Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Friday, March 04, 2005

Religion Part 3 - Faith

I continue my dialog on religion. I last posted on this topic on Tuesday February 22.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
As simple as these words of Jesus seem, they have always troubled me in more ways than one. By everlasting life, was Jesus talking about the eternal infinity that is life, about experiencing the infinity of moments that exist between each second, or was he referring to my own life, reassuring me against my own fear of death? But for today, I want to focus on another word here- "believeth." Faith is where my focus is today. In order to have this promised eternal life, Jesus says that a person has to believe.
OK so even that seems simple enough, except that within the evangelical Protestant Christian church, we as humans are powerless to seal our salvation. We simply can't do it. Only God can.
Now if you think about it, that's a paradox. We can't do anything to get saved, yet we can't get saved unless we believe in Jesus.
So what does it mean to believe if believing is not something we ourselves do? If we can't "will" ourselves to believe in God, then just what is this faith?
I'll be honest with you here. I have no idea how to answer those questions. But I have recently begun to see the effects of this paradox on those who do claim to believe.
For most of us, faith is an act of the will, something we ourselves do. Faith is taking something we can't prove and making it a part of our own reality by believing that it is true. We have faith by willing ourselves to believe. That is how we define and understand the concept of faith.
For Christians, though, the faith that saves, the faith that gets us to Heaven, can't be something we will ourselves to do. To Christians, that kind of faith is impossible. Believe it or not, but for Christians, faith has to be something God does since only God can save us.
Therefore, whatever Christians believe, no matter what it is, does not belong to them. They don't own their beliefs. They don't own their faith. God does. The faith that saves, according to evangelical Christians, must come from God. Yes, we believe, but the faith must come from God because if it were our own doing, it wouldn't save us, it couldn't. We as sinners are incapable of saving ourselves. So faith is like water in a stream. It flows through our existence.
But you and I, as rational human beings, don't believe this. This is just mindless prattle and we know it. We can see the evidence of its mindlessness just by observing today's American Christians who have set their God-owned minds on the destruction of God's own creation! And they do it all in the name of faith! They do everything that the destroyer wants them to do, attributing it all to a faith that they refuse to own, a faith that they attribute to God and Jesus and "the Holy Spirit." In their minds, according to their beliefs, according to their own interpretation of "Scripture," God intends to destroy this earth.
I've never read the "Left Behind" series, and hope I never do, but to evangelical Christians, that is God's plan for this earth so anything they do that leads to this plan must be OK with God. If faithful Christians support the development of nuclear weapons, it must be OK with God because God will most likely use these things to destroy His creation. And what sense does it make to conserve nature if God's intent is to destroy it? Why not consume it while we can?
And as if that weren't enough, when the time comes for God to do all this nastiness, "believers" won't even be here to witness the harvest of those things which they themselves have sowed in their lifetimes. They will be "raptured" right on out of here before God lights the fires. Not only are Christians not responsible for the things they do in the name of God, but they will be saved from all the suffering they cause! How convenient! Who could resist a system like that, huh?
Nope. I don't buy it at all. I just don't buy it. If I live my life according to faith, according to beliefs, no matter what, they are my own beliefs, it is my faith. If by my faith I consume that which God created, then if there is to be eternal life, some day I will answer to God about why I did it. If I support the destruction caused by war, if I support the use of fear as a tool for social control, some day I will have to answer to God for why I chose to do it. If I believe in the destruction of the world, the destruction of God's creation, some day I will have to answer for my beliefs.
Furthermore, if I don't wish to have to suffer eternal punishment for those beliefs, the only possible solution acceptable to God is for me to refute them, to stop believing in war and fear and the destruction of God's creation, the world, and hope that it isn't too late! My beliefs are mine! If I want to live my life with the Prince of Peace, then I need to believe in peace myself. I need to believe that the answer is for me to love God and His creation. Period! I can't serve two masters. I can't serve God's ongoing creation while at the same time serving God's plan to destroy that creation. One or the other of those outcomes is from God. One is the plan of creation. The other is the plan of deception.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Midnight in the Garden

