Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Poverty-Stricken Africans Receive Desperately Needed Bibles

Posted by prb3 on November 8, 2010

After reading Bob’s  Onion post: ‘Heckled Christian Band Knows How Jesus Felt’, I was reminded of another Onion article I read years ago that I think is guaranteed to make you all laugh and cry a little. Sadly, it sounds all too real!

http://www.theonion.com/articles/povertystricken-africans-receive-desperately-neede,1915/

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37 Responses to “Poverty-Stricken Africans Receive Desperately Needed Bibles”

  1. prb3 said

    I forgot to add that my favorite quote in this article is “Grown men and women wept in front of their children. That’s how moved they were by the Holy Spirit. That’s how I know it’s all been worth it”

  2. Ann said

    Here’s an actual news article about some solar powered Bibles sent to survivors of the Haiti earthquake by a faith-based group. Who needs food and water when you have the bread and water of life?

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/earthquake-survivors-get-solar-powered-bibles/story-fn3dxity-1225821184929

    • JN said

      Those are probably the same folks who watch TBN.

      “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” Matthew 7:9-10.

    • prb3 said

      Wow, how sad is that! God destroys their homes only to get them out on the streets listening to the “proclamer” preach to them about his divine mercy. And of cours, it had to be a US-based faith group.

      • Ann said

        Look on the bright side, you may be living on the streets with no food or water, but you still have God. He loves you, but for a reason known only to Him, He just destroyed your lives. But He loves you and forgives you for your sinfulness. Turn to Him. You will probably starve and go thirsty, may even die, but at least you will have this solar-powered audio Bible, the Proclaimer, for comfort until you die. Trust all is for the best, and under no circumstances are we Americans taking advantage of your situation to proselytize.

      • JN said

        I think this says more about Americans than it does about Christianity. I think the Gospels are pretty clear on this topic.

        “Never trust a millionaire quoting the Sermon on the Mount.” – Arcade Fire

  3. dsc01 said

    JN’s verse is very good, here. I believe that is an actual quote from Jesus (Christians rarely bother, themselves, since they’re all REALLY Paulines), and it is more than a little applicable to the truth parodied by “The Onion.”

    • Ann said

      I think you mean something the anonymous author of Matthew, a non-eyewitness, attributed to Jesus… a little moral lesson. There’s no evidence that any quotes in the Bible were actually said by Jesus. As you know, it would be highly unlikely since the earliest writings were written like a hundred years after He died–the authors of the gospels were playing a game of telephone…

    • Bob said

      Yeah, concerning the “actual” quote. The gospels didn’t even exist when Paul was writing, in the 50s CE, and he never references them as a result. It’s estimated that Mark (the one that was rewritten to be turned into Matthew and Luke) was written after 70 CE, Matthew and Luke: 80-85 CE, and John: 90-95 CE. There are all kinds of alterations to the gospel of Mark that can be found in Matthew and Luke, such as the removal of Jesus’ anger at the leper, while the rest of the story remains identical. The list just goes on and on. And the re-writers of Mark clearly had their own agendas or main ideas to get across about Jesus, since they emphasize, play up, add or subtract things to argue for their version of who Jesus was and what he meant to communicate. So with all this stuff being written way after the apostles were dead, by people who didn’t even have access to people who had known the apostles–it’s being generous to say that we know what Jesus said. We know legends about a guy named Jesus that were constructed by people who admired him and thought he was fucking awesome. Is it possible he said a version of something that appears in the gospels? I guess, but it’s equally likely he said the exact opposite (or didn’t say it at all). These “stories” were spread around by illiterate, superstitious and generally ignorant people who lived in a world where getting from one town to another took weeks of donkey travel. There would have been as many versions of the stories as there were people who heard and passed them on–that’s the way oral narratives function. The human brain is not a written text. Simply think about the different oral versions of last week’s football game to see that it is simply preposterous to think that facts about Jesus and what he said somehow made it intact till after 70 CE through that process. That explains how we could start with a bastard and end up with an immaculate conception. (And there is no reason to believe he was a bastard either. There is no reason to believe that anything about Jesus in the gospels refers to reality.) To think we have the actual words of Jesus is delusional, and that’s putting it mildly. We have legends about this guy named Jesus created by writers who were writing from oral traditions (although it’s just as likely they made up new stories as they wrote–in fact there is proof that they did). The gospels are arguments; they argue that Jesus’ life meant a certain thing (and each gospel has its own unique theme the author is proposing is true. The miracles and what Jesus is claimed to have said in those gospels is used as evidence to shore up the main focus of the claim, and it is twisted and fabricated and meant to do just that.

