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August 10th, 2013
02:33 AM ET

'Breaking Bad' and the evil within us all

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN

(CNN) - The other day I was asked in a radio interview why I’m still a Christian. Since I’ve never been shy about writing through my questions and doubts, the interviewer wanted to know why I hang on to faith in spite of them.

I talked about Jesus—his life, teachings, death, resurrection, and presence in my life and in the world. I talked about how faith is always a risk, and how the story of Jesus is a story I’m willing to risk being wrong about.

And then I said something that surprised me a little, even as it came out of my own mouth:

“I’m a Christian,” I said, “because Christianity names and addresses sin.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about sin lately because like many Americans I’ve gotten hooked on “Breaking Bad” and am plotting ways to avoid any sort of social interaction on Sunday night so I can catch the first of the final eight episodes of the award-winning AMC series.

What I love about “Breaking Bad”—besides its gripping plotlines, flawless character development, pitch-perfect performances, and the unmatched chemistry between Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, is the way it traces teacher-turned-kingpin Walter White’s descent into total moral ignominy, one frighteningly relatable decision at a time.

5 questions 'Breaking Bad' must answer

Walter doesn’t start off with the goal of making millions and killing anyone who gets in his way. He just wants to survive at first. Then he wants to provide, then he wants to impress, then he wants to spite, then he wants to rule. His desires aren’t that different from yours or mine, really, and neither are his decisions.

In fact, Walter is at his most infuriating not when he’s cooking meth or even shooting a gun, but when he’s betraying a friend, indulging his vanity, engaging in truly staggering feats of self-deception, and using other people for personal gain … basically when he’s acting just like me on a given Tuesday morning.

Which brings me back to Christianity.

In Christianity, evil isn’t something that simply exists “out there” among thieves and murderers and meth makers. No, Christianity teaches the hard truth that the evil we observe in the world is also present within ourselves.

Racism, greed, misogyny, hatred, violence, inequity, selfishness, and pride all take shape within the human heart, so if we’re going to tackle injustice in the world, we have to start with ourselves. Christianity rejects the idea that we’re all okay.

The good news is that liberation comes not from climbing some holy ladder to try and escape sin on our own, nor from wallowing in shame and self-hatred because of it, but receiving the grace of God through Jesus and extending that grace to others.

This process begins with naming the evil within us and turning away from it—a process called repentance.

In one of the most riveting “Breaking Bad” scenes of all time, we see Jesse on the verge of such a moment as he indirectly confesses his most haunting transgression to his Narcotics Anonymous support group.

Unwilling to justify his sins like Walter, and desperate to stop numbing himself from them through drugs, Jesse gets frustrated with those in the group urging him to accept himself without judgment.

In a fit of frustration, Jesse cries, “So I should stop judging and accept? So no matter what I do, hurray for me, because I’m a great guy? It’s all good? What a load of crap …You know why I’m here in the first place? To sell you meth. You’re nothing to me but customers …You OK with that? You accept that?”

The group sits in stunned silence until the leader finally whispers, “No.”

I’ve heard from many addicts who say meetings like these are the closest thing they have to church because it’s the only place in the world where people tell the truth about themselves, even the ugly parts.

This is what the church calls confession.

Confession gives us the chance to admit to one another that we’re not OK and then to seek healing and reconciliation together, in community. It’s not about pointing out the sins of others, but acknowledging our shared brokenness, our shared capacity for destruction, our shared rebellion against what is beautiful and good.

I think this is one reason we find Walter White so compelling—and, for that matter, Dexter Morgan, Don Draper, and Piper Chapman. They may be meth dealers and serial killers and prison inmates, but what drives them isn’t all that different than what drives you and me.

Nor is the grace that would ultimately save us all.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Evans. 

Evans has written previously for CNN's Belief Blog, including: Why millennials are leaving the church; and Not all religious convictions are written in stone.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Opinion • TV

soundoff (1,137 Responses)
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    August 10, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  2. skytag

    "Racism, greed, misogyny, hatred, violence, inequity, selfishness, and pride all take shape within the human heart"

    Rubbish. These "take shape" within the human brain, the products of instincts evolved to serve us and ensure our survival thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, the evolutionary process has pretty much been neutered in modern societies, so we're stuck with trying to deal with these problems using a combination of education, social pressures, and laws.

