Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


61 Comments

You Have Not Because You Ask Not

jailApparently 51 year-old April Lee Yates didn’t pray hard enough.  According to WBTW News she dined out in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Sunday night expecting Jesus Christ to pick up the tab.  When he didn’t show up with the cash in hand she was carted off to jail because she hadn’t the money to pay.

I wonder how many times Jesus has paid a dinner check for her.  She certainly expected him to come through for her.  She didn’t even do a proper dine-and-dash.  She sat there for four hours waiting on him.

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

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65 Comments

God Does His Child a Solid

From my Facebook files:

I truly have favor with God!!! I need a new refrigerator for the house that I am moving to next month……Home Depot now has the $1700 refrigerator I wanted on sale for $998!!! It appears Samsung is trying to penetrate the market!!! If you guys need or know of anyone in need, spread the word!!! The sale ends July 15th. Thank you Jesus!!!!!

Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Dear facebook friend,
I’m so glad God saw to it that The Home Depot had a sale on for the exact refrigerator you wanted for your dream home in the mountains. It is a miracle. Surely you have garnered more favor than those faithful believers who don’t have enough money for their rent, or medications, or food. And it is likely that God’s provision for you will become the good fortune of another as they turn the box into a home.
God is good.  All the time.


107 Comments

Broken and Spilled Out

shattered-glass-1-daniele-smith

Often when reading blog posts I’m triggered.  Not into a downward spiral of despair.  More of a remembrance.  A remembrance of who I used to be.  A remembrance that causes me to take note of who I am today in relation to that person.

As I read this post at VictoriaNeuronotes and the subsequent comments I was brought to just such a remembrance. I remembered when I thought so little of myself that wanted nothing more than to be broken and spilled out because of what my supposed savior had done for me.  I was, in my mind, such a wicked person; so evil and vile that only a perfect blood sacrifice could atone for my shame, my depravity, my iniquity.  Unworthy of such a sacrifice I would be willing to sell my soul to the one who had made such a sacrifice.

I was reminded of this song by Steve Green which used to be a sort of personal anthem:

Broken and Spilled Out

One day a plain village woman
Driven by love for her Lord
Recklessly poured out a valuable essence
Disregarding the scorn

And once it was broken and spilled out
A fragrance filled all the room
Like a prisoner released from his shackles
Like a spirit set free from the tomb

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of You, Jesus
My most precious treasure
Lavished on thee

Broken and spilled out
And poured at Your feet
In sweet abandon, let me be spilled out
And used up for Thee

Lord, You were God’s precious treasure
His loved and His own perfect Son
Sent here to show me the love of the Father
Just for love it was done

And though You were perfect and holy
You gave up Yourself willingly
You spared no expense for my pardon
You were used up and wasted for me

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of me, Jesus
God’s most precious treasure
Lavished on me

Broken and spilled out
And poured at my feet, in sweet abandon
Lord, You were spilled out
And used up for me

I so identified with the very first verse of Amazing Grace:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

I even took to heart that John Newton had originally written, “…that saved a worm like me.”

A worm.  I was nothing more without Jesus than a wriggling worm in the dung heap of life. As a result of being told over and over that I was born as an affront to God, his enemy, I needed Jesus to mediate on my behalf. Made in God’s image, of course.  But I marred that image from the start by my own unrighteousness.  Anything good, and noble, and beautiful were the remnants of God’s perfect image.  The blackness, the ugliness, the humanness, that was all me. And that part of me deserved eternal damnation in a lake of fire. I needed a savior. And like anyone who has ever been saved from a sure fate of hell I was enamored with the savior.

This, folks, is the prescription company defining the disease and selling the cure.

I wanted to be broken and spilled out and used up in sweet abandon for any cause to which my savior called me.   And I was.  I was broken.  Every bit of my essence spilled out.  Shattered into a million little pieces.

