stuff I could use help with

  • The Gathering always could use prayer and support
  • I need support for the $1,800 mission trip to Wales in August
  • Thank God that I found a cheap place to rent!
  • Thank God that I have an awesome job now!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Dogma. It sounds kind of bad, doesn't it? It kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth, like you just bit into an onion as if it were an apple.

Many people, including myself, feel infected by the word's negative connotation whenever it comes out. It just brings to mind such wonderful illustrations of legalism such as the Inquisition, the puritan culture as portrayed by The Scarlet Letter, bible thumping holy-rollers, abortion clinic bombers etc.

(Now just as a disclaimer, I am not speaking about the word's denotation or of it's classical sense. I am simply addressing the legalistic, pharisaic nature of religion that it has come to represent.)

What is it about dogma that turns so many (including myself) off to religion in general? I believe that because dogma has the tendency to sterilize the beauty of what could be in order to make it clean and tidy. It pours out a bottle of bleach onto the garden of religion. It turns oil painting into painting by numbers. It turns improv. jazz into a musician's mechanical warm-up.

If someone were to have asked me a year ago if Witches and Christians had anything in common I would have given a very general answer: "Well, uh...they're both people, and...uh...they both love and...uh...hate, uh..." and I think you get the picture. Lately though, I've been reading Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler. It's basically a look at the sociology of Neo-paganism and it's written by a Pagan. (Which I think is really cool!). Anyway, with that added to my experiences here in Salem, it seems that we have more things in common than I thought. One of which is our longing for freedom.

Now, to make generalities about either religious groups is very difficult because of their great diversities. Not only from each other, but also within themselves. Nonetheless, both love freedom. Both seek for freedom from religion and both often see dogma as an enemy to that freedom, or more directly, freedom in worship. (Some Christians may not, but they can at least relate to the longing for the freedom the Jesus gives through His death).

Both seek to be free from extra rules and laws that keep them from intimate communication and worship of their deities. For Christians it may be more so that the relationship between us and God may be closer. For Pagans it may be more so that they may have a better and more personal interaction and/or revelation from whomever they deem to worship. However you phrase it, it sounds pretty similar to me. Obviously there are a myriad of differences as to the who, what, when, why's, and how's of their worldviews, but they both have this common factor.

The other day Pastor Phil and I met with a local solitary Witch named Krista at Beerworks. (Who will be on the panel of Witches at the Gathering's conference "God For People Who Hate Church" on May 4-6). Anyway we were talking over burgers and soup (she was really cool and let me mooch off of her fries) about how she decided to become a solitary and what worship for her looked like. She described how she would create the circle, call the four corners, etc., and then she described how she would sit in quiet with incense (not burning because it makes her sneeze), keeping her mind clear of distractions. She would let her mind go over the day (how could she have handled a conflict better, etc.), pray for help on certain issues, and be still for the presence of the Goddess and/or God.

Besides the ritual aspects and the fact that we worship different deities, the meditation sounds almost identical to mine. Though in mine I actually burn the incense (isn't that funny).

So, all this to say, I realize that I share a lot in common with these people (especially in our desire for freedom and irritation with dogmatic legalism) and I think I will love it here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I Hope I Don't Screw Up! is a picture of me in my new place. I would post more of my new place rather than just me in a room but I think some of you might feel intimidated by my upper class estate. So you all are stuck with looking at my ugly face. Nanie nanie boo boo!
Anyway, it's strange adjusting to this, living on your own and being an independent adult stuff. I just did my first tax return and almost commited tax fraud! (I almost didn't state that my parents could file me as a dependent, so I was getting a few extra hundred back.) Thankfuly my friend Gloria warned me before I mailed it.
But I always saw myself at home, at college, or still in high school at the age of 18 like most people my age. Not at the other side of the continent from my family, supporting myself completely, and my family only provide moral support and pays for my cell phone (at least for a few more months).
Not to say that I could have done this so easily without their help, encouragement, and love. But slowly the insanity of moving out of my home, from Florida to MA, a week after my 18th birthday, to learn from a Pastor I had only met once is slowly dawning on me.
However, with all that aside, I would not have had it any other way. And I am amazed how God has provided for me, how my family has supported me, how my friends up here have loved and helped me and how much I am learning. I just hope I don't screw it up.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Terrorism in Christianity

So, I realize that this may not make sense, but I believe very strongly that I am in danger of being perceived as a TERRORIST.

