Sunday, October 12, 2003

I'm sorry... Job is a sick story

Went and saw Stryper with Brook, Lee, and my brother this evening. As usual, I had a worthy conversation with Brook, albeit a short and interrupted one. It is interesting to my how sometimes thoughts I have about a subject do not get developed and refined until I put them into words. Brook was mentioning that Madeline Engle makes a supposition that perhaps Abraham had in fact failed the test when it came to sacrificing his son. He had chosen law over love. Interesting theory. When I heard that, I thought about how we always assume that the story of Job worthwhile. The more I think about it though, the more it bothers me.

Satan challenges God through his servant Job. As you may know, God accepts the challenge and allows Satan to torture Job in numerous ways to get him to crack. Job doesn't, and at the end God rewards him above and beyond anything he had ever had.

When quickly glanced over, it seems like a good lesson in remaining faithful to God, regardless of circumstances. However, when I take it apart, I find it disturbing. If this story were told outside the bible, most people would probably find it sick. Two people arguing over the stamina of another decide to torture him. Two children take a magnifying glass to a small animal and burn it in the sun to see what kind of a squeal it makes.

Job is given new children and wealth at the end of the story. Could other children make up for the violent death of my children? Could someone slaughter my Kathryn and Jacob and then think that offering me two children in their place that would make it all better?

At the end of the story, God makes it clear that Job has no grounds to question him. Why? Because God is stronger? Might makes right? Again, set aside for the moment that this is a biblical story. Would most of us not see it as bullying, that a stronger entity tells a weaker entity to not question the torture the stronger just inflicted?

I know I am bordering, if not entering, blasphemy here, but does it not show poorly on God that he can be goaded into a cosmic "pissing contest" with someone who is supposed to be the personification of Evil? How about rather, 'Satan, I don't give a flying rip what you think of any of my creatures. Your opinion does not matter to me. Go to Hell".

Brook and I both commented that the easiest answer is that the Bible is not to be taken literally. But if you don't, what good is it. If it is not reliable, then all of our notions of God are merely guess work. For all we know then, any or none of the present or historic religions may have been right.

I hate being on this shifting sand. I want answers and there are none to be had.
I have pages more thoughts on this topic, but sleep calls. Good night all. May God be patient with my stumblings in the dark.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

God's Hand?

I don't have anything particular to write today, but I have fallen out of the habit - and I want to get back into it. I tend to fuss so long over what I am writing that I become overwhelmed at the thought of doing it. So just type Andy type.

We took Jacob in to get tubes put in his ears today. It is a relatively minor surgery, in fact, it only took a few minutes. I knew that the only real risk in the operation was the anestisia. Ok... now let's swing this whole thing back to God, and my never ending shifting theology (pardon me while I pop an asprin). I really felt a fair amount of fear about Jacob going under. I couldn't help at times envisioning the worst, and what would my response be. Unlike Job, I think bird and heavenward come to mind... that and the destruction of everything within a hundred yards of me. Somehow I do not picture that I would calmly say " the Lord giveth..... blah, blah, blah.....

I find it interesting how my thoughts on these matters have changed over the years. When I merely operated in theory, I was confident that I could answer like Job... this life was only temporary anyway. It seems I am more bonded to this life now, cause I could not now take it so lightly.

What was the deal with Job anyway?... was he that deep? or that simplistic? I tend to think it was simplicity. I have seen some very trusting people, whom I was convinced that they were so simply because they did not know any better. I am convinced that most people are able to survive their Christianity with a fair amount of happiness because they tend to give it very little critical thought.

The only other way I see that Job could have done it, is if he had a very real sense of the prescence of God. That could bring about that level of eternal trust..... This is what I do not have. If Jacob died, I could see no purpose for it... therefore it is random... and how do I trust a God who lets the chips fall where they may. Therefore... God must be in control. But that falls apart for me too. There seems to be too much damn randomness.

In the movie "Signs", Mel Gibsons character states that there are two kinds of people. Those who believe there are no conicidences, that everything is being orchestrated. Others feel that everything is chance, and that there is no one watching out for us. I am terrified at the possibility of the latter. However, I don't think he mentioned a third option. There is someone watching... but he is just doing that.... watching.

I loved in Dogma, when the woman who is "chosen" is talking to Bartleby. She says something to the effect "Remember when you were young... and you didn't question. God was up there, watching over us, and he had a plan, and everything was alright. What I wouldn't give to feel that way again". I think when Kevin Smith wrote that part, he tapped in to what a lot of people feel.

How did I get off on this tangent? Oh yes, Jacob. See, years ago, I would have believed that nothing could have happened to Jacob because I was on God's team; in fact, I was one of the favorites.

Today, I felt a chill and relief when Jacob came out of surgery. Was God's hand on my son today? Or did I just get lucky?

Saturday, May 24, 2003

To smoke or not?

Went out with Brook, Lori, and Marianne tonight. We were at B & N till they closed and then headed to a pool hall in downtown Rochester. It was funny, an ex-quizzer came up to me. He looked like he was in college and wanted to say hello. He was suprised someone from DBQ was in there. Anyone who knows me, knows that I can ramble on and on about the state of Western Christianity. Seeing it there in detail though was a bit ironic. Why should a "christian" seem so out of place having a drink and a smoke in a pool hall? Would anyone in the New Testament have been concerned with that? If not, when did people start becoming concerned with it? If scripture had no problem with it, what were the motivations of those who began defining it as a problem?