You see, just as Victoria states in her excellent post, this all comes at a price.  Any notion of self-worth is hijacked and jack-knifed. Why would any loving parent want their child to be so broken?  How can this be called love?  In any other setting, if you removed the super-natural being from all of this, we would see it as twisted and abusive.  How can we just excuse this and say that because this is God there is some sort of caveat that makes this all different?somethingnew

So I’ve taken my million little pieces of broken and spilled out mess and I’m putting them back together.  I’m making something new.  I am reborn.


44 Comments

Drink Monster, Unleash the Beast!

[Trigger Warning: Sarcasm in abundance]

 

I really just don’t know what to say about this.  :blink:  It’s scary.  Not the Monster Energy drink, or their advertising campaign.  Okay, maybe the MILF part is a little scary.  But what’s really scary is all the subliminal messages that someone with apparently nothing better to do and nothing but time on their hands can imagine and promulgate(that’s my big word for today).  Be afraid, people.  Be very afraid.  Satan is just as clever and just as powerful as Yahweh.

The people perish for a lack of knowledge.

The people go insane for an abundance of Jesus.


11 Comments

All Bible Scholars Agree . . . Or Do They?

Reblogging the work of others is something I seldom do.  However this is such an excellent article that I thought it was worth repeating.  I’m not sure how many of you read the very excellent blog Vridar. I’m providing a link here so you can go check it out.  I’d encourage you to do so and leave a comment there for Neil.  Neil Godfrey has written a response to the, “All Bible scholars agree” or “Scholarly consensus is” line so often trotted out by apologists with regards to Jesus existence and archaeological evidence.  I’ll let Neil speak for himself:

All Bible Scholars Agree . . . (so what?)

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

 

No scholar employed by a major university doubts Jesus existed. 

scholars

One sometimes reads a claim like this by a theologian or bible scholar although generally they will more modestly say only that no scholar employed by a theology or biblical studies department holds this view.

How should we evaluate such a claim?

The intention behind the claim is to persuade us to accept the authority of biblical scholarship in the same way we might accept the authoritative claims of scientists, engineers or doctors.

But the difference should be obvious to all. The sciences are about universal physical facts; biblical studies are a culturally limited and ideological area of interest.

What if we were to read an Islamic scholar saying no scholar of the Koran or Islam at a reputable university believes Jesus was crucified or doubts Mohammad rose to heaven on a flying horse?

Look, also, at the Who’s Who table to see who in relatively recent years have confessed to doubts about the most fundamental claim of biblical scholarship. Highly respected linguists, philosophers and scientists as well as a broad range of literature scholars, psychologists, engineers are on the list.

These are people who do know how to evaluate claims and are not going to be fobbed off with authoritative declarations about what “bible scholars believe”. These are not people who are somehow perverse eccentrics who are just as likely to be found wondering if Young Earth Creationists are right after all.

People know biblical scholarship does not hold the same universal authoritative status as the medical sciences. It is not hard to find scholars in the sciences even mocking the whole discipline of theology for its ill-informed pretensions to accommodation with evolution.

All authority should be held accountable and welcome challenges if it is to validly justify itself.

Everyone knows the study of the bible is far more of an ideological interest than are the sciences. There is no doubt that most scholars who have taken up biblical studies do so out of a personal religious interest. Most are Christians, liberal or conservative.

The token atheists in their ranks for most part acknowledge that they were once believers and that is why they took up their studies. Others who claim to be atheists or agnostics are very often quiet publicly about their past interests so we can only wonder. Past interest is clearly very important in the eyes of a good number of these scholars as we can see from the way some of them are quick to accuse peers like Robert Price (and even Bart Ehrman) of embracing their critical views as a reaction against past fundamentalism. On the other hand no atheists are faulted for the possibility that they continues to believe elements of their old fundamentalist faith in order to cling to some relics of their past and not admit they were totally wrong about everything.

I only know of one prominent bible scholar who had no religious background at all and took up his studies for purely intellectual interests. I’m sure there must be others but surely they are very few. And one thing he and other scholars agree on, both atheists and believers, is the nature of the ideological domination of biblical studies.

