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Sense which pleases the Lord April 1, 2012

Posted by shaunphilly in Skepticism and atheism.
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Yesterday, Ginny and I spent a fair amount of time editing a new post for today.  We had wanted to make sure that we got the wording just right, trimmed it down enough to not be overwhelming (I do have a tendency to go on and on…), and were almost done….

What I almost did

So, firefox crashed.  The crash message was there so briefly before the window disappeared that I don’t know the nature of the crash, but crash it did.  “No problem,” I thought.  “WordPress saved most of the work, and it’s fresh in my mind.”  But no.  The work was gone, irretrievable, dead. I had never seen firefox crash in this way before, and that it happened right then was extremely irritating, as if some intelligent force were at work.

I was angry.  Ginny came back into the room and was annoyed too.  I considered re-writing the post, but I was too frustrated, tired, and didn’t have the heart for it.

That was the problem, I didn’t have the heart….

So Ginny came over to me and held me and we grieved together briefly and then, well, something else happened.  This time this new thing happened to both of us, in apparent unison.  A feeling of assurance and understanding washed over both of us and looked at each other in coterminous understanding.

It occurred to both of us that perhaps that strange crash, at that moment, was not mere accident.  Why would it happen then, as we worked on a post together for the first time (sort of like a preamble to our coming wedding vows), rather than any other time? What was the significance?

What if some power, some force, or even some intelligence saw this as the right opportunity to reach out to us.  I have been saying for some time that if a god existed, I’d want to know.  Also, I have said that this god would know how to make itself known to me.  Apparently, god was waiting for the right time.  He surely does work in mysterious ways.

What happened next was too sudden, too intense to record.  Most of it was a blur.  There were tears, prayers, and we had to go out to get what we needed in order to complete the right ritual.  We didn’t have time to call a priest or consult the book, we had to get moving before God smited us.  Of course, finding a goat so late at night would be hard, especially without a car.

We totes have to get one of these...makes great BBQ!

But eventually we found a supermarket that had some goat meat which was open all night, and proceeded to acquire it.  It was not much of a “sacrifice,” but it was all we could do under such short notice.  The meat department were nice enough to supply some goat blood too, as that would be necessary.

We burnt it on an altar to the Lord, as is demanded by Him, and left it for the high priests.

Of course, not having our own altar, we had to go to the local Jewish temple.  But their altar was probably inside, and the door was really hard to get through, so we stopped trying and instead used the front steps and left it there for them.  They will be so happy to know that people are returning to the old ways.

Our offering, before the burnt part

I know, I know…I’m new to this, OK? I have not read Leviticus in so long that I just sort of winged it.  It came from the heart.  That’s all the Host of Hosts demands, right? Later today I will re-read the chapters and do it right, but I thought that the attempt was enough to please the nose of the Lord at the time.

It did smell pretty good.  That YHWH sure loves BBQ.

In any case, we then walked home and prayed loudly in the streets for all to hear and enjoy, sharing our new-found relationship with the true god, the King of Kings, with all who were out sinning in the Babylon which is downtown Philadelphia on a Saturday night.  By this time, the bars were near to closing and we were getting nowhere with the people coming out of the bars drunk on their own dirty sin.  So we just had to try and go in and spread some more good news.

This guy asked for some "help" with these 3. I told him I already had the 3 I needed...

Most people were friendly, but they were not in the mood for helping us find an unblemished male goat for a morning ritual.  Plus, the blood all over us from earlier was apparently off-putting.

If these unforgiven Sodomites and Gomorrah-dwellers would only read Leviticus, they would understand that we hadn’t just slaughtered a room full of children, but in fact had been trying to please the God they were ignoring.

But they were too busy ignoring His Throne in their drunken orgy of Baal or whatever.  Hey, I read the gosh-darned book years ago, it’s not exactly fresh in my memory!If not Baal, it was one of those false idols, like Vishnu or something.  That false god loves drunk people.

So, after getting a few hours of sleep (I slept on the couch, not being married to Ginny yet and all), we woke up for an early church service at the local Baptist church, where we tried to show them all how to properly sacrifice a dove (OK, pigeon.  We were short on time, again).  But they were not interested and asked us to leave.  So we left them to their luke-warmness and proceeded down the street.

These guys followed us all the way back to our house, yelling at us. Sinners!

We were lucky enough to catch the start of a Presbyterian service, and since they were already started we quietly sacrificed the pigeon in the back rows, which seemed to offend a few people.  Perhaps they were upset because we did it at the wrong time? I’m not sure, but I don’t remember where the scripture tells you precisely when to do these things, so perhaps they were yelling at us for no reason except that they preferred to sacrifice birds after the communion.

Apparently, our timing was really bad, because they kicked us out too, a few of them following us down the street.  Something about returning a “collection” plate, whatever that is.

But before trying to catch the noon Mass at the Catholic church, we decided that we should share our good news.  Also, sorry Gina and Wes, but we can no longer take part in your sinning lifestyle.  I guess we can still hang out and stuff, so long as you see the light.  You do have a good back yard for burnt offerings, after all.  However, if you don’t see the truth, we don’t want to be associated with people who will burn for eternity.  And no, it’s not classism, whatever kind of Commie talk that is!

We will also have to take the website down soon, or at least change it to burntofferings.com (if that’s available!).  But right now we have to get to Mass!

They’ll be so glad we brought our own sheep!

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Some quick thoughts on liberal Christianity and polyamory September 28, 2010

Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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Here are some thoughts I just sent to someone I’m corresponding with via email.  The conversation originated from an argument on a polyamory email list about religion and polyamory.  I will not quote any of what anyone else said, as this email group is intended to be private, but I feel comfortable sharing my own thoughts, especially since they are relevant to this blog.

