Can God Fail?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Achilles:

I just read in one of your articles that before Jesus – God had sent many priests and prophets in an ATTEMPT to… And right there is where you lost me – a perfect and infallible being doesn’t ATTEMPT to do anything – if God is timeless and all knowing – why ATTEMPT to do something he knows will fail? Why would God wait to come down as Christ and not do that from the outset? It’s as if God woke up one day and said – you know – this isn’t working – I better go down there myself – if you want something done right – do it yourself – which is ludicrous… An attempt intrinsically implies a failure – how does an omnipotent being fail – the answer? It doesn’t – ergo – literal Christianity is hogwash

Thanks for the great questions, Achilles!

The reference is to the article, “Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?” In the section titled “The Long and Winding Fall,” I wrote:

God had sent many priests and prophets in an attempt to turn us around. Each time, it helped temporarily. But more and more, we just ignored God’s messengers.

When human history hit its all-time low, God saw that there was only one way to reverse the spiritual decline and save the human race from spiritual destruction and death. God had to come to earth in person, conquer the forces of evil that were engulfing the world, bring the spiritual world back into order, and reopen the channels for love and truth to reach people on earth.

This is precisely what Jesus was doing during his thirty-three years on earth.

First, about the idea that “literal Christianity is hogwash,” I wouldn’t put it quite that way. However, I agree that attempting to take everything in the Bible literally leads to many problems and contradictions. For more on this, see my article, “From Literal Slavery to Spiritual Freedom.”

And about the idea that God doesn’t attempt to do things, I see your point. It’s true that the reality of God’s action is much greater than that word implies. However, for our limited, human minds to see and grasp anything at all of the infinite, unlimited reality of God, it’s necessary to put things in limited, human words. Otherwise it would go far beyond our comprehension.

The reality is that God is engaged in a continual effort to achieve many prioritized goals—and yet will not violate God’s own goals, God’s own laws, and God’s own nature in order to achieve those goals.

If you’re scratching your head about that one, read on. If you want real answers, it will become clearer as we go along.

So let’s take up the two questions embedded in the conundrum:

  1. Can God—who is timeless, all-knowing, and omnipotent—fail to accomplish something that God sets out to do? (We’ll cover that question in this post.)
  2. Why did God wait so many thousands of years to come down to earth as Jesus Christ instead of doing so right from the start? (We’ll cover that question in the next post.)

For more on omnipotence and failure, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Science, Philosophy, and History

Your Crowdsourced Mind

Have you ever had a mean, angry, or impure thought and beat yourself up about it, thinking that you are the worst person ever?

Have you ever done a good deed, or had a brilliant idea and patted yourself on the back for it, thinking of yourself as better than the crowd of ordinary people out there?

The crowd

The crowd

If so, welcome to the human race!

We humans commonly think of ourselves as being evil or good depending on whether our thoughts, feelings, and actions are evil or good in our own judgment.

The reason we think that way is that we don’t understand how things really work—or if we do, we don’t really believe it.

Specifically, if we’re religious or spiritually oriented, we probably believe in our head that everything comes from God. But when it comes down to that great (or horrible) idea we just had, or that good (or evil) deed we just did, do we really believe it? Our natural tendency is to think that everything we think, feel, and do is our own.

The reality is that nothing we have, nothing we are, nothing we think and feel, and nothing we say and do is actually ours. None of it even comes from us. Ultimately, it all does come from God.

But before it gets to us, it is crowdsourced. All of our thoughts, feelings, motives, and attitudes come from the spiritual crowd that surrounds us all the time.

For more on spiritual crowdsourcing, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Spiritual Growth, The Afterlife

Power Corrupts? Absolutely Not. Arrogance Corrupts Power.

The issue of white privilege and black disadvantage has lately gained much-needed attention in American and international media due especially to:

Two more incidents have also cropped up recently in the news and on social media:

In each case, a black man was shot by a white man (or Hispanic, in the case of George Zimmerman).

Officer Sean Groubert shoots Levar Edward Jones

Officer Sean Groubert shoots Levar Edward Jones

Obviously, these cases involve racial politics—and they have evoked strong responses from the black community. Whites in America are often blissfully unaware of the double-standard, and often simply assume that race has nothing to do with stories such as these. Meanwhile, black Americans live every day with the knowledge and the fear that they or someone in their family could be unfairly and even lethally targeted simply because they are black.

Though some of the individual cases are complicated, the general picture is clear enough: blacks—especially black men—are often subject to harsher responses from police and other authority figures than whites who are engaging in the same actions.

This pattern of harsher treatment of blacks than of whites is an example of abuse of power. Of course, it is only one of many examples of abuse of power. But since it’s been prominent in the news, it offers an opportunity to look at the bigger picture of why we humans mistreat one another when we get into positions of power over one another.

Hold on. That’s not quite accurate.

