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Archive for April, 2008

Over on Beliefnet, there is a ‘blogalogue’ between Bart Ehrman and N. T. Wright about pain, suffering, and God. It is short and limited, apparently on purpose, but I found it worthwhile to read.

Many people have recommended Wright’s works for me. Others have recommended Ehrman’s recent book. I can relate strongly with Ehrman’s view, and what he says of his experiences. The amount of suffering in the world has been one of the major factors in my inability to continue believing in a God. After reading this exchange, I’m not confident reading Wright’s works will give me fresh insight into this issue.

Edit: I should mention that I found the above link while reading Kay’s blog while trying to find out what sort of person would put my confusion of anecdotes and musings on her blogroll.

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When I was a child, they taught me that the sky is blue. I looked up and I saw blue above me. I sat down with my crayons and some paper and I coloured the bottom inch of the page green and the top inch blue. In between, I drew a house with four-paned windows, and a stick figure family that was bigger than the house.

As I grew older, I saw other drawings. Other people did not draw the sky at the top of the page and the grass at the bottom, with so much white space in between. In their drawings (more…)

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If there is no one to impose meaning upon us, we have to choose our own. Some people seem to insist that this is depressing, instead of the central challenge that makes us human. Those people obviously don’t climb enough trees.

((In case it is not obvious: the above comic was not drawn by me. Click on the comic to visit the owner’s site. Click here to visit the associated store. Buy one of everything. Thank-you.))

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When I was ordained as a pastor of a church with a strong sacramental theology, I spent a lot of time thinking about the difference between sacramental ritual and ritualistic magic. In my mind, the difference between magic and prayer was who was in control. If we were trying to compel God to act in some certain way through our ritual, it was magic. If we were celebrating and participating in God’s action through our ritual, it was prayer and worship, and thus okay.

Suddenly, I was looking at Baptism, Communion, Marriages and Funerals very differently. What happened if we refused to baptize someone? If we could not compel God to include someone in His family, could we, through our inaction, compel God to leave someone out? (more…)

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Spellcraft, divination, magic, I believed in it all. I believed that it was possible to communicate with spirits and affect the physical world with the right words, thoughts, actions and equipment. After all, in the bible, Saul consulted mediums, Pharaoh’s magicians met Moses with their own versions of his miracles, et cetera, et cetera. Magic was possible, certainly, but dangerous and untrustworthy. The spirits dealt with did not have your best interests at heart. Trying to affect the world by will alone I saw to be similar to trying to conduct electricity with an up-raised golf club in a thunderstorm: possible, but likely fatal. We simply do not know enough to mess with such power, and need to leave it all in God’s hands. His will be done. That’s what I believed. I could not understand how anyone who believed magic was real would choose to play with something so potentially dangerous.

In university, I met Wiccans, neo-Druids and others who claimed to be magical practitioners. As I spoke with them and tried to tell them of my concerns (more…)

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When I first went to university, the campus seemed large and confusing. I had classes all over the place, and did not know where anything was. But the hallways were lined with tables where students sat and advertised their organizations, trying to get people to join. When looking for something, I would stop at the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), Campus Crusade for Christ (Crusade) or Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) tables, where friendly Christians would help me find my way. I signed up with all three groups, and attended bible studies, prayer meetings, praise gatherings, and fellowship gatherings with all three groups. As I went from group to group, I realized they each had a common complaint. Each of the three groups averaged twenty members apiece, and were troubled that they did not have enough members to truly reach and affect this campus.

During the summer between my first and second year at university, I (more…)

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Over on the de-con site, Zachary and I have been having a prolonged conversation in the comments to a wonderful article. We haven’t been on the topic of that article, though, except incidentally. After a little encouragement, I decided it would be best to continue on my own blog, so here we go.

Zachary’s last message to me:

1) The uncaused cause:

“If it is a subdivision, it is finite (limited to within that subdivision).”

Your right! Thats why true infinity is only God. God is Infinity in quality, order, and quantity. As i said before though infinity, as we use it, is God in reference to quantity only. (more…)

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