Monday, August 25, 2008

Quit Stating the Same Phrase Over and Over Again As If It Were a Legitimate Form of Debate

The topic in church today was solitude. One of the disciplines that I probably do the best at. When I actually take time to reflect is probably one of best things I can do to refocus. Since we were out at Bird's Hill Park, we were given the chance to actually spend some time alone. I decided to take a walk down the road which is the method I normally take for solitude. The thing I revolved around was the idea of my relationship to God. I have such a weird struggle with that concept. Relationship to God. What does that even mean? It seems like it's supposed to be so important to have a strong relationship to God, which is important I suppose, but as I listen to people talk about relationship to God as if it's the same as friendship with God. That you need to have a friendship with God. That He's your buddy, your pal. You stay up watching movies and rassle around and play pranks on each other.

I don't want that kind of relationship at all with God. Some sort of invisible friend. I mean, if we're supposed to be friends and yet I have to feel bad about missing prayer time and that I'm letting my friend down or being a terrible friend to Jesus or something, but I can't complain that He's never here to go play catch with. Or that I can bum a ride off or go get Slurpees with. Because that's what I do with friends. Some people would probably argue, "Well, isn't God there when you go do those things? Isn't he there?"

"I guess. In some form. But it's kind of got some weird peeping tom feel to it."

"But isn't it more like He's there though."

"Well, no. I'm saying it's not the same as a friend. Most of my friends are not invisible, omnipotent, omniscient beings."

"But the Bible tells us that He can be."

"Ok, yes, I get the idea that He has mercy on us and that He doesn't have to. But He's not actually here. Like a friend would be in the traditional sense."

"But wouldn't you want God as a friend?"

"Not really. I mean, it would the same kind of thing as spending time with the Queen of England and then saying that you're friends with her."

"It's not the same."

"Of course, it's not the exact same, I wasn't trying-"

"Because God is more powerful and He loves you."

"Yeah, I read John 3:16, too. But it's not helping your point. God is a mighty being that created the world, created me, created a way of life that would the best way to live life. He's given us everything."

"So doesn't that make Him your friend?"

"No, that makes Him God. Look a friend's not going to give you life, purpose and meaning. But when I want to go and play some Rock Band, I am not expecting Jesus to show up and do vocals. Why? Because He's God. He's got important things to do. I understand."

"But He's always there."

"Yes, but as God, not as my buddy."

"You're making Him sound like He's just some authority figure who's here to make sure we're not doing something bad."

"No, you're assuming that's what the role of authority figures are. God fits better into the role of authority than into the role of drinking buddy."

"Of course, He's an authority, but can't He also be a friend?"

"No! Not in the same way!"

"But can't He?"


"But can't He?"

"Quit stating the same phrase over and over again as if it were a legitimate form of debate. I know in some Christian churches that would fly but not here in the realm of reality.

"...But can't He?"

"...Look, God offers us a life and gives us guidelines and a philosophy. If we are living that out and doing what we're supposed to be doing, then we shouldn't need God to be our friend. We need God and His scriptures as a way to gives us encouragement, a source of strength, a way of life."

"Like a friend would."

"...sort of? Except for that last part. That's why God as my friend does not work."

"Ok, so then what does having a relationship with God mean, smarty pants?"

"First of all, can we get rid of the term 'smarty pants'? It is ridiculous. You're a grown man, pretend person I am supposedly talking to. Secondly, I see the whole relationship of God more of a business relationship than a friendship."

"That's making God distant."

"Ok, yes, it's not a perfect metaphor. But just hear me out."

"I don't do that."

"Alright, listen imaginary Christian, I've listened to your garbage for the last 20 years, let me talk for once."


"To me, the walk of a Christian and the relationship to God is in some ways similar to a corporation like Roger's."

"Are you suggesting that the place where you work is God?"

