On This Day Two Years Ago..

August 30, 2010 § 1 Comment

I remember the sun popping out at us.  It was an outside wedding.  ‘Cheap’ is what my mother called it, but my wife and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  We always wanted the small, more intimate sort of wedding for just family and close friends and this was the perfect spot for just that.  It was the place of our first kiss, our second date, and now it is where we are getting married today.  It had been raining for the entire week leading up to the day before our wedding and we were kind of freaking out.  The day before however the sun decided to call it quits on its cruel practical joke and came out to dry everything at the Botanical Gardens in time for the ceremony.

I remember walking around this spot nearly a year before staring and pointing at the constellations with Maranda, my wife, and falling in love with her at that exact moment.  Don’t get me wrong. she certainly is easy on the eyes, but it wasn’t until this moment where she is explaining the epic battle between Orion and Taurus (and how she is pulling for Orion to win while pointing out that Taurus’s eye is a red dwarf star and will eventually burn out).  I couldn’t help but just kiss her, right then and there, so I grabbed her and pulled her in close and went for it.  It obviously worked out for me pretty well because now I am standing at the gazebos at the same spot anxiously waiting for beautiful wife to be walk across the stream bridge to join me in marrying me.

She is stunningly beautiful, like a 1920’s actress all elegant and naturally beautiful.  I kinda thought she’d be the one to swell up in tears when she walked on down but instead it is me.  I’m not a big crier; not that there is anything wrong with a grown man expressing his emotions on appropriate occasions like this, but it generally isn’t my defining attribute.  Yet here I am overwhelmed with joy.

Two years later we are in transition.  I have a job interview to be a sous-chef  today and another for a different position and I start my other job tomorrow.  We are temporarily moved in with my in-laws who were gracious enough to put us up for a while.  We are proud parents of a beautiful baby four-month old girl named Daisy.  I have recently had a pretty heartbreaking and disappointing falling out with members of my family and yet I am joyful nonetheless.  We are different people now than we where two years ago on this day yet I find myself even more madly and deeply in love with my wife more than ever.  So I’ve decided I’m going to ask her to marry me again.  I want her to have a wedding free of drama from petty people, insensitive relatives, and pressure to include religious elements in our ceremony.  One where only our friends and family who support us and love us are there.  One that is perfectly and distinctly us.

We are different people now, happier and freer people.  I think I will start my courtship today.  Make it a first date of sorts.  I’m gonna start saving to buy her the perfect, artistic ring that says everything I want it to say.  Then I’m going to ask her to marry me again, but this time as a better and happier man.

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Child-like Faith Indeed

August 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

I was standing outside pacing around for about an hour now.  I’m pushing an empty swing on the swing-set in the backyard in futile restlessness.  It is humid and my minutes were starting to get expensively low but I’m having the kinda of conversation that you can’t just walk out on.  My sister and I have been going at it for a while now, going back and forth and in circles.  She’s a pretty smart person so naturally I’m getting more and more frustrated by her unwillingness to see things from a different perspective.

She’s a Christian, just like everyone else in my family professes, that is except for me.  She’s throwing out lines and clichés that I’ve heard my whole life that churches teach you say when trouble-shooting and conversation with an unbeliever.  Though it’s frustrating to have a parrot  conversation that changes topics quickly and often I am sticking out, for her.  Now I’m being asked to defend my thoughts and doubt for the 8th consecutive time this week and it’s starting to get old.

The real kicker comes however when she tells me with an air of slight condescension that she “just has childlike faith” and that she can’t relate to feeling like she needs to understand a God, and that she is okay with believing in something that is bigger than herself.  I love my sister, but what a ton of laughable crap.

It is truly convenient that Christian culture, by and large, seems to have no problem with capitalizing on all sorts of media forms that have to do with gaining and greater understanding of the Bible to make a profit.  It is truly convenient that even my sister will attend Sunday school for adults before going to worship, and will even attend conferences to further this sort of ‘education’.  It’s convenient because this concept of continual education only appears to applicable when everything is peachy and easy-going but when something goes bad, you just need to all of a sudden shut down your mental faculties and revert to this notion of “child-like faith.”  Not just that, but if you claim to have no faith in the God of the Bible, then you must automatically be arrogant and proud for not automatically believing that the “something bigger” has to be the God of Christianity.  Here is yet another example in my family lately of masked passive aggression.

It’s ironic; that her assertion doesn’t appear to come across as anything other than pompous and self-righteous while she is very mistakenly attempting to mask her words with child-like humility.  This is probably not what Jesus was talking about when he talked about the innocent trust of “little ones.”

A Moment of Clarity

August 27, 2010 § 1 Comment

It was a beautiful Wednesday morning.  The morning mountain air was crisp and despite the fact that I was standing in line at VJ’s Auto because my break lights decide to go out on our move back to Asheville North Carolina, however I am feeling very optimistic anyway.  As I am standing realizing just how much I’ve missed this place for the last 6 months having waisted life in Winston-Salem , I bump into an old friend of my dads.

Ed is a wall-eyed good ol’ boy who is,despite his appearance , quite extraverted.  It’s funny that I am bumping into him at a auto-repair shop now being that he has fixed my car for free or dirt cheap on more than one occasion as a favor to my father.  The old me probably would have seen this as a sign that I was going to get my car fixed for free somehow and that God was watching over me and showing an interest, but now I am talking to him now, just to enjoy his company without any other motive.