Often times, as someone with somewhat conservative Christian views, I am forced to acknowledge the part of my beliefs that deals with hell.

Let me begin by saying that I believe in hell. I believe that all people are born with something unnatural about us. We were intended to be flawless, but our ancestors introduced the lethal, genetically passed virus of sin. Thank God that He provided a vaccine (the death of Jesus in our place). Hell only exists as a quarantine for those who refuse the vaccine, so that they do not infect those that have accepted it.

Those are my beliefs in a nutshell. Though I believe this to be absolute truth, I respect the beliefs of others because I respect the individuals who hold those beliefs. Because I do so, I try not to scare others with my thoughts on hell in order to coerce them into changing their beliefs. To use terror (not to be confused with respect) as your tool, in any form, is terrorism. I don't condone or practice such "evangelism".

With all that said, I still think I could be viewed as a terrorist. Even if we forget my beliefs about hell, I believe I could be seen as a terrorist.

Because I, as a conservative Christian (in theology only) believe in absolute truth and make no effort to hide it, whoever observes this is reminded that those who aren't right may be wrong. And if they are not right about their worldview, perhaps they might view the world wrong, thing wrong, act wrong, live their lives wrong, and that is a harsh and terrifying thought.

Conservative Christians are in the minority in this view of truth. As such, when the average American sees Christians trying to spread this possibly harsh worldview, it may look like spreading terror to accomplish our goals (it may look like terrorism).

I don't believe that persecution has truly begun in America yet. But we have been isolated in our views of truth; "absolutism" has become the enemy of a diverse population. And I fear that perhaps America may deal with absolutists, Christian or not, as it does with terrorsists.

David Fisher - Be the RevolutionFishing for Trouble - Phil Wyman's Square No MoreMike Bursell - Mike's MusingsRestoring Our View of Humanity - Eternal EchoesPersecuting the Marginalized - JohnSmulo.comThe Ends Justify the Means - CalacirianBilly Calderwood - Billy CalderwoodSeeking First Righteousness - Tim AbbottJamie Swann - More Than StonePersecution and Martyrdom - Handmaid Leah"Don't squash the counter-revolutionary/the plank in my own eye" - JeremiahThe Martyrs of Epinga at Notes from the UndergroundTerrorism in Christianity at The Rivera BlogPersecution or Poor Elocution? "Hello," said Jenelle

Monday, April 9, 2007

Ghetto Pizza

Sorry that I haven't written anything for a while. I just a started working for Salem Hospital as an orderly and I moved into a nice rooming house on Essex St. Salem!

My room is great but I only have a microwave to cook with, and I'm not that great a cook to begin with.

On my walk home from work last week I stopped by CVS to get some groceries. I bought, among other things, two frozen pizzas (assuming that they were microwavable). As I continue walking home, I realize my mistake. However, I'm poor, hungry, and a big pizza fan, so I decided to try my luck anyway.

When I got home, I noticed that the dimensions of the microwave did not suffice for my pizza loving needs. So I decided to cut the pizza in half. I then remember that the only silverware I have is a set of plastic disposable silverware. But I did have a machete in the closet!

That's right, I used the machete to cut my pizza in half. I then put half of the pizza on a paper plate and cooked it for eight minutes. When I pulled it out, I observed that when cheese bubbles for eight minutes, it comes out looking like a skin disease.

And though the outside was crunchy and the inside was very soft, it made for a really good pizza!