2014-09-20_08-08-101) Christ is perfect but “Christianity” is not. Don’t mistake Christian Culture as God, they aren’t the same thing. Churches, pastors, theologians, and other believers will inevitably fail you, but Jesus never will.

2) It’s OK to change your beliefs. You’ll never have Christianity fully figured out. You won’t have an answer for everything. Theology is a journey, a Pilgrim’s Progress. Life, relationships, and experiences form, shape, and change the way you see, experience, and understand God. The disciples didn’t understand God much of the time, and you probably won’t either.

3) Christianity Isn’t Easy. It doesn’t magically fix things, make you more popular, wealthy, or healthier. In reality, it’s not a form of escapism but a lifelong process of dedication, service, sacrifice, and humbly loving others. It’s very, very, very hard, and not for the faint of heart.

4) Christianity Is Complex. Nobody believes the same thing. There are hundreds of denominations. Doctrines, practices, and traditions are as varied as the people that represent them. This diversity of faith should be appreciated and celebrated. The goal of Christianity isn’t conformity, but an honest and intimate relationship with God.

5) Christianity is ultimately about loving God and loving others. It should never be co-opted by a political movement, a religious institution, gaining power, obtaining control, spreading influence, enforcing laws, or becoming rich and famous. It’s about a relationship with God—never let anything supersede this

5 Things You Should Know Before Becoming A Christian.

I am going to do something here that I don’t often do and that is to reblog an entire post from a blogging friend. This one’s name is Stephen Mattson. He is near the top of my blog reading list as he seems to have just the right words to express what I am feeling about so many issues. He is a trained and practicing theologian but I won’t hold that against him. :)

My big complaint is that too many people try to make Christianity a sit back and wait religion but Christ told us he was about anything but that. This list should be read and practiced by all of us who are just approaching it or have been in it for a while.  At times in my life I have almost succumbed to number one.  I took a serious look at Christianity as it seems to be practiced today and found it to be anything but perfect.  That almost turned me away but as Stephen says the institution of Christianity might seem to fail you but Jesus and his words won’t.  That is what keeps me coming back to the well.

 

 

Another quick snapshot of my blog InSearchOfAmerica. Visit it by clicking on the mosaic map just to the right of this post.

Rapid City Composite-crop

Rapid City, SD – A City of Sculptures

I love all the sculptures in downtown Rapid City. Many celebrate our Native Americans. What could be more American than to celebrate the original inhabitants of this great country. Too bad it took us so many years to realize that…..

2014-07-15_16-07-58This is a continuation of last Friday’s post about why I blog and why I have been around longer than many of my blogging friends.

The above title with a slight modification is from a song from Carly Simon in the early seventies.  I am not really taunting you here it is just that like so many of my blogging buddies have been doing lately I sometimes wonder if I should go on with this blog or just hang it up? Last Friday I mentioned some of the reasons that I blog.  I thought I would finish the thought with this post.

It comes down to the basic question “Why do I blog??”

  • Do I do it for fame or fortune?
  • Do I do it because of an inflated ego?
  • Do I have just too much time on my hands?
  • Do I do it because I am always right and need others to know that fact?

I can emphatically answer NO to all of these thoughts. I have been offered some monetary gain by allowing advertising on this blog but have reject that as I might feel restricted in what I say. Most of my life I have suffered from an inferiority complex that my father, rest his soul, probably inadvertently taught me. My ego was thoroughly bruised by those years. Too much time? I can’t seem to get everything done on my to-do lists for any given day so that is not the reason.  Because I am always right (Ha). I don’t know many answers but I do have a lot of questions. Nope, don’t blog because of any of those reasons….

When it comes down to the root reason I blog it is just who I am at this point in my life.  I am a person who is full of questions.  I am a person who instinctively doesn’t go with the crowd but instead seek an alternative paths. I also blog in order to get all these things out of my head. :)  If I don’t do something with them all the unanswered questions would probably drive me crazy…

For a good part of my life I saw myself as a guy who thinks about things when others just take them for granted. It made me weird and sometimes less than sociable. In my old age I have come to discover that these characteristics are actually of some benefit.

No, I don’t have all the answers but that is OK. Sometimes I just get it wrong and have to learn otherwise and that is OK too. The root reason for  why I blog is probably more for me than for you my loyal readers. It keeps me sane… ;) More thoughts on that next Friday….

Never Take An Active Part…

September 18, 2014 — 6 Comments

2014-09-13_09-50-19I have ever deemed it fundamental for the United States never to take active part in the quarrels of Europe. Their political interests are entirely distinct from ours. Their mutual jealousies, their balance of power, their complicated alliances, their forms and principles of government, are all foreign to us. They are nations of eternal war.

–A Thomas Jefferson Letter, 11 June 1823, to President James Monroe

Thomas Jefferson just didn’t trust government very much. He was always skeptical that they would get us involved in things we had no business being involved in. The constant wars in Europe were one of those things to be avoided at almost all costs. In the intervening two-hundred years much has changed with the world. It has definitely gotten smaller such that anything happening anywhere can affect others in at least some way. But, I kind of think that Jefferson’s words above still apply today especially in the Middle East.

