First of all, a sincere thanks to those who commented on my last blog. To be honest, I don't in hindsight feel it was very well written, but I needed to launch into the topic somehow, and that's the best I could rattle off with. I will try to improve as I continue writing. I also apologize for the infrequent updates -- I'm a much more casual blogger than the big names here on Xanga. So I am doubly grateful if you're taking the time to stop by and read my humble little thoughts. So all that said, on to the next part of my thoughts on religion and atheism. Today's blog is again only going to be more of a laying of groundwork. I want to establish a few key points so I'm not misunderstood in blogs to come.
About a year ago, a good friend of mine came down to visit and stay with us a couple of days here in Dallas. He's an atheist -- a very intelligent, educated, grounded atheist at that. Nonetheless, he was kind enough to refrain from grumbling when my regularly scheduled Bible study came over and we did our thing. Later that night, he and I stayed up the entire night discussing my belief in God and his atheism.
Now here's the thing -- We didn't fight, and our conversation sounded nothing like most of the ones that unfold here on Xanga. Ya know, the ones that sound like this:
"You stupid xtians preach peace, well what about (insert favorite Christian war/horrid act here)?"
"Atheists are irrational! Evolution is scientifically unprovable!"
"You obviously don't know anything about science!"
"I believe in God because the Bible says so!"
Ya know, THAT debate that only occurs, I dunno, on every other blog here.
The discussion I had with my atheist friend was thankfully nothing like this. Instead, I told him about why I believe what I do, about some of my not-so-easy-to-explain experiences, and even how I share many of his annoyances toward some of my fellow Christians. Meanwhile, he told me about his extremely unpleasant experiences in the church, and how people in his own church mistreated and rejected him before he later turned away from faith. But of course his atheism wasn't entirely an emotional response -- he employed reason and science to explain much of what he concluded on the matter. And so we went back and forth for hours going over these many details and components to our differing beliefs.
Today, I'm still a Christian, and he's still an atheist.
But the point is that night we both were able to share -- in very deep detail -- our beliefs and perspectives with each other in a very civil, downright enjoyable way, and neither of us felt threatened by the other. We both recognized and respected each other's sincere and thoughtful reasoning, and the end result was he learned something new about my faith, and I learned something new about his atheism. Neither converted the other, but at least we learned more about each other, and that, I feel, enhanced our friendship.
So, yes, I know what some of you will think next: "Huh. Well, that's a rather odd thing for a supposed evangelical to say." Yes, nowadays, I suppose it is. But, drawing what best conclusions I can from the information I have to this point acquired, I think it's a better approach to spread what we call the Good News to people by simply talking about it and sharing ideas rather than beating people over the head with a Bible and stirring up angry bees' nests. I believe this approach is more representative of Jesus than the typical crazy and even hateful arguments I see unfold so commonly. I'll delve more into this topic another time (I want to dedicate a blog solely to it), but for now, suffice to say that I will tell you what I believe and why, and you may either conclude I have some good points and give my faith a try, or you won't, and I won't bother you about it. We each live our own lives for our own reasons, for better or worse.
So with that groundwork laid, I want to present an idea for your consideration, wether you worship God, gods, sentient sphagetti, or nothing at all. That idea is this:
A lot of people are jerks. Similarly, a lot of religious people are jerks.
How about that history of ours, for example? Crusades? Yep, quite the little killing spree there. 9-11? Yep, were it not for some religious beliefs, that would not have happened. Witch hunts? Yep, religion is guilty as charged yet again. Countless attempts of restraining scientific advancement? Well, would ya know, it's religion again.
And oh hey, by the way, we killed our own God.
So, yes, Christians are often -- even really, really often -- hypocrital bigotous jerks. I will ask you to consider, however, that at least our own texts admits that. You really have to be pretty pathetic to accidentlly off your own deity, seriously. It's no surprise we continue to screw up on a rather epic scale.
Does this invalidate the faith? No. Actually, it's the very point of it. People tend to screw up royally, our faith is built around seeking redemption, which involves drawing in people who...screw up royally. If it's a fair comparison, I'll say it's like walking into a hospital, then being pissed off that everyone around you is sick. But let's not stop there -- There are two sides to this crazy little coin.
A lot of people are jerks. Similarly, a lot of atheists are jerks.
But how would you act if you spent the majority of your adult life being constantly way-layed by people who refuse to simply accept you're not buying into their belief system? What if instead of letting you be, they just go on and on and on repeating the same exhausted arguments, quoting all the same exact excerpts of religious literature, and forming conclusions that seem to be based upon nothing more than happy feelings? Would you feel inclinded to be nice to the 1,000th relgious nut who wouldn't take "no" for an answer? If so, congratulations, you're the King of Patience, and thus not at all the rest of us.
