Tag Archive | "Christianity"

An Embarrassment to Christ


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From Larry Wohlgemuth…

Even the most militant atheist must admit that the words of Jesus are good lessons by which to live. Who can argue with honesty, charity, and love for your brother? It’s a perfect plan for living, but so few are doing it.

When you hear the words that come out of their mouths, the only conclusion you can reach is that they’re illiterate, because obviously they’ve never read the Gospels of Jesus. It’s wisdom upon which to build a rock solid foundation for a moral life.

Today, churches are likely to be seething cauldrons of anger and hatred towards the least fortunate. It makes you wonder if Jesus isn’t coming back simply because he doesn’t want to associate with his followers. It’s no wonder that people are leaving the church in droves.

It begs the question, how can people take such a beautiful plan for living and turn it into something that’s despised by just about everyone else?

Honestly, anyone who’s been to a fundamentalist Christian church understands that they’re several genes short of a full DNA strand. It’s not a particularly bright nor literate population with which we’re dealing, so the expectation that they’ve read the Gospels for themselves is slim. That means they’re relying on preachers, many with questionable pasts and personal agendas, to receive the message.

Now that that rant is over…

Understanding his audience and realizing that for the most part his parables were falling on deaf ears, Jesus retooled his message and boiled it down to two simple commandments:

He answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ~ Luke 10:29

Just in case they couldn’t remember the story of the good Samaritan or to hand over their cloaks, Jesus made it real simple. Love your neighbor as yourself. How could you possibly misinterpret this simple instruction?

I knew a big Rush Limbaugh fan, and I was over at his house on the day after Freddie Mercury, lead singer for the band Queen, died from AIDS. Every time Limbaugh came back from a break he played Queen’s song, “Another One Bites the Dust.” After the third time I mentioned that this was a particularly heartless and cruel attitude, and my friend just laughed.

He said that Freddie Mercury, and all gays, got what they deserved for being homosexual. He explained that it was important for Christians to let these people die rather than to help them, in order to save their immortal souls. Some radio preacher had convinced him that all homosexuals were going to hell, and the only way to love them was to treat them so brutally that they would repent their sins and find their way to the Lord.

This radio preacher had bestowed upon him the ability to determine who was bound for hell and who should be treated with Christian “tough love.” Over time the number of people who needed this new form of Christianity expanded to abortion doctors and women who had abortions, people on welfare, and any other group with which my friend disagreed. These preachers appealed to his dark side, and he willingly obliged.

This is fairly representative of the fundamentalist Christian movement today.

This happens when the Scriptures are taken out of context, however people that desire to hate will find a way to do it, Jesus or no Jesus. So the Jesus of the Bible, the one who urged people to live communally and to care for one another, lives no more in these churches. He’s been replaced by his evil twin, the one who was on the side of the money changers and the Roman emperors while his brother died on the cross.

It began right after Nicaea in 325 A.D., when men like St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Thomas Aquinas developed the Just War Doctrine. It wasn’t long before that led to the Christian Crusades against Islamic countries, and the Spanish Inquisition where Christians turned on their own kind.

Then along came men like Martin Luther and John Calvin and the doctrine of sola fide, or by faith alone are you saved. The atrocities of Protestants subsequent to this were no less than those prior bad acts by the Roman Catholic Church.

What would Jesus say about all this? That heretical radical who ordered his men to put down their swords as the Roman guards came to arrest him. What would he say about the millions of American soldiers who are dispatched to foreign lands to slaughter people still living in huts? And how would he feel about the churchmen who convince their parishioners that it’s God’s will?

Though I sometimes find militant atheists just as tedious as fundamentalist Christians, it’s hard not to cheer for them in the battles they wage against Christianity. Ultimately, however, what this will require of us is to cast off the artificial divides created to keep us from understanding our true nature. That so many can be controlled by so few is not their fault, rather it’s ours. We’ve allowed them to convince us of our individuation rather than our unification.

We allow unscrupulous men to distort and magnify the miniscule differences between us, and use them to frighten us that our very way of life is ending. We take arms and travel to the corners of the planet to stamp out the latest “threat,” all because we look for differences and not similarities.

People in Russia, Iran and the Sudan all want the same things as you and me, and that’s to find love, get married and raise children hopefully to have a better life than did they. They don’t sit around all day despising our freedoms, rather I imagine unless we’re in their country shooting and bombing them, they scarcely give us a second thought. That the self-proclaimed followers of Jesus cannot see this gives us an insight into the extent of the sickness in their souls, and we should minister them as would the Christ. Since they cannot figure out the true path for themselves, they must be shown.