    August 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      And that is just a partial list of "sins" in CHristianity...don't forget any s.e.x outside of marriage, blasphemy, idol worship, denying the holy spirit, heresy, non- belief and my favorite apostasy. I find it very interesting she completely ignores these, especially since some rate more serious than the ones she lists that have a reall effect on others.

      August 10, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • Mom

      You are an example of survival instincts gone wrong.

      August 10, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  3. fghsdfghdfghdfyuil

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    August 10, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  4. fghsdfghdfghdfyuil

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    August 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
  5. fghsdfgh

    Venta de venezolanos para estudios de la raza huamana narcotrafico, DE NICOLAS MADURO, EL MINISTRO ABE, JOSIKO NODA, EL REY DE ESPAÑA, ALEMANIA, LA REYNA DE INGLATERRA, EL MINISTRO DE CANADA.
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    August 10, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
  6. Kathy, AZ

    "Racism, greed, misogyny, hatred, violence, inequity, selfishness, and pride all take shape within the human heart..."

    Yah, and the sad thing is - a lot of the people who have these "qualities" profess to be "Christian'.

    August 10, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Bongo

      Yea, if we could just profess to be "Christian" and have some imaginary sky fairy render us pure as driven snow that'd be great... ....but that is not God's plan for us. So it takes more than just professing a religion, you gotta actually do some work.

      August 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
      • wmwelch

        Wrong, Bongo! It is NOT about some mysterious "work" the believer-in-Christ must do because if that were true, it means Jesus Christ died on the Cross for NO REASON! Here is the Christian solution: 1) Walk Romans Road (Romans 10:8-10) first since this act signifies one's BELIEF IN CHRIST starts everything. NEXT, submit to that first act of obedience known as full immersion in water thus becoming "baptized in the Name of Christ" (Acts 2:38). Last, SUBSEQUENT TO such baptism in Christ's Name "receive The Holy Spirit since ye believed" becoming supernaturally empowered (2 Timothy 3:5) to live what is otherwise a difficult-to-navigate life having become indwelled with Christ's Spirit Whose arrival supernaturally TRANSLATES those "characteristics of God" described in Galatians 5:22.23! From that point on forward, the believer can ever-increasingly begin to actually live out that "abundant life" promised by Jesus Christ, Himself! (John 10:10)

        August 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
        • Athy

          Well, heck, we can't let Jesus die on the cross for no reason. So we have to make up some religious nonsense to feel good about JC's demise. Is that the way it works?

          August 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
        • Bongo

          James 2:14-26 – "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?"

          faith
          without
          works
          is
          dead
          .

          August 10, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          Sired Bongo...

          Define if you will what it is your think "works" relates to...

          August 10, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
        • skytag

          More religious claptrap. Get back to me when you're ready to say something grounded in reality.

          August 10, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
      • Vic

        THE FREE GIFT OF SALVATION

        John 3:16,17
        "16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

        Romans 6:23
        "23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

        Ephesians 2:8,9
        "8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."

        All Scripture Is From:

        New American Standard Bible (NASB)
        Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

        http://www.biblegateway.com/

        August 10, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
        • skytag

          Vic, it isn't appropriate to throw out Bible verses like you're casting spells or something. If you're not smart enough to offer an intelligent comment you are under no obligation to post a comment.

          August 10, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Vic,

          I don't think you understand what "free" means.

          August 10, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
      • Vic

        End Of The Law

        Romans 3:28
        "28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law."

        Romans 8:1,2
        "8 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death."

        Romans 10:4
        "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."

        Galatians 2:16
        "16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified."

        Philippians 3:8,9
        "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,"

        T i t u s 3:1-7
        "4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

        All Scripture Is From:

        New American Standard Bible (NASB)
        Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

        http://www.biblegateway.com/

        August 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
        • G to the T

          Interesting – not a single quote from Jesus. All are from Paul... who never met the man...

          August 12, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Kathy, You're an idiot.

      Try an original comment with some thoughtful insight.

      You embarrass us.

      August 10, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
      • That message brought to you by...

        Just another belligerent resident hater!
        Welcome Kathy! Here is a fruit basket from the better half of this blog: http://www.robertfreshmarket.com/images/8748-fruit%20basket.jpg

        August 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
      • tallulah13

        And just like that, some presumptive christian proves Kathy to be 100% correct.

        August 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
        • Bongo

          I don't think that was a Christian.

