Tag Archives: Bible

I am the Devil (and you might be too)

 

We all know this story.

 

Lucifer is hanging out in Heaven, acting as captain of the cherubic hosts. He (male pronoun used here for simplicity) is basically the worship leader in Heaven. With every movement he makes, there is music. And it is beautiful. But Lucifer becomes jealous of God, gathers up a third of the angels and tries to overthrow The Great One.

 

Lucifer and his “army” lose and God casts them to either Earth or Hell (interpretations vary) and now Lucifer is The Devil and the angels are the demons that we know today.

 

This would be considered a literal translation of Satan’s origin story.

 

But what else can we pull from this story? What else is happening that we are not acknowledging? There are pieces in this simple paragraph that the church (as a very general body) tends to ignore.

 

Based upon this telling, if I am a Literalist (to believe the Bible is word for word accurate with no symbology) I am to also believe that there is such a thing as jealousy in Heaven. Correct?

 

If you are a Heaven-Is-A-Perfect-Place-Where-No-Pain-Exists type of person (which most Literalists are, please correct me if I’m wrong), please do not shut off to this. Based upon the telling from the Bible, Heaven is a place where jealousy exists. And not only jealousy, but hierarchy. Lucifer stood above the other angels.

 

And not only jealousy and hierarchy but hatred, violence, rebellion and punishment.

 

In Heaven.

 

This is not what we have been taught.

 

But this is what is written.

 

How do we come to terms with these two contrasting worlds?

 

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

 

There is, without question, a darkness in the world. There is evil in the world. There is selfishness and greed and hatred. You can turn your TV to any news station, fire up social media or peruse the papers at your local grocery store to see it.

 

Darkness is real.

 

But is The Devil?

 

Have we pinned our every shortcoming on this singular being? Is he our universal scapegoat? Is The Devil responsible for tempting us at every occasion? Are demons responsible for tempting us at every occasion? Are there so many creatures of darkness that each of them lingers with each of us, constantly tempting and whispering words into our ears? Is that how we think we exist? And does that sound medieval? Demons whispering in our ears.

 

Do we believe that we are inherently good people and it is only by the temptation of dark forces that we do evil?

 

Or… is that evil inside of us?

 

Is The Devil inside of me?

 

Am I The Devil?

 

Could the snake in the garden that tempted our perfect heroes be nothing more than symbolic of our own wants and desires?

 

What is the first sin we commit as humans? We disobey.

 

“Rory, clean your room.”

 

“No.”

 

Just like Adam and Eve. Or “Adam and Eve”.

 

Does darkness and light, good and bad, God and Satan, exist within me and you and everyone at every moment of every day? Are we each, as individuals, capable of doing what is right or wrong with our free will at any moment?

 

Here’s a personal confession that isn’t really a personal confession at all.

 

I love pornography.

 

Love it.

 

I could watch it all day long. Just sit down with a bowl of popcorn and let it rip. Video after video after video. Non-stop. 24/7. Weekends and holidays.

 

Now, it should be noted that I do NOT do this.

 

I do not watch pornography.

 

But I want to.

 

I choose not to. It is my choice that creates my actions. And it is my actions that define my character. Same for all of us.

 

We are each, as men, addicted to pornography.

 

Our male brains are hardwired, like magnets, to draw us to those images. We are born with that compulsion. Ladies, if your fella is telling you that he doesn’t like pornography, watch out, because you have got a liar on your hands and he is telling you things just to keep you satiated. If a man produces testosterone, he wants naked women. As many as possible. As often as possible.

 

This want is not a threat to the sanctity of your marriage or the commitment of your relationship. This is a burning in his very human nature. And it cannot be shaken.

 

And now you say, “Nah, my husband is not like that.”

 

And then I say, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he does not exist.”

 

If you don’t think that darkness is there, it’s because you are being fooled. There is darkness in each of us. But it is our choice to be swallowed by it or to shine light on it. Light in our thoughts. Light in our actions. Light in our words.

