The Christian Atheist: Why its important to talk about God, even if you don’t believe in one

Long title, I know. I tried to think of something shorter but I have no patience for such things. I need to get to the nitty gritty. Like I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a belief in god. With that said, I still engage in conversations about god without trying to dismiss the belief in god. Some people have an awareness of this otherness that I do not have. Some people have a deep unshakable belief in a being greater than ourselves that I don’t have. Some people have had deeply spiritual experiences that I’ve never had. For that reason I feel I am in no place to try to convience someone of my point of view of a god existing.

Even though I don’t believe in a god doesn’t mean I don’t think talking about god on an honest level is not important. I think it’s very important. There are god concepts which I embrace as healthy, good, and a positive force for humanity. Some of those concepts would include:

God as a Loving Parent. I put parent because I know some that think of god as a mother rather than a father. It doesn’t matter to me. The loving parent image of god is wonderful. I have two loving parents. Both very supportive of me, loving, understanding, and a joy to be around. The parent notion is good IF all of humanity are children of god.

The incarnation. I like this idea (kinda). I like this idea when one see’s it as god is completely comfortable being human. That god looks like Jesus in the sense that he’s not willing to return violence for violence, and that he would rather die for his enemy than have his enemy destroyed. That’s inspiring. I can get behind a god like that. I don’t like the incarnation when it becomes this dogmatic idea that you need to worship Jesus or burn in hell. When it’s poetic its beautiful. When it’s dogmatic its gross.

Trinitarianism (again, kinda). It depends on the Trinitarian. It’s the idea that god is father, son, and holy spirit engaged in a love dance that we find ourselves in the middle of. If god can be defined as the love a community feels (like father, son, and spirit) then again I think thats an amazing view of god. When people become dogmatic about this idea it puts me off. Michael Hardin has a very healthy and holistic view of the trinity that I find inspiring (even if I don’t believe it literally).

Now that I got the good ideas out of the way, let me tell you concepts of god that I will debate because I feel they are harmful. If someone is going to believe in god, so be it. The god they believe in should be the healthiest and most compassionate version of god possible. There are some god concepts that I feel are harmful to communities and a persons personal well being. It’s important we learn to identify these concepts and help people move forward into a healthier version of god. I wish this is something both atheist and theist would engage in, instead of tearing down those we disagree with.

A god of wrath and violence. This is a pretty broad statement that includes a lot of denominations and religions. If god commands death, commands war, holds grudges, punishes people, and is less compassionate than myself then it’s a god concept not worth it’s weight in shit. If you admit that god condones violence against his enemies then whats to stop us from condoning violence towards our own enemies and calling it righteous? Nothing. If god separates himself from people for eternity for disobeying him then whats to stop a parent from disowning their child because they are gay, lesbian, like rock music, like to dance, choose to live a different life style, or choose their religious outlook? Nothing. What people believe about god affects how they treat people.

A god of miracles. This is just a personal pet peeve of mine. I grew up with a charismatic/pentecostal background where god wants us to be victorious and blessed. If you believe hard enough, god will make a way. I use to hear testimonies on how god is as big as he is small. People prayed to god and he helped them find their car keys. Hallelujah!!! The only problem with that is children starving in third world countries. The only problem with that is the Holocaust. How is it that this miracle god can help you pay bills and find your car keys, but is unable to feed children and save those being burned alive in ovens? I know it makes us feel good that god would come through and find our keys. To those who have experienced loss and prayed until they were white in the knuckles, that kind of theology can seem cold and heartless.

I have more to say. I have more concepts I feel are healthy and others I feel are dangerous. But frankly, I need to go listen to music right now.

Love you deeply.

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The Christian Atheist pt 1

I can boldly say that I do believe that Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I can also boldly say that I do not believe there is a god. If I may put one more idea forward, I do not believe that these statements contradict each other in the least.

It has taken me over 10 years of working in churches to wrestle with these ideas. I’m sure I have not arrived at my final destination of what I think about such matters, but I will talk about the post I’m at today. In future writings I will discuss why I don’t believe in god, how I understand Jesus and the bible, and other topics (I will warn you know, I have a filthy little mouth). For today, I want to unpack the idea of Jesus as my Lord and Savior sans a belief in God.

