Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What Do I Believe?

I believe God is perfect, that He created everything and that He loves us.
Yes life sucks sometimes. I think God allows us to get sick with horrible diseases, diseases that He created. I think He does it for a good reason. I don't know what that reason is for sure, but here's my guess: We are basically hedonistic. It's all about pleasure. If everybody were healthy and never got old we'd never know true compassion. We'd never know the overwhelming love and strength it takes to care for someone who is helpless. We'd never know how deeply we were loved in the physical world unless we were totally helpless and had to depend on a loved one. And then we get a glimpse of God's greater love to have given us someone like that. That's not explained well. And I know some people would rather be healthy than experience love that deeply. But God apparently thinks it's important so He lets/causes that suffering to come to us. At least that's what I think He thinks, but I could be wrong. Maybe it has nothing to do with Him and it's just some deal He's got with Satan where they each get equal time (kind of like with campaign advertising during elections.)

But life also sucks because People kill each other, they murder innocents and they commit unspeakable acts against each other. But quite frankly that's our fault. We screw each other over. That's our choice. Choice. That's a key word. We have free will. You can't be free to love God (or anyone for that matter) if you are a Stepford human programmed to be a bundle of Love&Joy. You have to be free to be hateful and ugly too if you are going to be free to love. I think God is totally free to hate us. But He chooses not too. I believe He will never choose anything but Love. I'm pretty much betting the farm on that one.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the literal son of God.
Not just some prophet. Not just a rabbi, or a holy man, or a sage. Not merely some reactionary who created a hubbub. Yes, he was all those things but he was also God’s Son. I believe His mother was a Virgin. I believe the Holy Spirit of God impregnated her. I believe He died on the cross. I believe He rose again from the dead. I believe He did this for the whole world to remove the guilt that blinds us from realizing we're loved in the most spectacular way. Don’t ask me to prove it to you. I won’t. I can’t prove it to YOU, because I don’t know what evidence would suffice. I could tell you how I know (and it ain’t just cause the Bible told me so) but you wouldn’t believe me. You'd pick it apart and call me crazy, stupid or worse... gullible. Suffice it to say that my evidence is supernatural, decidedly intimate and personal in nature. If you want proof, you’re going to have to ask for your own. (But I warn you, be careful what you wish for.)

I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God… for the most part. But probably not the only one.
That’s going to piss my Christian brothers and sister off but that’s how I feel. The Bible like all historical accounts was written by the winners. These people were God’s chosen ones but they were still human. No matter how divine the inspiration we as humans will sully it as soon as we touch it. Even the most holy of us will not embrace guilt and hold it up for all of history. We will confess but we will seek to justify it at the same time. The men who recorded God’s works also recorded their own. And where God may not have condoned their actions I think they appropriated His approval even when He did NOT, in fact, approve. They had prejudices and bigotries that they sought to justify. Just as men do today, they often put words in God’s mouth. Just because we don’t have a bunch of verses crossed out in the bible don’t assume that all the misinformation has been excised over time. I think it's arrogant to assume that the human race got the message perfect ONE time. We all know how damned subjective we are. Let's be honest.

For this very human and fallible reason I believe that an infallible God wouldn’t put all His eggs in one divinely inspired basket. I believe that the Torah, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, the writings of Chaung Tsu, the writings of Native American Shamen, the orations of many of our great philosophers, and the discoveries of our most brilliant scientists and mathematicians are also inspired by God. (Sorry for misspellings in that last sentence.) I’ve read most of them except the Native American stuff, some of the philosophers and the uber-Geeks but I’m getting around to them Like the scribes of the Bible they too were human and probably didn’t get it all right either. So I look for themes. Overriding, prevailing truths that bind them all together like pearls on a string. And they ARE there I assure you. Chaung Tsu a student of Lao Tsu writes of the perfect man or the great sage as one who among other qualities would be able to lay down his life and take it up again. Sound like somebody you’ve heard of? And he wrote that more than a thousand years before anyone ever thought of Easter Sunday. But that is just a coffee table point. The truths that run through the room up and down the walls are: honesty, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, peace, moderation, courage, sacrifice, compassion, sharing and the greatest of all, from which all the others flow: LOVE.

