Category Archives: I’m a Christian

What Superman and Jesus *Really* Have in Common

I’ve made no secret among people I know that I was severely disappointed with this summer’s Man of Steel.  Among very long lists of reasons why, a major one has been the over-the-top force-feeding of the idea that Superman is a representation of Jesus.  On a normal day I’d assert that they are barely alike and that anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.  I remember no parts of the Gospels that tell of Jesus saving Mary Magdalene from the bald and maniacal Roman governor, Lex Luthicus.  Nor do I remember scenes in Man of Steel where Kal-El spoke against the hypocritical politicians of Metropolis or sacrificing himself to execution as propitiation to Jor-El for the sins of Earth. (Take note: Jor-El did not send Kal-El to save the people of Earth; Jor-El sent Kal-El to Earth to save Kal-El and the Kryptonian race.  Where is that Jesus parallel again?)

But this evening I had something of an epiphany.  The two characters *are* alike.  Not necessarily in parallels within their stories, but in how their stories have been handled and treated.  In fact, they are so similar in this regard that I can explain it by describing only one, yet the description works perfectly for both:

The story is of a man of humble roots but a fantastic origin.  He grows up and gives his life to saving those who cannot save themselves.  His story has been told over many generations, and those who hear it and *understand* it have celebrated and been moved by its beauty. Over the course of many years, this story helped shape cultures and entire groups of people knew it as they knew their alphabet.

But as it became more commonplace, as the idea became engrained into the popular consciousness, many people claimed to know it but actually only knew the name and the images they had been shown throughout their lives.  They had never actually picked up a book about this man to learn what the real story was.  They knew the bullet points and little else.  They still claimed to like the story; they still claimed to like that incredible man, but as they allowed it to be about culture and not about the actual story–to not be something that they tried to really understand and to be moved by it–they lost touch with what the message was in the first place.

As culture and societies changed, people began to mock the story.  They said that we were too advanced or sophisticated or evolved to accept such nonsense.  They would point out aspects of it that they interpret to be childish, or remnants of a long-gone era.  The more holes they believed they found, the more the culture at large embraced those perceived holes as truth.

Throughout all of this, there always remained a steady stream of people who did read the story and who did understand the themes and ideas, and really did understand why it was so appealing.  They would find themselves unapologetically drawn to it, and they hoped and yearned for a day when the world would see the beauty in it again.

So they would tell the story again and again.  They would put it into modern contexts but keep the message the same; keep the characters exactly who they were all along while applying contemporary concerns and addressing current issues.  Sometimes through this, new people would find the truth about the story, and they would join the ranks of those who showed it to them and attempt to tell more.

So then what happens when someone comes along and wants to re-tell this story on a large scale, but their motives seem to be less about the story and more about their personal gain?  They update the story but remove and reverse all that made it what it was.  They render the original concept utterly meaningless by all the alterations they make.  All the world takes notice and celebrates the new interpretation because it is recognizable but flashier, is easy to swallow, and appeals to their senses; but those who have understood the story all along cry foul.  They try to tell everyone that THIS story is not THAT story, but their protests are ignored and ridiculed.

“It has to be updated for modern society!” the new audiences say.  “Surely you cannot expect us to go along with those outdated concepts.  You’re only upset because you think you own this story and you only want it told YOUR way!”

“But those concepts are exactly the ones that we need in this modern age!” the others reply back.  “The problem all along hasn’t been that the story is irrelevant, but that so many have missed what the story is really about!  Contextualizing it to today can work but this has betrayed what this character actually stood for, and has undermined the entire meaning and message of the original story.”

Yet it feels as if it will be to little avail.  How difficult it is to try to show others the quality of something when something that looks the same but is easier (yet emptier) is being offered to them by someone else.

And it is at this point that the two stories stop being similar.  I can live my life without people “getting” the actual story of Superman, but my heart aches over those who would take an easier, false Gospel and think that they know Christ.  So if we’re going to compare the two stories, let’s make sure we’re comparing what they really have in common.

