talking points

Every once in awhile I think to myself, “It sure would be nice to get a few more comments on my blog.” Be careful what you wish for, eh?

Y’all plumb wore me out yesterday. Whew. But it’s a good kind of worn out. And while I’m completely overwhelmed by all the insights you shared, questions you asked and issues you raised, I feel blessed.

As is very apparent by your comments, many of you are much more qualified to offer your opinions on this stuff than I am. You know what you’re talking about, and you know how to express it eloquently. Political discussion zaps me of energy in no time flat, but it clearly energizes many of you.

If you want to write related posts on your own blogs in the coming days/weeks, I would be more than happy to link to them.

Okay. I’m going to say 3 things and leave it at that for the day. But don’t worry–God isn’t going to let me drop this one. It’s an opportunity for Him to get mucho glory, and I’m convinced He wants me to snatch it right up.

1. I can’t possibly hope to change the minds and hearts of those who don’t accept Jesus Christ as the only Way, Truth and Life. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. If Christ is not your personal Savior, then most of what I say will seem like pure and utter foolishness to you. We’ll just go ’round and ’round and ’round. I’m talking mostly to my buddy, Andrea (Ahn-DRAY-uh), here. I so appreciate his thoughtful comments, and I’m thankful He doesn’t mind me praying for him. I have a hunch that many of you are joining me.

2. Because I can’t change a non-believer’s heart on my own, any political posts I do are going to focus primarily on fellow Christians. Call it preaching to the choir, but truthfully, I’m more concerned with how we, as followers of Christ, conduct ourselves than with the conduct of those who don’t believe. If you fall into the latter category, I wholeheartedly encourage you to stick around and engage whenever you feel led. We want you here.

3. My focus is NOT going to be on President Obama and where/how I disagree with him. My focus is NOT going to be on which laws should be passed and which shouldn’t. My focus IS going to be on what the Bible says our responsibility as Christians is as both followers of Christ AND citizens of the United States of America.

Please feel free to continue yesterday’s discussion. I’m thrilled that some of you who might not have a big platform, so to speak, have the chance to express your views and share your heart. You’re some bright folks. And I was SO impressed with everyone’s respectful attitudes and willingness to engage in meaningful discussion without personal attacks. Well done, friends!

And now, some pics from our Whirlwind East Coast Tour.

Niagara Falls. Stunning. Breathtaking. Huge. “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?” (And the monks? I took many pictures of the monks.)

The Liberty Bell. (The monks were there too. I took more pics.)

The First Family (and friends). I’ll have Gabe blow it up for you later–or some of you computer whizzes can do it yourself.

The Lincoln Memorial. Pretty sweet place. I loved learning about President Lincoln when I was younger.

Feeding giraffes. One of my favorite things to do in all the world. Seriously. When I grow up, I want to work at a zoo and take care of giraffes. When I’m not working at the library. And writing books. And traveling the globe. And loving on my grandbabies. And discussing politics online.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with a teaser. Our Zoo Trip Plans have changed dramatically since we last talked. Before I get into that, we’re tentatively planning to be at the Binder Park Zoo (Battle Creek, MI), the Brookfield Zoo (Chicago) and the Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago) next week (next week!). Details soon if you’d like to meet up!

And my Zoo Party Posse has started working on name tags (and goody bags for the kiddos), so if you’re planning on coming to the Big Bash on August 1, RSVP ASAP!

And the dramatic change? I’ll tell you tomorrow. Let me just say that it involves this. Sigh.

Happy, Happy Birthday to my father-in-law, Rock Taviano! Love you, Rock-o!

Happy Wednesday, friends! And thanks in advance for keeping the discussion edifying!

34 thoughts on “talking points

  1. Andrea De Togni

    LisaH.
    Unfortunately your post, to a non-christian, is so full of illogicies that I don’t know where to start and it’s worth contesting it.

    Let’s forget everything and concentrate on one aspect: luckyness.

    Ali (and Gabe in the past) and I think every Christian clearly says that in your “relationship” there is NO WAY for a person to reach God. Only God can reach the person.

