Archives For October 2013

waiting-by-phone

DISCLAIMER: There are clearly very obvious reasons why Jesus would not call Mark Driscoll after a date (e.g. Jesus isn’t really the “dating” type, Mark Driscoll is married to what can only be described as a “happy” wife, and as far as we know… they are both heterosexuals). However, I have compiled a list of reasons a hypothetical date between these two would not yield the slightest possibility of a second encounter.

Mark Driscoll loves Jesus. There’s no doubt about that. Mark loves Jesus so much that if the Nazarene knocked on Mark’s door with a pair of tickets to see Gravity in 3D, Mark would jump at the opportunity. A dismayed Mrs. Driscoll would nervously wave goodbye from the doorway, clinging to her new book Mark bought her entitled Why My Husband Will Never Love Me. She’d pray she’d have the quiz in the back pages completed before his return.

But most of us know Mark would be back soon with an entirely different opinion of that Jesus fellow. New incompatibilities would come to light. Some might even call them irreconcilable differences. Mark may have friended Jesus on Facebook, Followed him on Twitter, and even created a new contact in his smartphone, but deep down he knows what we all know.

Jesus isn’t calling him back. Why?

1. MARK KEEPS DISSING JESUS’ HOMEGIRLS

slut

…and pointing in their faces in the girls’ bathroom.

~

You see, Jesus would have eventually brought up his friends, especially his homegirls. Jesus has lots of them. Most of them are called Mary. A few are called Jaquita. One is called Esther. Esther from… the book of Esther, Esther (not Madonna Esther). Jesus and Esther go way back. Well, Jesus was more or less spying on Esther because his Act wasn’t until the Romans showed up, but he was there. But the moment he would have brought up Esther, Mark would have interjected with some less-than-kosher remarks. It’s just what Mark does whenever that broad gets brought up. Exhibit A: Mark’s own words.

“She grows up in a very lukewarm religious home as an orphan raised by her cousin. Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions. Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite.”

[He goes on to say...]

“Feminists have tried to cast Esther’s life as a tragic tale of male domination and female liberation. Many evangelicals have ignored her sexual sin and godless behavior to make her into a Daniel-like figure, which is inaccurate. Some have even tried to tie her story in with modern-day, sex-slave trafficking as she was brought before the powerful king as part of his harem.” -from his article at pastormark.tv.

Jesus would possibly give Mark the benefit of the doubt. Biblical hermeneutics is really hard! He’d politely ignore this one issue and change the subject. Perhaps he’d ask Mark about his own wife, Grace. “Tell me about her, Mark. Tell me about a moment that really sums up your relationship.” If Jesus had read Mark’s book, Real Marriage, so many questions would have been answered. Perhaps he would have taken up Rob Bell’s pottery class offer instead.

Driscoll writes in Real Marriage about his wife
(who deals with depression after sexual abuse):

“My previously free and fun girlfriend was suddenly my frigid and fearful wife. She did not undress in front of me, required the lights to be off on the rare occasions we were intimate, checked out during sex, and experienced a lot of physical discomfort because she was tense…One night, as we approached the birth of our first child, Ashley, and the launch of our church, I had a dream in which I saw some things that shook me to my core. I saw in painful detail Grace sinning sexually during a senior trip she took after high school when we had just started dating. It was so clear it was like watching a film — something I cannot really explain but the kind of revelation I sometimes receive. I awoke, threw up, and spent the rest of the night sitting on our couch, praying, hoping it was untrue, and waiting for her to wake up so I could ask her. I asked her if it was true, fearing the answer. Yes, she confessed, it was. Grace started weeping and trying to apologize for lying to me, but I honestly don’t remember the details of the conversation, as I was shell-shocked. Had I known about this sin, I would not have married her.” [pages 6, 11-12]

So yeah, then there’s the issue of…
2.
MARK’S CREEPY FLOATING TELEPATHIC PORN-O-VISIONx-ray vision

“Hey there, Grandma.”

~

Jesus may forgive Mark for revealing this case of spiritual abuse and all-around “bad husbandry”. He is Jesus, after all. Mark may have a real felt-need to discern the presence of sexual sins in the lives of those around him. Such matters are serious and should never be treated like opportunities to convey spiritual superiority over those in such vulnerable emotional states. That would be a misuse of authority and borderline manipulation. Jesus says a quick prayer for Mark. Afterwards he checks YouTube out of sheer curiosity.

Jesus does a facepalm.

Jesus would send out an emergency text to his homegirls to come rescue him. He’d stall in the meantime. Come to think of it, why was Mark taking him to some abandoned construction site? Scared he’d anger Mark by asking, Jesus would quickly come up with another topic. “Mark, I’m really flattered that you’ve devoted your entire ministry to me. That means a lot. Tell me more about what attracted you to Christianity.” Mark would lean over and whisper two words in Jesus’ ear.

“Real. Men.”

3. JESUS DOESN’T WANT TO FIGHT SWEATY MEN IN CAGES

Wait a minute... This wrestling looks fake!

Wait a minute… This wrestling looks fake!

~

Mark’s vision for Christianity [from Life on Mars (Hill), Bitch Magazine]

“Church today, it’s just a bunch of nice, soft, tender, chickified church boys. Sixty percent of Christians are chicks, and the forty percent that are dudes are still sort of chicks.”

Mark previously encountered difficulty worshiping “a gay hippie in a dress.” But something about those disciples changed his mind. They were anything but hippies. They were real men. Real hardcore, violent men looking for trouble. Trouble for Jesus.

“I’ve gotta think these guys were dudes. Heterosexual, win-a-fight, punch-you-in-the-nose dudes.”

