Monday, April 29, 2013

Shed Purchase From Southern Baptist

Being the chairman of the property committee at church I arranged for the purchase of a new storage shed to replace our recently hail damaged one. Since I was off work today I went up to church to meet with the person delivering the shed.
After backing up his flatbed several times to drop the shed he got out of the truck and asked me if I attended this church. I knew right then I was going to catch some grief from him with his Oklahoma accent coming across really strong. When I responded "Yes" instead of " No shit Sherlock "like I wanted to, he proceeded to ask me if I knew I was saved and did I think we have to work to be saved.
I responded in the Lutheran tradition baptism is the initiation rite to the faith. He then cut me off before I could talk any further and pulled out a track showing the baptist salvation plan I had used over the years during park evangelism. I was courteous and let him finish his presentation. I asked him then what the initiation rite was for his tradition? Was it still the sinners prayer? He said no that wasn't it and all you had to was believe that Christ died for our sins and was resurrected. I give the baptist apologists kudos here for ditching the sinners prayer, maybe eventually they will ditch the age of accountability nonsense too and agree with infant baptism. Although this would steal their full immersion thunder and pull them away from their Anabaptist roots.
Our conversation continued with him going in a Calvinistic direction with lots of reference to sin and hell with many bible verses quoted verbatim. I took another tactic and responded with we can't do anything to earn God's favor and he loves us just as much when we are in grace as when we are out sinning. I also gave him a Lutheran discussion on the law and how it convicts us of our sin and if we ignore it then we lose our free will.
I wrapped my discussion up with him with when we follow Christs teachings, we do leave behind willingly our sinful ways because we see they are foolish. I also mentioned that this scenario spelled out can seem works based but really isn't.  I think at the end he might have thought that we are saved at our "liberal" Lutheran Church and I enjoyed our discussion.
I was a little irked at the time but I think I was able to show him a pre Calvin view of theology that got him to think outside of his Southern Baptist paradigm. I could have been a jerk and cut the conversation short but I am glad I stepped up to the plate and chatted with this guy.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Intention of Blog

When I started this blog I thought I would vent about my past in an unhealthy church and have a lot of material. The interesting thing is, the few things I shared allowed me to blow off steam and I am not mad about the past anymore. So I guess venting via the anonymous blogosphere worked and allowed me some free therapy.

So going forward I am not sure what I will share but hopefully it will help me to continue to vent about situations tjat arise and allow me to handle situagions better. I think I am at point in my life where I am being pulled in a new direction and its scary in a way.

More education is the directive here but what to do is the question. Do I get a Master of Theology or do a Master of History or Anthropology?  I think the study in any of these fields would help me dig deeper and grow intellectually.

I need to take the first step and move in that direction. I think the Theology degree is what i am leaning toward since I feel called to understand more and possibly even consider a ministerial vocation.  I proabably would have done this sooner if my past church experinces didn't suck so bad.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Interfaith Marriage

I was checking out blogs at Patheos and there was an article about interfaith marriage on the Evangelical forum there. In the article it contained a statement that said a mainline and evangelical marriage is considered interfaith.
So I guess if a Methodist marries an non-denominational its viewed the same as people of two separate religions marrying. That makes sense since most folks at my old church think we have gone to hell since we went to a mainline Lutheran church.
The mainline churches in my opinion have remained counter cultural and that is why they are declining. Evangelical churches have tapped into the culture wars and consumerist America to attract new members and play it like they have remained true to biblical teachings in spite of liberalism. Sounds like faux news doesn't it?
If I am to remain protestant or a church attender for that matter the mainline is the only option for me. It is nice to be in a space where multiple opinions on an issue reside and everybody doesn't blindly agree. I guess when education and historical perspective are the main focus most people will walk in American society. Most folks want to be entertained and not forced to think hard about anything.
I guess there are stale mainline churches that can be the polar opposite of the religious right cesspools that are out there. For some reason that scenario isn't as offensive to me since I have had enough of the religious right.
So Evangelicals have another thing to be scared about and obsess over. I guess I shouldn't be shocked.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Russian History