The truth is, a lot of us are simply living our lives the best we can, and honestly trying to figure out the absolute truth. Depending on various factors, we may draw different conclusions, but we're both honest about them. Unfortunately, the jerks amongst us are constantly throwing grenades into the crowd to stir us all up, and while they may be the loudest and most visible, the truth is that many, many religious people and many, many atheists are very decent, very moral, very peaceful people who intend to do good.
And with that understood, we should be able to talk and share ideas with each other, even when they differ drastically.
And so, that's where I'm trying to go with this casual little blog of mine. So whether you're atheist or Christian or Hindu, or have a lot of FSM T-shirts, I would enjoy hearing what you have to say. I only ask that you try to share my intention of having a civil, honest, open discussion, accepting that while neither of us may change our views in the end, we'll at least know each other a little better. I write this in part to teach others a unique perspective on faith, and to open myself up to be taught more about the beliefs and conclusions of others.
I'll also warn one last thing: If your'e expecting a discussion centered mostly on science and empirical evidence alone, I'm probably not going to be of much use to you -- my focus is going to be more on the lifestyle we live and values we hold to, not so much an engagement in apologetics -- but there are some other bloggers on here who are a LOT smarter than I am on that topic, a couple in particular who I don't think will talk down to you about it either. I enjoy and love science, but I'm not going to be publishing any major essays soon if you follow me. I am still much more a student than a teacher, even here at the age of 30. I can still hold my points with sound reason and logic nonetheless.
Thank you for dropping by, and please share your thoughts or throw out any questions you might have.
I've had a lot on my mind as of late -- Many topics I've been wanting to write about here, but unfortunately I've suffered a problem of many ideas with little organization as to how to present them, hence why I haven't posted any blogs in a while. I've been short on time and short on a method of organizing many, many stray and rampantly running thoughts. So today, I'm finally going to sit down and try to lay a cornerstone of thinking that I can launch off of later.
So today, I just want to present a very basic thought for your consideration. I do ask that you take the time to read and consider carefully though, as I intend to write a series of blogs from this point forward that will, in an increasing number of layers, build on top of it. A number of topics I would like to cover in the future include religion, atheism, science, human nature, communication, and relationships. So today's topic will be the common thread that if I can maintain focus on this track, will link them.
That topic is this simple premise I would like to put forth: typically, an argument involves two people who each possess a small morsel of one greater truth.
Before you voice your protest to or agreement with this premise, I would like to establish some very simple but personal background. I consider myself a fairly skilled mediator, which I count as a personal gift that I possess. Many friends over the years have said I tend to be pretty good at this, and I tend to get pulled into the occasional conflict as a result. I think this is a skill I've developed because I know how to see two sides of one issue while placing my own bias aside temporarily.
I developed this skill largely in part due to the background in which I grew up. I lived in what you might call a broken or nontraditional family. Specifically, my father, who I have never met, left before I was old enough to know him (he is an engineer of sorts living here in Texas somewhere). Yes, I did try to find him -- another story. My mother raised me, functioning as a single parent. This as you can imagine already kicked things off to a difficult start, but is of course nowadays a very common thing. My mother, meanwhile, for the first half of her adult life was never able to bring herself to part far from her own parents, so my life began in a household consisting of my mother and grandparents. My grandfather passed fairly early on in my life, and while my mother eventually remarried, my step-father never functioned in a parental role, at my mother's request (though he was a great man of rare virtue that I have very fond memories of). So, to cut a long story short, I was raised solely by two women: my mother and grandmother. Despite all the oddities and difficulties this entailed, I had a very pleasant upbringing.
Because of this nontraditional setup, there was inevitable friction, mostly from parent living with parent living with child, which was later further complicated when my grandmother was rendered disabled and wheelchair bound in her latter years. Both women were of incredibly strong character, had very stubborn personalities, and were both starkly independent. I'm sure you can see where this is going: Conflict was rampant.
Nothing abusive or horrible mind you -- just the kind of conflict that can be naturally expected given those circumstances. At worst, it was conflict that was at times painfully over-dramatic and blown out of proportion, but that was always the worst it ever got. Because my mother and grandmother would occasionally get into heated arguments that their strong personalities had trouble resolving, I often found myself in the middle.
To cut a long story short, I spent a lot of time growing up standing in the gap. When these conflicts inevitably broke out between mother and adult daughter, I was there to observe it all unfold. I quickly learned that most of the time -- no, frankly, all of the time -- my mother would have one valid point, my grandmother would have another equally valid point, but they couldn't see how both views could coexist.
For example, the argument that repeatedly broke out in the latter years -- perhaps some of the most explosive conflicts -- all revolved around my grandmother's disability. My grandmother, who grew up in an era where the wife stayed at home and kept the house in pristine order -- fought with the never-ending frustration of being unable to work anywhere near the level she used to. The woman who once took a toothbrush to floors to render them spotless now could not even stand on her own two feet for an extended period. My grandmother thus often fought despite this to do more for herself, push her capacity for working, and take care of things around the house beyond what my mother was willing to allow.
