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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: So why isn't the Christian life a joy?
Kelly Alves

Bunny with an axe
# 2522

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Feeling a bit sorry for himself, he complained to God. "I've served you for fifty years, and not a single person is here to welcome ME home." And God said, "You're not home yet."

Point taken, and more power to the man for finding a way to cope with his dissapointment graciously-- but seriously, nobody could meet him?

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I cannot expect people to believe “
Jesus loves me, this I know” of they don’t believe “Kelly loves me, this I know.”
Kelly Alves, somewhere around 2003.

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Lamb Chopped
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I don't know, there was no other context given. Maybe the poor guy had outlived all his nearest and dearest? (And I'm sorry to say I've known mission boards that callous)

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Kelly Alves

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
(And I'm sorry to say I've known mission boards that callous)

Tell me. [Roll Eyes]

I guess what I'm saying is, while it is all well and good to tell people that they should change thier attitudes when they are feeling invisible and neglected,and certainly marks them as healthy people when they can, when does the attitude of (say) a callous mission board come under accountablility? Or is there a danger that the invocation of "the Older Brother" when people articulate feelings of neglect gives folk a pass to, well, ignore those articulations?

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I cannot expect people to believe “
Jesus loves me, this I know” of they don’t believe “Kelly loves me, this I know.”
Kelly Alves, somewhere around 2003.

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mousethief

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Why didn't the older brother throw his own goddamned party sometime in all those years? Why wait for the old man to throw one? What a big baby. "You never gave me a kid." Well it's all yours, doofus. Every kid on the plantation is yours. Go kill one and throw a party. Waa-fucking-aah.

[ 26. February 2009, 02:53: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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Eckadimmock
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Why didn't the two whiny kids throw a party for their dad for that matter? Ingrates.

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"I had rather walk, as I do, in daily terror of eternity, than feel that this was only a children's game in which all the contestants would get equally worthless prizes in the end." T.S. Elliot

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by seasick:
The party's in full swing, the elder son doesn't know what's happening and so he asks a slave. His father doesn't even come to speak to him until he gets cross. To me the parable leaves us with this disagreement between father and elder son. We're left with the father's affirmation and nothing as to the elder son's response. Is that affirmation truly gracious, grace upon grace? Alternatively, is it too little too late? I think you can read the text both ways. Does the elder son go in to the party, reconciled to his father and brother? Or does he say, "You must be joking" and leave? It seems to me that either of those could be plausible endings to this parable.

I agree with you about the ending. But why is Jesus telling the story? Surely not to affirm the Pharisees in their "older brother" attitude but to ask them to join in with God's joy in welcoming the lost rather than demanding God make a big fuss of their good works.

Croesos - I think you hit the nail on the head, despite attempting to be facetious. Why should I need my own party, if, like God I love to welcome home the lost? Isn't that party enough? I guess that for me is the question - is God's joy in saving people who are lost enough for me, or do I want God to make a big deal of me, the one who has already come home. It's a challenging question.

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He hath loved us, He hath loved us, because he would love

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sanityman
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# 11598

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Parables aside, wasn't the point of the OP that Christians claim to have "life more abundantly," but in practice feel the disapproval of their co-religionists on their shoulders if they have too much fun? I'm not talking about drugs and lots of casual sex, I'm thinking of anything which isn't explicitly "Christian" - so you get ersatz pop music, ersatz art which is pretty much always a pale imitation of the real thing, because the real thing is deemed a bit "dodgy."

As for joy, I really do not know the first fucking thing about it. It's just a word. The only thing I know about is stuff like this, for which I don't have words (YMMV greatly).

- Chris.

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Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only the wind will listen - TS Eliot

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Barnabas62
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I've just read through this thread and wondered whether the notion that coveting was wrong might have something to say. Coveting was illuminated for me very well by the horrible Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs". Something along these lines

Hannibal Lecter: And how do we begin to covet, Clarice? Do we seek out things to covet? Make an effort to answer now.
Clarice Starling: No. We just...
Hannibal Lecter: No. We begin by coveting what we see every day.

I think coveting may be one of the real engine of joylessness. Wanting what we see someone else has got gets in the way of being thankful for what we have. And I don't think it matters whether you are Christian or not. If as a child your Christmas presents sometimes seemed in some way diminished by those received by others, then you know the territory.

Of course this can easily be seen as just another "Thou shalt not" to add to all the others. Hey, sensible prohibitions are a good thing! This one strikes me as pretty sensible, once you consider the baleful, joy-diminishing, effects that coveting can have.

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Lamb Chopped
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[Overused] Barnabas.

To add a new wrinkle, I'm not sure it's a bad thing to covet more of God's love, mercy, attention, etc. as long as this isn't done with a view toward diminishing anyone else's "share" of God's love, mercy, attention, etc. My own little guy used to come and hang on me when he was feeling needy, and sometimes even shout "Pay attention to me!" That didn't do him any harm in my eyes. [Axe murder]

But maybe it stops being coveting when what you're after isn't someone else's share, but just a bigger portion for yourself?

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Pre-cambrian
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quote:
Originally posted by sanityman:
Parables aside, wasn't the point of the OP that Christians claim to have "life more abundantly," but in practice feel the disapproval of their co-religionists on their shoulders if they have too much fun?

Yes, except I don't think it's just the disapproval of their co-religionists. I think it's the disapproval that's inherent in religion, or the Abrahamic ones at least, bound up in the burden of sin. By that I don't mean "the burden of my sins" as most Christians would think of it, but the very concept of sin.