I have been reading The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn. What a downer it has been in the first 200 pages. You really see how terribly people lived under the Communist regime in the former Soviet Union.
The description of the irrational methods of arresting and interrogating people was baffling and the methodology behind will never be know 100% due to evidence being destroyed.  I think about the countless numbers of people whose lives were destroyed and the gruesome and barbaric torture they went through. As an American, it is incomprehensible that humans were treated that way by their government.
I found a documentary on Vice about a family that escaped to to Siberia in 1937 and lived undetected for over 40 years. When they were visited by geologists, they infected the family with pneumonia and killed 3 of them. The mother died earlier of starvation and to make a long story short the only one still living is the 70 year old daughter. 
When I read the previously mentioned book I think what if these people hust escaped. Here I find a real case scenario of a family that did just that. In the eyes of natural selection it would have been better for them to stay put in the city so at least one of the kids had a better chance of carrying on the families genes. On the other hand, by escaping, the family got to spend many years together they would not have been able to if they stayed back west of Siberia.
So was it that some idiots that took over the government in Russia irresponsibly used evolutionary science to engineer utopia? The folks rounded up were impediments to progress and had to be eliminated. That is what I think about as i learn new ideas and take them in. There has to be a time of thinking things through before you make decisions that are a huge mistake or state that you buy into a completely thought out worldview.  If you get too convinced of ideology you will stop at nothing to protect it.
So what would you do? With a Darwinian worldview do you stay put so one of your offspring has the potential to spread your genes?  Or do you take your family and isolate them from the rest of the world and have 30+ years together with no heirs. A person who has faith that there is something beyond this existence on earth takes the flee from civilization option. There has to be a reason for each persons existence, even the nameless ones throughout history that were killed and forgotten by xyz totalitarian regime.
When reading the numbers game of human history I begin to realize how lucky I was born at the time and place I was. I don't think my life is any more important than the millions of people who die from genocide, war, famine and disease. How is someone picked to get murdered  and I dread all I have to on my day off from work. I am a spoiled ungrateful jerk sometimes and history shows me my place.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Positives from a long day

Winter has been here too long in Kansas. Guess what it was 73 degrees most of the day yesterday and we wake up to an ice storm this morning. So the buses are running late of course and it had to be for the school that is farthest away. I get my son to school and head to work  and plan to fix a light fixture at church over my lunch hour.
On the way to fix said light fixture I get a flat tire. I figure no problem since there is a spare on the truck I borrowed from my parents. So I lay down on icy wet ground and drop the spare and rove the flat the problem is the jack wont move truck up high enough to put the spare on. I have to call my mom to bring my floor jack out and in my mind I think problem solved. Once my mom comes with the jack we  figure out the spare is flat too.
We go and buy a used tire up the street for 32 bucks and finally I can return to work 2 hours late and wet all over. On top of that my wife had a bad day and needs me to be there and I want to be selfish and disconnected.  I decide to not go there again and talk with my wife when we are done I remember I never put the jack away and she needs to use the truck in the morning. When I go out to put it away my neighbors son pulls up with some beer and we decide to talk.
We chat about being trapped in dead end jobs we can't stand and the difficulty of relationships. I took the time to tell him his current girlfriend is the real deal and he should make the deal final. He told me he got his tax return and he was contemplating buying a ring. I asked the standard questions about whether or not she was crazy and she passed with flying colors. I told him it was a no brainer and from what I could tell she was a keeper.
So my bad day allowed me to encourage a young man to commit to a great woman who is waiting patiently. I guess when we have delays out of our control we look at time in a different way. Normally we hold to a tight schedule and freak out if everything gets delayed. When you are broke down in a vehicle you just have to wait on others and enjoy the ride. It may even be portal into another dimension where time isn't linear.
As much as I could and did complain about my day it ended great.

