Monthly Archives: March 2020

Garlic Crumpets

 

You can improve your ‘social distancing’ (keeping away from other people) during this current plague season by eating my ‘Garlic Crumpets’.

To be honest, as someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, I am pretty good at social distancing anyway, and if, like me, you are fed up with people encroaching in your personal space, then this recipe might help in that regard too.

All you do is to spread your crumpets (cold) with garlic butter (Google the recipe but omit any parsley), then bake in the oven at 200degC/180degC (fan) for five minutes. The garlic butter soaks down through the crumpets and saturates them with amazing flavour that goes really well with the crumpet’s own taste, and the garlic is only slightly mellowed by being heated, certainly no more than it would be in ‘proper’ garlic bread.

And if you add an extra garlic clove per three crumpets, then I’d say that no-one will want to stand near you for a couple of days or so. You’ll stink 😀

But these really are delicious and I’m sure you’ll want to eat them often.

To keep people at a distance, you know… 😉

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Hors d’Ouvres

More bite-sized wisdom quotes for your delectation…


Real love accepts people as they are, with room for who they may become
– Susan Cottrell

God is love. Don’t consume anything that argues against this
– Barry Smith

The only reason infernalists no longer have to work hard to prove Hell from the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats is that most Fundies already agree with the faulty interpretation that the parable speaks of Hell.
– Me

Live life in such a way that people in every religion thinks you’re going to their version of hell.
– Ron Doerksen

It seems like the legalistic people, the ultra conservatives, the people who believe in the wrapped and labeled boxes of religion, it seems like they believe God wrote everything down that was important, and then died. Well, I think God is a living spirit. All knowing, loving and all seeing. And I believe it is RIGHT to question, to learn, to understand. I don’t think we should be afraid of that. Are we trying to learn what’s true? Or are we trying to pretend we believe things we don’t even understand? Because we’re not going to fool God.
– Dayle

As with everything else in life, you need to learn to see past the perceived offence and find the underlying joke
– Me

“Eternity” is what happens when we choose love in the present
– Jeff Turner

The problem is not with the Bible or whatever, the problem is that humans just have an innate tendency to be really, really stupid
– Jeff Charest

“But there were millions of lives at stake!”
Romulan lives”
“No. Lives!
– Adm. Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek – Picard, Ser 1 Ep. 1, “Remembrance”

Religion was [about] obeying. And really, religion was about obeying religion
– Wendy Francisco

Bottom line is this: If Love keeps no record of wrongs – and that’s what it says right there clear as day and in nice friendly Fundamentalist black and white in your Rulebook – if Love keeps no record of wrongs, what possible basis does god have for sending people to Hell?
– Me

Through the Law man is conscious of sins. Through Jesus Christ the new man is conscious of God. Allow Him to shift your reality.
– Wayne Shelton

Morality is doing right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right
– H. L. Mencken

This may be obvious but I think someone needs to hear this today: You don’t need to be accepted by the Church to be accepted by God.
– Me

I do not see prayer as a practice in which I alter God’s behavior by pleading, begging, or putting in confident requests (not that I do not make requests). Rather, I understand prayer to be a willing and purposeful exposure of oneself to an other-worldly love that, one hundred times out of ten, will regard us and our fellow humans with far more mercy and compassion than we do ourselves when left to our own devices.

To pray is to place one’s heart in the direct path of God’s tornadic love in order that it might contradict our evolved defaults, and awaken us to a love that we would otherwise remain ignorant of and unresponsive to
– Jeff Turner

She’ll probably change her tune. And I don’t want to be there when she plays it
– Anon

Yes, I use both toolkits (faith and reason) in my walk. That’s why I don’t walk with a limp
– Me

I love being wrong. It means I learned something new
– Bob Brow

There is more than one way to interpret Scripture verses. The purpose of Scripture is to lead you to truth Himself, it was never inspired to be the sole source of truth and authority.
– Don Keathley

Our failures elicit the applause of a God who is far more interested in our encouragement than our ability to keep the “rules.”
– Jeff Turner

