What Ever Happened to Truth?

Being that I’m hopelessly entangled in an on-again/off-again affair with procrastination, which, sadly, is much more often on-again than off-again, I have ample time to stumble across articles such as this: What Should Atheist Parents Tell their Kids about Religion? Rest assured, I am not here to argue the existence of God or the importance of religion. I just want to know what happened to truth and conviction.

The theme of the above mentioned article is one I come across constantly in parenting columns and blogs. The basic premise is, “I wholeheartedly believe x, but I’m going to make sure I expose my kids to the whole alphabet, so they can choose for themselves which letter they believe in.” This simply blows my mind. Regardless of what your beliefs are, if you believe them to be true, why would you not want to ensure that truth is communicated to your children?

For the Christian parents, if you believe that there is life after death, and that such life consists of eternal bliss or eternal suffering, why would you not do everything in your power to ensure your child obtains the former rather than the later? For the atheists, if you believe that religious beliefs are a waste of time and limit your child’s potential to ever become fully educated or enlightened or will lead them down the path of bigotry and hate, why would you encourage your child to start down a path that would lead to such a fate?

If you take out the polarizing topic of religious beliefs or other ideologies, it becomes apparent that truth really does exist, and that parents generally do their best to protect their children from the consequences of ignoring truth. Good parents wouldn’t tell little Johnny that stoves are hot, but leave it up to little Johnny to decide whether or not he wants to touch the stove. Or suppose little Johnny had CIPA, the genetic disorder which would prevent him from feeling pain. If his mom walked into the kitchen and saw Johnny with his hand on the burner, would she say, “Oh, that’s nice Johnny. I’m glad you’re happy with your hand there. Never mind that the flesh is melting off your bones.” Of course not! She would scoop her baby up, regardless of his age, and protect him.

So what does all of this mean? I figure it leads to one of two conclusions. Either, parents are not actually as convicted about their beliefs as they pretend to be, or they don’t really mean that their child can choose to believe something different. I find the first rather frightening, and the second rather pathetic.

Now, just to be clear, I’m not talking about things that are a matter of opinion or preference. Regarding the country in which your child may one day reside, favorite colors, potential professions, of course I believe children should be exposed to a wide variety of possibilities. But when it comes to the things that matter most, the beliefs that are the basis for one’s entire world view and ethical code, shouldn’t a good parent be a little more protective and proactive? If the parent believes there is fundamental truth to their beliefs, why would they provide their child with the opportunity to choose a life path that would rob them of the beauty that comes from truth?

Is it that, deep down, parents don’t actually believe the “truths” they profess? If there is no truth, if everything really is relative, if Sheryl Crow was right and whatever makes you happy can’t be bad, why do parents waste their time believing, or not believing, as the case may be? If everything is relative and Johnny can be happy and fulfilled and safe on any path of ideology he chooses, why waste your time with an ideology to begin with? Why bother having an opinion about the existence (or lack thereof) of a higher power if it doesn’t actually matter either way? It seems that extending this train of thought can lead to some pretty scary implications, but I’ll save that for another day.

Or is it that parents don’t really mean that Johnny can choose whatever letter he wants? Maybe parents just say this to be trendy. Or maybe they are using it as a twisted test of good parenting or as a means to validate whatever it is they believe. Do they just want to be able to look back and say, “Look at what I good example I was for Johnny. I exposed him to every possible belief system under the sun, yet he still chose to believe the same thing I believe. I am such a good parent, and, obviously he recognizes truth when he sees it.” But what happens if he doesn’t choose the same?

Obviously, there’s no cut and dry response to the questions I’m posing. But I just don’t understand why people don’t stand behind what they believe in, especially when it comes to passing on beliefs to their children. If something is true, why would you risk depriving your child of the benefits that come from living a life lit by that truth?

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In Case of Rapture: We’ll Adopt Your Pets

       Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA
The next best thing to pet salvation in a Post Rapture World

So this is the funniest, most brilliant, and saddest thing I’ve ever seen in such a long time. (Click the paw print above to be taken to the most awesome website EVER!) The atheists behind this are crazy smart and I would LOVE to know how much they’re raking in with this venture. Too bad I never thought of something like this. The Christians who are buying into this just make me sad. I think they are the reason it’s so easy for people to dismiss Christianity as nothing more than mythology. Now, before anyone gets in a tizzy because their pastor told them the rapture was coming, let me explain.

There simply will not be a rapture like the one described in those Left Behind books. We actually had to read the first one in my religion class senior year of high school. My teacher didn’t think so, but it was laughable. I didn’t know any better at the time, and, truthfully, I didn’t really care a whole lot back then, but this whole idea of rapture is totally backwards from what is presented in Sacred Scripture.

