Posted by: William | December 29, 2007

I Was Sweeny Todd

Two nights ago I went to see Sweeny Todd, the musical in theaters. Now, let me get something out before I move onto other things. I loved this movie. The characters were all deeply and believably insidious. Johnny Depp does an excellent job in pretty much any roll he takes on and in this case played the part of a sinister serial killer very well. The songs, once you got used the style, were really catchy and carried the plot well. The movie ended giving you pretty much all the justice you were hoping for and even some of the sympathy. On the down side, it was whimsically gory (i.e., the blood was such a bright red it was clearly not real) which at times was difficult to watch because, well, I’m just not a huge fan of watching people get their throats slit. All in all, the movie was excellent, I think, if you can stomach the gore, it’s definitely worth watching.

Now, onto the other part of the discussion. I’ve had a few days to mull this film over in my head and I think that I’ve come to some conclusions. Watching Sweeny Todd in all of his vengeance and evil, is much like looking into a mirror of man’s, my heart; we really do think on some level that we’re justified in our violently selfish actions that try to take rise from inside of us. On a natural level, we do look on ourselves with pity, even with blood stained hands. Were it not for the grace of God, there would be no hesitation in us to consume another person to feed our insatiable lusts and, when others join our sins we jump at the opportunity to be justified in committing them.

A running theme throughout the film was that all men ‘deserve’ to die, and so in Sweeny’s mind, he is justified in his murders and eventually is brought to his own justice. How great a God we have though that he would look on us with kindness and mercy and take upon himself the vengeance that was due to us. Yes, even us in our murderous rampages of selfish ambition, adulteries and pride he would look still with mercy and kindness; Sweeny Todds and Mrs. Lovitts, for us there is grace enough.



  1. Kindess and Mercy? Where do you see that?

    • Why does God insist on punishing the innocent throughout the bible? Ex 34:6,7 – “… and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children & upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation.” And there are many, many more examples.

    • I Sam 25:38 – “And it came to pass that the Lord smote Nabal that he died.” This was to punish Nabal for not offering food to David and his men, total strangers to Nabal. Was this a lesson to Nabal or us? Oh, and David marries Nabal’s widow. Lucky her.

    • Gen. 38 – Onan refuses to have sex with his dead brother’s widow so God kills him.

    • Gen 12 – Abraham passes his wife Sarah as his sister. The Pharaoh, believing this deception, offers Abraham many animals and slaves to take Sarah into his palace (for what purpose we can only imagine). Abraham agrees to this deal because he is afraid to have his deception revealed. The Pharaoh, unaware that he had taken another man’s wife into his home, is punished by God (no punishment for Abraham) for doing just that with a number of great plagues falling upon his household.

    • Gen. 20 – Abraham repeats his Sarah is my sister not my wife deception on yet another king (Abimelech), who also offers animals and servants for her. God, again punishing the wrong people, punishes the innocent by cursing all the women of the king’s family with being barren. Gen. 26:7-11 has Isaac pulling the same scheme because Rebekah is so smoking hot he is afraid if people know she is his wife they will kill him to have her. But her being his sister would prevent this how?

    • Gen 34 – Jacob’s daughter Dinah is raped by Shechem, a prince of the Hivites. Shechem agrees to be circumcised so he can marry his rape victim. He also has all the males in his city be circumcised (against their will no doubt). A few days later Dinah’s brothers Levi and Simeon come and kill every male in the city, rescue their sister, spoil the city and take captive the women and children and animals. Their reward for rescuing their sister is to have their father scold them for doing so.

    • Zech 8:10 – “For I set all men, every one, against his neighbor.” This is God speaking.

    • II Sam. 6:20-23 – Michal, David’s wife, reprimands him for cavorting naked before the Ark of the Covenant in sight of the maidservants. God punishes her by not allowing her to have any children until the day of her death. Isn’t this also a punishment of David?

    • Jer. 13:13, 14 – “Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings… and the priests, and the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness. And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the Lord: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.”

    • Jer 8:17- “For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you… and they shall bite you, saith the Lord.”

    • Jer 11:22, 23 – “Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine: And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth…”

    • Jer 15:3 – “And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the Lord: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy.”

    • Jer 15:5, 7, 9 – “For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? … I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people since they return not from their ways … and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the Lord.”

    • Jer 19:9 – “And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend…”

    • Jer 50:15 – “…for it is the vengeance of the Lord: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her.” What ever happened to do unto others…?

