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Old 08-31-2007, 01:37 AM   #61
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Originally posted by nathan1977
[B]

I do, actually. Throughout the OT you can see incredible promises of blessing that stem from a relationship with God, and consistent human unfaithfulness. Yet no matter how unfaithful we are, how willing we are to engage in patterns that ultimately lead us into bondage and slavery, God always brings us back. He does not spare His people the results of their wandering (if He did, we really would be mindless automatons, wouldn't we?), but He always tries to move them towards a future filled with hope. Jeremiah is an amazing book filled with both God's heartbreak at how far His people have wandered from Him, to the point where they have become captives in Babylon, but also incredible words of love and promise that He will bring them home again.
In many ways, the Old Testament is a book about God's unfulfilled promises to his chosen and their often taking matters into their own hands. OK, a battle here and a battle there, a miracle here and a miracle there, a burning bush and a chariot of fire. Plagues of locusts, etc. etc. A shock and awe God. But ultimately a God who could not or would not deliver. A God who bristled when anyone challenged him on his promises "Hey, you said...."

The New Testament brings about a new approach. A promise that will no longer be able to verified in this lifetime or in generations of lifetimes. A promise that can only be verified after we're dead. What a perfect solution.

Sometimes I think I like the God of the Old Testament better. At least he took a hands-on approach even if he could be an asshole. He put himself out there.

Melon said: "So ask yourselves: why would a theoretically "omnipotent and benevolent" deity allow bad things to happen? Because the alternatives are worse. "Perfection" is not having everything that you want; it's accepting that everything is as it is supposed to be."

Perfection may not be having everything you want, but I don't think it is accepting everything is as it's supposed to be either. It reminds me a little of the Emporer's New Clothes. I think such an argument, beautifully crafted in the abstract as it is, answers nothing, but provides a rationale. I prefer the responses of the believers who say, "I don't know the answer to that question."
I will sit down to listen to them. Because they understand the core of the question and know it is truly unanswerable.
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Old 08-31-2007, 01:59 AM   #62
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Originally posted by Irvine511
this, i think, dances around the earlier question of just how much we can blame on people, and how much we can actually blame on God/religion/The Bible. if it's invoked so often as a means of justification for all sorts of horrible behavior, isn't there something about the source material that makes it such an easy rationale?
People blame all kinds of things on all kinds of things, don't they? Children learn this very early on -- to make excuses for bad behavior -- and it never really stops, does it?

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this seems to me to be a contradiction of your earlier assertions of free will -- for if the Devil makes us do it, does that mean we have free will?


The blessing and the curse of free will is that we can choose who we follow, and whose voice we ultimately listen to. To blame the evil that happens or the evil that we choose solely on God is to miss the bigger picture, I think.

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so, again, bad things happen because we are bad? Grandma gets cancer because she's been bad? because others have been bad?
I don't think it's not as simple as all that. We have the world we want. How many times do we chose imperfection over perfection, disharmony over harmony, brokenness over wholeness? The by-product of a world that goes wrong is a world gone wrong.
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Old 08-31-2007, 11:03 AM   #63
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Is there supposed to be an expectation that they shouldn't be?


i guess not.
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Old 08-31-2007, 11:09 AM   #64
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People blame all kinds of things on all kinds of things, don't they? Children learn this very early on -- to make excuses for bad behavior -- and it never really stops, does it?



but do children always blame the same thing, over and over again, for an endless spectrum of behavior?





[q]The blessing and the curse of free will is that we can choose who we follow, and whose voice we ultimately listen to. To blame the evil that happens or the evil that we choose solely on God is to miss the bigger picture, I think.[/q]

i'd agree about not blaming God alone, and i don't think anyone does that, but the question i think we have before us is how many excuses we're going to make for God.

it does seem at times that it's an abusive relationship. he hits because he loves, whenever i get hit, i need to understand why i was hit, he wouldn't hit if he didn't care, and when i get hit, i need to turn to him for comfort, and i must be better lest i get hit again.

it does seem quite abusive. if we are to take the view that "God is in control" and that it's all part of "God's plan," then there are times when i feel like i'd have to defend the vulnerable from God.



