Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


Bizzaro World

A few days ago in a post entitled Every Time I Fail DougB, from the lovely Groping the Elephant blog, asked this question:

“How ridiculous is the notion that someone else could “pay” for our sins for us? Exactly why should we owe God for being sinners?”

The short answer to the first question is: very.  The short answer to the second one is: we shouldn’t.  The long answer, however, is a little more nuanced.  It’s ridiculous on a number of different levels.  First of all let’s look at the reasons why we’re told we need a savior.

  1. We are born sinners.
  2. We cannot be good enough on our own.
  3. God cannot look at sin, he cannot be in it’s presence.
  4. Forgiveness from God requires a perfect blood sacrifice.

Every since Adam and Eve, who incidentally were fictional characters, ate the forbidden fruit, we are told, that each and every person after that were born sinners.  Is the fall of man supposed to be a metaphor to explain that no man has ever been perfect?  That starting with the very first of our ancestors we were corrupt? Maybe that was the writer’s intent – to put simplistically a very complicated matter.  So evolution wasn’t kind and we’re not perfect?  Bummer.  I listened, nearly daily for years, to James Dobson expound on the fact that we are born sinners.  No one has to teach a child to lie.  No one has to teach a child to do the thing they lied about. They begin to do so at a very young age.  I bought all of that psychobabble.  Children do things that they eventually lie about because it looks fun.  Children lie because they’re afraid.  It’s an evolutionary trait called “fight of flight”.  Lying is a way to flee.

Having made some mistakes in life, or maybe not mistakes but downright transgressions, we have it pounded into us that we are sinners.  Not only are we sinners, but even our best isn’t good enough according to Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”  Then there’s Roman’s 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  I could keep going but I won’t, you get the idea.  Now that we know just how wretched and wormy we are, what can be done about it?  Remember that we’re born this way and there’s nothing we can do about it?

We’re sinners, born that way through no fault of our own, and there’s nothing we can do about it, and God can’t look at us until we’ve received forgiveness.  Habakkuk 1:13 says, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness…”.  In Matthew 27:46 we see God turning away from Jesus presumably because he became sin for us all, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”.  Supposedly God can’t look on us in the sense that he can’t see evil and have it go unpunished.  And well, we’ve established that we’re all evil.

That leaves us with the perfect sacrifice.  Jesus.  The only man who had never sinned:  “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.  Throughout the Old Testament the Israelites made their guilt offering and their sin offering to YAHWEH as per the instructions in Leviticus 5.  God has required death as a sentence for sin and shed blood for atonement since Adam and Eve dropped the ball in the garden.  After he banished them from the garden, he himself killed an animal and gave them clothes from it to wear.  He had to provide a sacrifice before Adam and Eve could stand before him restored.

Writing all of this now makes me cringe.  I realize putting it in writing just how bizarre and twisted it all sounds.  That we would be created, whether by God himself or evolutionary processes, as imperfect beings, and have that held against us to the degree that we would need to kill and burn animals up to a final and permanent human sacrifice to a bloodthirsty God is beyond evil.  Why do we owe God for being exactly the way he made us?  It makes no sense.

Yet in my knowledge that I wasn’t and am not perfect I felt I needed forgiveness from a higher being than just the person I wronged.  In my desire to feel free and forgiven I gave myself over to the knight in shining armor, the prince on a white horse, the savior, the perfect sacrifice.  It all sounded so heroic, so romantic; the notion that had I been the only one who had ever transgressed, Jesus would still have gone to the cross for my sin, for my guilt, for my shame.  I loved him for that.  So without thinking through whether it made any sense, whether it was rational, whether it was plausible even, I took the plunge beneath the warm baptismal waters pledging my life to Jesus the Christ.

I studied some apologetics.  If I was going to share the gospel I needed to be able to defend my faith.  I read The Case for Christ, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, More than a Carpenter.  I studied the How Now Shall We Live? discipleship training material.  I took every discipleship training class offered at my church, eventually becoming Discipleship Training Director.  But in retrospect I didn’t look at the evidence objectively.  The only reason I studied any apologetics was to shoot down the objections of unbelievers, never once considering whether those objections had any merit.  Only when I did look at the evidence objectively did I see gaping holes in apologetics and Christianity; wounds left there by the weapon of reason.

