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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. sybaris

    What Christians need for the holidays is to understand that there is no more compelling evidence or reason to believe in their god/religion than any other.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • AE

      You don't have compelling evidence to believe. You don't get to decide that for other people.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Jesus' Beloved

      Jesus is coming soon. All the signs are there for those who read their Bible and read His Word in Matthew 24.
      Change your mind about God because the Kingdom of Heaven is here.

      You live the Kingdom by Love (not by feeling) but through patience, kindness, cleansing the leper, healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the hungry etc.
      God Bless (Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and He will)

      Isaiah 65:1 The Lord says, people who never before inquired about me are now seeking me out. Nations who never before searched for me are finding me.

      (Let's redeem the time because the days are evil – they're evil because the devil knows his time is short). Don't be unwise, today is the day of salvation.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
      • igaftr

        we'll throw this on the million other doomsday "prophecies" that men have talked themselves into.

        December 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          🙂 The second coming of Christ Jesus is not a doomsday prophecy.

          It's a guaranteed promise sealed with His Blood.

          If your brother told you he's returning from a foreign land, be on the lookout for him, what's so doomsday about that?
          That's why you need to read your Bible so that you're not needlessly worried. So that you'll understand all that is taking place around you.

          A bride always makes preparations to meet her groom at the altar. What would you do if your bride was totally unprepared for her wedding day.

          God Bless, change your mind about Him because the Kingdom of heaven is here.

          December 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • igaftr

          First, He said he would return within a generation....100 generations ...nothing
          Secondly, since we know where the Jesus myth came from, we know there is little reason to believe in it.
          Third, can I have all your stuff, since you won't be needing it anymore?

          Nogomain will be quite upset with you for worshipping the wrong god all these years.

          December 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          Will you show me where Jesus said He's returning within 1 generation?

          December 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
        • Alias

          Matt 16:28 There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

          Matt 10:23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

          Matt 24:34 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

          Mark 13:30 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

          Luke 21:32 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

          December 15, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
      • Owned

        Christians have been saying 'jesus is coming' for thousands of years, guess what buddy, he isn't real. deal with it. all religion is made up bs, just like unicorns

        December 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
        • Vincent

          totally agree!

          December 15, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          Noah preached for over 100 years telling the people of the upcoming flood, warning them to get into the ark. Just like today, they're all at ease, filled up with the cares of this world (what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul).
          Jesus Himself – the authority tells us that Just like the days of Noah so will the days of his second coming be. People will be doing the same things too busy to give a thought, they say the same things: we've been hearing of this coming for thousands of years- (if you understood the significance of 7 and God's perfect rest) then you would understand what is happening.
          Anyway, when you see Damascus cease to exist as a city in one day (yes, it's still a city now) then you'll perhaps believe everything in the Bible is true. It's not to frighten you and make you fearful. No
          You're supposed to read and understand how a perfect Kingdom (God's kingdom) works.
          Hint: Under the Kingship of Solomon, that was the closest any earthly Kingdom came to what God commanded.

          Be Blessed.

          December 15, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
        • UncleM

          @Jesus' Beloved. You do realize the story of Noah is made up, don't you?

          December 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          UncleM:
          Jesus Himself said as in the days of Noah when people didn't believe so it would be for his second coming.

          I take His WORD over the word of any man, any day, any time.

          Jesus said it, so you can take it to the bank. Look around you, most people are busy with the cares of life. You tell them the Kingdom of heaven has arrived and they react just like you.

          Please don't be caught off guard, you have no excuse, you've been warned.

          December 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
        • Ave atque vale

          Jesus' Beloved,
          "Jesus Himself said as in the days of Noah when people didn't believe so it would be for his second coming."

          1. Nobody knows for sure what Jesus said, nor even who he was.

          2. Even if he did refer to that old story of Noah, it would be like us referring to some old fable of Aesop's by saying "Sour gr.apes" or to a story from Shakespeare by saying "Just like Romeo and Juliet."

          December 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
        • Henny Penny

          @Jesus' Beloved,

          "Just like the days of Noah..."