    So there is NOTHING I could do to reach god. Even simply “accepting him” is an act towards, and you say that I can’t reach him

    How coudl I reach God, Christ or build this “relationship” if I can’t do ANYTHING?

    Another aspect: how can a person who’s NOT in a Christian nation being saved? Due to this “one-way” and “here only” method, a person in Africa will perish in Hell, since he has no chance to know your god.

    Am I correct?

    So if I wanted to become Christian, how can I, since I can’t reach him?

  2. Lisa H

    Andrea,
    Regardless of whether you think people are born “faulty” (sinful) or not, we all sin. There is not a person on earth that can say he/she has never sinned.

    God said, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22) I can’t shed my own blood to pay for my sins (and be forgiven) because the blood shed has to come from a perfect sacrifice. Since I have sinned, I am not perfect, so my blood cannot pay the penalty for my sin.

    Only the blood of Jesus can pay for my sin because Jesus is the only person who is perfect and never sinned. That’s why Jesus shed His blood on the cross. His blood satisfied God’s requirement for cleansing and forgiveness.

    Since God is holy and perfect, sin cannot abide with Him. He cannot allow sin to enter heaven. Since I have sinned, I cannot go to heaven until I have been forgiven and cleansed. When I realized that Jesus shed His blood so that I could be forgiven and cleansed of my sin, I accepted the gift of cleansing that He offered to me (and everyone else). Now that I am cleansed by Christ’s blood, my spirit can enter heaven when I die.

    So, it’s not that God doesn’t want to forgive us, and it’s not that He wants us to pay for our sins and the sins of our forefathers. God knew we would never be able to pay for our sins, so He sent Jesus to pay for them in our place.

    And to answer a question in another post: No, it is not luck that decides who gets to be a Christian (or forgiveness or cleansing or salvation–whatever you want to call it). Salvation is open to everyone. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

    God loves you so much, He doesn’t want to spend eternity without you. He would rather send His Son to shed His blood, so that you can live with Him forever. He doesn’t want anyone to be eternally separated from Him.

    So the question should not be, “Why would God allow me to be born with sin?” It should be, “What am I going to do with my sin?” Will I allow my sin to separate me from God forever, or will I accept God’s forgiveness so I can be with God for eternity?

  3. Andrea De Togni

    @Gabe: well, if you say so, what can I say? You’re closing door to discussion, so…speak you soon 🙂

    @LisaH: 6.000 years after Adam and Eve and we haven’t YET payed or fault?
    Imagine you son stole a biscuit while you told him not to do it. Your all-loving all-caring reaction is to put him out of house, disown him and all of his following family?
    Or, much worse: you born and your grandfather ‘hates’ you because of something that your father did.

    Let’s put this in another way:
    I strongly personally refuse a God that injects me in this world “with an original sin”, and I have to “repent” all my life because of something someone did 6.000 years ago (of course, biblically speaking) and I was never connected to. If life is a “present” from God, then in your point of view is like giving a present to someone and asking him to pay the money for it.

    I know that all these non-Christian objections are easily rebated by a well-formed Christian. So I don’t want to convince you of my idea, but I like to explain why more and more people is “losing faith” (in your point of view) or “looking for something less filled with guilt and more convincing” (in our point of view).

    @Sarah: facts does not need “inspiration”. Historical facts are reported by historical people, documented and proven. Example: an historic reading the American Founding Fathers documents does not need any inspiration. Those are documented facts.
    Also some parts of the bible are “documented facts”. And they are that way because have been “matched” with other documented historic information.
    Some other parts, as theologists, the pope and the vast majority of Christians says, are metaphorically written to explain life on earth to uneducated people that were obviously not able to know or understand Big Bang.

    If I ask you “how do you know that the bible has been inspired by God”, you’ll answer “because it’s written in the bible!”.

    Then…you have to believe me because I always say the truth. And I always say the truth because I always say the truth.

    Keep repeating same thing: faith is one thing. You want to believe? FINE! No problem for me. Just don’t try to use logic and/or science because they won’t fit.