I believe that all these written works along with music, art, history, sex, laughter, the birth of a child, the death of each of us, the life we live in between and what we discover of ourselves on that journey must all link together somehow to show us the wonder of this Infinite Being whose limitlessness is inextricably bound to His unfathomable Love for us. I know this somehow, instinctively but I have not been able to put two pieces of the puzzle together without discovering 10 more. That experience both thrills and frustrates me. But I long to continue it and I feel my soul shrink when I am not engaged in the search.

I believe that HELL is a state of being not a place.
Hell is the choice to live outside of God’s presence. It comes back to CHOICE. I believe that hell is God next you but you having no sense of Him. It is being a spiritual vegetable, you could say. Only you are aware of nothing but your own loneliness. The only thing that can save you is the one thing you cannot reach out to. Hell is the ultimate tragedy of being. There are people alive right now who are on the brink hell only they still have their physical senses. They still have God present in nature, in good things around them, the people they love, in love itself, in laughter, in physical pleasures. God is in those things. When those things pass away they lose God. The best example I can think of is that movie “What Dreams May Come.” Watch it if you haven’t seen it. The hopelessness of the wife in that movie, where she cannot even leave the darkness when her husband comes for her; she cannot even recognize hope and love for what they are. That is hell. It is not God torturing or punishing a person. The person does it to themselves. We must grasp onto the love of God that is around us now. It is the lifeline that ties us to heaven. Without it we fall utterly into ourselves. And that is just not enough; it is quite simply... hellish.

I believe that some, most or almost all of what I now believe could actually be wrong.
But I am willing to learn. I am willing to question any one of those beliefs but one… I believe God Loves Me. Nothing else is set in stone (wet cement perhaps, but not stone) I simply cannot know it all for certain, but I trust that God does know; and it doesn’t seem to be troubling Him in the slightest.

I don’t ask to you to believe me, convince me, be inspired by me or limited by me. I offer you ZERO proof. Sorry. Not gonna engage you beyond my own experience. My faith is no greater than anyone else’s. I am just a sparkling bit of Almost-Nothing searching for the Something Wonderful that I think is already holding me in the palm of His hand.


The Unseen One said...

That's the thing about faith. We very well might be wrong. If we knew we were right and had actual proof, it wouldn't be faith. ;)

gone said...

It's nice to read what you believe. I think you should consider submitting an essay to the NPR series "This I Believe." ANd throw a little Bush-bashing rhetoric in there for me when you do.

loren said...

Hi girl with an alibi,

Wow, you really spent some time on this. I respect what you believe because I know it's not my job to convince you of anything. God is pretty big so He can speak for Himself. But also, the good heart I see in you makes think the best for you.

Girl With An Alibi said...

Thank you all for your comments. It's funny but until I wrote that and read it over a few times I wasn't thinking of my faith as a strong one. But now I think it is a bit stronger than I thought; not in a "I'm ready to ram it down somebody's throat way;" but in a "I'm ready to learn something new without being afraid it will all fall apart way."

I guess professing/ confessing/ witnessing to your faith has some benefit for the individual. What a happy unexpected little epiphany I've just had! :D

Dex2177 said...

Well... hmm... I've covered most of that and you've read most of what I've covered so... not much more to say, lol.

Dex2177 said...

I do think "faith" consists of an aweful lot of what "love" consists of to a highschool girl fawning over the football player she's never spent time with and barely talked to. It's a self created and nourished construct... but anyway...

The Unseen One said...

Really Dex? I'll bet you take a lot on faith.

Ayn Marie said...

I love how you are willing to admit that you might not be completely if everyone could just have that attitude. I think this world would be a lot different. Just to be open minded and willing to listen to other people's ideas and opinions. kudos on the blog...It's a great one.

Girl With An Alibi said...

Actually it's less like the highschool girl and more like two people who're stuck in the "friend zone." I want a deeper relationship but it's hard to figure out how to get close ... or perhaps my crack analogy on your blog... but like I say my analogies need work.

Unseen One: He doth protest too much. But then so do I for different reasons.

AynM -Thanks. I admit it is a struggle to keep an open mind. But trying to stand on a moving surface is at least more exciting than trying to sleep on a rock; if that make any sense.

Dex2177 said...