          And just like the days of Chicken Little, you continue to declare, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

          December 15, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
      • Dr James

        Yes Jesus is coming soon! When people say he isn't because past generations have claimed the same, they are actually fulfilling prophecy themselves! That's what the Bible said would happen near the end! When people disappear you all better start stockpiling bibles and buy everything you'll need for 7 years and go hide before you are forced to worship the new world leader. It's coming, study the blood moon tetrad coming up and look at Israel. After 1900 years they formed a nation again, no other group could do that without God!

        December 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
        • doobzz

          Why did Jesus lie about it then?

          December 15, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
        • Answer

          On your deathbed you'll be asking yourself "Why haven't my jeebus come already?"

          December 15, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • IReason

      Really????

      I thought the word you people use is faith, which in my understanding of the word requires no proof. Stpupid, but it is you philosophy not mine.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  2. Justice

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IA3ZvCkRkQ&w=640&h=360]

    December 15, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • james

      best wasted time today, thanks, j

      December 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  3. Jesus' Beloved

    Mr. Russell Moore, you and the poet are focusing on the wrong thing. You're both too sin conscious. The Bible tells us Sin shall not have dominion over us, because we're not under the Law, we're under grace. This is a very simple but an Oh so profound statement. Let it sink into your heart, then there will be no need for writings such as this.
    Be Free. You're Free from all guilt and condemnation.
    "Grace is a position of rest and peace. When you understand your righteousness, you have peace and quietness. All you have to do is appropriate and acknowledge what God has already done. God has already forgiven us and dealt with all our sins."

    God Bless

    December 15, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • igaftr

      yes...Nogomain is a wonderful god, who created everything for us, including himself.

      December 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • AE

      Do we have a license to sin now?

      December 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        Absolutely Not!
        By sinning you're transgressing against God.
        And secondly by sinning you're allowing the devil to have an inroad into your life- this is where he gets in and causes death (the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy).
        So why would one want to step out from under the protection of the Holy Spirit. It's unwise.
        So no, one does not have license to sin. that would be a foolish thing to do.

        December 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • George

          "God has already forgiven us and dealt with all our sins."

          Make up your mind... if you're a Christian does sinning prevent you from getting into heaven or not? If not, then it doesn't really matter if you sin, since what affects you life now does not affect your afterlife.

          December 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          I've already said no one goes to hell for sin, they go for unbelief. (What else is there to make up my mind about).

          Of course it matters if you sin. It's through sin that the devil kills a person whether slowly or quickly. So it makes no sense to me that someone who knows the Love of God, who also is walking in that Love, and being a disciple (by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, because you love one another) would say because I'm forgiven of past, present and future sins that it's okay to sin.
          That's like saying because your spouse will never divorce you it's okay to commit adultery.
          Only a selfish and proud person would do that.

          God is not mocked, because whatsoever a person sows he's sure to reap the same. One cannot sow sin and not expect to reap the consequences of sin – as meted out by the devil.

          Be Blessed.

          December 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • Damocles

          So murder is ok, but not believing is unacceptable. Makes sense.

          December 15, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • UncleM

      No gods, bible is myth, Jesus – if he actually existed – a regular guy. @Jesus' Beloved, why don't you grow up and start thinking for yourself. Quoting a book of myths, fables and downright lies won't get you anywhere.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        I get it that you don't believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or the Bible.
        However,

        I do.
        I believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. I believe that every situation that any person could face is given in the Bible and it gives guidelines on how to deal with them.
        I believe in the Power of Words. God created the universe with His words.
        I believe the universe is still expanding in all directions at the speed of light 186,000 miles/sec in all directions.
        I believe if you could get out to the outer boundaries of that light where it is still expanding, and could withstand the impact of that light, that just before that light hits you, you would hear the audible voice of God commanding "Light Be!".

        Do you know why the light is still expanding? I do.
        There's still void out there.

        Have a Blessed day.

        December 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
        • UncleM

          Drivel

          December 15, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
      • Damocles

        @jesus' beloved

        I profess to being a tad confused. While I'm not really up on my bible reading, doesn't it say something along the lines of 'the deity created the heavens'? Created, not is creating. If it's created, no need for expansion, right? No void, either.