But don’t get me wrong.

I enjoy reading a wide range of scholarly works related to the origins of the Bible and Christianity. (Lest you think I’m obsessed I should point out that I enjoy reading on many other topics: in the last couple of months I have also read works on cosmologyevolution, and Chinese history among others.) The main reason I wanted to start this blog years ago was to share some of the interesting things I was reading about biblical studies that I thought many others would likewise find interesting and informative.

The more one reads the more one’s critical skills are honed. One book never has the final word on any topic. One becomes increasingly aware of the biases and assumptions of the different authors. That doesn’t mean we throw their work in the bin but it does mean we can better evaluate their arguments and learn in the process.

But sometimes one finds a bible scholar making a declaration of authority for his/her entire academic guild that strikes me as blind hubris.

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***Neil Godfrey does not  personally endorse other views on this blog.


55 Comments

Atheist Outrage: Checking your Christian Privilege

I see things.  Things I’d rather look away from.  But it’s like a train wreck.  I know I should but I can’t.  A facebook “friend” posted this and it showed up in my news feed.

Atheists Outraged After NASCAR Legend Says This About God and Salvation

I clicked on the article to read about this atheist outrage.  The article never even addresses it.  Nowhere in the article is any atheist quoted, nor even mentioned, as having been outraged.  This is the kind of propaganda unbelievers are up against in the U.S.

Let’s set the scene, why don’t we? It was at the National Prayer Breakfast where NASCAR legend, Darrell Waltrip, was the keynote speaker.  What was that again?  The National Prayer Breakfast.  The United States hosts, at taxpayer expense, a National Prayer Breakfast which is, to my understanding, intended to unite the leaders of the various world religions.

According to Wikipedia The National Prayer Breakfast is hosted by members of the United States Congress and is organized on their behalf by The Fellowship Foundation, a Christ-centered organization.  Every keynote speaker since 1973 except for last year when Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the US Agency for International Development, who practices Hinduism has been a Christian.

Here is the excerpt of Waltrip’s address which was supposedly the source of all the outrage:

Christians everywhere are giving Waltrip atta-boys and pats on the back for having the courage to share his beliefs at an event where sharing beliefs and faith is expected.  I do not take issue with his speech.  That’s what he was invited there to do.  What I take exception to is the gross mischaracterization of atheists.  The outrage, which is the subject of the title of the article, is not even addressed!  What outrage?

What I find so very ironic about the whole thing is the Christian outrage that has poured out over President Barack Obama’s comments:

You don’t have to look very far to see Christians condemning his remarks.  Here’s an article in The Washington Post:

Critics pounce after Obama talks Crusades, slavery at prayer breakfast

and another here from The Week:

The folly of Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast comments

How dare the President speak the truth?  How dare he compare the Crusades and the Inquisition to ISIS’ terrorism?  How dare he point out that horrific acts, like slavery and discrimination, had their roots in religion – specifically Christianity?  Christians are outraged that the President could make such comparisons because Christians have evolved.  They’ve improved and progressed whereas ISIS is going backward.

Have fundamentalist Christians really improved so much?  All one has to do is a Google search for exorcism, Christian child discipline, or Christians rejecting medical attention in favor of prayer, to see that it most assuredly is still possible for Christians to be radicalized.  Granted the rejection of medical attention is not considered terrorism, but what about in cases where a child is the one who is ill and the parents make the decision to pray away critical illness?  What about the brand of child discipline endorsed, no advocated, by Mike and Debi Pearl and practiced by a large portion of society?  What about recent exorcisms which have resulted in the death of the recipient of such treatment?  Not to mention the psychological harm done in the name of Christ!

Christian privilege dictates that nothing negative be said about the Christian faith.  Christian privilege says, “it’s them, not us.”  “We’re nothing like those savages.”  Christian privilege is outraged that the President could point out the failures of their religion.

If we do not learn from history we are most assuredly doomed to repeat it.  Crucify the President.


