bible – Page 3 – The Wayward Willis Podcast

Taking the Plunge

Once you’ve accepted Jesus into your heart, your next step is showing your obedience and symbolizing your rebirth through baptism.  The Christian denominations in which I grew up believed that baptism was only valid as a personal decision.  Some denominations practice infant baptism or sprinkling, but in the context of what I was taught that practice seems to have no significance whatsoever (except to upset the baby).

 

Crying Baby
"Mommy, don't let the penguin drown me!"

 

The basis for baptism is vague and consists (like most Christian doctrine) of cherry-picked verses scattered throughout the New Testament and inferences from dialog contained therein.  This site contains a lengthy discussion on why believers must be baptized and why immersion is necessary.  A quick glance tells you right away that the ritual is heavy on symbolism and light on substance.  Here’s the gist:

You are “crucified” (standing upright in water), you are “buried” (immersed into the water), and you are “resurrected into life” (raised out of the water).

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Small Soldiers

Now that I was saved (theological debate surrounding the sincerity of the act notwithstanding) from Hell, it was important to those charged with my education to ensure that I became the best possible Christian.  In order for this to happen, I had to become familiar with the doctrine of Christianity — namely, that god created me and loves me and that Satan is trying with all of his might to destroy god’s creation and claim the souls of believers for himself.  This means war!

 

Sparta
War? This is Sparta!
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Telepathy’s Not Good Enough

Speaking of prayers, there was one thing about Christianity that always either embarrassed, frustrated, or confused me: public/group prayer.  It always seemed that a spectacle was made of talking to god whether in a church service, at home, or at an event.  Nobody appeared to be capable of just communicating with god in a personal way — quietly, in their heads — and instead we were always being led in group prayers.

When I was a little kid the prayers were like advertising jingles.  I memorized a phrase one to four sentences long with catchy rhymes so I could remember what to say.  For instance:

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Bedtime Prayer

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The Things They Don’t Tell You

The stories you hear in church as a child make the Bible seem so sensible and happy.  You’ve got a man and a woman created perfectly just for each other, talking animals, big boats full of kangaroos and penguins, babies in baskets, guys rough-housing with god, trumpeters blowing down walls, Jesus the meek and gentle shepherd who loves you so very very much, and a wonderful gift that you can keep forever and ever. Isn’t it all so wonderful?

 

Noah's Ark
It's so cute I could die!

 

You know what they don’t tell you when you’re a kid?  Incest, murder, unfair punishment, intentional ignorance, violations of free will, genocide, slaughtering of the innocents, more incest, more genocide, slavery, oppression of women, more slaughtering of the innocent, more slavery, more oppression of women!  When does it end?  It’s enough to make you vomit!  And the people preaching this book are the same ones who get indignant when a television show portrays two men kissing.

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Spare the Rod

As I said before, I don’t remember much about my childhood. My earliest memory was my acceptance of Jesus into my heart and then nothing until about 10 years old. It’s been suggested by more than one therapist that I’ve repressed those years because of abuse but I have no real reason to believe that’s the case. Although, corporal punishment in my family was applied (pardon the pun) religiously.

 

Spanking
This will hurt me more than it will hurt you.

I and my siblings were spanked with hands, belts, rulers and wooden spoons. I had a wooden spoon broken over my tush — an occurrence over which my mom had voiced much lasting remorse. As long as I can remember, spanking was nearly the first line of correction and it wasn’t until later in life that punishments like grounding were implemented. My dad always told me, “You’re never too old for a spanking.”

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So…I Wrote a Review of the Bible…

…back in March of last year on Goodreads. While my underlying point holds true – that basing your world view and morality off of the Bible is dangerous – I think I would write it differently now. I’m not entirely happy with the wording I used.

On a whim, I read through the comments on the review again and there was some good information presented as well as some ignorant crap. For instance:

message 21: by Redneck – rated it 5 stars “What in the world is going through that little mind of yours? I recomend that you read it again with the perspective that God created you and that what you write on as your “reveiw” (more like a smack on the face to God and anyone who considers themselfs christain) can offend someone.”