Christianity was about men. Real, sweaty men. The sweatier, the Godlier. Sweatiness is next to Godliness, they say. Wait, that’s not what they say at all. Jesus didn’t want Christianity to be “Manly”. That would imply that there’s something inherently wrong with being feminine. Womanly would mean “weak”. Such an idea is fundamentally insulting to women. It’s essentially saying that women’s main flaw is that they’re not men. Mark would look over at Jesus, sensing the date going downhill. “What’s wrong, Jesus?!”

“Nothing!” Jesus would say. “I’m just… err… um… checking out your YouTube videos! So relevant!”

Mark might try his luck by shifting the discussion.
Obviously we know the futility of even trying, especially since we all know…

4. JESUS IS TOO “PRO CHOICE” FOR MARK

choices-760701

Approaching “Can of Worms” Ohio.

~

Mark would ask Jesus a very significant question. “Are you pro choice?” Jesus may look over at Mark with a smile. Finally Mark would show interest in what he thought. Jesus is an expert on this topic as well. He is a huge advocate of free will. He practically invented it. Maybe this would be a game-changer for the evening. But we know better. Jesus would open his mouth to say, “Of course! Choice is essential to freedom!”

Mark would lash out at Jesus, rudely interrupting him mid-sentence. This misunderstanding would be preventable, if only Mark could suppress his obsession with the topic of abortion. But he can’t.

“Mark, no. That’s not what I-”

“You do not submit to the authority of Scripture! You don’t value human life!” -Mark would exclaim.

After about an hour, Jesus would become fed up with Mark monopolizing the conversation. “You know what, Mark? I’ve had it with your ego, your insensitivity, and your misogynistic rants. You don’t even listen to me anymore! Don’t you understand? Our relationship is all about communication!”

“I can change!” Mark might say.

But it’d be too late. Jesus would have found a ride, possibly like a stranger on a bus, just trying to make his way home, back up to Heaven all alone, nobody calling on the phone (except for Mark). #straighttovoicemail.

In closing: I’m not bashing Mark Driscoll. Mark Driscoll is bashing Jesus. I’m not even talking about any version of the “true” Jesus, or the most “Biblical” interpretation. Some things are mysteries. We can’t know exactly what the historical Jesus would think today. But Jesus represents something life-giving, something powerful and moving and capable of literally saving lives. You may be reading this and have no belief in Jesus whatsoever, or you may be a life-long Christian. That’s not the point. We all have our own views. But at the end of the day, does the Jesus that Mark calls upon resemble a symbol of love, or of resentment? Does Mark call upon a Jesus who saves lives or who shames lives? Does Mark sound more like a spiritual leader or more like a pseudo sex therapist? You have to decide, but one thing is for sure.

Mark Driscoll wants to wrestle with sweaty men in a cage for Jesus.

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brettttttBrett Gallaher is founder of We Occupy Jesus, pretty much the best blog like ever. He resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the place they wrote that train song about. Once he shot a squirrel, but he felt really bad about it afterwards. When he’s not changing the world, Brett also enjoys paying way too much for coffee.

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img: Bernt Rostad

img: Bernt Rostad

There is a trend among many Christians that is far more harmful than believing the Earth and universe are just six thousand years old or that science is evil because it is out to destroy Christianity and Christianity alone (That last bit was said with sarcasm; science and faith are not mutually exclusive, but that is another topic). This trend is two sides of the same coin, just brought about differently; this trend is victim blaming and slut shaming in the name of religion, namely Christianity and other Abrahamic religions.

Victim blaming, if you are new to the term, is when victims of rape are blamed for what is done to them.

“Oh, you were drunk, you deserved to be raped!”

“If you hadn’t worn that short skirt, you wouldn’t have sent an open invitation to any red blooded male that you were available!”

“If you hadn’t been walking the street alone at night, you would not have been mistaken for a prostitute, and he would have left you alone.”

“If you had a man, you would have been safe and protected.”

“He’s your husband/boyfriend/date and he deserves what he wants for buying you dinner/clothes/jewelry.”

The list of excuses for rapists is endless, all while solely placing the blame on the victim. This is what victim blaming is, targeting women, and it leaves the male victims of rape vulnerable and isolated as well.

img: Daniel Dudek-Corrigan

img: Daniel Dudek-Corrigan

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Slut shaming is when a woman is looked down upon, treated like she is worthless, and made to feel ashamed of enjoying what all creatures are created for–sex. Women are taught that sex is for men, and cuddling is for us. (Seriously. It is a meme on Facebook on one of those asinine teen pages. I about puked when I saw it).

The thing is this: Sex. Is. Fun.

Our bodies are designed to find pleasure in our partner’s/partners’ body/bodies based on anatomy alone, never mind the emotional aspect and the mental aspect. Yet, according to many fundamental extremists of the Abrahamic religions, sex is sinful, should only be enjoyed in marriage, and is for men, not women. On top of that, women are over sexualized in society to where a mother cannot even breastfeed her child, using what are actually called mammary glands for what they were intended. This also leads to body image issues and many other issues that will be discussed later.

I mentioned earlier that these are two sides of the same coin. I’ve covered what the sides of the coin are, but not what the coin itself is. The coin is that of oppressing women in the name of religion, the name of modesty, piety, and virtue. The coin is oppression, painted up in a lovely shade of Godliness and holiness, that is based upon a false doctrine of a weaker sex, of women being powerless and helpless, and of needing someone to care for them financially, and needing a man to validate them.

It is a coin that paints sex as a shameful act, in a missionary position, with all of the lights off, between only two people in a heterosexual relationship. Sex is supposed to be bad, not fun, not good and it is only for procreational purposes. Sex is only intended for married couples to know pleasure in one another. Sex is all of these negative, archaic things that have made it an institution that is considered necessary, yet shameful. And here is where the problems begin with this logic, when using victim blaming and slut shaming.

