Archive for September, 2013

When we’re debating truth claims of the Christian worldview, some concepts can be valiantly defended by the atheist side in a clinical way – in a way that doesn’t have to be intimately related to, at that point. Typically, the nihilistic implications are shied away from … but it comes closer to reality with a bang sometimes –

When you’re the atheist needing to provide comfort to close friend grieving over a family member – then, like in this case, you may realize that “the life of an atheist is a tad bleak”. You can’t say “she’s in a better place” of “you’re in my prayers”. As it turns out, you’re left with nothing meaningful to say…

Note that the trite treatment of prayer in the article is an inditement of the institutionalized, empty version of what much of the western world calls christianity (removed from Christ). The christianity that is characterized by church attendance vs church embodiment i.e. “the true body of Christ in the earth” won’t “fake it”. They won’t leave the world thinking that intersession is empty commitment, because it won’t be. The world isn’t foolish as far as knowing a fake. Followers of Jesus / Yeshua, should step up & be who they say they are or admit to being no more than “fair weather christian counterfeits”.

Audio below outlines this all in brief.

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AlbertMohler.com – The Briefing 09-25-13. Listen to full audio here.

Grieving as an atheist: a surprising dilemma

I can’t remember the exact moment I became an atheist. There was no epiphany moment. I simply moved away from religion gradually until the binds fell apart completely (those binds being agnosticism, which got tossed once I realized I was simply prolonging the inevitable). But since I became an atheist, I wouldn’t say it made any drastic changes in my life – until my best friend called me one day to tell me her mother passed away.

Although we live in different parts of the country (me in New York, she in Oklahoma), we still call each other weekly. But on that particular day the usual familiarity of speaking over the phone was eclipsed by the suddenness of tragedy. I couldn’t give a sympathetic hug or offer a shoulder to cry on. All I could offer were my condolences … which were what exactly?

“I’m sorry for your loss” felt too impersonal. That’s what you say to acquaintances, not best friends. “I’m here for you”, I told her, which still didn’t feel like enough.

I felt like I should have been saying the usual things: “God is with her now”, “She’s now in heaven” or “You’re in my prayers”. These phrases sound better because these are the phrases we’re used to saying. “She’s in a better place” provides a sense of hope and optimism. “You’re in my prayers” shows caring and understanding. But that day, as I stood there on the phone struggling to think of the right things to say, I realized I couldn’t say those phrases anymore. I couldn’t tell her I was praying for her because I wasn’t. I couldn’t tell her I thought her mother was in “a better place” because to me that place was a hollow grave.

I started to realize that the life of an atheist was a tad bleak. The more I spoke, the darker the conversation became. As I drawled on about how “there was nothing you could have done” and “it is what it is”, I started to feel like a black hole. When did atheism transform me into Daria?

But even if I were still a Christian and had the privilege to pepper my condolences with hopeful phrases of heaven and angels, those phrases might sound better, and sure they provide immediate reassurance (which is what they’re designed to do), but the phrases themselves are empty. When people say they’re praying for you, how often are they really? But saying “I’m praying for you” sounds nice, regardless if there’s any truth to it or not. We’re conditioned to say these phrases whenever we’re confronted with a tragedy, but we put little thought or effort into why we say them.

Last year Kim Kardashian was criticized for tweeting that she was “praying for everyone in Israel” in response to the Israel-Hamas conflict. The critics lashed out, accusing the Kardashian of supporting Israel in the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Kim later added a new tweet saying that she was “praying for everyone in Palestine and across the world!” But amidst the mud-slinging, no one thought to realize how empty a phrase “I’m praying for ______” is, how little weight it has in being anything of significance. It’s merely a crutch, a thing we say to show that a) we’re aware of a tragedy, and b) we’re sorry for whoever died in said tragedy. The amount of people who actually make it to step 2 (physically praying) is a mystery.

To some readers, all of this might sound irrelevant. Religiously-charged phrases serve a single purpose: to provide comfort, reassurance. They help people make sense of tragedies they don’t understand. They make people feel good. They provide a sense of hope when people feel like they have none. So what hope do I have as an atheist? Am I doomed to go through life telling friends and family that, no, your grandma is dead for good. There has to be a better way.

During my second phone call to my best friend, I decided I would let her do the majority of the talking. After all, this wasn’t about me, it was about my friend, and I realized the best thing I could do for her was to simply be there for her and be a supportive listener. I told her she could call me any time she wanted, even if it was 4am, even if she just wanted to bawl in my ear. Even though I wasn’t armed with an arsenal of hopeful and optimistic phrases to make her feel better with, I realized that simply being a caring and understanding friend was more important. And isn’t that what really matters? – The Guardian

How did the West lose God? This reverse “new atheist” argument is made in a compelling new book that features family cohesion & stability as a driving force / enabler in a way not considered much before. Consider the more commonplace “fatherless home”, in the same vein, and how that has also been shown as a reliable indicator for children growing up with an atheist or agnostic worldview.

Listen to the interview for a good overview of the book.

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AlbertMohler.com, Thinking in Public – How Does Secularization Really Happen? A Conversation with Mary Eberstadt. Listen to full audio here.

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So it’s confirmed, even by the Wall Street Journal – family mealtime is critically important. Many indicators show this & it is as clear as can be – and even has a cumulative benefit. Funny (or sad) how plain truths like this take so long to be “scientifically proven”. Listen to audio above for more details.

How many other plain truths are we holding back on for “scientific certification” before we’ll give it our full commitment? …if this plays a part at all. Maybe the “scientism culture” isn’t so much something that people would be allied behind if it actually presents an “inconvenient truth”?

AlbertMohler.com – The Briefing 09-24-13. Listen to full audio here.

Is “being dead to sin” properly explained from the pulpit these days? Further illustration in the audio below.

… have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. (Romans 6:3, 4 NLT)

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Putin talks directly to the United States people through New York Times – and minces no words, in his typical style. This “foreign presidential communication event” is pretty much unprecedented, or very rare at least, by the way.

Obama fumbled the Syria issue, clearly. Obama’s complete lack of foreign policy expertise comes to the fore in the most clear example yet.

The “anti-war president” is now scolded for wanting to start a massively volatile military intervention. Check the audio for the full picture.

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AlbertMohler.com – The Briefing 09-12-13. Listen to full audio here.

How does God prepare a prophet, a called person, a missionary? Can the world understand this? How many understand the concept of a “godly burden”? A person that could literally feel the coming pains in his bones and body.

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Let My People Think on OnePlace.com – OnePlace.com – Preparation and Portrait of a Prophet, Part 1 of 2. Listen to full audio here.

What does this tell you?

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AlbertMohler.com – The Briefing 08-26-13. Listen to full audio here.