Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Walking Dead 2000 Years Ago

  

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The Cosmos is Beautiful Enough as it Is

Blogger Adam Lee who writes for Pathos is not altogether happy with many strident atheists who seemingly care little about social justice along other things. Flaunting their atheism without anything else important in life, he believes, is pathetic. Why flaunt something that is as invaluable  as yesterday’s news?

Nonetheless, he is just as intolerant of the religiously fundamental. He writes,

The great moral conflicts of the next hundred years must be settled on the basis of what’s true, not just on who believes more fervently. Even when we aim at the right ends, letting faith guide our steps will always lead to diverted and wasted effort, will always threaten to trip us up and lead us down blind alleys, and will always breathe life into the very fundamentalisms that pose the threat in the first place.

The following, however, caught my attention most clearly.

Most of all, faith keeps us from what’s real. The cosmos is beautiful enough as it is, deep enough as it is, glorious enough as it is; we need no small human fantasies to embellish it, nor a dusting of mythology to confer it all with meaning. The real story of how everything came to be and where we fit into the grand picture is more spectacular and awe-inspiring than any religion, and it has the virtue of being true. Embracing reality in all its fullness, unclouded by false hope or illusion, is the most profound of all the gifts that atheism has to offer the world.

This seems intensely true in this moment of time when radically fundamentalist religious groups are slaughtering others without seemingly any conscious whimper.

How would our world be different had fundamentalist religion not been invented? I don’t know, yet could it have been any worse?

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BYOG: Bring Your Own God

One of the great questions of humankind is, Who is God to you? I would imagine that there is a plethora of possible responses from ‘pure energy’ to ‘a personal friend and confidant.’ Naturally some may say, ‘None.’ Data indicates that the ‘nones’ are increasing here in the U.S. Many Christian churches see more empty pews than filled ones. What’s going on?

A knee-jerk response by deep believers is the moral corruption of our society. There is always blame; it is a soothing salve. Tribal, too. Those and us. Righteous and wicked. White and black. No shades of gray.

A Presbyterian minister ‘came out’ recently as godless. He also holds Jesus as myth. One can imagine the righteous uproar.  Currently there are 1,345 comments about his post! He wrote:

For example, I believe that:

  • Religion is a human construct
  • The symbols of faith are products of human cultural evolution
  • Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about him is in the form of legend
  • God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force
  • The Bible is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being
  • Human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there’s no afterlife

In short, I regard the symbols of Christianity from a non-supernatural point of view.

———————————————

He speaks of a “godless Christianity” in his post. That seemed quite contradictory to many who made comments. To me, that is not at all important. People can believe whatever they care to believe. Life goes on. Live your own life. Be nice.

Amen

Link:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/03/17/im-a-presbyterian-minister-who-doesnt-believe-in-god-2/

Pagan Yeast in Religious Dough

i came across the title Above on a Patheos blog post by Gus diGerega titled, “The spiritual gifts of Wicca do not stop with Wiccans.” As Christian denominations continue to shrink, some into nothingness, the author suggests that a good dose of things which Pagans/Wiccans hold dear might help the Abrahamic faiths, especially Christianity. 

One is the sacredness of the feminine (and respect for women). The second is the sacredness of nature. The author notes, “In the absence of a appreciation for both, our society faces increasingly dark times, times even darker than those we are currently suffering.”


He goes on about those dark times.

“Our shadow side has included the robbery and genocide of Native Americans; an economy rooted in the horrors of slavery; oppressive and violent racism and tribalism; large religious communities that worship deities who, were they human, would be locked up as criminally insane; aggressive wars in service to endless greed, wars that, like that greed, are now unending; and growing contempt for science and for maintaining a sustainable world for the nature so many of us love, and for future generations of human beings.”

Much of what is wrong with our nation, the author suggests, can be found in conservative Christian denominations as well as in right-wing politics. One does not see much difference. Neither embrace the sacred feminine or the sacredness of nature. 

Thr Romanized Christian church ran a campaign to stamp our Paganism throughout the Empire. That same church became engaged in bloody witch hunts and heretic burnings. This church engaged in many acts of genocide as religious sects engaged in wholesale slaughter of one another for 100 years.

