A walk

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said 'What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?'

"Then one of them, answered, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" He asked them, 'What things?'

"They replied, 'The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel...'"

We all know the story how Jesus then went with them to their home. At the table he book bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.

Then their eyes were opened and recognized him and he vanished from their sight. Gee, how in the world could men miss the message of Jesus the "Messiah"?

This weekend I was privileged to spend 72 hours at a rustic camp snuggled among the ponderosa of Pine Ridge near Chadron. Joining a group of believing Christian men we renewed our faith and strengthened our resolve to live life as Jesus intended for us. The event was fostered by a world wide group that calls themselves simply "Walk to Emmaus."

The organization seems to appeal especially to the more charismatic evangelistic Protestant organizations however the Catholic Church, and others, have similar programs of renewal and outreach.

I was nearly the oldest gentleman present, certainly not the richest or wisest. Normal folk from all walks of life. If I felt like a square plug in a round hole it was my problem and it was all right. We each were accepted as the creatures of God that we all are. No "holier-than-thou" attitude to be found anywhere. Right there in modern day America we pilgrims voluntarily gave up our cell phones, computers, books including the electronic variety, radio, TV, newspaper and even our watches and clocks. It was a strange feeling, almost even eerie, but the lack of outside distractions, as intended, also made it easy to turn to our personal Bibles, dust off the pages, and read the wisdom contained therein. Gee, how in the world could men miss the message of Jesus the "Messiah"?

In today's society we are constantly bombarded with the pap from Hollywood, TV and even music that encourages free sex and lack of commitment in marriage. The Lord made us male and female so where does same sex marriage, whatever that is, come from? It is difficult to ignore the efforts of organizations formed to encourage homosexuality and recruit for the gay and lesbian community. Somehow I couldn't find any of that in my Bible. I do take to heart though Jesus' encouragement to condemn the sin but love the sinner.

Personally I'm intrigued with persons who deny the existence of any God. Where do they find a set of instructions to guide their lives?

What do they use to rule and guide their actions and thinking. Surely they can't think that they have gained such wisdom in their own short time of living experience. Do they subscribe to the "if it feels good, do it" crowd? Why not pick up the book that brings more than five thousand years of human experience on how to do it right? What works and what is a bad deal for all close by? It is all there; we just need to take a little time to study and learn.

Dimly aware of the existence of "The Walk," I have resisted going for years. My own family, and even good friends, all ganged up on me.

Finally Grannie Annie 'splained that she wanted to attend but the rule is the husband has to go first. Sometimes there is no winning, just acquiesce and enjoy the ride.

Not a bad deal at all, good food, 72 hours away from the press of a schedule and concerns of the world and fantastic spiritual renewal.

What isn't there to like about it? For me the square is checked off and now I can go back to enjoying life! Gee, how in the world could men miss the message of Jesus the "Messiah"? Why did I wait so long?

That is how I saw it.

Dick Trail

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  • Thank the good Lord for those who still seek to walk with him. The glitter of the world is so strong and the past judgement proliferation of the church has driven so many away from the experience of a quiet "walk with Jesus". He accepts all where they are and who they are. Thank you for such an inspiring story in a world so torn apart by our present political struggle. Allen D. Mitchell

    -- Posted by almitchell on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 2:41 PM
  • You have my Hooo-Raaah!! also, Dick. Sounds like a great Seeking experience.

    We need continue to witness Jesus' soon return, and try to wake up the world. No one knows when they might graduate Home, ready or not.

    Dick Budig just lost a Grandson this weekend, from an auto accident two weeks ago. So, while I'm here, may I ask that everyone pray for strength, and understanding, for the family and Jeff's friends. He leaves a widow, and a five year old son.

    People need Ponder, Pray, and accept the free Salvation, Jesus offers. I needs be accepted prior to graduating Home, and determines the "home" one receives.

    Excellent article, Excellent Witness.

    Keep the Watch

    -- Posted by Navyblue on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 4:52 PM
  • Yeah for Grannie Annie! She helped you get an experience of a lifetime and one you can repeat by joining the AGAPE team some time in the future. Dennis had the same feeling as do many men, about going for a whole weekend, but was just as glad he went a few years ago. And Now, Ann can live that spiritual revival! Thanks for going, Dick. You're a good guy!

    -- Posted by pkennedy on Wed, Aug 1, 2012, at 1:25 PM
  • When someone is "intrigued with persons who deny the existence of any God. Where do they find a set of instructions to guide their lives?" it strikes me that he isn't very familiar with his Bible. This collection of books and letters is saturated with some of the most immoral attitudes and activities our race has ever seen. Divine validation of rape, murder, slavery and execution - clearly fallible human traits attempting to be justified by one of the many, many gods primitive man has manufactured over the millennia. Life is utterly beautiful and meaningful without the need for invisible and silent deities who oppose and contradict each other, causing untold human suffering even today. When faced with a choice between mythology and reality, it is wise to stay far away from the religious obscenities that have plagued us for thousands of years.

