On Saturday, I wrote about Jean Cooke, a Seventh-day Adventist who writes unintelligible theological musings on Scribd and her seemingly random choice to subscribe to my little Scribd page (and how rude I thought such a thing was). To her credit, she has since offered this comment on my Privilege of Religion and Faith article on Scribd:
This article indicates you understand that all knowledge comes from within the expansive self. I like people who challenge accepted truths. Jean
I have no idea what she means by “expansive self,” but I can at least credit her for offering a modicum of respect. In fact, I might owe her some thanks because others might see my work and think about the impact of what I’ve written.
I worry, though, that I have now entered a vicious cycle (not unlike religion itself).
Simon Weston now follows me on Scribd, going by the moniker “simondisciple.” (He and Jean are now my only two subscribers.) I should point out that I’m pretty sure this is not the Simon Weston who is a veteran of the Falklands War who now does charity work. This Simon Weston describes himself thus:
Born again christian, whose writing ministry is straight forward and uncompromising, presenting the message of God’s word and love to the nations of the world, inviting individuals to renew their personal relationship to our heavenly Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ whom loves us ALL.
Uncompromising, eh? At least he’s honest. By the time you’re born again, I suppose you’d have to be uncompromising to make sure you don’t screw up another time. I like to call born agains “second chancers.” I’ve always wondered how many times a person can be born again. Can anyone out there answer this question for me? Do you just keep baptizing until it sticks? Maybe water isn’t the best choice…
Offering no comment on my writings, I can only assume Simon expects me to read his and get something from them. So I shall do just that! And, I will do what Simon was unwilling to do for me and respond to what he has written. This weekend he posted an article called “How To Become A Christian.” Let’s parse through it a bit, shall we?
First, I’m not very much a fan of his title. His obvious target is people who are not already Christian. But he also implies that everybody should want to become a Christian, which seems just a bit snooty to me. Besides, does he have many non-Christians (myself excepted) reading his stuff? If his audience is already Christian, why write such an article? But, let’s take a look at what it has to say.
The central theme of the Bible is God’s love for you and for all people. This love was revealed when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world as a human being, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, and rose from the dead. Because Christ died, your sins can be forgiven, and because He conquered death you can have eternal life. You can know for sure what will become of you after you die.
You know those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? I kind of feel like that’s what the Bible is. It’s just a book of fictional stories, but with the literary twist of trying to involve the reader. It’s not just about God’s love for people, it’s about God’s love for you. I don’t think that adds to its credibility at all, but it sure seems to suck some people in.
Here are a couple of things that don’t sit well with me in just this first paragraph: God, the Son of God, sin, sinless, rose from the dead, sins can be forgiven, conquered death, eternal life, and you can know for sure what will become of you after you die. There’s really no proof or evidence for any of that. None of it is measurable. None of it really makes any sense. (This is all besides the fact that his opening paragraph has no thesis statement, though I suppose the title suffices.) If I were using a critical eye to edit Simon’s piece so far, this is what it might look like:
The central theme of the Bible, an unrealistic book full of magical stories, is a narcissistic self-contradictory entity’s love for you (the reader!) and for all people. This love was apparently revealed when Jesus Christ, a real person who is supposedly the son of that implausible entity, was born, definitely did nothing bad in his life (even though the book ignores many years of his life), died on two intersecting pieces of wood, and then apparently became a zombie (because the book says so)! Because Christ died and then kept on living (even though his zombie isn’t around anymore), you can do all the bad stuff you want and that mean guy in the sky that used to condemn everybody (in the book) will forgive you (according to the book). (You should want his forgiveness, because despite the fact his existence makes no sense, he sent his son here just to die!) Then, when you die, you supposedly get to hang out with him FOREVER, even though there’s no reason to believe he actually exists. Further, you can definitely know what happens after you die, because people have died, and we know that they’re just zombies somewhere else, because the book says so.
Too harsh? I really don’t think so. Call me disrespectful. Go ahead. Tell me what’s “wrong” with my editions.
Simon goes on:
But this gift of forgiveness and eternal life cannot be yours unless you willingly accept it. God requires an individual response from you.
And apparently, it’s not just enough to say “Hey, yeah, I’ll take it.” Apparently you have to buy into it all and live your whole life by it. What a waste of time.
Frankly, I can’t be bothered to read any more. If Simon Weston wants to actually engage in dialogue or offer his feedback on my writing, I welcome it. But if he thinks I care that he’s spouting all this nonsense crap trying to scare people into living their lives a certain way, he’s wrong.