With rape or any sexually abusive act, IT IS NOT ABOUT SEX. It never was about sex. It was never about an attraction to the person being raped for the rapist. It was never about seeing this lovely woman and just having to have her right there, even if she says no.

It is about power.

It is about having so much power over another person that they do not willingly give you that power, but you rip it from them, against their will, even if they say no, because it is about you needing that power. It’s not a power exchange or power play. It’s not about attraction or desire- it is about one person wanting to take away a person’s power and rip it away from them because that is how they get off.

This is why men who are raped are so fearful of coming forward; they lost their power over women. Society has taught that men are more powerful than women, but once a man has his power yanked away, then he loses his identity as a man because his power is gone.This begs the question of “Which way will our society acknowledge it?” For a woman it is about sex when she is raped, yet a man loses his manliness because he was raped. The logical errors in this and double standards are staggering.

injustice by thisisbossi cc bysa 2

img: thisisbossi on flickr; cc by-sa 2.0

These problems are presented because of a misguided conception that is rooted in a deep religiosity of the patriarchal religions for many of its practitioners. In many of the stories, men were portrayed as strong leaders and warriors while women were portrayed as weak, helpless, and deserving of only being used in political marriages to create alliances, unless they were portrayed as completely venomous and deceitful, in which case the men were portrayed as no better than beasts to their sexual urges.

This treatment of victims and survivors is shameful to the Way that Jesus taught because their pain is disregarded for accusations and assumptions that truly have no basis in reality. It also breaks many of the things Jesus taught, including the golden rule of “do unto others…”.

Which brings us to slut shaming. Women are told to not enjoy sex, not to be promiscuous, to not do all of these things that are for men’s enjoyment and men’s enjoyment alone. (Women were also told for several thousands of years to stay out of politics and religion because we are considered too weak mentally to handle the rigors of such subjects).

But why are women told this? Why were they told that? Why are women looked down upon for enjoying sex outside of marriage, told that they are worthless if they are not virgins, looked upon with disgust because because they wear revealing clothing, or enjoy sex?

It is simply this; in the patriarchal religions, a woman’s power is said to lie within her ability to seduce, to pleasure,  to be her partner’s fantasy come to life. Look at Ahab and Jezebel, Samson and Delilah, Adam and Eve, and many other stories within the Old Testament of how women seduced men to get what they wanted or to do evil deeds to hurt the tribe of Israel or all of mankind, even when there were only two human beings. We are ingrained with this so heavily that women have become sexualized in a most shameful sense; and not just by men either, but other women too. Another example of this is the fact that men find it very sexy to see two women kissing or having sex; but if a woman finds two men kissing and having sex sexy and fantasies about having sex with two men? Oh, she’s so bad, such a slut.

This treatment of sex as a shameful act is what has brought about slut shaming and victim blame, as has this oppression of women in the name of religion, and in the guise of virtue and righteousness. And society continues to allow it, even into the twenty-first century, basing it on patriarchal religions that were trying to separate themselves from the pagan tribes around them that used sex as a form of worship and revered the flesh of the human body.

Women in many of these pagan tribes were also allowed power. Women were then taken from power and not allowed it in these patriarchal religions, and were even painted to horrible, conniving, and even evil. The only difference is that it was not spoken aloud like the rest of these rules and laws or written, but remained unspoken and a bit obvious because of the treatment of women. The rule in the Old Testament that a woman must marry her rapist, (along with a woman may be stoned if she is found to not be a virgin on her wedding night) makes this glaringly and painfully obvious as do certain verses in the New Testament (e.g. women shall remain silent in church).

With religion, many focus on the wars started in the name of religion, along with the bloodshed, torture, imprisonment, and cold blooded murders of what the practitioners have done in the name of their God. One thing that is ignored is the way people are treated and how it affects many of those same people today (even in an enlightened age where it has been acknowledged that all are equal and deserving of rights). Yet many are still having to fight to even marry, because of religious people wishing to ban marriage and such a beautiful thing as love, but allow violence to roam rampantly in the light.

Many are still attacked and shamed for what others did to them because of religious people interpreting sacred texts their way to suit their own purposes, biases, and prejudices. And the saddest thing of all is that these people never realize the monster that they are feeding, the darkness that they are allowing to obliterate another’s light, and the heartbreak and sorrow that is being caused to other people. This coin needs to be taken, shattered, and scattered to where no other person can feel the pain it causes.

img: storebukkebrusse, flickr

img: storebukkebrusse, flickr

Love is the only thing that can reach people, not a religiosity that oppresses and shames a group of people for any reason. And, that being said, we must begin to love one another and ourselves enough to rid our society of these views by teaching the truth. Religion itself is not the problem, but rather how people perceive its literature. We must encourage a change in thought in how texts are viewed and encourage the new methods in thought concerning sex and women. This is the only way that this will stop and that our sons and daughters will be able to come forward without shame and be who they are, enjoying what they enjoy, with no shame or fear or hurt or sorrow.

____

Jordan Michelle BlaylockJordan Michelle Blaylock is a contributing writer for We Occupy Jesus. She lives in Tennessee where she spends her free time collecting crystal skulls and reenacting entire scenes from Star Wars by herself. She dreams of one day climbing the Eiffel tower in a Spider Man suit… again.

signheavenhell

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This may come as a shock, but despite what your ex says about you, you’re probably not going to Hell. Relieved? Good! But I hate to break it to you that your ex isn’t going to Hell either. What was that? Will you both spend eternity in Heaven? Of course not! Then you’d both be in Hell! Are you paying attention at all?

