During life or after life?

God's Bridge to Eternal Life 9

Jesus spent years disciplining young people. Why then do we expect young people of today to receive and follow Jesus in an instant? Some will point out that his disciples dropped everything in an instant to follow him. The difference is Jesus invited them to abundant life that existed in the now not some future some place else. I think the disciples would have kept their day jobs if Jesus invited them to after life.

Young people want their lives to matter now. Why care about a life that seems only to care about after life? Jesus is about present life not after it’s over. “Come, follow me” is about now.

Now, Jesus knew now mattered more than just now but the disciples did not. That came later…

I think young people of today need an invitation to a life that matters now. They will see, in time, that it matters later too.

Don’t start the conversation with after life or “where will you spend eternity?” Start with…where will you live eternally now? Because following Jesus is their chance for abundant, eternal, beautiful life right here, right now!

In light of all of this, I think the picture above doesn’t make any sense. It makes eternal life something on the other side. The only thing on this side is sin and death. If his main concern was to get the disciples to the other side, why not grab up as many as he could and eject them out of the world of sin and death? Why spend years teaching the disciples to be peacemakers, healers, lovers of God, self and neighbor if all Jesus cared about was after life?

Jesus ushered in new life, new birth into this world of sin and death. Jesus cared deeply about this world, after all “this is his Father’s world.” Jesus saw past the brokenness and dreamed of “God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven”.

I heard someone say we’ve got to reach the unreached so “the world can end.” That’s not the call of Jesus. Jesus wanted to bring the kingdom “neighborhood” of God to this world. Peeling back the layers of sin and death all around him, Jesus saw past “outward appearance” and saw “the heart” of the world. One molded, shaped, created by his Father.

We don’t stand on the other side with Jesus waiting to cross over, “waiting on the world to change.” We stand on this side, right now, peeling back the layers of sin and death to reveal the love, the heart, the beauty and wonder of God.

Following Jesus is about during life not after life. There is no after life without living the abundant life now. God is not zipping us up to the sky. God is reconciling the now. This is where the new heaven and new earth will reside. It’s within us and through us and all around us. Come, follow him during life.

The Origin of Stereotypes

Our youth group last night discussed stereotyping God. There are many more stereotypes we did not cover. I chose this particular stereotype because I think it continues to lead to many, if not a majority, of our stereotypes of God. Before the lesson I had the youth do an activity. They broke up into small groups, given an assortment of magazines and told to make a collage of the perfect man/woman. Then they made a collage of God.

What does stereotype mean? It’s a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing

Stereotypes general reduce something to one thing. It sucks, this is stupid, dumb, i hate this, she’s fat, he’s lazy blah, blah…they are terrible and Christians should do better not to reduce things to stereotypes.

Two specific scriptures speak to this idea

1 Samuel 16:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

As people of God we should use these words as measure by which we see one another. God’s eyes look beyond the surface to the heart. It’s the way of Christ to see beyond one’s physical looks or outside persona.

Galatians 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

These words take the scripture from 1 Samuel 16 further…Not only are we not to look at outward appearance but we are to look beyond all proclaimed identity. In these words Paul is addressing the three major “stereotypes” of the time. These are the major “political, biological and cultural identities” of the time. It’s not that these cease to exist but that they are no longer used to reduce people to a label. In Christ we are made one. We can no longer reduce one another to labels and stereotypes.

All labels, stereotypes have a genesis. Some say they contain some truth within them. Tonight our focus will be on what I think is the genesis or beginning of a majority of our labels/stereotypes. Christians can focus their efforts to limit the labels/stereotypes but until we address the source we won’t break free of some of our long held stereotypes.

What’s the source… 

It’s how we talk/see God.

 One of Job’s friends in the book of Job says, “How great is God—beyond our understanding!”

 Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Solomon during his prayer to consecrate the temple states, in 1 Kings 8 “27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built!”