It’s time for unification, to realize our differences pale compared to our similarities, and to accept every man and woman as our brothers and sisters. It’s time for a kumbayah moment. What’s ironic is it’s the followers of the Christ that need to be shown rather than being the ones demonstrating. I think Jesus would vomit in his mouth if he knew the condition of his church today.

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Top Ten Religious Figures Of All Time


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While politicians, military leaders and entertainers come and go throughout history, religious figures last for all time, millions still following, respecting or worshiping them thousands of years after their deaths. The list below does not just include what theologians would call prophets, but also lists figures who had a significant impact on real world religiosity.  The placing of Jesus Christ of Nazareth at number one and the Prophet Mohammad of Mecca at number two was based solely on the numbers of followers, and not because of one being less or more important than the other. Putting together a list like this will invite both controversy and emotion, but it is not the intention to annoy, bother or insult anyone. It is simply a look back on those who have most shaped our ideas about faith, religion and secular thought throughout the ages of humanity.

1. Jesus of Nazareth (circa 7 BCE-36 CE)

With more than 1.5 billion followers worldwide, Christianity remains the largest single religion on Earth, and is why Jesus of Nazareth sites atop the poll. Even if it wasn’t the largest religion, however, it is beyond serious debate the impact this itinerant rabbi from Galilee has had on the planet. What is especially remarkable about this is that his public ministry lasted little more than two years, he never had more than a few thousand followers during his lifetime, he left no personal writings, and was even executed for sedition by the Roman authorities, all of which should have made him little more than a footnote in history.

2. Prophet Mohammed of Mecca (571-632 CE)

It’s hard to underestimate the impact this middle-aged merchant turned mystic turned religious leader turned military commander has had on history and the role he continues to play in the lives of well over a billion people around the planet. Considered by one sixth of the world’s population to have been the last and greatest of all the prophets, he is best remembered as the man who penned the Koran, one of the best known and most widely read sacred writings in the world.

3. Gautama Buddha (circa 563-483 BCE)

We tend to use the term “Buddha” as a metaphor for spiritual enlightenment or wisdom, but there was a real flesh-and-blood person behind the mythology. Siddhartha Gautama ideas of enlightenment and nirvana thrived in his own day. Quickly attracting a legion of disciples, his teachings laid the foundation for one of the world’s great eastern faith structures, Buddhism, which as of this writing claims nearly 400 million adherents worldwide.

4. Krishna (circa 3228-3102 BCE)

Like the Buddha, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between historical fact and metaphor when it comes to some of the most ancient religious figures. Though Krishna didn’t actually found the modern religion of Hinduism—it’s basic tenets already being in place prior to his arrival—among all of the Vishnu avatars, he is the most popular and the one closest to the heart of the people, which is why he remains so venerated five thousand years later.

5. Confucius (551-479 BCE)

Confucius (the Latinized version of his Chinese name, Kong Zi) was not a religious leader per se, but more of a philosopher whose teachings on personal and governmental morality, justice, and sincerity deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese thought and life.

6. Zoroaster (Unknown. Anywhere between the 18th and 6th centuries BCE)

Zoroaster, also called Zarathustra, was an ancient Persian prophet who founded the first historically acknowledged world religion known, not surprisingly, as Zoroastrianism. According to the Zend Avesta, the sacred book of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrian philosophy entered the West through Judaism and Platonism and has even been identified as one of the key early events in the development of philosophy.

7. Martin Luther (1483-1546)

While Christianity is wrought with dozens of individuals who played a major role in shaping its doctrines and making it the faith structure it is today, few men had a greater impact upon the fragmenting the church in general than this fiery German theologian from Eisleben.

8. Moses (circa 1391-1271 BCE)

While the history of Judaism is filled with famous prophets and leaders-from Kings David and Solomon to the prophets Elijah and Ezekiel—no one man had more impact than did Moses, without whose guidance and leadership the modern Jewish religion would not exist.

9. Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805-1844)

Easily one of the most controversial figures from the first half of the nineteenth century, it is difficult to imagine how one man, persuaded that he was a prophet of God, could start a religion—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (officially the LDS but commonly referred to as the Mormon church)—practically single-handedly, that would one day grow to over fourteen million worldwide followers.

10. Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910)

Though the founder of Christian Science doesn’t have all that many followers any more (only around 30,000 or so as of late) her impact on American religious beliefs in the nineteenth century cannot be underestimated. Her controversial perspectives on everything from the illusory nature of the material world to her de facto rejection of a personal God and the concept of hell definitely put her somewhat outside of what is usually referred to as “orthodoxy”, though many of her ideas survive and can still be found in some New Age churches and other metaphysical and mystical traditions today

 

 

Source: Toptenz.net

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Eyes Are Open


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From Larry Wohlgemuth…

Americans standing in solidarity with protesters in Tunisia and Egypt, and Egyptians sending pizza to demonstrators in Wisconsin. Amazing, since only five years ago a majority of Americans wanted to destroy Islam. How times change.

Zbigniew Brezinski has misjudged events, for this is not a massive global “political” awakening, rather it’s a massive global “SPIRITUAL” awakening. We’ve come to realize that we have far more in common with our neighbors in the Middle East than we ever imagined, and we’re ready to stand in solidarity against a common foe; materialists.

Don’t believe the materialists will go down peacefully, rather expect them to go kicking and screaming all the way. They like their possessions, and they are loath to share them with anyone they deem less deserving, and we’re all less deserving in their eyes. Expect a counter attack.

It begs the question, what form will this counterattack take, and how will we know it when we see it?

While hardly an adherent to modern-day Christianity, I do find bits and pieces of Christic consciousness in the Bible. This is found in John 17:11, 14-16:

11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.
14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

It was put more succinctly by St. Thomas who suggested that we, “Wear the world like a loose garment.”

The gist of it all is the physical is temporal, and not concerning us. Rather we should be prepared to gain an understanding of ourselves as spiritual beings, and that we are all one. The materialists are motivated by and committed to the things that are of this world. They’re happy with who and what they are, and they want to keep us connected to the world with them. The problem is, serious cracks are showing in that edifice, and I look for them to resort to desperate measures to quell this worldwide spiritual awakening that’s unfolding.

For years they maintained control through a church that blurred the lines between spirituality and materiality. However as people’s eyes are being opened, and heretofore sworn enemies are embracing each other as comrades, the bastardized message of the church no longer resonates. People aren’t confused over what’s spiritual and what’s material, so the materialists need to escalate.

War might be the most earthbound activity of all, where people of faith and conscience are convinced to pick up arms and slaughter their fellows. Carnage is a sure way to pull us back into the dark, and I believe the groundwork is already being laid for that eventuality.

Recently, US citizen Raymond Davis, allegedly a CIA operative, was arrested in Pakistan for the murder of two ISI agents. He’s currently standing trial for those murders, and the US has harshly warned Pakistan about it. Interestingly, Davis is accused of giving military secrets, as well as fissionable material, to Al Qaeda.

First of all, accept the fact that Al Qaeda cannot build an atomic bomb. However, with fissionable material they would be capable of building a dirty bomb. A bomb made with one pound of fissionable material that “accidentally detonates” somewhere in Pakistan, before it reaches its presumed target in the US, would provide sufficient justification.

Americans are war weary, and it’s going to take a significant threat to convince them to broaden the hostilities in the Middle East. Pictures of people in Pakistani hospitals suffering radiation burns, being treated by doctors in radiation suits, would suffice. We could create the auspices to invade Pakistan in order to “secure all fissionable material.”

Once that happens it wouldn’t be difficult to rationalize spreading the conflagration to Iran and any other Arab country that we deem “belligerent.” Gasoline reaching five dollars per gallon by the end of this year might serve as a tipping point, and cause the more fearful earthbound people to support military action.

A prolonged war with millions of people considering the prospects of killing and dying could serve to derail this new consciousness that’s among us, in their minds. Their problem is, in order to conduct a war of that magnitude would require reinstatement of the military draft. Having spent considerable time around people currently of draft age, the term resistance would be an understatement.

This newer generation perceives life differently, not nearly as connected to the attainment of power. Teachers will tell you that today’s young people are far less likely to engage in meaningless competition, and quick to question authority. It’s one of the healthier signs I’ve seen it in our society in a long time.

Coalescing this generation around the notion of a necessary war that justifies a military draft would be like herding cats. They’re not built that way. The only young people you see at tea party rallies are too young to have made the decision to attend. Their parents told them they were going. However, when you look at the people protesting in Wisconsin, Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, you see people from their late teens to their early 30s. The demographic needed to widen this war is standing on the other side of the fence.