My Patriarchal Lineage

I got some pics of some relatives from my dad's side of the family. The first pic is of my great grandfather who hated mining and fled Pennsylvania for Chicago to get away from that career option. They look like Bonnie and Clyde but maybe share some insight as to why I am such a troublemaker.
The second picture is of my grandparents. My grandfather died of a heart attack and he was a master ford mechanic that worked before they ventilated shops for exhaust gas. This is another tribute to my past as I have my grandfathers mechanical aptitude and my grandmothers open mindedness.
Our lineage and legacy in our family helps determine who we are in some ways. The people who surround us as youngsters influence us greatly and make a difference in our path. The strange thing is I only knew the women in the 2 pics. Somehow even though I never knew these 2 grandfathers I still have some of their traits. I would like to think its a coincidence, but I think we are genetically tied to our ancestors.
Both grandfathers were either auto mechanics and blacksmiths. Now I can fix or troubleshoot most problems that arise in my life. My brother has a strong mechanical aptitude and my parents are hard working people too. I think we underestimate our legacy and the impact we make on future generations, even the ones we don't know.
I so labor in my thinking about leaving a lasting legacy for my family. This exercise alone should tell me that its all good and to live in the moment. I want my lineage to do better than I have and to move forward from where I am. I will quit worrying about the day at hand and just realize that I am another step in the right direction for my family tree.

New Vice.com Show

I have long enjoyed the videos Vice has to offer and was bummed their new show was on HBO. They surprised me and have streamed the first episode on their website.
They visit the Philippines and Afghanistan and show how rough life is there. The segment in Afghanistan really resonated with and troubled me. They addressed the topic of suicide bombers and how they use children to transport the bombs through lying and indoctrinating them.
What is it about religion?  It is an instrument that can be taken by extremists and lead to violent ends. Highlighted in the segment was they recruited uneducated people to be the bombers. How common that is that fundamentalist leaders prey on those who are not educated to recruit to their ranks. It is really sick that children are viewed as mere chattel and I probably would hazard a guess that leaders are using the belief system for a power trip.
It really pisses me off that an outlet that allows us to connect to the universe that is infinite and unknowable ends up being a scam. In the worst case you end up dead or broke. Most of us who leave these groups through educating ourselves still feel dirty and used in a way. Sprinkle in the pathways cut in our brain by these assholes that kick guilt up on occasion then you can see what a mental rape religious abuse is.
These people come along and offer knowledge and community up front. After that, the real negatives start to show up in the form of unspoken rules and other legalistic stuff. Then you are in too deep to walk away and feel trapped. The spiritual side of us is something that should never be used for power or monetary gain. However, since we all crave this intimacy and community; we are vulnerable and there are opportunists to swoop in and sell a bill of goods.
There were 2 kids who were caught attempting to suicide bomb and were pardoned and sent to school to be deprogrammed. Guess what, they were both caught trying to do it again. This show to me the mind fuck that is fundamentalism on any level. It is next to impossible to let it go and move one. These belief systems get in our heads and actually have defense mechanisms against competitive information. It is like ideologies survive in the same way viruses and other creatures.
Education keeps you or pulls you out of fundamentalism but the baggage will always be there. The best thing is I pulled my kid out before they got as burned as I did. I don't think any of these problems will go away overnight, but if enough people like me start to walk away then these bullshit ideologies no matter the religion will die a much deserved death.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Mainline Church is a Threat

