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My Take: #GivingTuesday creates better Christmas narrative than Black Friday
Police respond to a Black Friday shooting in Florida.
November 27th, 2012
11:18 AM ET

My Take: #GivingTuesday creates better Christmas narrative than Black Friday

Editor’s note: Rick McKinley is pastor of the Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon, and author of "A Kingdom Called Desire" and "Advent Conspiracy."

By Rick McKinley, Special to CNN

No one knew there was an underwear shortage in this country until Friday, when thousands of shoppers lined up in front of Victoria's Secret stores like young girls waiting for Justin Bieber’s autograph.

As I watched the scene on TV, I imagined my grandfather fighting his way through the mob as the doors opened and the mad rush began. Though we may never remember that pair of underwear that Grandpa bought for Grandma, we will never forget the punctured lung he received when he was trampled upon by the crowd.

Some Christmas memories are just that special.

Thankfully, that was only my imaginings. But guns were pulled at a Sears in Texas, and two people were shot outside a Walmart in Florida in a scuffle over a parking space.

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We see the scenes every Black Friday: shoppers standing in line for hours, the doors bursting open, elbows and expletives flying, pushing, shoving, waved weapons, threatened lives. Once again, America is ready for the Season of Peace, Love and Good Will toward all.

But there is a groundswell toward opting out of crazed consumption and breaking free from the anxiety and chaos it creates, so people can tell a better story. Evidence of this includes the Twitter movement called #GivingTuesday.

It’s a simple concept that calls us into a better story.

I am a pastor, not a sociologist, but I can compare the scenes of people running over each other at the mall with those of people waiting in line at a refugee camp as they anticipate a U.N. food drop.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The scene is totally different in one sense, but the anxiety that drives it is the same. We live in anxiety over the fear of scarcity. Which means we are afraid there will not be enough.

From bags of rice and beans to underwear, when the scarcity alarm goes off inside of us, the anxiety comes rushing to the surface, along with our fears.

In that moment, we are all capable of throwing an elbow or two.

The story of scarcity is a sad story. There is a better one.

As a follower of Jesus, I believe that the only thing that breaks us free from the fear of scarcity is a radical act of generosity.

That is the Christmas story of the manger. At a different time and different place in our history, God performed the most radical act of generosity the world had ever seen or will ever see.

He gave a son, born into the world by an unwed teenage girl in a hillside cave and laid to sleep that first night in a feed trough.

The son who God gave would grow up to become a carpenter-turned-itinerant preacher with a heart of compassion for the people the world had trampled as it fed its scarcity fears.

This generous love drove him to a cross, where he hung and died for people whom he loved and who didn’t love him back, and to overcome with new life that he offered to pour over us and into us with grace and forgiveness.

This is the story of Christmas. It is a story of abundance. There is love enough and grace enough and forgiveness enough and healing enough for everyone who believes. Generosity breaks people free from the lie of scarcity.

A group of us started to dream of what it would look like to live in the Jesus story, and we started something called the Advent Conspiracy.

We decided that we would worship more, spend less, give more and love all. We replaced consumption with compassion because we believe that Christmas is about Christ. The Advent Conspiracy is now a global movement of faith communities.

We have watched people around the world scale down spending and redirect dollars to build wells in Liberia and other parts of the world.

In June, when no one at our church remembered what they got for Christmas, we watched video of Liberian children dancing in streams of clean water. We heard village elders say with tears in their eyes that their children are no longer dying.

Saving kids with clean water - that’s a better story.

In Portland, the faith community has worked with the city to build rescue homes for victims of sex trafficking. Now, girls who are running literally for their lives can come and be rescued and given hope, safety and a future.

Kids enslaved being set free - that’s a better story.

There are thousands of other stories like this, from people working with those in Vietnam who are dying of HIV/AIDS to people who are simply having Christmas dinner with a friends who live on the street.

These people are doing more than charity; they are breaking the cycle of fear and scarcity through radical acts of generosity. That’s a better story.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rick McKinley.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Holidays • My Take • Opinion

soundoff (260 Responses)
  1. VanHagar

    Excellent questions. Is God wholly just? Yes. Is belief more important that actions? No. My faith teaches that one will not have salvation without faith: Good deeds do not get you into Heaven. But (and its a big one), faith without deeds is no faith at all. One cannot claim to believe God exists and then have no deeds to support it (the Book of James answers this much better than I can here). There is a difference, IMHO, between being saved (an act of faith) and being a Christian (which requires deeds)–Jesus preached what we are to do much more than what we are to believe–so did most of the writers of the New Testament).

    November 27, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • VanHagar

      sorry...wrong place for this.

      November 27, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  2. kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
    And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
    The, looking in, I saw upon the floor
    Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
    “How many anvils have you had,” said I,
    “To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
    “Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
    “The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
    And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
    For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
    Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
    The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

    Truth is..exclusive

    November 27, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Roger that

      This is my experience. Thank you

      Like you, I was also brainwashed. One day I learned to think for myself. I'm much happier now. The end.

      November 27, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      :-) :-( :-)

      November 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • .

      Hey look the ego ridden kindness is back, you need to stroke your ego again. What's new.

      November 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  3. Jenny

    Since a lot of poorer people find their meagre employment in retail positions doesn't preaching against shopping actually end up hurting these people? My mother raised us kids with money earned from working two retail positions and I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have been able to make it without the extra income she got from the holiday rush. I get that people spend too much, but avoiding the malls altogether is just going to drive more people to the soup kitchens.

    November 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Meatwad

      Christmas lights are pretty. I asked Santa for a new doll ya'll.

      November 27, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Buying things isn't the problem; it's what we buy. If half the money spent on Christmas were given to charities to pay for education, water, and reproductive care the world would be a more enriched place. When you spend money on these things you are still supporting those who build the wells, work at the college cafeterias or in a variety of healthcare roles at all levels. But it is money better spent than on more plastic landfill items.

      November 27, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • End Religion

      *shakes head*

      November 27, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  4. PaulB

    I wish more Christians would show the generosity of being tolerant of everyone who declines this "free gift" they're on about. Everyone else seems to have the good manners to take the rejection gracefully.

    November 27, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    November 27, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi prayerbot

      November 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "John 3:16" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian.

      November 28, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      November 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  6. Mohammad A Dar

    self-promoting article.

