Monday, December 24, 2007

God and free will, part 2

Since God is truly a free being is it possible that in the same way that he was free to give the moral law, the 10 commandments and other laws associated with them, he could also take them away, or at least some of them? Yes the bible says that God does not change. The bible also says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

But if it is impossible for God to undo a law that he gave on Mt. Sinai, i.e., the 10 commandments or any part of them, is he then not free? Is he forever bound by his own inherent goodness and resoluteness of purpose in having given those 10 commandments?

Of course, most if not all, of those commandments are an expression of himself. It is said that God is love. I, personally, wouldn't want "thou shalt not kill" or honor thy father and thy mother . . ." to ever be done away with. But could not God, if he wasn't feeling so "jealous" as the bible says he was in giving the commandment about not having "other gods before [him]", decide well, he would prefer that the creatures he created only worshipped him, but if they wanted to worship other gods, for whatever reason, then they have been given free will, and could possibly worship other gods as long as they did not harm each other or themselves? Of course, this is only hypothetical. In ancient Israel, and in modern applications of the command against idolatry, there is more to worshipping idols than bowing down and focusing your fondest thoughts on graven images, etc. There were the orgies and such that probably was the main, though not the only, alluring aspect of idolatry, then and now.

The commandment about the day of rest is another one that, theoretically, he could decide, well, six thousand years ago that one day was set aside to commemorate either creation or freedom from slavery, but if those he had created wanted to worship him on another day, or--not worship him on any given day, then what would be so universe-shattering about that? Does not a mother have at some point to let go of her child, and the child let go of his/her mother as they both get on with the essence of living their lives?

I've always thought that to be required to obey God in order to not be destroyed doesn't sound like freedom of choice. If there were a third option, as long as it did not harm either God or others he created, then one could say that one truly had freedom of choice. If one could truly choose or not choose to obey God, but would still be free to live out your life as freely as one chose to do so, wouldn't that be true freedom of choice?

Or imagine the ultimate freedom of choice of being able to decide to follow God or not follow God and still live forever? Such an option would have to have some fail safe mechanism in place to provide free beings who live outside of God's system the impossibility of interfering with those who did choose to live within God's way. But then, that wouldn't be true free will, would it?

Of course, since God is God, he could very well state that in order to live forever you had to do it his way. God has to be in control somehow. After all, he created the cosmos to begin with. He could also choose at any moment to uncreate it. But if he did that, he wouldn't be a loving God, would he?

Is God free to change his mind regarding some things? Or is he forever bound to go along with statutes or commands or decisions that he outlined thousands or millions of years ago?

Does God have Free Will?

God gave us humans free will. For that we are grateful. We'd never have known that we didn't have it had we been created to do only what he wanted us to do.

As I sat in Sabbath School this past Sabbath the thought just popped into my mind. Does God have free will like we have free will? The thought startled me. I was even more concerned when the following text came to mind: "And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. . . Genesis 3:22. Now this probably means that God learned about evil, not from first hand experience, like Adam and Eve learned about it, but by being acquainted with Lucifer and his originating of the concept of evil.

Now, of course, I wouldn't want to suggest that God is capable of evil if he wanted to, being a free moral being that he is. But then I thought that since he is good because he is God and can only be good and never evil, then we are more free than he is by being able to choose good or evil. Of course, having chosen the latter, as it turns out, is not so pleasant, after all.

If you don't use the bible as your yardstick for matters of good and evil--bear with me for a bit---then an objective observer might think that God in wanting to destroy all he had made because humanity had turned to evil--except for Noah and his family--was less than good. Also, a very clinical observer might think these humans, although evil, were the work of God's hand. How could he be good if he wanted to destroy them all because he had regrets for having created them in the first place?

Now a subjective reaction to this might be that since God created humanity in the first place, he had every right to destroy it just as a potter has a right to reshape a pound of clay into something more perfect. Of course, the potter could also decide after he had finished the jar or glass vase, or whatever other work of non-living art, that it was imperfect and though he loved it a bit, it was better to destroy it and start again. After all does not the artist or the potter have every right to do what he wants with something he creates?

I read a while ago, that the Jews at one time attributed all of the vicissitudes of life to God. The good with the bad. The verse from Job, "the lord giveth and the lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord" addresses this issue somewhat. Later on, Jewish thought attributed the bad things in life to Satan (the accuser) and the good things in life to God only.

Do we attribute only good qualities to God because that's what we would prefer him to have? Of course, there's the matter of violation of his law and the need to punish the guilty which most religious people feel that God is justified in doing.

These issues suggest, to me at least, that matters involving free choice and good and evil are more complex than many people facilely state they are.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Minimizing Evil

One really must have been given the gift of love for God and faith in God in a world that's full of evil. Without that prior gift, it is well nigh impossible or unlikely that anyone would have those attitudes. Not everyone receives that gift or can live with it successfully once it's given.

Of course, you can also focus on the beauty and goodness in the world and it will partially negate the evil that is also present. Not all of life is evil unless we only focus on that side of it. Those of us who believe in God, in spite of the imperfections of living in an evil world, must really want to or need to continue believing in God regardless of the things we see and hear.

Some people would say either there is no God and all this evil is a mystery which humanity is partially responsible for. Or they would say that there is a God and he allows the evil to continue when he could very well stop it tomorrow. Or they would say that he might want to stop the evil, but is not able to do so.

Perhaps that's why some churches are full of people who want to reassure each other that in spite of the evil in life, past and present, it's still okay to believe in God and to believe that he wants the best for us at all times.

Regarding the Bible, I'm finding that I have to focus more and more on the positive parts of the Bible, the promises of hope and love while at the same time not dwelling on the negative and, sometimes unpleasant passages one sometimes comes across.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Jehovah Witness Cut My Hair

A barber who says he's still studying with the Watchtower Society cut my hair last Friday. I'm not usually in the position to argue fine points between the Watchtower folk and Adventism, but I had no choice as he had a pair of scissors in his hands and wouldn't stop talking.

As a young man I used to be terrified of Jehovah Witnesses. They seemed sinister to me, or so I was led to believe by some unfortunate encounters I had had with two or three. To be honest, it wasn't so much sinister, just heavy-handed or intolerant of the views of others that appalled me years ago. Now I feel more warmly towards the Watchtower folk as long as they don't wake me up on Sunday mornings when I'm trying to get some shut-eye.

But here was this inquisitive man with the scissors and I had nowhere to go.

In the end, he had some problems with the Jehovah Witnesses' abhorrence of Thanksgiving and Christmas. He likes spending both with his family and can't accept their negative spin on holidays.

I told him he could be Adventist, see his family for all the major holidays, but not Halloween, which he was glad to hear.

I told him I'm with the Adventists because of their interest in Righteousness by Faith. He had never heard of that term. I told him next time my hair needed cutting, I'd stop by and we'd talk again.

Future of God

Alternate title: Future of God and Humanity

When God said let us create humankind in our own image, did we or did we not inherit emotions or states of mind such as wonder, surprise, excitement, awe, hope, optimism, and other positive human qualities? What I'm getting at is that these good qualities had to come from God; we did not develop them ourselves. Therefore, what is so illogical about a God who also gives himself the luxury of experiencing awe, wonder, surprise and hope? Or is our God a being that has always been devoid of surprise, wonder, and exploration? I realize I'm seeing the man in God and not vice-versa, but are we not created just a little bit lower than the angels?