        December 15, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          Creation is a finished work.
          Salvation is a finished work.
          Healing is a finished work.
          If you receive healing now, it's not because you were just healed now; you were healed 2000 yrs ago; same for salvation. So yes creation is a finished work. It's the power of the word that causes the action to continue. People and animals are still multiplying; trees and herbs etc. are still being generated from seeds within the tree etc.

          When God does something it's not done within the boundaries of time (as the carnal mind perceives time).
          That is why Jesus was a lamb slain before the foundations of the world.
          A concept of being outside of time – God exists presently in your past, He exists presently in your present, and He exists presently in your grandchildren's future.
          See Matthew 22:31-32... I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? So God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

          December 15, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
        • Damocles

          @jb

          Ahhh... so the healing I require takes an eternity to arrive at the wounds that have been an eternity in the making? This all-powerful deity you have cooked up would most certainly be a deity of the dead. Of the living, of the murderous, of the loving, of the most foul. You can't have an all-deity and expect its hands to be clean.

          December 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
        • H.S.

          God does not experience time the way we do. In God's eyes, everything that has happened, is happening and will ever happen is happening right now, all at the same time. It doesn't make sense to us, but then again, it doesn't have to.

          December 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Rett

      Only those who have placed their trust in his sacrifice are no longer condemned.....his sacrifice was for all.....but not all accept it.....at least that is my take on how the Bible describes it.

      December 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        You are correct.
        Keep reading..... and stay Blessed.

        December 15, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
      • H.S.

        Interestingly enough, this is what our priest spoke about in his homily based on the Gospel of Luke yesterday.

        Many are invited to the banquet. Only a few will accept.

        December 16, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Realist

      --------------
      ...................................................

      Christianity is built upon a LIE ...

      ................ because ....................

      ..... http://www.GodIsImaginary.com ...

      ... and thank goodness because he ...

      ............. emanates from the .............

      ...................... http://www.EvilBible.com

      -----------------
      .............................................................

      December 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • H.S.

      Excellent reply, but only one omission: repentence. With repentence, you are no longer guilty nor deserving of condemnation for your sins. Being the good and loving God that He is, He would rather not dwell on your sins, but overlook them with your repentence.

      December 16, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
      • G to the T

        That's Justice eh? So if I kill somebody and I repent, I shouldn't be sent to jail?

        December 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  4. Lionly Lamb

    Teach not in bondage ways... Teach openly and be less negative when found in bondage of others...

    December 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • igaftr

      LL
      It is those who do not get taught in the proper ways of bondage that have auto-asphyxiation deaths. They really need to learn those quick release knots.

      December 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
      • Jon

        Any Catholics here? They always go the good sh.t. Not like that atheist ditch weed everyone in my hood smokes.

        December 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  5. Lionly Lamb

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xA_-3yUn8ms&w=640&h=360]

    December 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      Someone PLEASE give Lionly Lamb a doobie already so he might shut up for a minute...

      December 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • H.S.

      He absolutely did smoke weed. It was used as a healing agent.

      I didn't watch the video, but I'm sure it falls within the NSFW category. My study and research has brought me to the conclusion that the chrismation oil used by the disciples (and LONG before them) was made up of nine pounds of Kaneh-boshem soaked in 2.5 liters of olive oil. Then it was poured over the body. Hence the healing effect. Can you imagine nine pounds of pot soaking in just a little over a 2-liter bottle of olive oil? That must have been some potent stuff!

      But yes, we are commanded by God in the Scriptures to partake of kaneh-boshem. Anyone who says that partaking of marijuana is against Christianity is either lying to push their own agenda or ignorant of the Scriptures.

      December 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  6. Sandy Ransom

    What's really kinda sad is that adults in 2013 are still debating this tired old fairy tale. Free yourself from the tyranny of religion. Check out the Freedom From Religion Foundation FFRF.org.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • H.S.

      Ahh, but you see, many of us don't see religion as tyranny, but as a gentle guiding force through life. We don't have to involve ourselves, but we are invited and some of us choose to be there. Myself included. I don't go because I'm scared of God or because I feel I have to, for whatever reason. I go because our Divine Liturgy is one of the most beautiful worship services, ever. I go because I feel better. I go because I want that kind of peace in my life.