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I don't think it's not as simple as all that. We have the world we want. How many times do we chose imperfection over perfection, disharmony over harmony, brokenness over wholeness? The by-product of a world that goes wrong is a world gone wrong.
to be totally honest, i really don't see myself as much of a sinner. there's very little that i see myself as doing that has any sort of meaningful negative effect. i wake up every day and make the best decisions i can when faced with the information i have and the abilities i have. i can't think of much that i do that would result in some kind of harm towards other people, or myself, and isn't that the "spirit" behind sin? and the vast, vast majority of people i know do the same thing. if we are to view sin as something akin to a swear jar, where every time we commit a sin on par with saying "shit" -- which, come to think of it, if swearing is part of the 10 Commandments, then God really does think we're an 11 year old -- and that the accumulated quarters ultimately wind up being $5 worth of lukemia, then, honestly, isn't that the very definition of pettiness?
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Old 08-31-2007, 01:55 PM   #65
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He beats them because he loves them.
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Old 08-31-2007, 02:35 PM   #66
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I only want to weigh in on this from Ian McEwan, because I have an opposite view.

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When those planes hit those buildings and thousands of innocent people died and tens, twenties, hundreds of thousands of people started to grieve, I felt, more than ever, confirmed in my unbelief. What God, what loving God, could possibly allow this to happen? [/q] [/B]
9/11, in my view, wasn't God's fault, any more than the Holocaust was God's fault. God has given man gifts that have taken centuries to unlock, and we are still unlocking them. but one of them is the ability to resist and prevent evil. There were many reports of what was happening in Nazi Germany, as early as the late 1930s, just as there were many alarms sounded by the security community over al Queda.

Indeed, we have aviation security safeguards that could have prevented 9/11; we had immigration laws that would have allowed us to keep the terrorists out of the country, and there were law enforcement agents, specifically the FBI in Minnesota, who knew something was afoot. And yet, the system broke down, and the planes were crashed. How is that God's fault?

The ultimate responsibility for both of those tragedies lies with man, not with God. I don't use that to excuse the pain that anyone suffered, but it does no good to blame God for them. God isn't there to make everything better and solve our problems; he's put us on earth to search and reason for ourselves.
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Old 08-31-2007, 02:42 PM   #67
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The ultimate responsibility for both of those tragedies lies with man, not with God. I don't use that to excuse the pain that anyone suffered, but it does no good to blame God for them. God isn't there to make everything better and solve our problems; he's put us on earth to search and reason for ourselves.


if God loves us, why does he allow these things to happen?

that's the central question, i think, being put forth here, and most people who have lived through human tragedy, as did Mother Theresa, have their faith challenged when faced with such horror.

some come back to God, others never do, and i don't think any of us can say who's right and who's not.
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Old 08-31-2007, 02:59 PM   #68
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that's the central question, i think, being put forth here, and most people who have lived through human tragedy, as did Mother Theresa, have their faith challenged when faced with such horror.
Why have it challenged by those things?

With a smile, Mother Teresa told the camera what she told the patient: 'You are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you.'" Apparently unaware that the response of the sufferer was a put-down, she freely related it: "Then please tell him to stop kissing me.

'I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.' Jerry Falwell on September 11

A world without God where people do evil things to eachother and bad things happen is much more comprehendable than one where everything good is the product of a benevolent God and every piece of evil is excused away and pinned upon mankind. It really robs humanity the credit for the good that it does achieve.
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Old 08-31-2007, 07:59 PM   #69
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Is it more important for me as a Christian to feel the presence of God on this earth or is it more important to be Christlike to those in need?
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Old 08-31-2007, 08:05 PM   #70
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Originally posted by Dreadsox
Is it more important for me as a Christian to feel the presence of God on this earth or is it more important to be Christlike to those in need?
In my opinion, it would be very hard to have the first part of your statement without the second part accompanying it.
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Old 08-31-2007, 08:23 PM   #71
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Originally posted by Irvine511




if God loves us, why does he allow these things to happen?
God could stop any evil from occuring with the blink of an eye, but I don't think that is in His nature. One day God will come and indeed end all evil, but until then, He shows us He loves us by allowing life to go on after bad things happen. That isn't to say that life afterwards will be easy, but He assures us He is there and wants anyone and everyone to come to Him during the bad things. If I can be so bold, I would predict that events like 9/11 brought many people to God who may not have known him before, and I personally know more ex-athiests now Christians than I do ex-Christians.

