Honestly Thinking

Honestly thinking (& rethinking) about God, the universe, and everything in between

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True Story: The Case of the Missing Groom

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Everyone has one of those stories: the kind of strange, true-life events you tell at a party that people find hard to believe.  This is mine.

Though I confess some of the specific details over the years have escaped me, I assure you the story itself is real.

Back in the 90’s I worked as a freelance cameraman for a company that videotaped weddings.  One weekend my fellow freelancer David and I set out for what we thought would be a typical day of: capture the bride and groom individually getting ready, front and back camera setup for the ceremony, tape the photography session without getting in the still photographers’ way (or on their nerves because you’re taking away from their business), capture the bride and groom entering the reception, first dance, cutting the cake, interviews with sometimes obnoxiously drunk people congratulating the bride and groom, and get the final moments of people pelting them with rice or bird seed and watching them drive off.

In and out…boom…we’re done.  I hate to admit it, but what was often a very special day for some was pretty formulaic for us.

But this day was different. Continue reading

Rethinking God’s Wrath

The following is a direct excerpt from Rethinking God, Chapter 3: Bigger

Rethinking God’s Wrath

Often God is thought of as a blood-thirsty dictator, perpetually pissed off at mankind, continually seeking opportunities for punishment and revenge.  But is that really the God who exists?  By understanding God and existence to be one and the same, it gives us opportunity to re-evaluate exactly what we mean when we refer to God’s wrath. Continue reading

The Barabbas Choice: 5 Practical Reasons for Voting for the Lesser of 2 Evils & Why They Won’t Work

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This article has been revised and updated here.

The nomad and his wife made their journey toward a dangerous foreign land.  Behind them a severe famine threatened to overtake them. Before them resided a people with a deadly reputation. The man had heard stories before of their barbaric acts; he knew that if they found out that this beautiful woman with him was his wife they would likely kill him in order to take her as their own.

To stay behind meant certain death by starvation for both of them. To move forward and tell the truth would seal his fate by sword or some other horrific means. Thus, one small act of deception might serve to spare his life. What other choice did Abram and his wife Sarai have? It was the practical thing to do. After all, these were desperate times.

And desperate times often call for desperate measures….and a little bit of compromise, right? Continue reading

Must Our President Be Christian? What Even Evangelicals Get Wrong About Separation of Church and State

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“Separation of church and state.”  Few phrases have caused such division and controversy.  From the famous Scopes Monkey Trial to battles over the Ten Commandments on public display to stories of high school coaches praying with their teams, there is no shortage of opinions.

Recently, the phrase has even become part of the dialogue in Republican presidential primaries.  After, I questioned the faith claims and behaviors of one of the leading candidates, several objectors decried, “What about separation of church and state?”

Surprisingly, evangelical Christian supporters of the candidate – ones who in the past have traditionally defended this is a “Christian nation” – have begun using a slight variation on the phrase when they proclaim that we are electing “a commander-in-chief, not a pastor-in-chief.”

But all of this is symptomatic that even evangelicals have become victims of a great misunderstanding about God. Continue reading

Yes, Virginia, There is a Supreme Dictator of the Universe … and You’re Okay With It

I hate to break it to you but it’s true.  Though, thou may protest much, and though the idea of it may defy every notion of freedom you believe in, there is, in fact, a supreme dictator and that dictator has complete control of your life. 

What’s more is that even though we dislike the idea of our individual freedoms being taken, we protest very little of the actual rules that this dictator imposes on us and, in truth, often welcome them.

And I’ll prove it. Continue reading

The Political Correctness of being Politically Incorrect

Back in high school, my best friend Mike and I were riding in my oh-so-cool blue 1978 GT Toyota Celica, most likely with Phil Collins music blaring in the background (because that’s pretty much what we always listened to in those days – if not Peter Gabriel, Bryan Adams, or anything from my “Miami Vice” soundtrack).  I don’t remember the exact context of the conversation, but most likely as a wanna-be-filmmaker I had been dreaming up another idea for one of our many VHS camera recorded mini-film adventures, when I proposed,

“And then one of the Japs comes flying down with his plane…”

Mike suddenly turned to me with that wry half-grin of his and said, “Japs?”

“What?” I responded, clueless at what he was getting at.

“Japs, Steve?  Really?”

You see, a little background here: Mike was (or I guess still technically is) half-Japanese – his mother, an immigrant from Japan after marrying Mike’s American military dad.  If anything, Mike somewhat more favors the Japanese side in terms of looks.