He’s a nice guy, if you are the right person, that is if you go to church or he at least thinks that you go to church.  He’ll spend a week fixing up some widows car just to give it to her free of charge if it means he’s doing God a solid.  He’s sure helped me out quite a bit though I always felt a little guilty that my dad might have been milking him too much and I had too by extension.  (after all I didn’t have to let him fix my car for nothing)  But now he’s talking barbecue.  He says there is no good barbecue in Asheville like there is in Marion, and that 12 bones is overpriced and overrated because Obama ate there during his campaign.  That’s about when he starts telling me about all these queens and faggots and weirdos and about how they made him want to move to Marion but how he loves the mountains anyways and always will.

Normally I’d be quite disgusted hearing this kinda language coming from anyone else, but I don’t hold it too much against Ed.  I used to think that there was ever a good reason that anyone could talk like this and not be an evil and  bitter person.  Now I guess I see it more as a condition, a sickness caught in the throes of narrow religious upbringings, rather than a decision of informed manipulative people who know better.  Ed is basically a pretty good guy, and he generally loves people as best he can, but it is still sad how religion can distort and alienate the most helpful and bright-hearted people.  It’s kinda reassuring however that I’m not the only one who it has damaged.

A Flimsy Bet.

August 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

I recently had a very heartbreaking conversation.  It was between my father and myself.  It was hard to hear what he had to say, but this time I didn’t buckle under the verbal beating I took.  It has been a big step for me; sticking up for myself even if it meant breaking my father’s heart.  It’s understandable though, why he has been so upset.  He’s a pastor after all, a Southern Baptist one at that, and he’s also been a missionary of 13 years in one of the hardest to evangelize places on planet earth: Tokyo, Japan.  I have just conceded the fact to him that I really can’t in good conscience say that I believe in Christianity any more.

The conversation all started over a completely separate matter in which is now paling in consideration between my mom and myself.  We too had just had a rather inhospitable conversation over some entirely different issue.  She has never really been that found of my wife and was badmouthing her to me and thinking that this behavior was somehow okay.  She was trying to justify  telling me that she “didn’t care how I feel” and how “she didn’t care if she offends me”  about the things that she was saying and how she would always tell you the ‘Truth’ because, well, she loves me just so darn much.  I responded by warning her not confuse her wanting to tell me whatever she wanted regardless of my feelings, or anyone else’s, with virtue.  Then she hung up on me.   Now my father is telling how I am becoming a hateful and bitter person, that he is ashamed of my behavior, and that my doubts must be the result of some sin in my life.  He says I’m bitter and he is telling me that my unbelief can only be the result of sin, and cannot be because of anything else.  He is telling me that I am just bitter because of certain hardships my wife and I have undergone during the past two years and how I need to press through to be “better” and have more faith.  He says I am turning my back in God because of this.

He’s not entirely wrong.  On an emotional level, I really doubt that God (or at least the God of Christianity) really cares about what happens to me or anyone at all.  At least no more than he cares if a lion kills a baby gazelle, or as much as a he cares about the rampant flooding in pakistan that is killing thousands of children right now.  I’d like to believe in this idea of God that is there, and would die for my sins and take a personal interest in my life.  It certainly would make things quite a bit more reassuring, but I can’t buy it.  I’ve weighed the evidence and counted the cost and I am certainly not betting on it anymore.

What he’s wrong about is about me being bitter, I’m not bitter.  It would be completely pointless to be bitter about something or towards something that is apparently ambivalent towards me.  He’s not entirely right either, obviously, because the real reason that I don’t buy into Christianity is the Bible.  The Bible doesn’t add up.  More to the point, it doesn’t add up at the most crucial and important point for Christianity: the resurrection.  It’s not that the accounts don’t just not add up, they outright contradict each other.  The women who were there, (sometimes just Mary Magdalene, sometimes Mary mother of James, other times Salome) the men at the tomb are inconsistent (or angels it says, though mark calls him a single young man in white and not an angel but in Luke it says two men) the order of events telling the disciples about what they had seen, (in Luke they leave having spoken to angels first and then the women tell Peter and the disciples, but in John they leave not having talked to anyone and only see Jesus and the angels after Peter runs to the tomb and leaves), the women hold on the Jesus seems acceptable to Jesus in Matthew being that he doesn’t rebuke them for it, but is strictly prohibits it in John (because of Jesus saying that he hadn’t returned to the father yet).  The Bible even admits in most translations that the ending to Mark has been tampered with and inserts a small disclaimer in its resurrection chapter)  In short, they can’t be reconciled; not by any stretch of the imagination.   The gospel of Luke says that the accounts are historical eyewitness accounts and should be treated like court testimonials, unfortunately they are different stories, wither want to admit it or not, the evidence is there and it is incontrovertible.

I would be fine with this whole ordeal if my father was saying that he understood why I had my doubts, that it all boiled down to faith and would encourage me and tell me how to seek God in fellowship or worship or something like that.  Instead however it feels like I am being shamed and outed because of my honest admission that the Bible doesn’t make sense.  You would hope that Christianity would create more secure, less easily threatened believers if it were true.  Christian apologists like Norman Geisler and Ravi Zacharias who are largely considered the forefront apologists will back me up in saying that Christianity stands and falls on the resurrection. So why am I being considered bitter for my disbelief?  I think this is quite telling about the true nature of what faith means for those who are so easily threatened by the opinions of those who disagree.  I love my parents but their reaction in disappointing to me.  I’m not bitter towards them, I just can’t assign myself to something and bet everything in my life on such a flimsy bet anymore.

Where Am I?

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