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Polly’s 57th Birthday

polly gerencser 2015
Polly Gerencser 2015

Tomorrow, Polly and I plan to eat at Mancy’s Steakhouse in Toledo, Ohio in celebration of her 57th birthday. Mancy’s is quite expensive, so we only go there once a year on Polly’s birthday. We hope to have a wonderful time. As I sit here contemplating the wonderful life I’ve shared with Polly, the song Wasn’t Expecting That by Jamie Lawson began to play on Rdio. I’ve never heard this song or artist before, and as I listen I find myself weeping. The song speaks to the bond and love Polly and I have for each other.  I thought I’d share it with you.

Video Link

Lyrics

It was only a smile
But my heart it went wild
I wasn’t expecting that
Just a delicate kiss
Anyone could’ve missed
I wasn’t expecting that

Did I misread the sign?
Your hand slipped into mine
I wasn’t expecting that
You spent the night in my bed
You woke up and you said
“Well, I wasn’t expecting that!”

I thought love wasn’t meant to last
I thought you were just passing through
If I ever get the nerve to ask
What did I get right to deserve somebody like you?
I wasn’t expecting that

It was only a word
It was almost misheard
I wasn’t expecting that
But it came without fear
A month turned into a year
I wasn’t expecting that

I thought love wasn’t meant to last
Honey, I thought you were just passing through
If I ever get the nerve to ask
What did I get right to deserve somebody like you?
I wasn’t expecting that

Oh and isn’t it strange
How a life can be changed
In the flicker of the sweetest smile
We were married in spring
You know I wouldn’t change a thing
Without that innocent kiss
What a life I’d have missed

If you’d not took a chance
On a little romance
When I wasn’t expecting that
Time doesn’t take long
Three kids up and gone
I wasn’t expecting that

When the nurses they came
Said, “It’s come back again”
I wasn’t expecting that
Then you closed your eyes
You took my heart by surprise
I wasn’t expecting that

Local Church Says The Morality of the Bible is the Safety of Society

church of christ of west unity sign

According to the Church of Christ at West Unity, the morality of the Bible is the safety of society.

Hmm…so…we live in a nation where every home has a Bible, often multiple Bibles, and there are churches on virtually every street corner. Shouldn’t this mean that our society is quite safe? How’s that working out for Christian America? And exactly what “morality of the Bible” should we follow? The polygamous, genocidal one of the Old Testament? The Ten Commandments? Or is that just the Nine Commandments? Which version of the Ten Commandments? The socialist morality of Jesus or the capitalist morality of Paul? If we obey “the morality of the Bible” does that mean, for a fact, that our society will be safe? Or is this just a cheap cliché that is not believed or practiced? So many questions…

A New ‘Cat’ in Our Backyard

Last December, I wrote a post about feeding and helping a feral cat. I later wrote several other posts about this cat. You can read those posts here and here.  Fall is now upon us, and before long the blustery winds of winter will cover our yard with snow. The feral cat, now a year old, is still among the living, and he, along with several of his buddies, make several trips each day to our yard to eat. Usually, they stop by the compost pile to see what goodies we have left for them before they make their way to the cat food. We’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that the feral cat and his black and white compatriot consider our yard home. Some nights, we find them sleeping on our picnic table or swing and during the day it is not uncommon to see them lounging in the garden or under the pussy willow bush. As the temperatures get colder, we will do our best to give all the cats who come our way a safe, warm place to sleep.

Several nights ago, a new ‘cat’ showed up at the Gerencser Cat Hotel. I’d seen him several times before, but every time I opened the back door so I could go outside and photograph him, he ran off. This time he decided to play possum and pretend that I couldn’t see him. He allowed me to get within ten feet of him, which was great since I had to use a flash, and I was able to shoot several photographs. I hope you enjoy them.

