Thursday, August 04, 2005

More Christian Testimony

Luxiquin (June 19, 2004):

I've been diagnosed bipolar three months now and my life has turned into a living hell. None the medicines work so far; I've baffled my doctors. I've been hospitalized and still can't seem to get anything to work.

I will write I am a Christian, because I choose not to be anything else, but I don't understand God in my life anymore. Looking back on my life I feel like all the times I thought God was close, they just seem false and manufactured. I believe I'm beginning to lose my faith.
I'm writing here because my mother insisted I should. I figure it won't hurt if I do or don't. "Find people who are like you," she says. "Talk to them; you're not the only one." I don't think she understands that I don't care if I'm the only one or not.

So here is my question, Why rely on God and follow His plan, when you're programmed not to?

This is all hypothetical, though. Hypothetically, someone might be in a situation where he would be spending a lot of time with a person like this, someone who drops the bomb "I think I'm questioning my faith. Someone who cares would want to help this person learn how to think for himself. A good way is to get him out of religion, which takes away his ability to judge. Unfortunately, it's very easy to push someone back into it stronger than ever. It coudl be possible, though, that someone who is able to question, is able to find this all out for himself.

What do you say to people in this predicament? Is this person looking to be reassured in his faith, or looking to be reassured in his lack of faith? I would start off by asking him why he "chooses not to choose." I might ask him to explain what he means by false and manufactured, and I might go on to realte my own feelings about that topic. I know exactly what he means, as I spent many years in church feeling very much apart from the whole thing. I felt that people were acting the way they thought they should, rather than being genuine.

I would have to find restraint, however, and try to limit what I'm saying, as he might not relate to my experiences. I would try and relate to him, but briefly. I am tempted to talk about the whole "being programmed not to" thing. What do you suppose he means? Perhaps we should discuss what "God's Plan" means. I would want to ask how there could be a plan in the first place, and how could anything God planned not happen, when He would certainly know the outcome. He would have had to intend for the outcome to happen. He would certainly have planned for me to be an atheist. Why would he do that? However, I tend to go on and on, and I would have to resist telling him exactly what I think of it, and instead hint about it and let him discover it on his own.

What would you say? Ask shorter questions?
"Wow, you would think God wouldn't need a plan at all!"
"Do you think God's plan could fail, since He knows everything that's going to happen anyway?"
"Why do you suppose God lets us muck around, deciding what we are going to do next, when we're just going to do what he wants, anyway? Can you imagine that God would be cruel like that? It's like we were just toys."

I don't go to church every Sunday. I don't openly participate in religious debate, keeping my views to myself. However, I am a Christian, because I believe in the true words that Jesus Christ spoke and his actions toward mankind. If that makes me religious, I hardly feel any reason to apologize for it.---Andrew

I would not be speaking to this person. But if I did, I would probably ask him what words, and why he agrees with them? I would have to wonder why he agrees with Jesus about the Apocalypse and Hell. I don't know how to tread lightly on this subject. If he denies that Jesus said these things, then I would have to challenge him on what other reference to Jesus there is, than the gospels, that makes him "agree" with Jesus. We wouldn't speak of Jesus' existence. We would speak of our own values, and whether they were Jesus' values as well. This sounds like a debate! Maybe it's not Jesus he agrees with. Maybe it's good, sound values. Are they consistent with Jesus' words? What would you do?

I must add: if you know what the character Jesus said in the book, what use is it if you can't tell a Christian? ;)

I am a Christian because I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in Jesus Christ because of the Bible.

It bears to mention at this point that I believe in the Bible not because I have thoroughly read it and conclude it to be the sacred truth. As I have said, I have read only portions of the Bible. I do not even know how the books of Genesis and Exodus were written.


As I will explain later, I do not believe it would be necessary for me to do so.

I believe in the Bible because when I called on its God, I received a response. The God of the Bible has three persons and three names. I call on them all although I call on Jesus most.---Yaw and Mog

I threw that one in for fun. Anyone see the merry-go-round?

Somebody had to tell us the story of Jesus, had to live the faith before us, had to serve as our exemplar. We Christians call it, grace, a word that means simply, gift.

