Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Jesus and the Right

Posted: November 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

As a Christian, I find the current enthralment the religious right has with politics to be troublesome. The worst thing to happen to Christianity was Constantine declaring it the state religion. This was in diametric opposition to Jesus’ claim that his kingdom was not of this earth; indeed, for hundreds of years, the Church wisely steered clear of involvement in earthly politics. After Constantine, the Church-state became horribly corrupt, licentious, and depraved. There were always pockets of resistance, a “remnant”, if you will, who remained true to the Gospel, and not everything the Catholic Church did was bad, but over all, the damage to the testimony of Jesus Christ was irreparable. I think this is because whenever Christians get involved in worldly affairs, they end up either compromising their beliefs or wanting to institute some sort of theocracy, where they NEVER compromise on their “beliefs”. If Jesus tells them that a certain highway funding bill is bad, no amount of cajoling or pleading will do any good. Roy Moore is a perfect example of this. From a letter by one of Moore’s law professors, himself a conservative Christian:

“Roy Moore did not get along with his colleagues in law school or on the Supreme Court. The arguments were not over Christianity.

“In law school, the arguments arose from what Disraeli called ‘falling into a deep groove of illogic and being helpless to allow reason to pull you out.’ If Moore’s analysis of a case was tantamount to thinking 1 + 1 = 3, and his classmates reasoned otherwise, there was no backing down by Moore. The class was willing to fight to the death against illogic that no legal mind but one in America would espouse.

“Moore never won one argument, and the debates got ugly and personal. The result: gone was the fulfillment a teacher hopes for in the still peace of logic and learning. I had no choice but to abandon the Socratic method of class participation in favor of the lecture mode because of one student: Roy Moore.

“As Chief Justice, Moore continued that trend. He violated years of precedent, established by Jefferson, who once wrote that he only hoped he could serve our country like Christ wanted him to. Yet, Jefferson fought to ingrain the principle of religious freedom in our Constitution, at a time of state-sponsored churches and religious persecution.If you were Baptist, your taxes supported other churches and you often were persecuted. If Moore’s actions were lawful, a chief justice could flaunt Islamic or Buddhist icons in schools and authorize probate judges to deny marriage licenses to scarf-less women, as contrary to Sharia law.

“His colleagues tried to reason with him, but he couldn’t get it: the world experience, backed by an ocean of blood soaking battlefields across our earth-and religious wars were not ancient events during Jefferson’s times-proves that the way to run a country is with tolerance. Do we need God in America? Absolutely. Let Moore devote his life to converting every American to Christianity-I’m for that-and that still does not eliminate the risk of persecution, unless all are members of the same church. Baptists could be persecuted, just like they were before our constitution. Christian men smarter than Moore, including titans such as Jefferson, Franklin, and Madison, would use a far sharper pen in dealing with Moore.” A lesson on Roy Moore from his former law school professor

as Bryan Roberts wrote in Relevant Magazine:

“Political discourse is the Las Vegas of Christianity—the environment in which our sin is excused. Hate is winked at, fear is perpetuated and strife is applauded. Go wild, Christ-follower. Your words have no consequences here. Jesus doesn’t live in Vegas.

“Not only are believers excused for their political indiscretions, but they are often applauded for committing them. Slander is explained away as righteous anger; winning arguments are esteemed higher than truthful ones (whether or not the ‘facts’ align); and those who stir up dissension are given the pulpit. So I balk when pastors tell me the Church should engage in the political process. Why would we do that? The political process is dirty and broken and far from Jesus. Paranoia and vitriol are hardly attractive accessories for the bride of Christ.” 7 Things Christians Need to Remember About Politics

Finally, a prophetic word from Barry Goldwater:

Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.

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What He Really Meant Was…

Posted: November 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

There are certain things about Jesus Christ that Americans get wrong. The absolute worst one, which is very nearly heretical: That he didn’t really mean what he said.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10–11) We don’t really believe this. We want to send in Seal Team Six to rescue persecuted Christians in India or the Sudan. We want to bomb countries that persecute Christians, and if we kill a few brothers and sisters in the process, it’s okay, they’re going to heaven! And God forbid you EVER “persecute” an American Christian! They won’t “rejoice”, they’ll sic a team of lawyers on your tail like a pack of pit bulls!

