«

Where Does God Being Love Leave Us? (And Get Back Here, Atheists!)

“God is Love.”

Great! It’s the richest philosophical/religious proposition possible.

What it means to us Christians, though, is that (what with our being made in God’s image, and all) we, too, are supposed to be All Love All the Time.

Not so great. Instant fail.

Because who can be about love all the time? Life is hard—and when it’s hard, it’s either frightening or angering, either of which tends to cancel out love like a famished shark cancels out Charlie the Thermometer Tuna. People behave like animals. They doink you just because it’s the easiest thing for them to do. Your boss wouldn’t know a good idea from a python around his neck. Your coworkers seem to think “cooperate” means “shirk and blame.” Driving home from work at night is like being stuck playing “Let’s Make a Squeal!” Lying morons trash the economy. Nonsense wars are started by men and women who wouldn’t know a battlefield from a tennis court.

Point being: bad stuff happens all the time. And when it happens to us, the immediacy of that emotional impact is less likely to leave us filled with love than it is filled with thoughts that make Satan giggle and snort.

Not so good. Common, but not so good.

And things critical to the human experience that aren’t good need to be made better. That’s the Rule of Life.

So we need to figure out the nature of all that stands between us and our conscious, daily experiencing of God’s direct, unqualified love. If we can grasp What’s Hindering Us, then we can squeeze the life out of it.

Cool. We can do that. Understanding something just means thinking about it until you do. We can think. God didn’t give us brains just so our heads wouldn’t sag in. We’re supposed to use our Giant Brains to enhance our understanding of Him. (Atheists! You can do this, too! It doesn’t have to be the Christian God you’re trying to more richly and consistently experience. It can be … The Goodness of the Universe! You can try to buff up your Cosmic Integration! Graduate to the next level of Karmic Fulfillment! Become more harmonious! Whatever you call it, or however you conceive of it, you, just like we Christians, have no choice—you’re actually morally obliged—to try and become the best person you can vis-a-vis that particular version of The Big Picture to which you subscribe.)

God (or The Force, or whatever you might happen to call it) is always fully present in our heart and mind. But too often something or other interferes with our fully apprehending that most glorious truth of all.

I think it’s time we got busy thinking about what some of that Enemy of Us stuff is—of what exactly that troublesome “something or other” is made: how it works, where it comes from, how it can be made to go back to where it came from.

And chalking up all Bad Things to Satan doesn’t get it, by the way. Blaming Satan for what you can fix is like blaming Ronald McDonald for your high cholesterol. Ronald McDonald doesn’t control what you eat. He’s just a front man, a shrill shill of a pill filled with ill will. (Sorry. Bad timing on the rhyming.) Satan can point you toward what works against you—but he can’t make you partake of it. That’s where you have to kick in.

Anyway, I’d like to start writing on the relationship between Us and that which stands between Us and God.

I’d like to actually write a book on that. And I’d like to do it right here, everyday, one post at a time.

Then, when it’s done, I could make the whole thing available on Amazon as an e-book for about seven bucks.

I like it! Using your blog to serially write a book!

Shades of Mr. Dickens!

Except it wouldn’t work, since it would so quickly leave behind those who haven’t beeen reading the posts all along.

Shoot.

Well. We’ll see.

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Wow, Ross. Angry much?

  • http://www.kellykirbyfisher.blogspot.com Kelly

    In response to Ross…while it may not mean much to you – I pray that God revels himself to you in such a mighty way that you will seek Him like a man with his head on fire seeks water!

    And, there is NO DOUBT that God takes part in my daily life….I do not believe that some of the answered prays my family has been anything other than God's hand in our lives.

    Case in point, my 16 year old son was just involved in a car accident about 4 weeks ago. A woman ran a red light at a high rate of speed and flipped his Chevy Tahoe. He walked away with 3 scratches. The Tahoe was a complete loss. All 6 of the cops on the scene could not believe he was not hurt. A few of them even said "it was a miracle". No doubt. My son had just pulled out of the driveway less than 7 minutes before the accident – and as he pulled out of our driveway I prayed God's protection over him (as I always do)! So, to say that God is not involved in the day to day lives of His people is wrong….because there are people who invite God to be part of their daily lives…..and believe He is true to His word!

  • LostinDreams

    And those of us who also prayed for our loved ones everyday, who where taken in anyway? Does god love you and your son more than he loved me and mine? Wait, it was "his turn", or "he needed on the other side", or "it's a test of your faith" or "your being punished for your lack of faith". Some are taken some are left. It has nothing to do with how much you pray. 100 men on a battlefield and how many are praying to live, how many die? Millions of children die of starvation every year. They don't pray to live? Their mother's don't pray for them? Are they not praying right? To the right version of God?

    It IS a game and I refuse to play anymore. God is not love, he's arbitrary.

  • http://www.kellykirbyfisher.blogspot.com Kelly

    Ok, immediately after I hit "send" I knew this argument would come up – and honestly, I do not have an answer. God does not love anyone more than anyone else. I am sorry for your loss – and wish I had an answer that was, well….an answer. And, Lostin Dreams – I have never, and would never response to anyone who had lost a loved one with any of those responses….to me they are hurtful and insensitive – and the hurting loved ones are still left with the emptiness, pain and questions.

    All I meant to say was that there are people who believe God shows up and takes part in their day to day lives – and believe me, my life has been no picnic. There are times that I don't see God "showing up" – especially during those horrible times – but, almost without fail I can look back and see that He was there.

