and let's have a conversation.