Honestly Thinking

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

Tag: church

We Should be Naked: Why Religion is a Symptom and Not the Solution

Bouguereau, The First Mourning, ca. 1888

Back in 1974, Ray Stevens released a popular song titled “The Streak” about a guy running around town naked. At the time, as a 6-year-old kid, I thought it was just the funniest thing – and so apparently did millions of other people, putting it at # 8 for the whole year on the Billboard charts (weird…yeah, I know).

I guess the idea of people running around in the buff in public just made us all snicker.

Modesty is such a weird thing for us humans, especially in Western culture. With debates about public breastfeeding and yoga pants juxtaposed against Victoria’s Secret signs and popular TV programs that show a lot of skin, it is clear we don’t have any real consensus on exactly what is “too much.”

But it gets even weirder when I tell you this:

We’re all supposed to be naked.

Yes, seriously.

It’s even scriptural.

Now don’t be jumping to conclusions here and think I’m advocating we all start trotting around in the literal footsteps of Ray Stevens’ song. I’m not.

But it’s right there in the Bible and is something that even the most prudish followers know but don’t care to admit. Continue reading

Trump, Hiroshima, and the Casualties of Politics

On Aug 6, 1945, a U.S. B-29 plane, under the authorization of President Harry S. Truman, dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, followed by a second one, Aug 9, on the city of Nagasaki. This action was credited with causing the surrender of Japanese forces, effectively ending World War II.

Some estimates place the death toll from the bombings upwards of 100,000 people, mostly civilians (including children). Add in the number of injuries and the numbers rise to over 200,000 casualties.victim_of_hiroshima_atomic_bombing_3

Since then, the bombings have been the subject of great moral debate as to whether such an action was necessary and worth the cost in casualties. Proponents then and now have argued that it avoided a prolonged battle with an enemy committed to fighting “to the bitter end” – which, in turn, would have cost a projected “half a million American lives and many more that number in wounded” as well as an equal number or more of Japanese lives.

In his public address, President Truman stated, ““Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.”

In addition, many supporters have argued that the brute force of the bomb served as a demonstration to the Soviet Union, consequently keeping them in check for years to comes and saving potentially millions more lives.

Today, a different kind of war is taking place on actual U.S. soil – what has often been called the “culture wars.” Now, while I do not pretend that what is going on here even compares to the tragic loss of lives in physical war, it must be admitted there are still costs.

For politics, like war, is dirty…and people get hurt.

Consequently, amidst all the politicking arose another great moral debate.Faced with the prospects of either selecting a vitriolic person of questionable character to lead the country or continuing to battle against a political enemy whom they saw as destructive to our future, conservatives and many independents were forced to make a difficult choice.trump-vs-clinton

In the end, the majority decided the former was worth the cost.

Thus, on November 8, 2016 a bomb was dropped on half our population…

…a bomb known as President-elect Trump. Continue reading

If I Were the Devil, This is How I Would Lead the Elect Astray

In speaking about the end times, Jesus told his disciples, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive (or ‘lead astray’) even the elect, if that were possible” (Matt 24:24, BSB).

Now I have never been big on getting caught up in end time prophesies and often find it funny that so many Christians live in constant fear trying to point out who might be the Antichrist as though to try and stop him (after all, aren’t we promised it’s going to happen no matter what?), but when it comes to the end times there are two questions that fascinate me:

1) Why do so many END TIMES prophesy sites always resort to using such terrible fonts???

and…

2) How is it that the elect could actually be led astray?

After all the “elect” are the chosen ones, the faithful followers of God, the ones who have devoted their lives to being disciples of the real Christ.  It includes the kind of people who know their Bibles backwards and forwards and can name every book without having to sing a song and the kind of people who sickeningly get up at 4am every single morning to study and pray.

It includes the leaders you’ve come to know and respect, the ones you rely on to separate the truths from the lies, and the kind of people who lament about the continual deception going on in the world.  How is it that they get deceived? Continue reading

I’m a Christian and I Don’t Believe Something is True Because the Bible Says

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Before discussing the main point of this article, let me be clear up front:

There are no other writings that have had greater impact on my life than the collection of writings we commonly refer to as “the Bible.” *

Though I’m as human as everyone else and often get too busy, too tired, etc. I try to make it a discipline to read portions of the Bible – whether it be a chapter, a paragraph, or sometimes even a single word or sentence if I get hung up on it – every single day.  No other work have I read as many multiple times.

Single readings have literally altered my life.  A single verse forever changed my career direction, certain verses have gotten me through some of the most desperate, hopeless-seeming situations, and a single sentence once literally caused me to quit my job, uproot my family (back when we had two small children) and move to another state without a new job or specific place to live.

I do not regret any of those decisions or moments because to this day I have no doubt that God was behind them and specifically led me to those verses.

And though I think there is much carelessness and confusion when we use words such as “inerrant,” “infallible” and “authoritative” in relation to the Bible, and though frequently passages have been interpreted outside of culture, context, and literary form – often abusively – I do believe there is something miraculous about how the writings have been preserved for us through all these years to be able to read today.

I do believe there is power behind the words.

And I do not take lightly the fact that there are people out there in parts of the world who would give anything just to have a copy and that many have died just for possessing it or for trying to get copies to people who don’t.

With that made clear up front then let me say it…

I do not believe that something is true because the Bible says. Continue reading

True Story: The Case of the Missing Groom

Waiting_Bride_at_the_New_Orleans_Museum_of_Art

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

Why God Favors LGBTs

(Part 1 of 3 of God, the Church, and LGBT)

rainbow3

In my last post titled “God  Really Likes You, But You Suck: The Confusing Message of Grace” I shared about the subject of God’s favor.  If you have not read it already I strongly encourage you to do so before reading on.  It will make a lot more sense related to the theology behind what I am about to say and potentially answer a lot of your questions.

In summary of it: we have confused our understanding of grace, which is often defined as God’s “unmerited favor” toward us.  It is not that one must do something wrong first, thus unmeriting themselves, before undeserved favor is offered; instead, it is favor freely given that never had to be merited in the first place.   Continue reading

God Really Likes You, But You Suck: The Confusing Message of Grace

Photo by Melissa Baldwin

Photo by Melissa Baldwin

“♫ Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me ♪” We sing about it all the time. “♪ Grace, grace, God’s grace.  Grace that is greater than all my sin ♫” We talk about it. “By grace alone you have been saved.” And we offer it to each other. “Grace to you.” It is one of the most prominent messages in the church.  But do we really know what it means?

The Greek word for grace, χάρις (charis), is most often defined as “favor” and sometimes as “kindness.”  It has the implication of favor that is freely extended – and thus often defined as “unmerited favor.”

So if God really favors you a lot that should make us really feel good right? But do we?

Last week, blogger and former evangelical Christian turned atheist, Neil Carter, tweeted:

Continue reading

Why I Was Kicked Out of Vacation Bible School at Age 5

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(Welcome to my blog part 2 of 2)

Yes, it’s true.  Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t exactly a rebel growing up.  About the most rebellious thing I did as a kid was, when upset with my parents, I would go into their bedroom and gently lay their bedside lamps on the ground so that it would look like I was so angry I had gone in and knocked them over.  Well, what do you expect?  I didn’t exactly want to break them.  But I could just imagine the anguish they experienced upon discovering the lamps.  “What have we done???  Where have we gone wrong???  Our otherwise gentle, perfect son has gone on a rampage.  We’ve lost him forever!!!  Well, at least he didn’t break them.” Continue reading

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