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Why Christians need Flannery O'Connor
In her "Prayer Journal," Flannery O'Connor says of sin, "You can never finish eating it nor ever digest it. It has to be vomited," but, she immediately concludes, "perhaps that is too literary a statement; this mustn't get insincere."
December 15th, 2013
06:53 AM ET

Why Christians need Flannery O'Connor

Opinion by Russell D. Moore, special to CNN

(CNN) - On my Christmas list of gifts to buy my evangelical friends, there's a little book of prayers.

This is less predictable than it may seem, since the prayers aren't from a celebrity evangelical preacher, but from a morbid, quirky Catholic who spent her short life with pet peacocks and wooden-leg-stealing Bible salesman stories.

But I think Flannery O'Connor's newly published "Prayer Journal" is exactly what Christians need, maybe especially at Christmas.

The book, recently discovered in the writer's papers in Georgia and now published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, reproduces the handwritten notebook prayers scribbled down by O'Connor during her years as a student at the University of Iowa.

The prayers are jarring because they are so personal and raw, clearly not written to "edify the saints" in a published manuscript. They are, well, just prayers.

Part of the rawness and authenticity of the prayers come with the way O'Connor refuses to sentimentalize her personal relationship with Jesus (thought it's clear she has one). She is here constantly aware of her own fallenness and of the seeming silence of the God to whom she pours out these little notes.

O'Connor notes that her attention is "fugitive" in prayer. She confesses that hell seems more "feasible" in her mind than heaven because, "I can fancy the tortures of the damned but I cannot imagine the disembodied souls hanging in a crystal for all eternity praising God."

She is constantly second-guessing whether her prayers for success as a writer are egocentric, or a genuine striving to use the gifts God has given her.

Moreover, O'Connor is constantly aware that she is a sinner, and she can't get around that. Perhaps the most widely publicized sentence in the book is her confession that she "proved myself a glutton, for Scotch oatmeal cookies and erotic thought. There's nothing left to say of me."

Even when she's confessing sin, she seems aware of her sinfulness in doing that. She says of sin, "You can never finish eating it nor ever digest it. It has to be vomited," but, she immediately concludes, "perhaps that is too literary a statement; this mustn't get insincere."

O'Connor's prayers are hardly "inspirational," in the sense that many American Christians want: a model of the "victorious Christian life" where "prayer changes things" and we've got "joy, joy, joy, down in our hearts, to stay." That's why we need them.

American evangelicalism, my own tradition, rightly emphasizes the biblical truth that the gospel is good news, that our sins are forgiven in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We rightly emphasize that the believer now has a personal connection to God, accessible in prayer through the priesthood of Jesus himself.

But sometimes we forget how hard that is in this time between the times.

Some of our worship services are so clean and antiseptic, led by grinning preachers and praise bands, talking about how happy Jesus makes us, that we forget that the Spirit prompts us to "groan" at our sin and the suffering all around us (Romans 8:22-23). This is especially true at Christmas, with so many evangelicals forgoing the dark longing of Advent to go straight to the tinsel-decked rejoicing of Christmas.

Some Christians, then, can wonder if something's wrong with them when they feel as though God seems distant, or when, despite all the smiles at church, they still feel guilty for the way their hearts don't seem to match up with their hymns.

But the good news isn't that we are all put together. The good news is that though we're wrecked and fallen and freakish, Jesus loves us anyway and has made peace for us with God and with each other. That's not something we always feel. We see it by faith.

O'Connor, elsewhere in her letters, writes of what it means to agonize over one's sin, to wonder "if your confessions have been adequate and if you are compounding sin on sin." She concludes that this agony "drives some folks nuts and some folks to the Baptists," while noting, "I feel sure that it will drive me nuts and not to the Baptists."

Those of us who were "driven to the Baptists" can benefit from a book of prayers that remind us that the Christian life is exactly what Jesus promised it would be - the carrying of a cross.

We can be reminded in prayers such as these to remind ourselves that between now and resurrection we will never be, in ourselves, anything other than sinners. That's why we need a Christ.

It's only when we grapple with the darkness of a fallen cosmos, only when we're honest about the fact that all our efforts look more like Herod's throne than Bethlehem's stable, that we can sing "Joy to the World." Flannery O'Connor wasn't an evangelical Protestant, but we need her.

We need her, especially perhaps, as we pray for peace on earth, goodwill to men, for Christmas in a Christ-haunted world.

Russell D. Moore is President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention’s official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns. The views expressed in this column belong to Moore alone. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Baptist • Belief • Bible • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Christmas • evangelicals • Faith • Holidays • Prayer

soundoff (1,505 Responses)
  1. Dyslexic doG

    Dear God, almighty, all-powerful, all-loving creator of the universe, we pray to you to cure every case of cancer on this planet tonight. We pray in faith, knowing you will bless us as you describe in Matthew 7:7, Matthew 17:20, Matthew 21:21, Mark 11:24, John 14:12-14, Matthew 18:19 and James 5:15-16. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

    December 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Woody

      D d, while you're praying for the cancer cure, how about throwing in world peace. People have been praying for world peace since before they knew the world was actually a sphere, and not one single prayer has ever been answered.

      December 16, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  2. Dyslexic doG

    a book on how to talk to imaginary friends. oh yes, JUST what I need for Christmas.

    what a joke!

    December 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  3. Archibald Smythe-Pennington, III

    Ormandy took much liberty with the string parts in Waltz of the Flowers (@2:30) in this 1973 recording. In any even, I approve! See if you can tell what he did.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6347rIAtW0&w=640&h=360]

    December 16, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  4. Child of God

    Christians don't need flannary, we have everything we need in Christ Jesus.

    December 16, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • bostontola

      You don't need your family?

      December 16, 2013 at 11:36 am |
      • Child of God

        Not necessarily, Jesus provides all and my family is a gift from him. I love my family but we all die alone.

        December 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          your family is a gift? what, like some kind of property thing? did they have any say in being this thing awarded to you by jesus?

          December 16, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  5. palintwit

    Sarah Palin said recently that the thing she hated most about doing laundry was trying to get the fecal stains out of her shirts.

    December 16, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  6. bostontola

    This holiday season I am grateful for most of the religions.

    I believe the spells they have cast on people over the centuries have had a net positive impact on humanity. Yes there have been terrible acts of aggression in their names right up to the present time, but there is also many individual and group acts of kindness and generosity.

    In the longer view, beliefs in more powerful beings have probably had a role in the domestication of our species, enabling us to ultimately live in large cities where great accomplishments have been made.

    So this holiday season I extend my thanks to the imaginary gods in peoples' minds and the religions they spawned, and my best wishes to all.

    December 16, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I don't think the ends justifed the means.

      December 16, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • bostontola

        That's cool BatC, have a great holiday.

        December 16, 2013 at 11:37 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I hope you do as well

          Happy Holidays

          December 16, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Saraswati

      Agreed. Religious thinking evolved universally because of its benefits in ensuring survival of the species. Some of the cruder elements may no longer be necessary, but simplifications of reality and imposed meaning will continue to drive civilization. We would not be where we are without the history, though like everything these has always been room for improvement in the stories we told oursleves.

      December 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
      • bostontola

        It is amazing that so many gods were created all around the world, with so many different and beautiful creation myths. It is a compelling argument that it was beneficial.

        Have a great holiday Saraswati.

        December 16, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
      • WASP

        @sara: me personally, i think humans would have avoided a lot of those horrible things had all religion been put aside as mythology a few thousand years ago.

        WW2 may have been avoided seeing there wouldn't have been such a thing as a jewish person.
        the crusades never would have happened seeing no religion would exsist to spread by the point of a sword.
        humans wouldn't have needed to seperate ourselves into smaller groups had there not been religion.

        so yeah i think things would have been a lot better.

        December 16, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • bostontola

          WASP,
          Humans have killed, and gone to war for many reasons. It seems the underlying cause is wealth and power. Religion, politics, etc. are tools to gain that wealth and power. If religion had been gone 5000 years ago we would certainly have a different history, but I doubt it would be any less violent.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
        • WASP

          @bos: maybe, maybe not.

          most of our more violent population exterminating events would have been avoided, like say.......the extermination of every native occupant of the carribbean islands.
          the attempted extermination of my own native ancestory.
          quite a few events in history were driven by religion mainly, yes power and money were their goals however religion was used to say "this is ok.....................because"
          without religion backing certain movements and the understanding that all humans are genetically built equal, why not trade instead of conquer? no reason not to. 🙂

          December 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • Saraswati

          WASP, a few thousand years ago most cultures didn't even have legal systems, let alone the shared literature and culture to provide secular morals. Certainly the various religions had many, many big problems, but in the face of very short lives, almost universal illness and poverty and the lack of other reliable methods of regulating behavior they were pretty much the only thing giving people unity, hope and escape from misery.

          By WW2 religion was already receding. It didn't matter: Hitler was very clear that the persecution of the Jews was about race, not religion.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
        • bostontola

          WASP,
          We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I think it is in man's nature to compete for resources and power. If religion had disappeared at some point, the justification would have changed but the end result would have been roughly the same. Ironically, I also believe that it is religion that has gone a long way to tame humans, and some day your dream of trade over war could happen.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
      • Saraswati

        You have a great holiday to bostonola...as many and various of them as you can.

        December 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
        • bostontola

          Roger that Saraswati.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  7. lunchbreaker

    I say we inst itue an unofficial rule on the blog. We'll call it "The Hitler Rule", which states that if your argument is so we weak you have to envoke a comparison to Hitler, you lose. Whose with me?

    December 16, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Sandy

      Similar to Godwin's? I'm in.

      December 16, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Robert Brown

      That sounds reasonable, I'm in too.

      December 16, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Limit free speech?
      Fascist!
      (/sarcasm)

      December 16, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • igaftr

      Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

      There are many, many lessons to be learned from all of the issues surrounding Hitler.
      I do agree that some use the arguments in weak lame ways, but not all.

      December 16, 2013 at 11:44 am |
      • Sandy

        Who is forgetting Hitler's deeds?
        I believe lunch breaker was referring to people with such poor debate skills that invoking Hitler's name inappropriately is somehow QED. It's not.

