Friday, November 26, 2010

How You Know the End of All Things is Upon Us, Part 1

Once people went to their churches or pastors when they needed help with a problem. The help they found at church was invaluable. The social connections they made were more rewarding at times than the relations folk some times enjoyed with their kinfolk.

Today, people seek out therapists, psychiatrists, shamans, gurus--the list never ends. With the psychiatrist comes the added boon of seemingly miraculous pills that sometimes--unintentionally--confer the quickest solution to psychiatric problems: death itself. I am referring, of course, to the frequent warnings in TV ads or, on the medication advisory sheets themselves, that state very calmly that "taking this product may result in death from suicide, liver failure or other, not remotely impossible, side effects." Why anyone in their right mind would ingest anything that would confer the gift of death in a vial of "happy" pills boggles the mind.

-- to be continued

Friday, November 19, 2010

How to Make 10% of My Neighbors More Acceptable to My Church - part 1

Of course Jesus Christ died for all because he loves all of humankind. However, some for whom Christ died cannot access the Gospel of peace in many orthodox churches. You look surprised! Yes Virginia. 10 percent, or maybe only 3 percent, of my neighbors are not welcomed, as is, in some or most, orthodox churches.

This sounds like the Gospel has strict conditions. This implies that Christ's invitation of "come unto me all who are weary and have heavy burdens" (Matthew 11) does not apply to a certain class of people.
Let me tell you, if I may, about the real-life neighbors in my building. Let's start at the bottom of the building and work to the top. We will try to understand both the needs of my local church, the needs of each of my neighbors and my attempts at sharing my faith with each one, if applicable.

By the way, only one of the pictures belongs to a former resident of my building. For reasons unknown to me my neighbor has moved on after being in our midst for only two years. The other picture belongs to my neighbor's friend who has visited our building on more than one occasion.

-- to be continued.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Financially Independent in Seven Years: a Divine Strategy

Five years ago a book I read defined financial independence as owning your home outright by paying off the mortgage years ahead of schedule. The now-forgotten author counselled eliminating needless expenses, as well as semi-needless expenses such as buying a new wardrobe every season. She even envisioned a near future saving strategy of borrowing new music legally almost free of charge. This now exists through I find music--lots of it--to be priceless to avoid stress and a host of other problems. Pandora costs $10 a month, let's me access every song I've ever loved and saves me oodless of cash by not needing to buy CDs.

I too have resolved to be "financially independent" in seven years using as many cost-cutting strategies as possible.

A spiritual formula to achieve this is as follows:

1. Have faith in God.
2. The "impossible" is meaningless as far as God is concerned.
3. One responds best to vision if it is "clear, crisp and concise."
4. There is power in prayer. 1

1 "Southern Tidings" p. 25. November 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Radical Jihad and Its Implications Depending on Different Paradigms

Muslims are some of history's most important benefactors. It is said that were it not for Arab and Muslim culture, in part, the European Renaissance would have been delayed for decades, if not centuries. The Arab culture gave us algebra as well as important advances in science and literature. Our world is richer because of both Arabs and Muslims.

Having said that we can proceed onto more challenging matters. First let's consider the implications of jihad presupposing that Allah (God) exists. If that is our chosen paradigm then we have several possibilities and implications regarding jihad. We are told that among moderate and progressive Muslims jihad is a noble endeavor with the betterment of humanity at issue. Jihad can be seen, then, as a positive and good force that respects not only fellow Muslims but those of other faiths or of no faith at all.

We can try to understand the meaning of jihad for some, not all, conservative Muslims. Due to the hedonism and godlessness of some aspects of western culture, some conservative Muslims feel compelled to counter the deleterious impact of western culture, as they perceive it, by any means necessary, including but not limited to, terrorism.

We must now consider the paradigm at the other end of the spectrum. Let's consider for a moment, though I do not share this belief, that there is no God or Intelligent Design Agent in control of our fragile planet and its diverse peoples. Let's imagine, if you will, simply for argument's sake that when we die we simply die. Our bodies decompose and we go to no other place or sphere or Paradise because this was the only paradise or hell we'll ever experience.

If this is the case then we have a most disturbing and alarming conclusion. Radical jihadists and their supporters are endangering, both permanently and needlessly, the only Paradise or free world humanity will ever know.

If that is the case may Allah (God) have mercy on our fragile and irreplaceable world.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Theistic or Non-Theistic Evolution?

Evolution may very well be how we all got here, whether you believe in theistic evolution with its main complication being that God used death to accomplish the development of life and intelligence on Earth. If that is the case, you can't really think of him as being a loving, benevolent father.

On the other hand you could believe in non-theistic evolution which requires more faith in that all the order, design and intricacy of nature are the result of pure chance. Such a beginning for life makes it seem quite pointless. Intelligent beings developed by chance and may become extinct also by chance. If so, then their entire existence would be quite pointless and meaningless. There would never then have been any master designer to witness humanity's birth pangs or to bemoan their death throes as a species.

If Adventism accepts evolution as the Catholic church did after finally considering Teilhard de Chardin's ground-breaking studies, how would we evangelize the third world? Would we present our charts of bible prophecy side by side with charts of humanity's common ancestor(s) with primates? Or would we leave that for special seminars after we had convinced potential candidates for baptism that Christianity, Adventist style, is the way to go?

It sounds like Adventism is at a cross-roads. It could either stay afloat or sink. Let's pray it is the former, for God's sake, and for the sake of those of us who have invested most of our life's capital in the Seventh-Day Adventist church.