This may sound shocking to some, but it reassures me, in a way. Why do you suppose God created--had to create so many of us--at such a great cost? Think of the impossible although, of course, when you think of it, nothing is ever really impossible. What if we all are God's insurance of perpetuity in the same way that parents' offspring are insurance should they somehow never live out their full life span?

Why did God give so much in Christ to save us, mere flesh and blood? Might he not have more at stake then just some wayward children who needed rescuing at any cost? If you really believe that humans are children of God, then like human children eventually becoming like their parents at some future time, might we also not have been designed with the potential--perhaps millennia from now--to become as perfect as our creator through the self-actualizing gift he stored in our very DNA? It's not easy to even write these words. Nevertheless, the very idea gives me a strange hope and sense of well-being for the future of humanity on planet Earth, as well as any non-terrestrial colonies humans may yet develop in worlds beyond our own.

Finally, and this takes lots of faith and courage, what if, we are now, or may one day come to be, all that's left of the perfect and self-sacrificing being we commonly refer to as God? We not only owe it to ourselves to take care of each other and of our home planet, but we also owe it to him, our creator, God.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Either or ...

Either humanity is in control of its future, for better or worse, or God is in control of it, for the good of all concerned.

Either we create our own reality daily or God creates it for us, including having created it in the distant past before any life began.

Either we're "getting better all the time day by day" by focusing on a positive outcome to our lives as Emil Coue believed or we "can do all things through Christ who strengthens" us."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Foreknowledge of God

The Open View of God might partially explain the mystery of sin and Satan. God is an optimist by nature, otherwise why create something to begin with if he didn't think it would turn out perfect and stay perfect. A perfect being, by definition, is only capable of optimism.

Can you imagine a being who knows everything that will ever occur? There are no surprises. He knows everything he will ever do and create and what will happen to his creation. God created the universe with the best of optimistic intentions. God had no idea when he created Lucifer that a ghastly creature like Satan would eventually emerge from Lucifer's free will and cause so much anti-perfection for millions (or thousands) of years. Otherwise why be partially responsible for such horror and evil?

If father or mother Hitler had received convincing proof from a time traveler that their little Adolf would murder so many innocent people, would they go ahead and play a role in allowing him to be born? They went ahead because they had no idea, of course. They hoped for the best and waited to see what would become of their little boy.

God, likewise, created Lucifer and his confederates, as well as humanity, with the best of intentions, hoping against hope that we'd all turn out as perfect as he would have liked for us all to have turned out.

Perhaps that's why he sent himself in the form of Christ, because in being partially responsible for allowing us to get into this mess as he was, he got himself into this mess as well, as one of us, to bare the brunt for having created us in the first place and to help us get out of it and return us to that hoped-for perfection he wished we all had chosen for ourselves all along. Think of the pain he's in to see how we all have suffered and continue to suffer. God wants this all to end as much as we do, otherwise he'd already have ended it for all concerned.

That, my friends, sounds like a responsible and sacrificing God and parent.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Philosophical Exercises and God

If we concentrate on the evil in the world, invariably we become bitter and unhappy. We blame it all on God instead of pressing on to understand the mystery that is life, and yes the mystery, that is God.

Of course, we shouldn't become unconcerned when we encounter evil, no matter how it manifests itself. That would in itself be compounding the problem of evil.

We should, instead, focus on making good out of evil. It also opens up the possibility that some people out there--clever souls they--may be inventive enough to make evil out of good. It all depends what spin you place on each side of the mirror.

It is sometimes said that good is incomplete without its opposite, evil, and evil is meaningless were it not for the existence of good. A reality that consisted of only one of the two would be an impossibility and would be unstable in very little time.

Therefore, it follows, that in a perfect or complete world or reality, we need both good and evil.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Neo-Charismatic Realities in Adventism

"In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh." Joel

When doing research for this post I found this article from the that is a good enough a springboard for what I've been thinking about lately.

"Our worship services are not to be cold and lifeless. Ellen White says there is such a thing as healthy enthusiasm, but what is a healthy enthusiasm? 'The Holy Spirit of God alone can create a healthy enthusiasm. Let God work, and let the human agent walk softly before Him, watching, waiting, praying, looking unto Jesus every moment, led and controlled by the precious Spirit, which is light and life' (Selected Messages, vol. 2, pp. 16, 17). A healthy enthusiasm is a holy joy that results from beholding the workings of God. This joy is expressed in praise and worship as the human walks softly and reverently in the presence of the great Creator and Redeemer. " Charismatic Experiences in the Seventh-day Adventist Church; Present and Future
by George E. Rice
. (Please click on the title of this post to see the quotation in it's original article.)

I am not advocating what most Christians refer to as speaking-in-tongues. I've witnessed it first hand and it is either perplexing, though quite possibly genuine for the believer, or false and is self-orchestrated, which is a travesty to observe. For unsound minds or temperaments it is better not to be in a church where speaking-in-tongues takes place. Some would run from the very place to for fear of contamination by a less than benign force. Others might stay to observe a social-religious phenomenon and learn about how it impacts the lives of the Christians present.
I've rarely experienced congregations of Adventists caught up in the life of the Spirit. Most services are either ordinary, or worse, lack luster and are lacking the minimum required to be genuinely transported into the presence of God.

What Adventism needs is to talk more about the Holy Spirit and to collectively pray for the Holy Spirit. Only then will our churches catch fire. At present they are merely dying embers which is sufficient for most people in attendance. It is not, however, the rich experience that all Adventist churches should be experiencing and which is necessary to both keep current members in the church as well as bring new ones into the church.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Adventism Reversed

I have benefited immensely from the blog ministry of Julius Nam. Recently he has had to cut back, as well as revamp the nature and specificity of his blog. I'm especially sorry to see all of the links to Adventist blogs removed.

I am especially grateful for the article in question which I've linked to the title of this post. In the article in question, "'Questions on Doctrine' and M. L. Andreasen: The Behind-the-Scenes Interaction" he recounts the effects of objections voiced and written by one, . L. Andreasen, a deceased Adventist theologian, on Adventism.

While one cannot effectively turn back the wheels of time, I can't help but wonder what Adventism would be like today had brother Andreasen simply sat back and enjoyed his retirement. Perhaps others would have stepped in and taken up the challenge. Or perhaps those involved in Questions on Doctrine would have revised and republished that book as the direction of the Adventist church would have grown increasingly self-critiquing and transparent.
I must tell you that as I read about the machinations, although I fear that word is too strong, of M. L. Andreasen, I felt both postive and negative emotions. Negative because so much discord and wasted opportunities were the result of his objections. Positive because of his refusal to simply go with the flow and to fight for what he felt were his just rewards for his efforts or objections.

As I reflected further on the results--five decades--of changes in Adventism because of M. L. Andreasen's efforts, I wondered if it was providential that he entered Adventist history in the way that he did, as a corrective, if you will. Or were his letters and published materials merely free human will injecting itself in the stream of time? Much depends on which view one takes. If it was the former, then it is a good thing, of course. If it was the latter, it may happen yet again with untold consequences within the Adventist movement.

At this point in time I think it accurate to speak of Adventist movements. I strongly feel that conservative, mainstream and progressive Adventist approaches to the nature of the church, and its future, consitute distinct movements with soon-to-be-felt repercussions, and not just divergent currents within one homogeneous body of water.