  • http://www.obscenelyrich.co.uk mrsimonpowers

    Imagine there's no Heaven

    It's easy if you try

    No hell below us

    Above us only sky

    Imagine all the people

    Living for today

    Imagine there's no countries

    It isn't hard to do

    Nothing to kill or die for

    And no religion too

    Imagine all the people

    Living life in peace

    You may say that I'm a dreamer

    But I'm not the only one

    I hope someday you'll join us

    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions

    I wonder if you can

    No need for greed or hunger

    A brotherhood of man

    Imagine all the people

    Sharing all the world

    You may say that I'm a dreamer

    But I'm not the only one

    I hope someday you'll join us

    And the world will live as one

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Imagine having one thought

    Not lifted from a song

    Something new 'tween your ears

    C'mon, put down that bong

    You may say I'm a loser

    Because I believe in God

    But can't you say so in your own words

    Instead of being such a wad

  • Ross the rational th

    are you kidding me john? can you count how many times you've quoted scripture?

    to kelly: when you say "I pray that God revels himself to you in such a mighty way that you will seek Him like a man with his head on fire seeks water!"

    – what if god revealed himself to me and said that i should follow in the footsteps of muhammed, the one true prophet?

    You would think that i must not have actually seen god, right? because he didnt say that i should follow jesus, he said muhammed.

    Do you realize god is the crutch that all religious people (not just christians) use to explain things they cant explain, and to give them hope when they cannot find it themselves.

    Can you tell me why there are so many religions in the world? if there really was a god why wouldnt he show everyone the right way, instead of creating so many different and conflicting religions?

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    I like the blanket statement that all religious people are ignorant. Does that mean that all atheists and assorted non-religious people are filled with hate and anger?

    Oh, wait I know that not to be true…

    And, yes we are animals…but we are animals with the ability to see right and wrong and make a CHOICE.

    I believe that God lays those choices out for me and allows me to choose. Do I always make the right one? Bwhahaha…I wish! But the great thing is that God loves me anyway in spite of the bad choices.

    Anyway…bad things happen…they suck…they are often the result of choices someone else made…it is in the way we deal with them that shows our love (or lack of) for the people around us.

    Very funny song writing, John

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Ross: Find me the last where I quoted scripture as a way of defending or buttressing any point I made. Happy hunting: I'm forever getting bitched at by Christians because (they say) I NEVER quote scripture.

    For someone who makes such a huge point about what a rational thinker they are …

  • http://www.kellykirbyfisher.blogspot.com Kelly

    John…wouldn't you quoting scripture all the time be "plagiarism"? LOL

  • Ross the rational th

    "God loves me anyway in spite of the bad choices."

    until you end up in hell right?

    Sorry for the blanket statement that all religious people are ignorant. What i meant to say is that religious people have trouble seeing the world from an unbiased view outside of their own religion. This limits their understanding of the world because whether you like it or not, there is more than one religion in this world. You all cant be right.

    I ask you to think rationally about the history of your religion. Do you realize there have been revisions to your bible?

    Do you realize most religions have prophets, and miracles? If all the other religions are wrong, what facts are you basing your decision on.

    You were probably born into your religion, if your parents had moved to india youd probably be hindu.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    "Atheists! You can do this, too! It doesn’t have to be the Christian God you’re trying to more richly and consistently experience. It can be … The Goodness of the Universe! You can try to buff up your Cosmic Integration! Graduate to the next level of Karmic Fulfillment! Become more harmonious!"

    I call it "acting good makes me feel good, and it seems to make the people around me feel good too."

    How's that?

  • Laura

    Lostin Dreams- I know all too well there are no words of comfort for losing a loved one, especially a son or daughter. For what it is worth, though, I am sorry for your loss.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Chris: Acting good makes everyone feel good. The question is, how, exactly do you define "good"? And—MUCH more trenchantly—what do you do with that huge part inside of you that no more wants to act "good" than Yogi Bear wants to pass up a picnic basket? That selfish, greedy, lazy, arrogant, appetitive part of you who could GIVE a crap about what's best for anyone in the world—including you.

    Even an atheist has to wrestle with his demons.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    "The question is, how, exactly do you define “good”?"

    My definition of 'good' is wrapped up with harm and benefit. And, so far, it's served me well.

    "That selfish, greedy, lazy, arrogant, appetitive part of you who could GIVE a crap about what’s best for anyone in the world—including you."

    I smash it over the head with reason and shove evidence down its throat.

    Okay, and I give it the occasional 2 scoops of Häagen-Dazs.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    Not really. I was going for amusing metaphor.

    And I don't find it to be that much of a struggle. I don't think it's universal. Some people are more naturally prone to being selfish, greedy, lazy, arrogant, etc. And others aren't. Part nature, part nurture.

    That's just my opinion, of course.

  • http://www.kellykirbyfisher.blogspot.com Kelly

    This ongoing discussion is beginning to sound alot like chapters from Dan Merchant's book, "Lord Save Us From Your Followers".

    For example, the author hits the nail on the head when he says, "It's too easy to sit back and criticize things you don't know about and much more difficult to search for truth – and, yes, I am applying that to myself first….seems like we might be a little heavy on the "truth" and a little light with the "grace"….

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    ???

  • Ross the rational thinker

    god is love, but he cant make you love (even though our destiny is pre-ordained. doesnt that mean god made us do it?)

    Satan is evil, but he cant make us sin (even though our destiny is pre-ordained. doesnt that mean satan made us do it?)

    Religion is a catch 22 of contradictions.

    “Understanding something just means thinking about it until you do.”

    No wonder religious people are so ignorant. Understanding something means studying, it means testing hypothesis, it means collaboration with OTHER PEOPLE. It does not mean thinking about it until you suddenly have an epiphany. (the epiphany may come after extensive studying).

    your on to something when you say that people act like animals……WE ARE ANIMALS. Therefore there will be people who try and help their fellow homosapien and people who want to hurt their fellow man. There is no god involved in this.

