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I don’t know, yet (anyway), if my recent post: prayer and change (everyone is talking about. I’m flattered, just
skeptical unsure as to why) upset or inspired Butch (“RW”) Nicholson. But, it certainly initiated, or possibly provoked the following point and question:
“Many people pretend to be Christains? Really? People believe what they believe, including you. I am interested in what you have to say. I am not interested in what you think others pretend to be. I would submit we all pretend most of the time. What do you pretend?”
I’m now pondering precisely why, but the question made me recall another of my posts: drink heartily from the cornucopia of fear.
This is an exercise in assigning words that might read pretty to a feeling that is ugly. To recognize what we don’t like, so that it can be replaced with what we want or dare hope for.
And, also, the widely read and certainly debated: Christian Ambiguity.
There is nothing worse than a Christian on the defensive. They become less tolerant and more judgmental when they get insecure.
And, somehow, from the dark reaches of my own mind, there emerged a response to Butch’s query:
“well… there is always the implied contention that the demonstrable inadequacy of any argument from analogy for the existence of other minds is sufficient to reject introspection as a method of determining one’s own mental state(s). there is always the position in the repudiation of an argument from analogy, but disagrees with knowledge of one’s own mental state(s) does not require introspection
so… relative to my blog post, I simply don’t pretend to have an answer like – for example – people with fish (symbols) on their cars. I only believe (in the context of this rapartee) that prayer can help anyone answer most questions as it aligns mind, body and spirit with most circumstances.”
I strive, and daily, to live the authentic life. I may fear hypocrisy, but I pretend little (other than, perhaps the pretense of no fear, itself).
This is a line-of-thinking that may have no end. But, you can’t lose for the attempt and effort – although there may well be no clear win. That is, until you fade to black, or see the light, in a manner of speaking.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
I’m certain we, that collective we, liked (and, still enjoy) the movie Pulp Fiction (1994) for a broad-range of reasons – all cause celebre.
I appreciated Quentin Tarantino allowing us a vehicle that kick-started the career of Samuel L. Jackson (“Jules Winnfield”) and also re-started the acting careers of John Travolta (“Vincent Vega”) and Bruce Willis (“Butch Coolidge”). I value the ironic humor with it’s numerous pop culture references and extensive use of homage (look for an example below for extra points). But, for me, the best part was the eclectic dialogue. And, supreme amongst all that witty prose was the Samuel L. Jackson character Jules’ liberal use and interpretation of Bible verse as a preamble to his murderous violence. Notably this passage:
“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”
Jules ritually recites what he describes as a biblical passage: Ezekiel 25:17, before he executes someone. We hear the passage three times – in the introductory sequence in which Jules and Vincent reclaim Marsellus’s mysterious light emanating (and never explained) briefcase from the doomed Brett; that same recitation a second time, at the beginning of “The Bonnie Situation”, which overlaps the end of the earlier sequence; and in the epilogue at the diner.
That being true scripture is Urban Myth and Legend. In fact only a select few words and/or phrases used in his speil are generated from the true scripture. For the sake of clarification, the following is the accurate scripture as presented in the bible (this is not me saying the Bible is accurate):
“I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I take vengeance on them.” – Ezekiel 25:17
So… My point is that I like creative and nimble prose. I also enjoy senseless contrived cinematic violence. And, as luck, or providence, if you will, would have it, the Bible is chock-full of ass kicking – and, is often a great cinematic source.
As a result of this, a sporting handful of ebullient buddies and I rallied our own witts and have come up with the following cocktail (many of those were also involved, as were Fat Tires and Modelo Especial’s) of bon mots that liberally leveraged Bible verse to promote violent contextual imagery….
“One day, after Moses had flowered into Manhood, he went amongst the people, where his own people gathered, and there, watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating down upon a Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way, and then that way, and upon seeing no one of merit, Moses killed the Egyptian, thusly raining vengeance upon him, and hid him in the sand”. – Optimistic Gentlemen
Sure, Moses was a great leader, an emancipator of his people – and, a prophet. Most people don’t know that he also was the Biblical equivalent of Splinter Cell‘s Sam Fisher, a well-honed killing machine, able to slay from the shadows bereft of pity or remorse. Martin Luther King may have had a dream, but Moses had a body count.
Picture the movie scene: An Egyptian soldier is wailing on a hapless Hebrew when Moses, clothed head-to-toe in black, drops down from the ceiling. Moving with cat-like grace, he sneaks up behind the soldier and, taking his head in his hands, snaps the man’s neck with one savage twist. As the lifeless body slumps to the ground, Moses lights up a cigar. “Well,” he muses dryly, “looks like someone bit off more than he could Jew”.