In response to this:
“This one made me a bit sad: ‘When people go missing from the house of God, they’ve already gone missing from the presence of God’ ”
I said:
“This phrase is just to control those still there. It means, “We have the monopoly on God”. Put like that, it is easy to see how ridiculous it is
– Me

When you have that table prepared in the presence of your enemies – make sure you leave a seat for them. Leave a seat open!
– Derrick Day

‘Not caring’ [about what others think] is the first step on the road to being unaffected by others’ opinions. Like Jesus was. And please be assured that acceptance by God is completely independent of being accepted by churches and, by extension, those who populate them. Your relationship with God is your own; grow it in your own way, not according to the whims of others 🙂
– Me

[Deconstruction] … enabled me to see things more clearly, including Jesus, who was built, for the first time, as the actual foundation of the house, rather than hell. If hell is in there, it’s the foundation. You either have hell hold the house up, or Jesus, but not both
– Wendy Francisco

It’s all or nothing” is the one Christian principle that I’d like to get rid of more than anything! Why has it always been this way? Why do we have to either accept EVERYTHING they teach us, or keep nothing?

Martin Luther was the first person to successfully break out of this. He kept all the parts that rang true with him, and tossed out his list of 95 things that were wrong. He disagreed with the corrupt Christian leadership, but kept Christ.

We can too! 🙂
– Randy Renkenberger

“A mountain is tall but it also has dirt on it”. “A fish swims, but it is also wet.”
Saying God is love, but God is also a just God, is saying that love is inherently unjust. Hmm.

I think this is how I look at it: God is love, and his love includes all the advocacy for our humanity that we will ever need.
– Wendy Francisco

There is no balance in God. The idea that there needs to be is an entirely man-made concept.
– Me

When God tells Adam and Eve they may eat from any tree in the Garden, save the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it’s like saying: literally the whole world can be yours, or you can choose to live a life of judgment.

Choose wisely
– Jeff Turner

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Why Do People Believe In Hell?

I know I keep banging on about Hell, but I am sure that I am not alone in considering this horrific, seemingly central doctrine of modern-day Christianity to be simply repugnant, repulsive (in that when they hear about it, people are repelled from God by it) and, well, just wrong. And so I make no apology for placing yet another article on my blog about why this doctrine can be considered false. Who knows, someone might be encouraged by it.

In this excellent New York Times article, renowned author, theologian and philosopher David Bentley Hart writes about why he believes the doctrine is untenable. And this guy really scares the Fundies because, unlike them, he really knows his stuff 😉


Once the faith of his youth had faded into the serene agnosticism of his mature years, Charles Darwin found himself amazed that anyone could even wish Christianity to be true. Not, that is, the kindlier bits — “Love thy neighbor” and whatnot — but rather the notion that unbelievers (including relatives and friends) might be tormented in hell forever.

It’s a reasonable perplexity, really. And it raises a troubling question of social psychology. It’s comforting to imagine that Christians generally accept the notion of a hell of eternal misery not because they’re emotionally attached to it, but because they see it as a small, inevitable zone of darkness peripheral to a larger spiritual landscape that — viewed in its totality — they find ravishingly lovely. And this is true of many.

But not of all. For a good number of Christians, hell isn’t just a tragic shadow cast across one of an otherwise ravishing vista’s remoter corners; rather, it’s one of the landscape’s most conspicuous and delectable details.

I know whereof I speak. I’ve published many books, often willfully provocative, and have vexed my share of critics. But only recently, in releasing a book challenging the historical validity, biblical origins, philosophical cogency and moral sanity of the standard Christian teaching on the matter of eternal damnation, have I ever inspired reactions so truculent, uninhibited and (frankly) demented.

I expect, of course, that people will defend the faith they’ve been taught. What I find odd is that, in my experience, raising questions about this particular detail of their faith evinces a more indignant and hysterical reaction from many believers than would almost any other challenge to their convictions. Something unutterably precious is at stake for them. Why?