    • JN said

      That opens up a whole new can of worms. There are people all over the board when it comes to opinions about the accuracy of oral literature. Of course, they wouldn’t be the exact words since the verse comes from a translation from the Greek, which in turn was translated from Aramaic, it is quite possible that these words are derived from an actual quotation and passed down by word of mouth. I’m not prepared to summon Walter Ong.

      Regardless, all this stuff about the verse being an actual quote or not is beside the point. The people who sent the electronic Bibles believe these verses to be true. I’m sure the group was well-intentioned, but they completely missed the point of their own religion. These are probably the same people who donate to GOD TV for trees to be planted in Israel.

      • Ann said

        If not salvation, what is the point of the religion?

        • JN said

          Many Christians would say that the point of Christianity is to love God and to love people, not just to distribute eternal security. Even if salvation were the only goal, sending a bunch of crappy electronics to suffering Haitians is ineffective. (To be fair to the organization, it looks like they did send food and other supplies as well.)

          • Bob said

            You’re playing with qualifiers JN. Without salvation there is no need for Jesus to have ever been crucified–there is no need for Jesus at all. That makes salvation THE primary point of Christianity. The behavior of the Christian group who used resources to buy electronic Bibles instead of food and water is totally in keeping with the main point of Christianity: salvation. You are just unwilling to admit that, because it would mean admitting that your belief system values converting people over feeding them.

          • Ann said

            I don’t think it’s a question of being fair. They spent how many hundreds on those Bibles instead of water and food because they thought Haitians were sinners and needed God? Anyway, there is no point to Christianity if it is only about loving God and people. Why does God exist if just to be loved? Also, I love people but I don’t believe in a God. What’s the point of God if He was real then? Seems kinda like a bogus, evil God to me. “Love me you humans I created to suffer! And, yeah, I realize you can love others better and more compassionately if I didn’t exist to confuse your humanitarian endeavors and feelings.”

          • JN said

            I reread my original post. I think I know where some of this confusion is coming from. I should have written, “their own Scriptures,” instead of, “their own religion.” Whatever. I still think you would take issue with it.

            I don’t agree with that group. I’m not sure why you’re jumping all over me. I still maintain that the verse I posted, which the group we were talking about believes to be in the inspired word of God and the actual words of Jesus, applies. I wasn’t arguing in their defense.

            • Ann said

              Yes, I do still take issue with it. Their scriptures are highly contradictory. The love part sounds good and all, but it’s mixed in with all the hate stuff, the bigotry, sexism, sinfulness of all humanity stuff. And what’s up with the fixation on other people’s sex lives? Paul in particular loves to write about sexual “deviance”. Poor guy was probably ashamed of his own sexuality.