    If you want to say that god created the universe, thats fine. But stop thinking god is taking part in your daily lives. Is god taking part in the daily life of a muslim? a budhist? a nazi?

    The answer is no. Stop thinking only as a christian. Understand that if there is a god, it made all religions. And that would mean that its all just a game to god.

    If it really is just a game to the almighty creator…….im not playing

  • http://www.kellykirbyfisher.blogspot.com Kelly

    Wow, you must have been here in Houston when you wrote this post….especially when you said “Point being: bad stuff happens all the time. And when it happens to us, the immediacy of that emotional impact is less likely to leave us filled with love than it is filled with thoughts that make Satan giggle and snort.”

    There was a lady who pulled out a gun and held up another lady for her bag of ice! Not much love going on there! But, it’s a great example of how fear can manifest itself in ways we never imagined!

  • http://www.kellykirbyfisher.blogspot.com Kelly

    Wow! John, that’s funny!

  • Shell

    LostinDreams–your post made me think of the book I just finished last night, "Disappointment With God" by Philip Yancey–very satisfying thoughts on the same things you were writing about.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    IMM: See, now THAT'S what I'm talkin bout. If I can get about 30 more responses like that, I could see pulling this train out of the station.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (Shell: LostinDreams sounds so profoundly hurt. I think maybe she lost her son in Iraq? Something like that? Horrible. You can just feel the sadness radiating from her words. Terrible. God bless her.)

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    John,

    Forgo the book and concentrate on your songwriting. Your response to the guy who quoted Lennon – priceless!

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Ross said:

    "You were probably born into your religion, if your parents had moved to india youd probably be hindu."

    For many this might be true, but I doubt that it applies to the thousands of Christians in India who have been burned out of their homes by Hindus in the past few weeks.

    I don't think anyone would deny the provincial facet of religion (i.e. people tend to adopt the religion of their culture) but this doesn't remotely come close to explaining the growth of Christianity in Asia and Africa.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Odgie: Good point on the rise of Xtianity in A and A.

    And, as a matter of fact, I HAVE always wanted to be a lyriscisisct.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    So, like all Christians, you, too, believe that the great struggle of your life is to subjegate your lower nature to your higher.

  • peterpeter2

    "I don’t think anyone would deny the provincial facet of religion (i.e. people tend to adopt the religion of their culture) but this doesn’t remotely come close to explaining the growth of Christianity in Asia and Africa."

    Exactly, only the power of good would make this possible, think about it.
    http://superdupernice.wordpress.com/

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (By the way, friends: This is the part where you go, “Yeah, John! Write a book, one post at a time, right here on your blog! Do it! Write a shortish, funny, Eminently [sp??] Profound book about the way we experience, process and understand the relationship between who we are, and who we want to be! Do it! That’s be great to watch and even participate in!” C’mon, people. Let’s try to keep up.)

  • imm

    haha.. for a matter of fact.. i am asian.. and i'm christian.. (:

    Christians aren't born from natural parents..

    Christians are born-AGAIN by the cross of Jesus.. that's for the "You were probably born into your religion" part (:

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    *cough*sharetheprofits*cough*

    Sounds like a good idea, John.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well, let’s see. I was going to sell it as Kindle book on Amazon for about $7. I get 35% of that for every book someone downloads. So … okay!

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    "until you end up in hell right?"

    So you don't believe in any god but you believe in hell? m'kay…

    "I ask you to think rationally about the history of your religion. Do you realize there have been revisions to your bible?"

    Yes, I have thought about it rationally (especially all of the horrors that have been perpetrated by PEOPLE in the name of God) and, yes, I realize that there have been revisions. And the unasked question, gosh, did ancient Hebrews actually speak English? Hmmm….

    "Do you realize most religions have prophets, and miracles?" yep…knew that too.

    "Okay, and I give it the occasional 2 scoops of Häagen-Dazs"…Can I have some too?!?!?

    “Yeah, John! Write a book, one post at a time, right here on your blog! Do it! Write a shortish, funny, Eminently Profound book about the way we experience, process and understand the relationship between who we are, and who we want to be! Do it! That’s be great to watch and even participate in!”

    Exactly!

    "*cough*sharetheprofits*cough*

    Sounds like a good idea, John."

    Ditto

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    "but this doesn’t remotely come close to explaining the growth of Christianity in Asia and Africa."

    True. That would be explained by the fact that Christians are evangelical, because the Bible tells them to be. And especially in places that are incredibly poor, if someone came at me with food in one hand and a book in the other, I'd take them whether the book was The Bible, Dawkins' 'The God Delusion', or L Ron Hubbard's "Dianetics".

  • imm

    :) if there IS a book, i’ll grab it. (:

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Mr. Shore said,

    Atheists! You can do this, too! It doesn’t have to be the Christian God you’re trying to more richly and consistently experience. It can be … The Goodness of the Universe! You can try to buff up your Cosmic Integration! Graduate to the next level of Karmic Fulfillment! Become more harmonious! Whatever you call it, or however you conceive of it, you, just like we Christians, have no choice—you’re actually morally obliged—to try and become the best person you can vis-a-vis that particular version of The Big Picture to which you subscribe.

    I would agree (though some wouldn't) about the 'moral obligation', so I did exactly as you suggest…and in the end, dismissed all the supernatural explanations of things. Origins, morality, altruism, meaning, etc. etc. etc.. That's what clear-eyed analysis does.

    Some see the 66 miracles at the shrine of Lourdes in France as proof positive. I see 66 out of 10,000,000+ visitors (0.00066%) for what it is…particularly since the 'miracles' are things that could have happened by themselves anyway. (i.e. no regrowing severed limbs)

    Some see earthquakes (or everything everywhere) as proof of [their] god. I see people coloring everything in order to affirm their beliefs.

