Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Cult of Personality

One of the things that I try to pride myself on, in the sense of dedication to pursuit as opposed to hubris, is critical thinking.

To many people, critical thinking is a mindset by which you are always critical of things and others to the point of being harsh, or always finding fault; this is akin to shooting someone with a gun and then blaming the weapon for the death...which, ironically, happens all too much.

But I digress...

And a caveat:  I am a Christian and I believe in Jesus as Savior.  I still also believe what I'm about to say, too.

To quote the rather extensive article on "Critical Thinking" at Wikipedia:
"Critical thinking is a type of reasonable, reflective thinking that is aimed at deciding what to believe or what to do. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false."

In other words, when you apply critical thinking to <blank>, you're evaluating <blank> to ascertain at the most fundamental level whether or not said <blank> is "True/False, Right/Wrong, Just/Unjust".  Additionally, whether or not those things apply to YOU and your acceptance (or lack thereof) of the same.

More so, it also infers being able to apply logic, reason, and sense, removing emotionalism from the decision-making process as it applies as an external or internal influence, distilling the process to its most basic foundation.

Bear with me; I'm going somewhere with this.

No, really.

You see, I've been struggling with some uncomfortable ideas and their effect on us as a society, not the least of which is civil rights for gay couples, love/sex/relationships and how they affect me and those around me, etc.  It's led me to go back to my Strong's Concordance, various translations of Scripture, and then to look at society around me; from there, I've begun to have a rather sneaking suspicion that much of what is taught today as scriptural canon often isn't...or is, depending which version of the Bible you use, or which religion you are, or which teacher you have, or...

You get the picture.

In all of this introspection and ancillary critical thinking, a rather disturbing notion arose...consider the two definitions below:

I find it disturbing that the definition of a cult, an organization or group that is often derided and scoffed at is at face value very, VERY similar to that of religion, which is often venerated and revered.  Most Christians don't like to be reminded that the Christian faith/religion was considered a cult by their Roman overlords of the past.

So how does this apply today?  Much good has been done in the name of Jesus the Messiah, Yeshua HaMashiach...and much evil has been done in the name of Christendom as well.

When does a cult become an accepted religion?  Or worse, when does an accepted religion devolve into a cult?

"Why...what are your thoughts on this?"

I'm so glad you asked.

Short answer: I don't know.  While comfortably well above the average in intellect and education, I'm not so arrogant or foolish to believe I have all of the answers, but I have some beginning thoughts I'll share.  

A cult, in my thinking, is in line with the definition, but is set apart from a religion in that it's not a framework for defining the cause, nature, or purpose of the universe or sentients.  That seems to be a key difference, at least philosophically.  But from a practical perspective, the devolution of a religion to a cult seems to be at the point where the established teachings diverge from those of the founder/foundation, regardless of the scope or grandiosity of the vision.

And if that doesn't cause you to go, "Whoa, wait, hold on a second!" then you're not paying close enough attention to teachings from and about the Bible.

"If it ain't in red, it ain't what He said!"
"I only follow the New Testament; after all, Jesus put an end to the Old Testament law."
"You have to follow ALL of the Scriptures!"
"Only the King James Bible is the True Word of God."

Etc, ad nauseum...

Today much of what's taught boils down to a cult of personality, where the charisma of the teacher lends importance and gravitas to the teaching more than the substance or impact of the inherent TRUTH behind it...if any.  How, exactly, did "Love your neighbor as yourself" get turned into "Love your neighbor as yourself unless they're gay/black/white/Muslim/etc"?  Oh, sure, they still preach the "Love your neighbor as yourself" from the why do so many Christians end up applying filters and conditions?  

I've been told by people in churches that I was wrong for not wearing better clothes to church; some have even gone as far as to tell me I was in sin!  

CLASSIC lack of critical thinking there.  Bear with me...I know many of you, especially the atheists will cry "Foul" because you're going to say I should first apply critical thinking to the fact I believe in God and Jesus as Savior; I know, it even appears hypocritical.  Here's what I have to say about that...

First, "God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in Him should not perish, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE".  Second, Jesus died for ALL sins, for EVERY person, for ALL time.  He sacrificed Himself for me when I was the most repugnant to Him from a sin do you REALLY think He cares what I wear to church?

"Oh, but you should wear better clothes out of respect for what He did!"

Oh, right, because outward appearance is such a great measure of the contents of a person's soul and heart...or didn't you read the Scriptures where Jesus condemned those who focus on outward appearances and have souls and hearts rotten as a corpse?  Wouldn't it be a GREATER show of respect to have a clear conscience and heart, to love others in spite of their flaws and faults, just like He did for us?  To not judge someone because of how they're dressed, or how they smell, or...going out on a limb here...who they love?

