What I Learned Since “My Faith Is Dead”

I wrote this a year ago. I’ve learned a few things since then, reminded of more, and changed a few ways as well.

I’m Not The Only One With Troubles

I got a lot of responses from this post. Some thanked me for being so honest. Others said they had felt similarly at one time or another. A small number simply encouraged me not to give up anyways. But then others actually shared their own struggles. Some quite similar to my own frustrations, others of a very different struggle.  These were things I never would have learned about otherwise. Many of these friends live time zones away. Learning that my friends suffer as well didn’t make me feel better, per se, but it helped give me a bit of perspective. Pain and disappointment are not things unique to any of us. I don’t know why sharing helps, but it does. Maybe because we’re not lying anymore.

There Are Only A Few Promises In Life

If your parents promised you Power Rangers action figures for Christmas, you’d be rightly disappointed with them when you instead got a pack of knock-off Chinese toys consisting of three Shreks, a Spider-Man, and an inexplicably orange Black Ranger. If however your parents made no such promise, then you have far less reason to be angry at them, save for the fact that you think you deserve Power Rangers (but you don’t because you’re a little brat). This is probably a very poor analogy for anything, but I enjoyed thinking of it so that’s what we’re going with. Prior to a year ago I had a lot of vague expectations about life, picked up from a variety of sources. Some of them from well-meaning books, others Midwestern friends with their seemingly perfect little married lives I simultaneously despised yet wanted for my own. I saw this sort of inevitable progression to life, that the things I desired were inevitable (“God will grant you the desires of your heart” and all) and would just sort of appear sooner rather than later. Really the only thing inevitable was my frustration with these broken “promises” boiling over into a big dramatic mess.

When you clear out the endless bombardment of platitudes and well-wishes, life looks far simpler. Benjamin Franklin was rarely more wise than when he wrote “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” The Bible is, for Christians at least, more optimistic in the more long term view of things, but for here and now the kinds of things we can expect include persecution, temptation, family strife, false teachers, being misunderstood and other such things. That said, God also promises his presence throughout it all, and that he will never forsake us, and that all the troubles we go through now will be as nothing compared to joy we will soon know.

I’ve Tried New Things

Though it took me longer than most, I eventually realized that part of the reason my life was boring and disappointing was because I just sort of waited for it to happen. I’ve done some things to remedy this. I ran a half-marathon, I’ve taken a drumming class, and I’m several weeks into a poetry writing class, to name a few things. While out intrinsic worth as human beings made in the image of God cannot be diminished or enhanced by our own efforts, it’s a simple fact that our lives are better when we do things with them and take full advantage of our capacities. Expecting things to happen on their own is a good way to ensure they never will.

I’ve Developed A Strong Interest In Theology

I wish I could say that last November was what caused this, and while there was certainly more reading in my life since then, the real cause was both stranger and more mundane. To put it simply, I developed a crush on a girl of different denominational leanings from my own. What started as an idle attempt to see if there was truth to her beliefs (and thus a legitimate future for a relationship) spiraled into a whole mess of research, Googling countless questions, delving into Catholic dogma, Orthodox tradition, Reformation teachings, you name it. And questions led to more questions, questions I couldn’t even find being asked, requiring me to read entire books just to see if I could gleam what I was really looking for. And I found I enjoyed it immensely. In a sense this was a rediscovery, as I’ve always enjoyed reading both fiction and nonfiction, but instead of indulging my curiosity about orcas or VY Canis Majoris this had the added benefit of having eternal implications. It got to the point where I even decided to go back to school (something I’ve put off for nearly a decade) in hopes of learning more. Only downside is it’s a rather touchy subject and not something you can casually discuss at most dinner tables (unlike orcas) but such is life.

I’ve Become Slightly More Okay With Being Single

Still a bit of a sore subject for me but I figured I’d touch on it anyways. Along with somehow becoming a writer of some sort of effect one of the other things I felt I was being denied was marriage. And the fact is I am still single (the crush did not turn out, though like every other time I eventually discovered that it was probably for the best). Dating, or even getting to the point of dating, remains rather difficult. It could be I’m just overly picky and/or cautious. And I have tried online dating, on multiple occasions, to no avail. And yet, despite edging ever closer to “old” I’ve found that the existential dread of being “forever alone” has abated, at least a little. To the question, “would being a lifelong bachelor really be the worst possible fate?” I am starting to be able to answer “well, perhaps not.”

I don’t have a clue what the future holds as far as relationships go, and the fact that it involves a second person, possibly with their own self-indulgent blog, makes it all significantly more complicated. But I guess I’m willing to wait and find out, and occupy myself with more immediate concerns in the meantime.

The Gym Is A Waste Of Money

Yeah I’m never going to go regularly. I should just cancel the membership today.

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If Martin Luther King Jr. Were Alive Today He Would Hate Everyone

In light of recent events, most notably the kerfuffle in Ferguson, MO, the good name of Martin Luther King Jr. is once again being invoked in support or umbrage at this agenda or that. But let’s get real here, you people who think MLK Jr. would stand in solidarity with your economic or political views are fooling yourselves. He would hate you, both in a general sense and in a specific you as an individual sense.

If you were a white man he would punch you in the face, and if you were a black man he would drop kick you. If alive MLK Jr. would be 85 years old, and he wouldn’t even care. He would slap you silly and then laugh in your face for daring to be outraged. If you are rich he would slap you with your own wad of cash, and if you were poor he would slap you with your own bindle. Then he would set them on fire and just walk away.