 

Now I’m going to take that popular phrase a step further and say that the greatest trap we, as humans, ever fell into was believing that we were not subject to darkness. That we were somehow above darkness.

 

You are not above darkness. You are not above selfishness. You are not above greed.

 

Nobody is.

 

Liking something. Wanting something. Being drawn to something. And actually indulging in that something are very, very different things.

 

Now, without going off on too much of a tangent, I do want to quickly acknowledge that there are various schools of thoughts on pornography – some people think it’s fine and some people find it repulsive / sinful / harmful. I tend to be of the latter group because, even though the act itself is being committed by two or more consenting individuals, the people experiencing it in the privacy of their home are, at the very least, being brainwashed to believe that sex is a certain way. And I believe this is very damaging to the individual.

 

This is my opinion. You are obviously free to disagree. (High-five for respectful diversity!)

 

That said, I am opposed to brainwashing in all of its various forms – cultural, religious, sexual, analytical, creative, etc. We should not be told what or how to think. If given certain data, the truth should be self-evident.

 

For example, does extended exposure to pornography affect the way in which a man views a woman? Does it alter our opinion of what women should be capable of / interested in? Does it alter our expectations of our wives?

 

If the answer is yes to any of these, then it’s brainwashing.

 

If you were raised in the jungle with one woman as your partner, you would still desire her sexually but your wants and actions would not be formed by things you had witnessed. We choose to be victims of our environments.

 

The devil is not tempting you.

 

You are fighting your culture and your human nature. And it is a difficult uphill battle. But we must admit that we are fighting a battle. And we must admit that we are fighting a battle with ourselves. It isn’t until we know who our enemy is that we can begin to overcome them.

 

We need to adjust our cultural perspective on darkness – what the church likes to call sin or what humanity calls immorality. Being drawn to the darkness is not immoral. We are each drawn to the darkness in our own way. We are each selfish in our own way and, ultimately, doesn’t each sin come down to a form of selfishness? To sum up sin would be to say, “Putting oneself before another.” Murder, envy, lust, greed, lying, stealing, etc. It’s all really different forms of the same thing. But these are natural human traits. Survival at all cost came with us when we arrived in the universe. Batteries included.

 

Being drawn to a thing does not make you a bad person.

 

Making a decision to be a part of that darkness is where things spiral out of control.

 

I don’t believe that’s Satan whispering in our ear. That’s us.

 

That’s our own wants and desires.

 

You’re sitting at a dinner table and you’re stuffed. You’re so full. You’re going to puke. But then dessert shows up and you take just a couple more bites because it looks so delicious.

 

That’s gluttony. Your body is begging you to stop poking food into it and you just keep on truckin’. You think a demon is sitting at The Cheesecake Factory, prodding you on, encouraging you to have one more bite? Does that thought sound silly? It should.

 

That’s you.

 

Those are your decisions.

 

The Devil is not in you.

 

The Devil is you.

 

And you create the darkness in the world. When you choose not to share. When you talk about someone behind his or her back. When you insult someone, whether in his or her presence or not. When you choose to ignore a hungry person. When you pressure your wife / girlfriend to do something they’re not comfortable with. When you steal something, even a tiny thing that nobody will probably ever notice is missing because really, they weren’t using it anyways…

 

That’s you. That’s you creating darkness in the world.

 

Don’t worry about the splinter in your brother’s eye until you’ve removed the timber from your own. That’s a biblical truth that I think anyone, regardless of faith, can apply productively to their lives.

 

Maybe stop worrying about The Devil and start worrying about yourself.

 

Start thinking about each moment. Each day. Each word. Each decision that you have to make. You bring either darkness or light with every action that you make.

 

If The Devil is real, he only exists within the temptations themselves. He does not cause the temptation but is the temptation.

 

Likewise, I don’t think that God causes the kindness. God exists within the kindness. God is the kindness.

 

And we choose to cast light or we choose to cast shadows.

