A little light reading

Okay, maybe this recommended reading isn’t that light.

To generate ideas for the blog, I tend to use “Stumble Upon“. It’s a plugin for Firefox that allows you to choose topics, and every time you click “stumble,” it puts you on another random site.

You can set it to stumble all kinds of different topics, from atheism to Christianity, from graphic design to nude photography, or from cooking to DIY ideas.

There were a couple atheist sites I read recently that I wanted to pass along. Sometimes I read this stuff and I’m all, “Yeah, that’s pretty good.” But then I yawn and move on. But these two links are worth a look.

This first link is for a blog post titled, “10 Reasons Why Christianity Is Wrong.” It gives a lot of the same old mundane rationale, mixed in with some relatively creative ways of seeing the topic of wrongness. Sometimes I read a lot of what atheists write and it gets cyclical. It’s as if we’re repeating what everyone else is saying hoping that one time or another something sticks with a believer. Or maybe we repeat it to make ourselves feel better. If you don’t dig the actual post, the conversation that follows is hilarious.

Another relatively good one I read was “Jesus didn’t die for  you.” It’s something I feel I would have written, or could have written. Or maybe I already wrote it, but didn’t publish it.

I have a hard time with the whole death and resurrection thing. Of course, as a Christian, I thought it was awesome. It was the best thing ever. The Passion was something to be in awe of.

But when you break it down for what it really is, it’s not all that fantastic. Christians make it out to be the best thing ever. It’s a shitty way to say, “I love you.” I’ll take a hug and a butt squeeze any day over a crucifixion and torture.

Just sayin’.

I liked the point about Jesus descending into hell. What’s great is, a lot of scholarship dispels the concept of hell all together, so if Jesus didn’t get tortured in “hell” what was he doing for those “three” days? Sitting on a beach on some random planet he created in the far reaches of the universe?

And what does the god of the universe care about three days? Three days is nothing when you’ve been around FOREVER.

And he’s not dead according to theology. He’s living. So if the eternal god of the universe took a break for three days, is that supposed to impress me?

So that’s the kind of quality stuff you can find on Stumble Upon. Of course, you can find excellent ideas on reddit too. Like this:

“Proving that prayer is superstition”

Here’s a fun little condescending video that “proves that prayer is a superstition.”

As a Christian, I remember learning the concept that one of the answers to prayer is “no.” It is the believers’ answer to doubters despite the bible’s assertion that asking anything in Jesus’ name will be given to you (Mark 11: 24). Mark is not the only book to make the claim that belief will end in positive answer to prayer.

But I’ll post this patronizingly childish video anyway.

Via http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

Making friends with believers

Julie Ferwerda

The other day, I mocked poked fun at a woman named Julie Ferwerda for writing a web editorial about dating Jesus. You can see the original post here.

Ferwerda’s editorial was an easy target, and I shallowly attempted to make a joke of it. Ferwerda caught wind of my post and has responded to it, which impressed me in a weird way.

This past weekend, I went to the gym. I got an email notification in my earphones while I was on the second mile of a 5K treadmill run. I switched over to my email to see this:

Julie Ferwerda | Hey Jeremy | January 16, 2011

In other words, it was a direct email from Julie Ferwerda. Her message was “Hey Jeremy” and the date is pretty self explanatory. This wasn’t on the blog. This was personal. My knee-jerk reaction: Ferwerda means business.

My heart sank. I panicked a little. I refused to click on it right away. I felt like it was going to be angry, and I didn’t want to be flung off the treadmill in the event it shocked me. So I kept running.

“Shit,” I thought. “I’ve managed to piss off this random woman and she’s now emailing me personally to take down my asshole post.” My mind was racing with all kinds of possibilities of how she was going to rip me a new asshole. Plus I thought she was Asian, because the picture at the top of her editorial was of an Asian woman looking downward. Apparently she’s not Asian.

Or maybe she was going to be nice about everything, and say, “Pretty please with sugar on top, take down your post.”

And I would say, “Screw that. I’m leaving it up. You put yourself out there. You get criticized. Own up, bitch.”

You know. It’s the Internet. You can call a woman a bitch while hiding behind the safety of your computer screen. It’s easy. Try it sometime. It’s invigorating!

I finished my workout, went down to the locker room, avoided eye contact with all the dudes walking around, showered, dressed and went out to the lobby. I sat down on a cushy leather couch and opened the email.

And what to my wondering eyes did appear? There was a kind-hearted email from a genuinely curious and interested person. Ferwerda complemented me explaining that we might have come from similar positions but landed on two different platforms. She is still a believer and I’m not.

So we’ve exchanged a couple, “hey how’s it going” emails.

Unlike most believers I know, Ferwerda has read and researched Christianity and religion. She’s read Ehrman and others. She’s a well-rounded believer. I respect that. A lot.

Of course a “real” Christian would criticize her. She doesn’t believe in hell. She doesn’t call herself a Christian, which is a sticky point for me, but whatever. She does follow Jesus and she believes she’ll be in heaven someday.

You can go read her blog. It’s damn interesting. Ferwerda is a dedicated mother and wife. She’s involved in all kinds of things I respect (e.g. humanitarian causes, dispelling biblical misconceptions, etc.). I have a feeling that several of my lurking readers who are looking for a way to express their doubts about Christianity but not ready to take the atheist plunge would LOVE Ferwerda’s blog.

Even more awesome, Ferwerda wants to send me a copy of her forthcoming book that I can read and discuss here. I’m giddy with excitement.

The way I see Ferwerda is she’s a gateway drug to this side of a coin. She’s a stepping stone toward non-belief, or at least a more realistic view of the world through an educated view of bible.

Sure, sure, I could criticize Ferwerda on a few things. And I’m sure you could, too. But you have to respect someone like her. I mean, she’s got a sense of humor. And a sense of humor goes a long way.