Saint Augustine once said, “If we have understood, then what we have understood is not God.”

Now we can KNOW God. We know God is love, mercy, justice, beauty, grace. We can know God through Jesus Christ who is the image of the invisible God. Yet God is known yet unknowable…God is mystery.

Lynn Japinga writes, “Language about God should help us to understand and encounter God…but we often make the mistake that our language about God for the reality of God, forgetting that language about God can never be more than an approximation.

Yet most of us talk about God in stereotypes. Remember that a stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. Can you think of fixed images of God? I can and it’s the source of many of our stereotypes.

He

Just those two letters used to describe God are the source of many stereotypes.

When Moses asks God for God’s name, God says, “I am who I am or I will be who I will be.” Within our language about God it seems like God’s name should be He.

Now it’s clear that the biblical authors used the term He, Him, Father…etc to describe God. I don’t want you to leave tonight and tell your parents Nathan thinks God is a woman. I don’t want to remove He, Him, Father from your vocabulary, I want to add language about God that helps us stop stereotyping God.

One of the great stereotypes of God is that God is a man. As this has historically formed society and has lifted men while devaluing women. Don’t believe these two have connections? Listen to some of the brightest and most well respected theologians of history: (These are found in the book Quest For The Living God by Elizabeth Johnson)

Tertullian who lived only 100 years after the death of Christ wrote, “all women are “the gateway of the devil”; they tempt men and because of their sin the Son of God had to die.”

Augustine said that women “were not the image of God” but only so coupled with a man.

Thomas Aquinas said women were “a defective male”.  

Martin Luther suggested women should submit to husbands and should stay home “like a nail driven into the wall…in this way Eve is punished.”

In her book, Lynn Japinga, points out that “English words in which the female version is almost always inferior to male version. A master is skillful or in charge, a mistress is an illicit sex partner, A lord manages, A lady has perfect manners, Sir is a term of respect while madams run brothels.”

My friend Drew Gray, pointed out that when a man is compared to a woman it is generally seen as a bad thing “you throw like a girl” but when a woman is compared to a man it tends to be good i.e. “she maned up”. 

So what has thousands of years of this type of thinking produced?

Jimmy Carter, our 39th president, has written a new book called A Call To Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power. In the book he argues that the abuse against women is the ““worst and most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on Earth.”

The statistics back it up

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in three women around the world is subject to sexual violence at some point in her life. In many parts of the world, women still aren’t receiving adequate health care and education. Every year, about 14 million girls under the age of 18 are given away as child brides, and an additional 4 million women and girls are bought and sold into slavery. And according to the United Nations, at least 125 million girls in Africa and the Middle East have undergone female genital mutilation.

What does this have to do with calling God He, Him, Father?

In his book, Carter argues that faith leaders have indirectly contributed to the ongoing violence against women by furthering a society that allows inequality to flourish.

“Religious leaders say women are inferior in the eyes of God, which is a false interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. When [people] see the Pope, the Southern Baptist Convention, and others say that women can’t serve as priests equally with men, they say well, I’ll treat my wife the way I want to because she’s inferior to me,”

Speaking of God so casually and frequently as he and Father, implies the belief that God is male and that males more closely resemble God.

Mary Daly, famously said, “If God is male, then the male is God.”

Now I understand the awkwardness you feel in calling God she, her, mother, etc…Riding a bike is awkward at first also but you get use to it over time. The issue here is two-fold. All language is only a glimpse, an approximation about God so it’s not as if when we say He, Him, Father that fully captures who God is anyway but the deeper issue and why we should consider other language is that women, historically and currently are abused, violated and killed. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me is the most ignorant cliché. It’s simply not true. How many of you have been hurt by someone’s elses words? Reducing God to the stereotype of He, Him, Father not only leads to a misunderstanding of God but has led and continues to lead to the idea that somehow women are less than. When anyone is viewed as less than they are persecuted. How can women be created in the image of God if God only resembles men? We are all created in the image of God and we all deserve to have that image resembled in our language about God.