I have come to the conclusion that I don't believe in sin. That sin doesn't exist. That the whole concept of sin is an oppressive man-made concept designed as a means of social and moral control. To that extent it's no different to any other man-made law, except that as it tied up to religion it's much more long-lasting and insidious in its effect.

But the idea of sin is essential to the Church; they have a symbiotic relationship. The Church needs it as a recruiting tool and the idea of sin would drop away if the church didn't keep banging on about it.

Religion hangs the idea of sin round your neck like a bloody great millstone, and every Sunday it gives it another yank to make sure you're still feeling properly guilty, whilst pretending that confession etc is actually relieving you of the burden of sin. What really does free you from the burden of sin is to realise it doesn't exist, that you are not and never have been a sinner. Then you can cut the rope and leave the millstone behind.

[ 26. February 2009, 12:01: Message edited by: Pre-cambrian ]

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Paul.
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Why didn't the older brother throw his own goddamned party sometime in all those years? Why wait for the old man to throw one? What a big baby. "You never gave me a kid." Well it's all yours, doofus. Every kid on the plantation is yours. Go kill one and throw a party. Waa-fucking-aah.

How did he know (prior to this) that it was all his? Acting like you've already inherited your parents' wealth while they're still around is (at the very least) asshole-ish behaviour in contemporary culture, I can't imagine it was looked on more favourably in Jesus' time.
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Yerevan
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quote:
Originally posted by Pre-cambrian:
quote:
Originally posted by sanityman:
Parables aside, wasn't the point of the OP that Christians claim to have "life more abundantly," but in practice feel the disapproval of their co-religionists on their shoulders if they have too much fun?

Yes, except I don't think it's just the disapproval of their co-religionists. I think it's the disapproval that's inherent in religion, or the Abrahamic ones at least, bound up in the burden of sin. By that I don't mean "the burden of my sins" as most Christians would think of it, but the very concept of sin.

I have come to the conclusion that I don't believe in sin. That sin doesn't exist. That the whole concept of sin is an oppressive man-made concept designed as a means of social and moral control. To that extent it's no different to any other man-made law, except that as it tied up to religion it's much more long-lasting and insidious in its effect.

But the idea of sin is essential to the Church; they have a symbiotic relationship. The Church needs it as a recruiting tool and the idea of sin would drop away if the church didn't keep banging on about it.

Religion hangs the idea of sin round your neck like a bloody great millstone, and every Sunday it gives it another yank to make sure you're still feeling properly guilty, whilst pretending that confession etc is actually relieving you of the burden of sin. What really does free you from the burden of sin is to realise it doesn't exist, that you are not and never have been a sinner. Then you can cut the rope and leave the millstone behind.

But isn't saying that we sin just another way of saying that we do wrong, which we all do? I'm not sure how you can do away with the concept of sin without doing away with the concept that some things are wrong and that we should feel guilty for doing them. Just because Christians deal with the concept of sin badly doesn't mean that the concept is invalid.

Sorry if I'm misreading your post...

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Pre-cambrian
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No it's perfectly possible to recognise that some actions are wrong, or at least should be avoided, without dressing it up in the cosmic language of sin. I'm sure most atheists and most peoples who have never been exposed to Christianity manage to do it. But turning it into sin creates a completely different beast. The scope changes, e.g. the surveillance of the heavenly thought police; the timescale changes, up to the idea of final judgement and beyond with all the implications of that; and, as I said before, it's power as a means of control.

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sanityman
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# 11598

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ETA: x-posted, sorry!
quote:
Originally posted by Pre-cambrian:
quote:
Originally posted by sanityman:
Parables aside, wasn't the point of the OP that Christians claim to have "life more abundantly," but in practice feel the disapproval of their co-religionists on their shoulders if they have too much fun?

Yes, except I don't think it's just the disapproval of their co-religionists. I think it's the disapproval that's inherent in religion, or the Abrahamic ones at least, bound up in the burden of sin. By that I don't mean "the burden of my sins" as most Christians would think of it, but the very concept of sin.

I have come to the conclusion that I don't believe in sin. That sin doesn't exist. That the whole concept of sin is an oppressive man-made concept designed as a means of social and moral control. To that extent it's no different to any other man-made law, except that as it tied up to religion it's much more long-lasting and insidious in its effect.

But the idea of sin is essential to the Church; they have a symbiotic relationship. The Church needs it as a recruiting tool and the idea of sin would drop away if the church didn't keep banging on about it.

Religion hangs the idea of sin round your neck like a bloody great millstone, and every Sunday it gives it another yank to make sure you're still feeling properly guilty, whilst pretending that confession etc is actually relieving you of the burden of sin. What really does free you from the burden of sin is to realise it doesn't exist, that you are not and never have been a sinner. Then you can cut the rope and leave the millstone behind.

I'm a bit concerned that several people on this thread seem to equate sin with fun. Now if your (generic your) idea of fun involves damaging yourself or others then I think you have to examine your concept of fun; if it doesn't then I'd examine whether the act is actually sinful. The question of why church people are suspicious of these things would still stand.

I have a lot of sympathy with what you say, but suspect there may be a baby somewhere in the bathwater you're throwing out. To me, your point would be just as well made by jettisoning guilt rather than the whole concept of sin. I have a particular distaste for the "sell the problem, then the solution" school of evangelism, but losing sight of the undeniable fact that some of our behaviour is self-destructive and hurtful to others doesn't seem a helpful approach.

Surely the good news is that God has dealt with the sin and guilt? Why make people miserable and guilty by concentrating on the bad stuff?

- Chris.