…I refuse to even pretend to be apologetic for that. And, I’ll stand firm in my belief that my Jewish brothers Marc Lewyn and David Taylor-Klaus, Prudent and Optimistic Gentlemen, to be sure, would slap their thighs with me.
II Kings 2:23
“…From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road under the yoke of his God, he came upon some youths come from town and jeering him. ‘Go on up, you baldhead’, they said upon him. ‘Go on up, you balhead’, they said unto him again, and repeatedly. He turned around, and upon them in turn, looking upon them with disdain, and in reply called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the nearby woods and mauled forty-two and six of the youths”.
You’ve been there. I did not say I’ve been there. But, we’ll assume you’re walking along, minding your own business, when a gang of cocky, young bastards start hurling abuse at you. Most of us would just keep walking, or maybe, yell some insults back – or, flip them the bird (example of homage: multiple people have died from Chuck Norris giving them the finger). Elisha (commonly regarded as the Luke Skywalker to the Prophet Elijah’s Obi-Wan Kenobi), however, decides to take it one step further. Invoking the name of God, he summons mother#@*&ing bears to come and claw the @#%& out of them.
You can always count on an ill-timed digression in-and-amongst my blog posts. And, we’ll pause here without exception, and offer this for consideration:
Christians are constantly asking for prayer in schools to help get today’s kids in line. However, we beg to differ in terms of potential tactical options. We clearly need bears in our schools. Public schools, private schools, probably even home schools. If every teacher had the power to summon a pair of child-maiming grizzly avengers, you can bet that schoolchildren nowadays would be the most well-behaved, polite children, ever. It’s a simple choice: listen to the biology lesson, or get first-hand knowledge of the digestive system of Ursus horribilis a-la God himself.
It should be pointed out, as we meander our way back to Elisha (he is such a bad-ass that he struts around with a girls name along the lines of Johnny Cash’s Don’t Call Me Sue), that even after his death, Elisha continued to kick major butt. II Kings 13:20-21 tells us (loose interpretation, here, mind you) that when a dead body was thrown into his tomb and touched Elisha’s bones, it sprang back to life (we’re not clear how the corpse manages this, but we can’t explain the mysterious briefcase in Pulp Fiction either). It’s unknown whether Elisha had this power in life, as well as death, but we like to think he did, and that he had the habit of killing his victims with bears, resurrecting them, and then promptly re-summoning the bears to kill them, again. He’d just repeat the whole thing over and over until he got bored. That’s what we call sending your enemies to endless hell. Never mind purgatory. Pure bear-chomping, endless, hell. This is a terrific foundation for both a action-oriented gore-movie and video-game spin-off.
“…yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the dyas of her wayward you and away from the eyes of her God, when she was a lowly prostitute of high reputation in Egypt (naturally). There, she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses”.
NOTE: We’re giving Kent most of the credit for that one.
And, I’ll warn you now… I’m departing from my typical gentile self and indulging in some striking rude and graphic language, here. Just run with me around this one. But, you’ll also have to participate and utilize some creative word-smithing for full effect.
Contrary to what you may think, the Bible has never shied away from talking about sex. In fact, the entire Song of Solomon is clearly dedicated to describing a couple enthusiastically honoring God, complete with lines like: “I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers”. This verse, in, or out, of context, is particularly explicit, though, possibly informing us that Egyptians are hung like farmyard animals, and can ejaculate in quantities to rival the annual flooding of the Nile.
All this imagery is crucial from a socio-historical perspective. It’s relevant to intellectualista’s and movie-buff’s alike because there is perspective of the human dynamic. Keep in mind, the Egyptians were the Jews’ former slave masters and are the bad guys in this particular story (okay and most Biblically-oriented stories). So, you know their reputation for supreme endowment was well earned when the worst their enemies could say was, “Go on! Go back to those big-cocked bastards! We hope you’re pleased with their enormous [insert creative college inspired descriptor].”
It should be noted that those swaggering old Egyptians didn’t exactly run from their reputation. Egyptian ruins are littered with statues like Min, the god of huge dong-having (in the spirit of the original intent of this blog post, this just might remind you of a certain 1980’s teen favorite movie). They even invented the phallic obelisk to advertise it (picture the Washington Monument, that just happens to be an obelisk). That was their statement to the world: “Gaze upon our [insert creative college inspired descriptor] tower and despair.”