This kind of sums up my general experience with religious people. Yes, I called it fiction. Yes, I said it was full of nonsense. But then, so is this person’s comment. And the grammatically-incorrect typo generator says I have a little mind? That’s a laugh.

Anyone who knows me knows that when I originally read the Bible from beginning to end I did have the perspective that god created me. I considered myself a Christian and thought I had a relationship with Jesus. It was only after reading through the Bible with my family that doubts started seeping into my mind and I began to question my beliefs. It was precisely the nonsense in the Bible that got me to the point of thinking critically about what I had been taught.

Second, even if I were to go back and read the Bible again right now I’d never be able to force myself into the perspective that god created me and that the book I’m reading is his authoritative, factual word. Try forcing yourself to believe that there’s a ninja creeping up behind you right now. Do it! You can’t, can you? That’s OK, neither can I. There are some things you just can’t make yourself believe no matter how much you’d like to. For me, god is one of those things.

So yes, I think the Bible is fiction. Yes, I think it’s full of nonsense. No, you don’t have to be offended by my opinion because nothing I say has to have an effect on what you believe. It’s a book review, get over it.

Billboards: Nothing’s Too Hard…

Billboards abound in Springfield bearing the words of the “Nothing’s Too Hard For God” campaign.


This guy needs help because he’s not god.

Well, duh! God’s supposed to be omnipotent! Are Christians the masters of pointing out the obvious or what? But what does this mean for people who aren’t omnipotent? It’s almost like a slap in the face.

Having financial troubles? If you were god you’d be able to blink them away. BUT YOU’RE NOT GOD!

Having marital problems? If you were god you’d be able to make yourself a new wife/husband. BUT YOU’RE NOT GOD!

Are you lonely? If you were god you’d be able to create some friends. BUT YOU’RE NOT GOD!


BWAHAHAHAHAA!!!!

Yep, that’s right. You are powerless to change your circumstances, you aren’t smart enough to handle your finances, and you aren’t good enough to maintain meaningful relationships. You’re dirt and unless you call on god to fix it for you, you’re totally screwed. So what are you waiting for? Get to praying!

The problem is, praying doesn’t really do anything. It might give you some time to quiet your mind and reflect on your situation but it’s not going to make your troubles magically disappear. It’s only after you’re done praying and get off your knees that something will actually get done. So get off your knees and get to work!

Again, I have to ask why these billboards are so incredibly sensible and allowable but something like this symbolizes a detestable oppression of cherished ideas:

 

Billboards: What Would You Attempt…

Driving from St. Louis to Springfield this morning I passed a billboard that I’ve passed many times before and that has always brought up questions in my mind. It goes like this:

“What would you attempt for Me if you knew you could not fail? -Jesus”


A similar billboard in Kansas City.

Undoubtedly the billboard text draws from Matthew 19:26 which states, “with God all things are possible.” Naturally, I got to thinking about this proposition and some things immediately came to mind. If I knew I could not fail, I would:

Fly
 

Have Olivia Wilde’s babies
 

Start a business
 

Climb a mountain
 

Enter (and win) motorcycle races
 

Swim to the bottom of the ocean
 

I know, all of those things are stupid. But if I couldn’t fail why wouldn’t I at least attempt them? Of course this completely misses the point. The billboard isn’t asking what you would do for yourself, but what you would do for Jesus. So let’s examine this proposition in greater detail.

First, what does Jesus need? Since Jesus is supposedly god that means he’s perfect. Since he’s perfect he doesn’t need anything. And since he’s god, anything I could possibly do for him would be so pitifully insignificant it wouldn’t matter anyway. For that reason I can’t even imagine why Jesus would ask a silly question like this.