    November 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  7. Reality

    For Pastor Rick McKinley,

    Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    November 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • ....

      REPETI TIVE BULL SH IT ALERT

      November 27, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  8. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Pastor Rick McKinley says "We live in anxiety over the fear of scarcity. Which means we are afraid there will not be enough."

    I don't argue with these words – they are very true of western society in general, but in context, I don't see them as the driver of 'black Friday' behavior. 'Black Friday' is about obsessive compet!tive behavior. It's about 'winning' an imaginary compet!tion – both as consumers and as retailers.

    I do agree that the gift-a-palooza that Christmahanakwanzika is not in anyway religious and frankly admire this notion of the 'Advent Conspiracy' despite the odd name.

    But it shouldn't need a Twitter hashtag feed like #GivingTuesday. Marketing via social media soundbites devalues anything genuine into something that is at best pious and scantimonious or at worst something indistinct from an inarticulate celebrity grunt to be measured by the volume of retweets rather than any difference it makes.

    I like the concept of making Christmas about meaningful generosity over commerce – but Twitter diminishes this.

    November 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  9. santa

    Santa Claus, outrageous gift giving, obsc ene consumption, glutony, greed, decorated trees, lighted houses, flying reindeer, etc are all products of American capitalism and consumerism. It was never a christian event. The christian christmas is very different. Folks who know christian teaching are able to distinguish one from the other.

    Atheism is easy. No need to engage in christmas. No need for gifts. No need for charity or helping the poor.

    November 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Funny how christians assume anyone who doesn't believe in your gods is an atheist. There are other religions – and, you are, in fact, outnumbered by them.

      Christmas stopped being about Christmas when christians used a convenient pagan holiday with which to pin the birth of their prophet in order to appease and more easily subjugate said pagans.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Akira

      Atheism is easy. No need to engage in christmas. No need for gifts. No need for charity or helping the poor.

      One doesn't need to believe in God to exchange gifts.
      One doesn't need to believe in God to give to charity or help the poor.
      One doesn't have to believe in God to be *good*, so you are, in fact, being disingenuous in your blanket generalizations.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Reality

      Christmas, the embellished story of the birth of a simple, preacher man named Jesus.

      As per most contemporary NT exegetes, his parents were Mary and Joseph although some say Jesus was a m-amzer, the result of a pre-marital relationship between Mary and a Roman soldier.

      http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

      Jesus was not born in Bethlehem at least the one we are familiar with and there were no pretty wingie thingies singing from on high, no slaughter of the innocents by Herod, no visiting wise men and no escape to Egypt.

      Mark's gospel, the most historical of the four gospels, does not even mention the event.

      And from Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 269-272, "The historical yield of the Lukan infancy narrative in respect to the birth of Jesus is virtually nil (ditto for Matt. 1: 18-25, Matt. 2. 1-23)"

      http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=007_Of_Davids_Lineage

      Conclusion: Christmas is historically a non-event. Ditto for the Feast of the Magi and the solemnity of Mary aka New Years day.

      Kwanza

      "Kwanzaa, which will be celebrated for the 44th time in 2009, was established by Dr. Maulana Karenga. The seven-day festival (December 26 – January 1) is secular, not religious, and aims to strengthen African cultural identi-ty and community values while providing a spiritual alternative to the commercialism of Christmas."

      Chanukah (Hanukkah)

      "Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is one of the most joyous times of the Jewish year. The reason for the celebration is twofold (both dating back to c. 165 BCE): the miraculous military victory of the small, ill-equipped Jewish army over the ruling Greek Syrians, who had banned the Jewish religion and desecrated the Temple; and the miracle of the small cruse of consecrated oil, which burned for eight days in the Temple's menorah instead of just one."

      "Originally a minor holiday, it has become more lavishly celebrated as a result of its proximity to Christmas."
      Some candles burn for weeks so the menorah "miracle" is hardly miraculous.

      Rabbi Wolpe can probably give us his take on the historical validity of Hanukkah.

      November 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • PaulB

      santa
      We wish there was no need for charity and helping the poor, you mean?

      November 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @santa

      Wow you're incredibly delusional aren't you?

      November 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "Atheism is easy. No need to engage in christmas. No need for gifts. No need for charity or helping the poor."

      Most people I know are non-believers, who I assume you would consider atheists. All in the US celebrate Christmas, though a small number call it Solstice. All give gifts. All support Charity and are far more willing than the general population to pay taxes to support their fellow citizens.

      November 27, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  10. lionlylamb

    @ The Truth who wrote, "I was a pastor for nearly 30 years and have read the bible cover to cover more than three times in my life, so the comeback "You just don't understand" will have about as much traction as when my 13 year old says it..."

    What does your 30 years of pastoral ship say about the following four verses from the KJVB?,,,

    Mathew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God!"

    Luke 17:21, "The kingdom of God is inside you!"

    John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world!"

    1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"

    To me oh "Truth", I stand upon these four verses of scripture very literally and with good sound reasoning for so doing!

    November 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Mr. Lamb you crazy old fuck. You still think little celestial being are driving our white blood cells around like bumper cars? LOL

      I bet your favorite movie is Fantastic Voyage huh…come on admit it…it’s a great story!

      November 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • /0\

      So Lamby, you base you "truth" on a book of myths, backing up your truth with more from the same? Nice and circular. "Round and round. No wonder you you are such a big wheel in your head.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Raquel Welch in a wetsuit.

      'nuff said.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Akira

      Fantastic Voyage! I remember as a kid that coming on as the 3:30 movie on Channel 7, right after "Dark Shadows"!

      Hey, Apple.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Hey Akira....Barnabas Collins!

      November 27, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Akira

      Oh, yes, Jonathan Frid.
      He died not long ago, but not before appearing in the movie with Depp.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Apple Bush Berries,

      Our bodies' "drivers/pilots" of white blood cells and red as well along with all blood fluids is where the kingdom domains of the physically enamored Gods and their generations' families do all dwell! Our flesh is but an inner spatial outcropping for them and deemed somewhat worthy for inhabiting on an semi-everlasting basis!