Yes, I know, Lord Acton (1834-1902) famously said:

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But as catchy and oft-repeated as this aphorism is, it’s based on a mistaken idea. Power does not corrupt people as Acton thought. Rather, it is people who corrupt the power. Fortunately, not all people.

We’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s take a look at the most recent incident-gone-viral of a man getting shot for “driving while black.”

For more on power, arrogance, and unselfishness, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events

Seasons of Life

In January of 1969, a photo was published that forever changed our view of the earth, and of our place in the universe. The photo was taken on Christmas Eve day, 1968, by the crew of Apollo 8—the first humans to orbit the moon. It showed a marbled blue and white gibbous earth rising above the barren, brown, crater-pocked surface of the moon.

"Earthrise" - Apollo 8, Dec. 24, 1968

“Earthrise” – Dec. 24, 1968

The photo was quickly dubbed “Earthrise.” It has become one of the most famous pictures ever taken. For the first time, it showed the people of earth the beauty and fragility of our planet as a whole, floating in the blackness of space. The stark, lifeless surface of the moon in the foreground showed just how precious is the abundant life on our own planet.

Based on this indelible visual image, we realized on a gut level that whatever conflicts and divisions we may have among us here on earth’s surface, our planet is one. Seeing the entire earth in a single view put it all into perspective.

And yet, here on earth the struggles and challenges of each day still loom large for us. They fill up the horizons of our ordinary vision. When we’re up close and personal with the task of getting through this day, this week, this month, it’s easy for the years to slip by without ever seeing the big picture of our life.

How would it change our perspective if we could see our whole life, from birth to death and beyond, in one view, just as the “Earthrise” photo showed us our whole planet in one view?

For more on seasons of life, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Science, Philosophy, and History, Spiritual Growth

What is a Real Apology and How does it Help Your Soul?

Apologies have been in the news lately.

Many apologies by celebrities and other public figures fall seriously short in sincerity and believability. They’re more of a CYA response than a real apology.

But sometimes apologies are real.

Mike Fiers apologizing for hitting Giancarlo Stanton with a pitch

Mike Fiers apologizing

Giancarlo Stanton hit by a pitch

Giancarlo Stanton hit by a pitch

Last Thursday in major league baseball, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers hit Miami Marlins batter Giancarlo Stanton in the face with an 88 mph fastball, causing facial fractures, lacerations, and dental damage. He likely ended the ace hitter’s season. Clearly rattled, in his very next pitch Fiers hit the next batter in the hand, before being taken off the field.

Though tempers flared while all this was happening, afterwards Fiers issued a public apology for the unintentional injuries he had caused. You can read about it and watch an associated video here.

Mel Greig, Australian radio DJ

Mel Greig, DJ

Jacintha Saldanha, 1966-2012

Jacintha Saldanha, 1966-2012

Another public apology occurred on Friday during a long-delayed inquest into the death by suicide of Jacintha Saldanha. In December 2012, Saldanha hanged herself after mistakenly passing on to the floor nurse a prank call from Australian radio DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian. The DJs, posing as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, had called the hospital where Prince Charles’s daughter-in-law Kate Middleton was being treated for severe morning sickness during her first pregnancy. When the floor nurse revealed private details of Middleton’s condition, and the story went viral, it proved too much for Saldanha.

For our take on the story soon after it happened, see “It Takes a Village to Make a Tragedy.” Now, almost two years later, DJ Mel Greig traveled to England to personally offer a tearful apology for her role in Saldanha’s suicide. You can read the story here.

What does make an apology real? Back in June of this year, actor, filmmaker, and comedian Jonah Hill did it right.

For more on real apologies and the soul, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events, Spiritual Growth

Eat My Flesh, Drink My Blood

When it comes to the Christian sacrament of the Holy Supper, it’s all about eating and drinking. That’s true whether we look at it physically, philosophically, spiritually, or interpersonally.

Let’s look at an earlier story of Jesus feeding the people, from the Gospel of John, chapter 6. I encourage you to click the link and read the chapter first.

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, by James Tissot

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, by James Tissot

For more on eating, drinking, and spiritual meaning, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed

Advanced Tech Brings Down American Plane in Border Skirmish

Knee Defender

Knee Defender

Okay, you’re right, that title is just a little bit exaggerated. The technology isn’t very advanced at all. It’s just a plastic device called a “Knee Defender.”

But it did bring down a U.S. passenger plane.


Well, yes, the Knee Defender didn’t actually bring down the plane. But this weapons technology was deployed in the border skirmish that brought the plane down.


Okay, okay, let’s get technical. It’s not really weapons technology. It’s a little gizmo that can be used on a passenger airplane to prevent the passenger in the seat in front of you from reclining. It was deployed for that purpose in the border skirmish that brought the plane down.


Yes, it was a border skirmish that brought the plane down. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

For more on border skirmishes and downed planes, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events
Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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Earlier Posts
Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly, Fryeburg, Maine, August 2012

Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly


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