Born Christian?

I was indoctrinated into Protestant Christianity from birth and accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior at the ripe old age of four.  I don’t remember much about my childhood but I still remember that evening and the place of worship in Panama we called “The Home.”  It wasn’t a formal church and I imagine it was more like what you would have seen in the Apostle Paul’s day where believers gathered in homes to praise god together through song and prayer.

A quick aside: on my blog I’ll never capitalize the word “god.”  It’s not a proper name.  If I use a proper name like Jehovah or Jesus or Allah I’ll capitalize it as per English grammatical rules.  However, since I commonly refer to “god” you can assume I’m speaking of the Biblical deity known as Jehovah or Yahweh.

Almost as sweet as forgiveness.

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Heaven is Real…First Glance

A while back (quite a while) I had come across a blog post here regarding the book “Heaven is Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back.”

It’s the story of Colton Burpo, the four-year-old child of the pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska (looks like they’ve only recently installed their WordPress site and not updated it), who during emergency surgery is said to have gone to Heaven to sit in Jesus’ lap and have angels sing to him until he was resuscitated. The book tells of the claims and observations made by the child while he was dead/unconscious that seem to defy logic and support the idea that the Biblical god is for real. So far I’m only 11 pages into it but here are my observations so far:

Colton, like me, was brought up in the church by a pastor and presumably indoctrinated from birth with ideas of Heaven and Hell, Jesus and Satan, angels and demons, and all of the cute little songs that kids learn in Sunday School. Whatever he did or didn’t see during the time when he was dead/unconscious would have been influenced heavily by this because it’s a cornerstone of his upbringing and the foundation of his family’s faith. He doesn’t have to think about Jesus or angels, it’s just part of his immature belief system.

The author (the father, Todd) states in his introduction, “Now, as a pastor, I’m not a believer in superstition.” I completely acknowledge that in this context he’s talking about superstition relating to “chills” or “bad feelings” about a road trip, etc. – the kind of superstition that drives baseball players not to change their socks or whatever. However, Todd most definitely believes in superstition. He believes that the ritual of praying will affect the outcome of an event. He believes that going to church on a regular basis will affect the strength of his faith. He believes that reading the Bible on a regular basis will affect his relationship with god. These are all ritualistic, superstitious practices. If Todd began wearing the same pair of socks whenever he preached because he thought it made his sermon better, it really wouldn’t be a stretch above and beyond what he already believes. The only difference would be that it’s not prescribed by the Bible.

Colton says that while he was in Heaven sitting in Jesus’ lap the angels were singing songs to him like “Jesus Loves Me” and “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho.” That’s a nice thought, but doesn’t it seem a little silly and maybe too convenient that the angels would just happen to be singing the Sunday School songs Colton knows? I know this seems like a weak objection and I’ll readily admit that, but think about it: angels are ethereal creatures who live on a completely different plane of existence. They would presumably have the capability of singing songs to this child (not even the child, but the child’s soul) that would comfort him. Perhaps “Jesus Loves Me” qualifies as such, but “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho?” Really? That just seems ridiculous to me…and by that, I mean it’s merely my personal opinion that nobody else has to adopt.

Obviously, I’m skeptical to the claims this book has made and will be making. It’s no secret I don’t believe in Heaven or god. However, I intend to continue reading this book with as open a mind as I can muster and give it due consideration. I’m really curious to see why there’s all the buzz over it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it all stems from the fact that people who already believe in this find that it provides the sort of evidence that they not only accept but latch onto in order to bolster their beliefs. I doubt this story would do much to convince someone who didn’t already believe before they started reading the book but like I said, I’m only 11 pages into it.

I’ll keep you posted.

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All’s Right With the World

I was sitting behind a car at a stoplight today and it had a huge sticker in the rear window:

I had no clue what this was so I looked it up. Apparently it’s from an anime series called Neon Genesis Evangelion. I guess NERV is an organization that fights angels…? Someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Regardless, that’s not the point. I got to thinking about the statement being made.

“God’s in his Heaven, all’s right with the world.”

First, I guess there isn’t a single place I’d rather that god be – if a god exists. The implication I see is that if god were somewhere other than Heaven, all would not be right with the world. I mean if you look at what happens when god starts messing around on Earth, it’s pretty safe to say that humans are better off when he stays home and calls in sick.


Second, you can interpret the word “right” in different ways. For instance, people have been asked to imagine what we would expect the world to look like if there were no god(s) personally involved. Natural disasters, murder, predation, diseases, not enough habitable land mass…that kind of thing. If that’s how you’d expect the world to be without gods then it’s reasonable to say that everything is, in fact, right. The world is working exactly how we’d expect it to work, so god must be in his Heaven and staying out of trouble.