My mother, meanwhile, feared greatly for my grandmother's health, and was extremely protective of her. Where my grandmother sought greater independence despite her condition, my mother tried to take care of her and protect her, doing everything she could to keep her out of harm's way.
I could see both sides and how valid both were in their stances. My grandmother was right to fight nature itself to preserve her own independence and abilities. My mother was also right to protect my grandmother, serve her when she needed help, and do everything she could to preserve her health from degrading further faster. Neither was ever really wrong. But these two values often caused friction between the two, as they were difficult to balance. My grandmother did not like depending on someone else, and my mother did not like being limited in her ability to take care of and protect my grandmother. No love was ever lost, but there were some heated conflicts that broke out as a result.
Over the years, I often had a hand in bringing the two to terms with each other. While one saw the other as simply wrong, I could see that both each held a piece of truth. It was the greater, more complete truth that neither had grasped -- the truth in which both values could be balanced with each other and thus compatible. On my best days, I was able to show each the other's side in a more complete view and bring them into agreement. Those were very satisfying days. One could protect while the other did what she could to take of herself -- they just had to learn how to manage both at the same time, where neither overprotection nor a stubborn over-emphasis on independence took too much precedent.
This is just one example I wanted to share -- there were so many more. I spent a lot of time playing mediator between friends and family on many occasions, and for the most part, I tended to produce pretty successful results. These experiences developed in me this personality trait, skill, or whatever you want to call it.
In the blogs to come, I really want to write about some of the conflicts I see abroad nowadays. Most of them break out rather often and rather explosively here on Xanga. I admittedly spend a lot more time reading blogs than I do writing or even commenting on them, so I've spent a lot of time observing these things.
I believe truth exists. I believe, however, that everyone -- or at least most people -- possesses some piece of this truth, while in reality, a much greater, bigger, more complete truth exists. You may ask for reasoning or observable evidence or a logical line of thinking for this conclusion of mine, but for brevity's sake I will save that for another time. As I said, this is just a "kick things off" post for more detailed topics I would like to write in blogs to come. So for now, I would simply like to state that this is my view of things.
For example, I think that religion holds one piece of truth, science another, and philosophy even another. Science leads us to truths that religion cannot, as also the reverse stands; each truth is a piece of a greater, singular truth that encompasses both. I find that the more of these we employ, the closer we get to a better view of this unfathomably massive truth. Science alone provides a narrow view, as does religion alone, but the two together reveal things incredibly beautiful, unbelievably wonderful, increasingly mysterious...and sometimes even scary and intimidating.
Sadly, they rarely get along with each other, it seems. The church will try to stifle science in one era, then the next science tries to stamp out religion.
Many complicated truths meanwhile unfold -- Religion will develop for humanity great charities and service while science will bring us incredible technological and intellectual advancement. Meanwhile, religion gives us horrible things such as the Crusades and priests who prey upon vulnerable children, while science provides us the gifts of nuclear holocaust and networks of society-dumbing misinformation.
Despite all of this, I think each side possesses pieces of very real and very valid truth. So in blogs to come, I would like to share my thoughts on some of these topics, and see what thoughts those of you willing to comment have to share in response. It should be, at the very least, very interesting and hopefully enjoyable.
And that said, I've rambled on enough. Hopefully I can whip up my next post relatively soon.
|A couple of months ago, I kicked off a topic, then kind of abandoned it due to real-life distractions cropping up. I promised I'd revisit it to finally complete the topic, so here we go! For those of you who need a refresher, Part One can be read here.|
I started this topic, by the way, because of observations at the time. I have a lot of single friends, many of whom right now are only beginning to delve into the realm of relationships. Sadly, some of my friends have no clue what they're doing. Honest. So, as I was considering one such person's plights, my mind got cranking on this.
So is there really a The One, and if there is, how do you know he/she is The One when there appears to be so many The One false alarms? Well, in the last blog entry I suggested to you that the whole idea was a pile of crap contrived to make people think real life romances can be like fairy tale love lives. In today's blog, I'm going to balance that out a little bit with some admission: I do not entirely disbelieve in the concept; rather I think it's better to say the concept needs to be refined. So today, I'm going to suggest the following conclusion:
You choose who The One is.
I warn you not to take my premise as universal. I do believe there are exceptions, but I propose this as a general rule. So let's discuss:
Premise 1: More than one person can make a great partner.
I described a personal experience from my younger years in Part One in which my believing there was a a magic "The One" for me accidentally led me into a love triangle. i.e. I was being retarded.
In brief: One year shortly after I graduated college, I met a girl (who had just graduated high school) whom I fell head-over-heals for. Via a dramatic experience we shared together, I concluded she was The One. Was crazy about her. Within a month, she moved away to college and promptly dropped me for a local college guy, which is a pretty normal scenario for kids that age.