    You task others to seek. Some will seek the affirming (not valid inquiry) and some will seek the demonstrable. The latter will likely move away from God or gods…but they still can become better persons. This is exactly the what happened to me. It is rather fascinating to me (having been raise as a believer) that all the woo-woo stuff that the church told me was the structure on which to build an ethical life was incorrect. Discarding that structure made no difference in the sort of person I am. Indeed it has arguably enhanced me as a good and ethical person.

    Regardless of the how the individual uses inquiry, The score is Inquiry 1, Dogma 0

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    Odgie:

    If I was convinced of its truth and/or they kept giving me food so I could survive, then yes.

    In a situation like that, life's greatest dangers are disease and malnutrition. If you kept feeding me, I'd listen to whatever ideology you were selling. And as these people are generally trained to be the best at selling their ideology as they can be, I'm not surprised it works a lot of the time.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    skerrib:

    "Ummmm, Morse, I don’t think the greatest dangers in China are disease and malnutrition. But somehow Christianity spreads, even after the missionaries go home."

    I didn't realize we were talking about China. In China's case, I think years of the government systematically trying to eradicate every inch of religion is at least partially responsible, creating a backlash.

    "Doing good feels good…until it doesn’t."

    I wholeheartedly disagree.

  • dinainsuburbia

    Interesting post. For a while now I was thinking of getting a tattoo of a peace dove on my inner wrist, to remind me to chill out and love instead of get so easily distracted & wrapped up in the nonsense of the day to day. It's such a human experience, this constant battle… isn't it?

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    John,

    "For sure there is much about the way Christianity is done in the world that leaves much to be desired. Mean/stupid people are everywhere. But (for what it’s worth) I think you’re too quickly too ready to too absolutely dismiss the very real and very important emotional succor that religion really does bring a lot of people. Everyone who’s a Christian isn’t simply too stupid to know what’s good for them, or how to think."

    I was unaware that my comments were coming off this way. I apologize.

    It was not my intent to suggest in any way that missionaries are necessarily bad for what they are doing, or that the people don't embrace Christianity or any religion for good reasons, or that religion can't have tangible benefits for some people.

    I was merely trying to indicate that evangelizing is effective for a number of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with the positive benefits of Christianity.

    Especially when one evangelizes and helps you at the same time. If a group of people, regardless of ideology, comes to my flooded house and helps me get my belongings to higher ground, gets me some water and a sandwich, and just generally creates a supportive atmosphere, then I am going to be left with a positive feeling about them, specifically, and their organization/ideology/religion in the general sense.

    That's not a bad thing. And that's not the only reason evangelizing in that manner works. But I think it's a large part of it. And I wouldn't tell someone to not do it.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Morse: You would perhaps be comforted to know that right now in the American church there is a passionate discussion going about what's known as Rice Bowl Evangelizing. Lots–and I think it's actually the majority—of Christians reject and do not employ evangelizing as part of their assistance processes. People aren't stupid. Everyone knows that if you say, "Believe in this, and I'll feed you," the hungry person will say whatever they're supposed to. The work Christians are doing out in the world has a lot more substance to it than anything that lamely shallow.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    I read the post and then down on through the thread… and here I am reading John's comment ending with "The work Christians are doing out in the world has a lot more substance to it…"

    I talked with a missionary from South America and one of my fellow believers asked him how much it would cost to build a church in Brazil where he is working. The missionary gave sort of a non-verbal sigh and said, "Really, we don't need a church building. The people there NEED a hospital and schools."

    I was speaking to a missionary from India just last night. Where ever they go in India, the first thing they do is set up a school.

    The missionaries I've met and spoken with are focus (with lasers) on the real and present needs of the community.

  • Emily

    If you look inward, inside yourself, to find God, you will always come up lacking. One MUST look to Scripture to find out who God is, to find to definition of what "God is love" truly means.

    If you look outward, at the world and all the problems in it, to find God, you will again come up lacking. The world today is infested with sinful thoughts, words, and actions, and the world groans under the consequences of those sins.

    Bad things happen all the time. That's part of living in a sinful world. And death, the ultimate bad thing, happens to everyone: "The wages of sin is death." (Romans 3:23) There is no way to escape the effects of sin. We will all have troubles, we will all have heartbreak, we will all die. No one escapes that end result of their sin. But that doesn't mean that God isn't in the world or that he doesn't care about us. In fact, he takes all these bad things that happen and works them out for our good, sometimes for our earthly good, but always for our eternal good. (Romans 8:28)

    The beauty of being a Christian, a Christian who believes that Jesus Christ came into the world to both bear the punishment so that we wretched sinners would not have to bear it AND to live the perfect life that we cannot — the beauty of being a Christian who believes those things is that we know that this world is not all there is. We aren't just animals, wandering around, subject to the whims and desires of our bodies. Christians know that humans were created to live eternally with God in heaven. This world is just a blurry preview to that world. This world has a beginning and an end, but there is no end to heaven. (Just as there is no end to hell.)

    Being a Christian is about trusting in Jesus Christ for your eternal salvation. That's it. Being a Christian is NOT merely about helping others, living a moral life, giving your money to others, or even about telling people what a great example Jesus Christ was for us to follow. Being a Christian is about trusting in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. He wasn't just a teacher (which would put him on par with Buddha, Confucius, Mother Nature, and Dr. Phil), and he wasn't just an example of how to lead a good life. He was a Savior, and he said that numerous times in his ministry.

    In Matthew 16:15-16, Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God." And that's the answer.

    THAT is who Jesus is. And, to answer your original question, THAT is true love. "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13)

    Because we have been loved and forgiven in this way, we can love and forgive those around us, knowing that they, too, are loved and forgiven children of God. THAT is why "God is love" is so crucial.

    ~ Emily

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Now back to the post.

