Archive for October, 2014

Credo #2: The Fence

Posted: October 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

I have a few acquaintances who are Orthodox Jews, who keep kosher kitchens.   For those of you familiar with this, it involves certain observations and practices to maintain this state.   An example I will use for this Credo is that of handling (i.e. washing, using) the dishes that contain milk separately from the dishes that contain certain meats.    The root of this practice is a commandment given by God to the Jews in the Old Testament to not “cook a calf in its mother’s milk”.     Such as I understand the commentary about this, it is not clear why God made this command.   It may have been a way for them to separate themselves from the surrounding religious practices, it might have been for reasons of hygiene; addressing some matter we can not see from our time.     The point I wish to draw out is that because of a desire to avoid breaking this command, which they believe holds true for them today, they handle the dishes the way they do.

By holding to a diligent and far-reaching standard related to dishes, they will not, even by accident, come close to breaking the rule, or standard, they wish to avoid breaking.  Even by accident.

My point in this Credo is that there are “fences” that some people in the Church make that are like this.   And some can be quite ridiculous.    A couple can be tossed out of an Assembly of God church (note: I said “can” — not “will”) for having a wedding dance, since the Assemblies (and I was baptised by Thomas Trask – I know whereof I speak) think that all dancing is forbidden.     I knew a Baptist who was horrified to find that orange juice has a fraction of a percentage of naturally occurring alcohol in it.   He wondered for a fractional percentage of a second if he had to stop drinking OJ, since for that fraction of a second it was in the same mental category he had for wine.   Which, by the way, is not “grape juice” in the Greek of the New Testament.   See Credo #3 in relation to that grape juice thing.

Credo #3: Skin Effect

Posted: October 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

I borrow a term from Electrical Engineering, this being “Skin Effect”.  Basically, for us less than tech-savvy, it means that an alternating current at high enough frequencies, traveling in a conductor, can ironically create a magnetic field that causes the electrons in the current to be pushed up against the edges of the conducting wire, thus creating resistance against the flow of the current.   It hurts itself, basically.    I suppose I would welcome a more tech-savvy explanation, but I am only trying to create a mental picture, here.  The point is not about the physics of God’s creation but rather the sociology of many Christians, as well as the psychology they bring to bear on their thinking.

Somewhere between Singlextianman blog I and II I lost my way; lost my faith.  Some of this was due to gagging on bad teaching, some of it bad or less than wise behaviour on my part; but I mention a story to try to flesh out the idea, here.    I was sorely looking for answers to my questions about tithing — I was looking for answers like “what is the nature of this curse that God puts on non-tithers?” and “where are the pre-Nicene witnesses to this idea?” and so forth.  I had ten questions like that or so.     Somewhere around when I had six questions, I was told by an associate pastor at my local Vineyard simply (I simplify) that it took money to run a church, and I should leave if wouldn’t tithe and go elsewhere.   It is important to the story that I was not balking at tithing, which at one time I did to that fellowship near me in Central Maryland, and that the conversation was not about my tithing or not.  I was looking for a doctrinal foundation.    My point is that the “skin effect” in this fellowship’s thinking was such that one could hear from the pulpit that one was “making excuses” and so forth if they were asking questions, but nobody seemed to have a clear doctrinal foundation for the kinds of real questions that believers would ask.   In that one conversation, I was also told that my questions would not be heard.   The only “model” they had for someone asking for help in that area was “rebellious believer”.     Within the Vineyard community could be found people teaching some other idea than theirs.

A sort of salt-in-the-wound experience came around this time when the Senior Pastoral authority there wondered to me what all the fuss was, since I was, in his words “one of the most generous people I know!”.    In his mind, apparently,  “tithing” was about making people loosen their purse strings.  He couldn’t see someone on the edge of losing his faith, because the “skin effect” made him hear and see things that were not present.   He couldn’t even hear me pointing this out to him.    I.e.  if I were the least generous, or not even a believer, it would have no bearing on the questions I was posing, which were not about me.  Or him.

Now, you might have had similar questions, or different ones about different topics.  Five thousand year old dinosaur bones?   Really, 300,000 women and children trafficked against their will *within* the United States every year?    Or the such like.    The point I am trying to make is that people come into psychological bondage sometimes to their beliefs, and it is almost an affront to the very core of their being to get them to settle down and answer a question, because they are so determined — or so unable to do anything else — to project onto you the question you should be asking, the attitude you should be having, the averting of your eyes you should be doing.

The first Christian woman I dated between SCM I and SXM II was sure I was “picking and choosing” what scriptures to believe in my old-earth creationism.  It was ironic that she worked at that time for one of Pat Robertson’s outfits, a man who is an old earth creationist, like men from the Jewish sages, Augustine, Billy Graham, and C. S. Lewis.   But she couldn’t *hear* what I was saying, and what I was not saying.  The “skin effect” had created too much resistance in her; and she wasn’t even addressing me or my ideas; but an illusion in her mind.

Let God tear up the soil in your life; de-rock, de-harden it; fertilize and seed it.

Cultivating weakness

Posted: October 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

I like this post by David Murrow, who articulates something that has always bothered me; but I have a slightly different conclusion than he does.   I think Christian radio is a manifestation of Christian culture, mostly; but this is a chicken-and-egg kind of problem.     My local Christian station is constantly reminding me of how “safe” it is.     And a Christian man can get run out a lot of fellowships in my area for asking an honest question.

Credo #4: Reminder

Posted: October 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

Remember:  Many of your Christian sisters have also been taught to be passive.   You are not obliged*, scripturally, to treat them as the more delicate vessel (as a Christian husband is commanded to treat his spouse).  But you will be wise to keep this idea in mind.

*Seriously.  You are not.  It might be wise, it might be compassionate; it might be foolish in given context. But you are not commanded. 

Credo #5.1: The Survivor

Posted: October 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

Life is not rational; nor does God seem to intend it even be so.     Suffering can be unjust; you can be “not guilty” and yet bear the cost of a fallen world, or another’s bad decisions.     And God, whose ways are not ours, might not seem to give a damn.  Yet there is a difference between some survivors of misfortune and some others. I might yet in this life be able to express the idea here; but I must for now sit and allow a master to speak; someone not even of the Faith. Expanded commentary:   “God, according to God” by Gerald Schroder, an Orthodox Jew and Physicist, in chapter 7, “In defense of G-d”.

Spoiler:  “..Having the God-given right to argue with God, to demand righteousness in the world, does not restore the physical losses of misfortune, but having that right to argue with God empowers us to bring that complaint to the source of all creation with the awareness that it will be heard.   And though this does not necessarily ameliorate our physical pain, it does weaken the mental bind that tragedy can bring, allowing us, as did Job, to move beyond the past.  We’ve learned from Job that in God’s world pain does not necessarily imply guilt.  The joy and the grief we encounter on our journey are not always the direct workings of God, which of course means that we too are the partners in the making of our world.”