Sunday, December 27, 2009

Has de-Emphasizing Religion Gone too Far?

*This is basically a response to the following article, posted on Facebook by a friend of mine.

As the pendulum swings from a super-conservative approach to a more liberal approach to religion, are we losing something important that God has to say to us? Some of us went to Adventist schools and had certain rules imposed on us that were restricting and uncomfortable. Some of them seem to have no relation to our relationship to God, yet we're expected to follow them without understanding why. We got them at church, at school, possibly at home, and we don't know if they have relevance to us now. The rule I always like to pick on is the idea that wearing non-essential jewelry (i.e. anything but a watch or a wedding band) is a sin. This is not biblically founded, and has nothing to do with the state of a believer's heart. Other people have a problem with restrictions on certain types of meat (pork, certain seafood, etc.). I've just come to the conclusion that those types of meat are restricted in the Bible because they're unhealthy (pigs don't sweat and shrimp, etc. clean the bottom of the ocean of excrement), so I don't mind following that rule. However, I see the point that it shouldn't be linked to Salvation. So, our generation (some of us) has decided that we need to take a more liberal approach to religion. And that's a good thing. Right?

What happens when we start questioning the basic tenants of our religion? What happens when we decide that all of the "rules" we have been following are no longer relevant in our lives today? Which ones are we willing to sacrifice to liberalism?

How can we toss out the divinity of Christ because it doesn't agree with the world's view on the topic? One person, at least, would like to say that we can focus on Christ's teachings and his way of life as an example, but we should re-evaluate our view on his divinity. Why? Is there any biblical reason to doubt Christ's divinity? If not, what authority should we look to that tells us that Christ was not/ is not God? If Christ himself claimed divinity, how can we call him "good" if he was lying to us all along? If he was not God, who was he? How does this approach help us bring any more people to Christ and Salvation?

Another idea some people want to embrace is that evolution is another viable option as an explanation for the beginning of the world. Well, now we throw some more doubt on the Bible. You might say, well, other beliefs that are supposedly in the Bible have been shown to be misinterpretations of what the Bible says, and have now been reconciled to science. But how can the creation story be re-interpreted to match with evolution? The argument I read was not calling for a long, evolution-like creation story, but actual acceptance of the Big Bang Theory. What would we gain by doing this? Are we going to win people to Christ by taking away God's creative power? Now, how do we know who God is? If he is not the author and creator of our existence, how can he be the author and creator of our Salvation? How can he help us get through this life?

The author of this article is not alone in his desire to reform the Sabbath by lifting restrictions. It is sad that people feel there are restrictions on the Sabbath. I say this because the Sabbath is about how we can worship God the way he wants us to. It's not about what we can or can't do on the Sabbath. Maybe this is a conclusion that is not supported by a lot of Adventists. I'm sure there are many who would say, "No, it IS about what you can't do on Sabbath." To them I say, thanks a lot for ruining it for us all. We should focus on coming up with meaningful ways to worship rather than on saying, "Don't do that; don't do this." Is the following a verse about restriction?:

"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
       and from doing as you please on my holy day,
       if you call the Sabbath a delight
       and the LORD's holy day honorable,
       and if you honor it by not going your own way
       and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,  14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
       and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
       and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." Isaiah 58:12-14

I don't feel that it is. This is a promise, more than a restriction. The Sabbath WAS made for man. And it was made for man to be able to come closer to God and worship him. It is to be our delight and our joy. It is to be restful and refreshing. It is to keep us sane in a time when the world is revolving seemingly on its own with no help from God. When the world has rejected him, we have a date in time with the Creator of the universe when he's set aside time especially for us.

Well, I could go on and on, but this is just a sample of what I find to be a problem with the liberal swing of the religion pendulum. I'm glad we have moved away from ultra-conservatism, but we need to watch ourselves so we don't swing all the way to the other side. Why does this author even want to call himself an Adventist anymore? He's questioning the validity of the Bible, the "existences and attributes of God," the divinity of Christ, the importance of the Sabbath, and the problem of evil. What is he leaving that is still Adventism? After doing more research I will probably blog about humanism and what I think about the author's opinions on that topic.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book Review: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Penguin Popular Classics) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After just having finished a theory class, I could see more significance in Alice's uncertainty of who she was. She realizes that she is not the same as she was before, and doesn't quite know who she is now. I loved that the entire book was a dream. Her encounters with the characters were very reminiscent of what would occur in dreams, too: the characters are familiar, but odd, and most of the dialogue was nonsensical. Throughout the book Alice is asked to recall verses that she is supposed to know, but when she recites them they are not quite right, yet she doesn't know how they're supposed to go. Like a dream, the scenes she finds herself in change rapidly with no seeming reason (as when the hall with doors disappears even though she hasn't moved). The ending was weak. Instead of ending with Alice waking, it goes on to focus on her sister musing about Alice and how she would be a wonderful grown up, telling stories to children that would entertain and delight them. I felt it was really odd to switch to the point of view of the sister at the very end.

If the purpose of the book was to be an entertaining story for children, I believe Carroll succeeded. If it was to be an attempt at describing dreamlike thought, I think it was also a success. All in all, it was an interesting story, though I probably won't choose to read it again for purely enjoyment. I'll probably read it to my children, though.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wuthering Heights Review

Wuthering Heights Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What did I expect with the title "Wuthering Heights"? A fun read? No. It was totally depressing. A book about revenge (I believe) with very few redeeming qualities in any of the characters! If I thought I liked a particular character, I was soon forced to change my mind. Even the housekeeper who was narrating most of the story was not very well-informed in her decisions, and her most well-meaning advice often caused more trouble than good. The whole family (both sides) was poisonous. No one was safe. There were a few redeeming pages at the end of the book that made it not quite a worthless read. Though, I must say I was intrigued and interested throughout despite the horrible characters. I wanted some good to come to somebody, and eventually it did. So, three stars for this one.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ripple baby blanket project

Here is the first crochet project I have completed in a long while. I've had several projects in progress over the years, but haven't completed anything recently besides a pair of fingerless reading gloves for my mom. This baby blanket is for my new second cousin, Anzleigh, who was born on December 15.

The ripple pattern is easy (if you can count to six hundreds of times) and makes for a unique look. Anzleigh's room is decorated in pink and black, so I wanted the blanket to match. It would have turned out better if I had used all the same yarn. As it was I used Lion Brand Vanna's Choice Baby for the dark pink and white, and Vanna's Choice for the black (which was slightly larger than the baby yarns). The light pink was a satiny cotton (I forget the brand) and ended up being quite a bit smaller than the other yarns even though it was supposedly the same gauge. Anyway, it was fun and I'll use the ripple pattern again!