Evil Spiritsâ„¢ Shirts

So apparently the wallpaper I made for this post has gone over really big with the few readers I have. They want shirts. If you are interested, please let me know by commenting on this post. I am looking for, and might have found, a place that will print them like cafepress but less retarded. We’ll see.

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Beelzebub Has a Devil Put Aside for Me

Ok, so everything on this site can’t be serious and stale. If we don’t have a sense of humor about the absurdity inherent in the state of affairs we find ourselves in we’ll only get mad and throw things. In that light I wish to share with you a story from my recent life and my thoughts concerning it.

The other day my friend Emily told me something that made me do a double take. You see, she moved back home over winter break to her parents house in Iowa. Now her parents aren’t exactly what you would call extremely rational people. They are more like you would call extreme religious weirdoes with nothing better to do with their time than provide me with a constant source of sad but very funny anecdotes of faith gone awry. Emily recently decided she didn’t want to attend her family’s place of worship anymore and decided that she would adapt a more moderate stance to religion in hopes of finding truth amidst the absurdity that is the protestant church. To add to this, while she had been away at college she had been turned onto some Stephen King books, which I suppose she should be commended on getting through, and rap music, of which I have little opinion.

Now her parents being the weirdoes they are did not like her bringing such things home with her and made no bones about it. Telling her not to play it around her younger siblings, leaving these tainted items laying about so their impressionable young minds wouldn’t be diseased by the horrendous content they possessed. Now she followed these rules over break and came back annoyed that at every chance they had had, her parents tried to convince her she was in trouble of leaving the faith of Christianity and that she was not living a Godly lifestyle. This was cause for some chuckles because Emily attends the local Nazarene church like clockwork and loves being around the members there. By all accounts you could probably say she’s more religious and Godly than I am, not that it takes much effort to do so.

However, a couple of days ago she was talking to a friend of her younger sisters who had been there the day after Emily had moved back into her house for break and the day Emily was out perusing the old stomping grounds. The friend revealed that not was all as it seemed. It turns out that that day, while Emily was gone and without her knowledge or consent, her mother invited a group of women from her church over to her house to do some…rituals. It seems that they went up to her room, and proceeded to go through her belongings, one at a time, anointing them with oil, and praying other them in hopes that “the evil spirits will depart from them.”

Now you and I chuckle, but Emily was not happy at all. Her room had been gone through not only by her mother, but by total strangers in hopes of casting the devil out of her Stephen King novels and whatever else they might have happened to find. All in the name of the Godly way of life and all. Of course, while humorous and shocking as it is, its not something i was entirely suppressed about. Her parents have treated me, in the times have had the misfortune of being in their presence, like I’m the leader of a secret movement to destroy all things church. Emily was forbidden to visit my house recently, didn’t stop her, because of the same “evil spirits” that apparently inhabit my house and make it a den of suffering and despair for all who enter. Though with my brother in the house who knows, right?

At any rate, the crap really hit the fan when Emily decided to show them this site. To wit I am told they found it appalling, disrespectful, full of “earthly logic” and “arguments” (more on that in a later issue) that they just wouldn’t lower themselves to commenting on, and bordering on heretical. I guess i get the fundamentalist seal of approval then. They really liked the article on speaking in tongues, describing it as “a mockery of the holy spirit” and “a source for divine retribution.” So now I’m even more infested with evil spirits and the like.

The point of the story, besides the obvious humor, is the sad fact that they, unlike me, are not prone to making light of anything relating to God. And so it follows that they really believe the stuff they are spewing from their mouths in an attempt to “glorify god.” If anything they are glorifying their piety and their own acts. Is this what most christians today are like? Because whether or not they really are all like this, this is how they are perceived by the populous who are non-christian, you know them better as, those people we have to save, precisely because of people like this. The image they project of how Christians really are is that of irrational people who condemn everything they disagree with as “of the devil” and proceed to make fools of themselves, and the rest of us too while they are at it, trying to rid the world of whatever it is.