              Hey you, I know you don’t agree with the group. You wrote you didn’t agree with them. Don’t get so defensive. lol! I was simply making a point about the craziness of it all. Couldn’t resist jumping on that. Your verse is fine. Nice. Good job. 🙂

            • Bob said

              Still don’t see why what that group did was a bad thing. If JN sent water instead of Bibles, he would be doing less to fulfill the great commission than those people who sent the Bibles. So he would be a crappy Christian than them, given the (alleged) command from Jesus to go out and convert others. It’s not a pretty thing to admit: that your holy book teaches you to value a belief over food or water, but that’s the way it is. If you don’t agree with it, I would love to hear you to try to argue that it is more important to feed people than to tell them the Good News and try to convert them. You wouldn’t be able to do it without contradicting the gospels and Paul. If you do believe that though–you should try verbalizing why you think food is more important. I’ve heard some Christians argue that it’s hard to listen to someone’s message about Jesus when their belly is empty, but that is just a flippant thing they say without analyzing things to deeply. If they had to do a multiple choice question like this the answer would always be the same:
              In keeping with the Great Commission of our Lord and Savior, the most important thing we can share with the Haitians is:
              a) Food
              b) Water
              c) Medicine
              d) Shelter
              e) The Good News of Jesus Christ and salvation

              So what would your response be JN? I think I know already, but maybe you’ll come up with something I’m not expecting.

              • JN said

                I still hold to the idea that I should treat others in a way I would want to be treated, which is a fairly universal idea. If I was starving, the last thing I would want is to be preached at. I’m sorry if this makes me a bad or misguided person.

                • Bob said

                  Don’t be sorry to me, be sorry to Jesus! It might be a universal idea, but what does that have to do with what is in your Holy Bible? Are you a Buddhist or a Christian? Am I wrong to assume that you won’t answer the multiple choice question because the answer would be “e” and you know it?

                • JN said

                  Get some sleep, Bob. Maybe you’ll wake up on the right side of the bed next time.

                • Jesus said

                  Keeping trying to deflect the question JN. The fact is, you are still unable or unwilling to answer a simple question about your beliefs. What’s that? Think I just heard a rooster crowing.

                • Ann said

                  JN, I like the Golden Rule a lot. But I recognize it’s also very difficult to apply consistently. People expect to be treated better than they treat others. When they aren’t, they get angry. It’s the problem.

                • Jesus said

                  Don’t help him out by changing the subject, Ann. For just once, I’d like a straight answer from JN. All of the rest of us on this blog are laying it out there–everyone knows exactly what we think on almost every issue in existence. Yet JN, despite being around on the site for a very long time, has managed to avoid revealing ANYTHING about his basic thoughts on his own God. I’ve never even heard him say he loves Jesus! What’s up with that? How about we get a little reciprocity here? I don’t think I’m asking to much to just hear what you believe. Some straight forward answers instead of all this deflection and weaving and dodging in your answers. How hard can it be to just come out and say what you believe? Aren’t you proud of your beliefs?

                • JN said

                  I feel that I am sometimes identified the token Bible thumper on these boards, which isn’t really true or fair. While I can boast a perfect witness-to-convert ratio, I don’t think it counts that my only convert was my sister when I was 5 or 6 years old.

                  Maybe my beliefs are a bit vague, but that’s partly intentional. I sometimes try to distance myself from belief in hopes of getting a new perspective. I am open to the idea of God. I don’t believe God is an actual being in the way we are a being. If God just exists in a concept, or being the unknowable truth, I’m fine with that.

                  I don’t believe heaven and hell are real places. It always troubled me that in my parent’s rendition of heaven, my parents would no longer be married. I still think this is an awful idea. I would hate to end up in heaven and see my wife but not be married to her. That sounds a lot like hell.

                  I’m not a science hater. I don’t think the earth is young. I know enough about fossils to know that you won’t find a dinosaur or a monkey in Devonian rock. I don’t think humans evolved from chimpanzees, but it looks like they may share an ancestor. Science is fine, but that’s not my primary area of interest.

                  After college, I have made an attempt not to get stuck in my ways. I guess I am non-committal like that. As a result, I sometimes get alienated from just about everyone. In politics, for instance, I can sympathize with both Republicans and Democrats. I don’t necessarily agree with one side or the other.

                  I think it’s the same with religion. I can sympathize with both Christians and atheists. My whole background is in Christianity. My parents are on the mission field. I can’t say I’d do their job, but I can’t reject them for their convictions (unless there’s an obvious practical conflict in interest).