*Edited because I intended this to be strange world, not market world. 🙂


Couch to 5K Week 6 – I Ran So Far

Yeah, I run to this song sometimes.  Doesn’t seem like it, but it’s got quite a pace to it.  In honor of week six and just how far I’ve come since I started this:

I managed to get through week six pretty well.  Bought one of those sports bottles, you know the ones with the top on it kinda like a baby bottle.  Doesn’t help, still can’t drink while running without nearly choking myself to death.  Not good.  So just drink up before and after, that’s what I’m thinkin’.

Week Six Schedule:

Day One:                                Day 2                                Day 3

* 5 minute warm-up              * 5 minute warm-up           * 5 minute warm up
* 5 minute jog                       * 10 minute jog                  * 25 minute jog – no walking
* 3 minute walk                     * 3 minute walk
* 8 minute jog                        * 10 minute jog
* 3 minute walk
* 5 minute jog

Day one was pretty easy after the 20 minute run to end the week last week.  Day two I struggled a bit, but I did it.  My shins tightened up about 3 minutes into the first 10 minute segment but soon loosened up and I relaxed a bit.  By the end of the second 10 minutes I was pretty done for and glad I didn’t  have a second longer.  I took a two day break between day two and day three.  I got up Saturday morning determined to do it.  About half way in I got a side stitch that stayed with me til the end, but I finished it. All.twenty.five.minutes.  And felt I could have gone a bit further.  So I finished the week on a pretty strong note. 

I’ll be ready for that 5K in September.  I won’t be breaking any records with mah blazin’ speed, but I’ll be able to jog it without much trouble.


Remember Me

This was emailed to me by a friend today.  I don’t agree with a lot of our nation’s current military pursuits, I think in most cases it’s time for our folks to come home. But as people, as individuals, I can honestly say that I am proud of our men and women in uniform.  This video is a moving tribute to those who serve our country.

I am moved to tears by the sacrifices made, not only by our military personnel, but their families as well.  There are some of our soldiers who have committed atrocities and for that I am deeply grieved.  But I am also extremely proud of those who serve with honor and integrity.

*Edited because you know what would be really good?  If I’d learn to spell-check before I post. hehe…


Every Time I Fail

I saw this picture over at The Agnostics Wife’s Blog :

 In her comments Zoe said the picture reminded her of this song:

Feel the Nails
Ray Boltz

They tell me Jesus died
For my transgressions
And that he paid that price
A long long time ago
When he gave his life for me
On a hill called Calvary
But there’s something else
I want to know
Does he still feel the nails
Every time I fail?
Does he hear the crowd cry
Crucify again?
Am I causing him pain?
Then I know I’ve got to change
I just can’t bear the thought
Of hurting him
It seems that I’m so good
At breaking promises
And i treat his precious grace
So carelessly
But each time he forgives
What if he relives
The agony he felt on that tree?
Does he still feel the nails
Every time I fail?
Does he hear the crowd cry
Crucify again?
Am I causing him pain?
Then I know I’ve got to change
I just can’t bear the thought
Of hurting him
Holy holy holy is the lord
Holy holy holy is the lord
Do you still feel the nails
Every time I fail?
Have I crucified you Jesus
With my sin?
I’m tired of playing games
I really want to change
I never want to hurt you again
Holy holy holy is the lord
Holy holy holy is the lord

I agree that’s the message that’s being sent by this work of, um, art.  Every time you fail, every time you mess up, every time you fall short you are crucifying Jesus all over again.  He feels it every time.  That last line, I never want to hurt you again, is an impossible standard to hold yourself to.  Most rational, sane, normal people don’t want to hurt anyone.  They don’t wake up in the morning and say to themselves, “I wonder how I can hurt someone else today.  What can I do to royally screw somebody over?”.  It happens as a consequence of being human, of being imperfect.  No amount of believing in any deity will make you perfect.  You keep messing up and keep feeling guilty and keep needing your deity to forgive you.  It’s a vicious cycle designed to keep you feeling guilty and keep you coming back for more forgiveness.  
Before long you’re so deep in that cycle that you perceive everything you do as falling short, missing the mark, because no sin is greater than another.  You didn’t read your Bible enough, you didn’t pray enough, you didn’t eat your fried chicken to the glory of God enough.  You don’t have to be a murderer or a thief or an adulterer to be wretched.  We’re all wretched worms begging for the love and affection of an invisible father figure; always trying to win his love and approval. 
Even doubting as I do, even having relinquished inerrancy and even divine inspiration, even realizing that belief in the God of the Bible is probably nothing more than believing in the Tooth Fairy, when I see these images and hear the words to songs like Feel the Nails the guilt and shame wash over me anew and I have to remind myself that I don’t crucify Jesus every time I fail.