I’ll reckon that this carefully interpreted passage creates a problem, certainly a challenge, for many new Bible readers. I’m also going to take some serious heat from my Christian brothers. Oh, really? However, once you’ve read this, it is impossible to go back and read the above referenced story-oriented Bible verse depiction of Moses killing the Egyptian guy the same way. This is verily the stuff of Pulp Fiction. When it speaks of the Egyptian beating the Hebrew slave, you have no choice but to imagine Moses turkey slapping the man (look it up). If anything, however, it makes Moses’ deadly intervention all the more justified.
I have a call into Quentin. I’m thinking Tim Roth, or even Samuel L. Jackson, playing the role of Moses. I’m as yet unclear if we go space opera like Star Wars, Post-Modern or Black Comedy. Neo Noir is certainly a possibility.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
Biblically-Oriented Chuck Norris FUN FACTS:
1. Chuck Norris sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Chuck roundhouse kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn’t stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month.
2. A blind man once stepped on Chuck Norris’ shoe. Chuck replied, “Don’t you know who I am? I’m Chuck Norris!” The mere mention of his name cured this mans blindness. Sadly the first, last, and only thing this man ever saw, was a fatal roundhouse delivered by Chuck Norris.
3. When his martial arts prowess fails to resolve a situation, Chuck Norris plays dead. When playing dead doesn’t work, he plays zombie.
Readers of this Blog appear to track, enjoy, and possibly value, my transparency. So, it’s no surprise, here, that my earthly father surrendered his soul to God back in 1986, on the eve of my birthday.
I’ve chosen some words carefully in that preamble because I’m evaluating the difference in terms of how we define suicide.
Background Perspective: I have a client that I’ve coached for years that happens to be a fairly well known Congressman and has always feared the path of “political suicide” often realized by all too many of his fellows.
Although I have to good-naturedly roll my eyes with that, it recently raised some thoughts in my head around how we spin things to make them work within the complicated confines of our society – to include faith and community.
Shortly after my Dad’s body was discovered (today that still feels strange to both write and read), slumped over a Zane Grey (apropos, says I) novel in his garage, his secretary tearfully advised me that he was bound for hell. I was a younger man in both body and mind, at the time, and this decree almost floored me. Dad was a genuine hero. And, he was… Well, my Dad. And, he loved my Mom. Together, they set the bar and standard for me in terms of how to be a parent to my own Daughters, and love people in your life. He was a pillar of strength (even when he had his fourth martini after a grueling Day maintaing peace as a Military Officer during a relentless Cold War era), always there for my younger brother and me. He was some times an enigma, mind you. But always smart, witty and resolute. Read my post: do not miss your Chance to blow it for perspective. Dot It! How could such a man face the abyss?
My first thought when told Dad was going to hell was that he had carefully considered his options and rolled the dice hoping to get back to Mom quicker. Selfishly, maybe, I often have this picture in my head of Mom and Dad in their early 40’s – sun-tanned, holding hands and smiling. This is also a reminder that Mom had died the year before (here is some additional background), and Dad was simply never the same after that. So… You can; and, I think you should, read my prior Blog post that explores some of that here: My Dad: Story 22 – Married for Life.
So… With all that said, what is the difference in someone taking their own life, or giving their life back to God? There is a paradox at work, here, because a potential juxtaposition includes (or, is) considerations around soldiers taking life (possibly in the name of God), and giving (as in dedicating) your life to God. My Dad was a soldier that absolutely did take lives under a national flag that was founded with God in mind (just ask Thomas Jefferson who is likely spinning in his grave enough these days to send the planet off it’s axis). He was a model citizen by any definition. And, in the his final hour I feel he gave his life back to God, and Mom was his reward for a life well-lived.
NOTE: I’m choosing to take the Bible out of the evaluative formula and going with discernment – perhaps the greatest tool God has issued to us to help me work through this process. The Bible, I feel, in this case, and of course many others, stymies broad thinking and open-mindedness (have you ever tried to debate a Christian and seen them not get heated, and more often than not, nasty?). Once you make not referencing the Bible part of the process, creative thinking that draws upon all of mankind’s marvelous experience and theory can now come into play for informed decision-making.
I’m tempted to drop a poll into this Blog post to capture your collective opinion. However, I’m only marginally interested in that. So, I’ll invite you to comment. I can’t promise to approve it. But, I might. And, I will respond in one form or another, to be certain.
So, engage me. Help me. Walk with me. Help me realize the Authentic Life.
If suicide is a path to another place that just might be a reward, as opposed to a punishment, why wouldn’t you take it? Is this an example of Kobayashi Maru?
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
The delicious irony, here, includes the reality that “them Christian fellas” will come after me for being open-minded, asking questions, pushing the envelope and seeking.
