Archive for May, 2012

God the Wingman

Posted in Faith Experience, The Facts and Ideas, The Narrow Path on May 24, 2012 by RWZero

There are consequences of believing in an all-powerful, personal God, and believing that he cares intensely about sex, marriage and relationships.

Having these beliefs inclines one towards believing that people are “meant” to be together, that God “brings” people together, and that God will help your soulmate see the condition of your heart, just like he sees the condition of your heart.

I used to figure that if my intentions were perfect–if my “heart was in the right place,” and if my purity of mind and soul were all set–then God would not let silly things get in the way of me being with my dream girl. He wouldn’t let things go south just because I had failed to present myself properly, or was misunderstood or misinterpreted, or made a bad impression…

God is your wingman. He will make sure that she only rejects you if you aren’t meant to be with her, or if you somehow deserve it.

Unfortunately, these beliefs are false. Nobody is taking care of this for you–it can be scientifically demonstrated. If you’re a girl, you really can fail to maintain your weight and doom yourself to singleness (in spite of all your prayers). If you’re a guy, you really can make a bad impression and lose your chance forever, no matter how godly you are.  People are predictable, manipulable creatures, and all the same types of things that turn on, and turn off, normal human beings apply to Christians–they are just couched in a different context.

God will not lift a finger to help anyone “see you for who you really are.” You will not get rewarded or noticed for anything that is hidden in your heart alone. God will not help a potential mate “look past” your poor taste in fashion, your annoying habits, or your antisocial tendencies. Only the well-worn, outwardly visible, tried-and-tested methods of attracting people will attract people. You can even learn these methods from a godless pick-up artist, and in many cases you can use them to steal a Christian girl out from under a godly man’s nose.

Of course, most Christians eventually learn this. Some of them learn it too late, some of them never learn it, and almost none of them draw the correct conclusion from the data:

God does not care whether you are unloved and alone for the rest of your life. He doesn’t care whether you deserve to be alone, or whether you are the most deserving, kind, gentle person on the planet. None of your prayers have any effect. The only one who is going to do anything about your relationships, your loneliness, or finding your “soulmate,” is you.

Funeral

Posted in The Facts and Ideas, The Narrow Path on May 18, 2012 by RWZero

A very good friend of mine’s cousin fell and died this week. My friend was very close to his cousin.

I attended the funeral. The cousin was a partying guy–he made a lot of money, he drove a Lexus, he was looked upon as a bit of a wayward soul by his family.

It was an evangelical funeral. The pastor preached a sermon, and in the sermon he implied that perhaps God took (killed) my friend’s cousin to save him from a greater evil further down the road (i.e. , God killed him so that he wouldn’t stray so far that he would go to hell, since God can kill people but presumably cannot keep people from straying). He also said that we all deserve to be struck dead by God as soon as we sin, so the question is not why my friend’s cousin is dead, but why we are all still alive.

So I went home later in the day, and I wrote up a statement that will be read at my funeral, if I die ahead of my time.

Being Muslim

Posted in The Facts and Ideas on May 17, 2012 by RWZero

I don’t have a very high view of Islam. I also tend to imagine, to myself, that they’re missing out on quite a bit.

But that’s from my perspective. Just think about what it must be like to BE a Muslim, thinking that people like me are wrong. I was in Turkey (I’ve also been to Jordan but primarily I’m thinking of Turkey) and as I walked around taking in the vibe of the place, I couldn’t help thinking that it must feel way more awesome to be a Muslim in Turkey than it feels to have no religion in Toronto.

And they’ve shown that having religion does, indeed, help you if and only if your religion matches the surrounding people’s beliefs and culture. By “help,” I mean “make you happier.” For all you folks who would respond “the point is not to be happy” I would respond that if indeed it’s better to be (whatever) than happy, then you’d be happy if you were (whatever). Like John Stuart Mill implies in “Utilitarianism,” you can’t really escape it.

Visiting Turkey is good no matter what your religion is, though. I highly recommend it.

The Problem with Near Death Experiences

Posted in The Facts and Ideas on May 16, 2012 by RWZero

NDE stories. There’s just one problem with them.

I don’t ask white people what it’s like to be black.

I don’t ask a men what it’s like to be a woman.

