Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pudding Frosting

Unusual usage of this blog, but here’s a recipe I ran across that I wanted to keep, and highlighting the text and clicking the WordPress “Post” bookmark was the easiest way to save it. May all my fellow cooks enjoy.

Posted by gazania (My Page) on Tue, Aug 14, 07 at 7:04

How about this one?

  • Butter Cream Icing
  • 1 cup butter (or margerine)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 3.5 oz vanilla instant pudding mix

Cream butter and sugar well.

In another bowl whisk pudding mix into

milk until it begins to thicken.

Add to butter mixture and beat at high

speed about 5 minutes.

via LOOKING for: Pudding Frosting – Recipe Exchange Forum – GardenWeb.

The Meaning of Human Suffering

The Slacktivist on the topic of real suffering vs. theodicy. That is, the painful and perplexing experiences that people have vs. the theological reasoning we use to explain them. Why would a “good God” allow people to go through hunger, war, and disease?

These are not, primarily, metaphysical puzzles for us to ponder. Such puzzles are also significant, but they mustn’t ever be confused for the most important, most urgent, or most obvious response to human suffering. Human suffering is cause for action — for individual and institutional and structural steps to relieve it and to prevent it.

. . . When it came to human suffering, Jesus always kept his eye on the ball. “For I was hungry and you gave me food,” he said. Not, “For I was hungry, and you gave me an explanation as to how the existence of hunger could be reconciled, philosophically, with belief in an all-powerful and all-loving God.” The latter gift is unlikely to be appreciated unless it accompanies the former.

The fact that human suffering exists gives us an imperative to relieve human suffering. So Slack is suggesting the order in which we should apply ourselves to these questions is “What do we do about suffering?” and then only later “Why does suffering exist?” I like that framing. “What does a ‘good person’ do in this situation?” takes precedence over “How did we get in this situation?” Or, to put it in the words of the songwriter David Wilcox, “The question is not why is there rain. The question is how do we sail through the storm.”

I’m taking liberties below by mixing up some of the other paragraphs in Slack’s article in a way that suits me. It better illustrates how his argument came together in my head while I was reading it. I still encourage you to read the whole thing at the link below.

This, I think, is where that Bad Catholic post goes astray. It frames the matter of human suffering as primarily something to be explained, rather than as something to be addressed. And it goes one step further into abstraction by framing the matter as something to be explained to atheists.

[. . . But . . .] This business of theodicy isn’t important for Christians because it may come up in the next debate with Richard Dawkins. It is important because when we encounter people going through misery, horror and pain, we don’t want to add insult to injury by responding with something glib or shallow or stupid.

That Bad Catholic post is not glib, shallow or stupid, and yet, like every primarily metaphysical response to suffering, it still is inadequate. Because, again, suffering is never primarily or exclusively metaphysical.

Hungry people want food. That is the meaning of hunger.

via The meaning of human suffering is not The Meaning of Human Suffering.

Superimposed On Top Of The Text

Here’s my test for you to see whether you have buried Jesus under your Romans Road. When Jesus tells the Samaritan woman to go get her husband and then answers her reply that she has no husband by saying, “The truth is you’ve had 5 husbands and the man you live with now isn’t your husband,” is he (1) convicting her of her sin or (2) expressing sympathy and acceptance to a woman who got rejected and divorce-slipped by 5 men (which was not adultery under Mosaic law and was a unilateral decision men could make against their wives for any reason, c.f. Mark 10)?

If you automatically answered #1, it’s because you or whoever interpreted this text for you in the past superimposed the Romans Road paradigm for Christian conversion on top of the text …

via Red Letter Christianity: unpaving the Romans Road « Mercy not Sacrifice.

People Who Have Been Invalidated

The best way to validate people who have been invalidated is to need them for something.

via Red Letter Christianity: unpaving the Romans Road « Mercy not Sacrifice.

The Reflection of Our Brokenness

I’ve not quoted this particular blog before, but here’s a terrific description of my own understanding of the Cross.

In Christ’s crucifixion we see both the reflection of our brokenness and the consequence of our brokenness, since in our woundedness we wound in return. We as broken creatures harm those who are least worthy of harm, and bring to grief those towards whom we owe the greatest love. And in the cross, this reality is made manifest to us. At the same time, we’ve been wounded in our turn, and in Christ we see the reflection of a God who is with us in our woundedness, who suffers both for us and because of us, and in whom our hope therefore must rest.

via Against the Stream: Church For Freaks II: Theology.

