Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Alligators of My Life...

I've never been big into Halloween... Perhaps it was too many years in church and bible school, hearing about how it was the devil's holiday... Maybe it was because most of life I was already pretending to be something I wasn't... Perhaps it was just because chocolate didn't have the hold on me that so many other children swooned over...

Regardless, I have always been fascinated, actually, by people's enjoyment of being scared. From the haunted hayrides, the corn mazes, the creepy houses, the horror flicks, the screaming and the blood--it boggles me more than fundidiots!

I personally have never liked being scared--indeed, even mild suspense can sometimes get to me, although I will state that I love a good suspense flick much better than a horror flick. My brothers would actually make fun of me when, if they happened to be watching a horror movie or show on the television, I would vacate the living room as soon as I thought something even remotely horrifying was about to make an appearance. Whether suddenly having to go to the bathroom, or making up some other such excuse, I would take that time to play the "for-once-not-being-played" Nintendo, or have the bedroom for silent reading. (We three boys shared a bedroom until I was seventeen and demanded my father build a wall in the basement at a key point in which I could finally secure my own room...)

I sometimes wonder if this is how I try exert control over my environment? Or is this me being a slave to my fears? I don't fear fear--in fact, there isn't much I do fear! I just don't like that feeling of unknowing, of the surprise that's coming, and ultimately, of the nightmarish stories my subconscious imagines in the dead of the night! I remember I once made it through (what I now realize is the cheesiest flick ever made) a whole screening of the movie Alligator, and for years afterward, I had a nightmare in which a giant alligator was coming down Toll Gate Road, trying to gobble up my family... And while I can appreciate the cheesiness of it all now, back then I was terrified at the idea of loose alligators. Go figure, eh?

I must then ask myself, why doesn't the fear of eternal damnation hang over me, or even my subconscious, to the point where I must err on the side of "caution" and "believe" just to save myself the fear of hell fire? Is it that, as an adult, I can appreciate the "cheesiness" of fire insurance for a consciousness that won't survive past my heart beat? Or, on the flip side, is it my survival instincts of self-preservation that keeps me from even contemplating the notion, much as I wouldn't contemplate watching a horror movie?

I think it must be the first, as the second, the "contemplation," has been discussed both here and on other blogs, about the ludicrousness of such a netherworld created by a being to punish beings he created and doesn't want to punish... The circular, anti-rational logic of it all, is more reminiscent of a fire insurance policy, nay, perhaps even a panic button people can hit at will in an effort to absolve themselves of misdeeds and "less than nice" thoughts or actions!

In the ultimate of ironies (much like having a spoon when all you need if a knife), one must remember two key tenants: One, that you need Jesus blood to "wash away," or "cleanse" your sins, even though through some sort of loophole, you still end up paying the price of sin (i.e, death), but end up with life "eternally" in the presence of the one who died for you; and Two, even though you have been "washed" or "cleansed" of these sins, you will still commit acts of "wrongness" or "misdeeds," and thus continually need to regret and repent of these misdeeds (although it must be pointed out, in most Christian circles, misdeeds do not end your salvation, just a close relationship with said god).

And you have to wonder (or, at least, I have to wonder) why wouldn't "salvation" erase the sin nature, thus leaving you sinless the remainder of your life? OR, barring some sort of telelogical law about such a scenario (although a study of the holy book will reveal no such block to sinless nature through salvation), why not then BAM! automatic everlasting life? Why the need to still die if Jesus truly paid the price for all our sins?

As you can see, it reduces into an acrimonious harmony of illogical thought and circular rational...

Fear, at its core, must be substantive, if it is to remain effective as a motivator (much like "justice" and "mercy" must have finite, measurable punishments for finite, measurable deeds, but that's for another time...). Fear is defined by Websters as "1 a: an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger." In other words, you need a reason to be afraid, to have fear... Otherwise, your fear is considered irrational, and thus, is categorized as a "phobia." Phobia, from Websters, is "an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation."

Hell, or even the once-removed cousin through marriage thought of eternal punishment, is a christological phobia. An irrational fear. Inexplicable, illogical, and brought on by an exaggerated fable of yesteryears beliefs. The reason hell has lost much of its umph in driving hoards to a "saving knowledge of Jesus" isn't due to a sudden gambling urge against Pascal's Wager, but by a continuing body of knowledge which points in the direction of logic, not pointy-tailed red-horned devils on one shoulder and beatific angels on the other...

