Category Archives: Religion

Prayer requests

I posted a this request on the Facebook “resources on prayer you’d like to see offered” discussion board of the National Prayer Center of the Assemblies of God:

I would like to see you denounce imprecatory prayers and specifically the Facebook page praying for the death of President Obama. If the people signed on to these pages actually believe in the effectiveness of prayer, they are making serious threats on President Obama’s life, and that is disrespect for the law as well as the President. If they believe their action is harmless, they do not believe in prayer or in God. If you permit it to continue without commenting, you are abdicating your leadership role, concurring in the death threat, or denying God’s power.

I received this response, posted to the discussion board:

The National Prayer Center vehemently denounces the expression of prayer for the harming of anyone, and would remove such sentiments from its page as soon as noticed.

This discussion board has only the invitation, my request, and their response since the middle of March, so not much of a discussion is going on there, and the response posted in this quiet corner does not amount to “vehemently denounces.” What I cannot understand is the quantity of mean-spirited and downright hateful rhetoric that is coming from self-proclaimed Christian people, and the silence of the church at large regarding the situation.

Here is the problem:

  • If a church does not believe in the power of prayer and still asks members to invest their time and energy in a useless activity, that church is committing the worst kind of fraud.
  • If a church does believe in prayer and tolerates — or worse encourages — members to pray for harm to people, that church is concurring in the curse.
  • If believers are acting contrary to the understanding of the church and doing in the name of Christ something that the church denounces, that church is ineffective as a spiritual leader.

To be perfectly clear, when I say “a church,” I mean the group of people with whom you gather for worship as well as the larger denominational organization — Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, A of G, Church of God, Church of Latter Day Saints, Seventh Day Adventists, Church of the Brethren, etc. All of these should be publicly denouncing the use by Christians of imprecatory prayer to curse our nation and our leaders. So far as I have seen, they have not done so.

This world we live in

The newspaper reported that a third to half of parents at one middle school kept children home on Friday because they were afraid the children would be ritualistically sacrificed by other children who had joined a vampire cult and had to kill to gain immortality. I’m not making that up.

It appears that a girl was suspended recently for stating that she had to kill someone to gain immortality, a startling aspect of a religion that she got from a comic book. The aunt of another student heard about this cult (?), composed the details into a message titled “‚ÄúSomething to PRAY ABOUT!,” and sent it to ten or fifteen of her close friends on Facebook.

Well, the friends passed it on to their friends. They kept their kids home the next morning. Parents who got the message after their children had already gone to school started picking up their kids. The newspaper is unclear about how the school superintendent found out about the panic, but he went to the school personally and sent out a calming e-mail.

You can chuckle over this, but there is a serious issue embedded in this story. It says to me that religion has gotten out of hand. A school is disrupted by rumors of a vampire religion because a child reads a comic book. A relative hears about the cult and leaps to the rescue by requesting prayer on Facebook. What world do these folks live in? They are able to believe that middle school children are joining a vampire cult and planning to kill each other, and they pass around a prayer request on Facebook? In my world, if you think there is a vampire cult that is going to kill your children at school, you really should call the school principal.

Jerry Falwell’s Passing Over

In other terms than global warming, the world probably got just a little warmer with the passing of Jerry Falwell. He grew hate in his backyard and spread it around by the truck load — and with his masterful use of the media and political influence, he made a hate-filled version of Christianity the norm of the day. He played upon the fears of people and helped rally the Christian right to place George W. Bush in the presidency and our democracy at risk as it is today.
There is hardly a segment of society that he did not insult, including many Christians, with his bigotry and arrogance. With his passing, Christianity has an open door to move to a more actually Christian attitude. I found a message on that topic at Pomomusings that is worth reading.
As for whether Rev. Falwell is in heaven or hell, you already know I don’t believe in the existence of hell. As I have said before, hell is just wishful thinking. In the reality Falwell has left for his followers and his enemies, the damage he did will be a long time healing.

Our ignorance is beginning to show ?