And I don’t ask living people what it’s like to be dead.

*

More to the point: I don’t ask living people who sell highly profitable books about their four-year-old son visiting heaven and seeing rainbow coloured horses and a blue-eyed Jesus. The book, naturally, is written by Profitable Dad.

Unbelievable. The people who most strongly believe in heaven and hell are usually the people who are most likely to get sent to hell if their doctrines are correct.

That’s a Good Question

Posted in Faith Experience, The Narrow Path on May 12, 2012 by RWZero

At the advent of my plunge into existential despair, I attended a church service at the one place left in the city where there are appreciable numbers of young Christians. The fresh-faced boyish smiles of young, married Nice Guys; the frenetic, cacophonous ticking of female biological clocks, the sterile and ingratiating greetings of the people at the door… it’s a last stand against the encroaching wave of secularism–a breeding ground for the last generation of naive and idealistic evangelical children.

The pastor, a lawyer with a deep and soothing voice (that makes you wish you at least had a pastor with a deep and soothing voice back when you were in the habit of listening to pastors) spoke of the “existential” tension we feel as we resist the truth, the Truth, that we do not choose God. He chooses us. One of the pretty young things put up her hand.

“Why didn’t God just pick everyone?”

A palpable silence filled the room.

“That’s a good question… I… I don’t know,” said the pastor, diffidently. The silence returned.

Gay Marriage. Obama. Gays.

Posted in The Facts and Ideas, The Narrow Path on May 10, 2012 by RWZero

So Obama voices support for gay marriage.

A man opens his mouth and speaks words affirming that he believes human beings of the same gender should be permitted to apply a certain legal title to their romantic relationship that has emotional connotations for other people who live in the country.

As a result, polls will shift rapidly, and it is possible that the economic future–ah, what am I saying–THE Future of the United States of America (and by association the rest of the world) will change dramatically (for better or for worse) according to who is elected. All because  of the passion surrounding what we legally call two in-love gays.

Amazing.

When I was a teenager, I was about as anti-gay as you can be without getting arrested under Canada’s hate laws. I joked about “burning the gays” and ranted about how “disgusting” gays were–so much so that my austere Korean youth pastor gave me a talking-to on several occasions (which is typical church stuff; they teach you something, and they get nervous and spank you when you follow it to its natural conclusion). Then I met some people who were gay, and I realized that they didn’t choose to be gay and had tried very hard to “pray the gay away” throughout their lives. Which basically meant that I had been lied to. Eventually I accepted that it didn’t make sense for God to create gay people and punish them for their gayness (but I guess if you’ve got no problem with God creating sinful-natured people and punishing them for their sinful nature, this all makes perfect sense). I am straight, and I don’t get a big smile on my face when I think about acts of gayness (well, man-gayness anyway), and naturally I am a little bit put off by the thought of it, but that is quite different from executing moral judgement on people who seem to have done nothing to choose it.

Dear Americans: as a Canadian, I’d like to tell you something that you’ll probably find disappointing. We full-out legalized gay marriage in this country, and since that time the country has become no more–and no less–gay than it was before it was legalized. The mercury in the gayometer has been holding perfectly steady. There are no gay people running up and down the streets in dual suits or wedding dresses. There is no pink rice lying around. I cannot recall meeting a single gay couple, of whom I could have the opportunity to think “they wouldn’t have been strutting around married if that law hadn’t passed.” The pride parade happens every year just like it used to. The only difference is that somewhere out there, behind a bunch of closed doors, homosexual people are happier than they used to be. And I say, what a shame that is. We ought to make our political decisions (which, due to the current state of the global financial system, have the capacity to steer the rudder of the entire planet earth) based on how we feel about that.

May Day

Posted in The Narrow Path on May 8, 2012 by RWZero

The other week, I encountered a throng of protesters marching right up my route home. They had banners, flags, cardboard signs, megaphones, and every possible piece of propaganda imaginable. There was not a single left-wing issue that was not mentioned, somewhere. Down with capitalism, it’s time for revolution, stop the regime…

And I thought to myself: I’ll bet they feel great, having some transcendent cause to get together and chant about; their loins girded up by the absolute certainty of their rightness.

I don’t think I’m ever going to feel that again.