Off into the Unknown

This is going to be my second last post on Internet Monk. My final contribution will come Monday when I will be returning to my first ever post: The Coming Evangelical Collapse – A Statistical Analysis. Today I wanted to close up some loose ends and do a mind dump of a stream of thoughts that are circling in my head. Feel free to respond to whatever grabs your attention.

I am a person of faith. There have been several events throughout my life which up to this moment I have no rational explanation explanation other than that God was involved.

I don’t put a lot of truck into apologetics. I feel that they largely exist to convince the already convinced.
I think the moral argument – that there must be some sort of absolute standard of right and wrong – is the most convincing to me. What made what Hitler did wrong? If there is no absolute standard of right and wrong then who are we say? I understand that absolute standard to be God revealed in Jesus as the logos of John 1.

I also have a lot of doubt (which I generally keep quiet about). My greatest doubt? Our ancestors lived with a geocentric view of astronomy which ultimately got proven wrong. We live with a geocentric religion. Earth is but a speck of dust in this great cosmos. Paul tells us that the heavens reveal the handiwork of God. To me, the heavens reveal our own insignificance.

On balance though, my faith has sustained me through my doubt.

What is sin? I think the most important thing is to love God and love others – understanding that love for neighbor extends to those we have conflict with as well. I find it very difficult to construe fidelity in relationships, whether married or not, gay or straight, to be construed as sin. It strikes me as particularly relevant for today that Ezekiel says that the sin of Sodom was gluttony – our consumptions is destroying God’s creation and is showing neither love for God, nor love for others.

What is Hell? The view of Hell as a place of eternal torment seems to be more informed by the Dante’s Inferno of the 14th Century, rather than actual biblical support. I feel an equally strong biblical case can be made for the idea that Hell is a place where people cease to be. In which case, the Atheist’s view of his final end (hello Klasie) is not that different from my view of his final end! Then again, if the Atheist is right, that won’t be any different from my final end either! And in my life time I won’t be able to prove either of us right or wrong.

Fun side note (this is after all a random stream of consciousness edition): You know the bright light that people get in those near death experiences? I get a very bright light when my eyes are closed and my blood sugar drops dangerously low. It happens more often than it should. Fortunately I always wake up.

Sweden: Did you hear that the King of Sweden apologized today for failing the Swedish people. No they did not achieve herd immunity, their numbers are sky rocketing again. If I hear one more Swedish myth I am going to scream. Side note 2: Sweden report deaths based on the date they occurred. All other countries report them based on the reported date. That is why Sweden’s death graph on Worldometers always trends down for the last 10 days (as they report the deaths that actually occurred on the previous date.

In what I consider to be the biggest blunder of the Toronto Raptors’ history – though the 8th overall pick of Rafael Araujo in 2004 comes close – the Raptors announced this week that they were selling 3800 tickets per game for each of their games (in their home away from home of Tampa) this year. We need bold actions to bring down the rate of transmission, not moves in the other direction.

Good new on the vaccine front, and I wanted to add some that has largely not been reported. We have heard that about 70% of people need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. That will take some time to roll out. Estimates in Canada are some time in the fall. The better news is currently the highest Rt rate in the U.S.A. is in Arizona at 1.21. We just have to bring that down by 30% for transmission to start to peter out. Guess what as long as people continue to wear masks and social distance, an Rt rate of .9 can be achieved with a vaccine rate of just 32%. Of course people will start slacking off on the mask wearing and social distancing, so the math won’t be that simple, but I fully expect that we will have beaten the virus into the ground by about May or June.

Changing Gears…

Where do I go from here?

Should I restart my own blog or join in with someone else? I have been thinking a lot about this for the last few months. I have decided to…

Do nothing. I need to lie low for a while and recharge my batteries mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

My house hasn’t been painted (interior) since we bought it 25 years ago. That is going to receive some attention. I am going to spend some time working on my garden.

And I still hope for some epic canoeing and camping adventures, along with a little more white water swimming (yup that’s me in the picture – taken not that long ago).

When I do get back to writing it will be working on Michael Spencer’s book. I really don’t want the pressure of a due date, so contrary to what I previously announced, I am going to get quite a bit further on before contacting a publisher. For those of you who have expressed interest, I will keep in touch and provide updates.

For anyone else who wants to keep in touch, email me at MichaelSpencersNewBook@gmail.com. I won’t publish my private email here, but I will give you a shout back.

Finally, I want to thank everyone at Internet Monk: Michael and Denise Spencer, Jeff Dunn, Chaplain Mike, Daniel Jepsen, Mike the Geologist, Damaris Zehner, the occasional writers both past and present, along with all the commenters. Your participation in my life over the past 12 years or so has saved my spiritual life. We have journeyed through this wilderness journey together, and without you as my constant companions I really don’t know where I would be.

