Saturday, August 10, 2019

Questions of Faith

**I have wanted to write this post for several weeks but had to wait until my cognition was good. Please bear with me if I ramble a bit.**

Christian, Atheist, Agnostic?

I once heard it said that it takes more faith to be an atheist than to be a Christian. There is a book waiting on my Kindle reading list called I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Athiest. I've seen books that were written featuring that thought. Atheism though doesn't puzzle me as much as agnosticism. At least the atheist doesn't sit on the fence about their beliefs. And most atheists can state reasons for their stance. If someone has reasons, they can be reasoned with. If the agnostic hasn't cared to discover the reasons for his ambivalence, would he care to go on that journey?

There are also some Christians I think of as agnostically Christian. There are no roots to their 'belief'. Maybe they just believe because they don't know that there is a choice to be made. Maybe they, like I once did, believe only out of familial tradition.

I first came to truly believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through searching my own heart and mind. I had already heard the Gospel and had even been baptized as a youth. My belief was solidified by a few different things but I think it was mostly from using a process of elimination.


There are questions that we all have at some point about our origin and purpose. Trying to find answers to those questions is what helped me find my way to faith and belief. I say 'helped' because there were other things that happened in my life but some people would write them off as being based on feeling instead of logic. So, for this post, I will stick with the logical.

I think that just as there are some people who have a shaky claim on faith - via tradition and culture - there are also people who hang their disbelief on those things. What I wonder is if any of those folk ever devote time to seriously considering their positions? Do they ever occasionally re-evaluate their stance, if they give it any thought at all? Or do these people just fall into the melody of whatever their belief is and never stop to pay attention to the lyrics? Let me explain by using a story about a very popular song from the 1970s.

The group Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) was really popular worldwide in the 70s, 80s, and 90s and they still perform today. In the black community, EWF was super popular. One of their 'love' ballads, Reasons, was so popular that it was sometimes played at weddings.

A very moving and beautiful song, right? But this is what the EWF's lead singer Philip Bailey said about  the song (even he couldn't believe couples played it at weddings):
"It's not talking about real love," Philip says. "It's talking about a one-night stand." (source)**
The full lyrics are at the bottom of this post. Here are some of them:
Now, I'm craving your body, is this real
Temperatures rising, I don't want to feel
I'm in the wrong place to be real
Woah and I'm longing to love you, just for a night

What a love song, right? He wants her - not for his wife - but just for a night... I wouldn't want those lyrics as part of a holy ceremony any more than I would want to play The Jacksons  Shake Your Body Down to the Ground in the middle of the church.

To be honest, I am the worst person for listening (or not) to lyrics and I listened to that song on repeat when I was young, angsty, and hormonal. I was one of those people who thought of Reasons as a love song until I first heard about the Philip Bailey quote in a book by G. Craige Lewis. He is a pastor who exposed a lot of interesting information about the hidden spiritual manipulation in Hip Hop music. In the past, Lewis was a bit controversial - not so much for his message but for his manner of delivery. By the ways, I think that every believer who enjoys secular music should read or listen to Lewis' message of "The Truth Behind Hip Hop". Just Google it.

But do you see the point? People listened to how beautiful that song sounded and how it made them feel without giving proper thought to the lyrics. I think this is sometimes the way we handle the serious business of faith. This is why the so-called Prosperity message is popular in some churches. This is why some people choose a church based on how good the choir is instead of what message is being taught. This is why people get involved with cults and the occult. We have to be careful to focus on the words (lyrics) of a message.

Faith Maintained 

I said that I sought out (and continue to do so) answers to questions as I came to Christ. I answered the major questions by studying the Bible and secular history. I maintain my belief by prayer and faith. It's not like I came to the Lord, received salvation and then life got wonderful. Life is still very difficult. In some ways, it's more difficult because I can't numb it or distract from the way I did when I was a willful sinner.

I have a chronic illness and I suffer from severe depression. I can't do drugs or excessive alcohol. I'm sometimes very lonely for male companionship but I can't have random "hookups". I have two failed marriages, some broken friendships, and a lot of regrets that haunt me hour by hour. I am very careful about who I let into my life. My soul is free but I'm still paying human consequences for things done in my past. Every day that I wake up still sane and able to thank God for my salvation is a miracle.

Some people don't want to believe in a God that doesn't give them their heaven here on earth and in this mortal life. I always ponder Judas Iscariot and his betrayal. He walked, talked, and ate meals with Jesus. He saw the power of God with his own eyes and in the end, he turned away. We haven't been in the Lord's physical presence but some of us find faith and then turn away like Judas. They turn away - not because they don't believe Jesus is the Messiah but because he's not the Messiah they want him to be. Perhaps the faith they had wasn't based on truth.

