Friday, December 04, 2009

Breaking the silence

Does it seem that most people interpret silence in a negative way? Seems that way to me, but I've always been the opposite.

When I was in college and would drive back to school after a holiday break, I would tell my parents, "If you don't hear from me in the next couple of days, it means I'm doing great." I felt the same about others -- if they didn't contact me I assumed everything was fine.

I have to remember that most people don't seem to be like that. And here I've been silent on the blog for a few months, and you may be wondering if I'm ill, divorced, unemployed, a Democrat or an atheist. No need to worry!

Sure, I've been sick a couple of times this fall just like everybody else, but the swine flu hasn't hit me. Yet. I'm certainly still married to Jamie and we're having more fun that ever now that we're outnumbered by children in the house (baby Luke was born September 5).

Not only am I still employed, I just got my second big promotion of 2009. I'm now running two separate teams and have pretty huge responsibilities. Best of all I'm finding that I love the work, and I happen to be good at it too. It's the first time in years I've truly enjoyed what I do and my life's energy is going to efforts that will do some good.

Politically I'm still as apathetic as ever. Didn't vote in any local elections and the only time I follow what's happening in Washington is on the topic of economics, since it's an interest of mine and it affects my company.

My faith's evolution hasn't slowed down a bit, and I wish I could've been available here to write more about it over the past few months. Rest assured I'll be writing about it shortly, and that this post is merely the first step to building some momentum along those lines.

Just so you don't think all is rosy and I have a halo over my head, I promise that I'm still causing trouble:

-- I frustrated a friend when I told him I was 99% sure there is lots of other intelligent life in the universe. He said if that's true, the bible is meaningless to him because we are made in His image and are God's chosen creation. I was stumped, surprised, and didn't have a good poker face.

-- I went to a speech/reading by a Jewish agnostic gay playwright (his self-description) who has won a Tony, a Pulitzer, and got an Oscar nomination for a screenplay a few years ago. I was probably the only straight white married male in the auditorium, listening to a brilliant man speak on oppression and social justice in 21st Century America. And I liked it.

-- I infuriated our minister in bible class by asking the question, "Isn't it presumptuous for us to say we know why Jesus had to die, and that God had no other choice?" I'm in a place right now where apologetics don't do much for me, and I'd rather explore the biblical teachings that I can actually test out right now in this life. And there ain't no way I'm figuring out penal substitution doctrine in this life. The minister raised his voice and said, "God doesn't deal in lunacy. Of course Jesus had to die, or else God is a butcher." I had learned my lesson by that point and stayed quiet.

-- If I had spoken up again, it would have been to ask, "So God is not a butcher... He's merely incapable of forgiveness without killing himself? Do we really have to choose between a butcher and a God who's backed into a corner by sin?"

See what I mean? I had learned my lesson and kept my mouth shut.

Some silences shouldn't be broken, I guess.


Logan said...

Welcome back Mike-and keeping breaking the silences, I'm gonna need some company in the Abyss...

Roland said...

Three things.

1. the word verification on this comment looks like a pot leaf. Weird.

2. I hope your minister reads your blog. There's real insight here and a thoughtful person sees it.

3. for some reason I'm reminded of Break Like The Wind, by Spinal Tap.

Andrew said...

Looking forward to "writing about it shortly".

I feel your frustration with the whole atonement theory issue. I think that is why I tend to shy away from the apologetics section of Christianity. They offer THE answer.

My church recently did a series where they took questions from the public and then answered them in church each week (e.g. why is there suffering, is Jesus the only way, etc.) What annoyed me was that we pretty much gave ONE answer to each of these complicated questions. I wanted to raise my hand and say, "yeah, that is one way of looking at it, but many others would answer it..." It made me wonder - are we educating or indoctrinating?

BTW, congrats on the newborn. Our sons share the same birthday.

Debby said...

Does it seem that most people interpret silence in a negative way?

Yes. Yes, it does. I've recently had that belief reinforced. Tim and I are a quiet couple. We've had a houseguest for two weeks. He seems to believe that silence is a sign that something's wrong. It makes him hugely uncomfortable. He talks all the time to fill up the empty places. I think that people who feel badly about themselves are uncomfortable in silence because they assume, automatically, that they've done something to offend, or that others are thinking critical thoughts of them. Don't get me wrong. I'm a talker. But I'm also a quiet person.

I've been chafing in church lately. The sermons from the pulpit have been getting sterner and sterner. We were told that dissenters are sinners. Shocked, I realized that I disagreed with that.

Bob said...