    I think it’s time we got busy thinking about what some of that Enemy of Us stuff is—of what exactly that troublesome “something or other” is made: how it works, where it comes from, how it can be made to go back to where it came from.

    Enemy and battlefield bring images of fighting and too often this quickly devolves into people arguing with each other…presuming this is the good fight being referenced.

    But you are right John, this struggle is with that internal enemy lurking within us all. For a Christian perspective, I know I cannot defeat this enemy on my own. My demons vs me will always result in me losing. I cannot vanquish my demons. This is true everywhere actually. A person alone, will not make it.

    As a Christian, I need God to be my source of good and then he vanquishes the Enemy of Us. In practice, God does this through the bible and also through other Christian believers. I need to be immersed in him by be part of a community of people who exude him. Exude good.

    Over time I may become more sacrificial and less selfish — not so much by feeling less selfish or doing fewer selfish deeds — but by becoming aware of just how much of my day-to-day actions are indeed selfish.

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    So take that, John!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    [Winey is (I believe)referring to a comment I deleted before her above comment-upon-that-comment appeared. So ... that's what happened!]

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    No one’s for “dogma,” Mike. But I do appreciate the thoroughness of your articulation. (The problem with it, though, is that you keep switching from the subjective—you and your experience—to the objective. As in your last sentence.)

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Morsecode wrote:

    “True. That would be explained by the fact that Christians are evangelical, because the Bible tells them to be. And especially in places that are incredibly poor, if someone came at me with food in one hand and a book in the other, I’d take them whether the book was The Bible, Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’, or L Ron Hubbard’s “Dianetics”.”

    But would take it if you knew that doing so would put your life in greater danger?

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    Yeah. I missed the mark on the last sentence. I guess I was focusing too much on a wrapper-upper than composition.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Ummmm, Morse, I don’t think the greatest dangers in China are disease and malnutrition. But somehow Christianity spreads, even after the missionaries go home. At least some of the people who hear about Jesus end up truly believing.

    Anyhoo…I like how Jeff VanVonderen explains it. Oftentimes we get in the way of our experiencing God’s love. Doing good feels good…until it doesn’t. Then we have to decide to live out of what God says about us (freeing us to do the right thing regardless of the price) or to protect ourselves, which in this context is what often results in the nasty behaviors we tend to exhibit.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Mike: It’s not a matter of composition. It’s a matter of Actual Content. Throughout your comment you made the mistake that most all people ALWAYS do when discussing God or religion: You waffled back and forth between the subjective and the objective.

    Morse: For sure there is much about the way Christianity is done in the world that leaves much to be desired. Mean/stupid people are everywhere. But (for what it’s worth) I think you’re too quickly too ready to too absolutely dismiss the very real and very important emotional succor that religion really does bring a lot of people. Everyone who’s a Christian isn’t simply too stupid to know what’s good for them, or how to think. There IS something about religion that really does work for real people. I guarantee you that you’re no more rational a person than… well, me, for one. Perhaps it wouldn’t cut off your air supply to at least PRETEND, if you must, that you grasp the true value and worth—that you understand the enduring quality—of the phenomenon of the religious experience.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    I dunno Morse…I belive God intends for me to be with my husband & support his military career. I HATE moving. I’d much rather live in AZ with family & friends. At this moment the only thing that feels good about it is believing I’m right where I’m supposed to be. So from my perspective, believing that God wants the best for me and has me exactly where he wants me frees me to endure the suck.

    Granted, hopefully within a few months it will feel much better…but then in a few years we’ll move again and I’ll have to make the decision to do it again.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    See? She’s not stupid. She’s not shallow. She’s not emotionally immature. Being religious WORKS for her. It puts her mind and heart in harmony—and grounds them both in a system the entire PURPOSE of which is to learn to do unto others as you’d have them do to you.

    That’s not bad. That’s GOOD. People PRACTICE it poorly—as people do most everything they do poorly—but the system itself is very, very good. It’s ideal, actually. Which is why it’s so hard to fully incorporate into … us.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    “Everyone knows that if you say, “Believe in this, and I’ll feed you,” the hungry person will say whatever they’re supposed to. The work Christians are doing out in the world has a lot more substance to it than anything that lamely shallow.”

    And I’m not saying it is that shallow. I’m talking about generalities here.

    If a group of Christians comes and builds me a house, won’t I feel a little nicer towards Christians?

    If some Muslims put together a soup kitchen for natural disaster refugees, won’t I feel a little nicer towards Muslims?

    If some Republicans donate thousands of clothes to my good-will center, won’t I feel nicer towards Republicans?

    It’s a natural response. And good for those people for helping out.

  • Dan Harrell

    John, please write a book here. I'm 70 percent through "I'm OK, You're Not". I'll need something else to read soon.

    As for the other thread here, I'm just happy being me, a work in progress. Both my wife and I have cancer, my 401 is probably in the dumpster, I'm close to retirement age but I told my boss today I'm staying as long as they will have me.

    Yes, some bad stuff happens between the good stuff to everyone. It's not pleasant, but whether one is Christian or Hindu, you still need to get through it. For me, being Christian helps a lot.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Odgie: You, too, always leave the best comments. I ESPECIALLY like this one. I'll totally do that! It would be funny.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Odgie: You, too, always leave the best comments. I ESPECIALLY like this one. I'll totally do that! It would be funny.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hey, Odgie: Here's someone throwing a John Shore Snark Fest:

    http://rawdc.wordpress.com/2008/09/07/book-salesm

    and here's a whole WEBSITE devoted to the idea that I'm a heretic:

    http://heresywatchdog.com/

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    See and it was really funny…my comment…not the one before it…that one was just plain unnecessary…and mean…

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    And fairly typical. I get 5-10 obnoxious, mean comments a day. I kind of like them; they’re fun to delete. It’s so STUPID, that people just think I’d be okay with keeping up insults to me on my own blog. It makes me think they just don’t … GET what a blog actually is.