Yet, people do these things All. Damn. Day. Long.  They have entire campaigns built around them.  They found churches based on differences in Scripture, then foist these beliefs on others as (pun intended) the Gospel Truth...and it's really just their personal belief.

Like Brother Dave Gardner once said in one of his classic rambles, when a character was asked if everyone should do something, and he answered an emphatic "YES!", paraphrased, "That's the root of fanaticism."

This sounds a lot like many religions and denominational offshoots, including the myriad versions of Christianity today.

Or a cult.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I'm going to start calling people who don't act Christ-like "vampires".

Yes, yes, I know..."glass house/stones", "splinter your eye/lightpole in mine", etc.

It's called a "joke".  Sarcasm...look it up.

Anyway, I'm not really sure where some of the vampire myth specifics started, and frankly I'm kinda sick this morning and...ok, I'm too lazy to look it up.

Happy?  Moving on.

So, I was taking a shower last night and as I was washing myself I had one of those "PING" thoughts; you know, thinking "A" pings to "B" which pings to "C" then pings to "D" and before you know it you're nowhere near where you started, and you're somewhere brought to you by the letters "W", "T", and "F".


Kinda like that picture.  Not where I started, but where I ended up...and hey, Katy Perry cleavage.  "C" is good enough for me.

Anyway, I digress...where was I...Oh!  Right.

So, I was showering and I thought about "wood".  Hush. Just...hush.  So, wood jumped to "stake"...again with the hushing!  Stake jumped to vampire, and then vampire jumped to the myth where vampires rise after being dead three days and...and they....wait a second.

That's interesting.  Vampires rise as vampires after dying and being dead three days; Jesus died and rose again on the third day.

Myself: I wonder...are there any other parallels or reversals between the two...?

Apparently, there are if you look.  No, it's not a complete match, but enough to make you wonder if maybe Bram Stoker just said, "Ok, let's take Jesus and reverse everything about him and we'll tie that to the vampire blood-drinking myth, cuz's always about the blood, right?"

Which brings us to the blood.  Lots of vampiric power comes from blood.  It's what keeps them alive.  Ironically, for Christians, the blood of Christ is what they derive forgiveness from...and since the "wages of sin are death", they also derive life from His blood.

There's power in the blood, indeed.

Vampires take their blood by violent attack and seduction; the whole "volunteering" blood is a recent pop-culture construct, one popularized by television shows such as Buffy the Vampire SLayer.

Yes, the "L" is capitalized...after fucking two vampires, "Vampire Layer" is also accurate.

Buffy and Spike
Buffy and Angel
Buffy and Satsu

Wait, what?  Buffy slept with a Slayer too??  Yeah, in the Official Season Eight comic, Joss had her being all open-minded and experimental.  Get over it.  Like I said...SLayer.

Moving on...
So vampires take blood...but the blood for the forgiveness of Christians had to be freely given by Jesus; He went to the cross willingly, and according to Him, only He could do so. (John 10:18)  So there's a parallel and a reversal with the blood.

Oh, hey, the cross!  As we all know, the cross as a holy symbol is anathema to vampires.  Recently, again via pop culture, it's been expanded to any holy symbol or religious symbol you hold sacred (Cross for Christians, Star of David for Jews, Lightsaber for Jedi, Colander for Pastafarians, Bathrobe and Beer for Dudists)  Some might argue that the Cross is the most effective holy symbol, but it's probably solely because of the prevalence of Christianity and because Stoker wrote it that way.

Vampires are automatically damned.  Do not pass "GO", do not collect 200 blood bags, no reprieve.  I've always had an issue with that one...damnation ultimately relates to a choice on the part of a person, and some people were "turned" (made into vampires) against their will or without a choice.  I think he missed the mark on that one, probably due to lack of theological knowledge if I had to guess, but that's just a guess.  He might've been a Doctor of Theology and just decided to show how horrible vampires were by making them automagically damned.  *shrugs*  It might more tie in with the black/white view that Jesus/God/Heaven are symbolic of all that's "Good", and Lucifer/Hell/Demons being all that's "Bad".  Since vampires are the "Devil's Children", ergo "bad"; and if the Devil can't be saved, then they can't either.  Again, the antithesis of Christ and Christians.

After a short human life, vampires die and are reborn to live forever as minions to their master.  Christians live a short human life, then die to live forever with Christ as God's children, the Bride of Christ.  Christians are transformed, and the Bible promises new, powerful bodies in Heaven.  Vampires are transformed after death (during?) and receive new, powerful bodies on Earth.