  4. Sarah McGalliard

    @Katie – you say that you appreciate that Andrea brought “real” history into the discussion, and I’m assuming that by saying this you are saying that the Bible is not real history? What makes the history Andrea talks about any more real than history recorded in the Bible? You say that the Bible was written by normal people, however it was INSPIRED BY GOD!!! who inspired the writers of the history books? because I’m sure he can’t be any more inspirational than Jesus Christ!

  5. Lisa H

    Andrea,
    A good God did create us “correct” and perfect. He gave people a free will to make choices. God gave us the choice to follow Him and obey Him or do things our own way. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, so they were cursed. That’s when sin entered the world. Adam and Eve passed sin on to their children and so forth.

    So it wasn’t God’s intention for people to be “faulty”. We brought that on ourselves!

  6. Gabe Taviano

    In response to you being against blind faith…….there will never be a winner in the argument. You know you’re being prayed for, and that’s all that matters. After many hours in conversations with you, and to spare those on this blog from hours more of the same thing……there’s no further steps in the discussion. It will always be up to God from here, whether you want to agree with that or not. He’s not under your or my control.

  7. Andrea De Togni

    @Josh: I’m happy that my posts have caused family discussions 🙂

    Regarding your points
    1. faith/visibility. True and false. Obviously is something is “proven” no faith is necessary. But the logic does not make the contrary equally valid. If I believe in the flying spaghetti monster, does it makes it existent?
    But I’m digressing and let’s stick to the point: “faith must be believed, if it’s proven, it’s not anymore faith”. This makes me argue: does God likes this hide-and-seek game? You believers like to think about miraculous healings, people healed from a terminate cancer. That’s faith (or “some scientific medical aspect not yet discovered”), but why God do not heal amputees? Becuase that will “prove it’s existence and he does not want that?”. This would makes sense: unfortunately we had Lourdes and Medjugorie Mother Mary appearances. Or the sacred Syndone. This is in contradiction.

    2. Please consider my next sentence carefully, it’s expressed with total respect: do not validate Bible with the Bible itself. It’s just logically wrong. And it has nothing to with faith, it’s just plain logic.

    3. Well, this is a point we non Christian dislikes. The fact that we have to recognize ourself “faulty by design”. A good God would have created us “correct”, not sinned.

    Not that sure about the J. Edwards difference…is about Calvinism? Lutheranism?

    I do not “contest” Christians. I believe in freedom of will and freedom of religion (unless it harms the others). I, however, am against ignorance and “blind” faith. If you shut off rationalism becacuse you have ONLY faith, that’s “wrong” in my idea.
    After all, Earth should be flat by Bible’s words.

  8. Sarah M.

    Cute pics from your whirlwind east coast tour! My fav. is you feeding the giraffe. I’m trying to scheme at how we can sneak away to be at the Zoo party……we’ll see 🙂

  9. Josh

    Andrea,
    I must first say that I have been intrigued to read your posts, and thankful for your graciousness in response to many of the posts on here. While I disagree with your worldview and know that I cannot change you, I wanted to at least share with you perhaps a different perspective on Christianity. My wife usually follows this blog, and when this topic came up she wanted me to follow along, and I have. We had a somewhat lengthy conversation last night because as we were reading the arguments going back and forth, we recognized that part of the problem with explaining Christianity is that it first must be defended due to the many misrepresentations of Christ and God’s Word in the world today.

    So… rather than dive into all of the “defenses” of Christianity or those things and people who claim to be Christians, I will attempt to very briefly outline the fundamental biblical truths that must be understood and taken by FAITH first:

    1. No matter how much we want to build Christianity on solid facts of science and logic to convince the world that we are right, we must first admit that Christianity starts with faith:
    Heb. 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
    1 Cor. 1:21 “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.”
    If faith could be based off of something logical or visible, it would cease to be faith.

