The Same Old Religious Debate

1world

I must be honest, lately I’ve been a little troubled by the age-old question of “why so many religions?” This never puzzled me much before, but recently, it has been a nag. So this morning, I did some research on Islam, because I feel like I should know a little bit so I can at least have an intelligent conversation if the topic ever comes up. Why Islam? Well, Islam has similar roots as Judaism, and consequently, Christianity, and I thought that some people on the internet would have a lot to say in defense of it. I was right, and much to my dismay, it wasn’t all of the usual, emotional stuff. I read an article about how supposedly there were scientific things in the Quran about biology that couldn’t have been known at the time through humans (El-Najjar 3). Similar claims are made about the Bible too.

But the more I researched, the more I realized the flaws in this religion. Of course, people also point out flaws in Christianity, but those are of a different nature, and as a believer, obviously I am rightly biased towards the validity of the Good Book. It turns out that many of the ancient mosques, instead of facing towards Mecca, are actually pointed closer to the direction of Jerusalem (The Quran’s Archeological Evidence). If you are interested, you can read more about it in this article. Of course, that isn’t conclusive proof that Islam is whack, since there is no conclusive proof, it just kind of steered me in a personal way back towards my own faith, towards Jerusalem.

Another interesting thing that maybe you didn’t know is that Muslims also believe that Jesus walked the earth, but they claim that he was a prophet who was not the resurrected son of God (Godlas 1). Now this gets interesting. Why would Muslims claim that Jesus existed, just not in the same way that Christians believe? Why these commonalities? Wouldn’t it be easier for them to just deny Jesus altogether? If there is agreement between the Judeo-Christian camp and Muslim one on something, where strife has existed for centuries, then couldn’t you conclude that there’s something there, that one of them is right and the other, wrong? And which one has really stood the test of time? Now you decide that. I know I’ve decided.

I think there’s a rather reasonable explanation for the supposed scientific evidence in the Qu’ran, even if it isn’t just a coincidence. God has definitely had relationships before with people who later disobeyed Him. Solomon, Samson, just to name a couple that I am familiar with. Isn’t it possible that part of the Qu’ran was divinely inspired, possibly through some kind of prophet who later went rogue? Or perhaps some kind of mix-up? Look, don’t get mad, it’s just a theory.

The purpose of this post was is not to put down Muslims and accuse them of things right off the bat. I don’t have too many logical reasons for what I believe either because I’m not some kind of Biblical scholar. However, I would encourage anyone to think about why they believe what they believe. Don’t overthink it, because overthinking leads to dark places. Think about it, because you’re bound to think about it eventually, and if you didn’t think about it calmly, you’ll think about it in emotional state where it would be better if you didn’t think about it so much. Know why you believe what you believe, but don’t go looking for conclusive proof, you won’t find that. However, one thing that many people come to conclude is that the universe could not have been created by accident. Along with it being unlikely, it’s depressing to think of things like that. So then, who did create it? I would imagine that whoever did would want to communicate with his creation, either directly or, I don’t know… through a book maybe? Just thinking out loud here. Prophets? Yes, that makes sense. So which one is it, now that I’ve gotten this far? Is it Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism (which I still need to research), Judaism, or Christianity? If you choose Christianity, well then, you have to choose it on a much deeper level than that, but it’s a start. It’s a start of a relationship based on redemption, a relationship with the one True God. So it’s not just a religion, and if it is just a religion, then you’re probably approaching it the wrong way.

 

Works Cited

El-Najjar, Hassan Ali. “The Scientific Evidence That God Exists and the Holy Quran is His Message to Humanity.” Aljazeerah, 2007. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.

Godlas, Alan. “Jesus: A Summary of the Points About Which Islam and Christianity Agree and Disagree.” Web. 4 Nov. 2013.

“The Quran’s Archeological Evidence.” Debate.org.Web. 4 Nov. 2013.