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Preaching the Pro-Life Gospel on Route 18

Polly took me on a short road trip before she went to work today. I hoped to photograph farmers busily harvesting their crops, but I found few farmers in their fields. We drove to Grabill, Indiana, took a quick stroll through The Country Shops Flea Market & Antiques, and then headed to the McDonald’s in Hicksville to get a quick bite to eat. From Hicksville we took Route 18 east toward Sherwood, Ohio. Along Route 18 are a variety of religious signs. I previously wrote about them in a post titled Signs of Religious Persecution in Defiance, County, Ohio. One string of signs  has been repainted and lettered with what I call the pro-life gospel.

Going East on Route 18

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Going West on Route 18

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The signs are owned by the Hammon family who live on Wonderly Road, Mark Center, Ohio

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Tony Miano’s ‘Ministry of Presence’ is Really Just the Harassment of Women

the masters college students harrassing women
Students from The Master’s College Preparing to Harass Women at Family Planning Associates in Mission Hills, California. Dear Lord, Please help us to harass many women in your name! Amen! (Picture from Cross Encounters website)

Tony Miano is a bombastic, arrogant street evangelist associated with John MacArthur and Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. Miano’s direct oversight pastors are Mike Riccardi and a former friend of mine, Phil Johnson .   Miano, a retired police officer and best buds with Ray Comfort, believes God has called him to be an open- air evangelist and itinerant preacher. A hardcore Calvinist, Miano makes no bones about the fact he considers the Arminianism preached in many Evangelical churches to be a false gospel. Miano, like his pastors John MacArthur and Ray Comfort, thinks he has the corner on the truth market. Those who believe differently are ignorant, poorly taught, or wicked, vile, unregenerate, reprobate atheists such as myself.

Last week, Miano took a group of 20 students from MacArthur’s The Master’s College to “minister” to women at Family Planning Associates in Mission Hills, California, a women’s health facility that performs abortions.  Miano calls his abortuary work a ‘ministry of presence’. That’s right, a ministry of presence.  In truth, it is a ministry of harassment, a ministry of forcing one’s religious beliefs on another. Miano, hoping to corrupt the minds of another generation of young Evangelicals, spent the day training The Master’s College students in the fine art of harassing women who came to the Family Planning Associates (FPA) for service and care. Here’s what Miano had to say:

The Lord has allowed a wonderful team of Christian men and women to form and to engage in loving people in action and truth, outside the Family Planning Associates abortuary, in Mission Hills, CA. Today the team and I were blessed beyond words to be joined by more than 20 students from The Master’s College.

This group of young adults was exceptional. Mature; submissive; teachable; respectful; servant-minded–and the list goes on. The students held signs and prayed. They effectively engaged in a ministry of presence.

A number of students, as well as regular members of the team, testified at the end of the morning of seeing people in cars, fitting the profile of those seeking to abort a child, making repeated passes by the abortuary, but never entering the parking lot. While tragically babies were murdered at the abortuary this morning, we left confident that the Lord used us to turn several abortive parents away–allowing unborn children to live for at least another day.

Note carefully what Miano said: the students were submissive, respectful, and teachable, Evangelical lingo for easily persuadable. Force-fed the pro-life lie and anti-Planned Parenthood talking points, these students were perfect candidates for Miano’s abortuary ministry. The students were taught by Miano the fine art of profiling a woman seeking an abortion and, applying their learning, succeeded in turning women away from getting needed health care. While Miano calls this a ministry of presence, it really is a legal means of harassing women under the guise of doing the Lord’s work. While Miano can report to his supporters that several babies got to live another day, numerous women turned away from FPA out of fear, not wanting to be accosted by the religious crazies in front of the facility.

Only in America do we allow fundamentalist religious zealots to stand between patients and their doctors when receiving medical care. Pro-life groups have carved out special legal exceptions that allow them to harass women and doctors, the same legal exceptions used by Westboro Baptist Church to harass the families of fallen soldiers. Whatever a person might believe about abortion, a woman should have the right to seek medical care without being harassed by God’s appointed agents of righteousness. If a person thinks abortion is murder, fine don’t have an abortion, but don’t impede those who think differently. Unfortunately, while abortion through the second trimester is still legal in every state, Republicans and Christian fundamentalists have worked to enact state laws that have made it increasingly hard to get an abortion, while at the same time refusing to support methods and practices that would drastically reduce the need for abortion. They will not rest until Roe v. Wade is overturned and women are once again forced to seek out illegal abortions. For those of us who think every woman has a right to control her own body and have an abortion if she desires one, we must continue to push back at laws and regulations that we know will only result in increased suffering and death.

