Tag Archives: christian

Presidential Insight

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. . . . Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find inducements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you.”

—-Thomas Jefferson, third President of the US


Disliking (Hating) Atheists and other Pestilences

One of the conundrums of religion is the sad but real fact that many people of faith have little tolerance for those without faith. In other words, there appears to be a lot of hate going around. Why does this happen? It is my view that any form of atheism and agnosticism are perceived as a threat to the religious. After all, if one believes they are strong in their faith and a question about their faith appears unanswerable, who wouldn’t begin to wonder and speculate about the foundations of their faith? It happens to everyone. At this point the only thing left to do for a person without an answer is to resort to “faith” as faith gets by with little or no logical formation for it to exist. While this debate could be productive it is stopped cold in its tracks when arguing from logic or supposition. The subsequent “disliking” of faithless non-believers usually takes the form of distancing one’s self from the logician. If you remain distant from the cause of discomfort then discomfort does not have to consciously exist nor do inconvenient reminders of one’s irrational faith and logic. All one needs to do is stay away from its cause. In the short term this works but in the longer view one must take ever stronger and stronger measures to counteract the possibility that logical thoughts of others are the cause of many fears and anxieties.

There are a number of tools we have at our disposal to manage the questions and subsequent anxiety about religion. We could talk it out, try to understand it, we could rationalize it to ourselves, ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, run away from it, and get angry. Anger, minimizing, ignoring and exclusion appear to be the most frequently used tools to deal with what is not acceptable thinking or questioning about one’s faith. That is why there is so much religious hostility in the world. Too often the mantra of those with clear-cut but unprovable religious mandates espouse something like the following statement: “If you don’t believe as I do, I will (kill, hurt, ostracize, label, etc. [fill in the blank]) you!” Nations often take up arms against each other because of one’s beliefs. These nations are often driven by religious ideations and are no different than an individual. Taking up word weaponry to prove one is wrong or to hurt another is not uncommon. Most war efforts are driven by fear and/or anger. In order for one to avoid confrontation or lose a word war we resort to hostile statements while ostracizing the offender. The result is rage, intolerance and isolation. The tendency to isolate one who thinks differently than we do is born of a lack of understanding of both one’s own views and that of others. Of course this works both ways.

The irony in all of this is that many religious types claim to be concerned about the behaviors and thinking of those whose views run contrary to theirs. Yet, when pushed to understand that of another an impenetrable wall arises and communication is severely thrashed. This is an unfortunate result of closed minds, minds that will not consider the views of another when a position runs contrary to theirs. The need to perpetuate their thinking brings a kind of comfort outlasting that of logic. A place of disgrace lingers in the background as a person of faith will surely find themselves placed should they ask the wrong questions or betray their growing lack of faith in their religious culture.

Integrity is at the heart of most religions and expressions of faith. Therefore, it seems only right that a person of faith who is seeking to be a person of integrity would be willing to open up their faith questions and those of others with an approach that questions with honesty, fairness and reasonableness and not hostility, isolation, shunning and ridicule.

Religious Pornography

From time to time a scene from classical painting emerges on the Internet depicting the trials of the Christian Savior. Given the story line of his final days, it is often a scene from the torment he received at the hands of the Roman government. He taught that He was the Son of God which was viewed as an act of blasphemy. The paintings are usually gory, blood being the major feature, while bruises and cuts make for a sobering latticework of rip-torn flesh. There may be a thorny crown forced across his brow with drips of crimson traced upon his forehead and a face twisted in agony as if he had just been beheaded. Grim, sad and very graphic, these depictions of the Christ cause one to wonder just how painful the course of salvation must have been. It is believed that Jesus died for our sins. And as despicable as those sins are, so also should the look of the dying Savior be as well. No doubt about it, the artists have captured it.

More contemporaneously, the movie going public have nearly tasted the blood of an exhausted Christ while watching screen antics produced by a Jew-hating actor/director. There were even undisguised whimpers and weeping during the scenes of great passion and throughout the movie called, “The Passion.” The fascination with blood, guts and gore are not the exclusive domain of the warrior but appear to have a charm for the Christian as well. Many Catholic churches sport the cross with a dying Christ portrayed centrally in their mass and visuals that make plain what the grand sacrifice accomplished for humanity.

A question comes to mind: to what purpose is the blood, guts, and gore presented? Is it to entice one to look more directly at the message? Am I to be impressed with an interpretation that has as its purpose, shock? To what objective would a visual portrait or a moving picture show convince me and my will to become a follower of this bloodied Christ? Is it the canvas or film drama that convinces?