Now the argument usually goes to well the Bible doesn’t talk about God as a woman…that’s simply not true. I believe this is just stubbornness on behalf of the initial awkwardness of calling God she.

http://www.womensordination.org/resources/female-images-of-god-in-the-bible/

 Genesis 1:27 Women and Men created in God’s image “Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them.”

Hosea 11:3-4 God described as a mother God: “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.”

Hosea 13:8 God described as a mother bear “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…”

Deuteronomy 32:11-12 God described as a mother eagle “Like the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.”

Deuteronomy 32:18 God who gives birth “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”

Isaiah 66:13 God as a comforting mother God: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

Isaiah 49:15 God compared to a nursing mother God: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.

Isaiah 42:14 God as a woman in labor God: “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.”

Jeremiah 44:25 Queen of Heaven “Thus says…the God of Israel: You and your wives have accomplished in deeds what you declared in words, ‘We are determined to …make offerings to the queen of heaven and to pour out libations to her.’ By all means, keep your vows and make your libations!”

Psalm 131:2 God as a Mother “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.”

Psalm 123:2-3 God compared to a woman “As the eyes of a servant looks to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to you, YHWH, until you show us your mercy!”

Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 God as a Mother Hen Jesus: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Luke 15:8-10 God as woman looking for her lost coin Jesus: “Or what woman having ten silver coins, is she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Beyond that, words in scripture to describe God provide us with a female image of God.

The greek term for Wisdom, is Sophia. In proverbs 8, Wisdom or Sophia is the source of life “whoever finds me, finds life.” Matthew 19 says, The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

The hebrew term ruah which means Spirit is a feminine noun.

Now some would argue, but Jesus calls God “Father” so doesn’t that imply that God though having feminine attributes is personified as a man.

Jesus also calls God Spirit.

One scholar I read believes Jesus refers to God as Father and not Mother cause Jesus had a mother.

The reason to start using “inclusive language” is not to remove male pronouns from talking about God. It’s to start to include language that is being left out so not to stereotype God. This widely held but fixed and oversimplified view of God reduces God and has in someway contributed to reducing women “whom God created in Her image” in ways that lead to harming God.

Lynn Japinga writes, The most effective metaphors usually startle, shock, or surprise. When the Hebrew Scriptures occasionally referred to God as a father, or when Jesus prayed to God the Father, that was a fresh, surprising, even radical metaphor of God. Religious people usually thought of God as a distant being in the heavens. The biblical use of father imagery suggests a God who relates intimately with human beings, who is not isolated in heaven but is connected with people as closely as a father to his children.

This also opens up the opportunity for people who don’t have a positive experience of their father or mother on earth to know a loving, caring, compassionate father or mother.

The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12, “But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

Will referring to God as She really stop global and systematic oppression of women?

That’s a difficult question because there has really never been a time where a majority of the world saw God beyond a stereotype. I think that you can see connections to our stereotype of God and women’s abuse. That’s good enough for me!

This is how we should see all stereotypes.

It diminishes the complexity and beauty of one another and reduces us to a label. And as we all know those labels have power. They can cause real significant damage. If we are not to reduce one another to stereotypes, how much more are we not to reduce God to stereotypes.

A Year’s Worth of Bible Studies

Well…

Almost a year’s worth of bible studies.

I’ve served as director of youth and young adult ministry at Emmanuel UMC for over a year now. One aspect of my position is the chance to lead our Tuesday night young adult bible study. I’m certainly not the only one who lead the bible studies (Josh Weiss, Steve Stone Jr, Jayna Leitze, Jessie Teegarden, Drew Thomas, Carly Fields, Wayne Hamm…and more that I can’t remember) have also lead our group.

I know how difficult it is to come up with “original material” so I wanted to share the notes from our bible studies over the past year. Those who lead bible studies find this as a good starting point and for those who just want to read some bible studies will enjoy the ideas.

