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______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Prayer August 28, 2011

 


[Here’s some funny/sad material from Frank Schaeffer.
I can relate to these forms of what mistakenly
passes for “prayer”.]

——


[My parents] would launch into a prayer that was earnest and full of theological content.  The excuse for the prayer, for instance the information that someone was ill, would get briefly mentioned.  Then a lot of solid theology would also be mixed in.  It was clear they were praying at the person with them, not to God.
The prayers were often a not-so-subtle vehicle for sermons.  Praying out loud was also a way of advancing one’s case, the advantage being that no one dared interrupt you or argue back.

Prayer was [also] a way to remind God no to let his attention wander or forget that we, and we only, really understood what he was suppose to be doing.  So we prayed at him, too. Reading between the lines [you get this:]
“Dear Heavenly Father, in Your Word You say that when two or three are gathered together, You will be in the midst of them.  Well, we’re gathered here, so do what we’re telling You to do because we have You over a barred and can quote Your own book back at you!  We claim Your promises, and because You can’t break any of those since You wrote it all in the Bible, You’ll do what we say, and You’ll do it NOW!  Amen!”

Theologically speaking, we believed in an absolutely powerful omnipotent and sovereign Lord.  But in practice, our God had to be begged and encouraged to carry out the simplest tasks.

We lacked the faith to pray effectively and make God do stuff.  So we prayed for the faith to make God give us faith to make him do stuff.  But getting enough faith was the biggest problem, so we prayed for the faith we needed to pray for faith.  But how much faith did it take to pray to have enough faith to pray for faith?  And if God knew you wanted faith, why didn’t he just give it to you?
It was like spending all your time calling directory information for phone numbers that you aren’t allowed to call unless you can guess the number right without asking.

— Frank Schaeffer [from “Crazy For God“]

 

Thank God For Evolution August 22, 2011


Thank God for Evolution:
How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will
Transform Your Life and Our World
By Michael Dowd


Mr. Dowd makes a promise at the beginning of the book: “that the sacred evolutionary perspective offered here will enrich your faith and inspire you in ways that believers in the past could only dream of.”
I can say that for me, he kept his promise.
Although my review is mainly aimed at those with a belief in Christ, the author makes his statements applicable to those of all faiths, and to those of “no faith” as well.

As I always state, I do not agree with everything written in these pages.
It’s odd. Although Michael’s views in some ways seem to diminish the reality of God for me, they somehow simultaneously, in most ways, make God much more real, and much bigger than I’ve ever imagined God to be.
My wife commented that, when reading this book, I spent as much time staring off into space as I did reading. It’s just that kind of a book. And it did take me a long time to get through it.

This book defines evolution in some ways I’ve never heard before. Darwin only got it partially right, according to Dowd, who shows us “evolution is Not meaningless blind chance.”
We cover things like “Flat-Earth Faith Versus Evolutionary Faith,” “Experiencing God Versus Thinking About God,” “The Role of Humanity in an Evolving Universe,” as well as gaining an evolutionary Christian perspective on things like The Fall, Original Sin, Personal Salvation, and Loving your Enemies.
We see that if, as the Bible states, God is in all and through all, then everyone and everything is interconnected, interrelated, and interdependent.
As Carl Sagan said, “It takes the whole universe to make an apple pie.”

There’s an appendix I like that covers “Good and Bad Reasons for Believing.”

This book is about where and how everything came into being, and where it’s likely going. The focus, however, is really more about how we should live here and now. About how a sacred evolutionary perspective affects our every day lives, as well as future generations.
There is so much here that could radically change our relationships and our world, if put into practice.

As another reviewer has stated: “With evidence from contemporary astrophysics, geology, biology, anthropology, and evolutionary psychology, “Thank God for Evolution” lays out a compelling argument for how religion and science can be mutually enriching forces in our lives.”

This is a challenging, interesting, and I think, vital read. Buy a copy. See what you think, while keeping in mind that “all truth is God’s truth.”
— df

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Quotes:

By no longer opposing evolution…I now have a more intimate relationship with God than ever before.

Stop assuming that you know best how things are supposed to go in the world. Rather, try on an attitude of gratitude.