 

Go forward.

 

Cast light.

 

And thanks for coming to church on a Wednesday 🙂

 

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The Genesis of Observation

 

In our beginning, existence was formless and empty, darkness and abyss were over the surface of the cosmos. The Observer witnessed the creation of space and time.

And The Observer witnessed a great star ignite in the abyss, burning hydrogen and creating heat. The Observer noted that with light came darkness. Millions of years passed.

And The Observer witnessed gases collect around mass and create atmosphere and The Observer noted: This will contain the elements necessary for life and will protect the inhabitants from elsewhereSlowly, the atmosphere formed. 8Millions of years passed.

And The Observer witnessed pressures underground shift the plates of the planets and the low spots began to gather water and the high spots began to gather snow if the elements allowed. 10 The Observer witnessed the formation of dry ground and the formation of seas. And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good.

11Then The Observer witnessed vegetation evolve from the soil. The land produced many seed-bearing plants and many trees that bore fruit with seed within them. 12 And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good. 13 Time passed.

14 And The Observer witnessed more hydrogen atoms begin to ignite in the cosmos across vast distances. And The Observer noted that constellations could serve as signs to mark time passing from other shores, 15 and the stars gave light to the Earth and everywhere.” 16 The Observer witnessed Alpha Centauri ignite, which would warm Earth and The Observer witnessed gravity draw the moon into the orbit of the Earth. 17 The Observer noted that the moon reflected light from the sun back onto Earth at night, 18 and new evolutions began. And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good.19 Time passed.

20 And The Observer witnessed the individual cells of life continue to multiply and witnessed them evolve. The Observer witnessed them divide in the water and crawl towards the land. The Observer witnessed them evolve wings to fly in the air across the sky. 21 The Observer witnessed the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it evolve, according to their kinds, and every winged bird evolve, according to its kind. And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good. 22 The Observer also noted that the creatures continued to divide. 23 Time passed.

24 And The Observer witnessed creatures evolve from the sea and walk upon the land: the livestock, the creatures that moved along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind. 25 The Observer witnessed the wild animals, the livestock, and all the creatures that moved along the ground, evolve and change. And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good.

26 Then The Observer witnessed their brains evolve conscience and self awareness and witnessed them becoming more intelligent than their ancestors had been so that they could care for them; the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, and the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and all the creatures that moved along the ground.

27 So The Observer witnessed the creatures evolve,
with self awareness and consciousness, both sexes evolved;
male and female both evolved together.

28 The Observer noted, I hope they are kind to one another; it is a great thing to care for the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and every living creature that moves on the ground.

29 Then The Observer noted: Their bodies have evolved to fit this planet perfectly. They can sustain themselves on the vegetation of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.

31 After billions of years, The Observer noted: the machine works. Time continued to pass.

 

 

 

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Where Do Babies Come From?

While visiting our in-laws in Montana and patiently awaiting the arrival of our newest tribesmen, Jade and I decided to dip out and take a walk with the kids. Turning the corner on an overcast day, Quinn asked me, no doubt with thoughts of pregnant women on the brain, “How do babies get inside the mommy’s tummy?”

This train of logic makes sense. We show up to Montana, telling the children that Aunt Katie is going to have a baby. We tell the kids that there is a baby in her tummy. Green light, green light, green light. Who the heck put that thing there?

Gotta be honest. I was a little caught off guard with that one. I had certainly thought about what it would be like having that talk with my daughter and I’ve thought about what I’d say but I’d never actually come to any kind of conclusion. I’d never thought I will say THIS. I mean, even if you’re going to shoot totally straight about it, there’s no clean way to say, “A man gets an erection – uh, that’s when his penis gets really hard, and then he sticks it into a woman and rubs it until he ejaculates inside of her – oh, ejaculate is like this creamy puddy stuff. Yeah, it’s pretty gross. So anyway, the man shoots this creamy pudding stuff into the woman’s vagina and then badda-bing, bodda-boom, the baby is there.”

