GROUND RULES

We don't agree about everything and that's OK. What we do agree on is the need to carry on the discussion in a civil way.

Before you contribute to a discussion, familiarize yourself with logical fallacies. Ad hominem attacks will not be tolerated.

The goal here is for civil conversation so be nice; no profanity. Anyone who calls another person an idiot will be banned.

Lastly remember, when someone disagrees with your views it does not mean they like you less as a person. If you can't handle being disagreed with then go away.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why? Just why?


Westboro Baptist Church Says It Will Picket Vigil For Connecticut School Shooting Victims



How do these people sleep at night? 



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Your God is Too Small

There's a lot of finger pointing and handwringing right now about who to blame for the tragic shooting yesterday. Everyone agrees it was a shocking, horrible thing and many of us wept for those lost, and those left behind.

It's only natural to ask how any loving god could let this happen. I find it appalling that atheists have rushed forward to scream "where's your God now?" and I find it equally appalling that theists have rushed forward to say "not allowed in schools, that's where!" If anything should unite believers and unbelievers it is the tragic loss of so much young, innocent life.

Shame on you, atheists who have used such a painful tragedy to make anyone question their faith, the very means they draw comfort and hope from. Shame on you, Christians for your poor response. This is not the answer:



How dare you marginalize God this way? God is the supreme being, creator of heaven and earth, omnipresent and omnipotent. How dare you suggest that God is bound by politics. Do you think God was allowed into Egypt when he freed the Jews from slavery? Do you think the Roman's wanted God to violate the laws of nature when he raised his son from the dead? God is not bound by laws or politics. There is nowhere God cannot go. There are no laws, no walls, no boundaries mere mortals could construct to keep him out.

"Where could I go to escape your spirit? Where could I flee from your presence? If I climb the heavens, you are there, there too if I lie in Sheol. If I flew to the point of sunrise, or westward across the sea your hand would still be guiding me, your right hand holding me." Psalms 139:7-10

'"Am I only a God nearby,' declares the Lord, 'and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?' declares the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth?' declares the Lord." Jeremiah 23:23-23

"Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20

We live in one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world. You don't have to agree with anyone else's religion, but you have to respect their right to have it. Government employees are not Sunday school teachers. If you want your children to know God, teach them. If anyone seeks God and has a relationship with him, that does not stop at the doors of any building.

To suggest otherwise makes your god a very small god indeed.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Nice quote

He who begins by loving Christianity better than truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all. 
--Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I'm a panentheist


Paul Tillich said that we should retire the word “God,” because it had become virtually meaningless. Meaningless because there is no consensus about what the word means. Wars have been fought, people have been slaughtered of the "right" and "wrong" definition of God. (It always makes me laugh when people say God is so transcendent that we can't know his mind, but then they DO know his mind about what he wants, what he expects, where he will send me when I die ...)

Tillich used expressions such as “Ultimate Concern,” “Ground of Being,” which pointed toward a concept of God as not a supernatural person somewhere “out there,” but as the ultimately unknowable direction in which all things point.

As Marcus Borg has articulated better than I could hope to, the God I reject is the god of supernatural theism, a “supernatural being somewhere out there.” The God that has become a selfish transaction for the unknowable afterlife. Christianity is not simply believing the right things so you can avoid eternal Hell Fire, it's about knowing and loving God, loving your fellow man, and as Jesus said in John's gospel that we "might have life, and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).  Borg's book, "Speaking Christian" has challenged me to rethink my opinion of God and of Christianity.

Unlike pantheism, which says the universe is God, God is the universe and that is all, I realized I'm a panentheist. Panentheist means all in God and God transcends everything. God is "the ground in which I live and move and have my being" (Acts 17:28). An imperfect analogy is of fish in a river. Fish (that would be us) live in a river, rely on the river for breathing, moving ... and yet the river is more than just the fish and flora and fauna, it flows into the Ocean, it nourishes life.

Life itself is a sacrament - simply by living our lives as genuine and authentic human beings we can meet God, not just know God, but meet him and know him completely.

This is also becoming the foundation of Progressive Christianity and the Emergent Church. I would be happily involved with these denominations because they allow for the intellectual honesty of searching, discovery, questioning and rejecting. And yet they acknowledge the traditions of Christianity and the beauty of the Bible - as a human creation. They acknowledge the beauty in and borrow ideas from other religions. They follow the truth, and still have an encounter with God.

I won't claim the title of Christian. The traditional, cultural understanding of that word means someone who believes things which for the sole purpose of going to heaven, of avoiding hell. I'm not that person, I don't just believe anything.

Watch this video from my favorite church (unfortunately it's in Springfield, IL or I would go every week) for a fuller understanding of my faith journey, which will continue until the day I die.



Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pascal's Wager

Several people have said to me "I'd rather believe and be wrong then not believe and be wrong, because if you're wrong you're going to hell." What you may not realize is that this is actually called Pascal's Wager, created by the seventeenth-century philosopher, Blaise Pascal. In a nutshell, Pascal's Wager says that since we can never really know if God exists, there is so much more to gain by simply believing God does exist. Essentially if you wager that God exists you gain everything (eternal life) and if you lose (and God doesn't exist) you've lost nothing.

It seems like a compelling proposition, right? Just believe the right things and you'll go to heaven! But what are the right things to believe? Why should anyone wager the Christian God is the right God to gamble your eternal soul on? He is not the only option. Maybe the Hindu God is the right one. Maybe Zeus is the right one.

