Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Divine Blunder

Read Your Bible Series - Week Twelve

A Divine Blunder

This week I would like to discuss a fairly serious Biblical issue about which, I would wager, most Christians are completely unaware.  As a matter of fact, it's fairly easy to recognize whether a person of the faith has ever been introduced to the subject.  All you have to do is listen to what they say to each other about Jesus or read what they write about him.  More than likely, you will find statements similar to the following:
Jesus had to be perfect, so he could die for our sins!
We should all strive to be as perfect as Jesus!
And my personal favorite:
There's only been one perfect person, and he died on a cross for all of us!
It's the most popular message of Christians.  Jesus was transcendentally aware, without sin, without fault... the consummate example of perfection in human form.  And yet, omniscience appears to have goofed on the history of his own religion.  Mark 2: 23-28:
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"
He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."
Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."
The Pharisees apparently had caught Jesus and his disciples committing a crime by "working" on the Sabbath.  While I don't agree with these clowns that picking a few seeds of grain qualifies as "work", these Pharisee guys sure seemed to think it was.

But you know Jesus... he was able to wiggle his way out of their mistake by going all, "Son of God" and, "Lord of the Sabbath".

However, that wasn't even the error that the Pharisees should have ultimately been able to catch Jesus making.  That tiny, simple little paragraph before Jesus went full diva should have set off alarms in the Pharisees' heads!  The story of David and his companions was not in the days of Abiathar the high priest, it was in the days of his father, Ahimelek the high priest!  Check it for yourself in 1 Samuel 21: 1-9:
David went to Nob, to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled when he met him, and asked, "Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?"
David answered Ahimelek the priest, "The king sent me on a mission and said to me, 'No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.' As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find."
But the priest answered David, "I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women."
David replied, "Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men's bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!" So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the Lord and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.
Now one of Saul's servants was there that day, detained before the Lord; he was Doeg the Edomite, Saul's chief shepherd.
David asked Ahimelek, "Don't you have a spear or a sword here? I haven’t brought my sword or any other weapon, because the king’s mission was urgent."
The priest replied, "The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one."
David said, "There is none like it; give it to me."
Not only is the name, "Ahimelek the priest" mentioned in this passage, it's mentioned no less than three different times that David was talking to Ahimelek, not his son, Abiathar.  And the true, "Son of God" and, "Lord of the Sabbath" should have known this.  Sure, Abiathar did eventually take over the family biz from his father and he became high priest, and sure Abiathar was most likely alive when his father provided David and his companions with the "consecrated" bread...  But the story that Jesus references is not the story of Abiathar!  And I don't care hard Christian apologists try to dance around it, Jesus was flat wrong.

So let this point soak in for a few minutes: by getting the story of David wrong, Jesus can no longer be considered perfect.  You cannot be sinless and you cannot be sacrificed for all of mankind if you are not perfect.  Repeat it if you have to, just so you understand how important these points are.  And do not underestimate the importance of Jesus' historical gaffe.  To anyone that really and truly studies the Bible, this issue remains one of the most important in the entire book, so much so that there have been many former religious leaders who openly discuss this issue as the first step in their disbelief.

So yes, it's that important; and if you're still reading your Bible, then Mark 2: 23-28 should be committed to memory.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

You're a FEMINIST?

Thanks to an old friend, I just saw the perfect button to pin to my collar.  (Notice I didn't say AGED friend, in case anyone decides to call me out for calling her "old".)  The button read, "I am the liberal, pro-choice, outspoken feminist you were warned about."

YES!  I LOVE THIS!  WOOT WOOT!  Where can I get me one of those beautiful buttons, I say?

And therein lies my problem...  Every online store that I found that's selling this button/t-shirt/etc., is advertising their merchandise using only women for the models.  So of course my first question was, what about us feminist men, dangit?!?

You read that right.  I am a proud feminist.

