Merry Christmas!

It’s ten until three in the morning, I expect Kringle to spring my trap any moment now I’ll corner the stocking stuffer market.

Forgive me for the two-day absence.  We did a lot of cleaning and cooking today yesterday.  Plus the computer-free weekends haven’t lost their charm.  It’s just this one is a four-day vacation.

May your holidays be blessed.

 

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About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
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24 Responses to Merry Christmas!

  1. Billy says:

    Merry Christmas to you and all.

    I do have a serious reply, well more of a question to spark deeper conversation, for your earlier I MOO! and will do so here.

    I know you, WORM, believe and in God and Jesus (Christian God).
    And so I can assume you believe in Heaven.
    What about Hell?
    If so, is Hell that place where non-believers and unrepentant sinners go upon death; for their souls to be tormented and tortured for eternity?
    If so, what will You do to end that torture once you reach Heaven?

    • MG says:

      You brought up a fascinating little detail. I like to think of it as a delineator to the potential for the reality of a god, and the mark of primitive ‘un-real’ beliefs in a god.

      If so, is Hell that place where non-believers and unrepentant sinners go upon death; for their souls to be tormented and tortured for eternity?

      I assume most of us remember the line: “Why does god need a starship?”

      Well, in a similar train: Why does god need the irrelevant ‘approval’ of mortals?

      It is only humanity, in its childishness, that needs outside approval to validate itself. A true god can’t care about ‘faith’ in it (though it might ‘reward’ it somehow,) just actions and choices.

      • Xpat says:

        My understanding is that it’s not approval God wants or needs, but rather love which he wants (not needs) to freely bestow to all the beings he created to freely receive it.

        • MG says:

          The idea that non-believers would be punished for that alone (non-belief) is really a representation of a petulant child though.

          Saying ‘I believe in X’ is a declaration of approval, very often seeking something in return for that very approval.
          And that is the mistake of many religions, they say: Put your faith in our God and then wonders will be yours. They are asking for approval, not only of their interpretation of God but for the leaders of the church being the conduit to their God and his gifts. (Saying sins are forgiven and heaven is yours is explicitly the offering of rewards for approval.)
          With that, some atheists turn and accurately question the idea of a God of love and compassion who, according to some, punishes people who may not have even heard his name for the ‘crime’ of not knowing his name.

          Love is a different thing, love is given, not premised on requirements like: Believe in me and then X will happen and you’ll know I love you.
          Love is most certainly never shown by threatening someone for their failure to ‘accept’ it.

          Christ died for our sins, for the world, is an unlimited declaration of God’s love that was not premised on people being Jewish, or the entirely nonexistent at the moment Christian.

          Love is given, the opportunity to be alive is the love of God around us every minute. If God required ‘proof’ in the form of mortal and explicitly temporal ‘faith’ before bestowing his greatest gift then no one would ever be born.

          As a technicality, if God ‘damned’ non-believers to hell then he might fail to prove there is a God at all. How do you prove to someone who doesn’t think there is an afterlife that hell isn’t all there is if that’s what they get?

          Heaven and hell are not as simple as people make them out to be when you dig into varying translations.

          • Sue says:

            Wow… error correction to the max on this thing…

            Let me try:
            left carrot () and then insert your desired quote and then left carrot (). Leave out spaces and quotation marks and parentheses I have used above, except for any in the desired quote.

            Now we’ll see if the program auto corrects my sentence… 🙂

          • Sue says:

            LOL!
            It took the blooming carrots out and the word blockquote as well!
            Trying again…
            left carrot, block and quote, right carrot, insert quote, left carrot, slash, block and quote, right carrot
            Let’s see now, take out spaces and the word and between block and quote.
            So now we’ll see what the program does to this one… 🙂

        • Xpat says:

          Dang skeptics! Now you’ve got me thinking about hell, and pondering getting my act together (for instance, maybe it’s time to put a moratorium on off-color links). Nice job, guys. With commenters like you, who needs fire and brimstone preachers? Sheesh.

          “The idea that non-believers would be punished for that alone (non-belief) is really a representation of a petulant child though.”

          A little tendentious, I think. I’m not sure who the argument is with here, so I may back out if “faith alone” folks come in to take up the challenge. Certainly “that alone (non-belief)” sounds like an argument with the “sola fide” crowd, and that is not in my doctrinal sector of the galaxy. Doctrinally I also have some wiggle-room with “invincible ignorance,” which (if I got this right) is the idea that God doesn’t hold people accountable for what they don’t or can’t know.

          “Saying ‘I believe in X’ is a declaration of approval, very often seeking something in return for that very approval.
          And that is the mistake of many religions, they say: Put your faith in our God and then wonders will be yours. They are asking for approval, not only of their interpretation of God but for the leaders of the church being the conduit to their God and his gifts. (Saying sins are forgiven and heaven is yours is explicitly the offering of rewards for approval.)
          With that, some atheists turn and accurately question the idea of a God of love and compassion who, according to some, punishes people who may not have even heard his name for the ‘crime’ of not knowing his name.”

