Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Judgment Series: Humanity's Role, and Why and How We Judge

    Continuing on my intrigue into the nature of judgment, I next inquire about the human judgment. Specifically, how we judge, why we judge, when we shouldn't judge, and the irony of judging someone who judges. Considering myself a Christian, I will answer from that perspective, though you may find this explanation would resonate with Atheists. Sadly, upon noticing the prior statement, I can understand if more than a few subscribers without a God refrain from reading the rest of this.

    First though, I must supply a background to my point of view. Being a well disliked person in my high school, I understand the concept of judgment, and forgiveness (check the post on that one a few weeks ago). Many, many people judge me fast, and I accept their judging, for much of what I do is without explanation; The bank robber, in this case, truly does not know how or why the money got in his car. I see every judgment as a way to improve upon myself.

    Put that on the shelf for the moment, and consider: Why do we judge, as Christians? (Warning: digression in progress) As I stated before, in my previous post, Christians are seen as incredibly hypocritical, because we shun people who we judge, and stereotypically despise those who our faith tells us to love. I cite the Westboro Baptist Church, and Terry Brooks as such people (After much thought, so as to be as full and complete in my analysis of each of said party's actions and motives). Another thing, below, speaks volumes about how Christians are viewed:
    The above link leads to an Islamic believer who has posted three videos testifying the nation's general view of Christianity. He created that YouTube page to prove that the Christian's tenet of “love your enemy” is a null and void statement in the Christian eye. The three videos he has posted are quite vilifying. But this man doesn't notice one thing: he states in his youtube page that, just because of these few Christians' hatred, the “loving” Christian religion is null and void. Just because that one pastor could not answer that question, must mean that nobody can. This type of fallacy is called the Straw Man Fallacy, where someone finds a weak mockery of their opposition, and attacks it to the point of making the stronger opposition seem weak and worthless. Sadly, both parties throw these Straw Man into the debates, and these few extremists' points of view are stretched across the whole.
    But I digress.
    I asked, why do we, as Christians, judge? Didn't Jesus say, “Thou shalt not judge”? Or, if not those precise words, some translation of those words? Well, put the Jesus part on the shelf, let's start from the beginning. Flip your bibles open to the Garden of Eden. The world was whole, complete, perfect. Everything was as it should be, and man had complete union with God. Two people could do whatever they wanted to, save for one single thing. The tree itself, I feel has no serious religious importance. The act of disobeying God, that one act, symbolized when mankind fell from perfection, is the focus of the story. The rest of the story consists of both Adam and Eve blaming the other for the eating of the apple, and I cannot say enough how infantile that part made me feel. The first two humans, blaming so fast and stupidly.

    Ever since then, we have been disobeying God consistently, hundreds of times a day. In the Bible, it reads: “Every sin is equal in the eyes of the creator” (paraphrased, check out 1 John 3:4-5). Sin can be simply identified as anything you are involved in that excludes God. Depending on your interpretation of the bible, this can range anywhere, from a thought about a nice girl in your class to murder. As Adam and Eve show, humans judge each other to keep them on the straight and narrow. It's necessary.

“But wait JHBlancs... didn't you say Jesus himself told us not to judge?”

    Yes, yes, thank you for reminding me. This is where some context came in. Jesus was throwing a quick jab at the Pharisees, the holy men. Pharisees and Sadducees were all about judging. They, considering themselves above anyone else, holy men with no mortal equal, handed out judgment like candy on Halloween. Jesus says further down the red letters, “If you tell someone they have a speck in their eye, while you have a log in yours, you kind of need to get rid of the log in your eye first. Otherwise, if you rail them for their speck, it makes you look really bad. Just wanted to let you know.” (paraphrased, and I'll do a post on Jesus' treatment of the Jewish authority of the day, later)
    Jesus never meant to say, “As a Christian, you should do absolutely nothing when you see someone doing wrong, if it means judging someone. Just be passive. Good Christian, good Christian... want a cracker from Christ?,” he meant to say, “Do not judge like the Pharisees do. They're not that fair, you see. Instead, try to judge them as you would judge yourself. Think thoroughly before judging, and keep in mind that you possess the same flaws as they do, sometimes more so than the person you judge.”
On a related note, I hear Christ crackers are delicious. Never tasted one, though.

