Friday, November 25, 2016

Complacency

Something I've noticed this recently is that I've found myself becoming "complacent" in my beliefs. I've thought a lot lately about late 2014, when I was ZEALOUS about God. Openly denouncing flaws in Catholicism, writing extremely bold lyrics, writing posts directed to the secular scene, etc.

At first, I reverted to a thought pattern I'm often guilty of - trying to capture the emotions / feelings / "essence" of that time period (the music I listened to, the things that I did, the places I went), instead of trying to understand the meaning behind them. It's a very misguided thought process that I used a lot back in the old days. But I finally caught myself, and thought about it again. I think the actual reason I was so zealous back then was because the contrast between good and evil was more obvious to me, since I was just leaving the occult stuff. I was even having nightmares about it: listening to evil music and finding a dead demon hanging in a doorway; the devil trying to break down my bedroom door in the middle of this rather terrifying storm; etc. Contrast those nightmares with all the research I was doing on [Christian] theology, along with my regular reading of the gospels and Revelation.

But over the past year or so, I feel like I've become too complacent in the comfort I feel now that I'm no longer being directly plagued by demonic forces. Nowadays, each day sort of just becomes another "day", where I'm not being directly threatened by anything. Also, I feel like I've forgotten just how bad the evil made me feel, and how great it was to be free of it. But I've become accustomed to this way of life now, and I feel like I've just lost a lot of understanding because of it. Back in 2014, even though I knew snippets of the gospels, sitting down and reading them for myself was new to me. It was so powerful and, ultimately, quite wonderful to read the words of Jesus (written in red!) and to not only learn things, but to be convicted by things He was saying that I disagreed with at the time, and had trouble accepting. It was great to ask God for understanding, and that God taught me how those teachings actually made sense and were correct. But nowadays? That sense of wonder is largely gone; I'm used to the Bible being in my life now. I'm used to reading it frequently. It doesn't mean as much to me as it once did.

So, what should we conclude here? That we need a "sense of wonder" to be good Christians? No, not at all. It's not the "sense of wonder" itself, it's the meaning behind it: that I had a fuller appreciation for God and for His word, and the complacency I've felt lately has hindered that. I don't feel as strong of a need to repent from anything; I don't have as much incentive to run to God, because there isn't as much that I need to run from. But that's not how our faith journey actually works. It's a constant battle. We may be safer in God's word, but by allowing ourselves to become complacent in it, we're still putting ourselves in danger. The devil and his demons may not be able to harm us directly after we accept Christ, but they can still tempt us and mislead us. We need to constantly be aware of this. We need to always acknowledge the significance of what God does for us - that He gave us His word in the Bible, that He sent Jesus to pay for our sins, that He will let us live in His kingdom for eternity where every tear will be wiped from our eyes... This is very powerful stuff!

The reason I'm bringing this up in a blog post is because I want this to reach other people who feel this way. I'm hoping that by posting this, I can bring their complacency to their attention as well, and hopefully/prayerfully give them some incentive to talk to God, and to get their lives back on track. I've hated this complacency, whether I was aware of it or not, and I look forward to leaving it behind and getting back to what God wants from me. Even though, just like my journey was in 2014, this will probably be a struggle.

But it'll totally be worth it.

And it'll be so much better than the alternative.

May God bless and guide you all, according to His perfect will! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cliches

People wonder how a Christian can believe in something that seems "too good to be true". After all - good wins in the end. Of course it does. It always does ... doesn't it?

We get to spend eternity with loved ones whose earthly lives ended before ours. We don't have to leave them again, nor do they have to leave us - eternity. It's a gimmick... isn't it?

I think part of the problem with some people's perception of Christianity at this point in society comes from the fact that many of its principles have become cliched. At best, some Christian principles have been adapted in various forms of media to the point that the morals or plot points become tired. At worst, they're parodied to the point that basic Biblical terminology becomes a punchline and its significance is lost.