 

Image: religioustolerance.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Problem of Giving

It was early afternoon on a college campus in the Western United States. Bright, sunny, and warm. I walked to the chain fast food sandwich shop on campus. I was in a good mood, generally, becauae I have no reason not to be and am at least smart enough it. I found out the day that I got an 82 on my management accounting midterm, which is a good outcome considering that I forgot my caluculator (who forgets their calculator when they know they’re about to take an accounting test?)

Anyway, I meet a man from Feed the Children while going there. I always end up listening to spiels from nonprofit volunteers. Do I seem like a giving person? Some kind of sucker? Of course, I’m kidding about the last part, hopefully.

The thing is, I actually would like to help children who need food. I believe that God calls us to provide for the basic needs of others. Because if they can’t even survive, how can they ever come to know Christ? But it just so happens that I have heard of scandal in the Feed the Children organization, it was a couple years ago and I think they’re doing better now, but that kind of thing does make you wary.

I would like to give, and I know that it’s right to give, but I always wonder how! I don’t want to give to the wrong people and have the money be wasted. I don’t think it’s something to be paranoid about, it just means that you must be vigilant. Also, I think it’s important to actually help people, beyond just having good intentions and taking some kind of action. The situation in Africa is a good example. A lot of people say that all the humanitarian aid that has been provided over the years has not reduced poverty.  I think I will be reading a book soon on this subject, called “Dead Aid.”

Well, I’ll be posting more on this topic in the time to come. But for now, God bless! Try not to do anything too crazy this Halloween!

What It All Comes Down to

I have decided to start listening to podcasts from Lighthouse Bible Church, and last night I listened for the first time. It was very dense and thorough, covering many topics while still sticking to a theme. I would highly recommend it, unlike some of the movies I’ve seen lately. Here is the link
http://lighthousebc.com/sermons/

When I saw the topic, which was Hannah, I was kind of excited, because I explicitly remembered reading about her. I remembered how she asked God for a child while she was barren (who would be the prophet Samuel). And I remembered how sweet and humble she had been, referring to herself as a “handmaiden.” Man, that killed me. I’m trying to imagine an American woman doing that. It’s pretty hard. (Don’t worry, I am an American female, so I think I am qualified to make stereotyping jokes like that every once in a while 😉 ).

That was most of what I remembered. I didn’t remember her prayer really, but that was the part that the pastor focused on in the podcast. Pastor Patrick emphasized that what’s really special about the passage is that she doesn’t make much reference to her particular circumstances. What’s special is that Hannah gives God his due praise. Because He is the same in all circumstances, He is still the rock and the fortress. (By the way, he explains that rock actually refers more to a cliff face. Doesn’t that make so much more sense?)

It’s ironic because what I remembered was the story of Hannah and the particular circumstances. That is not to say that the circumstances are unimportant. No, God reveals himself through circumstances. That is why the stories of the Israelites are recorded. But the stories are not ends of themselves, they are for the purpose of glorifying God.

So I guess it would have done me some good to remember the poetic language and the pathos as well as the actual story.

But I am reminded of the point of writing, the point of music, the point of everything. I am reminded that in my own writing, I am supposed to be glorifying God too. Does that mean I have to do it very explicitly? Should I be in the business of hymns or something? I don’t know. Should I try not to concern myself with great matters?

Again, I don’t know, I am afraid of saying the wrong thing. But the real takeaway is that God needs to overpower my writing, and God needs to be the reason for it. It can’t just be a theme or a motif or a “pop.” It’s got to be the whole deal. So far, that’s not happening. Am I taking too long to work up to it? Who really cares about those literary techniques, those insights on modern life, those in it of themselves are nothing! Lord help me to just write, write well and write for You. That is the prayer of undergroundvoices.

Image

Emotional Greed

IMG_0974

Why do TV commercials work? It seems ridiculous that they are as effective as they are. We laugh at them… but if they didn’t work, why would companies pay for them?