    2. Now just as important as it is to have faith, it is more important what we have faith in. And it all starts with faith in the existence of God, and the revelation of himself through his Word (the Bible).
    Heb. 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
    1 Thes. 2:15 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”

    3. Once the existence of God is known through faith (that “being certain of what we don’t see”), and the Bible is recognized as the Word of God, we get into the Gospel. But rather than the soft Gospel that most preach, I prefer to present the Gospel that was presented by Jonathan Edwards… The work of Christ spoken of in the Bible only means something if we first recognize our depraved state before an almighty, wrathful, just God (his love is best known cast against those attributes). For the sake of time and space (and since you are probably already familiar with the message of the Gospel), I won’t quote all of those passages, rather one that isn’t referenced as often:
    Rom. 7:24-25 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    All of the rest of our beliefs (homosexuality, adultery, creation, etc.) are strongly tied to these fundamental truths first. It is actually these 3 things that explain both why you won’t understand the position of Christians (which are hopefully supported by God’s Word), and why those who are truly Christians will never back away from these certainties (John 10:28-30 and that faith thing again). While my personal belief is that many who call themselves Christians today are doing tremendous damage to the testimony of Christ because of their lack of understanding and commitment to the Word of God, my hope is that Christ will return soon to put an end to the confusion we have caused…
    I just have one more thing to say and then I’ll be done… If we (non-Christians – and yes I am being absolute here) continue to suppress the existence of God (Rom. 1:18-32) before we are willing to trust in Christ, it will be too late… Because the proof will come in the form of Christ the King coming to rule on this earth…
    Revelation 19:11-16 “11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
    KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
    See also Philippians 2:9-11.

  10. Meghan

    Fyi for the Brookfield zoo…the dolphin show is closed right now, for a while (I think)and there is a lot of construction going on. You will have fun though, I’m sure. They do have a dinosaur exhibit up right now though. Enjoy! I love reading about your zoo adventures. A cool experience for the family I am sure..something your girls will always remember and have fond memories.

  11. Andrea De Togni

    Fun fact: tomorrow I have a flight to Naples. A very friend of mines, Claudia, asked me to be her Marriage Testimony (absolutely not sure of the correct word…is the person the signs the documents at the end of the ceremony). Since she know I’m not Catholic, she asked me if I wanted to do it anyway. My answer has been “I would be honoured”.
    To you believers, say a prayer for Claudia and Stefano, on Friday 🙂 thank you

    It’s late (00:35 here) and I have to go to sleep (even started to pack things!), but I still want to answer.

    @Katie: like you, I don’t think that Christians are intolerant and bigot. Most of them are caring and loving like my well known friend Gabe and, judging by her words, Marla. (I still think that being loving and caring and not judgmental is incoherent with voting for a bomb-disposer president…but you know, we already discussed about that).
    I do think that literally reading the bible can be misleading. But I’m not sure about that. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not.
    My “problem” with Christians is their certainity, their dogmatic truth which does not leave space for doubt. And all this is based on …well…a feeling. This certainity that God is present. Feelings are personal, highly questionable, highly connected to psychology…

    But still…not sure that I want to convert a Christian to Agnosticism or Atheism. Happy with that? It’s your life, your choice, your way. Fine for me.
    Just do not try to use logic with faith and bible, it won’t match.

    To answer your questions: may sound absurd to USA, but Creationism is seen like…well…I have to be blunt here, but it’s exactly how it is seen in Europe, and it’s not necessarily my opinion: Creationism is considered a nonsense, a science fiction story, something that you can think of only if you were born with that in mind. If you explain creationism to an European, you’ll be looked as a crazy person. “What? 6 days for the Earth? Are you kidding?”.
    The fact is that…no one is questioning the bible because of the fact that they do not believe in Creationism. There is science and there is faith and they are not in opposition. Science explains evolution. Bible explains why we’re here (for religious people). Genesis has been written to explain to medieval people where they came from, and to link God to it. But as I told you, you’ll have a VERY HARD TIME to find a priest or a believer that is not an evolutionist (they may be anti-darwinian, but that’s a different story).
    It’s not even considered a “theory”, so why shoudl someone explain to a science or religion class?

