Friday, April 28, 2006

NHL Playoffs

I love hockey. And I love the Avalanche. I have a big post almost ready about the purpose of church services, but I haven't finished it yet because I'm too absorbed with the NHL playoffs (that's not really true, I'm busy with other things too, but it makes me sound more obsessed).

Anyone who follows hockey will agree, the "new NHL" has been a huge success and this years playoffs are some of the best I've ever seen. Notably, the 7th-seeded teams in both divisions are doing quite well against the 2nd-seeded (the number 7 Avs lead the series 3-0 over the number 2 Stars). Furthermore, Edmonton, the 8th seed, is tied 2-2 with the number 1 Red Wings, and that's only after the Red Wings won last night after being down 2-1. Any playoff series that involves low seeds contending or beating high-seeds is exciting -- especially when its "your" team. I didn't expect the Avalanche to fare well at all against the Stars. The Stars have been phenomenal this year, and the Avs have been... slightly above average. However, the Avs are in the most competitive division in the NHL. In the new NHL each team plays even more intra-divisional games than before. And I think this adds an interesting twist on the playoffs because, as with college football, the team with the best record may not be the best team if they had a weaker "strength of schedule." The fact that three of the eight teams in the Western Conference quaterfinals are from the Northwest Division. Furthermore, two of those teams are underdogs hanging with or dominating the higher seed they are playing.

Its been a very exciting first two weeks of the playoffs for me. Here are my hopes for the first round, although I don't know how realistic they are at this point. Really I just think it would be awesome if all the Northwest Division teams win their first round games, and I want the Red Wings to lose because I hate them, and that way we (the Avalanche... I'm totally on a "we" basis with the Avalanche) don't have to play them next round:

Avalanche beat the Stars in 4 games (sweep 'em, baby!)
Oilers beat the Red Wings in 7 games
Flames beat the Mighty Ducks in 7 games
Sharks beat the Predators in 5 games

I'm not as interested in the Eastern Conference. I don't really like the way they play in the Eastern Conference. Even with the new rules their games seem lethargic and lack an intensity that the Western Conference has. Not all the teams, New Jersey and Buffalo especially don't play this way. But enough of them that the Eastern Conference seems boring to me. If Ottawa wins their conference it will be a very interesting Stanley Cup finals, since Ottawa is generally a more boring team to watch. If New Jersey or Buffalo win, or even the Flyers, then it will be more like a Western Conference series. Here are my predictions for the Eastern Conference:

Senators beat the Lightning in 6 games
Devils beat the Rangers in 4 games
Canadiens beat the Hurricanes in 5 games (not sure at all about this one)
Sabres beat the Flyers in 6 games (maybe 7)

I know this post has nothing to do with what we normally talk about, but I'm way into the NHL playoffs right now but wanted to update my blog so it doesn't idle for another month. So here's something to talk about.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Doctrines of Satan

I've finally found myself with some free time and nothing better to do. After my long and, in my humble opinion, well deserved hiatus from blogging I'm back, just like I was never gone at all! Seriously, I haven't gotten any better over the course of the last month, and this one is pretty long, in my typical style.

Church doctrines, official or otherwise, that are generally unfounded infuriate me as much as Jacobus Arminius would have infuriated Calvin, had they lived at the same time. One set of doctrines in particular that bother me are those concerning Satan and other demons. The thing that bothers me most is that there is very little revealed about the nature of either in the Bible. Furthermore, many doctrines ignore what actually is in the Bible. Today most Christians, or at least most that I've met, view demons and Satan as supreme evil beings to be reviled and hated and we have some power over them when we encounter them (the amount of power varies by denomination). They also believe that Satan was once called "Lucifer" and was God's most beautiful creation and rebelled against God because he wanted more power. They believe that demons are angels that decided to follow Satan rather than God. And they believe that these creatures live in the same "hell" that they believe non-Christians will inhabit after death. Some even believe that Satan and demons will torment people in this hell. I'll start by presenting, to the best of my knowledge, what the Bible does say, and then I'll point out what the Bible does not:
I can't claim that list is comprehensive, but I think it covers a lot of it. Here are some things that the Bible never says, as far as I can tell:
  • Satan was God's most beautiful creation
  • Satan was ever good
  • Demons were once angels
  • Satan caused demons to be what they are
  • Satan and the demons live in hell
  • Satan has any power over people after they die
  • Satan rebelled against God
  • Satan or demons can interact with inanimate objects directly
  • Satan or demons can cause bad things to happen to you, like your car breaking down
  • Paradise Lost = Biblical truth
However, people still believe all of these things. I think that one of the greatest strengths of the "emerging church" is its propensity to ask "Why do we believe what we believe and should we continue to do so?" And in this case I think that the answer is clear: we have no reason to believe much of what we do about evil spirits, therefore we should not believe it any more. From what I can tell of human and church history we usually make things worse when we make up answers to questions. Odds are that we are wrong about these things and are actually making things worse by believing them.