        December 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
        • igaftr

          Frst , I qualified the statement that some do use the subject in inappropriate ways, and second, you are not using QED properly. It basically means that something has to be demonstrated , like at the end of a thesis, that still needs to be tested.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Just because an argument is boring doesn't make it invalid. Flat out rejecting a comparision to Hitler with this sort of rule could just as equally be viewed as an act of laziness. If you think a comparrision invalid, argue it.

      December 16, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      My comment was meant to be takin somewhat jokingly. My wife and I have a standing agreement that we never make comparisons to Hitler that don't actually include genocide. But more so a pet peeve of mine is when people make the argument:

      Hitler was A, therefore Whatever A's believe is false.

      December 16, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Answer

      Which of the following (lines of) comparisons would disqualify a person in an argument?

      1) "You're getting famous, really fast, on here. You're a regular Hitler in training!"

      or

      2) "You're getting famous, really fast, on here. You must be a follower of that famous Nazi leader!"

      December 16, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  8. Autumn

    I've not heard of this woman before. I'm a christian and my heart hurts for unbelievers. No matter what you all think, the truth of Jesus Christ will be revealed in the end. I'm a different person since conversion and if more could feel the peace and change I have, the world would be a better place.

    December 16, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Just about every convert to any religion says the same thing.

      December 16, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • sam stone

      autumn: no need to feel sorry for us. we can only believe what we find believable

      as far as jesus' truth, it is no less an opinion than those who disbelieve

      December 16, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I have far more inner peace now that I rejected christianity

      December 16, 2013 at 11:23 am |
      • G to the T

        Here, here.

        December 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • doobzz

      Interesting. I had exactly the opposite thing happen. As a xtian, I always felt bad, unloved and miserable. Once I realized that there is no big bad sky fairy stalking me, ready to slap me down for any little thing, I felt like a huge burden was off my shoulders. I've felt more peace in the last five years than I ever did in the fifty I spent as a believer.

      December 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • WASP

      @autumn: hmmmm don't let it hurt your heart. prove "jesus/god/holy ghost"

      it's simple, even an archaic person did it in front of 400 non-believers...............well just leave out the ki11ing at the end please.

      1 KINGS VERSES 30-40

      when you can summon your god to show himself like elijah did, we may be inclined to believe you.
      however if you can not then either:
      1) you aren't worthy of god showing itself, unlike all the folks in that book of yours.
      2) it's all in your head. lmao

      December 16, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  9. oo oo

    Y not criticize Hitler?

    December 16, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • oo oo

      Athies say he was a christian. Odd, they never criticize him, do they topher?

      December 16, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  10. oo oo

    Hitler was a wonderful christian.

    December 16, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Hitler Hated Christianity

      “Christianity is the worst of the regressions that mankind can ever have undergone, and it’s the Jew who, thanks to this diabolic invention, has thrown him back fifteen centuries.” Adolph Hitler

      December 16, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Topher

      Hitler said …
      “Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.”
      “Christianity is the worst of the regressions that mankind can ever have undergone.”
      “The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity.”

      December 16, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @oo oo – Same old tired trolling

      December 16, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • cedar rapids

      "I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.."
      'We demand liberty for all religious denominations in the State, so far as they are not a danger to it and do not militate against the morality and moral sense of the German race. The Party, as such, stands for positive Christianity'
      'My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited. '
      'In the Bible we find the text, 'That which is neither hot nor cold will I spew out of my mouth.' This utterance of the great Nazarene has kept its profound validity until the present day. '
      'It will at any rate be my supreme task to see to it that in the newly awakened NSDAP, the adherents of both Confessions can live peacefully together side by side in order that they may take their stand in the common fight against the power which is the mortal foe of any true Christianity. '
      'We are a people of different faiths, but we are one. Which faith conquers the other is not the question; rather, the question is whether Christianity stands or falls.... We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity... in fact our movement is Christian. We are filled with a desire for Catholics and Protestants to discover one another in the deep distress of our own people. '
      'It will take Christianity, as the basis of our collective morality, and the family as the nucleus of our Volk and state, under its firm protection....May God Almighty take our work into his grace, give true form to our will, bless our insight, and endow us with the trust of our Volk.'
      'That strength the Almighty has given us to use; that in it and through it we may wage the battle of our life.... The others in the past years have not had the blessing of the Almighty– of Him Who in the last resort, whatever man may do, holds in His hands the final decision. Lord God, let us never hesitate or play the coward, let us never forget the duty which we have taken upon us.... We are all proud that through God's powerful aid we have become once more true Germans. '
      'The National Government regard the two Christian Confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality. They will respect the agreements concluded between them and the federal States. Their rights are not to be infringed.... It will be the Government's care to maintain honest co-operation between Church and State; the struggle against materialistic views and for a real national community is just as much in the interest of the German nation as in that of the welfare of our Christian faith. The Government of the Reich, who regard Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation, attach the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See and are endeavouring to develop them.'
      'The Catholic Church considered the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years, put them in ghettos, etc, because it recognized the Jews for what they were".... I recognize the representatives of this race as pestilent for the state and for the church and perhaps I am thereby doing Christianity a great service by pushing them out of schools and public functions.'
      'The fact that the Vatican is concluding a treaty with the new Germany means the acknowledgement of the National Socialist state by the Catholic Church. This treaty shows the whole world clearly and unequivocally that the assertion that National Socialism [Nazism] is hostile to religion is a lie.'
      'We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out'
      'National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary it stands on the ground of a real Christianity.... For their interests cannot fail to coincide with ours alike in our fight against the symptoms of degeneracy in the world of to-day, in our fight against a Bolshevist culture, against atheistic movement, against criminality, and in our struggle for a consciousness of a community in our national life... These are not anti-Christian, these are Christian principles!'
      'Providence has caused me to be Catholic'
      'If positive Christianity means love of one's neighbour, i.e. the tending of the sick, the clothing of the poor, the feeding of the hungry, the giving of drink to those who are thirsty, then it is we who are the more positive Christians.'
      'God the Almighty has made our nation. By defending its existence we are defending His work....
      Only He can relieve me of this duty Who called me to it. It was in the hand of Providence to snuff me out by the bomb that exploded only one and a half meters from me on July 20, and thus to terminate my life's work. That the Almighty protected me on that day I consider a renewed affirmation of the task entrusted to me....'

      December 16, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  11. guest

    It is no wonder that O’Connor, “…cannot imagine the disembodied souls hanging in a crystal for all eternity praising God." It is not biblical, for that matter, neither is the never ending, “…tortures of the damned…”
    Clearly, O’Conner wants a relationship with Christ, but unfortunately, she, like so many others, focuses on the negatives of the Bible and not the positive love of God. O’Conner, I believe, has not accepted the forgiveness of God through Christ.
    There is a story of a man with a heavy sack hanging on his shoulder walking along a road; a neighbor comes along with a horse and wagon and offers the man a ride which he accepts. After a while the neighbor notices the man still has the heavy load on his shoulder and asks him why he doesn’t set it down, The man replies, “Oh, I wouldn’t want the horse to work any harder pulling the load.”
    That is the way some Christians are, they can’t accept the idea that Christ has taken away [forgiven] their sins and they are no longer burdened with them.

    December 16, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      There is no such thing as 'sin.'

      It is also a ridiculous god that creates your sin, then creates a bastard child to sacrifice, to absolve you of the sins 'He' created in the first place... what a silly useless god...

      December 16, 2013 at 10:12 am |
      • guest

        1John 3:4 "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness."
        So what do you call sin?

        December 16, 2013 at 10:38 am |
        • doobzz

          A lie told by men to control people.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
        • guest

          @ Lucifer’s evil twin: No matter how you look at it, sin is breaking the law; whatever law. If you ran a ‘red light’ you just sinned.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          'No matter how you look at it, sin is breaking the law; whatever law. If you ran a ‘red light’ you just sinned.'

          No, they broke the law. The idea of sin is a religious concept, not legal one.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • doobzz

          What if I just think about running a red light? Is that a sin? Because looking at a pretty girl and feeling aroused is a sin, right? Lust in the heart? Envying my neighbors new car is a sin, right? Coveting and all?

          December 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
        • Peter

          Guest, it is not against the law for me to worship false idols, but it would be a sin, and therefore you are wrong.

          December 16, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  12. lunchbreaker

    Hypothetically speaking, if someone was stranded on a deserted island with no Bible, where could they seek spiritual guidence from?

    December 16, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • AE

      God.

      December 16, 2013 at 9:54 am |
      • lunchbreaker

        So I could find spiritual answers through divine revelation? Why do we need the Bible to begin with?

        December 16, 2013 at 10:23 am |
        • AE

          If it doesn't help you, don't read it.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Pele...

      December 16, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • tallulah13

      They would probably pray to whatever god, if any, that they already believed in. If they were smart, they'd do their praying while finding potable water, shelter and food.

      December 16, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  13. Science Works

    The funky origin story Topher Catholics use to have one – but they teach and understand evolution.

    It is the biblical stand on marriage and procreation that the RCC pushes that is a destructive force on humanity.

    December 16, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Topher

      What parts are destructive? And how so?

      December 16, 2013 at 10:00 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        @Topher
        Overpopulation is a serious problem.
        The biblical commandment to be fruitful and multiply is no longer good advice.
        Any organism left to breed unchecked (ie: without predation) will eventually be poisoned by its own effluence.
        Humanity is well on its way to that end.

        December 16, 2013 at 10:04 am |
        • Topher

          I'd argue that the "be fruitful and multiply" command is not for us today.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:07 am |
        • Saraswati

          Yes, you would think a responsible god would have shown up a while back to say "Nicely done...thank you! Time to move one."

          December 16, 2013 at 10:08 am |
        • WASP

          @CHRIS-topher: "be fruitful and multiply"

          i don't see anywhere in the book where he said to stop. lol

          December 16, 2013 at 10:10 am |
      • Science Works

        The condom is and the idea that this company can cuase tax payers money for BS

        Doctor James Dobson, broadcaster and founder of Focus on the Family, has filed a lawsuit challenging a mandate in the Affordable Care Act that would require his company Family Talk to provide health coverage that would offer birth control such as the morning after pill.

