Friday, July 07, 2006


James Macmillan is a wonderful man. he is now living in Holland with the love of his life, and studying to become a Reverend in the Lutheran church (did i get that right?).

i did not ask his permission to post this, but i hope he does not mind:

"Good morning,

Your peeve-du-jour is very thoughtful, and I appreciate it. I would say, however, post away. You are being honest with your thoughts, and therefore discussion is possible. And if Christianity is true, then it must stand up to examination. Otherwise, it would indeed only be an orbiting teapot, with tempest an available option.

Dogma - Mr. Russell's assertion about dogmatists (and the word dogma has such a deliciously highly negative feeling to it) is in fact his own dogma. Christians state that their dogma is true, Mr. Russell states that his dogma is true. His is obviously better according to him because it is a negative statement dogma rather than a positive statement dogma, but it is dogma all the same. Pot calls kettle black. The idea that God does not exist is just as much an article of faith as the idea that God does exist. You cannot avoid having faith in this area.

"But Christians demand that I believe their dogma." Well, yes, many Christians talk that way. Rather, I hope that coming from me is an invitation to think about it, and if it bears further examination, to give it that thought. Mr. Russell is claiming that his dogma is true, and demands that you believe it instead. It is no different.

There are some facts that bear examination. In a remote corner of the Roman Empire, in the first century AD, or BCE if you prefer, a movement began. This movement began among the Jews, and to join it was not only to risk death at the hands of the Romans, but also to believe in things that were absolutely contrary to first century Semitic culture. To join was to step outside of their culture in a way that was far more profound than anything we have in our culture in the 21st century western world. Why did they believe at the risk of their lives and families? Why did this movement grow over 300 years to the point that it became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the early 300's? And, in the understatement of the year, it got bigger after that. This is not a teapot. This is a movement that changed the world, and changes people's lived daily, including mine. And in it's pure form, free of politics and manipulation, it is beautiful.

I had a great running joke with the Fear of Falling guys [nb - an band James and i recorded] - my best repeat clients at Water Music. They came in for the second project, and I said "This time I really know what I am doing." Indeed, I had learned a lot about recording since our first effort, and I was a better engineer. I could look back and see shortcomings in my earlier time. They came back for a third project, and I said "This time I REALLY know what I am doing." Ask Stengel, it was a great joke. But it was also true. I had learned more, and was a better engineer. ( A lot of it because of you :-)

And now I'm 50, and I look back at where I was in my life 5 years ago, and I think "I was an idiot then, I know so much more now." This, while being a sign of continuing growth, carries with it a corollary - Todays wiser man is an idiot in 5 years. OK Dutch boy, what's your point?

From your blog - "if you find yourself in trouble, you get the same result if you pray to that china teapot or pray to that "god" for some kind of intercession in your affairs...nothing."

You prayed for something and got nothing. Or perhaps, could we say that you didn't get what you asked for? I ask you to consider the following...

If God exists, and is the creator of the universe, and runs it all without effort (and so He is described in the Bible) then He is one big time smart dude (ok, new candidate for understatement of the year). If He is that smart dude, then He is smarter than you or me. Definitely me at any rate. When you ask Him to give you something and He doesn't, is it possible that He knows something that you don't?

Your son sees something that he wants. He wants it, oh he wants it. Dad won't give it to him. Junior cries. Dad won't give it to him. Junior screams, dad won't give it to him. Junior has a fit, and tells dad "You don't love me." Junior is sent to his room. Dad goes back to trying to decide on flatware. Dad knows better than Junior. That doesn't change the fact that Junior wanted whatever it was. It doesn't change the fact that Junior's desire for it was sincere, or that it was passionate. But it wasn't the time for his first gin rickey, or an ice cream cone, or that pan was too hot, or the elevator shaft was empty, or whatever. Dad loves him, and wouldn't give it to him. Possible situation? Junior being upset is his unwillingness or inability or combination thereof to admit/understand that Dad knows more than him.

When God doesn't answer a prayer that you ask in the way that you want, are you writing Him off because He didn't jump through a hoop that you set up? Can the creator of the universe know more than you? You yourself will see the present time with much more wisdom in the future, when you REALLY know what you are doing."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bertrand Russell was well known to be a grumpy and miserable guy. His gifts with language and his sense of humor brought him some success and some satisfaction, but nothing made him actually happy.

People who have the joy of the Lord, OTOH, tend to be quite happy and satisfied.

10:04 PM  
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