A Quick Analogy

I love bears.  I really do.  I love their faces and noses and ears and paws and stubby tails.  I love  how they make me feel cozy and safe when I go to bed, or when I watch TV, or when I’m just being alone in my room.  I still love shows and things from my childhood like The Care Bears or the Gummi Bears.  They take me back to simpler times when this adult life gets to be too much to handle.  I find nothing brings me peace quite the same as my bears do.

But I’ve noticed a trend in recent years, and saying that “it offends me” is putting it very lightly.  I’ve been witness to countless people in the media, entertainment, and even in my personal life (of all places!) that assert that bears are dangerous or deadly.  I’ve heard news reports talk about chasing “bears” out of urban areas.  There was a movie called Grizzly Man that is one of the most hateful pieces of propaganda I’ve ever seen in my life.  I’ve seen nature documentaries where they try to propagate these ideas by hiding and avoiding “bears” in the wild.

I put “bears” in quotes there because what they’re showing isn’t really bears at all.  They’re trying to put the idea in our minds that this animal is a bear:


grizzly-bear-harry-bosen-dpc

That’s so wrong it makes me red with anger.  THIS is a bear, and if you think otherwise you need to really do some self-searching as to why you desire such savagery and viciousness:

Bear

Why would anyone push ideas about a bear that was anything else?  Why would  you WANT bears to be anything else?

I ask you: who are they to try to tell the rest of us what bears are, what bears do, or how “dangerous” they can be?!  How dare they!  No bear that *I* know would ever attack or eat a human.

Bears are not scary.

Bears do not eat people.

Bears do not harm anyone or anything.  They love them and comfort them and bring joy.

If you want to keep pushing hateful ideas like some have about bears, I guess I can’t stop you, but I want you to know that those are only opinions and MY bears would never do any of those things.

bear-invading-tent

Your hate is not welcome here.

Science Probably Can Explain It

One thing I think I’m going to try to be very cautious about is to NEVER say, “Science cannot explain this or that phenomenon.”  I get uneasy when I hear another Christian say something like that, too (even the slightly less brazen “Science has not yet explained this or that phenomenon”).  It always is to imply that the reason science hasn’t is because they can’t and they can’t because it’s supernatural and therfore GOD because you can’t measure God.

Well, that’s silly.  And it’s that kind of attitude that I think has played a large role in drawing a line in the sand between “science” and “religion,” and that’s a line I’m tired of running into because it shouldn’t be there.  When a believer tells a non-believer that science can’t explain something, the believer somehow thinks that the non-believer will hear that and then fall to their knees and worship Jesus (at best; at worst they expect them to feel stupid and ashamed–I know because I’ve naïvely expected both at different times).  What the non-believer actually does is takes that assertation as a challenge.  So the non-believer learns science and eventually EUREKA! they explain whatever could not be explained.  So now the non-believer takes that back to the believer and demonstrates that what was unexplainable was explained with science, and since the believer said that you couldn’t explian it because it’s supernatural and therefore GOD, the non-believer says that they did explain it and therefore it is natural and therefore NO GOD.  So the believer recomposes themselves and picks something else behind what science has just explained and say that science cannot explain that. Rinse, repeat.  Like I said, it’s silly.

Why is the criteria for “God” or “no God” based on whether man can measure creation and understand creation better?  And I mean that for both the Christian and the naturalist.  To the Christian:  I was under the impression that God actually wants us to learn about his creation.  Now, I by no means think that everying “science” says is correct, but I need to resist the temptation to say that science is unreliable and should not be used or trusted at all.  To the naturalist:  I don’t get why one would think that the ability to, say, observe the chemical reactions in one’s brain during prayer, or have a determination of the particles present in the earliest seconds of the universe negates God.

I know that the arguments are much bigger than that on all sides, but it’s just something I thought about today.  Probably because I’ve been spending way too much time at Yahoo! Answers again–but that’s because I’m up to something.  Just you wait. . . .