        December 16, 2013 at 10:08 am |
        • Topher

          Science Works

          "The condom is and the idea that this company can cuase tax payers money for BS"

          How are condoms Biblical?

          " ... provide health coverage that would offer birth control such as the morning after pill."

          That's because it would murder a child.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • Ernie

          Me thinks when Topher puts the Bible on his brain too hard, lots of children are murdered (in his pants).

          December 16, 2013 at 10:22 am |
        • Science Works

          The RCC makes them biblical Topher for their stance on them ! CONDOMS that is.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Topher

          Science Works

          "The RCC makes them biblical Topher for their stance on them ! CONDOMS that is."

          NO! Just because they have a stance on something doesn't make it Biblical. In fact, calling something Biblical when it is not indeed taught in the Bible is one of the many reasons Catholics are outside of orthodoxy.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:47 am |
        • Science Works

          What ever topher they should be giving them away at there hospitals !

          December 16, 2013 at 10:52 am |
        • Science Works

          *their*

          December 16, 2013 at 10:54 am |
        • Topher

          Why should they?

          December 16, 2013 at 10:55 am |
        • Science Works

          Really Topher

          Prevents ?

          December 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |
        • Science Works

          Se-x Education ?

          December 16, 2013 at 11:06 am |
        • Topher

          Prevention of what? Disease? Abstinence works better. Children? Same thing. Though here's where I'll start to disagree with the RCC ...

          December 16, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • Science Works

          Wow stay away bad stuff – if you are not going to have a child ?

          December 16, 2013 at 11:12 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Topher, So if your employer were a Jehovah's Witness, you'd find it acceptable that the healthcare could exclude any procedure that involved blood transfusion?

          December 16, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • Topher

          Where you work is optional. If you don't like the way they run things, don't work for them. They have freedom of religion ... even if they're wrong. 😉

          December 16, 2013 at 11:19 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Topher, The point was – why should your employer make decisions about your healthcare. And I'm not sure how practical it is at an interview to discover whether the company has an official religion.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:36 am |
        • Topher

          In Santa we trust

          "Topher, The point was – why should your employer make decisions about your healthcare."

          Because they are providing it. You always have the option to get a different policy on your own. And of course now there's ObamaCare, though that's going to cost you a lot more. But it all comes down to what you stand for. For instance, I hold that abortion is murder, and I as your employer say, here, we'll give you this option, it's a bad testimony about me. It doesn't make any sense. You're not going to be able to trust me, for one. And of course it matters what God thinks of me, too.

          "And I'm not sure how practical it is at an interview to discover whether the company has an official religion."

          In this day and age you can find out that kind of thing online. Who doesn't know Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A are Christian organizations?

          December 16, 2013 at 11:44 am |
        • Science Works

          Topher then the ACLU gets involved.

          ACLU Sues, Claiming Catholic Hospitals Put Women At Risk

          npr.org

          December 16, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
        • Topher

          The ridiculousness of the ACLU aside ... how do Catholic hospitals put women at risk?

          December 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
        • Saraswati

          "Where you work is optional. If you don't like the way they run things, don't work for them. They have freedom of religion ... even if they're wrong. "

          This is delusional. You live in a small town with one major employer that uses your skills. Your father just developed Alzheimer's and lives next door. Your company is bought by a Christian scientist and cuts all healthcare benefits. Sure...you're free to work elsewhere. I could name 50 other scenarios. There are people who've been out of work for a couple of years. Your idea of how the world works is so far from reality it's scary. Of course if you are in the majority or the cuts are small, like birth control, you may not care. But what's opened up is nightmare. Businesses act in the economy and benefit from the system all of us create. They are a part of the system and have to play by the rules.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
        • Topher

          True, those are some tough situations. And require some tough decisions. But those "rules" include freedom of religion. The government is not supposed to infringe on that. You can't complain if you apply for a job at Hobby Lobby when you know their stance of not paying for certain forms of birth control or for paying for an abortion and then you want some of those things. If you want them, there's other providers.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • Science Works

          topher

          The ACLU and the ACLU of Michigan have filed suit in federal court in Michigan charging that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops forces hospitals to deliver what amounts to substandard medical care.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
        • Topher

          Not providing free condoms is substandard medical care? They really want to make that argument? Or is there a different reason? Perhaps the ACLU just has an axe to grind with religion.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
        • Saraswati

          Topher, you ignore real issues by ignoring the tough questions I posed. You can't just put them aside – that's sticking your head in the sand.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
        • Saraswati

          Hobby Lobby is a trivial example that suits your own needs. The same logic would allow any company to impose it's own policies that you couldn't have any medical care at all, or Joe pharmacist to refuse to treat people whose morals he didn't like or to distribute any drugs tested on animals. It would allow a hospital, perhaps the only one in town, to suddenly decide to stop treating cancer because it is a message from God. It would allow all the renters in town to decide not to rent to black people because their religion prohibited mixing.

          You want to live in a world with easy answers and you are reinventing reality to suit your own need for simplicity. But real people are getting hurt in the meantime because you want to believe it's easy. Well it's not. The world is hard and complicated and living with your head in the sand isn't helping anyone but you.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
        • igaftr

          The case for Hobby Lobby and religious freedom is moot. Hobby Lobby is business...with no religion. It is the PEOPLE that have religious views, so no freedom of religion is in play, since it is a business.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
        • Science Works

          Topher

          You might not want to go to one if your wife has complications !

          http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/12/02/248243411/aclu-sues-u-s-bishops-says-catholic-hospital-rules-put-women-at-risk

          December 16, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
        • Topher

          Saraswati

          "Hobby Lobby is a trivial example that suits your own needs."

          I don't see how it's trivial. But it does suit my needs. There's lots of court stuff going on with them right now because the government is infringing on religious beliefs.

          "The same logic would allow any company to impose it's own policies that you couldn't have any medical care at all, or Joe pharmacist to refuse to treat people whose morals he didn't like or to distribute any drugs tested on animals."

          Well, I'm pretty sure pharmacists do have the right not to sell certain things they feel are morally wrong. And a company should be able to set its own policies. We're not communists or under some dictator. This is America.

          "It would allow a hospital, perhaps the only one in town, to suddenly decide to stop treating cancer because it is a message from God. It would allow all the renters in town to decide not to rent to black people because their religion prohibited mixing."

          Straw men.

          "You want to live in a world with easy answers and you are reinventing reality to suit your own need for simplicity."

          Following God provides answers — the right ones every time. Want to freely have se.x? Get a disease and die. Want to party and get drunk? You'll get behind the wheel and kill someone.

          "But real people are getting hurt in the meantime because you want to believe it's easy. Well it's not. The world is hard and complicated and living with your head in the sand isn't helping anyone but you."

          I never said anything was easy. Life is hard. But the only ones with their heads in the sand is those who claim to be atheists. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good." Psalms 14. You have been given the Creation and a conscience to know there is a God and the Bible says because of these things you will have no excuse.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
        • Peter

          OR you could use birth control and avoid any diseases, and then drink and party and call a cab so that you don't drive drunk.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
        • Saraswati

          Topher,

          What you are referring to as "straw men" are things that only don't happen because we have legislation preventing it. These very things have happened in the past and still occur in some parts of the world. What you are talking about is special exceptions to the very policies that have prevented such horrible things from happening in the US over the last 50 years. You have made a decision not to see this.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Sure. Following God's word means you're never, ever wrong.
          "The first proposition, that the sun is the centre and does not revolve about the earth, is foolish, absurd, false in theology, and heretical, because expressly contrary to Holy Scripture – the second proposition, that the earth is not the centre but revolves about the sun, is absurd, false in philosophy, and, from a theological point of view at least, opposed to the true faith."

          Eppur si muove.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
        • Doris

          OH goodness. Strawmen, straw anything is in the theist department. Maybe if they can finally settle on the number of stables Solomon had, they could stop saving up that stuff.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
        • Topher

          Doris

          Really? The number of stables Solomon had is what keeps you from believing?

          December 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
        • Doris

          lol – oh that's the least of it, Topher. Let me know if we find something that one of the 500 wrote down somewhere – i'd be interested in taking a look at it.

          December 16, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Topher

      If they understood it they wouldn't teach it. Besides, correct me if I'm wrong, Catholics, the church doesn't have an official stance on evolution ... it's something taught on a church by church basis.

      December 16, 2013 at 10:02 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        @Topher
        In 1950, Pope Puis XII wrote in his encyclical "Humani Generis" that evolution doesn't contradict scripture so long as the scientific theory stays mute on where the soul comes from and how man is endowed with one.
        50 years later, John Paul II said "new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory."

        December 16, 2013 at 10:10 am |
        • Saraswati

          Yes, the church is more or less evolution leaning, but it isn't an official position. One problem is that they still officially support the existence of a real Adam and Eve.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:44 am |
      • Topher

        But are either of those things official doctrine? Not saying they aren't, I just don't know. I don't think they are.

        December 16, 2013 at 10:14 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          But even if they were official, the pope never has, nor does he have now the authority to dictate doctrine. Only scripture can do that. And scripture is clear on the issue of evolution. (Romans 1:18-32)

          December 16, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Larry
          That passage is about apostacy, not evolution.
          That being said, I'll play along and put it in the context of religion and science.
          "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made."
          It seems to me that the Bible is calling for a close examiniation of the natural world and its mechanisms.
          The world doesn't work how we want it to work. The world is. We can only describe it, and chronicle its workings.
          The quest to understand the complexity and grandeur of life's development is therefore a greater attestation to the glory of the Creator than dogmatic acceptance of Genesis as literal truth.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Check out verse 25... Essentially, the evolutionist has (whether he intends to or not) made a god of nature. Essentially giving to nature the qualities found only in God alone – that is, Creator and Sustainer.

