I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?
[T]his is not the behavior of an intellectually honest and open movement that wants to persuade based on science and reason. It is the behavior of a group that has something to hide, that prefers shunning and expelling those who aren’t afraid to criticize it to open engagement and attempts to persuade based on the evidence. It is also the behavior of a group that thinks its members can’t stand up to challenges and therefore need to be protected from criticism or contrary views.
Some people tell other people that if they don’t express one simple thought that the consequences for not expressing that thought is an afterlife of turmoil, torture and pain.
I did it when I was a Christian.
Pastors do it.
Church leaders do it.
Lay people do it.
I have heard the “you’re going to hell” message at church, at school, at funerals, on Twitter, on Facebook and in public.
And why would I go to hell? Because I didn’t express the thought, “Jesus, come into my heart” in this life.
That is one hell of a consequence for such a trivial crime, right?
If there’s one thing I learned before retiring from Christianity, it’s that hell — a place of torture in the afterlife — is demonstrably not biblical. Using it in conversation is a reference to tradition, not “fact”.
That’s why I was thrilled to read a few blog posts from Christian author and blogger John Shore. Shore is the kind of guy I want all my Christian friends to read … and read now … because we have so much more to live for and do while we’re here and now.
I don’t care if you believe in the afterlife. Great. You win if you do. I get it. But I don’t believe it. And that means I’m going to soak up this life. So oblige me or get out of my way.
Christian pastor and author Rob Bell says, “John Shore is awesome. The minute I started reading his stuff, I knew he was a brother from another mother.”
Atheist gay activist and writer Dan Savage says this about Shore:
For the record: John Shore is the opposite of a NALT. (‘NALT’ stands for ‘not all like that,’ the phrase you hear from liberal Christians whenever you bitch about conservative Christians, i.e., ‘We’re not all like that!’) Liberal, progressive, and tolerant Christians who wonder what they can do to counter the power and the hatred of the religious right should follow John’s example. At the very least all you NALTs out there should be reading John’s blog.
I recently read two blog posts from Shore in which he talks about hell. Wouldn’t you know, we sort of share similar views, and it’s not only biblical … it’s accurate and realistic. Shore is not only a great writer, but he’s got a sharp wit and a great style.
In this post (link), Shore writes (emphasis mine):
No one has any idea — none, zero, zilch, nada, void, total blank — what happens to anyone after they die.
Could be heaven awaiting. Could be hell. Could be a Dairy Queen; could be a dentist’s waiting room; could be a six-room ranch-style igloo; could be interplanetary pinochle tournament.
No. One. Knows. It’s. Not. Knowable.
And if at this moment you’re inclined to grab your Bible, stop yourself. It’s not in there.
Knowing whether hell … or even heaven exists … is NOT knowable. To bring it up as the reason why your way of thought is better than mine, makes you out to be a crappy spokesperson for your cause.
I especially wanted to send links for Shore’s blog to a guy on Facebookwho recently told me, “I will say that you are right on one thing. If you don’t enter by the narrow gate then you burn in Hell for eternity.”
That guy, you, you, you or you. Nobody … no not one of you … has the insolent right to tell any person they are are going to hell, or conversely that they are going to heaven. I would wager to say that it’s the Christian duty not to tell people that.
You don’t get to tell anybody anything you don’t know for sure without at least saying, “I don’t know this for sure … but …”
In another blog post, Shore writes (bold emphasis mine):
Without hell, there’d be nothing to save anyone from.
Without hell, the sole recommendation of Christianity would be the love of God proved through the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
Without hell, we could only point upward to the love of Christ, instead of downward to the wrath of God.
Without hell, Christians would be constrained and honored to have their relationships with others defined and informed by nothing so much as love, compassion, charity, and altruism.
Without hell in the afterlife, Christianity would be all about this life: how to live, how to love, how to be with God.
Concerning themselves not a whit about the next life would free Christians to concern themselves solely with this life.
