Tag Archives: christians

God Is Good. Well, Not *THAT* God…

In the aftermath of the terrible killings in Oslo, Norway, there is a clear take-away message that I’m getting, and I’m so glad that right-wing pundits, conservative nutjobs and Tea Party members, among others, are brave enough to share this insight:

If a Muslim kills folks, it’s clearly terrorism, and also proof that Islam is an inherently violent religion that is obsessed with taking over the world and crushing the United States to dust.

If a Christian kills a bunch of folks, it’s simply a sign he was slightly too aggressive in expressing his understandable bigotry and/or he isn’t practicing his religion properly.

Thanks for clearing that up, folks. I feel so much better now.

Advantage Atheists?

As my post a few days ago makes clear, I see parallels often between fundamentalist Christians (or any religion’s fundies, really, I guess) and hardcore atheists.

Let’s face it: Both groups have their aggressive and argumentative evangelists, and are every bit as annoying as their mirror-image dogma-pushers.

Looking more broadly, rank-and-file Christians and rank-and-file atheists (that is, the ones who just aren’t that into converting folks or really fretting about differences in thinking) generally don’t care about their “opposite number.” Really, the average atheist can get along fine with the average Christian and vice-versa.

Yet, I have to admit that the advantage may go to atheists in one respect. Specifically, in that group of people who are serious about their beliefs (religious or non-religious) and like to espouse their opinions but aren’t trying to convert anyone. They’re the people who are just trying to prove to everyone else they’re right and looking for as much validation as they can from like-minded folks and don’t care whether you convert to their side. In fact, many of them would prefer that you didn’t because they want to continue to dislike you.

Because in that subset of Christians and atheists, they are often trying to explain things and defend positions about things like morality, environmental issues and the like. And frankly, the people who take the Bible too seriously are way more annoying and off-the-rails wrong about issues like those than are atheists using science and logic as their foundation.

Not that this realization makes atheism in any way enticing to me. Why would it? I already have made peace between faith and reason in my life. Between spirituality and logic. Between the ethereal and the carnal. But it does make me wish I could do more to shut up the embarrassing folks who keep trying to justify so many wrong attitudes in life with the Bible, citing damn near every part of it except for Jesus’ teachings.

Co-signing away your soul

I cannot take credit for the following quote, but I can’t help by smile ruefully and nod my head as I read it. It’s sort of the religious/spiritual equivalent of the Tea Party candidates who tout that we need to remain true to the U.S. Constitution, but who don’t know what the Constitution says or what the amendments to it are.

To most Christians, the Bible is like a software license. Nobody actually reads it. They just scroll to the bottom and click “I agree.”

That came from a Twitter account known as almightygod (I didn’t know my Father in Heaven had signed on to Twitter until now ;-)), and I don’t know if the owner of that Twitter account is the originator of the quote or simply passing on something he or she heard, but it’s a gem if I ever saw one, regardless.

One Person’s Terror… by Miz Pink

I don’t have lust in my heart for Bob Cesca like I do for Jon Stewart but he still can make me a little weak in the knees.

This latest gem is perfect for showing what our real terrorism threat is in the U.S. of A. and it doesn’t seem to be Muslims:

http://www.bobcesca.com/blog-archives/2010/01/erickson_only_m.html

But those on the crazy end of conservatism and religionism will simply say those anti-abortion folks aren’t terrorists but are doing God’s will. Which just goes to show how its all in the perspective and if we don’t understand who the whackos are in our own religions we are never gonna clue in on why whackos in other religions do what they do and feel completely justified.

And how everyone else in that religion cringes as a result and waits for the nasty backlash.

It’s all terrorism folks and we all need to get over such nonsense and stop suger coating it with religion.

Cats vs Dogs by Miz Pink

There are cat people and there are dog people and much like men and women they’ll never really see eye to eye. Ohhhh I know, there are people who like dogs and cats but I guarantee you they play favorites with one side or the other. It’s like men who are in touch with their feminine side or women who are super-handy with house repairs.

Sir Pink is cat people. Don’t even start with any jokes about his manliness now. I only call him Sir Pink because I’m Miz Pink around here. Trust me, he’s manly. If he could, the housecats we have would be bobcats at the smallest, and pumas and tigers if he could get away with it. Sir Pink, he saw a strange cat on the porch trying to follow Mini Pink model 2 into the house, and he gently lifted it up and carried it away, and got a nice cut on his lip from one of those razor sharp little kitty claws for his troubles. Me I woulda stomped on the porch and screamed and made the kitty run away. Don’t get me wrong, I love our three cats (mostly), but I’d rather have a dog, and the moment one of Sir Pink’s kitty’s meets its natural end, it’s getting replaced by a pooch.

