Archive of articles classified as' "Religion"

Back home

Thinkage

25/07/2015

“In recent years and elections one would have thought that homosexuality and abortion were the new litmus tests of authentic Christianity. Where did this come from? They never were the criteria of proper membership for the first 2000 years, but reflect very recent culture wars instead. And largely from people who think of themselves as ‘traditionalists’! (The fundamentals were already resolved in the early Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed. Note that none of the core beliefs are about morality at all. The Creeds are more mystical, cosmological, and about aligning our lives inside of a huge sacred story.) When you lose the great mystical level of religion, you always become moralistic about this or that as a cheap substitute. It gives you a false sense of being on higher spiritual ground than others.

“Jesus is clearly much more concerned about issues of pride, injustice, hypocrisy, blindness, and what I have often called ‘The Three Ps’ of power, prestige, and possessions, which are probably 95 percent of Jesus’ written teaching. We conveniently ignore this 95 percent to concentrate on a morality that usually has to do with human embodiment. That’s where people get righteous, judgmental, and upset, for some reason. The body seems to be where we carry our sense of shame and inferiority, and early-stage religion has never gotten much beyond these ‘pelvic’ issues. As Jesus put it, ‘You ignore the weightier matters of the law—justice, mercy, and good faith . . . and instead you strain out gnats and swallow camels’. We worry about what people are doing in bed much more than making sure everybody has a bed to begin with. There certainly is a need for a life-giving sexual morality, and true pro-life morality, but one could sincerely question whether Christian nations and people have found it yet.” — Fr. Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations (Sunday, June 16, 2013):  “New Fundamentals” Are a Contradiction in Terms

No Comments

The Words Of The Prophets…

19/07/2015

…are written on the subway walls
and tenement halls

WotP Eleanor Roosevelt

No Comments

SDCC 2015 CCAS Spiritual Values In Comics Panel

13/07/2015

SDCC 2015 Spiritual Values panel

Scott A. Shuford, yrs trly, Cory Jones, B Dave Walters,
Travis Hanson, Alesha L. Escobar and Luis Escobar.

Audio File Available For Download Here

Thanx, B Dave Walters!

No Comments

What Kind Of Parent…?

8/07/2015

”What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?”

Imagine, if you will, that you have a daughter barely able to walk and talk on her own.

In her short life this little girl has never been lied to, never been tricked, never been mislead or mistreated, and has only experienced people speaking the truth to her.

Imagine, if you will, that you place this child — your daughter — in a room to play while you do something else.

An adult drops in, and you let them stay in the same room as the child while you do something else (what exactly doesn’t matter).

Now, if you know this adult, and know they are trustworthy, you’ll have no qualms leaving them in the room with your daughter: She’s in safe hands because you know that adult would never ever harm her.

And the adult doesn’t, even though you are not in the room or watching.

So everything’s peachy keen.

Now suppose a different adult has dropped in, one you don’t know that well, but whom you have no reason to suspect would be the kind of creep to rape a child.

If you step into the room and find the creep raping your daughter, you may be criticized for not knowing this particular adult well enough to justify leaving them alone with a child, but at the same time you can argue you had no reason to suspect them and as such you are not as guilty as if, say…

…you knew the adult was a child molester and you leave them alone in a room with your daughter while you go do something else.

Now even there you have a defense:
You didn’t think they would be so brazen as to try something in your own home when you might walk in at any minute.

But let’s take this a step further…

Say the room is under surveillance, either a big two-way mirror in the wall or hidden security cameras. Let’s say you saw what was happening at all times.

Now, if you see the rapist making a move on your daughter and immediately rush to her rescue, you may have done something foolish by letting the rapist in the room with her in the first place, but at least you acted swiftly to prevent harm.

But if you didn’t pay attention to what the adult was doing, then you are a negligent parent at the very least.

But if you knew the adult was a child rapist, and if you saw them attacking your daughter, and you did nothing while it was within your power to stop it…

…and if you blame her for being raped afterwards…

…just what kind of parent are you?

animated simpson adam and eve

Ladies and Gentlemen,
the story of Eve and the serpent
in the Garden of Eden.

More than any other story in the Bible, Old Testament or New, this one is the single most problematic.

Because a plain text reading indicates God doesn’t know what will happen and that the future is as much of an unknown to Him as it is to us.

In which case, why should we worship Him? No matter what promises He makes to us, He can’t guarantee He can deliver because He doesn’t know the future. (Call that Option #1)

And if He does know the future, then He should have known full well what the serpent would do when it had a chance and He let it happen anyway.