Now I know what some of you may be thinking (and that’s precisely why I won’t be replying to every comment). How can I, blogger-person, know with certainty who is and isn’t going to Hell? How can a mere mortal know such mysteries of divine judgment? Easy. I used the word probably in the title. If I’m wrong, I’m off the hook (and your ex is going to Hell. It’s a win-win). So let’s not get too hung up on “me playing God” and let’s just enjoy the show. You might learn something. Or not.

So, of course when I say the word “Hell”, a lot of images come to mind. Let’s just focus on the basic Hell for now, the one with the fire and the brimstone and the screaming and the pitchforks and the Mormons. You may edit out the fire, or imagine it’s invisible so Hell can be “dark as Hell” too. Maybe it’s just really really humid, or really really smelly. Imagine that place that is just so terrible that the only thing worse is staying in that doomed-from-the-start relationship with your ex, whose very memory is preventing you from enjoying a simple blog post.

MY GOD! LEAVE US ALONE!

Where were we? Oh yeah! The blog post!

So, yeah. I’m just not buying the whole Hell thing. It just doesn’t add up. Not that everything adds up in life, but this one really takes the “not adding up” cake. I can give you four good reasons why you can just rest a little easier tonight. You’re probably not going to Hell because…

 1. INTERSTELLAR SPACE TRAVEL

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If we’re going with the model that involves fire, or at least really really hot stuff like plasma, then stars create an awkward dilemma for eternal Hellfire. I personally grew up hearing that Hell was in the center of the earth. This is by no means a universally accepted location, but it emphasizes the notion that Hell is really really hot, much like the center of our planet. But we all know that there are much hotter places than Earth’s core. While our pale blue dot’s center tops out at about 5430 Degrees Celsius (or 9806 Degrees Fahrenheit for all you folks from ‘Merica) which actually matches the surface temperature of our Sun, it’s snow globes compared to the solar core sporting a whopping 15,000,000 degrees Celsius. (If you’re waiting for the Fahrenheit amount, you’re missing the point).

So, there’s no way God would choose Earth as the host for this party. He’d go big. He’d really show off how bad he wanted us to burn by putting us inside of a star. But if you think the Sun is the logical locale, think again.

Meet VY Canis Majoris…

If you look closely, you can actually see the Sun crapping its pants.

If you look closely, you can actually see the Sun crapping its pants.

~

Stars get larger and larger. Therefore, if Hell exists anywhere in this universe, it must be in the largest star. Well, we don’t know which star that would be, or where it is exactly, but we know that any of these stars are going to be hella-far away. When your ex dies, they’d have to travel there. There’s only two viable methods of interstellar space travel. Light speed wouldn’t work, because the next closest stars (Alpha Centauri A, B, and Proxima) are still over 4 light years away. Ain’t nobody got time for that! God would have to use wormholes to transport us to his abode of infinite justice. He’d be bending space, just for us. Isn’t that sweet?

That sounds like an awful lot of trouble for God. Why didn’t he just put us closer to Hell? He’s basically deferring to his magic teleportation powers to bypass the scientific limitations (the very limitations that he… set up… himself). In Scripture, God rarely allows such wormhole teleportation. Obviously we remember when Jesus floated up in the air and waved goodbye to the audience, saying really profound stuff before he disappeared. You think he’s letting you cruise the cosmos like his own kid? Fuggetaboutit. And just think, even if God somehow did transport us to his flame of choice, he’d have to teleport us every time that star burned out. That’s a lot of effort to punish us for keeping Playboy magazines under the mattress.

Okay, so we’re only on #1 and we’ve already concluded we’re probably not headed to any Hell located in this universe. You’d think that’d pretty much cover our bases right? But I bet there’s at least a few of you out there who believe there’s a spiritual world, all misty/spooky and shit. Well, I didn’t forget about you folks. Don’t worry, because you’re probably not going to that Hell either, because of…

2. CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEMS

Ouch500

“Thank you for physical pain, Jesus!”

~

Have you ever undergone a surgical procedure where anesthesia was required? In other words, were you ever unconscious while someone cut you open and tinkered around inside of you? Luckily for you, you didn’t feel a thing. Well, if you did feel anything then you’re probably the proud recipient of a large medical malpractice settlement and you’re too busy drinking champagne from golden chalices to remember the unpleasantness. When you die, you don’t feel anything anymore. Nothing. There’s no central nervous system to send those “ouch” signals to the brain. Heck, there’s no brain activity when you die either. There’s not a whole lot of anything going on in the “you” department after it’s all over.

Now obviously many of you may be worried about “spiritual fire”. Your body may be gone but your soul remains, right? God is pissed and wants your soul to suffer for all that crap you did with that filthy body of yours. Well, think about what “spiritual fire” would mean. If you are a soul and you can still feel pain, still have thoughts, still experience suffering and all the stuff that comes along with a spiritual Hell, then…

C’mon, people… you know this one…

If your soul provides all the comforts and discomforts of a body… then you never needed a body in the first place. God made the Earth for a bunch of meat-sack soul-containers to bump into each other and start wars and buy over-priced health insurance, for no reason. If God wanted you to suffer after you die, then why make a physical you at all? Why make a physical universe at all? If the universe matters at all, it matters more than our own physical presence within it. That’s right. If there’s a spiritual Hell, if there’s a Hell somewhere on “the other side”, then that’s like God giving this side a big middle finger.

Now I know this is only #2 and we’ve put together a decent case against Hell existing in either this universe or some spiritual realm, but if I know Christians (and boy do I ever), I suspect that a few are reaching for their trusty dusty Bibles right now. I’ll get mine out too. But guess what? You’re still probably not going to Hell because…

3. FOREVER AND EVER ISN’T ALWAYS “FORVER AND EVER”

FOR-E-VER

FOR-E-VER

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“If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” – Revelation 14:9b-11 NIV.