Within the next year or two, I meet another girl. Enough time had passed to get over The One #1, and I was a total sucker for this new girl's personality and charm. And -- you guess it -- we ended up sharing a very dramatic experience (this happened to me a lot back in the day). Moreover, she fulfilled an entire list of things I had decided would be characteristics of my One. And so I truly, deeply believed her to be The One. Catch 22 was it was a long distance relationship. And, in hindsight, she was too young for me to be honest. There was a hole myriad of obstacles we had to deal with -- and in the end, couldn't be dealt with in any truly plausible scenario.
To keep this rehashed story from drawing out further, I'll be brief: I lose a family member, and my emotions go wacky during my grief stages. The One #1 shows back up from afar to comfort me "as a friend". Unfortunately, The One #2 is long distance, and I have defnitely not forgotten how much I loved The One #1. So what's an idiot fresh-out-of-college kid to do? I had TWO The Ones right there! That's not supposed to happen! Needless to say, before all was said and done, I dumped #2, got back with #1, got dumped by #1 a short time later, and wound up with nobody at all. It was sad, but actually an appropriate outcome given what all unfolded.
So here's the thing: in all honesty, both girls were great, wonderful people. The later I pseudo-loathed during the obligatory "my ex-girlfriend is evil" phase of life, but once I grew up and looked back at events, I actually realized I had simply foolishly allowed myself to fall for two really great girls. (My term "pseudo-loath" means "didn't hate but really felt angsty toward".) Under different circumstances, it's entirely possible a relationship with either could have worked out just fine.
And thus introduces our problem: If The One is predetermined for you before you meet them, it is possible for you to mistake someone else for The One. If this occurs, it is assumed that you're then to dump that person in favor of the actual The One once they arrive, much like when Princess Vespa shoved Prince Valium to the side to make way for Lonestar.
Yep. I just used this guy again.
In reality, you stop thinking the grass is greener on the other side when you realize that there's a lot of green grass everywhere, actually. The fact you like one shade of green one day and another shade of green the next day doesn't make it ok to switch yards to accomodate your feng shui.
And so we're brought to the next premise.
Premise 2: You have to make a choice.
If there is only The One, then basic deduction suggests that there isn't much of a decision process required on your part. All you have to do is wait for The One to come, at which point "you'll just know". However, in the reality I'm describing, more than one person can potentially make the right partner for you. In other words, there are potentially multiple "Ones" out there. This introduces a very serious responsibility: You have a choice to make.
But be mindful of this universal truth.
Another way I'd like to put it: "Dance with the one who brought ya."
Now I'm not saying that the first person you fall in love with should be the person you marry -- far from it. What I am saying is that once you decide who you're going to spend the rest of your life with, you stick to your guns (extreme exceptions of abusive partners, etc. notwithstanding).
In a world of many, many possibilities, it's up to you to choose which of those possibilities you'll claim for your own. You make that choice carefully, and you make it well-informed. You don't rush into it. Once you make that choice, you stick by it, knowing good and well the rest of those "other possibilities" don't suddenly cease to exist; rather, at this stage, you have chosen to forever disregard them. I believe this is key, and the strongest defense against the temptation of cheating on a soon-to-be or current spouse. Knowing the other possibilities continue to exist, you take the appropriate steps to defend yourself against the temptation of exploring them after having made your choice.
But in a fantasy world in which this all simply boils down to the predestined "The One", these considerations are out the window. The choice is not yours; it's fate's. The responsibility for choosing is relieved from your hands. Thus, my dear readers, is why this premise in particular is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this belief in "The One" being out there for you.
The consequences vary vastly between a scenario of "just knowing" and a scenario of having truly made a well-considered choice. Judgement made by feeling alone inevitably leads to disaster, and thus we naturally move onto the third premise.
Premise 3: Reason balances feeling.
The two above mentioned girlfriends of the past weren't the only would-be happily ever afters I threw myself at during those spry years of romantic cluelessness. With several of the girls I got mixed up with, there were a couple of factors that always remained true: I "felt so incredibly strongly" about them, and "just knew" something.
Yet one day a couple of years ago, I was at a Mexican restaurant in Midlothian, TX having a deep discussion with my mother about this new girl I had been dating. I remember her telling me that she could see in my eyes how in love I was, and I remember clearly what one part of my response was: not only did I feel she was the one for me, but marrying her made sense. I had said the first half of that sentence more than once in the past regarding lesser loves, but the second half of that sentence was a first. And sure enough, I'm now very happily married to this one.
Feeling strongly for someone is great. Falling in love is wonderful. But I'll tell you one thing with absolute certainty: If you and your star-crossed lover can't sit down and so much as balance a checkbook, you're going absolutely nowhere.
This is something you can't really, truly grasp during the puppy love stages of dating. The person you're madly, crazily, dramatically in love with on such a legendary level is someone who also goes home eventually after each date. In the process of dating, you're still single in that you're still running your own household while your lover runs their own, and you're managing your own finances. The great thing about single life is your kingdom is governed strictly by your rules and yours alone. Even once you're "going steady" (or whatever you want to call the more emotionally intimate, serious stages), you're still not under the same roof co-authoring your lifelong battle plan.