They don’t have many plays left, because people are waking up all over the world and understanding it’s a new day, a new age, and it belongs to us. Their attempts at brutality only serve to reinforce the collective will of the people demanding justice. In fact, should they try to widen the war or reinstate the draft, it might be the best thing for us. It would motivate those who still believe they can remain neutral.

Understand now fathers, were not just talking about your sons anymore, but your daughters as well. How are you going to feel when they come after your princess with the intent of placing a weapon in her hand to serve as cannon fodder? Mothers, how about your baby boys? Is that what you had in mind for them? It’s nearly checkmate for our side, and I expect the materialists to do something drastic. Should they choose to widen the war, it can only serve to strengthen our position.

They will attempt to thwart this awakening, but they will fail. Billions are opening their eyes, and they understand it’s our world. So do you want to be part of the awakening, or are you one that’s going to be convinced to cling hopelessly to the materialistic world and live in the shadows? Choose wisely, grasshopper, because you get to live with this one for a long time.

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In Defense of American Fundamentalism


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bible-american-flagFrom United States Correspondent Gibbs Burke…

A fundamentalist I might be, but an extremist or terrorist I am not. I see no wrong in being a Fundamental Christian. Fundamentalism is in no way dangerous by definition, but rather it is the extremists who resort to physical actions that are the inherent danger to the public. If I am a fundamental Christian, then who do I side with on the philosophy of the sanctity of life? Do I choose the Democrats, who believe in the right to abortions, but are against the death penalty?  Or the Republicans, who believe in the death penalty, but are anti-abortion? A true fundamentalist would say that neither of these parties represents the Christian view point on life.

While there are fundamentalist liberals, they restrict themselves to peaceful protests and intellectual pursuits, whereas fundamentalist conservatives choose to behave as if the current instance of government is not only inherently evil, but also requiring of childish behavior. Fundamentalist liberals are in no way peaceful in nature. Three out of the four assassinated American Presidents were Republicans. For several years the FBI and Government agencies have listed the number one Domestic Terrorist group in the US to be P.E.T.A. In fact they declare that since 1990 Left-Wing Extremist have overtaken the Right-Wing Extremist in regards to Domestic Terror.

It was not too long ago that Fundamental Christians started a war that engulfed America for over a decade, and they weren’t Right-Wing extremist. I am talking about Democratic presidents John F. Kennedy, the only Catholic President, and Lyndon B. Johnson. The Vietnam War sparked tremendous controversy, which included violent and destructive demonstrations from fundamentalist liberals. It is no wonder that the same generation responsible for fundamentalist liberal activities are now the same generation responsible for fundamental Republican beliefs.

I am in no way defending bigotry, racism, or stupidity. You will not find me at a town meeting yelling, “Keep Government out of my Medicaid.” But do not create some Venn diagram that includes fundamental Christians as a sub-set to right-wing nut jobs. And do not make reference to the Constitution, for which fundamentalist liberals enjoyed the freedom of speech some fifty years ago, and then say that people like Glen Beck and others are not privy to it. 

We as American’s constantly play the blame game. We don’t blame the person for their actions we blame the environment, something, or someone else. We choose to make laws hindering rights, liberties, and freedoms for the masses to protect the few. We need not look else-where as a reason for an individual’s actions, but only at the individual themselves. Do not blame the gun, the speaker, the book, the religion, or the party, for the actions of an individual. The individual is solely responsible for their actions, and that is my fundamental point.

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The Multiplicity of Faith


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faithThe day before yesterday marked the beginning of the holiest time of year for Christian’s worldwide. But Christmas, isn’t that in December? Yes, Christmas is in December, and with all the snow the U.S. received these past few weeks it might have felt like December.  In actuality, however, the holiest holiday for Christians is Easter. Easter is the focal point of Christianity, based on the belief Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of the Father, was crucified on the cross (Good Friday), and on the third day rose again (Easter). Easter is on Sunday, so what happened the day before yesterday? Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, which marked the beginning of Lent.

Lent is a forty day period during which Christians fast in what is considered to be the preparation of the believer. Historically, observing lent meant all animal products were forbidden and even went as far as to require only bread was to be eaten. With that said, as civilization evolved so did Christianity. Present day Irish Catholics like myself are required to abstain from the consumption of meat on Ash Wednesday and on each Friday during the holy period. The forty day fast is meant to signify the forty days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the Devil. 