Pretty heavy stuff, right? The smoke goes up forever. Eternal torment, right there in black and white. At the end of time, God kicks some serious human ass. But that verse… it sounds familiar. It reminds me of another verse, an earlier verse.

Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into burning sulfur; her land will become blazing pitch! It will not be quenched night or day; its smoke will rise forever. From generation to generation it will lie desolate; no one will ever pass through it again. – Isaiah 34:9-10 NIV.

Edom is still burning? Really? I mean, it is the Bible. And the Bible is the source of authority on all the Hell-talk anyway, right? But we don’t have to simply trust Scripture this time. I’m sure we can just confirm this ourselves by finding a recent image of Edom. Get your popcorn, grab a couple loved-ones, lower the lights, and let’s enjoy the never-ending carnage together!

Maybe it's "spiritual smoke".

Maybe it’s “spiritual smoke”

~

Hmm. This is awkward. Maybe the Bible just likes to talk a big game. Maybe the Bible uses terms like “forever and ever” to emphasize the extent of the destruction, not the duration of the destruction. Maybe Hitler doesn’t need to boil in lava for eternity; maybe God just wants to look down ominously from the ledge inside Mount Doom as Hitler grasps the Ring of Power in a moment of evil defiance before he melts. There’s actually a whole neat theology about this called Annihilationism. If you’re interested, check out this article.

I don’t know about you, but I’m just more smitten with this God fellow than ever!

Still worried you might find yourself in a leaky rowboat in a lake of fire? Don’t be! Because…

4. MOSES WOULD NEVER LET GOD LIVE IT DOWN

moses460

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I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll never cease mentioning it. Moses totally schooled God in Exodus 32. Here’s the Biblical proof, if proof is the right word.

The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.” Exodus 32:9-10 NRSV.

Okay, so God was like “Leave me alone. I’m pissed. I don’t even want you to talk sense into me, Moses.” But then Moses does the righteous thing by disobeying God and giving God three reasons why he’s wrong to be so bitchy.

But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people. Exodus 11-14

Oh, Burn! (pun intended).

If this verse tells us one thing, it’s that God, even Old Testament pre-Jesus God, had mercy. He never stays mad. He goes for a drive, gets a drink, watches the game, and then comes home ready for love. Plus, he knows that if he really goes over the edge one day, he loses. If there is a God, he’s not interested in losing. Have you ever wondered what it would look like if he really tortured conscious souls for eternity? He’d literally become more cruel than any notion of Satan we’ve ever heard of. If you happen to believe in Satan, and if you even attribute every crappy thing that ever happened to his doing, none of it could ever compare to God creating a Hell. If Satan had a good 5 million years of chaotic fun with humanity, that would never come close to God’s eternal reign of terror, confining countless souls to a fate much worse than death, with no chance of learning their lesson, with no chance of redemption, for crimes they may or may not have been aware of.

Honestly, if Hell is real then God should give every newborn baby a birthmark across their forehead that spells out “Hell is real. That’s why I’m giving you this very clear birthmark because I’d be a big jerk if I didn’t tell you directly. Sincerely, God, Your loving cosmic overlord.”

IN CLOSING: Obviously these four reasons I have given are really four cans of worms I have opened up for you all to enjoy. I do not pretend to know what actually happens when we die, but my studies and sarcasm lead me to write on such topics for educational and entertainment purposes. If you’re an Atheist, God bless you for reading this far. I find myself between agnosticism and pantheism, terms you should know if you want to know anything about me. Having grown up in a fundamentalist home (in the South), this discussion never stops. Hell is a topic that influences everything from who we vote for to how we talk to our parents at Thanksgiving. Hopefully this article has helped you smile a little more and fear the flaming abyss just a little less.

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brettttttBrett Gallaher is founder of We Occupy Jesus, pretty much the best blog like ever. He resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the place they wrote that train song about. Once he shot a squirrel, but he felt really bad about it afterwards. When he’s not changing the world, Brett also enjoys paying way too much for coffee.

Something was brought to my attention recently that I have been turning over in my mind. It really wasn’t talked about until Chris Brown went public about how old he was when he lost his virginity–and how old the girl was that took it. He was eight years old and she was fourteen or fifteen years old.

Which made me realize something. Often, feminists and women focus mainly on what is done to their fellow women, and what they can do to empower each other. While important, there is a lot more to the picture than just that. As I said once in a debate on Facebook, we focus too much on the smaller picture, and not enough on the larger.

flickr: Libertinus. cc by-sa 2.0

flickr: Libertinus. cc by-sa 2.0

While the raping, abuse, and mistreatment of women is a very big issue, what about when the same things are done to men? Men can just as easily be victims and survivors of sexual abuse as women can, while women can just as easily be sexual predators. Neither position is exclusive to either sex, anymore than it is exclusive to any given cultural heritage. It depends on the person that decides to become a predator and yank another person’s power away because they can.

As covered in my previous post, “Christians, Victim Blaming, and Slut Shaming,” rape and sexual abuse are not about sex or attraction. It is not about a sexual urge that cannot be controlled. It is a desire for power that manifests itself in a sexual act because that is what arouses the attacker–the power, not physical attraction.

Many times, men do not come forward as victims of sexual abuse, because they are taught that they are stronger than women and have more power than women. So, when they are raped, they feel they are now on the level of a woman–a cause for shame in many men’s eyes. However, there is another side I never even considered until I read a post by Olivia A. Cole concerning Chris Brown’s age when he lost his virginity.