    About sex and abstinence: it’s a touchy subject and I don’t want to offend anyone. First of all I’m 34 now and these things are explained in low elemetary school. When I did those, I don’t remember being introduced to sex at school. I discovered…ehm…by myself 🙂
    I know that some sex education (and prevention) is teached now, but I can’t guarantee. I can say what is the general feeling and sentiment of the people. Pre-maritial sex is considered generally fine, while there are some rural areas that are more traditional and parents dislike that. But it is mostly for moral, social reasons than for religion.
    Abstinence is EXTREMELY rare. I know a lot of people and friends, mostly Catholics, and I remember just one (no, two: didn’t last because then they married, supposedly had sex, and they divorced after 3 months…it was a 6 year relationship) in my whole life who decided to not have sex before marriage. To be honest most of the people consider sex and sexuality an important part of a healthy relationship, both phisically and psychologically: very few would like to “risk” marrying a person and then finding that there is no “intimacy”.
    And believe me, in Italy, we’re are the most “closed minded” (even if we “do it better” eheheh 🙂 ). Maybe Greece is close. Spain, France and especially british and nordic/german countries…they MOSTLY have no sex-religion relationship at all.
    We may discuss on the fact that a lot of sex is made unprotected, and that’s bad because young people do not think about consequences of their actions. But that’s a different story, it’s education, not religion…

    @Gabe: I appreciated those discussions, you know that.
    I am not “trying to be an agnostic”. The closest thing to me, but far from defining, is Buddhism-Agnosticism-Wicca-Atheism-SomethingElseICan’tExplain. Put in a glass and shake well. Unfortunately you think that “since you don’t have a single moral code, you don’t have a moral code at all, so you’re free from being accountable for any foul”. First part of this sentence is simply NOT logical: “since you don’t cheer for Nets or Giants, you don’t cheer for anyone”. I may cheer for Timberwolvers, or I may be sporty and cheer for all of them. Once you move the logics outside of faith, they seems obvious.
    Secondly, and this is something I already told you. We are European, we have not born with the bible in the cradle. We had greeks, romans, philosophers. Ethics, civism, moral laws have come FAR FAR BEFORE Christ with the Greeks, with the Egyptians, with the Arabs, with influences from Lao-Tze and China and Japan. Socrates came FIVE HUNDRETHS YEARS *before* Christ and was by no means connected to Ebraism. This is basic history, not religion. “Democracy” comes from “demos” = people and “cratos” = rules, greek words. “Moral” comes from the latin word “moralem” which means “habit, social rule”. And “divine” agains is latin word, “divinus” which means sort of “always valid”. So…we even defined the words before Christ.

    Oh and, even if I’m not atheist, the “atheism disproves itself” is a common way of trying to use wrong logic. Read here http://atheism.about.com/b/2005/02/18/disproving-atheists.htm. To REALLY disprove atheism you have to prove theism, the Intelligent Design. Since is something that you can’t prove (you can believe, but can’t prove), you can’t disprove atheism.

    Finally, about the Expelled DVD. Admittely I watched only some excerpts, but they were more than enough. That movie is an insult to science and common sense. It tries to make some scientific claims, without being at all scientific. It’s not playing with the rules. It’s using wrong logic and deceiving sentences. YouTube is full of Creationism/Evolutionism debates: but the difference is that the creationst ones does not explain anything. They just keep repeating same mantra “there must be a designer” and they can’t prove it. Instead the evolutionism EXPLAINS and PROVES, with scientific formulas and facts, how things are.
    This website http://www.expelledexposed.com is probably not interesting to you, but against: it uses facts against beliefs. Whatever you believe, a fact is “true by design”.

    Good night, mates! (1:46 AM!)

  12. Gabe Taviano

    I think it’s a bit entertaining to get on here and see people being so charmed with the thinking of people “outside of our country”. I’ve had very thorough discussions online, a few that were hours long, with Andrea. The circle goes round and round.

    I’d suggest thinking over the obvious…..that you’re trying your darndest to be an agnostic (atheism disproves itself), preferring not to be accountable to any moral code that is above your discretion, and that you choose to discredit the fact that one day this life will end.

    If you don’t know what you believe in, you have to understand just how that appears to those of us (crazy people) that follow the Bible literally. If you want to mess with the evolution vs. creation stuff, that one’s been over for a while. If you can, go watch the Expelled DVD by Ben Stein and then enter that huge convo.