In which case, why should we trust Him? He set us up. (Call that Option #2)

And if he deliberately intended for it to happen just so He could punish us, then we are royally screwed, and just the playthings of a sadist. (Call that Option #3)

Now, our friends the atheists would look at options #1 & #2 & #3 and offer Option #4: There is no God, there is no divine presence, there is no moral center to the universe.

And the fundamentalist / literalists would offer Option #5 and say “Ah, God’s ways are not our ways; who are we to judge God?” in which case we would rightfully say “If God can’t clearly convey and articulate His desire for humanity in simple concrete terms that se can readily grasp, then communion with Him is an impossibility.”

Which is where the list of options usually ends…

But there is Option #6:
The story of Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden is not literally historically factually true but rather a parable by early culturally primitive and barbaric humans to express as best they could with their limited viewpoint their understanding of their relationship to the Divine.

This is where the atheists say “Yeah, right, whatever…” and go check the TV listings while the fundamentalist / literalists started screaming and stamping their feet and throwing a hissy fit: “No no no NO NO!!! It’s all literally historically FACTUALLY true — every single word of it!!! It must be literally true, it has to be literally true, because if it isn’t literally true then every single other thing in the Bible is false false FALSE!!!

Really?

Says who?

Your theology?

The same theology that makes God not a loving parent but either a negligent numbskull or a monster?

Because that’s where literalism inevitably takes us.

The Bible, no matter how Divinely inspired, no matter how faithfully transcribed, is still the product of human understanding.

And human understanding changes and expands and yes, even evolves from generation to generation, from year to year, heck, even from moment to moment.

And what some distant unknown Second Millennium BCE scribe recorded from whatever ur-creation myth his tribe hand passed down around the campfire from prehistoric times at best represents what they understood at that time, not what the actual Truth of the matter is.

It’s not the Bible that’s the problem, it’s the claim that only the surface details are important, not the underlying Truth.

Religion is a metaphor for the ineffable.

 

No Comments

“40 Questions For Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags”

1/07/2015

The Gospel Coalition website has posted the following questionnaire and commentary from Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan:

“[P]erhaps what’s been most difficult is seeing some of our friends, some of our family members, and some of the folks we’ve sat next to in church giving their hearty ‘Amen’ to a practice we still think is a sin and a decision we think is bad for our country. It’s one thing for the whole nation to throw a party we can’t in good conscience attend. It’s quite another to look around for friendly faces to remind us we’re not alone and then find that they are out there jamming on the dance floor…

“If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, there are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution. These questions aren’t meant to be snarky or merely rhetorical. They are sincere, if pointed, questions that I hope will cause my brothers and sisters with the new rainbow themed avatars to slow down and think about the flag you’re flying.”

Fair enough, Kevin. After the jump I will take you at your word that you are sincere in your desire to understand why we believe what we believe.

For the rest of you, here are the Beatles going to work…

animated abbey lane

Read the rest of this article »

No Comments

They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love

28/06/2015

love is Gods orientation

Not by the way we judge and condemn others, but by the way we love.

  • We are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
  • We are to treat others the way we wish to be treated.
  • We are not to judge others, because when we do we will be judged the same way in return.
  • We are to feed the hungry.
  • Give drink to the thirsty.
  • Tend to the sick.
  • Shelter the poor.
  • Comfort the dying.
  • Visit those in prison.
  • We are to go the extra mile.
  • We are to turn the other cheek.
  • We are not to return evil for evil.
  • We are to forgive seventy times seven.
  • We are not to put stumbling blocks before others.

If God never mentioned it, and if Jesus never mentioned it, and if Christ’s death fulfilled the Old Testament covenant and brought an end to Moses’ holiness laws, then maybe we shouldn’t get our knickers in a twist over it, either.

.

.

.

Which in Jesus’ era literally meant carrying the armor of an oppressive pagan enemy twice as far as they demanded.

Which, contrary to human misunderstanding, if not a set of orders issued unilaterally from above with a threat of punishment if they aren’t obey, but a mutually consented agreement:  If you want Me to be your God, you need to do the following…

As God told Peter in the dream about the clean and unclean animals.

