Graffiti and flowers — an odd combination

A few days ago I found this iris stuck in my front door.  I put it in a container of water and four days later it’s still beautiful.  It’s on my desk right now supplying me with a happy bit of beauty.  Iris’ have always been one of my favorite flowers.  My mom grew them in our backyard.  They are an extravagant mix of colors combined with an adorable design: purple petals with bright yellow, furry rows of pollen next to a zebra patterned base.

iris

Juxtapose this beautiful flower with the graffiti I found on my windowsill this morning.  The girl who did this is a mixed up mess.  But even considering that, what would motivate her to write on someone’s window sill, and worse, write something so ugly?  Now I have ‘cunt’ permanently engraved into the wood in my front porch.  Hopefully I will be able to remove the ink so it’s not so visible.

graffiti

This got me thinking.  Yesterday I met with Bart, the pastor of CityLife Church.  Religiously I’m confused.  I see so much ugliness in life, I can’t reconcile that reality with the idea of a perfect, loving God, who made a perfect world.  If He knew we were going to mess up, why didn’t he make us with a less corrupt nature?  Why doesn’t he intervene more?  Why isn’t his existence more obvious?  Does He really exist?  After all, there was plenty of death in nature before God supposedly made the garden of Eden.

Where exactly is heaven?  Where is hell and why do we need a hell?  I don’t like the idea of hell even for the most egregious offenses.  I think ceasing to exist is plenty enough punishment if punishment is necessary.   Plus I think fear-based motivation for religious belief is ridiculous and ineffective.  “Believe in x,y, and z or you are going to burn in hell for eternity.”

Why aren’t religious people more wonderful?  If believing in God is powerful and truly transforms a person, why isn’t there more evidence of it in people’s lives?  There is plenty of ugliness all around me and considering my own flawed character, I understand why.  It’s life, it’s what we are.

But why the flower?

2 thoughts on “Graffiti and flowers — an odd combination

  1. I can’t help but answer the questions you posted above. There are 2,000 years of theology that answer these questions, and I’m going to give my best shot at seeing if this helps.

    How does one reconcile the ugliness of the world with a perfect, all-loving God? Easy. God did make a perfect world, and in that world he made people who are capable of exercising their own will. It is man who made the world ugly when he sinned and severed his connection with God. Yes, Adam and Eve – they didn’t have to really be “Adam” and “Eve” but the story tells us something about the beginning and how life came to be. So, why does God let us sin? Why did God let us CHOOSE sin over his perfect world and his perfect relationship with humanity, thus throwing us and the natural world back into a sort of chaos? Because what would love be if it were forced by God? We have the choice to follow his commands and the choice to love him. If we did not, it would not be love. So, we chose not to follow the commands that would make us most happy if we followed them, and we continue to choose not to follow. If the neighbor girl shoots your husband and he dies – was that God or was that your neighbor’s sin? We cannot blame God for creating us as free-thinking, free-willed people. You would have a problem with God forcing you to follow him or love him.

    Next question:
    Our natures are good. When God made us he was most pleased. Even bad people have goodness in them, they have just chosen not to be what they were created to be. They have chosen to darkened their hearts and minds. They have chosen to kill their conscience. We have fallen natures, but we can make the sacrifices and say the prayers that lead us back to goodness. Is it God’s fault if we do not do so?

    Next question:
    God is always intervening – it is called Divine Providence. He is always speaking to our hearts, but we don’t hear him when we don’t stop to listen or when we don’t ask to hear. He also orchestrates things in our lives, like new jobs, meeting new friends, missing a bus so we don’t get in an accident later, etc. We can choose to follow Divine Providence or not, but it is there. God intervenes in man’s heart and soul – by changing man and affecting his decisions. Some people have a real problem with death. God allows us to die, even when it seems cruel, because he knows when it is the best time for us to die – he knows when we no longer have a positive impact on the salvation of other souls or when our soul is in the best position for salvation when we die. God only cares about our salvation, not how sad others will be when we are gone. It is not always in God’s plan that we die when we do, but He allows it for reasons only He knows.