Please click on this link, Progressive Adventism, in order to read the entire article and benefit from Julius Nam's research.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Evolution of Sin

In human experience there was a time when sin did not exist. People were sinless and strangers to sin. Can you imagine what such a life could have been like? Everyone put their brother (sister) first. No one asserted themselves. Everything owned was the property of everyone else. No one had adulterous desires because there really was nobody else to have adultery with. Everyone loved everyone else perfectly.

It almost sounds too good to be true. So good, in fact, that it couldn't possibly last for very long. It sounds like the most perfect of ideals. Moral people today hold out that pristine moral purity as the future goal.

Understandably, such a state is to be desired, and no criticism is intended of its perfect qualities. What is difficult to understand is how such perfection could have existed.

Children have to learn not to throw tantrums and to not think that they're the center of the universe. It is their natural state. Can you imagine what a sinless infant would be like? I must admit that it is difficult for me to do so.

What if we were all born with a natural inclination towards evil and an inclination to good moral behaviour was a learned and conditioned response?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Death, Salvation, Foreknowledge

I never felt uneasy about the concept of soul sleep until I lost a good friend to AIDS 20 years ago. My father tried comforting me by restating the Adventist position. I found it more comforting emotionally to think that somehow my friend, Clive, was still conscious in some other sphere. And then there's the other side of the soul sleep issue. If he didn't accept Christ, then he won't be among the "dead in Christ rising first."

Recently, a kind church mother of two young boys died of cancer. I had been praying for her for months. Now that she's gone I still pray for her wherever she is. I miss her so much that today I prayed that God would watch over her body if that is all that's left of her until he calls her to live again. I also prayed that if like most Christians believe, she is "with the Lord" now, that she would enjoy her new life free of pain.

My pastor insisted that Adventists equate soul sleep with only the life force. When I quoted "God is Spirit", he just kept silent. I guess, in that interpretation, it's the same as saying "God is life, itself."

What if both the majority of Christians and Adventists are wrong regarding soul sleep and all the rest. What if, as a recent New York Times Science-Philosophy article suggested, we are simulations in some larger-than-life cosmic computer with a Super Intelligence "watching over it all in loving grace?"

That would explain a lot of things, but would open up another can of worms. If that should be the true reality, then none of this really matters, does it? Or perhaps it matters in a very different way. In the end, it's how we treat each other that matters, whether we're really here as flesh and blood beings or whether we're shadows flickering in some ancient Platonic cave.

An even better and more economical idea might be, if foreknowledge knows that an individual will eventually be burned up so as to dispose of unresolvable wickedness, why bother allowing that individual to live in the first place?

I like this idea for it infers that those that are living were created economically and will eventually be saved. This is possible because, in theory, all the people who are alive today or who have ever lived or who will eventually be born could very well experience a deathbed conversion, or its equivalent. This may be confused with universalism, but it's not really, as all of these formerly wicked people could--and could is a big word--accept Jesus or his ethical equivalent right before they die.

Didn't Paul say that all were destined to be saved? Well, if you accept this view of only creating those who are going to be saved--all that have lived and are presently living or will live one day--then this is the best of all possible worlds.

Of course, if you subscribe to the Open View of God--is Richard Rice out there?--then God has no idea who will be saved. He will be either pained or pleased, as the case may be, when the end of all things reveals which of his children he can enjoy forever.

The following was originally part of a Spectrum Blog exchange circa 8-15-07:

What follows was part of the comments in that now misplaced post:

Dick Larsen: After death the soul, spirit , or whatever it is of a person is not constrained any longer by time. In that, it can experience at once with every other soul/spirit the second coming of Christ simultaneously.

Yes, it sounds very attractive. It also sounds like what psychics refer to as global and gestalt consciousness. Even Isaac Asimov wove that attractive trait into the future of human evolution in his last installments of the classic Foundation and Empire series.

When I read about this gestalt consciousness you describe--well, that Mr. Campolo describes--I was surprised by the nature of what he suggests. I also thought, "why stop there with being in tune simultaneously with only every other redeemed soul/spirit"? In addition to this perfect consciousness, I'd also like for us all in this mass consciousness to be jacked in--to borrow a Matrix-like term--into the beauty and consciousness of Perfection Itself, namely the Spirit who created us all and gives us life. If this is heaven, it truly is beyond anything we could ever envision.

Thank you, brother Larsen, for sharing your vision of a perfect future reality.

Christian Progress and the Beautiful Christ

"Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better." -- Emile Coue

About his little son: "Every day in every way it's getting better and better. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy." -- John Lennon in Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

Christian synthesis: Every day, in every way, Christ is making me better and better. Thank you, beautiful Christ.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Self-Creating God

Can one say that God creates Himself? His very being would then be a causal loop personified. Perhaps that's what He meant when He said that He is the beginning and the end.

In sending Jesus Christ to our world with the possibility of failure, could God have endangered his own being in the process?

Since God is all-powerful, could He also, if he chose to, cease to be? Since the universe has self-actualizing laws that He set in motion, does He have to continue existing for the laws He set in motion to continue functioning?

Once He ceased to be, could He recreate Himself again, and again? Out of nothing? Might eternity itself be an endless cycle of creation and recreation out of nothing? Might it be just that instead of it being one long, ceaseless reality without any beginning or any end?

If you accept this premise, then, conceivably, when Jesus Christ died and rose after three days as He said he would, in a sense, God ceased to be and recreated Himself by His own ability. Jesus said, "I have the power to lay down my life and to take it up again."

If He was able to live again by his own power, did he cease to be in the traditional sense of ceasing to be. Is death, or cessation of life, for an all-powerful being, drastically different from mortal and limited beings such as ourselves who were created?

Is heaven outside of the time-space continuum? If that were the case then normal entropy would cease to operate, as well as the carbon cycle. There would be no problem for beings to be eternal if time and cause and effect were suspended in a timeless reality.

Ex-Adventists and Their Ministries

I need to explore this website (Proclamation Magazine) more before understanding what motivates these folks. However, from the limited information I've been able to obtain, it does focus on grace and Jesus Christ.

While they should be respected for their choice, as those who remain Adventist should be respected for theirs, I feel that while these folks are more honest by leaving instead of fighting what they see as the imperfections of Adventism, they are quitters in a sense.

Yes Martin Luther and his followers left the Catholic hegemony and what a wise move that was. However, Luther's followers did not think of themselves as ex-Catholics, but rather as newfangled Protestants or Christians.

On the other hand, it is my belief that at least some, and hopefully most, of these ex-Adventist should come back to us and war inside the church regarding what seems wrong and worth changing, instead of devoting their energies to combating Adventism from the outside.

Please see the following site for the Proclamation Magazine.

Update: 8/27/10

I just chanced upon the following site:  Non-Sda. It's good to be aware of what is being said by those whom oppose one's religion. Hopefully, no one reading this blog will take this site too seriously, but if you do, then, be my guest. Your life is what you make it. God bless.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

How to Experience the Perpetual Sabbath

What is more important? Thinking of God daily, whenever you get a spare moment to meditate on him or talking to him moment by moment as you would to a friend?

Or is it more important to be fixated on a 24-hour period when we have to refrain from secular activities, have to or should worship with others, pay your tithes and offerings, visit people in hospitals or prisons--well maybe that's not so bad--attend choir practice, young people's meetings, special hour of prayer during mid-afternoon, and all the other trappings of rigid Sabbath keeping?

Do people who need to work on Sabbath every other Saturday or every 4th or 6th Saturday to support their families or themselves, are they breaking the Sabbath commandment? Are those who routinely show up in church on Sabbath morning and pat themselves on the back that they are upstanding Sabbath-keeping Adventists necessarily more heaven-bound than those unfortunate souls who have to punch the clock during some Saturday mornings to not be a burden on society, their families or their God?