The rapture refers to a passage in First Thessalonians, chapter 4, which talks about Christians being “caught up” in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Many Christians believe, and the Left Behind books promote, that this being “caught up” to meet the Lord will occur before the Great Tribulation which is headed our way in the near future. Christians will simply vanish, meet Jesus somewhere in the air, and then return with Him to Heaven to await the end of time.

But get this, in verse 17, Paul says that “…we who are alive, who are left,” shall be caught up. Remember that…those who are “left” get caught up to meet the Lord.

The Left Behind books get their name from a passage in Luke 17 and a similar passage in Matthew 24 which talk about the coming of the Lord being like the days of Noah and the days of Lot. Matthew 24 puts it this way: “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man…they ate, they drank, they married and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field, one is taken and one is left. Two women grinding at the mill, one is taken one is left.”

“See,” rapture enthusiasts say, “One is taken, one is left…the rapture! Jesus takes the Christians and leaves behind non-Christians!”

Two problems with that interpretation: First, Jesus’ coming is being compared to the days of Noah and the days of Lot. After the flood, who was left? Noah and his family…the good guys…the bad guys were taken! After Sodom and Gomorrah went up in smoke, who was left? Lot and his daughters…the good guys…the bad guys were taken! Second, remember 1 Thessalonians? It says that those who are “left” get to meet Jesus in the air. The good guys are left behind to meet Jesus.

In other words, you want to be left behind so that you can get caught up in the clouds to meet Jesus in the air and accompany Him back to earth at His second and final coming. There will be no rapture like the one the Left Behind books talk about…that view is simply not scriptural.

My office mates and I got a good kick out of this one yesterday. The best part is: I actually discovered this ingenious, entrepreneurial venture when I heard them talking about Eternal Earth Bound Pets on a Christian radio station. They weren’t specifically promoting it, but the DJs seemed to think it was a good idea. Wake up people. Read your Bible. In case of rapture, I will be here. With my pets. Until Jesus comes. Holla at the rest of you. :)

Morality is Black and White.

I just was reading through some of the comments on this ridiculous blog I stumbled across. While I think that it’s likely a hoax, there appears to be a couple out there who are allowing random internet voters to determine whether they carry their son to term or abort him simply because they are unsure if they are ready to be parents. Obviously, the comments are rather passionate regardless of which side of the “conversation” they are on. And, sadly, a lot of the comments are incredibly hateful. I’m not sure how that is supposed to help. If this site is for real, these people need lots of prayer and compassion, not hate-filled venomous attacks. However, none of that is the point. What really caught my eye was a comment made by “Scubanurse” on 11/18. She stated, “Morals are never black and white and cannot have a POLL because the answers are not black and white either.”

I realize that, these days, relativism is the name of the game. The world is constantly trying to have us believe that there are no absolutes, especially in regards to morals. But that is just absurd. The whole point of having morals is to give you black and white definitions of what is acceptable and what is not. If you believe that everything is gray and there is no definite right or wrong, you simply don’t have morals. I’m not saying you are a bad person. You may be a kind person. You may give back to your community. You may donate to charity. But, if you live in a world of gray, you don’t have morals. You may have some values or ethical beliefs that drive your good and kind behaviors, but you don’t have morals. Morals come from outside yourself. Morals are not something that you create. Morals are absolute truths about what is good and what is not. Morality is most definitely a black and white matter.

This is what kills me about modern day Christianity. If you take a step back and look at the situation, this is what you see: There was this man that lived about 2000 years ago that claimed to be God. So, either this guy was God, or he was a crazy person. You can’t say that he was a prophet or was just good man that did some good things. Prophets and good men don’t go around trying to start a movement that centers around them being God. Obviously, Christians go with the theory that he was God. If he is God, he can’t lie, for God is truth. That means everything he said is truth. In fact, since Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, everything in the Bible is also truth. I sincerely doubt any Christian would disagree with me so far. Yet, I can’t help but be fascinated, and quite sickened, by the fact that there are now over 33,000 variations of this “truth.” Yes, that’s right, as of the most recent count, there are over 33,000 Christian denominations. 33,000 variations of the truth.

Despite the fact that truth is a black and white term with no room for gray, if the modern Christian doesn’t like the “truth” they hear proclaimed at their church, they just go next door and join a different church with a slightly different take on the “truth.” Then, after a cycle of church hoping, if one is so inclined, they can just start their own church. It’s no wonder so many people are disillusioned with Christianity. And no wonder it’s so easy to feel like everything is relative.

People often look down on the more “conservative” sects of Christianity, criticizing them for being out of date and in danger of becoming irrelevant. I disagree. I have the most respect for the denominations that hold true to their beliefs, refusing to cave under societal pressures. They take seriously their belief that God is truth and don’t try to justify or rationalize separating themselves from the things He’s revealed to us. That’s one of the many reasons I’m Catholic. My Church has been teaching the same thing since day one, when Jesus entrusted the keys of the kingdom to Peter. But that’s a topic for another day.