This is why the choices made by that infamous girl who always goes for the "bad boy" are absolutely laughable. He may have ingenious cutting wit, a six-pack of abs, and hair worthy of an art museum, but good luck with that whole "buying your first car together" thing, much less the "shopping for a house" and "planning for a baby" stages later on. I'm fairly certain James Dean has little interest in these concepts. Balancing the monthly budget does not fit well within the complex strategy of rebelling without a cause or stickin' it to the man or whatever it is bad boys do with their spare time nowadays.
Aaaaaay, my 401K is well diversified! Aaaay.
It is very, very important you choose a spouse whom you feel more strongly about than anyone else in the universe. However, feeling is not enough. And I regrettably suggest that love cannot "always find a way". Sometimes there are personality traits, situational circumstances, and differences in values and beliefs that are not passable, much less compatible. In such cases, love is not enough.
In a world of "The One", love is all you need, like any good song lyric. But in the real world, love must also be paired with compatibility. The good news is, in a world of many, many possibilities, and many possible loves, you can be thorough in your consideration of potential partners. The choice is yours.
The bottom line: It's one thing to be madly in love and feel strongly for someone. It's something even more special to be in love and have the comfort of knowing with sound reason that the person you love fits well. Not "fits" in that you feel right about them, but fits in a such a way that you share the same core values when it comes to ethics, religion, family, and managing a household.
My wife and I not only have a truly epic level of love for each other, but we make a darn good team. We're left with one last premise.
Premise 4: The One may exist.
All the way back into the early days chronicled in the book of Genesis, there are examples of destined love. Isaac, the son of Abraham (the patriarch of Judaism) was one lucky sucker. The boy never had to raise a finger in the process of choosing a wife. Knowing he was in the last years of his long life, Abraham sent a servant back to his hometown with the sole mission of finding the right wife for his son Isaac. The caveat is that the objective wasn't just to find a wife, it was to find the perfect wife for Isaac and bring her back.
To cut a long story short, the servant returns with Rebekah in tow, his mission accomplished. To top it all off, Rebekah was literally hand-picked by the Almighty Himself to be Isaac's wife. And so Isaac and Rebekah would carry on the lineage of Abraham -- the very line that later leads to the birth of Jesus.
Isaac found The One.
So I've gone through all this trouble to denounce the whole "One" concept only to get to the end and cite biblical evidence in favor of it eh? Not exactly. My point is that today, so many young Christians are absolutley convinced that The One is already hand-picked and waiting for them out there, just as was the case for our boy Isaac here.
But I don't think that's necessarily the case. My conclusion is that God is indeed wholly capable of predeterming who your One is; this is entirely true. But that doesn't mean He necessarily will, or that you can turn your brain off when evaluating people as a result. God doesn't always step in. Sometimes, I think the decision is entirely up to us. Does that make the resulting marriage any less romantic, passionate, or legendary for you? I don't think so. It just means it's up to you to ensure it goes that way.
My basis for this claim is simply from what I've read in Scripture and gleaned from various stories therein. It appears that pretty often God is "hands-off" in the affairs of man, but will step in and do some firsthand directing when He requires certain events to unfold in such a way that furthers His plan and thus brings Him glory. Also, He sometimes steps in when asked to. Outside of that, a lot of the time, God appears to leave man to his own judgments. For a direct example, crack open Genesis and read the chapters that chronicle the lives of Abraham on through to Jacob. Note when God stepped in, but also note when He didn't. Isaac got a hand-picked wife from God. Everyone else chronicled there seems to have done the choosing themselves.
That's not to say God won't help if you ask Him, mind you. But it's also not to say that God's going to do all the work for you.
Furthermore, I'm inclined to say that I have The One for me. Many say it's rare to find your soul mate; many marriages function great, but the pair may not necessarily be soul mates. In my situation, I found with much, much surprise that my wife compliments and matches me on a level far deeper and far beyond any of my past would-be romances. Which is saying a lot, because as I've said in my stories above and in Part One, I had some girlfriends I really felt were unmatchable...until she came along as the ultimate trump card. The level of closeness I have with her is not something I can put into words, but is definitely far beyond anything I've ever experienced. I'll suffice it to say it makes the two words "soul mate" make a bit more sense for me. It's one thing to have passionate love; quite another to connect on that kind of level. You can have the former without the latter.
Of course I'm biased, but I have friends that attest to this as well. My best friend still thinks I built my wife in a lab, as our match is so unusually right on the mark. So I think I'm one lucky sucker myself. I'll definitely tell you that after all the previous wacky crap I got myself into, this was a much appreciated relief!
Not to mention we had the most awesome wedding of all time.