    • Ez 5:10 – “Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee…”

    • Ez 23: 46-47 – “For thus saith the Lord God; I will bring up a company upon them, and will give them to be removed and spoiled. And the company shall stone them with stones, and dispatch them with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses with fire.”

    • Ez 5:13 – “Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted…”

    • Ez 7:4 – “And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity…”

    • Ez 9:6 – “Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women…” This is God’s command.

    • Daniel 6:24 God’s response to Daniel being mistreated. ”…they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces.” Again with the innocent women and children being punished.

    • Woe unto them who are not Jewish. Deut 20:17 – “Thou shalt utterly destroy them.” Referring to the Gentile. Jer 4:7 – “Saith the Lord, the Lion (Jesus) is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the … Gentile is on the way.” God is clearly a bigot.

    • Lev. 20:13 – If you are gay, you should die. “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”

    • Isaac’s father is commanded by God to slaughter his own son in order to appease God with his blood. Isaac’s father agrees (!) but at the last possible minute God changes his mind. Wow, thanks God for leaving the image of my father standing over me with knife in hand burned forever into my consciousness. Not traumatic at all. And thanks dad for worshiping a God who would demand such a thing. And then turn out just to be playing one of his typical mind games.

    • Jephthah promises God to make a burnt offering of the first thing that greets him if God will give him victory in battle. He assumes it will be a dog. The all knowing God knows it won’t be a dog and agrees, giving Jephthah the victory he desires (again, more personal interference from God). Only when Jephthah returns from battle it is his young daughter that rushes out to greet him. No mercy from God. Jephthah burns his daughter to death to keep his promise to God. And God, no doubt, reveled in it. Judges 11:30-39. The only thing you can assume from this story is either God knew it would be his daughter that would run out to greet Jephthah and not the dog and agreed to his bargain anyway OR God himself held the dog back and encouraged the daughter to run out to teach Jephthah a lesson. Either way God is a monster.

    • To appease God the seven sons of Saul are hanged. II Sam 21:1-9

    • Ex. 12:29 depicts God needlessly killing all firstborn in Egypt, even the firstborn of the captive in the dungeon and all the firstborn cattle.

    • To punish those who captured the Ark of the Covenant, God curses them with boils (emerods) “They had emerods in their secret parts.” And not only them but the inhabitants of any city where they take the Ark. And is only appeased when they make offerings to him of golden images of their emerods (and golden mice). Who in his right mind would worship such a god? God is one twisted fuck. I Sam. 5, 6.

    • If women of God are supposed to be so virtuous then how do you explain Ruth’s behavior? She is a widow, her mother encourages her to get dolled up and wait for Boaz to get drunk and pass out, and then sneak into his bed and do what he tells her to do. Ruth 3:3-8. Isn’t this type of behavior punishable by death?

    • No Child Left Behind – There is not one instance in the bible where God spares the life of even one innocent child from the slaughter of his bloodthirsty servants. On a few occasions it may appear that he does just that when he has the female children (virgins) set aside but this is not out of kindness, these are to be ‘used’ by the conquerors. The sexual reward is always the favorite of the God fearing.

    • Jer. 19:9 – “And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend.” God’s words.

    • A Bloodthirsty God – Hebrews 9:22 – “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

    • Even God’s chosen people aren’t immune to his cruelty, in fact it could be argued they are treated most cruelly of all. God sells Israel to the king of Mesopotamia for 8 years because the Israelites intermarried with Gentiles & worshiped gods other than him Judges 3:8. He ‘smites’ Israel and delivers the Jews to the Moabite Kings for 18 years Judges 3:14. He sells the Jews to the king of Canaan for 20yrs Judges 4:2. He delivers the Jews to the Midianites for 7 years Judges 6:1. He allows Jerusalem & Judah to fall into the hands of the Philistines for 40 years and to be under the rule of the Babylonia for 70 years Judges 13:1.

    • Here’s your reward! After many years of service and sacrifice, Moses is forbidden from entering the Promised Land because he struck a rock in anger while trying to produce water. He had early succeeded in this by God’s own instruction. Moses’ son Aaron is also forbidden from entering even though he did nothing wrong. Num 20:11, 12 & Deut 34.