      Don't deny others the opportunity to find the inner peace they seek. Some may find it outside of the church. Others, within. It's all about your perspective.

      December 16, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
      • G to the T

        Ignorance is bliss I guess?

        December 17, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  7. D.A. Rodrigues

    To the Author: Great article and solid truth regarding our current condition as "fallen."

    To the swine that can't accept these pearls of wisdom: You're swine and you're angry and you trample.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • igaftr

      and you troll.

      December 15, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
      • oo oo

        Troll

        December 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      Gee, D. A., such tender Crischin Luv(tm) radiating from your post toward those with whom you disagree! And then you wonder why the old mud about hypocrisy still sticks so well...

      December 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • igaftr

      "To the swine that can't accept these pearls of wisdom: You're swine and you're angry and you trample."

      So the Dalai Lama is swine who is angry and tramples?
      Isn't there some commandment about bearing false witness sinner?

      December 15, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • H.S.

        Where did s/he bear false witness?

        December 16, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
        • G to the T

          He assumed to know the state of our hearts and judge us accordingly. His assumption is the issue.

          December 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • doobzz

      Oh, yes, god loves you so much. He loves you like a father. He even ra.ped a woman to get her pregnant with himself so he could commit suicide for you and then he became a zombie for you. That's how much he loves you.

      When you believe he did this for you, you get to go to a floaty place in the sky after you die, where you'll get to tell him over and over and over and over how wonderful he is forever.

      When you believe the zombie Jeebus story, it makes you more special, more loving, more kind and more compassionate than everyone else, and you get to tell everyone how much better you are. Also, you can pretty much do whatever you want, like discriminate against dark skinned people or women or those nasty hom.ose.xuals. You can even lie, cheat on your spouse, steal, or whatever and just go, "Ooops, sorry, the old sin nature." and it's all good.

      And if you don't believe this, you're a pig and the loving god's going to roast you like a marshmallow for eternity.

      LOLOLOL!!!!

      December 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
      • H.S.

        What an ugly, skewed interpretation of Christianity. I'm sorry you feel that way.

        December 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
        • doobzz

          It is an ugly picture of the xtian god and the men he chose to be his special envoys, but it's accurate. The bible is an ugly book at times. It's not an interpretation, however. I am simply stating facts that I found in the bible when I was a xtian. Do you deny that they are in there?

          If I am in error with regard to these facts, please point out how. Otherwise, it's a fair assessment of those particular bible stories.

          December 16, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  8. C'mon now

    If Russel Moore thinks that Evangelical "Christians" give two figs about what a Catholic fiction writer has to say about god… he's got his bible up his tuchas. Evangelical "Christians" only care about the god they've created to justify their bigotry and greed.

    Hey Moore, you might as well ask them to start listening to the "Marxist" Pope!

    December 15, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      Well, I noticed that he, like most Christians(tm), goes straight to Saul of Tarsus (the Romans cite) and never to the actual teachings of the Christ. Typical...

      December 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  9. tallulah13

    I find it quite silly when someone says that other people "need" something. It's presumptuous and arrogant.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Akira

      Well, to be honest, they're usually trying to sell you something...

      December 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • devin

      " It is not the healthy who need a physician, but the sick. For I have not come for the righteous, but for sinners."

      – Jesus Christ

      Perhaps you don't.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        And you're superhuman that you DON'T, devin?...

        December 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
        • devin

          Quite the opposite, but please do tell me where I indicated I "DON'T:

          December 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          Then why are you snarking on the previous poster with your "perhaps you don't" line? You DO remember that one little ditty about logs in eyes versus specks in others' eyes, don't you? Who are you to snark on her when you have your own problems to deal with?...

          December 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
        • devin

          ... I'm .... afraid... you've.... missed ... the ... point.

          December 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
        • AE

          I think Devin means Jesus didn't come for the "superhumans", but instead for the weak humans.

          December 15, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • bajadelmar

        Sinners??? What you really mean is everyone that doesn't believe in your made-up fairy tale. It's so nice of xians to call people that are different than them derogatory names.