Thank you for all your friendship and support over the years.

And as always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

39 thoughts on “Off into the Unknown

  1. Huh?

    >Deny God and live.

    Or, God’s existence is God’s issue, not mine. I’m at peace, thanks.

    Like

  2. Sounds a lot like you are stuck in your own fundamentalist story, just from the hardline naturalist side. I suspect you and Seneca would get on like a house on fire.

    Like

  3. You have a choice of story, then. I have the feeling that a lot of you are still stuck in a fundamentalist Christian story, which you are trying to modify in more or less superficial ways. Why not choose a reality-based story instead? Deny God and live.

    Like

  4. Bell thinks atheists just disappear forever, though. (see above)

    This kind of theology assumes that “believing in God” is the most important thing about existence. Even if God existed, this would be a strange thing to insist on, or consider important. It’s almost as though the whole concept were concocted in order to reinforce certain group religious identities.

    If there is a God, then I may have been wrong about his existence, but that doesn’t make him worthy of worship. (As Satan points out)

    Folk Christianity usually holds that good people go to heaven, while bad people go to hell. But of course moral values arise from our particular societies and biologies, which you’d think would have little application to the afterlife.

    Like

  5. I hath returned….

    –> “What is sin? I think the most important thing is to love God and love others – understanding that love for neighbor extends to those we have conflict with as well. I find it very difficult to construe fidelity in relationships, whether married or not, gay or straight, to be construed as sin. It strikes me as particularly relevant for today that Ezekiel says that the sin of Sodom was gluttony – our consumptions is destroying God’s creation and is showing neither love for God, nor love for others.”

    We’re all sinful. None are righteous. We Christians, or maybe more “Evangelicals,” have placed way too much emphasis on the “sin” part of the God/Jesus equation. Ironically, though I was led to Christ partly because of a “Born Again, Sinner’s Prayer, Avoidance of Hell” theme, I see that now as “Meh.” The more I read the Gospels, the more I read scripture, the less it becomes about worrying whether folks are sinning and need “saving,” and the it becomes, “I wish you could understand that God wants to have a relationship with you, that He loves you so much.”

    –> “What is Hell? The view of Hell as a place of eternal torment seems to be more informed by the Dante’s Inferno of the 14th Century, rather than actual biblical support. I feel an equally strong biblical case can be made for the idea that Hell is a place where people cease to be. In which case, the Atheist’s view of his final end (hello Klasie) is not that different from my view of his final end! Then again, if the Atheist is right, that won’t be any different from my final end either! And in my life time I won’t be able to prove either of us right or wrong.”

    See my comment about sin. I don’t worry so much about the “Hell” aspect of Christianity/religion, nor do I feel the need to “save” people from it. Jesus saves. Period. So I’ll let him worry about whether people will go to Hell or not. I’m pretty sure he’ll figure out how to get most/all souls from going there, whatever “there” is.

    –> “Fun side note (this is after all a random stream of consciousness edition): You know the bright light that people get in those near death experiences? I get a very bright light when my eyes are closed and my blood sugar drops dangerously low. It happens more often than it should. Fortunately I always wake up.”

    Interesting aside!

    –> “Sweden: Did you hear that the King of Sweden apologized today for failing the Swedish people. No they did not achieve herd immunity, their numbers are sky rocketing again. If I hear one more Swedish myth I am going to scream. Side note 2: Sweden report deaths based on the date they occurred. All other countries report them based on the reported date. That is why Sweden’s death graph on Worldometers always trends down for the last 10 days (as they report the deaths that actually occurred on the previous date.”

    Sweden was a failed real-life experiment. Some would say the same about whatever it was that the USA did, which was some sort of divisive, un-unified approach led by our brave, fearless Great Unifier of a President. “Let the states handle it! Wait, but some states aren’t handling it the way that I want them to!!! So rise up against those governors, people!”

    –> “In what I consider to be the biggest blunder of the Toronto Raptors’ history – though the 8th overall pick of Rafael Araujo in 2004 comes close – the Raptors announced this week that they were selling 3800 tickets per game for each of their games (in their home away from home of Tampa) this year. We need bold actions to bring down the rate of transmission, not moves in the other direction.”

    If it weren’t real life it would be funny.

    –> “Good new on the vaccine front, and I wanted to add some that has largely not been reported. We have heard that about 70% of people need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. That will take some time to roll out. Estimates in Canada are some time in the fall. The better news is currently the highest Rt rate in the U.S.A. is in Arizona at 1.21. We just have to bring that down by 30% for transmission to start to peter out. Guess what as long as people continue to wear masks and social distance, an Rt rate of .9 can be achieved with a vaccine rate of just 32%. Of course people will start slacking off on the mask wearing and social distancing, so the math won’t be that simple, but I fully expect that we will have beaten the virus into the ground by about May or June.”