Your question is a common question by those who do not know God and have an incorrect or distorted view of Him. He does not sit up in the sky and make sure we all live happy lives and never do anything bad.
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Old 09-01-2007, 01:09 AM   #72
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Your question is a common question by those who do not know God and have an incorrect or distorted view of Him. He does not sit up in the sky and make sure we all live happy lives and never do anything bad.


don't fucking patronize me.
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Old 09-01-2007, 01:30 AM   #73
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Originally posted by Irvine511

i'd agree about not blaming God alone, and i don't think anyone does that, but the question i think we have before us is how many excuses we're going to make for God.
Two thoughts:
1) How many excuses are we going to make for ourselves? I hate to belabor the environment thing, but for pity's sakes -- we screwed it up. The warnings of global warming have been evident for years, but people stuck their heads in the sand. Who are we going to blame? God?

2) Despite agreeing about not blaming God "alone," you certainly do seem to lay an awful lot of blame at His feet. I suppose, at the end of the day, you're either going to see God or you're not. If you don't, that's certainly your right, but I think your skepticism masks something much deeper, which is why I don't think you're really an agnostic, because your mind seems more made up than you say it is...

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it does seem at times that it's an abusive relationship. he hits because he loves, whenever i get hit, i need to understand why i was hit, he wouldn't hit if he didn't care, and when i get hit, i need to turn to him for comfort, and i must be better lest i get hit again.
I agree with you that it's an abusive relationship, but I'd argue that it's the reverse way. (Jesus being the prime example.) God takes an awful lot from us. How often, for example, do we ask the question "Why does God let bad things happen to good people?" vs. "Why do I let bad things happen to good people?" I think He can take it -- He and I have had it out on more than one occasion -- but at the same time, I'm not sure how I would feel if my name was used as a curse word.

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to be totally honest, i really don't see myself as much of a sinner.
Who does? Raise your hand if you think you're a bad person. I don't think anyone wakes up in the morning saying, "Let's see, shall I start today with lusting, exploiting, pillaging, raping, drinking to excess, stealing, swearing, or abusing?" But the fruits of our days bear themselves out, don't they? If we are not sinners, why is the world the way it is?

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i can't think of much that i do that would result in some kind of harm towards other people, or myself, and isn't that the "spirit" behind sin?
Only if you believe that genuinely sinful people wake up and think that way. But we don't live in a world of moustache twirlers, do we, yet somehow the world is full of corruption, greed, hatred, pride, selfishness, etc. This is what is referred to as the "sin nature". "Who shall deliver me from this body of death," wondered Paul in despair, for in spite of our best efforts, we are so often our own worst enemies.

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if we are to view sin as something akin to a swear jar, where every time we commit a sin on par with saying "shit" -- which, come to think of it, if swearing is part of the 10 Commandments, then God really does think we're an 11 year old -- and that the accumulated quarters ultimately wind up being $5 worth of lukemia, then, honestly, isn't that the very definition of pettiness?
Only if you look at God as rewarding good behavior or bad behavior. If God however is primarily concerned with relationship, and with knowing us and loving us to the point that we become more like Him, then it's not God Who punishes our mistakes. It's we who more often than not bring these things on ourselves. A friend of mine summed it up nicely just today over lunch -- "After you're 25, you probably need to realize that all your problems have one person in common: you."

(And BTW -- you probably know this, but swearing isn't part of the Ten Commandments, so God must not think we're 11.)

ETA -- and I think that post was pretty patronizing too.
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Old 09-01-2007, 02:23 AM   #74
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God could stop any evil from occuring with the blink of an eye, but I don't think that is in His nature. One day God will come and indeed end all evil, but until then, He shows us He loves us by allowing life to go on after bad things happen. That isn't to say that life afterwards will be easy, but He assures us He is there and wants anyone and everyone to come to Him during the bad things. If I can be so bold, I would predict that events like 9/11 brought many people to God who may not have known him before, and I personally know more ex-athiests now Christians than I do ex-Christians.