All or Some?

“The Declaration of Independence…[is the]declaratory charter of our rights, and of therights of man.”

                                         — Thomas Jefferson, 1819

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles,  and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and  Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light  and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer,  while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed.

                                                           – Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Let us all remember that every man is equal and that the Declaration of Independence was written with that purpose in mind.  This second paragraph lays charge to us all.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light  and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer,  while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. 

Most people appeal to the first sentence of that paragraph, committing it to memory. But if all men are “created” equal and endowed with the unenalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then it would do us well to commit the last sentence of that paragraph to memory as well.  Would we rather remain in our suffering than to change the traditions to which we are accustomed? The Declaration says all, not some, of mankind is equal. Lest we’ve forgotten what all means:

Definition of ALL

a : the whole number, quantity, or amount : totality <all that I have> <all of us> <all of the books> b —used in such phrases as for all I know, for all I care, and for all the good it does to indicate a lack of knowledge, interest, or effectiveness
: everybody, everything <gave equal attention to all> <that is all>

all in all

: on the whole : generally <all in all, things might have been worse>
and all

: and everything else especially of a kind suggested by a previous context <cards to fill out with … numbers and all — Sally Quinn>

There are no disclaimers, no exceptions to that basic of human rights.  On this Independence Day remember that regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age or status it is your right to pursue life, liberty and happiness.  And it is up to us to change the traditions to which we are accustomed when they fail.

Happy Independence Day!


Smokeing or Non-Smokeing?

I live in Small Town, Bible Belt, USA.  This is on the corner of the busiest intersection of the small town I live in. There are only three traffic lights.  Everybody here believes in God.  There is only one professed atheist in town.  He’s an attorney.  The religious folks snark about his atheism, but if you want a good attorney, one who will get down to business and call it like he sees it, he’s your man.  Loads of people use him when they really mean business.  If you are the defendant in a suit that involves Atheist Attorney as the plaintiff’s man you know you’re in trouble. But he doesn’t have many friends.  They love him while he’s chewing up their fellow Christians from eight to five. People shun him because he eats babies when he’s not in the courtroom.  I digress….

Here even the lowliest drunk, the biggest scoundrel, the most dishonest business man, and the least faithful spouse believes in God and Jesus.  Strike up a conversation with any one of them and they’ll tell you how God has helped them, Jesus saved them and they are heaven bound.  They live like atheists and talk like evangelicals.  That’s not to say there aren’t devout Christians here.  This little town is full of those, too.  They’re the ones who think all the others are headed straight for the smokeing [sic] section.  Thus the sign.

It’s just a reminder for anyone who’s forgotten that if you don’t “get right with God” you’re headed for the fiery flames for all of eternity.    Darn shame those flashing signs don’t come with spell-check.


Couch to 5K week 5

I flew through week 5 days 1 and 2 with the greatest of ease with my new Podrunner podcast.  It was great!  Day 3 not so much.

Day one:                                  Day two:                             Day three:

    *5 minute warm up                 *5 minute warm up                *5 minute warm up  
    *5 minute jog                         *8 minute jog                        *20 minute jog
    *3 minute walk                       *5 minute walk
    *5 minute jog                         *8 minute jog
    *3 minute walk
    *5 minute jog

    I really thought I loved not keeping the time. On days one and two I did.  Five minute and eight minute intervals aren’t too long.  On day three, however, I didn’t quite make it. 

    See normally I take a bottle of water with me and drink during the walking intervals.  There was no walking interval today.  So in an effort to stay hydrated because it is so stinkin’ hot I tried to drink…and run….and breathe all at the same time.  Not a good combo.  I lost my breathing rhythm and nearly drowned myself with the water. I ended up having to walk for about a minute somewhere near the end because I had no idea how much longer I had.  For all I knew it could have been ten minutes.  If I’d realized there were only a couple of minutes left I probably could’ve hung in there to the finish. 😦

    Oh, and I really need to remember to take a hand towel with me because while I don’t mind sweating so much anymore, my eyes really don’t like it.  So if you can picture this:  girl jogging, trying to drink water, in the blind with her eyes closed because they’re stinging from the sweat that’s dripping into them.  Yeah, go ahead, laugh.  I am.

    I’ll be back at it next week!