    -- Posted by LC on Thu, Aug 2, 2012, at 9:32 AM
  • Two things, LC:

    1) Where are you getting the idea that rape is divinely justified in the Bible? Leaving the other claims aside, that one seems very suspect.

    2) What morality are you using to claim that those behaviors that are "divinely validated" are immoral?

    Actually, a third thing:

    3) I enjoy how you claim that there are many gods that man has manufactured, yet you are willing to blame untold human suffering on those manufactured deities. Putting those two together, it sounds like you're saying that man is the creator of mankind's suffering.

    -- Posted by bjo on Thu, Aug 2, 2012, at 1:56 PM
  • I'm betting that LC, whoever that might me, also voted for Obama. Probably likes Communism too because they too follow no God but the whim of the supreme leader. Love ya man, hope someday you too see the light. Dick Trail

    -- Posted by Dusty on Thu, Aug 2, 2012, at 4:52 PM
  • *

    Good point bjo...if you're not using the guidelines given by God...what guidelines are being used?

    -- Posted by Mickel on Thu, Aug 2, 2012, at 9:14 PM
  • DT 20:13-14 "When the Lord delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the males .... As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves."

    DT 21:10-13 With the Lord's approval, the Israelites are allowed to take "beautiful women" from the enemy camp to be their captive wives. If, after sexual relations, the husband has "no delight" in his wife, he can simply let her go.

    "...it sounds like you're saying that man is the creator of mankind's suffering." Yes. And man has consistently justified that behavior using scripture. Think witch hunts where thousands of innocent people, mainly women, were burned alive by the church. Think Adolf Hitler, who, in his book Mein Kampf and in public speeches often made statements that affirmed a belief in Christianity. Prior to World War II Hitler had promoted "positive Christianity", a movement which purged Christianity of its Jewish elements and instilled it with Nazi philosophy.

    "...if you're not using the guidelines given by God...what guidelines are being used?" Since all gods and religions are manmade, we are using the evolutionary moral codes that predate religion: the same type of ethics evident in many animals whose survival was and is aided by types of altruism, sharing and repayment. For an interesting read, try "Religin Explained" by cognitive anthropologist Pascal Boyer.

    -- Posted by LC on Fri, Aug 3, 2012, at 10:20 AM
  • *

    LC - if you're going to pick apart the Bible...at least try to get it right...

    Deuteronomy 20:10-14 (during a time of war)"10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies."

    Hmm...offer a peaceful resolution prior to attack. That's a better offer than one can get from many cultures. You can just fill in the blank yourself. It the offer of peace is accepted, they get to live. If not...well, it IS war, yes?

    Deuteronomy 21:10-14 "10 When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, 11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her."

    Even if you leave out verse 14, which rounds out the context of this portion of the chapter; your excerpt is dishonest in leaving out key provisions which are actually quite reasonable and moral. Keep in mind that many of the cultures with which the Israelites would have warred against were unclean, and believed that women and children were property. In fact, those same cultures today, still practice this belief. The taking of a bride, which meant to provide for and care for, is quite humane. The shaving of the head, the trimming the nails and the setting aside of the garments went towards the cleansing of parasites and disease. Pretty humane. Giving her a time of mourning before consumating the marriage. Hmmm...don't force yourself on her...very genteel and moral. You mentioned rape? Letting her go her own way if it doesn't work out is also very moral. The head of the household is instructed to respect the woman enough to unconditionally release her if it doesn't work out. Where is the problem?

    An evolutionary moral code? Really. How quaint it is to think of single cell animals with manners. And I'm really not interested in an anthropologists take on "Religin"...as much as I'm not interested in Snoop Dogg's take on how to treat a lady.

    Of course you do have some proof that evolutionary moral codes exist and that they do, in fact, pre-date religion...No?

    -- Posted by Mickel on Fri, Aug 3, 2012, at 3:38 PM
  • Mickel; I was asked where I found divine justification for rape in the Bible and I gave it. All the spin doctoring in the world does not make the behavior of Bronze-age man any more palpable to the world today. All this in the Bible used by a religion whose founder is known as "The Prince of Peace", who said to never resist evil, to turn the other cheek, to give more than you are asked. Jesus was a profound pacifist. See the huge problem with tying the Jewish Torah to the New Testament and calling it cohesive? Choose any topic you like, the validation is there, either for or against, depending on which opinion you want divine backing for. This is man made stuff and full of conflict and errors. (The gospel writers couldn't even figure out which day Christ was crucified.)

    Also: :"...single cell animals with manners(?)" No, complex animals with a code of ethics. Monkeys who steal food or mates from each other will be banished from the community - one small example. Just curious, where did you get the "single cell" reference? And the analogy to Snoop Dogg is just plain baffling.