12 week fetus
12 week fetus

People like Miano aren’t really as interested in saving life as much they are interested in being right. For pro-life Evangelicals, the most important issue is what the Bible supposedly says about life, death, and abortion and making sure that everyone, Evangelical or not, is forced to play by their interpretation of an ancient religious text written by unknown authors thousands of years ago. In what other medical realm do we allow such a text to hold weight? Its antiquity alone invalidates its message and medical worth. Since 88% of all abortions occur within the first trimester and 98.8% of abortions occur before viability, the issue is not really about the life of fetus as much as it is the continued attempt to control women and their reproduction. I wish more Americans would understand that the difference between zealots like Tony Miano and the Muslim fundamentalist in the Middle East is quite small. While in many places the Muslim has the force of the law and is able to regulate everything from what a woman wears to when she can and can’t have sex, the Mianos of the Christian world lack the force of law to compel women to live according to their puritanical laws and regulations. They continue to chip at the edges of the establishment clause and the separation of church and state, but make no mistake about it they’ll not rest until the Christian flag flies over the White House. This is why we must continue to expose, fight, and push back. We must not rest until people understand that freedom of religion also means the freedom FROM religion, and a woman seeking an abortion has every right not to be harassed by a fundamentalist Christian abortuary ministry team and students from a fundamentalist Christian college. Perhaps, it is time to recognize that the first amendment needs some tweaking; that just like a person can’t shout FIRE in a crowded theater, neither should religious zealots be permitted to harass women seeking out medical care.

You can read my thoughts on abortion:

Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those Who Say Abortion is Murder

A Few Thoughts on Abortion and The Planned Parenthood Videos

I’ve written about Miano previously when he sent out the following tweet after the Nepal earthquake:

 

miano twitter nepal

See Tony Miano Rejoices Over Earthquake in Nepal

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[signoff]

Look Through Both Eyes, It’s the Way God Made Them

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Graphic from People in White Coats

Bethany, our daughter with Down Syndrome, had her eyes checked today by the ophthalmologist. Two years ago, she had cataracts removed from both eyes and a year ago she had laser surgery to correct a small complication. Bethany has a pair of glasses she is supposed to wear for reading and other up- close work, but she refuses to wear them. After months of almost daily nagging, we gave in and told her she no longer had to wear them. Her visit to the ophthalmologist was to make sure there wasn’t any physical problem that was causing Bethany’s reticence to wear her glasses. Good news? Her eyes are fine, and if she is happy with how her world looks, there’s no need for us to nag her about wearing her glasses.

Using an eye chart, the intake nurse did a preliminary exam on Bethany’s eyes. First one eye, then the other, and then both eyes. When checking both eyes, the nurse said, Bethany, look through both eyes, it’s the way God made them. Both Polly and I looked at each other and smiled. No big deal. We know the nurse is a Christian, as is the doctor. God talk is, for the most part, harmless, so we rarely, if ever, say a word. But, it did get me to thinking…

If looking though both eyes is because that’s the way God made them and how he intends for us to view the world, why then did Bethany have to have cataracts removed?  Without getting into the complexity of the human eye argument, why is it that these perfectly tuned eyes of ours often require glasses to see properly? After we got in the car I told Polly that God is the General Motors (GM)  of the physical world. Supposedly, our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, created in the image of God, yet there are numerous design flaws and failures, quite like the recent spate of problems GM has had with millions of automobiles.