          Actually, evolution, whether cosmic or biological, cannot be a theory of ultimate origins of existence or order, precisely because its operation presupposes the existence of certain enti.ties with specific potential behaviors and an environment of some specific kind that operates upon those enti.ties in some specifically ordered fashion.

          Furthermore, Big Bang mysticism, although seems to fill the place of God for the atheist, for it posits that out of nothing, something comes – it is a fallacy, since it cannot be shown that something actually CAN come from nothing. And if the atheist then posits that it rather came from "next to nothing," then they do nothing to further their cause, because they still have to explain where that "next to nothing" came from. In essence, they are back at square one.

          If the Big Bang mystic wishes to say that it is the physical explanation for the origin of our universe, then they have shot themselves in the foot because all physical enti.ties derive their existence from some condition that was fully in existence before it. If the Big Bang idea posits that "out of nothing, everything came," then they are ALSO positing a supernatural reason for the universe's existence.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:50 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @LoA
          You are conflating observation with idolatry.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:57 am |
      • Saraswati

        I don't believe the Catholic churches teach things on a "church by church" basis. This is a centralized religion. When it has no position it is simply that. The priests teach that there is not a position.

        December 16, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  14. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    My first LET-ism of the day...

    "The highest form of ignorance... is one dumbass Christian telling another dumbass Christian that they are not really Christian... because (insert whatever dumbass thing they believe differentiates them from each other)…"

    December 16, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  15. lol??

    The little children didn't like to play wedding feast, so what's left? Playin' funeral, theirs.

    December 16, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • psych ward staff

      Put the keyboard away and finish your applesauce. It had better be gone when I get back in there. Also, please stop yelling. Yes all the bedpans in this ward look alike – that doesn't mean they are "socies".

      December 16, 2013 at 9:38 am |
  16. Brian

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXoJoHvho5M&w=640&h=360]

    December 16, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Brian

      God rest you merry, gentlemen,
      Let nothing you dismay,
      For Jesus Christ our SaviourWas born upon this day,
      To save us all from Satan's power
      When we were gone astray:
      O tidings of comfort and joy,comfort and joy,
      O tidings of comfort and joy.

      2. From God our heavenly Father
      A blessed angel came,
      And unto certain shepherds
      Brought tidings of the same,
      How that in Bethlehem was born
      The Son of God by name:
      O tidings ...

      3. The shepherds at those tidings
      Rejoiced much in mind,
      And left their flocks a-feeding
      In tempest, storm and wind,
      And went to Bethlehem straightway,
      This blessed Babe to find:
      O tidings ...

      4. But when to Bethlehem they came,
      Whereat this Infant lay,
      They found Him in a manger,
      Where oxen feed on hay;
      His mother Mary kneeling,
      Unto the Lord did pray:
      O tidings ...

      5. Now to the Lord sing praises,
      All you within this place,
      And with true love and brotherhood
      Each other now embrace;
      This holy tide of Christmas
      All other doth deface:
      O tidings ...

      December 16, 2013 at 9:23 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        God rest ye, gerry mentalmen
        Let nothing you dismay
        Remember that your suit and tie propels you far away
        From all the teeming masses that you strive to lead astray

        Oh! Tidings of greed and no remorse
        And no remorse
        Oh! Tiding of greed and no remorse

        God rest ye gerry mentalmen
        The modern age is here
        Perhaps for us you'd best adopt a tolerant veneer
        For ignorance and prejudice
        Are synonymns for fear

        Oh! Tidings of greed and no remorse
        And no remorse
        Oh! Tidings of greed and no remorse

        December 16, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Billy

      Just what the BB needs – mall Xmas music.

      December 16, 2013 at 9:33 am |
      • Topher

        Shh! Don't call it "Christmas music." (sarcasm)

        December 16, 2013 at 9:41 am |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          It should more appropriately be called Theftmas, in honor of all of the pagan traditions the Christians have purloined...

          December 16, 2013 at 9:55 am |
        • Topher

          Such as?

          December 16, 2013 at 9:57 am |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          @Topher – Seriously? Oh, I don't know... how about Dec 25 (Winter Solstice/ not the birth of your Jesus), Yule logs, Yule trees, Mistletoe, and Winter Solstice Carols to name a few

          December 16, 2013 at 10:07 am |
        • AE

          Not "steal". Maybe "aligned" or "shared" would be a better term. Not all Christians celebrate Christmas the same way anyway.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:08 am |
        • AE

          -Dec 25 (Winter Solstice/ not the birth of your Jesus),
          Not Biblical. Not the Winter Solstice (the date changes each year). Not all Christians OBSERVE his birth on that day.

          – Yule logs, Yule trees, Mistletoe, and Winter Solstice Carols to name a few
          Different Christians have different traditions. Celebrate an Asian or African Christmas... no yule logs, tree, mistletoe or "Winter Solstice" carols. It is ok to keep certain identifications of your culture and heritage when you convert to a different belief system.

          AND most American Christians admit they kept some of their ancestors traditions. It is not something to hide or use to discredit someone.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          I am Germanic... 'stolen' is an appropriate term...

          December 16, 2013 at 10:19 am |
        • AE

          I'm from Germanic descent. We've shared our customs and traditions with other people. Others appreciate them. You don't steal a custom or tradition. You are free to celebrate how you want to today.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:26 am |
        • AE

          Some Eastern Orthodox German churches celebrate Christmas on January 6th, like was traditionally done in Germany.

          http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa120100a.htm

          December 16, 2013 at 10:30 am |
        • Saraswati

          Agreed with AE. All traditions and customs are in one way or another derived from other pre-existing traditions. That's how human culture works. In the same way modern English would be "stolen" from middle English. Using these terms in this way devalues their meaning in a true legal context.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:31 am |
        • Saraswati

          The autumnal equinox lines up pretty well with the most likely birth dates. But we really need more holidays in the depth of winter (sorry southern hemisphere).

          December 16, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  17. Topher

    I'm confused. Why is a Southern Baptist buying his evangelical friends a book by a Catholic? He does realize the two have different theologies, right? What am I missing?

    December 16, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Doris

      Good morning, Topher – and thank you for supporting my point below with Larry.

      December 16, 2013 at 9:06 am |
      • Topher

        Good morning.

        You do realize this is not a case of "Christian v. Christian", right? Catholics are not Christian. They are Catholic.

        December 16, 2013 at 9:10 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          This is like saying "Fords are not cars they are Fords", you never fail to entertain Topher.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:14 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Topher
          She described you to a tee "wrecked and fallen and freakish". Take a bow.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:26 am |
        • Topher

          Not a fair analogy at all.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:28 am |
        • Science Works

          Yes Topher you are confused about the way geology lets us live with nature.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:31 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          There are christians who don't think you are christian, are they right?

          Neither are you.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:33 am |
        • Topher

          How does geology have anything to do with this conversation?

          December 16, 2013 at 9:36 am |
        • Topher

          Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "There are christians who don't think you are christian, are they right?"

          Which Christians don't think I'm a Christian?

          December 16, 2013 at 9:37 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          One can argue that the monolithic enti'ty that is the RCC doesn't reflect these ideals, but the trappings of the Vatican structure and a business enterprise and city-state aren't relevant to a discussion of ideology.
          Paul defines what a Christian is in The Epistle to the Philippians.
          A Christian is to worship "in the spirrit", as opposed to the flesh. The RCC demonstrated their dedication to this precept by requring their Priests to take vows of poverty and celibacy, thus renouncing things fo the flesh. There is, in fact, a heavy emphasis on self-denial in Catholic theology.
          The second thing required of a Christian is to put glory in Christ. "I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." The Catechism of the Catholic faith's core precept is that one must accept the divinity of Christ on faith alone, which is pretty much the anti-thesis of knowledge. The RCC is pretty big on dogmatic precepts.
          Finally, a true Christian has "no confidence in the flesh" – basically, an acceptance that any soul inhabiting a meat machine is inherently flawed and always prone to sinful thoughts and behaviour. Again, this concept is well defined in Catholic theology and is regularly reinforced to the sheep by means of rituals that remind them of the need for constant admission of guilt and atonement for sin.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:47 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Topher
          So how many Christians are there in the world, in your scholarly opinion?

          December 16, 2013 at 10:01 am |
        • Topher

          Do you mean how many who call themselves Christian, or how many actually meet the Biblical standard?

          December 16, 2013 at 10:19 am |
        • Prize Coordinator

          A certain someone has almost clenched today's prize for the Fundy Method of Inquiry & Verification. I wonder who it could be . . . . .

          December 16, 2013 at 10:24 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Topher
          Why do you always answer a question with a question? In your OPINION, quit splitting hairs.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:25 am |
        • Topher

          Since there's a huge difference in the two, I think it's wise to ask the question so we are on the same page. For instance, in this country, the vast majority call themselves Christian. But to be truthful, most of that is "cultural" Christianity. Not only do most of those not meet the Biblical standard for Christian, but they don't even know what the Gospel says. So we really do need to distinguish between those who simply claim it and those that are saved and will go to heaven.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:36 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Topher
          I guess I shouldn't expect a reply to the biblical reasoning I gave for why Catholics are indeed Christian...

          December 16, 2013 at 10:40 am |
        • Topher

          Doc

          None of that makes you Christian.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          What does Paul the Apostle know about what makes a Christian anyways, right?

          December 16, 2013 at 10:47 am |
        • Saraswati

          Topher, What makes one a Christian?

          December 16, 2013 at 10:47 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Topher
          You bobbed and weaved again. How many of what YOU define as Christians are there in the world, not those who claim to be Christian?

          December 16, 2013 at 10:48 am |
        • Topher

          Saraswati

          "Topher, What makes one a Christian?"

          Repentance and faith.

          Charm Quark

          "How many of what YOU define as Christians are there in the world, not those who claim to be Christian?"

          Impossible to know. But I'm sure the numbers are quite low in comparison to the population. For instance, in this country, I've seen it argued that something like 90 percent claim to be Christian (and I've also seen as low as 70 percent.) But it's probably around 15 percent that are actually saved (but to be clear, I don't remember the sources for these numbers.)