In conclusion: If you're one of those starry-eyed youngsters who, with a euphoreous sigh, awaits the day your The One comes riding in on a white steed -- I suggest it's time to rethink your relationship strategy. Some are fortunate to have it easy enough to just bump into their destined love one day and live happily ever after; but for everybody else, it's a process of carefully evaluating people and prayerfully, thoughtfully stepping one's way through one very important process. It's deadly dangerous to just assume ahead of time your One is simply out there waiting for you.
Marriages are delicate things that require two people not only love each other, but also be able to live and cooperate with each other -- permanently.
Who The One turns out to be is entirely up to you.
|A short Saturday topic for today while I'm bustling about. |
I read a blog yesterday while just wandering about Xanga that discussed the rather controversial Trinity concept. I have since forgotten who wrote it, so I apologize for not having a link here. If I can find it again, I'll edit this with it.
It's a touchy subject. You have those who believe in the concept of the Trinity, and then what I believe are called "unitarianists" (is that the right term?), which believe the Father alone is God, not Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Now today I'm not going to go into all the nitty-gritty details of this, because there are many, and this isn't my topic of expertise. But I'll give you a quick break-down of both sides:
Obviously, many -- if not most -- Christians, at least here in the West, believe in the Trinity. This concept basically means that God consists of three "persons": The Father (God), the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. Each member of the Trinity serves a different role -- God is the main part, naturally; Jesus provides salvation and is an intermediary between us and God the Father; and the Holy Spirit is a force of guidance and inspiration, among other things. Each acts independently as a separate person, but at the same time all three make up one. Jesus is God in the flesh, the Spirit is God, and the Father is God. There's plenty of places in Scripture cited to support this, including events in which Jesus claimed seeing him meant you'v seen God (as one example). And of course, Jesus and the Spirit both act with very godly abilities throughout Scripture.
Then you have those who reject the concept of the Trinity. Some claim it's a twisted form of polytheism masquerading as monotheism. This side's biggest argument is that the term "Trinity" was coined in, if memory serves correct, the 4th century by the Catholic church. As such, this term does not exist anywhere in the Bible. The conclusion is that it is a man-made concept, and thus not valid. (The counterpoint is the claim that it's a man-made term to describe an otherwise unnamed concept, but is a concept that nonetheless does exist and is discussed in Scripture.) Another claim is that one deity being three "persons" makes no sense; it's a nonsense description, more or less. The key concern here is that monotheistic Christianity has been corrupted by the adoption of man-made beliefs.
And that, in very brief, are the two sides. There are lots and lots of verses to cite and sources to reference for this, so if you want in-depth discussion and research, there are plenty of pieces written by far more intelligent people than I out there. For the purpose of today's entry, I just wanted to give a basic surface overview, then lead into my personal take on it. So, let's move on to that part now, shall we?
I think, first of all, it's not worth making a huge controversy over. It is worth debating, but needs to be kept in perspective. I don't think either side is "less Christian" than the other. There's no point in being angry at whatever side is opposed to yours on this topic. Why? Well, the big thing is that both sides still essentially believe the same fundamental, critical concepts:
(1) There is one God.
(2) Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
(3) Salvation is through Jesus.
Those three points are held by both sides. The argument is in the details. Whether Jesus is technically part of a "Trinity" or not doesn't really change his role. Jesus is still the key to salvation and still the Son of God regardless of which side of the Trinity debate you take. Honestly, the most dangerous part of being on the wrong side of this debate is in determining whether Jesus is God or not himself. Depending on what you believe, to lessen his role -- or exaggerate his role -- is potentially dangerous. But even then, I doubt anyone is going to be rejected at the gates of Heaven simply because they misunderstood that whole Trinity thing. Even if you don't fully 100% understand Jesus (and do any of us truly do?), accepting him as Son of God and savior is still the sure-fire way home.
I think God understands that some concepts are difficult for us to understand. I think He knows we try our best.
So what's my belief? I do accept the Trinity concept. I don't really use the term much, because it is true it's not a biblical term. I'm not saying it's wrong to use, just that I personally usually don't. I like to keep my talk as strictly-biblical as possible. I don't think the "three persons" is nonsense, but I do believe it's hard to understand. The argument could be made that God doesn't make things so impossible to grasp -- but really? Does everything have to be cut and dry? Surely not. God's big. God's complicated. We understand the basics, which are cut and dry, easy to understand, and get us through life with our souls intact. It's the additional details, like this, that are part of the beautiful mystery of God and as such are pretty difficult to understand, if we even are capable of ever fully getting it in this life.
One verse that occurred to me this morning was Mark 12:31: "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven." How can you blaspheme the Holy Spirit if the Holy Spirit is not God? Isn't blasphemy by definition something you can only do against God? I can't blaspheme my neighbor, last I checked, or even angels for that matter. Blasphemy is a serious sin that is a direct insult to God. Thus I think that verse says something about who the Holy Spirit is. (As an aside, I've always wondered why blaspheming the Holy Spirit is so grave as opposed to blaspheming God the Father or Jesus.)
