Three fingers pointed back (Blast From the Past)

In my first hall meeting, the state of the Prayer Chapel was discussed. It was said that some couple had the lack of sensibility to fornicate in the Chapel, and thus it was now to be kept locked.

“Ug! That’s just wrong. They don’t go here anymore, right? Geez… I hope there is some special reservations made for them for hell. That’s just going too far.”

I also heard that last year, some student admitted to being a pedophile.

“That’s disgusting. He’s just too messed up. Sick, sick, sick! I’m glad he isn’t still here. Creepy.”

Yeah. That’s right. Wrong. Creepy. Disgusting. I agree.

They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They are forever inventing new ways of sinning and are disobedient to their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, and are heartless and unforgiving. They are fully aware of God’s death penalty for those who do these things, yet they go right ahead and do them anyway. And, worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. (Romans 1:30-32)

The story isn’t done yet. Romans wasn’t written in separate chapters. Guess what comes next?

You may be saying, “What terrible people you have been talking about!”But you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Do you think that God will judge and condemn others for doing them and not judge you when you do them, too? (Romans 2:1-3, emphasis mine)

To all you people who are fond of blasting the disgusting creeps who are no longer here to be offended, sit down and shut up! Guess what? You are just as bad, and you have no excuse. Somebody lusts after small children? Lust is wrong period. Tell me you don’t lust, you who make a distinction between children and adults. Somebody has sex before marriage? Have you been pure? Jesus said that Lust=Adultery, period. Furthermore, since when is one building more sacred than another? Didn’t you ever learn that our bodies are the temple of God? So, if you think lustful thoughts, it’s as bad as having an orgy in church! If people actually have sex in a prayer chapel, what can you say to them? How are you any better?

I’m not here to compare sins. I don’t want “In my past life I was a drug dealer” or any of that crap. That’s important, but not here. Here, the point is for every finger you point you have three pointing back at you.

I’m not here to justify sin. I’m here to un-justify jackasses. You whitewashed tombs! Don’t you dare claim you can clean out people’s eyes when you have a couple of trees embedded in your face!

Don’t be so quick to deal hellfire and brimstone. You are here to warn, not judge. Jesus will do the judging quite nicely when it is time, and he will use your super-high standards on you.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Of course, I am no different.

You Killed My Father. Prepare to Die (Blast From the Past)

(Originally Published August 4th, 2005)

If you haven’t seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you ought to. It is much more like Roald Dahl’s book than that Willy Wonka show with Gene Wilder. Mind you, the “classic” Willy Wonka is highly cool in his own way. But they are totally different things.

The Oompa Loompa songs are ripped straight out of the book. I remember when I first read the book being suprised that they didn’t sing “Oompa Loomp Doopity Doo” in the actual text. Instead, each song was based around the name of the child that had just gone too far.

There was only one thing that puzzled me. Charlie is set in England. The main character buys the candybar with the golden ticket using money that is definitely not American. But then, as soon as the ticket is out, one person offers him fifty dollars, and another offers him five-hundred dollars.

Dollars? What? No. Bad. Bad Tim Burton, bad.

Still, it is highly good. The dollars thing doesn’t affect it, really. It just… confused me. Yeah. That’s what it did.

Something struck me the other day when I was enjoying (for the first time) my very own copy of The Princess Bride, quite possibly the best movie I have ever seen. It’s the scene where Inigo has tracked down his father’s killer, and has him at his mercy. “Promise me anything I ask for!” he says.

“Anything. Whatever you want, I shall give it to you,” the terrified killer says.

“I want my father back you __ __ _ ____!”

In the book On a Pale Horse, Peirs Anthony tells the story of a man who becomes the incarnation of death. Normally, when people die, according to this book, they go straight to Heaven or straight to Hell, depending on the relative weights of good and evil deeds. As Thanatos, the main character is required to personally harvest the souls that are borderline, and sort them for shipment to the appropriate place.

The problem with this view is that evil is very specific. You aren’t weighing a theft against a donation to charity. You are dealing with a specific theft, and things are not right until the money is paid back, and the original owner is compensated for the time he didn’t have it. Donating millions of dollars to an unrelated charity is a nice thing to do, but it doesn’t address the specific crime.

Count Rugen may have saved Inigo’s life, or even the world, and it wouldn’t matter to Inigo. The specific crime was the death of Inigo’s father, and only Rugen’s death, or Inigo’s dad being restored to life, could address that specific crime. ¬†Actually, even Rugen’s death, without the restoration of Domingo Montoya, was still too weak a payment.

Oddly enough, Jesus not only died for our sins, but he promises to restore people to life as well. You see, God is the only one who can truely pay our debts. Maybe we can manage one or another to each other, but not all or even most. Besides that, each of us is guilty of scorning and mocking God, ignoring him, and failing to acknowledge him. Because of his infinite worth, to cast him away is an infinite crime. I consider abusing women to be a crime worthy of death, but to abuse God… It’s inconceivable. To cast him aside for other, unworthy lovers. To abandon him when all he’s done for us is out of love! Truely, we deserve the utter pits of Hell.