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31–32) Gay rights/marriage didn’t “destroy the institution of marriage” in America; the wholesale acceptance—even by the evangelical church—of “no-fault” divorce did, if anything. While there are evangelical communities where this passage is observed, it has widely been ignored elsewhere.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38–42) This is one of the most famous of the “What Jesus really meant was…” passages, also known as “Jesus didn’t really mean…”. I am 57 years old. I have studied and pondered this passage for much of my adult life. After much prayer and examination, I finally understand what Jesus really meant when he said, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” What he really meant was, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Yep. In the context of the Sermon, it’s the only possible rendering of the passage. Jesus really did mean what he said.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43–45) I am not omniscient, so I cannot answer this question, but I wonder how often American Christians pray for those they think are persecuting them. Do Christian bakers love and pray for the people who sue them? Do Christian students love and pray for the authorities who tell them they cannot force all the other students to listen to a Christian prayer before a ball game? Just askin’…

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5–6) Apropos of the last verse, Jesus obviously prayed in public, and before crowds. but it was before people who had come to hear him speak, not before a captive audience who had no choice but to listen. Couple this passage with one a few verses before, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven”, one could really begin to question the true motives of people who demand the “right” to force others to listen to their prayers.Image result for hippie jesus

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19–21) This one is mishandled..no, completely ignored…even by many evangelicals, especially those who preach “prosperity theology”. They preach that Jesus really wants you rich, and will take all your money to prove it! There’s a special place for these folks: spat out onto the street: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” (emphasis mine) (Revelation 3:15–18)

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:24–26) Again, American Christians, with the complicity of prosperity teachers, flip this on its head: “Blessed are the rich, for we deserve it. Blessed are those who are full now, for God has promised we will never be hungry. Blessed are we for laughing, for mourning and weeping are for losers.”

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41-46) Simple: Serve the poor…or go to hell. NOT the American way!

Virtually everything Jesus taught: denying ourselves, taking up our cross, hating our lives, being completely willing to give up everything for the Kingdom of God…are diametrically opposed to the American way of life. The “American Dream” is a Christian nightmare. It’s time we wake up.

Another Quora question, here is my answer:

To answer the question, cops are supposed to be trained to do so. That they erred in this case, and I would rather wait for the investigation to be concluded, however much it will be biased in favor of the police, is not in question. Was the error due to recklessness or “act of God” is what we will probably never know, considering the “thick-like-the-Great-Wall-of-China Blue Line”.
Now, for some real good advice: If someone you love “goes off” like this; call an ambulance, friends, a pastor…hell, your high school wrestling coach, anyone but the police! Have as many witnesses and filming of the incident as possible. And if you have a loved one who is potentially like this, please, for that person’s sake, and your own, find out if  your police department is specially trained and equipped to deal with the mentally ill. If they are not, get involved and fight until they are!
A couple of years ago, a Facebook friend posted what sounded very much like a suicide “threat” that hit my timeline. I called the Suicide Prevention Hotline and asked who I should call in his area; they gave me a number, which I called immediately. These wonderful people took all the info I had, but before I gave it to them, I asked if the police would have to be called. She said yes, along with social services and/or EMTs. I expressed my fear of police intervention, that I didn’t want this man who was already in pain to be hurt any further or worse. She knew EXACTLY what I was talking about, and assured me that the police in the area had specific training on how to deal with the mentally ill and the suicidal. Long story short, things went like they should, my friend is well, and no one got hurt. ALL this was done anonymously on my part; to this day, my friend does not know it was me, but the last person I talked to thanked me for very possibly having saved his life.
Folks…It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Source: Why is Quora so anti-Trump? (Please, give a reason that at least attempts to be factual and not ideologically-fueled.)

Quora is a wonderful website I visit frequently. This is a question asked and my answer is as follows:

Quora is not “anti-Trump”. Thoughtful, evidence-based (which may be a matter of opinion sometimes), civil and honest discourse is anti-Trump. Truth definitely has an anti-Trump bias!

Reasons:

1. Trump is cruel and vicious in his attacks on anyone who disagrees with him (he mocked John McCain’s POW record, a disabled reporter, Fiorina’s looks, etc). I challenge any Trump supporter to produce anything any other candidate in this election cycle has said that is as…I don’t even know the right word…”super-weird”? “Hyper-pubescently-suggestive”?*…as his comment that Hillary Clinton’s bathroom break was “disgusting”. News flash Donald: Your mama peed, too! (and so does Melania…)

2. Although it is certain that he knows the truth, he just does not care for it. To him, telling a lie is as easy, perhaps easier–and more fun, kind of like a rich kid stealing a pack of smokes–than telling the truth, because the truth is “bo-ring” and his supporters, the Trumpettes, wouldn’t give him the time of day if he just told the truth all the time. Donald Trump’s file (note only 24% of the things he says are at all true!!!)