Secondly, I've given up my previously held beliefs because of reason and thinking. I simply can't force myself to un-know all the things I've learned during the last five years. Surely God would know I was faking it. Believe me, there are plenty of times I think to myself "why oh why didn't I take the blue pill?" but I can't take the blue pill and forget everything.

And finally, is faith really just a matter of mentally assenting to a checklist of established beliefs? That seems so hollow, so pointless. I think any God (who every religion says is utterly transcendent and ineffable) wouldn't endow us with an intellect and ability to reason and then require we throw those abilities out the window and just blindly believe what we're told. I genuinely believe any God would much prefer those who honestly seek the truth, wherever that may lead.

So please stop lobbing this argument at me. Like everything else, I've given it a good deal of thought before rejecting it, but I find it lacking and frankly disrespectful of God.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

This I love and believe with my whole heart.

I've mentioned before my fondness for authors like Bishop John Shelby Spong and Karen Armstrong. I did not realize until recently that there is a church that also loves these authors. THIS is a church I would love to attend. THIS is a faith I whole heartedly embrace. Here is a church that loves the Bible as I do, the wants to follow the teachings of Jesus, as I do, and is not afraid to call a spade a spade; to recognize myths, metaphors and the historical setting. Here is a church that believes Jesus taught us how to LIVE our lives, not just a list of things we need to mentally ascent to!

This is a spiritual approach I wholeheartedly embrace. It focuses on how to live our lives, how we can make the lives of others better without concern for some magical after life we can't possibly know anything about.




Friday, August 31, 2012

Orthodoxy or Orthopraxy?

Orthodoxy: Adherence to accepted norms; specifically creeds. In other words "right beliefs."
Orthopraxy: Emphasis on action/activity. In other words "right doing."

Of course beliefs and practices should go hand-in-hand but we're all human and struggle to live the best possible life according to our beliefs. So I'm interested in starting a conversation with you, my readers. What do you think is more important; right beliefs or right actions? Why?

Earlier in my life I interpreted the entire Christian faith and Bible through the lens of Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved, through faith; and that not of yourself. It is a gift of God." But I no longer just accept what I was taught in church, I've studied and learned how to think, not just what to think.

Ephesians is credited to the apostle Paul; probably the second most influential person in Christianity (after Jesus, of course). But I no longer interpret the Bible through this lens for two main reasons:
1) Paul never met Jesus, he only learned about Jesus from the teachings of his disciples. Jesus' own teaching (up next) contradicts this idea.
2) Most Biblical scholars don't even think Paul wrote Ephesians, that it was written by someone claiming to be Paul. (This is fairly common and immensely interesting. If you want to know more about this, I highly recommend Forged: Writing in the Name of God - Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are.)

So what did Jesus teach? After all the Christian faith is about following Jesus and being Christ-like.

When asked what the most important commandment is, Jesus didn't name any of the 10 commandments, he said "Love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind." Followed immediately by "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 23:37-39)

Jesus taught a radical message of love. You can't love anyone by just quietly believing it in your heart and never expressing that love! If your spouse says they love you but they never hold your hand or kiss you good night, you wouldn't feel very loved.

Today, I understand the Bible and more specifically the person of Jesus through the lens of Matthew 25:35-45 "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him 'Lord, when did we see you  hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and cloth you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?' The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" (repeat for those who did NOT do these things)

The best part of this description is the people who did the good deeds were surprised to learn this pleased the lord! They didn't care for their fellow man because they expected eternal reward or public recognition, they just did these things because they were the right things to do.

If you profess to love Jesus with all your heart and yet you proclaim the poor deserve their lot and refuse to help them, that is not Christ-like. If you believe Jesus died for your sins but you spend your weekends in strip clubs, that is not following his teachings.

Remember "If you love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15

So there you go, that's my opinion. What's yours?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What I do believe ...

I laid out in my previous post what I don't believe, which basically boils down to everything I was taught in various churches through my life. Many people have wrongly assumed this means I believe nothing, that I've made up my mind and declared there is no God. That's not true.

Yes, I attended the Minnesota Atheist Convention and in many ways my views are aligned with atheism. But there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what atheist means and how it is perceived - atheism like it's counterpart theism is a statement of belief, while agnosticism is a statement of knowledge. I don't believe  in the God taught by the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions. I think any attempt to anthropomorphize God are simply human attempts to comprehend the incomprehensible.

There is a Buddhist proverb I think explains how I understand God:
 Several blind men were gathered around an elephant and each of them ran their
 hands over different parts of the elephant. The man who felt the leg declared "an
 elephant is like a tree!" The man who felt the torso declared "an elephant is like a wall!" 
The man who felt a tusk declared "an elephant is like a spear!" The man who felt the trunk
 declared "an elephant is like a snake!"

Each of the world's religions offer truth and beauty and meaning. It's impossible to study other world religions and maintain that yours is the one true religion. I think each religion is humanity's attempt to describe their experience with something numinous. 

I believe the divine can be found within rather than without. I believe the divine can be encountered in the beauty of nature, in the moments of love between people.  I believe any religion that leads you to treat other people with love and compassion is a wonderful religion. I believe any religion that leads you to demean and abuse other people is a bad religion. 

I don't fully know what I believe. I am still searching and I don't think I will ever have a definitive answer, but that's OK with me because I enjoy the search.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What I don't believe

It's been a while since I posted anything here, so I thought I was due for a check-in.

First, my apologies to anyone who has been offended by what I've written. I never meant to persecute anyone and if you've interpreted anything I've said as persecution, I am very sorry.