[ 26. February 2009, 12:52: Message edited by: sanityman ]

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Yerevan
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quote:
But turning it into sin creates a completely different beast. The scope changes, e.g. the surveillance of the heavenly thought police; the timescale changes, up to the idea of final judgement and beyond with all the implications of that; and, as I said before, it's power as a means of control.
Is it possible not to turn it into sin in a theistic framework though?

For me at least the change is often positive. A concept of sin at least assumes the idea that no one gets away with their wrong-doing, which is pretty comforting for the victims. IME the more secure and powerful one is the more one tends to dislike the idea of sin.


quote:
Originally posted by Pre-cambrian:
No it's perfectly possible to recognise that some actions are wrong, or at least should be avoided, without dressing it up in the cosmic language of sin. I'm sure most atheists and most peoples who have never been exposed to Christianity manage to do it.

Is it? What makes an action wrong outside a theistic framework?
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Pre-cambrian
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quote:
Originally posted by Yerevan:
quote:

Originally posted by Pre-cambrian:
No it's perfectly possible to recognise that some actions are wrong, or at least should be avoided, without dressing it up in the cosmic language of sin. I'm sure most atheists and most peoples who have never been exposed to Christianity manage to do it.

Is it? What makes an action wrong outside a theistic framework?
I could equally ask why is a theistic framework necessary to realise a wrong action. Are you saying that atheists cannot do that? But what would be your basis for saying so? Similar questions have been asked before on the Ship and one of the features of the discussion seemed to be an inability on the part of the Christians to understand different mindsets, or even to recognise that one is possible.

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Belle Ringer
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# 13379

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Belle - Given the importance you place on exploring and using our own judgment, why not cut out the "middle man" and go with Reason instead of God?

I don't understand the question. Reason and God are not synonymous.

For example, "don't murder" is endorsed by most cultures and religions (that I know of). Kant (reason) might say murder is wrong because if murder is OK society will collapse because no one will be safe. God says murder is wrong because you are destroying an image of God. Whole different purpose behind the warning. God's purpose teaches a whole attitude toward other people, and attitude to be pursued through other than just not murdering. (God's reason is stated in one of the books of Moses, I've forgotten which one.)

We start with the rule. But we have to look for God's purpose, which may not be what "reason" alone would suggest.

"You have to go to church" or "you have to go to this church" - the ones who insist on the rule and refuse to allow exploration of what is the underlying purpose and is it a valid purpose and is it's application through this rule valid, are the one who are most likely to have destructive to you purposes, like enhancing their own power.

But I'm getting off non-essential web for Lent, so for me I'm out of this discussion.

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Dave Marshall

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quote:
Originally posted by sanityman:
I have a lot of sympathy with what you [Pre-cambrian] say, but suspect there may be a baby somewhere in the bathwater you're throwing out. To me, your point would be just as well made by jettisoning guilt rather than the whole concept of sin.

I don't think we have the option of jettisoning guilt. That would be, sociopathic tendencies apart, denying a universal aspect of human experience. Guilt is what we get from comparing our behaviour with real human standards, either our own personal expectations of ourself or those of the wider community.

Sin is the result of using God's standards. However loudly and consistently religious people claim they know what these are, they really don't. Sin is the artificial concept. I agree with Pre-cambrian.

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Belle Ringer
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Belle, it's a total tangent, but the law about a woman marrying her rapist wasn't somehow to punish her. It was to enforce the only kind of restitution possible from such a jackass at that point in history--that is, to force him to give her an honorable place in society and to support her for the rest of her life. To underline that last bit, he had the right of divorce taken away from him--any other man could divorce, but not this one. So the woman now had all the power.

And if she looked at him and the whole package and still said "I can't stomach that asshole" (and who could blame her?) he would be forced to pay brideprice anyway, for her support. Which would be a pretty hefty item (and probably delay or destroy any chance he had of marrying elsewhere).

That was my point! But you may have worded it a lot better. It's not a punishment for her, it's a protection for her, he can't do a one night stand and discard her the next morning as if dirt.

And the punishment threat to him would help keep the pants on a man.

Often laws aren't - and probably weren't - enforced as written, they give bargaining positions. "By law I am allowed to require this of you, what are you going to do for me so I don't insist on imposing the law?" Like you said, suddenly the woman has all the bargaining power. That's really uncomfortable for some men, especially given that rape is a power play.

It's a classic "eye for an eye" solution - he took power over her, she now has power over him. Nice turnabout.

But I'm getting off line for Lent, just trying to finish out anything I might have left hanging.

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sanityman
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quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
quote:
Originally posted by sanityman:
I have a lot of sympathy with what you [Pre-cambrian] say, but suspect there may be a baby somewhere in the bathwater you're throwing out. To me, your point would be just as well made by jettisoning guilt rather than the whole concept of sin.

I don't think we have the option of jettisoning guilt. That would be, sociopathic tendencies apart, denying a universal aspect of human experience. Guilt is what we get from comparing our behaviour with real human standards, either our own personal expectations of ourself or those of the wider community.

Sin is the result of using God's standards. However loudly and consistently religious people claim they know what these are, they really don't. Sin is the artificial concept. I agree with Pre-cambrian.

If you're saying that claiming diving sanction for a load of pettifogging human regulations and societal conventions is bad, then fine. If you're saying that God is uninterested in our behaviour, then you seem to be talking Deism rather than Christianity.

Guilt due to having violated one's conscience is, I agree, not something I'd particularly wish to do away with. Guilt-trips imposed by the church when it should be preaching reconciliation, OTOH, was what I was referring to, and what I was assuming was being objected to in the word "sin."

- Chris.

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Dave Marshall

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quote:
Originally posted by sanityman:
If you're saying that God is uninterested in our behaviour, then you seem to be talking Deism rather than Christianity.

