Monthly Archives: February 2012

Totally cheating here.

Okay, guys.

It looks like for a number of reasons (including an unusually busy week at work and a healthy case of writer’s block) I won’t have an original post this week. Brandi’s got one she’ll post in a day or two, but I’m definitely gonna have to give up the ghost until next week.

But I don’t want you cats and kitties to have nothing to read today, so I’m gonna do something I haven’t done before – I’m gonna re-blog. Follow this link, my children.

http://www.cracked.com/article_15759_10-things-christians-atheists-can-and-must-agree-on.html

This article by Cracked.com editor David Wong is a HUGE favorite of mine. And while I can’t ask too much of you guys (seeing as how I took the lazy route this week) I would LOVE to see some comments about this one. Does this article realistically address ways in which Christians and atheists can find common ground? Is it useful for bridging the gap? Or is it way off the mark?

Also, in case anyone wonders after reading this article, yes – Cracked.com is a HUGE influence on my blog. I would write for them, if I was funny enough. Geniuses, these folks.

Anyway, like I said, I love this article. I hope you guys enjoy it. I’ll see you next week with more original content!

– Dan “Cap’n Nilla Smooth” Mitchell


The “media and culture” post

Part of my recent exposure to Christian culture has lead to an increased exposure to Christian media. The first day I went to Hillside Church, I turned the radio to a Christian station on the drive home. And I was kind of surprised to find that, by and large, I like quite a bit of it. I’ve come across a few songs that I really dig (“Freedom is Here” by Esterlyn, comes to mind) and I’ve also found that some worship songs I enjoy have been done by multiple people. For instance, “Revelation Song” is a pretty awesome song, and I’ve heard it by Jesus Culture, Phillips Craig and Dean, and a few others – and it’s always good. I’ve discovered that some of the songs done by my church’s worship band have been done by dozens of Christian artists, and since I’m a bit of a music geek, I like listening to many different versions and hearing different arrangements.

On this note – props to Aaron Boothe’s most recent arrangement of “Grace Like Rain,” with the super-sick five-part harmony on the third verse. Not bad for his first day back at church since suffering from an ice- slash dog-related injury. 

God speed, sir. May your collarbone be less broken.

I’m even reading a Frank Peretti book because, well, I might as well try it out. It’s “The Oath.” Not bad, but I’m used to my horror stories having more cuss words and nudity. That’s the Stephen King influence on me – and I started reading King when I was far too young to start reading King, so. . . you know. . . that influence runs deep.

“Father, what does ‘vivisected’ mean?”

I’m not partaking in Christian media because I feel obligated, but because I want to. Sometimes, damn it, I just want to hear about Jesus. Or maybe I want to feel uplifted. Or maybe I feel distant from God for the moment, and I want to be reminded that he’s awesome.

And yet. . . and yet. . . sometimes Christian artists get weird. I was YouTube’ing a Christian band I like, and they were doing a cover of a song that I have a soft spot for. So I was sitting at work, my Droid in my pocket and my earbuds in position, listening to a song, and it was well done. I was enjoying the music. Then, as the music kept going, the singer just sort of started. . . ranting? Preaching? I dunno. She stopped singing, and started talking about experiencing the love of God, and encouraging the people in the audience to come to God if they hadn’t already, and how nothing they were singing had any value without the love of God, and so on. She looked really into what she was saying – ecstatic, even. The audience loved it. I admired the singer for having the courage to be so genuine and raw while preaching, but at the same time, it seemed a little weird to me.

I appreciate what she was doing – she’s a worship pastor, she needs to encourage people to come to Jesus – but it’s not always what I’m looking to experience, when I’m enjoying an ice-cold can of pop culture. Maybe it’s because I’m so new to Christian media? Barring a few embarrassing examples (like “Rage Against the Machine”), most secular artists don’t get so passionately into an agenda or message when they’re performing – they’re just doing what they do, hoping you have a good time, and having fun.