                  I don’t bad-mouth you people either. Call it a weakness, but I’m more likely to stick up for Christians when around atheists and more likely to stick up for atheists when around Christians.

                  I don’t fully buy in to your ideology, Bob or Jesus or whoever you are. I find you a bit stringent (or sometimes a little drunk). You probably find me a bit flaky. I think we represent two different factions in English departments. You seem to enjoy structure. You like logic and hard facts. I’m not so practical. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m an aspiring poet. I like indulging my creative side. I like forming connections and playing with metaphor. Usually this results in a decent amount of misunderstanding, which would explain why I don’t have many friends.

                  I’m still not completely convinced beliefs have as much impact on us as we think they do. The realm of ideas is great, but I tend to think ideas only have a real effect when they are acted upon. Some people may have crazy ideas, but they’re of little consequence if they have no real impact on reality.

                  I am a Christian in the way an average Joe from the Bronx is Jewish or an Irishman is Catholic. I go to church every couple weeks. I play music there, which I admit is one of the few reasons I go (that and my wife is more of a believer than I am). I still space out during the sermon as I have done since I was born. I don’t feel a whole lot. Our church is fairly innocuous. It is a “seeker” sensitive church with a rock band of real musicians (the guy I play with just wrote a song that will be featured on the European Idol winner’s album…oh joy). The pastor talks about sex and relationships most weeks. It gets old, but whatever.

                  In my personal life, I try to be a responsible human. I care about environmental issues. I ride my bike to work. I try not to get attached to personal possessions. I save my money. I try to live a simple lifestyle. I grind my coffee by hand. I roast my own coffee beans. I cook meals. I try not to watch TV or waste much time on the internet. I read books. I try to treat people fairly. I frequently get on my own nerves. I’m a bit of an optimist, but I’m still a bit of a skeptic. I am cautious with people.

                  Anyway, this is really long and rambling. Life is too short for revision. I’ve got work to do.

                  (As for your initial question, Roberto, you shifted the focus. I was arguing from the viewpoint of a Christian hoping to highlight differences in beliefs, then you asked for my opinion. So that’s why I answered the way I did. Plus, you seemed cranky. It was kind of a downer for a beautiful day. I shut down the computer and enjoyed the day.)

  4. dsc01 said

    Now, now, Hay-Seuss, I think that this is something of a false dichotomy.

    While most Christians do put sharing the gospel above ministering to temporal needs, it’s not like you can do only one or the other. Many would argue that feeding the hungry is sharing the gospel. If you have to feed someone to get him/her to listen to your message, then the dollars spent on food are as necessary as the ones spent to ship the Bibles: neither paid for the gospel itself, but each helped deliver it.

    Ultimately, though, that’s sort of a justification on the part of Christian relief workers. They don’t help the unfortunate because the Bible says they should; they do it because they feel that it’s right. We know that their beliefs are influenced more by the moral zeitgeist than by their religion, even if they don’t.

    I’m sure that is part of your point. That is, when you take believers at their word–that their beliefs are from the Bible and always have been, stretching back to Abraham–then you really can back them into a corner when you hold them to that.

    I don’t know if you’re going to get a straight answer from JN. I’ve known him for a long time (we met about 26 years ago, I believe, but I don’t really remember that, being that I am 28, now), so I sometimes I understand what he’s trying to communicate better than others.

    Remember, he has said one thing about what he believes, that he’s not entirely sure what exactly he believes. So it’s hard to be proud of that, even if you’re not ashamed of it. Maybe none of us should be proud of beliefs. Too much pride has led followers of so-called peaceful religions to wage war across the entire globe for centuries now.