Arguing with Idiots

I’ve been mistaken before as a person who “has to be right.”  This is not correct.  I have no problem being wrong.  None.  When I’m shown that I’m wrong, I go through what I think are normal stages of denial, anger, and acceptence, but I can absolutely admit that I’m incorrect about something.  What I ACTUALLY am is someone who can’t stand someone else being wrong.  You may say that’s not much better, but I say that’s up for debate.  This goes for factual errors they have, like the guy that I met through an old roommate one day who was wrong about every movie trivia thing he brought up.  The one I remember– Him:  “So that new Die Hard movie is coming out this summer?  Man, they released those FAST.”  Me:  “Fast?  How do you figure?”  Him:  “Well the first one came out like mid-90’s!”

Sigh.  This is the point in which a responsible and mature person would keep their mouth shut.  What does it matter if he’s wrong?  Well . . . it matters to me.

Me:  “Um . . . no, actually the first one came out in the late 80’s.”

Him:  “No, the first one was like 1996!”

Sigh.  I knew I was right.  I remember not being allowed to watch the first one with my new step family, with whom I was joined in 1989.  But I could see that debating with him further would be ultimately pointless, so I let it go.  Painfully, but I did let it go.  But rest assured if he were someone I were closer with, I wouldn’t have.

This also goes for logical fallacies.  Actually, it goes primarily for logical fallacies.  And when you’re someone who has the hardest time in the world seeing a logical fallacy and shrugging it off, comment sections on the internet are the WORST places for you to be.  I try to stay away . . . but they’re like crack!  Sweet, emotion-riling crack.

Recently there was an article about how Iran was restricting acedimic studies which they deemed “western” and would only allow subjects that they, an Islamic-based government, deemed okay.  Most of the comments were related to the story, but twenty to forty percent of them that I saw were some kind of stab at religion, in general, and more than half of those were directed right at Christianity:

The christians fighting to destroy seperation of state and church should be forced to live in Iran. Then MAYBE they can see why we wouldn’t want the same thing.

The funny (or not so funny) thing is that the American Christian Taliban is doing the same thing. Trying to deny scientific fact in the light of neo-‘Christianist’ dogma. Trying to suppress truth, history and the facts surrounding the violence inherent in the spread of Christianity, et cetera.  No difference.

hey all of you anti-islam nuts you do realize that islam split off from the jewish faith just like christianity.

Every time I read articles like these, I can’t help to notice the similarities between the radical Muslims and the radical Christians here in America. They are fundamentally the same! Only names change.

I got over arguing directly against claims like these a long time ago.  What I struggle with now is the contradiction in their hearts.  This is best explained via my comment:

How funny that so many people LEAPED at the opportunity to bash Christians in a story about oppressive Islamic governments.  You have a prejudice. If you had no prejudice, your reaction would have been 100% about the Iran government and not an excuse to complain about something entirely unrelated.  If you insist that they ARE related, then let me reiterate my point that you have a prejudice.

You and I could go round and round about whether or not I should have said anything, but that’s not why we’re here.  We’re actually here because of the responses I got to that.

“6” said, “Show me one person without prejudice and I’ll show you a liar. .”  Well I guess that settles it, right?  Everyone has prejudice in some fasion, so all this prejudice is justifiable.  Problem solved.

Watch out for that puddle of sarcasm I left back there.

How about another one?  “XC” said, “It’s funny how so many people LEAPED at the opportunity to bash liberals when this story is totally unrelated. Hypocrite much?”  I want you, as my reader, to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me what part of my comment up there was bashing liberals.  I’m at a loss.

And now for my favorite one, from screenname “What?Why?”:

You assume that we assumed.
You are prejudging us to be discriminatory of others.
NOICE!

Ready? FIGHT!!  What?Why? uses “Poor Logic!”  “Poor Logic” causes Braden to perform a self-attacking DOUBLE FACEPALM!!!  CRITICAL HIT!!!  BRADEN HAS BEEN K.O.’D!!!

This guy got plenty of thumbs up on that response, too, which tells us that there are more people out there who think that he made sense.

I assumed that he assumed?  What did I assume?  I saw comments bashing Christians and saying that all Christians want to oppress the world with creationism and prayer in schools after an article about the Iranian Islamic government.  I’ll ask again–what did I assume?  And I “prejudged” them to be discriminatory of others?  What does that even mean?  How does one “prejudge” someone else when they point out something they just did?