No Comments

The Words Of The Prophets…

20/06/2015

…are written on the subway walls
and tenement halls

WotP Bill Moyers

No Comments

The White Man’s Burden

20/06/2015

norman rockwell - the_problem_we_all_live_with

The Problem We All Live With
painted by Norman Rockwell

I’m going to pull back and look at the large systemic problem we have in this country, observe what its components are, then zoom in on one part to suggest a solution for it. This is not to isolate that one component as the only / most important component, or say that others shouldn’t address the problem in the other components, but this area is one where I have special interest and insight, and as such the one I can best address.

First, my bona fides: I was raised in a strongly religious-bordering-devout Southern Baptist family.[1] I went thru my crisis of faith, did a lot of research and examining of every major religious belief system and numerous Christian denominations, have moved from SBC to Presbyterian to non-denomination / leaning Quaker.[2]

My faith informs my outlook on all other things, but it does not confine or define it. By nature I’m somewhat conservative and am one of those people who say they didn’t leave the GOP, the GOP left them.

We have a particularly toxic stew in this country that can be traced by to a few key ingredients: Anglo-European colonists laid claim to a continent they had no right to, and used their culture (which included their political make-up plus rationalism via the Enlightenment and strict dogmatic religious beliefs) to justify persecuting / killing / enslaving / exploiting anyone the least bit different from them.

And, yes, that same Anglo-European culture laid the groundwork for our constitution, did wonderful educational and charity works, greatly increased productivity and wealth and on a level of improved goods and health care left many of the exploited better off than they had been before being exploited.

Occasionally we read about burglars
who fix themselves a sandwich and
carefully wash the dishes in the sink
before departing with the silverware.

They still used biological markers of skin color / gender / sexual orientation / ability as a scientific (read: “objective”) reason to justify excluding as many others from full participation in their culture as possible.[3] They cited religious teachings — specifically Judeo-Christian teachings — as a moral justification for this exclusion.

Science, however, considers new evidence and changes its opinion based on the validity of that new evidence. Most religious denominations are loathe to engage in the same kind of self-examination unless absolutely forced to (i.e., their membership rolls are imploding).

(History gets stuck in the middle with objective historians willing to consider and evaluate new evidence and new interpretations, and hagiographers of varying stripes refusing to change from an interpretation they find comfortable and reassuring, no matter how dubious or false.)

In this country, the issue of race relations remains the most complex problem to resolve if we aspire to a better, more just union (something which both Christians and humanists claim to want).

Slave-owners were extremely wealthy people, and they defended that wealth with every tool at their disposal. They encouraged racism among poor whites so as to deflect examinations of class oppression (“I may be poor but at least I ain’t black!”). They misquoted Darwin to claim African-Americans and others were biologically inferior. They encouraged literalistic interpretations of the Bible (literalism being long since discarded by mainstream European and Eastern Orthodox theologians) to justify the institution of slavery with a few cherry picked verses.[4]

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed specifically to help the slave-owners do the latter. The SBC was founded on a theology of exclusion: If slaves were good and obedient and went to the churches their masters told them to attend, then they’d get to go to heaven and obey to their masters in the afterlife as well; if they rebelled and demanded freedom and justice, well, they were instruments of Satan who were doubly damned because they were also little more than monkeys to begin with.

part 2 / part 3 / part 4

.

.

.

[1/1]  I count at least 5 professional pastors + pastoral spouses in my generation of siblings and cousins.

[1/2]  I’d probably join a Quaker church if I could find one anywhere near where I live.

[1/3]  In fact, until the suffragette movement, one could argue they consciously excluded the majority of human beings occupying this country from full participation.

[4/1]  That whole “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” bit getting shunted aside.

No Comments

The Unholy Alliance

20/06/2015

part 1

After the Civil War, as large numbers of non-Anglo / non-Protestant / non-Christian European immigrants began arriving in the country[1], the conservative elements of this country grew alarmed that “their” country was being taken away from them.[2]

Asian immigrants and their descendants born in the U.S. were denied citizenship for decades and in many cases had their citizenship rights retroactively revoked.

reply0620 anti-immigrant-cartoon

The unholy alliance of wealth + politics + religion (which in truth is always present in all societies to some shape or fashion) became increasingly focused on conservative white male Protestant / Christian values.[3]

Each segment became a circle in an overlapping Venn diagram of prejudice and bigotry. Christians of all stripes were aligned against non-Christians (which included a number of progressives and free thinkers). White Christians were aligned against non-white Christians, Protestants against Catholics. Rural families were aligned against urban families.