    That timing will also coincide with the weather turning and some natural trends down anyway, so maybe that’ll be a double-whammy to the virus!

    –> “Changing Gears… Where do I go from here? Should I restart my own blog or join in with someone else? I have been thinking a lot about this for the last few months. I have decided to… Do nothing. I need to lie low for a while and recharge my batteries mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

    Sounds good! A well-deserved recharge!

    –> “My house hasn’t been painted (interior) since we bought it 25 years ago. That is going to receive some attention. I am going to spend some time working on my garden.”

    I try to paint ours more frequently than that to help in “sealing” it from the elements.

    –> “And I still hope for some epic canoeing and camping adventures, along with a little more white water swimming (yup that’s me in the picture – taken not that long ago).”

    I hope you manage to get some of those in!

    –> “When I do get back to writing it will be working on Michael Spencer’s book. I really don’t want the pressure of a due date, so contrary to what I previously announced, I am going to get quite a bit further on before contacting a publisher. For those of you who have expressed interest, I will keep in touch and provide updates.”

    Anyone who has written/published a book knows: Patience Required.

    –> “For anyone else who wants to keep in touch, email me at MichaelSpencersNewBook@gmail.com. I won’t publish my private email here, but I will give you a shout back.”

    I think I’ve already sent you an email.

    –> “Finally, I want to thank everyone at Internet Monk: Michael and Denise Spencer, Jeff Dunn, Chaplain Mike, Daniel Jepsen, Mike the Geologist, Damaris Zehner, the occasional writers both past and present, along with all the commenters. Your participation in my life over the past 12 years or so has saved my spiritual life. We have journeyed through this wilderness journey together, and without you as my constant companions I really don’t know where I would be.”

    Though I am not one who was too damaged by bad religion/Christianity, I could see the value this site has given those who have been hurt, and it’s provided me an avenue to safely explore my ever-changing idea of what it means to follow Christ.

    –> “Thank you for all your friendship and support over the years.”

    Your presence here has been awesome for many of us, Mike!

    –> “And as always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.”

    Done. And this finishes those thoughts and comments.

    Like

  6. Mike,
    if you ever get the opportunity, try white water rafting on the Deerfield River up in western Massachusetts off the Mohawk Trail.

    Like

  7. Headless,
    I hear SoCal’s hospitals are in crisis with no more beds for covid patients available. Bad news.

    Like

  8. Responses to your semi-stream of random thoughts…

    –> “This is going to be my second last post on Internet Monk.”

    Say it ain’t so!

    –> “My final contribution will come Monday when I will be returning to my first ever post: The Coming Evangelical Collapse – A Statistical Analysis.”

    Looking forward to it!

    –> “Today I wanted to close up some loose ends and do a mind dump of a stream of thoughts that are circling in my head. Feel free to respond to whatever grabs your attention.”

    That’s what I’m doing!

    –> “I am a person of faith. There have been several events throughout my life which up to this moment I have no rational explanation explanation other than that God was involved.”

    Yep. Ditto.

    –> “I don’t put a lot of truck into apologetics. I feel that they largely exist to convince the already convinced.”

    That has become increasingly clearer to me the more I listen to people who use apologetics. “Wait, aren’t you really preaching to the choir, even though you make it sound like it’s for the heathen?”

    –> “I think the moral argument – that there must be some sort of absolute standard of right and wrong – is the most convincing to me. What made what Hitler did wrong? If there is no absolute standard of right and wrong then who are we say? I understand that absolute standard to be God revealed in Jesus as the logos of John 1.”

    I would agree.

    –> “I also have a lot of doubt (which I generally keep quiet about). My greatest doubt? Our ancestors lived with a geocentric view of astronomy which ultimately got proven wrong. We live with a geocentric religion. Earth is but a speck of dust in this great cosmos. Paul tells us that the heavens reveal the handiwork of God. To me, the heavens reveal our own insignificance.”

    I’m unafraid to tell people of my doubts. It keeps me sane.

    –> “On balance though, my faith has sustained me through my doubt.”

    I came through my 5-7 year spiritual desert. The only thing that sustained me was, “God, I trust you still exist and that I will feel your presence again.

    More later. My wife wants to me to go to Starbucks with her. Has anyone ever had their Impossible Breakfast sandwich? It is indistinguishable from the sausage. Yummy.

    Like

  9. That is pretty close to the same time frame it took me.

    The turning point for me was a personal acquaintance with a gay couple. One of them had MS – and the other one spent virtually all their time at the end stages caring for this person they loved so deeply, until death did them part. It is rare to see this kind of devotion in any relationship. There was no way I could condemn them for that love which lasted a lifetime.