Consumers know that many of the products are superfluous, and they know that the benefits are highly exaggerated. They can see through all the fluff and glitter.

Commercials sell much more than a product. They sell an image, a lifestyle, an accessory to happiness. So no matter how cynical you are, you’ll always find something deep inside you churned by them. It’s not just your stomach. And pretty soon you’ll find your wallet churning as well. It’s due to a basic human desire- to live the best life that you can.

For a time, I was partially convinced that I’d built up some immunity to greed. I realized that, materially, I had everything a person could ever need and far more. I stopped dreaming so much about a prosperous, successful future for myself and started dreaming a tiny bit more about the good things I would do with my life, God willing.

I even wondered why it was that others around me seemed so obsessed about money. Wealthy people and lower income people that I’ve known alike. Why couldn’t they be content with their families, their friends, their present situation? Why couldn’t they be a little more like me?

Someone once called me “greedy.” The person didn’t speak English as a first language, so at the time, I thought that it was not only unjust, but that even if I was guilty of discontent, it wouldn’t be called “greed.” That’s not the right word, you’re wrong, and I’m a good person, overall? Right? Not greedy, that’s beneath me. Everyone feels depressed sometimes.

You’re not a total jerk.

I’m a good person, right?

Right…

I began to realize that my emotional greed was really no different than the conventional type of greed. I’ve always wanted to have lots of friends, go places, have fun, be accepted, and all that. What a fool I was, blinded by my own avarice! Yes, good for me that I was partially resisting the love of money, but what of my sins? What of being irritable and ungrateful? And why, why? Why couldn’t I just sit back and enjoy past memories of friendships while passively delighting in the uncertain possibility of hope in the future. Why not appreciate more my home, my writing, my little niche here on WordPress that I’ve grown to love, and all the rest. Why worry, agonize, cry in the dark, belittle myself, and constantly deliberate the reasons for it all in my overactive mind?

I know that I shouldn’t covet. But sometimes it’s just not easy. Now I know how every other human being feels.

Well, I won’t judge you if you want some more money in your life. Who am I to talk? After all, money is quite essential. Hunger and thirst will kill you before loneliness, every single time.

Donut (Doughnut) Coma

Image

A couple days ago, my family visited one of the very few Krispy Kremes in our general area. I was pretty excited about it because I heart donuts, even if they don’t heart my heart back. Plus I’d only been maybe once before in my whole natural life.

We devoured the free samples and got a dozen, along with a little cup of donut holes, as you can see in the picture. Mind you, there are only three people in our family. And only two of us actually had the perseverance to continue eating them after the thrill was gone.

The thrill is now gone for me. After finishing the last two, I was convinced that I didn’t want donuts ever again. So_much_sugar. But then, I started calming down. Never. Maybe just not for another year… six months…

At this point I wanted nothing more than a pot of black coffee and a big wholesome slice of kale. And maybe from then on I would go on a steady diet of fruits, vegetables, and quinoa. Yes, quinoa. Move to a yurt where the influences of decadent America would cease to affect me. Perhaps raise some llamas and make a modest income that way, enough to buy toothpaste and the occasional dozen of eggs.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little. But I was DONE, okay.

Then I went to the supermarket to get some bananas, carrots, and lunch meat for another day. And I started seeing the cakes and pastries, and what have you, and… I’m not saying I was ready to eat them, I mean I have a little self control… I’m just saying that they started looking a little appetizing again. I didn’t want to buy them, but I think I was ready to let bygones be bygones and allow them back into my life.

Habits are easy to start, good and bad. The bad ones are just a little easier to maintain. But I’m here to say that good habits can be formed and kept alive, even if we’ve failed in the past. As long as you’re alive, it’s never too late to start eating well, exercising, reading the Bible, taking up a hobby. And by the same token, bad habits can also be broken. Very carefully, of course, but nonetheless possible. Of course, I’m not an expert on this. I’ve been fortunate enough to have not gotten sucked into drugs or alcohol. Actually, I never really drank before. But am I am still convinced that with God, anything is possible, as it says, even loosing yourself from the heaviest of the heavy balls and chains.