Hello *name,

Faith as in trust? Sure, there's people I have faith in. "Faith" as in believing in something and trusting in it because it's what I've decided *should* exist despite reasonable logic, intelligence, and reality... mmm... not so much.

"Faith" in what? is another question... in a non-interventionist diety who never shows himself and allows evil things to happen? I'm sure any number of true believers worked in the World Trade Center... Was it just the sinners that worked above the 77th and 93rd floors? Or did He just want them in heaven that much quicker than the rest of us? And what about the ones who jumped out windows and fell to their deaths to avoid being burned to death... are they going to hell for committing suicide? Wait... I know... they should have let their incineration test their "faith". I bet the big G would be very impressed... But that would be suicide too, wouldn't it... catch 22. Best ask a church employee to supply a vaguery to take the weight of having to think about it off your shoulders. Of course, who knows, right? It's what you *choose* to believe. You can *choose* to believe that that wasn't God, that was the evil of the free will God gave to man. That gets him off the hook, right? Except he watched the whole thing... hmm... he didn't help there... (but the face of the virgin Mary, born to a virgin mother, depending on which sect you *choose* to "believe", can appear in a window stain or on the face of a grilled cheese sandwich... now that's a Miracle! I saw a puppy in the clouds the other day, it was really neat.)

Now, if you tell me that the World Trade Center tragedy, along with the Holocaust, and the torture rape/killings of teenagers(as has become infamous in Canada since one of the participants has finished her sentence and is now going to the movies and buying slurpees at the quickee-mart), and what-not were all part of "God's plan" and He(I assume we're choosing the God of the Isrealites here) intended this to happen you could say that about anything and never be proven wrong. Good for you, though I hope you're being philisophical or matter of fact because if not your God is pretty frickin' mean.

Dex2177 said...

Just to finish up my last post... So remind me what I'm supposed to be having "faith" in again?

The Unseen One said...

Dex, you obviously have a completely different view of the world than I do. I have reasonable logic, intelligence, and reality, and I see the hand of God in a lot.

in a non-interventionist diety who never shows himself and allows evil things to happen?
I've seen God intervene. Just not in Hollywood style like people demand who want proof.

"are they going to hell for committing suicide?"
I'm not Catholic, I don't hold that belief.

"But that would be suicide too, wouldn't it... catch 22"
False analogy.

"Wait... I know... "
"Best ask a church employee to supply a vaguery to take the weight of having to think about it off your shoulders."

Always nice to have an intelligent, grown up conversation, isn't it?

It's what you *choose* to believe.
That is exactly correct. I've never claimed differently.

That gets him off the hook, right?
Pretty much, yeah.

Except he watched the whole thing... hmm... he didn't help there.
There were quite a number of people I've talked to that were in the WTC on that day who would completely disagree with you.

but the face of the virgin Mary, born to a virgin mother, depending on which sect you *choose* to "believe", can appear in a window stain or on the face of a grilled cheese sandwich... now that's a Miracle!
You'll have to ask a Catholic about that one. I don't believe that Mary was conceived without sin, and therefor seeing her in a cheese sandwich or a window is about on the same level for me as you seeing a puppy in the clouds.

and He intended this to happen you could say that about anything and never be proven wrong.
No, I believe in free will.

So remind me what I'm supposed to be having "faith" in again?
That's for you to find out. I can no more give you faith than I can work out for you. I can only tell you where the weights are. You choose not to believe, up to you. If there are eternal concequences to your beliefs, you will have to bear them and not I. And if you are right and there are no eternal concequences, then it doesn't really matter what you do.

Girl With An Alibi said...

Grahame - I know it's frustrating but really God doesn't have to answer to us. He's not obliged to step in and stop every horrific thing we set out to do. To expect Him to is ridiculous. No matter how much we believe He loves us that's just not gonna happen. If you take that to it's logical conclusion that means nothing bad ever happens to us, EVER because God steps in and makes it all better just before we get hurt. We can bash our heads into walls and never get a concussion. Shoot guns at each other and watch the slugs bounce off our bullet-proof skin. Try to fly planes into buildings and have some invisible hand magically plop the plane down in a safe green field. Bombs would never go off if there was anyone close enough to get hurt. Rapists would fall asleep just as they were about to attack. Starving people would wake up to full course meals. Child abusers would break down and cry just as they were raising their hands to strike a child. It's the equivalent of living in a rubber room.

