Archives For About Life

Things I have learned through my sixty odd years of life..

Why did God go to all the trouble to create the universe? By any standards that was a massive undertaking. I am one who believes in the day age interpretation of the Bible.  In the last century or so God has given us the scientific understanding to know that the creation of the universe took millions if not billions of years to complete. Why did he go through all that trouble? But for God a billion years might only be a day. Who know?

One explanation for God creating the universe including the infinitely small corner of it called the Earth was that he intends it to be a proving ground for what kind of person we choose to be. We all start out on this earth in basically the same conditions; that is we come naked from our mother’s womb. Some of us are fortunate enough to have a caring family and someone who can give us a life that will allow us to live up to our full potential. Many unfortunately are also given a life of day-to-day desperation.  But it is up to each of us to decide via our actions just what type of human being we want to be.

One story in the Bible is that some of us become sheep and some of us become goats and in the end times Jesus will come back and separate us into those two categories. I don’t really understand the difference between sheep and goats; I kind of like them both but that is another story. :)  Anyway there are several other stories about how God will come in the end times for the “final” judgment.  How many of these stories are just allegory I don’t know but I know when I leave this earth, as all of us must, I will meet my Maker. When he judges me I am absolutely sure he will bring up the words of Jesus to compare what Jesus told me to do verses what I eventually did. Will that judgement make me a sheep or a goat? That seems to be totally up to me.  Will the judgment have an effect on whether I am with God or not from that time forward?  There are numerous places in the Bible where God seems to put conditions on that happening. There are also a few where St. Paul seems to say otherwise.  But in some ways it really doesn’t matter to me. I will spend my life studying Jesus’ words and trying to live my life by them. Whether that gets me in heaven or not is totally up to God; I will not spend much time fretting over that. I will spend the time I have on earth enjoying his creation and living my life by the words of Jesus. I do this because I must; I do this because he is my creator and told me what he expects of me and that is to be my brother’s keeper.

<<This post is a re-blog from one of my other blogs at RedLetterLiving.net from April 20, 2011>>

One thing that has struck me and so many others as a very deadly thing to our country is the growing disparity between the rich and the poor. Another is how many in the rich category seem to be uncaring and even callous to those who don’t have the luxury that they have.

That fact struck me at a personal level when we were recently on a visit with some relatives. I know the age old mantra to not discuss religion or politics at family get-togethers but sometimes we foolishly ignore that advice. During some discussions with a niece the rich/poor gap came up. She basically started railing about all “those” people who are milking the welfare system. She seemed to totally reject the idea that not everyone who needs help are freeloaders.  My niece has a pretty good job that supports her husband and child with many luxuries in life. She is by no means rich but she also doesn’t have to worry much about day-to-day expenses. So when recently I came across this article it got my immediate attention. Here are some snippets:

2015-01-02_09-01-08WHAT IS CLEAR about rich people and their money — and becoming ever clearer — is how it changes them. A body of quirky but persuasive research has sought to understand the effects of wealth and privilege on human behavior — and any future book about the nature of billionaires would do well to consult it…

The people driving expensive cars were four times more likely to cut in front of other drivers than drivers of cheap cars. The researchers then followed the drivers to the city’s crosswalks and positioned themselves as pedestrians, waiting to cross the street. The drivers in the cheap cars all respected the pedestrians’ right of way. The drivers in the expensive cars ignored the pedestrians 46.2 percent of the time — a finding that was replicated in spirit by another team of researchers in Manhattan, who found drivers of expensive cars were far more likely to double-park…

There is plenty more like this to be found, if you look for it. A team of researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute surveyed 43,000 Americans and found that, by some wide margin, the rich were more likely to shoplift than the poor. Another study, by a coalition of nonprofits called the Independent Sector, revealed that people with incomes below 25 grand give away, on average, 4.2 percent of their income, while those earning more than 150 grand a year give away only 2.7 percent. 

SOURCE:What wealth does to your soul – The Week.

The behavior exhibited by my niece is what I call “I’ve Got Mine So Screw You”. There are many people who just don’t seem to care about those who are much worse off than they are. I guess it didn’t surprise me too much that those same people are more likely to treat others in a subservient manner. They are also likely to keep more for themselves than to give to others.  They are simply the Takers instead of the Givers…

On the next post we will delve into some of the surprising findings of just why this trait is applicable to so many of the “better offs” among us. I want to close here by narrowing my brush and say that not all who are wealthy are greedy, careless people. Many give very much of themselves and their money…

I am going to spend the next few Sundays re-blogging some posts from my now inactive blog over at RedLetterLiving.net. I spent over five years there working through my faith journey.  I didn’t know it at the time but this was the last post I made there in April of last year. I think it is worth a second look as something encouraging in Christ’s church:

 

I’ve seen the light go out in people’s eyes when they decide it’s safer to embrace a doctrine or a policy that their gut tells them is wrong than it is to challenge those who say it’s right.