You see, if God is going to get all the credit for the body being perfectly designed, including seeing out of both eyes, then he must also bear the responsibility for the parts that are poorly designed and the parts that do not work as they should. If GM can be held liable for engineering failures and be fined billions of dollars, shouldn’t God be held accountable for the same? And in God’s case, his lack of proper design and engineering skill has resulted untold suffering and death. Perhaps God is more like the Ford Motor Company and the Pinto, in which a design flaw resulted in people being burned to death. Maybe God is like the bean counters at Ford who decided it was cheaper to pay the wrongful death claims than it was to recall and repair Pinto gas tanks. Well, God is actually worse than Ford because he lives in a world where he is immune from wrongful death claims. God just smiles and says, I love you and have a wonderful plan for your life…even if that plan means roasting you like a hot dog on a stick.

As we sat in the waiting room, I noticed a frail, petite, elderly woman sitting in front of us. She had no nose and it looked as if part of her upper jaw had been removed. I suspect that she likely had some sort of oral cancer. I could see her tongue constantly flick towards where her upper teeth once were. I felt so sorry for her, for the pain and suffering she must be going through. I told Polly that seeing someone like that is a reminder that things could be worse. While I feel like I’ve gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson and lost, only to be run over by a truck after the fight, I have not been permanently disfigured by surgery. From my perspective, I’ve got it good compared to this poor woman.

After Bethany’s appointment and the nurse’s mention of God’s design, my thoughts returned to the woman with no nose. Where is God for this woman? The perfect designer made a body that is prone to sickness, disease, and death. The one who supposedly created us neglected to make sure our DNA and cells couldn’t go wild and cause cancers that eat away at our fearfully-and-wonderfully-made bodies. What kind of God gives a woman a cancer that ravages her face, turning her into a freak stared at by all who dare look her way? It’s sin, Bruce, the Christian is sure to say. Sickness, disease, and death are the consequences of sin. This woman is paying the price for her sin. God still loves her and has a wonderful plan for her life if she will only put her faith and trust in him. Does the Christian ever bother to consider what a monster their God is? A God who maims, afflicts, and kills just because he can and because he wants humans to love him. Would anyone in their right mind want to be married to or be friends with such a person? Our televisions air crime procedural shows like Criminal Minds, dedicated to stories about human psychopaths; how is God any different? How can anyone look at the untold agony, suffering, pain, and death caused by the Christian God and still worship him? Is it not better to say there is no God and accept that sickness, disease, and death are the consequences of living? It is not better to say shit happens and that we all have to die of something? How does having a God with a grand design and plan make things better? If this God can’t be bothered with his creation now, why should his creation be expected to or desire to worship him? Isn’t God the equivalent of the psychopath who tortured a woman for ten years, only to let her go free, hoping that she would still love her torturer and voluntarily come to live with him? Would we not take steps to make sure that this could never, ever happen? Yet, when it comes to the Christian God, he keeps meting out pain, suffering and death, and millions continue to love, adore, and worship him.

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The Fruit of the Spirit Is or Why Christianity is a Dead Fruit Tree

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I spent the first 50 years of my life in the Christian church and I spent 25 years pastoring churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. I have met thousands of Christians in my lifetime. Even now, seven years removed from the last time I attended a Christian church, I continue to meet Christians and interact with them on this blog, through email, and on Facebook. My exposure to the personal lives of hundreds of Christians allows me to draw some conclusions about Christianity. I include myself and my family in the sample set. My conclusion is this: For all their talk about being Spirit-filled, it seems that Christians are anything but.

According to the Bible, all Christians have the Holy Spirit living inside of them. The Holy Spirit is their teacher and guide. He teaches them everything that pertains to life and godliness. Why is it then that most Christians live lives contrary to the basic, foundational teachings of the New Testament? WWJD, what would Jesus do, is rarely seen among Christians. Christians are commanded to follow the Lamb (Jesus) wherever he goes. How many times have Christians heard their pastor say, we need to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, yet any casual observer can see that most Christians seem to walk wherever the hell they want. If Jesus wants to follow along that’s OK, but if not, fine, because the mall has some great sales going on.

