My friend, Paul, sent me these pictures; these two churches, a Catholic Parish and a Presbyterian church, sit across the road from each other. I think it’s funny how the Presbyterians didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor about the whole thing 😀
Tag Archives: Christianity
So the statement that got the atheists all upset during this recent Revelife uproar on Paul Partisan’s otherwise nice-enough post about atheism as a religion was that I said I didn’t care if atheists burn in Hell. That comment has been deleted not because it was so cruel, but because it was the trigger that set off the rampage that resulted in…well, anyway.
To the point of caring if atheists go to Hell. I don’t. I am only going to briefly mention the bizarre mindset that must exist in order to be offended by someone who holds beliefs that you call irrational stating that she believes you are being sent to a place that you do not believe to exist because of an “imaginary sky daddy”. If I told you that you were being sent to the planet Dorkron tomorrow by Captain James T. Kirk, would you be so bothered?
People who have passed the age of reason are free to turn their backs on God. They are also free to turn back to Him, and many do. A fellow in Scripture named Paul shows us that those most opposed to our Lord often end up falling the hardest for Him (credit to my friend Tom for the original turn of words there). When someone insists on recalcitrance and remains opposed to God to their last breath, they choose to go to Hell. It is not a reflection on their works here on Earth, God just really is a jealous bastard who can’t handle being de-friended, un-subbed to, blocked, or having his friend request denied. He doesn’t send you to Hell, you send yourself. What is Hell, after all? Is it Dante’s fire or something else? I used the word burn as metaphor, but I believe Hell is actually an eternal separation from God. Think about that again.
Eternal separation from God. This isn’t a warning to those who refuse to ever believe in Him, it’s a warning to those who believe in Him but come to the conclusion that they know better than Him. I pray for those who know God but who arrogantly choose to think they can improve upon Him. Why would I waste time in prayer on those who obstinately refuse to acknowledge Him at all? He knows who they are, and I don’t believe He needs me jumping in and acting as their advocate. I will advocate for those whose hearts are confused, not for those whose hearts are closed. Does this mean that I want atheists to go to Hell? Of course not, but I believe in freedom choice when it comes to this choice because you really, truly, are only hurting yourself. You know people believe in God and you know what they say will happen if you reject him, you don’t even get to claim ignorance. The ignorant can be saved!
What Jesus says in Matthew 7:6 is a rephrasing of Proverbs 23:9. “Do not speak in the hearing of fools; they will despise the wisdom of your words.” The meaning likely referred to obstinate fellow Christians, as Jesus revisits the topic and tells us to treat them as a “Gentile or a tax collector,” (Matthew 18:17) which in that time was someone you would simply ignore. Now if Jesus wants us to ignore an “obstinately impenitent” fellow Christian, what could He possibly want us to do about someone who is not a Christian, who obstinately rejects Christianity? Isn’t ignoring them the least we do?
Perhaps this makes me a bad Christian. But explain to me why I should care that someone chooses to reject God? And why are they so bothered that I don’t care?
When I was seven-years-old, I swore off green beans for 40 days. At eight, I learned that the true reason that I was supposed to give up something for Lent was to show that I loved Jesus more than what I was giving up. I loved Jesus so much more than doing my chores. My mom didn’t agree that chores presented a reasonable Lenten sacrifice, and she had powerful allies. Our Parish Priest and assorted nuns at school confirmed that allowing over six weeks of filth to accumulate in my bedroom was not in keeping with the spirit of Lent. Even today, I would much rather give up homework than chocolate or Xanga but I know better. I know today that Lent is not the opportunity for a New Year’s resolution do-over.
When millions of us take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Mardi Gras (French for “Fat Tuesday”), and receive our traditional ashes on our foreheads the next day, we will be starting a period that is not just about giving something up, but about bringing ourselves closer to Jesus Christ. While the most well-known practice of Lent is doing without luxuries, as well as fasting and avoiding meat, it is this practice that is least related to what Lent truly means. We often speak very publicly of what we are setting aside, be it alcohol, caffeine, television, sugar or sex (many try). In fact we speak so publicly and loudly of it, that we seem to need the reminders of our Ash Wednesday Gospel readings from Matthew 6 so much more as our pride, hypocrisy and gloominess often appear to know no bounds. It is these three things that Jesus speaks of–almsgiving, prayer, and fasting–that make up the Christian unification with Christ in the desert. For Catholics, Wednesday begins one of the two seasons of preparation for the cores of the Christian calendar; Lent being our preparation for Easter and Advent for Christmas. We should ask ourselves, though, is giving up candy or American Idol actually bringing us closer to our Lord, or is it just a way to go through the motions and make ourselves feel better? There is nothing wrong with giving something up, in fact we should, except that we should focus on testing ourselves while simultaneously doing those things that make us more like Christ. Do without something that truly requires discipline to avoid, while adding something that equally requires commitment. For example, make peace with your sworn enemy, or right a long-past wrong. All the while pray without ceasing and perhaps literally leave yourself with just one coat.
Lent is our preparation for death. The death of Good Friday. It is a call to kill all the personal needs that scream for our attention so that we hear only Jesus Christ. It is when we kill our selfishness, our desire, our greed, our worldly tastes that we become ready to have life, resurrected, on Easter Sunday.
Another student at school today stated that he wished he had the opportunity to go to Haiti and help because “It’s a great opportunity to spread the Gospel.” I was stunned by what he said, and at a loss for words. Not angry. But incredulous. He did not see an opportunity to help suffering people, but an opportunity to evangelize. There is no doubt that the words of Jesus Himself tell us to make believers of all (Matthew 28:16-20) however, Jesus did not tell us when nor how to go about fulfilling “The Great Commission”. I have discussed the famous quote from St. Francis of Assisi with a friend here just recently:
“Spread the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”
In a disaster, shouldn’t the words of St. Francis be given extra attention? Can a disaster present an opportunity for evangelism? Should it?