That said, I will admit I was carrying around some anger for a while and poking fun at certain aspects of Christianity was very cathartic to me, after laboring under a repressive version of Christianity for years. I was angry at my church leaders who perpetuated hate, I was angry at the people who were so quick to condemn me to hell, and I was angry at myself for believing without question for so many years. What was I so angry about?

I was angry about these church teachings:
That black people are black because they are the decedents of Canaan, who committed an atrocious sin so God changed the color of his skin, and all his decedents skin so everyone else would know what horrible sinners they ALL are. That everyone who was not only NOT-Christian, but not our particular brand of Pentecostal Christianity was going to hell, a place of eternal, conscious torment. That as a woman, the thing I could do that would be most pleasing to God would be to marry a man would be my spiritual leader and submit in all things to his will. I was angry that I was taught the Bible was the infallible word of God, free of mistakes and easily understandable to all who read it. Because it turns out, none of that is true.  And not just because I don't like these things, but because these things aren't actually true according to the Bible itself. Shame on the system that perpetuates these lies because they're comforting to the masses, and shame on the masses who blindly believe these things and use them to justify their own personal prejudices and hates.

(I learned most of these at Emmanuel Christian Center. If you think I'm exaggerating, just visit the link they spell out everything they believe.)

I think because of some of that anger, I've misrepresented myself. I am not an atheist (well, I sort of am, many of you will think I am) and I don't bear any ill will toward most Christians (except those who so confidently proclaim that we can never know the mind of God, except that we know God hates gays, Hindus, people who work on Sunday, Democrats, etc.) And despite my aposty, I'm still very drawn to the Bible and Christian views. I am a philosophy nerd, I love studying world religions, and Christianity and the Bible are what I know the best. Christianity is like an amazing ex-boyfriend, the yard stick I compare all others to, but just can't be with anymore.

So with that long preamble, on to what I don't believe, and a little bit about why.

1) I do not believe in God. Yep, there it is, throw the label Atheist at me, it is sort of fitting. But look again, that is God with the capital G. The "God" I grew up with. The God who created a three tiered universe, who answers prayers, intervenes in human affairs and desires a personal relationship with us lowly humans. There is just no good reason to believe in this God. Prayer doesn't work - study after study shows that people in the hospital who are prayed for recover at the same rate as people who aren't prayed for. Maybe you feel like God has intervened in your life. I've felt that way too when I was a believer. I'm not asking you to answer the Problem of Evil because people smarter than you and I have contemplated that idea for thousands of years without coming to a satisfactory answer, but I do want you to consider the possibility that you misunderstood what happened or just made up a nice comforting story. Did God really align things just right so you could meet your spouse? That was nice of him. Why didn't he answer the prayers of a mother who pleaded for her child to survive cancer? Why didn't he answer the prayers of ten thousand starving people? Yeah, I know ... we can never know the mind of God and why He doesn't answer every prayer, we just have to be thankful when he answers our prayers. But if God is just, why would he give you beautiful weather for your family picnic, but not send some manna to a family starving to death? That is not just. So either God CAN do these things and just chooses not to, in which case he is NOT all loving. Or he CAN'T do these things, in which case he is NOT all powerful. As I've already mentioned - I'm a philosophy nerd so I've heard the explanations apologists come up with for this problem, but they just don't satisfy me at all. If this problem at all bothers you (and I will go so far as to say if the Problem of Evil doesn't bother you, then you are blind and deaf to suffering) at least be humble enough to stop publicly praising God for every little thing that happens to you that can much easier be explained by chance (did God really help you find that $20 bill on the ground? did God really remind you to run home to discover you'd left the stove on?) Neither of us have any good answer to why more than 20,000 people had to die as a result of the 2004 Christmas Tsunami and Earthquake, and neither of us have any good answer why it was not a rainy day when I got married - that's just the way things happened.

2) I do not believe in an eternal paradise or eternal torture after death. Have you ever really sat down and thought about what heaven would be like? I mean more than just how big the waterfall in the backyard would be and how you and your favorite people would ride around on unicorns (ok ... that's a holdover from MY view of what heaven would be!). If there is no sin, no sadness, no death ... is there free will still? If there is no free will, are we just happy robots? And if we have an eternity to lounge poolside, won't we get bored?  No, as wonderful as the idea of an eternal paradise where no one annoys me is ... I think this life is all there is. I can't speak further on this issue because I have no idea, I have no experience with this to go on, and science has no data on anything outside of biological death, but since I have no experience/memory of being alive before this life I can't expect to be alive after this life. I do know that the atoms that make up my body were at one time parts of stars, and will some day be parts of stars and trees and planets ... that's pretty awesome to me. In this way, I will go on forever. In the meantime, I will enjoy THIS life as fully as I can, because it's probably the only one I will have. I won't have eternity to figure out how ride a horse or paint a masterpiece, I just have this life so I plan to fully live it!  (And before you respond to this claim by referring me to books like Life After Life or Heaven is Real ... you know as well as I do that anecdotal experiences are not evidence.)

3) I do not believe Jesus rose from the dead. Moreover, I don't believe the earliest gospel writers literally believed this either. The earliest versions of Mark (the oldest gospel) ends with an empty tomb, it's a cliff hanger to be sure, but it's not a resurrection. At a later date, I plan to write about the process of midrash. In the meantime Google it. For now, it's enough for me to say that dead people don't just come back to life. But it does make for a great, symbolic way to tell a story that death has been conquered, that access to God is available to all. I think the earliest gospel writers were creating a myth. As Karen Armstrong describes it a myth is something that is true once for all time, not a lie. I think the gospel writers never intended for us to literally believe Jesus came back from the dead, that there are enough clues in the gospels to indicate this, in much the way that today's writers indicate a story is fantasy by saying "once upon a time." I promise to return to this at a later time because it's pretty critical to everything.

