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The Parable of the Window Shade

I have a couple windows in my sitting room (actual pic above).  Sometimes in the morning I get up early and hang out in that room for a bit to read or write, and I open the shade on the right to let a little light in.

Often times I don’t even bother opening the larger shade on the left because the smaller window on the right seems to let as much light in as when they’re both opened, and the smaller one certainly transmits more light than if I only open the large one instead.

This made me wonder about it in a spiritual perspective.  How is it that the window that is one-third the size can transmit more light than the much larger one?  I concluded that it is because of the way the smaller window is set up.  It is situated in such a way to catch the sun better, and allow the light to transmit through more clearly.  The larger window doesn’t get as good an angle on the sun, and it also tends to be more cloudy for some reason, which probably has to do with how the rain or wind hits it as compared to the smaller angled one.

As you can probably see where I’m going with this, it jumped out as a very basic example that when we arrange our lives to help the light shine through us more radiantly, even the smallest and most inconspicuous of us can be a window that transmits a lot of light into this world.  Conversely, some who are very large and visible seem to transmit a comparatively limited amount of light into the world.

This got me to thinking about the reasons for this, and I believe that it has to do with a few universal principles that can help our divinity (or Christos / Christ) to flow through us more naturally (like light through a window) as opposed to having to use as much effort or space to do it less effectively.  Using my window as an example, it is to arrange ourselves wisely in a way that stays the most clear and most optimally aligned to the light.

A few thoughts came to mind about how we might be able to arrange our window’s more optimally:

Prayer & Meditation

Those who transmit light to the world most effortlessly and brightly seem to also have good habits of taking time to connect with our source of life and purpose.  However that may look to each of us individually, I believe that we can transmit more light when we add more time for peace and connection into our routines.

Study & Discussion

Reading spiritual books, listening to spiritual audios, watching spiritual video’s, discussing with spiritual friends, wrestling with our own belief paradigms, and attending spiritual gatherings are great ways to continually grow deeper and be reminded about what is important in life. When we forego this learning process we tend to become most influenced by the world, or stuck in a rut, which in many respects works in the exact opposite ways.

Charity & Service

At the end of the day, our best teachers can be our experiences; specifically those that happen when we physically and tangibly go out of our own way to spread love to others.  We cannot just sit and ponder on things to gain these experiences.  If we want to refine our spirit and soul through experience, we have to go do it.  This can be feeding the homeless, raking an elderly neighbors lawn, mentoring a child, calling a friend simply to listen to their troubles; or countless other acts of love and kindness.  These actions can truly refine our souls when we do them, and we are often touched and effected in ways we couldn’t have known.

I hope my sitting room window was of some use to you today.  May we all be blessed with a level of peace, hope, and love that not only transforms us, but also allows us to become windows that shines a brilliant light to the world around us.

Eric Alexander

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Bart Ehrman with Stephen Colbert

This is a funny interview of Bart Ehrman by Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report.  It's definitely worth the 6 minutes to check it out.   If you don't know Bart, he is a scholar who went to Wheaton College to pursue the evangelical ministry, but through his study there, and his subsequent Ph.D studies at Princeton, he ended up writing multiple best selling books about the many errors and contradictions in the Bible.  I find his scholarship to be excellent.

I have seen many interviews by Ehrman over the years, but I don't think he ever had to navigate anything like this before.  In the end it's not just funny, but it's also enlightening.  Through its satire element the interview really does highlight why an inerrant, infallible, and authoritative view of the Bible just doesn't make much sense. 

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by Eric Alexander

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What is the Probability of God's Existence?

Do you ever wonder about God's existence?  I'm betting you do, even if you've already convinced yourself one way or the other on the matter.  I think we all wonder about God's existence at times.  To not at least wonder about it would rob us of one of the most unique aspects of human experience, which is the experience of questioning our very existence.

A 2012 Pew Research poll (shown below) concluded that roughly 94% of Baby Boomers and Gen X'ers believe in a God of some type, with Millennials only dropping down to 89%, with a delta of only 10% in absolute certainty between Millennials and Gen X'ers.  So even today, God is still a popular idea.