          December 16, 2013 at 10:59 am |
        • Peter

          Topher that is a strange response considering what Paul said is in the Bible and you take the bible literally.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Topher
          Repentance and faith makes someone a Christian, really? I have no concept of sin in the Christian sense, therefore no need of repentance and I have faith in the mankind advancing through knowledge and the imagination of the mind (where gods were created, BTW). Damn, I could call myself a Christian also, but no thanks.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:08 am |
        • Topher

          I don't disagree with Paul. That's what he said.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • Doris

          goto TOP

          December 16, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Lawrence of Arabia

      I think what the author is highlighting is the life of a person who is struggling within their sanctification. Whether she is a true Christian or not only God can tell, but one thing is for certain, if she was a Christian, it wasn't because of her Catholicism, it was in spite of it.

      December 16, 2013 at 9:09 am |
      • Topher

        Fair point. But I'm not sure it's a wise gift. What if I gave my family members a book written by JW? One, they might confuse what they teach with what is Biblical doctrine. Two, they might think I agree with them. Bad testimony, I think. And dangerous.

        December 16, 2013 at 9:13 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Good point. We can't be seen as endorsing a system that has corrupted truth.
          Perhaps a gift of Jonathan Edwards' 70 Resolutions would be a finer gift, then?

          December 16, 2013 at 9:15 am |
        • Doris

          (It's too early in the day for me for popcorn, so some cinnamon buns and homemade espresso will have to do.)

          December 16, 2013 at 9:16 am |
        • igaftr

          Have you read those 70 resolutions?
          He might as well have said "every day, i will continue to drive the god delusion home, with anything I can reconcile into belief."
          It is nothing but a way to continue to avoid seeking knowledge, and re-affirm what you BELIEVE is knowledge. Those resolutions are just the way to feel comfortable in your own self made shackles.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:34 am |
        • Topher

          Not sure anyone in my family is ready for that book ... however if you're looking for gift ideas for me ... 😉

          December 16, 2013 at 9:54 am |
        • WASP

          @topher: 50 shades of grey, for the woman in your life.

          careful you may end up with another offspring though. lmao 🙂

          December 16, 2013 at 10:04 am |
        • Saraswati

          Topher,

          If you think, for exqmple, Thích Nhất Hạnh had some good things to say about compassion but aren't a Buddhist you hand over the book and say "I thought you might enjoy this author's discourse on compassion. I also found the descriptions of the Buddhist worldview interesting, though I don't agree with most of it." You stick a book mark in the part you thought the recipient would like.

          This is prety standard etiquerte..perhaps your family are unusually simple? I give books as gifts that I don't wholy agree with all the time. Is the only book you ever give anyone the Bible or are there other authors you think are always 100% accurate?

          December 16, 2013 at 10:04 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Sara
          You probably remember that our Topher handed out religious pamphlets and DVDs to children on Halloween and he doesn't think he is freakish.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • Saraswati

          Oh, wow. That is just scary. Nevermind.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:20 am |
        • Topher

          I usually don't give books as gifts. No author is 100 percent accurate but God. And I'd only give someone the Bible if I thought they'd read it.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:23 am |
        • Saraswati

          Topher, do you read any books other than the Bible?

          December 16, 2013 at 10:27 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Handed out religious propaganda for Halloween?
          That's worse than dentists that give out toothbrushes!
          KIDS – "Trick or treat!"
          TOPHER – "Here you go, ya little heathens."
          KIDS – "Hey... this isn't candy, mister!"
          TOPHER – "The Word of God is sweeter than any candy, children. Remember to tell your parents that they're leading you down the path to eternal damnation by letting you dress up as demons!"
          KIDS – "We'll be back to egg your house later, mister."

          December 16, 2013 at 10:31 am |
        • Topher

          Saraswati

          "Topher, do you read any books other than the Bible?"

          Of course. My favorite fiction book is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But as I'm getting older, I find that the books I read outside of the Bible are getting to be mostly books about God.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:39 am |
        • Topher

          Doc

          Those kids that got tracts and dvds for Halloween also got candy. Not only did I not get egged, but they were quite excited to see all the stuff they got. Kids are far less judgmental.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:41 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Topher
          Out of curiosity, is the content of those DVDs available online at all, like on YouTube or some such...
          I'm interested to see what exactly you were distributing...

          December 16, 2013 at 10:46 am |
        • Topher

          Doc

          I don't THINK it's on YouTube. I'm sure there's some clips, though. The dvd is called "The Biggest Question." I'm sure you'll find plenty if you search for it.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:52 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Topher
          I couldn't have got away with handing out any kind of political or religious propaganda at Halloween.
          My neighbouhood is over half Hindu with the other 50% split between Buddhist, Christian and irreligious.
          Every once in a while, the local Watchtower society drops some pamplets or a copy of "Awake!" in the local mailboxes, but the Mormons figured out some time ago that the folk around here don't pay even the slightest attention to prosthelytizing.
          Part of living in the most ethnically diverse city in the world is accepting that your neighbours probably have an ideology different than yours.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:55 am |
        • Topher

          Doc

          I don't know where you live, but here you can pass out anything you want. Especially when they come on your property asking for it. If you wanted to pass out pro-ObamaCare stuff (or whatever your thing is) it would be fine. Luckily we live in a country with free speech, freedom of religion and really a freedom to hold a vocal stance on anything you want.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Topher
          I live in Toronto, Canada.
          This summer as I played chaperone to all the kids playing in my townhouse complex's back yard area, an 8 year old girl whose family had just arrived from Pakistan told me in her broken english how they left their home country becuase her uncle was shot and killed in front of his home. Her parents later told me that sort of thing was pretty common in the Muslim vs. Hindu battles over there.
          So It isn't that it would be illegal for me to hand out propaganda – it just wouldn't make me very popular with my neighbours.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:55 am |
        • Saraswati

          Topher, Certainly people can legal hand out (almost) anything they want, but if everybody did then Halloween would get cancelled pretty fast. Imagine people handing out racist literature and bomb making instructionsand directions to parties and vulgar music? You are just playing special and getting away with it because it's easiest for most people to smile and be polite and not come back next year.

          Of course kids are more open to religious stuff. They are more open to monsters in the closet and Santa too. Being open is only a val uable asset w hen you have some selectivity in your openness.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • Saraswati

          Topher, please read what Doc wrote and really think about it. Receiving religious literature on Halloween is much more likely to turn people off your religion and disrupt a happy celebration that to convert anyone. If you want to hand out literature why not deliver it to people's homes yourself. If you don't like HallowEen just turn out your lights and don't put out pumpkins like everyone else.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
        • Topher

          Saraswati

          "Receiving religious literature on Halloween is much more likely to turn people off your religion and disrupt a happy celebration that to convert anyone."

          Why should it turn people off my religion? The kiddos still got candy. But they also got to learn about God. Even if after reading the tracts or watching the dvd they decided to reject Christianity ... at least they rejected it based on knowledge. Most people don't even go that far.

          "If you want to hand out literature why not deliver it to people's homes yourself."

          Oh, I have. And I've been active at local events doing similar things. I could spout out numbers, but it would only sound like bragging and that's not my intention. The fact is, no one bothered to tell me the Gospel until I was nearly 30. And that includes 10 years of being a false convert. If I had died in that time I'd be in hell right now. So preaching the Gospel is a passion of mine besides something commanded by Christ.

          If you don't like HallowEen just turn out your lights and don't put out pumpkins like everyone else.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
        • Topher

          Sorry ... missed this one ...

          "If you don't like HallowEen just turn out your lights and don't put out pumpkins like everyone else."

          I LOVE Halloween. Always have.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • Saraswati

          Topher,

          It will put people off your religion because most people are well aware of what would happen if everyone gave out propaganda at Halloween...the holiday would soon end. Additionally, parents generally choose to educate their children themselves, so those who see you do this will be annoyed at your presumptuousness and are likely to express annoyance in front of the kids. Those who see it when their kids get home will express the same annoyance, and again the kids will pick up on it. You are going to be labeled the fanatic who would be willing to ruin Halloween to get his own opinion to other people's kids. If you think something else is happening you either live in a very uniform community where everyone attends your church or you've deluded yourself to the point that you don't understand how people actually feel about having others impose their view. Halloween is a shared holiday you choose to engage in. Think of it as attending a church. If people of other religions walked into your church and handed out propaganda for their religion how would you like it? By participating in the completely voluntary Halloween ritual you have agreed to play by the rules. If you don't you are just being a self-centered and annoying guy who is poorly representing his own religion and putting people off.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
        • igaftr

          Topher
          "they rejected it based on knowledge"

          False. They can reject it based on LACK of knowledge, since all you have is opinion...nothing verifiable, nor corroborated.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • Madtown

          The kiddos still got candy. But they also got to learn about God
          ----–
          Your preferred version of God. "God" doesn't necessarily equal the christian version, the christian narrative. There are others equally relevant.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          I took a look at the content of the DVD you handed out.
          Who can doubt the theological credentials of Kirk "Crocoduck" Cameron?

          December 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
        • Topher

          I don't. You might not have thought the crocoduck joke was funny, but you'd be foolish in saying Kirk doesn't know his theology.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
      • Doris

        (But please carry on by all means.)

        December 16, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Take in all the information you can – you inevitably will process it through glasses tinted with your own ideology anyways. If you fear the way in which another person's ideas challenge your own, you must not be very secure in your worldview.
      Differences in ceremony and opinion over mythological minutiae shouldn't keep you from reading, considering and perhaps even appreciating the spiritual journeys of other people.

      December 16, 2013 at 9:27 am |
      • midwest rail

        "...shouldn't keep you from reading, considering and perhaps even appreciating the spiritual journeys of other people. "
        Exactly. Don't expect a reply that makes any sense, though. You can bet any replies will demonstrate the three prime characteristics of contemporary evangelical Christianity.

        December 16, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • sam stone

      based on your posts, topher, i think you are sorely missing critical thinking skills

      but you can snivel with the best of them, so your god is happy

      December 16, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  18. Derek

    "Some of our worship services are so clean and antiseptic, led by grinning preachers and praise bands, talking about how happy Jesus makes us, that we forget that the Spirit prompts us to "groan" at our sin and the suffering all around us (Romans 8:22-23)."