Well, now that I’ve talked a lot about good habits, better peel my eyes off this screen and get to doing a bit of weight lifting. Yay.

Carbs, Cardio, and Me- A Dramatic Love Triangle

I exercised moderately regularly and at a very mild intensity for a little while. I also tried to eat healthy. But habits that beneficial were bound to dissolve into oblivion. 

 
Now it’s so hot, and I don’t want to do anything but sit in front if the computer or TV. It even takes a lot of willpower to do 100 bicep curls… With a 5 lb weight. I know pretty pathetic. I tell myself that I’ll get into it after I move, when I would have access to gyms and swimming pools. After all, who can get anything done with nothing but a weight set, a clock radio, and willpower? No, too primitive. I need the treadmill, even though I’m probably so out if shape that I’ll only succeed in embarrassing myself in public. 
 
I really need to start treating my body like God’s temple. But it’s so hard and against my nature! I’m an American! 
 
Eat only when you’re hungry, they say. But… I don’t feel hungry that often. Does that mean I can’t eat? How absurd.
 
Cut down on sugar, they say. 
 
So does that mean I can’t have my muffin for breakfast, ketchup drenched fries and a coke for lunch, then ribs slathered in high fructose corn syrup, and a wholesome scoop of ice cream to wrap it all up? Are you kidding? Is there even a reason to live if I have to make those kinds of sacrifices?
 
But in reality, I think it’s worth it to cut down on sugar. The other day, I saw one of those ads online that said “worst food for weight loss” or something like that. You know the type. I had to click on it, or the curiosity would have killed me before me million calorie diet. The video was about how most people have a higher ratio of “bad” bacteria to “good” bacteria in their gut. And sugar is one of the reasons. I’m talking sucrose yo. My homie, and at times, my only friend. 
 
Intellectually, I know the video is right, even if it may have exaggerated to promote its probiotic product. But my heart asks: could sugar really be so bad? Sweet, innocent sugar, the kind that comes in the form of pink heart shaped cookies and whimsical edible teddy bears? How can it possibly be conducive to weight gain? ‘It doesn’t even have fat’ I think as I’m foaming at the mouth, about to stuff a handful of marshmallows into my face. That harmless carbohydrate that we love to love… Is hurting people? And I must cut down? 
 

 Image

Movie Review- Lee Daniel’s The Butler

A charming, informative, intriguing day trip through the decades and the Civil Rights movement. The acting was excellent, I didn’t know Oprah had it in her, and the writing was decent, although I did find it hard to believe that Cecil ended up influencing presidents and walking in on all of the most important discussions. But those quirks made the movie interesting, so I respect that.

The lighthearted racial banter was funny, and the intense scenes, moving. I don’t think I was ever madder at the KKK in my whole life than when I saw the Freedom rider bus scene. I did like the director’s style, how he juxtaposed Celcil’s peaceful career in service with Louis’ struggle to receive service from an angry Southern society. And another great thing about this movie was the characterization. The presidents and the servants alike were heroes, but weren’t always heroic. They were people first, and that’s something to be appreciated.

Throughout the movie, the ideology war between the “Uncle Tom’s” and the modern blacks was prevalent. Both had their points. The Uncle Tom’s slowly chiseled away resentment with their hard work and non threatening attitude. But the protestors were only demanding rights that all American citizens deserved, and often did so in nonviolent ways. They were achieving progress faster.

I wonder what kind of person I would have been in such a situation. An Uncle Tom? A protestor? A belligerent, dare I suggest? I hope not, but one must try to understand that years of pain caused the belligerence.

Well, hope we can all just get along, and at least the racism seems to have gotten much better. But commenters, feel free to tell me otherwise 😉