That's enough for now. I will return to address what I DO believe another day, and I think you'll be surprised. I've been greatly influenced in what I do and do not believe by Dr. Robert PriceKaren Armstrong, and Bishop John Shelby Spong, Each of these began their faith careers as fundamentalists and have since revised their views to varying degrees. I encourage you to read their works and diligently seek truth. We ALL spend far too much time confirming what we already believe; we could benefit from exposing ourselves to and understanding things we don't believe.


Friday, April 27, 2012

How much do you know about your own religion?

On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers. http://www.pewforum.org/U-S-Religious-Knowledge-Survey.aspx

This is important to me because it illustrates what I've been trying to say, but not doing a very good job. If you don't know what other world religions teach, let alone the doctrines of your own religion, how on earth can you be so confident that you're right? 


What is so disheartening to me is the number of White Protestants who got the basic things about their own religion wrong.  33% think "Do unto others ..." is in the 10 Commandments [Jesus said it, thousands of years after Moses came down from the mountain with the 10 Commandments], 60% think Catholics take communion symbolically [the doctrine of transubstantiation teaches that the bread and wine change into the substance of Christ's body] and only slight more than half (of the protestants!)  know who inspired the Protestant Reformation.

If you scored low on this test, and especially if you scored low on your own religions questions, please do study the history of your religion. The Christian faith has not always been a monolith with a few minor differences between denominations. It seems today that many people think of the differences in Christian denominations like the difference in sports fandom - so what if I like the Vikings and you like the Patriots, we both like football, just different teams. What you really have to watch out for are those hockey fans.  But the reality is nothing could be further from the truth ... Catholics and Protestants were killing each other for centuries over things that seem so minor to us today (transubstantion, sola fide, indulgences, etc). 


For centuries theologians, church fathers and philosophers mulled over these very important issues. The idea of salvation through faith alone took a long time to be developed. Study the history of the faith, watch how the doctrines evolve, change and get dismissed. At one time in history, it was widely held that women did not have to worry about salvation, as long as they bore children, they would be saved (look it up, that's in the Bible 1 Timothy 2:15) .  


Please don't interpret this as an attack on any of you, I have a deep appreciation of all the world's religions, even if I don't believe them. But if there is one point to make it is this: 


When you claim your faith is the exclusive way to salvation because the plan is very clearly and obviously laid out in the Bible, you have failed to understand how any of these doctrines came to be. You are no better than the people who pick and choose from all the world's religions, a little of this, a little of that ... take out THAT part, maybe half of this line ....  Centuries of consideration, examination, searching, debating, voting, and bloodshed have gone into each of those tenants you hold so dear and consider self evident 2,000 years later.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The left and right need each

Moving away from religion for a while, I want to talk about something even more divisive -- politics.  But I'm not going to preach about why we liberals are awesome and those crazy conservatives should be locked away. I'm going to preach against that very notion.

Both sides of the political spectrum bring balance to the equation. The liberal brain is fundamentally different than the conservative brain. Liberals tend to be more willing to embrace change, to seek harmony and equality, and to question authority. Their houses also tend to be messier. Conservatives are more likely to embrace respect for authority and elders, to take decisive action, to preserve traditions. They balance each other out.

I once had a friendship where we trusted each other enough to tell the other when she was being an idiot. If I would complain about a situation at work that I felt was unfair, she could remind me that this is how the world works, and I can accept it and move on or I can try to fight it and be angry. When she complained about her husband doing something amazingly stupid and threatening to throw his clothes on the lawn, I reminded her that it only seems like a big deal right now and he has lots of other good qualities. Neither of us wanted to hear these things at the time, but because we both knew we were speaking from a place of love and understanding, it was just what we needed to hear.

Liberals and conservatives could learn from this model. If more liberals realized that conservatives are not gun-toting facists out to shoot everyone who disagrees with way they want the world to be, we could all work together. If conservatives could recognize that the greatest changes in history have come by challenging the status quo, we could affect change we need. We could COMPROMISE which is the essence of politics.

Lately it seems like we're getting further away from this ideal. Liberals want to rewire the Conservatives brains so they can "think straight" and Conservatives want Liberals to stop hugging those damn trees and go to church and "live right." This is not helping our nation that we all share.

If there is anything I've learned in my life it is that it is possible, and at times amazingly awesome, to hold different views and opinions as someone else and still get along. You can learn a lot from someone who doesn't think exactly like you.

It's important to call out the really big, hairy mistakes but if we can do it from a place of understanding, with the goal of creating a better world, we'd all be better off.


I know, typical naive liberal.  :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Freedom of Religion

I know many Christians lament our pluralistic, secular society and want nothing more than a return to the Christian days of yore. Of course, history bears out the fact that these "good old days" they pine for were from about 1950 to 1958. The founding fathers weren't religious fanatics, but whatever.

While I reject the truth claims of Christianity, I respect others who believe it. I also respect the beliefs of people who think the spirit of God can be found in nature, and the beliefs of people who think there is no God at all. That's precisely what make us such a great nation, I think. Because we have to be tolerant of other religions, other worldviews, we never get so comfortable into thinking everyone believes exactly the same thing. That kind of thinking is dangerous and leads to Sharia law.