Let's take a step back.  For those of you that haven't heard yet, I encounter certain situations in my life, just here and there mind you, where I tend to speak my mind.  That's correct - I don't generally hold my tongue when the situation necessitates a sincere, candid, albeit witty response.  Anti-feminism, in general, is one of the topics that, for me, triggers an immediate and very vocal response.  I simply can't help myself; I want the same rights for my daughter and my wife that my son and I enjoy simply by being born with a Y chromosome.

Okay, wait... I will admit that the whole, "here and there" thing was a lie and probably made several people reading this spit their drink all over their display.  Those that did, you have my most sincere apologies for the mess...

But back to my original thought.  As a man who's also a staunch feminist, I was a bit shocked by the lack of male representation in these pictures.  I mean, let's think about what the advertisers are doing to themselves.  By showing only women wearing these buttons and t-shirts, they are subconsciously delivering a message that runs counter to the message on the button!  We feminists need to make sure that both men AND women are included in this movement, and care needs to be taken to advertise as such.  By displaying only women in their product photos, they are inadvertently isolating the men that stand resolute for all women's rights.

One last thing here before I go.  I'll post a list of a few things that men (and some women) need to remember if we're to build a better life for our children and grandchildren:

  • Stereotypes don't belong in our society, so stop it with the, "Women have their place," crap.  Women don't have a place any more than men do.
  • Sexist jokes are not funny - that goes for both men AND women, but especially to men who keep telling idiotic jokes about nonexistent, one-dimensional women.  It's not funny.  Stop it.  NOW.
  • Even today, the rights that women do have are currently under direct attack by a very small group of people in our country.  All of you women and feminist men please do our future generations a favor and VOTE.
  • If you have children, raise them with strength, dignity, and belief in themselves - regardless of the child's sex.  Daughters can succeed in math.  Sons can succeed in English.
  • If you're a teacher, and you honestly believe boys are better at math and science and girls are better at English and home economics, then please, do the future generations of students a favor and retire.  (See above.)

So there you go.  If you're a man and not a feminist then you should be.  And shame on you if you think otherwise, because your mother or sister or daughter - whatever the case may be - deserves to be treated as an equal.  Period.

Now I need to go order myself a button.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

RYBS: God, Afraid?

Read Your Bible Series - Week Eleven

God, Afraid?

Genesis 11: 1-9

If we take the Bible at it's word, then there would most assuredly be emotions that an all-powerful supreme being could never feel.  Jealousy, for example.  With there being just the one true god in existence, there simply cannot be any physical way that god could feel that emotion.  How about desire?  For a being this powerful, desire seems downright laughable - if it wasn't so logically unfeasible.

But if you believe that god could never be afraid, the Bible tells us that you'd be wrong.

Take, for example, one of the more popular stories in Genesis, the city of Babel.  The story begins in Genesis 11:
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, "Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
The first portion of this story makes complete sense if you remember that Noah had just finished saving himself, his family, and a select few of the billions of species that had once inhabited the Earth, from God's wrath against humanity.  And he saved them all with a magic wooden boat.

After wiping the Earth clean with water, God instructed Noah and his family to go and do what humans LOVE to do - be fruitful and multiply.  Now, why these descendants of Noah were afraid they would be scattered all over the face of the Earth is not clear, but by golly they knew they needed to build a city with really, REALLY tall tower.

God should be proud of his chosen ones, right?  Let's see:
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel - because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Since these people went to all this trouble so many years ago, we should probably try to put all of this in perspective.  The best that these poor saps could muster would have been just under 500 feet or so.  That's roughly one and one-half of a football field, straight up.  As impressive as that sounds, to our standards that's so short it's almost adorable.  Modern architecture has reached heights of over five times that, with the Burj Khalifa reaching heights of 2,722 feet above sea level.  Judging by those astronomical heights, god should be huddled in a holy corner shaking in his celestial sandals.