3. He speaks off-the-cuff. No teleprompter? So what? No speech writers? Again, so what? This can mean a person is a great orator or a terrific rapper; it doesn’t make you any more honest or truthful. It’s also a sure sign that what you’re getting is probably the “real deal”, which in Trump’s case is NOT a good thing. Trump is drunk on the adulation of his acolytes, and as everyone knows, drunkenness can cause a person to say things they might not ought to say, to allow certain aspects of their personalities out that should probably stay hidden—at least outside a therapist’s office. Like a comedian I once heard in his routine: “People try to tell me booze is great; it just brings out ‘the real you’, they say. Fine…but what if ‘the real you’ is an asshole?” And so it is with Trump. He gives no thought to his words, because he doesn’t feel he has to. Hurting people is the same as not hurting them; he is numb to other peoples’ pain, only feels his own. This is why, to him, “respect” is allowing him to say whatever he wants whenever he wants about whomever he wants without question. When he is called out on his lies, his cruelty, his hatred, with “The Truth”, it hurts him, and THAT’S disrespectful.

*I think I have a fairly large vocabulary; not bragging, just saying, and I know how to use dictionaries, thesauri, and search engines. It’s kind of sad, but potentially exciting, that new words, even if they are hyphenated compounds, have to be invented to describe Trump’s behaviour!

“Nobody has ever seen him. No one can describe what he’s actually like. The idea of a timeless, spaceless entity seems to make no sense. The “revelations” received by the so called prophets might as well be delusions of a schizophrenic patient. We live in the 21st century and yet believe in miracles. Even if the miracle stories of the prophets are true, why should we believe they came from God? An advanced civilization with advanced technology can easily deceive a primitive group of people. Eternal hell is the most unjust concept to ever exist yet God is “forgiving and merciful”. How did such a huge portion of mankind fool themselves into believing and dedicating themselves to such an absurd entity? It baffles me actually.”

Answer:

Hoax: “a humorous or malicious deception”
No, God is not the greatest hoax of all time, not if you mean the God of the Bible. Other Gods…meh. I don’t know them.