Or maybe all these activities are not that bad provided you really want to or need to. But to feel you have to, now that's not living life to the fullest. Perhaps if we asked God to really enable us to keep the Sabbath holy, not as a means to salvation, but as a means to spending quality time with him, that would not be so bad after all.

Why just consider one 24-hour period holy to the Lord? Why not observe and enjoy the perpetual Sabbath that has no end and no beginning. I'm speaking of a conceptual day of rest and ceaseless worship of God in all you do and say.

When the sun sets on Sabbath evening, I thank God for the blessings of the traditional Adventist-Jewish Sabbath and thank him for the beginning of the ongoing reality of his Perpetual Sabbath rest.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reverse Promises of the Bible

The Bible is full of promises. Some of them have a negative component while others are partially positive and partially negative, like the following promise:

". . . no good thing does he [the Lord God] withhold from those whose walk is blameless." Psalms 84:11 (NIV)

Currently there is much talk and many books written about focusing only on the positive. One of the main tenets of this positive thinking system is that if you focus on not committing some unwanted behavior, by focusing on what you don't want, you eventually get just that, what you don't want.

The above text promises blessings and encourages moral living, but it does so by dealing in negatives. Note especially the double negative of "no good thing" and "withhold," as well as appeal to a state that is free from blame, which in itself is a negative concept.

The purely positive version of this excellent promise might be something like "the Lord will bless you beyond your wildest imagination if you live a moral life." The important thing to keep in mind is that without the forgiving love (grace) of God, no one can live a moral life.

The full prayer might be "Lord, enable me to live a moral life by your transforming grace and continue to bless me greatly in my life."

Jesus Christ is Coming Back in My Lifetime

He may come back in yours, as well. However, he may not come back if you don't expect him to do so in your lifetime. Let me explain.

30 years ago a high school buddy visited me during my senior year in college. He told me with such intensity that he believed that Jesus was coming back soon and in his lifetime. I told him that I believed that Jesus was coming back but that it would be in the distant future. The look of disappointment because of my words affects me to this day.

Now this is the peculiar thing. As much as I've tried to locate this friend, it's as if he never existed although he's in my high school yearbook and there are people who remember him. He believed that Jesus was coming back soon and, I believe Jesus did come back soon.

This is how it happened. Quantum mechanics, as well as String/M Theory, postulate that there are an infinite amount of realities coexisting side by side. For those who believe that Jesus will come back some day in the distant future, they will continue living in a reality that is in agreement with their belief. For those who believe, as my friend did, that Jesus was coming soon, in that reality, Jesus did come soon. I am not talking about my friend dying.

Now this is the real conundrum. Even though my friend has experienced Christ's second coming in his reality, in my reality, I'm still waiting for Jesus' Second Coming. Additionally, my friend my well exist somewhere in this same reality I live in, but completely oblivious of my existence or I of his. Yes, in each of these infinite variations--or parallel universes--each of us has an identical twin, with slight variations depending on the choices we made in those distinct realities.

This can account for the seemingly mysterious disappearances of people that should continue to exist in my reality, but that have apparently disappeared.

Now more than ever, believing that Jesus is coming soon is crucial. Only those that really believe and internalize that belief will diverge from this reality in which Jesus delays into another reality where he, in fact, will come soon.

Since the word of God is one, all the different realities or parallel universes share the same Sacred text. This is as good an explanation, as any, as to why the New Testament states over and over again that Jesus is coming soon. He comes soon to those who want him to. To those who don't want him to come soon, he simply does not.

I am not talking about a secret rapture. Christ comes back only once within each separate reality.

Envision Christ returning soon and in your lifetime. Hope and wait for it with something greater than faith. Hope for it with absolute certainty not just a half-hearted wish. Pray without ceasing that Christ returns in your lifetime. He will return soon if you want it badly enough.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ex gays? Theory or Reality

Good news or wishful thinking?

If these good folk really converted to heterosexuality, then we should hug them and accept them with open arms. If they didn't really change and will one day revert back to homosexuality, then we should hug them and accept them with open arms whenever they come back to us hurting and confused and maybe a little bit angry.

Please see the following link for further information:

For an Adventist approach to living as gay Adventists, or gay Christians for that matter, please see the following links: (For friends and family support also)

Holy Spirit and Adventist Futures

Traditionally Seventh-Day Adventists have been afraid of the Holy Spirit. Only in recent years have ministers and some church members opened up by talking comfortably and frequently about the Holy Spirit. Most of the time only a passing mention is made of the Holy Spirit. With Christ being physically absent for 2,000 years it's odd that we don't speak more of the physical reality of the Spirit in our churches and in our lives. Some ultra-conservative minister-bloggers have even counseled against the "Cult of the Holy Spirit" which has existed during different ages of Christianity and, no doubt, exists in some Christian churches now. It would be an electrifying and life-changing experience if Adventists also experienced the cult of the Holy Spirit in a controlled manner. I'm not talking about Charismatic Adventists, although if such Charismata were genuine and life-changing, would that be such a bad thing, really?

I've witnessed so-called Charismatic Christians in action. Some have been obviously feigned experiences which speak ill of the people in question. Others, however, were more loving and life-affirming than any Adventist congregation I've ever experienced, and I've experienced the full gamut of Adventist congregations: Conservative Spanish, Mainstream black Adventists, Ultra-Progressive Adventists, Collegiate Adventists, Ultra-Conservative "Yuchi Pines" types, and conceptual Adventists. None of them had the vitality, except for an occasional fluke, that I've experienced in Pentecostal church gatherings.

We worry about the dwindling numbers of young people in the North American and European churches. If an Adventist Cult of the Holy Spirit genuinely manifested itself in our churches, think of the joy and transformation we'd see among our young people, as well as in other age groups of the Adventist church. We’d see this first here and in Europe and eventually everywhere.

For the original context of this comment, please see the following link:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Christian Minimalism

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. 1 John 3:21-24 (NIV)

What if you lived by these verses and no others? You could then go about your life, enjoying it and resting in the assurance that you were in right relation to your God and to your fellow man. Notice this text says nothing about confessing your sins, of being forgiven or being purified as 1 John 1:9 does.

If you must have more then, how about 1 John in its entirety?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Six Six Six Years after September 11, 2001

Nobody took 9.11.01 as bad as I did. That's not entirely true.

Here's someone who really had a larger-than-life reaction. Jonathan Paulien was my senior year history teacher at Greater New York Academy during the early 1970s.

Please read the full article The Day the Sky Fell

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

SPACE RAPTURE: Extraterrestrial Millennialism and the Cultural Construction of Space Colonization

I schoogled (Google Scholar) the terms "Adventist Futurism" and one of the titles that caught my attention was the one in question.

George E. Vandeman's Planet in Rebellion appears in his bibliography.

Page 107 of this dissertation:

Seventh-Day Adventist evangelist George E. Vandeman saw the Earth itself as threatened by mankind’s technology and believed the Day of Judgment, along with mankind’s extraterrestrial rendezvous with Christ, were not far off. However Vandeman's Adventism championed the Earth even as fundamentalists championed the above. After Sputnik, Vandeman wrote, America "was a nation in shock… We realized that we were actors in a technological revolution that would dwarf every other revolution into insignificance." Vandeman noted that only fourteen years separated the destruction of Hiroshima from the crash landing of the Soviet Lunik II spacecraft on the surface of the moon. "We had touched the universe," he wrote, "and its broken secrets had plunged us into nuclear and moral fear."