The passage at the top of this post says, “the fruit of the Spirit is.” The fruit of the Spirit is the evidence, the proof that a person a Christian. Notice that it says IS. This is a very important word. According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Greek Dictionary, the word IS in this verse is “third person singular present indicative.” Simply put, the fruit of the Spirit is not some lofty objective to hope for or aspire to; it is the proof, the evidence that a person is a Christian.  Since the Holy Spirit lives inside every Christian, the fruit of the Spirit shouldn’t it be readily evident in the lives of EVERY Christian? The life of the Christian should evidence the fruit of the Spirit every moment of every day. With such a great power as  the Christian God living inside them, surely this should not be a difficult way of life to maintain, right? After all, according to the Bible, he that is in the Christian (the Holy Spirit) is greater than he that is in the world (Satan).

 

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However, when we critically look at how Christians live their lives, what do we find? We find that Christians are not much different from the uncircumcised, unwashed Philistines they judge and condemn to hell.  It is chic these days for Christians to admit that they are just sinners saved by grace or that they are a work in progress. A popular bumper sticker says, Don’t judge me, God isn’t finished with me yet. However, such statements are directly contrary to what Galatians 5:22, 23 says.

The Bible is very clear…every Christian should evidence the following each and every day of his or her life:

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • long suffering
  • gentleness
  • goodness
  • faith
  • meekness
  • temperance

A wonderful list of admirable character traits, to be sure. Every one of us would do well to strive to live lives that demonstrate these traits. However, we know, even on our best days, we fail miserably in demonstrating these character traits. We are, after all, human. We recognize that all of us have character flaws that can and do affect the relationships we have with others. I don’t know of any non-Christians who think they are perfect or a beacon of morality and virtue. While many non-Christians certainly evidence the fruit of the Spirit, none would be so foolish to say that they perfectly do so.

Christians aren’t given the luxury of claiming they are human. Remember, the fruit of the spirit IS. There is no place in the Christian life for anything less than perfect obedience to the Christian God. After all, Christians have EVERYTHING they need to live a life of perfection. Surely, God did not leave them lacking in any way, right?

Within Christianity we find many reactions to what I have written above:

  • Some Christians believe in perfection. They are entirely sanctified and  can not and do not sin.
  • Some Christians think there are two classes of Christians: ordinary everyday Christians and Spirit-filled Christians. Most Christians are the former and very few become the latter.
  • Some Christians think every Christian has two natures, the Spirit and the flesh, and these two natures continually battle against each other. Which nature you feed the most is the one who wins the battle. Christians are classified as either Spirit filled or carnal/fleshly.
  • Some Christians think they are saved by grace and how they live doesn’t matter. While they certainly think a believer should evidence the fruit of the Spirit, if they don’t they are still Christian. Their ticket to heaven is punched, their fire insurance is paid up, and a home in God’s Motel 6 awaits them no matter how they live their lives.
  • Some Christians think that God gives a special anointing of the Spirit to some people. All the TV preachers have this anointing (along with the ability to extract large sums of money from the bank accounts of gullible Christians) Some sects call this being baptized with the Holy Spirit, others call it a second definite work of grace.
  • Some Christians believe in progressive sanctification. They believe that the Christian life is a long process where sin is progressively dealt with and forsaken. It is a wash, rinse, and repeat kind of process.

All of these reactions, except the first one, reject the clear teaching and meaning of Galatians 5:22,23. Again, the fruit of the spirit IS! Of course, the first reaction is ludicrous. There is no such thing as a Christian who doesn’t sin. The evidence of this is everywhere we look. Here’s a dirty little secret that many Christians don’t want non-Christians to know: for all their talk about God, Jesus, and Spirit-filled living, they live just like the rest of us. While they may be experts at putting on the good Christian act, underneath the façade they are no different from Atheists, Humanists, Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons, Shintoists, Pagans, or Satanists. Try as they might, they still live lives that are an admixture of good and bad behavior.