A quick rabbit trail (get use to it, its the way my brain works), I realize these writings will not be popular among anyone. I feel I will honor Jesus too much for the atheist and will criticize god notions too much for the theist. I have often found myself in life very much a people person but also very much alone. It seems when you accept all, very few accept you! Thats besides the point…

When I speak of Jesus as my Lord and Savior I do not speak of it in the fundamentalist, heavenly minded, spiritual bullshit, saved from a fiery hell speak that our mind jumps to when we hear this phrase. I understand it in a very anthropological sense. In other words, I make this statement in regards to my relation and understanding with humanity. I do not make this statement in a theological sense in relation to who I think god to be.

I will start with the idea of Jesus as my savior. The idea of savior as meaning one who saves you from the judgement from god and the hell he has waiting for you is NOT the idea of salvation for the writers of the Old Testament. Their idea of salvation was easy: God will deliver us from our foreign enemies who oppress us. We will have a military victory over them and throw their rule off our back. This is salvation. It has nothing to do with your spirit, nothing to do with going to heaven, and nothing to do with making your wallet fatter (sorry word of faith peoples).

The new testament writers subvert the meaning of this word salvation. It no longer means throwing your enemy off your back with military victory. Now it means being made whole. How does Jesus say that we are made whole? Not by destroying our enemies through conquest in the name of god, but by loving and forgiving our enemies. Salvation is a restoration of relationships, it’s healing, it’s wholeness.

When I say Jesus is my savior I am positing the truth that his teachings has caused me to love those whom my culture and (former) religion would consider my enemy. His teachings has made me personally at whole with those who hurt me. I use to think Gays and Lesbians were wicked, Jesus saved me from that. I use to think Muslims were going to hell, Jesus saved me from that. I use to hold grudges against people who I felt wronged me, Jesus saved me from that. It’s in this sense Jesus is my savior. His ideas have healed me and caused me to approach my “enemies” with understanding and love.

Now the more complicated issue as Jesus as my Lord. It’s only complicated because of what we understand it means today. We think Lord = God. Interestingly enough it was theologians who corrected me from this line of thinking. When the early church spoke of Jesus as Lord it was not a religious statement, but a political one. The church was saying that they would not bow a knee to Rome, but they belonged to an empire that could not be seen. One that worked on different principles. Their Caesar was not Nero, their Caesar was Jesus.

That is so fucking punk rock. In essence they were rejecting the ideas and the violence of the government that sought to rule them to follow a peaceful hippy who would rather die than become violent like his enemy. In this sense Jesus is my Lord. I will not kill for my country. I will not take a life for the interest and policies of the United States. I will not pledge allegiance to any flag. My allegiance is to all of humanity. It took Jesus as my Lord for me to shed the lie of patriotism and see the whole world as a place without borders.

When I speak as Jesus as my Lord and Savior it is in this sense. I do not need a god to follow Jesus. I just need a heart for humanity.

Capitialiticus (The Bible of the Capitialist)

Few people realize that the wealthy affluent of this nation of their own bible modeled off of the Christian bible. This is chapter one of Capitaliticus (a rewording of Leviticus). Like Leviticus is the model of sacrifice for the priests of Israel, Capitaliticus is the model of sacrifice for the Board Members of a company!

Chapter 1 of Capitaliticus

1 And the Lord called unto the CEO, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the boardroom, saying,

2 Speak unto the upper management, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the employee, even of the minimum wage worker.

3 If his offering be an immigrant sacrifice of the employees, let him offer a male without medical insurance: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the boardroom before the Lord.

4 And he shall put his hand upon the head of the immigrant; and it shall be accepted for him to make profit for him.

5 And he shall exploit the employee before the Lord: and the board members, shall bring the sweat of the employee, and sprinkle the sweat round about upon the checkbook that is by the door of the tabernacle of the boardroom.

6 And he shall fire the immigrant offering, and cut his dreams into pieces.

7 And the board members shall put empathy upon the altar, and lay the apathy in order upon the empathy:

8 And the board members,, shall lay the parts, the minority, and the minimum wage worker, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:

9 But his dreams and his rights shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by greed, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.

10 And if his offering be of the workers, namely, of the women, or of the minorities, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a worker without a voice.

11 And he shall expoit it on the side of the market before the Lord: and the board members, shall sprinkle his earnings round about upon the altar.

