As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, I like to check out what “Christian news” sites have to say on current events and other topics. I’ve been finding the Christian Post useful as a place to see what issues are being discussed, in an attempt to glean what self-styled “Christians” deem to be of importance.
So when I saw an article titled “God Is In Control”, I just had to find out how someone would explain that claim. The article, by Don Anderson, opened with this image:
“God Is In Control!” by Christian Post cartoonist Don Anderson
[I have to say, “God” (apparently Jesus, not the OT “God the Father”, at least in the cartoon) looks a bit wild-eyed and not at all “in control.” And is that an ocean of piss that they’re navigating?]
After the cartoon, a link takes one to the following article, titled “Rick Warren: Want Serenity? Let God Take Full Control”. Here’s an excerpt:
Rick Warren: Want Serenity? Let God Take Full Control
To achieve serenity in life, God wants you to let go and know He is in control, Pastor Rick Warren says.
Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, wrote in a recent devotional that although we as Christians may fight to take control of our lives on a daily basis, we must also remember that ultimately, everything is up to God.
“[…] stress relief always starts with letting God be God,” the evangelical leader writes. “It always starts with saying, ‘God, I’m giving up control, because you can control the things that are out of control in my life.'”
Because no one knows what will happen in the future, we need to let go and let God do the rest.
“I don’t know what you’re going to face this week. You don’t, either. But I can already tell you what God wants you to do: Let go, and know. Let go of control, and know that God is in control. Let go, and know! This is the first step to serenity in your life,” Warren explains.
Christians tend to react to stress in one of two ways, Warren explains. While some attempt to over-control a situation, others give up and pity themselves.
Both of these approaches are destructive and don’t ultimately alleviate stress, the megachurch pastor says. Instead, Christians need to surrender themselves to God and His plan.
“The number one reason you’re under stress is because you’re in conflict with God. You’re trying to control things that only God can control,” Warren explains.
A good way to maintain a high level of tranquility in the face of stress is to pray the Serenity Prayer, Warren says.
The evangelical leader points specifically to the last eight lines of the prayer, which read: “Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.”
Okay, let’s look at this piece-by-piece:
“”[…] stress relief always starts with letting God be God,” the evangelical leader writes. “It always starts with saying, ‘God, I’m giving up control, because you can control the things that are out of control in my life.’“
There’s a couple of things wrong with this; let’s start with “letting God be God” (this would be way too long – okay, way too much longer – if I began with “stress relief always starts with…”)
In an earlier piece, Warren talks about how [in essence], despite the fact that the Old Testament “…rarely describes God as being a father…”, somehow miraculously “…this changes after Jesus is sent down from Heaven to save humanity…After this event, God is described as a father much more frequently…”…and now “…wants to have a relationship with us…”
So, god used to be a petty, vindictive, insecure, genocidal tyrant, but suddenly he becomes a father and is now kind and loving and wants to get to know the subjects he had previously threatened with hellfire and brimstone? Seriously? And yet Warren and conservative christian leaders STILL utilize a few specific Old Testament god’s ‘rules according to (some guys who wrote the OT)’ when fighting to be allowed to discriminate against certain groups, or to make others live by those particular OT rules. Which should no longer apply, if god is really an all-loving father, right? If we’re supposed to ‘let god be god’, which god are we letting him be?
As to “giving up control” because god “can control the things that are out of control in my life”, then where does man’s “free will” come in? What about ‘personal responsibility’? The conservative christians who believe that the poor are poor because they chose to be, well maybe the poor are poor because your god is in control and he really hates poor people? And considering the chaos going on in this world, I don’t think that anyone is in control, let alone a god.
On to: “…Because no one knows what will happen in the future, we need to let go and let God do the rest…I don’t know what you’re going to face this week. You don’t, either. But I can already tell you what God wants you to do: Let go, and know. Let go of control, and know that God is in control. Let go, and know! This is the first step to serenity in your life,” Warren explains.”
Hmm…how about ‘because no one knows what will happen in the future’, we can take steps to make our future what we want it to be? Why “Let go”, and, if we do “let go”, what will we “know”? One can still attempt to at least control one’s “present”, even if there is uncertainty about the “future.”
And let’s put it bluntly, “Pastor” Warren: you and your megachurch/televangelist ilk have plenty of money and are living quite comfortably on the fleecing, er, ‘tithings’ of your sheep and your speaking and appearance fees. You truly don’t have to worry about many of the day-to-day issues with which we poorer folk struggle. The main cause of stress in most civilized societies, i.e., lack of MONEY to live and to feed yourself and your family, is not stooping your shoulders or affecting your health, mental and physical. And that goes for christians just like any other demographic, despite Warren’s assertion that “The number one reason you’re under stress is because you’re in conflict with God. You’re trying to control things that only God can control…” Um, no, nope, I think the number one reason is money (which is currently how most people access the basic needs of life.) Sorry, Rick, you’re just wrong.
Next, what about: “Christians tend to react to stress in one of two ways, Warren explains. While some attempt to over-control a situation, others give up and pity themselves. Both of these approaches are destructive and don’t ultimately alleviate stress, the megachurch pastor says.” [Well, DUH!]
I hope that Warren is oversimplifying here, otherwise those two ‘reaction to stress’ choices make christians sound like two-dimensional fools. Humans of all types generally react to stress in all kinds of ways, not just the two extremes given. And often, we react to stress in any number of ways at any given time, the key being our own control over our own lives and reactions. Again, what about the conservative mantra of “personal responsibility”, so hypocritical from people who never, ever, not-freaking-ever, admit to any fault or wrongdoing.
And lastly, on to Warren’s “Serenity Prayer” solution. Which can be dismissed, because it’s about as useful for solving real problems as the “moment of silence” is for “honoring the victims” of the mass-shooting-du-jour. In either case, one might just as well ‘count to ten.’
For CP’s “Christian”-colored view on current political issues, see here. Plenty of fodder for discussion there, too.
This is our daily Open Thread–so, what’s on you’re mind?