“Dude. We know how you feel about the machine. You’re raging. We get it. Take a Valium, ‘kay?”

That’s what I’m used to. So I’ve learned to have a new appreciation for songs, movies, books, whatever, that are nearly Christian, but not quite. Brandi and I make a game of it, sometimes – we’ll bring up a movie like Ink (a movie we are mostly sure is an allegory for spiritual war) and talk about how it makes us think about Jesus, the Bible, God, etc. In that way we can get ourselves re-focused on God, enjoy a good movie, and not get a little weirded-out by people doing what they do.

I’ve tried to convince Brandi that “The Expendables” is a metaphorical retelling of Acts of the Apostles, but she still won’t watch it with me.

One time, I thought I was so clever. I had just come to God maybe two weeks before, and I was listening to my Pandora station. Suddenly, “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons came on. I listened to the song with a growing suspicion that it was an allegorical tale of someone coming to Jesus – going through the same thing I was going through. I looked up the lyrics on Google, and sure enough, the lyrics seemed to support it.

Oh man, I thought. I can’t wait to drop this mind-blowing info bomb on my friends at church!

Some of you know where this is going.

Yep, straight to the corner.

Time went on, and I forgot to tell people about my amazing revelation, vis-à-vis Mumford & Sons. Then, when I went to the many-times-aforementioned Blue Ocean Midwest conference in Minneapolis, I had my chance. I had just attended a dinner at a local pub with several awesome people – my own pastor Ryan Bauers, my newfound friend-in-snark Pete Benedict, and Blue Ocean mastermind Dave Schmelzer. At said dinner, we’d had a lively discussion about the role of Jesus in the mainstream media, and where we might see that going some day. On the way back from the pub, we were all piled into Ryan’s minivan as we headed back toward the church where the conference was being held. We chit-chatted a bit, and it suddenly occurred to me –

Now’s the time to drop the info-bomb!

I was right there with my pastor and several people I liked and respected, it was vaguely topical, and there was surely no better way to impress my friends than to blow their minds with my “Mumford & Sons are stealthy Christians” theory.

So I told them.

Quickly, for those of you reading at home, could you raise your hands if you know who Marcus Mumford’s parents are?

Here is a hint – I got this image from “www.vineyardchurches.org/uk”.

Marcus Mumford, of Mumford & Sons, is the son of John & Eleanor Mumford – the heads of the Vineyard Church network in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Everyone in the minivan with me was a Vineyard pastor.

Needless to say, my mind-blowing info bomb didn’t have the desired effect. Still, I’ve found other songs that I think might be secretly spiritual, and some day I’m going to post a list of them! I’ve got one in particular that is going to break your brains!

I’ll give you a hint – the song's name rhymes with “squawk”, and the band's name rhymes with “Schmoo Schmighters.”

What about you guys – do you have any movies/songs/books/whatever that are ostensibly secular, but you are convinced are actually telling a very spiritual, possibly even Christian, story? Recommend your favorites to me, and there’s a good chance I’ll read them and. . .give you credit, or something.

Anyway. Check out Ink!  It’s awesome.

You know you want to see more of this guy.


The wisdom of ignoring me.

My last post on What the Faith was basically a confession, an admission that sometimes my writing tends to focus on the negative, the confrontational, or the rough edges of my spiritual journey. It felt good. It felt . . . cleansing. Not necessarily “cleansing” in the sense of baptism, but more like the “cleansing” that comes after buying a jug of pepper-, lemon-, acai-water and drinking it to the exclusion of everything else for two whole days. It’s that kind of “cleansing” that means your insides are shiny and clean like a new chrome appliance.

A poop-y kind of cleanse, is what I'm saying – and no, I will not stop talking about poop.

I have something else to confess, though. This blog serves more than its obvious purpose – i.e., to encourage people to waste time on the internet while thinking about Jesus. No, it’s also an outlet through which I practice my writing. Because of this blog, I write somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 words a week, which is practice I need to be getting. See, I see myself as a bit of an author.