Dogs mostly are predicatable and loyal. I like that. I want a pet that will stand by my side and be happy when I come home even when I don’t have catnip or a toy or food.

Seems to me that there is a similar dynamic in the Christian church as a whole. It probably got cast in its sharpest clearest nastiest form with open armed conflict between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants in the 20th Century but there are less extreme examples as well, and not just in terms of splits on dogma between denominations.

Sometimes we just don’t see eye to eye on anything but Jesus and maybe not even that at times. Make me crazy how many Christians I know who seem to think Jesus was a NRA card-toting, Republican neo-con (or would be if he were alive today). Me, I think more a super educated and spiritually aware hippie who can kick ass. Others think he was just nothing but love and flowers. So, I guess that makes me a dog and cat person with regard to Jesus. Maybe that’s why I actually can talk to folks on both of the extreme ends still.

Anyhoo my point is that…well, it’s like this: I’m a dog girl married to a cat guy and I’m happy enough with that. As fellow Christians we need to focus more on the core needs of the church and the kinds of attitudes and priorities that Jesus taught us about. If we’d focus less on who’s right or wrong on specific little crap I think we’d get alot more done and do it alot better.

Christians Are Scaring Me – By Mrs. Blue

I’m almost scared to be around Christians anymore.

And I’m a Christian. Born again, believing in Jesus as the virgin-born and resurrected son of God. Daughter of a preacher. Reader of the Bible pretty much every morning and every night (which is actually more than I can say for my husband…so why is he doing this blog and not me? 😉 OK, he knows stuff, too, I kid him mercilessly about more than his Bible reading habits)

But seriously, I am kind of frightened of Christians these days because I’m never entirely sure what I am facing. Am I looking at someone like me, who keeps faith and critical thinking both very handy? Am I looking at a “sheeple” kind of person who needs to be (and allows him/herself to be) led by a pastor instead of “studying the word to be approved”? Am I possibly looking at someone who would do me harm for not agreeing with their outlook on Christ and the world at large?

I did a guest post here some time back called Faith Gone Bad where I mentioned my friend Mrs. Eager and her desire to move to the Bible Belt, for no other reason than to find a church she likes and greater numbers of really churchy people. Of course, maybe I shouldn’t call her my friend anymore because we don’t talk hardly at all now. No falling out or anything like that; it’s just that we don’t see eye to eye on things. Hell, we don’t even see eye-to-navel. I think we’re looking off in two different directions.

So why am I scared?

Well, let’s look at VP candidate Sarah Palin. She has a pastor praying over her for finances and political success (pretty self-serving, particulary since this pastor fired up a mob…and police…to run a woman out of a town in Africa because HE thought she was a witch). She has said she believes dinosaurs and people were around at the same time. She has said she expects the End Times and the Rapture to occur during her lifetime. She keeps painting the campaign as a battle of “us” vs. “them” at a time when we’re all up the creek without a paddle. She’s trying to make the working class think that somehow their plight is difference from those “elitist” middle class folks and she’s winking and flirting with conservatives and good ole boys like a madonna-whore tease.

And people are eating her up. And a lot of men, including so-called fundamentalist Christian men, want to eat her out, it seems. They are lusting after her even as they claim that our country’s moral fabric is unraveling.

Too many people seem to think we’re waging a holy war on God’s behalf over in Iraq.

Too many people are voting on issues like abortion, stem cell research, church-state issues, teaching “intelligent design” in school and other stuff related to religion, and all of this at a time when our foreign relations are in the dumper and our economy shudders on the brink of the abyss.

I don’t even want to call myself a Christian anymore because too many Christians are showing their hypocritical and ignorant asses. Sometimes I just call myself a follower of Christ.

I don’t want to call myself an evangelist because a lot of the scariest and most conservative Christians label themselves as such, and so everyone else assumes that evangelism means berating people and judging people, when it just means that we share the good news of of the gospel with people. I don’t know what to call myself here, since I do consider myself evangelistic. My dear hubby has suggested we try “ambassadors for Christ.”

This is bad. I don’t like to get into discussions with many Christians I know about current events or world events or politics because it seems like too many of them want to spout off about what their pastor told them they should think or what Sarah Palin thinks.

Why aren’t they using the brains God gave them?