          August 10, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Chelsea

      Kathy, I think that was the point of the article. That evil is not just "out there" but in all of us. That Christians aren't exempt from it, nobody is. That we need something else to fight it.

      August 10, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • Mom

      I have never trusted Christians.

      August 10, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  7. meh...

    I WISH I could get a job working for a Walter White...

    August 10, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Mom

      I've got a job for you.

      August 10, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  8. snowboarder

    one must be convinced that they have the disease so they can be sold the cure.

    August 10, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Russ

      and he left his doctor's office plugging his ears & saying:
      "there's no such thing as cancer... there's no such thing as cancer..."

      August 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
      • tallulah13

        Cancer can be observed and treated. There is no evidence that any god exists, or that religion is anything more than a primative method of trying to bargain with the unknown.

        August 10, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
        • tallulah13

          primative = primitive

          August 10, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
        • Russ

          @ tallulah: snowboarder was denying the reality of the "disease." do you also deny the reality of evil?

          August 10, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Metaphor is lost on you, isn't it Russ?

          August 10, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
        • skytag

          @Russ: "do you also deny the reality of evil?"

          My answer to this depends entirely on how you define "evil." If by evil you mean something of a supernatural nature such as Satan or evil spirits, then yes, I deny such a thing exists.

          On the other hand, as a term used to describe certain kinds of behavior we find harmful, cruel, dangerous and so on as a result of a significant disparity in moral values or a mental problem such as psychopathy, then that kind of "evil" most certainly exists.

          People used to believe disease was caused by evil spirits, that seizures were caused by demonic possession, so blaming bad things on evil has a long history.

          Typically things we'd all evil today are the result of different moral codes, either due to changes in moral values over time or different cultures. The typical American would call slavery evil today, but 200 years ago it was an accepted practice here, even among Christians. At times we hear of events in other countries and term them evil because they inconsistent with our values. Some of those people would look at how we live here and see evil.

          Then there is behavior related to mental illness such serial killing, mass killings, child molestation, and so on. This is no more a manifestation of a supernatural evil force than epileptic seizures are a manifestation of demonic possession. Just as epilepsy is caused by a neurological disorder, various mental disorders can result in "evil" behavior such as serial killing.

          August 11, 2013 at 3:40 am |
        • Russ

          @ skytag: you're hedging your bets. either there is a metaphysical moral anchor or there's not.

          "In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference."
          —Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (Basic Books, 1995), 95.

          either have the boldness to admit that – without a metaphysical basis for good, there is no such thing as good or evil – or at least admit you desperately want there to be such a thing. but to claim there is evil (by which you mean, future generations might call that evil 'good' & vice versa) while meaning nothing of the culturally transcendent forms we are discussing lacks intellectual integrity.

          pointblank: is there anything you would claim is ALWAYS wrong? pedophilia, racism, genocide, etc.? either you have a basis for being disgusted with such things or you must admit that maybe one day those things will be virtues... BUT don't claim it's just a semantic difference (especially if you're talking to the parents of abducted children, etc.)

          either there is justice & good & evil or there is nothing of the sort.

          August 12, 2013 at 10:03 am |
        • Saraswati

          @Russ, anything done to intentionally increase pain and suffering without increasing happiness and wellbeing is evil on most secular uses of that term. Doesn't matter where or when.

          August 12, 2013 at 10:08 am |
        • Russ

          @ Saraswati: whose pain & suffering? whose happiness? most tyrants could claim your definition – and yet most of us would regard Mao, Stalin & Hitler as great murderers. that certainly isn't a very functionally *useful* definition of evil.

          August 12, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • G to the T

          Russ – I'll bite. I don't believe in "good" or "evil". Now what?

          August 12, 2013 at 11:43 am |
        • Russ

          @ GT: not baiting – just looking for honesty. that's pretty boldly honest.

          and yet... let's be clear. you're conceding that you have no basis for any real objection to what most of us consider unacceptably repugnant (genocide, pedophilia, r.a.pe, racism, etc.) or any such appeal to 'justice' as a transcendent reality to which other cultures must adhere (Rwanda, Darfur, holocausts, social injustice, ho.mo.pho.bia, etc.). so, for you: Ariel Castro, Jim Dimaggio, or Charles Mason abducts and/or kills your child – and there is still no such thing justice. it just is what it is. that's what you're saying, right?

          most people are unwilling to go there. but at least we now have the clear distinction. as Dawkins argues above, the universe is "nothing but blind, pitiless indifference." if that's what you're claiming – then yes, that's honest.

          and that's also why I passionately disagree. but thank you for having the integrity to let your ethical system match your metaphysical foundations. most here want to defend some sort of false hybrid. you don't. i respect that – but it's the very reason i articulate the virtual opposite as a Christian.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
      • Bongo

        YEA!