  13. Lisa

    Katie, while I respect your viewpoint, may I ask where you think we come from? Where does our intelligence come from? Where do our emotions and consciences come from? Where does the precision of the universe come from?

    I ask because I truly am interested to know where those who follow evolution believe we came from. Please enlighten me on your perspective.

  14. Katie

    I also wanted to add that I think it’s great that we can all have an open honest talk about this. The truth is there are billions of people in this world – there isn’t one “truth” out there or absolute. Most religions established religions have been around for a LONG time – so who’s to say what’s the right thing to believe? It doesn’t serve any of us well to get defensive of our beliefs and hold tighter than ever – what are we scared of? Is Christianity the only way – I don’t think so, but i could very well be wrong! Should we all be Jewish instead – maybe? But how can you know for sure? I think the best way to serve ourselves in this life is to be open and willing to learn all we can about being a good person. Isn’t that the point of all of this any way – to treat each other well and be good, decent people? the rest should fall into place! Intersting stuff from everyone!

  15. Katie

    @ Andrea De Togni – THANK you for saying this more delicately than I can. I find it hard to believe and scary that people try to follow the bible literally. It was written by people – it was edited, words/stories were fought over, etc. A guide at most, but not a literal way to live life. This is unfortunately why there is so much hatred and intolerance of homosexuals, childfree by choice individuals, and so many others. I’m not saying that all Christians are judgmental and intolerant of those that aren’t “saved” but this literal interpretation of words from the “book” certainly don’t help.

    It’s so interesting to hear a different prospective, Andrea. Thanks for injecting some real history into the discussion. Interestingly, as science progresses and we learn more and more about past generations and happenings, much of the bible will ultimately be dispelled by scientific facts. Evolution will HAVE to be the only thing taught in the classroom, as it will be the scientific proof that we have. Out of curiousity, what is taught in schools in Italy? Is the creation theory mentioned or just evolution? Do they teach sex ed as only absinence or do they talk about safe sex, etc? So cool to hear about how things are done outside of our little box that is the USA!

    Thanks again for offering a differing opinion!

    ~Katie

  16. Andrea De Togni

    @Gabe: do you think that all the popes, all the priests and all the believers, here, where Christianity actually was developed (!), think that “the word in the bible can be manipulated” because of the fact that they don’t take it LITERALLY?

    99% of the popes were Italians. Protestatism, 50% of American Christians, plant its roots here. Even in UK, where Protestantism is more present than Italy, the Bible is not taken LITERALLY. Almost never.

    Not taking it literally does not reduce its validity. What “they” think is that the Genesis is just an allegorical figure, a way to explain complex things to simple people. The apple SYMBOLIZES the sin, there wasn’t actually a rib taken from the man, but it symbolizes that it’s the same flesh, the Eden didn’t actually exists but it’s a symbol for eternity.

    Does it make it non valid? Not at all! It just gives you a more correct interpreation.

    Do you eat figs? Mark 11:14 “Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.”
    Have you sold all your possessions?
    Mark 10:20-21
    ‘Teacher,’ the man said, ‘I have obeyed all these since I was a boy.’
    Jesus looked at him lovingly and said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor. Then come and follow me.’

    Matthew 19:23
    ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven.’
    (this is actually a wrong translation. the “camel” in fact was instead a big rope)

    Obviously the fig is just a symbol, because then Judas will hang on it, and the rich parabol is just a way to say “do not be greedy”. But if you take it literal, be coherent, take it literal ALL, not just what suits you.

    Again, not to convince you: just to show you some things that, from an external point of view, are seen as very incoherent and misinterpreted.

  17. Lisa

    Happy Birthday, Rock!!!

    Marla, the Lord’s let me see some major giraffes, Buddhist monks, waterfalls, rainbows, and first families this past week (I hope you figured out that I’m speaking figuratively here… haha!) and I am SO thankful to see He’s LITERALLY done that for you! How awesome. How completely, utterly awesome. I pray He keeps outdoing Himself in your life. I adore you!

