I accidentally invented a game this week.
I’m calling it, “Try To Talk To Pastor”.
Here’s how to play:
- Pay attention to stuff your Pastor says: This requires listening to a sermon. You don’t have to take notes. Just stop scrolling through Facebook during Sunday morning service.
- Think about stuff your Pastor says: Even people with the word “Pastor” on their office door can be unclear or mistaken. Try following along when scripture is referenced. (If scripture is never referenced…think about that!)
- Come up with a question: Questions are helpful tools for increasing understanding. (Asking, “Why are there no scripture references in this sermon?” will help you understand why Pastor’s words are preferred over God’s.)
- Try to ask the Pastor your question: This will require a strategy.
You can’t interrupt a sermon with a question!
Are you nuts?!!!
Shame on you for even THINKING that.
You can’t just walk up and talk to Pastor.
The Pastor is super-busy doing Pastor-Type-Things-That-You-Can’t-Understand-Because-You’re-Not-A-Professional-Christian.
There are a lot of things on the Pastor’s mind.
Asking your question while he’s overwhelmed with the burden of the Gospel would be rude.
You can’t speak to Pastor during the week.
The Pastor is super-busy doing Office-Type-Things-That-Require-Prayerful-Focus-That-You-Can’t-Understand-Because-Etc…
Study time is sacred to the Pastor.
Your Pastor spends hours online searching for just the right sermon.
It takes time to wrestle with the Holy Spirit’s conviction of plagiarism.
You can’t call the Pastor’s cell phone.
That number is private.
The Pastor is super-busy Sharing-The-Love-Of-Christ-And-Must-Not-Be-Interrupted-Because-Blah-Blah-Blah…
You can’t email the Pastor.
The Pastor can’t possibly answer all those emails!
You can’t contact Pastor via social media.
It would put Pastor on the spot to ask your question publicly!
If you launch a question at the Pastor on Facebook you’ll be unfriended.
If you ask why you were unfriended, you’ll be blocked.
(BTW: When you’re blocked…you lose the game.)
And that’s how you play, “Try To Talk To Pastor”.
The level of challenge depends on your Pastor.
Don’t write to me saying stuff like, “Pastor answered my question immediately on Sunday morning.”
That’s nothing to brag about.
Some Pastors make the game too easy.
To play at the expert level, go to a mega-church.
Go where the pastor is a celebrity.
Go where the Pastor has written more books than the Apostle Paul.
If you can question that Pastor…
…you’ll both win.
This demands your immediate attention!
If you want to join a group of Harley Davidson riders…
…you MUST ride a Harley Davidson.
Discriminating based on vehicle ownership is wrong!
I’m calling on you, Pastor, to unite us.
Create an environment where EVERYBODY belongs to the Harley Davidson family.
That’s what Harley would do.
Open your arms to the world, Pastor.
To people who don’t own motorcycles.
To people who don’t like motorcycles.
To people without a driver’s license.
Are you getting the message, Pastor?
Do you understand?
Are you up to the task?
Because a motorcycle rider’s group cannot include people who don’t ride motorcycles.
A group of Boy Scouts cannot contain people who are not boys.
A group of bachelors cannot contain married men.
A group of three-toed sloths cannot contain anything other than three-toed sloths.
Groups are exclusive by nature.
This is not a matter of opinion.
This is not hateful.
This is not bigotry.
What’s true for Harley Davidson is also true for the Church.
When you tell people there are no strings attached to becoming a disciple…
…you’re lying to them.
That’s the opposite of love.
Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. – Jesus Christ in the Book of Luke
This recent terrorist activity got me thinking.
All religions are not equal.
Life is a casino.
There’s a row of slot machines on the back wall.
Each machine is a different religion.
There are thousands of them.
The line of slot machines stretches out of sight in both directions.
A free-thinker says, “I’m not gonna play any of these”.
Denial is the payout that comes from the Atheist Machine.
Winnings include a blindfold, earplugs, and self-satisfaction in ignorance.
If you’re smart, you’ll look over the options before committing yourself.
Without much effort, you notice that many of the machines are broken.
In fact, MOST of the machines don’t work anymore.
They sit silently collecting dust.
Machines with names like Mithraism, Ashurism, Vedism, and Tengriism don’t even light up.
You shouldn’t play these.
Look at the machines with large crowds around them.
There’s a reason for that.
These machines have the best action.
They payout frequently.
In front of the machine labeled, “Islam”, a guy threatens to kill you if you play any other machine.