    • The only way into heaven is through Jesus Christ. If anyone ignorant of Jesus and Christianity dies, they are doomed to eternal torment and torture in Hell’s eternal hellfire. Yes, that’s fair. John 3:36 – “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” SO, a life of pure thoughts, good deeds, selflessness, sacrifice & abstinence will be rewarded by God with eternal hellfire. Nice.

    • Abortionist to the world. Abortion is the worst thing a Christian can think of but they worship a deity who drowned countless children, babies and pregnant women, and who slaughtered all the first born of Egypt, a direct response to Pharaoh’s refusal to ‘let my people go’. Of course, Pharaoh refused because God ‘hardened’ the Pharaoh’s heart so he would refuse. And then there are all the babies, children and pregnant women in Sodom & Gomorrah.

    • God seems to enjoy ‘tempting’ man into doing things they will be punished for. Gen 22:1 – “God did tempt Abraham.” Matt 6:13 – “And lead us not into temptation.” This is from the Lord’s Prayer. We are encouraged to beg God nightly not to tempt us.

    • In Romans 9:17-21 it is described how God made us and indeed decides our behaviors but he will still punish those that misbehave even though they are simply obeying God’s will.

    • Isaiah 42:24 – “Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? Did not the Lord?” This is God himself asking the question.

    • King Azariah fails to get rid of all the altars to idols so God makes him a leper.

    • In Deut 32 God describes the ways he will punish Jews who are disloyal, one of which states, “…the young man and the virgin, the suckling (baby) also with the man of gray hairs (elderly).” More punishments listed in Deut 28 & Lev 26.

    • Ez 14:9 – “If the prophet be deceived, I the Lord have deceived that prophet and will stretch out my hand and destroy him.”

    • I Sam 19:9 – reveals that God makes use of evil spirits, he even send one upon Saul, causing him to hurl a Javelin at David.

    • Isaiah 45:7 – “I form the light, and I create darkness. I make peace, and I create Evil. I, the Lord, do all these things.” God creates the evil in the first place.

    • Isaiah 13:9, 15, 16 – “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it … Everyone that is found shall be thrust through: and everyone that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.”

    • I Sam 2:25 – “Notwithsatanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.”

    • Nahum 1:2 – “God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.”-A strange emotional flaw for an all-powerful, omnipresent, ‘loving’ god to have.

    • Children are not capable/allowed to make any decisions for themselves except whether or not to dedicate their eternal soul to God. Whether or not a child goes to heaven or hell is completely up to the child. If a parent or guardian fails to introduce them to the church soon enough and they die, they go to hell. Period!

    • When God murders everyone in Sodom & Gomorrah not a single child, infant, mother or elderly person is spared. Praise God!

    • Only Lot, his wife and his two daughters are deemed worthy of being sparred God’s wrath. Once again, much like with Noah, it’s conveniently all in the family. AND YET, even though God just moments before had deemed her worthy of living, when Lot’s wife (she never has a name) looks back and witnesses her family and friends being murdered by God, she is no longer worthy and God kills her. As a result, Lot’s two daughters end up having sex with Lot in order to produce an heir. Gen 19:32-36 “Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.”

    • Because Moses’ child with a Midianite woman isn’t circumcised, God looses it and nearly kills Moses. Moses is only saved because Moses’ wife chops off the child’s offending foreskin with a sharp stone, casting it at Moses’ feet.

    • Deut 20:12-17 – “…thou shalt smite every male therof with the sword.” “…thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them.”

    • Lev 10:1, 2 – For “offering strange fire before the Lord”, two sons of Aaron, priests of the Tabernacle, are killed by God. What the hell is a strange fire anyway? Good luck getting God to explain himself.

    • Num 11:1 – After being forced to march through the desert & suffer for years by God, if an Israelite complains (understandably) God will burn them with fire.

    • Num 11:31-33 – When the Jews complain of the lack of meat to eat during their forced march through the desert for forty years, God gets mad (again) & sends quail to cover the ground a days travel in each direction and piled up three feet high. He then smote the Jews with a very great plague.

    • Moses’ sister, Miriam, criticizes Moses for marrying an Ethiopian, something God disapproved of and was contrary to Jewish custom, but even though she was in the right, God punishes Miriam, not Moses, by making her a leper.

    • Num 14 – Because the Jews weren’t thrilled with the idea of moving to Canaan, God was furious (what’s new) and cursed the entire congregation (even those who had not complained. God, being fair as usual) to wander one year for each of the 40 days (40 years) Moses’ spies had spent on the scouting expedition.