Specifically, the “bit” is the afro, and the “author” is Neil Gaiman. Hyuck hyuck hyuck!

Am I published yet, you didn’t ask? No, I am not yet published – but I’m working on it. In fact, I got an email from an online publisher the other day, rejecting one of my submissions. And I love it to death. It’s the best rejection I’ve ever gotten. In this email, three different members of the website’s editorial staff talk about the little thing that I wrote. They all agreed it was very funny, and it seems like all the things I was trying to make my audience feel were conveyed in my story. And the points that made them reject the story were, to be honest and fair, points that I might have seen as reason to reject the story myself, if I were reading it as an editor. Their suggestions are valid. And if I follow their suggestions, my story will benefit from it.

This reminds me of something Pastor Jay has said to me a couple of times. He said that he often thanks God for prayers that he has made that have gone unanswered. The first time he told me that, I loved it. Let me tell you why.

Prayers of intervention are a sensitive subject for me, and probably for others as well. Even as I ask for intervention – like “God, please help me better handle my money.” “God, please heal my friend’s illness.” “God, please keep this horde of beautiful women from constantly chasing me, my wife is getting angry,” et cetera

Seriously, it’s becoming a problem. I feel like the Beatles. I feel like ALL THE BEATLES.

– I often think I’m being selfish and small. God knows what I need. God knows what everyone needs. God loves us. So why am I presuming to ask God for something that he knows I want but hasn’t yet given me? Am I wasting God’s time by asking for stuff that doesn’t matter on a global level? Shouldn’t I be praying for peace on earth, instead of for my friend to land a modeling gig? I only have a certain number of hours a day, and of those hours I spend a shockingly small number of minutes talking to God. Am I wasting them by asking for intersession from him? Then, if I don’t get my prayer answered, the doubts immediately come flooding into the dark, slimy corners of my mind. “Oh boy, that didn’t work out, huh? You’d think God would’ve been pulling for you on this one, wouldn’t you? Almost seems like maybe. . . just maybe. . . there isn’t really someone there hearing those prayers, doesn’t it?”

That voice is a dick.

But sometimes, an unanswered prayer is something to be appreciated. I know that I often ask God for things that I think I need. Sometimes, I think I really need what I’m asking for – not a little bit, but a whole lotta need. And yet, despite how desperately I want my prayer to be answered a certain way, God is consistently able to show much better judgment than I am capable of showing.

Here is an example.

A few weeks ago, I did my first ever fast, and it lasted for 24 hours. A few days later, I decided to fast again. I was feeling disconnected from God at the time, and it seemed like I couldn’t fix it. I wanted to hear from the Big Man on a regular basis, but no matter how hard I tried to “tune in” to him, I was just getting static. Brandi had decided to fast for the three days leading in to New Years day – and I decided that I would fast with her, but not just to bring in the new year in a spiritually-focused way. I decided that I would wrestle with the angel.

Is it just me, or did Jacob lose a rasslin’ match to a GIRL ANGEL?

“Alright God,” I said as I prayed my most prayingest prayer. “There have been times in my life that You have filled me with the Holy Spirit – when I’ve felt Your touch come from outside of me in a way that was beyond doubt. I need you to do that again. I need you to banish my doubts for good. And so, I am going to fast until I feel Your presence in my heart. From this moment forward, I will only drink water, until the Holy Spirit fills me.”

Seems legit, right? That’s not a crazy thing to say to God. But then it occurred to me that it might sound, to God, like I was putting him to the test. I’ve heard that’s a bad thing, so I prayed again.

“Hey God, just touching base. I wanted to let you know that I’m not saying You have to fill me with the spirit – I am only saying that nothing will answer my need, the place in my head that doubts Your existence, but the Holy Spirit. So. . . not trying to be a dick, but. . . seriously, I won’t eat until the Holy Spirit comes.”