So, the people like Christian apologist Dr. Norm Giesler really make me sad and angry. He is a fundamentalist who believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, teaches that practicing yoga and meditation is simply an open invitation to communion with demons, and actively proclaims that Christian theology must permeate every aspect of American life.

I support Dr. Giesler's freedom to believe whatever he wants, but not his insistence on being 100% correct and demanding that all others behave exactly like him.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Desmond Tutu on the Bible and Gay Marriage

I love this man, he's so humble and funny and stands for all the right things! South Africa and the world is lucky to have him.

Tutu says he still reads the Bible every day and recommends that people read it as a collection of books, not a single constitutional document: "You have to understand is that the Bible is really a library of books and it has different categories of material," he said. "There are certain parts which you have to say no to. The Bible accepted slavery. St Paul said women should not speak in church at all and there are people who have used that to say women should not be ordained. There are many things that you shouldn't accept."


In the debate about Anglican views of homosexuality, he has opposed Christian discrimination against homosexuals while suggesting homosexual church leaders should currently remain celibate.


Tutu has remarked that it is sad the Church is spending time disagreeing on sexual orientation "when we face so many devastating problems – poverty, HIV/AIDS, war and conflict."

Tutu has increased his criticism of conservative attitudes to homosexuality within his own church, equating homophobia with racism. Stating at a conference in Nairobi that he is "deeply disturbed that in the face of some of the most horrendous problems facing Africa, we concentrate on 'what do I do in bed with whom'". In an interview with BBC Radio 4 on 18 November 2007, Tutu accused the church of being obsessed with homosexuality and declared:
"If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn't worship that God."

Tutu has lent his name to the fight against homophobia in Africa and around the world. He stated at the launching of the book 'Sex, Love and Homophobia' that homophobia is a 'crime against humanity' and 'every bit as unjust' as apartheid. He added that "we struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about; our very skins...It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given."

Grand questions with Grandma


Moving this from Facebook ... Comments from ME are in RED, comments from Grandma in BLUE

I haven't had a chance to do much research on the King James Bible like you requested, but I did recently learn that King James I of England was openly bisexual with a strong preference for men.

I don't know what that means for the veracity of the translations, I just found it quite interesting since so many of the quotes against homosexuality comes from the KJV of the Bible. More research to come, I'm very interested now!


Many of the Royals have been very openly bisexual and various other unique choices. I've wondered about Paul because of his attitude toward women. The man who became Paul was originally Saul of Tarsus, and proud of it. Saul boasted that he was born a Roman citizen, a distinction which often saved him from ill treatment. When he later broke with Judaism, Saul went by the name of Paul, which was probably his Roman name since birth. In any case, the Jewish name Saul was a handicap in Greek-speaking circles because "Saulos" meant "effeminate" in Greek.

The things they don't teach you in Sunday school! This is ALL new information to me!

They don't teach it because they teach from their Sunday school books and pamplets; and if they get away from the provided materials they are in danger of losing their retirement or losing their position at the church, or both. And during the "gospel reading" they will read a verse or two from the bible and the rest of the hour is devoted to personal testaments. Bet you heard about that apple in the Garden too....dare you to find "apple" in the Genesis story.

I knew the forbidden fruit wasn't really an apple, but probably a pomegranete. Not a big deal, unless we were told eating all apples is wrong. But after years of demonizing homosexuality, or really sex in general, learning how much the church heroes engaged in "unnatural" behavior casts doubts on the authority of such declarations. (Doubts I already did away with ... Fornicate away folks!) ‎... 

Pretty sure I never thought I'd write "fornicate away" to my grandmother ... Surely i should be struck by lightning about now!!

So they ate a pomegranete? And then they covered their private parts with fig leaves? Ch.3;v.3 -"Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die". When you have research time, look up the word "touch" in the Strong's concordance. Do use the standard King James version as the new versions have changed too many words and their meanings. And DUCK! We're probably both drawing lightning!

And old people are not necessarily old fuddy duddies. Sarah was old when she put her maid out to whoredom with Abraham so he could have a child. And then Abraham put his helpless whore out with their son and never paid a penny child support! So all this middle east war was started for the lack of child support?!

Just so you know; my Church (Catholic) would not let me teach Bible school. I do tend to get a little carried away with my interpretations.

Of course you couldn't teach Bible school, you're a woman. Jesus was very clear that women shouldn't speak in church but hold their tounges and ask their husbands for clarification if their weak minds were unable to grasp what was being taught

NO, that was Paul . . . again with Paul. Jesus, if anything, was partial to women. Did he meet a man at the well and speak to him? To whom did he appear first after the crucification? Did he consider his Mother when he changed the water to wine (or grape juice)? He loved Mary Magdeline and there is a writing by her; however that was not accepted by the Church and is in the Accrophia. Maybe a lot of jealousy there, especially from Peter. Oh, and yes, I know your comment was "tongue in cheek".

Now forgive me if I seem impertinent but isn't the Bible at least divinely inspired, if not divinely written? So, according to the traditional orthodoxy if Paul wrote it, its because the holy spirit moved in him to write it right?

If we can't trust the accuracy of Paul why should we trust the accuracy of second and third hand stories of Jesus recorded at the earlist 60 years after his alleged resurection?
If we can't trust the accuracy of Paul why should we trust the accuracy of second and third hand stories of Jesus recorded at the earlist 60 years after his alleged resurection?