          Again, part of this is an argument with sola fide folks, I think. Another part is about “approval” which I don’t see as relevant to the discussion (though I’m sure I pathetically crave approval as much as any other neurotic). About “the crime of not knowing his name” I refer back to “invincible ignorance.” Getting (or failing to get) religious truth from other people or institutions is another topic. But, generally, we get stuff from other people, just like I read your comment and get stuff from you. If there’s more than one of you and you have an organized system of belief, then I’m getting it from some kind of institution. I don’t know if what you say about God is intrinsically more valuable if only you say it, as opposed to if you and like-minded people say it in a systematic and agreed-upon way.

          “Love is a different thing, love is given, not premised on requirements like: Believe in me and then X will happen and you’ll know I love you.
          Love is most certainly never shown by threatening someone for their failure to ‘accept’ it.”

          That’s fair, but for me the start rather than the end of the discussion. I see this differently because I don’t see the threat and conditional the same way. Or, to put it another way, I wish heaven and hell could be discussed without invoking threat or punishment. But since it’s all over the bible in that kind of language I can’t blame anyone for thinking and saying otherwise. I was pondering a dialogue to get across the way I approach it. Person X says, “I love you. Please spend eternity with me.” Person Y says “No, I don’t want to.” Person X says, “I wish you’d change your mind on this one. I am actually love itself. If you don’t spend eternity with me, you’ll be in a place (state?) that is ‘not me.’ It is the complete absence of ‘love.’ It’s a total bummer.” Person Y says “Stop threatening me.” That’s the way I see it, an offer, at most a warning, not a threat per se. There’s some theology here that I’m not equipped to handle but it’s based on the “God is love” idea (and Trinitarian theology). God is inviting us to be “in God” (which is actually what humans were designed for). The “threat” (as I see it) is a warning about the alternative. The “punishment” is not being with God. Like the “judgement” of societies, it’s mostly self-inflicted. Or that’s how I worked it out so far in my half-chewed way.

          “Christ died for our sins, for the world, is an unlimited declaration of God’s love that was not premised on people being Jewish, or the entirely nonexistent at the moment Christian.”

          I’m not sure that I disagree with this. But I’m not sure I understand it.

          “Love is given, the opportunity to be alive is the love of God around us every minute. If God required ‘proof’ in the form of mortal and explicitly temporal ‘faith’ before bestowing his greatest gift then no one would ever be born.”

          I’m not sure I understand this. This might be another argument with “sola fide” people.

          “As a technicality, if God ‘damned’ non-believers to hell then he might fail to prove there is a God at all. How do you prove to someone who doesn’t think there is an afterlife that hell isn’t all there is if that’s what they get?”

          Again, I’m not “sola fide” and I fall back on “invincible ignorance” for some of the other part. However, I think I can address one aspect of this. As St. Paul says (OK, not in these exact words) there’s faith, hope, and love. But the final reality is love, and faith and hope won’t be an issue then (you won’t have to believe in or hope in the final reality because it will be upon you). Another side of that is that in the great beyond, belief or non belief will not be an issue, as everyone will be a “believer” of sorts.

          “Heaven and hell are not as simple as people make them out to be when you dig into varying translations.”

          Yes, I’m sure you’re right. You could indeed give a lot of helpful information on that as it seems to be something you’ve delved into. In fact, I just go on the assumption that virtually everyone has at very best an incomplete if not distorted picture of both–not excluding myself by any means. That’s actually scriptural. Another too-lazy-to-look-it-up verse: “No eye has seen, nor mind imagined, etc. etc.” There are also people with personal visions of heaven and hell, and a portion of them apparently very sincere, but I don’t know what to make of such.

          • MG says:

            Dang skeptics! Now you’ve got me thinking about hell, and pondering getting my act together (for instance, maybe it’s time to put a moratorium on off-color links). Nice job, guys. With commenters like you, who needs fire and brimstone preachers? Sheesh.

            I could do something fire and brimstone if it would make you feel better.
            I can’t think of any links of yours that need cleaning up, FYI!
            I am not a skeptic, personally.

            A little tendentious, I think. I’m not sure who the argument is with here, so I may back out if “faith alone” folks come in to take up the challenge.

            I’m focused on the following:

            If so, is Hell that place where non-believers and unrepentant sinners go upon death; for their souls to be tormented and tortured for eternity? ~Billy

            I’m not arguing with you but on a certain point from where this started.
            Just about all religions have, or have had, a sect which does the whole ‘the unfaithful are damned’ thing. It is a point atheism brings up, and is especially cogent against Christian doctrine since the very concept is so against the stated nature of God.
            My posture from the original post could be re-said as: The question is based on a faulty human view of God; not believing in God is not, in itself, a crime he punishes.