We are emotional creatures. We build up anger, fear and resentment and take it out on each other. That's not gonna change if God comes to our rescue. And don't think, "well why doesn't he just step in on the really bad stuff." Cause we can't have both ways. You can't be free to kick your dog but expect God to step in on Genocide. That's our job and on a certain level we know that. Hence the ASPCA and WWII.

Of course for all we know He could be trying to step in and help us each and every time. Could there have been someone in each of those Airports on 9/11 that thought, "gee there's something about this guys credentials that don't look right, maybe I should look closer." In fact there was a security guard that stopped a man on 9/11 because his id was fake. That man could have been another hijacker. If you read interviews of the people who knew the hijackers in flight school they all say there was something odd about people who didn't care about learning to land a plane. Could that have been their GOD-given common sense telling them to act? How do we know God isn't trying to intervene through us but we are too stubborn, preoccupied or indifferent to do something.

The Drake said...

True, biblical faith is a gift, plain and simple. This is differentiated from Dex' 'self-created and nourished construct' by the fact that it's NOT something one can easily manufacture because it's damned uncomfortable in it's demands on our lives.

Jesus said that if you want to follow Him, you have to take up His Cross, deny yourself and die to your own natural inclinations.

As for Girl's contention that the Bible, like all historical documents, is written by the winners and distorted to their own human agendas, I'd say she is both right and wrong. She's right because all of the inspired writers of Scripture stand in the presence of the Living Christ, while we on this side of the vale struggle daily to see the Light.

She is, however, wrong in that many of the writers were not writing from platforms of victory. The Book of Lamentations is the classic Old Testament example. Jeremiah sits among the ruins of decimated Jerusalem and weeps over the calamity that has befallen God's people for their disobedience and foolishness. The apostles Peter and Paul wrote from prison in Rome, shortly before Nero had them executed - Peter upside down on a cross, and Paul by beheading. And John received The Revelation while in exile on the island of Patmos.

No, Christian faith is made of much sterner stuff than simple whims and self-serving aggrandizement. That's because it doesn't come from us. It comes from the Infallible, Almighty, Maker of the Universe.

Truecraig said...

This will always be a "yes-no" argument, not a discussion. It is emotionally based, and no pointable proof can be offered for either side. All sides are flawed in that faith is undebatable by design, by definition. Which makes the debate THAT much more heated.

I recommend picking this little argument up after everyone has had a pitcher of sangria. Each. Then things will get REALLY interesting.

And Hilarious!!! Whoooo... good times!

The Drake said...

Make mine a pitcher of Long Island Iced Teas. Then we'll have some fun. :D

Girl With An Alibi said...

I just want to say that my friend Grahame aka Dex, expresses a lot of the frustrations that turn people away from religion... and quite frankly make it difficult even for me to approach God sometimes. There's a quote somewhere that's something like the greatest stumbling blocks to Christianity are Christians. It's like hearing all these really bad stories about your best friend from his own family members... it makes you awkward around him when you get together cause you don't know what to believe. Imagine how a total stranger would feel having heard those stories without even meeting your friend.. he's pretty much decided "This guy's an ASS!!!"

God's got the some of the worst P.R staff on the planet and sadly we're obsessively devoted to Him.

Thanks Grahame for being honest about that frustration we all face with the self-contradictory aspects of religion in general and of Christianity's many denominations in particular.

Girl With An Alibi said...

Now you're talking Craig!!! Martini's for me. Enough alcohol and we'll believe in God!!! And if we don't we'll be laughing too hard to care.

gone said...

No one here is an ASS, especially DEX.

Even though his bitter biting tone could turn some people off and make them defensive, his opinions are as valid as mine and yours, and it's nice that he has no fear of interjecting them here.

For me, C.S. Lewis has a lot of good things to say about God's rule in human tragedy. I don't agree with the concept that God is the "source" of some human strife, but I do agree that he allows things to happen.

Why? Because as his creation he gave us a choice. If he were to step in to intervene in every crime against humanity, he would be stripping away that choice, even though it may be the choice of the criminal, victimizer, etc.