I know that is why I am a Christian. I might like to tell you that I am a Christian because I made a careful study of all the world’s religions, carefully comparing their beliefs and ethical systems and decided that Christianity was superior. Therefore I am a Christian. --Duke Chapel

So, what would happen if you did make a careful study of all, or some, of the world's religions? What would happen if you didn't find Christianity superior? Therefore, you are a Christian because you are a Christian? How do you know that this "gift" you were given was given by something good, and not deceitful? You have to make your own judgement on that, don't you? Then, why not make a judgement of Christianity and other religions and non-religions? If your christianity is a gift given by God, then nothing bad will happen. If it was given to you by some trickster god or yourself, then you'll be able to nip this thing in the bud! That was close!

This is not a well thought-out scenario. I doubt I would seriously try to witness to this person. If so, we would try to find common ground and leave it at that. Not much to go on here. I'll let him finish:

But despite any reservations you may have about the liturgical propriety of my baptism, at least you have to admit that it worked. Here I am, telling you the story of what was done to me, a story that I did not think up myself, but one that was laid over my life. Christians believe we are Christians, not primarily because of something we do, or decide, think or feel, but rather because of something that God in Jesus Christ does to us, something that the church lives before us and tells to us. We call it grace.

The claim is that Christianity is put upon you, whether you like it or not. At baptism? This is unclear. He also says Jesus Christ insinuates Himself upon us. This begs the question: is everyone invaded by Christ, including the little babies in India? Is the belief in Christ as God somewhere in the brain so that little babies in India can "refuse" him and go to hell or eternal Almighty Ignorance? Aren't they already ignored by God, and isn't this cruel? Or does Jesus rape--I mean, "give us his gift" at a certain age? Or are only certain people given the gift of Jesus couch-surfing on our souls? Is that what God means by "chosen people?" Why does God choose some people, then, to go to hell? They would have no choice in the matter. That doesn't seem fair at all! God is pretty mean.


Anonymous said...

Dear Duke Chapel.

Thank you for visiting the "Food for the Soul" aisle of your local Wal-Mart. We understand you chose the Christianity brand and on behalf of our sponsors are conducting a consumer survey which we hope will enable us to better serve your needs in future. You co-operation in replying to the following questions would be most appreciated.

1. Christianity is the most popular brand of religion in your particular culture. You will undoubtedly have seen the packet on the shelves in the homes of your friends and acquaintances, and it has been extensively advertised on TV.
a. Do you think your familiarity with the packaging had any influence at all upon your decision to purchase it?
b. Would equal advertising of the Moslem or Judaic religious brands on TV have attracted your interest?

2. The ingredients from which Christianity is manufactured have formed part of your culture's diet for many years, have considerably influenced or been extensively customised to accord with your language, political system and prejudices, and should therefore have significantly met tastes and expectations with which you are already comfortable. When sampling other religious products did you experience any new, strange or unusual tastes which you felt might enhance the experience of Christianity? If so, which ones?

3. When sampling other religious products did you experience any particularly obnoxious or repulsive reactions to a particular ingredient? All the products on our shelves have been refined by many years of exposure to consumer demands and our market research team is always keen to investigate why one group of human beings should find satisfying and fulfilling what another group finds distasteful as our ultimate aim is to be able to market one religious product which is universally acceptable.

4. We understand you limited your perusal of the products on offer in the "Food for the Soul" aisle to the pre-packaged religion shelves and by-passed the 'pick-and-mix' section which offers consumers the opportunity to prepare their own religion from the standard ingredients. While we appreciate that to be offered the 'Pick-and-Mix' option is a relatively recent innovation in the world of religious consumerism and is not yet universally available we have been surprised at the lack of consumer take-up. Would you put this down to:
a. a lack of confidence as to the ability of the individual to prepare their own balanced, satisfying religion,
b. a lack of education as to the purpose and effectiveness of the wide-range of available ingredients and preparation styles,
c. a perception that an individualised religion is a cheaper, lower-grade version of the professionally designed, bulk manufactured, pre-packaged variety which will not impress the neighbours,
d. a need to purchase the pre-packaged variety in order to be able to talk about it knowledgeably and share common experiences with your neighbours.