    But anyway! I agree with you that pretty much any amount of money spent on Bibles for the desperate is wasted. Even if you believe that it does contain useful teachings, you can’t just unleash the Bible on people who don’t know anything about it. You may not be a big fan of the various interpretations of the Christian faith offered over the years (nor am I), but at the very least, they shield society from the results of someone deciding they’ll derive their beliefs directly from Leviticus.

    • Jesus said

      Hay-Suess…I should’ve thought of that spelling. Oh well, I’m guessing I’ll get more entertainment out of its current spelling.

      Actually, when I created the multiple choice question I was thinking “either-or fallacy”–same thing though. And it’s goal was and is to give JN something to wrestle with as he explains what his view is. I created it after he used the phrase “some would say…” which is just a coward’s way of saying “I think this, but I’m too much of a wuss to claim it as my own thought.” Still, I was surprised (hey, JN, we’re talking about you like you’re not reading this!) that he chose to ignore the challenge to state what he thinks clearly and succinctly.

      I disagree with your assessment of Christian relief workers, since it depends on the worker. Some clearly do it because they simply love it, but others definitely do it because they think God has commanded them to do it–and some suffer quite a bit doing it, and complain about it all the time.

      In response to your comment about JN saying he doesn’t know what he believes. That is fine, but it is also true that we can never know what we really think about anything until we start writing it. Since writing involves re-seeing, and re-thinking, and re-vising, and changing and modifying, etc….it creates and solidifies–makes real–what we think. He’s never going to make any progress with that “not knowing” thing if he never tries to verbalize it. My hunch is a different one from yours; my guess is that he does know quite a fair amount of what he thinks, but is content to remain in the role of observer. At times, I get tired of being the freakshow for JN. Apparently, it was beginning to annoy me that he couldn’t give a straight answer to a pretty simple question. If he didn’t like my either-or fallacy, which is what I expected, he could have easily stated why that is in more detail. It’s not that tough to do, and he is a smart guy. I know because I met him, and he wasn’t sending out any moron smoke clouds. I just like a little engagement, that’s all.

      • JN said

        Wow. I’m popular for all the wrong reasons, I guess. For the record, I wasn’t arguing for myself. I was just saying that you can’t lump all Christians together in one heap. My parents, for example, didn’t set up camp and hand out Bibles when the country I grew up in was hit with a famine. They helped distribute food. There are also strains within Christian circles that are more concerned with feeding the homeless and educating people, rather than just trying to convert people. Some organizations don’t even really try to convert people.

        Also, you need to know that I try to spend as little time as possible on the internet at home. Most of my posts are written in my down time at work. I’m sorry if they are not thorough enough, or if they get on everyone’s nerves.

        • Jesus said

          JN said: I feel that I am sometimes identified the token Bible thumper on these boards, which isn’t really true or fair. While I can boast a perfect witness-to-convert ratio, I don’t think it counts that my only convert was my sister when I was 5 or 6 years old.

          Funny!

          Maybe my beliefs are a bit vague, but that’s partly intentional. I sometimes try to distance myself from belief in hopes of getting a new perspective. I am open to the idea of God. I don’t believe God is an actual being in the way we are a being. If God just exists in a concept, or being the unknowable truth, I’m fine with that.

          I love what you said about distancing yourself to get a new perspective. How stereotypically un-Christian of you!

          Look, I know that you hang out on this site for a reason, and my hunch was that you were anything but a Bible thumper. After all, I don’t see any other Bible thumpers hanging out, and why would they unless they’re masochists? I knew there had to be something about the site you found interesting; even if you didn’t agree with stuff being said, you had to be engaging with something. I just had no clue what that was, and I interpreted your often vague and cryptic statements to mean that you were arguing from the standpoint of most socially-liberal Christians; from my limited experiences with them, I’ve noticed they tend to avoid all discussion of the negative laws, “morals,” and internal contradictions in the Bible, and try to put the focus on the Golden Rule aspects of the dialogue attributed to that literary character named Jesus. That was my understanding of your worldview, in a nutshell. Again, like I said, I really had little to go off and had to draw that composite based off of little crumbs you left here and there. As it turns out, my composite is pretty flawed–but what do you expect? I had nothing to go off of.

