12 STEPS FOR THE RECOVERING PHARISEE

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1) We admit that our single most unmitigated pleasure is to judge other people.

2) Have come to believe that our means of obtaining greatness is to make everyone lower than ourselves in our own mind.

3) Realize that we detest mercy being given to those who, unlike us, haven’t worked for it and don’t deserve it.

4) Have decided that we don’t want to get what we deserve after all, and we don’t want anyone else to either.

5) Will cease all attempts to apply teaching and rebuke to anyone but ourselves.

6) Are ready to have God remove all these defects of attitude and character.

7) Embrace the belief that we are, and will always be, experts at sinning.

8) Are looking closely at the lives of famous men and women of the Bible who turned out to be ordinary sinners like us.

9) Are seeking through prayer and meditation to make a conscious effort to consider others better than ourselves.

10) Embrace the state of astonishment as a permanent and glorious reality.

11) Choose to rid ourselves of any attitude that is not bathed in gratitude.

12) Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we will try to carry this message to others who think that Christians are better than everyone else.

[source]

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August 6, 2020

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Musings On Journaling...Ate lunch. Watched a movie (Pee Wee’s Big Holiday), napped, watched another movie (Holidays), wrote for a few hours, listened to \,,/METAL\,,/, and tinkered a bit with setting up the ‘Droid to chat with the Exalted Geeks on Discord. Ate dinner. I could feel the tendrils of depression and anxiety creeping in, slithering over my skin.

There were…issues with the mic situation. They could barely make my voice out most of the time. Probably due to the bluetooth headset I was using. I tried other configurations, but they don’t seem to work. I got frustrated. When someone finally said, “I can’t fucking hear you,” I finally gave up. I more or less allowed the Creeping Terror that is my depression take full hold of me, tightening its cold, scaly tentacles around me, whispering sweet nihilistic nothings into my ear. I embraced the void, while everyone else chatted about things I wasn’t really paying attention to…

Tonight, my second-most terrifying nightmare became manifest: wanting desperately to tell someone about the unassailable grip I was in, only to be told, “You sound like you’re talking into a diaper,” and ignored… I fell asleep after a couple of hours of staring into the silent darkness…

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Confession: I [HEART] SCIENCE

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i heart scienceIt’s no big secret that, as a young boy growing up, my parents raised me not only in the Christian faith, but also to have a love of science and intellectual pursuits. I was probably one of the few 7-year-olds that had an ongoing subscription to Discover Magazine. Even after embracing my Christian faith and pursuing further intellectual studies in the Scriptures and theology, I still maintained a strong interest in science and scientific thought, and never succumbed to the whole “fear of science” that many of my fellow believers seem to subscribe to. Even during my brief stint in a church that actively encouraged avoiding critical thinking, I never thought that my interest in science and logic was anathema to my faith.

Some ways of understanding Christianity do not see the scientific studies as an integral aspect of the faith. Many forms of Pietism, for example, hold that the Christian’s sole responsibility is to focus on a personal devotional life rather than to become preoccupied with intellectual issues. Others would suggest that Christianity is primarily a religion of salvation and that a concern with offering an explanation of our world does not feature prominently (if it features at all) in the New Testament. I remember, ten years ago, being told in one of those Evangelical Christian chat rooms, “The only important thing is winnin’ souls, so stop wastin’ time with all this intellectual mumbo-jumbo.” I still run into this sentiment today.

While I agree that Christianity does indeed encourage a “discipleship of the heart”, there is also an obligation to develop a “discipleship of the mind”, something that many other fellow believers either are ignorant of, or outright ignore. In Matthew 22, Jesus replied to a question posed by one of the Pharisees about which is the greatest commandment in the Law with, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (v.37). This view was certainly held by C.S. Lewis, whose personal journey from atheism to Christianity resulted from his judgement that Christianity offered a better vision of reality. Sir John Polkinghorne, Cambridge quantum physicist turned theologian, is another Christian thinker who believes meta-questions that arise from our scientific experience and understanding can point us beyond what science by itself can presume to speak about:

Religion — or rather theology — is, I think, the great integrating discipline. It takes the insights of science — doesn’t tell science what to think — but it takes science’s insights and understandings, it takes the insights of morality, takes the insights of aesthetics, the study of beauty. The wonderful order or pattern of the world that science discovers and rejoices in is a reflection, indeed, of the mind of the creator, whose will and purpose lie behind the world. Our moral intuitions, our intimations of God’s good and perfect will, our experiences of beauty, I believe, are sharing in the joy of the creator, the creation. You can soon see the gross inadequacy of thinking that science can tell you everything that you could possibly know.*

Mind you, I’m not an academic; my exploration of both science and theology is purely from a layman’s perspective. But, I have come to a place now that I don’t see my faith and science to be opposition to each other. If anything, I can see how they both can be very complimentary, in both my spiritual and intellectual growth. It has become, not a war between Christianity and Science, and more a dialogue between the two. Take that as you will.

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[*=”Sir John Polkinghorne on Science and Theology”, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, May 8, 1998]

We are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world…

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tpshortage

The panic over COVID-19 has been steadily climbing. Mass toilet paper shortage due to everyone buying in bulk and stockpiling. Some places short on non-perishable food items. The Walmart in Blair, Nebraska on Sunday were completely out of the regular $.98 packs of regular hot dogs, and surprisingly low on Ramen noodles.

I do not fear the Coronavirus; I am, however, quite wary of everyone’s collective reactions to it.

You’ve got your standard panic–THE WORLD IS ENDING!–which is expected. Some are convinced this is a bioweapon developed by China. Some seem to think this is a plot by President Trump to secure his re-election. On the other end of the political conspiracy spectrum, some think this is a “leftist” plot to sink the economy and prevent the re-election of the Orange Faced One.