Over at CNN this morning in a story named ?Jesus Sells? presented by Susan Hendricks and narrated by Delia Galligher, both commentators call Jesus a prophet ? so, it is cute, ?profit from a prophet,? but in the current christianist spirit of the times I imagine there will be Easter eggs thrown at them.
The relevant text is in Matthew 16:13-18, where the divinity of Jesus is stated by Peter and confirmed by Jesus. Jesus further states that His divine nature has not been revealed by earthly witnesses, but that it was revealed to Peter by God Himself. This scripture contains the absolute statement that Jesus is not a prophet. Matthew 16:18 is the foundational scripture of Christianity, the reason St. Peter?s Basilica in Rome is called St. Peter?s, and the establishing scripture of the Catholic church.
Now, over in islamist tradition and scripture, Jesus is recognized as a prophet, but he is a lesser prophet than Mohammed. And because of the declaration in Matthew 16:16, the islamists call Christians polytheists ? since we obviously have at least two gods, Jesus and His Father.
Personally at Easter I am for the chocolate bunny and the jellybeans, coloring the boiled eggs for the kiddies, and looking at the spring flowers. I have been out of the theological discussion so long that I don?t even know whether to call the misstatement at CNN apostasy or heresy, but I know it is one of those. Could be it is both. Or maybe you can?t be apostate or a heretic just because you are ignorant. Go ask a theologian.
However, let?s be clear about this. Christians aren?t profiting from a prophet. In the terms of their own liturgy, when they sell the little WWJD trinkets and the horseshoe nails on a bead chain they are profiting from the ?Christ, the Son of the Living God.? (Matt. 16:16, KJV)

Improving my Prayer Time?

I don’t click on spam links. Really. I guess the spammers have to send the messages, but I don’t have to respond. I always read the from and subject lines with my fingers on Ctrl-D, and I can see the come-ons going by in the preview window. When the spam is all gone — usually 20 or so messages — I read the newsletters I have requested and sometimes hear from a friend or family member.
But I was tempted, really tempted, to click on this one that came today.
It came from Living Christian. Now, who in their right mind with the last name Christian would name their kid “Living”? When choosing names, one should give some thought to where the names will appear: on the birth announcement, on the diploma, on the wedding invitation, on the organizational chart, on the grave marker. Imagine seeing in the obituaries that Living has died. Or maybe somewhere a spam think-tank believes that Living is such a common name that I will believe it is someone I met at a conference and open the e-mail and be snared by the come-on graphics.
But wait, the e-mail isn’t addressed to me. It is addressed to N. I am not N. I know who M is, and I know who Q is, but these are the only letter people I know. I know a Bea, a Dee, and a Jay, but these aren’t B, D, and J. I don’t even know who N is, and here I am with N’s e-mail.
In the preview pane, there is the come-on graphic. An ethnic-appearing model, not quite any race except Maybelline. Just the head, arms, and shoulders. Face almost in profile, just a bit toward the camera. Elbows on white sheets, hands clasped under her upturned chin. Eyes on the ceiling light fixture, apparently. A loose plunging neckline of white in a sleeveless camisole. Long black hair loose and brushed back. Full mouth closed, a bit sad. And the headline — actually reading toward the forehead —

Strengthen your Faith Daily
Try Living Christian Software Free* Today

There are exciting features listed, like searching for any Bible passage (the way you can in Google, I imagine), and add and track your notes through the program. And “tests and quizzes throughout to track and test your knowledge.”
And at the bottom of the graphic of course the reminder that you can try it free.
Living Christian, which, by the way, you can try free, is not the only product in the ad. Outside the graphic box (which is one big link, just in case you are one of those random clickers) there is another teaser. It says “Improve your prayer time — visit here.”
Now, improving your prayer time has to be serious business. And I am impressed that you can try Living Christian free.
But my fingers are on Ctrl D, and I am not N, and the nano-second that I wonder what they are selling and how much it costs falls to the reflex, and I go read my newsletter from AARP.
But I did pause for just a split second, so I may be getting weak. Next thing you know I may click on “Innovative Degrees” or “Dream Job” or “fwd: Wanna money with BCLC great” or “FSR – Turn your PC into a SuperTV.” But I did manage to resist “Are you Christian, N?”

Seeking definition…

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative

81%

Postmodernist

75%

Idealist

69%

Romanticist

63%

Existentialist

56%

Fundamentalist

31%

Modernist

31%

Materialist

19%

What is Your World View?
created with QuizFarm.com

Say What?

I am sure that it would be interesting to know exactly when churches stopped putting their meeting times and some words of welcome on their signboards and started making up puns and enigmatic messages. It would also be interesting to know why they switched over.
I travel a particular area of Interstate 81 frequently, and once stopped to photograph a church signboard message that read “JESUS – HIS BLOOD’S FOR YOU.” This week that sign said “FREE TRIP TO HEAVEN – DETAILS INSIDE.” Then there was the church near my home that put up for the week before Mother’s Day “ITS MOTHERS DAY, SO HAVE A NICE DAY ALL YOU MOTHERS.”
Today, caught without my camera, I stopped to write down the words from another church signboard. It says “LIBERTY LIES MORE IN THE CHOICE MADE THAN IN THE RIGHT TO MAKE THE CHOICE.”
All I can figure about this statement is that these folks need a dictionary. And a history book or a newspaper might help as well.