Second, if the only thing Jesus wants me to do for him is to tell my friends and neighbors (and little tribal pygmy people in the jungle) about him and win their souls for god and Heaven then why didn’t he make sure I didn’t fail when I was witnessing to everyone as a teenager? Why was it that every time I witnessed to someone out of love and concern for their eternal soul, I was met with failure? Why did they never accept Jesus when I said everything I could think of saying after having prayed over it and asked for help? Apparently even the small stuff like talking to people isn’t guaranteed to succeed.

I can only assume, therefore, that this is an empty promise from a book that is full of empty promises and the billboard is just another attempt by Christians to parade their air of superiority in front of the largest number of people possible. This billboard isn’t the only one along the Interstate between St. Louis and Springfield so I can only imagine how many more there are all over the U.S. (let alone the rest of the world). I’ll review others as I come across them in my travels.

One last question: since there are so many Christian billboards along the Interstates and I have yet to see a single atheist, Muslim, Mormon, Hindu, Buddhist, or Scientology billboard why in the heck do Christians get so bent out of shape when they see an atheist bus advertisement? Are Christians really that shallow, petty, and selfish? Grow up!

All Aboard the RV (Rapture Vehicle)

Everybody knows by now that Family Radio has pinned the rapture down to May 21 and the official end of the world to October 21 of this year. Led by Harold Camping (89), a man who failed in 1994 to predict Jesus’ second coming, the organization has launched a “Project Caravan” crusade wherein teams of believers drive across the country proclaiming the end of the world and the need to repent. Several members of the caravan have left behind jobs, family, friends, and responsibilities to drive these RVs until Jesus comes back to whisk them away to be with their Heavenly father.


CNN’s story on the caravan

Even while these faithful followers are so certain of their Biblical knowledge, other Christians (who read the same books) talk about them like they’re lunatics. They cite Matthew 24:36 where Jesus says nobody knows the time and place, not even Jesus himself. This gets me thinking:

If Bible-believing Christian “A” can call Bible-believing Christian “B” a lunatic (or, in kinder forms, “flat-out wrong”) for believing Biblical numerology and Christian “B” can call Christian “A” a lunatic for believing that the Great Flood was allegory and never happened, then what makes one crazy and the other sane? Are they both out of their minds?

I, of course, have my opinions on the matter but I can’t claim to know for sure whether or not Family Radio is wrong about the end of the world. I only know that I’ve seen absolutely no compelling evidence, nor have I heard any compelling arguments that would make me believe that this is probable. And while I would side with Christian “A” in the above paragraph it certainly doesn’t mean that I think Christian “A” is any more justified for believing what they do than the lunatics in the RVs. I only know that I fear for the safety and well-being of these people’s families that have been abandoned in order to spread the far-fetched news about something that was foretold to happen 2,000 years ago, didn’t happen, and hasn’t happened since. I hope god is taking good care of them.

There is Noah One Righteous

Genesis 6:9-22 tells the story of Noah and the events leading up to the Great Flood. As usual, I have problems with this story and I’d love to tell you what they are. Let’s get started, shall we?

Problem 1: Corruption
Genesis 6:11 says the Earth was corrupt and full of violence. How corrupt are we talking? Like, invalid block in the hard drive’s boot sector corrupt? Or starting wars in oil-rich countries so you can award government contracts to your corporate buddies corrupt? And how violent are we talking? Like, Tom and Jerry violent? Or slaughtering entire populations of people based on their ethnicity or religious adherence violent? The Bible doesn’t specify, but we’re told that it’s really, really corrupt and really, really violent. In fact, we’re told that “all the people on Earth had corrupted their ways.” Everyone. Every single person was corrupt and had no redeeming qualities. That’s terrible!

But wait! Apparently that was an exaggeration kind of like when your parent comes into your room and yells, “It looks like a tornado came through here!” when there’s really only a pair of pants on the floor and your bed isn’t made.


That’s a messy room!

Anyway, we’ve learned in Genesis 6:9 that Noah is a righteous and blameless man so it’s obvious that not every single person on the planet is bad. God is talking to Noah and says he simply cannot abide the corruption and violence of the people on the Earth anymore and is going to destroy both the people and the Earth because of it. Did you get that? The people are so corrupt, god is going to destroy the Earth. It might just be me but this seems like an overreaction.