“Nobody has ever seen him.” Nobody alive, that we know of. No one has seen Socrates, Plato, or Akhenaten. We accept (at least most people) that they existed based on testimony of others, whom no one has seen either. Moses saw God and testified to it in books many people accept as at least as authoritative as the Republic, and we accept Socrates’ existence even though he didn’t write anything at all; Job, Abraham, Jacob, Manoah’s wife, and, of course, Jesus of Nazareth, all saw God. One can accept their testimony or not.
“No one can describe what he’s actually like.” The prophets and patriarchs described him pretty well, I think.
“The idea of a timeless, spaceless entity seems to make no sense.” Glad you used the qualifier seems, because, of course, it wouldn’t to one bound by both time and space. Multiverses “seem” to make no sense, but that doesn’t mean they do not exist. Further, you would make no sense to a two dimensional being, if there are any, and you would “seem” perhaps a bit stunted or incomplete to a 4 dimensional being.
“The ‘revelations’ received by the so called prophets might as well be delusions of a schizophrenic patient.” And your degree in abnormal psychology is from where, exactly? Read the prophets. They were not madmen with sandwich boards jibbering on street corners. They were priests, kings, princes, diplomats. Many held the highest offices foreigners could hold in the administrations of the kingdoms that conquered them. They had a message, spoke it, and shut up. Yes, some were harassed, beaten, and killed, often accused of being mad, but were really thorns in the sides of terribly wicked people. One would have to be “mad” to stand up to a monarchical dictator who thought he was a god and commanded the worship of all his subjects, no?
“Even if the miracle stories of the prophets are true, why should we believe they came from God?” Because once you accept the miraculous, all bets are off; your argument self-destructs. A miracle (“a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency”) by nature is something that happens outside the realm of science. If they could be attributed to, say, aliens, that would only prove (?) that aliens were real, hence scientific; ergo, no miracles.
“Eternal hell is the most unjust concept to ever exist yet God is ‘forgiving and merciful’.” Really? This will take a little time, please be patient. I’ll try to bring this down to mundane, but accessible terms.
Do you have a favorite music? Let’s say you do and it’s alternative rock, one of my favorite genres. Now, do you have a least favorite, I mean a style that you immediately turn off if it comes on the radio or you laugh at whenever you hear it? How ’bout…polka (that, yodeling, gangsta rap, old time twangy country or gospel—would all be among my least favorites!)
Now, have you ever been on a long ride with someone, perhaps a parent, who constantly listened to music that you absolutely abhorred? If not, you are a lucky soul! I am a child of the 60s and 70s and my pop was an opera/religious singer. You can imagine how awful road trips could be for me! It was either Texaco Live at the Met or Christian radio, and there was no “contemporary Christian” radio in those days! If you have had the experience, you know what a singular kind of “hell” it could be! Being forced to listen over and over again to sounds you found deplorable, that you couldn’t bring yourself to like even when you tried your hardest!
Here’s where the hell comparison comes together: If you were forced to worship for eternity a Being you spent your entire life denying, that you even scoffed at the thought of, and Whom, even through all that eternity you hated with all your being, would you call that heaven? Wouldn’t it be the cruelest of all things to force you to listen to a song for all eternity that you could not stand? YOU want to listen to Nirvana and Soundgarden and The Smashing Pumpkins; Afghan Whigs, My Bloody Valentine, Pavement, and Sonic Youth—all that great stuff; but, no…God wants you to listen to POLKA. And Slim Whitman…Lawrence Welk! Forever. And ever. Amen! THAT would not be heaven to you, it would be hell. Hell is actually God’s mercy to those who choose to reject him forever, finally, without recourse or remorse. It is what people CHOOSE, not where they are SENT.
“Hell” is also subjective; if you’re a masochist, the kind of hell the Bible seems to describe looks, quite frankly, like heaven! It’s like the joke about the guy who died and went to hell. Satan shows him a room where people are eternally roasted over open flames; another where they are tormented by demons with spikes and knives; in the last one, people are just sitting for miles and miles in all directions, up to their chests in feces, vomit, stinking, rotting carcasses…erk! But, they’re all sitting there drinking coffee! Fellow says, “Well, none of these is great, but this last looks least bad.” So, in he goes! Once he quits gagging, he almost gets used to the smell, especially when a little flying imp brings him his coffee. He thinks, “Hmm. It could be worse.” That is, until an alarm goes off and a loud voice orders, “All right! Coffee break’s over! BACK ON YER HEADS!”
I think the Orthodox mystics might have been right, that heaven and hell are the same place, actually, but it becomes one or the other from the perspective of the person. Kind of like this beautiful allegory:

“How did such a huge portion of mankind fool themselves into believing and dedicating themselves to such an absurd entity?”  Jesus is said to have healed a blind man on the Sabbath, a man who had previously had to sit and beg for money to live (John 9). This outraged the religious leaders, and they had the man brought before their council for interrogation. After much discussion, they finally turned to the man in question (“his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.'”!)
“Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know.I was blind but now I see!” (emphasis mine)
A sinner or prophet? Absurd entity or Messiah? I can only speak for myself: I was wretched, torn, defeated, broken, rotting in a prison cell, with every ounce of self esteem and goodness stripped from me as if I had been flayed by inquisitors. I had found that the abyss was only the anteroom to another abyss. Rock bottom would have been a blessing, could I only reach it. But someone was kind to me, even me, universally hated and despised, and that because of the love of Jesus Christ. It changed me forever.
If I reach an intellect, a mind, and that only, I have failed, because the mind is but the “porch”, the “welcome mat” to the spirit. As the Psalmist wrote so eloquently:
“My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.” (42:6-8)
“Deep calls to deep” : It is the depth of the Spirit of God that calls to the depth of our dead spirits, and says “rise”. Only then can we know him and see for real, truly, honestly, that he is not an “absurd entity”, but the Father we have always longed for for.
Of course you are baffled. No one is born knowing this; no one. We all reject it…until some of us don’t.
Thank you for the A2A. I know you are in near complete disagreement with me, but I hope we can keep the discussion civil. You asked some very honest and intelligent questions; I only hope I answered them well.

Miscellaneous works

Posted: October 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

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