These bible studies are from March 2013-January 2014. A majority of these were written and facilitated by me but they aren’t all my thoughts/ideas.

One of our focuses last year was to focus on the “minor” characters of the Bible. A majority of our bible studies are based on their stories. Another main topic was the book A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren. You will also find several stand alone studies.

Characters we covered/studied:

Anna

Jabez

Bezalel

Oholiab

Woman caught in adultery

Ehud

Jonathan

Father of boy possessed by impure spirit

Eutychus

Nicodemus

Dinah

Abigail

Onesimus

Rhoda

Abishag

Topics explored:

Humility

Focus

Prayer Expectations

Gifts

Sin

Violence

Friendship

Faith

Questions

Vengeance

Justice

Source of prayer

Peacemaker

Fear

Seeing differently

Incentive

Hesitation

Being used

Temptations

Selfishness

Bible

God

Jesus

Violence

Sexuality

End Times

Different Religions

Our young adults gather every Tuesday night for Bible Study. If you would like to join us contact me at (nwheeler@emmanuelmemphis.org). If you don’t live in Memphis you can still join us online. We broadcast our bible study every week starting at 8:15 CST on Google Hangouts. You can also watch live on YouTube. If you can’t join us on Tuesdays you can subscribe to our bible study podcast on Stitcher or iTunes just search for EUMC Young Adult Bible Study.

Click on link below to check out a year’s worth of bible studies.

EUMC YOUNG ADULT BIBLE STUDIES

The Holey Bible: Atheism For Lent Part 3

 

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*I hesitate to say this but atheism for lent is my Lenten practice. I’m embodying an atheist point of view in these posts…in other words I’m not articulating my viewpoint. I’m articulating viewpoints contrary to my own. But these thoughts are not regurgitated for semantic sake. These are my own words and I’m finding through this process that lots of these points are challenging to my viewpoints. Anyway, on to my third post in this series.

Atheism For Lent blog posts

Introduction 

Prayer, a beautiful mistake

Churches, Judgment Houses For Judgmental People

The Bible is holey. Don’t believe me?

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 11.57.11 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-28 at 11.57.55 PM

The editor of this book should be fired! It’s full of holes. It’s ripe with contradictions and full of inexcusable violence, misogyny, homophobia, cruelty and hate. All of this is divinely inspired which means a majority of these stories are said to be inspired by some loving, merciful, forgiving god. YIKES!

The argument is that His (of course god is a man) ways are higher than our ways so the Grand He in the sky is justified in His actions. REALLY? Is that the argument for real?

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

According to the HOLEY BIBLE god is love. Whoever does not love does not know God. Love is kind, doesn’t insist on its own way, it is not irritable…

If you are someone who reads the bible at face value. If you picked it up and read it cover to cover. Would you think god is love? By the time you reach those passages above you would be dumbfounded by god is love.

It seems more plausible to say the god in the bible must not know God cause the god scripture describes does not love according to 1 Corinthians 13. The god of the bible is super jealous, demands allegiance, is nowhere near kind and gets upset…a lot.

If the bible is really “a love letter“, it is the worst love letter ever composed. It’s not holy, it is holey.

Churches, Judgment Houses for Judgmental people: Atheism For Lent Part 2

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Atheism For Lent blog posts

Introduction 

Prayer, a beautiful mistake

I’ve heard that the church is not a building but the people. So, I must first make some comments about the people who make up the church. From my vantage point there are several types of people who make up the church. There are the people to whom church is a lifestyle. Going to a building every Sunday morning, sitting in pews listening to music, prayers and sermons and putting money in a basket is a way of life. But it’s deeper than that. It’s Christianized culture. It’s “Christian” shirts, jackets, shoes, necklaces, bracelets and rings. It’s “Christian” music, books, movies and television shows. It’s a lifestyle just like being an avid outdoorsmen, it comes with its own wardrobe, music, vocabulary, it’s a lifestyle. The next are the people to whom church is a hobby. They hike, fish, paint, cook, scrapbook, garden, play softball and go to church. It’s not their lifestyle but just one thing in a whole mess of things they do on a weekly basis. Lastly, there are the people to whom church is a place they visit. It’s like touring state parks or Disneyland, they enjoy being their but they don’t go very often. These are the people who make up the church; The life-stylizers, the hobbyists and the visitors.