§  Devinely written?  Of course.  But in the hands of man for many years before the common man saw or read it.

§  Most people do not know that we only have part of the Bible.  Man's first meddleing came by deciding which books would be accepted and which banned from the writings. You can read so much on the internet if you go to Lost Books of the Bible....  I won't reprint it all here, but here's a partial list of those lost or banned.  So if these books didn't make the cut, no wonder the Hindu scripture and others are not here....they would be considered the Pagan beliefs, I believe.The Old Testament Scriptures were first written in Hebrew and later translated into Greek, the oldest being known as the Septuagint, or "Version of the Seventy," made at Alexandria for the library by a company of seventy learned Jews.  This was about 285 B.C.

§  The New Testament was all originally written in Greek, except Matthew which was first written in Hebrew, and later translated into Greek.

§  Latin translations of both the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament were made by different individuals, and the more carefully prepared Latin Vulgate of Jerome, the Bible complete, was made A.D. 383-405.

§  Printing was yet unknown and copies of the Bible were laborious and expensive -- written by hand.  It's illuminating and saving truths were largely hidden for centuries by the errors, superstitions, and apostasy of the dark ages.  The common people knew little of its contents.

§  The first book printed from movable type was the Bible in Latin which came from the press of John Gutenberg, at Mentz, Germany, in 1456, a copy of which, in 1926 was sold in New York City for $106,000, the highest price ever paid for a single book.

§  Moses wrote in the language of the people of his time; the prophets spoke in the tongue familiar to the men whom they addressed; and the New Testament was written in the language then current throughout the Roman world.  All the bibles, except in England, were in an ancient tongue and could be read only by the educated.  Usually, the common man heard it read by their Priest. 

§  Then Martin Luther  did not believe the living Word should be confined to a dead language.  He gave his countrymen the New Testament in 1522, and the Bible complete in 1534.  This was not without opposition.

§  As Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the princes under King Zedekiah showed their contempt for God by burning the writings of Jeremiah, and confining the prophet in a dungeon (Jer. 36: 20-23; 38: 1-6,) so now men sought to stem the rising tide of reform by burning the Bible and its translators.

§  Bible burning was started in England by destroying copies of the Antwerp edition of Tyndale's New Testament in 1527, and again in 1530.   "If Luther will not retract" wrote Henry VIII of England, "let himself and his writings be committed to the flames."

§  The Bible had taken deep root with the people by now and the prelates and kings began to foster and supply.  Henry P. Warren's Stories from English History, pp 196, 197:  "Henry, by Cromwell's advice, ordered a translation of the Bible to be made in English, and a copy to be placed in every church.  Cromwell then appointed Cranmer and the bishops to revise the Bible and publish it without note or comment; and in the year 1539 a copy of the English Bible was chained to the reading desk in every parish church.

So, I believe, Samantha, in the devine origin of the Bible.  Since then, however, I believe that man has had ample opportunity to make their "changes".  Translations can be dangerous things.  Some languages have no corresponding word in other languages; most words have more than one meaning, and some words are just changed to our detriment.


I'm familiar with many of the writings that didn't make the cannon. Some of them seem like pretty logical choices to... be excluded, others not so much. Most of my life I was taught that we simply have to believe that God guided the canonization process, just as he guided the writings of the books of the Bible.

So back to the original question, refined further - do you think it's possible, at least, that God also inspired the writings of other scriptures? The Tao Te Ching is, in my humble opinion, one of the most beautiful pieces of religious works ever created. If that wasn't divinely inspired, why should we accept that a book full of war, celebrating the death of children and a cosmic wager on a mans life between God and Satan, to be divinely inspired?

And in a complete 180 -- (here comes the blasphemy ... run for your life!!) doesn't the crucifixion and resurrection seem a little self-serving? I mean, wouldn't YOU gladly climb onto a cross to be tortured if you knew 1) within hours you'd be hanging out in Paradise  2) the result would be the saving of mankind from eternal death  and 3) that 3 days later you'd be walking around alive and well again?

And to that point, why do we have crucifixes as iconography? If, for instance, I was walking across the street arm-in-arm with a couple children and a bus came hurdling toward me, and a stranger threw himself in front of me, died by being hit by the bus and saved our lives, I would eternally grateful, but I would not hang images of a bus around my house to remind me of his sacrifice, that's always seemed macabre to me.

I am not familiar with The Tao Te Ching (never heard of it, in fact), so I will take your word for it that it is at beautiful piece of religious works.  I know there are many more.   In fact, once during a meeting of The Northeast Georgia Writer's Club, one of our members gave an invocation that was the most beautiful prayer I have ever heard.  I can't tell you how touched I was by this; however beautiful though it was, I did not even begin to think it was "inspired".  As far as the other religions' holy books, let those religions rely on them.  There were many other religions and pagans during the time of Christ, too.  The Bible cautions us to be aware of other religions and false prophets throughout.  The Bible also gives us the best way to deal with the differences in human beings: 

"Judge not, that ye be not judged."  Matt. 7:1. 
Satan is "The accuser of our breatheren ---which accused them before our God day and night."  Rev. 12:10; and Then when we judge, accuse, or condemn one another, we are doing the work of Satan. 
Your question - do you think it's possible, at least, that God also inspired the writings of other scriptures?   Sure I do.  There were many found with the Dead Sea scrolls.  No telling how many others are out there.  But for me to personally accept them, they would be confirmed by the known Bible  (the two witnesses rule)    Example: The Quoran(sp) justifies honor killing—a --father/brother to uphold the family's honor can kill is wife or daughter! I just couldn't buy that.