      In being cremated, the bodies' "drivers/pilots" will utilize their scientific prowess to technically wormhole their ways to another time and inner spatial place. During cremation our soulful essences of mostly nothingness will become part of and given back to the Celestial Seas of Nothingness. Only this wholesome Sea of Nothingness will have them means and wherewithal to reseed our soul of nothingness amid and upon places and regions of atomized innerness places that will never truly be understood by our scientific knowledgeable means and ways. All one can do is have hope one's Life does not end up being a finality for living!

      November 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      Lionlylamb, we get it. You believe God dwells within you. See how simple that is to say?

      November 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Mr. Lamb, that is super.

      November 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Pete

      Lionlylamb, that is nothing but BS lets bury the hatchet.

      November 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Akira

      The question is, where is said hatchet to be buried?
      Before or after use?

      November 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Akira,

      or perhaps 'during'?

      November 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Mrs. Pepperpot et al,

      The simplicity of God and His families living upon our insides quite literally does incite questions yet to be finalized. If inside my physical being there lives God and many of his family generations, just where do they go once a person is cremated? Should we be cremated? Should one be laid to rest within the earth's grounds? If this religiously declared soul of ours is all but Nothingness interwoven throughout one's physical essence should we be cremated to unwind our souls from the physical essences? Where does such Truths befall one?

      November 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      There are but three and three only, Cosmologies known,,

      1.) The Onner Cosmology

      2.) The Outer Cosmology

      3.) The Cellular Cosmology

      Think about it and do wonder about the cosmological meanings for such cosmologies.

      November 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      There are but three and three only, Cosmologies known,,

      1.) The Inner Cosmology

      2.) The Outer Cosmology

      3.) The Cellular Cosmology

      Think about it and do wonder about the cosmological meanings for such cosmologies.

      November 27, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  11. myweightinwords

    Why wait until Tuesday?

    I choose to use Friday for this purpose. I refuse to purchase anything on Black Friday. Instead, I pick a couple of organizations that do work I support, this year it was Heifer International and Kiva, On Friday I made several donations to Heifer and made a few loans on Kiva.

    Both organizations help those in need, and both operate on a principle of social responsibility. Kiva loans money to underprivileged people around the world. That money is paid back in small increments over time. Heifer provides livestock, from chickens and ducks up to cows and water buffalo along with training, and requires that the offspring of the gift be given to others in the same village.

    Also on my list was donations to local food banks, and a program that provides pajamas and blankets to foster children.

    I think "Pass it on Friday" is a much better follow on to Thanksgiving than the current commercial nightmare.

    November 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • sam

      I have huge approval for this entire post.

      November 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      :-) :-( :-) :-) :-( :-) :-) :-( :-)

      November 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Akira

      This is a wholly wonderful post.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      "Altruism is the root of all evil." Andrew Ryan

      November 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Huebert

      RL

      Please support that sentiment.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Ask Andrew Ryan.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Huebert

      RL

      If he was on the blog I would. You seem to be agreeing with Ryan's statement, why is that? If you don't agree with the statement why did you post it?

      November 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Ayn Rand says it far more articulately than Iever could:

      "What is the moral code of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.

      Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.

      Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer: “No.” Altruism says: “Yes.”"

      November 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Huebert

      RL

      I am no fan of Rand, but she can be quite difficult to argue against. Though I don't have anything better to do so I'll give it a shot.

      The basic principle of altruism is not self sacrifice, but that man has an obligation to benefit his fellow man, and if necessary, at cost to his own self interest. While this is not an ideal ethical system, and certainly not one to which I ascribe, the principal that one has an ethical obligation to help others is requisite for the development of society and civilization. To say that altruism is a bad thing, much less calling it the root of evil, seems just plain silly.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Akira

      Both Ryan and Rand are wrong on the definition of altruism, and therefore, I reject their notions.

      Calling myweightinwords's altruism "evil" is absurd.
      I call it empathy.

      Don't want to give anything?
      Then don't.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      RL,

      I would argue that altruism is self preservation. If through a simple act of giving the poorest of the poor can be lifted up, given an opportunity to work to better themselves (something at the root of both organizations I mentioned), they contribute to the society in which they live. The more contributors to society, the stronger the society. The stronger the society, the more secure my place in it becomes.

      It isn't why I do it. But I can argue it.

      My personal reasons for what I do are far simpler to understand. There was a time when I had to rely on the kindness of strangers. I am doing nothing more than paying back a debt.

      November 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      myweightinwords,

      The altruistic devotions of many folks are of societal increments. Where the needs do weigh heaviest and heard most of, the people will give and where the needs are seldom seen or heard, there is no altruistic concerns to be found. Funny thing altruism is. Very funny, :-(

      November 27, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  12. lionlylamb

    Living within the physical eternities the spirited soul of tendril nothingness does aberrantly conjure up being a significant nothingness form deviating from God's Great Seas of the Holy Spirit of Absolute Nothingness! Our body's soul of nothingness woven into one's physical being does, when one is cremated, become unwoven from the body's physical semblance by the fires pillars of the crematory. It is very pleasing for God's Holy Spirit, the Great Seas of Absolute Nothingness, for any soul being bound with and of celestially significant physical beings to be fired up in cremation and then be a soul to be unwoven from their physical bodies and to once again become part of the wholesomeness of the Nothingness Seas in a Holy Matrimonial Oneness once again!

    Bring upon my placed ashes nothing of materialism and do not gather the flowers for wisdom sakes but if so should be then so be it. I do so deservedly leave with what I came here with and that is nothing for I want no one to remember me in formal undulations but rather my Word ringing ever on as the bells of liberties tolling the way clear for all who know the Truth of many matters. As my soul of Nothingness becomes unwoven from my physical being, then and only then will the Godly last trumpets; shall ever do blare! I will someday and way be home for the occasions of blissfulness wrapped in swaddlings raments to once more begin again!

    November 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  13. Sam Yaza

    the "" eat from gods golden plate

    November 27, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  14. VanHagar

    The Truth...as a former pastor, therefore, you should have understood that the "don't understand" remark was not merely referring to objective Bible knowledge. If I have to explain that to you, then you its probably a good thing you are no longer a pastor.

    November 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  15. Mohammad A Dar

    Mr McKinley writes "We live in anxiety over the fear of scarcity. Which means we are afraid there will not be enough"

    So whose fault is that Mr McKinley, if the global population reach eight billion by 2030, and things become hard to find?
    ummm Churches, Catholics, conservative goons, Steve Forbes, Rick Santorum, opposing use of contraceptives, abortion? Yes No!!?