And while my primal subconscious may still be dealing with the supposedly very real threat of being eaten by alligators (or its related off-shoots), I can rest easy in the knowledge that
  1. Alligators are real.
  2. Alligators have eaten people.
  3. Alligators do not live in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Thus, there is a basis for the fear, and my conscious realizes this. The rational, logical portion of my brain recognizes the facts, and makes a decision which supersedes the more primal nature of "fight/flight," and as long as I don't feed this "fear" with heresy, false logic, and panicky hypotheticals, I sleep easy and don't plan my entire life, indeed my every thought and whim, on the basis of fear.

And, and this I believe is most fundamental, fear, while maybe not widely recognized as such, is the sole motivator of continued religious belief, and it flourishes best in the minds of people who entertain false logic and hypotheticals...

Perhaps, as humanity continues to advance sociologically and psychologically, more people will confront the irrationality of god and his supposed eternal promises (not to mention punishments)?

It almost stretches one's faith in humanity to think so...

16 comments:

DaBich said...

Fear...
That is one of the best control weapons evil people have over mindless ones.

Not that I don't believe in God.

But I fear a lot less, these days.

=D

Anonymous said...

You have it all wrong and you SHOULD fear hell. Jesus did pay the price for our sins on the cross, but we have to accept his sacrifice or He will say "Depart from Me I never knew you". I wonder if you will be scared on the day you hear those words. My bet is that you will. Please, please, please do not let that happen. You seem to have a need to convince yourself and others that you are right about God (or lack of a God). But, in the end, your being 'right' may send you to eternal hell. There is no such thing as fire insurance, you cannot accept Jesus just because you don't want to go to hell. God knows the heart and no matter what you say you believe, Jesus will judge the true nature of you experience with Him. So, fire insurance is really not an option - the faith in God is either real and sincere or it isn't and Jesus knows those who are His.
I pray (and I seriously, sincerely mean this with all my heart) that you will not let your pride get in the way of you having a relationship with God. He is real and no matter how many times you deny Him, He does not change and He will not go away.
The biblical signs are so heavy right now (more than any time in history) and you may call me a fundidiot, but I believe with all my heart He is coming soon. I beg you to think about it. Make fun of me, call me names - whatever you want, but don't deny the Holy Spirit. Jason, God loves you, He created you - sent His son to die for you and all He asks in return is for you to believe without physically seeing.

Jason Hughes said...

Dabich: Do you fear a lot less because you feel secure in your beliefs? Or do you fear less because you have managed to place your fears in some type of perspective which isn't necessarily spiritual in nature? Just curious...

Anon: First, a designation (since when one Anon comments, 5 more seem to pop up and it gets a tad confusing), you are Anon #259. Please use this reference number in your commenting in the future please... :D

As to your actual comment, I would ask that you take a step back, reread my post and how your comment relates to said post, and think about the rhetoric (dare I say fear tactics?) you are exhorting...

In a semi-related matter about your "trying to convince myself" comment: If I were trying to "convince myself," I certainly would fall on the "better safe than sorry" side of the picket fence (whether or not an "all knowing god" could read the heart of the matter or not), but an attempt to understand and discuss WHY some people DO fall on one side of the fence or the other. People generally talk through things that are quite perplexing by talking them out (or in this case, writing). I would ask, what in particular strikes you as an attempt on the part of myself to "convince" myself that there isn't in god?

Additionally, why is doubting Thomas afforded the "right," or opportunity, to see and THEN believe, but everyone else is not? Why can't seeing be believing? Why must it be blind faith? I could go on, but I feel another post on this topic forming in the brain...

Anonymous said...

From Anonymous #259 :-) (you asked I complied)..........Please don't think of my comment as a fear tactic. Think of it more as trying to help a person who is bound for hell. As I said, there is no such thing as "fire insurance salvation". You either truly believe that Jesus Chrsit died for your sins or you don't - it's pretty cut and dried - no middle ground. So, I would never want to try to scare someone into professing Jesus - that would be futile since He knows the true intent of your heart. So, please do not think that was my purpose in commenting.
As for your question about doubting Thomas. Thomas was fortunate (or way unfortunate - depending upon how you look at things) to be able to live in the time that Jesus lived here on earth. The disciples and people who saw Jesus after the resurrection DID get to see the hands that were pierced, but the Bible says that even more blessed are those who believe and THEN see. The Israelites in Exodus had God's presence in the form of a cloud - later people had God's presence in the form of His son Jesus - after Jesus' ascention believers now have His Holy Spirit to guide them. Without faith you cannot recieve the Holy Spirit - without faith you cannot enter into a relationship with Jesus.