12 And he shall cut it into his pieces, the workers benefits and his pension: and the board members shall sacrifice them in order to fatten the profits which are upon the altar:

13 But he shall wash the wages with water: and the board memebrs shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by greed, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.

14 And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of foreigners, then he shall bring his offering of Mexicans, or of young Chinese.

15 And the board members shall bring them unto the altar, and wring off their future, and burn it on the altar; and the cares thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar:

16 And he shall pluck away his wages with his rights, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, by the place of the losses:

17 And he shall makes lots of money at the costs of others, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.

Moses Maggio and the Godfather

“The boss would like to see you now.”

They pushed Freddie through the empty Italian diner and sat him down in front of Moses Maggio. He was finishing up a plate of Mama’s Meatballs. Freddie sat down staring at the red and white checkered table cloth as Moses picked up his napkin and wiped the red sauce off the corner of his mouth.

Freddie was afraid of Moses. Moses was a hero to his people. He lead them out of Italy to this amazing land of the free. Moses also spoke for the Godfather. No one but Moses saw the Godfather. The Godfather set all the rules for the community. Many doubted the existence of the Godfather, some said Moses was making him up to keep order. Those who spoke against Moses were often taken care of and made as an example.

“I have heard some troubling news about you, Freddie” spoke Moses with a raspy whisper.

Freddie shuffled in his chair waiting to hear the charges laid against him.

Moses reached over and caressed Freddie’s cheek. “Have I not been kind to you? Have I not provided you protection? A place to live? Food to eat? A family to belong to? All I ask is that a few rules be followed.”

Moses pulled his hand away and sat back in his chair, placing his arms folded over his stomach. “What’s this I hear about you picking up sticks? Freddie, you know it’s the Sabbath. Yet, you openly defy me and the Godfather by strutting your ass up and down MY streets and picking up sticks? Freddie, your forcing my hand here.”

Freddie lifted up his hands in defense. “Moses! I didn’t know I couldn’t pick up sticks. I needed a little wood for my oven. My wife is cooking a big meal and we ran out of wood. I meant no disrespect!”

Moses sighed. “Hey, I don’t know what to tell ya. I’m going to go back to the kitchen and talk to the Godfather. I personally would love to let you off with a warning. But, it’s not what I want to do, it’s what the Godfather commands.”

With that Moses leaned on the table and pushed himself up. Moses wheezed as he walked to the kitchen, every step buckling under the weight of his body. Freddie watched every step waiting for one of Moses’ knees to blow out like an overinflated tire.

Five minutes passed as Freddie waited nervously. Moses came lumbering out. The momentum of his body carried him back to his seat in front of Freddie. As Freddie looked at Moses he noticed garlic bread crumbs around his mouth and neck of his shirt.

Moses cleared his throat. “Well, Freddie, the Godfather has spoken. He said we need to stone you.”

“WHAT?” screamed Freddie as he tried to stand up, but immediately two men from behind him grabbed his arms and restrained him. “This is insane! Did you even talk to the Godfather or did you just shove bread into your fat face?!”

As Freddie was yelling the men started to drag him out of the diner, knocking over tables and chairs. Freddie pulled himself out of the men’s arms that were dragging him. “How is it against the Godfathers law to pick up sticks to cook dinner for my family, yet it’s OK to pick up stones to kill a man? How is that fair, Moses?”

The men that were dragging Freddie hesitated to grab him. They wanted to hear Moses answer. The room got silent. Moses looked up from his plate. “I don’t make the rules, I just execute them. The Godfather has spoken. Unless we remain loyal to him, he’ll do to us what he did to the Sicilians.”

“No one has seen or heard the Godfather but you, Moses. Most of the people think your loosing your mind! You want me to believe you saw the Godfather in a burning olive bush? Oh wait… whats this…. I think the Godfather is speaking to me…” Freddie reached over and picked up a glass sitting on a table and put it up to his ear. “Yes, Godfather? He’s giving me a revelation. He’s telling me your full of shit!”

Moses stood up and flipped the table. The teetering fat man now appeared to be a towering behemoth. The room felt darker and heavier every step Moses took closer to Freddie. Moses grabbed Freddie’s shirt collar.