Again, that seems reasonable to me. So I launched into this fast, drinking only water, eating nothing. And every time I got overwhelmingly hungry, I would touch base with God again – “Hey Lord, howsit goin’? I’m feeling great, but please send the Spirit whenever you want me to eat. Amen.” I stuck to this fast like a boss. When I made my kid a PB&J, if I got PB or J on my fingers, I would wash my hands instead of licking it off. That’s how dedicated I was to this fast.

I didn’t even try to eat my kid once!

As the fasting continued, a funny thing started to happen. I started to get impressions from God – several times, in fact. One day, for instance, I was just touching base with God while I showered, when it occurred to me that I was being really unfair to Brandi about a couple of things, lately. In fact, I’d been doing some unfair stuff for years, and in that shower, as I prayed to God, it occurred to me that I was being a crappy crapface, had been for a long time, and that I should stop. So I finished my shower, talked to Brandi, and apologized for all the unfair stuff I have been doing to her for the past eight years. She seemed moved, and she asked why I brought it up now.

“I dunno,” I shrugged, “it just seemed like God told me about it. Just now, in the shower.”

And similar things happened several times, during my fast. It was like my ability to hear God was amplified by the amount of stuff I was willing to give up for him. It was really cool.

And yet, I never felt that warm, electrical tingle I get sometimes – the one I always equate with the Holy Spirit. Usually, when I feel the Spirit come over me, my chest fills up with warmth and the hair on my arms stands up. Sometimes I’ll feel light, like I weigh next to nothing and a breeze could carry me away. That’s the sort of thing I was expecting – in fact, that’s the sort of thing I was specifically praying for. That sensation always seems to come from outside of me, and that’s what I was asking God for – something I could not doubt came from an external source.

Wasn’t happening.

Three days into the fast, I was a little distraught. Brandi came into the room and saw me with tears running down my face, and she immediately went into damage control mode. We talked, and I confessed that I felt horrible that God wasn’t answering my prayer – I asked for a specific thing, I told him very clearly that I wouldn’t eat again until I felt it, and God was, for some reason, ignoring me.

Brandi looked confused.

“But. . . haven’t you been hearing God better than ever these past three days?”

I had to grudgingly admit that was true.

“Then. . . why are you upset?”

I was upset, I patiently explained, because until God sent the Holy Spirit to give me the Warm Chest Tingly Arms Thing, I couldn’t eat. It had been three days of only water. I was hungry, man. And God didn’t care! Was I going to starve?

Clearly, an obvious possibility.

And then my doubts came to the forefront in a real, vocal way. I started saying everything that I was afraid might be true. What if God didn’t care about me? What if God wasn’t real? What if I had only imagined all those times in my life, when I thought I’d felt the Holy Spirit? What if that was just something I tricked myself into thinking?

After that outburst, our conversation got quiet for a bit. Brandi crawled into bed with me and we just held each other quietly for a while. Eventually, though, something I had said in my distress came back to me.

What if I had imagined the Holy Spirit, all those times before?

Even in my existential crisis, that seemed like a funny question to ask. Wasn’t the reason I asked God to send the Spirit specifically so that I couldn’t doubt it? Wasn’t that kind of the point? “If you don’t send the Spirit, I won’t know it came from outside of me.”

Except now, I was demonstrating the truth of the matter – yeah, I can doubt basically anything. Nothing is doubt-proof for me. When I’m in a moment of conflict, it is entirely possible for me to believe that I am capable of imagining anything. If God had sent the Holy Spirit to me, as I’d asked, that would not have stopped me from questioning whether or not it was real, on some day in the future when my faith was being tested.

I had asked for something stupid.

At that moment, I felt that voice of God, the one I’d been hearing more clearly in the past three days than ever before, tell me, “Go ahead and eat tomorrow.”

The next morning, Sunday the first of the 2012, Brandi and I took communion at Hillside Church. It was the first thing we’d eaten in three and a half days. Then we went to a local Mexican restaurant and destroyed it.

“On the sixth day, the Lord made molé enchiladas, and they were gooooooood.”