Each can’t stand the other because of their perceived lack of commitment to God. Life-stylizers judge the hobbyists and visitors for not making the church a bigger deal. The hobbyist’s can’t stand the visitors because they aren’t as invested in attending. The visitors and hobbyists can’t stand the life-stylizers because they are so condemning. If the church is the people, then the church is a condescending, judgmental, black hole.

If you were planning to go out to eat would you pick a restaurant where you knew for a fact they lied about what was on the menu? Would you go to a library that was filled with covers but not pages? Do you like used car dealerships full of lemons? Churches, are judgment houses filled with judgmental people. Most of them lie and tell people that the church will make you whole and fill you with love but most spit out hate and fill you with hatred towards people who aren’t like you. They lie and tell you God will provide, protect, heal you but you gather in those same places to say goodbye to people whom God did not provide, protect or heal. The preachers preach messages of hate and lies. They tell you God’s going to make you rich with blessings or God is going to do this or that knowing full well they don’t know what is going to happen to you. The music is mostly Pollyanna, Jesus is my boyfriend or about some violent death that we are to celebrate. It’s places of segregation and misogyny. Churches are filled with millions of people gathering to remind themselves that their hate of another person is justified because God hates them as well. Churches are filled with millions of people gathering together to pretend that their life is grand and practice make-believe. It’s a lifestyle of judgment, a hobby of hate, a place visited to reinforce your prejudices.

Prayer, a beautiful mistake: Atheism For Lent Part 1

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As I explained in a previous blog post, I’m practicing Atheism For Lent. The online course doesn’t begin until next Thursday but Lent started Wednesday so in the spirit of practicing this on a deeper level I’m going to blog once a week as an atheist. I realize that this might be futile and probably insulting to atheists as well as insulting to people of faith. Let me apologize at the start and say I have no idea what I’m talking about but this is my blog and it’s my Lenten practice so read with caution.

Prayer.

It’s silly.

The definition of prayer is “an earnest request or wish.” Billions of people spend their days with head bowed and eyes closed requesting, petitioning, wishing god to heal, forgive, give, lead them and others. It’s a beautiful mistake. Don’t get me wrong, I admire people who are thinking of helping a friend or themselves but its placebo. It’s the same gesture as wishing someone good luck.

It’s an empty gesture. Our world is not controlled or limited by god because there is no such thing. We have each other, nothing less and certainly nothing more. It is up to us to realize our potential. It is on us to heal others. It is in our power to forgive someone not god.

To play devil’s advocate for a minute, let’s assume there is a God. Why doesn’t God act when people pray? Sure, lots of people say God does act when they pray. Some even say the cancer in their bones or a tragic death of a loved one is of God’s doing and then go to that same God to pray for healing. If that is true, then God is a monster. God is a bully. God is not worth our prayers. God might be worth our hatred but certainly not our earnest requests or wishes.

If there is a God, God heard the cries of innocent children begging for food. God has heard the petitions of millions of people who are in the throes of real life hells of addiction and abuse. God heard the cries of slaves. God heard the cries of millions of jews being slaughtered. God heard and God did nothing.

Beyond these examples, if God is unchanging as classically explained, then God will do whatever the hell God wants. God’s not going to do something because people prayed. God is unchanging. If it is in God’s desire to change a situation then God will do so without our prayers. God doesn’t listen to what we want, God does what God wants.