People are being fired up, both under the banner of patriotism and faith, to get nasty. People are shouting “kill Obama” at campaign rallies now. What the hell is up with that? When did Jesus call upon us to kill anyone? Or judge anyone? Or use him as an excuse to do nasty things?

I see my faith being co-opted by a bunch of freaks, and it sickens me. Because while I don’t believe Christianity is simply the bastion for the weak-willed or ignorant, the fact is that savvy people are using it to lure in and herd people who are both of those things. Christianity has been turned on its head for real now, to the point I can’t hardly go to most churches in my area because it’s clear that they are taking sides and would rather have leaders who institute a church-based set of laws than to have leaders who can interact in a healthy way with the world and promote issues like healthcare, economic stability for everyone and tolerance.

It’s scary, I tell you. Scary as hell. It’s like I’m in a zombie movie except that all the zombies are wearing crosses around their neck and I’m afraid of two things:

That those zombie will get me because I’m not one of them.

People who are sick of those zombies will get me because they fear I’m a zombie too.

(Photo by Edd Sterchi, from eBibleTeacher.com)

(If you want to read any of Mrs. Blue’s other infrequent posts around these parts, go here)

That Bad Ole Religion

I’m pretty sure I’ve ridiculed the notion of religion being the cause of most of the world’s suffering on this blog at some point. But maybe not. I know I’ve done it elsewhere.

Here’s one of my recent comments at another blog:

The world is full of idiots, and I frankly don’t believe that eliminating religion would put a dent in the idiocy level. Stupid is stupid. Ignorant is ignorant. Remove religion and people will rally behind something else to validate and support their idiocy.

It’s popular to get on the bandwagon that the world would be a so much better place if we just got rid of religion. John Lennon, a dude whose musical and philosophical talents I greatly admire, suggested as much in the lyrics of “Imagine.”

But, it just ain’t so.

Eliminating religion won’t help. Ideologies that lack a god but establish the same programs (or even pogroms, for that matter) would simply fill the void. The world will not become more enlightened by removing religion because the world will still be full of “sheeple” who need and want to be led and who don’t want to think.

Sure, I get that religion is often a tool of repression and restraint. And here is another comment I tossed out recently on that point:

Let’s not blame the basic religion for the millions of idiots who misinterpret, misapply and misunderstand it while purporting to uphold it.

I just don’t get the “religion has been misused so let’s toss it out” argument.

  • Economics are misused and employed in ways to oppress the masses, but that doesn’t make capitalism (or socialism for that matter) inherently evil. Anyone want to throw out all the money and elminate our economies? No? Didn’t think so.
  • Cars are deadly machines and often improperly used. So, is the answer to get rid of cars? Yeah, I hear a lot of silence there, too.
  • Half or more of the marriages in the United States end in divorce. Are we to take away from that figure that monogamy is inherently flawed? Some would argue that, but most would not.

In fact, going back to the first example in my list, I would argue that economics is one of the major sources of evil and persecution and war and assorted other nastiness in the world—moreso, in fact, than is religion.

The desire for power and land and putting ones enemies under one’s feet is a basic human desire, and exists independently of religion. Yes, religion can be used to bolster such desires and justify them, but that almost always requires the tenets of a religion to be twisted to that purpose.

And yes, religion is also used by people who just want to shut the world out and want a spiritual pacifier to suck on. So what? Can’t we say the same about television much of the time? That’s why it’s been called the “glass teat” or the “boob tube.”

And yes, religious differences cause tension and even violence. But so do racial differences and ethnic differences and political differences. And, in the end, they are usually just excuses anyway. And never mind any of the good things religion and spirituality have done; those are insignificant, the naysayers will tell you.

Somehow, when you talk about the positive messages of religion, or the values they can instill, the people who are so down on religion will tell you, Those things can be gotten by just being decent humans. You don’t need religion for that.” Yet if you point out that human nature is what causes most of the problems in the world, independent of religion (since many so-called “religious” people who start wars or destroy lives or cash in workers’ retirement accounts to buy corporate jets rarely are all that faith-filled or church-going),  those same people will cling to the argument that religion has caused more problems than anything else. Suddenly, human nature is something they want to downplay so that they can blame religion for usurping our better nature and making us do nasty things. Instead of “The devil made me do” it becomes “religion makes us do it.”

So, in the end, I’m going to be blunt.

If you’re going to argue that religion just needs to go by the wayside because it causes too much trouble, you’re being an idiot. Because you’re obviously giving a pass to many other things in the world that do way more damage.