I wasn't. But if Christianity is about what is true, it's hard to see how it can justify claims for God even knowing about human behaviour, let alone having opinions about it. That needn't in my view imply Deism.
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Crœsos
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quote:
Deuteronomy 22:28-29:
If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Belle, it's a total tangent, but the law about a woman marrying her rapist wasn't somehow to punish her. It was to enforce the only kind of restitution possible from such a jackass at that point in history--that is, to force him to give her an honorable place in society and to support her for the rest of her life. To underline that last bit, he had the right of divorce taken away from him--any other man could divorce, but not this one. So the woman now had all the power.

And if she looked at him and the whole package and still said "I can't stomach that asshole" (and who could blame her?) he would be forced to pay brideprice anyway, for her support. Which would be a pretty hefty item (and probably delay or destroy any chance he had of marrying elsewhere).

I think you're missing some key points here. First, the woman isn't given the option of refusing such a marriage. It "must" occur. And yes, her rapist loses the power to divorce her, but the Bible also includes no law permitting women to initiate divorces. So essentially the woman's "power" in this case consists of being forced to live under the same roof with her rapist and him getting legal authority to rape her repeatedly at will. That'll teach him!

quote:
Originally posted by Belle Ringer:
That was my point! But you may have worded it a lot better. It's not a punishment for her, it's a protection for her, he can't do a one night stand and discard her the next morning as if dirt.

And the punishment threat to him would help keep the pants on a man.

Often laws aren't - and probably weren't - enforced as written, they give bargaining positions. "By law I am allowed to require this of you, what are you going to do for me so I don't insist on imposing the law?" Like you said, suddenly the woman has all the bargaining power. That's really uncomfortable for some men, especially given that rape is a power play.

It's a classic "eye for an eye" solution - he took power over her, she now has power over him. Nice turnabout.

But I'm getting off line for Lent, just trying to finish out anything I might have left hanging.

The other key point is that the Bible does not regard the woman as the injured party but rather her father. That's who gets the payment indicated and who would be doing any negotiating about marriage to the rapist. And, once again, the "power" involved is the "threat" to sell the rapist his daughter as a sex toy.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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W Hyatt
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quote:
Originally posted by sanityman:
The only thing I know about is stuff like this, for which I don't have words (YMMV greatly).

- Chris.

Very nice. Thank you.

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A new church and a new earth, with Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life.

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Kelly Alves

Bunny with an axe
# 2522

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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
I've just read through this thread and wondered whether the notion that coveting was wrong might have something to say. Coveting was illuminated for me very well by the horrible Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs". Something along these lines

Hannibal Lecter: And how do we begin to covet, Clarice? Do we seek out things to covet? Make an effort to answer now.
Clarice Starling: No. We just...
Hannibal Lecter: No. We begin by coveting what we see every day.

I think coveting may be one of the real engine of joylessness. Wanting what we see someone else has got gets in the way of being thankful for what we have. And I don't think it matters whether you are Christian or not. If as a child your Christmas presents sometimes seemed in some way diminished by those received by others, then you know the territory.

Of course this can easily be seen as just another "Thou shalt not" to add to all the others. Hey, sensible prohibitions are a good thing! This one strikes me as pretty sensible, once you consider the baleful, joy-diminishing, effects that coveting can have.

Totally agreed, and that's definitely a big message in the parable.

Personally, what set me off was the idea that someone articulating their feelings of covetessness, neglect, or whatever was a sign that they should just pitch the church.

Right now I am in a timidly good place with the church. But God forbid I forget what it was like to struggle. And some of the struggles people had in my home congregation were provoked by this sense that there really was an A-list of people worth noticing and a B-list of people that couldn't cut it. (For the record, I would describe my family-- and myself-- as A-listers; I just never understood how we got there, or why some people I considered strong, fruitful members of the congregation were treated like background artists for the important folk. Even when it benefited me sometimes.)

There are people who fall through the cracks, and if the reason some people are falling through the cracks is that they are sent the message that foundering is not an option-- that's a problem.

I guess I am saying, rather than focusing all our attention of the person who articulates the feelings of neglect, we should take a millisecond or two to consider whether or not they have a case.[Noted that in the case of the OP we can't do that.]If we consider it, and we really see no reason for such a beef, so be it, shrug and carry on. If there is-- we need to see what the crack is made of, and how we can seal it. Can't really do that unless we get the folks input.So basically telling them,"Well, if you feel that way, why are you a Christian?" doesn't really help.

Example: A girl in my youth group was labeled by the pastor as an airhead. He lead the Bible study. Every time she spoke up in class, the pastor would re-frame her remark into "bubbleheaded" and snicker at this. I would do what I could to kind of drag things back to whatever point she might be making-- and honestly, she sometimes had a point-- but one day it bugged me so much that I took the pastor aside, pointed out that the girl in question was a gifted writer and had more to her than met the eye, and asked him if this couldn't be the one place where nobody called her an airhead-- where people actually looked for something else in her. Pastor put on his Thoughtful Face, but nothing much changed. We lost her to the folks at Vineyard. At least somebody found a place for her.

That girl had every right to feel neglected, unimportant, and unappreciated. People were making an effort to help her feel that way. It wasn't God's fault, and it really and truly wasn't her fault.


I felt that it was my job as a Christian to (at least) not contribute to that kind of waste of human resources, if not even figure out ways to actively combat it.

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I cannot expect people to believe “
Jesus loves me, this I know” of they don’t believe “Kelly loves me, this I know.”
Kelly Alves, somewhere around 2003.