Christians are saved from the Grave (death) while vampires are cursed to it, and must rise every night from their grave, and return to it before sunrise, forever UNdead, a mockery of Christian eternal life.

Vampires and garlic, and transforming into bats, wolves, and mist...Stoker was on some really good shit.  Had to be.  Just sayin'.

So, that's all I have.  Sorry it's been so long, and sorry to return with so lame, but I hope you were at least amused and entertained.  Hell, for all I know you all already knew this and are thinking, "Uh...where have you been? That's been pointed out since 'Dracula' was published."


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Personal Rant...Feel Free to Skip

Final Notice:  This is a bit more of a personal rant than an attempt at philosophical discussion.  You've been warned.


Chris·tian   [kris-chuhn]
1.  of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings: "a Christian faith."
4. exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike: "She displayed true Christian charity."

I claim to be a Christian.

I believe Jesus was who He said He was, that He was neither liar nor lunatic, but Lord.

That being said, I'm honest enough to admit I fall short of that ideal virtually daily, sometimes spectacularly...but I try.

What it means to be one has been a topic of debate for centuries, ranging from cool and civil up to hot, violent, and murderously bloody.

Those of us that are on the inside of the Christian paradigm with other believers are often the most vociferous about what it means to be a Christian; sadly, and I'm guilty of this in the past myself, we often will "confront our misguided brethren" in a "spirit of love" to "guide them" into more correct and Biblical thinking and living.

In short, we tell them how much they're wrong and how much our view is right, often with Scripture to prove it...which, ironically, they also have and use.   Even shorter, we beat them over the head with a Bible.

I try not to get into that activity...any more; it's non-productive, almost everyone has different views on what many key Scriptures mean, and living a fully Christ-like life is virtually impossible, except for some folks like Billy Graham, and even he has his share of controversy and unpopular views dating back to the Nixon administration, and I'm sure even he would admit to struggling with living a Christ-like life.

But people persist.  Entire forests have been cut down to produce the paper needed for the various arguments, discussions, debates, reports, research, narratives, opinions, and doctrinal theses, all written to prove a point about some aspect of Scripture and living a Christian life.

My point?

We have differences, even between Christians.  I already pointed out in a previous blog post that even the earliest Church fathers realized this and addressed that what's acceptable for one or some would be a hindrance to others in some cases.

I acknowledge the verses that admonish us to live moral, upright lives free of lust, immorality, and impurity; they're right, good, and goals to aspire to.



All of us.  Every person.  Even the most upright and moral persons.  Some pastors take extremes to even avoid the APPEARANCE of being improper.  There's a rumor, which I can't find substantiation of, that the Rev. Billy Graham has an aide go through his rooms while travelling in order to prove that there is no one in his rooms, to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, and avoid someone being able to make him look bad publicly.  As extreme as that sounds, the Bible does advise ministers to avoid even the appearance of impropriety wherever possible so as to be "above reproach".  I'm sure someone would LOVE to break a story about Billy Graham being caught with someone in his rooms, true or not...bad news sells better than good news.

Anyway, back to the point(s).

  1. Fact 1:  Nobody's perfect.
  2. Fact 2:  See Fact 1.
Now, that being said, I'm fairly live and let live.  It would be hypocrisy for me to comment on someone else's failings when I'm not perfect either, just as it would be hypocrisy for someone else to deem me unfit to be in ministry with them because my "beliefs are too different" when theirs are equally imperfect, ESPECIALLY when it's pointed out by them that what I do in public isn't privately acceptable or Christ-like, but they do things that aren't publicly acceptable or Christ-like in private...things such as making and liking racially-barbed jokes, like this one.  Is it funny?  Yeah, to a degree.  Is it socially acceptable?  Only in certain specific circumstances.  Is it acceptable to a Christian?

Ohhhh, hey, good question...probably so in the South, especially in private...but what if the general public found out that a ministry group, a bunch of Christians, were laughing at and making racially inspired jokes?

They'd be they keep it just between people they trust to "relax" around and "be themselves".

And yet these are the same folks that cut me off for posting a link to a video for the Vegan Black Metal Chef for my friends that are not only vegan, but listen to black metal.  Or posting something "about a demon"...yeah, that's as specific as they got, so it was either Cthulhu/Dagon 2012, Something Positive, Cthulhu at Sea, or the Weeping Angel from Dr. Who.

And, of course, the fact I believe that gay marriage is a civil rights issue and we have no business legislating it.  The Bible indicates "don't do it" to Christians; it doesn't say "control how others live their lives" or "Jesus voted anti-gay" or "Republicans will go to Hell if they don't vote against gay marriage".  *SIDE NOTE:  Some may find it interesting reading to see what some parties get from Scripture regarding gays and the Bible.

