Posts tagged ‘prayer’
“If they win, they win. If they lose, they win!”
This statement was spoken with frustration and a degree of sarcasm in Christopher Brookmyre’s recent comic novel “Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks”. In this book Brookmyre wittily explores and exposes the fraudulent activities of people involved in the world of the paranormal. One of the major themes of the novel is that whatever evidence you present people with, some of those who believe in the paranormal will just go on believing because the belief meets a need. They are like unsinkable rubber ducks. Whenever you think you have sunk them, they just bob back up again.
After I had recovered from the tears of laughter that the book did reduced me to on one occasion, and as I started to reflect on the book’s central thesis, I was reminded of a research study to investigate the effectiveness of prayer. I am not implying here that the dishonest charlatans portrayed in Christopher Brookmyre’s novel are the same as millions of sincere Christians engaged in prayer. However, although motives may be different, I was struck by the fact that the unsinkable rubber duck principle still seems to apply…
April 13, 2003.
Why are we born so far from home? Why is it so hard to travel on that narrow path and enter that tiny gate?… Sometimes the path is covered by so much debris that it is impossible to decipher where we are to go. I just want to see a little bit of the road. Why do my feet lead me down another path? Have I turned away the light beneath my feet? Am I looking too far ahead rather than the imminent path?… Deliver me from my own shadows… Open my eyes…
April 30, 2003.
Is it only me, God?… Why the distance? How does such a finite being come to “know” you? You know I do not like to speak in the “unreal” and the abstract… Is “knowing” you nothing but a cliche?… People say they are close to You at certain times in their lives, but do they really know what they mean by what they say? Are they not just in a heightened or, dare I say, “enlightened” state?… Are Christians just a special case in which they have certain special knowledge of what they are close to when going through a certain type of mindset? What about unbelievers?…
Earlier this week on The Today Show, Robert Robertson, a pilot who survived a plane crash by landing his plane a few feet away from I-95 in Florida said he was no longer an agnostic. His survival was truly a miracle since his plane literally disintegrated around him and he was left sitting in his seat dazed but ok.
In cases like this, it’s easy to conclude “divine intervention.”
Psalms 91 is a beautiful Psalm talking about the God’s protection for those who “dwell in the secret place of the Most High.”
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you…
While most good Christian believers are spending this Sunday morning in their various churches, temples and other places of worship, I thought I would place a sermonette here for the benefit of us heathen Christian apostates. Actually, my heretical brand of theology ought to make easy pickings for Christians and athiests alike.
My favorite Christian blogsite is Carol Howard Merritt’s Tribal Church. She is a Presbyterian minister, author, and wife of Brian Merritt, aka PastorOfDisaster. I find both Christian sites thoughtful, thought-provoking, meaningful, and bring out the best attributes of a liberal branch of Christianity. Even though I am no longer a Christian, they are a breath of fresh air compared to my rigid and unthinking fundamentalist background. Last week, Tribal Church published an article on spiritual experience that I replied to. Can a non-believer in a personal God, or any god for that matter, have a spiritual experience? I think so. I would like to reprint her article and my reply here – and I sure hope that is okay with the original author:…
We’ve all heard versions of the phrase: “You can have a personal relationship with Jesus.” or, “I have a personal relationship with the Lord.” etc.
Here’s a slightly long version of it that I read recently:
“The point of a personal relationship with Jesus is that Jesus is specifically concerned with the details of every person’s life. If a friend came to you and said “You know, I’d just like to go get some coffee and spend some time with you and talk about what is going on in your life” would you be selfish to accept? Not if the person is truly sincere in that they want to know. So that’s how I see it. Not as something selfish, but in fact as responding to an invitation to spend personal time with Jesus. Because He loves each one of us, both as a body of believers, and as individuals.”
At some point in my de-conversion process it struck me that this idea is bunk. I’ve had friends offer to sit and talk over a lunch, but I’ve definitely never done lunch with Jesus.
As I thought it through, I realized that the whole “personal relationship/ revelation/ experience” jag is just another delusion…
If you had a personal relationship with a divine being, wouldn’t you want to know what she or he wanted? I mean, how can you have a personal relationship if the other being doesn’t communicate – certainly theoretically possible (just about), but practically very difficult. I mean, I might need to know if God wants me to change job or not – hearing the divine view could be very important.
On the face of it, advocates of religion would argue that it is often clear what God wants and that the issue is not the clarity of the message, but our willingness to hear it. So, for example (and the examples I give will be drawn from Christianity, simply because that is the dominant religion in my culture and the one I am most familiar with), Christians would argue that it is pretty clear what the Bible (and therefore God) expects about sexual morality, but most people in the West (at least) no longer want to hear it or obey it.
Despite the prima facie strength of that argument, there are several things wrong with it…