It seems from your blog that you have lots of head knowledge about the Bible, but no heart knowledge. I pray your head knowlegde will reach your heart very soon - He IS coming.

Jason Hughes said...

To Anon #259:

You said: Please don't think of my comment as a fear tactic. Think of it more as trying to help a person who is bound for hell.
Hence, appealing to the "scary place of eternity" in an effort to get me to believe--even though your heart is in the right place (and I do believe you are sincere, no matter how misguided I believe you to be), a spade is a spade...

You said: As I said, there is no such thing as "fire insurance salvation". You either truly believe that Jesus Chrsit died for your sins or you don't - it's pretty cut and dried - no middle ground.
I thought I made it pretty clear I don't believe, but in case you felt I was being "wishy-washy" or something, I'll state it again: I do not believe in a god, let alone the garden-Christian variety, it was simply some open thoughts about how fear may or may not be a motivator for some to confess to a god, despite some of the short comings of logic regarding the fear as a motivational factor... Nothing more...

You said: So, I would never want to try to scare someone into professing Jesus - that would be futile since He knows the true intent of your heart. So, please do not think that was my purpose in commenting.
Whether or not you see the fear motivation or not, that's all hell is--a sort of "catch all" for those who, without some other type of compelling evidence or logical reality, will see no reason to kowtow the religious line. I mean, without hell, what does god have really in his corner?

Regardless, that wasn't the point of the original, but it is a logical follow-up, which shall be included in my post about poor Doubting Thomas...

You said: As for your question about doubting Thomas. Thomas was fortunate (or way unfortunate - depending upon how you look at things) to be able to live in the time that Jesus lived here on earth. The disciples and people who saw Jesus after the resurrection DID get to see the hands that were pierced, but the Bible says that even more blessed are those who believe and THEN see.
Again, wasn't really my point--I must be failing in communication lately...

The point is the double standard--if a god wishes to disseminate among the people's of the earth some great and grand truth, one of which will "save" people from a place HE created, why shroud it in all the mystery? Why keep yourself a secret with no verifiable evidence? Why come up with a scenario in which logic and rational have no place in the equation? So one dude stuck his hand in the wound of Jesus--he OBVIOUSLY has no issues with invisibility, lack of proof, or what-have-you as he saw him, touched him, yadda yadda (or so he believed he had, but that's for another time...) You also touch on the "physical presence" of god in other times of history, but why the lack of presence now? I know, I know, "Holy Ghost" and all that--I'm sorry, but what that amounts to is the wishy-washiness of people's "feelings" and "at the moment emotional states," nothing that can't be chalked up to a bit of spiritual hysteria and a touch of momentary psychosis. Emotions are both the blessing and the curse of the human race in that, we are both slaves and lords of it, unable to ignore them, but many times unable to justify them either. A guilty conscience (or however else you feel the holy ghost manifests--we'll go with this for now unless you'd like to bring up another example...) is nothing more than a realization of having done something you think you ought not have done based on the societal mores and obligations imprinted on you since you were a baby, and to chalk it up to some ghostly god is both a negation of real emotional experiences, but also a rationalization of a misunderstood reactions... You of course will realize that many people who don't subscribe to your god, and thus, aren't demon-possessed by said god ghost, right their wrongs, make good desicions, and try to treat their fellow man with dignity and respect--all without a belief in your god, his hell, or his kids' followers' mass hallucinations as they tried to cope with such a traumatic event. But I'm off the tracks again

You said: Without faith you cannot recieve the Holy Spirit - without faith you cannot enter into a relationship with Jesus.
Who said I wanted one? No offense, but I have better things to deal with the the imaginary friend of 90% of the U.S.--most of them involve enjoying the life I have, and trying to clue in the other 45% who take this stuff way too seriously--the other 45% are merely going through the motions if you ask me, and if that floats their boat, whatever. More power to them.

People use faith on a daily basis, most often NOT in a spiritual sense. You are imploring to the "faith for no reason" usage of the term--and I'm sorry, if there's no REASONING and NO LOGIC, you won't find me there except out of mild, mostly-morbid curiosity--and then I'd most likely post about it here...

You said: It seems from your blog that you have lots of head knowledge about the Bible, but no heart knowledge.
Define "heart knowledge," if you don't mind--I don't think you;re using it in the context to which I am most used to hearing it. "Heart knowledge," fomr my experience, speaks to common sense and a compassion toward others. NOT to believing in ghosts...

You said: I pray your head knowlegde will reach your heart very soon - He IS coming.
And we finish off with another fear-motivating tag line...

Anyway, thanks for sharing...