This is the kind of stuff that gets me the most.  And it eats at me that I can’t find that guy and sit him down and explain to him how what he said was, well, moronic.  Which is what keeps this comment section cycle spinning . . .

Confessions of a Closet Yahoo! Answers User, issue 2

So I’ve been at it again.  I fell off the wagon.  Rather than feel guilty over it, I’m going to share my experiences here.  Hopefully this will be good therapy, as I clearly need help.

I started out in areas of helping people with guitar questions.  It seemed sterile enough.  But that turned out to be the problem . . . I needed controversy.  My brain needed twisting; my emotions needed riling.  So I stumbled into the cesspool known as the “Religion & Spirituality” category.  It really found me, honestly.

So I responded to many questions that caught my eye.  I’d answer one, then see the four suggested “Open Questions in ‘Religion & Spirituality,'” find a new one, answer that, then rinse and repeat.  All said and done I answered probably 15 questions.  I’m so ashamed . . . but let’s get to what we have.

Let’s start by giving you an idea for the two polar opposites that are at war in the “Religion & Spirituality” category of this site.

First, my *cough* brothers and sisters in Christ . . .

Yes or No…… Do you believe in this lie of the Devil ——>?

Pangaea……
The absurdity of India forming the Himalayas is of particular interest…….
Should not India be surrounded by 250 Million year old Oceanic-Crust?
If you say it has been Sub-ducted then how did
India get enough traction to form Mount Everest?

To which I responded, “Can I answer your question with a question?  How will this poking and prodding and instigating arguments change people’s hearts about Jesus?”

I didn’t get best answer, but I did get five votes from those who are not myself FOR best answer.

And in the other corner, the “free thinkers” of the world, the Angry Atheists . . .

When will Christians understand that when you finally accept the truth that gods are just silly . . . ?

To which I responded, “And come to accept everything you believe, since there is absolutely no way that you have been lied to or deceived?  I wonder when, indeed.”

That question was actually deleted because it violates some Yahoo! Answers rule, which I find amusing.  Not that it got deleted, but that Yahoo! Answers has rules.  I answered that one late in my binge and my patience was wearing thin, as if any time spent there will reap any positive rewards.  It’s just people on one side prodding at people at the other side, and no one actually wants answers, they just want to be right.  And there I am, playing along with all of it.

They range from the playful in spirit . . .

Christians, would the arrival of aliens to earth change any of your religious tenets?

Would it affect you more if they were atheists or had their own deities?

The one chosen as best answer is actually pretty darn good:  “Hum, fun question.  No, theoretically it changes nothing for me, or the Bible story.  Good news, anthropic principles are so strong that such an idea is basically scientifically dead and the distances God has put between the Galaxy’s are so huge that how could we ever get there anyway?”

. . . to those with inter-religious bones to pick . . .

If Jehovah’s Witness faith is wrong then explain how your church has been in wars and theirs haven’t?

I’ll let you mull that one over on your own.

. . . and then you have the mind-bogglingly, poorly thought out questions from both those who hold a political point of view that clashes with Christianity, and those who claim atheism.

Exhibit A:

A question for pro-life Christians?

Just out of curiosity, do you attach the same importance to opposing the death penalty and war that you attach to opposing abortion?  If not, why not? Are lives less valuable once they’re out of the womb?

To which I lost it and answered: “Okay, I’m tired of this argument, because it’s clear as day that you, and those who hold it, haven’t thought it through. YOU want to throw in our faces the reality of war and the consequences of heinous crimes against humanity as a justification for ending a 100% innocent life out of convenience. So is YOUR ideal world one without war, without the death penalty, and no one questioning whether it’s right or wrong to kill a baby?”

and Exhibit B:

If “god” made me, why did he make me an atheist?

Which got deleted, too.  Gotta love them rules.  Another one of the same kind:

Why do theists want so badly for hell to be real?

Again, take a second to think through the logic of that, especially if you’re a Christian who believes in the reality of Hell.  Then know that the “best answer,” as chosen by the asker, was, “Revenge, for picking on them,” and the asker followed up with, “Sad to say I believe you’re right.”

Sighplusface-palm!