Anyway, the point is, someone (me) has been cut off from a ministry position (my former band) because of unpopular or even non-Christian public people who harbor equally unpopular and non-Christian views in private.

Then they say, "We can still be friends and hang out."

Ok, you've just exhibited world-class hypocrisy and changed my life, and you still want to "hang out"?  

I don't think so.  

Right now, I'm thinking and trying to spend some time praying about what my church future holds.  I spent a long time, nearly 10 years, out of church because of some less than ethical dealings from other "Christians".  I love the church I'm in, and the people are (mostly) genuine.

Hell, even the two that just burned me are sincere and genuine and mean well!  I know they did, and they sincerely have mine (and their's and God's) best interests in mind...I get that, and I even agree with their reasoning from a Biblical standpoint.

But based on their own criteria of "above reproach" and Biblical morality and ethics, they're equally wrong...they're just hiding it in private, whereas I take the "here I am, I have nothing to hide" approach.

This is the fourth time I've been hurt specifically by what amounts to hypocrisy from morally upright and well-meaning "followers of Jesus Christ".  My problem isn't with Jesus.  Far from it.

My problem is with those calling themselves His servants.

I don't know if I'll stay in church.  If I do, I couldn't pick a better one than my current church.  The pastor is the most sincere, good, down-to-earth type person.  When he does chide or discipline, it's always and only from what the Bible says, not his opinion of what's "appropriate".  I just don't know if that's enough, though.  I'm tired of being burned.  I'm tired of being "corrected" by people who are JUST. AS. FLAWED. as me....and I'm not sure I want to be part of a congregation where I now have deep, serious, and personal issues with members of the body.

Oh, I'm going to work on it, get it resolved, and make sure that I remain as much in the right as possible regarding my own feelings and thinking and actions.  Forgive...sure; it's what Jesus wants us to do.  But it's going to be a cold day in hell before I TRUST them again.

So, who IS Christ-like?  Who IS a Christian?  Well, Jesus was; from my position, including myself, no one else is even watch out for the glass walls when you start throwing stones.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Change Is A Universal Constant

When are we "ready"?  What ultimately defines us?  Even if we align ourselves with a paradigm, many of us don't ultimately follow every tenet of it; most of us customize, taking what works for us and discarding what does not.  Even if we go with the analogy that Sarah Michelle Gellar's character used in "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer", it falls flat from the whole...

To whit, Buffy said, "I'm cookie dough. I'm not done baking. I'm not finished becoming who ever the hell it is I'm gonna turn out to be. I make it through this, and the next thing, and the next thing, and maybe one day, I turn around and realize I'm ready. I'm cookies. And then, you know, if I want someone to eat m- or enjoy warm, delicious, cookie me, then that's fine. That'll be then. When I'm done."

It's a fine sentiment that puts forward the realization that she's a work in progress, but are we ever REALLY done?  I have to wonder at any one person that stands up proudly and utters the affirmation that they know who they are and that they have "arrived".

Really?  So, you're now going to lie down and die?  Nothing is going to happen to change your world view, your opinions..."you"?

I struggled with the concept of who I was for many, many years...decades even.  As an Aspy and a natural mimic, I questioned what and who I was up until about three years didn't help that I had friends (and some former friends) that viewed me across a spectrum that included enough personalities, beliefs, and styles that each group never questioned my participation in their little group, regardless of how different it was from another group I'd just been hanging with. To quote my Twitter profile: "To make one Sithspit: Combine hard, soft, nice, nasty, quiet, loud, rum, milk, Jesus, Nietzsche, tender, cruel, love, hate, sweet, and sour. Blend and serve."

I never socialized well as a child; grade school was a special brand of Hell, and children can be far more cruel than people give them credit for.  I never really fit in with anyone, oddly enough, especially considering my later years, but we're getting to that.  When you combine an inability to adapt socially via typical, intuitive human means with a higher than average IQ...there will be problems.  I saw nothing wrong with reading a novelization for "Bring a Book Friday" in school...but when that book is the Star Wars novelization in SECOND GRADE, the other kids tend to look at you like you're a freak.

Which they did.

But over time, since I was on the outside looking in anyway, I had occasion to watch and learn some basic skills by watching how the popular kids acted; my natural talent at being a mimic paid off handsomely in that regard.  When I changed schools my senior year, I applied all I had learned by watching others to my interactions with the new people who didn't already know me, and, with a few minor hiccups, I was suddenly...well, not POPULAR, but ACCEPTED.  Now, some of you especially bright folks are already seeing the pitfall coming, but I'll mention it anyway.