Maybe you think Dr. King would be on your side because you stand for all the things he stands for. Nope. He thinks you are a stupid hanger-on and has nothing but contempt for you. Maybe you oppose a lot of the things he was trying to accomplish for one reason or another, in which case he thinks you are retarded and should not be allowed outside. And if you haven’t made up your mind, he would think you are a complete wuss and need to stop wearing little baby diapers.

If you are gay or bi or trans or whatever and Martin Luther King Jr. doesn’t beat you up, it isn’t because he approves of you; he just doesn’t want to touch you. If you see him wearing his gloves your only hope is to run. He’d hate you too, and if there weren’t so many straight people whose butts would needed kicking he’d show you how hate crimes are done. Not even the dead are safe from a hypothetically living Dr. King’s indiscriminate wrath, as one of his favorite past times would be dancing on graves and then throwing the headstones into the sea. But first he covers them in poison because he would even hate nature.

So please stop claiming that Martin Luther King Jr. would be outraged at his legacy being tarnished by this group or that group, because while technically accurate it fails to properly convey how he would be in a state of undying rage at everyone and everything.

A reply to “Death penalty foes won’t take a stand in Colorado”

Anyone reading this blog already knows what happened in Aurora, CO, so I won’t bother reviewing it for you. Instead, we move forward to the new developments, the court transcripts, and my personal favorites, the opinion pieces.

At the risk of being insensitive to the very real tragedy of these events and the fact that they happened to real and actual people, I can’t help but read about them, and what people say about them, and then forming opinions on my own. It’s almost enjoyable, discourse and whatnot (not that I really do much in the way of back and forth discussion on most matters).

One such article, written by Jonah Goldberg, brings up a very interesting point, one I hadn’t actually thought about until reading it. For those who aren’t going to read it, I’ll do my best to summarize: anti death penalty advocates aren’t going to speak up about this case because it’s not one they think will go well for them. And I think he might be right.

Almost a year ago, Troy Davis was executed for murder. The days leading up to it were filled with all kinds of arguments against his execution, and its pretty clear the author is referencing this very event when he says: “Death penalty opponents are fairly mercenary about when to express their outrage. When questions of guilt can be muddied in the media; when the facts are old and hard to look up; when the witnesses are dead; when statistics can be deployed to buttress the charge of institutional racism: These are just a few of the times when opponents loudly insist the death penalty must go.”

Goldberg brings up another good point, without entirely meaning to: the primary argument against Davis’ execution was that he didn’t do it, or that there wasn’t sufficient evidence of his wrongdoing to warrant execution, or that he only received the death penalty because he was black man.

I’m no expert on the subject, but these sorts of arguments seem to be where most anti death penalty tend to go. Sometimes they bring up mental illness or unusual circumstances, but the usual case is “we can’t be so certain of it that it’s worth killing them”. Or racism. The arguments that it is always wrong in every circumstance never seems quite as loud or popular.

Well, guess I’ll go ahead and be unpopular (I’ve been through high school so I’m used to it) and say that I oppose the death penalty in every circumstance. Including this one. I’ve discussed my feelings about it before, and since then I have refined my thoughts.

I wasn’t always opposed to it. When I was younger it just made perfect sense to me; kill off the bad people and make the world a better place, or at least show the bad people that we aren’t going to put up with them. After becoming a Christian six years ago I still thought it was the right thing to do. God told Noah that if a person or animal takes a human life they are to be killed themselves, and this principle is reinforced with the covenant God makes with the Israelites.

Recently, however, I’ve been thinking more and more about what it means to follow Jesus, and what precisely we are called to do as his disciples. While Jesus did a lot of great things for people, the single most important act was sacrificing himself for us so that our sins can be forgiven, thus allowing us to dwell forever with God. Likewise, while Christians are called to do a number of things, including helping the poor and sick and each other and making full use of what God has given us, our single most important task is to seek out the lost and tell them the good news about Jesus. Everything else we do is inconsequential. I say that a man whose only worthwhile deed in life is leading one other person to Christ has led a more fulfilling life than a man who has done everything but share the gospel with another.

And here is a very simple fact: you can’t share the gospel to a dead man. You can’t reach out to the lost if they have already lost their heart beat. You can’t read John 3:16 to a man in a dark concrete box who is denied any contact with another human being for the rest of his life.

Furthermore, you’re going to have a very hard time inviting a man to church who, after making a couple of very big mistakes, has been locked up with hundreds of ill-tempered, aggressive, and violent men. Bad company corrupts good character, so how much more will bad company corrupt an already shaky character? Do you think our correctional facilities actually correct anyone?

Obviously we can’t just let violent and larcenous people roam free, but our current system of justice is based on retribution and shame, not reform. In a way, we don’t really want them to reform, we want to watch them squirm and suffer forever. In our misguided attempts at building heaven here on Earth, we have invariably created thousands of miniature hells.

I’m not a religious authority, but I firmly believe that no Christian should support any institution or behavior that makes it more difficult to share the gospel. That includes the death penalty, or locking up prisoners with no one but other prisoners for company. I do not think there should be any exceptions to this. Jesus died to save James Holmes just as surely as he died to save me or Billy Graham or Saul of Tarsus or Joseph Stalin or any arbitrary list of people you can think of.

Obviously this argument isn’t going to do much for anyone who isn’t a Christian, but maybe you will nevertheless agree that there is a better way to do things than the way we do them now.