All of this really brings me even further to the conclusion that nothing of value can come from not only this site, but any format like it.  There has been plenty of discussion, and even research, on how poor of a resource this site is for actual answers, and it’s clear that its worst when the questions are the most important of all.  I have to fight the temptation to spread the word about this, which will only ultimately keep me here . . . . . . I sure hope he ignores those thumbs down under my answer, seeks out a real person, and makes it.

No . . . wait . . . that one got deleted, too.  What rule did that break?

The Correlation of A and B

So yet again I was taking a jog around this wonderful neighborhood called WordPress when a commenter on a post caught my eye, and I decided to check out their blog.  That led me to this post:

http://cboye.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/pulpit-freedom-sunday/

I’ll give you a second to read that. . . . And I agree with her (or him . . . I’m not absolutely sure, but with a name like “Katz,” I immediately assume “her”).  I’ve actually written several blog posts around and related to the same idea, such as how Republican and Christian are not synonymous, or how a commenter on a particular documentary hit the nail on the head, or what bugs me about Christian magazines, and how a movie from my childhood perfectly illustrated some of the misdirection that many Christians seem to have on issues with the occult.  (If, as you find  yourself reading this, would like to see anything I could have written on subjects such as these, I suggest looking at my “I’m a Christian” category.)

Let’s step to the side, now, and discuss a separate-but-related topic, which I will drive into the previous one in a minute.

Relativism, and also pluralism in a philosophical sense, is increasingly common in Western culture.  This means that it is more and more believed that “whatever you want to believe is true because it’s true to you, but you can’t tell someone else that what they believe is false, because what they believe is true to them.”  This runs in direct conflict with most religions, when they are followed as they are taught, and Christianity is certainly included in those.  The problem that this worldview has is that it’s internally contradictory, as I discussed in my post from a few months back, “The Inconsistency of ‘Tolerance.‘”  Every religion can’t be right because most religions claim others are wrong, or their teachings contradict each other; you can’t take the buffet approach and expect that to be true, because we live in a world of absolutes, besides the fact that your emotions and desires do not determine reality; saying everyone should just accept what anyone wants to believe is self-defeating because that excludes the people that hold to creeds that claim to be the one truth.

Yet regardless of the clear problems with such a theological and philosophical approach, it is held by a vast amount of people.  Consider some comments on an article written by once-Christian-then-atheist-now-Christian-again A. N. Wilson on the reason for his re-conversion that toss out anything he has to say because they don’t, ” . . . understand […] why people (theist or atheist or any-theorist) have the need to prove that what they have is better than what the other has;” or “Those who believe in a g/God have a need to do so. Those who have no such need tend not thus to believe. At present Mr Wilson has a need.” I also saw some negative reviews on Amazon for books defending Christian faith, such as Ravi Zacharias’s Jesus Among Other Gods, making statements like, “In an era where our teachers and ministers alike are striving ever harder to imbue our children with a sense of the beauty of cultural diversity and concord among the peoples of the world, Johnson and Zacharias’ contribution to children’s literature is shameful and backward,” or “I don’t see any difference at all in the real teachings of Jesus, Budha, or krishna [sic]. They all teach Love, Compassion and unity w/ all that is … i.e. god.” Then there were the comments on a post around which I based one of my own posts, in which the author asserted that Evangelical Christian alliance with Mormonism is a bad idea.  Some said things like, “. . . Who are you to say what is right and what is wrong? If you study the orgins [sic] of Christianity from Constantine, you’d be running the other way asking, ‘where is the true Church of Jesus Christ?’ […]  Who is to say the Mormons are wrong? A bunch of preachers in a bunch of Prostestent [sic] Churches that get paid well for what they preach? What did Christ or any of his apostles get paid?  I could go on, I just get tired of seeing people bash other religions when they really don’t have any basis for what they say other then some concocted interpretation of the scriptures . . .” (Fun feature with this last article I mentioned–Jay North commented on it.  As in THE Jay “Dennis the Menace” North.  He’s Mormon.  Okay, moving on.)