For you to personally accept other scriptures they would be confirmed by the known Bible - could you elaborate on that? The known Bible, as canonized by politicians, distributed by Monarchs ... with the finger prints of man and politics and manipulation all over it?  As we've previously discussed, there are all kinds of problems with the Bible, beautiful and inspiring though it may be. We have to rely on our own minds and hearts to find truth, not just centuries of teachings and harmonizing passed on to us to people just as fallible as ourselves. 

You said "As far as the other religions' holy books, let those religions rely on them" and that's the heart of the problem! If it's truth we're after, not just warm tingly feelings and fitting in with our culture, then shouldn't we consider other religion's holy books as possibly true? We can't just dismiss them out of hand because we're from a Christian culture!

The Q'ran justifies honor killing and you couldn't buy that ... that's good! The Bible justified slaughtering an entire city so the Jews could take it over as the promised land (there were ALREADY PEOPLE LIVING THERE!)  With that example, the European conquest of America and slaughter of Native Americans was every bit as justified as our promised land. 

"The Bible cautions us to be aware of other religions and false prophets  ..." which again brings me right back to the start -- why are we just assuming the Bible is the true book? The Vedic scriptures (Hindu) encourage embracing everything, that God can be found everywhere. Why shouldn't that be true? The Tao Te Ching teaches that you can’t have something without it’s opposite. You can’t have good without evil, you can’t have up without down, everything must be balanced (seriously, I love this book. You should read it. Here’s a link to it, it’s a very short book, I’ve read it at least a dozen times and learn something new every time.)

The Old Testament teaches that if a man rapes a woman, he should marry her! I can't buy that. In Psalms, a book of PRAISE, not laws, one verse says "Happy is he [God] who shall seize your children and dash them against the rock" 

But wait, before you tell me Jesus told his followers to be more kind and loving than the law of Moses as prescribed - Jesus himself said he came not to bring peace, but a sword. And that every one who wants to follow him must hate his family. Further, in the parable of servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding Jesus says when the master returns and finds his servant drunk and haven beaten the other servants the master will "cut him to pieces" and that the servant who knows his masters will and will and does not do it will be "beaten with many blows."  So even if he is speaking in a parable it seems Jesus is saying that God is going to beat the living s*it out of me for disobeying him, and then he'll kill me and annihilate my soul. It also seems that Jesus is OK with owning slaves, as he never spoke out against it or even encouraged slave owners to be nicer to their slaves.

So in summary, the same reasons I rejected Islam is why I reject Christianity (and let's not forget they are members of the same religious family) -- my deep investigation of the Bible has led me to conclude :
1)    It’s full of contradictions
2)    Advocates at least as much awful as it does good
3)    Was shaped by the desire of man rather than God
4)    Is no better than many other world scriptures

In fact, I think I have a much stronger reason for not being a Christian than I do for not being a Muslim. I’ve never looked into Islam very much, I’ve just dismissed it for being crazy. I’m sure people who were not raised in a Christian household think that about Christianity.  (Really: if you hadn’t been raised Christian, wouldn’t it be weird to have people telling you that this guy died, went to hell and them came back to life, and so to honor that we eat his body and drink his blood? What the hell? Are we Vampires?)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Get those Liberals out of my Bible!

Okay, I'm late to learning about this but all I can say is HOLY HELL what a terrible idea! This guy has created the "Conservative Bible Project" to remove the liberal leanings out of the Bible (because OBVIOUSLY God wants everyone to be a Republican).

From their website:

Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning:
* lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts of Christianity
* lack of precision in modern language
* translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.


The project works like Wikipedia, anyone can make edits to this version of the Bible. Regardless of their understanding of how the Bible came into being, the history of Biblical translations or any comprehension of the languages the Bible was originally written in.

The best way to get rid of the liberal bias thrown into the Bible by King James 600 some years ago is to let good Conservatives throw their own bias into the translation of the translation of the translations.

I really don't need to go on about this any further; I think we can all agree this is the stupidest idea ever. Even Bill O'Riley would agree with me on this one!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Sermon

There was once a time in my life when I kind of wanted to be a pastor. I wanted to speak to a church about the importance of kindness to all God's children, to not lose sight of the teachings of love among all the legalistic hemming and hawing. Here's my chance! My sermon is to the Christian community in response to this video.




While the founders of America were Christians, they purposely did not establish a national religion so no one was persecuted for their beliefs, as they had been. As a nation, “we” don’t worship ANY god. You are free to worship (or not) whatever god you so choose. All faiths are welcome in America. All enjoy equal rights under the Constitution. That's the beauty of freedom of religion that led to the foundation of our nation!

Freedom of speech means anyone can say stupid things if they want (a la the pastor in this video). It doesn't mean you can expect to have everyone pat you on the back and say good job, all people have the right to say what they want as long as it does not incite violence. And so we're clear: being disagreed with is not persecution.

The faith of Christianity is a personal faith. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and sup with him and he with me." Revelation 3:20. Christ has called his followers to love their neighbors at themselves. He told his disciples to spread the good news of the forgiveness of sins, of God's love for mankind. He told them to love their neighbors as God loves them. He told them to give to the poor.

He rejected the political power and might offered to him by Satan and expected of him by many Jews. Instead he chose to take up the cross and die for your sins. His public speeches, like the Sermon on Mount were full of admonishments to love God and man, to seek the kingdom of God.