I’ve watched open minds close and tender hearts harden.

I’ve seen people pretend to believe things they don’t actually believe and do things they don’t actually want to do, all in the name of conformity to God’s will, all in the name of sacrifice and submission.

Fundamentalism erases people. It erases their joy, their compassion, their instincts, their curiosity, their passion, their selves. And then it celebrates this ghosting, this nulling and numbing, as a glorious “dying to the self,” just like Jesus demanded.

SOURCE: Hearts of Flesh.

These are some powerful words from Rachel Held Evans who is a young and popular Christian author and lecturer. She seldom parses words when it comes to her spirituality.  She also seems to be very aligned with the latest statistics of the Millennial generation when it comes to shedding much of the dogma of the current “church”.

I truly believe that the conformity that many churches demand is a primary factor for why even those raised in it are leaving in droves. They see things that directly contradict what they believe to be simple knowledge. They see their church speaking so viciously about those who are different from them.  What they see is not “conformity to God’s will” but to hardened hearts.  They see a fixated emphasis on below the belt issues when Jesus said almost nothing about that topic.

Young people, or at least many young people, are still in the mode of questioning things. They are still forming their own personal opinions on what will be important in their coming life. They will not allow someone to tell them what is moral when it is obviously not to them.

During my lifetime fundamentalism, even though it started with trying to bring the message of Jesus Christ to the world, has for the most part morphed into something completely different. It is now primarily about what you are supposed to hate rather than what Jesus told you to love. It has become the dark side of Christianity in many respects.

2014-03-25_16-33-02It is encouraging to see that the force is no longer with the fundamentalists but instead beginning to meld into what is now called the Great Emergence as described by Harvey Cox in his book entitled The Future Of Faith.  As explained in the book the emergent church is more about moving on to the next stage of Christianity rather than tearing down the current one. It is about shedding all those man-made rules and replacing them with the messages of Jesus its founder. If you are becoming discouraged with the direction that many in the church are taking maybe it is time you took up the book and read it with an open mind. It just might just change your idea of some of the basic things you are told you must believe in order to see God.

Future-1This post finishes up my multi-part “insights” series about where and how I go from here.  My overall goal is to do what is necessary to live a happy, wild, and free retirement. Some of my commitments are personal in nature so I won’t be sharing them here. But I will give you the others. It was a very enlightening time for me. I finally managed to “listen to myself” and gain some new sometimes surprising insights:

  • I vow to be more tolerant of other’s beliefs but that does not mean I will let others run roughshod over me. I believe that we are all praying to the same God. It is simply that humanity has managed to invent so many versions of God to meet our own expectations. I heard a quote the other day that sums this concept up. It goes “And on the third day man created God...” God is God and it is not up to me to decide what he believes, how he judges, or even what he does or maybe even more importantly doesn’t do. It is also not up to me to determine who he will “save” but I personally do believe that in the end we will all be reconciled with him. Finally It is up to me to listen for the things she gives me for living my live as she wants me to.
  •  I vow to try harder to do what my blog header says and to not take myself or life for that matter too seriously. Life, especially mine, is too short to worry about things that I can’t possibly change. It is also too short to fear what others might do.
  • I vow to live more truly to my purpose in life. It is what drives me as a person. It is who God intends for me to be. But I also learned that as the saying goes all work, toward purpose or not, and no play makes RJ a dull boy so I vow spend time to just have some fun for fun’s sake.
  • I vow to do more to live my life with zest.  I vow to ask myself each day what will make me happy and then to accomplish that wish on some level. I will also strive to do some creative activity every day.
  • I vow to never again just sit back and wait for fate to happen to me.  Fate is what I make of life. It is not a static thing to come over me. For the most part I make my own fate.
  • I vow to work harder to see the unnoticed things in life and to celebrate them within myself and with others. 
  • I vow to celebrate my eccentricity and to embrace creativity wherever I discover it. 
  •  I vow to not put off things that will make my happy and fulfilled until tomorrow. I don’t have enough tomorrows left for that kind of indecision.
  • I vow to my own self to be true….