        December 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
        • devin

          "derogatory names" ? Reading comprehension becomes more of a lost art every day.

          December 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
        • AE

          It appears he implied that Christians were the sinners. Not you.

          December 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
        • Ruby Long

          The Latin sin just means without. To sin then could mean, someone without the religion
          Give it a rest already, name calling at each other is so infantile.

          December 15, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
        • AE

          The Greek biblical word for sin, "amartia", means literally "to miss the mark", like an archer. Sin is not necessarily defined by moral wrongness, by transgressing some set of rules, but is instead doing anything that takes our focus off God (the target), onto ourselves, thinking we are the be-all-and-end-all.

          "Sin is nothing else than to neglect eternal things, and seek after temporal things" - St. Augustine

          December 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • Ave atque Vale

          Ruby Long,

          "Without" in Latin is "sine" (pronounced 'seenay', not "sin".

          The Latin for "sin" is "peccatum" (as in "ora pro nobis peccatoribus" – pray for us sinners - in the Latin Hail Mary.)

          December 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
      • Rett

        Devin, I too thought of that verse when some comments to this post.....I heard a minister say once that you have to get a man lost before he can be saved. When Jesus said to some Jewish listeners, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" they immediately protested with "We are the seed of Abraham and have never been in bondage to anyone. how can you say we will be set free'? To which Jesus answered, "Every man who sins is a slave to sin." The trick is getting someone to recognize their need.

        December 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          And you're in THE EXACT SAME BOAT, Rett. It's the sanctimonious arrogance of posts like yours and devin's–with its assumption that you are above all that–that turn people away from the teachings of the Christ. Maybe you should mind the log in your own eye first...

          December 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
        • Ruby Long

          A good insight! I think both the religious and the non religious are trying to do that very thing. I think perhaps both are partly right since both points of view are incomplete.

          December 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • Rett

          Of course I am in the same boat.....I never claimed or implied I was not. All are in the same predicament but some accept the remedy, others do not. That is the difference.

          December 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
        • G to the T

          "All are in the same predicament but some accept the remedy, others do not. That is the difference."

          Noooo... Christianity provides a remedy (salvation) for a predicament it creates (sin). That's why I prefer Buddhism – "Suffering Exists". That is a statement you can start from without having to buy into all the other baggage that supernaturalism requires.

          December 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  10. fortheloveofellipsis

    L. Ron Hubbard once said the fastest way to get rich is to found your own religion. And then he went out and proved it...

    December 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      This is supposed to be a reply to aldewac's post about "smoke and mirrors" and promising to give the money to a good cause. My, the replies here are truly messed up, aren't they?...

      December 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  11. aldewacs2

    (Hmmmm... the REPLY button seems to send replies to random places...)

    December 15, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      That's all right; my last two replies just plain vanished...

      December 15, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
      • fyi

        @forthelove...

        Maybe you ran into the word filter. Google "CNN Belief Blog WordPress filter hints" and find a copy of the list of hints.

        December 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          That might be helpful, thanks. But I don't recall what could have been offensive in any of the posts...

          December 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • AE

          Certain words, like const.itution are banned, because t.it appears in it. But if you type a . in the middle it passes the test.

          December 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
        • fyi

          @forthelove...

          It's not necessarily offensive words... they are word fragments within words, like 't.it' in const.itution, 'c.um' in doc.ument, 'v.ag' in sav.age, etc.

          December 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  12. Billy

    Almira Gulch became a Christian?

    December 15, 2013 at 10:49 am |
  13. Kebos

    O'Connor merely sounds like another crackpot. A dime a dozen.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • devin

      " You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd."

      – Flannery O'conner

      December 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        And yet, I'd bet cash money that you support "Biblical law" in our law codes because Christians(tm) in America are a huge majority, devin. And not see the irony...

        December 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • devin

          I don't even know how to respond to that broad generalization. Do you mean like "Don't Kill", "Don't Steal" "Don't be bangin your neighbor's wife" ? Those "biblical laws" that are in our "law codes"?