        August 10, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Mom

      You have a disease. It is called stupidism. The cure is shutting up.

      August 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
      • Mopery

        If only you would take your own advice.

        August 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  9. Mopery

    Throughout four and a half seasons there hasn't been the slightest hint of any religion in Breaking Bad, if there had been then the show wouldn't be nearly as good as it is. There is simply no place for religion in this televised drama, and attempting to interject your own delusional beliefs only reveals your ignorance. It will be a real tragedy if the show's creators pull a Dostoyevsky(ala Crime and Punishment) and have Walt suddenly find god and repent. I expect a bloodbath ending, and will be sorely disappointed if the final episode ends with hugs and forgiveness.

    August 10, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • k

      I don't think the author is suggesting that the series take a religious turn. Instead, I think he's using the series to underscore the fact that in today's society many refuse to acknowledge sinful behavior ... particularly when they're doing it themselves.

      August 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
      • Saraswati

        Today's society recognizes these issues all the time, we just don't normally use the word "sinful". Instead we say "hurtful" or "harmful" or "degrading" depending on context. Sinful is a religious term but overlaps in large areas with the secular versions.

        August 12, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • Mom

      Oh, go blog it you emo crybaby.

      August 10, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
      • Mopery

        Project much?

        August 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  10. kvirrueta

    Wish everyone would calm down and realize that this blog post is on "religion.blogs.cnn.com" and the writer expressed her religious and personal beliefs and how she feels they relate to the characters on "Breaking Bad". It's not something that was meant to flame up the wrath of people who don't agree with her, her religion, or her beliefs. It is her OPINION piece, folks. There are plenty of Muslim writers contributing to this blog as well as others from a myriad of religious backgrounds and beliefs. If you don't like what she said, hit your back button. There's no need to insult people, tell them they're stupid, hate the God she believes in, or otherwise tear apart and bash every statement she made to the Nth degree. What I'm reading in the comments are the epitome of prejudice. I personally think she's right on, 100%. But, like I said, if you don't like what she has to say, don't bother reading it. I was thrilled to read another Christian's perspective on this topic, and especially on a blog site like CNN. Now I'm done reading everyone's hateful comments and moving on with my day 🙂

    August 10, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Sasha

      Troll!

      August 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • AE

      Good points. Good advice.

      August 10, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Would you still defend her if you did not "personally think she's right on, 100%"?

      I don't care that she holds an opinion. What bothers me is that she presents her personal opinion as fact.

      August 10, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
      • Laurence Charles Ringo

        Hey"Tallulah",take a deep breath,why don't you!! What Ms. Held is not"not fact"just because YOU say so;get over yourself.

        August 10, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
        • tallulah13

          She presents her opinion as fact. That I why I object. Your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired.

          August 10, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • skytag

      Get a clue. This forum is here to facilitate discussion related to religion, and that includes opposing views. It's not here so a lot people can all say "I agree" in an impressive show of groupthink.

      August 11, 2013 at 3:46 am |
  11. Fon

    For those who don't believe that Santa, Mickey, Jesus, God, Thor, Batman, Mythrias, Apollo, Wolverine, Isis, Virgin Mary, Pinocchio, Shiva, Vishnu, Rangor, Donald Duck, etc are anything more than fictional characters, Christianity is really stupid. Not trying to be rude, just giving a point. Fiction is fiction. Just because you want to live forever does not negate biology. The odds that humans have souls or life after death are infinitesimally minute. Even atheists can allow for universal creator(s) simply because the vast majority of knowledge regarding existence is unknown, but in no way shape or form, should that notion translate into the ridiculously silly monotheistic religions that still occupy people's minds in the 21st century. Your religion is a joke, the sooner that fact is realized, the better off you will be.

    August 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • k

      So how did you do your probability calculations to determine the likelihood that we have/don't have souls? I'm curious. You state that the odds are infinitesimally small, as though it were a provable mathematical fact. So show me.