Looks Like a Fish…

So, look at the picture for today’s post. Is it a fish? Or is it a bunch of fishes?

Yeah, sure, the easy answer would be to say, “Both.” But is isn’t a single fish, now is it? The individual fishes in formation present the image of a fish, but image isn’t always reality.

Looking like a fish doesn’t make it a fish. Certainly, it would smell like a fish and feel like a fish, too, with all those individual fishes—but that still doesn’t make it a fish.

So, too, a bunch of people who are Christians together in one place doesn’t make a church. A congregation, perhaps, but not a church. Doesn’t matter how much it looks like a church, smells like a church, sounds like a church or feels like a church. Because the things that make a church a church are not the people nor appearances, but something altogether of another realm.

Faith. Spirituality. Devotion.

Jesus told us:

Wherever two or more gather in my name there I am in their midst.

Christianity contains “Christ” but it is not Jesus’ name. Jesus’ name was not “Christianity” and it wasn’t even “Christ.” Christ is a title, not a name. People who gather in buildings because of Christianity aren’t necessarily making up a church. Because unless Jesus is at the heart of it, it’s just a get-together.

Lo, the Antichrist shall be a vegan…

inconvenient-truth.jpg…and forsooth, the Evil One shall also drive an alternative-fuel vehicle and own a copy of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” And he shall recycle and perform all other manner of wickedness. 

Or, at least, that’s the vibe I came away with from a sermon I heard a couple months ago, wherein the pastor equated the shoppers at Whole Foods, Wild Oats and similar stores as being “earth worshippers.” He even went so far as to actually say that most vegetarians are, essentially, practitioners of paganism. 

Well, my wife and I try to buy organic when we can, and we’ve toyed with vegetarianism a couple times (but the bacon and pork chops and hamburgers always wooed us back with their greasy charms), but we’re both evangelically based and believe Jesus is Lord and savior and son of God. 

And therein lies a big problem with too many of my Christian brothers and sisters. There are those who are critical thinkers, but all too often, those who are most dedicated to the Word of God somehow forget to read much else but the Bible. And it’s scary sometimes the level of cluelessness this can engender. 

The other day at church, for example, a woman whose baby had been having massive teething told my wife a friend had suggested relieving the discomfort with some clove. A suggestion she promptly shelved when her husband told her that sounded an awful lot like witchcraft. I guess with folks like Pasteur who recognized the antibacterial properties of certain molds and gave the world penicillin, we should have burned them at the stake, eh? I mean, some common sense would help here. Using herbal remedies and holistic therapies isn’t practicing magic. Using an herb or something else with legitimate biochemical properties (assuming it’s safe to consume in the first place) is no worse than taking a medicine in a bottle. 

Now, if someone tells you to dig up a mandrake root, put a drop of your blood on it and stick in a bowl of milk under your bed for some healing, well, I don’t think I need to spell (pun entirely intended) out what that is. But when was the last time you saw health food stores selling a kit like that on the shelves? 

The big problem with this kind of narrow-minded thinking is that Christians lose out on all sorts of opportunities to understand other people, whether they raise their kids in a different style or eat different foods or practice whole other freaking religions. How can anyone evangelize to a person if they’re already misinterpreting their actions from the get-go? If I look at someone who likes yoga and crystals and I assume that means they’re some New Age wiccan (and miss that the person in an agnostic lapsed Catholic who just likes being limber and owning shiny objects), I’m already coming to this person from entirely the wrong direction. 

More than that, it’s just plain ignorant. And willful ignorance is like fingernails on the chalkboard of my mind.

Frankly, I get pretty damned tired of non-Christians painting me with some broad brush and thinking I’m a self-righteous Jesus freak just because I’m a Christian who believes in the Bible (more on that in tomorrow’s post). It would be awfully hypocritical of me to make broad assertions about their spiritual systems (or lack thereof) without having read and studied something about them. Hell, at least recognize that there are huge differences between Wiccans, Pagans, Druids and Satanists (just to mention a few groups that get tossed together into the same pot on a regular basis). 

So, if you think the Christian walk is worth about as much use as tits on a bull, let me be the first to tell you that even if you think my faith is foolish, remember that some of us can be believers without handing over our critical thinking at the door to be mindless automatons. And for my brothers and sisters in Christ who think it’s OK not to know or understand other belief systems—well, damn, doesn’t the Bible tell us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves? God never told us to be ignorant dolts and judgmental assholes.