    • Num 15:35, 36 – A man who picks up sticks on the Sabbath is stoned to death for this as commanded by God.

    • Num 16:32, 35 – For the horrible crime of challenging the authority of Moses, God murders the wives & children of the two princes who dared to do so.

    • Num 21:5-9 – After complaining about the lack of bread and water and sick of manna, God sends fiery serpents to bite the Jews & many die as a result. Does God decide to stop them? No. Instead, Moses has to use Old Testament magic & fasten a brass serpent to a pole & whoever sees it will be cured.

    • Nice Work! A man murders the son of an Israelite prince and a Midianite (Gentile) princess by ramming a Javelin through them. God is very pleased by this, declaring, “Behold I give unto him my covenant of peace … because he was zealous for his God.” Num 25:8, 13

    • In order to please God’s bloodlust, during the dedication of the Temple at Jerusalem, Solomon slaughters 22,000 oxen & 120,000 sheep. I Kings 8:63, 64. Is that the exact number God needed to be happy or could the slaughter have stopped at ten?

    • Josh 7:24-26 – During the battle of Jericho, Achan, a Jewish warrior, secretly takes some spoil for himself. This is clearly wrong and he is justly punished by being stoned to death. Oh, and so is ALL HIS FAMILY! And then an altar is built over their bodies.

    • Nice Save! Now Die!!! II Sam 6:6, 7 – When the Ark of the Covenant was dipping over, Uzzah stops it by grabbing a hold of it. He is rewarded by God instantly killing him. Even David is not thrilled by God’s behavior here.

    • II Sam 12:11-14 – To punish David for fucking Bathsheba, God says he will give David’s wives (women have no say) to David’s neighbor and will kill David and Bathsheba’s child (the innocent are always the ones to receive God’s ‘justice’). How many people suffer because of the poor behavior of God’s chosen?

    • II Sam 21 – Because Saul killed some Gibeonites, God brings three years of famine upon his chosen people (whom he clearly loves to torment). The famine is finally ended only when David gives seven sons (who weren’t involved) of Saul to the Gibeonites to be hanged up unto the Lord.

    • II Sam 24 – When David commits the horrible sin of taking a census, God is furious and gives David the choice of one of three punishments. David, of course, chooses the one that will have the most negative impact on the most people.

    • I Kings 20:42 – “Thus saith the Lord; Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man (king of Syria) whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore shall thy life go for his life, and thy people for his people.” Again, more innocent people punished for another’s sin, and in this instance, those that benefit the most are those who are opposed to and do not worship God.

    • II Kings 2:23, 24 – Because some (42) children tease him about his bald head, Elisha curses them and calls upon God to punish them for this horrible sin. God obliges and sends two she bears to tear the children to bits.

    • To Er is Human. Jacob’s grandson Er is so hated by God that, “Er was evil in the sight of the Lord and he slew him.” I Chron 2:3. God then kills Er’s brother, Oman. Not because he was evil as well, but because Oman refused to fuck Er’s widow. Gen 38: 7, 9, 10.

    • In order to prove Job’s loyalty, which Satan has questioned, God torments Job with numerous horrible tests, a few of which are the deaths of his servants (innocents), his children (more innocents), the loss of his wealth and his health. Job 1, 2

    • If one doesn’t obey the Mosaic Law they will be cursed by God and that curse shall “…be upon thy seed forever.” Deut. 28:46. Again with the punishment of those who did no wrong.

    • Who needs Zoloft, I’ll just go kill some kids. Psalms 137:9 – “Happy shall be he that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” The ‘little ones’ are the children of Babylon. The words are Gods.

    • Isaiah 13:15, 16 – “Everyone that is fouled shall be thrust through and everyone that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.” So according to the Lord, in certain circumstances, children deserve to be murdered and women deserve to be raped.

    • Zech 13:3 – “… and his father and his mother … shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.” According to God, a parent should murder their own children if they speak of any other religion.

    • Deut 7:1, 2 – God has his Jews invade and conquer the seven nations of Canaan, saying, “…And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant (peace) with them, nor show mercy unto them.” Merciful God? What Bible are they reading?

    • Ex 32:27 – Just what part of No Other God Before Me did you not understand? The punishment for those who worshiped the golden calf, “Take every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.” So if your neighbor worships a god other than the Christian God, you can be killed for their ‘sins’?