      August 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
      • skytag

        Obviously we cannot calculate a probability, but we do know there is no evidence whatsoever that this afterlife exists, that any god exists. Given this it's hard to rationally justify believing the probabilities are any more than "infinitesimal," and I'm being generous with that.

        August 11, 2013 at 3:53 am |
  12. kenny

    religion is philosophy turned supernatural to make people follow its good suggestions on how to live. Confucius came 500 years before jesus and basically said the same thing. do onto others .... etc... every single problem you have in life is that simple. you do good to others AND YOURSELF and good things will be done onto you. YOU do BAD things to others and YOURSELF and ... you get the drift. the trick is when you have bad or good luck. there isn't much you can do about that and so we seek an answer outside of reality because its hard to accept reality sometimes....

    August 10, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  13. Cpt. Obvious

    If I were a smart god I would not allow my creation the ability to "fail" but would allow them as many tries as it took to get it right and I would help them in their struggles according to their capability.

    If I were a dumb god I would do the right thing and "save" people (from myself) whether or not the individual wanted to be saved or not, because, as god, I would know better than the person.

    Just how stupid is biblegod?

    August 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • lamelionheart

      Apparently much smarter than you portend...

      August 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
      • .

        Oh please, you're a pseudo intellect that doesn't even know how to write properly.

        August 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • lol?

      what kind of god lets people spit on him, beat him and call him names? he died on a stick. who needs a foot-washing god?
      I can be my own god and wash my own feet, thank you

      August 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
      • lamelionheart

        Be careful... Your godliness foot washing might singe your nails and put you in a crux...

        August 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  14. virginia

    let's talk religion and believe its a subject the never gets old enough to give all the answers to those who seek the truth of nature and God....

    i like this article...but sometimes i wish its was all different and i didn't have to deal with the reality of what God's wisdom shows us, being blind or hiding seems to be the right thing to do so to avoid the cruel reality of our nature...though i've learn to be happy and found peace with the knowledge that God truly forsaw our nature and made emends to save us, if we only allow it to happen.

    August 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Pete

      "though i've learn to be happy and found peace with the knowledge that God truly forsaw our nature and made emends to save us, if we only allow it to happen."

      Really, that's why you're god screwed up and had to kill everyone but a few, then it had to create a son to bail out the human race and then murder it. Your god didn't foresee anything, the writers of the bible needed an out so they copied it from other religions.

      August 10, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
      • lamelionheart

        Sired Pete...

        Such angry volition bearing down upon that which you dare not believe on... Your schism is a dementia that might gain control of your senses... I'd be careful if I were you... But I'm not you nor do I make believe in things negatively expunged...

        August 10, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • Pete

          This is coming from a poster that can't even communicate properly and your negative post about me makes you a hypocrite. You can't even communicate effectivly on this blog and you're trying to tell me about I have an issue, you're a joke.

          August 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          That's "effectively"... Learn proper spelling before laying blames upon someone 2 or 3 times your age...

          August 10, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          Sired Pete...

          You can't even communicate effectively on this blog and you're trying to tell me that I have an issue, you're a joke.

          August 10, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
      • kvirrueta

        God didn't make us as puppets, "pre-programmed" to love Him and always do right/be perfect. It's free will and we all can decide whether we do right or wrong and whether or not we choose to love Him or not. Free will gives us those choices to make. In His immense love, grace, goodness, and mercy, God gave us His only Son so that no one, not one person, would have to die. Not even you. He wants to spend eternity with you in Heaven. By admitting you're a sinner (like all of us), turning from that deliberate sin, and accepting His gift of salvation through Jesus, you can spend eternity with Him. I hope you'll freely make that choice, my friend.

        August 10, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
        • Pete

          If this god wanted to spend eternity with all of us it wouldn't have needed to murder it's son to do it, it could have just done it. If this god made this creation then it should have known already the flaws it created and wouldn't have to make up the story about a son,etc.... Your god came from the imaginations of men who wanted to control people and have power over them, so they created this rule book. It doesn't mean it's actually true. Come on your god is one stupid god if it couldn't have foreseen human beings would be flawed by the limitations of their brains.

          August 10, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • Saraswati

          There is no scientific evidence for the kind of free will that is required to justify the rewards and punishments of Christianity. It's a convenient myth that stops up the holes in Christianity so God doesn't look like a total jerk. This is one of the best examples of an area of science which most Christians cannot see clearly because of the blinders of faith.