            As to ignorance, it is a stronger point theologically: After all; Adam and Eve knew not they were naked, it was in ignorance they enjoyed God’s garden. It, by its nature, is also a theological answer to the original question.
            (Don’t interpret me as a creationist from that .)

            Another part is about “approval” which I don’t see as relevant to the discussion

            The relevance to me is it is a major factor in the origin concept this began with. To enforce a faith and declare it is the only one, and that there will be a punishment for refusing it, is a very corporal act premised on ideas communicated via language; which God probably doesn’t care about. You are right, as above, on the ignorance point.
            I linked the ‘gating’ some sects have done to the starting question; you are correct that interactions create impressions which develop into views and opinions, but instead of the gentle hand of faith, some have used the threat of damnation, which again; atheist points bring up the dichotomy caused in the Christian faith.

            That’s fair, but for me the start rather than the end of the discussion. I see this differently because I don’t see the threat and conditional the same way.

            It’s absolutely true that the strength of Christian doctrine occurs when that is first and the core point. There is no rational argument against a God who loves and trusts his creation, judging them solely by their actions (and like a father, accepts the inevitable age of ‘but I don’t want to be around my parents!’, as nothing more than the growing pain and craving for adulthood it is).

            Or, to put it another way, I wish heaven and hell could be discussed without invoking threat or punishment.

            It would be nice; unfortunately, bad decisions in the past by some seeking power, followed by an ease of argument over it, made it so simple to use that way.

            I think I get your point and may I suggest you’re finding somewhat the problem of language: You have a feeling, a belief inside you which language has no real way to communicate, so then words are applied but they carry other meanings to other people who then get the whole threat vibe. In this type of argument where you have a premise based on people who have deliberately used the threat vibe, that very tongue tied state becomes a problem. That is not to say you shouldn’t try and expound, it’s only by struggling with ideas that they become something worthwhile. (Let us not forget that Babel was to keep humanity from achieving too much too fast!)
            We’re in fundamental agreement I think; God does not make threats.

            I’m not sure that I disagree with this. But I’m not sure I understand it.

            I think I went in a reverse from what you expected. This was an extension of God’s love: Most importantly God’s love for everyone, period. An act at a time when the vast majority of the world didn’t know that there was a name Jesus Christ. (Somewhat more of the ignorance concept in this.)

            I’m not sure I understand this. This might be another argument with “sola fide” people.

            Life from lifelessness, form from formlessness; life is God’s greatest gift. Without life there is no death, without life there is no betterment of the soul, no growth…without growth there is no heaven, no hell.
            The love of God gives life.
            The trust of God sets us free to choose, to act, to try. (And even to fail.)
            Before God gives us life he does not ask our faith; there is no litmus; so again this is more about the premise where this discussion started, and, the point you made: It should start in love, and our lives prove it does.

            Again, I’m not “sola fide” and I fall back on “invincible ignorance” for some of the other part. However, I think I can address one aspect of this. As St. Paul says (OK, not in these exact words) there’s faith, hope, and love. But the final reality is love, and faith and hope won’t be an issue then (you won’t have to believe in or hope in the final reality because it will be upon you). Another side of that is that in the great beyond, belief or non belief will not be an issue, as everyone will be a “believer” of sorts.

            In a state of timelessness, hope and faith do have little meaning, there isn’t something unknown to face as in mortality and time. The thing is, though, when an atheist asks it’s often premised on these certain stated views of doctrine, where the collision of free-will then shows up too. How is there free-will if they can’t refuse God? And doctrines have said someone can, but with a penalty. If we live our lives with free-will only to be forced into the acceptance of God after death, what was the exercise for? Was it really free-will?

            In fact, I just go on the assumption that virtually everyone has at very best an incomplete if not distorted picture of both–not excluding myself by any means.

            That’s the safe position to take, and most correct; too many forget that of all the different faith leaders it was only Christ who actually knew about both.

            As for hell, we mostly talk about a fairly ‘modern’ view of it which has extensive imagery theft from Norse and Greek mythology.
            Some old texts make it nearly indistinguishable from normal Earth.
            Others make it out to be a state rather than a place, ergo: That the soul was bound to the body and trapped until judgement. (Talk about ouch…)
            Some niche, but old, concepts made it almost a reincarnation thing.

          • Xpat says:

            Good discussion. And that has not generally been my experience when theology meets the Internet.

            “I can’t think of any links of yours that need cleaning up, FYI!”

            Red Letter Media. They can be hilariously funny, but these days they’re pushing it in the prurience department. For instance, I’m not going to link their latest “Indy Jones” review. For woe to him who links Red Letter Media these days. It would be better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and be cast into the sea.