I think that some people are atheistic because of anger or heartbreak or grief. They rail against a God they don't believe in because they feel let down or cheated by some tragedy in their lives.

There are some notable (and atheist) comedians who, in their jokes about God and religion, display a lot of anger and contempt. (By the way, I have noticed that many of them focus their rants only on the Christian God.) Some of them say that they think religion and faith are silly and useless or a crutch for the weak. Some of them just find Christian belief unbelievable. I pray for them, of course, and I always wonder what it feels like to hurt without hope. What must it be like to face the sorrow and pain of life without the sustenance of inner joy? When the comedian Robin Williams was alive, I thought that for someone so frenetically humorous, he had the saddest eyes I'd ever seen. When he died, I prayed that he had found peace with God at last. When some people die, I wonder if they truly are 'resting in peace'. We do like to sling around the RIPs, don't we. Anytime someone dies - no matter what they believed or not in life - we can't wait to hashtag our wishes of peaceful rest. What peace or rest is there for one who believes that their life was only a temporary thing and that death is an eternity of nothingness?

I still grow in my faith and I still struggle with my sin but I am solid in my belief. What I want to do here is post some questions for people to think about. Whether you are Christian, atheist, or agnostic, I think you should spend at least some time thinking about why you believe what you believe.

Origins, Being & Purpose

  • If this life is all there is, and there is nothing afterward, why bother with rules and decorum and love and joy. Why not just go on a full-on hedonistic joy ride through life?
  • Regarding the "big bang" (that created everything from nothing): what banged? (And, yes, people ask the same thing about God.and I agree with this answer)
  • What would convince you that there is no God?
  • What would convince you that God is?
  • Where did language come from? 
  • Where did love, honor, laughter, sorrow, regret, pride, anger, compassion, deceit, etc come from?
  • Regarding evolution: why aren't we all one type of animal? Or one gender? And why don't we keep evolving without the help of the laboratory?
  • If God is a myth, where did the myth or the need of it originate?
  • What is good? What is evil? Where did the concepts come from?
  • Regarding whatever you believe: What is the point? Is there a point? Do you want there to be a point?
  • Can you prove that Jesus did not exist?
  • Regarding the Bible prophecies: can you explain the accuracy? Can you disprove the accuracy?
  • Regarding your faith: Why do you believe what you believe? 
When I was younger, if my mother saw me making poor decisions or having a bad attitude about anything, she would say something to me that I still hear in my head: "You need to examine yourself." My dad was more countrified and would simply tell me that I needed to "study on that" - 'that' being my sassy mouth or negative behavior. 

My parents' advice is as good now as then. In order to truly think about something - to come to a decision, it's important to put aside pride and stubbornness. If you are making a decision about what to believe or not to believe, you need to have answers as honest and clear as can be. I hope no matter where you stand now in belief, unbelief, unconcern, that you are willing to die for and with it. Another thing my mother used to point out is that our next breath is not promised to us.


** Full lyrics to Reasons by EWF**
Now, I'm craving your body, is this real
Temperatures rising, I don't want to feel
I'm in the wrong place to be real
Woah and I'm longing to love you, just for a night
Kissing and hugging and holding you tight
Please let me love you, with all my might
Reasons, the reasons that we hear
The reasons that we fear
Our feelings a won't disappear, ooh
And after the love game has been played
All our illusions were just a parade
And all the reasons start to fade
La, la, la, la
After all our reasons why
All the reasons were a why
After all the reasons love was left aside
I'm longing to love you for one night
Please let me love you with all of my might, baby
Ooh baby
Reasons, the reasons that we hear
The reasons that we fear
Our feelings a won't disappear
And after the love games have been played
All our illusions were just a parade
And all the reasons start to fade
And, in the morning when I rise
No longer feeling hypnotized
For no reasons, our reasons, our reasons
Have no pride
After all the reasons why
All of the reasons were a lie
After all the reasons why love was left aside
Heeh, ah, yeah, ooh, yeah, ooh baby
I can't find the reasons
That my love won't disappear
Can't find the reasons
Why I love you, my baby, my dear
Can't find the reasons
Wanna love you all night
Can't find the reasons
Gotta squeeze ya, real tight
Can't find the reasons
Baby yeah
For my tears
Can't find the reasons
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Charles Stepney / Philip James Bailey / Glenn White Maurice
Reasons lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Music Sales Corporation

Monday, July 22, 2019

Movie List (to be updated)

Sometimes, I forget that I have this blog. I think I have about 8 blogs in total but Being Free is my first and main one. I posted there the other day about a couple of movies I watched. Probably would have been nice to share those here. Better late than never.