    While this may be true to a certain degree, the "grinning" praise bands are there to uplift the spirits, there maybe a few in the service that are downcast, by belting melancholia it does not help to cheer the mood. The most important point about worship is that- worship is not about the individual it's all about God, it's not about sinfulness, it's about recognizing the awesomeness of God.The 'groaning' at sins is done quietly during a private devotional.
    Agree with the underlying truth in this article.

    December 16, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • lol??

      Reasonable acceptable service occurs durin' the week. Sundays are feast days. Break out the wine for the family reunion. Moochers, stay away.

      December 16, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  19. Lawrence of Arabia

    Great article. Our Christian walk isn't the sterile, Norman Rockwell scene that some would have you believe. It's more like a prize fight. We get our noses bloodied and ribs cracked on a daily basis, and most of the time it is of our own doing. Sanctification is a lifelong process, and although we'll never reach perfection in this life, our goal is to become more and more Christlike ever day.

    Philippians 3:12-16 – Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this att.itude; and if in anything you have a different att.itude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

    “Within myself, there is a love which loves the good, and there is a love which loves the evil, but the best thing that I can say about myself is that I hate the love which loves the evil.” – Augustine (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430)

    December 16, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • Tim

      Did you also realize that O'Connor is a devout Christian and was catholic.

      Praise God for men and women of strong faith!!!

      December 16, 2013 at 9:00 am |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        Just a blanket statement that I am sure is going to draw ire, but if someone is a Christian, it isn't because of their Catholicism, it is in spite of it.

        December 16, 2013 at 9:02 am |
        • Tim

          It doesn't matter whether you are Catholic or Baptist or Lutheran, all that matters is, accepting the plan of salvation offered by the savior, Jesus Christ.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:11 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Tim,
          True. I only mean that a proper Christology is important. There are many religions who use the same terms, but apply non-biblical definitions to them. Catholicism is one, Jehovah's Witness, and Mormons are others.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Science Works

      Hi L of A

      And according to 60 Minutes/NSA the keys to the Kingdom are in whose hands ?

      December 16, 2013 at 9:01 am |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        I'm not sure what thei opinions are on the matter, but according to Matthew 16:19, Christians can authoritatively declare what is acceptable to God or forbidden by Him because they have His Word. Christians do not determine what is right or wrong, forgiven or unforgiven. Rather, on the basis of God’s own Word, they recognize and proclaim what God has already determined to be right or wrong, forgiven or unforgiven. When they judge on the basis of God’s Word, they can be certain their judgment corresponds with the judgment of heaven.

        December 16, 2013 at 9:04 am |
        • Science Works

          The bible has more holes in it than NSA !

          So there is no keys there.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:11 am |
        • igaftr

          Too bad no one knows if there are any gods and what "gods word" is. It is certainly NOT the bible, since it is obvious the bible is created by men and has flaws throughout. Unless of course your god is that flawed that he "inspired" the amazing flawed work that is the bible.

          It is people like you who actually believe that the bible has anything to do with a deity that are the most dangerous to all of humanity.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:15 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Science Works,
          You say that because I answered your question?

          December 16, 2013 at 9:20 am |
        • Science Works

          L of A

          In your mind only !

          December 16, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Doris

      Ah yes, the self-love/hate relationship of Christianity – always at war with itself as much as others.
      Over 40,000 sects of insanity, each thinking they take the prize for accurately defining evil and good.

      "If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England." –Ben Franklin while in London in a letter to the London Packet, 3 June, 1772

      December 16, 2013 at 9:05 am |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        Truth by it's very nature is divisive. That's not a bad thing, because it weeds out error. The entire Protestant Reformation was intended to pull out the weeds of corruption that had crept into the true gospel. The measuring rod for truth is the word of God, and it is on that standard that we draw the dividing line between truth and error.

        Catholicism has planted many seeds of error into the pure gospel, and by this they have created a system of religion that prevents men from being saved...

        December 16, 2013 at 9:13 am |
        • tallulah13

          So how does the creation of 40,000 sects of the same belief equate to weeding out error?

          December 16, 2013 at 9:27 am |
        • Doris

          Pure gospel? LOL. Please, Larry.. you're making my sides hurt. The problem is, Larry, since you can't demonstrate any truth objectively, all we are left with is you and the next Christian each "weeding" based on his own opinion. (Not to mention how difficult the evolution of the Bible made such attempts.)

          On January 24, 2013, the traveling exhibition Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible opened at the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University.

          The keynote talk for the opening: "What Kind of a Text is the King James Bible? Manuscripts, Translation, and the Legacy of the KJV" was presented by Dr. Bart Ehrman, an agnostic.

          [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehnEZtqj2Mo&w=640&h=360]

          Dr. Ehrman, author of over 25 books including three college text books, received his PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary (magna cum laude). He is currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

          Dr. Erhman just concluded an all-day seminar entitled "The Other Gospels: Accounts of Jesus Outside the New Testament" which was held Dec. 7 at Smithsonian Institution's S. Dillon Ripley Center on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:27 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Doris,
          You keep posting this video... I don't agree with everything that Ehrman has ever said, but this video is pretty much spot on. So??? He didn't say anything that a first year Textual Criticism student doesn't know already... It's elementary.

          The KJV is based on later manuscripts that has some scribal notations that the translators inadvertently included as inspired text. There's also some issues related to local color, but nothing, I repeat NOTHING in the KJV changes the message.

          Since earlier manuscripts have more recently come to light, we have better translations that weed out some of those issues with the KJV, that cam from the Tyndale translation. But like I said, there's no heresy in the KJV, it's just not as precise.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:42 am |
        • WASP

          @LOA: well on your last post, there is just too much to comment on.

          how is an "inspired text" mistranslated? especially when the thing inspiring it, is suppose to be perfect?

          2)"I repeat NOTHING in the KJV changes the message."
          so why so many different groups, that read the same book yet arrive at a different "picture" of what the creator wants?
          i grew up southern baptist, quit going after the preacher started using verses to tell me that it was wrong to have black friends because they bare the "mark of cain"

          3) "it's just not as precise."
          sooooooo in other words, it's flawed and should be thrown out and burned...........glad we agree.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:58 am |
        • Doris

          Larry: "I repeat NOTHING in the KJV changes the message. "

          Message? What message? You of course mean your opinion of the words printed there in English. Even if you can read the other languages – no matter. Until you demonstrate some alleged "truth" from your god objectively – guess what? – all you have is your interpretation, your opinion on text by mostly unknown authors of millennia past. And while you might be amongst a group with similar interpretation, the differences across the over 40,000 sects make it quite obvious that the foundation upon which Christianity is built is a very wobbly one. But I'd like to learn something new today. Give me the names and some writings of some of the 500 alleged witnesses....

          December 16, 2013 at 9:59 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Doris,
          So, using your logic, since there are some people who believe in evolution, and others who do not, and many who disagree about the mechanisms that may or may not be involved in the process, that means that evolution isn't true.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:05 am |
        • Saraswati

          Lawrence,

          Doris is talking about within group variations while you are discussing cross-group disagreements...the two are different subject. Additionally, there are claims inherent to Christianity about the intended message of the bible and the powers of the Christian god which make the variations within the group particularly suspect.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • Madtown

          Truth by it's very nature is divisive.
          ----
          Upside down. Truth is 100% inclusive, "true" for everyone. This is reason #1 why christianity does not represent universal truth.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:14 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Saraswati,
          Which is why it is wise never to attach ones self with a group for the group's sake. The group itself could be wrong. Fortuantely there is a standard. The canon of the Bible weeds out error. I don't know of any issues that a plain reading of the text cannot solve. Problems arise when people read the Bible with an agenda.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:19 am |
        • Saraswati

          Lawrence, agenda isn't required to skew interpretation, just existing bias, which we all have. I don't mean this in a negative sense, except that we all have existing conceplts, beliefs and thought patterns. Your error is in assuming that you do not and that you therefore are free from influential boas in reading the bible, even as you recognize the vast majority as tainted.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:25 am |
        • Prize Coordinator

          I don't know. It's neck and neck between Larry and Topher today – we may have to award two prizes for the Fundy Method of Inquiry and Verification.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Charm Quark

      LofA
      So you agree with the darkness of a fallen cosmos (fallen from what??); that you are anything other than a sinner and that you are wrecked and fallen and freakish, good for you. Then why do you come across as a pompous arrogant ass? You should have very little self esteem, rightly so, if you believe such nonsense. I on the other hand that do not believe in "Sin" do not have to see myself as some desp!cable person that needs saving by a myth. Put down your bible and walk away, you really don't need it.

      December 16, 2013 at 9:20 am |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        "Then why do you come across as a pompous arrogant ass?"
        ---------
        What you think of me is really none of my business.
        And as for pomposity... If we were in a desert, and I told you where I knew that you could find water, would I be pompous? The problem is that we live in a post-modern world where truth is personal, not universal, so people have a really hard time when you tell them that they are wrong about anything. Truth isn't found in one's opinions. Everyone has a right to their own opinions of course, but no one has the authority to make their opinions into truth. Truth is truth, and it is outside of man, not within him.

        December 16, 2013 at 9:26 am |
        • Charm Quark

          LofA
          And of course you are the purveyor of the TRUTH, a pompous and arrogant ass that is the only one that can be right. I rest my case.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:34 am |
        • tallulah13

          Your 'water' is merely a story about water, Larry, and your 'truth' is merely a story that you have chosen to believe. Your 'truth' is nothing more than your opinion (and the opinion of the group of which you have chosen to be a member).

