Tag Archives: faith

Foreva? Foreva-eva?

Today we’re talking about the concept of eternity. You know, that never-ending expanse of time that, according to many major religions, awaits us all once we shuffle off our mortal coils. Our bodies die but our immortal souls linger on forever and ever yada yada yada.

Before we get going, I want to note that for this particular piece I’d just like to consider what a positive eternal setup might look like. While it’s hard to refute that all of us deserve some sort of punishment after we die (or at least be made to perform some sort of embarrassing musical number in front of all the assembled nations, tribes and judgmental peers), I’d rather not spend time speculating on what a negative eternity might consist of. I can’t even imagine a never-ending DMV trip or traffic jam, much less with flames.

Moving forward with the ‘positive afterlife scenario’ paradigm, what will we do with all that time after we die? Christians, Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Hindus and most other religions all have different ideas of how the hereafter works. Zoroastrianism contends that the righteous will forever reign with Ahura Mazda.  (sounds so peaceful and automotive!)

We have the official orthodox party lines from all these religions about what eternity will consist of and how we’ll spend our time. Most of which seem to predict various forms of idyll, worship, pleasure and ongoing paradise. Sounds pretty cool.

But how about some specifics? I have so many questions about this arrangement.

I suppose no one alive really knows exactly how it all works. What eternity looks like and consists of is one of those mysteries of the universe we’ll just have to wait on, so in the meantime let’s do what we do best here: offer up some wild speculation, outside-the-box thoughts, unsubstantiated hypotheses, and hopeful guess-ery.

Involvement with Human Affairs

If we learned anything from Angels in the Outfield (other than the fact that Tony Danza had clearly never thrown a baseball in his life previous to filming this movie), it’s that the dead have the power to exert influence over the outcomes of sporting events. I imagine this sort of thing will occupy much of our time (such as Auburn’s Chris Davis being carried on sweet angels’ wings all the way to the end zone in last year’s supernatural Iron Bowl).

Chris Davis, flying to sport glory on the wings of blessed angels?

Chris Davis, flying to sport glory on the wings of blessed angels?

Perhaps we will also be involved with the living in other ways, like Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Maybe the recently deceased are immediately given ‘helper’ or ‘guardian angel’ tasks? If this is the case, it will be interesting to see whether or not we are assigned to monitor a geographic area, specific individuals, or if we’re just supposed to be on the lookout for certain problems (i.e. bridge jumpers, weaving motorcyclists, rollerbladers with no brakes, drunk people trying to feed animals.) Continue reading

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Francis (of Assisi)

Francis of Assisi is hands-down one of the greatest, most influential F’s to ever walk the earth. As the son of a wealthy merchant, he could have lived a comfortable, sumptuous life of leisure and pleasure. He could have ‘had it all’ by the world’s standards. While apparently he did indulge in his early years and ‘drank his quart of sin’ as Shane MacGowan might say, he experienced a transformation so remarkable that he is still revered, widely discussed and even lending his handle to popes to this day.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Growing up, Francis had everything a nice Italian boy could want: money, power, all the requisite food and drink. He probably had many nice tracksuits and one of those gold chains with a horn on it. But what he wanted was glory. Continue reading

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Flailing, Fallen, Fearful, Flopping, Foolish Failures

We are weak and pitiable creatures. That’s what we are. I have no problem accepting this.

The worldview I subscribe to offers a remedy to this situation – redemption through Jesus – which is great (albeit an esoteric future thing that is hard to grasp). But still I struggle with this notion of how consistently awful mankind is.  Sure there are days when beauty and goodness seem to outweigh evil, but most of the time it sure doesn’t seem that way.

Why are we so bad? Are we even worth saving? Is this generation bound for destruction? These sorts of questions keep all of us here at TMF up at night; resulting in our intern having to make many late night fact finding trips to Krispy Kreme. (‘What the #@%$ Fred you idiot I said SPRINKLES!’) Continue reading

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Freaking out about the Future

“Everything’s gonna be totally fine.”

— Keith Stone

A couple years ago Keystone Light ran a series of ads featuring a creepy but self-assured fellow with flowing locks named Keith Stone. In one of the ads, Stone sees a crying bride in a convenience store making a call on a payphone. With his comically large stick of beef jerky, he hangs up the payphone and ever so smoothly dials the phone to speak with the distressed bride.

A case of KL’s under his arm, he reassures the woman with deceptively profound words: “Everything’s gonna be totally fine.”