All I am trying to do is knock Christians off their high horse and get them to see that they are not any different from the rest of us. I am trying to get them to see how offensive it is when they try to force their moral code on others when they themselves can’t even keep it. Even with God living inside of them, they “sin” just like everyone else. Christianity would be better served if Christians presented their moral code as one code among many, worth aspiring to and not as a “God says, Do this or else.” Not many atheists are going to disagree with Christians about the value of the character traits listed in Galatians 5:22,23. The world would be a far better place if we all tried to evidence these character traits (and others) in our lives.

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[signoff]

Book Recommendations for Those with Questions and Doubts About the Bible and Christianity

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Recently, a new reader sent me the following email:

I found your site by way of various blogs on Patheos.  Over the weekend, I read one of our posts describing your journey to atheism…In particular, I am interested in a list of five or so books that you had read on your journey.  I cannot find your post and am extremely interested in reading your suggestions.  Can you point me in the right direction?  I’m married to a Southern Baptist, who was completely non-practicing until we had kids.  I’m an atheist, trying to be extremely respectful of my husband’s religion, while my young children are rebelling against it because of science and common sense… (email edited)

This is a great question, one that I get quite often, so I thought I’d put together a list of books I recommend for those who have questions or doubts about the Bible and Christianity. I think these books will be quite helpful. If you know of other books that would be helpful, please mention them in the comment section.

[table id=1 /]

 

 

Dear Evangelical, I’m Not Interested in Your God Talk or Jesus Blessing

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Snark ahead! You’ve been warned!

Today, I made my monthly pilgrimage to my primary care doctor’s office. We discussed how the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns are doing and we talked about how difficult it is to sit on the sidelines as our adult children go through life’s difficulties. It was also time for prescription refills, one sent to Meijer, three to Caremark, and three written controlled substance scripts. I also got a flu and pneumonia shot. I mentioned a large lump in my upper abdomen. Hmm, the doctor said, and referred me to a surgeon for a consult. Probably a cyst or a fibroma, and not likely malignant, but I will have to have it checked, especially since I’ve been treated for skin cancer three times, twice in the last 3 months.  Always something. (I learned MRI’s and CT scans do not see masses like this)

After my visit was over, we exited the examination room and headed for the clinic waiting area. As we walked through the door we heard the loud voice of an Evangelical Christian. An obese man, wearing a shirt with a gaudy Halloween pumpkin on it, was going from person to person, often touching them, blessing them in the name of Jesus. JESUS LOVES YOU, he told several people, and he told the receptionist, KEEP DOING A WONDERFUL WORK FOR GOD!!

Really?, I thought to myself. While I’m sure this man was well-intentioned, thinking he was just paying everyone a big compliment, his behavior and words were quite offensive. I wanted to say to him, shut the fuck up…I’m not interested in your Jesus blessing. But, I didn’t. You see, I’m polite and don’t engage people in unwanted discussion about religion or politics.  I respect people enough to keep my opinions to myself. If I’m asked a question or someone wants to engage me in a discussion, I will gladly do so, but I think it is rude to blather on about religion or politics uninvited.

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Cartoon by Robb Mirsky

Unfortunately, many Evangelicals think they have the right to go into a room and rip the loudest, foulest fart and everyone is supposed to inhale deeply and love it. They are oblivious, it seems, to the fact that most people do not want to listen to their God talk, nor do they want a Jesus blessing, a prayer, or any of the other things Evangelicals love to force on others. Why do Evangelicals think this kind of behavior is appropriate? Entitlement? Calling from God? Jesus Gas® that must be expelled lest the Evangelical implode?

The receptionist smiled, but as the man turned to walk away she rolled his eyes and frowned. She’s probably a Christian, but even she was embarrassed by Mr. Evangelical’s God talk and Jesus blessing. Fortunately, he didn’t address me directly, nor did he touch me. If he had, since I was having a don’t touch me pain day, he likely would have not liked my response. Count me as one person who is tired of Evangelicals who think they have a God-given right to invade the private space of others. When I am at the doctor’s office, I intensely feel my mortality. Every checkup is a reminder that things are not well for me and that death is closer than it was the last time I was at the doctor’s office. I don’t need a  loudmouth Jesus freak saying anything to me. Save it for the church house or for those who are part of the Evangelical tribe.

