Saturday, May 16, 2009

Quiver Me Timbers.

I was feeling pretty good about life, and so decided to fix by that by reading Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement,' by Kathryn Joyce. That knocked me into a depression in no time. I would say something along the lines of I should feel fortunate that it's just a fringe movement in the conservative Christian circles, but the book is pointing out that some of the more mainstream conservative Christians are making noise about how women should have more children, and using birth control is denying God's authority over your body.

Two things of interest: One, there's a mentality in the book about a "one of ours," and it's about how contraception is bad. To quote, a Quiverfull version of "He's one of ours": selectively appropriating historical figures who were the later-born children of their families to create a canon of the Waster world's six-, seventh-, or eight-born geniuses and greats. The moral is that the "contraceptive mentality" would have precluded the births of Washington, Mozart, Beethoven, and, by implication, possibly a savior."

The basic idea seems to be that if women use contraception, there will be a whole lot of necessary people no longer born. Now, I don't know if the implication in the quote is the author's interpretation, or if it's something Quiverfull people actually hinted at, but ... Jesus was the result conceived in the womb of a virgin. God didn't even use sex in the first place to create Jesus, so how could contraception have interfered with that in the first place? No only that, but my understanding is that conservative non-Calvinist Christians feel that people both have free will, and that God is in control, and has a plan, and is sovereign. So if God's plan involved Mozart being born, wouldn't God have seen that through, regardless if the woman was using contraception or not? Are they seriously suggesting that a hormonal pill is enough to stop an omnipotent God?

Then there's how this works in reverse -- perhaps we wouldn't have Mozart. But I believe Mozart considered his elder sister to be just as talented, if not more talented, than he was. Yet we don't know anything about her, because she was a woman, and only had two proper roles in society: wife and mother. How many geniuses have we lost in society because women had no rights, and were only expected to marry and produce children? How many geniuses have we lost because women couldn't have any control over their reproduction?

Second, one of the themes in the book is basically raising an army for God. Because these women are having anywhere from ten to eighteen children, they'll be able to take back society in a few generations, because they're rapidly out-breeding the non-Christians. The assumption on the Quiverfulls is that the children will be that type of Christian by default.

Doesn't that kind of conflict with the free will idea? One of the standard responses to why there's evil in the world, or why people will go to hell is that God loved us so much that He allows us to choose whether or not to follow Him. Yet these parents aren't saying that they'll give their children a choice in following God, they're raising their children to absolutely guarantee that the children will follow God. When the children reach the age of accountability, is anyone going to be surprised by their choice? Can we even say that they freely choose God, when no other option would've been presented?

Now, I can understand why these parents are doing this. Most parents do raise their children in the path they feel is morally right -- if a Christian feels that atheism is wrong, the Christian is not going to encourage his/her child to be an atheist. They would probably even say it would be extremely unloving of them to raise a child to be anything less than a Christian, considering the consequences of not being one. But in a way, are they respecting their child less than God is?

I just suddenly have this weird picture of all these people who were raised and accepted Christ as their Savior, suddenly faced with a God who tells them they aren't saved, because they didn't freely make the choice. Their parents made the choice for them based on their upbringing.

I'm also unsure how the Quiverfulls approach the concept of free will. There was a definite Calvinist/Reformed Theology trend in the book.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

How far do you trust God?

Do you trust that God will always provide food? And yet millions starve to death.

Do you trust that God will always provide shelter? And yet millions have none.

Do you trust that God will always keep you safe? And yet millions of those who practice religion are murdered.

Do you trust that God will always keep your child healthy and alive? And yet many of those who practice religion lose their children.

I could keep going with examples, but that would be a waste of space.

I often see people proclaiming how they trust God, and how God will always be there for the, and God will always be a present source of help in times of trouble. And yet, that source of help and trust come down to a very vague concept of God being by one's side. I'm reminded of a scene in the book "The Shack" where the father asks God where God was when his daughter was abducted and murdered. God said that He was with the daughter the whole time.

Yet the daughter still ended up murdered.

I can understand how the idea of this total loving source being by one's side, offering peace and comfort. But it seems when it comes down to concrete examples -- in trusting that God will offer something with substance such as food or safety -- no one can claim that as a guarantee. Yes, people can point to examples where God provided such things. But every example, there's an example of nothing be provided at all. So no one can promise that God will provide health or anything for basic survival.

Perhaps someone can come back and say that they can trust that a good outcome will prevail, and that everything will turn out well for those who trust in God. But even this becomes vague in its way, because what does that mean? Someone can point to the murder of a child and say it will work out for good in the end. But then what's being trusted is some sort of vague concept of good -- nothing concrete.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

God is so good, He burned my house down!

Nothing's actually happened to my house. My house is fine.

But I've been thinking lately about all those news stories, when people were saved from disaster, or had something go their way, and they say, "God is good!"

Now, let's say I was accused of cheating on a test. I get called before the principal. After he examines all the facts, he concludes that I did not in fact cheat. I then say that the principal is a good man.

My statement about how good the principal is is directly dependent upon him judging in my favor. The two are connected. If he were to say that I did cheat and then punish me for it, when I did not in fact cheat, I would conclude that the principal is not good.

God is often treated in the same manner when people are praising Him for a wonderful outcome. He is good because He made a good thing happen. Yet if something bad happens, we never see believers then conclude that God is bad. Rather, He's mysterious, or His ways aren't our ways. In this situation, God's goodness is a simple matter of fact, independent of the outcome.

But when this is the case, does it mean anything to praise God when good things happen? God's not good because He did a good thing. He's good, period. I almost find it a useless means of praise, because it's just a blanket statement.

Unless the saying is there to re-enforce just how good God is? Except I still think we'd run into the same problem, if a good event is used as a reminder to just how good God is. Because God's goodness is once again dependent upon the event, rather than the nature of God.