Now, if you were to interpret the word “right” as how you’d expect the world to work if there were god(s) involved then I think you’ve got a strange concept of the purpose of a personal god. If your idea of a personal god is one who designs a world purposely so that more than 70% is uninhabitable by humans inside of a universe that is more than 99.99999999999999999999% uninhabitable by most anything then your god must be a prankster or a child. If you believe in a malicious god or an immature god then I guess everything’s fine for you. Carry on.

I, for one, feel that because I think most definitions of gods are detestable or ridiculous it is much better for everyone if those gods just stay their asses in Heaven and don’t interfere with what’s going on down here. We may be brutal, selfish, and ignorant animals but from what I’ve seen we’re capable of righting more wrongs in more effective ways than any god. If I were the praying type of person, I’d probably pray something like:

Dear god(s),

Thank you for staying out of our business down here. We’ve got it pretty much under control.

Amen

So aside from all of the god stuff in this post, I’d like to take this opportunity to say that my life is great and all really is right with my world. Have a great Monday, everyone!

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Are They in Heaven?

I saw this in my news feed on one of my Facebook friends’ status:

══════════════ ೋღ☃ღೋ ══════════════╗
❤If you miss someone that’s in heaven, put this as your status!❤
╚══════════════ ೋღ☃ღೋ ══════════════╝

I wonder: how could you possibly know for sure whether or not your loved one is in Heaven? The problem, as I see it, is that nearly every religion has different views as to what it takes to get there. Some believe you get there by works, some by living a moral life, some through gaining knowledge/wisdom, some simply by professing belief, and some through multiple reincarnations until you “get it right.” Some of these are mutually exclusive and so they can’t all be correct. So how do you know if your loved one made the right choice in how to get there? It’s all terribly confusing!

I suppose what it really boils down to is this: if believing that your loved one (or dog/cat/hamster) is in Heaven with god makes you feel better about not having them around anymore, then they’re in Heaven. Really, it’s all about what you want to believe. I mean, it’s very rare to hear someone say, “I really miss my dad. He was a great guy. It’s just too bad he’s roasting in Hell right now.” Heaven just seems like a comfort device that has no real value to the dead but to the survivors instead.

Anyway, just thought I’d share a thought. It’s not important but it’s on my mind.

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Like Taking Candy From Babies

In response to this post by Bakersdozen2, I want to comment on the idea that a child died, went to Heaven, and was returned to a quadriplegic body to be on a respirator for the rest of his life.

The 6-year-old child is said to have gone to Heaven while in a coma for two months after a traumatic car crash that left him paralyzed due to an internal decapitation. His father was talking on the phone while driving and was ejected from the car, escaping all injury. Praise the lord! The father even wrote a book about it that spent some time on the bestseller list. Hallelujah!

In recounting his experience, the boy tells of how he was in the lap of Jesus in the most amazing and wonderful place imaginable. This place was filled with happiness, there was no pain, he was able to speak with angels, and he came to think of it as “home.” Then, coming out of the coma, he was returned to his non-functioning body here on Earth to live out the rest of his days not being able to move or provide for himself and needing a respirator for at least part of the time. The child even told his father that, even though he’s not depressed, he can’t wait to die and go back to Heaven because he doesn’t feel like this is “home” anymore.

Isn’t god good? No.

You tell me what kind of malevolent being you would have to be in order to give this poor child a taste of the most perfect place imaginable, dangling it in front of him like a piece of candy, and then yank it away to put the kid back into a broken body where he’ll go through his life being fed either by a caretaker or through a tube and have his ass wiped by someone else because he’ll never even be able to do that for himself. Does that sound like love to you? Why bring the child to Heaven only to send him back? And why call this a miraculous story?

You know what would have been a miracle? If god would have stopped the car crash! Wow, that would have been amazing! Just imagine what would have happened if the crash hadn’t occurred and this boy got to just go on living his life like everyone else! What a concept…

It seems to me that people who really want to believe in god’s power pick up on stories like this without really thinking through all of the nuances involved. Instead of wondering why god couldn’t have returned the boy to a miraculously functional body with a message of hope for the world, they blindly accept that their notions of Heaven have been confirmed and that it’s proof of god. Instead of wondering why god would allow something like this to happen to a 6-year-old child, they mindlessly praise god that the child is still (basically) alive. Instead of questioning god’s logic, they vomit canned responses like these:

#1. God’s purposes surpass our temporal comfort
#2. There is a place that far exceeds their greatest imaginings.

So we’re to believe that the promise of an awesome place justifies god having his way with us however he wishes? That’s like saying I opened an incredible college savings plan for my son but in order for him to get it he has to let me beat him and tell him he’s a piece of trash until he turns 18! I’m not OK with that, and you shouldn’t be either.

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