Finally, many people choose to do nothing because they are waiting to hear back from God. They destroy relationships, miss out on promotions, some people lose their life because they are waiting for God to tell them what to do. We have everything we need in our grasp to live good and fruitful lives without God. We have all the resources in the world, all the intelligence, all the skills to change our world without God. Quit leaving it up to a God, who even if God was real, wouldn’t help us anyway.

Seriously, stop praying. Live your life. Live it free of the burden of god.

You Can’t Eat A Dollar Bill

From the great site Upworthy

This trailer really got to me.

A few years ago I went to Lipscomb University to watch a old-time radio show called Tokens. If you live near or around Nashville you should go check out Tokens. Anyway, the time I went the whole show was on being “green.” It’s one of those subjects that was seldom discussed in church or in my social circles. I mean people recycled but it wasn’t something me and the people I was around daily spent a lot of time worrying much about.

At the Tokens show this guy named Nate Hale got up and sang this song called “Infinte Energy” that was based on him reading the words of Wendell Berry. I remember vividly the song and specifically the lyrics jarring me. This is the performance from that night.

“Money isn’t worth a thing cause you can’t eat a dollar bill.

I buy and I use and I throw away. And then it’s all sold back to me. I chase this paper economy. I live a life with broken ends.

I have to bend them back around again And mend this broken circle I’m in.”

Not to long ago I sent Nate Hale a message to tell him how much this song impacted me and he was even gracious enough to send me the chords to the song so I can play it myself. For years this song has stuck with me, challenged and convicted me and today, watching the trailer for Trashed it hit me once again.

God’s beautiful planet is being trashed and I’m a part of the problem. Not only that but people in other countries make their home in my trash! It’s beyond sad and I hate knowing I live in a manner that causes it.

The website for Trashed has useful tips to start reversing the trend. I’m making some of these small things one of my Lenten practices this year that I hope will become habit forming soon.

Here’s to living a life of broken ends and trying to mend this broken circle I’m in.

Atheism for Lent

Recently (Jan 2014) I wrote an article that was published in The Cumberland Presbyterian Magazine. I know you all read it so I won’t bore you with the details but for the few (all) of you who didn’t read it let me give a quick summary.

A few years ago I was given the task of writing something for young adult ministry. Specifically, it was to be something that could be used by congregations to build their own young adult ministry. I wrote about building your own faith. Well, that never really materialized into anything more than just an article but for the last few years I’ve experienced the weight of my own words. In short, I think beliefs are not a solid foundation for the Christian faith.

I’ve spent years in school delving into theological concepts and I continue that endeavor today. It’s not that I don’t think beliefs matter, they just aren’t the foundation.

With that in mind I’ve decided to practice what I preach so to speak this lent. Peter Rollins a few years ago introduced what he calls “de-centering practices”. One of these is called “Atheism for Lent”. He wrote in a recent blog post,

…the auto-deconstructive approach to theology is one that opens up a fundamentally different way of understanding faith, an understanding that is rooted in a form of life rather than the affirmation of some particular belief.

This speaks true in my life. I think the foundation or the root of the Christian faith is not some belief but a form or way of life found in the words and actions of Jesus.

So, I thought that nothing would help me continue my thinking, (dare I say… belief) that belief is not foundational than exploring atheism.

For lent, I’m “giving up” Christianity using the de-centering practice Atheism for Lent.

Check out this link if you want to join me!

High Gravity Course: Atheism for Lent

 

Coming out of the closet mania

Is Aaron Rodgers gay? Read this story on Yahoo and Huffington Post that Aaron Rodgers addressed rumors that he was gay. He said he’s not gay.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers

Before I proceed, I would just like to mention that I am totally naïve to this subject matter. I am not gay and so I have no clue what it’s like to be gay so I say all of this with an open mind…

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

I don’t get why this is a story? I guess I understand that there aren’t really many openly gay athletes but why are rumor sites and sites like Yahoo and Huffington Post reporting on it?