Your question is a common question by those who do not know God and have an incorrect or distorted view of Him. He does not sit up in the sky and make sure we all live happy lives and never do anything bad.
Kid, your view is just as or more distorted than anyone I know...
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Old 09-01-2007, 05:11 AM   #75
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2) Despite agreeing about not blaming God "alone," you certainly do seem to lay an awful lot of blame at His feet. I suppose, at the end of the day, you're either going to see God or you're not. If you don't, that's certainly your right, but I think your skepticism masks something much deeper, which is why I don't think you're really an agnostic, because your mind seems more made up than you say it is..
Irvine is perfectly capable of answering on his own, but your first paragraph shows a common misunderstanding by some Christians about agnosticism. Most atheists are not plagued by the questions Irvine poses (or I pose or, for that matter, many Christians pose) For the pure atheist, the nature of God is a nonissue (with the exception of some literary interest or intellectual play) An agnostic can lean more one way than another. An agnostic who leans more towards atheism is still an agnostic. An agnostic who leans more towards belief is still an agnostic. And an agnostic who shrugs his shoulders completely is an agnostic. While you may not be using it as such, denying how someone represents himself is a common tactic often used by people who do not want to delve deeper into the argument.
Denying the person is a disingenous way to dismiss the argument.

I see that all the time (often in political arguments) and to be perfectly honest, it is the absolute worst way to try to bring anybody around to your point of view. It doesn't challenge their view. It challenges their integrity.

This is a topic Irvine often responds to and I've never seen anything but good faith questions and some frustration with the answers. (I've felt the same frustration). A true atheist doesn't spend the amount of time either of us do troubling over these God questions.

I flip between atheism and agnosticism. You will find if I do take the final step to atheism, my questions on this topic will stop.
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Old 09-01-2007, 06:10 AM   #76
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In my opinion, it would be very hard to have the first part of your statement without the second part accompanying it.
there are plenty who give of themselves for the poor who are not necessarily feeling the presence of God.
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Old 09-01-2007, 09:58 AM   #77
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don't fucking patronize me.
Excuse me?

Sir, I never said you were an athiest. I said your question of "Why does God allow bad things to happen?" is a question commonly asked by non-believers. I never referred to you at all in my post, so please calm down.
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Old 09-01-2007, 10:00 AM   #78
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Kid, your view is just as or more distorted than anyone I know...
Kid, please tell me how I am wrong or how my view of God is distorted.
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Old 09-01-2007, 10:24 AM   #79
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Excuse me?

Sir, I never said you were an athiest. I said your question of "Why does God allow bad things to happen?" is a question commonly asked by non-believers. I never referred to you at all in my post, so please calm down.


you think calling someone an atheist is patronizing, or an insult?

if you had read the thread and the highly intelligent, nuanced discussion, you would see how utterly irrelevant your comment was, as it had already been addressed, and we're discussing precisely what you asserted as a basis of fact and has nothing to do with a "proper" understanding of God. you've, again, belied the fact that you're consistently unable to relate to anything outside the boundaries of your own experience, and there's, again, no humility in your posts.

my reaction was too strong. and i apologize for that. but please understand where my frustrating is coming from -- it's was like a child walking in during the a movie and demanding to know what's going on.





ETA: again, i should have reacted in a more mature manner (it was late), but i just found it frustrating and, yes, patronizing, especially given all the honest, heartfelt discussion that's gone on in this thread. i will try to take a deep breath before i post in the future.
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Old 09-01-2007, 10:49 AM   #80
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[q]

Two thoughts:
1) How many excuses are we going to make for ourselves? I hate to belabor the environment thing, but for pity's sakes -- we screwed it up. The warnings of global warming have been evident for years, but people stuck their heads in the sand. Who are we going to blame? God?

2) Despite agreeing about not blaming God "alone," you certainly do seem to lay an awful lot of blame at His feet. I suppose, at the end of the day, you're either going to see God or you're not. If you don't, that's certainly your right, but I think your skepticism masks something much deeper, which is why I don't think you're really an agnostic, because your mind seems more made up than you say it is...
[/q]


so earthquakes and tsunamis are our fault? we do have a specific name for these things -- Acts of God. i fully blame humans for what goes in in the Sudan and the shit we pump into our atmosphere, but my question remains, that if we are to take the more sentimental view of a loving God who answers and responds to prayers (which also isn't my view, as i fall much closer to Melon), then why doesn't he do something about it? we charge people for not acting to stop certain crimes -- why not ask God to get up and do something?

as for my closet atheism, which isn't actually true, just keep in mind that i'm arguing a point, and i actually agree with two fundamental points made by the religious -- God really cannot be understood in human terms (which, to me, kills dead the notion that he's loving and listens and cares and loves and wants a relationship), and, two, that atheism is an article of faith. we can't *know* one way or the next.