  18. Gabe Taviano

    @Andrea If that’s the purpose of life, and we believe there is life after death, then one of us is stuck up the creek without a paddle. That’s just how simple it is. To get through this life might seem like a beautiful thing, but the truth is that we’re not guaranteed a certain amount of “happy” days. That’s why I’m thankful Christ chose to die on the cross for more than just this life. One day this life will pass.

    Calling ourselves Christians isn’t the answer. That’s even more obvious after hearing most Christians in Italy don’t believe God’s Word is literal. A God whose word can be manipulated isn’t a god after all. Our lives are changed because of the cross and nothing else. You can’t understand that change at the moment, and will have just as hard of a time trying to get us to “agree” that salvation isn’t to be shared.

  19. Andrea De Togni

    @Karey: no, never heard about that title. I looked for it and unfortunately it’s not sold in Italy and it has not been translated (I do read in English too…but currently I have A LOT of books already bought to read…:-) pretty ‘booked’ for some ten thousands pages :-))

    I’m however pretty aware of the decadence of the Roman Empire (we study that at school). If you are saying that the Empire fell because of the corruption of moral values, it’s basically a nonsense (ask an historical person, not a Christian),since you are ignoring political and economical factors. And we studied that, because well…we are Romans in the end. To infer what happen THERE with here….it’s a lot of a stretch. Different society, different politics, different beliefs, families, powers…everything.

    European culture derived from the Roman Empire, then mixed with the Nordics (nordic religion) to create the British, and then mostly British created the America. So after all you’re descendant of the Romans…which has not falled, since we (and you) are still alive.

    Curiously what you call “immorality” we call “awakening”. Not that I want to authorize all “immoral” things, but I’d like to imagine it this way.
    – status 0 (boring): where we were 50 years ago. Extremely high morality showed, no sex no drugs no “pleasures”, basically plain and modest life
    – status 10 (extreme): now, when everything is accepted, any deviation, everything is experimented
    – status 7 (balance): when we set a new human, free from extremes religions, free from moral constrains but still connected to a strong INTERNAL ethical drive

    Looking forward!

  20. Denise

    You know for all the times that I have visited Niagara (seeing as how I lived up there for a year) I never saw a monk! I saw a lot of Muslims? I don’t know what they were – but I saw a lot of those!

    I appreciate you! Just thought you should know!

  21. Karey

    Have you ever read the Mark of The Lion series by Francine Rivers? As I read the series, I found such parallels between the impending collapse of the Roman empire and the path of the US. It also deals with the relationship with Christ, forgiveness, grace, and even persecution of believers. I can by no means call myself a scholar on the Roman empire, but I saw so many common elements in the subtle evolution towards immorality. I fear our nation is on that same path because we, as a nation, are trying to be so open and understanding…

    I hope you read the series. It will break your heart and bless your soul. I’m challenging myself to reread the series this summer. Andrea – it would be interesting to know your reaction to this story, too. It’s another perspective on the open-mindedness of culture and where that eventually leads. I love hearing the other side of the story, and I would like to hear yours…

  22. jess

    The purpose of my life: To enjoy life while glorifying God and serving Him. Happiness + SO MUCH more.

    I love that pick of the white house…there’s so much going on. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo?? whoooowee!

  23. Andrea De Togni

    Wow Marla, a post dedicated to me 🙂
    I have to repeat that I do not think that what you say is utter foolishness. It’s just a different view.

    Once for all: reason for life is happyness for ourselves and for the others. I think that all of us, believers and non believers should agree on this.
    You chose a path (or maybe God chose a path for you), which is through Christ. I chose a different path. Both of us are happy in our status, no one need to be saved, to be convinced, or changed. Agree on this?

    However, while you think that I am…incomplete…not in the right light…not happy as you…any of these defintions… because “I do not have Christ in my life”, I think that SOME of the Christian beliefs are, well, not psychologically healthy for people. Bear with me, it’s just a very harsh definition.

    You are imperfect because you have some unhealthy principles (in MY view) and I’m imperfect because I am not with Christ. Can’t we live together even with differencies? 🙂

  24. David

    While he’s blowing things up, see if Gabe can figure out who’s on the roof of the White House. Maybe they’re secret service snipers!

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