          I don’t believe heaven and hell are real places. It always troubled me that in my parent’s rendition of heaven, my parents would no longer be married. I still think this is an awful idea. I would hate to end up in heaven and see my wife but not be married to her. That sounds a lot like hell.

          To some people that would make heaven even more awesome! Especially if you can’t escape the shrew through divorce on Earth. Heh heh.

          I’m not a science hater. I don’t think the earth is young. I know enough about fossils to know that you won’t find a dinosaur or a monkey in Devonian rock. I don’t think humans evolved from chimpanzees, but it looks like they may share an ancestor. Science is fine, but that’s not my primary area of interest.

          No one thinks people are descended from chimps. That’s a straw man argument that Christians (and now Glenn Beck) have attributed to folks they call “Darwinists.” The rest of us call them “Biologists” and “Scientists.” But yeah, science isn’t my gig either, but I have to read up on this stuff so a guy like Angry Calvinist can’t shit on my head. When I worked in a warehouse, after dropping out of my first college, I got told what to do by people who were soooo stupid. They thought they were smarter and better than me because they had the money. I decided then that a would never let a fool shit on me again. That’s neither here nor there, but I can understand your lack of interest in science–it takes me a chapter or two to get into a science book. Till then, it’s just work.

          After college, I have made an attempt not to get stuck in my ways. I guess I am non-committal like that. As a result, I sometimes get alienated from just about everyone. In politics, for instance, I can sympathize with both Republicans and Democrats. I don’t necessarily agree with one side or the other.

          I think it’s the same with religion. I can sympathize with both Christians and atheists. My whole background is in Christianity. My parents are on the mission field. I can’t say I’d do their job, but I can’t reject them for their convictions (unless there’s an obvious practical conflict in interest).

          Hmm, existing in the margins and interstices. You don’t happen to be an MK do you?! 🙂 Of course, I completely relate to what you are saying here. I’m actually a registered Independent for that very reason. However, I don’t view my not being a Christian as a rejection of them. I reject their hypothesis about the existence of their deity, that is all.

          I don’t bad-mouth you people either. Call it a weakness, but I’m more likely to stick up for Christians when around atheists and more likely to stick up for atheists when around Christians.

          Although you can’t tell it from this site, I do the same thing. I just dislike folks being uninformed or overstating things (in person–online, overstating things is my hobby), so I, bizarrely, find myself explaining the logic Christians are using in a particular situation to folks who are jumping to the conclusion that it must be because they are merely simpletons.

          I don’t fully buy in to your ideology, Bob or Jesus or whoever you are. I find you a bit stringent (or sometimes a little drunk). You probably find me a bit flaky. I think we represent two different factions in English departments. You seem to enjoy structure. You like logic and hard facts. I’m not so practical. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m an aspiring poet. I like indulging my creative side. I like forming connections and playing with metaphor. Usually this results in a decent amount of misunderstanding, which would explain why I don’t have many friends.

          Your comment about different English department factions makes me smile, but I think you might be overstating things a bit. I’ll get into that later. The truth is, I am a literature person. I got into rhetoric out of necessity, to succeed in my teaching assistant position: I had to teach argument theory. However, I am primarily a literature person, and my primary focus was on the Romantics, Faulkner, and narrative theory. (I also dabbled in Brit Lit and a few other things.) The truth is that English at the graduate level is not English at the undergraduate level. There is no such thing as an intellectually non-rigorous English prof, regardless of whether he or she is in Composition, Rhetoric, Narrative Theory, Linguistics, or Creative Writing. If a creative writer is unable to learn theory, and explain in their MFA thesis how their work ties into or reflects some aspect of blabbity, blab, blab, then there won’t be much of a future there.

