Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reconciliation as a Job

The following is a cathartic exercise (or maybe exorcise is better) of the mind for me. This idea has been intensely in the forefront of my mind this morning, and I need to get it in written form. I have to give it legs or I won't fully function in my normal day to day.

The ideas I'm expressing aren't my own. They've been presented over and over again in books and sermons. I'm just trying to put them in my own words.

My own thoughts might be incomplete by the end of the post, but I need to put them down, here, for now.

There's been a "controversy" lately about what hell might actually be, if it is at all. It seems like a lot of people have faiths that are very static. If you try to move or remove one piece, they act as if the rest falls apart. I think this is understandable, especially if you've grown up from an early age with religion and faith.

As someone that didn't, I try to keep my faith more flexible. There's a core, but the extended pieces aren't all that earth shattering. I like to question and wrestle with things. Even if I've resolved something personally, I like to think that I'm never beyond discussing and possibly questioning it all again.

So the whisperings have involved whether or not there is a literal hell. The suggestion has come up that the traditional view of fire and brimstone might be incorrect.

One of the most common responses in the past few weeks has been to quote John 14:6.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Of course, there is more to the story than this one line. Jesus has just told his apostles that he's leaving, and they want to know how they can get to where he's going. He answers that he's going to be with God the Father. So, basically they're asking, how do we get to Heaven? Some would say that they're asking how they get in on what's coming next.

The assumption, and most common interpretation is that what Jesus says in his answer is that if you don't believe and follow him, you don't go to Heaven. Conversely, you must logically then go to hell(?).

What if that's not what he's saying at all?

What if what he's saying isn't a statement about us, but a statement about himself? Maybe he's saying "You want to get to God, and I'm going to get you there. That's my job!" He doesn't say he's doing this if you believe or do anything first. He's just taking on that role of getting people to God.

Throughout the Bible there are these scriptures about God wanting to reconcile all things to himself. Jesus is always talking about what God the Father has sent him to do. It's widely believed that this reconciliation is one of Jesus' primary responsibilities. If Jesus is a force of reconciliation, you might not need to follow him at all to actually tap into what he's doing.

It's also been suggested that people throughout history live out much of what Jesus taught despite never hearing of him. Perhaps what Jesus is saying in this line of scripture is that, if we're aligned with what he's doing, whether or not we've decided to follow him, we still get in on what's coming next because we're already helping to bring about the same results.

I don't think John 14:6 answers the question of hell. I don't think it even addresses hell at all. It certainly doesn't mention any of the common phrases that would be translated into the word 'hell' in English.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I had a great day with the boys Saturday. Instead of cleaning the house for Sunday’s Poker Game/Diaper Party, I spent a lot of time with them. We played a few games (especialy Superhero Squad Memory) and watched a few cartoons together. They like the 1970’s Super Friends shows.

In the early afternoon, I took them to Halo Burger to play in the play area. We just ordered a few sodas.

It struck me, as the boys played together and with other kids, how lucky I was. Gage, who doesn’t resemble me in very noticeable ways, who could of imagined such a son? I love that about him, he’s not what I would have ever expected. He’s blonde. He runs, stops, does a little dance, and then runs some more. He’s too timid to climb too high up into the playscape. He’ll walk up to complete strangers, adult or child, give them a humble, goofy face to test the waters. He’s just as shy in some ways as Owen, but they’re different about it.

Owen will follow other kids around at a safe distance. If they never acknowledge him, he’s stayed far enough away not to be embarassed. If they eventually let him join in, and they often do, he’s good to go. In so many ways, he’s a younger version of me. I hope he can avoid some of the bumps and bruises along the way.

I was left feeling very lucky to be the father of such boys. It was nice to have that day.

As the boys played, an older woman came in with two grandkids and one of their friends. She almost immediately struck up a conversation with me. We talked about keeping the kids busy.

By that time, our kids were playing together.

She suggested Summer Bible Day Camps. I hadn’t thought of that.

She told me about moving to Michigan to help her son. She seemed generally happy about having so much time with her grandkids, but she also said she was lonely. I wish I had known of something to say. As I left, I thanked her, told her it was nice to meet her. She said she hoped we’d run into one another again, maybe at Bible Camp.

We’ve always found that these play areas are great places for meeting other people. You clearly already have things in common - kids.

The boys and I finished up our day with a quick stop at Walmart. We had a pizza for dinner with a Max and Ruby episode and a quick game of Pac-Man.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Random, March 7th Edition: Charlie Sheen, TV shows, Oatmeal…

  • Why would The Great Gatsby movie need to be in 3D? When you over do something, it tends to reach it's life expectancy sooner.
  • How many seasons of Dancing with the Stars are crammed into one year? I don't know the answer, but it's at least one too many and probably two more than you could pay me to watch.
  • I often miss the days when I was less concerned with politics and the rest of the world.
  • Does every generation have a Charlie Sheen? Cringe.
  • I'd never watch Celebrity Apprentice, but if you could get Mel Gibson and Sheen on there… maybe I'd enjoy the commercials for the show.
  • I don't watch Saturday Night Live faithfully, but I hope it never goes away. I think it's an important part of our culture.
  • I do like Undercover Boss to a point. I like when they actually do things for their employees that are lasting. That's not always the case.
  • I hate that the spam that shows up in my email is often directly related to email subjects I recently sent to friends. Even if I'm being watched by evil, mindless spam robot programs, I'm still being watched. I'm not sure what the male enhancement spams are in response to.
  • I love my wife. I think I should mention that here sometimes. It's important. Let's see if she reads these.
  • Facebook, to me, is an opportunity. I've reconnected and stayed connected with many people that I otherwise would have remained disconnected from them. I recently heard a doctor say that people on Facebook need to get a real life. Real life without such an opportunistic tool would have less love, friendship, and communication if I didn't utitlize Facebook.
  • The suggested heart healthy, daily serving size of oatmeal is larger than my stomach appreciates.
  • The new McDonald's oatmeal is controversial right now because of its high sugar content. It also has oatmeal and highly preservative filled fruit in it. Let's be honest. I was going to eat the sugar anyway. Isn't it better that the sugar is at least accompanied by something half way nutritious?
  • To be more honest, McDonald's oatmeal isn't very tasty. Raisins ruin everything.
  • Any comic junkie can tell you, DC comics panders to a younger crowd. They have separate lines of comics for adults only, but they've taken the stance that their books generally have to also appeal to kids even though the market is primarily adult. This makes their newer series of animated, straight to DVD movies perplexing. I can't let my kids watch them. They use mild but strong language, and the violence isn't as shadowy as you're likely to find in a comic book. Marvel has always done just the opposite.

A Million Miles…

You can buy Don's book here, at Amazon.

A Great Book Now in Paperback

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