What happens when you build a life out of what you've seen others doing, copying and imitating...?

You end up like I did a few years ago, looking at your life and wondering which parts were you and which parts were just "add-ons", essentially items like clothes to be mixed, matched, and discarded, but not really YOU.

Most men in their late 30's or so have mid-life crises where they try to recapture their lost youth...I spent mine wondering where the facade ended and I began.

So who am I?  What have I become, and what should I have been?  Am I EVER going to be finished and be what I'm supposed to be as an adult?  A father?  A husband?

A human?

Only two people I can think of literally have given me pause in my confusion; when asked what I was, they both just basically said..."You."

It took me a long, long time to accept that; I can be anything to anyone, and have, but the one thing I've learned from John and Jen is this:  Accept myself for who I am, because in the end, I am all and none of those things from my past and present...I'm a blend of them all.  This makes me as unique as anyone, i.e., not at all (what is "unique" when you are ALL different?)...but what it DOES make me is

Oh, and some of you may have noticed that in the last few years I've become more outspoken about some things, and less concerned with what others think; this is called "I'm content with who and what I am...get used to it, or go away."

I will always be a work in progress; only dead things don't ever really change or grow--you have to be alive for that.  So if I'm living, change is inevitable.  I may never be complete; but I will always be just me.  

And I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Good Questions!

Yol asked in my last post:  "James, first of all let me tell you that I do enjoy your blog very much. It feels sincere, open, and full of doubts (which I do value.) I am always full of questions myself. Also, as a disclaimer, I am not christian. Please keep in mind that I mean no offense to you or your belief system. I respect you. So, question #1: Would you give me your thoughts on why is the christian god needed? Why the rules and regulations? Question #2: regarding the polyamory situation, why do we assume that there is The One and then the others? What if it is a flat hierarchy where all the parts are like you said in your previous blog, sharing equally in all matters (emotionally, physically, financially)? Lastly, I think that if the christian god were to be real she would would be very intrigued/amused/dismissive of the "fine print" (and it feels like it is full of fine print) placed in the contract (between her and the humans) by the lawyers involved in the transaction... Peace!"

Hm.  Ok, I guess we'll just take them line by line, si?

#1  I can only answer your question from the two perspectives I have had in my life: My original pre-Christian mindset, and my current Christian one.  From the original perspective, He's not needed at all.  He's demanding, confusing, harsh, uncompromising, restrictive, and a real buzz-kill.  His people spout hate and are intolerant.  He appears no different than any other petty, demanding god with a nasty narcissistic streak.  Need?  Who would WANT that?
Now, I say all this so you can appreciate that this was my perspective of God BEFORE I became a Christian, to see where I was and how much my view changed.  My view and belief has always been logical in basis, which seems ironic to the point of contradiction in a spiritual arena, but it's true:  I read a book called "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis; yes, the Narnia one.  He set out to prove that Christians were wrong, and in the process ended up convincing himself the opposite; Christ was either liar, lunatic, or Lord.  Discounting the first two, that only left one option; I recommend the book heartily.  It's not preachy. 
Once I made it through the logical assertion, it made it possible to accept certain other things on faith.  Thus began a life-long search for understanding in Scripture; you see, the Christian view is not that we have rules to live by and regulations...the view is instead that because of our human nature, we're predisposed to a sinful condition that is a binding, pleasurable silken cord that is killing our spirits, and the teachings you consider restrictive keep us free and safe from morally and spiritually destructive elements of life, severing that cord.  Christians don't view this life or our existing bodies as the "end all"; we take the long view.  From the Christian perspective, we do things displeasing to our Creator; that's not His fault...He created us with free will so we could choose to follow Him, and gave us the tools to do it.  The rewards are eternal; so are the penalties.
So, the path in a nutshell was this:  Belief that Jesus was Lord and not a liar or lunatic, accepting His teachings as result, accepting knowledge of my sinful nature as a human, accepting His sacrifice as necessary ( a WHOOOLE other story...), and then accepting that the only safe path through a life full of temptations to do things against my new paradigm was following God.  Seeing my previous life as sinful and restrictive, and embracing His paradigm as freeing from that, was liberating, not confining.  Oh, don't get me wrong, there's been questioning all along in my life; I don't simply accept man's opinion of Scripture as fact; I don't blindly accept the Bible as fact, as I pointed out in my second post.  There are some things that would be stumbling blocks, and thus wrong, for a baby Christian that are not wrong for's a process.  He's a forgiving God; but we have to own up and accept the consequences for what we do when we're told, time and time and time again, that what we're doing is wrong.  And if we do it ANYWAY,'s not His fault.  He DID warn us.