"You're an idiot. I have barely started. Can you just shut up? Anyway, Roger's is one of those lifestyle corporations. You can, in some parts of the country, get Roger's cable, internet, wireless, home phone and video rentals. It is up to the consumer to embrace as much of the Roger's brand and the goal of the company is to promote the Roger's lifestyle. In some ways, a Christian walk is like one of these lifestyle corporations. While a Roger's lifestyle does not encompass all of life and focuses on communications, connectivity and entertainment, a Christian lifestyle does have a complete picture of a lifestyle and focuses on discipline, goodness, and faithfulness. God does not force us to take up a God lifestyle, but it works together so much better if you do. With Roger's, you can get a consolidated bill, you get discounts. With God, the whole of the teachings work better together and it up to us how much we buy into the Christian lifestyle. Some only like certain parts of the lifestyle, but it works together so much better as a whole. The more you run under one philosophy, one ideal, the better your walk with Christ. But you have to buy into it. The more you have to be devoted to Christ."

"So are you suggesting I have to join Roger's to be a Christian?"

"...You're a fucking idiot."

I'm sorry about that last f-bomb. I get frustrated, even in fictional arguments with made-up people. I have just been thinking about what my relationship with God should look like. It seems like a more and more popular idea that Jesus should be one of my friends or something and that if I don't that I'm not a good Christian. But that doesn't seem to fit. It seems to be that if that our goal is to be God's friend, then it makes things like the fact that Jesus died for my sins look like as if it was like a rich kid buying expensive gifts for others just so that they'll be His friend. And then when we do something bad or don't spend time in the Word or neglect our prayer life that some how we're hurting this wiener of rich kid who was just trying to buy our friendship off of us. God doesn't need to be our friend, but the fact is that He loves us. He wants us to follow a certain code of conduct, not because it will make Him happy, but rather it is the way we should be living. The choices we make to embrace God or reject God is not some friendship, but rather a mentorship that we either buy into or leave. God doesn't force us into it or is trying to make us feel guilty about not embracing Him but giving us the tools so that we know what a good life looks like and what will bring us closer to Him.

That pretty much explains my most recent revelation, but this is already pretty ridonculously long so I'm going to go. Peace? I guess. I don't know how to end this one off.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy...

This past week I had a kind of a bizarre experience. I was reading the paper and I got agitated to the point I wanted to yell out in the middle of the Burger King. I was reading back to back outrageous stories of tragedy. Both of which took place in Manitoba. What the hell?

First off was the news that the good old Westboro church of crazy was going to descend on the funeral of Tim McLean. Who the hell do these people think they are? Spewing such vile, hateful speech about a person they do not even know and taking his memorial as an opportunity to spread their message of crazy and then slapping God's name all over it as a way to justify their homophobia and disrespect for a person that God created. Anyway, I don't want to dwell any more on them, because this is the exact thing that gives them power...damn it.

Secondly, I was then reading the editorial letters of people writing in about the atrocity that happened on that bus and I was appalled even further. Now, I should establish that I clearly believe Vince Li should be locked away from society so as to not harm other people. What he did was terrible and horrific. It is quite evident that he is a disturbed mind who has given way to a violent irrationality. But what caught me off-guard was not that. What got me was the reaction of people to this crime. People want to brutally eviscerate this guy. And the disturbing and ultimately disheartening part of this whole thing is that people who are supposedly rational and good citizens would love to see this guy have his fingers ripped off or some how brutally punished so that he suffers in the most incredible way long as it was legal. If one of these civilized barbarians was given the opportunity to do whatever they wanted to Vince Li with no legal repercussions then they would unleash the worst possible torture on the guy that they could imagine and feel no remorse. What the hell is that? Can't they see the sickening irony of how these people are not that different than the mentally instable mind they want to utterly want to cut, mangle, burn and the only fucking thing holding them back is the law? They are the thing that they apparently hate with a light smattering of law glazed over the bloodlust. And they are sane. I may not be a psychologist, but I'm pretty sure that Vince Li is crazy, deranged and all that, but the people who want to do the same to him are sane? That is what I find far more disturbing about humanity. That civility is the mask of the worst, hate-filled minds.