    This ties back to the irony of a Christian who judges. This is a fun one. Try calling someone arrogant, and count how many times you think, “wait, aren't I being arrogant saying that?” To me, at least, saying this is the human equivalent of telling a computer, “this statement is false.” I just can't handle that statement. Why? Because calling someone else arrogant is telling that person that they judge quickly, with little regard to their own standing. Calling someone that puts you above them, at a level where you can judge the judger as if you are better. So, when I feel it necessary to relate this, I first get away from the person in question, so as to not offend the person, then my statement sounds like this:
    “First, I took a while to think about this... and I’ve come to the conclusion, realizing that I am in no way fit to legitimately make this judgment, that [insert name here], though he may have a lot of qualities, [list out qualities], I feel he is somewhat arrogant. I'm not saying that he is, but it's how he rubs off on me, I guess I just don't like him.”
    Of course, as soon as I say this, someone says, “wouldn't that make you seem arrogant, by saying that?” In response, I slap the person.
    If I would have to weigh my two cents on it, I’d say we judge because it's necessary. God and Jesus are okay with it, so long as we take into consideration that God set standards for both parties in question, and no mortal party is greater than another. Take into consideration all about the other person, the reasons for their faults, the justification for their wrongdoings. Never call someone out from a position of higher authority, always seek an equal debate. And, paramount to anything else, make sure you keep in mind Jesus' teaching, and the word of God when you see a fault. For, if you leave God out of your mind, then your position is only backed up by your loose mortal standings, and you fall. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Judgment Series: God's Judgment (Work In Progress)

(Note: I still have yet to pass this with my biblical authorities, so take the religious truth of this with a grain of salt)
If you've read my post of forgiveness, you'd understand me when I say I am not quite the most popular student at school. People often pass judgment on me, and most of the time I judge myself much the same way. The most interesting part of this is when you take in to account that I attend a Christian school (though we refrain from daily prayer, which is strange).
      Many people today scoff Christianity because, amongst a mountain of other problems which I will address later, we come off as extremely judgmental. They look at our judgments and then say “Well, if you are Christians, and you say, 'only God is fit to judge, since he's the only perfect being', yet you judge constantly!”, then they throw the hypocrisy card, and Christians as a whole cannot combat their accusations.
      I do have an explanation, though I must add a disclaimer before hand. You'll see the asterisk for this disclaimer later in the explanation, though I feel I must make it know beforehand, to increase the likelihood of someone actually reading the rest of the post.
*JHBlancs realizes this is an incomplete description, as it does not address the actual reasons behind judgment. In order to truly grasp the concept, JHBlancs (hereafter referred to as I) has agreed to add another post in short time about other aspects of the topic. I will only speak of God's judgment today, so as to clear up misconceptions. Later, I will speak on human judgment.

When one accuses a Christian, and said Christian balks as he realizes the accusation is true, both parties misinterpret the word in question. “judgment”, I (and many of my mentors) believe, has a double meaning, though they are similar. There is the human judgment, where one man tells the other he has done wrong, and then seeks to punish the man. Then, there is God's judgment, which is more complex.
Allow me to paint a picture:
     “A man walks into the small, rural gas station. He planned everything out: kill the clerk, cut the phone lines, rig the place to blow, then get out of there with the safe. Once the police figure out, he would have been miles down the road, dropping the safe off in a lake. Then, he'd run into the wilderness, where he stashed enough supplies to live to months.
     “As he looked around, he instantly recognized problems. There was a family with three children in there with him, and one child screamed when he saw his handgun when he shifted his coat. The father came up to him and inquired about the handgun. In response, the man panics and punches the father in the face, throwing him on top of the little-most child, suffocating her. The wife let out a scream, which the man cut short with two bullets. The clerk brought out a shotgun, but the man was too fast and killed the clerk with two more bullets.
“The two remaining children were breaking apart, their lives completely destroyed. The man decided to leave them as he opened the register, finding less than eighty dollars in there. The man went for the safe, which was too large for him to lift. Still in a panic, he ran out into the vehicle the family came in with, stole everything of value, and, being close to the Canadian border, escaped to Canada.
“The search for the man was fruitless. The two children would never return to normalcy, despite the therapy heaped upon them. The family of the killer, already in shambles, fell completely apart, as this was the final push to shove them all apart; none of them would ever speak to each other again
“As to the man himself, after making it across the Canadian border, pawning off everything from the vehicle,and driving hundreds of miles from anywhere, in the freezing north of the Northwest Territories, the ghosts of what he did still plagued his mind. He stopped his car and walked for miles into the cold. Finally, he took his pistol out, put it to his mouth, and pulled the trigger.”
     Now, I will not judge this, though I can tell you where God was. God was there, God gave the man the choice to buy the handgun, to execute the plan, to kill, to steal, to run away, to suicide. God was there. I believe that God gives us choices. That is the first part of his type of judgment. Adam and Eve were both given the choice of whether or not to disobey God, and they did.
     The second type of judgment happens when the bullet ricocheted through the man's brains, killing him painlessly. I will not speak of the man's verdict, though I will say, “that Jesus was the defendant's lawyer, and God was a merciful judge. They went through all the choices God let him make, not in the last days of his life, but his life as a whole. The prosecutor, Satan, put in his expert witnesses, all attesting to the man's damnation, though God already new their testimonies. The man himself was frightened and awed. When all was said and done, judgment was passed.”
I will speak on heaven and hell later.
     God doesn't hand out judgment in the human sense, he hands out judgment in the way that ultimately makes sense. He wants humanity to come to him by their own volition, and if he plays any part in our salvation, he feels we have been cheated out of our true heaven.
     For, if we come to know God and Jesus by meeting Him halfway, when both parties know that God forced the mortal into the immortal's path, then the temporary man does not truly understand salvation.
More to come on this topic.

