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September 25th, 2004
04:15 am
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Spam from the 18th Century
The subject line of a piece of spam I received in my inbox earlier today:

hi! .. (and your souls? O that I may be instrumental in joining your )

I normally ignore these, because anything with a subject line that strange and fragmentary is almost certainly computer-generated, i.e. a piece of spam not worth reading. But the word "souls" caught my eye, and I Googled a portion of the phrase.

It's from a speech called "Christ: the Best Husband," by George Whitefield, a mid-1700s preacher. Fuller context: "What do you say? Shall the match be made up this evening between Christ and your souls? O that I may be instrumental in joining your hands, or rather your hearts together." (Two lines later, he cites the proverb "marry in haste, repent at leisure," which dates it back at least 250 years.)

Which brings me tangentially to an odd request. Can I ask a favor from my Christian readers -- and other people of any faith in the audience, but Christians especially? Give this post a skim and see if you can post any words of spiritual support or advice for the author here. I'm jumping in way late on this one, but something still ought to be said. Do note that she's a person close to my heart and this will be a snark-free zone. (Try to keep religion and politics separate, as well.)

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From:baxil
Date:September 25th, 2004 05:07 am (UTC)
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As for my own words of support ...

I don't know how much this will help, but it may provide something to reflect on. My personal perspective on this --

> To me, nothing is scarier that to finally die and meet God, only to hear Him say I had it all wrong.

-- is that it really seems to boil down to a dichotomy. Either God is the God described in the Bible as universal love, unity and forgiveness, or he isn't. Is he tolerant of our mistakes? Will he still love us if we (perhaps unintentionally) insult him by misunderstanding his message to the world?

I'm not a Christian, but if I die and find myself standing in front of an omnipotent guy on a big sky throne, I am quite willing to then stop and admit my incorrectness and arrogance. And the only logical conclusion I can draw about a universally loving God is that he would then forgive us just like the Bible says he has so many times before. Have compassion for our mistakes, our imperfections, and allow us a chance to redeem ourselves, even folks like me -- and CERTAINLY someone who dug deeply into the Bible and just bobbled some meanings. (Plus, if our spirit's life is eternal and God's love is eternal, why would our chance for redemption with a loving God stop at our deathbed?)

The other possibility is, of course, that God draws a line somewhere and declares people irredeemable. We can spend days arguing about the greyer areas -- serial murderers, slave drivers, and the inventor of childproof caps -- but it seems pretty clear to me that any God who would, say, arbitrarily decide that all Protestants all burn and all Catholics get free passes ... doesn't deserve to be followed.

Yes, yes, he's omnipotent and who are we to question, but we are thinking, feeling, loving beings, not some play toy to jerk around on a leash.
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From:kaijugirl
Date:September 25th, 2004 07:45 am (UTC)
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Universal love, unity, and forgiveness, is my take on it. Of course he is tolerant of our mistakes and would still love us no matter what. He allows us to make mistakes because of free will.. so he will not interfere with our choices, even if those choices take us away from him.

The one big misconception I've found people have about God is that.. they treat him too much like an anthromorphized being. Now this is a perfectly valid way of looking at God but it is a tendency of the human mind to make this kind of image too finite. So saying, God is not a being; God is the Universe, God is Everything, God is Nothing, and we all are God, and God is all of us. We have strayed from unity with that Universal Oneness of God, because we were given free will and our own thinking feeling selfhood developed from that. It is my belief that we will follow our evolutionary path of soul-seperateness, through any number of lives, whether in soulform after death, or in physical lives, or whatever one is or may be, and eventually, every soul will come back to God, because God is the ultimate, the Source, and we'll all eventually return home.

And yet, despite God's impersonality and universalness, he is also a personal force; he loves each and every person individually, because he is an unlimited ocean of love.. God is omniscient and omnipotent, so can spare grace and love for each person and each thing in the universe. It is because of free will that he does not stop us when we cause each other and ourselves suffering. He will give us more than we could imagine if we would only turn to him and ask. But he will not bring us to him until we are ready (and it is said to take at least 30 lifetimes on earth before we can get out of the evolutionary cycle, but I don't know how true that is, or if the evolution has to be on Earth, or if we have to have 30 on earth, do we have to have MORE lives afterwards as something higher..etc).