    November 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Evangelical

      If people would learn to keep it in their pants, there would be no need for contraception or abortion, and there would be no problem with world population.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Huebert

      Even

      Cheep, radially available contraception is a far more practical solution to overpopulation. Expecting people to stop having se.x is like expecting people to stop..., well, having se.x. There is just no way that it will ever happen.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Huebert

      If people won't take personal responsibility and abstain, then they are responsible for the ensuing famine. But a famine will just hasten the return of Jesus. So be it.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Huebert

      Evan

      If Christians teach that contraception is evil than Christians can be held responsible for any famine resulting from over population. Do you think your god would look kindly on that?

      November 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Huebert

      S.ex is immoral unless it occurs within marriage between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation. If you are moral, you need no contraception. If you are immoral, that is not the problem of Christianity.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Evangelical, keep it in the pant is not easy or practical, even for church goers like you, am I wrong Mr? Hey you need to keep your pipe clean to avoid prostate cancer, goon

      November 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • mama k

      That's your extremist brand of Christianity Evangullible. Many other Christians are quite a bit more level-headed about that than you. And regardless, it's quite obvious your extremist views are a dying kind in our every more diverse, ever more secular nation.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Huebert

      Evan

      So you are saying that it is immoral of my wife and I to have se.x if we aren't trying to have a baby? Are you fu.cking kidding me? That has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever herd. Please tell me how that is immoral?

      November 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Hey there is a saying for you Mr celibate, cross dresser calls a beautiful woman, a mother.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Madtown

      Evangelical
      S.ex is immoral unless it occurs within marriage between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation.
      ----------
      Ladies and Gentlemen, more evidence of the damage religion has brought to humankind.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      @Madtown, hey mister Evangelic never said you can't have oral, it's not s.ex in their book, ask Bill.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Evangelical

      Huebert wrote: "That has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever herd."

      When calling someone stupid, it gives you a little more credibility if you can spell correctly. The word you wanted was "heard."

      And to answer your question, yes, s.ex is for procreation.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Evangelical

      I don't care what sex is about for you. Your take on it is for you alone, and you have no right to define what sex should be about, when it should be done, etc. for anyone else. If you feel it is your place, then you're just a control freak.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Mr Evangelical, just go down two or three days earlier CNN Brief blog, or look for the "Searching for God, settling for s.ex", interesting read.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • sam

      Evangelical, I bet you are great birth control just by entering a room.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      let me tell you something, people like "Evangelical" enjoy s.ex, too, but they find a way around, they pick days when women are less likely to become praganant, so they keep banging in attampt to pro-create, cheating goons

      November 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • sam

      Why do I have the suspicion that Evangelical likes to be held down and spanked while someone yells "WHORE! DIRTY, DIRTY LITTLE WHORE!!"

      November 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Huebert

      Evan

      Thanks for proof reading my post for me, I'm terrible with ho.mophones. Though You didn't proof it very closely. If you actually read it you would realize that I said that the idea that s.ex not for procreation is immoral is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. I made no mention about your intelligence, you might want to see a psychiatrist about that persecution complex. Also you failed to answer question. Why is se.x, that is not for procreation, immoral?

      November 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Evangelical

      You know you've won the debate when the potty-mouths come out.

      November 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Madtown

      Evangelical
      You know you've won the debate
      -----–
      Unless there was never any debate to begin with, and your position is just amusingly off-base.

      November 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Hubert

      Because the natural purpose of s.ex is to beget. Now I could quote you some Bible verses that state that it is immoral, but somehow I don't think that would sway you.

      November 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Umm potty mouth or did someone touch your raw nerve?

      November 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Okay let's get serious Evangelical, so it's okay to have 10 or 12 children in your book?

      November 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Huebert

      Evan

      Good guess about the bible verse, though your answer is still unsatisfactory.
      1) Using for something for a purpose other than the "natural purpose" is not immoral. Nicotine is naturally a poison, however it can also be used as an antidote to bee and wasp venom.
      2) Se.x also lowers stress and, with in the contest of a relationship, increases trust and closeness. These benefits occure weather or not said se.x results in a pregnancy.

      So one more time, Why is se.x, that it is not for procreation, immoral?

      November 27, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • sam

      Evangelical, there never was a debate to win; mostly it's been people telling you you're wrong, just like every other damn time you post.

      Keep all those orifices closed nice and tight, now. Especially the one you feed yourself through.

      November 27, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Evangelical

      Why do you feel you have the right to dictate the actions and thoughts of other people? Why do you feel you have the right to limit sex to what your bronze age holy book says?

      November 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  16. Katie

    Thank for that thoughtful and insightful piece. Here's to better stories of hope, life, peace, and joy this season...as opposed to greed, over consumption, and disappointment.

    November 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • The Truth

      Speaking of " over consumption" I can see one pastor who needs to be exercising his own leg's instead of exercising those turkey leg's into his mouth...

      November 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Katie

      Its too bad that's all you can seem to focus on. Have a good day :)

      November 27, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Greed drives human endeavor. The economy would grind to a halt without greed. As Gordon Gekko said, greed is good.

      November 27, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  17. 200 TON HAMMER

    Dang rick your picture you look like peter Griffin on family Guy hey Bryan you know the word Bird is the word.

    November 27, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • The Truth

      It's Thaddeus Griffin, Peter's evil twin brother...

      November 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  18. 200 TON HAMMER

    Adam 12 Adam 12 there's a 211 and 187 of Victoria secrets tanning lotions getting squeezed too crap over Rodger this is Adam 12 where stuck at krispy kream king donut house of donut god.we get there as soon as donut king finish spreading the glazed donut dough with 25 pounds of liquid sugar powder glazed over raw cake dough.

    November 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  19. 200 TON HAMMER

    One big word GREED$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    November 27, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  20. Apple Bush

    I am afraid the good pastor has committed the deadly sin of gluttony...

    November 27, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Well, I made the mistake of reading the article. WARNING, the beginning of this article may be disturbing to senstive readers.

      November 27, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • VanHagar

      WARNING, the rest of the article may be disturbing to atheists.

      November 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • sam

      @VanHagar – yeah...especially the part about the unwed teenage mother that god decided to spirit-bone into giving birth to a version of himself. 'cause THAT's a 'gift'.