#2  This one is still difficult for me.  I've been in a 3-way relationship; more than once, actually.  It worked between us until someone just grew in a different direction; so, we parted, amicably.  That's not to say it ALWAYS works; actually it works pretty rarely.  Like Nurodancer said in another comment, and like I agreed, there are certain circumstances it seems to work best in.
But that's a lifestyle outside of the chosen paradigm of Christianity that I've put my self into; even though I've proven it can work with the right mix, people, and maturity, it's outside the Christian model of one man, one woman.  And before you even ask, I support gay marriage.  I don't see it as a morality issue that I have any business trying to control; it's a civil rights issue.  The morality is between them and their God, not them and me and the court system.  So yes, I support the right of two gay people to marry if they choose; I, however, choose the Christian paradigm, and as such must follow the tenets of the faith.

#3  Yolanda, I could not agree more!  I'm positive God hates it.
Religion is rules lawyering; it's either following the rules until all life and fun is sucked from it, or it's used as a weapon to beat people over the head to make them "be like me"...neither represents any definition of the word "Freedom" as I understand it.  Neither one is based in life or love, two things Jesus stood for: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and the second is like the first, love your neighbor as yourself."  *crickets chirp*

Kinda sums it up, huh.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Parallel Spirituality

Many people may remember when I first became a Christian...

I've since apologized for my behavior to them all.

No, I don't regret becoming a Christian, far from it...but I handled it all very immaturely, and I hurt a lot of dear people who deserved better.

On the plus side to this debacle, I learned that there are instances in Scripture that echo each other spiritually vs physically; they parallel each other, where one situation here on our earthly plane will mirror one spiritually, and vice versa.

The link between my earlier immaturity and this example is this: It's not a coincidence that new Christians are referred to as "born again", or "born anew"...and in fact are often called "baby Christians".

Consider this:

Babies are born helpless; they need to be fed, protected, and nurtured.  They're often loud.  They make stinky messes.  They spit up on people.  They can't walk on their own, nor can they even stand alone.  They can't handle real adult food; in fact, not only can't they chew it, they can't break down the stuff for the nutrients with their immature short, it would kill them to try to handle adult food, among other things.

Now, let's look at a new Christian, generally speaking:

Spiritually, they're helpless...they don't know much about right and wrong from their new world-view; they need more knowledgeable people to nurture them and help them walk through their early days.  They're telling EVERYONE about their new life, whether they want to hear it or not.  They try to "help" people, and often muck things up in their inexperience.  They "spit up" on people, metaphorically speaking.  They need support in their Christian walk, so they don't walk alone.  Paul said that new Christians need "milk", easy teachings to make a foundation, but once they mature need to put that aside and move on to more solid spiritual food, and again he says something like it in an earlier book.

So you can see how one is an example of the other...and it's a fine way to drive home the point that we always have much more to learn!

This being said, here's a point I'd like to bring up as a counter-point to my very first blog post; I realized something tonight that in all my life I never considered...and it also means that I have to admit when I'm wrong.

And that sucks.

Sadly, I'm wrong a lot.  *sighs*

For most of my life I could see no issue with polyamory or polyfidelity; from the perspective I had, it was based in love, and what's wrong with love, right?  I looked at it from a perspective that was distinctly colored and biased from my past experiences in high school and college.

Tonight though I was discussing this topic with a close friend, one of the guitar players in our band, and he made a comment that tripped a memory in my head, and I remembered how Jesus often compares the Christian church (as a body/single entity) to a bride and Himself as a groom, with the goal of illustrating to the Jewish people He was teaching in a way they could identify with.  See, in Jewish culture back then, the groom would go to build a house for his bride, and his bride would wait for him.  The groom's father would be the one to determine when it was good enough, often prompting him to going above and beyond.  As a result, only the father knew when the groom would return, and the bride would have to be ready, because it was ALSO tradition for the groom to come and "steal her away" at some odd hour.  This is exactly how Jesus described His predicted return, so His fellow Jews listening to Him would get the concept.

Now, expanding on that marriage concept, all throughout the Bible, Old and New Testaments included, God has said that He wants no gods other than Him...really, it's the First Commandment, and it's also the first of the summations that Jesus delivered to the people:  "Love God with all your heart, mind and spirit".  To have another god before Him is idolatry, a big no-no for Christians and Jews.  He wants us separate, clean, and faithful, ready for His return, just like the bride in the example above.

And that's why I "get it" now, that polyamory and polyfidelity are just not right for Christians.  Being an Aspy, just being told something is wrong never works; I have to know why, because every situation is different, and a hard/fast rule doesn't always work.  Knowing WHY helps me to adapt to new situations; it gives me a litmus to apply.