    Next question:
    The evidence of God is all around us. It is also in the Bible, which it sounds like you don’t entirely believe in. The Bible is the most solid historical account we have – more than any other historical document about any other person. If you read “The Case for Christ” and many other books on this, you will see how dependable the Bible is, at least the New Testament. That is not to say it is without question, but questioning is good. In the writing of the Bible there were checks on the writers, there were eye-witnesses’ accounts, there were non-Christian historians who corroborated. Second, there is evidence for Design in the universe – MUCH evidence. Read about MICHAEL BEHE and irreducible complexity, for starters. Watch “Expelled.” Information about this is limitless.
    If God just came out of the clouds and said “Here I am …. see!” that would defeat the purpose of a free will to choose to have faith and choose to believe – making the leap and the sacrifices to do so make us better people.

    Next question:
    People go to hell because they choose to go to hell. They choose a life that does not include God, a life that is separated from God, and so they choose an afterlife that is separated from God. The best definitions of hell, the most time-tested definitions, say hell is a place without God, thus without Goodness and Love. Since we are eternal beings, we live separated from God forever in hell. There are theories about whether God allows people to come out of hell after a time, but the Catholics believe in purgatory, which takes care of all the purification of one’s soul needed to enter the presence of God in heaven. Jesus speaks a great deal about hell, and he give us many warnings about not being lustful, prideful, greedy, vengeful, unforgiving, uncharitable, etc., if we want to avoid hell and get to heaven.

    It is wrong for you to assume that everyone who believes in hell does so because of fear, when really many people believe because it is theologically sound and all over the Bible. If you believe we just die and disappear, then you don’t believe in the Bible. But if you believe we are eternal and live on after death, where do you suppose we go? There is no better explanation for a Christian than to believe in heaven and hell.

    Next question:
    It understandable that you would wonder why people are not more wonderful when they believe in God. I would say, in general, they are – when they truly believe and truly try to live Christian lives. (Most people say they believe, but don’t act on it, which says to me they don’t believe.) First, believing in God helps you become a better person, but it does not take your fallen nature away, it does not change you over night. Most people are not strong enough to live the holy and wonderful life you are looking for, but many try. It takes a lot of effort and sacrifice to become a holy and wonderful person. Second, there are a lot of amazing holy and wonderful people, but they are not going to be the people you see in the street, on TV, etc. They live simple, quiet lives, and they avoid sinful situations and situations of temptation. To be holy and wonderful you need to shut much of the world out and stick your mind to the things of the Lord. You need to fulfill your vocation in life, even when it is tedious and painful (focus on your family most while making personal sacrifices for its betterment, stick to your religious vows, sacrifice for a job or volunteer work). That is how you become wonderful.

    I know many wonderful people in my life – I have an aunt and uncle like this, a grandma like this, a religious leader like this, and many historical figures to emulate who are like this. But, I must point something out, what is wonderful to God is not always wonderful to man. For instance, God wants you to avoid being close friends with people who sin publicly and are unrepentant. It is clearly stated that we must discern who we give ourselves to, because we can easily be sucked into vice and easily lose sight of our responsibilities. So, if I realize that “Sally” isn’t a good friend for me and stop hanging with her, am I going to be seen by “Sally” as wonderful? No, she is going to take offense at this. True Christians won’t support homosexual acts or abortion, but there are many Christians who believe in these things and won’t see that as wonderful. The most holy men and women of history were reserved people, who spoke only when they had something very important to say, and they did not open their hearts to others (because their hearts belonged to their husband/children or to God). These people seemed cold to many, and thus not wonderful. God is the only judge of wonderful, and he put the definition of that in the Bible and on our conscience. I can tell from your blog that you are someone who likes to give to others and take care of others, but this must be done with prudence. There must be discernment about who will respond well to your generosity and who will squander it and hurt you. There must be discernment about whether this generosity steals time and energy away from your duties to family and God. These decisions don’t often seem wonderful.
    The world won’t see true Christians as wonderful. Jesus says so. They will be persecuted like he was.

    I hope you can see some sense in believing in the Lord and allowing yourself to wonder without having all the answers. Or allowing some of the time-attested answers to be enough. I certainly do not make the claim that I discovered any of these answers on my own – they are the answers that satisfied the popular belief of man until maybe a century ago, and nowadays there are still hundreds of thousands who hold firm to these beliefs though they are now the minority.

    I am sure you have heard many of these answers before. Maybe not, or maybe taking leap of faith to believe them is too difficult or humbling oneself to the mysteries is too painful. All I know is that there are answers, and where answers fail, we are told faith must step in. Pray for faith, pray for understanding, pray…and God will give you what you need. I will pray for you.

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