I Don’t Understand Eternal Torment (aka Hell) Scene 1

8 12 2014

She lived in a large city in some developing country somewhere. She was 13 years old. She shared a small one room living space with 11 other girls ranging in age from 6 to 14. She got to eat a bowl of rice once every two days. She was always hungry, always lonely, always scared. For the first three years she cried herself to sleep, but over time she became numb  and fell asleep to escape the life she had been forced into living.

hellShe used to have a family, a Hindu family, with a mother, father and three younger sibling. One day a man came to her home and offered to pay her parents money to take her and give her a job in the city. The offer was substantial enough to help her family buy food for several weeks so they packed her up and sent her with the man. He took her to the city and bought her some food, some clean clothing. When they got to the house she was given a bath and told to get dressed in one of the outfits.

She was taken to a room with a nothing but a mattress on the floor and told to sit down while the man went to get a “guest”. He came back with a middle age white man who sat on the bed next to her. Then the other man left. The white man began to stroke her hair, talking to her in a language she did not understand. She was very afraid…too afraid to move. The man put his hand under her skirt and touched her. After a few minutes he took off his clothes and then hers and raped her. It was so painful but when she started to cry he yelled at her in the strange language and slapped her in the face. She stopped crying .

She had experienced this scene over and over again, hundreds of times in the last few years and she thought that night would be no different. The middle-aged white man with the strange language she had begun to understand seemed angrier than most. He tore her dress taking it off her and shoved her down onto the floor. He was harsh, and aggressive. He put his hands around her neck as he raped her. She was scared and wanted to scream, but she couldn’t and she couldn’t breathe either. The last thing she felt as she began to lose consciousness and slip into the arms of angel of death was the pressure around her neck and the searing pain between her legs.

She awakes to a thick blackness, the smell of the rotted eggs she remembers from her family farm, and a burning the consumes her from within and without. The pain dwarfs anything she experienced in life. She cries out but her voice is absorbed into the blanket of silent, dark nothingness. The terror of the alone-ness only magnifies the physical pain that goes on and on and on. Hopelessness,  and despair swirl around her.


She is in hell.

According to some Christians she is experiencing the justice of a righteousness god. And depending on the theological bent she either chose  hell or was assigned to hell before she was ever born.

I don’t understand eternal torment.

Nothing But The Blood?!?!?!?

20 10 2014

American Evangelicalism is a funny hybrid of Christianity. On one hand we say we believe the Gospel to “get saved” but on the other hand we live our Christian lives as if it has nothing to do with our relationship with God. We…
Seek to have a “closer (walk) relationship” with God,
work “to become holy”,
strive “to be sanctified”,
beg and plead “to be forgiven for our sins”,
tithe to get “the blessing”
resurrect parts of Hebrew law with it’s rule and regulations and latch onto our favorite parts to prove to others and ourselves that we are “real believers”, and those others  are not,
condemn the big sinners “out there” so we can feel good about the sins we hide within ourselves,
we invent keys, steps, and uncover “secrets” to get in God’s good graces.

But the Gospel is not about us. The Gospel has nothing to do with what we do. The Gospel is not meant to chain us to a new law, but rather to set us free from the bondage of sin, self doubt, and fear and  to experience God in a never before intimate way, and to become what God has intended us to become.

The Gospel has broken down the wall, and torn apart the curtain that has separated us from our Heavenly Father giving us instant access to Him.
The Gospel  has covered us with a holiness and sanctification that we can never attain, even on our best days.
The Gospel has set us free from the penalty of every sin we have or will ever commit. We are totally and forever forgiven.
The Gospel fulfills all the laws and regulations of the Bible. We do not have to follow rituals, or do things for God so that He will take notice of us and bless us. Because of the Gospel we get blessing every day.
The Gospel is not a weapon to use against those that have not yet experienced the love and mercy of God, rather it is a balm that brings sight to the blind, healing to the spiritually sick, food and clothing to the hungry and naked, and freedom to those trapped in their self made prisons.
The Gospel is not nice tidy steps that we take one at a time in order to attain perfection. The Gospel is wild and Jesusunpredictable,  interrupting the rigid, challenging the status quo, doing the unexpected, and reaching those we deem as unworthy.

