Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Bad Samaritan

Dr. McGrath shared this interesting image yesterday with a twist on the Good Samaritan. There was a bit of a debate in the comments on what the image meant. There is a bit of a political message in the image but this is due to the blurring of the lines of self identification. I believe this image is a left leaning response to the Christian conservatives who support being armed (which I have no problem with those choosing to be armed). The Parable of the Good Samaritan begins with Jesus being asked to identify who is considered a neighbor. The despicable foreigner, the Samaritan, became (or should be) the Christian example of how to be a neighbor, in which Christians are called to love. The disconnect is when those who self identify as Christian conservatives blame the victims of tragedy instead of turning to their gold standard of morality, the Bible, and seek out a viable solution to help prevent similar tragedies in the future. I'm not saying ALL Christians are guilty of this disconnect mainly because there is no singular definition or group representing all of Christianity. I'm talking about people who believe you can't be a Christian if you don't own a gun, and believe God deals out collective punishment because we've been unfaithful. They lean on their own understanding and call that "trusting God". The Bible is not simple to read or even interpret. But the message of the Good Samaritan seems fairly straightforward: be merciful to your neighbor.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Surviving "The End"

So with another doomsday come and gone I thought I would bring up some questions I've been pondering.We've survived several lesser known doomsdays from "prophets" as we neared the Mayan 2012 apocalypse. I never believed anything would happen on 12/21/12 but now that it's passed without a bang will people fall for these doomsday predictions again? With the most well known doomsday come and gone I believe (and hope) people will be less willing to lend an ear to the boys who cry wolf. There will always be more prophets heralding the end, and more charlatans preying on the fears of the people. Which brings me to my next question: how will this affect the belief in end time prophecies of religious believers? Will they continue to believe in their prophecies because the Mayan apocalypse was a false, secular prophecy? Or will this cause them to question their eschatology?  Will this also lead to questioning their beliefs in Heaven, Hell, and the afterlife?

Feel free to chim in with your thoughts. I hope to get some feedback from religious believers who've been affected by the passing of this non-event.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Conversations with Ourselves: Making Sense of It All

Throughout this series the core theme I want to get across is the importance of asking questions. Questions allows us to explore and create within our vast universe. And as we explore, our interconnectedness to each other and the universe is strengthened. But living with all these questions rattling around in your head can be unnerving especially when you're trying to make sense of it all. On the surface, questions don't offer an immediate peace of mind. This is why people gravitate towards religion which offers answers to many of life's questions. I'm OK with religion being used in this manner even though some would say it is a crutch. Sometimes life is too hard to deal with and there is no shame in believing in something to help you through life's obstacles. What I am against is people bashing others in the head with their "crutch". You can't serve love on a plate of hate.

So how do we make sense of it all? How do we make sense of life with a bag of unanswerable questions or, worse yet, questions which leads to other questions? What has helped me in my personal journey is coming to terms with the chaos of life and knowing that we are already There.

People desperately seek out a constant state of happiness, they want to know that everything will be OK. They want the assurance that nothing will go wrong, they want control over the future. But no matter how hard you struggle no one's future is ever secured. (And in terms of Christianity and the afterlife, no knows for sure that they will go to Heaven, they can only hope and believe they will.) So what then? Do we go through life a nervous wreak waiting for the axe to fall at any moment? That would be as pointless as a dog chasing its own tail! Once we come to the understanding that life is full of chaos and we stop trying to control the uncontrollable we can begin living. Shit happens. Life is full of ups AND downs. Instead, we should surround ourselves with good friends and family to celebrate the ups and to comfort each other during the downs.

It is easier, and much more interesting, for me to live with the questions than accept a prepackaged answer. Questions help you connect with the world around you, they help you to grow spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. They help us to discover and embrace our humanity more fully. So sit back relax with a few good friends and enjoy the moments we have on this pale blue dot.

Part 1) Conversations with Ourselves: The Question
Part 2) Conversations with Ourselves: The Internal Struggle
Part 3) Conversations with Ourselves: The External Struggle
Part 4) Conversations with Ourselves:  Reflections on Who We Were
Part 5) Conversations with Ourselves: Making Peace with Chaos
Part 6) Conversations with Ourselves: Making Sense of It All