One of the best Christian movies I've seen in a very long time is called Divination. I found it on Amazon in the Prime Video section which means that, for some of us, the viewing is free. What I liked so much about the movie - though I struggled with some of the theology - was the superb special effects. The actors did a really good job and, let's face it, acting talent can be a hit or miss thing with low-production movies.

The other movie is called Let There Be Light and while it was a tiny bit sappy-sweet in spots, overall it was a good film. The acting was good and the cast included most of Kevin Sorbo's family. Here's the thing though: I have issues with the rabid support for Trump in the evangelical community. Of course, we all have our own opinions and you might disagree with me. In this movie, Sean Hannity made an appearance and it just reminded me of the whole Trump-can-do-no-wrong deal. I literally fast-forwarded through every time I saw his face. That's petty of me but... My testimony is still in progress.

When I found those movies on Amazon, I thought it was funny that I kind of had to stumble across them. Once I did, I searched out some other shows by looking at the recommended titles under those two movies. There are quite a few interesting documentaries and other shows that Christians might want to see. It's shocking how many titles I ran across. Of course, I can't vouch for shows I haven't seen but here are some that I have added to my own Watchlist:

There are so many more that it would take me days to list them all. If you want to explore for more Christian offerings in the Amazon Prime (or for rent) section, there a few ways to go about it. The description page of the videos will list Genre, Director, and Starring. You can click on any of those to pull up other videos or suggestions. If you scroll down a description page, other possibly similar or related videos will be listed. That's how I found most of the ones I listed here.

What I love is that there are not just movies for entertainment, but many teaching videos. I have watched a couple about certain books of the Bible. 

Now, I will suggest that you are always careful and prayerful about anything. When I watch movies or shows labeled as "Christian", I pay close attention to theology. Let the Bible be your guide so that you aren't ingesting bad information or ideas. 

Speaking of Christian movies, there is one that I used to have a DVD of. It was beautifully filmed and had lovely background music. It basically tells the first several chapters of the Bible through a quiet narration against a Middle Eastern backdrop. This is how IMDb summarizes the film:
A sage (Omero Antonutti) recounts biblical stories to his wide-eyed grandson and nomads around a desert campfire. 
I love that it's not like the films that don't show any ethnic realism in the casting. Again, I just can't say enough about the music. I lost my copy during one of my many moves and have not been able to find another. It was titled Genesis: The Creation and the Flood. Amazon will occasionally get a copy but they sell out fast and become unavailable. 

**Well, guess what? I just checked Amazon to get a link for this post and there was ONE copy of the movie up for sale. I'm so broke right now that I rattle when I walk, but I grabbed that copy.**

Sadly, another discovery I made while looking up info is that the writer and director of  The Creation and the Flood passed away just last year. I will update this post as I can. Maybe I will input the links for all the movies on my Watchlist one day. In the meantime...


Friday, June 28, 2019

Resources for the Learning Christian

Here are some suggested resources for anyone interested in Bible study and apologetics. I am not personally endorsing sites in particular; I provide these links as springboards to information focused on the Christian faith. I've worked on this off an on for a while and will be updating it as often as I can. Please, share and enjoy.

Apologetics & Tough Questions 

For Nerds (Sci & Tech & Gaming interests)

(By the way, the Wikipedia listing of Christians in the science arena is rather incomplete)

Social Media People, Accounts, and Stuff

Bibles and Bible Study Tools

     **Bibles & Translations**
     **Online Bibles**
     **Bibles for your phone & tablet
Blue Letter Bible

Communities and forums

Miscellaneous and random
You can also search out podcasts that deal with Christian issues. I have the iTunes app on my computer but use the Podcast Addict app on my phone. Most of the above-listed resources have phone apps. Just search the Android or iPhone apps stores. 

I have provided these links for you to peruse but you're responsible for what you do with them. I will warn you to scan everything before downloading files and programs. 


** Jewish and Orthodox Jewish Bibles (OJB) are called "Messianic" Bibles and sometimes labeled as Hebrew Names Versions (HNV).

 NOTE that I can not personally endorse all information provided in these links. It's best to check sources to see if they fit your own statement of faith. As always, be prayerful and Spirit-led when ingesting ideas and information from any source.)