Tag Archives: Christianity

Easter Day Musings

Easter Sunday was a beautiful day. It was also Sophie’s birthday. She is now one year old. I decided to take her on a walk at Bond Park here in Cary. It is one of our favorite places to walk and practice her training regimens. We walked about four miles including the two-mile Lake Trail that circles Bond Lake.

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As we walked, enjoying the sunshine and friendly passers-by (Sophie always garners plenty of attention), I began to ponder the Easter holiday and what it means to me. Beside eating jelly beans, I mean!

I am not sure what sparked it.

Perhaps it was the recent bit in the news about some Muslim guy claiming that Jesus was never crucified. I have heard claims such as this before. I have heard some argue that there is no proof that Jesus ever even existed  … outside from the Bible, of course.  From what I see, most of the people who make this claim never looked outside the Bible … or anywhere else for that matter!

For those who do dig a little deeper, you can find evidence from non-Christian sources that help point to who Jesus was and what happened to him. This is often held up as proof that he existed and was indeed crucified. Much of Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ, was based on evidence of this type. This non-Christian evidence is often written by those who were hostile toward the early Christians, which makes it an interesting spin on things … at least to me. And, I have looked at much of it. There are records from Roman era historians such as Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, or Flavius Jospehus, who are often ridiculing those early Christians and their crazy Messianic leader.

Then there are those who like to argue that these Roman historians are all liars, or that somehow their works are all some kind of forgeries … they must be part of some kind of ancient right-wing pro-Christian conspiracy I guess! I must admit it …  I find this claim by those people even more fascinating.

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Anyway, we continued on our walk and enjoying the beautiful day.  I was busy watching Sophie enjoy all the sights and smells and chasing after bumble bees, when I suddenly decided none of that really mattered much to me. What really matters is what you believe, and I do believe that one of Jesus’ primary  teachings,

Love your neighbor as yourself,

is simply a pretty darn good rule to live by. Jesus stated this very same concept several times and in several different ways throughout his journey toward his death.

To me, arguing over whether Jesus was actually the Son of God or not, or whether he was crucified or not … does not in anyway make this basic concept any less profound.

This is not a statement of faith for me.  My faith is very personal. I am not very evangelical. I will discuss my beliefs with a certain few people, but I will not argue about it with anyone. I know what I believe. You can believe what you want to believe.

But, it does seem to me that if more people followed this simple “golden” rule, life would be much better for many of us!

I remember going to a J.C. Penny Golden Rule Award ceremony some years ago (during the mid-1990’s) in Knoxville, Tennessee when I was working as an Anderson County CASA volunteer. It seems this same “Golden Rule” can be found, perhaps worded a bit differently, in every major world religion: Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism (and Commonsenseism … kidding here). I found that to be really fascinating at the time.  A guest speaker read each version and stated the religion in which that version was based.

I also got to meet Jack Hanna there.  That was pretty cool to!

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So, anyway, Happy Easter to you all … from me and Sophie!

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Hollywood Elitists Still Trashing Christians?

The "Heroic Age" roster of the Aveng...
The “Heroic Age” roster of the Avengers. Cover art for Avengers vol. 4, #12.1, by Bryan Hitch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hollywood strikes again!  The sad thing is, I love good movies!  Hollywood just rarely makes them anymore.  I really did like Captain America and The Avengers.  But those must have slipped past the liberal-elitist’s “don’t release anything remotely pro-American or fair to Christianity” filters.  Isn’t it amazing how The Avengers movie is doing so well at the box office …. smashing all the records!  Some of those oh-so-very-intelligent Hollywood elitists just don’t really seem to have a clue!!

Prometheus, however, is another story!  Hollywood got their “let’s put out another mindless, sort of quasi-religious questioning movie that proves how shallowly deep we Hollywood elitists really are” game face on right this time.  I read this review of the movie which really tickled me.  No … I have not seen the movie!  I saw the previews … they were enough!!  I enjoyed this guys critique, though, very much.  I just had to include it in its entirety below.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

by        Kurt Schlichter19 Jun 2012143post a comment

In space, no one can hear you scream, “I freaking paid $17 a ticket for this?!?”

It’s no secret that the “Alien” sorta-prequel “Prometheus” is a gorgeous fiasco, a visually stunning yet substantively ridiculous outer space epic that makes any fan of the 1979 classic want to rip out what’s left of his hair in frustration at what might have been. I had eagerly anticipated it, saw it on opening night, and left understanding what Hell must be like.