Vandeman believed that the immense technological advancements of the past few decades were a sure sign of the approaching "end to this world as we know it." Echoing the apocalyptic beliefs of other end times preachers, Vandeman asked, citing the Book of Revelation, "Could it be that we are approaching the time when God must intervene to ‘destroy them that destroy the earth’?" Space colonization would be a reality, for Jesus was the first to prove it could be done. "It was Jesus Himself, you remember, who demonstrated the possibility of space travel and promised it to His followers," Vandeman wrote. "The laws of gravitation were circumvented as the Lord of glory was swept heavenward." When Jesus returned to the Earth, "past vast constellations, bursting into view with a brilliance of display…" he would whisk his believers into heaven, where they would wait out the purification of the Earth by fire. Vandeman noted that none of this miracle would require space suits or oxygen tanks. 154

154 George E. Vandeman. Planet in Rebellion. Nashville: Southern Publishing Association, 1960. pp. 137-49.

To read the entire dissertation click on the title of this post or please click on the link below:

Monday, September 10, 2007

Christian Affirmations - The Law of Attraction

I'm happy and I'm grateful that--

I'm in the process of being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.

I'm in the process of overcoming the world through Christ who strengthens me.

I'm in the process of receiving eternal life through Christ who saves me.

I'm in the process of attracting health and joy so I can share them with others.

I'm in the process of attracting abundance and love so I can share them with others.

I'm in the process of attracting my ideal mate so we can share each other's lives.

I'm in the process of becoming my ideal self so I can enjoy who I am more and more.

I'm in the process of enjoying my life more and more and being a blessing to others.

These are daily rituals that I've been practicing for a few months. They are based in part on bible texts that I've been attracted to through the years. I also have to give credit to the following books as they have provided the framework into which I've been able to integrate a lifetime of bible texts and hopes.


Byrne, Rhonda. The Secret
Losier, Michael. Law of Attraction
Peale, Norman Vincent. The Power of Positive Thinking

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Virile Jesus

Jesus had no sex drive as sinful men have a sex drive. If he did, his life couldn't have been devoted to all of the good things he did while on Earth. He may well have had a potential for sex, but that was never manifested or necessary in his 33 years on Earth.

Most of the heroes of the Bible had regular sexual relations, e.g., Jacob, David, Moses, Joseph. Others did not, e.g., Daniel, Paul, Jeremiah. The New Testament is strangely silent on the sexual lives of its protagonists.

Every human male needs some sexual outlet. He is designed for sex. For the fortunate Christian or monogamous male, a wife provides the necessary outlet--within reason--for that natural sex drive.

True, some monastic types have, with some success, lived a sexless life, by choice or circumstances. Most men, however, suffer psychological damage from depriving themselves from a normal sexual outlet.

Not too long ago I had different views regarding the sexuality of our savior. To read those views, as well as other bloggers' reactions to the views earlier expressed, please click on God the Son: Truly Human by Trudy Morgan Cole as well as The Spectrum Blog: Bloggin' the 28 which contains one really angry blogger's reaction to my views.

Friday, August 24, 2007

To the Angel of the Eighth Church

I know an eighth church was never intended. The seventh church, Laodicea, was to have been the very last. It was not.

Many of you are on fire for your Lord, others are colder and colder everyday. Why speak of a lukewarm state anymore? Just as there are hotter and hotter degrees of heat, so are there colder and colder degrees of cold.

Among you are carnal Christians who, though wanting to love their Lord, fail miserably. I've done all I can do for them. The rest is in their hands. Do they really want to be rid of their carnality? Or do they love their sinful natures more than they love me?

I am grateful for the spiritual Christians among you, though I have this against you: take heed lest you focus too much on your spirituality and forget those who are not as focused as you. You could very well join their ranks and suffer as they do, wanting to love me, but unable to do so because of their great love for self. Minister to their weaknesses with the strength I have given you by my Spirit.

Finally, know that I hate those who hate sinners and love those who love them, as I love them.

If you have ears to hear, take heed of what the Spirit says to the Angel of the Eighth Church.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What is Real? Anything?

When I first read about the idea that we might be a computer simulation I thought that it was a bit much and that someone had nothing better to do than speculate about the nature of reality. It's odd that all of this speculation goes hand in hand with cutting-edge technology. If one day, lets say, science perfects teleportation, then that will become the paradigm with which to redefine reality, or what we think reality is.

If one day we're here one moment and light years away in a flash, philosophers might start to wonder if we were ever here to begin with, or if when we got to where we were going would we still be the same person, or would we ever be that person again, if we teleported back from whence we came.

Of course even Plato questioned whether this was the true reality or whether it was a shadow of the ideal model somewhere in some perfect sphere beyond our reach. I've sometimes thought that the apostle Paul must have read much of Plato when he spoke of "looking through a glass darkly."

Please click on the title of this post to read the original New York Times article, Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch, by John Tierney that got me to thinking about the views I've expressed here.

Living between Time

Ursula K. Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven (1971) has influenced my perception of life more than I care to admit. The gist of the story is that reality is transformed by what the hero dreams. His psychoanalyst suggests ridding the world of racism. When he dreams about that, he awakens to a world where all of humanity is now gray-skinned. This and many other startling changes are brought about by his lucid dreaming.

Through the years, I didn't consciously think of that novel which I read at 15 or 16. I once caught a PBS adaptation (1980) which delighted me by its distillation into quite a completely different story from what I had imagined it to be. Nevertheless, for about 20+ years I've had the odd suspicion that some elements of life have changed ever so slightly than from what I clearly remember them to be.

One of the earliest occurrences was being completely befuddled at finding that a chord or motif that I had been so certain existed in the Beatles' Hey Jude, did not, in fact, exist. I imagined that I was mistaken, but in my mind I could still hear the other version that I had been familiar with. Now this is before bootlegs became widely available on the Internet and in Greenwhich Village rare records stores. It saddened me that I remembered a version of this famous song, that, in fact, no longer existed, or perhaps, never existed.

Another startling occurrence deals with a book that I have been reading since I was eleven, October the First is Too Late (1966) by the astronomer/mathematician/philosopher Fred Hoyle. I've read this perhaps four or five times in my life. The last time I read it I was astounded by the fact that a encounter between the hero and a historical/mythical person that I had vivid memories of having read many times before, suddenly had disappeared from this only paperback copy that I have always used to reread this story. I tried rereading it in case I had missed this significant encounter, but, alas, it was not to be found. I have a feeling that if I were to read this book again I might either find this missing scene again, or perhaps new ones missing, or--even more perplexing--a scene that I know I had never read during the previous readings of this unique book.

The latest occurrence of this personal phenomenon was when I recently learned of Ingmar Bergman's death. This stunned me more than you'd imagine, as I distinctly remember reading that Fanny and Alexander (1982) was his last film. I never heard anything else about Ingmar Bergman until this past month when all the news agencies reported his death at a ripe old age. Now the confusion may be that, yes, this film was in fact his last film, and his Swan Song, as far as feature films are concerned. He, however, continued making other kinds of films, mostly for Swedish TV. Now as much as I loved his work, and as much as I have immersed myself, obsessively at times, you'd think I would have read at least a review or two in the ensuing years, but that was not the case. Not until he died did I see anything in print in any of the major film or cultural media about this singular director. To my mind, this was indeed proof, that the reality I remembered quite certainly that Bergman died some time in the early 1980s, had, in fact, changed.