6. You will doubtless be aware of a suggestion made by a few certifiable, anti-social idiots that it is possible to live without religion. Do you reject this lunacy because:
a. it is so obvious that you can't live without religion that there is no point thinking about it,
b. most humans aren't clever enough to live without religion and should be grateful to the few special people who are and who make the recipe available to us,
c. without the pre-packaged religion industry to tell you what to think you would have to think for yourself and you're too busy earning a living for that kind of thing,
d. if it wasn't for Wal-Mart’s "Food for the Soul" marketing campaigns you'd forget you had a soul,
e. without your support all the glass-and-neon religion-retail shops would go bankrupt and their places would be taken by brothels, casinos, liquor palaces and PlayStation outlets.

5. If we were to consider marketing a range of languages would you be willing to take part in further market research by studying a number of different languages and then confirming that you prefer to communicate in the one you know best.

To mark our appreciation of your co-operation in undertaking this survey we enclose a free upgrade from the Economy 'rather-dull-and-boring' grade of Protestant Christianity we understand you chose to the Super-impressive 'Catholicism-with-all-the-incense-bells-and-choirboys' grade of Christianity which we are sure you will enjoy.

Thank you.

Hellbound Alleee said...

Priceless! Welcome to the blog, Kiwi!

Pat Walker said...

kiwi, that was great! Would you mind if I posted it elsewhere?

Anonymous said...

That is awesome kiwi ^_^

In my personal experience I have found that most people I have encountered who claim to have made a special and strong link with god, have come to this conclusion after a strong emotional experience. The lonely factory worker teenager who's parents talk about nothing but god, the creepy furniture store supervisor who claim Satan lift her up in the air and threw her against the wall... then pulled me off the work floor to talk to me about Jebus...

Any way, when a person is going through hard times and begins to doubt their faith, at that point they are even more open to become more fanatic about it than ever before.

Anonymous said...

G'day Pat. Go for it. If you do I'd be grateful if you'd correct the paragraph numbering which went astray somewhere. Feel free to improve and edit it to your heart's content as there is plently of scope for both.

Hello Homer. "when a person is going through hard times and begins to doubt their faith, at that point they are even more open to become more fanatic about it than ever before."

Yeah, but that's also the point at which they can question it out of existence.

I dunno. If anybody's going through hard times, getting them to abandon their faith is just adding another burden unless it somehow eases the original burdens and, frankly, it's hard to see how atheism ever does that.

Hellbound Alleee said...


No, "Atheism" doesn't help people in hard times.

But neither does belief.

Belief isn't even a band-aid. That's the whole point. No matter if you're an atheist or a christian, we derive strength and comfort from the same places. Ourselves, our friends, and our families.

Sometimes our friends and or families are going through hard times. I have had those kinds of situations. I don't lie to my friends if they ask me questions. I don't lie to acquaintances. I do want to help people. If I tell them Jesus is going to do this or that, I am not helping that person, and I am lying to them. Now, sometimes I don't really care a great deal for the person, and wont be spending any time with them. I might throw off a fib because I need a short one to make them happy--I assume, a fib like "I'll pray for you."

So glib, isn't it? I have to be sure they don't know me at all.

This is how "atheism" helps people in trouble. Atheism allows you to use your mind without the specific barrier of religion. To have a worldview that values reason--a great tool to use in solving problems. To be able to face big issues without fear of taboos. Issues like death.

No, atheism is not a worldview. It just helps to point away from some screwed-up worldviews.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Alleee. I for example almost died a few months back due to a pulmonary embolism. The pain was so incredibly strong that I swear at some point I wanted to die just to make it stop.
But at that time I also became stronger because I knew I had to make it for my self and for the people I love.
But at no point did I closed my eyes to ask for some type of divine intervention, if anything the whole experience made me even more aware of my own views on mortal life and my self as an atheist.

Of course any believer might say then: "oh but you made it, that means god was looking out for you" or, "oh but the name of the hospital was 'Our Lady of Resurrection' that obviously means god was there..." or "god was there with you! didn't you noticed the Jesus shaped stain on your ceiling?!" and finally my favorite, "oh come on! you had to have felt god presence as you were watching the inspirational channel while on your bed!". Well actualy that last one made me feel more like the dying old man from that movie "Soilent Green".

ps. I was watching that channel because I liked the artwork and the classical music that was being broadcasted.