Restaurants, bars and various other small businesses are closing. Movie theaters are cutting back ticket sales to only half of the seating per capita. Those of us who work jobs and live paycheck to paycheck will feel the brunt of this economic devastation.

The most chilling thing of all, is that the elderly, the infirm, the impoverished and the homeless are being referred to as “collateral damage”, rather than fellow human beings that need our best efforts to protect them.

Alas, there is no spiritual-sounding platitude to accompany this entry. We’re all full of shit when it comes to talk of charity and love. But when something happens to allow us to finally put that talk into practice, we would rather run down people in the Cosco parking lot and knock everyone over for that last roll of precious butt napkins than practice what we preach.

I’m done.

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And now a perspective from the Phoenix Preacher:

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We in the church are faced with both the greatest crisis and greatest opportunity of my lifetime. We have the opportunity to demonstrate to a culture that has rejected us what the love of God looks like in action. We can drop our temporal political and denominational differences and represent Christ in our homes and in our circles of influence. We can work together to share the Gospel and alleviate suffering.Maybe…maybe…this pandemic isn’t a leftist plot to take down Trump, but a God ordained opportunity to build us up in one, holy, faith…maybe…they will know us by our love…I’m praying…

phoenixpreacher.com, “Things I Think”, March 16, 2020

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March 11, 2020: BRAIN DROPPINGS

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“I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. (1 Kings 18:18-21)

When the Israelites elected to worship Baal, they didn’t do so with evil intent. On the contrary, they bargained that Baal would save lives because Baal was believed to have the power to bring about prosperity and fertility. Fealty to Baal was a kind of backup plan in case God didn’t work quickly enough, or satisfactory enough.

The Israelites thought they could have their Baal and their Yahweh, too. The Israelites’ assimilation of pagan beliefs and practices while placing too little faith in God’s provision and plan spurs the question: When does our faith in politics overtake our faith in God?

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Obligatory Pious-Sounding Lent Post, 2020 Edition

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Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. The beginning of what we devout types refer to as Lent, the six week period leading up to Easter. Basically, a time of fasting and abstinence from something that’s considered important to them. Sometimes it’s something obvious, like chocolate, or television, or even avoiding the internet somehow. Nowadays, swearing off the internet for 40 days is equal to, if not worse than, swearing off sex for a perpetual horn-dog. I wouldn’t know anything about that later part.

“What are you giving up for Lent?” That’s a question that I’ve come across with less frequency than back when I was in primary and high school. But it does pop up every year. I’ve never really participated in the abstinence part of Lent growing up, despite growing up in a Methodist-based family. Later, after I began my ongoing post-Evangelical wilderness wanderings, my answer would be, “I gave up Lent for Lent.” Ha ha, funny. Pause for laughter. Such wit.

Personally, this year I believe it would be beneficial for me to instead use the time to study the Scriptures, expand my knowledge through books and studies, instead of “giving something up.” I’m doing this all the time; I just want to focus more on this during the Lenten period, rather than distract myself with other pursuits. That’s not to say that I won’t take the time to take in a movie or actually do something to enjoy life. I’m not pious, you know.

For others, to give up something during this time of reflection on the ministry of Jesus, His road leading up to the cross, His death and resurrection, would be beneficial. For me, what I detailed is what I’m going to be focusing on mainly during the next 39 days. Everything I’ve already scheduled to be posted won’t be changed–I’d hate to disrupt the ongoing 366 Days Of Metal thing–but I’ll definitely get back to things after Easter Sunday. Cheers, all, and don’t overdo it on the Cadbury Eggs…

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This Is How “Amish Vampires in Space” Got Started…

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buttery moist and completely french

Last weekend, a friend posted on her Facebook page a picture of the bread she found at the local Trader Joe’s in Omaha, proclaiming it to be the best and most delicious kind of French bread she’s found in a store. Or something like that. She also posted a picture of the wrapper (that’s not it up there, btw); it was the slogan underneath the label that got my attention: “Buttery, Moist and Perfectly French”. I quipped in her post that “Buttery, Moist and Perfectly French” was the name of my upcoming Christian romance novel. Laughs all around…

…however, due to the way my brain works, something inside me took that and actually ran with some ideas of a satirical Christian romance story based on that alone. As a matter of fact, ideas are falling into place far easier than it deserves to. To the point where I have a very rough bare-bones outline for at least a short story.

Will I end up writing something? Probably, as that’s how I make the voices in my head go quiet. Maybe I’ll even post it for all the world to scoff at. All I know is, I’m going to have to bone up on Christian romance stories to get a grasp on the structure and tropes, and maybe also go to a Trader Joe’s to research the interior design or something.

Also, “bone up” probably wasn’t the best choice of words to use this early in the morning…

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What About The Smoke Machines + Lasers?

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Recently, I’ve been binge-reading a web comic called Dumbing Of Age. Without going into the details of how I discovered it (it involves several internet rabbit-holes, trust me), this is one of the comics by David Willis, whose Shortpacked! strip was one of my favorites back in the Aughts. Anyway, this one deals more with college co-eds from different backgrounds, the main one having been raised in a sheltered, ultra-Fundamentalist Christian family.

While going through the strips, I happened upon this one:

2012-01-31-guitars

…to quote from the Phoenix Preacher, make your own application.

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Darker Musings…

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Images flashing in my brain: Me placing the business end of a pistol in my mouth, chewing on the cold metal, tasting the oil and metallic tang; numb emotionally, pausing, savoring the eternity between now and when my finger rests on the trigger…one question remains, do I close my eye? Or do I leave them open to see what happens after my brains are splattered behind me? Sweet, instantaneous oblivion, or will there be a lingering couple of seconds as reality melts away from my sight? I shall never know…

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