I’ve since learned the value in a well-timed rejection. I’ve learned to trust that God’s experience, perspective, and wisdom are far greater than mine. Like the editors who told me that they loved my story but it wasn’t quite ready for publication, God rejects my prayers for valid reasons. And if I’m listening, he offers some pretty insightful feedback, as well.

What about you guys? Have you ever prayed for something you fiercely wanted, didn’t get it, and later came to be really grateful for that? Has God ever done the best thing possible for you by ignoring everything you said? I’d love to hear some stories.


Showing my bleeding heart to y’all.

I need to take a moment to say something.

My posts on this blog often come across as acerbic, sometimes a little confrontational, maybe even a little angry (as has been pointed out to me, and rightly so). And I’m alright with that – after all, this blog is only meant to chronicle a faith journey that my wife and I are taking together, and part of that is working through our issues with Christianity. The issues I address on this blog are real, often-challenging hurdles that I have faced or am continuing to face. Some I’ve jumped, some I have avoided, and some have stopped me completely, if only for a time. I will write about them with honesty and candor, because if I’m not going to do that, I might as well stop blogging. But with all of that being said, there are some things I feel that I should point out. These are the things I have learned on this journey that have nothing to do with Christians as people, Christianity as a religious institution, or my own hang-ups.

1)      God is incredible. I mean that. In my attempts to discover a way to have a personal relationship with the being that I am starting to un-ironically call “the Lord,” I have found a deity that is really interested in talking back to me.

2)      Jesus is key. I have resisted this idea as much as I could. But I wrote a little something back in this post that really stuck with me. I can’t understand God, on my own. But I can come much closer to understanding Jesus. Moreover, when I picture talking to God, it’s like throwing my thoughts up into space and hoping for a response – but when I picture talking to Jesus, I picture sitting with him, in my kitchen, drinking coffee in the early hours of the day before my family has risen. For some reason, that puts it all into focus, for me.

3)      I really want to do what God wants for me. In all things. I may question, in some instances, if we human beings actually know what God wants of us. I often question our interpretations of scripture, even as I learn more about those interpretations and why we use them. But if I were to be convinced that God wanted me to do something, even if it went against my normal inclinations, I would do it. When I rage against a particular machine, God is not that machine.

4)      Yes – I’m snarky, sarcastic, still a little cynical when I shouldn’t be. I am, like all of us, a work in progress. But God has made me better, even in the short time I’ve known him. Case in point – I used to hate animals, even pets. At the best of times I wanted to ignore them. At the worst of times, I wanted. . . worse. And has God addressed this in me, directly? I don’t think God has ever said to me, “Dan, animals are my creatures, too. Be good to them.” And yet. . . I have a pet dog, and I love her. I have patience with her that I have never had before. It’s the first dog I’ve ever gotten at my wife’s insistence that I feel is part of my family. God did that – God’s touch gave me patience and compassion I lacked.

5)      I really believe that Jesus can make anyone’s life better. I’m not a place where I can discuss the idea of salvation – specifically, the idea that I am saved, but that Buddhists, Muslims, pagans, Hindus, Jews, or Zoroastrians are not, because they do not believe in Christ. God certainly hasn’t touched my heart about that, and I may not ever be able to look someone in the face and tell them I think they are going to go to Hell. That may be a problem if my dream of becoming a pastor ever comes true. But I do believe that Jesus is the best answer out there. I can only go by my own experience, like anyone else, but. . . man, I’ve tried a lot of answers. I am the poster child of post-modernism, I had tons of options in religion, and the only one that worked was Jesus Christ.

6)      I love my church. I love the leadership there. I love the people who attend. I love the building we’re renting. I love the location. I love catching people walking by, on the mornings when I’m greeting, who open up the door, look around, and say, “. . . there’s a CHURCH here?!?!” I love inviting them in. We’re in the trenches, where we need to be.

7)      God loves me.