But to me, Mike was just…Mike.  My best friend. Continue reading

If You Are a Trump Supporter These Are The 9 Things I Assume About You

AUTHOR’S UPDATE: Please note that the following article was written prior to the actual GOP primaries because I was concerned about people supporting Donald Trump as the Republican candidate.  Since then the definition of “Trump Supporter” has obviously expanded to include a larger segment of the population, including people who readily agreed with my article. Thus my assumptions obviously do not apply to all “Trump Supporters.”

For my most recent thoughts on the election and support for President Trump, please see my latest article: A Trump Protester’s Insider Look Within the Evangelical Trump Supporting World.

Dear Trump Supporter,

Let me start by saying that I get it.  I get the frustration. 

I, too, am tired of all the PC language that has dominated our culture.  I’m tired of having to be careful about everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) I say for fear of accidentally offending someone and dealing with hyped up repercussions.

I, too, am sickened with politics as usual – with a stagnant, do-nothing government.  I’m tired of unmet promises and of wimpy politicians who won’t stand up for what is right and what needs to be done.

I, too, am concerned about our nation’s security, knowing there are people out there who absolutely hate us and will stop at nothing to destroy us – even to the point of trying to disguise themselves amongst us if they can.

I, too, worry about our world’s economy, with other countries engaging in unfair trade practices.  I’m worried about our own nation’s economy, and I’m worried about my next paycheck.

I, too, am frustrated by an ever expanding federal government, continually imposing its rules upon us, forcing us to buy a product we may not want, and telling us what we are allowed to believe…or else.

I, too, am concerned about where our country is headed.  I want to see our nation great again.

So I get it.

I get the allure of a charismatic person who speaks his mind, who appears above the fray, and seems to epitomize success.

Why wouldn’t we want an accomplished businessman to run the “business” of the states?  Why wouldn’t we want a person who could not care less what people think to break through the barriers of our hypersensitive speech.  Why wouldn’t we root for someone radically different than what we’ve seen before in Washington, who promises to get stuff done, while at the same time makes us laugh?

But this is not about Donald Trump.  No, this is about you. Continue reading

Just Not Feelin’ It: An Open Letter to God

Dear God,

I don’t know quite how to say this, we’ve been together so long, but lately over the last several days…I’m just not feelin’ it.

No, this isn’t some kind of break up notice, for we’ve been through too much together for that.  And we’ve had some pretty amazing times.

This isn’t a crisis of faith – though I’ve said I’m “losing my religion,” my belief and trust in you is stronger than ever.

You’ve not done anything recently to offend me.  You’ve not thrown me under the bus.  You’ve not cheated on me nor lied to me nor wreaked any personal major havoc.

It’s not that I have some theological issue with your allowance of suffering and such; you and I have worked our way through that.  It’s not that I’m troubled about seeming contradictions I’ve read; we’ve talked about those, too.

You and I have had knock down fights before and moments where I’ve nearly walked away.  I’ve screamed at you and cursed as well and nearly thrown in the towel.  But it’s not quite like that at all this time.

It’s just that my feelings for you, over really even the last couple weeks, can best be described as…meh. Continue reading

I’m a Christian and I Don’t Believe in Intelligent Design

There’s a classic theorem out there that compares the creation of the universe to putting typewriters in a room full of monkeys. 

On one end of the spectrum are those that contend that given enough time, say billions or even an infinite number of years, the monkeys randomly pecking away at the keys will eventually type out the complete works of Shakespeare.

On the other end of the spectrum are those that argue that after even billions (or even infinite) tries of hitting on the typewriter, the monkeys might be able to accidentally type up some words, or maybe even a complete sentence, but the chances of typing up even one actual Shakespearean play are insurmountable Continue reading

I’m a Christian and I Don’t Believe in Miracles

One of my more memorable experiences with the “supernatural” or the “miraculous” occurred early in my Christian walk.  I was struggling with some overwhelming issues late one night when I heard God tell me to “go out to the church and pray.”

This was not just any church; it was a beautiful church that sat up on a hill overlooking Lake Travis in Austin.  Ironically, I had never actually attended this church, but had several times gone out there to pray, sitting in my car in the parking lot.  It was also the very parking lot (as shared in 2 of my previous posts: “Why I Was Kicked Out of Vacation Bible School” and “Losing My Religion”) where for the first time I heard the “voice” of God.

Now God was calling me back to that same place, presumably to hear his voice again.   Continue reading

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