          August 10, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          Sired kvirrueta...

          I in honesty fear God Almighty way more than I have ever found love for Him... I believe we are to love our life and others whose life intertwines with ours even though there are derogatory issues within scripture that seems to twist things around... Since no one has any way of rightly knowing God formally until we pass on into the unknown, it is a humbling nature to understand that Christ Jesus should be everyone's saving grace upon our deathbeds... Our freedoms here upon this celestially terrestrial earthen world are rooted in the humanities of civilities and moralities around righteous standings...

          August 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • skytag

      What you believe was God foreseeing our nature was nothing more than the authors of biblical writings having a basic understanding of human nature.

      August 11, 2013 at 3:59 am |
  15. tallulah13

    The author seems to be presumptuous, with a rather insulated view of the world. It appears that she is incapable of understanding that her experiences in life are not universal, and in fact are not terribly relevant to those who do not live within her bubble.

    I don't need TV or Jesus to teach me morals. I know that I am capable of doing bad things. I simply choose not to, because my parents taught me that my actions have consequences, and my human empathy makes me very reluctant to hurt others. I was raised to believe in honor and honesty, which has cost me materially, but I have kept my self-respect and that has more value to me than any reward.

    August 10, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  16. WhenCowsAttack

    I have only read 2 of Ms. Evans's articles, and already I tire of her.

    She's boring and her writing is like that of a vapid, silly high school girl.

    August 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • roblearns

      One could have started a list of evils in the world this way:

      Racism, Gender bigotry, hatred, violence...

      Or one can start it like this:

      Racism against asians, prejudice against men, hatred of puerto ricans, and violence against short people.

      Imagine the absurdity of listing out the evils of the word in that manner.

      But the author engages in exactly that absurdity, by listing misogyny without misandry....implying the vast world of prejudice aimed at our young boys doesn't exist.

      Instead of speaking out against gender bigotry, she promotes it.

      Talking about racism against puerto ricans – is great if that is the subject of your article. But if you list out a generic list of evils and specifically make a point of leaving out prejudice against black people – that'd be kind of absurd wouldn't it?

      It's almost to say you harbor prejudice against black people by specifically leaving them out.

      Specifically leaving out the problems boys face – is an outrage.

      Boys are behind girls by the time they are 4th grade – they are denied educational opportunities and don't even get to college at the same rate as girls – this is not genetics, at one time boys were more likely to go to college than girls. What has changed – is a society with an absolutely amazing bigotry against boys.

      As evidenced by the author today.

      August 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • lamelionheart

        Sired roblearns...

        Within the USA it use to be a secular patriarchy but nowadays it is becoming a reclusive matriarchy... Manliness has become subservient to womanhood even though there are more or less many manly served secular governances within the politically controlled arenas... I'd say that the time is ripening for a matriarch to become a formidable leader to chastise the USA presidential leadership... The bottom lines of mixed secularisms' genders are seemingly disturbing the lengthy roots of mostly male dominated historical traditions...

        August 10, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
        • Shawn

          Did you not learn to write in High School or did you drop out?

          August 10, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • .

          Shawn LL is what is known as a pseudo intellect. They also post like this because they are to insecure to write clearly and be challenged on their views of religion so they hide behind this nonsense.

          August 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          Sired Shawn...

          I graduated with honors and took one test of a college level exam and passed but did not take the other 4 tests to be granted a one year degree. I way passed 58 Shawn... My words of thought are formal most of the time and although I seldom crawl down from my worded perch I allow anyone to be given a hand up... 🙂 😳 🙂

          August 10, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
        • .

          See Shawn, just another example of their poor writing skills and more excuses as to why. Just recognize this poster is emotionally immature.

          August 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          What's the matter dottie-son..? No one wants to play with you..? Am I your only friend which gives you any attention..?

          August 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • Beth

        Bigotry against boys. You have got to be kidding me. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

        This has got to be a joke.

        August 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Saraswati

      She was a lit major in college and I don't think pretends to be a religious scholar. She mostly writes comedy and light reflections stuff from what I can see. I think this is supposed to be more for people close to her own beliefs than a real academic argument.