Okay, let's not bother with the obvious question of why god needed to descend from - wherever - to the plains of Shinar to see the tower that these budding new engineers were building.  To me, the biggest, most glaring question about this is, what could humanity ever do that would scare an omnipotent being to do such a thing?  These poor people were just doing what humans do best - they were practicing their ingenuity and engineering a fancy new high-rise.  Good for them!

And what's all this "us" nonsense from god?  Are we to believe that the god of the Universe needs the unscrupulous equivalent of a depraved bathroom buddy?  If you're going to curse humanity like this, then you shouldn't need a rotten little toady to keep you on task.  Sheesh, don't be a sissy and do it yourself!

Besides, what kind of message is this?  The minute people begin to work together to build something awe inspiring, you curse them with confusion?  Is the message of the almighty really supposed to be so anti-intellectual?

Or perhaps, just perhaps... the message here is something that the authors never really intended to convey.  Perhaps the message that our society should recognize is that someday, given enough time of course, humanity will finally figure out that the belief in the supernatural is no longer necessary.  Perhaps even they were unconsciously aware that humanity might reach a point that was once thought to be impossible: our species will eventually evolve beyond the necessity of a maker and free themselves of the restrictions that a maker creates.  Why else would someone write a story about a god that was afraid of technological advancement?

And one last thing - did you notice that the poor saps got scattered all over the Earth anyway?  Talk about tragic!

Stories like these should give us all pause, as by the very nature of the anti-intellectual messages they express, they cultivate an adherence against what makes us all human - our insatiable quest for knowledge.  And how could a being that created us ever want that?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sons of Confederate Traitors

An article I read this morning bothered me so much that I simply had to write something.  According to the Dallas Morning News, the "Sons of Confederate Veterans" won their case to have specialty license plates in Texas.

The federal appeals panel, who voted 2-1 in favor of this group of sore losers, claimed that the group's First Amendment rights were violated by something called, "viewpoint discrimination."

Well, if your viewpoint is that the South had it right and people were considered property, then yeah, your viewpoint deserves to be discriminated against.  Especially by the government!

You know how the right loved to call Bowe Bergdahl a deserter and a traitor?  Well, the "Confederate Veterans" actually WERE deserters and traitors.  You get that?  Every single politician and military leader associated with the Confederacy took a direct stance to against the United States, with the ultimate objective of overthrowing the federal government.  Every single soldier in the Confederate army who pointed a firearm against a United States soldier was, by definition, a traitor to the United States.  Plain and simple.

And how many times do we have to say this...  Those traitors LOST.  They betrayed their country, killed American soldiers, lost the war... and you're celebrating it?  It takes a serious breakdown of rational thought to believe that any one of those people that were fighting for the cause of the Confederacy deserves to be "honored" with a vanity plate.

My favorite quote from the article is from one of the sponsors for the proposal for the specialty plate design, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.  (And of course, he's an old, white guy.)  Patterson claims that the plate, "is meant to honor Confederate soldiers, not cause controversy."

Oh obviously!  Just like the wearing of white hoods is meant to honor the six veterans of the Confederate Army who founded the Ku Klux Klan, not to cause controversy...

Give us a break, Jerry.

He went on to say that, "It’s a victory for free speech and for those who are sick and tired of folks being offended at the slightest drop of a hat."

Okay, asshat.  Unless you and your family were subjected to slavery, then you don't get to tell anyone when they should or should not get offended.  The battle flag for the Confederacy does not qualify as a, "slight drop of the hat", sir.  That stupid flag is a hell of a big drop - and you damn well know it.

In my opinion, the diversity of the group is what gives it legitimacy.  And I don't think it's too big a stretch to assume that only white people like old Jerry here will be the ones that would consider paying for and displaying one of these stupid, racist plates.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

RYBS: Abuse or Misuse?

Read Your Bible Series - Week Ten

Abuse or Misuse?

This week I'd like to consider the original context of a couple of very popular verses that are, within our current society, either completely misunderstood or just openly abused.  These two are the verses that I hear being used the most frequently, but of course, your experience may differ.