The Gospel is Jesus. It is about Him and only Him, all that he has done and all that He is going to do.

It was never about us or how good we can make ourselves..

Value Voters vs Biblical Values

28 09 2014

value votersValue voters just held their summit in Washington DC with speeches and cheer-leading sessions  touting “Christian values”….lets take a moment to add these values up according to the Bible.

Abortion (actually a spontaneous miscarriage due to being hit) 1 time, homosexual behavior 6 times, taking back “our country” 0 times, Republican/Tea party 0 times,  USA being the apple of God’s eye 0 times, Christian support of military involvement 0 times.

Some value voters attacked  the character of others, particularly those in the Democratic party and “liberal” church. This attacking in many instances is bearing false witness, and it is, as Jesus said, killing someone with your words. Many of them speak lies against those in other religions (particularly Islam), they degrade and minimize the “humanity” of people in the LGBT community. They seek to dismantle the social service programs that help the poor, the needy , children, and elderly. They are first to embrace war, rather than peace and lament over the end of the death penalty in many of our states.

The values the Bible mentions are as follows….

The ministering to the poor,  addressing poverty, and social justice mentioned well over 300 times. There are multiple passages that address the immigrant. It specifically mentions caring for creation. Mercy mentioned 124 times (NIV), forgive 74 times (NIV), forgiveness 117 times, grace 131 times, love 551 times, Jesus 1273 times.

Jesus 1273 times…

There seems to be a disconnect here, or am I just imagining the values of much of American Evangelicalism are more in line with conservative politics rather than the Bible?



psalm 79: pour out your love

18 08 2014

Mark Lee:

Another beautiful post by Rabbi Brant Rosen

Originally posted on Yedid Nefesh:

can you pour out your love
upon the ones you do not know,
the ones who mutter their strange
and fearful prayers, who
refuse to call upon god
by your comfortable, familiar names?

can you tear open your robe and
let your compassion bleed out,
swaddling and comforting
those you have been taught to fear
with an indignation that burns
like a devouring fire?

are you ready to mourn
the dead of another family
whose blood is your blood,
the one who looks like a stranger
but is in truth,
your own flesh and kin?

throw open the doors,
and if the holy temple is to be defiled
let it be defiled
with unconditional love and grace,
profaned with the unbearably gorgeous
symphony of kaddishes
known and unknown.

View original

Ignorance Is Not A Spiritual Gift

14 08 2014

truthThe lament rises from church platforms and pews all over America, “Why do they hate us so much? All we are doing is loving them by telling them the truth!”

Stop for a moment! Let me ask you a question. Have you ever gotten mad at someone for telling you the truth?

The latest brouhaha comes from Christian blogger Matt Walsh because he entitles a blog post ” Robin Williams Didn’t Die From A Disease, He Died From His Choice”

Stop for another moment. If you had just lost a family member, or a close friend to suicide and you read that how would you feel? And be honest.

Christians in many corners of America think it is OK to trample over the emotions, feeling, thoughts, and lives of others because in our ignorance we have come to believe that it is  more important to tell them our interpretation of truth rather than have compassion, mercy, and love.

So we stand outside abortion clinics and tell women not to murder their babies.
We protest Gay Pride celebrations and hold up signs calling real, live human beings abominations because of their sexual orientation.
Well known Bible teachers tell parents to shun their own children if they come out to them as LGBT.
We support discrimination/ laws that seek to limit the rights of others in America.
We stand against bullying laws,
We rail against any gun legislation/or death penalty elimination,
We present false witness against government officials we don’t really know because a cable news network tells us so, regardless of whether or not it is true.
We wound, hurt and damage people because we either don’t know or don’t care how people feel after we eviscerate them with our words of “truth in love”

All under the banner of “speaking the truth in love”. And then, wonder of wonders we cry persecution because of how people react to our ” loving them”.