Those relationships are the marital equivalent of spiritual idolatry, in essence.  You're being unfaithful to the ONE you chose to be your mate, in place of all the others you COULD have been with...and that's just not the model.

So kids...choose wisely.  Pick the right one.  It's disrespectful to your mate on many levels; even if it "works" outside of a Christian belief system, once you CHOOSE to be in that system, you're willingly forsaking other gods for the One you chose...and that's how you should choose and treat your spouse, too.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Question Everything

One of the things I want to do with this blog is to question everything.


I've been told by many people, pastors and laymen alike, that we're to accept God's word, to accept without question, because the Bible is His infallible Word.

I did, for a while.  Unfortunately, I fell into a snare that I would not have believed possible by doing so:  I elevated a Book into the Godhead along with Jesus.

It's the Holy Trinity, not the Holy Quadrangle, right?  Besides...after finding out that some of the 10 Commandments aren't translated right in the first place from the KJV (3rd and 6th), and still not right in later versions (3rd), you tend to question the rest.  Just like I covered in the first post, masturbation isn't a Biblical sin; it's not even considered "wrong" in scripture, in spite of many pastors pounding it from the pulpit (so to speak...)

So, I question.  A lot.  One of the aspects of the Christian faith mentioned by a very intelligent and educated man recently (Hi George!) is to accept some things on faith, to accede to the MYSTERY of certain aspects of the Christian structure, as simple faith is integral as a foundation.  Ok, no problem.  But I'm still questioning a good chunk.

Well, a lot.

Ok, this is going to hack off some people and likely get me called a heretic...but I don't believe the Bible is the ineffable or inerrant Word of God.

I just can't.  You can't expect me to believe the book that is expected to form the structure, the frame to our lives, the spiritual meat (and milk, for some) we need to live on spiritually, the RULES for successful Christian living, the book that is compiled from oral tradition going back to the BEGINNING OF TIME, ancient scrolls and histories written by hundreds of authors spanning millennia, encompassing even personal letters, the book that has taken more forms in Catholic and Protestant bodies, the book that was translated by the orders of King James while he was burning Jews at the stake for being heretics, thereby losing all possible chance for accurate cultural bias or even basic expect me to implicitly and blindly trust that?

Granted, many incorrect spots have been fixed.  Awesome.

So now the original is mostly correct.  Even more awesome.

But it's still not enough.  Cultural and societal bias is almost completely absent, except from some versions like David Stern's Complete Jewish Bible that meticulously includes the relevant cultural bias, as much as it can.

Scriptures that we now understand accurately relate to situations that are no longer relevant in today's world...the books of Ephesians, Colossians, Colossians again, Timothy, Titus, and 1 Peter all give advice the church fathers felt extremely important...about the care and treatment of SLAVES.  Nor does it ever say that slavery is wrong, or that slaves shouldn't be had.  Some translate this to "servants"...but no, even the "servants" then were usually slaves: Debtors, indentured, or outright just BOUGHT.  Not always...but typically.

So, what ELSE applies to then and not now? Murder?  No, that's always been wrong, and still is, although killing in God's name is still in vogue in some countries.  Stealing?  No, always has been wrong, still is...what could...ah.

Wives and concubines.

Men had wives and concubines.  Abraham did.  Isaac did.  Jacob did.  David did.  Solomon did.  *FILL IN THE BLANK* did.  Very common practice; legal, acceptable, normal.

Not today.  Today, having more than one wife or a wife and a girlfriend can get you arrested and accused of all kinds of sinful charges if your church gets wind of it.  All those guys were the Old Testament equivalent of swingers!  Today?  Not so much.

So riddle me this:  What then is sin?  Whose word do you take?  Man? God? The Bible?

Sin hurts.  Sin is something that is a fundamental break in the order of the natural order.  Murder; it ends a life prematurely.  The Jews believe that when you murder, you kill not only that person's life, but the lives of all that person's future essence, a murder kills not a person, but a WORLD.  So, yeah...unnatural.  Wrong.  Sin.

Now, don't be quick to jump on the "No Execution" bandwagon; even God allowed for executing criminals, so just don't go there.  Moving on.

Some things are just obvious, like murder.  Some, like love and sex, aren't so much.  In Acts, James said, 19 "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood."

What is "Sexual Immorality"?  Who defines it?  Topless and nude beaches are the norm in some sections of Europe and South America...try that in Louisiana or Mississippi and see what happens to you.

You can go round and round.  For every hard and fast rule in scripture there are just as many questions and questionable passages.

So what do I do?