      August 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • fghsdfghdfghdfyuil

      Venta de venezolanos para estudios de la raza huamana narcotrafico, DE NICOLAS MADURO, EL MINISTRO ABE, JOSIKO NODA, EL REY DE ESPAÑA, ALEMANIA, LA REYNA DE INGLATERRA, EL MINISTRO DE CANADA.
      http://www.mudpgi.blog.com
      Human sela venezuela narcotrafic, NICOLAS MADURO, ABE AND JOSIKO NODAS MINISTER, SPAIN KING, GERMANY, CANADA MINISTER.
      http://www.mudpgi.com
      llllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

      August 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  17. jfc1

    so if they are nothing to him but users, then why is he there talking to them about his moral issues?

    this is the problem with all religion. It's 99.999% talk. And 99% of that talk is utter crap.

    stop the talking and live the life that you want to live, and all your problems are solved

    August 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  18. Reality

    Naming our sins before Christianity or Judaism: see p. 1-

    August 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  19. Seph

    Rachel Held Evans says that Christianity teaches us hard truths about accepting personal responsibility, realizing that the state of "evil" in the world is ultimately due to our own "sins". This is simply wrong. First, she is trying to sell us on the notion that because something is a "hard truth" that is difficult to hear and process, then it is insightful and True. The trouble with this is just because something is difficult, does not mean that it is representative of reality. Two, secular humanism does a much better job of arguing for personal responsibility because it does not rest on a belief in a sometimes benevolent, sometimes vindictive, sometimes rational god. There is no grace coming from any god or any god's son, according to secular humanism. There is no mechanism for repentance making it all right. There is only us and the conscious steps we take to construct political and economic systems that are fair and just and acknowledge each other's humanity.

    The fundamental problem with Christianity (and with several of the other codified, formalized religions) is that it encourages us to lie to each other and tell ourselves that this special "grace" can come from some other being, some other place, and all we have to do is "accept" this grace and confess and repent. No. No. NO. What we have to do is construct systems of fair play, systems that keep selfishness, lying, theft, hatred, violence at bay. Yes, we are deeply flawed creatures but there is no god (ultimate father figure) to bail us out when we screw up. Rather if this world is going to be any better, it is completely up to us to make it so. This is a maturely rational position that shows up Christianity for the infantilizing and intellectually empty set of beliefs it is.

    August 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • lamelionheart

      Sired Seph...

      Just exactly how moral can one become before their moralizing concepts run amuck and rampant bringing harm to one's societal fields' folds..? Where does moralities end and immoralities begin..? Where also does righteous civilities end and treacherous civilities begin..?

      I ask because I am unable to rationalize with much clarities any conceptual ideologies that the wholeness of socialisms cannot arguably consider...

      August 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • .

        Oh look the pseudo intellect has posted their garbage yet again. Don't bother reading, just laugh and move on.

        August 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          Once again I give thanks to your bringing to light my worded wittiness ways.. TYVM 😳

          August 10, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • .

          " my worded wittiness ways"

          No, this is just another excuse you are using to try and justify your poor writing skills. They are not witty at all.

          August 10, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          Whatever you say is true.... I stand corrected... Please forgive me my ways will you..?

          August 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
        • .

          keep making excuses for yourself but it won't change the fact you have poor writing skills.

          August 10, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • markdemers

      To be honest, I don’t think you and Rachel are that far apart. You admit that “we are deeply flawed creatures.” Rachel claims to get that information from her religion. How did you come by it? “Personal responsibility.” Assuming you both are correct – that human beings are “sinful”, or “deeply flawed,” there is a point at which every individual has to come to this awareness themselves. In Christian teaching, that awareness is part of a process called “repentance”. And, as she notes in her piece, “confession” is not the exclusive property of Christianity. Every Twelve Step program uses it liberally.

      And how can “deeply flawed creatures” be trusted to do what you say we have to do – “construct systems of fair play, systems that keep selfishness, lying, theft, hatred, violence at bay”? A vision of a “better system” is what Christians call the Reign of God. Their inspiration for that vision is Jesus. And the people Jesus criticized most severely were the self-confident self-righteous folk who thought they had all the answers.

      You say: “If this world is going to be any better, it is completely up to us to make it so.” She says that the first step in the liberating process of making the world better – our world, and everyone’s world – us a step of grace. You say it is entirely a rational process – presumably inspired by and fueled by secular humanism. Neither of you deny the need for a different world. Why come down so negatively on a piece that seems to say so much of what you want to say?