    • Num 16:1-40 – This section depicts both how fallible God is and how ‘merciful’. A couple of Levite Princes challenge Moses’ leadership and God gets very upset by this and wants to murder the entire congregation. Moses, however, points out to God the injustice of this course of action. Astonishingly, the infallible Almighty sees his error and concedes to Moses’ logic. So instead, God the Merciful, buries alive the wives, sons and ‘little children’ (once again, all innocents) of the two princes and sends a fire to consume the remaining princes. What in the world was God’s original punishment going to be? Thank God Moses talked him out of it. OH, in response to these horrible killings by God, a large number of Jews rebel, so God sends a plague (his favorite weapon) to wipe them out. Num 16:41-49.

    • Moses sums up the slaughter of the Amorites, under God’s order, “We … utterly destroyed the men and the women and the little ones.” Num 21:25 and Deut 2:34.God nearly has as many women and children killed as men.

    • Num 25:4-9 – God’s instructions to his favorite hit man, Moses, about the 24,000 Israelites (God’s chosen people) who were worshipers of Baal and co-habited with Moabite women, “And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun…”

    • After some Philistines guess Samson’s riddle, the spirit of the Lord came upon him and he killed 30 of them. Judges 14:19.

    • A few people glance into the Ark of the Covenant as it happens by and God kills 50,070 (innocent) people as punishment. I Sam 6:19. This is just one of many examples where God punishes the innocent, the blameless, the wives and children, instead of those actually guilty.

    • Maybe bottle feeding would be preferable. God’s orders, “Slay both man and woman, infant and suckling…” I Sam 15:3, 7.

    • II Sam 5:6, 7, 8 – “…and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind…”

    • I Sam 27:8, 9 – “…leaving neither man nor woman alive.” Never spares the women, who are usually innocent as they aren’t warriors or kings.

    • I Kings 20:28, 29, 30 – After the children of Israel slaughter 100,000 Syrian footmen, God personally kills the remaining 27,000 by causing a wall to fall onto them. High five God! Nice assist!

    • II Kings 9:8 and II Kings 1:1-11 – God calls for the 70 children of King Ahab of Israel to be destroyed. Their heads are put into baskets at the gates of the city.

    • II Kings 10:12-17, 30 – More children killed by God or in God’s name, this time the 42 children of King Judah.

    • Ex 20:5 – “…for I am a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.” Jealousy is an imperfect, emotional response. How then does God possess such a flaw?

    • Paul states that Adam, God’s first human, is not in heaven! He claims Adam’s death was an eternal death. The promise of eternal life can only come with belief in Jesus Christ. Peter agreed with this. Paul also stated that those that lived between Moses and Christ aren’t eligible for everlasting life.

    • Hebrews 3:10, 11 – Paul, speaking for God, about the Jews who escaped Egypt. “Wherefore I was grieved with that generation and said, they do always err in their heart, and they have not known my ways. So I swear in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest.” No heaven for you!

    • No heaven for you, David! Acts 2:34 – “For David (God’s chosen) is not ascended into the heavens.”

    • Gen 27, 28, 29, – Jacob tricks his brother, Esau, into selling him his birthright and disguises himself in order to fool his father into blessing him and granting him this. As a result, and apparently also deceived, God comes to Jacob in a dream (of course dreams are never just dreams in the bible) and blesses Jacob and all his seed. Also an eventual result of Jacob’s deception, God states quite clearly that he hates Esau (Malachi 1:3, Romans 9:13)! Jacob later carries out a scheme to obtain an unfair share of his father-in-law’s livestock.

  2. I liked the previews… though I’m not a gore fan. Still, I will probably check it out sometime. I am glad we did not know each other before we we died. I’m sure I would have Sweeny Todd-ed you.

  3. “Were it not for the grace of God, there would be no hesitation in us to consume another person to feed our insatiable lusts and, when others join our sins we jump at the opportunity to be justified in committing them.”