…all this, of course, founded in the very discernment God imbued me with.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
The (deservedly) immortal Dr. Nick Pappas at Radford Univerity called those of us that yearned to be learned “swine!”. This might mean brutish, possibly contemptible, certainly ignorant. But, a badge of honor, as it turns out, because Dr. Pappas knew we had merit based on the desire to change for the better. We sought enlightenment.
There! I’ve set the stage…
But, and just so you know, I started drafting this post on Sunday while it was, potentially, apropos. But, I wanted my thoughts around Bill Pope to run a certain course. And, so they have. Then of course, many of you know I struggle, and mightily so, with the Jesus element. Although the example, as established by those two men, both now otherworldly, continue to abound.
Thusly, I had these words that I intended to post. But, none of them seem sufficient in the face of the enormity of the events of which that day (Easter Sunday) is a commemoration. I probably don’t have to tell you that Jesus was killed, in the worst possible way, for the stupidest possible reasons, by, as Chesterton has pointed out, elsewhere, and paraphrased here, an unholy coalition of all that was more or less the best in both government and religion at the time.
Travesty is an insufficient descriptor. Or, opportunity. Because, yet another stage was, therefore, set.
In the midst of this, a thought: Love is the visible attribute of an invisible God.
So… If you are a Christian then you are of the opinion that the Lord is Risen! So, rejoice, ye swine, for something greater than we had ever hoped is at hand. No grave could hold Him. No earth could keep Him down. Hell itself was merely a brief sojourn; and, He didn’t come back alone. (According to the Bible and Gale Jackson) After forty days of gathering darkness, and the great falling blow of Good Friday, we may finally stand up tall again with our splendid and appalling King. He brings not peace, but a sword; He brings us to a fight, but it is a good fight and, well worth the trouble.
I’m not a Christian, mind. you. But, I WANT to believe this can happen – or, has occurred.
Many of you raised your glass Sunday (but why not each and every day?), wherever you were, in honor of the One who conquered death and gave us life in abundance. Take the Bread and the Wine, if you are able. Be in fellowship. Love your families, your friends, your colleagues, and even your loathsome, miserable enemies. You may fling them to the ground, when the time comes, but on this day of days it is best to hope for better outcomes, and more noble.
This might lead us to take the position that it’s apparently faith, not proof, that makes Christians believe in Jesus Christ’s resurrection, the central tenet of the religion.
Well… Possibly until now.
I offer this because it’s being reported that Oxford University professor Richard Swinburne (I don’t know if he is or was a swine, but close enough!), a leading philosopher of religion, has seemingly done the impossible. He is using logic and mathematics to create a formula that he says shows a ninety seven percent (97%) certainty that Jesus Christ was resurrected by God the Father. This information reported by The Age and Catholic News (However, I pulled it off MSNBC, again). NOTE: Meanwhile, nothing particularly original here, as I’m confident you’ve read about this elsewhere (on this very Blog, to be sure),
Nonetheless, as a reminder, this stunning conclusion was made based on a series of complex calculations grounded in the following logic:
- The probability of God’s existence is one in two. That is, God either exists or doesn’t.
- The probability that God became incarnate, that is embodied in human form, is also one in two.
- The evidence for God’s existence is an argument for the resurrection.
- The chance of Christ’s resurrection not being reported by the gospels has a probability of one in 10.
- Considering all these factors together, there is a one in 1,000 chance that the resurrection is not true.
“New Testament scholars say the only evidences are witnesses in the four gospels. That’s only five percent of the evidence,” Swinburne said in a lecture he gave at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. “We can’t judge the question of the resurrection unless we ask first whether there’s reason to suppose there is a God. Secondly, if we have reason to suppose he would become incarnate, and thirdly, if he did, whether he would live the sort of life Jesus did.” He says that even Jesus’ life is not enough proof. However, the resurrection is “God’s signature,” which shows “his approval of Jesus’ teaching.”
I’ve called the good fellow, to verify his sincerity, but he has yet to return my call.
By way of reference, the calculations that Swinburne says prove the resurrection are detailed in his book, The Resurrection of God Incarnate. Download it to your Kindle, or iPad, I have. Do it!!!
In closing, as I round out my point… We know why God took Jesus (providing you follow the Bible, and Gale Jackson). However, we are still asking ourselves why God felt He needed Bill and Bryce more than we did. Unless the simple answer is the establishment of a compelling example, driven home, if you will, with an awful and dramatic flourish. Our attention is caught. Now we have that scienter in our lives.
This means we need to be ready.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork