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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. Andy

    "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."

    This is the least admirable teaching of Christianity, the idea that we are all wrecked and fallen and freakish and unworthy of the grace by which Jesus saves us from our wretchedness. Too many Christians dwell on this aspect of Christian teaching and lead a self-fulfilling miserable existence as a result.

    December 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Andy : the idea that we are all wrecked and fallen and freakish and unworthy of the grace by which Jesus saves us from our wretchedness.

      How do you differentiate between 'worthy' and 'unworthy'?

      December 17, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
      • Andy

        I don't ponder it (I'm not a Christian); I was just pointing out what I consider to be a really depressing teaching of Christianity.

        December 17, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Andy : I don't ponder it (I'm not a Christian); I was just pointing out what I consider to be a really depressing teaching of Christianity.

          If you don't ponder it, then you don't know if it is true or false. If it is true, then why would it be depressing?

          December 17, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • Dolores

          I don't ponder it because it's basis is clearly false to me. Having given it a little thought since, I guess I would say that under that system the god's creations are worthy of being saved simply because he created them.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • Andy

          None of it seems true to me, so I don't ponder it. That's all.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
        • Andy

          I guess I tend to agree with Dolores, though. Why create pathetic creatures that will just be doomed? The fact you create them seems to be enough reason that they are worthy of being saved from the punishment you also created.

          December 17, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Andy : Why create pathetic creatures that will just be doomed? The fact you create them seems to be enough reason that they are worthy of being saved from the punishment you also created.

          When you scramble eggs, do you keep the shell? When you build a house, do you use all the supplies? No, there is always some waste – even when mankind 'creates' the supplies. So, why the double standard – one for God and one for others?

          December 17, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • Andy

          Um, because he's a god?

          December 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
        • Andy

          Also, by your metaphor, the entire egg is waste, according to Christian teaching, since nobody is worthy of being saved.

          December 17, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
        • Max

          I find that a supposedly perfect being who creates waste isn't all that perfect.
          What a dumb analogy.

          December 17, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Andy : Also, by your metaphor, the entire egg is waste, according to Christian teaching, since nobody is worthy of being saved.

          Nobody is worthy of being saved, but some still WILL be saved. So, your posit has been falsified.

          December 17, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
        • Andy

          I thought we were addressing why someone would be worthy of being saved, not if they were going to be... weren't we?

          December 17, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
        • Vic

          Oh..well..this needs to be addressed..In short:

          There are things that are of the Order Of Heaven that we have no total knowledge of. Satan challenged God that man can believe in God by "Free Will" (see Book of Job in the Bible.) God honors that challenge, and out of His Grace, out-challenged Satan with the Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ to fulfill the Law and pay for our sins. All what man needs to do is believe at "Free Will." God won't interfere with "Free Will."

          December 17, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
        • Andy

          Vic : Um, wouldn't if have been much simpler if God had just not honored Satan's challenge (a strange idea in itself) so he wouldn't have to "outchallenge" him? I mean, talk about convoluted!

          December 17, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
        • Vic

          Just like God Himself, the Order Of Heaven is above us, we only know so much about.

          December 17, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
        • Dolores

          Live4Him: "When you scramble eggs, do you keep the shell? When you build a house, do you use all the supplies? No, there is always some waste – even when mankind 'creates' the supplies"

          Is that really how you make sense out of your god creating creatures that he knows will suffer eternal torment?

          December 17, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
        • sam stone

          Funny that folks like Vic claim KNOWLEDGE rather then merely belief.

          December 17, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
      • Jax

        He is quoting the author. Why don't you ask Russel D. Moore?

        December 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • Live4Him

          I responded to Andy's statement, not the quote from the article to which he responded.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Mary

      I agree, Andy. The thought that every human born is a wretch and deserving of punishment is a depressing one. It's not uplifting at all.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Vic

      I apologize for misreading the root post on the issue of Grace - I thought there was an assertion that only the deserving receives Grace.

      December 17, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  2. WASP

    Mary, Mary, quite contrary
    How does your garden grow?
    With silver bells and co.ckleshells
    And pretty maids all in a row.

    December 17, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Mary had a little lamb.
      With mint jelly.

      December 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  3. Mary

    Why can't something exist for a long time without being discovered?

    December 17, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • bostontola

      Almost everything existed for a long time before being discovered by us.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Live4Him

      Why do keep asking questions, when you are plainly uninterested in the answers?

      December 17, 2013 at 11:53 am |
      • Live4Him

        Copy-cat. Uuse your own handle.

        December 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • K-switch

      'Cause humans are nosy.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Why isn't "I don't know...but let's try and find out the real answer" better than making up an answer and pretending it's true?

      December 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • Vic

        See, that's one of BIGGEST takes on atheists, they assert for certainty that our Christian belief in God to be made up, and that is totally disrespectful. That only brings about enmity!

        December 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
        • Vic

          "..one of the BIGGEST.."

          December 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
        • G to the T

          "God" is a concept for which it is virtually impossible to prove one way or the other. The character "Yahweh" as described in the bible and other christian literature has been defined and given attributes. Those items (the source and the characteristics themselves) can be proven one way or the other. And to my mind, have been proven to be lacking.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Depends on the atheist Vic.

          I concede A god may exist, though I have no reason to think so at this time. I concede the christian god may exist but I put it in the same catagory as the possibility Thor is real.

          I say there is absolutely no reason to conclude the christian god is real.
          The christian god is illogical, contradictory, immoral, unethical. (and yes I know you won't agree).
          All historical information leads to the conclusion it is another man made religion out of many.
          Could I be wrong? Yes, and I will change my mind if better information becomes available.
          I have proven I can change my mind on the subject, I have already done it. But until "faith" is no longer required in lue of evidence and logical reasoning I will not accept the christian religion, nor any for that matter.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "they assert for certainty that our Christian belief in God to be made up"

          No Vic, Your belief is very real, it is your god that we think is made up.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        • Vic

          No problem.

          Cheers.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Lastly Vic,

          When you break it down the religion is at base level an "idea". I have no qualms about offending someones "ideas". It doesn't bother me when someone offends mine. Religion wants a special catagory where it can operate unopposed. And I don't mean by not allowing other religions to exist necessarily, what I mean is they don't want anyone to take a stand and say they are wrong..... THAT I find offensive.

          December 17, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • rational63

          Based on the total lack of evidence for your god, it's a very reasonable response!

          December 19, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • WASP

      Mary, Mary, quite contrary
      How does your garden grow?
      With silver bells and co.ckleshells
      And pretty maids all in a row.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Science Works

      Oh but Mary something has been .

      Discovery of 1.4 Million-Year-Old Fossil Human Hand Bone Closes Human Evolution Gap

      Dec. 16, 2013 —

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131216154902.htm

      December 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  4. Hudson Jr.

    This article is a great reminder of the scripture verse in John 1:

    If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.…

    December 17, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Romans

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

      December 17, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Reality # 2

      All of John's Gospel is of questionable historic value.

      To wit:

      From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

      "Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship

      "Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.[3][4] "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous,"[5] and date it to 90-100."

      "The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."

      And from Professor Gerd Ludemann, in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 416,

      "Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "

      See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/john.html

      December 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Vic

      Both, beautiful root post and beautiful video.

      God bless.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  5. Mary

    If God sees everything, doesn't that mean he watches me p.oop? Why does God watch me p.oop?

    December 17, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • JR

      Probably the first honest question you've asked.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:40 am |
  6. bostontola

    The God character in the bible is omniscient and omnipotent. If true, such a being would know everything that has happened and will happen. It is curious that this biblical character appears to react to events, actions, and decisions of people when it must have already known the result from the beginning.

    In the Old Testament, the God character gets angry, inflicts terrible punishment in this life to people that choose to ignore its laws. It carries that punishment for 4 generations, to people that had no choice.

    Later, we are told that we have free will. God's policies changed. Now we can choose. An omniscient being changing, learning, reacting to man's decisions seems bound by time, not above it. This God changes the rules as we go along instead of setting up perfect rules from the beginning, even when it would know all that was to happen.

    These flaws in the God character can only be attributable to the men that wrote the stories. That makes the doc.ument flawed. Each person can now interpret as they please. Each person derives their own subjective truth. There is then no objective truth in the book.

    I think it's cool that lots of people choose to believe these stories as true, but the factual, logical, and moral flaws in the bibles lead others to conclude it is created by humans and not the word of the God character within it.

    December 17, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Live4Him

      @bostontola : The God character in the bible is omniscient and omnipotent. If true ... These flaws in the God character can only be attributable to the men that wrote the stories.

      Instead of beginning with the idea that the Bible is false, lets presume that it is true until it has been falsified (i.e. following the scientific method). As it is, you've commited the fallacy of circular logic – you presumed the Bible has flaws and then used those so-called flaws to disprove the Bible. But, the only flaws were you lack of understanding what was written. Let me demonstrate a few for you.

      @bostontola : In the Old Testament, the God character gets angry, inflicts terrible punishment in this life to people that choose to ignore its laws.

      Lets assume that you're a parent of a 5-year old. You have a simple rule – don't play in the busy street. What do you do when that child plays in the street? Do you step outside, smile and wave at the child? Or do you punish the child for disobedience? If you chose the latter course, do you smile and joke around as the child is being punished? No. emotions are used to convey the severity of the infraction – so you display an angry countenance to let them know "don't do this ever again."

      December 17, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • Peter

        I would never throw my five year old out of the house and curse all of his or her future offspring for all of eternity, which is basically what god did.

        December 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
      • Madtown

        Or do you punish the child for disobedience?
        -----
        If you're trying to draw up a biblical equivalency, I guess you'd have to chain the child up in the basement for the duration of his life here on earth.

        December 17, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
      • rational63

        According to your own theology, you allow the child to exercise its free will and suffer the consequences!

        December 19, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @bostontola : It carries that punishment for 4 generations, to people that had no choice.

      When a parent has children, they often teach them the way to act – both good and bad. If you're an alcoholic – your children are likely to be too. If you're a manipulator and indiscriminately use others, your children are likely to follow in those footsteps. As the generations pass, these character traits tend to get watered down until they disappear. Additionally, the more authority figures a child has in his/her life, the more the parent's bad traits will be watered down. As societies moved from a patriarchal structure to a community structure, this '3-4 generation' standard was eliminated. We see that in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah.

      Jeremiah 31:29-30 In those days people will no longer say, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.

      By avoiding apriori beliefs, the so-called flaws in the Bible are eliminated by proper application to life.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
      • G to the T

        "Instead of beginning with the idea that the Bible is false, lets presume that it is true until it has been falsified (i.e. following the scientific method)."

        I think you need to read up on the Scientific Method again... Any good theory should be falsifiable, but to assume validity before beginning is called confirmation bias.

        December 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @G to the T : but to assume validity before beginning is called confirmation bias.

          The same is true of assuming invalidity – it leads to confirmation bias – which I demonstrated in my response. The scientific method presumes a theory is valid when at least ONE experiment has been proven it true (of which the Bible has many). Then it works to either confirm the findings or falsify them.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • WASP

          @HIM:
          SCIENCTIFIC METHOD:•The scientific method is a way to ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments.
          •The steps of the scientific method are to:
          ◦Ask a Question
          ◦Do Background Research
          ◦Construct a Hypothesis
          ◦Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
          ◦An.aly.ze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
          ◦Communicate Your Results

          December 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • G to the T

          "The scientific method presumes a theory is valid when at least ONE experiment has been proven it true (of which the Bible has many). Then it works to either confirm the findings or falsify them."
          Ah – here's were we disagree. Can you provide ONE experiment that would prove the validity of the Bible? I've yet to encounter one so you must see where I'm coming from.

          December 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
        • G to the T

          Also – how would one falsify you theory? Remeber, if it's isn't falsfiable, it's not science, it's just your opinion that happens to fit some of the evidence.

          December 17, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @G to the T : Can you provide ONE experiment that would prove the validity of the Bible?

        Did the nation is Israel exist when the Bible claimed that it did. Yes. The Israelite Stele mentions the nation by name around 1200 BC.

        @G to the T : how would one falsify you theory?

        Prove that one of the events in the Bible did not occur. For example, if you could prove that Babylon was never a major kingdom (and thus never conquered Jerusalem), that would falsify the Bible.

        December 17, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Lie4Him
          Yep Lazarus a six day old corpse would have decomposed and been riddled with maggots. If you can replicate bringing such a corpse back to life I would be impressed, please try, it would be so convincing.

          December 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • G to the T

          So because there's some historical versimilitude in the bible, you assume the rest is valid as well? Again, confirmation bias.

          How about counter evidence? I.e. – No evidence for the Exodus. No evidence for the conquering of the "promise land". Evidence that the hebrews were original polytheistic, then went to monalitry and the on the monotheism. No corraborating evidence for the THOUSANDS of supposed witnesses to the miracles in the bible.

          December 17, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  7. Mary

    Why is asking questions considered trolling, but insulting, trivializing, name-calling, and belittling are not?

    December 17, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • bostontola

      Some people are rude. It is also rude to ask many questions but not answer others questions with a statement.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Mary

      Oh wait, I've just worked it out. It's because ALL I ever do is ask silly questions. I never engage, even when people are kind enough to answer me. I am very rude. Why am I so rude?

      December 17, 2013 at 11:37 am |
      • AE

        Probably the first honest statement you've made.

        December 17, 2013 at 11:41 am |
        • G to the T

          To bad it's not really her...

          December 17, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  8. OC

    “They bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their gifts and gave him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)

    For the past 56 years my family has kept a tradition of holding a “birthday party for Jesus.” It started when I was 3 years old and asked my mom, “What is Christmas?” My mom told me it was Jesus’ birthday. With terrific 3-year-old logic, I said, “We should have a birthday party!” And we did, complete with a birthday cake, Kool-Aid, songs, cake, and candles.

    We’ve kept that tradition going for four generations now. The birthday party for Jesus has become a sacred time where we read the Christmas story and share what we’re grateful for and what we’re giving Jesus, which is one of the most memorable parts of the celebration.

    Often, Jesus gets shut out during Christmas. Imagine I planned a party for you and invited many people. Everyone brings lots of gifts, and the invitees trade presents with one another — and you get nothing.

    That’s Christmas. We give gifts to everyone but Jesus. But let’s be honest, what do you give the God who has everything?

    Actually, Jesus doesn’t have everything. There are four things he doesn’t have unless you give them to him this Christmas:

    December 17, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • tony

      You should wait until you are invited, before planning to attend some else's party.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • OC

      Give him your trust. Faith is a voluntary matter. Jesus doesn’t have your trust unless you give it to him. He will never force it.

      Make Jesus first place in your life. If anything or anyone other than Jesus holds first place in your life, it’s an idol. This Christmas, choose to make Jesus first in your finances, interests, relationships, and schedule— and even in your troubles.

      Give Jesus your heart. Your heart is what you love, what you value, and what you care about most. Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34 NIV). One important way you give Jesus your heart this Christmas is by giving your resources to his work. Jesus doesn’t need your money, but he wants what it represents — your heart.

      Bring other people to Jesus. God wants a family more than anything else this Christmas. He wants children who choose to love and trust him. It is the reason we celebrate Christmas. Invite someone to Jesus this Christmas. Tell someone about what Jesus has done in your life.

      The Bible tells us that the Wise Men didn’t give Jesus their leftovers when they visited him on the first Christmas but instead gave three very significant and valuable gifts: “They bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their gifts and gave him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11 NCV).

      As you give Jesus your trust, make him first in your life, give what you value to his work, and bring other people to him, you’re giving him gifts far more valuable than the ones the Wise Men brought.

      So tell Jesus “happy birthday” this Christmas. Give him your best.

      Talk It Over
      • Why do you think giving a gift to Jesus is thought of so little during the Christmas season?
      • What do you think it means to put Jesus first in your troubles?
      • Which of the gifts mentioned in the devotional today do you want to commit to giving to Jesus this Christmas?

      –Rick Warren

      December 17, 2013 at 11:30 am |
      • tony

        Real gods alreay have it all – they don't need toadies as well.

        December 17, 2013 at 11:34 am |
      • AE

        Rick Warren does not exemplify Jesus. He just makes oodles of cash using His name.

        December 17, 2013 at 11:43 am |
      • G to the T

        Trust should never be given, it should only be earned. Otherwise it is just being naive.

        December 17, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Adam

      I'm missing what it is Jesus receives out of you having cake and ice cream on his birthday.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  9. tony

    Why is the Mormon Church advertising on a Blog intended for people who already believe in God?

    December 17, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  10. Mary

    Why would the universe come into being just because it could?

    December 17, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • tony

      What's the nature of time?

      December 17, 2013 at 11:23 am |
      • Mary

        Why is it presumed by most people that time is temporal?

        December 17, 2013 at 11:26 am |
        • tony

          Perhaps becuause of your asking questions and responding sequentially?

          December 17, 2013 at 11:28 am |
        • K-switch

          Why is it you don't realize how dumb that statement is?

          December 17, 2013 at 11:29 am |
        • Mary

          Why can't you open your mind to realize its brilliance?

          December 17, 2013 at 11:31 am |
        • JR

          What brilliance have you displayed, Mary?

          December 17, 2013 at 11:38 am |
        • Madtown

          Brilliance in trolling, and y'all have bought in.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Philip Eugene Douglas I

      Why are you a troll, Mary? Last time you pulled this, you were completely deleted like the nothing you are.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • WASP

      Mary, Mary, quite contrary
      How does your garden grow?
      With silver bells and co.ckleshells
      And pretty maids all in a row.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  11. tony

    Mary is unhealthy for children and other living things

    December 17, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Philip Eugene Douglas I

      No kidding.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  12. tony

    If she just applied her logical thinking to whether god existed, she'd be writing best selling, non-reigious, self-help guidance books instead.

    December 17, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • fyi

      Are you talking about Flannery O'Connor?

      She died in 1964.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:18 am |
      • tony

        Well that kinda shows the lack of the power of prayer.

        December 17, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • JR

          It does show you lack reading comprehension, tony.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:32 am |
        • tony

          Reading comprehension has nothing to do with whether prayer works, or how you should pray to get better results.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:36 am |
        • JR

          But it helps to make less stupid posts like your OP.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  13. Mary

    Why did the universe come into being?

    December 17, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • AE

      Why do you think it did?

      December 17, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      The appropriate question is "how"? "Why" assumes there was a reason. You have to address the reason first before asking "why"?

      December 17, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • WASP

      simple answer with no magic involved..........................because it could. that's it, the simplest most logical answer.

      because the universe could exsist, it does exsist. nothing has to be and nothing can be if couldn't be to begin with; it just simply is.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:20 am |
  14. Mary

    Why do I think I am asking thought provoking questions when all I am doing is demonstrating that I make all the same a.ssumptions as other believers?

    December 17, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • AE

      Why do you, Mary?

      December 17, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • K-switch

      Try Bud Dry.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  15. Mary

    Why do so many people believe the Bible when we know so much of it is untrue?

    December 17, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      How does your garden grow?

      December 17, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • WASP

      because people want to believe they aren't alone; that they have importance beyond that of their family; that they will be rewarded when they die; that loved ones will be waiting for them "on the other side"; mainly because a lie is less scary than the unknown.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • Child of God

      There isn't one fact in the Bible that can be proven untrue. People just choose to not believe it. It is true, no other writing in history has been 100% accurate in fulfillment of prophecies.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:46 am |
      • Madtown

        Was Noah really 900+ years old? Doesn't that seem kinda long for a human? Now, our average lifespan is closer to 80 years.

        December 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
      • WASP

        @COG: hmmm how about the whole 7 billion humans coming from only 2 HUMANS?
        and don't give me that "perfect" crude, it doesn't float.

        December 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
        • Joey

          Especially since about half way to now God kills everybody on the planet and starts over again with 6 people.

          December 17, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
      • rational63

        What prophecies exactly are you talking about?

        December 19, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  16. Mary

    Why can't God operate on his own version of the Prime Directive?

    December 17, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • bostontola

      God is a character in many books. Characters can be written with any capability man can imagine. The biblical God is omniscient and omnipotent, therefore that God character can do whatever it wants, including the exercise of it's own Prime Directive.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Why do you periodically flood the comment section with rhetorical questions?

      December 17, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  17. tony

    Mary is such a common name.

    December 17, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • tallulah13

      Mary is a little troll. Last time "she" was here "she" lovedlovedloved Jesus.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  18. Mary

    Why doesn't Captain Kirk interfere with the affairs of other civilizations?

    December 17, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • bostontola

      Prime Directive.

      December 17, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Madtown

      He doesn't want to incur the wrath of Kahn.

      December 17, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      What does God need with a starship?

      December 17, 2013 at 11:01 am |
      • G to the T

        One of the best lines in a Star Trek movie – too bad it's in the worst of the bunch by far...

        December 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  19. Mary

    Why can't God answer prayers at a time of his own choosing?

    December 17, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • tony

      When it's too late, and so doesn't matter, seems the most common experience

      December 17, 2013 at 10:31 am |
      • tony

        I get visions of winning lottery numbers the following day. Usually when I go to the convenience store.

        December 17, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      he could answer them whenever he wanted ... if he hadn't bragged so much in the bible about how he always delivers. he, or his son, or him or both him and his son and a ghost in there somewhere talked about believers asking and always receiving. and the bible is the inspired word of god right? so it must be right ALL the time. If he missed a few prayers that might be forgiven but he is getting about 0%, so you have to wonder ...

      what mind numbing nonsense!!!

      December 17, 2013 at 10:35 am |
      • Mary

        Why do you accept the premise that a god that supposedly doesn't exist would be such a braggart?

        December 17, 2013 at 10:38 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          the same way I read about Lord Voldemort being a braggart ... because I know it's just a bunch of stories written by people.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  20. tony

    I made my fortune as a TV evangelist. That's why my sons are joing the family business. They don't follow Jesus's instructions either.

    December 17, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • Bender Bending Rodriguez

      I donate money but I don't ask for it.

      December 17, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      careful ... there's a pattern of tv evangelist's sons suiciding ...

      December 17, 2013 at 10:39 am |
      • Bender Bending Rodriguez

        Comments like that don't project the atheists in a positive light.

        December 17, 2013 at 10:47 am |
        • Philip Eugene Douglas I

          Wah.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:20 am |
        • Bender Bending Rodriguez

          I'm not crying. It's nasty to insult someone who's child passed away.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:42 am |
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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.