          December 16, 2013 at 9:38 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Tallulah 13,
          Well, you're enti.tled to your opinion.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:45 am |
        • WASP

          @LOA: "so people have a really hard time when you tell them that they are wrong about anything. Truth isn't found in one's opinions."

          i couldn't have said it better myself; if you can show me where that watering hole is then i will believe you, yet if you point and say walk while asking me to "take it on faith".............i would bury you in that sand up to your neck and leave you there. 🙂

          next, proof is something that can be shone, and a book with words doesn't equate "proof". it only proves that the book is real, not what it has inside it.
          however unlike religious text, science books can have their words tested as they are quiet often done to varify what it said is correct.

          i can show you through science how no god is required for this or any universe; yet you would find a way to "turn a blind eye" to factual evidence.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:49 am |
        • tallulah13

          Yes I am allowed my opinions, Larry, and you are, too. But when you call something truth, you are held to a higher standard. You are claiming that your god is the one that exists and claiming that your version of belief in that god is the correct version, despite the thousands of other gods and the thousands of sects within your own belief. And still you offer no proof of any of you claims. That is why your actions can't be called anything other than arrogant.

          December 16, 2013 at 9:54 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Tallulah 13
          "You are claiming that your god is the one that exists and claiming that your version of belief in that god is the correct version, despite the thousands of other gods and the thousands of sects"
          ---------–
          It would be quite long to post here in this forum, but get the book "Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message" by Ravi Zacharius. This will be a good starting point if you're really curious.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:09 am |
        • WASP

          WAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAHA! LARRY-BABY DON'T WANT TO PLAY WITH ME. 😦

          XD

          December 16, 2013 at 10:18 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          WASP,
          I've posted this before but...
          To bridge the gap between atheism and theism, one must first realize that the universe does not simply consist of the physical realm alone. The supernatural exists.

          Position:
          Only the supernatural can explain the existence of the natural
          Proof:
          1. The physical universe exists
          2. Nothing can be self-created – that is a paradox
          3. Every physical ent.ity (natural enti.ty) is contingent
          4. Contingent enti.ties are not eternal
          5. Since contingency exists, then a causal chain exists
          6. Infinite causal chains do not and cannot exist – they are a paradox
          7. Since a finite causal chain exists, then a Prime Mover / First Cause exists
          8. The Prime Mover / First Cause cannot be contingent (see #6)
          9. Since the Prime Mover / First Cause is not contingent, it is self-existing
          10. A self-existing (not self-created) ent.ity is supernatural

          December 16, 2013 at 10:25 am |
        • igaftr

          LoA
          You have posted this before, many times, and each time the flawed logic and false premises are bloiwn out of the water. This proof is false.

          Why do you keep posting this...it is proof of only one thing...the lengths that someone will go to to try to justify unjustifiable beliefs in the "supernatural".

          December 16, 2013 at 10:37 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          igaftr,
          I post this because in order to prove this logic false, one would have to show an example of a physical ent.ity that is not dependant on anything else for its own existence.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:38 am |
        • igaftr

          No LoA
          Your premises are false so all you have is...well...nothing.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:46 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          A premise is only false when proven false. The argument proves the premise.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:47 am |
        • Saraswati

          Lawrence,
          That's not even how you write a proof. Unless you write it properly (look it up) no one with any sense is going to waste their time guessing what your premises and conclusions are. I'm pretty sure you are confused about the possibilities for both time and multiverses, but with that mess standing in for a proof I wouldn't know where to start.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:53 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          SaraswatI,
          I'm not interested in writing a formal argument. I merely wrote down the logical and necessary steps to support the position. I don't know how to write a formal argument. Who cares? This isn't college, and no one is being graded.

          If you don't like the argument, then show me one non-contingent physical ent.ity.

          December 16, 2013 at 10:59 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Is this the right room for an argument?

          [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y&w=640&h=360]

          December 16, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • tallulah13

          You've recommended that book before, Larry, but the work of an apologist preaching to the choir is neither compelling nor convincing. What I am interested in is fact. Does this book provide irrefutable proof that your god exists? If not, it is little more than a treatise on why Batman is better than Superman.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Tallulah 13,
          "irrefutable proof that your god exists?"
          --------–
          I suppose then that you have an example of a physical ent.ity that is non-contingent? If not, then yes, there's your proof.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • igaftr

          "2. Nothing can be self-created – that is a paradox
          3. Every physical ent.ity (natural enti.ty) is contingent
          4. Contingent enti.ties are not eternal
          5. Since contingency exists, then a causal chain exists
          6. Infinite causal chains do not and cannot exist – they are a paradox
          7. Since a finite causal chain exists, then a Prime Mover / First Cause exists
          8. The Prime Mover / First Cause cannot be contingent (see #6)
          9. Since the Prime Mover / First Cause is not contingent, it is self-existing
          10. A self-existing (not self-created) ent.ity is supernatural

          Start with #2...Nogomain created HIMSELF from nothing, and then created everything.
          You claim nothing can be self-created...explain the paradox.
          It may be possible for something to "create" itself, when you consider that there never really is nothing, and you are not taaking into account the other dimensions....something could exist outside of our perceived dimensions and then move into our dimensions.
          #3 Every physical ent!ty is contingent.....explain contingent on what...which laws of physics are you invoking, and remember that at the Big Bang, the known laws of physics do not work...we still do not know the exact cause /effect.
          #4 Contingent ent!ties are not eternal.....explain....your idea of eternal likely does not match what we know of the time dimension.
          #5 based on #3 being correct....explain, and then define what you mean by a causal chain.
          #6 contingent on #3....and on and on.

          You make many leaps with no clear understanding of the physics involved...also you work does not take into account the infinite other possibilities.
          It is nothing but a flawed treatise on belief in a deity.

          Also , you do understand that if something exists, it is natural, so only things that do NOT EXIST, can be supernatural...by definition.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:28 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          igaftr,
          "It is demonstrably absurd that there should be a self-sufficient physical universe, if by that we mean an all-inclusive totality of enti.ties and events of the familiar or scientific physical variety, unless we are prepared to treat the universe itself as having an essentially different type of being from the physical:—which then just concedes the point of the existence of the supernatural."
          -Dallas Willard

          December 16, 2013 at 11:32 am |
        • igaftr

          LoA
          More opinion, hence moot.

          December 16, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • WASP

          @LOA: "Position:
          Only the supernatural can explain the existence of the natural"

          huh? ok the very definition of supernatural means it CAN NOT be explained.

          ok just to explain how the universe was "created".................it wasn't. LMFAO

          the universe has always been here.
          EXPLAINATION:
          protons,nuetrons,electrons are the building blocks of everything we see.
          according to the law of energy conservation, "energy can not be created nor destroyed"
          thus if energy can not be created nor destroyed then energy is eternal.

          second part: energy (atoms) make up all matter in the universe. matter can be created and destroyed, however it simply returns to it prior state, energy. (research einstein)

          third part: seeing the universe has a set eternal amount of energy inside a closed system; mind you an open system would only work if energy simply shifts from one place to another,not if there is a loss or addition of energy; the amount of energy in the universe will always be 100%, if this is violated then the law becomes null and void.
          have yet to see physics violated. lol

          forth part: the laws of physics if you reseach close enough adhere to the interactions between energy. not due to a "set law made by anything.

          thus the universe exsists because it can, not because some thing "created" it.

          awaiting your fact based reply. 🙂

          December 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          If the Universe has always existed (i.e., it is eternal), but there is a finite amount of usable energy, then all usable energy already should be expended. Yet, usable energy still exists. So, the Universe cannot have existed forever. It had to have a beginning.

          The eternality of energy would be the equivalent of a system with an energy input and 100% usable energy output. This doesn't happen... Anywhere...

          http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2786

          December 16, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "Considering the entire Universe as a system necessitates that it be a closed system. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that though energy in a closed system is constant (First Law of Thermodynamics), that energy is transforming into less usable forms of energy (i.e., the Universe is “running down”). This process is irreversible. If the Universe has always existed (i.e., it is eternal), but there is a finite amount of usable energy, then all usable energy already should be expended, yet, usable energy still exists. So, the Universe cannot have existed forever. It had to have a beginning."

          http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2786

          December 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
        • Peter

          How did you reach the conclusion that all energy should have already been expended?

          December 16, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Evolutionist Kitty Ferguson, award-winning science writer said, “It’s also common knowledge that the universe isn’t eternal but had a beginning” (1994, p. 89). Any person who develops a theory that claims that the Universe could be a perpetual motion machine, is guilty of contradicting the solid evidence from science. They are being unscientific, and their unscientific mindset has resulted in an unscientific theory.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Peter,
          That statement holds true only if the universe is eternal. The laws of thermodynamics in a closed system maintains that energy runs out... And if the universe is eternal, then energy would have run out.

          This is true is one sees the universe as a closed system. Typically, Christians do not, becuase we maintain that the universe IS acted on by an outside force, namely, God. But the evolutionist must see the universe as a closed system, or he crosses the boundary and admits to the supernatural.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
        • Peter

          Yes, but how did you determine that it should have run out by now and not 100 years from now for example?

          December 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • WASP

          @LOA:

          " but there is a finite amount of usable energy, then all usable energy already should be expended."
          REPLY: ok you're not understanding the whole "CAN NOT BE DESTROYED" if energy (atoms) are used up they are depleted, destroyed, this violates the law of physics.

          "The eternality of energy would be the equivalent of a system with an energy input and 100% usable energy output. This doesn't happen... Anywhere..."
          REPLY:yeah it's confirmed, you have 0 understanding of physics. lmao

          "http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2786"
          REPLY: i'm not going to accept a religious site, to even fathom physics. lmao so why bother posting this BS?

          December 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Peter,
          If this universe is a closed system with a finite amount of energy, but it has existed eternally – that's two contradictory ideas... It's trying to resolve a paradox.

          If there's a finite amount of energy within a closed system, then it's not eternal.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
        • Peter

          So how long would the finite energy last in a universe that is eternal?

          December 16, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          WASP,
          OK, then show me how energy is eternal?
          If you're claiming that, then not only are you rejecting the idea of Christianity, but you are also rejecting the notion of the “Big Bang Mysticism” theory of the origins of the universe, since that theory states that all matter and energy, even space and time came into being at the moment of the “Big Bang.”