Maine dove back into the deep freeze last night after Tuesday night's foot-deep snowstorm. I'm back in hibernation. To celebrate the event, I spent part of the morning watching an old movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I've seen this movie twice before, but never really paid a lot of attention to it till today. I was quite intrigued about it this time.
Released in 1997, this movie's main actors include John Cusack who plays a lead character as a little-known New York writer, Kevin Spacey who plays a wealthy Savanna art collector, and a young Jude Law who plays Spacey's violent drug abusing lover. Steeped in a mix of southern high society, homosexuality, Voodoo, even southern Christian values, the movie spins a tale of intrigue, murder, and a trial that even goes so far as to allude to Perry Mason.
Several things about this movie are interesting to me. One is that Yahoo Movies doesn't even mention the three actors I listed among its list of stars, even though Cusack and Spacey were clearly the leading actors. Chalk that up to the movie's vintage, I suppose.
The second thing is that the movie was produced and directed by Clint Eastwood who won an Academy Award this year for his movie Million Dollar Baby. Eastward's daughter Alison stars in this movie as Cusack's girl.
Spacey plays typical Spacey who's character has a bit of a southern drawl, but displays that arrogance of recent wealth which has become so familiar to me with G.W. in the White House. With the recent White House scandal involving Jim Guckert, alias conservative "journalist" Jeff Gannon, the underlying homosexuality of Spacey's wealthy character and his lover finally stood out to me.
Finally, there is a scene where Jude Law hauntingly displays the body antics which later characterized his virtual gigolo character in the 2001 movie AI. I almost felt like I was having a deja vu when I watched that scene.
Hundreds of billions of gallons of water have gone over the dam since the last time I watched this movie, but somewhere between then and now I have seen some things, learned some things, and changed some of my perspectives on things. This movie will go down in my book as one like Moonstruck or Bridges of Madison County, one worth seeing again from time to time, just to remind me of how much I have changed.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Wearing Me Down

I doubt that I'll ever give in to it, but I have to admit, their stupidity really is beginning to wear me down. I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way either. I think all of us Americans who once believed in a sane image of America are getting pretty discouraged with what is going on. I, for one, have come to the point where I don't believe a word I hear on the news - not a single word of it. When they say Zarquawi, I think Mossad. When they say Pentagon, I think Israel. When they say security, I think torture. When they say peace, I think war. When they say compassion, I think wealth. When they say free, I think cost.
Needless to say, after awhile this double thinking really begins to get old. Yet instead of that slowing them down, my fatigue encourages them to step up the pace. Here's what I consider to be a prime example:
Sometimes I wish I could get the Daily Show on TV. It helps to be able to laugh at all this insanity and stupidity...

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Masked and Anonymous

Today I should be out in my driveway fixing my wife's Caravan but I am procrastinating. It's sunny out but not very warm and extremely windy. I'm replacing the water pump which has been leaking for awhile. Friday I spent $350.00 on parts, making this by far the most expensive water pump repair I have ever done. It's expensive because it involves the camshaft timing belt and accessories.
So instead of working out in the cold, I stayed in this afternoon and watched a movie. Last night I went to the video store and found that they had a box of used DVDs for $3 apiece, "All sales are final." Looking through the box, I found three that looked pretty good. I bought Wedding for Bella which we watched last night. That was a very touching movie, extremely so. My wife cried a flood, I think, because it dealt with an issue that she is involved in frequently with her work. I also bought State and Main which I haven't watched yet. I don't think I even saw it when it was first out. My daughter did and recommended it, but I don't remember seeing it.
The third movie I bought was Masked and Anonymous, a 2003 movie featuring Bob Dylan as the star along with a bunch of his music and a bunch of familiar Hollywood faces. That's what I did this afternoon instead of working out in the cold. I watched that movie. It was an interesting movie too, but after seeing it, I came to the conclusion that the point of the movie must have been to prove what people have claimed for decades, that we only use 10% or less of our brain! I was so lost trying to make any sense out of it! But it's Bob Dylan and it's all about political power and war so it must mean something, anything! I'll just have to watch it again sometime when I'm more awake. But I do recommend this movie to anyone who has seen it all.