When did we decide that God has made us (and I am borrowing from Mr. Walsh himself) Professional sayers of truth?

Have we become so ignorant that we cannot see the damage we are doing the beautiful, liberating Gospel of God’s Grace in Jesus? Have we become so ignorant that we cannot see how we, ourselves stand between the God of unconditional love and those in desperate need of it? Are we so ignorant not tho know that the god we present to the world and the True God are polar opposites.

It’s time we stop being ignorant….it is not a spiritual gift.




“Professional Sayer Of Truth”

12 08 2014

The above title is actually in the bio section of Christian blogger, Matt Walsh. But before I get into what that says to people turned off by Christianity, letsdepression take a moment and talk about one of his latest posts in which he minimizes the effects Clinical Depression has on the choices one makes. In this case, he writes of the very recent suicide of Robin Williams.

In this post, it appears to me that Mr Walsh believes that major depression really does not have an influence over the choices one makes. In other words, the responsibility of taking one’s life has nothing to do with a person’s mental state. But I can assure Mr Walsh that people are propelled to make many choices in life that have a direct correlation to that persons mental health, that if that person had been in their “right mind” (mentally stable) they would not have made that choice.

The tragedy of Robin Williams death brings to light once again the ignorance  and stigma that surrounds mental illness.

I want to get back to the “sayer of truth” idea for a moment. When a believer states that they possess absolute truth, when they claim to be a “sayer of truth” they appear to most outsiders to the Christian faith as pompous. No one has the corner on “absolute truth”. I don’t, you don’t and Mr Walsh doesn’t.

Robin Williams was a victim of his mental illness, in this case, depression. It is a tragedy, a horror, and a great loss. As believers we should be weeping with those who weep and mourning with those who mourn. Not telling people the “truth”.

May Robin Williams rest in peace.


What I (And You) Don’t Know About God

11 08 2014

don't knowThere are hundreds of thousands of Evangelical Americans running around telling you, me, and a whole lot of other people what God is like, what He has done, who He is going to judge, and how it all ends. But here is the truth…no one really has absolute knowledge of any of it. And when we try to tell someone “the Truth” it sounds more like arrogance and pomposity. We claim to know absolute truth about the creation, the reasons God judged and continues to judge sin, what the Bible “plainly” says about any number of issues, including American politics/social issues, hell, heaven, salvation, the end of the world. We seem to have all of it all figured out.


What if we are wrong about some things, what of we just don’t have it quite right. What if we allow too much of our 21st century American thinking to color what the Bible really says. I mean, you and me and every other Christian is fallible, so who are we to judge anyone? I certainly am not. At this time in my life I struggle intensely with my faith, with the direction of my life, and the choices I have made and NEED to make.

I remember when I was a “fresh pressed” Evangelical. I was on fire! I knew without a doubt who/what God hated, who/what He was going to judge, and how I needed to act in order to curry His favor. I remember telling people, unless they stopped smoking, drinking, watching television, listening the “devil’s” music, celebrated Halloween, teaching their children that Santa (aka Satan) Claus was real and a multitude of other “sins” that they were in danger of the unquenchable flames of Hell. And everyday I knew that Jesus was coming back to take us, the elect, to heaven and burn up this filthy, wicked world and all the “sinners” with it. And we would be standing around Heaven rejoicing in the destruction of billions of souls.

But then I grew up in my faith…

Now I question, because everything in our faith is not cut and dry. In fact, most things are shades of gray rather than black and white. It makes me really angry when I hear a brother or sister in Christ pontificating on how the Bible is clear on this or that issue. Because we really don’t know it all.

The Bible is not always clear, and if you take verses out of context like many people do, it becomes even murkier.

I use to have all the answers, but these days I have mostly questions.


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