Imagine for a moment that a Satanist, a Muslim, or an Atheist was loudly and indiscriminately broadcasting their beliefs. Imagine the Satanist going up to an Evangelical, laying their hand on them, and saying, BLESSINGS IN THE NAME OF BEELZEBUB! Imagine the Muslim going up to the receptionist and saying, KEEP DOING A WONDERFUL WORK FOR ALLAH!! Imagine the Atheist going from person to person in the waiting room and, with a loud voice, telling them THERE IS NO GOD!  We all know how Evangelicals would react, right? Why can’t they see themselves in the same light and realize that such behavior is patently rude and offensive?

[signoff]

Songs of Sacrilege: Hoo Ba Ba Kanda, A Mockery of Robert Tilton by Pogo

This is the fifty-ninth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Hoo Ba Ba Kanda, A Mockery of Robert Tilton by Pogo.

 Video Link

Here’s a bonus video, Robert Tilton, The Farting Preacher

Video Link

I Really Liked You, but Then I Found Out You Were An Atheist!

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My writing tends to attract a number of Evangelical readers. If they happen to come to this site via a search engine result that takes them to a specific page, and they are not overtly curious about who I am, they might even conclude that I am a Christian. I’ve received numerous emails from Christians praising me for my stand on the Word of God, only to get another email later expressing how disappointed they are about finding out I am an atheist. One woman even told that she wished she hadn’t learned this because now she couldn’t trust any of my writing. (see Curiosity, a Missing Evangelical Trait)

Evangelicals say that truth is important to them, but the fact is they only want truth from certain sources. They only trust their own and they are unwilling to believe that truth can be found outside of their peculiar rut. It seems that everything I learned about the Bible, Christianity, and the ministry the first 50 years of my life became toxic and worthless the moment I said I no longer believe. All of a sudden, a once trust source is now considered a heretic, a liar, a deceiver, and a tool of Satan.

Several months ago, an Evangelical woman commented on this site and tried to solicit my support for her war against clergy sexual abuse. She loved my writing about the subject and was certain we were of a common mind. At the time, she didn’t know I was an atheist. Once she found out I was, here’s the email she sent me:

I was not familiar with your story and change of heart concerning God’s word. I can tell you I don’t believe in religion but I do believe in the bible. Big big difference. People, circumstances, man made religions will always hurt us and let us down. I have never felt the pressure to conform to anything or anybody. I have never tried to take the burdens of this world on my shoulders and have never judged my belief in God’s word based on my circumstances. Why? The bible is clear on who we are and aren’t in Christ. This world is set in motion both good and bad by our Heavenly Father. We are all called  individually to find our way to our creator via the bible. I am a RN,grandmother, saved at nine. The things I have seen in my years working with  dying patients has only strengthen my belief. Those who choose to look at the leaders of organized religion  and believe their every word and interpretation of the bible. Are the ones that burn out,walk away and give satan the victory. If I thought for one minute this life was it. I would never have brought children into it. Man could never have  created our beautiful nature around us. Sit in the woods and listen, look,and you will find our creator.  Look away from man and your own reasoning. It will always leave you with feelings of loss and doubts if you don’t. Praying for you.

I can only imagine how disappointed she was when she found out I was not on Team Jesus. I will leave it to others, if they are so inclined, to respond to her silly notion about religion vs. the Bible. I will say that it is religion that gave us the Bible, not the other way around. The Bible was birthed by the church. Only Evangelicals fail to understand this, thinking that God tossed a leather-bound King James Bible over the portal of heaven and when it landed on earth it immediately gave birth to Christianity.

On another post, Brian and Zoe  responded to her statement about not having children if this life is all there is.

Brian said:

” If I thought life here as we know it was all their is. I couldn’t face another day. I would not want to be a mother grandmother or nurse. What hope could I give my loved ones and patients. I know without a doubt I have a creator above that loves me just like I am. Knowing him makes me want to love give forgive and keep reaching out.”