(For interesting insights into Death, Time, Hell, Nature, and other themes, look for Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series. Don't expect it to be biblically accurate. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Remembering the Dead

Ezekial Stephens lived between 1793 and 1872. In 1812, he fought in the war of 1812, as a private of the Tennessee militia. Years later, the children would run up to his porch, and be enraptured by his endless tales of the war, many of which he did not have to exaggerate for dramatic effect. The children would then promise they would never forget him, and then proceeded to spread the news of the man. He was a local legend, some say he charged in at the head of the cavalry, though close friends of his would tell you differently.
I found this man at Garrett Cemetery, formerly known as Old Holly Springs Baptist Cemetery, in Cobb, Georgia. It was between a Shell gas station and a salon. The church that was once attached to it is long since disappeared, most likely the salon possessed it. God's acre itself was only identifiable by a wrought-iron gate. I would've never known about it, if my father hadn't pointed it out while we were walking by it. A thick cloud of shrubbery and trees hides it from the public eye, and, despite the exorbitant amount of traffic going by on highway 92, the air inside the eternal home was cold and silent. The sky was bright blue above, yet everything seemed muted.
I stood at the entrance, feeling as If I had intruded upon a symphony, or a meeting in which everyone present was raptly at attention; I felt forty-two stares. I couldn't say anything, for fear of disturbing the marble markers more than I already have. There were two boxed in sets of graves, with “GARRETT” and “FOUTS” on them. The Stephens were arrayed on the opposite side of the acre-sized grave site. One tombstone, almost ten feet from the entrance, was unintelligible.
Ezekial is simply one of forty-two internments at this cemetery. Each one of these people had a rich history; I put Ezekial's name, and my description above of the man is directly referenced from
How many people are forgotten within a hundred years of their death? I would have never brought the memory of those forty-two back to the light had it not been for a comment from my father. Do not try to be remembered in this life; It is a futile attempt. Only a few select people may be remembered for eternity: Jesus, Plato, Newton, Aristotle... Even Shakespeare is slowly dying, the light of his glorious penmanship weeping for lack of someone reading it.
So, I challenge you not to work for remembrance in this world; even a million years of your place in history is nothing in the annals of time. If you work for the achievement of those million years, then what have you truly gained? Sure, you'd be respected, you'd be remembered. For one million years, people would say, “What would you do?” You would be a faux god in people's eyes. But what would you have lost in your reach for those million years of remembrance?
As I typed this prior paragraph, I realized that I am describing Jesus' impact. He will be remembered, hopefully for much more than a million years. Though, does this mean he spent too much time trying? I believe he did. Though, since he really was (or, for the Atheists in the crowd, “believed he was”) God, I think he's justified.
Rather, work for making other people be remembered for millions of years. Ezekial Stephens may not be remembered, though he helped Andrew Jackson defeat the hostile Creek Indian tribe, which allowed Jackson to go to New Orleans to repel the British from the city.
Plato and Aristotle both had some inspirational person they refer to. George Washington, also. Truett Cathy cites his father as the source of his perseverance. Every major cultural icon, people who will be remembered for a million years, will remember one or two people as the people who helped them to the heights of history. I aim to, and I challenge you to try. Because if you're the one person the man with a million-year legacy remembers, Then you've been remembered for more years than he has. For, when you commit a man to memory, you also recognize the people who brought him up to memorable mention. You also find life much easier to cope with, free from the desires of the world. The Bible is full of wise words, and one verse demands representation here. I will close with this verse:
"So the last will be first, and the first will be last." -Mat. 20:16

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