I’ve written before and I’ll write it again, belief must rest on its own laurels. What makes belief great must be things that are testable and viewable. And if you love Christ so much that you’re willing to label yourself a Christian, don’t you think living a certain way and showing people how amazing Christianity is would be way better than saying there’s a bad place you go after you die?
Yes, yes, yes, we all know most of you wrote Shore off as soon as you read Dan Savage’s quote above. “He’s liberal? He’s progressive? That’s NOT Christian!!!”
Someone please respond with a reason why being liberal is bad when he’s accurate in his assessment.
And if your Christianity is the brand that believes that rubbish about hell … I don’t feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for the people whom you say that you love.
What if the merits of Christianity were based on the beautiful things you did in this life without a care for the after? What if you could only use demonstrable Christian attributes in conversation, and not whip out the “Hell Trump Card™” when you get backed into a corner? Wouldn’t you start seeing Christianity from a different perspective? Wouldn’t the rest of us start respecting you a whole helluva lot more?
Hell, we’d all see Christianity in a different light if believers didn’t throw the hell card around. We might even stop crucifying all of you over some of your ideas.
Ahh, how heavenly would that be!
Thanks, Julie Ferwerda, for the links!
From a very reliable source:
The world is a complicated place, and in this day and age, you just can’t expect a person to fall on the same political side of every issue he is confronted with. Things are more nuanced than that, and the average American might think one way about one topic, and a completely different way about another. For instance, when it comes to fiscal issues, I consider myself to be a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth, right-wing lunatic. But on the social front, I’m a completely out-of-his-mind, wacked-out liberal loon.
It’s all about striking a balance, really.
Take finances. It is my opinion that all taxes whatsoever should be abolished, and that everything relating to money in any way should be privatized, including the minting of coinage. Thus, each American should have his own system of currency and his own bank named after him to maintain that currency, and anyone whose personal currency system fails in the unfettered free market should be left to die bleeding and penniless in the street, with his family crying helplessly at his side. Also, corporations should be able to buy whatever and whomever they want, and at the end of every year the richest and most powerful corporation should be allowed to physically demolish 15 other corporations that it wishes to see destroyed, murdering all of the various employees of said corporations in any way it sees fit. I guess you could say I’m a fucking nutcase conservative when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I do believe it’s an ideology that has its limits.
As five fighter jets fly over commemorating Memorial Day to the North Side of Chicago and all the fans at the Cubs came today, I wish you a Happy Memorial Day.
Tina’s wearing her father’s army
blouse shirt all weekend, the same one he was awarded his purple heart in.
And I’m sending thanks out to all the brave men and women who died to help make this great nation what it is.
I hope to write a little today and tomorrow, but for the most part, I’m going to enjoy the weekend with friends and family.
Last night we hosted a game night with two couples. We cooked out. Today we’re going to another BBQ at my friend Bill’s. And Tomorrow, the owners of the bar where I play pool are having a cookout way out in the suburbs.
Monday, I think we’ll memorialize the troops with the some housework.
What are you doing for Memorial Day?
Note: The guy’s shirt is a shark. The guy’s shirt says, “North Carolina.” I wasn’t aware of any geeks in North Carolina. Not since I left anyway.
Here’s a shot I found that makes me feel better about posting that picture of Tina.
When you’re a celebrity, like Tina, you must expect all kinds of “celebrity treatment.”
Via The Daily Wh.at
“Look, I don’t think she thinks the rules apply to her. She doesn’t need to have the traditional trappings of a presidential campaign, no finance committee, she can raise the money, she doesn’t need to go shake a lot of hands in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina.”
- Karl Rove on Sarah Palin’s 2012 candidacy.
Better Book Titles is a great blog for making book titles more accurate. Here are a few that made me laugh.
“Balloon Boy Meets Jesus: One family’s choice to cash in on a kid’s story.”
“Bankers love saying fuck!”