          You are right though, there is something a bit more logical about me than a fair number of my other colleagues and I have a reputation for being good with theory and being a close and careful reader. But that’s a personal thing about me–it’s not a reflection of any kind of a split in English departments between lit and non-lit folks, or between creative writers and the linguists. Those factions do exist (to a lesser extent in my department, since we are very high-functioning), but they’re more focused around disagreements in underlying assumptions that inform subfields. I’m not purposely trying to misunderstand you though–I do see that there are some differences between the creative writers and the scholars, but those differences are totally exaggerated for the most part. Everyone in an English department is an academic and thinks like one, but they are are varied as most of the general population in temperament, etc.

          P.S. I rarely drink any more, and I can think of only one time I posted a comment after having a few glasses of wine. I left my ICA Survivor posting days behind for good, so you’ll have to blame my tone in this forum on something else. I hope you’re aware that my FFFMKS writing voice is a persona. I still have a lot of difficulty taking online interactions seriously. Even with semi-serious personas online now, thanks to Facebook, I can’t help but view the whole thing as a game. Not sure why that is. I remember being pretty confused when Lazer got so pissed about my creating a parody persona of him on MySpace. Apparently, he took his profile persona seriously and thought it was some sort of real reflection of who he is or something. I don’t get that at ALL.

          I’m still not completely convinced beliefs have as much impact on us as we think they do. The realm of ideas is great, but I tend to think ideas only have a real effect when they are acted upon. Some people may have crazy ideas, but they’re of little consequence if they have no real impact on reality.

          I am a Christian in the way an average Joe from the Bronx is Jewish or an Irishman is Catholic. I go to church every couple weeks. I play music there, which I admit is one of the few reasons I go (that and my wife is more of a believer than I am). I still space out during the sermon as I have done since I was born. I don’t feel a whole lot. Our church is fairly innocuous. It is a “seeker” sensitive church with a rock band of real musicians (the guy I play with just wrote a song that will be featured on the European Idol winner’s album…oh joy). The pastor talks about sex and relationships most weeks. It gets old, but whatever.

          It sounds like you’re going through the motions, and when I read this I feel sad. You just exactly described my feelings about life when I was growing up in the Christian community. It all sounds really meaningless and pointless. This is precisely how I felt when I thought God was in charge of everything. I thought, “What’s it matter what I do?” Ironically, believing in God robbed my life of all purpose. Yes, I’m projecting, but it’s hard not to when I read this–you described me to a t. I knew there was a reason I liked you JN–it’s because I’m a narcissist, and you’re me! lol

          In my personal life, I try to be a responsible human. I care about environmental issues. I ride my bike to work. I try not to get attached to personal possessions. I save my money. I try to live a simple lifestyle. I grind my coffee by hand. I roast my own coffee beans. I cook meals. I try not to watch TV or waste much time on the internet. I read books. I try to treat people fairly. I frequently get on my own nerves. I’m a bit of an optimist, but I’m still a bit of a skeptic. I am cautious with people.

          Anyway, this is really long and rambling. Life is too short for revision. I’ve got work to do.

          (As for your initial question, Roberto, you shifted the focus. I was arguing from the viewpoint of a Christian hoping to highlight differences in beliefs, then you asked for my opinion. So that’s why I answered the way I did. Plus, you seemed cranky. It was kind of a downer for a beautiful day. I shut down the computer and enjoyed the day.)

          Yeah, I was fucking cranky. I get that way, and the internet is there to keep me from sharing it with my family. lol

          Ok, so this is some good shit, JN. That’s the stuff I’m talking about! It’s called human interaction: I say some shit, you say some shit, and we leave happy knowing we don’t intend to rob or kill each other. Otherwise, how the hell do I know where you’re coming from and what you’re here for? With some folks, like a Lazer or a Meschuviel (or however the hell you spell that ridiculousness), it takes all of two sentences to figure out what they’re all about. The fact that you can’t be read too easily means you’ve got more going on upstairs. Also, you are infinitely more interesting when you write more.