Catholic credence aside, religion, regardless what the belief system it may represent, is on the outs with the younger generation; and not just here in the United States, but the world over. Increasing fanaticism within all of the prominent religions has overshadowed the positive place religion has in our cultures. The Catholic Church has been marred by numerous counts of child molestation, the Jews are frowned upon for their abhorrent treatment of Arabs in Gaza and Palestine, and Islam is viewed with negativity and even fear throughout the world for the horrific actions of only a few. Today, more than ever, it’s clear being religious not only carries a stigma, but requires one to constantly defend their beliefs.

It is hard to get the whole picture when we constantly see only one side. Being Irish Catholic, this week was another wake-up call, as the Pope meet with Irish bishops about a widespread cover-up over abuse reports. Perhaps if we were to take a look at Religion from another view point, it would change your perspective.

I often hear the argument that religion is outdated and that modern constitutions and laws have taken its place. However, in looking at the pillars of modern law it is hard to find anything that hasn’t been influenced by religious text. Far before formal governments, religion guided one’s life. Religion is a vessel that offers interpretations and explanations for many of life’s greatest questions. 

Religious texts offer us a guide by which to live our lives. Many of the lessons we teach our children, “Turn the other cheek,” or “Do onto others as you wish done onto you,” are rooted in religious texts. Religious texts are rich with lessons to help guide one’s life and manage interactions with others.

Religion has a very constructive place in our society, but the modern media chooses to ignore positive stories and impact of religion to do good in the world. With its constant trumpeting all that is wrong with religion, the media has played a large part in turning many Americans against religiosity as a whole. Gone are the days of a quality Christian education bringing together mind, body, and spirit – at least in the United States. Even Christian soup kitchens and homeless shelters have come under fire.

Older people often have a tendency to believe that to be religious one must strictly adhere to all that a religion requires, whatever that religion may be; but I’m not so sure.

So many times I’ve heard people say I was raised Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, but I’m not anymore. That being the case, they still continue to hold on to the core values and beliefs found within their Holy Scripture. When we’re young, religion provides the black and white structure needed to give our lives a moral compass. When we grow older, religion evolves with us as well – regardless if we choose to accept this. Some of us might not agree with the organized faction of a religion, or the path upon which a religion choose to relay its message.  With that said, so much of what is good within us is derived from faith and religiosity.

And for those of you who think we would eventually learn the moral essence of humanity within a secular vacuum free of religion, I ask you to consider Thomas Hobbes.  The politcial philosopher believed people were in fact inherently evil, and if given the opportunity, would act devilishly in the name of hedonistic self-preservation.

So the next time you’re walking around and happen to see someone wearing a cross, don’t assume they support priest abuse, are abortion fanatics, or gay bashers. If you see someone wearing a yarmulke, don’t think they’re an Arab hating Zionist. And if someone is wearing a hijab or a kandora, don’t assume they’re going to blow something up. Why not ask about their beliefs and what their religion means to them. Because if you just walk by blindly, and continue to believe in the preconceived notions you hear in the news, you are no-less of a fanatic than the people you criticize.

Your fanaticism lies in your prejudice. 

 

From Gibbs Burke…

Writer’s Note: In the spirit of Lent, I would like to wish everyone good health, love, and prosperity. I know that I am not without sin, so I am sorry to all those whom I’ve offended.

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The Multiplicity of God


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This is the promotional introduction to a documentary entitled “IN GOD’S NAME”, a CBS special produced in partnership with French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet. The film explores some of the most complex questions of our time and does so via the intimate thoughts of 12 of the world’s most influential spiritual leaders. Listening to the challenges our religious leaders face within their own religions, despite their absolute dedication and constant discipline, it becomes clear that simply to love our neighbors and accept them as we would ourselves is humanity’s biggest and most difficult test. In the end,  a planetary theology is without question an impossibility, but a universal experience is not.  At film’s end, it becomes clear this, above all else, needs to be our goal.

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Radical Christianity


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Religious radicalism is often attributed to the East. Brain-washing, extremism, indoctrination, marginalization of others, and learned hatred are time and again used to describe religions like Islam, amongst others, by the West. Extremism, however, is not indigenous to the Middle East. This is a clip from the highly controversial documentary “Jesus Camp,” a chilling reminder of how the perversion of any ideology, including religion, is tantamount to extremist mind-control. There are more of them out there than you think, and most especially in the United States of America. And let us not forget that George W. Bush is an evangelical Christian who often credits Jesus Christ with saving his life. No one can deny that the kind of thought process seen in this documentary influenced his now infamous administration.

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