Facts are God’s native tongue!
The discovery of facts through science is one very powerful way to encounter God directly.

When a story becomes scripture, it ceases to evolve.

For our kind of intelligence, metaphors are not optional.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life” will still be central in an evolutionary form of Christianity.

A mistake about Creation results in a mistake about God. – Thomas Aquinas

God did not stop revealing truth vital to human well-being thousands, or even hundreds, of years ago.
As the UCC says, “God is still speaking.”

Thinking about God is no substitute for tasting God, and talking about God is no substitute for giving people ways of experiencing God.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Any understanding of “God” that does not at least mean “Ultimate Reality” or “the Wholeness of Reality” is a trivialized, inadequate notion of the divine.

A deeply fulfilling marriage of faith and reason leads to empowered lives and healthy relationships – and to vibrant civilizations.

When I trust like Jesus, love like Jesus, live my truth like Jesus, take responsibility like Jesus, and serve the Whole like Jesus, I know heaven.

If a person is expected to give mental assent to word-based propositions in order to be “saved,” then God’s love is hardly unconditional, nor is God’s wisdom infinite.

Your life story is not something that exists independently of your interpretations.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

It’s impossible to love God without gratitude.
I have everything I need to appreciate the gift of the present moment.

We don’t think our assumptions.
We think from them.

A supremely disturbing fact of human history is that the greatest evils have been perpetrated by those who were trying to rid the world of evil.
Believers down through the ages have justified religious hatred and violence by appealing to their scriptures.

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven” cannot possibly mean less that allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us as a species in evolving mutually enhancing relationships with one another, with the larger body of Life (Nature) and with our own creations, and doing so to the glory of God.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

 

Frank Schaeffer On Michele Bachmann August 18, 2011

Ex-Evangelical Frank Schaeffer Denounces Michele Bachmann & Calls
Her Movement Anti-American.
This is a really good and informative verbal essay.
A man who’s “been there” exposes what “there” is all about.
He also wrote the book “Crazy For God,” which I’ve just started reading.





 

Back on the Shelf August 14, 2011


I believe, as stated in 2 Timothy, that scripture is useful.
But until people can see that divinely inspired does NOT mean divinely dictated, inerrant, or perfect; and until people start
to see that the Bible is not an “owner’s manual,” “playbook,” “rules for life,” or any of those other crazy things; and until the
Bible can be seen as an unfolding, progressive revelation of God that did not end with the “canonization of scripture;” until
people have a better understanding of how to approach, understand, and interpret the Bible; until AT LEAST we get that far,
I’m close to believing we should put the Bibles back on the shelf and leave them there. That could easily encourage people into
having a close relationship with God, instead of with a book.
— df


——————-

“We’ve gotten ourselves in a mess with the Bible.”

“First, we are in a scientific mess.  Fundamentalism…again and again paints itself into a corner by requiring that the Bible be treated as a divinely dictated science textbook.”  “This approach has set up Christians on the wrong side of truth again and again.”  “Many pious people deny our environmental crises by quoting Bible verses and mocking science.  Just as they were the last to acknowledge the rotation of the earth and its revolution around the sun, they’ll be the last to acquiesce to what science is telling us about our growing ecological crises.”

“Second, we are in trouble in relation to ethics.”  “…we are stuck now…largely obsessed with narrow hot-button feuds (eg. abortion, sexual orientation, nationalism, genetic engineering) that end up being little more than litmus tests for political affiliation.”
“In the United States, white Evangelical Christians are the most fervent advocates of government-sanctioned torture and…frequent churchgoing is a statistical indicator of support for torture.”

“Third, we are in deep trouble relating to peace.”   “When careless preachers use the Bible as a club or sword to dominate or wound, they discredit the Bible in a way that no skeptic can.”
“It’s an old and tired game:  quoting sacred texts to strengthen an us-versus-them mentality.”  “In case after case in the past, there is a kind of Bible-quoting intoxication under the influence of which we religious people lose the ability to distinguish between what God says and what we say God says.

—-  Taken from “A New Kind Of Christianity” by Brian McLaren. Buy the book HERE.

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