My Divided Self

Zastavki Wallpaper|http://www.zastavki.com/eng/World/Africa/wallpaper-8882-2.htm

“Life is a gathering in. Death is a scattering out.

Therefore is Man—the dualist—suspended between the two.
For he would gather in, but only through scattering out.
In scattering he sins against The Law (of Love)
and Death is his bitter prize.”
~Mikhail Naimy, The Book of Mirdad

I’m awakening to the sad, health-sapping, death-inducing blindness in myself: all my life I’ve been guilty of scattering.

It began early. I was taught from the time I was a child to fear, despise, and reject “the world,” lest it lure my soul (or that of my loved ones) into eternal separation. I was faced with a seemingly simple choice: Separate yourself from people you don’t know right now so that you can be with people you do know always. These “threatening” people I didn’t even know anything about included (like I need to spell it out) atheists, new agers, relativists, homosexuals, liberals, hedonists, drug and alcohol addicts, sexually promiscuous, those from any other religious traditions, and any influences that might possibly pollute, God forbid, my otherwise lily white soul.

What’s really ironic about the aforementioned is how I was taught in church that it was my greatest calling and unfailing responsibility to love these people “like Jesus did,” (and to make them into “one of us”), yet I was taught at exactly the same time to fear their toxic influence and to keep myself away from them. It was made clear to me that I could never actually love like Jesus because, well, Jesus is God and I’m not, so better to err on the side of caution and not get too close. Fear rooted in eternal loss was a far greater influence than the small possibility of Love’s victory.

In recent years, I encountered my first taste of inclusivity when I discovered that I really could love all “those kinds of people” without any fear whatsoever (because I am Jesus). I found that the people I had once categorized as dangerous from my previous diabolical “us vs. them” mentality were actually really wonderful, nonthreatening, loving, everyday people…a lot like me.

There emerged, however, a dark cloud on the horizon of my enlightenment.

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Being Jesus as Me (and You)

Julie

It’s time to uncover the glorious conclusion about our “Jesus as a regular Joe” series. What is this all about? What is the point I am trying to make in suggesting that Jesus might just be more one of us…or we might just be more “one of him”…than we once thought?

After much thought and study, I have come to highly suspect that we have all been lied to, and it has delivered a devastating blow in its effects upon humanity. If you are raised your whole life as a Christian to ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” but then you are told your whole life that you can never do what Jesus did, it creates terrible internal dissonance. You find yourself always teetering on an impossible precipice between hope and despair, always overshadowed by a gloomy cloud of failure.

On the one hand, you’re ever trying to be like Jesus. On the other hand, you’re ever being told you could never be like Jesus because you’re a wretched, filthy, sinning scumbag of the earth, somehow barely snatched from deserved eternal wrath and torture by your Deity’s pitying, undeserved mercy. All the while, Jesus is an impossibly out of reach standard for your life.

But is this really what is at the heart of Scriptures and The Story?

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Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

In Search of Simplicity|http://insearchofsimplicity.com/tag/stories-to-make-you-cry/

I’m a little bit locked up inside this week, trying to put into words some of the happenings in my heart. Not to sound overly gloomy, but I’ve been thinking a lot about death, and what a tearing, shredding, gouging, bleeding, gaping—LONELY—separation it is for everyone involved. None of us can escape losing those we love (or being the one lost); the only variable is time, which is neither guaranteed nor measurable.

The finality and devastation of the death of a deeply loved one is unfathomable. No one can bear it—it’s a lonely, empty, solitary journey that is only mildly lessened by time, but never erased. In the case of a lengthy illness, it is the same kind of lonely, painful journey for the one dying.

To be honest, I sometimes fear the valley of the shadow of death, more who it will take from me than when it will be my turn. I dread the pain of losing anyone else close to me, after knowing the pain of losing my mom.

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What’s The Point Of All This?

Complex Child|http://articles.complexchild.com/jan2011/00261.html

My husband and I were on an afternoon hike recently, discussing the mysteries of life and faith, when we slipped into a melancholy moment. Specifically, we’d been discussing the usual questions of why suffering, and why did God do it this way, and how can the suffocating pain and injustice endured by people in this lifetime ever be made worth it in the hereafter? —all questions I am NOT going to tackle in this post (we’d be here for eons).

Toward the end of the hike, discouragement at the lack of answers and understanding had set in, as it often does when we analyze this subject particular matter. In the last hundred yards before we reached the car, Shucks turned around to look at me, “What’s the point of any of this?” His question was honest, but it suddenly sparked a ray of light.

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No One Sees God…Or Me

It was hard finding God to pose with me for this picture but we worked it out.|

My last blog, “My Slippery Slide Into Atheism,” was actually sort of a tribute to my respected, beloved, “unbelieving” friend, Jeremy Witteveen. I knew that, as the one who predicted my eventual cave into atheism, he would enjoy the alluring title and candid admission. You can find his thoughtful response to my blog here.

If I remember correctly, Jeremy grew up in an evangelical Christian home and was very active in church and ministry. But ultimately, the usual (and imo valid) objections he had toward Christianity and the god portrayed therein, led him to completely different conclusions than the ones he was raised with. I am patiently working through many of the same objections myself, so friends like Jeremy are very important to me in my quest for an authentic faith in a worthy God. They challenge me in my blind spots and hold me accountable to reason, two crucial objectives. The God I’m discovering so far is quite different than the one Jeremy and I both grew up with, which was kind of like being raised on chocolate cake laced with rat poison—looks delicious and even sustainable from the outside, but try eating it for a few years…or a lifetime…and see how you feel.

I actually didn’t plan to blog about Jeremy’s response, but this afternoon I had a compelling thought that I wanted to put to the pen. My objective here, using his post, is to offer my believing friends a perspective they perhaps hadn’t thought about before. He wrote:

For some reason, people aren’t all that accepting of people who think that the big, invisible god described in the bible doesn’t exist. It’s weird. No one on earth can show him to me in tangible or reasoned terms, and I’m the idiot.

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My Slippery Slide into Atheism

Charles Alan Long|http://charlesalanlong.com/?page_id=14

One of my atheist friends warned me that, once I started asking honest questions of my Bible, it was sure to be a slippery slope into agnosticism or atheism. He’s absolutely right! I’m way more agnostic (unknowing, anti-dogmatic) about God and matters of faith than I’ve ever been. This is a little unsettling when I’ve spent most of my life thinking I had God (and the Bible) neatly wrapped up in a little box. Secondly, I’m definitely atheistic about the god I used to know. Let’s recap. My old god…

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