So there you have it – the least snarky words I have ever written on What the Faith. Thank you for listening to my saccharine musings. I hope I haven’t disappointed anyone with my lack of funny pictures or feeble attempts at humor.

Tune in again, later this week, when I’ll be back to my regularly schedule counter-cultural ramblings.

God bless you guys. Srsly.


Post Sucks, Please Read Anyway

Disclaimer : After re-reading this post, I have discovered that it follows no discernible pattern, and my thoughts are clearly wandering with as much direction as a broken compass. It is, as Voltaire would say, crappy writing. But I am lazy, so instead of scrapping it or re-writing it, I am going to give this post headers to give it some semblance of order. Thank you for your continued tolerance.

 Part One – In which I talk about the I.R.S.

 Let me give you a snapshot of my financial life.

My wife and I struggle, financially, throughout the year. Some of this is because we have poor spending habits. Some of this is because we have to work entry-level jobs. And a big part of it is that, well, the family and I are used to thinking of ourselves as poor people – so when extra money comes in, we spend it on things we need or want, because we don’t know when we’ll have that kind of money again. That means I get three awesome moments every year. Two months out of the year give me an extra paycheck, and then, I get my income tax refund. I live for my income tax refund. If I can’t buy a present for someone during Christmas time, I’ll often buy it for them with my refund. In fact, I do this so often I’ve started referring to this time of year as “Taxmass”. It’s also when I do vital things, like buying new tires for my truck, that I can’t afford to do during the rest of the year because the one-time expenditure is just too much. Some years, I need that refund to come on a certain day, because I have unexpected expenses that tend to come up early in the year. This year, for instance, I had a sudden move from a house I shared with my former roommates, to the new place that Brandi wrote about here. That move cost me a TON of money, and I’m looking to use some of my refund money to catch up from the pretty bad spot I’m in.

So yeah, I’m pretty pissed that the IRS has delayed my refund.

"DAN SMASH!!!!"

Usually, stress like this does one of two things to me. It either a) causes me to run to the bathroom immediately, or b) jump over something in my way, then run to the bathroom immediately. It’s my body’s most predictable response to stress of any kind, but especially the stress that comes from worrying about whether or not I can pay my bills.

"POTTYpottypottypottypottypottyPOTTY!!!"

Part Two – In which I (sort of) tie Part One back to God, which is ostensibly what this blog is about. 

Not to keep drawing attention to it, but if you made it through this post then you know that it appears that God has taken care of that particular problem for me. Also, worry tends to make my premature ventricular contractions kick into high gear. Still haven’t had one since the conference I referenced in the above-linked post.

Now, I don’t want to rehash the story. You’ve read it or you haven’t. It’s gross and goofy, but it’s my little miracle story. Thing is, now that I’m waiting for my income tax refund to come in (to keep, amongst other things, my cell phone from being turned off), and I’m doing all the things I normally do when I’m nervous – like obsessively checking my bank website once an hour to see if the money has magically appeared – and my newfound healing is being put to the test, something is occurring to me.

Holy shit, God really healed me.

“Surely you knew this,” you might be saying. “Your previous post is all about God healing you. Surely this is not a new thought to you.” 

“No, and don’t call me Shirley.”

And yeah, I kinda knew it. And two weeks without a PVC, or an attack of IBS, is pretty cool. But going through stress like I’ve had since yesterday morning, when I saw I didn’t have the money I expected in my account, and not having stomach cramps is. . . is a fucking miracle.

Pardon my French.

Wait. Are we saying “pardon my freedom” now?

Part Three – In which my miraculous healing makes me type-vomit random thoughts onto this blog. 

So now I have to face God in a new way. I have to admit that it is very clear that God wanted to get my attention in a way that would have long-lasting consequences for me. I don’t know why he decided to do that – I’d already decided I wanted to be a pastor, and I’ve been pursuing that goal for a couple of months, in the way that one can pursue pastorship in a couple of months – so his previous works had already gotten my attention. Why, then, the gross li’l miracle?

