Sunday, September 22, 2019

Doesn't Look Like Anything To Me

The first season of Westworld is so brilliant. Anthony Hopkins, in particular, is utterly amazing.

If you haven't seen it, part of the story focuses on robots... or hosts as they are called. But they do not know they are robots. Whenever they encounter something that might reveal they are robots, they become confused... unable to comprehend the evidence... and therefore remain unaware that they are robots.

I encounter this frequently in political, philosophical, and religious discussions. I catch myself about to repeat a point I have already made to someone. When I do so, I recognize the futility of proceeding. Whomever I am talking to is unable to understand my point. Like the hosts, they have programming in place that prevents them from understanding. Conditioning prevents them from making connections.

And no... I do not begin to think I am above the same behavior. Having switched views on many perspectives, I am embarrassingly aware of my capability to resist evidence, for my thinking to become cloudy, to shun that which would reveal my error.

Reality is hard.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Evangelicals and Medicine

"Joni Eareckson Tada released from hospital, thanks God for 'marvelous' healing!"

This was the headline for an article over at The Christian Post.

I am glad this woman is feeling better but look at how it is framed, "she was released from the hospital- and thanked God for healing her lungs."

Not the doctors, not the nurses, not the specialists, not those woefully underpaid CNAs, not the decades of work by researchers to make that "healing" possible... nope, thanks goes to God (who probably would not have been able to manage that "healing" had she just stayed home).

This is a strange practice that Evangelicals tend to do only when it comes to the medical field. When the painters paint their house, they do not say "God painted my house!" When the mechanic works on their car they do not extol the wonders of God fixing their transmission. In those cases, they tend to give credit where credit is due. But when it comes to medicine, Evangelicals rarely fail to minimize or completely sideline the work of medical practitioners.

I suspect this has to do with Evangelicals frustrated relationship with science in general. Having to rely on scientists for their health care is a bit of a blow, so crowing loudly about "God" doing the actual healing works as a balm to the religious ego.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Which Jesus Do You See?

I was watching my brothers have a conversation about the nature of Jesus on Facebook the other day. It became clear to me at that moment that they do not worship the same god. Their gods share a name, but the similarity pretty much ends there. They, as Mr. Wednesday put it, "see a different face when they close their eyes to pray".

I had previously accepted the explanation for these different takes on Jesus to be a matter of perspective. People can see the same movie and come away with different views of it. However, the more I become aware of the different sects of Christianity, I realize their takes on Jesus are truly different personalities. Much like James McAvoy in the movie Split, there may be one vessel but the personalities are distinct.

It makes me wonder if this is the real reason for the growth of Christianity in history. It certainly cannot be what Christians say about Jesus... because they say completely contradictory things. Rather, it was the franchizing of the name to anybody and everybody.

It is like when you go into a town and find a Pizza Hut that also serves Taco Bell. Their brands couldn't make it locally on their own... so they got together under the same roof. Similarly, I wonder if all the brands of Jesus would make it independently if they could not share the name? What would happen if they got to keep their view of Jesus, their history of Jesus, their teachings about Jesus... but they had to give him a different name. What if Jerry Fallwell's Jesus took the name Anton and the Pope's Jesus took Alan? Rob Bell's Jesus could be Brian? The United Methodists take Stan. The televangelists get to name their's Lou.

All of these folks have decidedly different gods. Most of them consider the others partially or completely invalid. Give their varied views flesh and blood and you would never mistake them for the same person.

So why do we call them by the same name?

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Facebook Faith #58: God Brings Trials?

I regularly see my religious friends post on Facebook about the various trials they are going through... and how God has brought these to teach and refine them.

If one has an all-powerful deity, I suppose that is the most charitable way you could frame your deity's involvement in the pains and sufferings of your life.

I used to think that way, but I left the faith life about 8 years ago. Here's the thing - the same amount of fortune and frustration occur in my life now as ever did before. Cutting God loose in my life did not end "blessings" nor remove a "hedge of protection". Life is moving on pretty much as it always had.

But honestly, I do find the hard times easier to bear without an extra set of footprints in the sand. I now know those valleys are just... life. And life happens. There is no deity causing this calamity to instruct me or to punish me. I no longer add stress to the situation by obsessing over the tea leaves, trying to figure out what God is trying to show me or where I went wrong to allow the Devil this foothold in my life.

I also find taking the focus off of unseen spirits has given me a greater appreciation for the people traveling our common path. THEY are the ones who help me through the trials. THEY are the ones who offer me kindness.

Believers often wonder how those who do not believe in gods have hope during the hard times.

Personally, I have found it much easier.
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