In addition, pain sets us up for another choice, whether or not to be made bitter by it or better. Some might say this is ignorant, or points to the idea that I subscribe to a "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" philosophy. Beleive me I don't. However, I do believe that even though we can't control all of the pain inflicted upon us, we CAN choose how we respond to it.

As humans, we are free to choose, and that choice, however painful it turns out to be, is a gift from God.

Girl With An Alibi said...

Excellent points Jacob! C.S. Lewis is always a great resource, since he struggled with a lot of these same questions

Oh, btw, I wasn't actually refering to Dex with the ASS statement, rather I was saying that's what a lot of people surmise about God when they try to understand a compassionate God in the light of an unjust world and contradicting Christian/Religious ideologies... sorry that was confusing my analogies need work.

Dex is actually a really cool guy. I'd have martinis with Dex. God is strictly a Cabernet and Melba toast guy.

The Unseen One said...

Having once been where Dex is now, I completely understand and respect his views.

Dex2177 said...

Well... I admit to having a grungy morning so my comments may have been couched in a more assinine tone than I would usually use. That having been said the I still stand by the substance of each point. It is my impression that whenever religious people see an event which by the width of a hair could have taken a far worse turn they call it miraculous, all God intended in the M word. When they see something they recognize as beautiful they see God in that. Whenever they see men do evil things they blame that on men, apparently a Pandoras box of a race that can't be clamped down on by God. How do you think the 'free will' of man would be effected if the heavens opened up and doves flew out(apparently God has a coup, that happened at least once in the bible that I recall) and God started zapping bad people? Just a question. Hasn't happened yet. Good people die, bad people die, good people live, evil people get rich, lol. In the old testament God controlled everything, somewhere along the line that didn't work for Christians so they detached that from him by choice. It is easily observable that man has free will and that God apparently excercises no obvious inluence on the world in the ending of human suffering related or not to man's free will. I wonder where the devout come down on God when it comes down to His invention of Ebola and hemoragic fever. That has nothing to do with men acting out of free will. Externally, in reality, the physical world around us is, in Universal terms, billions of years old and the Earth is no where near the center of the Universe. We're just not that important and if you removed the word God from anyone of my examples they would have turned out the same. That's my point. You can selectively attribute whatever you want to whatever cosmic being you like but... that still doesn't change the outcome. And I don't buy it that the people who made it out of the world trade center got out with God's help. Fate, timing and physics is all there is to it. If you set up an experiment with the exact same factors it would have happened in the exact same time frame. It just happened like it was going to happen; just like anything else.

Now, as for what and why people choose to believe what they do despite the evidence(and I mean real evidence, not 'God is present in everything because of how wonderful everything is'(and sorry, I'd say that less condiscendingly if I had better words so don't get hung up on that)) before them, I can't speak to that any more than I can speak to why you like green and I like red.

I do think experiences with God are a product of the experiencers own mind.

I sense an internalist God group here, though I may be wrong. It's my impression that your feeling of a connection with God is regardless of the church? Do we have any fundamentalists in the crowd?

And in response to *name's comments on my comments...

in a non-interventionist diety who never shows himself and allows evil things to happen?
"I've seen God intervene. Just not in Hollywood style like people demand who want proof."

Ok, this one you're going to have to explain to me. But yes, if you're going to award something tangiable to god which defies physics or coincidence I'm all ears. If you consider something recognizable and measurable that by it's implication would blow people away as "Hollywood", then you're right, I'm probably going to provide a reasoned explanation. Unless, of course, God's name is Fluke... which is also a measurable series of events.

"Wait... I know... "
"Best ask a church employee to supply a vaguery to take the weight of having to think about it off your shoulders."
Always nice to have an intelligent, grown up conversation, isn't it?

Yes, thankyou for asking. Condescension countered with counter-condescension, I think we're even now, lol.

You'll have to ask a Catholic about that one. I don't believe that Mary was conceived without sin...
Amen to that... though you'll have to tell me again why sex is a sin... a lot of sin'ish things in the bible have some logic to them... that one, not so much.

"But that would be suicide too, wouldn't it... catch 22"
False analogy.

...not so much. Well, unless you consider the conscious choice to incinerate yourself for God(that is, attempting to not commit suicide by committing suicide) suicide. All very vulgar after we've steam-rolled back and forth over it this many times.