          December 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          Yeah, devin, because the Code of Hammurabi, as well as all law codes that predate the Decalogue, had no problem with murder or theft–oh wait. They also proscribed against them. And since when is adultery a criminal offense in the US?...

          December 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
        • Slugawug

          Since 23 states consider still a Cruikshank act

          December 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • Slugawug

          *criminal act.....sorry typing on my phone

          December 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  14. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    It's not all that strange that she could imagine eternal torment more readily than an eternity of praising God. People understand guilt, punishment and vengeance. A lot of people think that love and kindness are simply being delivered from such things: God the Father is good because for the sake of his son Jesus Christ he has promised not to harm me today.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Kebos

      You give god and jesus too much credit .

      December 15, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Steve brinkman

      That's.....crazy talk. You know that Jesus allegedly died for, at most, three days. Lots of people have been through a whole lot worse. I just don't get it – it's always blood, drinking blood and flesh, and animal and human sarifice, the smell of burning animal flesh being pleasing to god, mass murder, war, more blood, laws demanding death for mixing fabrics, more blood, flooding the earth and killing almost everyone including no doubt your precious unborn, ethnic cleansing of the Promised Land, mass murder by eating by a bear of CHILDREN who dared to tease a prophet about his bald head, killing some poor fool who tried to keep the Ark upright and another who refused to impregnate his sister-in-law. I mean, this is your 'god of pure LOVE'? Unreal.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  15. Reality

    Prayers are futile.

    Free Will and Future are inherent to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers. Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature..

    So put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows or bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the proper rulesof living as gracious and good human beings

    December 15, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Deep thoughts

      If prayer worked, 9-1-1 would be a church hotline.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      "Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the proper rulesof living as gracious and good human beings"

      Ironically enough, this is exactly what the Christ charged His followers to do. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners. Most people who advertise themselves as Christians(tm) don't feed the hungry, but only tell them some sanctimonious shizzle about "give a man a fish"; they don;t clothe the naked, only tell them to stop being 47% OWS lazy bums and go get a job; and if you're a prisoner, well, they just want to see you fry and burn in Hell...

      December 15, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  16. Colin

    The author writes, "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."

    I have never understood that. The core Christian doctrine that an all loving God required its own son to be horribly tortured and murdered to forgive the original sin of a couple who we now all know never existed. Why not just forgive us, after all, He is God and makes the rules? Why did we need forgiving anyway. Holding us accountable for things that happened before we were born is ridiculously unjust. And – it never even happened !! Adam and Eve is a myth. Anybody with an IQ higher than room temperature knows that.

    The ability of the religious mind to ignore fundamental flaws in their own theology is quite astounding.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Emil

      Chesterton commented that of all Christian beliefs, our belief about our own sinfulness is the most easily verified. Colin seems to believe that the Good News is about original sin, not Colin's sin or mine. Colin could also benefit from thinking about the pain of the Father in the suffering of the Son. The Trinity is a reality we will not understand, but why should the created, us, expect to understand the Creator?

      Moore's piece and O'Connor's prayers are indeed Good News.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • Roger that

        'The Trinity is a reality we will not understand'

        And you're ok with that?

        December 15, 2013 at 10:36 am |
        • aldewacs2

          Humans invented the 'trinity' hence we can clearly see it for the attempt to impress us that it is.
          See "Occam's rasor" if in doubt.

          December 15, 2013 at 11:55 am |
        • Roger that

          True, and not understanding it, should be the first clue. Don't believe the first thing that comes along defying the laws of nature.

          December 15, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        And yet, Emil, I'd bet cash money you can tell us we can read the mind of God(tm) by just reading one old black book...

        December 15, 2013 at 11:55 am |
        • aldewacs2

          The religious are perfectly capable of translating the simple stuff when it suits them, but when people of normal intelligence can see through the BS, they resort to claims of "you're not smart enough to read god's mind". Where they get that bit of information is never quite explained – private revelations, I guess.

          December 15, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • devin

      "... after all, He is God and makes the rules" You inadvertently stumbled upon a concept which, until you are able to grasp, will always be a source of frustration.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • doobzz

        And you have stumbled on a man made construct that allows you to explain away even the most heinous and hypocritical acts of the xtian god and xtians.

