Saturday, January 7, 2012

So What Are We Doing Here?

Don't worry, that's not an existential question--although I very well may address it as such, one of these days.

No, right now I'm determining the purpose of my writing here. What I'm strongly considering is being more topical than most. A minister some time back told me that he learned in seminary that he was allowed to do one topical sermon a year, and then apologize. As a layperson, I feel I get some more levity. So what I'm probably going to do is put out some briefer commentaries and thoughts during the week, and probably go into depth on whatever catches my mind, when the weekend rolls around.

There's bound to be some blunders here, since this is actually the first time I've gotten into operating and maintaining a web page of *any* sort. I basically toyed around with the idea, and then put it aside for a long time before coming back to it... a familiar pattern. Someday I may put my testimony up here, too, cuz it sounds a lot like that. ;-)

Hopefully the pattern will *not* revolve around just posting a random cartoon from the comics and something half-witty about it, but this one did grab me.

I know he's trying to zing me, but I just don't quite "get" it. Is he saying that religious people deny evolution? Some do, certainly, but he's depicted the guy as the Pope, who certainly has no issues with Natural Selection theory. Maybe it's a gag about us denying salvation to prehistoric man, or 'lower' animals? That's a little sketchy on the theology, I'm not even sure that we do. Or who 'we' would be. It would seem that the 'Ego' here is more the artist's, taking a half-informed swipe at the purported ignorance of people whom he doesn't understand or care to.

This really calls attention to one of the pitfalls of being a nerd in Christ. We love to be well-informed, intellectual, and even skew towards elitist notions of our own comprehension of the world. Too often we enjoy that smirking, over-the-glasses satisfaction of looking down on the less-enlightened. In the Bible, we wouldn't be the ruthless Romans, nor the moralizing Pharisees. We're the intellectual Greeks and Sadducees, in love with our critical reasoning skillz. We scoff at those crude primitives with their outdated moral codes, or thuggish lust for power.

But the Romans and Pharisees had their upside. There is much to be said for discipline, honor, and organization. There's a lot of benefit to being charitable, good, and virtuous. And yes, there's much to be loved about wisdom, learning, and the life of the mind. But we're supposed to have all of those things. Christ wants your body, your mind, and your soul to be directed towards God.

Now, that doesn't mean turning off your brain and zombie-shuffling, or abrogating the flesh with reeds and whips, or getting so high on your own righteousness (as if we had any of our own) that you can't see the dirt under your own nails.

There's a whole bunch of things that we don't have to do, to be Christian. I'll list a few Don'ts (or at least Don't Got To's)

1) Watch Fox News
2) Believe in ID
3) Throw out your Harry Potter
4) Lose all your friends
5) Turn into someone you don't know anymore
6) Quit thinking
7) Vote for any particular politician
8) Tebow

And so on and so on.

Actually, on #5, I should clarify--you will change. But if you don't want to change, you should look deeper. Stagnation breeds death, spiritual, mental, and physical. Do you experience a constant sense of joy and hope in your life? Do you have the assurance of a meaningful purpose? Do you never feel lost, or alone? Do you think you're perfect? Do you think morals are just "Don't kill or rape and otherwise it's all just whatever"? Have you really considered what it would mean if the Bible were true? Have you really considered what it would mean if it's *not*? These are important questions, and the answers will change you one way or another.

Personally, I have grown, and evolved, but I do recognize myself. I'm still me--I didn't lose my soul. Quite the opposite, I found it. The things that you give up are things that you don't and shouldn't embrace about yourself to begin with. Pride, arrogance, vanity, anger, spite, grudges, self-destructive vices and distractions. The things you hold onto because they give pleasure, in the end are the fetters keeping you from achieving what you really could become.

In the Bible, there's a guy called Esau. He sells his inheritance for a "mess of pottage". That is, all the soup he can eat in a sitting. At the time, he's hungry, and he gets conned into it. He doesn't have the discipline or the faith to keep pushing. So he gives up all that he was promised by his father, in order to satisfy his immediate hunger. See any parallels here?

Yes, cake is delicious. Diabesity is not.

Yeah, drinking is fun. Alcoholism is not.

You might get quick pleasure out of hooking up, or watching porn, or treating women like objects, but how does it affect your prospects for relationships? For that matter, how do you like the idea of your dopamine receptors going so haywire that you can't even become aroused by a real woman anymore?

Things aren't bad because they're sinful--they're sinful because they're destructive. Much like Planck's Constant, nothing could be less arbitrary, and without the Law, we'd live in a crazy looking glass world, where you throw up to keep from starving, and run as fast as you can to stay in place.

So. That is what I'm trying to do here. I'm going to talk about how to overcome sin, not as an abstraction, but as a way of improving our lives in every way imaginable. We're going to talk about True Love, and the Battle Against Evil, and I'm going to make comparisons to Yoda, and the Princess Bride, and Batman, and all sorts of stuff that would probably get me branded a heretic if I were behind a pulpit instead of a keyboard.

Sometimes, it's good to be the laity!

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