Poor people…well, those in charge took care not to let them get aligned against the rich by siding too much with the progressives and free thinkers who made up labor unions; poor people were separated into poor whites and poor blacks and aligned against one another even though they had more in common with each other than with the oligarchs who ran the country.

All vicious circles in one big ugly Venn diagram,
and where they overlapped they didn’t merely
add on their toxicity, they multiplied it.

And chained together,
these vicious circles fed off of each other,
reinforced each other, validated each other…

In the post-Civil War era this required a great narrowing of religious attitudes among the dominant white culture. Literalism was brought back to deny scientific evidence that there were no significant differences among people regardless of race / ethnicity / gender / orientation and once immediate handicaps were accounted for, no significant difference between the able and the disabled in terms of their humanity. Moralists decried the use of alcohol and drugs by non-whites and non-Protestants, “negro jungle music”, and Hollywood movies (i.e., made by Jews).

It was then and now an attempt to shout down other voices with other histories and experiences. So long as only the dominant culture could present its version of events, they never had to seriously face the consequences of their actions and their ancestors’ actions. Whatever problems occurred in society were caused by them not us.

part 3 / part 4

.

.

.

[2/1]  Many of them fleeing the same kind of exclusionary practices in Europe that Anglo-Americans were directing against non-whites in America.  

[2/2]  And, oh, the irony; had they but asked the Native Americans and the Mexican-Americans who had been living on the land since before the first Anglo-European colonists arrived…

[2/3]  Many Protestants then and now exclude Catholics from their ranks, but those that do try to gloss over all the significant differences between Roman Catholicism / Eastern orthodox / European Protestantism in order to further their own personal goals.

No Comments

Denying Reality

20/06/2015

part 1 / part 2

This came to a head in the years leading up to WWII and then the immediate follow-up of the Cold War.  The wealthy opposed any attempt to pry their money loose from them even when they were clearly violating both the constitution and common decency to enrich themselves at the expense of others.  Poor whites began to grasp the idea of class warfare, and labor unions began growing.

Seeing communist and socialist governments taking root in Europe and Asia, the wealthy allied with conservative religious leaders to create a propaganda parody of Marxism / communism / socialism:  Their fantasy version included taking everybody’s homes and guns and Bibles and forcing them to treat Negroes as equals while encouraging their children to have sex and use drugs.  It was a winning sales pitch and it found a lot of support among white and conservative and Christian audiences, especially where two or more of those audiences overlapped.

Anti-Communist_Poster_from_Birmingham_KKK_ca_1934

Following WWII, with the rise of Billy Graham and other evangelicals-cum-politicians, we saw the most flamboyant of the evangelical movement become aligned with politicians and companies that either deliberately hindered American social progress or got the country involved in disastrous foreign entanglements.

The religious right has always strongly supported every war we have marched off to fight, even long past the point where it became obvious to everyone we had fought the wrong war for the wrong reasons and had lost.[1]  The religious right fought against desegregation and civil rights because it removed the fig leaf that let them justify their unjust attitudes towards non-whites.

They still fight against women’s rights and against LGBT rights.[2]  Jerry Falwell famously conjured up “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” to justify his anti-gay bigotry, but long before that he was fighting against busing and school integration and interracial marriage, and to help lily white Christians escape the big bad black man, he established so-called “Christian” academies and Liberty College.

There is the rotten, cancerous, gangrenous, pus-spewing source of the infection:  The religious aspect of the dominant white male culture, a culture that fears the day they are no longer in charge and fights tooth and nail to keep it at a distance.[3]

  • As long as we Christians allow Pat Robertson to babble on incoherently in a manner that is offensive to all sane, just-minded people…we are endorsing him.
  • As long as we Christians allow Franklin Graham to openly espouse hate in the name of God against people who have done him no harm…we are endorsing him.
  • As long as the Duggars are celebrated for fucking without birth control and condemning an entire class of people by falsely claiming they are child molesters while hiding a child molester in their midst…we are endorsing them.

And I can go on and on and on.

part 4

.

.

.

[3/1]  Look how many people claim to this day that we lost Vietnam because liberals prevented gallant American soldiers from effectively fighting the enemy.

[3/2]  The SBC, whom we can only refer to as the ultimate slow learners of Christianity, have just announced they are going to ignore any Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage that is contrary to their beliefs which is exactly the same attitude they took to slavery in the run up to the Civil War.

[3/3]  Often by denying they — the dominant white male culture — even exists, thus enabling them to paint themselves as the victims of aggression and prejudice from the very people objecting to being oppressed by them.

No Comments