The payout here is also a blindfold and earplugs but fear instead of smugness.
You watch the Buddhism machine for a few minutes.
This machine reaches into the player’s wallet to pay off every jackpot.
When the Hindu machine hits, players simply vanish into thin air.
The Humanism machine is a cheap copy of the Christianity machine…
…minus the payout tray.
It costs a fortune to play the Christianity machine.
Jesus pays for anyone who wants to play it.
Everyone who pulls the handle gets truth and life.
Deciding which machine to play is the most important decision you will ever make.
The value of your whole life is determined by the payout.
The machines are not the same.
You only get one play.
Make it count!
You godless, free-thinking, super-smart atheists need to listen up.
I’m going to help you out.
I’m going to tell you how to avoid a catastrophic error.
An error that makes your already insipid worldview even more stupid.
It’s an easy fix.
It will be painless too.
Here’s all you have to do:
Embrace Mono-New York-ism.
(the belief that there is only one New York City)
If you asked 1000 people to describe New York City…
…you would get 1000 different descriptions.
Some would cite population statistics.
Some would give historical facts.
Some would sing a song or paint a picture.
Some would be completely wrong about everything.
It would be unreasonable to expect a single person to accurately describe New York.
It would be insane to say,
“If New York actually exists, everybody would agree about how to describe it.”
But this is EXACTLY what you super-smart, free-thinking atheists do with “God”.
You think it’s clever to ask, “Which God do you believe in?”
It’s a dumb question to ask of Christians.
Christians are not polytheists.
You’re taking advantage of weak-minded Christians who can’t think clearly.
They get flustered.
When you ask me, “Which God is real?”…
…I’ll ask you, “Which New York is real?”
Different descriptions of New York have no bearing on whether or not the city exists.
Even though there are billions of differing ideas about it, there is only one New York City.
Different religious doctrines have no bearing on whether or not God exists.
Even though billions of theists have differing opinions, there is only one “God”.
Smirking and shaking your head doesn’t falsify any of these statements.
After you drop the “which god” question…
…your “non-religion” will still contain plenty of irrationalities to comfort you.
Just don’t think too hard about stuff.
This blog author stopped in to support her premise that gratitude doesn’t require religion.
I appreciate her earnest, polite, and articulate arguments.
I’m not accustomed to well-mannered atheist writers.
It’s great having a conversation that doesn’t end with, “You shouldn’t be allowed near children!”
But in the spirit of robust debate…
…I need to disagree again.
Not because I’m trying to be a jerk.
I never have to TRY to be a jerk.
But I have to point out flawed reasoning.
It’s not personal.
The rebuttal doesn’t work:
Actually, there IS scientific research that proves the benefit of feeling grateful…
Here’s a link to a scientific study on gratitude, sans mention of “God.”
First: We weren’t discussing the benefits of feeling grateful.
We were discussing the need for some kind of religious framework in order to express thankfulness.
There is no scientific law of gratitude.
Which brings us to the posted article at Today.com.
It lists a bunch of health benefits that are derived from ‘being thankful’.
And, as promised, it doesn’t mention “God”.
The problem is: It doesn’t mention atheism either.
Wanna bet there were a few theists in the testing group?
We don’t know.
There are no specific details about how the study was conducted.
We have no idea who participated.
I’m skeptical about how a study can isolate ‘gratitude’ as the primary cause of any physical condition.
I could easily link to half a dozen articles on the health benefits of prayer.
That wouldn’t prove God exists.
Neither would it prove the health benefits of prayer!
What about the other variables that lead to good health?
Like eating vegetables?
Like watching comedies?
Like owning a cat?
(That’s a stretch.)
Prayer, like gratitude, is a religious concept.
Religious concepts are understood by faith…
You should quit being grateful when you’re “non-religious”.
(If you already understand this, you can stop reading now.)
“Religion” is a bad word in America these days.
Dictionary definitions differ.
For the sake of this article, I’m defining “religion” as:
A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny.
No specifics about Catholics or Baptists or Methodists or Calvinists or Mormons or Atheists…
…or Bitter De-Converted Christian Fundamentalists.
It’s hard to stay consistent with that bold proclamation.
If you don’t limit your writing to hard facts…
… like the distance to the moon, the Periodic Table or fluid dynamics…
…you’re going to say crazy stuff.
By that, I mean religious stuff.
I’m all about feeling gratitude. It’s a wonderful emotion and should be shared …I now replace every temptation to use the phrase thank God, with a simple thankfully. It works quite well.