The Middle Eastern countries including all those we have spent trillions of dollars trying to reform are fundamentally different from the U.S. As Jefferson said their mutual jealousies, their balance of power and their forms of government and particularly religious beliefs are very foreign to what we practice in this country.  We can spend trillions of trillions of dollars and thousands of our kids lives trying to make it otherwise but that just won’t happen. If only we would recognize that fact we would save ourselves much agony.

There have been many “doctrines” in this country. The Monroe Doctrine, The Marshal Plan, The Bush Doctrine (I don’t think Obama has a doctrine except maybe “send in the drones”) but I believe the only successful plan for our times is :

We will leave you alone if you leave us alone

But of course our dependence on their oil reserves negates that possibility. Maybe we need another wall? The Wall of China was meant to keep out foreign invaders. The Iron Curtain was meant to separate two very different doctrines. Maybe it is time for a Islamic Wall to separate us from all those constantly feuding religious doctrines of the Middle East? Maybe if we get out of their business they will get out of ours.  It worth a try….

 

Why???

September 17, 2014

2014-09-15_20-26-03I have a question for my Republican friends.

Yes, that sounds like the setup for a smackdown, but though the question is pointed, it is also in earnest. I’d seriously like to know:

If Republican fiscal policies really are the key to prosperity, if the GOP formula of low taxes and little regulation really does unleash economic growth, then why has the country fared better under Democratic presidents than Republican ones and why are red states the poorest states in the country?…

Yet, every election season the party nevertheless makes those claims. It will surely do so again this fall. So it seems fair to ask: Where are the numbers that support the assertion? Why is Texas only middling in terms of per capita income? Why is Mississippi not a roaring engine of economic growth? How are liberal Connecticut and Massachusetts doing so well?…

It seems to suggest Republican claims are, at best, overblown. If that’s not the case, I’d appreciate it if some Republican would explain why. Otherwise, I have another earnest, but pointed question for my Democratic friends:

How in the world do they get away with this?

 

SOURCE:  If GOP is right, why are red states so far behind? – Leonard Pitts – Newsday.

Why is probably my favorite word in the English language. Everyone should use it many times a day. If we don’t questions things in our lives then we leave the door open for others to determine how we live.

Why do we let others, particularly the politicians, say almost anything they want without questions? The above example is a biggie for me. If the Republican mantra of low taxes, no regulation, and small or maybe no government at all is the answer then why are so many of the red States so poor. With their iron-fisted control of their State governments why are so many “liberal” States so much better off then the red ones?

Theoretically it is possible to replace over 85% of our representative in congress in the coming months. So, if as the polls suggest, we are all so disgusted with those folks why will we return the vast majority of them to a job that they seem utterly unqualified for?

Are we just too lazy to take the necessary actions to turn our totally dysfunctional government around?  What we have to do is really not that difficult; just a couple of button pushes in early November. Out with the old and in with the new. The new couldn’t be any worse so why not give it a try?  Why??

One final question I have is why is my home State of Indiana a red one when all our surrounding neighbors are so blue? For the life of me I can’t figure that one out. :)

 

Capitalism – A Dirty Word…

September 16, 2014

2014-08-14_07-49-36I have been accused by some who have come to this site primarily in the antagonist mode to be anti-capitalism.  I hope that is not the general persona that I put forth.  It is true that I don’t think that unfettered capitalism is a good thing. If left to its own capitalism would morph into a survival of the fittest mode or something even worse. But I don’t think those beliefs make me against capitalism.

I thoroughly recognize that capitalism is the primary driver that has made the U.S. and much of the industrialized world what it is today.  Without capitalism we might all be in the survival mode as found in much of Africa and other third world countries. Constrained capitalism simply brings out the best in us. Without the Robber Barons of a century ago our country would look much different. But at the same time without the Republican president Teddy Roosevelt taking down the Robber Barons things would probably have looked just as dreary.

Here is a little about what Wikipedia says about capitalism:

Capitalism is an economic system in which trade, industry, and the means of production are largely or entirely privately owned and operated for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets and wage labor. In a capitalist economy, the parties to a transaction typically determine the prices at which assets, goods, and services are exchanged….

Proponents of capitalism argue that it creates more prosperity than any other economic system, and that its benefits are mainly to the ordinary person.Critics of capitalism variously associate it with economic instability, an inability to provide for the well-being of all people, and an unsustainable danger to the natural environment. Socialists maintain that, although capitalism is superior to all previously existing economic systems (such as feudalism or slavery), the contradiction between class interests will only be resolved by advancing into a completely social system of production and distribution in which all persons have an equal relationship to the means of production.

Having a “completely social system of production and distribution in which all persons have an equal relationship to the means of production.” is simply not workable as proven by history. Without the possibility of advancing your personal situation there is simply no incentive to make things better. But at the same time I realize that capitalism so often results in extreme greed, corruption, and worse if it is not controlled and regulated.  That is where our governmental functions come in.  Someone needs to be at the reigns of capitalism so that it doesn’t destroy itself. We seem to have lost that sense of governmental responsibility in the last few decades. Hopefully we will get it back before it is too late….