Joining a mainline church is a huge leap for your family as you leave the heresy that is Evangelicalism behind.  There is freedom that is scary and you have to find a life outside of the church for the first time. Its like you go to church every Sunday to recharge your batteries to go into the world and make a difference.  The siren song of fundamentalism has everything figured out for you. People care about you for just showing up and they pile on guilt to keep you in line.
My wife and daughter have and are reading a biography about MLK Jr. He is a modern time person who God has chosen to make a difference but used mainline theology to inspire him. Tillich, the Niebuhr brothers and others on staff at Union theological seminary inspired this man to make a difference. 
This seminary is made fun of in conservative circles and written off as heretical. So what is it? Do we live Christ's example? Or do we live on every line of Paul's writing. I think that is the void between churches in America.  Do we buy the Catholic beliefs or does the mix of tent revivalism and Calvinism show us the truth.
Who is more like Christ? MLK or the current Gospel Coalition schmucks? I think the guy who opposed culture and risked his life is more inspiring than a theological system that piggybacked itself on Nazi ideologies.  The new Calvinist movement has no grace and might as well be Islam.

Becoming a Christian fixes everything

I was at my parents house for lunch today and one of our good friends was talking about a sports star. He dismissed this persons life up to the point he became a "Christian". Its like this guy just left his past behind post sinners prayer.

In my experience this is just a smokescreen.  Saying you're a Christian is just proof you're faking it. There should be no works outside of baptism to prove your allegiance to the Christian faith. In my old circle, you have to give up your individuality to prove your conversion. Buy into the group think and you are one of God's chosen.

Are all of the heresies the church fought back in the day the same as today or is this belief system just ridiculous?  Conformity and the status quo bore me and Christianity in America checks every box for me to dismiss this belief system. However the alternatives seem to focus on being self centered and contra to personal growth.  I know people who jump through more hoops to buy in to new age spirituality than to accept Orthodox Christianity. 

The roads in my mind to accept Christianity are deep and for some reason inspire me to be a better person. This is difficult when 99% of all Christian options in America are full of shit. I get why people reject the faith and move on. I should have based on my history and all I can say is the Holy Spirit won't let me go.

Country Music

Country music is a genre I have never had a real appreciation for. Just with the basic knowledge I have I realize that the product offered today is a far cry from the traditional stuff by Willie, Waylon and Junior. The new stuff today is kinda of a mix of 80s rock and Garth Brooks. Actually traditional rock is dead and I think most who were fans of that switched over to country.

I will try to stay away from my intellectual high horse and say that this genre is a reflection of the dumbing down of America. Unfortunately,  all of the fans of real country are suffering from their genre being highjacked and commercialized to make a buck.

I guess I will use an example from my music tastes. Green Day is a punk band that has got significant air time on rock stations with mediocre lyrics. I can tolerate them while in the car but I never would listen to them by my own choice.

For those of us that want current punk with an edge we listen to Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. From his Dead Kennedys days he has stayed the course on questioning the establishment and pointing out the hypocrisy of our modern establishment. Electronic Plantation is great song that calls out the bs of our modern day office jobs and hints to the facts that corporations have us in a closed loop to enslave us. It is like the slave owners of the past were too short sighted. You can own the populace by instilling a need in them for products that don't matter. People will work endless hours to have the right car , house, clothes or you name it.

I am guessing there is a way to find real country these days as there is to find real punk rock. However,  the masses want a comfortable message that enforces the trap they have bought in to. Most people don't want to think or challenge their comfort zone which must be an awesome place to be. There are those of us that see the game that is being played and want other creative people to make music to inspire us to think deeper.

Whatever the status quo offers will never do that since ideas are what kills authoritarian organizations. There is an illusion of freedom in this country and accepting what is offered by pop culture isn't going to get you to see outside the matrix.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fairweather Fans