“You are the reason we stone people who pick up sticks. First you pick up sticks, then you question the law, then you question your boss, then you question the Godfather. People like you are an infection. A plague on our community. Getting rid of you is cutting off a gangrenous finger. Better for one to suffer than all die.”

Freddie stared at Moses in the eye. “The only thing your protecting us from is moving forward. You can continue to cut off parts of your body that you think are infectious. Eventually you’ll run out of parts to cut off. All that will be left is a stump on the ground. An abomination of a human being groveling in the dirt. As you lay in the dirt not able to walk or even feed yourself you’ll remember it started with your finger. That seemingly unimportant finger.”

Moses threw Freddie into the arms of his men. “Get him out here… you heard what the Godfather said…”

The two men looked at each other waiting to see what the other would do. Moses turned around and paused for a moment. “I don’t think I need to remind anyone here the penalty for not heeding a command of the Godfather, do I?”

The two men grabbed Freddie and dragged him out the front door.

Death and Spaghettios

I saw death once. He wasn’t as scary or intimidating as one would think. He wasn’t wearing black, his face was not a skull, he did not carry a sickle to harvest souls. No, that would be too obvious. He was on his front porch eating Campbell’s Spaghettios.

I was working construction with my dad. I was young at the time, too young to help. It was in the summertime and he took me along to get me out of the house. As I worked with him he told me he wanted me to meet someone. It was a man he made friends with. He lived in a trailer down the road. As my dad worked, he wanted me to sit with this man. He told me the man was blind and he needed company. I never met a blind person and the idea made me uncomfortable.

My dad lead me to the run down trailer and there he sat. I remember looking at his white hair, his stubbled face, and his disheveled flannel shirt. His eyes were blue, but an unnatural blue. He looked forward and ate his bowl of spaghettios. My dad introduced me to him and left to go back to his work.

I don’t remember anything we talked about. All I remember is looking at his face and feeling a fear, discomfort, and even disgust. He would lean in and talk to me and the smell of spaghettios would wash over my face. To this day when I look at a can of spaghettios I think of that man. I wanted to run back to my dad. With every sentence my stomach churned. Thankfully he was unaware of my discomfort. He was happy to have someone there to talk to.

What I saw that day was death and it frightened me. I saw mortality, I saw weakness. My mind that was filled with ideas of super-humans, super-heros, and American strength could not comprehend what I was looking at. Weakness, frailty, age, and poverty. I could deal with death as long as it looked like a spirit from another world. I could not deal with death when it looked human and natural.

Many years of my life I tried to fight my disgust of death. I hated him. I embraced ideas of heaven and hell, an afterlife that was void of all these flaws. Give me resurrection, give me divine health, give me miracles, but please keep me away from the man on the porch.

Then something happened in my heart. I started having compassion towards death. I remember the kindness death showed me on his front porch. Even though I was disgusted with him, he was willing to have a conversation with me. Death had something to say, death had a lesson to teach me. Death confronted me with my own mortality and weakness. Death made me realize how precious today was, and how valuable my heath is.

Death no longer disgusts me. We have become friends. He has taught me how to enjoy my children, how to enjoy my life, and how to embrace those in need. I no longer fear death. When I see him I hug him and spend time with him. I listen to his stories and learn and laugh. I hold a can of spaghettios and remember how fragile and short life is.

Confessions from a Pastor EP1: Speaking in Tongues

A pastor giving us an insight into his personal story. In this episode he discusses how he spoke in tongues and taught it even though it never did anything for him.

Modern Day Hymns: Power in the Pulpit

Power in the Pulpit

Would you be free from your burden of thought?

There’s power in the pulpit, power in the pulpit

Stay after church, my message can be bought,

There’s wonderful power in the pit

Would you be blessed, much blessed than the poor?

There’s power in the pulpit, power in the pulpit

Just give me some money and you’ll have more and more,

There’s wonderful power in the pit

There is power, power, wonder-working power

In the pulpit of the pastor

There is power, power, wonder-working power

In the precious words of the pastor

Would you do service for Pastor, your King?

There’s power in the pulpit, power in the pulpit,

Would you live daily His praises to sing?

There’s wonderful power in the pit

There is power, power, wonder-working power

In the pulpit of the pastor

There is power, power, wonder-working power

In the precious words of the pastor