      November 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Sam...its easy to mock what you choose not to understand. I won't cast pearls before swine.

      November 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      It's easy to use a cop-out like you just did when there is no evidence or logic in your religion.

      November 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Hawaii...what evidence would you like? Or perhaps its a waste of my time (i.e. I probably shouldn't cast the pearls). Tell me what would satisfy you. Is it scientific proof? Can't give it to you (at least not to the degree I expect you would want it)–if I could it wouldn't be faith. You choose to mock, just like Sam, what you choose to reject without searching your heart.

      November 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Roger that

      Fa la la la la

      la la la la...

      November 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • The Truth

      "mock what you choose not to understand"

      It's pretty easy to claim others just don't understand, my 13 year old does it all the time. The reality is that as a parent I understand far more than she knows, i'm just not taking her side all the time because she is choosing to be a close minded self centered little brat who thinks the world revolves around her, which is not unlike the Christian I used to be and the majority I know currently are. As an atheist I challenge any Christian to out bible knowledge me, though I have to warn you, I was a pastor for nearly 30 years and have read the bible cover to cover more than three times in my life, so the comeback "You just don't understand" will have about as much traction as when my 13 year old says it...

      November 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      And what is the difference between the kind of faith you have, and the faith a Hindu, Buddhist, Islamist, and all the other religions of the world have? There is no difference to the outside observer, and each religion states their faith is the right one. Faith is useless to say you are right. If faith is needed, then you have no reason to think it's true, and no basis on which to say anyone else is wrong.

      November 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • VanHagar

      The Truth...as a former pastor, therefore, you should have understood that the "don't understand" remark was not merely referring to objective Bible knowledge. If I have to explain that to you, then you its probably a good thing you are no longer a pastor.

      November 27, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Van Hagar: " I won't cast pearls before swine."

      The trouble is that you have no verified evidence that these are "pearls". What you have are sweet-smelling bath beads which dissolve in water.

      November 27, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Hawaii...actually, that's a pretty good question. As best as I can answer, I think the mental process of "faith" is the same regardless of what it is that one has a faith in. As to who is right (because, for the most part, they are mutually exclusive), I choose Christianity because of the evidence I have seen and investigated. It may not be enough to satisfy you, but it is for me. Can't give you a better answer than that for now.

      November 27, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      Well what evidence have you seen and investigated? You ask what kind of evidence I would want, but what other kind of evidence is there other than empirical evidence that has been shown independentally verifiable and reliable to coming to an understanding of reality?

      November 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      VanHagar

      Hawaii...actually, that's a pretty good question. As best as I can answer, I think the mental process of "faith" is the same regardless of what it is that one has a faith in. As to who is right (because, for the most part, they are mutually exclusive), I choose Christianity because of the evidence I have seen and investigated. It may not be enough to satisfy you, but it is for me. Can't give you a better answer than that for now.
      .
      You are confusing as sumption with evidence. As to what you might have "seen" it might actually be a form of delusion or hallucination. It takes equal faith to believe in a god vs fairies.

      If you are basing your faith on such things as evidence then you are lacking in faith.

      Faith/fāTH/

      Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than >>>>PROOF<<<<.

      November 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Christianity..thanks! I never thought about the delusion/hallucination option. ;) If you are of the opinion that all historical accounts are merely as.sumptions and can never be evidence, etc. etc. etc., then, o.k., you're correct. My life is based on as.sumptions.

      November 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      The validity of ancient accounts has to be taken VERY lightly. In present time, religious accounts are taken about as seriously as a rednecks always seeing an alien spaceship.

      November 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • The Truth

      "you should have understood that the "don't understand" remark was not merely referring to objective Bible knowledge"

      Oh, forgive me for not realizing you weren't talking about Truth but Truthiness, you know, the truth that you make up in your head loosely based on objective bible knowledge but has no actual basis in fact but just "feels" right to you. As I said, just like my 13 year old.

      And yes, thank goodness I grew up and decided to stop lying to myself and my congregation. Much like a doctor from the dark ages who can't understand why the sickness hasn't been cured so can only order another application of leeches, you continue to peddle your defunct and outdated religious mumbo jumbo and claim the problem is people just don't understand, not that your methods and message are archaic and false.

      November 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • sam

      "Bleeeeehhhhh, you can never understand, you don't know the secret handshaaaaaake!" LOL Whatever, VH.

      November 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @The Truth (right)...In your 30 years as a pastor you never saw lives transformed and changed? You never saw the promises of God fulfilled in your life and that of your congregation? You never saw healing when one would have believe no healing was possible? You never saw hope where there was no rational reason bu to despair? You never saw people reaching out to help others when all manner of reason demanded selfishness? You were a heck of pastor.

      November 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      Well since you seemed to have missed my last post (completely by accident I'm sure) here's a repost.

      @VanHagar

      Well what evidence have you seen and investigated? You ask what kind of evidence I would want, but what other kind of evidence is there other than empirical evidence that has been shown independentally verifiable and reliable to coming to an understanding of reality?

      November 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @Hawaii...actually, I didn't miss it...stepped away for a while and then I wanted to respond to our wayward pastor first. I think, to an extent, my answer too The Truth in some respects answers yours (at least to my satisfaction). I have seen, first hand, all of these things. These aren't "feelings" or "truthiness" as posited by The Truth–these represent actual people, actual things, actual events–sometimes this occurs in my own life. I take the historical record into account. I take the fact that science can not answer every question. And out of that–I acquire faith–that thing that requires belief when the truth can't be measured by science.

      November 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Ouch–lots of typos on my end!

      November 27, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      If you have verifiable evidence of miracles, where is the published works, the instructions on proper faith healing? These things matter to your claims. This is why skeptics don't take stating something as anything but assertions without evidence. You also cite faith, yet if you truly have evidence, then that excludes faith, so I'm having trouble understanding whether faith is needed or not from your statement.
      What historical record.
      Science is a methodology that grows in its understanding. The absence of an explanation does not mean "god done it" becomes viable all of a sudden. That's called an argument from ignorance.

      November 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Hawaii...where did I mention "miracles"? I wasn't taking about water into wine stuff. I have enough evidence to convince me that my faith is in something real...but I don't have (and what your obviously looking for) is something that, for lack of a better analogy, can be used in court. You want a picture, a spreadsheet, a statistical analysis–that's not faith. As I don't have that, as I don't have a photograph of God, as I've never stood toe to toe with him, as it were, there is certainly a missing element of proof–hence the faith.