  • imm

    i was really wondering, instead of bashing other christians up.. those guys should spend some time really speaking with them.

    Learn why we believe what we believe. take out the element of fellowship and bash the other brother simply because you felt you proved him wrong isn't helping the church or the sad world out there..

    if guys like those from the watchdog site spend less time bashing books and stuff…and work together with the people who wrote those book… spreading the gospel wouldn't be so hard…

    'i'm ok and your not' is really secondary to 'I'm right, you're wrong, stop sharing your beliefs'…. gosh it's a house divided.. brother against brother…

    what's your take John.. correct me if i'm wrong.. im open to correction (:

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Okay, I think that the first one is insane, and the second one is just funny. People devoting entire websites to attacking you–you've arrived, John!

  • imm

    hahaha… so write a book! you can’t comment on a book! (:

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    you certainly have arrived! An entire website…wow!

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    you certainly have arrived! An entire website…wow!

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    John,

    Sometime, you ought to do a post specifically on the really stupid and mean comments you get, complete with samples (questionable words bleeped out, of course). That would be funny.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    I could not figure out how to comment on either site John… apparently they don't want to hear from me. I suppose Odgie's take is best, look at it as you've arrived. It is so absurd that you John would be the target of this scorn. Proof positive that (some/many?) people do not read. I have read your blog for about a year now and I know you earnest want to lead people to desire and seek a deeper relationship with the love of Christ. I also know your personal view on money and wealth and really wanted to snark the snarker …

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    GROUP HUG!

    Thanks, you guys.

    Now watch. If they check it, those guys will see that they got hits to their site from this one. Then they'll rush over here to spray their bile everywhere. I know these guys. That's what'll happen.

    Sigh….

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    GROUP HUG!

    Thanks, you guys.

    Now watch. If they check it, those guys will see that they got hits to their site from this one. Then they'll rush over here to spray their bile everywhere. I know these guys. That's what'll happen.

    Sigh….

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Wow, Dan. I had no idea you had cancer. I’ve read some of your blog posts about your wife having it, but I don’t think I realized that wasn’t in the past. Well, that’s not great news, obviously. We’ll pray for you and your wife. I certainly do appreciate the way you’ve always left such kind, open, clear-thinking, and good-natured comments on my blog. Thanks, as ever, for that. (Lemme know what you think of “I’m OK.” I wrote it entirely too quickly, and used a style and tone I’ve since come to see wasn’t really ideal for that message [it was my Magazine Voice, which I now see risks running wearisome over the course of a whole book. Anyway. Be curious to hear your response to it.) Thanks again for all.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    Wow…those guys are scary!

    Don't worry John. I will definitely not lend them my torches and pitchforks.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thanks, Morse! You're a good guy.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thanks, Morse! You're a good guy.

  • FreetoBe

    Those were just ugly, ugly sites. I would never go there willingly again–how can people not get your humor? and read about how much Jesus has changed your life?

    (((tsk))) some people…..

    You should totally do the snarky comments blog. It would be hilarious.

  • FreetoBe

    Those were just ugly, ugly sites. I would never go there willingly again–how can people not get your humor? and read about how much Jesus has changed your life?

    (((tsk))) some people…..

    You should totally do the snarky comments blog. It would be hilarious.

  • imm

    wow, they have watchdogs for heretics? do they bite?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    A lot of such hyper-snark sites are run by people who USE the vitriol they spew as a means of bringing attention to their own … products. It's just a … thing people do. Let's just say, for instance—just for instance—that the people who put up hereseywatchdog.com just so happened to also run on the side a …. oh, I don't know … let's say, off the top of our heads, a business where they sell coffee cups and mugs with all kinds of sayings on them along the lines of "Repent or Burn!" and "12,345 Unsaved People Go To Hell Every Minute!" and so on, with the flames all over everything and all that. Now, see, THOSE people can latch onto a book like "I'm OK," and bomb Internet and publisher sites with how heretical and evangelically offensive the book is, and under the guise of Righteous Indignation serve their own practical needs.

    They torch others so the light will shine on them. It's a dim light off toxic flames—but it's all the light and warmth they know how to get. So they stoke that fire a bit—and then move onto the next shiny kindling that looks flammable, that's vulnerable that way.

    Saving people through hatred. That's … their modus operandi.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    A lot of such hyper-snark sites are run by people who USE the vitriol they spew as a means of bringing attention to their own … products. It's just a … thing people do. Let's just say, for instance—just for instance—that the people who put up hereseywatchdog.com just so happened to also run on the side a …. oh, I don't know … let's say, off the top of our heads, a business where they sell coffee cups and mugs with all kinds of sayings on them along the lines of "Repent or Burn!" and "12,345 Unsaved People Go To Hell Every Minute!" and so on, with the flames all over everything and all that. Now, see, THOSE people can latch onto a book like "I'm OK," and bomb Internet and publisher sites with how heretical and evangelically offensive the book is, and under the guise of Righteous Indignation serve their own practical needs.

    They torch others so the light will shine on them. It's a dim light off toxic flames—but it's all the light and warmth they know how to get. So they stoke that fire a bit—and then move onto the next shiny kindling that looks flammable, that's vulnerable that way.

    Saving people through hatred. That's … their modus operandi.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com Skerrib

    I've seen the second one before. It's too bad such a beautiful dog is on such a nasty site. Nice face covering up a big load of hatred…hmmm…guess that's happened more than once.

    I dunno John, I think you've REALLY arrived when they spoof you on SNL. Maybe by spring…

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com Skerrib

    I've seen the second one before. It's too bad such a beautiful dog is on such a nasty site. Nice face covering up a big load of hatred…hmmm…guess that's happened more than once.