I am so sorry that life is so meaningless to you, that you couldn’t face another day! That you would spurn motherhood and being a grandmother and nurse! Wow, what utter depravity you must live with…. I am so sorry. As a mother, a grandmother and nurse you likely give such love and help… YOU give…. Why do you throw that away as if it is worthless? I find statements like yours very very sad. What on earth happened to you to make you state such things? Just open your heart (to yourself.)

Zoe had this to say:

Cheryl wrote: ” If I thought life here as we know it was all their is. I couldn’t face another day. I would not want to be a mother grandmother or nurse. What hope could I give my loved ones and patients.”

Zoe responds: Sure you could Cheryl, you just don’t know it. You aren’t so very different than many of us who also once could have and did have those same thoughts. I suspect like many of us because you are a mother a grandmother and a nurse, you indeed could face another day, many days. 🙂

My unbelief in your God does not affect who I am as a caring and kind person. I spent time yesterday with a Christian family who is facing a life and death situation. My unbelief did not affect my love for them or my ability to be present, to help, to make supper, to care for children, to encourage and support them. It certainly also did not interrupt my hope for the best possible outcome. As a nurse myself (no longer in practice) I am also still a great sounding board regarding medical terminology. My unbelief in a theistic being like yours doesn’t change who I am as a human being.

[signoff]

Martyn Lloyd Jones Asks, Is Jesus Lord of Your Intellect?

bible literalism
Drawing by David Hayward

Or to put it another way, do you parse every thought you have through the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God?

Martyn Lloyd Jones, a 20th century Reformed pastor, who is quite popular among fundamentalist Calvinistic/Reformed Christians, had this to say on the matter:

‎”My thinking, if I believe that Jesus is the Lord, must be governed entirely by the Bible. In other words, I am not governed by modern thought. If I am governed by that, then Jesus is not the Lord of my intellect. So I cannot be governed by modern thought or by recent knowledge or by the latest discoveries of science. The moment I begin to be governed by those things, then Jesus is no longer Lord to me. I am putting myself in a superior position. I am making myself the lord.”

It should come as no surprise that Lloyd Jones rejected evolution. In his book, What is an Evangelical? , Lloyd Jones wrote:

‘We accept the biblical teaching with regard to creation and do not base our position upon theories of evolution, whichever particular theory people may choose to advocate. We must assert that we believe in the being of one first man called Adam, and one first woman called Eve. We reject the notion of pre-Adamic man because it is contrary to the teaching of the Scripture.

‘Now someone may ask, “Why do you care about this? Is this essential to your doctrine of salvation? Are you not falling into the very error of over-particularization against which you warned us at the beginning?” I suggest that I am not, and for these reasons. If we say that we believe the Bible to be the Word of God, we must say that about the whole of the Bible, and when the Bible presents itself to us as history, we must accept it as history. I would contend that the early chapters of Genesis, the first three chapters of Genesis, are given to us as history. We know that there are pictures and symbols in the Bible, and when the Bible uses symbol and parable it indicates that it is doing so, but when it presents something to us in the form of history, it requires us to accept it as history.

‘We must therefore hold to the vital principle, to which I have referred earlier, of the wholeness and the close interrelationship of every part of the biblical message. The Bible does not merely make statements about salvation. It is a complete whole: it tells you about the origin of the world and of man; it tells you what has happened to him, how he fell and the need of salvation arose, it then tells how God provided this salvation and how He began to reveal it in parts and portions. Nothing is so amazing about the Bible as its wholeness, the perfect interrelationship of all the parts.’

Let this be a reminder of how the Evangelical doctrine of inerrancy and Bible literalism cripples a person’s ability to think and reason. When inquiry begins with an inerrant, infallible, inspired text there can be no hope of a satisfactory answer. Every answer must be fit into the Bible box and anything that doesn’t fit in this box is rejected out of hand. This kind of thinking breeds ignorance and keeps a person from seeing the world as it is.