Picture that you live in a world without movies or books, without any kind of historical records. All you are used to is babies being born, and people being killed or dying of old age. It doesn't even have to be a primitive society - it can be a modern, scientifically-oriented one. Somebody tells you that there is, to put it simply, an invisible part of that person that does not die, but is sent somewhere else, and that you too will go there and meet that person again when you die. Is the idea still ridiculous to you? Is it too good to be true? It'd be an unfamiliar idea to you and your theoretical society, so of course it'd be met with some skepticism, but on what grounds? The idea that you haven't thought about it. That you haven't had any time to think about it. Not the grounds that it's somehow intrinsically "too good to be true", because you have nothing like it to which you can compare it - remember that you have no fantasy novels or mythology. "Too good to be true" is a conclusion drawn from a situation where there are already a bunch of "good" (read: pleasant) ideas that end up being untrue, a situation where idealism becomes tired, and has eroded one's perception of what's possible. The fact that Christianity presents an idealistic view of life after death doesn't negate Christianity itself, and the fact that Heaven is idealistic doesn't negate the idea of Heaven. The only reason to doubt it on those grounds is a repeated pattern of hope/expectation and disappointment - but see, that's subjective. It's not even anecdotal - it's just subjective. Even though reality, as we all know, is generally worse than we would like it to be, reality itself doesn't function in a state of perpetual disappointment. People fail, but people succeed. People lose, but people win. People struggle, but people thrive. This happens in varying degrees of extremity - some minor, some monumental - thus, ultimately, there is no such thing as "too good to be true". Good wins in fantasy novels, but that doesn't mean good can't win in real life as well.

There's also the issue of Biblical concepts and terminology becoming cliches. What does that mean? We esteem anyone who is "nice", or "generous", or "gentle" in any regard, to be an "angel". We esteem anyone with whom we disagree, or who wrongs us, to be "the devil". The word "sin" is a joke. Does the average person in a first-world nation really think of the word "sin" in the same way that they think of genocide? That is, as a serious offense? Or do they think of "sin" as a silly metaphor for any kind of indulgence that would rile up people with values the see as "traditional"? The kind of indulgence that harms oneself, but not others, so it's deemed "okay"? Anybody who assists another person in some way is a "Savior". Anyone who is good at something is a "god". There are plenty of fictional characters who come back from the dead. Plenty of fictional characters who play a role in stories that's similar to the role God plays in the real world. After awhile, these words and basic ideas that are crucial to the gospel message begin to lose their significance, and the gospel is reduced to a bunch of cliched exaggerations of everyday phenomena and commonplace story elements. Of course I'm not saying that romantic hyperbole is destroying Christianity; we probably don't need to worry about being "sinful, hehe!!", there it is again, by referring to significant others as "angels". It's about the broader mistreatment of these ideas, linguistically and otherwise, by a society that largely doesn't understand them, which makes them subjectively lose meaning. And subjectivity vs objectivity doesn't mean a thing to most people: if it's cliched in our society, it's cliched in general.

There's also the less interesting, but equally relevant point that Christian principles are often thought of as synonymous with "conservative" or "traditional" values. The idea is basically that all the things one finds unpleasant about their conservative relatives, or about the society in which they live, etc can all be traced back to the role Christianity allegedly plays in it. This idea is a lot easier to refute: use the Bible as a litmus test, not people or cultures which claim to be Christian. View it objectively and with prayer - don't cherrypick a random verse where somebody is killed, and stretch its meaning until it lines up with whatever you're opposing. The ideas in God's teachings do not line up with what our world has become. People know less about the Bible than they think they do.

Take all these things into consideration. And as always, may God bless you all and guide you according to His perfect will! In Jesus' name. Amen.

[Archive.org] Reverorum ib Malacht interview

(Update Dec. 2016, I changed the title a bit to clarify that this is an old interview)

Seeing that this link was removed from their "additional notes" on Metal Archives, I wanted to make sure this was still available somewhere.

Now, as I've said before on here, I don't agree with Catholicism. I think it's full of unbiblical principles (rosaries, purgatory, etc) and gives undeserved authority to human "popes". However I still think this interview contains a lot of intelligent and thought-provoking ideas and theology (even if I disagree with the Catholic influence on the details). Not to mention it contains a lot of information that fans of Reverorum ib Malacht would probably like to know.

That being said,
http://web.archive.org/web/20140414014831/hammemit.wordpress.com/malacht