The author of How Good is Good Enough? compares our crime to the time his very young daughter carved her name in the paint of his very well-maintained car. Justice demanded that she pay for it, that she pay the three or four hundred dollars to fix the paint, and provide transportation while it was being fixed. There is no way she could be expected to do that, though. She could go upstairs and clean her room, but though that’s a nice gesture, it doesn’t address the problem.

And so God looks down on us and sees that our debt to him is one we simply cannot pay. And he says “I’ll pay it. I’ll have to die in agony and shame, but it doesn’t matter. You can’t possibly pay it or even understand it.

“I’ll pay it.”

As Crazy Does (Blast From the Past)

(Originally published November, 2006)

My Writing Fiction I class is starting to depress me a small bit. It isn’t just the stories. Mind you, it does get tiresome to see nothing but unredeemable bits of sorrow and horror. I’m not talking bad stories. They are good stories about depressing things. I guess I want any darkness in a story to exist for the purpose of glorifying the light in it. As Prince Hal says in Henry the Fourth Part I:

I know you all, and will awhile uphold

The unyoked humor of your idleness.

Yet herein will I imitate the sun,

Who doth permit the base contagious clouds

To smother up his beauty from the world,

That when he please again to be himself,

Being wanted he may be more wondered at

By breaking through the foul and ugly mists

Of vapors that did seem to strangle him.

I resolved today to try and do something about that.

But that isn’t what bothers me. In our tales, others have written (not I) about crazy people. People with real mental issues that bring back rushes of harrowing memories from my past. I mean real crazy people, in the sense that I am crazy, and take medications to ward off my craziness.

Now, I don’t mind stories about crazy people. A good story is good whether the protagonist is sane or not. What I do mind, however, is the way the audience inevitably responds.

“The main character is overly dramatic.”

“The hero just needs to take a chill pill.”

“She is just trying to show everyone that she is the top of the heap, the one with the most problems.”

“Why can’t he just to the right/smart thing? His actions are stupid.”

Apparantly, insanity is the fault of the insane. If they wanted to get well, they could just make up their minds to be better, and that would be it. This is the same crap I hear on the Christian side of the line, only it is worded slightly different.

“If you just trust in God, things will get better.”

“All you need to do is praise Jesus some more.”

“Pray, and he will take it all away.”

“Jesus is my anti-depressant.”

“It’s all a lie of Satan. Read the Bible, and it will pass.”

sigh…

The brain is a physical object. It is subject to physical malfunctions. Bones break, blood fails to clot, brains fail to work properly. Do you tell someone with a broken bone that their bone should just set itself? Do you tell someone with skin cancer that their skin needs to take a chill pill? If a man’s foot is cut off, do you go around saying “Well, if the foot just did the right thing, and reattached itself, there wouldn’t be a problem, now would there?”

And for the religious folks, here are a few bumper-stickers for you:

“Jesus is my chemotherapy.”

“I’m covered in the blood of Christ. I don’t need a transfusion.”

“Tuberculosis is a lie of Satan.”

Or how about…

Bite me.

True Love and the Bible (Blast From The Past)

I’ve begun importing the particularly good articles from my old blog to this one. ¬†This is the first in that series.

(First Published in January of 2007)

I recently received some social data that sheds some light on my quest for the meaning of true love.

Once again, I will contrast two viewpoints. The popular viewpoint is that love is an emotion. Affection, or something similar and perhaps stronger. The popular Church viewpoint is that love is an action. Doing the right thing for the person, and so on.

Now, this viewpoint seems to line up with Scriptural teachings except for one minor thing. In the famous love passage (1st Corinthians 13), Paul clearly states that doing good things is pointless unless one has love.

I have been perusing Biblical Social Values and Their Meaning by John Pilch and Bruce Malina, and have discovered that the ancient Semitic cultures would view love as primarily a state of attachment or bonding.

Why would Jesus have to say “He who loves me will follow my commands” if love as action was a given? But the ancient Semites were not primarily doers. States of being were more important than action. Hence the need for Jesus to relate actions to love.

Emotion, while attached to the idea of love to the ancients, was not necessary either. Instead, the important thing was a bond. A connection. To love was to attach yourself to others, to grow together.

This, of course, blows the lid off of modern charity, where we drop some money in a basket to help some starving kid in Africa. In order to be understood as Biblical, love has to involve both the action, and the commitment. It seems that when Jesus said “Love your Neighbor”, or “Love your Enemy”, he was talking about the neighbors or enemies right next door. The ones you could really get to know.

At least, that is how his disciples would have likely heard his command.

Oh, and you should still help starving kids in Africa. That fits into other Biblical values, like generosity. It’s just not something that the writers of Scripture would call “love”.