Lastly, the situation with the Winnipeg Police in the shooting death of Craig McDougall. The frustrating part of this whole thing is that if an aboriginal armed with a knife doesn't obey an officers orders to drop the weapon and after an attempt to use a tazer on the suspect, the guy still doesn't back down and then the police shoot him that the police is accused of being racist? Even if he was holding a cell phone like some people claim, it doesn't mean that the guy should not have listened to police officers who were telling him to put it down. And then some people claim that the police shouldn't have used such unnecessary force. A gun versus a knife is unfair. So you want the police to go use knives to take down knife-wielding suspects? Or is that too much for law-enforcement? Maybe they should use wiffle bats? "No, that's too much! Have you ever been hit by one? It gives you a nasty headache for like 10 minutes! Police should use candy to take down suspects." That all being said, there should be an inquiry when someone is they already do.

I wanted to yell in anguish and frustration and anger so badly. I didn't because I didn't to be kicked out of the Burger King. I mean, I wasn't finished with my Whopper yet. Why does the world have to be like this? I guess I will have to crank up the awesome level and try to spread joy and hope more to a humanity in desperate need of healing.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ecclesiastes is the "Nevermind" of the Bible

I love Nirvana. The band, not the state of spiritual enlightenment. Wait, is that enlightenment? I mean, it's about nothing. Nirvana is the Seinfeld of spiritual states. I do like Seinfeld, so maybe it's not so bad. Although I have a feeling nirvana has less observation quips and crazy, one-word summary characters.

Wow, I really got off-track right off the start with that. Back to Nirvana, the band, not the spiritual state. Even as I write this, I am listening to "Scentless Apprentice" as it talks about isolation and alienation from those around me. For some reason, I can't help but enjoy their music despite the fact that it is pessimistic and the dwells on the scum that lies on the underbelly of humanity. The elusive and despair-filled lyrics and rather simplistic music might be distasteful to those who appreciate a certain level of technical skill with their music, but I find that their music is so imbued with emotion and a stark look at the pathetic nature of humanity that it is somehow irresistible. Although I cannot say that I am negative or even can really comprehend his world view, I find his perspective and music intriguing. It gets me in the gut. I connect to it in this strange way. That if I did not fight the demons of a selfish humanity and the seemingly overwhelming power of dark humanity that I struggle against, that I would view the world in the same way. Especially in these last couple of weeks of some of the worst tragedies of recent Manitoba history.

I almost look at Kurt Cobain as some sort of bizarro twin. I should qualify that not with some sort of assumption that I really know who he was and what he thought, but rather my perception of him that I gathered from his music and from what I heard of him. I guess I should say that I look at the legend or image that I have of Kurt Cobain is my bizarro twin. I am trying to respect his memory here. Some how I see a part of myself, the deep down visceral part of me that identifies myself with him.

For some reason, I am drawn to that pessimistic side of myself and while simultaneously trying to react against it. I have a hope in a God that imbues hope and purpose into my life. I specifically try to react against that side of myself that looks at the world as a disconnected, isolated place with little to offer the human soul. Rather I try to give the world what I think God has called us to and that is to share the grace and hope. Without God, the world is a world where Nirvana makes perfect sense.

I think that's also why I love Ecclesiastes so much. It may very well be my favorite book in the Bible. It is almost the "Nevermind" of the Bible. By the way, Psalm 88 would have to be the "In Utero" of the Bible. Ecclesiastes shows the pointlessness of a trying to pleasure oneself, the pointlessness of gathering wealth, the pointlessness of knowledge. And life is pointless without God, because otherwise everything we do is just us occupying ourselves until a day where we waste away into dust.

I find Ecclesiastes strangely reassuring. That as a Christian, I can recognize the despair of a life without God not as some sort of alien mindset, but rather the thing that I am trying to overcome in myself.

In the end, I connect to Nirvana and their music because it is a connect to a bizarro version of myself, the self I would be without God and it makes me thankful for the hope I have.