Not only is a serious Christian faced with the obstacle of people tossing out what they say entirely based out of this modern idea of “everyone’s right, no one’s right”, thus making sharing our faith very difficult, but we have to stand tooth-and-nail against that approach making its way into our churches and teachings, which seek to sterilize the world-changing message of the Gospel.  This gets to be frustrating.  It’s frustrating to try to express your honest tolerance of the existence of other belief systems, but your unwillingness to accept them as equal to the teachings of Christ, and have people therefore write you off as closed-minded or a bigot.  When that happens, it becomes very tempting to scream “unfair!,” because, regardless of whether people want to admit it or not, people and organizations in America do bend over backwards to try and play nice-nice with many religions (especially Islam) but don’t bat an eye at disrespecting Christianity.  (Please refer to the above blog post by Katz for my final response to such issues).

Now let’s head back to the beginning of this post, where we find those claiming the Christian faith are, on one hand, fighting for “their rights to be Christians,” and demanding respect from the world because they are Christians, while on the other hand, they are trying to resist the worldly pressure to “just say that your belief is one of thousands of ways to be a good person, nothing more.”  Are you noticing a correlation here?  I am.  I’m going to step out on a limb and declare causation, too.  A very logical conclusion is that (B)–widespread acceptance of relativism has led to a great deal of, if not all of, (A)–Christian culturism and the digging in of heels.  I think this is a good thing to notice, because it helps give me a better understanding of where someone who equates their Christianity with conservative social movements is coming from, and also gives me a better awareness of how a non-believer may see me as “just as bad as them” since I don’t think Mohammad and Jesus basically said the same things.  Interesting how this leads me back into that place of “the radical middle.”

As is often the case, I don’t have much discussion prepared on this beyond the initial observation.  So please share thoughts with me in the comments if you want to expand more.

Though you are evil . . .

Let’s start out with me linking something external again.

http://www.russellmoore.com/2010/08/29/god-the-gospel-and-glenn-beck/

A friend of mine posted that on his Facebook page, and as is the case with most of the things that friend posts on his Facebook page, I was in complete agreement.  In fact, my last post actually touched a little on some of the same things, though Dr. Moore is much more articulate and well-spoken than I am.  There are some very big topics that can and are and should be discussed which that article brings up, but there’s one quote in particular that got me thinking today.  It’s something of a tangent, as many of my posts of this nature are.

“Our Lord Jesus faced this test when Satan took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth, and their glory. Satan did not mind surrendering his authority to Jesus. He didn’t mind a universe without pornography or Islam or abortion or nuclear weaponry. Satan did not mind Judeo-Christian values. He wasn’t worried about ‘revival’ or ‘getting back to God.’ What he opposes was the gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected for the sins of the world.”

Think about that for a moment.  Satan isn’t primarily concerned about getting guys to look at pornography, to get women to have abortions, to have other religions rise to prominence in America, or even to promote atheism or agnosticism.  His concern is to distract you from Jesus’s sacrifice.  To play it down, to marginalize it.  Taking that a step further . . . that would mean that such things as perversion, murder, pride, etc., are not creations of The Evil One.  They would be creations of man–all results of our own sinfulness.  I’ve often grated up against verses like Luke 11:13 (“If you then, though you are evil . . .”) because Jesus is calling us evil.  But look at what we’ve made!  Look at what we’ve done with what he’s given us!

Something else that was put into new perspective by that quote above is the doom that faces us all by continuing this pursuit of bringing America “Back to God.”  Dr. Moore elaborates more on that in his article,

“. . . American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined ‘revival’ and ‘turning America back to God’ that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.”

I’m going to be bold here and declare that it is Satan who is pushing such empty “revivals” like the one called for by Mr. Beck.  As long as American Christians stay focused on such goals, they’re missing the point, and forgetting what Jesus did on the cross.  The Cross cannot be secondary.  It cannot be an afterthought.  It is where salvation and new life starts.  How clear it becomes when you see that, how it is that so many who “believe” have become fist-pumping loudmouths and not living, or caring to live, lives that represent Christ.  They are no more than more people with opinions.  Also, on a last note, this also puts into perspective for me all of the “good” and charitable causes contributed to and led by Humanistic organizations and people.

Well . . . that’s all I have on this one today.