These are only two glaring situations in my recollection that illustrate this point. There have been, in fact, many others, including meeting people that no one else remembers, but I remember them because they left a huge impact on me. I always ignored these inconsistencies with other people's memories until I was able to reveal to relatives or close friends things they had said to me, 20 or 25 years ago, that upon some reflection, they admitted that they very well could have said that, but it was long gone from their memory. This gave me some assurance that if I remembered statements or situations in family member's lives or in those of close friends, perhaps I remembered other realities that others no longer remembered at all.

I'm not sure what this phenomenon is called. I thought briefly of how fascinated I used to be with the concept of déjà vu until until I read that it had nothing to do whatsoever with a mystical reality, but rather that it was caused by a trick of the mind. For years I often had episodes of déjà vu and they delighted and perplexed me greatly. Since learning that this phenomenon is a trick of the mind, I no longer experience episodes of déjà vu .

Recently I read in the New York Times that one major cosmologist believes that we change our evolutionary and cosmological past by what we collectively choose to remember or imagine it to be. This was both startling and comforting. I'm still looking for this recent quote, but, it seems to elude me the way other memories or recalled incidences have done for more than 20 years.

Perhaps one day I will remember that I wrote this post, but will find that no one read it or recalls it, and even more problematic, I will find no copy of it either here or in my hard copy binder of blog posts I've written.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Temporal Mechanics

If you live in the past you will die there.

If you live in the present you will live out your life normally.

If you live in the future you will live forever.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Simple Pleasures

God disappears behind the shocking white clouds and the heat of the mid-afternoon sun. When I find any shade worth pursuing, he reappears and I'm grateful for the gentleness of his shade. The entire country is experiencing a heat wave and unbearable humidity. I've felt heat like this before and it's humid all summer long, here in South Florida.

For years I've wanted to document what I see around me, especially as I look up, as well as around me as Callisto and I live our simple pre-Sabbath lives. Suddenly, with no strong intention to own one, a free camera phone appeared in my hand last night--courtesy of ATT's upgrades--and I was able to capture the blazing white ecstasy of a Floridian summer sky this afternoon. The search for other people's close approximations of what I see daily has come to an end, and for that I am grateful.

Suddenly I'm reminded of Bob Dylan's lyric, "She's got everything she needs. She's an artist. She don't look back." While I can't claim to be an artist of any kind, but I'm learning not to look back at what was and at what might have been.

Last week I talked with a Buddhist for the first time in my life. I mentioned I was a Christian and that I wanted to know what was worth sharing about the Buddhist vision of life. The simple response, was "there is no past. Life begins from this moment on." I understood this to mean, in the context of the larger conversation, that whatever regrets or expectations or anything, really, that had gone before, ceases to have ultimate value from this moment on.

I was once guilty of "living in the past" and loving it. I couldn't understand those who considered it less noble than living in the present. While we can't completely ignore the past--at least I cannot--I'm realizing that more and more people live for today and for the promise that tomorrow brings.

If you live in the past, you will die there.

So much time was spent hiding from the heat, that fifteen minutes before the sun set, I knew I had to get out and about if only to have the luxury of being able to return home again. There were restaurants still open where I might run into old friends from town, but their conversation probably wouldn't be very conducive to enjoying the Sabbath. I opted, instead, to order some Chinese food at the local take-out and head home.

On my way home I did get an invitation by phone to see Marc Anthony & Jennifer Lopez' new movie, El Cantante. These friends know I go to church on Saturday morning, but I don't know them well enough to explain why I don't accept invitations to movies on Friday nights. Simply, I said that I had a standing order tonight.

Once home, I enjoyed the simple pleasures of a Weight Watchers Chinese menu and found it lacked zing, but at least it was free of starch, sugar, salt and all the things that give Chinese food its flavor. I was thankful for the healthy meal, nevertheless.

I read a chapter from The Great Controversy and was grateful that I still had an interest in reading a book that some, or many, Adventists stopped reading decades ago. I took what I could from it and then settled down to my progressive time travel film retrospectives I now closely associate with Sabbaths in the early 21st century.

Happy Sabbath to you in whatever decade you happen to be reading this.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Deserted Island Opus: Frustrated Excellence

Cecil Taylor, the Avant Garde pianist who was one of the challenging and challenged practitioners of Free Jazz during the 1960s, tells of a time in his life when no one cared to hear his music and therefore he was without a recording contract once again, as well as, without any scheduled performances. During the day he worked at whatever nickel and dime jobs he could to survive, but at night he came alive when he gave the most exotic sounding pianist concert imaginable for an audience of one, himself.

What little I've heard of Cecil Taylor's music I've enjoyed immensely. Of course, when he was composing his perplexing free jazz pieces I was but a child and his music would have sounded like noise to my untrained or unchallenged ears. I wish I could have somehow have been in the next apartment or in front of his summer building as he nightly played his liquid songs of frustrated excellence, with the appreciation that 30 years of persistence have granted me in returning time and again to the austerity of Free Jazz.

Sometimes you have to live your life or work at your art or craft even though there may not be anyone to take note of what you have to give to life. If, like Cecil Taylor, you are the only one who wants to listen to or who is able to listen to a piano that is played upside-down, and inside-out, then do so and relish each quixotic note that your fingers, or your voice, or your words, or your actions produce. If there is no one to take note of the work of art that is your life or your art, then enjoy the serenity and the tranquil independence of your Deserted Island Opus, in spite of the absent audience. Someday they may very well regret that they were far away when the place to be was right by your side, enjoying as you enjoyed what you contributed to life.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Designing your Own Eternity

"As a man thinketh, so is he." Proverbs 23:7

"If death is not extinction, what might it be like? That’s a question the Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick, who died five years ago, enjoyed pondering. ... Although his reflections were inconclusive, Nozick hit on a seductive maxim: first, imagine what form of immortality would be best; then live your life right now as though it were true." -- Jim Holt, Eternity for Atheists, New York Times Magazine, 07.29.07

Yes the Bible says this and the Bible says that. I'm grateful for what it says, and more importantly, for what it doesn't say. It leaves out so much information. So much the better. We have minds and we have imagination. Let's use them creatively to make eternity the wildest, most regarding and incredible reality we want it to be for ourselves, and for those we love.

My own version of eternity is a bit like this. And it keeps on changing all the time.

This may sound bizarre but I've had this thought forever. Death is so ugly to many of us that I want the luxury of dying in heaven. Yes that's an oxymoron. But let me explain. If you die in heaven, you will live a second later. In a way this is the most perfect kind of death. Virtually, of course, it is a non-death. If you're dead for only one second, are you really dead? What constitutes death, anyway? My ideal death in heaven would be in a coffin of light. When I awake, right beside my coffin of light, is my smiling savior, who gave me the luxury of being dead for only one second, in--of all places--heaven itself.

I'd love to travel back in time once I've entered eternity and sample, first hand, all the major moments of past human history, including the very creation of the universe. I'd also like to travel into the far future. But not just any future, but the future as it might never exist, had God not intervened in some future point in time. Anything unpleasant I'd witness I'd want to forget an hour after I had witnessed it.

Living my eternity as myself, would be very familiar, perhaps too familiar. I'd like to live as another person, perhaps one of my friends, or even my parents, and get a unique perspective of people I loved and wished I had understood and loved more perfectly. Let's say I'd live as someone else for a thousand years, then as myself for another thousand. I'd never run out of different people to experience through the miracle of living as their very selves.