          The conservation of matter and energy only applies to the already existing universe to describe its current state. It is not and never was intended to be a statement about the origins of the universe. That’s why cosmologists do not believe that the Law of Conservation and Energy is violated at the “Big Bang… “ The law in fact applies to all matter and energy IN the universe, but says nothing about the origins of that matter and energy.

          So, what am I missing again?

          December 16, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Peter,
          "So how long would the finite energy last in a universe that is eternal?"
          ---------
          Not sure, because that's just a hypothetical question that would assume the possibility of an infinitely long timeline. And that only exists in mathematics. And mathematics must always align with observable reality, otherwise it's not real... Besides, a finite amount of energy doesn't (by definition) last for an eternity.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
        • WASP

          @LOA: how exactly does "energy" run out? maybe your god forgot to pay the light bill in your house. my lights are fine.

          ATOMS ARE MADE OF ENERGY. can it be any simpler? protons,neutrons and electrons are ENERGY. i don't see the universe running out of energy, namely seeing E=MC2. which shows how energy matter conversion takes place. energy CAN NOT BE DESTROYED, it merely changes state. even in a nuclear explosion 100% of energy is expelled in various forms of radiation,light, heat etc etc etc
          ENERGY CAN NOT BE CREATED. what exists is it, you can not use up atomic interactions, you can not create more energy than there already is. you can CONVERT MATTER BACK TO ENERGY; however that doesn't add to the 100% total of energy that already exists, it's merely returning it to it's basic form.
          100% of energy INCLUDES all matter in this universe; mind you if everything in this universe was converted back to strictly energy it would still have the same numerical value.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
        • Peter

          Unless you can show me why all the energy would have to have been used up by now and not at some point in the future then there is no reason to listen to your argument at all.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          WASP,
          How can energy be shown to be eternal if all science can do is speculate back to the "Big Bang?" After all, it is natural to ask the question: "If energy is eternal, then how could it all of a sudden explode into what we have now?" Aquinas argued that rest isn't the problem, nor is motion the problem, its the change from rest to motion that is the problem. What accounts for the motion of the universe? How could any system at rest and equillibrium (in eternity past) suddenly spring into motion on its own?

          December 16, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Peter,
          The point is in definitions.
          Infinite means no beginning and no end.
          Finite means a beginning and an ending.

          If energy is finite, then its length of existence is finite.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
        • Peter

          You are the one who said the energy would have already been used up, if you can't defend that statement then why did you make it?

          December 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Peter,
          Let me put it this way, if the lifespan of a dog is 12 years old, would he still be alive if he was born an infinite amount of years ago? Ummm, no.

          That argument still holds true to anything with a finite lifespan, even energy, whose lifespan is "unknown" at best, but certainly known to be finite for one reason – this universe demonstrates countless signs of mutability. And anything that is mutable is not eternal.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
        • Peter

          I see no reason why something can't be mutable and eternal.

          December 16, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Energy cannot be eternal
          Energy is a product of force and distance. E=fd

          If it is conceded that matter is indeed not eternal, since all of science points to an origin of one form or another (Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorum, among others), then there must have been a time when only energy existed – but that is not possible, since energy is contingent on the exitence of a force exerted over a distance – a force that is exerted on some object, that, of course, doesn't exist yet... Over a distance that, doesn't exist yet...

          December 16, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
        • WASP

          @LOA: "That argument still holds true to anything with a finite lifespan, even energy, whose lifespan is "unknown" at best,"

          so please explain when is the expiration of a proton,neutron or electron?
          last time i checked, they don't expire.
          the simplest element created by energy is......................comeone this is grade school science.
          ANSWER: hydrogen. 1 proton, 1 neutron, 1 electron

          FORMS OF ENERGY:
          1)Nuclear Energy:
          2)Sound Energy:
          3)Electromagnetic Energy (light)
          4)Electrochemical Energy
          5)Electrical Energy
          6)Chemical Energy:
          7)Thermal, or heat energy
          8)Potential Energy:
          9)Kinetic Energy:

          so now that we have an idea of what energy is, lets move on to where you explain how exactly these are finite.

          December 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          WASP,
          So how does an observation on something's apparent lack of an expiration date say anything about whether it had a beginning or not? And that still didn't answer Aquinas' question of motion.

          December 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          WASP,
          This all goes back to the original argument. Energy cannot be eternal, because its existence is dependant on the existence of other things... For instance, how do you define energy? E=mc2, or E=fd, or whatever... Energy doesn't exist without being dependant on something other than itself.

          Show me some physical ent.ity that is non-contingent, and only then will the argument that I made fall apart.

          December 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • Peter

          Lawrence c is a constant so what you really have is Energy = Mass.

          December 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "Lawrence c is a constant so what you really have is Energy = Mass."
          --------
          So, energy is dependent on mass... Mass is depentant on matter... matter is dependent on... and so on, and so on... They're all contingent.

          December 16, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
        • Peter

          Everything is energy.

          December 16, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "Everything is energy."
          --------–
          And energy is not eternal. In order to say that the net energy of the universe is zero, you've got to balance the equation with negative energy... Which only exists in math.

          Energy is contingent. Energy is not eternal.

          December 16, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
        • Peter

          What is energy contingent on?

          December 16, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
        • igaftr

          LoA
          First, you assume energy is not eternal. False assumption since we currently do not know everything about energy, you are making a false assumption.
          Until we can account for all of the mass in the universe, and understand what "dark matter and energy" really are, you really should stop saying that.

          December 16, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "What is energy contingent on?"
          ----------
          Easy, give me an equation for energy...
          E=???

          December 16, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
        • Peter

          I would argue that energy has always existed and everything else is contingent on energy.

          December 16, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
        • igaftr

          LoA
          I seriously doubt you comprehend the entirety of the theory, but E=mcc is an equation that basically gives us a measuring stick. What you are saying is that a given distance is contingent on a yard stick.
          Energy is not contingent on mass nor the speed of light but can be MEASURED from them.
          Stick to your "scripture".

          December 16, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "I would argue that energy has always existed and everything else is contingent on energy"
          --------–
          Then why is it impossible to write an equation for energy without making it the product of some other ent.ity?

          December 16, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          igaftr,
          So if energy is all that there is, do you have a definition or an equation where "E" is not dependant on something else? Like "E is that E is." Oh, sorry, that's Exodus: "I AM that I AM." Well, you did tell me to stick to scripture.

          December 16, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • igaftr

          LoA
          You are looking at it entirely wrong.
          Energy is not contingent on anything.
          Just because we can define what we see mathematically, does not mean that we have some effect on the energy itself, just have a way to be able to quantify it for use in formulas and equations.
          2 and two would still equal four if we had never defined mathematics.

          You keep trying to reconcile your belief into science...it will not work.
          Belief believes it has answers, but does not have the right questions, and in science, we do not have the answers, and we also know we do not necessarily have the right questions. For one to truly embrace science, one must lose ALL presumption and bias....otherwise you will not know the reality of a thing for what it is.

          December 16, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "lose ALL presumption and bias"
          -----------
          We both believe that something is eternal. You believe that it is energy, I believe that it is God. If energy is all there is, that does nothing to answer the deeper questions... Where did life originate, what accounts for a "mind" inside of the brain, what about intelligence, or even comprehension and wisdom? Where do the "natural laws" come from? What caused energy to become unstable before "inflation?" Aquinas argued that the change from rest and equillibrium to motion requires an outside force, so where did that come from if this universe is a closed system?

          December 16, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
        • igaftr

          LoA
          False
          Since I have not been to the end of "eternity" and back again, I do not believe what you think I do.

          You again presume too much.

          December 16, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
        • igaftr

          LoA
          You really are all over the map.
          For the answers you seek, you need only look at the existing life on this planet and no further.

          A single neuron....does not "think" does not do much of anything really. It is for all intents and purposes a tiny little robot.
          combine it with the billion other tiny little robots and you somehow have intelligence. You can fin the answer to part of this by studying bees, who as a clooctive intelligence, can be exceptionally intelligent, not each individual bee, but all of them together.
          Our brains work very similar to that of a bee hive, with desciions being made through a process....not controlled by any single neuron, but as a collective.
          If you REALLY wnat to understand the answers to the questions you pose, look to the natural world.
          There are ACTUAL answers there that the writers of the bible could never understand, the fact that we may not be the most intelligent animals....it depends on the definition of intelligence...the fact that you can track though our DNA down to the earliest cytoplasm....it's all there if you know where to look, and I gaurantee it is not in your magic book.

          December 16, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          igaftr,
          So does that mean that you do not believe then that energy is eternal? I thought you did... Then we agree then that since every physical ent.ity is contingent, a first cause that is non-contingent must exist.

          December 16, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
      • Peter

        Well that is just not true as energy is eternal as best we can tell. I think it would be up to you to show a case of energy being created or destroyed in order to prove that energy is not eternal.

        December 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem shows that there is no way to get rid of a beginning to any universe that is characterized by cosmic expansion. Since our universe is characterized by cosmic expansion, it must have had a beginning. So, the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem eliminates the eternal inflation model, which is based upon an ever expanding multiverse.

          http://creationwiki.org/Borde-Guth-Vilenkin_singularity_theorem

          December 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
        • Peter

          The fact that I can't find anything about that Theory that isn't from creationist websites means I will consider it to be nonsense until proven otherwise.

          December 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
        • Peter

          However, for the sake of argument just because the universe has a beginning doesn't mean that a god caused the beginning of the universe.

          December 16, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "However, for the sake of argument just because the universe has a beginning doesn't mean that a god caused the beginning of the universe."
          ----------
          Never said that it did... All I've done today is to try to show the necessity of the existence of something non-physical, namely, the supernatural, in order to account for the existence of the natural.

          Simply put, the natural world could not have come into existence by natural causes.

          December 16, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "The fact that I can't find anything about that Theory that isn't from creationist websites means I will consider it to be nonsense until proven otherwise."
          ---------
          So, as a Christian, if I were your neighbor, and I called you to tell you that your house was burning down, you wouldn't believe me? Truth claims are tested on the claim itself, not the source.

          December 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
        • Peter

          I have read enough creationist websites to know without a doubt that they are not trustworthy.

          December 16, 2013 at 2:33 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.