When he spoke about it, he acted as if it was something to be proud of, that an older woman wanted to have sex with him so much at such a young age. It never even crossed his mind that he was raped because he simply was not old enough to consent to sex. Too often, men are taught from a young age that to have an older, mature, more experienced girl or woman coerce or force themselves upon them is a sign of sexual attractiveness and desire. They treat it as a trophy; which then leaves those who rightly feel violated when they are so victimized alone and more vulnerable. If they didn’t like it, then there must be something wrong with them, or, if they felt violated, then they are reacting in a weak and helpless way.

flickr: karanj. cc by-sa 2.0

flickr: karanj. cc by-sa 2.0

So, on the one hand, men try to act tough and act as if they aren’t victims when they have sexual acts forced upon them, which causes problems in how rape is viewed. Rape then becomes a crime of sex, about sex only, and then turns the attention to only one half of the victims and survivors because they are viewed as weak and helpless. Which then results in the further objectification of that half as weaker; it is an endless circle that leaves so many people broken and vulnerable. It is a yoke that must be broken.

With the rape of men, it is a different type of victim blaming and shaming. Whereas women are told they were asking for it, men are told they wanted it anyway because they are slaves to their sexual desires and urges. They are also scoffed at because a woman or another person took advantage of them, which invalidates them, rubs salt in their wounds, and rakes them over the coals.

With rape, women have been told that they can control what happens to them, while men are told that they are no better than animals. These thoughts must change. They come from a patriarchy that says men have to be a certain way, otherwise they are weak or womanly and a “real” man can’t be either of those. We are truly cutting ourselves short as human beings–as the result of billions of years of evolutionary process.

We must take a stand against these thoughts and respond with love, regardless of the person’s identity, sex, whatever. And, we must always follow that golden rule of, “Do unto others,” and reach out to those that have been hurt or brokenhearted or who have been made to feel like they are worthless or that they are less of a person because of something someone has done to them. We must actively reach out to promote healing and love.

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Jordan Michelle Blaylock

Jordan Michelle Blaylock is a contributing writer for We Occupy Jesus. She lives in Tennessee where she spends her free time collecting crystal skulls and reenacting entire scenes from Star Wars by herself. She dreams of one day climbing the Eiffel tower in a Spider Man suit… again.

There is a force that drives history. It is a raging and chaotic machine that fears nothing and spares no one. It is everywhere, yet it is nowhere. Some call it evil, or cruel. Some call it indifferent.

Others simply call it Satan.

The valiant fight it, sacrificing everything at times. The cowards cling to it, shielded in a guise of power and status. Others are simply run down by its progress. Do not confuse it with death, for death is the exit, or transition to another mysterious country. Yet this force wields death like a terrible weapon of fear, intimidation, and leverage to accomplish its objectives.

Over time this machine has become oiled, fine tuned, and painted with bright welcoming colors, gleaming with the seductive light of nationalism, progress, and profit. Some bow to it, still their heads tilted towards their primary idols of vice, not wishing to appear ungrateful to either master.

At times, the reign of the machine is challenged. The battles are often short and bloody, merely an obstruction in the gears which grind their way onward. There are other times when the machine must stop, its wheels pushed back on course by those pushing it along.

But then there are times the machine breaks down. This is still merely a delay. Soon it is back on track, breaking the bones of the saints, the idealists, the poets, the dreamers, the naive sons and daughters of time.

There was once a man who stood infront of the machine, not asking it to stop. Tauntingly, he stared into its menacing eyes, laying down in its very path. The machine crushed him under its weight, thinking nothing it.

Soon the man became a legend, both revered and ridiculed. Those driving the machine claimed victory and still do to this day. But something had changed. Others stood before the machine. More and more, they came.

And they’ll never stop.

The machine rages on, more erratic than ever. Its campaign of bloodshed has been packaged and sold to the children who it orphaned. But more and more lay down before it.

And they’ll never stop.

The machine still rages, and so do we.

And we’ll never stop until the drivers join us, leaving no one to drive the machine.

And we’ll never stop…

And we’ll never stop…

snake-handlers-1

If you know anything about Christianity, you know that beliefs vary. We use terms like left-wing and right-wing, conservative evangelical and liberal protestant, Calvinist and Arminian, Orthodox and progressive, and the list goes on. Oh, I guess there’s a few “Catholics” out there too.

If you felt the urge to correct me by saying “Catholics aren’t Christian!” then you’re one of those special folks who will hopefully benefit greatly from this post. There exists a vocal faction within many religions, especially Christianity, known as “Fundamentalists.” These people tend to gravitate to extreme positions on religious issues, usually without the college courses to make them sound all smart-like. But deciphering exactly who is a fundamentalist (or fundie) is tricky. I have known progressive folks who just love them some homophobia and some racism. I have also known some elderly “give me that old time religion” types who are vocal about how Pro-Choice they are. Obviously the 700 Club sprinkles some magic hallelujah powder in all of our cereal once in a while. Some of us are just more bullshit intolerant than others.

Oh by the way, some fundies are easy to spot.

DavidWoronieckiWithSign

The purpose of this post is not to lump you or anything else into a neat little (crazy) box by describing what a fundamentalist always believes or does not believe. I simply have the blessing (and fiscal curse) of 3/4ths of a Masters Degree in Theology. I have witnessed fundies shaken to their core, not knowing if God’s lack of male genitalia was a game-changer for their lives or not. I’ve often wondered what would happen if average people (and by average I mean mere mortals who aren’t as educated as us superior grad school drop outs who now work in warranty sales) knew all this cool stuff about Church history and theology that we had learned. For your benefit (if you’re a fundie) and/or your entertainment, I thought a list of some of the more awesome-er contemplative issues I’ve come across would make for a smashing good time.

5. GOD IS NOT A MALE.

Jesus spelled backwards sounds like sausage.