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The Most Common Christian Theological Fallacies

Christian Theological Fallacies

So maybe you can relate to this...  You're having a discussion about some Christian topic with another person when *BAM* they hit you square in the jaw with one of these theological fallacies...  (a theological fallacy being an "unsound theological argument," and if you're unfamiliar with fallacies you can see more about them here at Princeton).   

The only problem with theological fallacies (which I've simply made up by hacking standard fallacies) is most times we don't actually recognize that it's a theological fallacy, or we aren't quite able to articulate it, we just know it is wrong.   

Now you can breath a sigh of relief as this graphic substantiates the six most common fallacious Christian theological discussion infractions (based on six of the most well known standard logic fallacies).  

So the next time someone lobs one of these your way to derail you during a discussion, you can instantly call them on it, and even direct them to this graphic to illustrate your point! 

I do hope it helps, and please let me know what you think.

Peace, Eric

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I am Coming out Gay and Christian! (sort of...)

progressive Christian Cross

It's official, I am here to proclaim openly that I am a happy Christian!  Wait, did you think I meant something other than happy when I said I was gay? thought, like....I liked guys?  You mean the word gay has evolved and changed its common meaning over the past fifty years?  Well in that case, let's talk about another word that has evolved and changed its meaning over the last fifty years: Christian. (And no, for the record, I'm not gay as in liking other guys)  *not that there's anything wrong with that (quite the contrary)* ... as Seinfeld aptly points out below :-)

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Love Love Love is All We Need

As much as I like rolling up my sleeves and looking deeply at a subject, I also very much appreciate images that can do the work of a thousand words, so I try to create a few of them as well.   I don't post them all on the blog, so if you're not already following the facebook page be sure to like (and follow) it to see them all.

A big focus of CE is working to highlight and enhance what's good about Christianity, and to me a big part of that is the message of love that Jesus and others have shared.  So I created the image below to help spread the word that love truly is all we need.

For more reading on love, check out an earlier blog post titled Love is the Solution.

Hope you enjoy!

Love Is All We Need

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Can Christians also be Atheists?

Old Testament God
This question about whether Christians can also be atheists (or vise versa) may sound absolutely ridiculous to you, but it's one I felt compelled to explore.   Over the past decade I've noticed a large migration of Christians into the atheist camp because of their preference for logic and reason - instead of woo-woo, irrationality, and blind faith.  But over the past decade there has also been a great emergence of Christians who aren't hiding from the facts either.  Christians who accept science and historical / literary Biblical criticism.  Christians who are not pushing untenable positions on others via a contentious package of ultimatums. Christians who are in many ways a-theists (said another way, non-theists).

Now when I say atheist here, I am not talking about the brand who think that any religious adherent is automatically ignorant, and that the only form of Christianity is the most fundamental and sensationalized form we see at anti-gay or creationism rallies.

At the most basic form, I'm talking about "a / non - theists," using the word "theist" defined as one who believes in a supernatural being with a human-like personality (usually like described in the Old Testament of the Bible).  One who typically believes in a God that intervenes in the world based on his whims or the prayers of those who properly warrant his favor, and who seems to get surprised easily and resort to genocide quickly.  

The Stanford Encyclopedia defines atheist in a similar way, as "a lack of belief in a 'God,' when the God in question is one from a sophisticated monotheism."  Non-theistic options can include deism, or panentheism, or can range to strong / militant atheism, where the atheist is strongly against the possibility of anything that can't be definitively proven.  But in this article we are referring to the non- "strong" categories of atheism.

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Red Pill Christianity - Come and See

Matrix Christianity

If you've seen the movie The Matrix you may remember this scene where Morpheus offers Neo the option to learn "the truth" - or - to go on believing whatever he wants to believe.   The clip is below (it's only 36 seconds).

I've often thought about this scene when talking to "fundamentalist" Christians who would prefer to believe their own brand of theology instead of being open to the truth (whatever the truth may be).  You can point out that the Genesis story of creation is not literal simply because light couldn't have come before stars, but that information simply cannot be absorbed by the fundamentalist believer.  Likewise, we can point out that Christianity is not about agreement with exclusive belief statements, but instead about a paradigm of transformation of ourselves and the world.  But they often cannot get beyond the belief element.  There is a roadblock.  There is a closed paradigm.

But there is a way forward.

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