After all, the idea comes to us in such a ghastly gallery of images: late Augustinianism’s unbaptized babes descending in their thrashing billions to a perpetual and condign combustion; Dante’s exquisitely psychotic dreamscapes of twisted, mutilated, broiling souls; St. Francis Xavier morosely informing his weeping Japanese converts that their deceased parents must suffer an eternity of agony; your poor old palpitant Aunt Maude on her knees each night in a frenzy of worry over her reprobate boys; and so on.

Surely it would be welcome news if it turned out that, on the matter of hell, something got garbled in transmission. And there really is room for doubt.

No truly accomplished New Testament scholar, for instance, believes that later Christianity’s opulent mythology of God’s eternal torture chamber is clearly present in the scriptural texts. It’s entirely absent from St. Paul’s writings; the only eschatological fire he ever mentions brings salvation to those whom it tries (1 Corinthians 3:15). Neither is it found in the other New Testament epistles, or in any extant documents (like the Didache) from the earliest post-apostolic period. There are a few terrible, surreal, allegorical images of judgment in the Book of Revelation, but nothing that, properly read, yields a clear doctrine of eternal torment. Even the frightening language used by Jesus in the Gospels, when read in the original Greek, fails to deliver the infernal dogmas we casually assume to be there.

On the other hand, many New Testament passages seem — and not metaphorically — to promise the eventual salvation of everyone. For example: “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” (Romans 5:18) Or: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) Or: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) (Or: John 13:32; Romans 11:32; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; and others.)

Admittedly, much theological ink has been spilled over the years explaining away the plain meaning of those verses. But it’s instructive that during the first half millennium of Christianity — especially in the Greek-speaking Hellenistic and Semitic East — believers in universal salvation apparently enjoyed their largest presence as a relative ratio of the faithful. Late in the fourth century, in fact, the theologian Basil the Great reported that the dominant view of hell among the believers he knew was of a limited, “purgatorial” suffering. Those were also the centuries that gave us many of the greatest Christian “universalists”: Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Didymus the Blind, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Diodore of Tarsus and others.

Of course, once the Christian Church became part of the Roman Empire’s political apparatus, the grimmest view naturally triumphed. As the company of the baptized became more or less the whole imperial population, rather than only those people personally drawn to the faith, spiritual terror became an ever more indispensable instrument of social stability. And, even today, institutional power remains one potent inducement to conformity on this issue.

Still, none of that accounts for the deep emotional need many modern Christians seem to have for an eternal hell. And I don’t mean those who ruefully accept the idea out of religious allegiance, or whose sense of justice demands that Hitler and Pol Pot get their proper comeuppance, or who think they need the prospect of hell to keep themselves on the straight and narrow. Those aren’t the ones who scream and foam in rage at the thought that hell might be only a stage along the way to a final universal reconciliation. In those who do, something else is at work.

Theological history can boast few ideas more chilling than the claim (of, among others, Thomas Aquinas) that the beatitude of the saved in heaven will be increased by their direct vision of the torments of the damned (as this will allow them to savor their own immunity from sin’s consequences). But as awful as that sounds, it may be more honest in its sheer cold impersonality than is the secret pleasure that many of us, at one time or another, hope to derive not from seeing but from being seen by those we leave behind.

How can we be winners, after all, if there are no losers? Where’s the joy in getting into the gated community and the private academy if it turns out that the gates are merely decorative and the academy has an inexhaustible scholarship program for the underprivileged? What success can there be that isn’t validated by another’s failure? What heaven can there be for us without an eternity in which to relish the impotent envy of those outside its walls?

Not to sound too cynical. But it’s hard not to suspect that what many of us find intolerable is a concept of God that gives inadequate license to the cruelty of which our own imaginations are capable.

An old monk on Mount Athos in Greece once told me that people rejoice in the thought of hell to the precise degree that they harbor hell within themselves. By which he meant, I believe, that heaven and hell alike are both within us all, in varying degrees, and that, for some, the idea of hell is the treasury of their most secret, most cherished hopes — the hope of being proved right when so many were wrong, of being admired when so many are despised, of being envied when so many have been scorned.

And as Jesus said (Matthew 6:21), “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”


Here’s the link to the original article

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