Sunday, April 29, 2012

Back in the Running Shoes Again

It's now closing in on the one year mark since I began jogging. The past couple of months had me wondering if I was going to have to call it quits. With my dog's relentless enthusiasm of running as my motivation, I was at the point of jogging about 3 miles most week nights and 6 miles on Saturdays during the winter. Then, suddenly, my knee began to hurt when jogging. I realized I'd begun forgetting to wear my knee brace. I resumed using it. However, it was too late. Soon, I had continuous knee pain. I began wearing my knee brace all the time and looking for the Tylenol. I stopped jogging altogether. I was about to break down and call a doctor when the pain slowly started to subside. I resisted jogging for 2.5 months and was fearful to begin again. However, I tentatively resumed jogging over a week ago. I'm happy to report that so far my knee is cooperating and pain free! I decided to only jog every other day and to nix the 6 mile runs. I'm reluctant to push my luck too far. The first couple times I went out, I felt again that miserable, sputtering beginning to my run, where my side aches, my mouth is dry, and my body cries out to just walk. However, my body is returning reasonably quickly to the rhythm of my pace. It feels good to be out again, pushing myself a bit. My dog absolutely loves it, and would go even faster if I were capable. She propels me on, rarely stopping to sniff along the way. I will enjoy a little more these times we have together, because my knee, or any other factor, may draw them to a close before I'm ready to retire my running shoes.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Gathering Ideas for the 'About Me' page

Sabio, over at Triangulations, suggested I add an About Me page on my blog. I have begun that effort, but it is a work in progress. I will compose a few posts that I can hopefully link to my About Me page. I'm not entirely sure what to add to this section, so if you have any suggestions, I'll be happy to hear them.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mythbusters: Hell is Unrelenting

The third sermon in the hell series preached by my minister was on the severity of hell. He said that hell must be eternal for two reasons.

First, he said hell must be eternal because our sin is against an eternal being. Here is a quote from his sermon:

Colin Smith explains it this way:You may say, "Wait a minute. How can any sin deserve everlasting destruction?... The best answer I ever heard to that question was given by a
friend of mine…He outlined the stages of the following scenario: Suppose a middle school student punches another student in class. What happens? The student is given a detention. Suppose during the detention, this boy punches the teacher. What happens? The student gets suspended from school. Suppose on the way home, the same boy punches a policeman on the nose. What happens? He finds himself in jail. Suppose some years later, the very same boy is in a crowd waiting to see the President of the United States. As the President passes by, the boy lunges forward to punch the President. What happens? He is shot dead by the secret
service. In every case the crime is precisely the same, but the severity of the crime is measured by the one against whom it is committed. What comes from sinning against God? Answer:
Everlasting destruction.

Certainly there are provisions in the law for protecting certain groups of people who have heightened vulnerability, such as children, or those who are at increased risk for being harmed due to their role protecting or leading our country, such as police or the President. I’m not
well equipped to discuss the law or the rationale behind it, so I appreciate any insights on this point. If the point of the stiffer penalties is to protect these groups by deterring crime, then the analogy doesn’t apply to God. He doesn’t need protection in the same sense. Even if we grant that a sin against God deserves stiffer penalties than sin against another human being, I don’t see eternal punishment necessarily following from that premise. Does anyone else? I’d be
interested in dissenting thoughts.

Second, the minister said hell must be eternal because we are eternal beings. I’m not certain that we are eternal beings and neither were the author of a number of Old Testament books, such as Ecclesiastes, Job, Isaiah, and Psalms.

But even if we are eternal, is perpetual punishment the only option? Plenty of philosophers, such as Origen, have envisioned an afterlife where souls have the opportunity to undergo refinement until they finally reach heaven. If we have all eternity, surely that would be time enough
for a good proportion, if not all, to find themselves leaving hell behind. That would seem consistent with biblical passages about God wanting all to be saved. And what about an afterlife scenario where there is no punishment or reward? Why does eternity necessarily involve these two concepts?

While it might be more neat and tidy to conclude that eternal God + eternal man=eternal hell, I haven’t been convinced that the equation must be solved this way. I feel at a bit of a loss in knowing how to address these arguments more meaningfully, so I’d appreciate any ideas from
either side of the debate.