38 Comments

Why I Left

October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

DSCF1428

Photo Credit – Ruth There’s a critter playing peek-a-boo!

A NEW LOVE interest

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

I still believed these verses and I still wanted to live these out even if he did not.  But after a long time of trying I came to the realization that I couldn’t love enough for two. I could live these verses out for myself alone.

I found a new love and began a love affair that continues to this day.  Shocking, I know.  I didn’t plan it; it just…happened.  I started going out with my girlfriends and I took up jogging.  I got in shape physically and emotionally. In the process I found my self-respect and discovered that I had a lot to offer.  Yes, I fell in love with another.  Me.

I learned to love myself and began to take care of me.  Instead of always putting him or my marriage above all else I began to put myself, my safety, and my needs first.  I learned that unless I loved myself I wasn’t really worthy of love and couldn’t properly love another.

forget religion

Divorce was still a dirty word.  But I decided it was better than the alternative.  Though I still viewed it as sin I decided that the options of suicide or murder were more sinful.  These thoughts, fleeting as they were, were a wake-up call.  It terrified me that I could even ponder these things.

I daydreamed about driving my car into a ravine.  I envisioned picking up a knife the next time he had his hands around my throat.  This shit is hazardous to your health in more ways than one!  These are not normal thoughts.

It’s really bad when you either wish you were dead or, you know, there might be some unfortunate accident on your partner’s way home.  This may be a startling admission on my part.  But it’s honest. So I entertained the previously unthinkable and initiated a separation.

I discovered it was against my religion to enable my abuser’s behavior to continue. Eff martyrdom!  Where’s the glory in that? God would surely forgive me for breaking my vows. They had long since been broken anyway.  Honor, cherish, protect, love…all gone the first time he hurt me.

honor

I could no longer live in shame.  It was overwhelming and debilitating.  The only way for me to continue to live was to honor myself.

I figured out that his problems were his and they didn’t have to cause me shame.  I figured out that it didn’t matter what other people thought.  It only mattered that I could hold my head high because I knew the truth.

I figured out that I was worth saving.

recognizing my weakness

I recognized my propensity to be insecure and self-deprecating. I recognized that I found esteem in being the perfect wife.  Not from my abuser, but from my God and from those in the church.  Being a help-meet was not all I was created for.  It was not noble and prized by the one person who should have appreciated it.

I still had my weaknesses, no doubt, but knowing what they were my abuser could no longer exploit them at every turn.  I grew weary of the mind games and emotional blackmail.

Having been emotionally tied into knots I saw the belittling for what it truly was.  There was no way to be better enough.  Better would never be good enough.

i was stronger

I still have that same tenacity.  I’ve just employed the old slogan, ‘Work smarter, not harder’. Still, if I am a failure it won’t be said that it was because I didn’t try.  I just came to the realization that I can’t fix everything.  Anything can be fixed.  Everything…not so much.

I could fix me and only me.  He would have to do his own repair work if he thought it necessary.  But I could not.  In order for me to repair what had been broken inside of me I had to make different choices. I had to set up boundaries; something that before I never thought I had a right to.

I found strength in knowing I did have a choice.  So I exercised my right to live in a safe, stable, sane environment.

acceptance

I had to acknowledge that it was that bad no matter how often it happened.  It could be worse but so what?  Why should I settle for bad simply because it could be worse?

Fists are not the only way to physically abuse.  I had to acknowledge that strangling, hair-pulling, pinching, and having my head bounced off of inanimate objects is physical abuse. It should have frightened me to know that he could have killed me.

People may say that sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.  But that’s a lie.  Words hurt and leave scars that will never completely heal.  That’s what pushed me over the edge.  I could have taken the punishment, but the near-constant verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse was more than I could bear.

I stopped minimizing the danger and pain I was in.  Once I was out of denial, once I saw the abuse for what it really was, there simply was no way to stay.

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You can find the reasons why I stayed here:  Why I Stayed