This page is mostly for personal and spiritual posts (a.k.a. non-fiction).
My fiction-only blog, about my novels and other similar examples of popular art, can be found here.

Friday, May 31, 2013

I love this DVD!

Some Dickens novels I read first, then check out the movies, but some I watch first so I can have a picture in my mind of the characters and places, and then enjoy the nuances and details of Dickens' depiction. This one I've watched several times without reading the novel yet, and it's one of my favorites ever. Tom Wilkinson narrates Dickens' semi-autobiographical tale (an "exaggerated" and "edited" version of his life, we could call it), Daniel Ratcliffe plays the young David, Bob Hoskins as Mr. Macawber, Maggie Smith as Betsy Trotwood...what's not to like? And the rest of the characters and settings are just right too.

As a Christian, the icing on the cake for me is Dickens' propensity for illustrating God's sovereign providence, even over evil acts and persons, which causes "all things to work together for good." Some critics have said too many coincidences come together in Dickens to be believable, but I believe like he did that it happens all the time, though we may not see it from our limited vantage point. The fictional narrator is able to see it, however, so we can too as we watch the events unfold through his eyes.

An example is the terrific scene where Miss Trotwood tells off Mr. Murdstone and his sister, saving David from a fate worse than death. She can "peg" the abusive husband because she endured one herself in the past, and she has the passion and resolve to stand up to him for the same reason. The hand of providence used her past misfortune to insure a bright future for David, and provide a greater measure of redemption and meaning for her own life as well.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Proving Our Point -- Discussion Between a Believer and Some (Un?)believers

The other day an agnostic/atheist friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook that said, "No evidence exists to support any claim that the Jews were ever enslaved by the Egyptians, not one single piece of evidence!  Just another lie in the Bible!" Then this discussion ensued, which I thought you might find interesting:

Me:  First, I'm not even sure that's true...I'd have to check on it. But even if it is, remember skeptics said that for years about the Hittites, the Edomites, written documents at the time of Moses, etc.--all which have been proven by modern archaelogy, which by the way has never disproven any claim of Scripture.

Brenda:  It is interesting that there is no evidence of over a million (conservative estimate) people wandering around the Sinai for 40 years at the time of Moses.  You would think that some evidence would be found, especially since they know where to look. I removed my christian blinders towards evidence when I left the religion.  I was always inclined toward science and investigation, and coming out as atheist was just an acknowledgement of reality for me.  I truly tried to see the magic and miracles, but there is no evidence.

Me:  I'd say you simply put your faith in something else, dear friend.  We all rely on something or someone for our conclusions about what is true and not true. But I still love you just as much, and always will.  If you ever open up to it again, consider the idea that the Bible itself teaches that obviously supernatural "sign" miracles would only happen at certain times in history, and we should not expect them to be happening now in the same way they did at times in the past.

Chuck:  Dave, I just have to ask why you think miracles happened then but not now. That is not logical.

Me:  Hi Chuck... Here's a brief answer for you: Even in the times while the Bible was being written, they did not happen continually, but only during certain periods of time when God was revealing his Word (Moses, prophets, Jesus and apostles). Hebrews 2:3-4 and 2 Cor. 12:12 say that supernatural signs (meaning obvious miracles beyond what God normally does) were given for the purpose of validating those who were speaking and writing God's special revelation, which is contained in the Bible. Now that the Bible is complete, that purpose is no longer necessary so we shouldn't expect such signs and wonders. I believe this is what Paul was saying in 1 Cor. 13 when he says prophecies and tongues will cease...I know that's disputed by many Christians, but I think a very good case can be made for it. If you want to read more about the basis for this understanding see Victor Budgeon's book Charismatics and the Word of God or my book Decisions, Decisions--How and How Not to Make Them. Thanks for asking!

Chuck:  Dave, the bible is a select set of parables put together by one man for distribution and control of the people. many other "books" were written but not included in the bible you are refering too. Christians don't seem to get they are entitled to their own beliefs up to the point where you start using them to judge others, there by assuming others beliefs should be the same as yours when they often are not. I appreciate your attempt to educate me and give me guidance but it is not necessary. I grew up being fed the meal that is the bible and at this point, I see it as having been turned and twisted into a book of hate by people who claim to be informed. The fact of the matter is at the time all these "miracles" and stories were written the minds of the people themselves were much simpler and more easily guided into beliefs. It makes you feel safe and warm when you can say no matter what I do, I only have to be forgiven for my wrongs, by a non-corporeal entity that can neither approve nor disapprove my actions, but since I believe I am forgiven I must be. Regardless of the harm caused in the wake of your actions. NO LOGIC AT ALL.

Me:  It's interesting that you mention what we call "the gospel," Chuck. The apostles said that would be a major dividing line between people...the idea of being justified by faith alone, or a "legal fiction" as the Roman Catholic Council of Trent called what the Reformers were rediscovering from the New Testament. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18, "The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." You're right...I definitely do want to believe that Christ paid the penalty for all my sins on the cross, but that doesn't necessarily make that "divine logic" wrong. I know this might be offensive to you (Paul said that some would be offended too), but I'm not offended by you saying I have "no logic at all." I appreciate the opportunity for frank, direct, and respectful dialogue, and will pray that if there is a God, he will bless you with his grace.

Chuck:  Thank you for proving my point Dave.

I thought of saying, "And thank you for proving Paul's." But I just said "You're welcome."