It’s gross, right? You’re cringing. No way am I saying that to my five year old. No way am I playing this one straight.

Not yet, anyway.

I just imagine that I damage them so irreparably that every sexual experience they have for the rest of their lives both begins and ends with spells of shivering and vomiting.

Anyway, I’m like, “You know our garden and how we pick vegetables?” “Yeah,” “And you know how we plant a seed and then a plant grows?” “Yeah,” “A daddy plants a seed in the mommy. And the seed grows into a baby and when the baby is ready, we pick it.”

I say, “Does that make sense?” and she says, “Yes,” and then peddles away on her big wheel. What is happening? I’m having sex talks with my children. I was in high school yesterday. How did I get here?

Well, as it turns out, who the heck put that thing there turned into who the heck put me here which turned into who the heck put us all here?

This is a process of several days, understand. She’d ask a question and it would seem to percolate with her for 24 – 48 hours before she’d come back with the raised ante.

So we’re driving home from Montana and Quinn asks me from the backseat, “Daddy? Where do we come from? I mean, all of us? Did God put us here?”

And this is a role defining moment for me. I was raised in a very traditional Catholic household before leaving the Catholic church and rolling “straight Christian.” My faith has gone through a number of peaks and valleys – or rather, my faith has always been what it is but it is my actions that have seemed to falter. The spirit is strong but the flesh is weak, you know?

And it wasn’t until recently, and probably I could write an entire piece on this, that I’ve begun to seriously question many of the tent pole beliefs of my faith. Was Jesus actually the son of God or was he simply one of the most amazing teachers history has ever seen? Did Jesus resurrect after death? Is God real?

I won’t get into the minutia of it here – perhaps another time – but I’ve found this really divine peace that I’ve never experienced before. I feel free.

My faith was chaining me to the ground. My blind faith only made me blind.

And so I don’t want to tell Quinn that God is real and that she should believe XYZ simply because I’m telling her that it’s true.

And so I let her wonder. So that when she does look for God, it is her own journey and it’s not crafted by me and it’s raw and rich and experiential. Instead of telling her what happens in the movie and how awesome it is, I’m just going to let her go see the movie herself.

I believe that there probably is a God. I believe that it probably isn’t the one that modern Christian culture is having us believe in. I think our perspective of God is disgustingly warped and perverted and I think the Christian faith, overall, is absolutely grotesque masked hatred. While most of the followers walk around preaching peace, they’re sitting on their hands at home, blasting pornography and talking about how important it is to keep men from loving men and how to best keep families that are in desperate need out of our country. Basically standing in direct opposition to Christ’s teachings.

By opposing gay marriage, they are saying, in short, that love should not happen. And by keeping out the Syrian refugees they are saying, in short, that empathy should not happen. They will tell you all day long that they don’t think this but words are wind.

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” That’s James. From the Bible. Calling this brand of religion worthless. 

“And you will know them by their fruits.” That’s Jesus.

Christian church, we all know you by your fruits. And your fruit is rotten and disgusting and it turns the stomach of the world. Your faith is off-putting. It is not attractive. You are not the victim. You are the predator.

Christianity as a whole is very wonderful. The teachings of Jesus can change your life and can change the world. I don’t want what I’m saying to be confused with modern day Christianity, which is – for the most part – just a stiff-necked mannequin. An imposter. A copy of the real thing.

It is a giant, rubber dildo. A phony.

Most (not all) modern day Christians are so consumed with the laws of their faith that they’ve lost the lessons. Modern day Christianity has come full circle and the practitioners are the very Pharisees that crucified Christ.

When the Bible says that you’ll call to God and he’ll say he never knew you, it’s talking about those people. When the Bible says that many are called and few are chosen, it’s talking about those people.

If you believe in the devil, you can rest assured that he’s just kicking back and watching Christians do all his work for him.