I'd say it's also entirely possible that neither side really has a full grasp of the concept of what the God/Holy Spirit/Jesus relationship truly is. Maybe it's more complicated than either side realizes.
But we as humans can't stand fuzzy answers. We need black-and-white, clear-cut, direct answers. And unfortunately for us, the Bible doesn't always give those. My opinion is that in this regard, we need to get over ourselves. I myself accept my understanding of the Trinity concept, among various others, is limited at best, and it is entirely possible I misunderstand some of it. But that's ok. I'm saved through Jesus, and strive to walk in his steps, and I try more to understand all of these associated concepts every day.
So there you have it folks: my attempt today to make a big controversial concept a bit less controversial. What's your take on the concept of the Trinity?
|Sorry folks for dropping the ball. I've been very distracted from blogging as of late (this happens often, as I've warned), and have instead been roaming about Xanga reading and commenting on others' blogs, but lazily ignoring my own. I promise I'll finish up Part Two of my previous topic soon. But first, I have a beaten-horse topic that's been begging to spill out of my mind for a while, so I'm finally gonna give in.|
The Frickin' Health Care Debate.
So I feel the topic begs a small setup: I don't tend to blast one side in favor of another, so I hope that regardless of if you're liberal or conservative or...whatever else is out there to be, you'll find something worth your consideration in my take on this topic. I wish to open this can of worms up while accepting two facts:
(1) I am not anywhere near being an expert in how the medical system works.
(2) I do not exactly possess the wisdom of Solomon.
These two points prevent me from having the rather ego-driven, overbearing stance that I think many on both sides of this issue tend to flaunt about. In fact, in regard to (1), it's all a rather mystified thing for me. I have no idea how it works. So I'm going into this topic rather disadvantaged to start with. Now, to lay down a couple more establishing points:
(1) I'm a Christian (though probably not the garden-variety many of you are used to).
(2) I am neither Republican nor Democrat, but consider myself to be of some degree right.
In regard to (2), I think it's kind of hard to truly measure "how right" or "how left" one truly is, unless you're so far one way or the other that you're outright drinking the respective party's Kool-Aid. So I base my "rightness" on the premise of (a) I rather like the Constitution, and (b) more times than not I'd prefer the government to stay out of my business.
So in other words, I try to just have as much of an honest, thought-out opinion as possible. I accept my opinions as such are never perfect, and are thus ever-evolving as I learn. Finally, if you're one of those hoity-toity (sp?) know-it-alls who begin every long-winded comment with "obviously", "you retard," or "lol", be forewarned I'm probably going to instantly tune you out if not quietly laugh at you for having a stick up your rear. You guys kinda bug me. I'm sure there's lots for you to do over on YouTube. Thankfully, my blog is usually far too unseen to attract those guys' attention anyway.
I digress. So here's what I see:
Liberals want the "public option". You may call this "nationalized health care", "socialized health care", "Karl Marx risen from the grave", or any number of things. But the most basic idea is the government (and by extension, tax payers) flip the bill for some degree or another of heatlh care costs for everyone. To what degree is highlly debated. The intention of the liberal, for better or worse, is to ensure no one is denied health care, no matter what.
Conservatives want liberty. Good old, reliable, American liberty. Not to say the liberals do not, but on this topic, liberty is the overriding factor for the conservative. The conservative wants no public option, because a public option places some degree of medical decision power in the hands of the government, and the conservative believes any increase in government power is typically bad, as more power equals less liberty. Second, the conservative believes the presence of the government lessens if not entirely removes free market competition. They believe the competition necessetated by the free market, if truly adhered to without interference of regulation, will force health insurance companies to inevitably play fair. For the conservative, this strategy yields both increased liberty and fairness for all.
The common thread between the liberal and conservative here is a desire for fairness. The point of difference is the liberal is more focused on regulation while the conservative is more focused on a liberty-emphasis. In other words, it's a difference in means, essentially.
At least that's how I see it. Thus I give you my attempt at unbiased explanation. Tear it apart as you will.
But it gets much more complicated. Next, you have examples cited of other countries who have this "nationalized" health care already in place: namely Canada and the UK. Some people say it's a nightmare over there, with long lines and long waits for critical, life-saving treatments. Meanwhile, other people say private health care over here creates a nightmare of -- you guessed it -- long lines and long waits for critical, life-saving treatments. It's either caused by governmental red tape or insurance company processes of denial of coverage. Horror stories abound for both systems, and the horror stories tend to be oddly similar. I haven't been in the UK or Canada, so I don't know. I can say I have one friend over there who says it's kind of a give-and-take more or less. She had some cancer treatment that was very well treated by the UK system, but tells me that childbirth isn't quite so nicely handled as over here. Not really the cut-and-dry answer we're looking for, huh?