    I dunno John, I think you've REALLY arrived when they spoof you on SNL. Maybe by spring…

  • Candace

    Wow, John. Look at all the fun I missed by not being online for a while.

    Checked out those sites you linked to (post # I-haven't-a-clue-where-did-that-neat-feature-go?), and all I have to say is — I never, ever seriously consider arguments proffered by those who won't, a) "own" their stuff and, b) engage in an exchange as opposed to a monotribe. Notice how both of those cowards fail to sign their names to their drivel or allow responses.

    Can you say "egomania"?

  • Candace

    Oh, and DUDE, write a book serially on your blog, wouldja?? Please? 'Cuz I'm almost done with Being Christian (which is awesome. Love it. I am determined to move past my inherent mega-mucho-laziness long enough to post my first book review ever on Amazon).

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Candace: The publisher of BC will love it if you review it on Amazon. No one has yet. I know that bums them a little. So thanks.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Candace: The publisher of BC will love it if you review it on Amazon. No one has yet. I know that bums them a little. So thanks.

  • Candace

    I'd get to be the first? No kidding! Will bring the book to work with me tonight and do a review. Since all of you simply refuse to stay up all night with me while I work and keep me entertained with pithy commentary.

  • Candace

    Oh, and my personal answer as to what is the Enemy of Us (or Enemy of Me, in this case) is … Me. I am that which most gets in my way, especially in the way of me being all love all the time. There really is no other answer. Just Me. That's why life is so very, very much better when "it is no longer I who live, but Christ in me."

  • FreetoBe

    What an exceptional way you have of explaining those things, John. Thanks for that. See, I learn something every day by visiting here–how NOT to be a reflection of those folks' toxic light. Wow.

  • FreetoBe

    What an exceptional way you have of explaining those things, John. Thanks for that. See, I learn something every day by visiting here–how NOT to be a reflection of those folks' toxic light. Wow.

  • Ross the rational th

    Ive got a new one for the believers taking part in this blog. Do you understand how tectonic plates work? If you do, how can you still think that the world is only 6,000 yrs old. How have you spun the scientifically proven fact that the continents have been slowly moving for millions of years?

  • Ross the rational th

    Ive got a new one for the believers taking part in this blog. Do you understand how tectonic plates work? If you do, how can you still think that the world is only 6,000 yrs old. How have you spun the scientifically proven fact that the continents have been slowly moving for millions of years?

  • Candace

    Easy for me to answer as regards myself, Ross, but it won't satisfy you in the least (and I know because for decades I was, like you, firmly attached to my notion of human rationality as the end-all and be-all.)

    I decided that I was never going to know enough (in this world) to understand everything about everything. My intellect understands (most of) what science tells me, but there remain and always will remain questions.

    My entire being, right to the very core, knows and loves my Lord and Savior. He (personally) has reached out and touched me, and I have taken him up on his invitation and his gift. I know this (and him) with a certainty far greater than the intellect can ever hope to accomplish.

    So I accept and live with some mystery and ambiguity. The love and joy and peace I experience in relationship with God makes it easy not to care that to some it seems "irrational".

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Ross,

    Sorry, chief, but your question hasn't been a "new one" for more than a century. And for Christians who accept the premise of the Genesis account of creation without taking it as a literal step-by-step account, there is no need for spin.

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Ross,

    Sorry, chief, but your question hasn't been a "new one" for more than a century. And for Christians who accept the premise of the Genesis account of creation without taking it as a literal step-by-step account, there is no need for spin.

  • Candace

    He claims to be a RATIONAL thinker, Odgie, not necessarily an original one ;-)

    Checked out your blog, btw. Excellent. Bookmarked it.

  • Candace

    He claims to be a RATIONAL thinker, Odgie, not necessarily an original one ;-)

    Checked out your blog, btw. Excellent. Bookmarked it.

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Thanks Candace, and don't be a stranger over there.

  • Ross the rational th

    Thank you Candace, your words clearly explain that you have left behind rationality. There is nothing mysterious about how mountains form or how the continents shift. You are simply trading an understanding of the world around you for a cozy feeling that a creator loves you. But you should know that the proven evidence is there in case you wanted to clear up the "Mystery" that clouds your vision.

    You can find the answers in any 8th grade science book. (Isnt it odd that they teach science and not christianity in public schools? Wait thats not odd, thats thinking rationally, If you wanted to teach christianity, you would have to teach Judaism and Islam too, just to give a full understanding of the desert faiths)

    Odgie, I meant a new one for you folks. Do you really think that im that full of myself to come up with that one on my own? im not familiar with the story of genesis, i wasnt forced to learn it as a child. Is that the story that says "god made heaven and earth….etc, etc.

    Wheres the proof? Wheres the evidence?

    I dont get how people can just accept thing without asking how they came to that conclusion.

    I am a rational thinker because i weight the options, i study the evidence. I dont claim to know everything about everything either. But the way to understand the world around you is to study it.

    Dont just accept what other people tell you because they are part of some group.

  • Ross the rational th

    Thank you Candace, your words clearly explain that you have left behind rationality. There is nothing mysterious about how mountains form or how the continents shift. You are simply trading an understanding of the world around you for a cozy feeling that a creator loves you. But you should know that the proven evidence is there in case you wanted to clear up the "Mystery" that clouds your vision.

    You can find the answers in any 8th grade science book. (Isnt it odd that they teach science and not christianity in public schools? Wait thats not odd, thats thinking rationally, If you wanted to teach christianity, you would have to teach Judaism and Islam too, just to give a full understanding of the desert faiths)

    Odgie, I meant a new one for you folks. Do you really think that im that full of myself to come up with that one on my own? im not familiar with the story of genesis, i wasnt forced to learn it as a child. Is that the story that says "god made heaven and earth….etc, etc.