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Went and saw the Matrix Reloaded with Jon, Brook, Sean, and Matt tonight. Just incredible. It is late, and I have to be up in a few hours for work - otherwise I could write all night about that movie. We had a great, but short conversation following the movie. Again, to bad I have to get ready for work.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

We had a great Birthday party for Kathryn today. Mary Lee planned a great party for her at Wolcott Farm. Most of the neighborhood kids came with their families. We were given a tour of the farm. It was really great, and Kathryn really had a great time.
Later, we went over to Chris and Sues to hang out for a bit. A great day!

Friday, May 02, 2003

Enjoy the Silence?

Brook and I caught a late midnight showing of Xmen 2 last night over at the Chesterfield. We had an hour or so to kill over at the Steak and Shake before it started. One of the things that we talked about, was the fact that our belief structure is mostly based on hearsay. Christians usually do not choose Christianity over some other religion.

Brook made a comment, something to the effect "The hardest thing to deal with in Christianity is the silence." I couldn't agree more. Job may have been reamed out by God for his presumption, but at least he was acknowledged. I think I begin to understand the psychology of negative attention more and more. Love me or hate me, but don't dismiss me.

I didn't notice the silence earlier in my Christianity, but it is at times now, nearly overwhelming. I can see what draws people to make connections, where there perhaps are none, in order get a sense of the prescence of God. If I believe that God arranged for me to get that job, or meet that person, then he is paying attention. He notices me. And, we have neatly come up with a safe explanation for the things that happen which we don't like. God is saying no, or he is teaching us something. If I get the job, it was the work of the Lord. If I don't get it, well, God just has other things in mind. The important piece though is that I am on his mind and he notices me.

I am not sure where this leaves me. The silence gets worse, not better. I remember in the movie, "Vampires" there was a Catholic priest who was going to exchange the life of some innocents for his eternal mortal life. When asked how he could do this, he replied " I have spent my whole life in the service of the church... I have never seen a miracle, never heard a voice, never had a vision. I am now near the end of my life, and the thought of death terrifies me."

I understand some of his sentiments. In my earlier years of Christianity, Jesus was coming back soon. Heck, for a while there, I almost thought college might be a waste of time since none of us were going to be here anyway. I didn't experience anything supernatural in my life, but I simply figured I wasn't experienced enough yet.. it would come.

However, here I am... twenty years of Christianity later - and I have never seen a miracle, never heard a voice, never had a vision. A few years ago, it occured to me that I may go through my whole life and never experience the voice of God. Beyond that, I may just be a cog in the wheel, or worse yet - maybe part of no plan whatsoever.

How then do I live out Christianity in light of these new perspectives? I am not sure. But the silence is deafining.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Went out with Sean and Brook Saturday night. First met Brook at Borders. He picked up a book for me while in Ann Arbor. It is Son of Laughter by Buechner. It looks really good. Wish I had more time to read. As I come up on the end of the school year, I begin to enter paperwork hell.
Sean met us over there around 10, then we went up to Snookers and ate and played some pool.
Still tryin to get signed up to Lifetime Fitness, Kathryn wants to know when she is going to get to go swim. :)

It is funny that the idea of Utah still swims around in my head every now and again. Dave Nelson spoke at church on Saturday, and he can really nail ya. Mostly cause you know he is going through whatever it is he is talking about. It will be a great church in Utah. There is an end of me that would like to go, but ohmygosh does the teacher pay suck out there. That is even assuming I would get a job. Some would say I do not trust God. They may be right. I think though that I am more distrusting of whether not I even have a relatively accurate picture of who God is. I could go out there, convinced that God is calling me, when actually he has nothing to do with it. The thing that has become abundantly clear to me in my 20 years of Christianity is that, where ever you are along the path, you structure your belief system to justify what you are already doing, or want to do. My own motives are so disjointed and ambivilant, that I have a hard time even getting a coherent feeling about God from day to day - let alone uprooting everthing I have built on the possibility that my present view of God may be correct and telling me to go. As I look at the way my beliefs have changed in the past 10 years, it gives me no confidence to make major decisions based on what I happen to be believing at this present moment. If patterns hold, what I believe now will seem quite trivial in the future.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Ended up getting most of the things done that I intended to while over vacation. I have fixed up the basement to have a small living room area. I am presently there and typing on my wireless laptop. I read a letter that was sent to the grandmother of one of my students. It was from CS Lewis. Just amazing.

I skipped class tonight to write a paper for that class. I already dedicate way too much time to that class, so I was not about to offer up any more to it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Well, we got Mary Lee home last night. I was up with Kathryn most of the night. She was not able to hold anything down again. Fortunately this morning, she seems to be able to now at least. Jacob has been an eating machine through all of this. There was a lot around the house this week that I thought I was going to get done. Oh, well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

First post. My wife is in the hospital and one of my little one's is down for the count too. I think I am going to need to make this private. Though with the tens of thousands of these out there, odds are the point would be moot.
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