Water has always held a special fascination for me. Waterfalls even more so. I've sat in front of falling water displays in major cities of the world and each time I contemplate the water that falls yet doesn't fall since it keeps on falling, I envy it. In eternity I'd like to be, not part of the waterfall, but I'd like to be the falling water itself. I'd love to experience the sensation of falling, yet not falling.

If He has the time, I'd like to spend a million years talking with God, non-stop. Laughing with Him, playing baseball with him, walking through invisible forests of anti-neutrinos with Him.

I'm happy and I'm grateful that I'm in the process of imagining and experiencing eternal life right now.

Finally, I'd like to know what you'd like your eternity to be like. Share it with me. We just might live our fantasies if we imagine them with the greatest of intention.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Religious Conversion inside of Second Life

More and more people are leaving traditional churches and seeking more ideal or unique religious experiences. If you've never visited Second Life (a 3D online digital world which is imagined, created and owned by its residents) you owe it to yourself to see where more and more of conscious humanity is gravitating to.

No doubt one day soon, if it hasn't already happened, someone will have a religious experience while in Second Life. Think of the advantages of being able to pray and worship with other religious Second Life inhabitants as opposed to going to a brick and mortar church down the street or in another part of town.

A temple, church or mosque inside of Second Life has no screaming children. People do not cough or sneeze uncontrollably while they are in Second Life. If they do, they are behaving in an affected manner by imitating Real World peculiarities. In a Second Life religious environment there is the familiarity of your own home, because technically you are still in your own home. Of course, if you log-on from your laptop, your environment can be anywhere you wish it to be: in a plane, on the beach at dawn, in a quiet garden, in an ancient library surrounded by even older forests.

If you are not able to kneel in the Real World, your Second Life avatar can kneel for you for as long as you wish to continue kneeling in the house of worship of your choice.

Perhaps when it becomes possible to upload personalities and memories successfully, people will, in fact, live out their lives, or continue a kind of virtual life-after-death inside of Second Life.
"Jesus is nicer in Second Life." -- Anonymous Second Life Christian.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

New 21st-Century Religions

Who experiences new religious groups first hand and lives to tell the tale? I had such an experience the other day.

I couldn't inquire too much as the invitation to attend this service was almost out of the blue. As I experienced the service or meeting and met the people afterwards I was impressed about how similar it was to another service or meeting I had attended months ago. I couldn't put my finger on the name at the time, but it was so similar to what I was experiencing that I wanted to alert the leader of this group, a young man named Alberto, that others were handing out flyers with information that seemed almost identical to this new group's ideas. It astounded me later on to find out, that Alberto, in spite of his youth, was not only the leader of this new religious group, but was also its founder.

What I liked most was the immediate friendliness of the group I was visiting. Whenever I inquired about the name of this group I was attending I was strangely engaged in conversation, but it was such friendly conversation that I didn't care to find out their name. I'm not sure if I'd find them again; the city is so big and disorienting at night and sometimes late in the afternoon. They gave out no cards with information. They met in rooms that were half-exposed to the fresh air and always near city centers.

Much to my surprise when the service was coming to a close they asked me to say the final prayer. I was careful not to pray a typical Christian prayer as I would in my own church, but I had noted that they mentioned God in their service and no one else. The last thing I said as I closed my prayer was about how we all wanted something that made life more fulfilling and worthwhile. It felt odd not ending my prayer as I normally did, by saying "in Jesus' name." I knew that would cause divisions in such a cohesive group. So I simply ended my prayer with the word, Amen.

I will probably never find this enigmatic group of people again in spite of their warm acceptance of me and their friendly and enjoyable meeting, but at least I experienced it one time in my life.

It made me appreciate my own religious beliefs and especially the privilege and joy of ending my prayer by saying "in the name of of Jesus, Amen."

For the closest thing to this elusive group and its unbelievably friendly people, please visit the following site and/or address: Church of Religious Science,
1550 Ne 26th St, Wilton Manors, FL 33305, (954) 566-2868. This group is not as friendly as the one I attended, but it is very 21 st-Century and offers people in the community more, judging by the devotion of those who attend in numbers, than the local Adventist or Christian churches down the street.

Other links worth trying for the intrepid: New Thought Denominations, One Spirit Ministries

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Encounter with a Spirit-Filled Man

Rolando first caught my attention in a Sabbath afternoon hour of prayer. He came with his Adventist girlfriend and her daughter from a previous marriage. We all welcomed him with sincerity knowing that he possibly wasn't of the Advent faith.

After that initial contact I noted that no one ever befriended him and this seemed to cause his Adventist girlfriend concern. When I took it upon myself to approach the man, I could see her gratefulness by her friendly manner every time she saw me every time we met.

I learned bits and pieces of what he believed and it fascinated me while it alarmed others. In a small study group in which the pastor was present Rolando mentioned that he had studied metaphysics before he had become interested in Christianity. I was the only one in the group that responded positively to his statement.

Later that week he told me he was in the process of reading the entire Bible and that he was making great headway. I envied the man for his thoroughness and lamented by obsessive detail to footnotes and meditating on just one verse which causes by complete reading of the Bible to proceed very slowly.

Yesterday, again I noticed that no one was engaging him in conversation after church and that he was walking around looking for someone to talk to. I took it upon myself to approach him and greet him, if nothing else. The conversation we had was mostly him talking and I'd pipe in bits and pieces that I felt were of value. As he spoke I was concerned that perhaps someone more traditional in Adventist beliefs should be talking to him, but I quickly asked God to help me say the right thing. As he spoke of his attendance at other Christian churches I found myself trying to carefully present the value of the Advent message. In part I did it for his Adventist girlfriend whom I knew would appreciate someone saying positive things about her church of choice to a man that was becoming more and more important in her formerly single life.

What Rolando told me would, no doubt, alarm most Adventists in attendance that morning at my conservative/mainstream Adventist church. He told me that in a church which he couldn't quite identify he had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands by the minister of that particular church. He described that he himself had not fallen to the floor as had others when similarly touched on the forehead. But he assured me that the realization and the enhanced spiritual altered state of consciousness that he experienced then and continued experiencing for days after that were the most life-changing and gratifying experiences he had ever encountered.

Years ago I myself would have run away or excused myself as courteously as I could after having heard him talk of this Spirit gift or Spirit baptism.

He told me that he came to his senses in the midst of his heightened sense of being with the realization that even though he'd like to only focus on this awareness of the Holy Spirit he realized that he had duties to his fellow man and their problems, as well.

He told he that having been a communist he had immersed himself in Marxism as well as philosophy and metaphysics when he lived in Cuba. But, he said, nothing compared to the joy and excellence of being immersed in the Holy Spirit experience.

I shared with him what I could courteously about my visit a year ago to a charismatic church. The only complaint I cared to tell him was that the Christian rock music used almost non-stop in the service was too loud for my ears. He said that it was probably a good idea to have Christian rock to keep the young people coming to church. The church was full of young people so perhaps his statement was valid.

I wanted to tell him of my experiences with the Holy Spirit. We exchanged cell phone numbers so perhaps one day soon we'll get the chance to have another conversation like the one we had yesterday.

When his Adventist girlfriend showed up and said they had to go home to lunch, he thanked me and told her about the incredible spiritual conversation we had been having. It was more me listening to his experiences, but perhaps that was more important. I did very little witnessing or evangelizing and what little I shared about Adventist authors I had read in the past few years, was of interest to him.