That’s the scariest part of finally leaving atheism behind, I think. When bad things happen to someone who doesn’t believe in God, it doesn’t create a huge philosophical quandary.

Question – Why do bad things happen?

Answer – Because.

Done.

In a universe created by a God who clearly exhibits his love for people, this question takes on a lot more meaning. If God doing good things for us is a sign of his love, does that conversely mean that God does bad things to us as a sign of his hatred? Or displeasure? Judgment? The Old Testament seems to imply that the answer is yes, absolutely, you have tremendously pissed-off God and now you are being smited. Smitten? That word always gets me. Anyway, the old answer definitely seems to be that when bad things happen, it is because God is expressing his displeasure

This is God, expressing His divine wrath through Stephenie Meyer. Whatever we did, DON’T DO IT AGAIN.

That idea seems to be losing some steam now, possibly because of the onslaught of very reasonable questions that have been used to counter it. When a young child dies in a horrid way, how did that child so earn the wrath of God? Did their parents do something that offended God so much that he had to punch them below the belt?

I have to tell you – having been very, very recently healed by God for whatever reason, I don’t see the being that healed me as being capable of that kind of arbitrary cruelty. But the Bible says that’s his M.O.

So. . . what do I believe? My heart, that tells me that God is loving and kind? Or the Old Testament, that says in very clear terms that God will crush me for disobedience? Cake, or death?

Kudos to you, if you got that reference.

I wish I could follow this random musing with an answer, but honestly, guys, I don’t have one. God healed me. God loves me. My heart speaks to me more loudly than the Bible does, I’ll tell you that in the spirit of honesty. And when the Bible does speak to me, it does so by speaking to my heart. I’ll read a passage, and I’ll feel this . . . kinda. . . warm resonance in my chest. Maybe I’ll put the Bible down, lean back in my chair, and just sit there with a “wow” feeling for a few minutes.

Part Four – In which the type-vomited contents of the author’s mind start to veer into controversial, possibly heretical, territory. 

I’ll be honest, again – if I read something that doesn’t give me that feeling, I’m less likely to take it to heart. My favorite apostle, Paul, said a bunch of stuff that left me feeling basically nothing. Women shouldn’t talk in church? Nah. Men should cut their hair short, while women should leave their hair long? Thanks, Paul. . . but I’m not reading this for fashion tips. Homosexuals won’t be accepted into the kingdomof God? That seems rather arbitrary, doesn’t it? I mean, Paul gives the churches in Corintha list of the people who cannot inherit the kingdom, and he includes homosexuals – but doesn’t mention murderers? Until God speaks to my heart, I’m gonna be “family friendly” and assume that Paul just didn’t like gay people. After all, if anything that Paul says can be attributed to being relevant only to first-century Palestine, I think it shows us that we have to ask that question about everything a human writer says.

"Do you not know that men without awesome, ZZ Top beards will ALSO not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven? Nah, I'm just kidding guys. OR AM I?!?!"

As my wife often says, “If I read something in the Bible, and it’s not printed in red, I take it with a grain of salt.”

Don't let her sweet appearance fool you - she's a firecracker, that one.

Part Five – In which the author attempts to end this fiasco gracefully.

I guess all of this is to say, belief in God is hard. Belief in God after God has shown himself to you, in a pretty no-shit-this-happened sort of way, isn’t much easier. For me, it seems to take all sorts of clichéd questions and make them immediately relevant. Life was easier (mentally, anyway) when I thought that maybe there was no big, spiritual power to take into account. Not because I didn’t want to be held accountable for my actions, but because there is no struggle to find meaning in a meaningless universe.

Has anyone else had to struggle like this, after finding their faith in God being confirmed? Am I the only one to see the cloud behind my silver lining? Or am I simply just being gloomy because my tax refund never wants to arrive? I’d love to hear from you. 

In fact, considering the poor quality of this post, I need to hear from someone – anyone – who can save this blog from itself.

Even an internet commenter.

"Help me, Wang4Higher69, you're my only hope!"