All About Coveting…

September 15, 2014

When I think of the word covet I think of the tenth commandment. Here is what that says

2014-09-04_18-44-59“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

I know covet is an old word so let’s be sure of the meaning.

Covet – wish, long, or crave for

So this last commandment means you should not wish for or crave anything that your neighbor has. But isn’t craving things that others have kind of foundational to the capitalistic system? We are all supposed to want the latest gadget, clothes, houses, you name it. If no one craves anything how can we survive.

Let’s face it, at least this commandment if very anti-American…

I’ll bet if I go through the other nine I will find others that just don’t jive with our current American culture. Things like loving money, cursing that is found in almost all of our movies, lying on the resume, or even war for that matter seem to be no-no.

Maybe we should put the ten commandments the law of the land. That would radically change things or at least change the makeup of our prison population….

Having All The Answers….

September 14, 2014

This Sunday post is going to take a personal drift.  Some of my antagonists over the years say that I have a smug attitude about Christianity and that I proclaim to be the only one who has all the answers. I hope these views are an exception rather than a rule for most who read my Sunday posts. But just in case I want to tell you what I think about that view of my words.

First of all it hurts me that anyone would take that as my message about being a follower of Christ. If you are one to have that opinion I would encourage you to look at my 5+ years worth of posts over at RedLetterLiving.  It should be clear from those posts that I don’t think I have all the answers. As a matter of fact I’m not even sure I have any answers but just have many unanswered questions that just don’t seem to be answerable by current day religious establishments.

I approach my spirituality with my intellect fully in-tact. That is I don’t just take what some say is the truth as the truth. I check out other opinions. I am not seminary trained but only self-educated. In some ways that is an advantage but in other I probably don’t know what I don’t know about many theological issues.

When I talk about spiritual issues here I am not trying to convince anyone that I am correct and I certainly not trying to convince anyone they are wrong.  We all are seeking the same thing via our spiritual search. Some take different paths and that is OK. I am not trying to force anyone down my path. I am just offering my current view on spiritual matters and yes that view has evolved over the years.

I was a serious student of theology for about a dozen years and at the end of that period I became convinced that for the most part “Theology is a crock”. Most of the theologians of our time don’t have anymore of an idea of these things than any of us do. They either parrot what they have been told or go off on a tangent, but not too much of a tangent for fear of being called a heretic. I know no more than anyone else about the true image of God. I can, only like them, speculate what I imagine it to be.

But because I often speculate in a different mode than many I sometimes raise eyebrows. I don’t want anyone who reads my Sunday posts to think that I am trying to convince you that I got it figured out because I am sure that like everyone else I don’t. During my studies I have found three authors that I am most aligned with. They shape many of my feelings about these issues. They are Philip Gulley, Shane Claiborne, and Greg Boyd.  If you feel like it check them out. While I don’t try to convince others that I have it right I do try to convince everyone to take it upon themselves to learn as much about God as they can. If you do I pray that you will then love him as I do. And that is why I post here on Sundays.

I am going to spend the next few Saturdays trying to entice you over to my other blog at InSearchOfAmerica. Here is a composite of August’s daily picture. Click on the mosaic map to the right of this post to see the daily contributions to my American Mosaic

 

August 2014 Mosaic

1. When he got tired of her outbursts.

2. When the trust was gone.

3. When his wife became a glorified roommate.

4. When the math didn’t add up.

5. When he was suffering from depression and she laughed it off.

6. When he realized she didn’t believe in his dreams.

7. When he disagreed with her on how they’d raise their future children.

8. When he became indifferent to the cheating.

9. When he decided to put his daughter first.

10. When he realized that having hobbies of his own was off-limits.

11. When he had the commute from hell and she didn’t care.

SOURCE:  11 Reasons Men Leave Their Marriages.

All marriages have rocky points sometime during their duration. The ability to step back and rationally review the reasons behind those points is what saves some but may also condemn others. I personally believe included in the list above are some of the major reasons marriages end up on the ash heap. As the source indicates this list  is from men who have recently divorced their wives. It comes from a much wider compilation of reasons but is probably among the top ones.

I, for one, take my vows very seriously in both my marriage and other situations in my life.  I want my word to be my word.  I let my yes be yes. If I say I will be there at a certain time I make every effort to do just that. If I say until death do us part I mean it. Does that mean I am staying in a loveless marriage? Absolutely not!! On most planes my wife loves me very much and I love her. But there are certain things, some included on the list above, that make our marriage less than perfect.  But whose marriage is perfect anyway?

I am convinced that the premise of the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” is a valid one.  There are very distinct differences between the sexes such that women sometimes just don’t get it when a man is distressed about some issues. Of course the same goes for the other way around.

They say opposites attract and there is certainly some of that in my marriage. Sometimes I think we disagree on more than we agree. Without a successful means of conflict resolution marriages of opposites are very challenging.

My wife and I have had our “disagreements” about some items on the above list. It is hard for me to understand the reasons behind her seemingly not being able to understand some on these issues. I think it is a Mars/Venus thing. I recently got a fresh copy of Mars/Venus and will likely use it as a source for some future posts in this area.