    It is typical, by the way, for a religious believer to not be interested in scientific research, particularly when the evidence works effectively against those beliefs, as it does in virtually every facet of religion. I could refer you to dozens of books from authors of peer-reviewed publications for facts concerning creation and cosmology, archaeology, genetic memory and the like, but you have indicated no interest in science. Understandable. You have an agenda to defend. I appreciate that, having once been a Christian myself. But when you talk about being dishonest by omitting certain provisions, as a scientist I can attest that there is no greater dishonesty than professing a belief in subjects that you have never critically examined, nor objectively tested for accuracy. Remember, the definition of faith is the belief in something for which there is no evidence.

    -- Posted by LC on Fri, Aug 3, 2012, at 5:12 PM
  • *

    Hmmm...I guess I was under the belief that it was you that originally posted scripture to shore up a desperately sagging point.

    I posted the text...there was nothing about rape. And there certainly wasn't anything about God condoning, approving or endorsing rape. But you don't want to take the scripture in context, not because you have an agenda (which you most certainly do); but because as a "former Christian" it terrifies you that ultimately there will be an accounting of every thought, word, and action. You have an instinctive knowledge that Christ is Creator and Lord of the universe. You are just in this long phase of denial; and you just do not want to try to wrap your self-righteous brain around it. Imagine ultimately meeting the Creator of the universe....and it isn't you. (but you know that already)

    By the way...you took another verse out of context...Jesus didn't say to not resist evil. What he did say was to not repay evil for evil. I'm posting the scripture for all to see: Matthew 5:38-40 "38 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[a] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well."

    "Just curious, where did you get the "single cell" reference?" Hey...you were the one talking about evolution...I just assumed that animated amino acids, water and carbon had to start from somewhere...most evolutionists worth their salt don't tout humankind as starting off as a completed or finished product.

    And I'm sorry your baffled about me equating Snoop's manner of treating ladies to an anthropologist explaining human faith. I've been around enough scientists to know that many have a penchant for pigeon-holing everything they can (as in, what they are uncertain of)...just to tidy up. I've read a well rounded variety of material about humankind and their various religions. While you may find this particular author worthwhile...and, I may also; I must admit that I don't have the time to read material which is designed to contradict what I've had a lifetime of personal discovery to know is true. God warns about delving into idle pursuits, and I believe he did it out of love, not control.

    You cite "Remember, the definition of faith is the belief in something for which there is no evidence". I'll see your definition and raise you with "faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see". You can read the entire verse in Hebrews 11:1.

    So - question. Since all Christians are mistaken; and must be crackpots...why are you here? Why are you on this page about one man's personal experience with Christ, and seem bent to run him down about it? Don't agnostic scientists have something better to do with their time?

    Honestly - they do...and I don't believe you are one of them. Sorry.

    -- Posted by Mickel on Fri, Aug 3, 2012, at 8:13 PM
  • Well, good job, LC. While it wasn't the definition of rape I was thinking of- sexual intercourse that is forced upon one party, you did provide an example of one definition of rape- plunder, violent seizure, or abuse- and for that, I applaud you. However, it would behoove you to actually properly quote what you're referencing. Reading the passages you mentioned, they make no mention of the "sexual relations" you added in your shoddy paraphrasing.

    However, while you provided an alternative moral system to a religious one, you've failed to explain how this is actually a moral system, or why it is better than the religious ones. The behaviors you describe animals doing in this "evolutionary moral system" are only described as being beneficial to their survival. (While the argument could be made that religious people are doing the same thing, the argument could be made by those that follow it more closely that there is more to it than that.) You've described nothing that indicates that the behaviors you disparage the Bible for "endorsing" are immoral based on this system.

    Shame on you for invoking Godwin's Law so quickly in this discussion. However, you bring in an interesting point. You say that Hitler promoted a movement in Christianity that took out the Jewish elements and added in their own philosophy to it. Essentially, man took religious beliefs, ripped out the guts, put in their own stuff, and called it the same thing. How is this a blow against Christianity? That would be like me taking a camera, ripping out the flash, film, and other inner mechanisms, putting some flowers and water in where the lens used to be, and calling it a camera, when I've clearly turned it into a vase.

    Unfortunately, this is all I can argue for now. I can admit that I don't have all the answers to your claims, especially the myriad of claims that you've provided no evidence for and sound a whole lot like conjecture. (Really, saying Mickel has no interest in science because they believe in Christianity? That's so baseless, I can feel it dissolving my teeth.) However, I personally don't give up on something just because I can't pull an answer off the top of my head.