Getting back on track, “Scubanurse” may not be a Christian. But it is so annoying when people confuse their personal values and ethical beliefs for morals. If you believe something just because it feels right to you, that not morality. That’s your personal value system. Christians and non-Christians alike need to be more aware of what their opinions really are. Your personal opinion is just that. It doesn’t amount to a whole lot. And it especially can’t be inflated to a set of moral truths that you think everyone should live by. But, most of all, don’t try to tell me that because your personal value system is gray and cloudy that morality in general also is. As I’ve already said, morality is black and white.

Happiness is a Choice

happiness is a choiceI try so hard not to allow myself to be sucked into the negativity that permeates our society. For whatever reason, I seem to be particularly vulnerable to it. I’ve never been prone to jumping out of bed with a smile, eager to greet the day. My mind tends to jump to the worst possible scenario most of the time. I partially blame my upbringing; my family is very negative. However, the fact is, I’m an adult now and only I have control of my thoughts, actions, and attitudes. Prior to my involvement with Mary Kay, I don’t even think I realized there was another way. My motto for as long as I could remember was “expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.” I enviously watched the “optimists,” fully aware that I was a “pessimist,” and came to the conclusion that it must be genetic; some people are just born happy and lucky. I am so thankful that I’ve since learned otherwise.

My favorite thing about Mary Kay (other than how perfect my skin always looks) is the women. The women who work with and around Mary Kay are the most positive, supportive, enthusiastic, Christian women on the planet. Never before Mary Kay had I ever been in an environment like that, barring a few weekend church retreats or whatnot. But these women aren’t just positive, supportive and enthusiastic at a retreat or on Sundays or at special times or events. That’s how they live their lives. That’s how they raise their kids. That’s how they manage their homes, careers and social relationships. These women are phenomenal and I am so blessed to have them in my life to learn from.

These women opened my eyes to what life is supposed to be like. They are the ones who introduced me to positive thinking. They taught me that “what you think about you bring about.” So my “expect the worst” philosophy was creating just that, the “worst” in most situations. They taught me how to feed my mind with positive books, cds and people. They taught me the importance of surrounding myself with “balcony people” and avoiding “basement people.” They helped me to see that I was a “basement person” and desperately needed to change if I had any hopes of being happy and passing on happiness to my children.

Never in my wildest dreams had I ever considered that happiness was a choice. I thought happiness or lack thereof was merely a result of the hand you’d been dealt in life. I knew there must be an exception, as I’d seen and heard of very poor or very sick people with very sunny dispositions. I didn’t know how they got that way. I thought maybe God just made them special so they could be an example of some kind to the rest of the world.

Thanks to meeting my MK mentors, I make every effort to expose myself only to positive people. I only read positive literature. I avoid negative programing on tv. My “friends” on facebook who only post status updates to complain are blocked from my newsfeed. I listen to uplifting music and inspirational speakers on cd. But, as I said earlier, I seem to be so vulnerable to getting sucked back into the negativity. It seems so easy to fall into a “woe is me” mentality. I make a conscious effort to curtail those thoughts with prayers of thanksgiving and praise.

I truly am blessed beyond measure. When looking at my life objectively, I know I have no room for complaint. I have been given so much and am so very fortunate. The fact is, most of us are. If you’re reading this, you most definitely are. Despite our daily struggles, our lives are a cakewalk. Why, then, is our society so negative? There’s evidence of it on it on tv, in the papers and in the general attitudes of most people. What do we have to be so darn unhappy about?

My first thought was, “If I knew the answer to that, I would probably become a very wealthy woman.” But upon further reflection, I think I do know the answer and, unfortunately, it will not make me a wealthy woman. It won’t even make me popular. In fact, upon reading my conclusion, I predict some will discredit this entire entry. What, then, is the reason we are so drawn toward negativity?

Satan.

Yes, Satan. He’s the father of lies. If keeps us convinced that our lives are terrible, awful, unlucky excuses for an existence, how much easier will it be for him to lead us to sin? It must be much harder to convince someone who praises God in good times and in bad to lead a sinful life. Obviously, being human, there will always be some sin in each of our lives, but living on purpose for God tends to rule out some of the bigger ones. That must really make him mad. Because of the materialistic, self-centered and often times negative world we live in, it must make his head reel to witness someone choose to be grateful and positive despite their daily circumstances.

No wonder that “woe is me” voice keeps creeping back in. I’ve deliberately chosen to live my life in a way that is harder for the devil to attack. If he could just get me back to that “expect the worse” place where I constantly make excuses for everything and accept responsibility for little, his job would be much easier. I don’t know about you, but that just makes me even more resolved to cling to positivity and gratefulness. It definitely feels better to live with a positive outlook, so I don’t know why I allow myself to be tempted to revert back to the negative. Somehow in the emotion of the moment, I seem to think it’s easier to just let go and expect the worst, but, clearly, that’s the work of the Father of Lies.