            The really deep theological question, though: what is the code for doing block quotes around here? For that matter, what is the code for doing internet links without plastering the big ugly URL in the text, and what is the code for pasting in photos? And the really, really deep question: since the code performs what it explains, how could you ever show anyone the code since the code will disappear in the middle of the explanation by virtue of performing its designated action?

          • Xpat says:

            A few scattered points with no particular connecting thread.

            1. “We’re in fundamental agreement I think . . .” Maybe actually more than you realize. An anecdote: I got by a group letter about Evangelical missions in Japan from a dear friend involved in that, and I mean a seriously good Christian and loving person who has done a lot for me over the years. But the group letter, more or less for a U.S. audience, talked about the Tohoku disaster, and somewhere in there there was a sentence like this: “Sadly, from what we know of the number of Christians in the Tohoku area, only 3% of those who perished are probably in Heaven.” I found this so repulsive that it’s going to take me a while before I can communicate with him without that standing in the way. My first thought was, “Just. Shut. the f***. Up.” My second thought was that I was glad I was a Catholic now and didn’t have to go on this model of salvation/damnation that was based on a single profession of faith in Christ (or lack of it). But even recounting this, I’m kind of like, Euuuwwwwwwww.

            2. I distinctly remember as a fairly small child having recurring experiences (not often but more than once or twice) of waking up feeling as if I had just been in some horrible place, and of being not totally out of it because I was still half asleep. It was a dark (but not completely dark), desolate, lonely place, with no other presence, with no form or substance, beyond the reach of hope or personal contact, so depressing that depressing hardly seems adequate to describe it. (Context: I had a normal family life in a non-religious household, no traumatically wounding events, no particular ideas about hell except probably the stereotypical fire and pitchfork ones). Anyway, when the topic of hell comes up, that seems to be my baseline intuitive template for conceptualizing it.

          • Xpat says:

            Caveat to #1: There’s also the list of reasons why I’m NOT glad about being Catholic, lest that seemed like spiritual crowing. Not that I’ve never descended to spiritual crowing.

          • MG says:

            quote goes here

            Remove the spaces at the .

            As for the others, I have not done them for comments, and I just used the buttons for main posts to do them there, so let’s try this:
            TinyURL!

            VISIBLE TEXT HERE

            Spaces again…if it works…

            Images I have no idea, do [img] work here?

          • MG says:

            Bloody error-corrections.

            I typed one up which got itself into moderation! And it didn’t display like I wanted anyways.

            quote here

            VISIBLE TEXT HERE

            Remove the – from it all. (But not the = after href.)

          • MG says:

            ASDFJKL

            text here

            ? Ever had a day when things are too helpful?

          • MG says:

            text here

            Make it a line and remove spaces from all but the quote itself.

            And if this doesn’t work..twitch…

          • Sue says:

            Sorry, I think I hit a Reply button higher up in thread.
            I am amazed that the auto correction in this program is so tenacious… 🙂

          • Sue says:

            Oh, yes, and a carrot is the ‘less than’ or ‘more than’ symbol from math class. That pointy thing going one way or another. 🙂
            I dare the program to auto correct that sentence…

          • MG says:

            <blockquote>Your Text Here</blockquote>

          • Sue says:

            Wow, MG! Kudos to you!
            Now, how did you get around the auto correct function?
            Or will the program auto correct if you try to tell me???

          • MG says:

            <a href="URl here">Desired link name here</a>

            They made me miss, MISS, Bnet markup GOOD GAME.

          • Xpat says:

            Thanks for the codes!

  2. Xpat says:

    Merry Christmas everybody!

    On that happy note, I think Billy’s comment breaks down into four questions:
    1) Is there a hell?
    2) Who goes there? (or, How does one end up there?)
    3) What is the nature of hell?
    4) Can you intervene from heaven to affect hell?

    To the best of my knowledge, the orthodox Catholic answer:
    1) Yes (there are a couple of fairly orthodox theologians–maybe Hans Ur von Balthasar was one–who argue for the possibility of an empty hell)
    2) Short answer: anyone in a state of mortal sin (Longer answer: it’s a free rejection of friendship with God, God honors–has to honor–the free choice; God’s not going to force anybody to be friends with him, and presumably for those who chose not to be, heaven would actually be quite a bit more of a torment than hell)
    3) Somewhat up to interpretation, but the unambiguous part is that it’s a state of final separation from God (see #2) hence a separation from all the good that is God (love, joy, etc.)–and presumably that’s plenty torment in itself
    4) No (see #2 and #3) but in this life you can pray for the soul of anyone who has died, because you don’t know the state of their soul before God and can hope in his mercy

  3. Xpat says:

    I forgot to mention C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce. I liked the way he handled the issues.
    http://www.amazon.com/Great-Divorce-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060652950

    A quote from the Amazon blurb: “”There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'”

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