Starting with Philippians 4:
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
There it was... "I can do all this through him who gives me strength."  You know, the Sports Illustrated Tim Tebow eye black verse.

Yeah, that one.

The problem with these folks is that they never bothered to read what was written before the verse that they love to flaunt.  Paul even went out of his way to make sure that the reader understands that he had known and appreciated what it was like to both live with and live without.  And yet, most - if not all - people that quote this verse do so as some kind of haughty display, enthusiastically parading themselves around town as the righteous person that the rest of us should envy.

How commendable.

Now I will admit that if you've been beaten, left to rot in prison without much food or water, and you're still completely happy with where you are in your religion, then by all means use this verse.  Otherwise, you're doing it wrong.

So let's look at Luke, chapter 11:
Then Jesus said to them, "Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.' And suppose the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything. I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
I'm sure many readers have heard this verse being exploited just after a colleague, a friend, or a family member received some very good news.  Whether it's a new job, a raise, or a good deal on a new car...

You know the drill:
"Praise Jesus!  Ask and ye shall receive!!!"
The problem here is, that's not even remotely close to what Jesus was trying to teach.  Barely one chapter before, the man had just gotten through scolding a woman named Martha for ignoring his impromptu lecture simply because she felt like there was too much to do while he was there and she was stuck doing all the housework.  (Martha was stuck doing it, by the way, because her sister Mary was busy "listening" to Jesus speak instead of helping, which is the equivalent of conveniently excusing yourself to the potty when the dishes need tending to.)

Plus, Jesus tells his disciples quite plainly that you will get, "as much as you need."  This doesn't seem to fit the popular narrative that as a Christian, you'll get whatever you want...  And yet these five words are so willfully ignored by so many.  Not to mention that it takes some serious gall to think that you are so special to the creator of the Universe that it is willing to ignore the desperate cries of starvation and acute dehydration from all over the world, just so you can have your petty little warm fuzzy over having your wish magically fulfilled.

If your worldview is this narrow and your thinking is this narcissistic, then it is your blatant abuse of these verses that bother me the most, not the somewhat odd messages that the Bible is conveying.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

RYBS: Let's Talk About the Bears

Read Your Bible Series - Week Nine

Let's Talk About the Bears

There are a multitude of stories in the Bible where the sole purpose of the message is to illustrate the overwhelming power and swift apportion of the Christian God's justice.  Yet given the brutal, barbaric nature of humanity in the Iron Age, most of these delightful tales never seem to make the final print of children's coloring books.

After this week, I think you'll agree it's probably for the best...

Anyway, our adventure begins in 2 Kings, chapter 2 with the tale of Elijah and Elisha just before Elijah was to be taken into heaven.  The first six verses gives the impression that poor Elijah must have been looking fairly debilitated since everyone felt the need to tap Elisha on the shoulder to point it out:
When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel."
But Elisha said, "As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel.
The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, "Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?"
"Yes, I know," Elisha replied, "so be quiet."
Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho."
And he replied, "As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went to Jericho.
The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, "Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?"
"Yes, I know," he replied, "so be quiet."
Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan."
And he replied, "As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So the two of them walked on.
Was I the only one that giggled a little reading that?  No matter how many times Elijah tried to ditch Elisha, he just never seemed to get the hint.  How thoughtful.

Verses 8 & 9:
Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
Wow!  My man Elijah put on his big boy pants and pulled a Moses!  Sure, Moses parted a bit bigger body of water in the Red Sea, but Elijah parted the river Jordan - and he did it with one of the Deathly Hallows...

I don't know, though.  Now that I think about it, Elijah seems more like a drama queen than a Moses.  Seriously, nothing says, "flair for the dramatic" or, "misuse of power in the workplace" like rolling up your magic cloak and beating the hell out of a body of water just because you don't feel like doing it legally and crossing at the nearest river crosswalk.