To make it more confusing, one side says that the current proposed bill will lower premiums and make insurance more affordable. The other side says the same bill will raise premiums and make insurance more costly. Both sides have lots of statistics and experts backing them up. Well, which is it? Unless you (a) have the knowledge/resources/expertise to determine the real facts yourself, or (b) you simply trust one side's claims over the other, you're kinda screwed in trying to figure out who's telling the true story (if either side is).
Then you have your sources of information. You can watch, for example, Fox News -- but WAIT! They're evil! Biased towards conservatives! Lies and spins! Ok, so then, you can watch MSNBC, because...ya know...they're not at all biased about anything. Yeah...so you can't win. Good look finding a news channel everyone can agree on and trust. What happened to the days of "Just the facts, ma'am"? We need to raise some of those old timey reporters from the grave so they can clear up the facts on this issue for us. Clark Kent, Peter Parker -- somebody get on this!
So for right now, I presently have no stance on this issue myself. I can't get enough straight information, and I honestly just don't trust people on either side. I will admit, much to the chagrin of liberals out there, I do watch some Fox News and listen to talk radio. Yeah, there's some bias there, but it's not so bad if you listen with your mental filter in place. And like I said, I am to some degree on the right. I think they make some solid points, though I don't agree with them all.
Now for you, the reader, I want to ask some questions. Maybe you can help me form a solid opinion? Well, take a whack at it if you dare.
First, to the conservatives: If somehow a nationalized system could be introduced that would actually be efficient, how would you feel? Let's say that if, with the funding of some taxpayer money, a system was put in place that would not only pay for every American's health care, but also stay on the front lines of cutting edge technology, and cover everyone in such a way that there wouldn't be long lines, long waits, and tons of red tape. Would you be for it then?
I would say that while such a system would increase some government power, it would also increase some liberty. A little higher taxes offset all that money you're now NOT spending on health care. Instead of dumping a grand on that major surgery you just had, you pay a bit higher taxes, bill's covered by the state, and now you can spend the rest on that new car you wanted. Everyone wins?
But, to be fair, we know that won't happen. If it could be proven to work that way, I would be for it. But we know it won't. The government is too run by politics, too full of corrupt, self-serving people, and too bulky and mismanaged to run such a system. So instead, we have to weigh something else: is a system run by an imperfect, often corrupted government better, or worse then a system run by imperfect, often corrupted businesses? Can I be given some better options to choose from please?
To the liberal: Why is a government option seemingly the only solution? You seem to tell us that we only have two choices: crap as-is, or the public option. C'mon guys, how about some thinking outside the box here? Aren't you guys supposed to be progressive in thought? There surely has to be a whole range of possibilities, and all of them should be on the table for analysis and consideration. What about instead of a public option, something that would ensure insurance companies can no longer play the "pre-existing condition" card?
To both sides: Loosen up. This issue can't possibly be as cut and dry as you think it is. For example, are all insurance companies evil? Or is the current system full of good-meaning and ill-meaning people alike? I can tell you that in my own personal experience, while using Pacificare, they seemingly fought every bill sent them because everything I had was magically a "pre-existing condition". I had to fight constantly to get them to pay for anything. Yet since switching over to my wife's Aetna plan, I'm amazed at how little I pay for anything. For me, it's working pretty darn well, and I've had a couple of surgeries along the way. My health care is pretty darn affordable (and I'm hoping I don't wind up eating these words later). So what's the big deal guys? How about give some props to whoever in the industry is doing it right instead of making a blanket statement about everybody?
I feel the biggest barrier is the Republicans and Democrats are too busy trying to one-up each other than actually fix anything. Are these guys really working toward an actcual solution, or just trying to beat "the other guy"? Given the lack of options on the table, I'm skeptical. It's always about either Party A or Party B, and rarely about the actual issue at hand -- the "issue" is just the convenient tool of the moment to use to win.
I think we can all agree on ONE thing: There's some messed up crap in the current system of paying for health care. At the same time, we do have a very successful health care system, despite the messed up crap. It's not that the whole system's crap -- It's we want to get rid of the crap that exists in an otherwise pretty decent system.
I say give me some means of being able to better pay for big-time medical costs. Medical costs are the leading cause of bankruptcy, right? So yes, something's broken. But don't fix it in such a way that you strip away my liberty. Let me choose my own doctor, and let me and my doctor decide what's best for me. Is that so much to ask? Can't we do one without removing the other?
The bottom line for me: If you can give me a system that is:
(1) affordable for all,
(2) continually cutting edge,
(3) timely and efficient,
then I'm on board. Otherwise, I'm somewhat inclined to continue with the current system -- At least it works for the most part. At least those who don't have health care are a minimal number. Don't give me a patch-up job on the system folks, much less something that fixes one thing while breaking another. Give me something that's a real solution.
That's the best I can give you, Xangans. Discuss! Give me some well thought out input!