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mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Paul M:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Why didn't the older brother throw his own goddamned party sometime in all those years? Why wait for the old man to throw one? What a big baby. "You never gave me a kid." Well it's all yours, doofus. Every kid on the plantation is yours. Go kill one and throw a party. Waa-fucking-aah.

How did he know (prior to this) that it was all his? Acting like you've already inherited your parents' wealth while they're still around is (at the very least) asshole-ish behaviour in contemporary culture, I can't imagine it was looked on more favourably in Jesus' time.
You're right, there's no way he could have asked or anything. The only way he could have a party was to wait patiently for diddums to throw him one.

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Paul.
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# 37

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
[QUOTE]]You're right, there's no way he could have asked or anything. The only way he could have a party was to wait patiently for diddums to throw him one.

Of course he could have asked but equally he may never have.

It's just not as black and white as you make it out to be.

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Paul M:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
[QUOTE]]You're right, there's no way he could have asked or anything. The only way he could have a party was to wait patiently for diddums to throw him one.

Of course he could have asked but equally he may never have.

It's just not as black and white as you make it out to be.

You mistake me. I am fighting the black-and-whiteness of the other side.

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

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Paul.
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# 37

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Paul M:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
You're right, there's no way he could have asked or anything. The only way he could have a party was to wait patiently for diddums to throw him one.

Of course he could have asked but equally he may never have.

It's just not as black and white as you make it out to be.

You mistake me. I am fighting the black-and-whiteness of the other side.
Fair enough, but FWIW, I don't think sarcasm and ridicule are the best weapons for that.
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Jon G
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# 4704

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quote:
Originally Posted by Croesus
The other key point is that the Bible does not regard the woman as the injured party but rather her father. That's who gets the payment indicated and who would be doing any negotiating about marriage to the rapist. And, once again, the "power" involved is the "threat" to sell the rapist his daughter as a sex toy.

Isn't this just another example of attaching a twenty first century value system to a Bronze age one.

I enjoy reading the Bible because of the thousands of years of accumulated wisdom, and insight into the darkness of the human condition. I also enjoy reading it because it reminds me that every generation struggled to get all the answers, and that includes this one.

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At the dark end of the street

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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Croesos, I was citing a parallel passage in which the girl (okay, technically the girl's father gets rights of refusal over the rape/marriage. Late for work now, can't dig it up but will try to remember later.

As for Dad's involvement--as I said, it was the best justice could do under the circumstances at the time. As Jesus said with regard to the laws on divorce, "This commandment was given you because of the hardness of your hearts. But from the beginning it was not so...

In the very patriarchal society of ancient Israel, the father WAS in fact the spokesman for the whole house. If the family was a healthy one, this made him his daughter's natural protector and advocate. If it was not, that's more of the shit that comes from living in a fallen world. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

But God was NOT giving either of the men involved the right to sell the woman as a sex toy. God was doing the best he could within a sin-permeated culture to get realistic protection and restitution for a badly wronged woman who would otherwise suffer all her life.

We might argue with his choice and say that the rapist ought to have been put to death. Fair enough. But given the (sinful and inescapable) local culture, that would almost certainly condemn the woman to a life without marriage, which at that time for women meant a life without honorable social standing and without financial support--in other words, a high chance of either starving or being forced into prostitution to survive.

Given those grim choices, marriage to one's rapist might seem the lesser evil. But the asshole has to be alive to make restitution.

I think we'd better quit the tangent now, or carry it to Kerygmania.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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seasick

...over the edge
# 48

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quote:
Leprechaun said:
I agree with you about the ending. But why is Jesus telling the story? Surely not to affirm the Pharisees in their "older brother" attitude but to ask them to join in with God's joy in welcoming the lost rather than demanding God make a big fuss of their good works.

That's an interesting question. Just taking the parable itself, we have no context other than "Then he said". In that situation, I think I'm most inclined to read it as a story about families, about honouring your father and mother and about parents caring for your children. I'd then want to ask questions about the father's care for his sons: why did the younger leave? why is the elder so disgruntled? Is the Father really caring for them? From the other side, it seems that both sons in different ways dishonoured their father, who welcomes them both back in: the younger son definitely accepts and we're left wondering about the elder son. So maybe Jesus is telling a story about inclusion in the kingdom of God whatever your sin...

If we look broader, we have the two parables that precede it about a lost sheep and a lost coin, and we have an audience of scribes and Pharisees complaining that Jesus welcomes sinners. And the three seem to be saying that God loves the lost and welcomes them. But I wonder if then the prodigal son parable is actually affirming God's welcome of both scribes and Pharisees and the sinners with whom Jesus eats... embodied in the two sons who have both dishonoured their father. And if a human father (to whom we can also attribute some fault maybe) does that, how much more does God?

But then it's followed by the parable of the dishonest manager - another story about squandering, which makes me think that it's not a coincidence that they're together. Furthermore, in verse 14, the Pharisees reappear and we're told that they 'heard all this' so that perhaps also suggests that the four belong together. And even this dishonest manager is welcomed in and not thrown out. So I think in total, I'd say that it's about the universality of human sinfulness in all its diverse forms and the unfailing mercy of God.

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We believe there is, and always was, in every Christian Church, ... an outward priesthood, ordained by Jesus Christ, and an outward sacrifice offered therein. - John Wesley

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Crœsos
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# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by Jon G:
Isn't this just another example of attaching a twenty first century value system to a Bronze age one.

quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
As for Dad's involvement--as I said, it was the best justice could do under the circumstances at the time. . . .