And I can’t get behind that way of thinking. And I don’t want to associate myself with any group of people who lead their lives with such fear. I believe in a God that kicks ass in peace. A God that lives inside all of us and in everything. A thing of beauty and love and a thing that we can each connect with in that beauty and love.

And I found this raw experience because I was willing to let go of everything I knew and I would have missed it if I had refused to let go of things that people taught me instead of the things I had experienced for myself. Who God was to me was always who God was to my parents. Does that make sense? My perception of God was crafted by other people.

And I don’t want to craft Quinn’s perspective of who God is. When the Bible says seek and you shall find, I believe this is what it’s talking about. You come look for me. And I’ll be here. I truly believe that. And if you believe that, then cutting your children out into the world shouldn’t be a problem. If you believe that God is great and God is the Ultimate Truth, then if your children seek the Ultimate Truth, they will find your God.

But we’re all afraid they won’t find God. We’re all afraid they’ll find something else. Because when it comes down to it, we have no faith in our faith. And so we nurture our beliefs into them. Better to keep these things in our own hands. Spoon feed them religion.

When I told a number of my Christian friends and family that I was speaking with the door-to-door Mormons and was reading The Book of Mormon, I was told that I should quickly run the other way. When I told a number of my Christian friends and family that I was reading Dianetics, I was told that I should drop it and run the other way.

Never trust an organization, institution or group of individuals, whether that be political, religious or otherwise, that demands you to not seek knowledge elsewhere. When someone suggests that you not look for true knowledge outside of the presented box, they do not have your best interest at heart.
Fear of knowledge is a fear of reality. And a fear of reality leads to a very limited understanding of the world. And a limited understanding of the world leads to a limited understanding of people. And a limited understanding of people leads to fear. Oh, my. That’s certainly cyclical. Look at your people group. Look at your friends. Is it the same people that would tell you to hang tight to your beliefs that would tell you to keep the Syrian refugees out? Is it the same people that would tell you to hang tight to your beliefs that would tell you that gay marriage is an abomination but not be able to tell you why?

Are the people that tend to fear the world the same people that tend to fear knowledge?

When Quinn experiences God, I want her to experience the closest thing she can. And when she looks for God, I want her to look on her own. I want to instill in her a sense of raw wonder of the universe. I love that she’s asking all these questions at five. I love that she’s already seeing the world and going, what is this? What is this? What is that thing? How does this work? She asked me about the sun and planets and outer space the other day and now she’s memorized what most of them look like – she knows that Saturn has rings and Neptune has rings (that go the other way) and Pluto is tiny and Jupiter (which she spells Gupiter) has a big red spot on it and that our planet is blue and she understands that the planets work on a “big loop around the sun.”

I’m like, excuse the French but, what the fuck?

Is this child freaking Carl Sagan reborn?

“Well, Quinn. We came from amoebas.”

Amoebas?” really, truly shocked. “What’s that?”

“It’s like a small thing that’s even smaller than you could ever see. You’d have to have a microscope to see it. It probably traveled here on an asteroid that contained ice when the world was forming.”

“Is it like this small?” and she holds up her fingers pinched almost together.

“Smaller. Way smaller. Like nothing at all.”

And then I try to explain evolution to her but quickly realize that there is just no easy way to explain this to a five year old. You try to talk about things changing and it doesn’t make sense to them and you try to talk about natural selection and it’s just too big an idea because they don’t really understand breeding and passing of traits. Is there not a children’s version of Darwin’s Origin of Species?

So I’m left to try and simply draw connections between monkeys, apes, Neanderthals and modern man. “What animal do humans look like the most, Quinn?”

“Uh… monkeys?”

“That’s right! I’m very impressed that a five year old noticed that.”

 

Crickets.

 

“Over millions and millions of years, monkeys slowly became man.”

“God did not put us here?”

“Well, some people believe that God put us here and some people believe that God put the amoebas here and some people believe…

Are you sure you want to say this? Once it’s out of your mouth, you cannot take it back. Is this a seed you really want to plant? You are about to make a major life decision and this may affect her faith in sweeping ways – in large ripple effects.