Forgive me, but that comment oozes religion.
There is no science that says, “gratitude is a wonderful emotion”.
No law of physics declares, “gratefulness should be shared”.
As a non-religious person, you shouldn’t express gratitude at all.
You don’t believe there is anyone deserving of thanks.
Supernatural forces don’t exist, remember?
That leaves nothing but nature.
And nature doesn’t exist for you.
Nature doesn’t know you’re alive.
Your “wonderful feeling of gratitude” is silly outside of a religious context.
You gonna write a thank-you note to the Sun for being warm?
You gonna tell gravity you appreciate all it does for you?
Then why utter “thankfully” at all?
For other people?!!
Other people are soulless sacks of chemicals.
They’re less worthy of thanks than the Sun and gravity.
Didn’t you think about this stuff before you chucked religion?
Well, let me help you out.
(You can thank me later.)
Leaving religion isn’t easy.
Believing in supernatural forces has many benefits.
Religion gives mankind a way to express ourselves when our hearts are full.
Thank God for religion!
We 21st Century American Christians are awesome!
We’re sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good at grace!
But don’t take my word for it…read this article.
It references that famous adulteress woman who was given backstage access to meet Jesus against her wishes.
This is what happens in a group of people who have sound theology but are lacking in love. A Colosseum culture develops. Everyone rallies around a common enemy—the sinner. Robbers, evildoers, tax collectors, adulterers and adulteresses. And then the pouncing and the piling on. The shaming.
Another article shaming Christians for shaming sinners.
My comic instincts tell me this is a place for playful sarcasm.
But I’m soooooooooooooooooooooooooo tired of this crap.
(I replaced the original word with ‘crap’ because I care about my sensitive readers.)
Satire is often misunderstood and I want to be perfectly clear:
The people who brought the woman to Jesus were obeying God!
Those people ‘pouncing and piling on’ where following the law.
If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. – Deuteronomy 22:22
If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. – Leviticus 20:10
You shall not commit adultery – Exodus 20:14
BTW: That last one is one of the 10 FREAKING commandments!
It’s on the list with ‘Don’t Murder People’, for crying out loud!
Here’s the problem:
We 21st Century American Christians don’t like God’s rules.
We’re squeamish about sin.
We really hate that God has standards for behavior.
It’s sooooooooooooo old-fashioned and out of touch!
We think the church is supposed to be God’s press agent.
Our job is to make God attractive to our enlightened, cynical culture.
After all, “No one ever came to Jesus because a Christian scolded them.”
You could be right…
…but you’re not.
Exhibit “A” – The adulteress woman herself.
The scolding including dragging her naked through the streets.
That ruffles our western sensibilities, doesn’t it?
We don’t get riled up about adultery.
Live and let live.
God is cool with adultery.
God is cool with homosexuality.
God is cool with transgenderism.
God is cool with pedophilia…
Probably…but not for long.
Give us 21st Century American Christians another generation or two…
…and we’ll be “loving” pedophiles into the church too!
Because instead of reading the Bible we’re reading articles about the Bible.
We 21st Century American Christians are sanctimonious nitwits.
And our Westernized Gospel is useless.
The Universe shouldn’t exist.
That’s what the science guys are telling us.
“All of our observations find a complete symmetry between matter and antimatter, which is why the Universe should not actually exist…”
Blame it on symmetry.
What’s most curious to me is not that I don’t exist.
I’m curious about THIS statement from the science guys:
Where do we go from here? To even greater levels of precision, say the CERN scientists. There has to be some reason why we’re all here living and breathing.
How do scientists get away with saying stuff like that?
Where are the godless, free-thinking rationalists?!!
CERN scientists are FORCING THEIR RELIGION ON US!
Where do they get off saying there “has to be some reason”?
That kind of talk comes from preachers, not physicists!
Keep your faith to yourselves, science guys.
Stick to facts.
We’re not interested in your beliefs.
Again…where are you atheists?
You should be ashamed of yourselves!
This theist is doing your job.
You probably didn’t even notice the problem.
You’re biased about science articles.
Anything published by CERN scientists gets a pass.
Glad I was here to help you out.
Here’s a final thought regarding religious philosophy which will go completely over your head:
Science guys will keep looking for an explanation for the matter/anti-matter symmetry.
And someday, maybe they’ll discover that explanation.
When they do, they still won’t know the “reason we’re all here living and breathing”.
That question can’t be answered with a particle accelerator.