We might argue with his choice and say that the rapist ought to have been put to death. Fair enough. But given the (sinful and inescapable) local culture, that would almost certainly condemn the woman to a life without marriage, which at that time for women meant a life without honorable social standing and without financial support--in other words, a high chance of either starving or being forced into prostitution to survive.

Bringing this back to the original point, don't these arguments amount to saying we should use our experience and common sense (i.e. Reason) instead of relying on God's purported laws? I see a lot of equivocating about varying cultural norms and the limitations within which a supposedly omniscient and omnipotent being must work, but no one seems willing to argue that God made the right call and that's the rule that should be followed today. So if we're supposed to use our (supposedly God-given) sense to reason through to the correct moral answers, why not just cut out the middle-man and chuck morality-by-divine-fiat altogether?

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Jon G
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# 4704

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I'm going to try and keep this thread on track by arguing that true freedom and therefore joy can come through understanding your context and limits both inner and outer.

Croesus, this talk of rationality and common sense was used by eugenicists, imperialists and fascists in the last century and look where that got us?!

I believe the struggle to understand God's word forces us to confront the barriers that exist within us and within the structures of our society. If we assume that there's some kind of acontextual truth out there, whether God shaped or human shaped, that we have a special insight into - then all kinds of mistakes happen - not least a loss of joy and contentment.

(Incidentally, I'm not arguing that there isn't a God shaped truth out there - but that it's incarnational, and I don't have special insight into him/her)

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Crœsos
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# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by Jon G:
Croesus, this talk of rationality and common sense was used by eugenicists, imperialists and fascists in the last century and look where that got us?!

Abdicating reason when approaching moral questions has an even more dubious record in recent history. There's a reason the phrase "I was only following orders" is so infamous.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Kelly Alves

Bunny with an axe
# 2522

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quote:
Originally posted by Paul M:
Fair enough, but FWIW, I don't think sarcasm and ridicule are the best weapons for that.

You'll note that "Diddums" neither invited his oldest son to leave, nor called him a crybaby and ridiculed him. He heard the guy out and addressed his question respectfully.


What an enabler, right? [Roll Eyes]

And, by the way, whose "side" was the father on? From my read, he wasn't really taking "sides." He was trying to connect everybody.

Funnily enough, the more I think about this parable, the more I put myself in the place of a party guest looking on and hoping this troubled family can sort things out. I want to rejoice in the young one's return, but I want to comfort the elder as well. Because they are both part of the family.

[ 27. February 2009, 18:28: Message edited by: Kelly Alves ]

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I cannot expect people to believe “
Jesus loves me, this I know” of they don’t believe “Kelly loves me, this I know.”
Kelly Alves, somewhere around 2003.

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Talitha
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# 5085

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Marvin, you're not the elder brother, you're the younger one. "Father, give me my share of the estate. Now."

I wonder if you might be better off going and doing as the younger brother did, and then coming back in ten years and seeing whether or not your views have changed.

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QLib

Bad Example
# 43

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I think you might be on to something, Talitha, but I don't think it's personal to Marvin.

In a way, most of us are the elder brother and we secretly (or not-so-secretly, on this thread) envy the younger brother and his fun.

At the same time we want to be sensible and safe - we know that the price for fun can be destitution and part of us, whilst remaining outwardly benevolent and "good", gets a little thrill of schadenfreude from contemplating the downfall of our feckless, fun-loving counterparts.

How annoying, then, when the feckless brother is saved from the consequences of his own folly by the father's love. Suddenly, our goodness seems to count for nothing and, worst of all, instead of looking good we look fucking stupid - we could have had our fun and then come back to a safe home and a party. Instead, what is our reward - oh yeah, we get to work in the fields. [Disappointed]

There are times when Jesus talks about people who are publicly good getting their reward on earth - public admiration, but this is one of many stories which warns us that a law based on Love can in some ways be just as demanding as one based on Justice. A Loving God can be a bit tiresome - because He expects us to love Him instead of doing what we do because we want to sit on a cloud with the good guys enjoying the torments of the damned.

Ostensibly the main point of the story is about the Love and Forgiveness of God - but it's a warning - this is a challenging Gospel. Maybe the way the older brother feels is actually the main point. It teaches us things about ourselves that maybe we'd rather not know.

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Tradition is the handing down of the flame, not the worship of the ashes Gustav Mahler.

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Kelly Alves

Bunny with an axe
# 2522

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quote:
Originally posted by Qlib:
It teaches us things about ourselves that maybe we'd rather not know.

[Overused]

On that note, if this parable is indeed aimed at the "pharisaical" mindset, isn't one such tendency that of honing in on somebody else's flaws, rather than admitting your own?

I said it several posts back and i mean it-- more power to Marv, and anybody else who is willing, for admitting they feel those feelings occasionally. Shutting up about it and pretending you don't might make everybody else more comfortable, but it smacks of a weird emotional prosperity gospel to me.

Few weeks ago, I was in a training seminar about "diversity' and we had to do this weird exercise in which we formed a tight circle, began a random conversation centering around a "staff pot luck", and deliberately refused to let another staff member who'd been removed from the room enter the circle (without talking to them or acknowledging their presence in any way.)

it was all in fun, the outsiders caught on quickly and fought back in hilarious ways, and everybody shook hands all around afterward.
In the after discussion , I started talking about how I'd deliberately enacted some tricks that had been used on me (For instance, I would wait a couple minutes and repeat something the "outsider" in our group had said, as if I'd thought of it myself.)I admitted that when I did this I felt this strange forbidden thrill that I hadn't expected, and was both troubled and interested by it.

Another woman in the group glared at me and said "well, I didn't feel good at ALL! I thought it was AWFUL!" and at that point, if anybody had any thoughts of discussing what people might actually get out of excluding others, they were too ashamed to do it.