    Wheres the proof? Wheres the evidence?

    I dont get how people can just accept thing without asking how they came to that conclusion.

    I am a rational thinker because i weight the options, i study the evidence. I dont claim to know everything about everything either. But the way to understand the world around you is to study it.

    Dont just accept what other people tell you because they are part of some group.

  • Candace

    Ross, I make my LIVING in science, and have for more than 30 years.

    I did not trade. I did not leave behind. I added. Or rather, God added. And if you are fortunate, one day He will do the same for you.

    Odgie, thanks. You can be sure I'll visit frequently :-)

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Ross,

    It's still not a new one for "us folks". We go to the same public schools and study the same scientific disciplines. I reccomend visiting some majority atheist sites and boning up on your put-downs so that you can come back here with some original material.

    And no, it's not odd that they teach science in public schools and not religion. There are plenty of believers who recognize that the separation of church and state is blessing for both the state and the church. Stop trafficing in stereotypes and cliches and you may learn something.

    Regards,

    Odgie

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Ross,

    It's still not a new one for "us folks". We go to the same public schools and study the same scientific disciplines. I reccomend visiting some majority atheist sites and boning up on your put-downs so that you can come back here with some original material.

    And no, it's not odd that they teach science in public schools and not religion. There are plenty of believers who recognize that the separation of church and state is blessing for both the state and the church. Stop trafficing in stereotypes and cliches and you may learn something.

    Regards,

    Odgie

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well said, Odgie. Good job. (Not that it'll matter, of course…)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well said, Odgie. Good job. (Not that it'll matter, of course…)

  • Ross the rational th

    candace, what kind of job do you do? just curious.

    Some say science and religion cannot coexist. I say that if there is a god, why would it be so hard to believe that it created the big bang? It created evolution? It created the beautiful process by which DNA and the building blocks of life get transfered from parents to children.

    Christianity has been correcting itself and apologizing for its mistakes regarding science for a long time, just add the above to the list.

    Understanding the principles behind science isnt hard. It just takes an open mind. Question everything, including religion.

  • Ross the rational th

    candace, what kind of job do you do? just curious.

    Some say science and religion cannot coexist. I say that if there is a god, why would it be so hard to believe that it created the big bang? It created evolution? It created the beautiful process by which DNA and the building blocks of life get transfered from parents to children.

    Christianity has been correcting itself and apologizing for its mistakes regarding science for a long time, just add the above to the list.

    Understanding the principles behind science isnt hard. It just takes an open mind. Question everything, including religion.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Dude, he's right. I personally don't know any Christians at all—and I know a LOT of Christians, of all denominations and persuasions—who have any trouble at all reconciling science with God. Only a small minority of Christians hold the sort of fundamentalists views you so mistakenly keep associating with all Christians. You're angry and arrogant, but you sure the freak are also woefully uninformed. My hope is that you're just young.

  • Ross the rational th

    i do sincerely apologize if i have been stereotyping all christians to be fundamentalists.

    I know many christians and most still feel the world is only 6,000 yrs old. they also believe adam and eve are their ancestors (scientifically impossible).

    Dont we all have a bit of arrogance when discussing issues we are sure we are right about?

    Candace, you dont have to prove anything to me, we are merely having a heated debate. This topic is a very serious one that surely wont get resolved in ours or our childrens lifetimes.

    Im just tryin to say that science is what i put my faith in. Science is the search for how the world works. I refuse to put my faith in a book because someone tells me its fact. Facts must be proven. Faith is not proof.

    And yes, i am young and still learning all about the world. I will continue to keep up with scientific advancements and also try to understand why there are so many religions in the world, all claiming to know the will of god.

  • Candace

    I’m a medical biochemist. A darned good one too :-)

    Wanna see my transcripts and references? All the letters I’m entitled to string behind my name? The Quantitative Analysis final I got a perfect score on?

    (That’s sarcasm, in case you don’t recognize it. I have no need to prove anything to you. I do wish you well in your quest for an open mind, though.)

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    “I say that if there is a god, why would it be so hard to believe that it created the big bang? It created evolution? It created the beautiful process by which DNA and the building blocks of life get transfered from parents to children.”

    It’s not so hard. Do you know any Christians, Ross?

    “Christianity has been correcting itself and apologizing for its mistakes regarding science for a long time, just add the above to the list.

    Understanding the principles behind science isnt hard. It just takes an open mind. Question everything, including religion.”

    You might want to question where your getting your information about Christianity.

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    “I say that if there is a god, why would it be so hard to believe that it created the big bang? It created evolution? It created the beautiful process by which DNA and the building blocks of life get transfered from parents to children.”

    It’s not so hard. Do you know any Christians, Ross?

    “Christianity has been correcting itself and apologizing for its mistakes regarding science for a long time, just add the above to the list.

    Understanding the principles behind science isnt hard. It just takes an open mind. Question everything, including religion.”

    You might want to question where your getting your information about Christianity.

  • Candace

    Um, Ross? Ever heard of forensic archeology? Look up "mitochondrial eve". Humanity being traceable back to one female ancestor is not only "scientifically possible", it's mathematically probable. AND it's already been done.

    Of course there is considerable debate as to just what that really means. Seems that the more answers we (think we) have, the more questions we find are generated. Ain't it grand?

  • Candace

    Um, Ross? Ever heard of forensic archeology? Look up "mitochondrial eve". Humanity being traceable back to one female ancestor is not only "scientifically possible", it's mathematically probable. AND it's already been done.

    Of course there is considerable debate as to just what that really means. Seems that the more answers we (think we) have, the more questions we find are generated. Ain't it grand?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X