    And let me take this opportunity to tell you that I have thoroughly enjoyed your writings here. You have been a blessing that I won’t forget.

    Like

  10. Did some whitewater swimming (intentionally) during a whitewater rafting trip in Colorado back in 2007. It was both exhilarating and intense at the same time. Never did have the raft dump or capsize though.

    Like

  11. “The key to white water swimming… Always keep your feet pointed downstream!”

    And wear good water shoes! 🙂

    Like

  12. My house hasn’t been painted (interior) since we bought it 25 years ago. That is going to receive some attention.

    My wife was an army brat. And almost nowhere more than a year. And even after college she never lived at the same address more than a 2 or 3 years. After we got married (she was 30) and few years later bought a house we’ve been in for 30 years. About 5 or 10 years in she started complaining about the terrible paint job and how it didn’t last. I pointed out this was the first time she had lived anywhere long enough to notice that house paint wasn’t forever.

    Like

  13. Off into the Unknown

    “Into the void, boy,
    Into the void…”
    — Hello People, “Future Shock”, 1974

    Like

  14. Intentionality.
    Scouting the water course at low water levels.
    Checking for hazards.
    Safety equipment.
    Planning a route.
    Knowing the danger spots (whirlpools, places where you can get tumbled, hidden obstacles)

    Like

  15. Mike is there any functional difference between “white water swimming” and what the old-timers used to call “falling in”?

    Good luck to you sir!

    Like

  16. I find it very difficult to construe fidelity in relationships, whether married or not, gay or straight, to be construed as sin.

    I have come to the same conclusion after an extended period of consideration. This, of course, makes me anathema to my former Southern Baptist church – and is one of the major reasons I started my wilderness trek.

    Like

  17. “We didn’t have COVID” does not mean my household is infected.
    It means “we didnt’ have COVID spreading around“.

    Like

  18. One thing for sure:
    Now he has to factor in the “TRUMP IS LOOOOOOOORD!!!!!” Wild Card that got played for four years.

    Like

  19. My house hasn’t been painted (interior) since we bought it 25 years ago. That is going to receive some attention.

    If you were in SoCal and we didn’t have COVID, I’d help you out on that one. I’ve repainted the in interiors of my past two houses and the cabin fever here is reaching critical mass.

    Like

  20. Yeah, I can see debris being a real hitch in your giddy up if you’re used to a spot and not expecting it. It looks like a ton of fun!

    Like

  21. The key to white water swimming… Always keep your feet pointed downstream! It is deep where I jump in. But quite shallow further down. Also, scout out the location when water levels are low. That being said, I have a friend who is a police diver (he retrieves bodies). The biggest problem – newly submerged logs and branches that weren’t there the last time people jumped in.

    Here is my other favourite spot: https://theweeklyminute.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/dsc0106-2.jpg

    Like

  22. You’re a genuine soul Mr.Bell. I do hope to get up to ‘Eh’ land and commiserate one day. Maybe some wine and bread. Communion if you will. Based on that pic you’re not afraid to live on the edge a little. Perhaps you knew the spot. My question would have been, “where are the huge jagged rocks that I can’t see here or a little downstream under all that white?”

    Like

  23. Mike,

    Being the math and engineering geek that I am, I look forward to your statistical analysis in light of several more years of data. Would this analysis show where any models that you did back differ (and by how much) the actual data over the past few years?

    Like

  24. > Even the best arguments can be countered

    Also, even the best arguments can be ignored.

    At midlife I find “arguments” so much less interesting as I see so little evidence they matter. Story trumps argument almost every time.

    Like

  25. Fair winds and calm seas, Mike.

    New beginnings are always exciting. You follow your dreams and go in the direction they lead you, but do not forget your many friends you made here at Imonk.

    I hope you will continue writing. What is good about new beginnings is that the road lies ahead of you and you choose the way yourself. Godspeed.

    Like

  26. I think the best way around this conundrum is the one CS Lewis envisioned – hell is self-imposed isolation from God and others, freely chosen by the damned as the “better” alternative to admitting they were wrong.

    Like

  27. You appeal to ethics, but worship a God who consigns atheists to eternal nonexistence. (Not Hitler, though–he was a Catholic.)

    Like

  28. > My house hasn’t been painted (interior) since we bought it 25 years ago.

    Ugh, how dare you mention such a thing; same here.

    > I fully expect that we will have beaten the virus into the ground by about May or June

    Same. I am really looking forward to an “open” summer.

    > It strikes me as particularly relevant for today that Ezekiel says that the sin
    > of Sodom was gluttony – our consumptions is destroying God’s creation and
    > is showing neither love for God, nor love for others.

    Same.

    Like

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