A fascination with drama of this kind begs the question, why? Why do we need to see this? Why do we need religious symbolisms forced upon us displayed as crucifix, bleeding heart, or nails thrust through the palms of the Savior’s hands? If “gross” is appealing the Christian church has an ample portion what with a ceremony that displays the body of Christ in one of three forms depending on the resident theology. We are presented with “gross” as if it were a Sunday drive to Grandma’s, a pure, simple, and trusted journey. But, is it really? For years witnesses recounted the Golgotha debacle without writing it down allowing further elaboration to make the story as fascinating, creative and original as one could imagine. If the story be true as claimed and that the message produced personal wonders of salvation and healing, then why would it be necessary to frighten or disgust someone viewing these macabre classics for the first time? Don’t we have enough violence as part of our culture? And, why would Christian hands wish to add blood to their reputation?

Prayer Responsibilities

Though I am fine with people praying, I find that government sponsored prayer of any kind, to any god, by any group, an abuse of power and influence.

Flaunting this, as through a show of force or numbers, is wrong while the encouragement of such divisive maneuvers undermines the very heart of our Constitution. You can be in favor of prayer in public for all government activities but merely favoring it does not make it right. This is a put-down to any non-religious or non-Christian religion. I defend their right to be considered as equals and above any effort to “Christianize” our government and its employees.

Believing in a Christian America

Throughout America there is an inextinguishable belief that one random day blue skies will break open with trumpets, angels and such to manifest in a cloud of glory a spiritual being who will take up with Him buried bodies and live souls into a permanent residence called heaven. It is a place unlike any other and its appearance is greatly enhanced by manipulated imaginations of eager and loyal saints. These saints are saints because they have freely given their lives away for redemption of promises etched in a holy book while accepting these promises as fact. The promise of a returning monarch becomes a distinguishing mark of faith for those who believe the message from the messenger is unmistakably and profoundly true. Yet, all of this theology is without corroborating evidence sustained through any length of time. Unfortunately, the life of their Christian hero, conceived without his parents enjoying sex as part of his conception, and who performed miracles that crowds of witnesses have attested to, met his end on a hilltop between two thieves in a most humiliating event; crucifixion. The “proofs” of His resurrection have been lost in time but the faith these dear people have in a resurrection from the dead lingers and is the cornerstone of their hoped-for salvation.

The various religious musings of preachers, teachers, evangelists, prophets, priests and the like have broadened the message to include faith healers, snake handlers, televangelists and wannabes. All of these men and women must base their message on dubious, faith-based, irrational claims while focusing the attention of believers on a hope that takes them away from this world, to a place called, “Escapism.” And, isn’t that what this is all about? So, lets make up a future in a heavenly place where the cares of this world are left behind and we can live forever in a protective element. One day, so the belief goes, those who have given their lives to the Creator will have an eternity to reside on cloud pillows with nothing to do but stretch out their limbs for anything they desire and walk on gold-covered streets studded with diamonds, pearls and sapphires, all the while living with an eternal being most call, God.

All of the above is believed because someone told them it was so, or, their trust in the message comes from a subjective experience called “real.” That is the hardest part for me to accept. And, I must do it on what is called “faith.” No matter what question I might pose to formerly fellow believers their answer lies within the following: “You’ve got to have faith, Ed!”

Many of us were taught to believe in Santa Claus. And we did, until one of our friends began to humiliate our thinking with deprecating words about our Santa. We got the message and began to turn away. It wasn’t easy because we had an emotional attachment to the idea of a beneficent figure giving out candy and toys after springing from an undamaged chimney. The same kind of experience is often the usual with religious beliefs. But, somehow, we are unable to see it as fantasy and the escapism it represents. That is either because it is clearly true, even while there is very little to support that idea, or, it is because there is too much invested by others, especially those who have built large empires around their faith and would lose an income, a job, or a sense of importance, if it were not deemed to be true. Perpetuating the myth is necessary for the false promise of another life in a grand place of heavenly hope while not having to deal with the vagaries of life that hit us with little or no warning. Or, it is self-serving. I believe there are religious types who would not even be religious or spiritual if their job did not depend upon it.

Perpetuating a fraud if it gets you the necessary elements to a life worth living is all that matters? Foundations are important. This one appears to be crumbling.

Eliminating Christian Privilege

“…removing Christian privilege so that our government complies with the Constitution is not persecution. Eliminating religious privilege is not the same as eliminating religious freedom. If ‘ministers of the gospel’ get a tax break that is not available to anyone else, the government is correct to end that break. This is simply ending unconstitutional favoritism the government is showing towards religion, as FFRF’s successful lawsuit against the parsonage housing allowance has shown. This is not hostility, it is equality.” -Andrew Seidel

from Sam Harris

“Thousands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. The truth is that many who claim to be transformed by Christ’s love are deep, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that such hatred draws considerable support from the Bible. How do I know this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse.” – Sam Harris, “Letter to a Christian Nation.”