Problem 2: Inconsistency
How corrupt is “corrupt?” We don’t even know what these people were doing in the first place. The Bible simply says the Earth was corrupt and full of violence (kind of like today…or any other time in human history).

If god’s problem with the people on the planet was that they were corrupt and violent then why, at various times throughout Biblical history, did he not perform drastic cut-backs in the population when things got out of hand? The Bible clearly indicates throughout the Old Testament that the majority of people on the planet were vile god-haters and only the Israelites were worthy of his love…sometimes. So why wasn’t god consistently wiping out all of the wrong-doers? Did he learn a lesson from the flood? Did he amend his standards for “corruption?” Who knows. Moving on…

Problem 3: Slash-and-Burn
God tells Noah to build an ark to his specifications because he’s going to flood the entire Earth and kill every living thing under the heavens – this includes animals. Do you want to know why I think this is stupid? Because god is supposed to be all-powerful. All-powerful means he can literally do anything. Anything at all. For instance, he could cause only the corrupt and violent humans to fall dead and vanish, leaving only the people who are decent and loving. Let’s say mine is the “scalpel technique” and let’s compare it to god’s “atom bomb technique”:

God’s plan is literally to flood the entire planet with water and kill every single thing that lives (regardless of any redeeming qualities it may have) except for one family (of flawed humans) and a representative sample of animals (excluding dinosaurs) — no mention of plants — who will then repopulate and replenish the Earth at such time the flood waters recede and dry land is once again accessible.

A bit excessive? Definitely. And, as we’ll find out, also very ineffective.

Problem 4: God’s Human Error
God established a covenant with Noah and his family that he would save them from the flood. This includes Noah, his wife, and his three sons with their respective wives. Eight people will be saved. But remember, the only person we know of who is righteous and blameless is Noah. That means god is saving seven corrupt people. Why would god save seven corrupt people when the whole reason for this flood is to rid the world of corruption? I’m sure there’s a great apologetic answer, so I can’t wait to hear it.

Problem 5: Incest
Remember, only a single family is going to repopulate the Earth. This is the second time in the Bible that widespread incest is going to occur. The first, if you remember, was after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Why do adherents of the scripture gloss over this and deem it OK? It’s not cool to have sex with your brother or sister and there are very good reasons why. What is the deal with the Bible’s obsession with familial sexy time?

Problem 6: Fish
God lays out his plans for taking along two of every kind of bird, animal and creature that moves along the ground (does this exclude flying insects? Why the freak do we still have mosquitoes?!) but completely neglects to mention what will happen to the fish. As you may or may not know, there are two types of fish — fresh-water fish and salt-water fish. Fresh-water fish cannot survive in salt-water and vice versa. When the Earth is flooded, there will be a mixing of water to where the salt-water will be diluted and the fresh-water will be salinated. What, do you suppose, will happen to every single fish on the planet when this happens? Here’s a hint: THEY DIE!

Conclusion
What have we learned from this story? That fish were more resilient in Biblical times? Well, not really. We’ve learned that god doesn’t know how to deal with his problems using reason and compassion. Instead of finding a way to help the humans who were decent and only eliminate those who were genuinely bad, he opted to just snuff them all and kind of, sort of start over. The problem is that god didn’t take into account that the humans he was saving weren’t a whole lot better than the humans we was killing. If that’s not the mark of incompetence, I’m not sure what is.

Of course there are people who believe this is actual history and I don’t know how they force themselves to believe that, but I’m a little more at ease (although not in agreement) with those who say this is just a story to illustrate a moral lesson. What’s the lesson? Don’t be corrupt and violent, I guess. The reason I disagree with both of these groups of people is because I don’t feel this story has a good moral. I don’t feel like it’s a beautiful story of god’s love for mankind that he would spare a family in the midst of squalor and give them a second chance. It’s a story of how god fails at problem-solving, plain and simple. What the hell is his problem?