“Some people don’t believe in God at all.”

WHAT?!”

She doesn’t ask me if I believe in God.

Sometimes I wonder what I would say if she had…

 

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KID COUNTDOWN: DAY 6

1

It’s Sunday night and I’m driving to church solo.  With everyone we know being sick, we’ve decided to try and quarantine our children into the house and Bubble-Boy them from any diseases.  Six days pre-baby would not be an ideal time for the two kids to come down with the drowsy, coughing, dripping, sleeping, scratchy throat sickness.  Welcome to the world, new baby!  GERMS!

After serving in the Info Center and directing people hither and tither, “Water Baptisms this way, New Believers Packets down stairs, Sign up to Volunteer here,” etc, etc, so forth and so on, I make my way to the balcony and stare down at a man named Robert who gives a sermon about faith and obedience and about going out into the world.

How do you become those disciples in the Bible?  DO YOU become those disciples in the Bible?  How do you go from the person you are now to the person you are called to be?  Well, like everything in life, you take it one step at a time.  You wake up this morning and you pray on your way to work.  You read a chapter from your Bible.  You let someone slide into traffic.  You hold a door.  You reflect the love of Christ and you go out into a dark world completely fearless knowing that God has his arms around you.

2

On my drive home I speculate about what I could be doing; what are my next steps.  I don’t pray enough.  I don’t read my Bible enough.  I pray with my kids at night and over meals and I read them stories from the children’s Bible but am I raising them to invest in faith or am I merely showing them what a Christian going the motions looks like?

So I have to question myself and wonder, when people look at me – maybe not just the quick sideways glance – but when they look at me, do they know that I’m a Christian?  Do my actions and deeds in my public life reflect someone who cares?

I come home and sit down for a late dinner with the kids and I say, “Let’s pray,” and both kids shut their eyes and Quinn even curls her hands beneath her chin and I think, “God, please let me do this right.  I’m not just trying to raise operable adults.  I’m trying to raise children who love You and feel compassion for The World around them.”

I pray for our food and the children repeat, I pray for a small list of sick people we know and the children repeat, I pray for protection over my dad, who is currently oversees with the military and they repeat.  I say, “Amen,” and we eat.

After dinner Quinn asks if we can go swing and, it’s pitch black out and well beyond her bedtime but I figure, “What’s ten minutes?”  We go outside and I sit on the swing and she in my lap and as we rock back and forth, she looks up at the stars and says, “Dad!  Look!  Stars!” and I say, “Yes, that’s right,” and then she says, “Dad, give me a kiss,” and so I do.

3

Thirty feet away, through the darkness of our lawn, over our patio and on top of the steps leading into our back door, I see a small figure shyly emerge and look around.  It speaks.  “Daa-haaad??”  It’s Rory and he suspects we’re out here but can’t see us way out in the back, his eyes not yet adjusted to the light.

I shout, “We’re right here!” and his face follows my voice but I can tell that he still can’t see me so I say, “We’re swinging!” and he jumps off the back steps and runs, fearless, into the darkness, positive that his father is out there.  He runs straight to me and says, “Let’s swing!

As I push he and Quinn I wonder how I can be like that; how can I run into the darkness, believing my Father is out there, waiting for me with some ethereal and eternal swing set.

The first step, I suppose, is to jump off the back steps.

I get into my car in the morning and listen to a chapter of The Bible on my iPhone, hoping and praying that concentric circles ripple out from every decision I make and affect those around me in positive ways.  I pray that my decisions influence my children, who influence the world.

Remember, every free thinking world changer had a dad.  And remember, if you’re reading this and you are a dad, it is your responsibility to create and inspire change, not only in your family, but in your world.  You are a guiding light, a beacon and the Make-Or-Break point for each child in your life.

There are no excuses for being a bad example.

Grab your children, embrace them, and send them out into a dark world that needs compassion.

4

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