My interlocutor had asked my to clarify a position of mine concerning internal logical consistency and justification when it comes to churches and the acceptance of polyamory.

The issue I was discussing, concerning consistency, has to do with a religious group being consistent to the ideas in the sources of their beliefs.  For Christians, that is the Bible.  The reason is that without that source, they cannot have any basis for knowing (not to mention justifying) the story of Jesus.  If the Bible is not authoritative, then they cannot have any basis for believing that Jesus said anything, resurrected, or even existed in the first place.  There is little to no historical justification for the historical Jesus’ existence outside of scripture, whether canonical or not.

A church that does not accept some of the Bible must admit, in order to be logically respectable, that they must then justify why they accept some of what the scripture says but not all.  And if they say they are just reading it differently, then they need to justify how the institution that is responsible for the very existence of those books to be included in the Bible interpreted them wrongly for so long.  When a group shapes a message and their descendants say that their ancestors got it wrong, my skeptical dander goes up.

A modern church, accepting polyamory, has to justify how they do so while still accepting the Bible which, along with the tradition in which it grew, rejects such ideas and practices.

I’m not expecting a religion to justify itself to my point of view, I’m expecting it to justify itself to it’s own sources, tradition, etc.

I understand that churches promote messages that will bring people in.  It’s called pandering.  The way I see it, liberal churches orient their messages such that they can attract parishioners, so that it can keep pastors employed.  Church growing is a business, in many ways.

The other aspect of this, as I said before, is that the liberal churches have people that really believe they are being truly Christian.  They don’t like the fundamentalist conservative doctrines, but they still are emotionally attached to their relationship with God and like some of the Biblical messages.  So they ignore the rest, explain them away, or claim they are no longer relevant.  AKA cherry-picking

I, personally, respect the consistency of fundamentalists over liberal theology any day of the week (and twice on Sunday–HA!).  While I disagree with both, I at least respect the fundamentalists’ consistency.  In other words, I am more annoyed by liberal and moderate religious people than the conservatives.

I’m glad that churches are willing to accept such things as polyamory and homosexuality, despite what christian tradition and scripture says.  I just think it’s fair to point out that such churches do so despite these things, not because of them.

God lied and so we are all sinners June 18, 2009

Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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eveWhen Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, she had no way of knowing that it was wrong. She could not have known that the snake–or God for that matter!–was good or evil. Therefore, she cannot be blamed and the punishment was unjust. Therefore, there is no need for salvation from God because the Fall was God’s fault, being omniscient thus aware of what would happen.

Let’s recap the story just for fun, eh?

God creates Adam…

2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

After some naming ceremonies and all that, God takes a rib from Adam and makes a woman. Then a snake comes into the picture. Here is the text from Genesis:

3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

What happens next? God comes down and throws a fit, kicks them out of the Garden, and then they go on to somehow populate the earth with only one surviving son after Cain kills Abel.

But let’s take a close look at the situation that Eve finds herself in upon talking with the serpent. Eve has no knowledge of good or evil when the serpent approaches her. She can’t because she has not eaten the fruit of the tree yet. She has heard, whether from God directly or through Adam, that if she eats of the fruit she shall die on that day. The serpent says otherwise.

Now eve, in not having any knowledge of good nor evil, can’t judge whether the serpent is good or evil. She also can’t know whether God is good or evil. She is left with competing pieces of information and little to make a good judgment with. If she has any logical skills, she will have to recognize that she is in a situation with conflicting proposals. God says one thing, but this snake, being wise itself, says something else. How is she supposed to pull the truth from this?

Experiment. That’s right folks, she has a situation where the only way to find out the truth is to eat the fruit and see what happens. She has to be the world’s first scientist, doing a primitive science-like experiment, in order to find out the truth. And what happens? Well, she doesn’t die, and neither does Adam. The serpent was the one telling the truth, not God.

And as a result we have something like science associated with the Fall of humankind. To test God is to sin. That is, if you find yourself in a situation where conflicting information about what God says, to test it in any way is akin to the Fall of humanity, to repeat the original sin for which salvation is necessary.

No wonder Biblical literalists and science are so often at odds.

I’ve heard apologetics that argue that this act was a Fall from God’s grace, but that’s not what the story says. Genesis says that “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” This is supposed to be some kind of spiritual death, but that’s also not what God said earlier. Why would God be so vague when the future of all humanity is at stake, especially when God must know what will happen.

But there is a further point here. Isn’t god supposed to be all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere? Wouldn’t god know that the serpent would say what it said, Eve would eat then give the fruit to Adam, and created the universe just this way anyway?

I know, I know….God gave us free will. except if God knows literally everything about the universe, God would know every “free” choice people would make and made it that way anyway. Thus, didn’t god create the universe, including us, just the way he wanted to?

Doesn’t that put the cause of this Fall, whether spiritual or otherwise, squarely in God’s lap?

I much prefer the gnostic interpretations of this story. In one version, God is not the true god but a demiurge–a lesser god, and in many cases an evil god. The serpent is a representative of the truth, of the true god, and is the hero of the story or the savior who becomes a kind of sacrifice. In some versions of ancient Gnostic Christianity, the serpent represents Christ.

And while I find this interpretation fascinating, it does not jibe with the Christian salvation story that I hear. In fact, it nullifies the necessity of salvation. It makes the Fall nothing more than pissing off a “god” that lied from the beginning anyway. Who needs salvation from that? (when typing, I mistyped ‘salvation’ as ‘slavation,’ and made myself laugh…some out there will find that funny).

Bottom line: God lied, the serpent didn’t, Adam and Eve get punished because the serpent called God out on the lie, and as a result we are all sinners. Yeah, makes perfect sense….