          I wrote all of this in the small reply box, so it’s hard to proofread. Hopefully I didn’t say anything that needs serious revision.

          Later.

        • JN said

          I did say stuff that needs a little revision. The main one is about rejecting my parents. I’d never reject my parents. I decided to add that at the last minute and added it in the wrong spot.

          Also, I was being a bit facetious with the English department stuff. The distinctions are a bit overblown. Everyone knows that English people are all weird. The hardcore creative writing people, who seem to write for creative writing’s sake, seem to be hard to stomach though. If I do get my MFA, I’m kind of worried about being stuck with a bunch of flakes. OK…maybe I’m getting carried away again.

          I sometimes have a hard time talking about my life. Most people around me don’t really know me that well. It’s partly my fault, but it’s partly their fault for not caring. Many of my college friends are involved in the ministry. They are all turning into grown-ups and having babies. They are sold out for Jesus. I could never commit.

          I went to a Christian college after a year of failure in an engineering program at a public university. I could never be an engineer. I signed up for the program because it sounded good. It was one of the hardest undergrad programs to get in to. As a bonus, I wouldn’t have to take any entrance exams. The only problem was that I sucked at Calculus. And the engineering students got on my nerves. And I didn’t do my homework. While I was acing my humanities classes, I was getting the worst grades of my life in the classes that were supposed to count. So I transferred.

          For me, going to a Christian college was not easy. I partly went there to make amends with the baggage I was still carrying from ICA, and partly to be around some people I already knew. I also was trying to reconcile with the religion of my youth. To give it one good shot. I’d never really made an effort before. Religion was just something my parents made me do (I was the guy in the back row throwing paper airplanes).

          I tried. I really did, but I could never take the next step. Many of my friends were targeted as Christian leaders and are serving around the world. I was not targeted as such, but there I was none-the-less with my fleece out on the lawn with the rest of them.

          I could never share the gospel. I had to take a class that required random acts of kindness. The only catch was that I would have to specify that I was doing it out of love for Christ. I took a C in that class because I finished without any acts of kindness, and I never made it to work the phones at the Billy Graham Crusade.

          I had a lot of fun in college. I played soccer. I played music. I did stupid stuff when I should have been studying. But when it came to being serious, we were all rooting around in the dark, punching holes in the ceiling and hoping the light would shine through. No one had enough faith to make the sun shine.

          At some point though, you have to ask yourself if hoping something is true will actually make it true. In one sense it might, but in a more realistic sense it doesn’t. Faith is just faith. Even the book of James says that faith without works is dead.

          So where am I going with this? I have no clue. I’m spending way too much time writing. Deus ex machina…

          • Ann said

            Nice to hear your story JN! A thought I had after reading the last part: Faith in faith. For me, there is nothing to have faith in and the God myth leaves people in the dark, so to speak. Instead of faith without works being dead, why not faith is a dead end.

            • JN said

              I don’t think faith is pointless. It may be naive or misguided, but not necessarily pointless. I guess it depends on the situation in which it’s applied.

              We all have faith of some sort even if it’s not a religious faith. I have faith that my life is worth living. I think many of the arguments against suicide tend to take a bit of a step of faith in favor of life. But not being an expert in this field (or any field for that matter), I may be wrong.

              The faith without works part was supposed to come into play somewhere along the line, but I lost focus. Basically I was going to say that many people emphasize the faith part, but what really seems to matter is the works part. If you can’t bring yourself to act upon your faith, as I often couldn’t, it is necessary to question why that faith exists in the first place. Of course, it’s also important to question actions as well.

              • Ann said

                You mean desire (or fortitude) to keep living? You are using a different definition of faith. Kinda like a religious folks definition. No, we don’t all have faith, the way religious people do. This idea has been refuted numerous times on this site. Faith in God is faith in an invisible deity with no evidence whatsoever to support it. I’m not sure why religious or spiritual people insist atheists have that kind of “faith” too…lol.

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