And because it’s so well said, I can’t resist adding another quote from the same article.

We are all freaks. We are all broken. The straight and the gay, the banker and the heroin addict, the politician and the prostitute. The fundamental message of the Christian faith is: You are accepted, freaks! … Being a freak will not exclude you from the kingdom of God!

Freaks will enter first!

Preferred Means of Conflict Resolution

Lengthy quote from Pete Enns, from a blog series he wrote over the Summer about the violence in the Old Testament. Ultimately he’s working up to asking what’s being communicated here: God’s actual violent character or the framework in which the ancient authors interpreted the events in their world.

Falling by the sword, famine, and pestilence–a common divine trifecta in the Old Testament–is how God will make his point to Israel, that he is a ”jealous God” (Second Commandment) and will tolerate no rival. Harsh physical punishment is how gets the message across.

. . . Violence toward human beings, which began in the flood story and extends through Israel’s story and the prophets, is not an occasional event but a character trait, a preferred means of conflict resolution.

The question we’ve been asking in these posts is this:

Do these episodes of violence tell us what God is like or is the picture of God in the Old Testament mediated for us through ancient tribal culture the Israelites and their neighbors participated in?

A follow-up question is how the gospel affects, one way or the other, how we answer this question.

via And Brief (and let’s hope final, but If I know me probably not) Comment on God’s Violence in the Old Testament.

Congressman Paul Broun’s Lies from the Pit of Hell

Representative Paul Broun, of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, gave a speech in which he called evolution, embryology, and astronomy “lies straight from the pit of hell”. James McGrath does a great job of putting into words exactly what I think when I hear someone demonstrate incredible ignorance about the world we live in and then start to talk about how simple it is to understand the points made in an ancient book written by another culture translated from a foreign language.

Broun’s statements about the Bible being his guide to public policy worries me as much as, and perhaps more than, his statements about science. What else is he referring to? Which texts does he have in mind? Why do I suspect that he will ignore the Jubilee law and anything related to social justice, and promote all sorts of “unbiblical” laws while perhaps even believing that he is being biblical?

After all, if his misunderstanding of science is anything to go by, I wouldn’t have much confidence in his ability to understand the Bible.

via Congressman Paul Broun’s Lies from the Pit of Hell.

What is the Gospel?

From Peter Enns about the Kingdom of God. This is exactly where I am right now.

According to the Gospels, the gospel is not about the afterlife, but what “kingdom” you belong to here and now. Jesus talks a lot about the “kingdom of heaven” (or “of God”), and this is commonly misunderstood as a kingdom “up there” somewhere. But read what Jesus says about the kingdom. It is about the rule of God on earth, with Jesus as king. “Kingdom of heaven” doesn’t mean “kingdom that is IN heaven” but “kingdom FROM heaven.” God’s reign, though King Jesus, is setting up shop here and now. The question Jesus asks the people is, “Do you want in or not?”

via “What is the Gospel?” Good Question (and chances are you are wrong).

Ignorance Is Just As Good

Democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.

Isaac Asimov, taken from the very middle of a stream of thought wherein he is arguing against anti-intellectualism.

Teach the Controversies!

Friendly Atheist, Pascal’s Wager

Imbedded in an article about Pascal’s Wager, I ran across a formulation I hadn’t seen before called the Atheist’s Wager:

You should live your life and try to make the world a better place for your being in it, whether or not you believe in god. If there is no god, you have lost nothing and will be remembered fondly by those you left behind. If there is a benevolent god, he will judge you on your merits and not just on whether or not you believed in him.

via Friendly Atheist, Pascal’s Wager, emphasis mine.

That part about the benevolent god choosing to judge people on their merits struck me because my Protestant Christian background teaches that God shows benevolence by not judging us according to our merits because our sinful failings cause us all to merit nothing but separation from God. Instead, says protestantism, God simply credits righteousness to true followers since they can’t earn it on their own.

But now I’m wondering, isn’t it exactly right that a benevolent god would respond in kindness to any other being doing their best to show kindness?