Why is it everyday I see some story about whether or not someone is “in the closet”?

Is this really what we care about? Do we really care if someone is gay or is it just middle school played out over the internet and airwaves?

It just seems like madness! Why are we so interested in who is and who isn’t in the closet?

Once upon a time, a friend of mine came out as gay to me over a phone conversation. We rarely talked so when he called out of the blue late one night I answered. It took me a minute but them I recognized the voice. He sounded strange but I wasn’t sure if he was sick, nervous or drunk. Anyway, we talked for a few minutes and then he said, “Nathan, I want to tell you something.”

Now, this could have been anything. This friend had really gone through some hard times so I wouldn’t be surprised at anything he said. He took a second to tell me he really looked up to me and valued my opinion and then he said “I’m gay.”

It took me a second to register what he just told me, not because I suspected him being gay or because that’s a thing that bothers me, it took me a second to realize that he thought he needed to tell me. He went on to ask me lots of questions about my thoughts on him being gay and what that meant for his relationship with God. I’m not going to go into all that right now but I do want to tell you how I felt afterwards.

I felt drained. I felt terrible that my friend was so worried of what my reaction might have been. I felt sad that he had lived his life with the thought that I would reject him. To me, it really made no difference that he was gay. Is that being aloof or shortsighted? Is that being progressive? I’m not sure but to this day, I can truly say it made no difference to me if he was gay.

What mattered to me is that my friend was hurting and some of that was caused by what I might think and what God might think of him.

I’m tired of reading who might be gay or who came out of some damn closet. What matters to me is the lives that being hurt over our need to know something that isn’t our business at all.

My friend didn’t need to talk to me, he didn’t owe it me. Why do we feel so entitled that we seek out to know if our favorite athlete or celebrity is gay?

I’m sorry Aaron Rodgers felt the need to respond. I’m sorry there are thousands of people whose private lives have become public because some asshole seeks to “out” people that don’t need to be “outed”. Why can’t we just let people be? celebrity

Let’s play Doggie Doo! Or better yet, be the gift.

Watch the video below;

WHAT IS THAT!?!? THIS IS A REAL GAME!?!? THAT PEOPLE BUY?!?!

I saw this commercial last night and I had to rewind it to make share that I saw what I just saw. A game where the premise is to feed the dog to watch it poo. The first person to collect three dog poops wins!

FOR REAL? SERIOUSLY?

Did you notice the parent/adult in the commercial. She is the most excited! She claps when the dog poops.

I can’t believe that some kid in a few weeks on Christmas morning will receive this as a gift.

Then again, it’s pretty awesome!

Forget monopoly, phase 10, candy land…give me Doggie Doo!

Goliath Games is the creator of Doggie Doo but they have so many other great games!

They make a game called Gooey Louie.

Or what about Pop the Pig!

Here it is everyone…

I’ve found the reason for the season. Most people will watch these commercials and be disgusted. Ask questions of our moral compass and where is our society headed when fun games for children about dog poop and boogers.

But I’m not disgusted with these commercials. I’m more disgusted with the “games” or “toys” advertised to adults.

Like this…

This is way worse than any doggie doo or gooey louie game. This is “the pursuit of perfection.” NO IT’S NOT! IT’S A SUPER EXPENSIVE CAR.

Oh yeah, he’s a real man cause he bought some stupid watch.

This is what turns my stomach during this time of year. We consume christmas with a bunch of stuff. The last thing all of us need is more stuff. Buying that car is not the pursuit of perfection and buying a woman some fancy watch doesn’t make you a man.

I have no problem if you choose to buy stuff but If it’s the object that brings you the most joy and not the person, then you are doing it wrong!

Be the gift to someone this Christmas. Be the silly, childish game and have a good time. Be the loving, generous gift that someone receives this year. Don’t just buy some object and make it the gift. Be the gift.