DaBich said...

Definitely a combination of both...
and BTW


Curiosity is a good thing.

Jason Hughes said...

To Dabich:

Even though it killed a cat or two?

:D

BethAnne said...

From Anonymous #259

Okay, how about something we do agree on........I am also fascinated by the fact that people love to be scared. When I was in high school and college my friends and I used to pay good money (and it wasnt easy to come by when I was a broke college kid) to go to haunted houses or haunted forests and have people scare the heck out of us.
Anyway, thanks for reading my comments and commenting back - even though we don't agree on much of anything. I am truly sorry that you believe my comments were scare tactics - I didn't mean for them to come across that way. I still wish you would consider giving Jesus a chance to work in your life, but from now on I will wish that silently. Have a great weekend!

BethAnne said...

PS I thought you might want to know my real name...........I actually wasnt signed in on blogger when I commented earlier - I always think its kind of silly to take time to type my name when no one knows who the heck I am anyway=-----------still, have a great weekend

Sylvia said...

Hi Jason
Just wanted to say hey....and what you said in your comment:
"I'll state it again: I do not believe in a god, let alone the garden-Christian variety"
Oh my - that makes me so sad. Just know that I love you and hope that someday, hopefully soon, you will believe in the Lord.
Love
Sylvia

BOB said...

Just a quick comment. For those of us who do believe . Sometimes wanting someone to believe what we believe so badly. One does often Us " scare tactics " not that it is right because it is not. I was brought up in church where they did that and it scared the crap out of me. It was only in my Adulthood that I actually learned things for myself. And With out God I can tell you for sure I would not be here. I went through very dark times in my life. That is for another day ;) ANYWAYS!!!! . Can you put yourself for one second in our shoes. If the people you knew , the people you loved most in life ,if you knew something bad was going to happen . Or that you could see the future ( Not saying that any one can see the future just a what if ...) Would you not try everything you could to change it ? Just a thought ....

Kel said...

I know what you mean about not wanting to be scared...Moulin Rouge scared the hell out of me!

;)

Oh, and the week of the 12th for lunch is fine with me!

Jason Hughes said...

To Bethanne: Well, at least we can agree on the fascination of people being afraid... :D You'll never catch me spending a nickel on anything my psyche even remotely finds scary! :D

To follow up, though, when you say I am truly sorry that you believe my comments were scare tactics - I didn't mean for them to come across that way. Whether or not you mean for them to be "scare tactics," the "scare factor" is inherent in the message...

To Sylvia: Don't let it get you down, sis... I'm happy with my life choices, you are apparently happy with yours... I know you truly believe (as does the rest of the fam, I'm sure...) that this is a "wrong" conclusion, but without anything factual, reasonable, or logical with which to back up such a belief, that's the way it's going to be...

To BOB: You said: It was only in my Adulthood that I actually learned things for myself. I'm curious as to what these learning experiences were, if you don't mind too much. What did you read, or what happened to you in adulthood that "cemented" this belief for you, and why?

You also said: And With out God I can tell you for sure I would not be here. When you say "for sure," it only eggs on my curiosity...

You said: I went through very dark times in my life. That is for another day ;) ANYWAYS!!!! . We've all gone through dark times--in fact, one man's darkness is another man's light! :D Or, conversely, one man's darkness can be his light... Regardless, whether you be atheist, Christian, Buddhist, or whatever, a lot of people get through a lot of tough things in life not sharing a belief in your version of god--so I guess what I'm going to ask is, why do you give your particular deity the kudos for helping you through dark times when plenty of others have the same "concrete" emotional and physical evidence as you for their deity helping them through theirs? What makes your "for sure" experience any more or less real than theirs and why?

You said: Can you put yourself for one second in our shoes. If the people you knew , the people you loved most in life ,if you knew something bad was going to happen . Or that you could see the future ( Not saying that any one can see the future just a what if ...) Would you not try everything you could to change it ? Just a thought .... That's an awfully huge hypothetical.... And, knowing myself like I do, I would want to know what they thought the future was, what their basis and logic and reasoning were, and the likelihood of future being written in stone...

But that's just me... :D

To Kel: I still can't fathom the "scare" factor you found in one of my most favorite movies?! Ugh! You're killing me here!

I suppose we'll still do lunch... :D

Bob said...