      Moreover, I agree with you on the "god done it" argument–but only to an extent. At the end of the day, there are some things that science can not explain (now and never). I.e. the existence of God cannot be determined using the scientific method–hence the faith.

      You're looking for 100% evidence. No one can give that to you.

      November 27, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      Very well. If that's your stance, then I'll move on to my next set of questions.
      1) Is your god wholly just?
      2) Is belief and faith more important than actions?

      November 27, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Excellent questions. Is God wholly just? Yes. Is belief more important that actions? No. My faith teaches that one will not have salvation without faith: Good deeds do not get you into Heaven. But (and its a big one), faith without deeds is no faith at all. One cannot claim to believe God exists and then have no deeds to support it (the Book of James answers this much better than I can here). There is a difference, IMHO, between being saved (an act of faith) and being a Christian (which requires deeds)–Jesus preached what we are to do much more than what we are to believe–so did most of the writers of the New Testament).

      November 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      Ok. Before I respond, one more question.
      Can true repentance and conversion on the death bed lead to heaven?

      November 27, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • VanHagar

      If the Biblical account of the criminals being crucified with Christ serves as an example, then, yes, I believe a death bed conversion with true repentance can lead to salvation–but that does not mean that we don't have to make an accounting. Christian faith provides that such a "conversion" would be as one "passing through fire." In other words, I think (opinion only), that you get in, but God will have some choice words for you, so to speak.

      November 27, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Can I just compliment Hawaii and VanHagar? It's really nifty to see you two having a discussion about Christianity vs. Atheism in a logical form, rather than making comments like "Atheists are stupid!" or "Christians are delusional!"

      I'm enjoying watching it and seeing both points of view.

      November 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      Do you truly think that that is a just system? I could be one of the more compassionate or "christ-like" than anyone else alive right now, but if I don't believe then I burn forever, even if my "heart" is as pure as any others, it doesn't matter. In your system, belief is much more important than actions ever could be. True belief on the deathbed can make up for a lifetime of supposed sins and unbelief, but a lifetime of actions that are in line with your concept of good and a single second of wrong belief is enough to damn you for eternity.

      How do you reconcile this? How does this make sense in a supposedly just system and god?

      November 27, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Two words: Prodigal Son. By the way, you're playing the role of the ticked off brother in this little play.

      November 27, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Sorry, that wasn't a complete answer to your inquiry. As for the going to hell part...I don't have an answer for you. I didn't design the system... you'll have to take that up with God. All I can tell you is that you specifically have been told here that faith is required for salvation (IMHO). You, specifically, won't have any excuses if my theological interpretation is correct. (Yes, I know I've stepped into pascal territory here.)

      November 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      And now you're going to lose me. I don't care about a story in your holy book. I want to know how you reconcile the things I've said.

      November 27, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Testy? The story, a parable, has universal application. But I'll explan. God rejoices whenever any of his lost children returns to him. The brother in the story is indignant...complaining to the father that he should not accept the younger brother back and that instead he should reward the child who stayed. The father, having compassion on the older brother too, reminds him that he'll get his full reward for being faithful, but that his love for all of his children compels him to accept the prodigal son back. In other words...its not for you to fret over.

      November 27, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      And that in no way answers what I asked. It also in no way addresses the points that I made.

      November 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @Hawaii...sorry, got called away. You want me to explain why I believe God is just (using your example of a deathbed confession compared to a life of good deeds) but you don't want me to use the Bible to explain why I believe God is just. I'm afraid were at an standstill on this one. If you are only interested in a secular answer, then my answer is God is not just. But you've asked me to, essentially, explain the colors of a beautiful tropical sunset using nothing more than a black and white photo as my guide: That's not very helpful to someone wanting COMPELTE answers. If you want me to answer why i believe God is just, then you'll have to be interested the "stories of my holy book" as you describe it.

      November 28, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      Do you not understand that your story has absolutely no explanatory power? It doesn't address my points, end of story.

      November 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @Hawaii...you asked me to comment and reconcile the following: "True belief on the deathbed can make up for a lifetime of supposed sins and unbelief, but a lifetime of actions that are in line with your concept of good and a single second of wrong belief is enough to damn you for eternity." My ability to do that is based primarily within a Biblical context, but I'll do my best to answer, as incomplete as it will be, without referring to any particular scripture.

      My faith teaches that salvation is based exclusively on faith (can't say more without breaking your rule). God loves us enough that that simple act of faith is all that is needed–regardless of where we are in relation to reaching death. God loves good deeds, but God does not want people to come to him and say: "See, I was good, so let me in." He wants people to say: "See, I believed (and all that that implies and requires), so you said you'd let me in." This answer, I'm sure is an unsatisfactory to you as it is to me...because you've tied my hands on what you'll consider.

      November 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      You don't get the issue I'm having. You're giving a perfect example of my problem. In your god's system, stroking his ego is more important than living a good life. In your god's system, actions are to be taken just because he says so, so why would they matter? Believe and obey or burn for eternity is your system. This is not just, and it is immoral.

      November 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @Hawaii...Because you won't consider what I believe to be a full answer, your interpretation is just as limited as my response. I could certainly respond to the "ego stroking" and "immoral" charges, but not from a secular view point. (As i indicated above, taking scripture out of the analysis does, admittedly, result in a reasonable charge that God is unjust.) But, again, we are at a standstill because you have dictated that the debate take place using limited arguments.

      November 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      Because I don't subsribe to a view of subjective logic. If it can't make logical sense independent of the mindset of "god=good" and the only question is how you can spin in circles to make anything fit the basis, then I don't care. I care about reason, logic, and reality.

      November 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @Hawaii...your asking theological questions and demanding secular answers. Respectfully, if you're going to poison the well the debate has to end. (BTW, I hadn't planned on providing subjective logic...I can answer using Biblical positions that are logically consistent–I know you disagree (poisoned the well).)

      If you'd like to move on to another topic, I'm willing to continue the discussion, but I don't think there is anything either one of us can say about the current subject under the limitations required by you. If not, thanks for the debate.