Girl With An Alibi said...

I wonder how many hard and fast rules there are with God. I wonder if perhaps He doesn't deal with us individually on a case by case basis (or a soul by soul basis.) Maybe we are looking for patterns where there is only purpose. God's purpose. If you don't believe in God then you will dismiss the purpose outright and decry the inconsistency of the presumed patterns. If you do believe in God you may mistake the purpose for a pattern (read: religious ideology) where there is none. If the Will/Purpose/Whim/Being/Love of God is the main driving force the pattern however random, chaotic and inconsistent is ultimately a slave to it. I have to ponder this some more, cause it's still working it's way through my brain (can you tell?)

Wow! This is such a cool conversation. I was just reading over all the comments. It really makes you examine your faith and question it (in a healthy way.)

Who was it that said, "the unexamined life is not worth living."? I think that one could say an unexamined faith is not worth believing in.

Girl With An Alibi said...

I just got this verse in an email from Michael's mom. It's right on point.

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." —Jeremiah 29:13

Resonates for me anyway.

The Unseen One said...

If you set up an experiment with the exact same factors it would have happened in the exact same time frame. It just happened like it was going to happen; just like anything else.
I do think experiences with God are a product of the experiencers own mind.

That's your belief and you are entitled to it. I happen to disagree.

as for what and why people choose to believe what they do despite the evidence...
Simply a choice.

Good people die, bad people die, good people live, evil people get rich, lol.
When one puts their faith in this world, and this is all there is to them, well, I remember how I used to see that as the be-all-end-all "proof" that there wasn't a God. From the perspective that this world is ephemeral and temporary, those evil people who got rich aren't going to be able to take it with them, so their wealth is ultimately meaningless.

Ok, this one you're going to have to explain to me.
I've seen several healings that shouldn't have happened according to the medical professionals involved. They could have been coincidences, but as a former statistician, the odds were a bit too astronomical considering the vast amount of evidence about how the diseases usually progress. I've also heard of some pretty substantial things others have told me about, but since I didn't see them, I can't tell you with 100% certainty that they happened.

though you'll have to tell me again why sex is a sin
Sex isn't a sin. I believe it is a gift from God. Misuse of a gift from God is a sin. Just look at the concequences: unwanted pregnancy, emotional pain, STDs, children being aborted or raised in horrible environments... it is an integral part to a self destructive lifestyle.

...not so much.
Suicide is a choice to end one's own life. In the WTC towers, there was no choice. They were going to die in a very short period of time. Their only choice was how to die. Since I wasn't there and can't imagine the utter horror they must have been feeling, I will refrain from judgement. But for the sake of argument, lets say that jumping would have been considered suicide. Not jumping being considered suicide also and thus a catch-22 is a false analogy because there was no choice to NOT die.

People have been throwing around the "M" word, as you put it, an awful lot these days. But I'm not them.

Hemoragic fever
There are a lot of answers out on the web that explain it a lot more eliquent that I, especially at midnight after a long day. But basically, a virus will mutate over time. Take a non-deadly micro-organism, mix in a fallen world, entropy, time, natural selection, etc. Also a deadly virus for one type of life form isn't deadly for another. Some monkeys can have HIV and it won't harm them at all.

I realize my explainations aren't exhaustive and probably won't convince you, but that's fine. It all comes down to choice to believe or not to believe. My belief stems from the evidence that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. Eye-wittnesses claimed to have seen it. My choice is to believe them. Kind of like the choice to believe that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. It is based on eye-wittness accounts that people chose to believe.

gone said...

I'm impressed. This is very good conversation.

I think God is very impressed too.

If I didn't have faith in anything, I would feel lost. If I didn't set goals for myself, I would have no motivation. If I didn't have a belief to be passionate about, I would not be much of a conversationist. What I am grateful for is being able to find complete peace in a God who promises to be there for me. Everyone has been turned off by religion at some point. But this is more than religion, this is a lifestyle. If in the end I'm forever floating on a cloud with a halo, or that's it, I'm just dead -and all the people I know who say God isn't real, I'm just happy to have been able to live knowing that I had more than just people, just materials, just life to look forward to.