I walk out my salvation in fear and trembling, understanding that I have to walk according to my conscience and the Spirit's leading and peace.  I understand that my choices could lead to lack of reward at best, punishment at worst, that I might be "saved as though through fire", saved, but with no reward.  I study for myself; I don't accept to be spoon or bottle fed milk.  I chew into the tougher, harder, meatier things, looking for the deeper truths....for TRUTH.

And also importantly, ROMANS 14!  I will believe or accept some things that a new Christian absolutely can't.  And shouldn't!!  You don't give a baby a steak; they can't chew it or digest would kill them!  The same here...some things, while perhaps not entirely beneficial, aren't necessarily wrong, either...and what's ok for me, might not be ok for you.

That's ok.

I've gone fairly far afield I think from where I started, but that's all right.  I'm just questioning.  Some of my answers won't work for you.  Just remember Romans 14; it's between me and God...

Not me and you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dogma Sucks

I have a dogmatic question I don’t understand.  Let’s say you have two people involved in some kind of church ministry; both are actively participating in things the Church at large considers sinful.  One person is remorseful and tries without success to change their behavior and is allowed to still take part; the other sees nothing wrong with what they’re doing, and is asked to step down until they see the error of their ways.

The way I’m seeing this, both people are engaged in wrong behavior without stopping…the only difference is in their thought processes, or as the Church calls it, their heart:  So if I’m understanding this right, it’s not sinning that gets you in trouble, it’s the way you think about it?

Please understand...this isn't a facetious question.

There are some things that I STILL don't "get" after being married for 20 years, and my poor wife just shakes her head and tells me, "It's an Aspy (Asperger's) thing; don't worry about, let it go..."

This might could be one of those things.

For example, this one is perfect.  Since I've been a teenager, I've had no moral issues with polyamory or polyfidelity.  While not socially acceptable almost anywhere, there are subgroups in this country and others that not only practice it, but it works for.

However, from a Christian perspective, this encompasses fornication and adultery AT LEAST.   From this Christian perspective, I can understand from reading that it is considered sin.  Jesus corrected the Samaritan woman at the well about her marital screw-ups (gently, of course), and there is the famous story in John 8:3-11 with the woman caught in the act.

Now, toss in my Aspy every instance where Jesus deals with adultery, it's the WOMAN that is at fault.  It's not until Paul that the issue is brought up in 1 Corinthians and a male is actually specified as the offender.  In every other case, it's generic with no mention of who is at fault, or it's the woman.

So to my Aspy mind, the definition of adultery hinged upon some definition that only affected women, not men.  Plus, it's never said WHY it's just is.  Well, why is it wrong?  If a man lives with two women, and they're all in harmony, taking equal burdens emotionally and physically and even financially in the relationship, what's the big deal?  Or a woman with two men?  Or (scandalous thinking approaching!) two bisexual women and a man? Or two bisexual men with a woman?

Aspy's don't do well with "do it because", because when something happens that doesn't fit the precise circumstance, BOOM, confusion and disarray, questions and chaos.  We need to know why, so we can learn to do things when the norm doesn't fit.

I have to say...Christianity SUCKS for Aspy's.  Everyone is always saying, "The Bible says this, that, and the other thing"...ok, fine, that's great until a little digging shows that it either A: Doesn't say that, B: Is taken out of context so it APPEARS to say that, C: Actually means something else because of translation errors, or D: remembered incorrectly so as to say something else.

So then what?  You dig for the truth, and WHOA, it actually means something else!  Great example: Onanism.  What's that, you ask?  Spanking the monkey, jerking off, choking the chicken...masturbation.  The prohibition comes from Genesis, but the early translations were off, and the church leaders, largely uneducated in many cases in those early years of using that newfangled King James Bible, took the passage (heh) to refer to masturbation, focusing on that "spilling his seed" bit.

Let's see it in a more modern translation:  Genesis 38:8-10 "8 Y'hudah said to Onan, "Go and sleep with your brother's wife - perform the duty of a husband's brother to her, and preserve your brother's line of descent." 9 However, Onan knew that the child would not count as his; so whenever he had intercourse with his brother's wife, he spilled the semen on the ground, so as not to give his brother offspring. 10 What he did was evil from ADONAI's perspective, so he killed him too."

It wasn't the "seed spillin'" that he was struck down for...rather, it was the disobedience of not doing his directed duty that he was killed for.  At that time, if a man's brother died childless, it was his brother's duty to impregnate that man's wife so as to carry on the family.

Do you have ANY IDEA how much less stressful my childhood and early life would've been if I'd known THAT?  That learning the WHY of it, and not the "Don't do it, and just accept it" aspect?

So, yeah...dogma sucks.