No one is irredeemable.. personally I think that was part of a political control of the Church. Even today, the Pope has said there's no hell that he knows of. Everyone will be forgiven and loved unconditionally, no matter how many mistakes they make. This is my absolute belief because I have seen the evidence of it.. there is a great saying that 'the universe will provide'. There is no need to fight and scrape and compete. In God there is abundance for everyone. If one has absolute faith in the universe, one's needs will be provided for. This can happen in the form of meaningful coincidences or oppurtunities.. but here is the origin of the term 'God helps those who helps themselves'.

There was a man walking along a path and a rampaging elephant was coming down the path. Another man, sitting in a tree, saw the elephant from a distance, and called to the man on the path, "Get out of the way, a rampaging elephant is coming."

"No matter," said the man on the path. "God will protect me." So the elephant comes and the man on the path gets hurt. As he lies there moaning in pain he calls up angrily that God didn't protect him. The man in the tree looked down at him and said, "Why didn't you listen to God warning you to get out of the way?"

o.o .. whooaa, long rant. ^-^;;; Sorry.
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From:r_caton
Date:September 26th, 2004 04:37 am (UTC)
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"There was a man walking along a path and a rampaging elephant was coming down the path. Another man, sitting in a tree, saw the elephant from a distance, and called to the man on the path, "Get out of the way, a rampaging elephant is coming."

"No matter," said the man on the path. "God will protect me." So the elephant comes and the man on the path gets hurt. As he lies there moaning in pain he calls up angrily that God didn't protect him. The man in the tree looked down at him and said, "Why didn't you listen to God warning you to get out of the way?"


Hmm; the saying "Thou shalt not Tempt the Lord thy God" comes to mind here.....
If we intentionally put ourselves in harm's way we are in effect challenging God to put Himself out to prove His existence for our benefit.....don't work like that unless you unintentionally set yourself up...
hence "God looks after children, drunks, and born fools"
and thank God for that, I say, being one of the latter....
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From:kaijugirl
Date:September 26th, 2004 05:26 am (UTC)
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Well, I look at that story more as a description of the fact that God doesn't interfere in a direct divine way. The man who was in the tree was able to see the elephant before the man who was walking could see it, and so, by calling down to him, gave him enough time to get out of the way. This was God's way of providing protection for the walking man; by there being a man in a tree to call out to the walking man. The walking man just didn't realize this, and so didn't listen to God warning him to get out of the way.

Personally, I think that when a situation is set up as a 'test', you are only 'testing' because you doubt that anything will really happen. And your doubt will often block the grace of God. Not because God doesn't want to help, but because you are not seeing the way in which you could be helped. When one has faith there is no need to test; one just has absolute faith that God will take care of them as long as they are following the right path.. or something like that. o.o I'm not too sure of the specifics of it.
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From:r_caton
Date:September 26th, 2004 07:31 am (UTC)
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Aha.
So you "test" expecting failure and make it self-fulfilling.
Best keep the mind and soul open for anything that might be sent unexpectedly.
"open all recieving channels, Ensign"
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From:kaijugirl
Date:September 27th, 2004 05:25 am (UTC)
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^_^ Indeed.
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From:thoughtsdriftby
Date:September 27th, 2004 10:23 am (UTC)
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sounding more toward Catholic post Vatican II, less so Protestant/earlier Catholic
feeling excluded from participation in Catholic cerimonies...
checking out RCIA program perhaps, deciding if that is a better fit

require some books/words on their inward journey, others quite/shade tree
seeking god/ourselves, fitting facets of self together, growing more complete in time
finding our travels common to all living, paths differ/sometimes cross/divide never truly
within our facets centered/calm, embarrassment/false pride/hate dwells not
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