“Prometheus” can and should spur many discussions – including one about how plots should make sense – but it also raises the question of whether Hollywood has any institutional understanding at all of what religion is and what the tens of millions of, well, alienated believers/potential audience members who it wants to get back into theater seats actually believe.

Sadly, when it comes to religion, Hollywood has that same deep, enduring connection with normal Americans that led them to believe there was a tsunami of demand to see Tom Cruise as an ’80s hair rocker.

Caution: light spoilers lie ahead. Avoid them if you wish to see the movie with the dewy-eyed sense of wonder of an ever-optimistic film lover. Read them if wish to avoid wasting $17 a ticket and two precious hours of your life.

“Prometheus” represents all that is wrong with Hollywood’s conception of religion. For one thing, it doesn’t really have a conception of “religion” at all – instead, it embraces a vague concept of “spirituality,” which is something quite different.

To the extent Hollywood does conceive of religion, it kind of lumps all religion together into a generalized cult best described as “Footloosean,” in the sense that Hollywood sees all active religious adherents as falling somewhere along the scale from “Kind of Silly” to “The Full Lithgow,” where their central theological concerns are banning dancing and hunting gays for sport.

Hollywood much prefers spirituality, because spirituality doesn’t actually ask you to do anything while allowing you to sort of take comfort in an unarticulated sense that there is some higher power out there, probably “nature” or “the universe” or another amorphous notion that fills the role that God would if they were talking about religion instead of metaphysical mush.

A religion, in contrast, would actually require that you believe something concrete or, worse, actually do or not do something. Religion imposes obligations and makes moral judgments. You can’t have those; they could spoil the party!

Better to embrace spirituality – the welfare state of theologies. It asks nothing of you but supplies you with whatever you wish. If spirituality adherents sang hymns, their favorite would be “Generic Grace.”

Now, the characters in “Prometheus” spend a lot of time talking about seeking “answers” to the Big Questions about where man came from and, well, where man came from. And here’s director Ridley Scott’s inspiring answer – from a bunch of freaky, giant, pasty-faced folks who look like they should be asking, “You rang?”

In the first couple minutes, one of these Lurch-looking dudes is on a planet – maybe Earth, who knows – and he swallows some goo then sort of decomposes and his DNA breaks up and I guess he is seeding the planet with life or something.

Yeah, we kind of start the movie with the punchline.

Oh, and then these giant dudes decide they want to kill all human life, and that becomes another Big Question, except it really isn’t a Big Question because you kind of can’t create a Big Question of human existence from within the context of your own stupid movie. If people didn’t wonder about it before walking into the Overpriced Cinemaplex 16, it really doesn’t count as a Big Question.

Noomi Rapace plays the spiritual scientist, and she raises a lot of questions, like what kind of name is “Noomi?” She wears a cross, which becomes a huge symbol of, I guess, her spirituality. It’s certainly not a symbol of, you know, Christianity, because Christ doesn’t get a mention. I’m not even sure if God does.

It wouldn’t do to have her be an actual, you know, Christian, because in Hollywood’s eyes her main focus would then be barring the other characters from having fun – after all, that’s what Christians do. So she’s a generic believer unfettered by actual theological imperatives or obligations, a waify free spirit sampling from the sacred smorgasbord that is spirituality.

At one point, the movie flashes back to a childhood chat with her widowed father about life after death. He explains his spirituality thus: “I choose to believe.” Leave it to the theologians of Hollywood to dispense with the faith component that plays a teensy, tiny part of Christian doctrine.

God, apparently, is just another lifestyle choice. And, to the extent it supports rather than undermines its liberal social agenda, Hollywood will rule it a valid one.

“Prometheus” is a hot mess with good visuals and good performances in the service of an incoherent plot and an even less coherent message. It wants to ask those Big Questions, but the vocabulary that its stunted sense of spirituality provides is simply too limited to do so. The answer to “Where did we come from?” turns out to be some guys who are marginally taller than us and who have the complexion of a back-up singer for The Cure. And we, the audience, are sorry we asked.

When Hollywood takes religion seriously, it’s actually not Hollywood at all doing it – “The Passion of the Christ,” for example, was made by Mel Gibson almost completely outside of regular production channels.  It hit a chord and made a mint. Whether you like his theology or not isn’t the question; there is no question that he took Christianity seriously, and there’s no question audiences responded.

Hollywood might do well to do the same, but there’s not much room for optimism. For example, there is an Internet rumor that Ridley Scott wanted one of these giant guys to turn out to have been Jesus.  Seriously.

Apparently he sobered up before making one of the few conceivable choices that could have made “Prometheus” worse, but someone please let me know where the sequel goes with it.

They don’t have a prayer of getting my money again.