And I still think, after 4 weeks or so, what a lost opportunity! Of course people must get something out of excluding others, otherwise it wouldn't happen on such a regular basis-- but what chance are we going to get to discuss those kinds of "not nice" feelings, and how we can cope with/ master them, if there is a load of shame dumped on someone willing to voice those feelings?

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I cannot expect people to believe “
Jesus loves me, this I know” of they don’t believe “Kelly loves me, this I know.”
Kelly Alves, somewhere around 2003.

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Qlib:
How annoying, then, when the feckless brother is saved from the consequences of his own folly by the father's love. Suddenly, our goodness seems to count for nothing and, worst of all, instead of looking good we look fucking stupid - we could have had our fun and then come back to a safe home and a party. Instead, what is our reward - oh yeah, we get to work in the fields. [Disappointed]

My point exactly. Or, more accurately, part of my point.

The rest of my point consists of asking why being good is so darn joyless. If it was more joyful, there wouldn't be so much of a problem with not being out there having fun...

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QLib

Bad Example
# 43

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And part of my point is that we are called to love God - obeying Him should be secondary. And the idea is that, if we truly love God, sticking with Him and obeying Him will be a joy.

Which it can be. Sometimes. I think. At least, I think I think.

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Tradition is the handing down of the flame, not the worship of the ashes Gustav Mahler.

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Janine

The Endless Simmer
# 3337

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Kelly, I suppose that lady is either one who got squelched when she tried to open up about the negatives in herself -- or she's seen others get squelched and fears that for herself.

Or, she fears seeing anything in herself like that reptilian frisson of dark power, because she's a squelcher. Perhaps, to her, one is "good" via conformity to whatever "good" is supposed to be, and one falls from grace when a foot steps wrongly.

*******************************************

Does "So why isn't the Christian life a joy?" really mean "Why am I expected to forswear all the fun? Why, in the Christian life, are all these rigid expectations dumped on me, and where the heck do they come from?" --

Or, "When will my outlook, my joy and everything else, finally come from inside me, dependent upon how I relate to God, rather than from the externals?"

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Marvin the Martian

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Both, really.

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TomOfTarsus
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# 3053

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OP'd by Janine:
quote:
Or, "When will my outlook, my joy and everything else, finally come from inside me, dependent upon how I relate to God, rather than from the externals?"
Nicely put. I thought that was what the Holy Spirit was supposed to do - "Out of him shall flow rivers of living water," etc. But I can certainly understand anyone geeting in a funk once in a while.

Still, have we managed to separate joy from mere happiness at this point? I haven't been able to catch up with the whole thread.

We had a very bad weekend. I was threatened (or thought I was being threatend) with devastating legal action from people I thought loved me. My 11 y.o. grandaughter was dragged through dregs of family mud that she never needed to know about, by someone who (as near as I can tell) had entirely selfish and vengeful reasons and never considered the effect that it would have on the girl. Due to all this, Mrs. ToT & I began our 34th wedding anniversary under sad and upset conditions.

But in the end it was the faith of Christ that lifted our spirits; the joy never really goes, the knowledge that we are the objects of His amazing grace and unfathomable love. Rehearsing these truths and vowing not to let the effects of satan-like action (the accuser, the one whose goal is to kill and destroy) made the joy of our salvation tht much more precious and real. By the end of the day we were committed to each other more deeply that ever, and committed to bringing life and health back to the family, and we learned more about what our Lord must have felt so many times, even from us- the stabbing pain of betrayal and bewilderment, the stunning sense of loss - and He still goes on loving. Not molly-coddling, but loving in His deep, rugged, and passionate way.

As to Christian pleasure, I will repeat what I said earlier. If you stand at the edge of God's pasture, constantly looking over the fence at where you aren't allowed to go (for your good, I might add, as any good parent does with their children), you will miss the beauty and freedom of the wide pasture He has given us to romp in. I could list endlessly the recreational resources and activities available that are "lawful", if you will. Even drink the apsotle says, within reason, and he contrasts being "drunk with wine" with being filled with the Spirit because being filled with the Spirit beats any bender you could go on, and there's no headache the next morning.

My sins are not a good memory to me. They will be a source of grief until the day I die.

Well, I've been sitting on this all morning, I'd better let it go, the thread has probably moved on.

Blessings, all

Tom

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By grace are ye saved through faith... not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath ... ordained that we should walk in them.

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Leaf
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# 14169

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Marvin: ISTM that "joy" and "having fun" are two different things, which you are conflating. You may feel joyful when you are having fun; you may not. You may feel joyful in perfect silence, stillness, and solitude. You may be out having fun without a solid base of joy underneath the experience.

Probably you need to go out and have more fun (who doesn't?) instead of pissing and moaning about it to your keyboard. Having fun involves finding people of similar interests and humour. It may be hard to find those people within your church community. So? Find 'em somewhere else.

Maybe the issue is the kind of fun you are wishing to have. TofT is right: certain kinds of "fun" are over the line, as far as living a Christian life is concerned. You may wish to argue where the line is. You may wish to argue with the force of negation (does it mean "DON'T EVER" as divine command, or "You probably shouldn't, because it's not a good idea and you'll wind up sorry" as existential observation?) But you cannot argue that there isn't a line -- however porous, culturally determined, or negotiable you think it is. Cross the line, and you wind up in territory that brings you closer to pain, addiction, dehumanization, and you can't predict whether you'll fall into them or not. The wise avoid.

