Monday, October 31, 2011

Constantine's Sword or A Humble Hand Up?

Lord Acton is often remembered for his observation that power tends to corrupt. He was speaking of men, but I feel his point is just as true of institutions. I have thought to myself several times of late that while desiring Christian Leaders can be reasonable and even admirable, desiring a Christian State is a dangerous desire. I have on reflection decided to cast my net even more broadly, and point out that the morals of a faith seldom survive being empowered by the state. It is easy for us to forget that even acting in the name of the Lord we are still flawed men, and subject to making flawed creations.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What Would Jesus Do? Reign in Glory.

“What Would Jesus Do?” Often reduced to WWJD, it is a common refrain seen on all kinds of slick consumer facing Christian themed products from bracelets to book covers. Sadly, I think that while it has good roots and a good idea; the question is the wrong one, and the way its application has evolved in the last few decades lead many of us into error. I propose that the better question is “What Would Jesus Counsel Me to Do?” even though it doesn’t make as compact an acronym for marketing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When East Belittles West

In general, I often enjoy reading the spiritual writings of members of Eastern Orthodox (That is, Orthodox Catholic Church) congregations. I often find their views on theological issues engaging and their perspectives on the history and condition of the Western branches of Christianity informative. From time to time, I do run into ideas that trouble me, or that I find myself strongly disagreeing with. It is one such idea I want to take just a few moments today to speak about; the relationship of God and Creation.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Better Christianity through Chemistry

I am a follower of Christ. I have been baptized to become a Christian. I have a community of fellow believers I openly discuss religion with. I am presently in the process of joining a congregation. I regularly attend 2-3 services a week at two separate churches. Both of these churches belong to the same denomination. I find myself pondering on all of this, and wondering what these facts mean to my identity as a servant of Christ. As is often my wont, I am now going to take a sharp turn into a more scientific field, in this case chemistry, and then return to this question.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

(Non) Denominational Identity.

This is just a brief post, a thought I have had while working on another idea. I wonder if somehow the very word denomination has picked up a negative meaning in modern American culture. I’ve been looking at some small churches lately, and have noticed an odd grey area in which a sizeable number of non-denominational churches have more locations and members than some denominations claim in total.

Friday, October 14, 2011


This is an essay about symbolism, poetry, truth, and most of all a triangle. It rambles a bit and wanders more than many of my posts. We’re going to have to take a bit of a detour through mathematics, and consider a common equation as we make this journey. Sometimes, we forget some very basic things which are very important, and other times we try to insist on the importance of very unimportant things. There won’t be a test later, but you may want to pay attention nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

God Doesn’t Hate Steve Jobs, and He Doesn’t Hate Fred Phelps Either.

I’ve read several reports and asides about the announcement that Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist crew intend to protest Steve Jobs funeral. Sadly, the fact that I have read several reports on this subject demonstrates my own, and our collective, failure to treat this issue as we should. This is a collision in which the call to love our neighbor collides with our duty to denounce false preachers. However, the two ends can both be achieved if we can take a deep breath and not allow the worst among us to select our actions.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Knowing Christ and Knowing Love

A farmer plants an olive tree and tends it with love and careful attention. As it grows, it spreads branches, and in turn these branches grow yet more. Despite his efforts and attentions, one of the large branches of the tree is barren, and bears no fruit. The farmer expresses no surprise that the branches extending from this limb are likewise barren, and he does not expect that any child limb of this growth would suddenly yield fruit. Yet, if the farmer sees that a limb is going bad, he has the ability to cut limbs from the tree and graft them back onto the tree on a healthier branch, and would then not be shocked when it brought forth fruits.

I have been continuing my musings begun in this prior post, bolstered by C.S. Lewis (Specifically The Great Divorce) and several happenstance conversations about God with people I know (or just happen to have run into) who live at very different places in their faith. I have been honing in on two things which I hold to be true, and trying to find the understanding which will help them to snap together in harmony in my mind. These two facts are that 1) It is not my place, or the place of any Christian, to judge if someone is learning about God in a way that is needful to them even if they have not embraced the Christian label. 2) Moral relativity is a seductive trap, and there are choices we make which lead us to evil ends, not all paths lead to God. Let me explore these ideas in more depth.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Do You Have Faith in Violence?

I have a bone to pick with Richard Dawkins. Actually, I have quite a few, but let’s try and restrict ourselves to one for the sake of focus and at least the ghost of brevity. In general, I have a rather open attitude towards other faiths, including a lack of faith. I’m not ashamed to show you mine, and I won’t be upset if you display yours in turn. I may pray for you to come to know God and our Savior, and I accept that you may pray for me to see God as you know him, or simply harbor hopes that I’ll get over my God delusion and join you in a post-religious view. All of that is fine, if I denounce your ability to declare your understanding of God/gods/no gods, or stop you from asking others to consider your beliefs or lack thereof; I’m supporting de facto limits on religion. As a devout Christian, I honestly feel that the freedom to not be a Christian is a vital part of real faith. If you can’t choose to know Christ or to turn away, you will never have the fullest, richest chance to build and rebuild yourself in his light, developing a personal relationship.

But Richard Dawkins is not happy with this arrangement. He feels a need to kick sand in my face and show me tough love. He wants to tear away what he sees as the security blankets of the feeble world and make us grow up to be real men (not an actual quote). He has decided that having any religion is an unacceptable danger to himself and to the world at large, and that right thinking atheists need to stop molly-coddling the faithful and get in our faces and see us stamp out belief in any kind of divinity.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Request for Prayer and Praise for Convictions.

I tend to focus on the immaterial here, this is a journal of my own spiritual journey, but this news compelled me to add my voice to the choir calling for mercy and a more perfect justice.

Link to CNN Story

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is a 34 year old Christian from Iran. Contrary to the CNN report above, most reports say that he was born to Muslim parents, but he never practiced the faith. He returned to Iran ten years ago to lead a network of Church Houses under the regime which makes it very difficult for Christians to erect churches. He has been arrested before for speaking out for religious freedoms, teaching heresy (religious teachings at odds with the Supreme Leader in Iran), and advocating for the right to teach children about non-Islamic faiths in their education.