My alma mater has made it to the Final Four this year, which is totally awesome.  However, there are bandwagon fans of the Evangelical stripe that are unwanted and frankly just annoying. I am talking about the Wichita State Shockers. The student section makes the "shocker" sign during the game from the student section. It is done by holding up your first 2 fingers, holding your ring finger down with your thumb and leave your pinky sticking up. In urban speak it is a symbol for fingering a female with two in the front and one in the back. Or as I like to say two in snapper one in the crapper.
I saw 2 posts on Facebook by evangelicals talking about how terrible and offensive this sign is. This is typical of these types they have to find the bad in something and judge it. This get you points in your church group for towing the line and living out your faith. Instead of judging the sign college students us to be silly they should take the hint and try it out in the bedroom. Most of these folks are so repressed that anytime sex comes up they are all over it. Sex is never meant to be a spectator sport, based on one of these broads previous posts her husband would have to remove the stick from her ass to administer the shocker anyway. All I see is a win-win situation.
Once our run is over these jerks will go back to the other state schools and leave us alone. I can't wait for that and good riddance.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Family Members are Muggles

Before I go any further I want to say I don't think any less of the person I describe here. I am glad they are happy with their life but am just pointing out a huge gap in wave length we are on.
My wife and daughter are huge Harry Potter fans and I have watched the movies several times over the years. One thing I remember is how Harry didn't belong in his Uncle's house with his simpleton family members. The term for these unenlightened schmucks was Muggles.
Fast forward to an Easter gathering with family.  My family had attended Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services at our church. We were moved by the deep liturgy and hymns to get us to focus on the passion of Christ. We had a talk with a family member about the Easter service they attended at the local xyz megachurch. She described how awesome it was for her and it sounded absolutely commercial and shallow to me.
On one hand I would have loved to tell her how terrible I thought that church was but I remembered the muggle thing. Just let them talk and move on. It wasn't too long ago I didn't care about holy week either and would have visited that place. All I can hope is that this simpleton faith will run out of gas for her and we can actually have an intelligent conversation in the future. Oh well I can dream.

Pro Life Voters Guide

Post the summer of mercy all fundagelical churches in my locale pass pro life voter guides out every election cycle. Some are clever and have people hand them out as you exit the parking lot or some as evidenced in Whats the Matter With Kansas had them out during the sermon.  Nobody here in Kansas seems to realize after 20+ years abortion is legal and if it were outlawed the hook would be gone to polarize the populace to the right.
My wife and I went to vote for our city council representative and school board representatives. When we researched the candidates our current council woman is awesome and gets involved with the poor in the community and gives them a voice. The guy running against her moved into the district within the last year and stunk of a tea bagger. You know white male who was poorly spoken and conveniently the district was redistricted to add more white neighborhoods. Who knew there was gerrymandering at the city council level in the air capital.
Then one of the school board candidates was backed by the pro life voters guide and we both voted against him. Thanks to facebook our fundagelical friends let us know who not to vote for. Who gives a shit what a school board candidate thinks about abortion. Oh yeah, they may allow condoms to be handed out to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
In practice I actually am pro life and think abortion is a sad option. But these pro life assholes are just manipulating people to get big corporations more power. The solutions that will end or drastically reduce abortions are opposed by the rank and file in the pro life community. You just can't win with these assholes and I refuse to vote for their poorly educated puppet candidates.

Having an Affair With my Wife

My job has been hell since the beginning of the year. My wife joined a new gym and started going 4 times a week a month ago. Now she looks stunning so and is confident in a way I have never seen before. So this week I agreed to go with her on a guest pass. I even moved an obligation so I could go with her last night. I should backtrack and say she has tried to get me to go since she joined but now that work is back to normal I decided to go.

Now that I have met her where she is and see that we need something to keep us together as our kids get older its like we are dating again. We are talking and sharing things with each  other we normally wouldn't. We have reached a new level of intimacy in and out of the bedroom that I could only dream of.

I fixed a steak dinner for the kids out of guilt before we left for the gym tonight. Almost a smokescreen as my wife planned for us to eat at the restaurant there after our workout. We had a great time working out and spending time together. Its like our relationship is new again and we have found each other again as we have changed.

I used to work out with a good friend several years ago until he moved away. I just quit going because I hated going by myself. Who knew the solution was in bed next to me every night since then.  Oh well better too late than never.