Now my question is this. Is this man and his experience of Holy Spirit baptism as valid as that of the Spirit-filled Adventists in attendance on this past Sabbath morning? Or, more alarmingly, is it more valid that anything I've encountered in my many years in the Adventist movement?

I'll need to study more, pray more and encounter more people who claim they have a valid experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Virtual Heaven

Version I

I wish I lived in heaven. I live on Earth. It is heaven. 1978

We have heaven. -- Jon Anderson, 1973

Guiding your vision to heaven and heaven is in your mind. -- Winwood/Capaldi/Wood, 1969

This life is as close as we're going to get to heaven, my friend. -- Hindu man I encountered as a student missionary, 1974

Florida is heaven. -- Adventist African-American pastor, c. 1996

Version II

My fondest wish and dream is to be like Him and to know Him. Spending time with Him is also very heavenly to me. In this respect I can enter heaven whenever I think of Him, when I read about Him, or when I read His very words or experiences in the Bible. Would I like to live with Him in a perfect place? Oh yes, of course. But in the meantime, He can make this as close to heaven as it can possibly be.

And this is eternal life that they might know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent [and the Holy Spirit whom Christ has sent.]

If you have the Spirit of Christ, you have the very atmosphere of heaven.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Traveling towards Orion's Belt

It's unsettling to see articles, which once were only Science Fiction dreams or nightmares at one time, appear in the science section of a major American newspaper.

To read what would have been considered Science Fiction even five years ago, and may still be considered such by most people. you can click on the A Survival Imperative for Space Colonization.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Primitive Futurism - Futuristic Primitivism

Alternate titles: Savage Futurism - Futuristic Savagery, Primitive Future - Future Primitive

Remember when families sat around the dinner table and talked to each other? How about families visiting each other or visiting friends or church members? Today the average child in developed societies has a television, an Internet portal, and a cell phone to keep them as far away from other family members as possible.

In the pristine perfection of the Garden of Eden, and of non-contemporary family life, people were not as dependent on or obsessed with technology, as they are today, and no doubt, as they'll continue to be tomorrow. Every use of technology has its price. Yes, it improves our lives to a certain extent, but it also ruins something simpler and more natural that used to define being human in a very different way than it is defined now.

With all the gadgets and our dependence on them, we're now closer to being cybernetic organisms than our ancestors were. A cyborg was not made in the image of God. A cyborg was made in the image of 20th century humankind.

Perhaps our goal should be to travel backward/forward to a futuristic primitivism where instead of relying on high octane vehicles or their future equivalents, they would be replaced by recyclable bicycles, or wind driven devices that harness the clean power of the wind or the sun.

In H.G. Wells' novel the Time Machine, 802,701 years after a nuclear war forced humanity to live an almost Edenic life, it only appeared that way until closer scrutiny revealed that the price of a simpler and carefree world had its ugly underside. Perhaps a conscious return to naturalism or intentional primitivism is not really an option unless humanity is forced into it by forces beyond its control.

Only the idyllic Garden of Eden and future paradise, simplicity reborn, are the only viable options towards a return to a genuine intentional primitivism, a futuristic primitivism.

I, for one, hope never to see or use any of the following devices in a perfect future world, whether in this reality or in a transcendent one: I-Phones, I-Pods, Laptop Computers, Cell Phones, DVD players, CD players, televisions, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, automobiles, planes, radios. Yes, they can be wonderful devices that transport you to places and states of mind that you normally wouldn't visit. Then again, perhaps that is not a good thing.

Will there be technology in heaven and the new earth? Would it be heaven or a new earth without those reminders of our artificial life in this world?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Quantum Sabbath

The Sabbath does not really exist until I actually observe it. Neither does it become reality until I observe myself observing the Sabbath. So many possible Sabbaths can potentially exist. The Sabbath can take me down so many different paths or it can take me done none. I can stay at home if that is my decision. Of course, that is itself one very real Sabbath manifestation regardless of it not being with other Sabbath observers or in locations other than my home.

A Sabbath at home can help me focus more on that still small voice that Elijah heard. It can be more of a meditative Sabbath. A Sabbath at home is quieter than in the sometimes noisy church I attend. A Sabbath at home is spent with the Holy Three: Father, Son and Spirit.

A Sabbath in nature can take on transcendent aspects. An afternoon of contemplating the ever-changing skies and the myriad bird songs that dart in and around the lakes of trees and grass, can be more satisfying than spending an entire day in church attending one meeting after another.

A Sabbath of familiar friends and acquaintances at church can be a foretaste of the Eternal Sabbath of the future. There everyone will have no other focus but to worship together and enjoy each other's company.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Evolutionists without a Soul

At some point you have to give up on modern science. The claims or insights mentioned in a recent New York Times article, Science of the Soul? ‘I Think, Therefore I Am’ Is Losing Force, state that the soul is simply an illusion of the brain's processes. Additionally, some animals, to a degree, can be thought of as having awareness, or what was formerly called a soul, these cutting-edge evolutionists suggest. I oversimplify for the sake of brevity.

They practically say, we've proved that not only is there no proof of a spiritual aspect to a human being, but this is conclusive evidence that God never existed, nor can ever exist. For my own speculations on the latter, please click on

It now becomes harder to continue being an evolutionary Christian. Such Christians will possibly take the plunge and give up on religion altogether. Others, as does one theologian mentioned in the article, proceed in another novel attempt to make sense of God and the soul, and evolution. For another novel attempt at life in a universe with an absent God, please click on

At some point you have to look inside and ask yourself what is really important. What science tells me about my lack of a soul, or what your life experience has told you, otherwise. You do have a soul. It is capable of seeking and nurturing a relationship with God.

Click on title of this post for the full New York Times article that inspired this post.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Naked did my Lord save me

Mother named me Dismas. I was very close to mother--closer than any of my brothers. Mother loved beautiful things and whenever she sang her evening songs, I was by her side even when no one else cared to hear her sing. I always thought memories of her voice would be the last thing I'd ever hear before I died.

My wife and I were childless. The problem was more with me than with my wife. The local priest had done everything he could do to remedy my marital difficulties. When word got out, accidentally, about why I had been to the priest so often, my wife and I were the shame of the town.

After many false starts, my wife and I parted ways and she remarried an older man who could give her what I could not, a son. Before I knew where I was headed I was doing odd jobs to survive. Before long, I fell in with a bad crowd and when things were at their lowest, I was imprisoned and condemned to hang on the cross.

With me were crucified two others, one of my former associates and a quiet man whom I had once heard speak by a quiet lake when I was still with my wife. I never forgot his simple words: "Come to me and I will give you rest."

As the pain ebbed and flowed I tired of hearing my fellow partner-in-crime curse and berate the quiet teacher. I told him that we deserved our punishment, but not this quiet and gentle man in the center cross. I knew that at some point they would take me down from the cross and break my legs. Before the pain made me lose consciousness and, eventually, my life, I looked at the gentle teacher and asked him to remember me as no one had ever done before in my sad life.

He looked at me and said that I'd be with him in paradise. I believed him and watched him die and cry out his painful cry of abandonment. I had hours or minutes to live, and any greater pain I would soon endure would be excruciating for sure, but the sound of his words of a future life with him, gave me hope that this would not be the end of my story.

As death wrapped its merciful arms around me, instead of my mother's songs, I remembered his kind words telling me that I'd be in paradise with him some day.