Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Triple Diatribes

This stupid website!

So, the links aren't working, for some unknown stupid freaking &$@#% reason. I fixed the links last night, they were working for me then, and now they are doing the same thing as before--adding an extra "www.scottandlori.co.uk" before the link. Gah! I don't know if it's Dreamweaver or what, but I don't normally have problems with things as easy as links. So, for the time being, links are still down, but of course, if you want to see your website broadcasted to the world (the underworld, where dead links go), you can always click on the link and just delete the extraneous web address.

I think we're going to revamp tonight. Too many problems.

Speaking of too many problems.... My life has that.

Segue into post... [divided into three parts]

Marriage vs. Dating: Which Holds More Weight?
There's a young man whom I see every morning on the train. We ride the same train from Greenock to Glasgow, and then the same train from Glasgow into the West End. He's a bit of a ned but is incredibly kind. I've never felt creeped out by him at all, even though he has the look of someone who would usually creep me out. He's very polite and usually gives me an acknowledging nod in the mornings, and if he passes me in the station's lower level, he often makes a polite passing comment like, "These early mornings!" I very much get the impression that he is generally a good man.

This morning, because he does not creep me out and I have no reason to avoid him, I ended up sitting in the same block of seats on the train into the West End. He made his usual passing comment, something about the train in the morning, then he said, "You'd think your boyfriend would drive you into work!"

I was about to correct him and say he is my husband when suddenly a sick realisation came over me. Stating that Scott is my husband might possibly come across as a flirt. What, you may ask? How would that be flirting? The answer is, that in today's society, people stick with their boyfriends because they like them, and they stick with their husbands because they have to. In today's society. That is how the world views marriage. If I let him think Scott is merely my boyfriend, there would be no misunderstanding in my intentions to be polite to the nice guy. However, if I were to inform him that I am married, I suddenly become ambiguous and a bit challenging. People cheat more when they are married than when they are dating.

I did not correct him but went on to explain how Scott has to be at work in Greenock at 8, and I have to be at work in Glasgow at 8, so it works best for me to take the train. Polite conversation ensued, and I alighted at my stop.

This realisation says something horrible about the state marriage is in these days. The realisation was also invoked by the novels I've been reading lately. I've been in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez phase lately, and in all of his books, adultery abounds. Me, in my naiveté, assumed this was all fancy, something to move the plot along. But I am currently reading his autobiography and have discovered that all the desperate housewives offering their "love" to any and all are no mere fancies of an accomplished writer but the raw stuff that imagination is made of. In his own life, for instance, in his adolescence even, he had a many month long affair with a young married woman, who had him in her bed all the nights a week that her husband was away captaining his ship.

The world no longer sees marriage as a holy union which ought to be sacredly protected and nurtured. Marriage has become no more than a prison cell in which the only way to happiness is to sneak through the bars at night in search of other loves, prisoner or free. This view of marriage, of "hammering the nails in the coffin", of "the old ball and chain", all teasing aside, is prevalent in the world today, and it simply breaks my heart.

Before I was married, I couldn't wait to be married so that I would be left alone by the morally deviant men who wander to and fro searching for a woman to pursue (usually in the most unromantic and transparent of ways) and take to bed. A guy in a bar once told me that that's not the way it works, that a wedding ring is no more to a man than a tempting challenge. I thought he was just being cynical, but unfortunately, I believe he was still right.

I Believe In Hell, But How Am I Supposed To Tell You That?
A friend of mine today said out of the blue that she didn't believe in hell. She went on to say that she thinks this life is the hard part that we struggle through, and then in the end we are all forgiven for everything, and we go to heaven where all our hard work is rewarded. I sat a bit stunned for a moment, wondering what to say. In my heart I thought, "Are you just gonna stay quiet knowing if she were to die now she would not be going to heaven?"

I meekly said, "I believe in hell."

"Do you?" she asked. "Well, who knows."

I surprise myself. In some situations, I can be so bold and so outspoken about the Gospel. I love the Gospel, I really do, and I embrace it's offensiveness because it is Truth and the Truth sometimes hurts. Sometimes it's unpleasant (to us) but above all it is Truth which I value highly. I believe God is glorified by everything that He does and we do. But then when someone brings up the awful - namely, in this situation, hell - I clam up. I am terrified. I don't want hell to be true. I can discuss theology all day long about how God is glorified with justice and that is why some go to hell. But deep down, in my finite mind and my imperfect heart, I don't want hell to be true any more than my friend does.

I was at my favourite bar, JR's, one night after hours. I was having a drink with my boss, the owner, whom I still to this day love with all my heart. He knew I was a Christian, as do most people, so after a few drinks he asked me point blank, "Do you think I am going to hell?" Stunned and sober, I paused, thinking frantically, and then finally admitted, "If you never come to know Jesus as your Saviour, then yes." Wade just looked at me incredulously and then laughed, "I don't believe in hell." We talked about the issue a little while longer, the whole time me waiting to be handed my letter of resignation. No firing ensued, but the experience was terrifying. I am eternally grateful to God that I did not chicken out, but the experience hasn't made me any wiser.

I had a similar experience with a person even more adored than my boss. Eleni Mandell, my favourite she singer/songwriter, was in town. We'd met the first time she came to Fayetteville, and we had kept in touch. When she arrived this time, I had pizza with the band and then joined Eleni at the bar for a drink. The subject of her being a Jew came up. I told her I was a Christian, and she said something about Jesus that I can't remember. At any rate, I felt that same panic and that same urgency to just say something, and I ended up having to tell her, too, that those who don't believe in Jesus will not find themselves in heaven. She didn't take it too well, but she assured me she appreciated my honesty, etc... The whole night I felt sick; I'd basically just told my favourite musician she was going to hell.

This business is hard for me. I'm not good at it. I don't have a conclusion other than to say that I imagine the Christians reading this will sympathize, and the rest of you will think a little less of me for believing in hell. I feel so inadequate.

The Message Revisited
Contrasting all I just said, because I value the Bible so dearly, I want to reitterate my point on The Message with a few links (thanks, Amy). So many people think this book is a great new translation, and it has been endorsed by people as great as Billy Graham and J.I. Packer. So in that case, I feel humbled to be contradicting men of such calliber, but they too are human, and all I can do is stand up for what I believe, no matter who I offend. (You wouldn't think I was the same person as she who just wrote the post on hell. I'm a fallen human, saved only because God extended some undeserved favour to me.)

* The Message: Inaccurate Paraphrase Recommended by Evangelical Leaders
* 'The Message' Bible Per-version
* A Conversation with Eugene Peterson
* What Kind of Message is THE MESSAGE?
* and Amy's blog post on the subject: The Message

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