People, including Christians, have the right to decide for themselves where they are going to be spiritually. If someone wants to be so spiritual they rid themselves entirely of worldly things, so be it. If they want to wallow in sin, we can help and suggest, but we cant force. If we force, like in this case of the anointing, we not only invade the other person’s space and life, we drive them away. Emily is still hopping mad at her parents as far as i know. Driving away your own child is sad enough, but a child is still bound by blood to their family, a run of the mill “sinner” is not. They will easily take this kind of behavior as representative of all Christians and you will have lost a soul because they didn’t want to hear how evil their life is and how they aren’t as good as someone else. The moral of this story is, don’t be a fundamentalist, be a Christian. Be like christ, live among the sinners and understand why they sin and talk to them about it. Ask them why, if they don’t want to talk about it, that should be the end of it. Let them come to you and let them know you are there for them to come to if need be. Be an example, not a rubber stamp.

So thats it for my little story of absurdity. As an aside i should point out that if her mom can sense evil spirits so well, it must mean she’s a medium and therefor a sin in and of herself. (Take that one) And for those of us who think this behavior is retarded. I have a wallpaper just for you. Tell them you aren’t going to take their abuse by admitting to their accusations! Warning: Infested by genuine Evil Spiritsâ„¢.

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The Tamper-Proof Gospel?

A growing trend in the United States and elsewhere in the world’s churches is to try and bring more and more people into the Christian faith by translating the gospel for modern cultures. While good intentioned, the infusion of culture into the gospel is a very dangerous and detrimental practice that will possibly cripple the real message of the gospels.

Even though it is a trend now, the translation of gospel for culture is nothing new, at least among protestant faiths. This practice was instrumental in the second revival that took place in America during the early 1800s. Many church goers and ministers decided that the dull, intellectual sermons that were being given at the time were not effective on the less educated and therefore split off o form their own churches that catered to the common man. This practice of catering to the common man is deeply rooted in the American democratic tradition. The ideals that individuals had the right to choose their brand of religion and that religion must ‘campaign’ to attract new members stems from these ideals.

However, in this new current trend, it is not simply the methods of sermon giving, nor the makeup of the worship sessions that is being altered to appeal to common masses. This time, they are tampering with the gospel itself. Proponents of the idea say that in order to attract more people to the Christian faith they need to make their message less dry and boring. They say that the gospel, as traditionally told, has violence in the crucifixion, enigmas in the letters of Paul, and riddles in the parables. In short, they wish to retell the gospel in a way that is more cheerful and is much simpler so that any average person may understand it.

As good intentioned as this idea is, it is an attack on the core of Christian dogma. Changing anything within the gospel itself, even to make it more understandable to the common man, is something that must be avoided at all costs. The reasons for this are simple. First, there must always be a solid foundation to any religion. The gospel is something that all Christians believe in. It is the very heart of all protestant, catholic, and orthodox traditions. It is looked to when disputes and divisions in the church that take place along the lines of absolute dogma arise. Should it be altered to make it easier to understand, it will no doubt be altered by many different people with many different thoughts on how to interpret it for this culture. This has already happened, with many new “dumbed down” “street” translations of the bible appearing in bookstores. The multitude of translations diffuses the core of Christian belief and thereby removes the commonality between denominations. Second, appealing to culture is futile to begin with. Culture is always changing. New trends and fads rise and fall every year. Religion trying to bend to these tides is an exercise in futility. Religion by definition is supposed to be a constant rock for people to cling to in times of change. If religion simply changes with the times it would loose its purpose. Finally, the move to make religion accessible to the masses by “dumbing down” the gospel results in a generation of church members who are unable and perhaps even unwilling to investigate the meanings and he deeper aspects of what is written in the gospel. When handing a member a gospel that has everything spelled out for him, does this really help his understanding of religion? Does handing a literary analysis student a Cliff’s Notes book help him understand the meaning of the literature? It is the pastor’s job to help a member understand the meanings of passages in the gospel, not the job of bible translators.

This growing trend of culture infusing into the gospel is something that looks good on the outside, but will have long reaching effects if allowed to continue that are harmful to the cause of bringing new, true believers into the fold. The practice of appealing to masses is not new and nor should it particularly be seen as bad, but tampering with the gospel has always been and probably always will be he ultimate in Christian taboo.