And far be it for me to tell a prophet how to misuse his superpowers, but if old Elijah was thinking straight, maybe he should've used that magic cloak to beat some sense into Elisha in the first place.  Then maybe Elijah could have finally gotten some peace and quiet.

At any rate, we finally get to Elija's climactic exit:
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?"
"Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit," Elisha replied.
"You have asked a difficult thing," Elijah said, "yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours - otherwise, it will not."
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
One thing I'll give the Bible: in days past, if you were an "anointed" man, you were taken into heaven with far more theatrical flair than today's paltry standards of just, you know... dying.  However, if you really think about it for a minute, the god of the Universe whisked old Elijah up not in some otherworldly, radiant display of luxurious omnipotence.  No, Yahweh decided to chauffeur this prophet into paradise with the celestial equivalent of a Lincoln Towncar.

That's right, the almighty sent... a chariot.  An astonishing, miraculous, mind-boggling, horse-drawn... chariot.  Of fire.  As if emblazoning a contemporary mode of transportation in the magic flames of Zion was some manifestation of ultimate power or something.  Sure, that worked for Katniss and Cinna, but come on, this is the god of the Universe we're talking about here!  You'd think he could come up with a far more climactic event than... a chariot.  Of fire.

Be that as it may, Elijah was finally gone, and Elisha was finally poised to take the prophetic reigns.  Elisha goes on to re-part the river Jordan by stealing his mentor's magic cloak (and stealing his gag, I might add) so as to prove that he was indeed the successor of Elijah and strong with the power of God.

Oh, and just in case you might be skeptical of this new found power of God,  Elisha "heals" the fresh water spring of Jericho... with salt.
The people of the city said to Elisha, "Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive."
"Bring me a new bowl," he said, "and put salt in it." So they brought it to him.
Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, "This is what the Lord says: 'I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.'" And the water has remained pure to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.
Yeah, salt always works on natural springs, because salt is so mysterious.  What with all those mystical powers of one part Sodium and one part Chlorine.  Assuming, that is, that the Bible meant table salt.

Okay.  All sarcasm aside, we've finally reached the point of all of this.  That's right.  The bears.
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. "Get out of here, baldy!" they said. "Get out of here, baldy!" He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.
Just three simple verses, and yet so much barbaric, dopey and downright disgusting nonsense.  Then, Elisha just goes about his blessed business in Samaria as if the mauling of children was a perfectly acceptable and justified concurrence.

Here we have a revered prophet; a prophet chosen by the god of the Universe himself, getting flustered by a pack of worthless jackasses calling him, "baldy."  You got that right.  BALDY.

And what does a being of unlimited power decide to inflict upon these insolent jackasses?  Bears.  Not some out of this world display of transcendent power;  the kind of power that can literally create energy and matter.  No, not that.  He sent... bears.  That's all god could come up with for rowdy teenagers - a couple of run-of-the-mill, dumpster-diving bears to maul 42 bad-mannered adolescents diagnosing an older man's alopecia.

So let's think about the point of this narrative for a moment, shall we?  First of all, did anyone really learn anything from this exercise?  Is this really something that the all-powerful producer of the holy word would make allowance for?  And furthermore, was the punishment truly equal to the crime?  Is this really the only solution that an omnipotent being could come up with?  You're telling me that summoning bloodthirsty predators to maul 42 disrespectful kids is the ideal solution in this situation?

Well, of course it isn't!  And yet, it's the fact that I have been raised in this day and age that I know that this story is complete nonsense.  I mean, literally speaking, there's absolutely no way that two bears could move fast enough to maul 42 kids running for their lives.  Sure, human beings only use two legs to run, and the fastest individual in our species is still not even able to outrun your average, everyday house cat.  But give me a break... we're not THAT slow.  I mean, I get that two or three of the boys were mauled, but 42?  No.