    There is a problem with this. It assumes that we need the Christian God in order to know that we should do the right thing. It just makes it seem like fundamentalist Christians are the ones who have a problem controlling themselves. Christianity makes one feel ashamed for doing things that are completely human, like occasionally imbibing in alcohol at a party or having sex with someone you are in a reltionship with…or not. And things like rape and murder? Totally justified in the Bible…yet I know of no one, regardless of their beliefs, who thinks murder is ok. Yet it is ok for fundamentalist Christians to murder abortion doctors? Sweeney Todd sees justification in murders he commits in the same way the Christian God sees justification in murders throughout the Bible.
    In going by this and other posts, sounds like you need help. You are hiding your own shame and guilt by acting spiritually superior. This kind of fanaticism is similar to drug addiciton, except instead of messing with your physical health it messes with your mental health. Atheists are happy people who can live productive lives. I enjoy stuff like helping the homeless and looking out for my fellow citizens. Only difference is, I don’t feel the need to force my views on them. It just feels good to do good. Why can’t it just end there. God is obsolete. Get over it and start getting in touch with reality. It’s really great if you give it a chance.

  4. Well Bill, looks like you just got served……….

  5. Happy Atheist,

    As a rule, I do not attempt to address deep theological (atheological?) questions and complex issues in blogsville. I do have conversations face-to-face over a coffee or a beer with a couple of friends who are atheists. Having been an atheist myself, I do get some questions. All attempts to duplicate these respectable chats online have failed. Usually, the comment trail devolves into a debate over evolution or homosexuality.

    So if you are still tracking this, I will refrain from most of your comment but there is one thing that struck me I wanted to ask about. From your comment:

    I enjoy stuff like helping the homeless and looking out for my fellow citizens. Only difference is, I don’t feel the need to force my views on them. It just feels good to do good. Why can’t it just end there.

    My question is, “How does one do that?” For example, lets assume we helping a homeless man. We feed them lunch and buy them a jacket and a blanket. We get to know his name and what food he likes and so on.

    As trust grows he gets up the courage to say something like, “I’ve been a fucking loser my whole life. I walked out on my family, my job, all that I had! Do you think God can ever forgive me?”

    Now regardless of whether its you or me sitting across the lunch table staring at this man on the verge of tears, I think we’re go to feel compelled to respond in a manner that will reveal our core beliefs in a very sincere attempt to help beyond food, clothing and shelter.

    Don’t you agree that it would be wrong to dismiss the question and walk away leaving this man fed and warm but in a pit of emotional despair?

  6. ok, thats one possibility but what about when the homeless man doesn’t ask if God can or will forgive him? Maybe what I said was not clear enough. What I meant was that it seems like some want to just spread the Word unsolicited. From my other readings of Bill’s posts on here and myspace, it seems that he and some friends would like to do something like order a bunch of hand warmers and give them to the homeless….and also spread the Gospel. I’m just saying, we can help them without giving them a theology lesson. And if someone asked me if God could forgive them I would not walk away. I would say why not work on forgiving yourself first, because how can anyone become more productive otherwise? It’s like, how many homeless people are out there begging God for another chance and are still on the streets, or getting evicted, staying addicted (this is turning into a hip-hop song) but seriously…to me it just seems that it would be more proactive to teach them ways to take care of themselves to get back on their feet. Instead of giving a Bible tract, giving them a brochure with numbers for shelters, counseling, rehabs, job placement things, etc…things that will get them back to their families or friends, back into a job and doing something they can take pride in. I’m sure a lot of people feel that the system has failed them and don’t even realize the resources available to them. So there’s my two cents on your question.

  7. Thanks for coming back and responding. I think we are in agreement that we would respond to whatever came up with love and respect and the response would be personal — coming from a heart that truly wants to help. We also agree on this element: “unsolicited advice” almost always a waste of time and quite often very rude.

    If the homeless man does not ask that question then we would depart, going our separate ways. I would have shared the love of God (aka the gospel) in the act of reaching out to meet this man’s needs. For me, handing out hand-warmers IS sharing the gospel. [As in, St Francis Assisi’s quote: “Preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words.”]

    However in my experience, that question (or something extremely similar) will arise. I work with homeless DC. I’ve eaten lunch and dinner with well, I don’t know how many. My wife and I helped to serve thanksgiving diner to over 100 homeless men and women last year. We shared the gospel without tracts, without words but rather with ACTual sacrificial love.

    I tutor men in computers. I teach 50 year old men how to right-click, double-click, and cut-n-paste. 100% of the men who stick it out, transform from unemployed, drug addict, ex-con to employed member of society.

    Somewhere in that transformation process though, the real, tough, ummm… non-technical questions come out. Throughout the entire process, I share the gospel with ACTions reflecting a sacrificial love. And if necessary, I will use words. I feel anything less would make me a hypocrite.

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