Did Jesus tell the blind man he deserved to be blind because he sinned? No, he healed the blind man. Did he tell the leppar his leprosy was the result of his sexual sins? No, he healed him.

Never did Jesus teach that nations who refuse to keep his commandments will be destroyed. He said individuals who rejected his teachings and sinned would go to hell. He did not say his Father would bring down a holy wrath upon the nation. This sort of fear mongering, hate speech and blaming the victims have no place among those who are true followers of Christ.

Christians open your eyes! Among the faithful you have wide divisions in belief. Was Jesus crucified on a cross or a tree? Do we have to baptize our children as infants or should baptism occur in adulthood? Is divorce allowed for reasons other than adultery or not? Is the communion wafer actually the body of Christ? Does Christ require us to speak in tongues to be saved? Should we reject the world or embrace the world God so loved?

Because we live in a nation of religious freedom, you are free to disagree about each of these issues and practice your version of Christianity as your heart tells you. That freedom applies equally to non-believers and believers of other faiths as well.

Jews and Christians both lived among people of other faiths. Jesus instructed his followers "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give to God what is God's." If Jesus had intended his followers to militantly push their faith on a nation (as the pastor in the video suggests Christians must do) his answer would have been more like "Tear down all of Caesar's idols, remove him from his post and find amongst yourself a leader to replace him, for my Father in heaven will surely strike down all who do not follow me." That was NOT the message Christ taught at all.

Look at it this way -- if a person commits no sin his entire life because he was locked in a cell his entire life, does that make him holy or handicapped? When he appears at the pearly gates would he hear those so longed for words: "well done, good and faithful servant" or would God say "Away from me, I never knew thee." You can't force a nation to love God with all their heart, all their soul and all their mind. That is what Jesus wants, not forced obedience to a list of rules.

Christ called his followers to choose him, to follow his example out of love. He did not suggest taking up arms against your neighbors and forcing them to say the Lord's Prayer. Simply forcing people to conform to a life you think God expects will not forgo his wrath, for it is the hearts of men that God judges, not their actions.

Remember, "For by Grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourself. It is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8) After God made a new covenant with the world through the crucifixion of his son, he had no reason to destroy nations for their willful disobedience. The price for all of our sins has already been paid.

The next time you think God should be put in control of the nation, ask yourself first if he is in control of your life. Even with the in-dwelling of the holy spirit, we all sin and "fall short of the glory of God." Live your life the way you feel God is calling you to, and let others do the same. Even if that God is Allah or Krishna or the great spirit. God will judge them at the end, not you.

So in conclusion, if your faith or your heart tells you that homosexuality is a sin, don't engage in homosexual acts. If your faith tells you that working on the Sabbath day is a sin, don't work on the Sabbath day. You have tremendous freedom here in America to make those choices! Let us thank God that the founders of our country never established a national religion. We can all study and practice our faith however we feel called.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Socialism

Why the constant claims that Obama is a socialist? The real socialist party openly rejects him.  Do those of you who accuse him of being a socialist even know what that is? The world socialism gets thrown around a lot as a knee-jerk reaction to most anything the Liberals propose that involves any form of tax payer dollars. Before you throw that phase out again, take the time to understand what you're saying, don't be convinced by politico soundbites on TV.


What may surprise you is that aspects of life in the US are already "socialized" - like education and the highway system. Do you object to allowing the government to use tax dollars to pave the roads you drive on? How about public education? [note: that does not mean it is perfect! Still, I'd rather let my tax dollars pave the roads than worry about selecting which roads I want to fund and only driving on them]

The proposed healthcare reform bill won't create a single payer (that being the government) system that provides universal healthcare to everyone. In short, the PPACA is NOT going to turn into healthcare system that Canada and Europe currently employ. A diabetic will not have her leg cut off because it is more cost-effective than treating her gout. I implore you to read up on the subject from an objective source. FOX News and the Huffington Post are examples of UNbiased sources.

Socialism has recently become a slur word, but it wasn't always that way. Great American presidents, from at least the time of Lincoln, have respected and engaged with socialists and social-democratic ideas. They have not always embraced those ideas. And even when they have borrowed from the socialist toolkit, the act of doing so did not make them socialists—any more than Jimmy Carter’s openness to drug law reform made him a libertarian or Obama’s intriguing with those who would begin the gutting of Medicare makes him a Barry Goldwater Republican. (http://www.thenation.com/blog/163585/note-gop-candidates-obamas-no-socialist)

A pure socialist system involves the government runinng the production of goods and services for direct use rather than profit. No more mark-ups, everyone has a home and money for free time, everyone is taken care of ... that sounds like many of the descriptions of heaven. There is no pure socialism, and America is not a true democracy either.

Let's all of us vow to stop seeking out exactly what we want to hear and then patting ourselves on the back for being so smart when we're agreed with. Don't regurgitate what you've heard in sound bites. If you're going to be passionate about an issue, research and understand both sides. Whatever side you wind up supporting, you will be forced to recognize the humanity of the other side, rather than painting them as a monster.



Socialism

1. any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2. a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
    b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/socialism 



Friday, March 2, 2012

Who the F#*k Cares?

Craig James: Being gay ‘is a choice … they are going to have to answer to the Lord’


Being a Christian is a choice too. I choose not to be. I'm not scared of the wrath of your God. And as God teaches, "vengeance is mine" - so let the "sinners" sin.

The Bible also teaches that adultery is a sin and divorce is a sin. The incidents of divorce and adultery are higher than the incidences of homosexuality so why don't you go worry about that.