        December 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
        • alakhtal

          they miss fiction.
          abrogator of abrogated
          Shakespeare & KJV Bible is authored by either one of the following contenders:
          Amelia Bassano
          Edward de Vere
          Christopher Marlowe
          Francis Bacon
          William Stanley

          December 15, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  17. banlarson

    Interesting. Having been a Christian for 40 years the path each of us takes can be long and rocky, but through all of it I have always had the peace of God with me; what else does one need.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • igaftr

      Reality.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • G to the T

      Certainty in a idea is a sure sign that someone doesn't understand the idea to begin with.

      December 17, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  18. Mary

    It has been my personal experience, that those who call themselves christians and sit in church every sunday think that gives them a free pass to treat others like dirt, and sit in judgement.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Emil

      Mary, yes, you have had the experience, buy I have had far different experiences with Christians. Maybe it would hep you to meet more Christians.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:23 am |
      • aldewacs2

        The percentage of good Christians vs poor ones is probably about the same as that percentage in the general population.

        December 15, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • David

      So you have actually met every single person who sits in church every Sunday? You get around a lot. Either that or you are just a hateful person. Not sure which, but I'm guessing....

      December 15, 2013 at 10:25 am |
      • aldewacs2

        Mary did not allude to that. She specifically said 'personal experience', i.e. whatever she saw in her own life.
        Your attempt to shove words in her mouth is typical for religious apologists. Shame on you.

        December 15, 2013 at 11:48 am |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        "Either that or you are just a hateful person."

        Gee, that remarks is just FULL of Chrischin Luv(tm), innit?...

        December 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
        • doobzz

          Sunday mornings are the best for seeing the hypocrisy of xtian love. They've gone to church and gotten smoke blown up their asses for an hour, now they feel all self righteous and ready for battle.

          December 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      Those who most advertise their Christianity(tm) are the one who least follow the teachings of the Christ, in my experience...

      December 15, 2013 at 11:48 am |
      • aldewacs2

        You can take the positives in the message and be a good person without believing in he supernatural aspect of the magic book(s).

        December 15, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • Rett

          It being a good person was the ticket to heaven then you would be right

          December 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          Translated Rett: "If you cannot believe in literal terms the virgin birth and the resurrection, you will burn in agony of torment for all eternity, no matter what good you may have done on Earth under the influence of the Christ's teachings. And while you're at it, you also have to believe the Earth and all things on and in it were created in exactly 144 hours and the Earth is also only 6,017 years old"...

          December 15, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
        • Rett

          Jesus said there will be those who cast out demons in his name and did other wonders in his name and yet he said of them, "Depart from me, you who practice wickedness. I never knew you" you main issue seems to be with what Jesus himself said. It is not the good you do that gets you into heaven......many who are better than you and me may miss heaven because they are aiming for the wrong goal....being good. The Bible teaches that God's holiness is the standard we are all held accountable for.....obviously we can not attain that because of our sin which necessitates a redeemer.....so many compare themselves to others and deem themselves worthier of God's kingdom than others. That is not how it works because again the standard by which we are measured is not how we measure up to others......imagine a contest to see who could jump to the moon. You jump three feet and I jump three and half feet. I beat you but considering how far I missed the moon I don't have much room to brag do I? If you have not received the righteousness of Christ then all the good you did in His name has not atoned for your sin

          December 15, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Akira

      There is that saying that goes "sitting in a church every Sunday does not make one a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes one a car."

      December 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • oo oo

      It has been my experience that athies support a sick animal rrapist

      December 15, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  19. Deep Thoughts

    Things tend to even out. Religion some people say, has caused wars and fighting. Yes, but it's also boring to sit through church service. So it evens out.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  20. hearties

    "I cannot imagine the disembodied souls hanging in a crystal for all eternity praising God."

    I can.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • G to the T

      Will there be no sin in heaven or no free will?

      December 15, 2013 at 11:51 am |
      • doobzz

        That's right, no sin and no free will. Just like here on earth.

        December 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
      • test

        ɐɥ

        December 20, 2013 at 8:27 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.