Plus, why is mauling by bears even an option?  We're talking about idiotic kids here, aren't we?  KIDS!  Kids being jerks!  Now to me, if I was the almighty and I had to appoint a prophet, I would expect that prophet to behave in a manner commensurate to an all-powerful, merciful, and empathetic supreme being.  And surely the prophet that I chose would have the presence of mind to understand the timeless struggle between the older generations and the new.  I mean, I'm all-knowing and all-powerful, aren't I?  I should have seen this coming and been able to diffuse the situation so that 42 kids weren't mauled by flipping bears!

So I'd really love to to be able to tell you how to approach the subject of senseless Biblical violence in the future... but that would be a waste of everyone's time, wouldn't it?

How about a favor, instead?  A favor from one human being to another.  If you do happen to read this and you still consider yourself a true believer of the word of God - the next time you deliver your testimony and try to convince people how wonderful your life is because you follow a loving and forgiving your god... please do us all a favor.  Stop sugarcoating the violence, stop cherry-picking the easy bits, and talk to them...  Talk to them about the bears.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Facing My Own Predisposition

Yesterday I wrote a post on Facebook that attracted the attention of a person I had a casual friendship with in high school.  The exchange between the two of us was not heated, but it did get a bit adversarial.  Since I initially felt my post's relevancy would easily be applicable to the other side of the doctrinal wall, I was baffled by his responses as I read them.

Those that know me understand my immediate curiosity over what just occurred.  What happened here?  Why were we talking right past one another?  It was then I decided to put my old proverbial Sunday school clothes and go back and reread my post.

Just to set the scene, the person I had this written exchange with is the pastor of a church in Ohio, and I am openly atheist.  I'm not at all implying that it matters, but I thought I should at least give some background on the two players.  And other than the original post, I will not directly quote myself or the person I had the exchange with since it's easier to just paraphrase the conversation.

My post was written as follows:
"I need someone to explain to me how adults who had a... umm... let's just say, 'Biblically questionable' youth can go about ignoring the fact that the rest of us REMEMBER HOW YOU WERE."
At the time, in my own mind my message was clear.  But for now, I'll let whoever reads that statement to form their own opinion of it.  And don't hold back your initial reaction either!  Please, allow any opinions you may have of me, or any assumptions you have of my world view to dictate your perception of my statement.  For this analysis don't censor yourselves, because I prefer an honest reaction to what I wrote.  We'll look at the differences between intention and perception in a moment.

On to the exchange...

His initial written response to my post was one of religious acceptance, placing himself beside those that had, "strayed."  I get that - he's a pastor and this notion can be frequently heard while attending any number of local Christian churches.  What took me back was that I perceived his message to imply that it was okay to be a hypocrite, so long as you were "at home" with his God.

I answered...  He answered... both still talking right past each other.  It didn't hit home that perhaps something was amiss until he wrote that he completely understood why I would want to hold a person's transgressions against them.  When I read that statement, I knew this whole exchange had gone horribly wrong.

Okay, I will freely admit that I was a bit frustrated with the guy and wrote a terse clarification in the response thread.  However, after I read his final response, took a deep breath, and let the analyst in me take over, I realized that I had made the mistake of obscurity in my original post.

My initial intent was to come up with a cheeky way to post a message on Facebook against the judgment of others.  With all the various folks on that site throwing their Bibles about over sexuality and birth control, I thought it might be nice to remind them what it was like being young and inexperienced.  But my post was so poorly written that it left too much room for ambiguity.  Depending upon your current world view, or your personal opinion of me, I now recognize that my statement could legitimately be perceived in several different ways.

When the exchange came to a close, it was clear to me that he and I were essentially saying the same thing, albeit via different philosophical viewpoints.  And it was my own negligence in writing that left too much wiggle room for him to perceive that we held the same view.

Thus, my sincerest apologies to everyone for not being clear in my original post.

And so it goes...  No matter your age, sometimes it's best to go back and analyze yourself, especially your own written word, and learn from your mistakes.