      November 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      I poisoned nothing. I asked you a very specific question on how you reconcile something that I do not view as just, and you just plop out a parable like it's the most amazing thing ever. Then when I don't accept it, you go off on me excluding certain things and poisoning the well. At no point did I ever quote scripture, and I merely used your answers to questions. This is what you believe based on the answers you gave, although you may not like it when it's taken away from the feel good language that hides what it actually says.

      November 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @Hawaii...you limited the basis for the debate: ' I don't care about a story in your holy book." You used my answers to questions, as you say above, even though I told you the answers were limited because of your rules..change the rules and I'll change the answer. You can't have it both ways.

      November 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      Wow that was dishonest of you. I didn't say anything about not caring about a story in your holy book until you brought up an irrelevant story in your holy book after I asked my questions.
      Look back at this entire thread, did I at any point say you cannot use the bible at all? Or did I say that I don't care about a specific story you brought up because it doesn't answer my question at all?

      November 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Perhaps I misinterpreted you (although you could have said so many posts before hand). When you reference "your holy book," in the manner in which you did, I reasonably interpreted that to mean that you give absolutely no weight to its authority and therefore you won't consider any of it. But, if you say that's not the case, then I'll make another effort to answer your question..but it will have to be later today.

      November 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      As far as the "authority" of the bible, of course I don't accept that. What I've said is that I care about reason, logic, and reality. Logic is not subjective, and if something is logically sound in the bible (excluding a debate on the premise of god existing of course), then that's fine, but that's a big IF.

      November 28, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • VanHagar

      O.k., then I guess I need some clarification from you. "Love your neighbor" A logical statement or not? Perhaps that's not the right question. What is your take on the command: "Love your neighbor"? I don't want to debate an entirely new issue with you, I just want some perspective based on your last comment.

      November 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      In a general sense, it's fine. As an all encompasing thing, not so much. The clarification I would need is is it just a general statement or an all encompasing thing?

      November 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      I don't want to jump in on an obviously good debate. However, I may be able to help answer the question I think Hawaii is trying to ask.

      You have two choices. Believe in God or not.

      Essentially, the act of faith in God says to God that you wish to spend eternity with Him. If you do not want to spend eternity with Him, that's fine. Those are the two, very simplistic choices. Either spend eternity with God or do not. There is no try. :)

      The choice to not spend eternity with God is one you are allowed to make (i.e. free will.) However, the absence of God is the absence of hope. And the place where God is not is full of pain, suffering and anguish. But God never sent anyone there. He gave the option to them, and they made a choice.

      On a basic level, this is similar to when a child is in school. If I chose not to do my homework or study I would fail the course. That meant I had to go to summer school, which means I didn't get to hang out with my friends during the summer. Every choice has a consequence, and this is one of them.

      November 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Damian

      No I think you need to reread my posts, that's not the question I'm asking.

      November 28, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Lets start with the general question of whether God (a.ssuming he exists which you don't believe but I do, but nonetheless necessary to make this argument worthwhile) is just related to the topic of salvation at all. (I'll get to your specific death bed scenario in a second post). My response is that to be just, God must make it clear what he requires and that it not be difficult. In other words, not being clear and making it difficult to obtain salvation is the mark of an unjust god. Has he made it clear and easy? Applying Biblical standards–simply accepting Christ as your savior does it. Clear and simple.

      What about good people...shouldn't they get in? Define good. If it were a scale...more than bad gets you in...what is the point system? How many good deed erase a murder. How many lies keeps you out? All ambiguous and impossible to follow–every good deed, thought, action, intent (or bad deed, thought, action, intent) would have to be assigned a value and we'd have to be told what it was in advance in order for God to be just using my definition. So, I say, God is just because he doesn't use some undefined cosmic scale.

      If you have a different general definition, I'd be happy to respond. Your specific question requires a little more thought and I want to be thorough, so give me a little more time.

      November 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • VanHagar

      OOps.. that was meant to be "more good than bad" in first sentence, second paragraph. Sorry.

      November 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      You and I have very different definitions of what just is. I view something is just if it is fair to all people. And I view whether you believe in a specific thing and give worship to that thing as trumping actual actions and intent as unjust. Especially if you believe many of the other things attributed to that being such as making people a certain way, faith being required, etc.

      I'm going to be gone for about an hour so I probably wont reply to your response right away.

      November 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • VanHagar

      O.k., lets turn the table a little. Only for the sake of argument, If you did believe God existed...what do you think his plan for salvation (i.e. for the sake of argument only, going to Heaven, or something similar, upon death) should be? What would be fair to all people? Do you disagree, for instance, that it should be simple? Do you disagree, for instance, that it should be well defined? There really isn't any point in addressing your specific scenario until we can agree upon a definition. The definition I gave was not from the Bible–its my own so I'm open to a different definition.

      November 28, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • VanHagar

      DamianKnight–feel free to interject here if you have some thought on the definition.

      November 28, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      My definition would indeed be clear, but not simple, because I think that being truly good for the right reasons and the right intent is not simple, and I understand that.

      This next part would redifine the afterlife to what I would find more just.
      To me, eternal punishment would not exist, punishment yes, but not eternal. The reason for this is because no human can continue to do horrible things for all eternity, we are mortal beings, and eternal punishment for a finitie thing is not a just thing. Nor would any kind of afterlife be permanent, since I would assume that free will cannot be messed with, and all choices, whether made on earth or in an afterlife, needs consequences to be considered just.

      Now, in terms of salvation.
      For one, belief in a specific concept of god should not be in any way a requirement. Next, it should be made very clear that actions that cause the least harm to other people is always prefferable, and no matter how right you think you are, that harm to another should be foremost in the mind when it comes to actions. Next, doing good things for the express purpose of being afraid of an afterlife is a completely empty gesture (and I would assume that the concept of god you're talking about is able to determine our innermost thoughts and intent within actions). True remorse should be required when harm is caused (as I think is inevitable at some point), but I wholly disagree with the thought of reparations to a god should trump reparations to the people harmed.

      Now I'm just getting this by thinking about it a little, and I know that I can't come up with everything within it so quickly, but I think this is a fairly good framework to begin with, and I would expect a truly just and all-knowing being to be able to come up with missing areas.