[q]I agree with you that it's an abusive relationship, but I'd argue that it's the reverse way. (Jesus being the prime example.) God takes an awful lot from us. How often, for example, do we ask the question "Why does God let bad things happen to good people?" vs. "Why do I let bad things happen to good people?" I think He can take it -- He and I have had it out on more than one occasion -- but at the same time, I'm not sure how I would feel if my name was used as a curse word.[/q]

this seems to underscore my earlier "battered spouse" analogy. and, again, i know why *we* let bad things happen to good people -- we elect idiot leaders, for example -- but i don't know why, if we've got this relationship with God, and if he loves us in an active, human sense, he doesn't do something to stop these bad things.

what i don't understand is why you say that we cannot hold God to "our" standards and conventions, yet all of your posts express him in only human terms using human standards and conventions.



[q]Who does? Raise your hand if you think you're a bad person. I don't think anyone wakes up in the morning saying, "Let's see, shall I start today with lusting, exploiting, pillaging, raping, drinking to excess, stealing, swearing, or abusing?" But the fruits of our days bear themselves out, don't they? If we are not sinners, why is the world the way it is?[/q]


okay -- so you do think that sin is like a swear jar?

the last question is an excellent one -- but it's for you to answer, and it holds you accountable, since i think the world is the way that it is because that's the way the world is. things simply are. and we do our best to deal with it.


[q]Only if you believe that genuinely sinful people wake up and think that way. But we don't live in a world of moustache twirlers, do we, yet somehow the world is full of corruption, greed, hatred, pride, selfishness, etc. This is what is referred to as the "sin nature". "Who shall deliver me from this body of death," wondered Paul in despair, for in spite of our best efforts, we are so often our own worst enemies. [/q]


i'd agree with this, and i do think that the "sin" might lie in the rationalizations that people make in order to justify their actions, but i still maintain that most people aren't in a position of power to adversely affect the world. as income consolidatse into an ever decreasing tiny minority of the population, the ability to "sin" on a grand level -- a level whereby one could affect laws, policy, etc. -- is dwarfed by the amount of people who don't have the power to act in such a way that it affects a large amount of people.

believe it or not, i think much of what you're saying about sin makes logical sense. i always thought that most of NBC's posts were of sound logic, if utterly preposterous, in my opinion. i can see the coherence of the worldview, even if i think it's preposterous.

but it cannot for the life of me say that babies are born with horrible birth defects because there's sin in the world. it's like saying that people who get HIV deserve it. i don't buy the Butterfly Effect/ Chaos Theory when it comes to "sin." it seems crazy to think that because a man cheats on his wife, two 15 year old girls die in a car accident.



[q]Only if you look at God as rewarding good behavior or bad behavior. If God however is primarily concerned with relationship, and with knowing us and loving us to the point that we become more like Him, then it's not God Who punishes our mistakes. It's we who more often than not bring these things on ourselves. A friend of mine summed it up nicely just today over lunch -- "After you're 25, you probably need to realize that all your problems have one person in common: you."
[/q]

i like the last line. i do. and it sounds very "Man in the Mirror" to me, and i can't disagree with the message: if you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change. i'm a fan of personal responsibility. and i can understand that if we are to believe God/Jesus as a perfect model of behavior, and we all try to make ourselves more like him, then the world will be a better place. i can see that. i can see that if we all tried to be more like MLK, or Ghandi, or even (dare i say it) Bono, the world would be a better place.

but i still think that we could all be the best we could be, and a tsunami is still going to wipe out 250,000 people, and people are still going to get cancer and AIDS, and God isn't going to do a thing about it. and if this relationship is so important, why doesn't he do something about all this horror?

one thing i have gained over the past year or so is a true appreciation for what actual, real, lived-in violence is like. i've spent a lot of time in police stations and working with police officers, and what they have to deal with is enough to shake any worldview. i see no God in crime scene photos. i see no God in chilling 911 phone calls. it's in these moments of sheer horror that the actual emptiness of it all, the fact that there just might be no "there" there, that fills me with dread.

and ... well, that's a huge, huge post, and i'm not awake enough to really start writing about that.
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