      Just wondering.

      August 10, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      So tell us"Seph",how long do you think you will have been dead by the time this Glorious Utopia will be realized,hmm?...a 100 years? 1,000?10,000? Whatever flaws you think are inherent within MS.Evans claims(or Christianity's claims),the fantasy world you envision will NEVER be realized as long as humanity is as it is.As long as we've been human,your kind of world has NEVER existed,EVER!! Christianity may have its flaws,but it NEVER deludes itself about the human heart,as MS.Evans pointed out,and is on all its ugly display on this blog!!

      August 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • skytag

      "Rather if this world is going to be any better, it is completely up to us to make it so."

      indeed, for all the talk of what God can do, and there is a lot of it, there's no evidence he's actually done anything.

      August 10, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  20. K2

    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. - 1 Corinthians 1:18

    August 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      You mean there are religious beliefs and cults who declare those who follow them are smart and good and those that don't follow them are stupid and bad? Wow! I would never have guessed it.

      August 10, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
      • Clarification

        That's not what the verse is saying. It's saying that for those who don't believe, the message of Jesus is foolish or "stupid and bad." To those who do believe, the message of Jesus is the power of God or "smart and good." It offers no assessment of the people themselves.

        August 10, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          And somehow you managed to miss the entire point. Religions always say that they are right and others are wrong. That's what a religion is, does, expresses in every moment of its existence. Of course a religion is going to say that those who agree with it see its "sense" and those that don't agree with it don't see its "sense." Would you expect anything else?

          August 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxDtEs9uTVk&w=640&h=360]

          August 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          The idea that one can only understand the logic and rightiousness of a postion until AFTER they have accepted it as "true" is "Cult Logic".

          August 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Robert

      For forty years the rainbow will not appear; For forty years it will be seen every day: The arid earth will grow more dry, And great flood when it will be seen.

      Century 1 Quatrain 17

      August 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
      • Beth

        What a load of malarky.

        August 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • Robert

          Exactly, just like the bible is a load of malarky.

          August 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
        • skytag

          @Robert: "Exactly, just like the bible is a load of malarky."

          Yeah, but it's their malarkey, and they seem to be quite attached to it.

          August 10, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • Robert

      Pestilences extinguished, the world becomes smaller, For a along time the lands will be inhabited in peace; People will travel safely through the sky (over) land and wave: Then wars will start anew.

      Century 1, Quatrain 63

      August 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • Reality

        See more of Nostradamus at http://nostradamus2012.com/quatrains/centurie_1_quatrains_1-100.php.

        And finish up with https://webspace.utexas.edu/cokerwr/www/index.html/prophecy.shtml which is a review of all the nitty-gritty of such silliness.

        August 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
        • Shawn

          "https://webspace.utexas.edu/cokerwr/www/index.html/prophecy.shtml "

          Why do you post something that has no real research to back itself up, it's a thesis paper, not actual fact.

          August 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
        • Reality

          The conclusions of said research:

          "A perennially popular belief is that some people have the inexplicable ability to foretell or foresee what is going to happen in the future. Among those who have been claimed to have such an ability are the 16th century occultist Michel de Nostredame, and more recent “seers” such as Irene Hughes, Criswell, Jeane Dixon, Edgar Cayce and Sylvia Browne. The “accuracy” claimed for such visions of the future is 90%–100%. During late December or early January many newspapers print “predictions of top psychics” for the coming year. Again, high accuracy is claimed for such predictions. It is suggested the reader try the simple experiment of saving such a newspaper and reading it a year later. Such tests have been done many times, and the result is always that, at best, only 5%–10% of the predictions bear any resemblance to actual events; the ratio of successful to unsuccessful predictions is generally far below even the chance level— if one makes random predictions for events which have only two possible outcomes, one should surely get pretty close to a 50% success rate. “Real” seers do not do even this well. In fact, a 1% “hit-rate” is fairly common. "

          August 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Reality

      Putting the cross in 21st century perspective- only for the new members:

      "So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      August 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • lamelionheart

        Silly Reality...

        Why is it that you keep making vain attempts to translate biblical records with rumor mill antic that tend to falsify and berate..?

        August 10, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • skytag

      Posting Bible verses as if you are casting a spell on us or something only makes you look as if you have no thoughts of your own.

      August 10, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
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About this blog

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.