      November 28, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • John

      VanHagar = Atheist Hunter

      November 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • nope

      VanHagar = fred

      November 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @ John and Nope...wrong on both accounts...VanHagar=VanHagar–its the only one I use. But thanks for playing.

      @Hawaii...thoughtful response. Let me chew on it. I'll respond later today.

      November 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • nope

      ".VanHagar=VanHagar–its the only one I use. But thanks for playing."

      Funny Russ, Chad and fred have respond the exact same way. BUSTED.

      November 28, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      You stated: "You and I have very different definitions of what just is. I view something is just if it is fair to all people. And I view whether you believe in a specific thing and give worship to that thing as trumping actual actions and intent as unjust. Especially if you believe many of the other things attributed to that being such as making people a certain way, faith being required, etc."

      Ok, here we have to come into the Bible a bit. First off, God is no respecter of persons. Everyone is equal. Acts 10:34-35 lays this out: "Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right."

      The problem is, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." There are no "good people." There are only people. You notice no matter what race, religion, creed, value or culture there is, all have committed atrocities? There is no righteous nation? Because all people have wicked desires and some act out on them. The difference becomes the repetant and the unrepetant. Isaiah 64:6 states this quite clearly: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away" The reason for Jesus is the fact that there had to be sacrifice to wash away those sins. This is God's way and if you ask me to explain why, I cannot. This is just the way of the universe, as it were.

      Paul specifically states in Ephesians 2:8-9: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast."

      It comes down to not being self-reliant. You can't earn your way into Heaven. It has to be a gift that is received. You don't have to do anything to get in, you just have to accept it. And it is a gift extended to everyone (John 3:16). That sounds like the most fair and just you can get. No one is better or worse than anyone else, but salvation is available to everyone who wants it and there is no price tag.

      November 28, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @Nope...so denying that I'm someone else is evidence that I'm someone else? I see, its the early American witch testing paradigm. I'm not Russ. I'm not Chad. I'm not Fred. Can't put it more clearly than that.

      November 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @John and nope

      I'm actually really enjoying this conversation, so don't ruin this. Even if it is (and VanHagar, I'm in no way saying I think you are) fred, etc. it doesn't matter, because the content is what is important.

      November 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Damian

      Ok, a quick question so I can clarify your position on something.
      In genesis, when god makes man in his own image, exactly what does that mean to you?

      November 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Hawaii,

      My belief is that God creating man in His own image is this:

      God is made up of three parts: Father, Son and Holy Spirit
      Man is made up of three parts: Body (the physical form), Soul (the parts of imagination, intelligence, creativity, etc) and Spirit (the spiritual side that communes with God)

      November 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Damian

      Ok, so then was mankind created to be on equal footing with god in anything?

      November 28, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Define "equal footing"

      November 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Damian

      It's exactly as it sounds.

      November 28, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      If your question is, "Are we at all equal to God?" The answer is no.

      November 28, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Damian

      My question is more "When god created us in his image, did that mean we were meant to be equal to him in any respect.

      November 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Considering no one knows every aspect of God, that question is impossible to answer. I would need you to be more specific.

      November 28, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Damian

      I don't really know how I can make it clearer. I'm opening it up to literally anything. Were humans created with the capacity to be equal to god in anything?

      November 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      I understand the question. I said it's an impossible answer, akin to "How fast does blue go?" It can't be answered. No one knows everything about God. Therefore, to answer if there are any aspect to which we are equal, I would have to know every aspect. Since I do not, nor does any Christian, it remains an impossible question to answer.

      November 28, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Damian

      Hmm, I will have to find a way to retain the crux of my question but put it better I think. I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully you'll still be here, and the same to VanHagar. I'm actually really enjoying this discussion.

      November 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Sorry for the extended absence...work and family were the priority.

      Hawaii...when I asked you to set up a definition of "just" it didn't occur to me until this morning that you were given an advantage I don't have...you can define "just" anyway you wanted and then say that a god has to fit that definition. I don't have that luxury. I have to determine whether the God I believe exists is just based upon what I believe He actually is and does. So while you say that a just god would make the pat the salvation clear, but not necessarily simple (and because you don't have an eternal hell in your hypothetical), I don't disagree that that is a definition of a just god. But because I believe there is eternal separation from God for those that don't believe, a truly just god must make it simple–and open to everyone at anytime they are alive because the consequences are too drastic.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • VanHagar

      sorry...should have read ..."the path to salvation" (end of fourth line down)

      November 29, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • VanHagar

      Re-reading my post, I see that the obvious question is why does God have such a drastic consequence in the first place–that that alone may be evidence of an unjust God. Truthfully, I don't have an answer for that question. It may be that separation from God is some eternal fire, or it could be nothing more than true separation from God, or something entirely different. Not to pass the buck, but its His universe and His rules...you'll have to ask Him. I would then refer you to Damian's post earlier...Hell is not God's choice for us (He'd rather we accept Him) but rather, its our choice.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      If belief in him is so important to avoiding that eternal punishment, then it makes no sense for faith to be a requirement when certain people are predisposed to more logical mindsets. That would not make it simple for those people, and would in fact favor those people god supposedly made predisposed to more emotional mindsets. This is still not a just system to me, and I'm not entirely sure why you think it is just. Even within your own paradigm, there are better ways to do things.

      November 29, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @Hawaii...being "predisposed to more logical mindsets"? In other words, your response to God (assuming his existence) was that you are just too damn smart to believe in him? I don't mean to be trite here, but that seems to be your response. Assuming He exists, I think you'll find He has very little tolerance for that response when, at least for those of us who have faith, the only logical response is that He does exist. We're so far apart on this issue that we're simply going to have to agree to disagree. (I'm not ending the debate, mind you, I just think that the issue of whether God is just is an issue upon which you and will have no reconciliation.)

      November 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      I'm not saying that at all. Logic does not automatically mean intelligent. Intelligence is measured by the retention of information, and logic is a process of thinking through problems and claims. Two very different things. I've met people who are very intelligent but lack logical thought often, and I've met people who are very good at logical thought, but not very intelligent.

      November 29, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Hawaii...I appreciated the debate, but I think we're at a standstill (and I'll let you have the last post if you want it). Besides, I see that we've been relegated to the "older posts" section anyway. Perhaps will pick this up on another thread soon.

      Thanks.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @VanHagar

      Maybe it will. It was a good discussion though, thanks for that.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.