Jesus spelled backwards sounds like sausage.

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Despite how much we may want to see God as a dude, he just isn’t. (And for all you lovely atheists reading along, of course I mean “the God of Christian Tradition” is not nor should have ever been thought to be a dude, in theory). God is described throughout the scriptures and church history to be a spirit, to be wholly (holy) other than us (i.e., God doesn’t have a body). Both Thomas Aquinas (part 1, question 3, article 1) and Saint Augustine (Confessions, book 7) will back me up on that one. The use of masculine verbiage is often allegorical. Feminine, or motherly traits are also attributed to God in Scripture. Psalms 123 uses the term mistress, Luke 15 describes God like a housewife, Hosea like a mother, and so on.

If your knee-jerk reaction is to say “Well, the feminine references are just symbolic, but the masculine ones are literal” then you might want to re-examine your relationship with your father… or mother… or whoever made you think invisible giant shapeshifting penises are somehow essential to your faith.

4. THE BIBLE IS NOT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY.

Some people just "literally" don't read it.

Some people just “literally” don’t read it.

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Now here is a tricky one. So many Christians, and fundies especially, have a real difficulty understanding the difference between the words “literal” and “true”. (I’d suspect a few atheists share this tendency as well). If anyone reading this has such a difficulty and you come away from this post with even a slither more reflection on the topic than before, I will be ecstatic.

When we say the word “literal” we are speaking from a Western philosophical perspective. When we think of things literally, we are talking about “what actually happened”. When people ask us if a tree makes a noise when it falls in the forest, a Western view is, “Of course.” But then some Eastern wise-guy would say, “But sound can’t exist unless you’re there to hear it!” Both views can be considered “true” yet only one view is considered “literal”.

There’s nothing wrong with a Western view, but when applied to the Bible there is a HUGE problem. I think it would help fundies if they knew how Rabbis (you know… people like Jesus) interpret scripture. Judaism was an Eastern religion that focuses on the theological point of the story, not so much the scientific conditions surrounding the events. For them, verses should be interpreted on four different levels, not merely face value.

First is p’shat which means simple. (All you “average” people pay attention). This method is easiest for Westerners because it’s the plain saying of a verse. Sometimes when God says don’t eat rancid camel meat, that’s just him looking out for you.

Second is remez, which means hint. Jesus or other authors would use the remez technique to hint at an Old Testament reference to give a statement a deeper meaning. The deeper meaning may not be literal, like when Jesus was like “Hey, Peter! You. are. the. DEVIL!” That’d just be confusing for everyone, especially that new Pope we all like so much.

Third is midrash, which mean to search. This is the highly allegorical or homiletical application where we read our own thoughts into the text. Remember Pslams? Proverbs? Yeah, all of those. If you hate on midrash, rip out the middle of your Bible. Jesus used this method in Matthew when he said “you shall not kill” but expanded the commandment, saying to not be angry with anyone because this is still a form of spiritual violence.

Last is sod, which means secret. This is the idea that hidden in scripture are meanings placed by God only attainable by revelation, and this revelation is obviously on a personal level.

If you think to yourself, “Either believe all of the Bible or none of it at all,” then you are “literally” insane if you mean “believe all of the Bible literally.” But honestly, most fundies don’t actually think the Bible is to be taken in such a way; they only see the parts they want to see as literal. For example, they may be fine thinking God created the Earth in six literal days, but they interpret “Gog and Magog” in the Book of Revelations metaphorically as “China and Russia.” They may say homosexuals should literally be put to death (or at least be banned from their Applebees after church), but Song of Solomon is just a metaphor for Christ’s love for his church (and not about how awesome premarital oral sex can be).

The propaganda of Biblical inerrancy (fancy way of saying camels go through needle eyes whenever rich people go to heaven) is much more a political/social ideological phenomenon than anything else. If you fight for the bible to be literal only when you want it to be literal, you most likely are looking for an excuse to do, not do, like, or not like something or someone (e.g. science, women, other races, evolution, pre-marital oral sex).

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3. THE BIBLE ISN’T ANTI-GAY.

That reminds me. I need to catch up on Project Runway.

That reminds me. I need to catch up on Project Runway.

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For number 3, I’d love to expound on my own thoughts, but Matthew Vines from reformationproject.org has a video that verbalized this position perfectly. PERFECTLY. “Literally”. Watch it if you want to become a better human being. If you watch it and you have any doubts remaining, only God (or violent re-education camps) could change your mind.

2. GOD MIGHT NOT KNOW THE FUTURE.

angry-jesus

“I don’t know, Peter! Leave me alone!”

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If this makes you uncomfortable, GOOD! I HOPE YOU’RE IN A CRAPPY CHAIR TOO! Just kidding. Where was I? Oh yeah! The blog post!

If you cannot fathom that your newly de-penis’d God also has no idea who you are going to marry, when you’re going to get a promotion, or exactly when then next tsunami is going to kill half a million people, then number 2 is for you!

DISCLAIMER: I’m not saying God doesn’t know the future. I’d never take that away from God. God hates it when my own beliefs mess with his abilities.

If you think God’s omniscience (all knowing-ness) is obviously a power God has, I’d venture to say you didn’t get that belief from your Bible. You most likely heard that from general church chatter over the years. Maybe it just makes sense to you. Why wouldn’t God know everything? He wouldn’t be very God-like if he only knew everything up to this second. He needs to know more than everything! Right?

Well, there’s this awkward thing we Seminary students learned about called “over-Hellenization”. Basically, Christianity got really Greek, really fast. Like, “omni-greek” (all Greek). So naturally, God got greek as well. We upgraded him to super knowledge (omniscience), super teleportation (omnipresence), and super… um… ability to do anything he wants (omnipotence).