Okay whewwww!!! Here I go I will try to answer your questions the best way I can . To you it probably won't mean anything because you like facts ect...
For the question it was not until I was an adult I figured things out for myself.
I grew up in the church heard it all the time. The end is near . Be watching. So I had Christianity Jammed down my throat. Therefore I became Numb to it.
When I got older I went through several bouts of severe depression. I understand that People who don't believe the way I do get through things like that! But for me it is what got me through it. I went through a time where I felt nothing. Sounds weird but I felt no love no nothing! I had everything to be happy about so there was no "real " Reason I should have felt that way. I laid in bed for about 2 weeks I could not eat I could not even get up. I truly felt like ending it all but I had to find something because I had a family o take care of. The point is I kept reading the Bible ( For myself not because It was being jammed down my throat ) I asked many people to pray for me. And For ME I just know it was what got me through and Keeps me going now. It is frustrating to try to explain that to some one Who does not believe in something you can not see ect..... That is the only way I can explain it to you! God is real to me because I believe . I am not out to force God down other peoples throat. I would love for other people to believe the way I do but I can not make any one believe. There I tried . I am not very good at putting my thoughts down like you! You are a very in depth person which is good. You question things and people. I am just simple minded ;)
As for my Hypothetical I just wanted you to think what you would be willing to do for the one you loved. And you know what I question things all the time about God and the Bible. There is alot I don't understand and probably never will. But I still 100 percent believe.

Jason Hughes said...

To Bethanne: Well, at least we can agree on the fascination of people being afraid... :D You'll never catch me spending a nickel on anything my psyche even remotely finds scary! :D

To follow up, though, when you say I am truly sorry that you believe my comments were scare tactics - I didn't mean for them to come across that way. Whether or not you mean for them to be "scare tactics," the "scare factor" is inherent in the message...

To Sylvia: Don't let it get you down, sis... I'm happy with my life choices, you are apparently happy with yours... I know you truly believe (as does the rest of the fam, I'm sure...) that this is a "wrong" conclusion, but without anything factual, reasonable, or logical with which to back up such a belief, that's the way it's going to be...

To BOB: You said: It was only in my Adulthood that I actually learned things for myself. I'm curious as to what these learning experiences were, if you don't mind too much. What did you read, or what happened to you in adulthood that "cemented" this belief for you, and why?

You also said: And With out God I can tell you for sure I would not be here. When you say "for sure," it only eggs on my curiosity...

You said: I went through very dark times in my life. That is for another day ;) ANYWAYS!!!! . We've all gone through dark times--in fact, one man's darkness is another man's light! :D Or, conversely, one man's darkness can be his light... Regardless, whether you be atheist, Christian, Buddhist, or whatever, a lot of people get through a lot of tough things in life not sharing a belief in your version of god--so I guess what I'm going to ask is, why do you give your particular deity the kudos for helping you through dark times when plenty of others have the same "concrete" emotional and physical evidence as you for their deity helping them through theirs? What makes your "for sure" experience any more or less real than theirs and why?

You said: Can you put yourself for one second in our shoes. If the people you knew , the people you loved most in life ,if you knew something bad was going to happen . Or that you could see the future ( Not saying that any one can see the future just a what if ...) Would you not try everything you could to change it ? Just a thought .... That's an awfully huge hypothetical.... And, knowing myself like I do, I would want to know what they thought the future was, what their basis and logic and reasoning were, and the likelihood of future being written in stone...

But that's just me... :D

To Kel: I still can't fathom the "scare" factor you found in one of my most favorite movies?! Ugh! You're killing me here!

I suppose we'll still do lunch... :D

Anonymous said...

You have it all wrong and you SHOULD fear hell. Jesus did pay the price for our sins on the cross, but we have to accept his sacrifice or He will say "Depart from Me I never knew you". I wonder if you will be scared on the day you hear those words. My bet is that you will. Please, please, please do not let that happen. You seem to have a need to convince yourself and others that you are right about God (or lack of a God). But, in the end, your being 'right' may send you to eternal hell. There is no such thing as fire insurance, you cannot accept Jesus just because you don't want to go to hell. God knows the heart and no matter what you say you believe, Jesus will judge the true nature of you experience with Him. So, fire insurance is really not an option - the faith in God is either real and sincere or it isn't and Jesus knows those who are His.
I pray (and I seriously, sincerely mean this with all my heart) that you will not let your pride get in the way of you having a relationship with God. He is real and no matter how many times you deny Him, He does not change and He will not go away.
The biblical signs are so heavy right now (more than any time in history) and you may call me a fundidiot, but I believe with all my heart He is coming soon. I beg you to think about it. Make fun of me, call me names - whatever you want, but don't deny the Holy Spirit. Jason, God loves you, He created you - sent His son to die for you and all He asks in return is for you to believe without physically seeing.