Thursday, September 30, 2010

We Hold These Truths…

President Obama’s recent faux pas did not get much coverage in the media (At least as far as I know.) Actually, it didn’t even get too much coverage on right wing talk radio or Fox News either. In case you have not heard it, he left out some pivotal words in his speech before the Hispanic Caucus, when he attempted to quote from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed […] with certain inalienable rights: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Now I am not here to make hay about the President’s omission of the key words “by their Creator”. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that it was just an innocent mental blip, or perhaps it was the speechwriter’s fault and the President was just following the teleprompter. I will not even attempt to draw any conclusions about his motives or what the omission might reveal.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Love and Death in Sicily

Both of my parents were born in a small village called Torre Faro (“lighthouse”), which is situated on the very northeast corner of Sicily, right across from the Italian mainland, where the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas converge into the Strait of Messina. Like many of the town’s long time residents, both sides of my family hail from a long line of fishermen.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Wind Blows on the Road to Damascus and the Road to the Zoo

I was very pleased to get some feedback to one of my previous posts, Reasonable Faith, from a commenter named Steve. His comments were honest, thoughtful and thought provoking. You may read Steve's comments in their entirety by clicking on the hyperlink, but here is a snippet.

That you opened this blog entry with a discussion of Paul fits very well with a long standing notion that I have had about what it might take to convert me to Christianity…. [An] experience akin to what Saul/Paul had on the road to Damascus might be sufficient to provide the impetus to convert me and cause me to begin to evangelize. If I had a personal encounter with Jesus as Saul/Paul did, I might change my name from Steve to Pteve and go out to tell the world of what I had experienced. It would appear that Saul/Paul did not come to Christianity by the use of thought and reason, but rather by a spiritually overwhelming and even physically altering (loss of eyesight) experience that was entirely unsolicited but evidently radically transformative. Am I less deserving than Saul/Paul? Who knows? But I can say in all honesty that after many hours of prayer, meditation, and "opening" myself to the presence of God that absolutely nothing of His presence has been made known to me. After many hours of reading and contemplating the Bible, I have not had one iota of insight afforded me that might begin to compel me to believe in Jehovah or Jesus.

How is it that people come to faith? How is it that some do and some don’t? It does not seem that there are particular demographics that are necessarily more prone to faith. Educated or uneducated, rich or poor, sophisticated or unsophisticated, each group has within its ranks people who accept and embrace the Gospel, and people who don’t. Why?

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Everybody Must Get Stoned!"

As mentioned previously, I have been spending a good bit of time trading comments with atheists at an otherwise Christian blog called “If I became an atheist”. In the latest round of debate, I attempted to challenge the atheist basis for morality if we are nothing but cosmic accidents that will eventually die and turn to fertilizer. This eventually got sidetracked (I am not sure how) into challenges about the consistency of the Judeo-Christian ethic.

Specifically, the Old Testament appears to command practices which seem barbaric from the standpoint of our 21st century moral sensibilities. Even more problematic, many Old Testament commands seem to be downright repudiated in the New Testament. As one commenter named Gandolf put it, the law of Moses included provisions for stoning people to death. Is that still valid? And if not, did God change His mind?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Reasonable Faith

In my previous post, I mentioned my adventures of sparring with atheists at other blogs. Like most Christians, I am typically accused of having a blind and unsubstantiated faith, suppressing reason, and not really “knowing” for sure, but rather “believing”. Below is an edited compilation of my responses:


I am not insane, most excellent Festus. What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. (The apostle Paul, during his defense before Festus and King Agrippa; Acts 26:25-26).

I guess I am in good company if I am accused of not being completely rational in my beliefs.   The apostle Paul, formerly know as Saul of Tarsus, a learned man of letters, zealous Pharisee and persecutor of Christians, was famously converted and dedicated the rest of his life to preaching the faith he once tried to snuff out.  When these activities got him into trouble wth the authorities and he made his defense before kings and governors, he was accused, among other things, of being out of his mind.  His famous response quoted above is instructive.

Falling Away

It has been a while since I have posted anything. Actually, I have been spending quite a bit of time commenting on other blogs authored by fellow believers. I particularly enjoy a blog entitled, “If I became an atheist”. The blog’s author, who goes by the name “feeno” has a mild mannered and non-threatening way of engaging and challenging atheists, and he seems to draw them like a magnet. One post in particular started quite a heated discussion, exceeding 100 comments. I must confess to being just a little envious at the amount of attention and commentary he draws, but then again, given the vitriolic nature of the commentary, maybe it is just as well that they not come my way. Anyone is welcome to comment here as long as the discussion is civil and polite. Otherwise, I would have to exercise my author’s prerogative and dispatch their comments to that great recycle bin in cyberspace.

It seems that the most acerbic and forceful comments come from atheists who are former believers. I have often wondered why and have suspected that they more than anyone else feel compelled to convince others and perhaps themselves of the correctness of their position, maybe for fear that they are mistaken. When I suggested this to an atheist commenter who goes by the name of “bob”, he responded somewhat indignantly that I would presume to guess at his motivations without asking. Fair enough, so I asked.