If the real issue is joy, then start yelling at God about it. "Hey! I need some joy over here!" To mix parables for a moment: if God is the owner of the vineyard and we are employees, employees have the right to ask for the equipment they need to do the job. Sometimes God is slow about delivery, but God will supply.

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anoesis
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# 14189

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by earrings:
It sounds so very like what the elder brother says in the parable of the loving father (prodigal son).

Don't get me started. I've worked my fucking tits off and denied myself for years to stay with you and serve you, and what do I get? Nothing! This waster spits in your face and pisses off with half your cash, and what does he get when he comes crawling back? A fucking party! Where's my fatted calf? Where's my party? Where's my fucking love? I wanted to be out there living it large as well, you know, but I chose to stay and do the right thing, the honourable thing. What was the bastard point of me being so fucking good if you're going to shit all over it like this? I wasted my life for nothing. Fuck you, and fuck your party.

oops. i got started.

Yeah, I identify with the elder brother. Shit, I am the elder brother.

quote:
we can stil be aware that we are much-beloved children of God.
[Smile]

woo.

I feel your pain. I identify with the elder brother here BOTH because I am a cradle Christian and because I am, actually, the elder sibling.

I don't really have an answer to how we're supposed to feel about this situation and I suspect it will continue to bug me throughout my life. However, if I ask myself - well, how DO I want the story to turn out - what are the other options? Do I want the prodigal son to be told that he's made his bed and now he can lie in it, that it's too late to be sorry, that he's wrecked everything and he can just go back and eat with the pigs because that's what a pig like him deserves? And I find the answer is no. No, I wouldn't want either my earthly or my heavenly father to be that kind of person. And I'm relieved that neither of them are. Where exactly that leaves the elder [sons] amongst us, I don't know, but at least we are not labouring day in and day out for a bitter, revenge-addled monster...

(to which you may justifiably say - 'woo').
[Big Grin]

--------------------
The history of humanity give one little hope that strength left to its own devices won't be abused. Indeed, it gives one little ground to think that strength would continue to exist if it were not abused. -- Dafyd --

Posts: 993 | From: New Zealand | Registered: Oct 2008  |  IP: Logged
Chorister

Completely Frocked
# 473

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Face it, Marvin, you're just turning into a grumpy old man. It happens to most people of a certain age, and is a highly honourable estate.

You can be a grumpy old non-Christian man, or a grumpy old Christian man. It's up to you.

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

Posts: 34626 | From: Cream Tealand | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mogwai
Shipmate
# 13555

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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
Face it, Marvin, you're just turning into a grumpy old man. It happens to most people of a certain age, and is a highly honourable estate.

You can be a grumpy old non-Christian man, or a grumpy old Christian man. It's up to you.

+1
Posts: 704 | Registered: Apr 2008  |  IP: Logged
mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
Face it, Marvin, you're just turning into a grumpy old man. It happens to most people of a certain age, and is a highly honourable estate.

You can be a grumpy old non-Christian man, or a grumpy old Christian man. It's up to you.

Actually, statistically speaking, most people turn into grumpy old women.

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

Posts: 63536 | From: Washington | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Bringing this back to the original point, don't these arguments amount to saying we should use our experience and common sense (i.e. Reason) instead of relying on God's purported laws? I see a lot of equivocating about varying cultural norms and the limitations within which a supposedly omniscient and omnipotent being must work, but no one seems willing to argue that God made the right call and that's the rule that should be followed today. So if we're supposed to use our (supposedly God-given) sense to reason through to the correct moral answers, why not just cut out the middle-man and chuck morality-by-divine-fiat altogether?

Actually, most Christians take a middle-of-the-road approach. We don't live in an ancient Hebrew theocracy, and so simply accepting the laws as they stand in our current circumstances is ridiculous, and IMHO not what God expects of us. I mean, really: can you imagine the chaos if every New Yorker disdained flush toilets in favor of tramping outside the city limits with a shovel to do his business?

On the other hand, human reason is demonstrably darkened and corrupted by sin. Without the divine fiat (fiats? fiatae? whatever) to keep human reason more or less in line, we get into all kinds of shit. Like eugenics and etc.

So we're walking a balancing line, but it's really not as hard as you're making out to tell where to step. At a guess I'd say Christians agree on 99.99% of it. It's the .01 bit that gets all the headlines.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20059 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Geneviève

Mother-Hatting Cat Lover
# 9098

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The Christian life as presented, taught, or emphasized in somebranches of the Christian tradition can be grim, fear provoking, boring, stultifying, etc. I would imagine that might be true of other religious traditions.
Thus, I am not sure that generalizations are serving a purpose here, nor does nitpicking advance the conversation.
I can truly say that in my own life I have been much happier in general, and have experienced deep joy, since I returned to the Christian faith as an adult. (Aspects of the Christian faith as taught to me as a child were so boring and punitive that I left the church for 10 years.) I like myself better, I have a sense of purpose, and I believe that I am a better person in terms of the way I relate to others.
And I have lots of fun. As others have noted, I can do just about anything I want except things that are harmful to me, and would be, no matter what. I certainly learned some of that the hard way when I was younger.
No, being a Christian does not protect one from sorrow, tragedy, illness, downsizing, difficulty in relationships, etc. Terrible things happen in life, as part of the condition of being human.
I think the bottom line is that I have experienced the love of God, am a more loving (I hope and pray) person, and thus have found a measure of joy.
ISTM that each person has to answer the question of what brings joy for her or himself. I doubt one has to be Christian to experience joy, meaning, and adventure in life either. As we say here, YMMV.

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"Ineffable" defined: "I cannot and will not be effed with." (Courtesy of CCTooSweet in Running the Books)

Posts: 4336 | From: Eastern US | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged



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