YEA!!!!! So glad you're back! I did NOT interpret your silence as meaning sonmething's wrong and was confident you'd be back when time permitted. Welcome to the world of there being "more of them than there are of us." It's great.

I largely agree with you on apologetics but I just read a great book by an "apologist" -- Gregory Boyd (it's the most recent book on my shelf on my blog). It's actually a series of letters between him and his dad over a couple of years. Although he rehashes some of the classic apologetic principles, he also allows for a lot of latitude on things,which I found liberating and refreshing. Think you might like this one.

I hope you didn't tick off you minister so much that you won't be asked to preach again. I really enjoyed your messages.

Tit for Tat said...

Silence, Sheit, some of us just like to talk. Missed ya, glad youre back in black. ;)

Steve H. said...


Totally understand the silence. I know I get busy and don't "feel" like blogging...then a couple weeks later, gotta right because something either inspires me, pisses me off, or I just find interesting:)

Btw, looking forward to your thoughts on penal substitution. There seems to be be a growing questioning of it and I'm curious why?

Also, I'm as confused by your statement that you're 99% sure there is other intelligent life in the univerese as your friend's reaction to it. Intelligent life wouldn't affect my faith at all, and since there is no evidence whatsoever of it (unless you count what the govt. is hiding in Arizona) it would be hard to put a percentage on it.

Now look, I'm poking at you and thats rude since you just got back. Where are my manners?

Congrats on the new addition and the promotion..

Redlefty said...

Wow gang, how cool is it that after such a long blog drought you're all jumping right back in already? Thank you!

Great questions already popping up -- keep 'em coming! That will give me great topics to keep writing on.

Bob said...

I'm with Steve -- if there's life on other planets, or there's not, doesn't rock my world. We had one of those Q&A things at church recently and they probably spent 15minutes explaining why there is not. Really? That was rather offensive to the alien who was my guest that morning.

Don said...

Let the words flow, you have a gift. As to prolific blogging, I am a bit caught up in doing 500 straight posts before I see where I am going in year 3. Forgive your pastor, he was deeply trained in defending the status quo. It takes some real crushing experiences for pastors to leave the agenda.

Don said...

Hey Michael! Still got catch you sometime when I'm in Katy! Now on to serious things. Man, I just don't see how you remain in a church...But you are you and I am me...How profound! I'm with Roland. I hope your minister reads your blog. I always appreciate your comments on my site. I have missed your posts. They always make me think. Looking forward to meeting you soon!

Paula said...


You made me go look at Genesis. If your friend looks at chapter 4 of genesis, he will see that there are others outside of the garden of eden because Cain asks God when he is cursed what he's going to do when others see him. That's when God tells him "They will not kill you, for I will give seven times your punishment to anyone who does." God Places his mark and Cain leaves the presence of God and goes to Nod.

This implies (to me at least) that there was life outside of the Garden and that God is aware of it. Doesn't that mean that there could be life outside of Earth? We are God's Chosen creation, but that doesn't mean that God didn't create other things.

Just random thoughts.


MamaRose said...

GREAT BLOG, Bud & GREAT POINT, there, Miss Paula--out of Gen. 4--I've ALWAYS WONDERED WHERE the AMERICAN INDIANS came from--maybe, they were 'some of the others' that Cain was worried about--you think????? IT'S POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!

As, I also think it's POSSIBLE that there is OTHER 'Intelligent' LIFE in our UNIVERSE!!!!!!!!!

About WHY Jesus HAD to die--WHY GOD 'LET' him die here on Earth--for the FORGIVENESS OF ALL OUR SINS--I was always taught & it SEEMS to me, that the Bible 'backs' it up--that it was the ONLY WAY GOD COULD SAVE US ALL!

There's no VERSE on it, that I know of, but it IS LOGICAL that IF there had been ANY OTHER WAY, God would have known about it & 'gone' THAT WAY--FOR SURE--don't you think?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't think I 'grew up' with the 'Silence' thing being ok--but, got used to it, when you were in College & it's FINE with us, now--So, we also do NOT believe in 'OUTTA SIGHT, OUTTA MIND'--Dad & I talk about & PRAY for ALL OF YOU EVERY NIGHT & DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OUR GOD IS GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And, we have ALL BEEN SO BLESSED--to have our 6th GRANDBABY 'on it's way'--YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!! You & your brother & your wives have BLESSED US GREATLY, by/with your children!!

Redlefty said...

Paula -- great point! I will definitely make my next post about ETs since that got some interest here in the comments.

Mom, I don't actually believe that God was forced into a corner by sin and that crucifixion was the only path to forgiveness. More on that later -- I love you and will see you soon!