Where was the Christian god in all of this? Where is the Goddess?



What Does it Mean to be Real?

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My youngest grandson this weekend ‘loved’ the ear off of his best friend- stuffed dog that he has carried around for years! He was heartbroken for sure. It was mended a day later by fashioning another out of felt. Still I fear that it will never hold the magic of the original. Perhaps this is a small step out of the comfort of childhood.

What IS real, anyway? Must it be flesh and blood? Must it be sensed? Could an illusion be as real as squirrel digging in the soil? Did Jesus rise from the dead or was it an imagined illusion by his closest friends? And, does it really matter?

Zealot or Savior?

I recently finished reading Reza Aslan’s Zealot– a book that was on my radar for years. His theory is that the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels was not the true character Jesus of Nazareth. Aslan suspects that the Gospel writers were greatly influenced by the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE and, as a result, threw their wager with the Romans. The Jewish people, Aslan speculates of the authors, were undeserving of Jesus and, as a result, they got their punishment.

Thus, rather than portraying Jesus as a zealot working to overthrow the suffocating Roman occupation, the authors downplayed this and opted for the messiah theme. The anti-Jewish theme of the Gospels becomes more strident as the time moves farther from 70 CE to John’s writing 30 years later.

The Christian church of Jerusalem was sacrificed for the Christian churches in Greece, Rome  and elsewhere. The church of James, the brother of Jesus, waned as the church of Paul rose to glory. This church would find favor with the Romans because, ironically, of its non-Jewish flavor!

Paul who never met Jesus won out over Jesus’s brother. Hard to imagine, but true.

Palms in Jerusalem

imageThe Christian tradition of waving palm branches in churches this upcoming Palm Sunday obscures the actual point- the message of the visit to the Jerusalem Temple by Jesus and a few of his disciples. Christians are all caught up in the ‘triumph’ of the scene wherein the writers of the Gospels portray throngs of people adoring him as he trots in on two donkeys.

Why did Jesus trek to Jerusalem? To be ‘recognized as the long-awaited messiah’ as we are led to believe? This is the fantasy of the writers, yet we can be fairly certain of his actions in and around the Temple. What was his fascination and anger with the Temple?

Jesus was angry with how it was being corrupted by the Herodian Dynasty and the equally corrupt high priests they appointed in the Temple. He wanted to clean up the mess that existed in the Jerusalem Temple.

It seems quite clear that the so-called cleansing of the Temple scene was the highlight of his last days. Each of the four evangelists intensely focus on this event; it, in fact, is why he was executed. I often wonder why Christians do not see the clarity of this central episode in his life.

I am not certain who Jesus despised more: the Romans or the high priests in the Jerusalem temple. The collusion of both parties had a double devastating impact on the Jewish people. Their worship in the sacred temple had become an enormously profitable enterprise of the high priests. The peasants and the poor would give nearly all of their meger savings to buy a bird to be sacrificed. Those with a bit more means might purchase a goat or sheep. The entire scheme irritated Jesus’s sense of what an offering in the Temple ought to be about.

These peasants and subsistence farmers were already strapped by high taxes imposed by the Romans and their cohorts in the Herodian Dynasty. Thus, what little was left went to the shyster high priests and their money changers.

I am irritated just typing these words! I cannot imagine living under these rotten conditions. Neither could Jesus. Yet many Christians focus on the ‘triumph’ of the ride into Jerusalem as if the entry was more important than the actions he performed at the Temple. This is why he was killed! Not his claim as messiah.

Preachers as Politicians

Thirty-five years later, as he creeps closer to the graveyard, Bob Jones ‘apologizes’ for his idiocy. I suspect that he wants to ‘make right’ with his god so he can walk through the pearly gates.

He claimed that he said the following for “political” reasons. Sure he did!

“I’m sure this will be greatly misquoted,” Jones said at the time. “But it would not be a bad idea to bring the swift justice today that was brought in Israel’s day against murder and rape and homosexuality. I guarantee it would solve the problem post-haste if homosexuals were stoned, if murderers were immediately killed as the Bible commands.”

No, not at all ‘misquoted ‘reverend. No. Just the usual pimping of the Bible for political gain.