We upgraded God.

God-Jesus-Robot

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And now we’ve upgraded him so much that we’re scared to piss him off by… under-Hellenizing him. Christians have grown accustomed to kissing God’s ass. (You just got a little nervous I pissed off his omnipotence, didn’t you?) Those super powers we gave God actually contradict each other, rather blatantly actually. To question them is not heresy. In fact, it’s polite to actually think for ourselves. Let’s try it!

If God knows everything, he can’t change his mind. He “literally” can’t! But don’t worry! Moses changes God’s mind in Exodus 32. (Look it up. Moses schools that guy).

If God knows everything, he’s responsible for not using his omnipotence to stop disasters from occurring (like those tsunamis we were talking about). If you think God has to let tsunamis kill us, I wonder if Heaven has to have tornados made out of snakes for some equally logical reason of yours.

Basically, if you have a perfect God, you have no “relationship”. There is zero room for a personality, for a back and forth, for a give and take, for a… God who says “That didn’t work, I guess I’ll become a human now.”

Yeah… the Jesus thing doesn’t work well under that model.

It’s a good thing we have other theologies like Open Theism. (Sounds all liberal and hippie, doesn’t it?) I know you’re going to do a Wikipedia search, so I’ll save you the trouble.

In a word, open theism is the view that since the fact of human freedom means the future is partly a realm of possibilities, and God’s sovereignty means the future is partly a realm of determined facts, God knows the possibilities as possibilities and the determined facts as determined facts. While several versions of traditional classical theism could model the future as a singular linear necessity, open theism would do so as a plurality of branching possibilities. Thus, the future is pictured as open. -Wikipedia.org.

Now, if this idea makes you think any less of God, just ponder the benefits of a God who is just as bummed out about evil in the world as you are, a God who doesn’t have your future determined without your own free will, a God who is much more approachable than Omni-douche.

1. BEING “SAVED” ISN’T JUST FOR CHRISTIANS.

univerrainbow

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If you’ve ever heard the following verse, raise your hand.

     “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men           by which we must be saved.” -Acts 4:12.

(Now put your hand down. You look silly).

Sounds pretty straight-forward huh? Want some more?

     Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” –                 John 14:6.

Okay, without even delving into any academic mumbo jumbo, you should notice a couple problems if you take these verses to mean you must know of Jesus to be saved. If this is what you believe then you must consider the following.

Babies? Damned.

Everyone who has never heard of Jesus? Damned.

All followers of Judaism? You know, Jesus’ own religion? Damned.

The Good Samaritan? Screw that guy!

You get the idea.

When backed into a corner on this issue, fundies seem to pull out a bunch of exceptions. Babies get a free pass because they are innocent, even though in the next breath they resort to language of original sin and how we are all enemies of God until we accept Jesus.

Those people who never heard of Jesus? They might (keyword: might) get into Heaven because they are ignorant of the truth, therefore they are only judged by what they know. This creates the awkward issue where it’s actually beneficial to shut up and not tell them anything at all about Jesus. It might send them to Hell if they reject him. Even more awkward is that If you take away this exception then you admit Jesus’ very existence is an excuse for God to fry most of the world. Either that or God made the greatest logistical error of all time.

I don't wanna...

I don’t wanna…

~

People of other religions? Forget about it. Under this logic, God sure expects a lot out of people. Imagine if you were born in Iran. Guess what religion you’d be? You’d be a Muslim. I’m sorry. It’s true. But what if a pamphlet about Christianity falls from a plane and winds up in your front yard one day? You’d better convert to Christianity or you’re done for, pal! You just encountered the truth!

But besides all those… logical reasons to dismiss such a belief, there are several different ways to interpret those verses. And this isn’t cherry-picking. It’s just straight up theological precision, bro. I’m about to throw out some big words, so hold on.

The Eastern Orthodox Church holds to a theology of theosis, which basically means salvation has nothing to do with that whole “asking Jesus into your heart” business. Salvation is about God becoming human, healing our nature through the birth and life of Jesus, and offering the same healing and union with God that Jesus has attained. Salvation is a healing of the whole cosmos, not just us. We just happen to be apart of the cosmos, so we’re along for the ride. Some would say this theology hints at universalism (the belief that all be will saved).

I mean… at the end of time, do you really think God wouldn’t win?

Other views include Jesus saving us through his example of love which wakes us from our sinful sleep and shows us how to love each other. Just ask that medieval French scholar, philosopher, theologian, and preeminent logician, Peter Abelard.

“Our redemption through the suffering of Christ is that deeper love within us which not only frees us from slavery to sin, but also secures for us the true liberty of the children of God, in order that we might do all things out of love rather than out of fear – love for him that has shown us such grace that no greater can be found.”

Sounds like some religious asshole, right?

If you wanna get back to what the bible has to say about the matter, Romans lends some insight.

“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves.” -Romans 2:14.

Basically, any potential complications about “knowing” the right thing, or the truth of Jesus, are ironed out nicely here. So, if God can save you without you knowing about Jesus… maybe Jesus isn’t such an egocentric power-hungry control freak after all!

IN CLOSING: Whether or not you believe in God, Jesus, or any religiosity whatsoever, I hope this post has given you motivation to look beyond the face value of the world around you. There is much beauty to be found. Be aware that your beliefs about religion or non-religion say a lot more about you than anything else. We’re all on this journey together. Just try to lay off of the fundie-juice when you can.

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brettttttBrett Gallaher is founder of We Occupy Jesus, pretty much the best blog like ever. He resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the place they wrote that train song about. Once he shot a squirrel, but he felt really bad about it afterwards. When he’s not changing the world, Brett also enjoys paying way too much for coffee.