Thursday, October 24, 2013

7 Quick Takes - Time and Space and God

Aloha Friday Blog Hop

First, I read a couple of REALLY great blog posts this week elsewhere, and I wanted to share them. Both participate in 7QT, so some of you may have already read them. The first, in fact, is the post in which the host of 7QT, Jennifer, shared the video of the forum she participated in this week on Exploring God. If you didn't watch the video, I highly encourage you to watch it. It's just really good.

The second was a post on sin by Leah Libresco over at Unequally Yoked. I wrote on sin, too, the day before she posted it, so it caught my attention. She sets up an analogy wherein she compares general "sin" to "punching someone in the face." She goes further, in reference to the line in Amazing Grace, "'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear," and says:
Punching people in the face is pretty bad, but what’s worse is punching them and not noticing and losing the opportunity to repent or make amends.  Then the relationship between betrayer and betrayed still exists, but with a compounded betrayal, as I go on oblivious, leaving my friend to deal with a wound alone.
And what’s even worse than that is noticing the punching but being callously indifferent to their pain and to my error.  After all, in this case, I need more help than just drawing my attention to the way I clipped you with my fist as I pushed through a crowd.  I have more that needs to be healed for my natural concern for you to flower again.  And, like a person recovering from frostbite, getting the blood moving again hurts and it’s easy for me to try to avoid the very thing I need to recover.
So, being able to notice and regret sin ends up being a very precious gift.  When I stillhaven’t made any progress at not-punching, I can still be thankful for the sense of guilt, the sense that punching people is the wrong choice, which forces me to keep trying and to not abandon the not-punching-people project.
Do yourself a favor and read the entire post!

I've been having technical difficulty in that, on the computer I normally have access to on Thursday nights (otherwise known as "7QT link-up night") does not register the linky list on Jennifer's blog. I have access to the Internet on my phone, but the web address of my weekly post is usually too long to enter on the list via my phone (it won't accept it), so I haven't been able to link up. I miss linking up!! But, until I replace my own laptop and am able to link it again, I will continue to post Quick Takes all by my lonesome, even if they do get fewer views that way. [Sigh.]

This coming Thursday I will be taking the GRE. For some reason, I did not have to take it before entering my last graduate program, but have found that it is required for both of the degrees I am currently looking at. I have applied at Missouri State University for an MNAS in physics. I've pretty much persuaded myself since then that I am absolutely bonkers for doing this, since I have almost no science background in my transcripts and that is a pretty big prerequisite.... But I am interested. In fact, I am still interested in a theologically-oriented doctorate, but I find the subject of God in light of the cosmos fascinating. I want to interweave the two disciplines as I prepare for my ultimate goals of teaching and writing. And if they accept me despite my lack of science credits, I'm pretty sure I can catch them up during the spring and summer and be ready to start the graduate work by next fall. So please pray for me Thursday that I do well on especially the Math portion of the GRE!! Thanks. 

Here's one of the types of things I'm interested in studying:
Along the same lines, if you watched the video above with Jennifer and two pastors in Austin, at one point in addressing the question of how to respond to accusations that Christianity is a crutch, Jennifer referenced the idea of gravity. Like we are dependent on gravity to hold us in place, so we are dependent on God to get us through life. Call God a crutch if you will, but you would also have to call gravity a crutch, whereas in reality, it is quite simply a natural law. 
Has anyone else noticed the story of Peter Pan has a lot to do with time and space? You know, Neverland..."Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning." In the BBC series Neverland (2011), it is described as being situated at the very center of the universe, and the implications of its position relate to why no one ages in this mysterious land.
It did bring up some moral questions in my mind. On Leah Libresco's blog there have been discussions about sexual morality between various genders and numbers of partners...and this Peter Pan thing made me wonder...if such a place did exist, where people arrived and did not age, would it be acceptable then to mate sexually with people considered "under age" under current Earth reckoning? Would a person who was, say, 14 for 200 years mature psychologically over that time, or would psychological advancement be subject to biological limitations...?
Just in casin' you still haven't clicked on that video, here it is. It's an hour long, but definitely worth the hour! ;)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What Lay's Potato Chips Teach Me About Sin

Here's the thing about my never-ending search for truth. The center I usually start from is Jesus. Things tend to work out better when I do so, anyway. The last year or so I've been exploring the ways in which conservative Christianity - meaning fundamentalism - has been wrong. It seems my understanding of God and His mission in the world has changed so much...there have been moments when I have thought everything I grew up believing was wrong.

For one thing, I grew up in a tradition in which (like most others, I think) there was a long list of things not to do - sins. Yeah, I know the theology of "sin" vs. "sins," and I know the views of Old Testament vs. New Testament and even the ultimate Law of Love (and liberalism). Honestly, for the last year or so, I have leaned heavily toward the latter option, pretty much to the exclusion of all else.

But the last few days I've been thinking something different.

In the Genesis account of the fall of humanity, Adam and Eve had been warned that the day they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would surely die. ...But they didn't die that day. So...did God lie? Even if you believe Genesis is pretty much a collection of Hebrew myths, why would they portray God as having lied?

Sin is kind-of like Lay's potato chips:

The kids in the commercial speak the truth: "No one can eat just one." Yet they parade around and demonstrate the golden fried crisp goodness of the chips as if daring you to prove them wrong.

Just like the serpent in the garden. "You shall not surely die...."

But no one can eat just one apple.

It's not about the apple. It's about the cumulative effect of doing things my way instead of God's way.

Maybe the old folks weren't entirely wrong with their (many) lists of "don't"s. A can of beer never killed anyone [now everyone will be typing that into a search engine to see if I'm wrong lol! Don't worry, I probably will myself when I finish typing this!]. But the cumulative effects of alcoholism are inarguably destructive.

I've heard that most believable lies (including those of liberalism and legalism) usually stem from a nugget of truth.

But what about this for theodicy...
There is evil in the world.
Where does it come from?
The Bible says it comes from sin.
The cumulative effect.
The tricky part is figuring out how to walk the fine line between liberty and self-control, avoiding both recklessness and asceticism.
Lord, continue to teach me.