    Please don't try to act like you don't have an "agenda", and yet we do. We all have an agenda, or to use a better set of words, we all have a belief system that we view the world through. Calling yourself a scientist doesn't change that, and it doesn't mean that your system of belief is free of faith. (I am, however, looking forward to seeing your test results for marine life evolving legs and walking on land for the first time, and also somehow not dying soon after because it also evolved a system of "breathing air" while still living underwater.)

    -- Posted by bjo on Fri, Aug 3, 2012, at 8:40 PM
  • Sorry for the double post, but I felt I should point out that I began work on my reply before Mickel posted theirs. I don't see anything in his response that contradicts what I said, but I felt I should clarify in case it looks awkward. If I learn one lesson from this debate, let it be this: Always remember to copy your post and hit F5 right before posting.

    -- Posted by bjo on Fri, Aug 3, 2012, at 8:46 PM
  • *

    Respectfully stated bjo - I too would be interested in the tested and observed evolution results that come from critical examination and objective testing.

    Of course, I also pine for gas under $3 a gallon....Oh, well.

    -- Posted by Mickel on Fri, Aug 3, 2012, at 9:04 PM
  • @Mickel: I was going to go on the tangent you did, but then I did a quick check on dictionary.com, and this is the 4th definition of rape:

    an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation: the rape of the countryside.

    Therefore, he did do as asked, as I made no specification on the definition of rape. It feels a little backhanded, I know, but he still answered my request. I guess my statement from before about a lack of contradictions between our posts may have been prematurely posted, so I apologize for that. Of course, his bad paraphrasing leaves me to suspect that the rest of your tangent isn't entirely unfounded.

    I'm now curious as to if he can provide a reference "justifying" this definition of rape:

    the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.

    -- Posted by bjo on Fri, Aug 3, 2012, at 9:06 PM
  • *

    Hmmm...I do wonder if LC didn't indeed mean rape when he said "rape". After all, when one means 'plunder' or 'pillaging' do they really go to the 4th definition of rape in the dictionary?

    My open question still stands - why would an agnostic evolutionist/scientist care about the personal weekend experience of someone who could have little effect over his world/existence? What's the threat?

    Or is it just (as is my suspicion) someone (most likely college age or better )who is practicing a defense for their own dark theology?

    -- Posted by Mickel on Sat, Aug 4, 2012, at 11:44 AM
  • It's easy, isn't it, to get off topic on subjects like this? I'm frequently guilty myself. My original response addressed Mr. Trail's wondering where the non-religious get their set of instructions to guide their lives if not from God. Aside from trying to argue that if God did it/said it then it must be OK, the history of the world is saturated with immoral behavior excused by scriptural reading. Religious beliefs from all over the world have directly resulted in horror and suffering perpetrated against the innocent. You can say that this is the result of faulty interpretation, but then you must admit that God left his word open to that kind of interpretation when he should have know how it could be abused. The concept of morality coming ONLY from supernatural sources as suggested by Mr. Trail is not supported by rationale nor history.

    The rapidly advancing sciences including anthropology, genetics and memetics are introducing new insight into the theory that morals and ethics are evolutionary products that once assisted survival. Evidence of this is seen in the animal kingdom yet today. We knew right from wrong before the first "prophet" was ever born. Of course those who prefer morality to be solely derived from the divine will not be open to this idea, as evolution by natural selection is usually resisted as conflicting with Genesis. However, as Carl Sagan said, "Our preferences do not determine what is true." I submit that there is ample evidence that morality is independent of religion.

    As a footnote, in response to Mr. Trail's statement, "Personally I'm intrigued with persons who deny the existence of any God", I offer my personal experience. I was raised in the Mennonite church in the '60's by a warm, loving and large farm family deeply committed to Christ's teachings. I learned the Bible inside and out. As my intellect and (some would say God-given) curiosity grew, I learned that the world consisted of much, much more than what religion could explain. I allowed my spirituality to expand (to my family's dismay) into metaphysics (more science-based but still as dogmatic and evidentially sparse as any religion) until I was forced to come to the only conclusion that decades of seeking led to.

    Religion is man made. There is no soul, no afterlife. This is not a dress rehearsal. We are animals with an evolved brain that has accomplished the ability for abstract thought. Period. Believe me, NO ONE on this planet wants to go on after death more than I. But there is simply NO evidence of any kind that this is the case. I gotta go with the evidence, folks. I fully understand the resistance to this finality, there was a time when I laughed (hypocritically) at those who believed this. But if there is a God, he has chosen to remain utterly hidden, unresponsive and silent. He has left no trace of himself, physically or otherwise. Every story, every sacred collection of scripture was written by man, for man. AND - life is beautiful! It is more precious than it has ever been. I now cherish each moment and relish bringing happiness and assistance to others like never before. My morality is alive and well, thank you. I do not need the promise of eternal happiness to do right and neither do any of you.

    -- Posted by LC on Sat, Aug 4, 2012, at 1:39 PM
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