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purdue_P.jpgSo I haven’t been all that diligent about keeping this site updated have i? i guess that goes with the territory of being a senior in college. don’t have much time to do anything really. But since my last posting I’ve had a l lot of time to think and such about my views on religion and of related matters. perhaps the time I’ve allowed it to filter through that half witted box of mine i call a head will at least allow it to ooze out looking something like a thought. Anyway, Ill try to get this thing back on a regular schedule ( not like it ever had one to begin with).

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Open, Closed, or Slightly Ajar?

What is it about skeptics and their unrelenting urge to call me close minded? They say I’m not open minded enough. They say I’m too fixed on one position and unwilling to listen to their arguments. However, I believe it is they who are close minded. And I’ll prove it too.

What is open minded anyway? Let us consult a dictionary shall we? Dictionary.com says open mindedness is:

o·pen-mind·ed (pn-mndd)

Having or showing receptiveness to new and different ideas or the opinions of others.

So, what does this mean? From the looks of it, it means being ready and able to take other people’s opinions and views on issues, considering them thoroughly and then either accepting or rejecting it based on evidence previously collected. I sure don’t see anything about believing the other person’s view, or stopping the belief in my own views.

In my book, being open minded is about listening to the other person or group. Its about debate and logic. And ultimately its about rejection or acceptance. Beyond that, its about respecting the other person’s view and the choice that they made to accept that view and the expectation that they will show you the same consideration.

What about close mindedness? What is that? Going back to good ol’ Dictionary.com, we see that close minded means:

close-mind·ed (klsmndd, klz-) or closed-mind·ed (klzd-)

Intolerant of the beliefs and opinions of others; stubbornly unreceptive to new ideas.

So what does this mean? Looks like, the moment you hear someone’s opinion and it doesn’t agree with yours, and you haven’t considered that view thoroughly before, and you reject it outright or you use ad homonym attacks rather than logic to debate the view, that is close mindedness.

Now, lets look at what I do. Say I go into a chat room and there are wiccans or democrats, or whatever, talking. My self, I would listen to their views and try to understand why it is they believe what they believe. Not only does that increase my knowledge, but it helps me understand their view and how, if necessary, to debate them on topics. I would ask a lot of questions, some to get answers, and some to make them question their own views so we both can understand the basis for their stance. I have gotten a lot of respect for my approach from various people who will go unnamed. And I in turn learn to respect their opinion, and if well presented and debates are well argued, we learn to agree to disagree and build mutual respect for each other’s views.

There is one group of people who I run into problems with. That would be the group of “open minded” individuals called liberals, or anti-religious, or anti-conservative, or anti-morals, you get the picture. When I try to ask questions to them, I’m called stupid or an idiot. If I try and bring up a point, they shoot it down with nothing more than an argument similar to “thats a retarded stance” or “you’re just a puppet for the religious right.” If I try and debate them, they use old, worn out arguments that have substantial evidence to the contrary. If you show them the evidence they claim its fabricated or untrustworthy. If you challenge their argument you’re a moron. In other words, if you dont believe them, then you have no standing.

So my question is, who is open minded? I’ve been called everything by these people. Holy roller, jesus freak, homophobe, neo-con, nazi, idiot, jew (so much for that diversity stuff they believe in), arrogant, freak, etc, etc, etc. In contrast, unless they start in on the ad homonym attacks, I dont believe I have ever personally attacked a debate partner before. I may be wrong, but if I have, I can’t remember it. (cept where Ger is concerned) But it is I who am the close minded one. Why? Because, I have considered their arguments before and have concluded that their arguments are not substantial enough to warrant accepting. If I only saw things their way, I would be open minded again.

Maybe its time for them to consider MY arguments thoroughly. Maybe its time they considered the idea that THEY may be wrong once and again. I have, believe me. I have challenged more stuff about God and the bible than most of them every have, in any real sense anyway (you know, the kind of challenges that require real thought and not blatant “i hate religion so it must be wrong”) And yet now that I have decided on what is truth, I am close minded because, even though I’m willing to listen and consider, I’m not always willing to take them at their word.

Come on guys. You’re not open minded. You’ve locked yourselves away in a vault and refuse to even peek out. How about we just say its time for you just be a tad bit ajar-minded?

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