Monday, September 30, 2013

Non Biblical Proof of Jesus

Yet again, I would like to share with the world that which I think. I don't always have the most interesting of thoughts, but I think that if it's worth discussing in World Religions, it's worth talking about on a blog. For this class I had to watch these videos entitled Biblical Evidence as Proof for Jesus Christ (I tried to include a link to the first one, I hope it works! If it doesn't, just search for it on Youtube!)  I thought that the premise would be interesting, trying to tie historical works into what the Bible already says.  Though it was interesting, I only watched the first video.  I found that they employed very sound topics of citing well known classical authors to prove their points.

I always find it interesting when new studies come out about historical evidence that may or may not conflict with or confirm what is already written in the Bible.  Though I find it as fascinating as the next person when some archeological artifact reflects what is told in the Bible, giving secular people something to consider when writing off the Bible.  Even accounting for this fascination, I do not believe that faith is based on gathering enough evidence to prove your point, any more than it is about finding the strain of perfect logic that brings your ideals above reproach.
I think that the premise under which the man in this video is basing his investigation is a very good one.  People ought to question random statistics and claims that are made without evidence presented to support them.  I find it terribly interesting that we gather much of our knowledge about ancient Greece and Rome from classical historians such as Tacitus, but try to ignore them when they disagree with something that we want to say.  I find it also interesting that Tacitus was clearly not a Christian, even calling Christianity “mischief”, yet he still confirmed the existence and execution of Christ.
I also find it encouraging that not only one trusted classical source, but also multiple writers of the time, agree on the basic facts of the recorded life of Jesus Christ.  Even the skeptics of the time did not doubt the fact that Jesus did exist.  I think that it is a relatively new and really very shallow argument that Jesus did not exist at all.  The heresies of the time included claiming that Jesus had never risen from the dead and that he was either all God OR all man, but never that he had never existed at all.
Even though I think that this argument is one that is ridiculously flawed, I think that it is still something that needs to be discussed in our society because of it’s prevalence.  I also think that it is important to use properly cited reliable sources, because many time people think of Christians only as a band of enthusiasts, rather than the theologians that we really are.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Rick Warren TED talk Analysis

Many of you will have heard the name 'Rick Warren'. I was required to watch a video by him for my World Religions class. This is my analysis, and here's the link:

One of the first point that Rick Warren makes in this video is about spiritual emptiness.  He states that “everyone’s betting their life on something”, which can be very true.  Warren talks about this in terms of a ‘world view’, which he defines as how you look at the world, what you believe to be true, and what you put your faith in.  Though later in his career, Rick Warren became famous for the statement ‘deeds not creeds’, this idea of a ‘worldview’ sounds suspiciously like a confession or creed.  Because he does not specifically mention his ‘deeds not creeds’ movement, I will not even begin to explain how very wrong that is.
Another point that Warren makes is about tithing.  Tithing is giving ten percent of one’s earnings to God, and was instructed in the Old Testament to God’s people.  In the New Testament, the idea is not of tithing, giving a certain amount to satisfy God, but of understanding that everything is God’s and that one should use it accordingly.  The practicality of his message to serve others is great, we should always be looking to attend to our neighbors, but he does not mention grace anywhere in this video.  The only time he mentions Christ is in a passing comment in his introduction.
I agree that God gives us all gifts, including those of wealth, wisdom, or influence, so that we may serve others.  Unfortunately, I found that Warren’s TED talk was incredibly ‘you’ centered.  Though he says specifically ‘this is not about you’, every point that he makes points to what you should do, even going as far as to say ‘God smiles when you be you’.  Humans in their natural state are sinful, and we cannot save ourselves through our own works.  We know through the doctrine of justification that grace comes only through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and not through our own works, so that no one can boast.

Thought the message of helping your neighbor and doing the best you can to glorify God with the gifts that he has given you, I found Warren’s points to be disordered.  You must put your faith not in the fact that you have been good enough to other people that God will be happy with you, but in that even as we were still sinners, God first loved us and sent Christ to die for our sins upon a cross.  We cannot cling to anything save Christ and still follow him into salvation.

'Letting Go of God' Analysis

For World Religions, I was required to watch a TED video by a woman named Julia Sweeney called "Letting Go of God". I encourage you to watch the video for yourself first, then to read my analysis. The link is here

I was not enamored with this video.  I not only felt like it had no real discernable point, but I also had a problem with a lot of the things that Julia Sweeney said.  First of all, the age of reason for Catholics is different than the age of accountability that Baptists have.  The baptists have an age of accountability because they do not believe in original sin or infant baptism, so they must have an age at which one becomes “accountable” for their actions. Catholics practice infant baptism because they, like Lutherans, believe in original sin. 
Rather than the Church deciding that kids can start sinning at the age of seven, “the Church does not define the age of reason as seven years old. Rather, the Church does not obligate Catholics under the age of seven to observe laws which are merely ecclesiastical.” (Blackburn, Jim)  In this way, the age of reason is the age that young Catholics will go through first communion, be accountable to canon law, and be “eligible to act as witness to a marriage, as sponsor at baptism or confirmation, and as a party to the formal contract of betrothal”.  ( Delany, Joseph. "Age of Reason.")
She states that she was a Catholic as a child, but she never specifies whether she is as an adult, though much of her terminology and lack of answers to basic questions of faith lead me to believe that she is not.  One thing that she said that really bothered me was what she said about women and motherhood.  When Ms. Sweeney was told by the two Mormon boys that the greatest gift that God had given women was the ability to bear children, she laughed at them.  I believe that much of our society today has lost an appreciation for motherhood, partly as a result from the extreme end of the feminism movement.  I believe it is downplaying a crucial part of being a woman to degrade motherhood.

When Julia Sweeney finished off her story about the Mormon evangelists by saying that Catholicism is just as crazy, she made an extreme statement without providing and supporting evidence for her theory.  In addition to making an arbitrary statement, she also never truly explained the point of her lecture.  She finished by asking herself rhetorically whether she “knew” that God loved her or “felt” that God loved her.  As a speaker trying to convey some point and as someone involving theological and philosophical point in their argument, I think that she did an extremely poor job of conveying whatever idea she hoped to bring to us.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Where I'm From

We read the original Where I'm From poem in English. Here is my imitation.

I am from the rose-thorn gate to a fantasy land,
From Harry Potter and Green Eggs and Ham.
I am from that secret meadow at the end of the trail
And bunk beds towering high above the floor.
I am from the stone that served as a royal throne
Whose severe features coldly surveyed its subjects.
My baby sister and I at the beach.
I am from Dolly and Minnie Mouse,
From Chase and Claire.
I am from beach kids and athletes,
And from reading a book a day,
From "As you wish" and "inconceivable!"
I am from  "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil."
I am from Vikings and carpenters,
From mac 'n' cheese and 'tuna nooda',
From traveling West in search of new horizons,
And from building your house with your own two hands,
From hiding from flashing lightning, the harbinger of tornadoes.

I am from those moments when the whole world consists of only those beside you.