Of course this is a ridiculous commercial meant to sell cheap beer. Yet how many of us can honestly say that we can match the optimism, confidence, or perspective of Mr. Stone? How many of us live our day-to-day lives in the hope and full expectation that everything really is going to be just fine no matter what happens? And if we do feel hopeful today, what is it that hope based on? (Hopefully not Keystone Light). Continue reading

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Flagellate, Flatulate: A Social Commentary

A former roller hockey standout, World Record-setting Leap Frogger, and Sheep Lifting Champion for the state of Indiana, Robey Barnes is now a beloved teacher and leader of men here in the great state of Florida. We are honored to have him with us today to help unpack the second-most delicate topic we’ve ever tackled here.

By: Robey Barnes

flag·el·late: [v. flaj-uh-leyt; adj., n. flaj-uh-lit, -leyt] verb, flag·el·lat·ed, flag·el·lat·ing, adjective, noun verb (used with object) — to whip; scourge; flog; lash. (dictionary.com)

It wasn’t until recently that I became aware of a practice of a more extreme order of ascetic monks –the Flagellants. These monks, in a show of penance, would whip themselves across their back. With some it could be as many a hundred times in a single session.

Our modern sensibilities are shocked by such a display of self-harm. Imagine the severe pain, ripping across their backs. Is that agony really necessary to show devotion? Our instincts are to say to these ancient and modern radicals, be free. Your stripes are not necessary.

But before we deem this practice as primitive and distasteful, we have to face an uncomfortable truth. It intersects with a practice that we are all too familiar with. Flagellation has an unlikely cousin. A word, similar sounding, and more similar in concept than we would care to admit: Flatulence.* Continue reading

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Firmament

Let’s get heavy! Today we’re going to engage the formation and structure of the universe – no big deal. Strap on your helmets and gird your loins, it’s gonna get opinionated in here!

Before we get into this, it should be noted that my personal worldview is essentially “Judeo-Christian” in nature. That said, there are many big questions surrounding life/death/the universe/things of the supernatural realm I am tremendously confused by or undecided about, so I try to keep an open mind. How exactly the world came into existence and how the universe is structured would certainly fall into this category.

In that spirit of open-mindedness, let’s chat about a controversial* word featured in the Genesis account of creation that begs some explanation. Continue reading

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Fredo

Why we’re more like Fredo than anyone else…

Which Corleone are you most like?

If we were to take a poll asking which Godfather fella we most resemble, I would imagine most everyone would answer either Don Vito, the wise, powerful boss, or Michael, the confident, capable one who commands respect. Sure, Sonny was a hothead, but he’s probably popular enough to pull a few votes (pre-Tommy-gunning).

Almost assuredly, no one would say Fredo – the insecure, overlooked, dim, traitorous brother. Yet Fredo (real name John Cazale), more than anyone in the famiglia, reflects the reality of what we’re really like.

At our core, we’re all such fragile, squirrely, conniving, self-serving, devious creatures. No one likes to think of themselves in this way, but it’s true.

Perhaps you’ve never arranged for a hit on your sibling in an effort to solidify your position of authority in an organized crime family, but how often do we throw people under the bus in more subtle ways? A lie here, a derisive comment there; a bit of tattling on a perceived rival. We’re more efficient than hyenas when it comes to exploiting others’ weaknesses. Yet when it’s time to stand up and do the right thing, we turn turtle.

We don’t sermonize much at the Mighty F, but the spiritual parallel here is irresistible. While the ruthless world rejects, chews up and disposes of the weak, the spineless, and all the Fredos of the world, it’s nice to know that Jesus says otherwise. He reinforces the inherent value of people with the sort of character deficiencies we bulldoze in this world – the meek, the poor in spirit – and even says they will inherit the land.

Grace for underdogs.

So instead of being whacked in a fishing boat like we probably deserve, we get a place at the head of the table. Instead of getting, “I knew it was you, you broke my heart,” then receiving our fate of sleeping with the fishes, we get, “I knew it was you, but I forgive you and love you, always.” 

So here’s to Fredo, and the hope that there is redemption for all us broken down humans with the worst features of hyenas and turtles thrown into the mix. Here’s to an offer of grace we can’t *refuse!

*Look for future discussions on this topic of whether or not we’re able to ultimately reject grace, under “Free Will,” or possibly “Foosball.” Probably “Free Will.”

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