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Merry Christmas To All

Why would a radical anarchist care about Christmas? Isn't it just a commercialized glut of shopping days and gift wrap made of broken trees, a celebration of consumption with a little dose of state-sponsored Judeo-Christian oppression thrown in for good measure?

Well...no. I love Christmas. I'm not the least bit sheepish about it, either. I'll tell you why.
Christmas comes from a very old tradition, common in virtually all cultures. Before shopping days, even before Christianity, we celebrated the gathering in, the return of the light. It's a time to come inside, literally and figuratively. A time to gather together by the hearth, to reflect, to tell stories, and to break bread together. (Bread, not turkey. Friends are better at the table, not on it.) The winter feast is sumptuous and meaningful, and sustains us through the long, dark winter.

Although scholars believe Jesus was probably born in the springtime, we celebrate Christmas near the time of the Solstice. Why? A cynical soul might say that it came to be this way because Christians wanted to co-opt an ancient pagan holiday to lure people into the new religion. I think, though, that it's deeper than that. Christianity wasn't always about televangelists, or God-a-thons, or oppressive dictates. Yes, I know, it's hard to think of it any other way now. But these, like the impulse to capitalize on everything, are the weaknesses of the human condition, and they'll creep in anywhere we let them. It doesn't mean they're intrinsic to the spiritual impulse that gave rise to the original traditions. No, I'm no Christian, and I'm not here to proselytize. But I think it's possible to see meaning and truth in any religion, once we remove the layers of misuse and control that have collected like dust over the years. This is the dust of the elite, settled over the spiritual seekings of the people. Shake it off, and look again.

The truth is, and I say this in all seriousness, Jesus was a revolutionary. Don't tell Billy Graham, or Jerry Falwell, or all those God and Country patriots, but it's true. His message wasn't about blind obedience, submission to authority, patriotism, or any of the other entanglements usually associated with Christianity. He didn't hate gay people, he didn't look down on women, he didn't even believe, believe it or not, in organized religion. On the contrary, he believed in solidarity and mutual aid, built community among radical groups, broke down stereotypes concerning women, poor and homeless people, sick people, and all other stigmatized groups. He broke all the rules of his time, pissed off the elite, and railed against capitalism. In short, he was one of us.

At the risk of arousing the ire of those who are rightly suspicious of Bible thumping, I'm going to give a couple of examples. Bear with me. Again, I'm not trying to convert anyone here, just reclaiming a worthy tradition.

In Mark 2:15-20, Jesus offended the respectable folk and religious authorities of his day by eating with people considered too lowly to associate with, and by eating at a time when the rules said he was supposed to be fasting. In other places in the Bible, we learn that he spoke directly to women and used examples in his teachings that would relate to them. This went against all the dictates of his culture. Despite centuries of efforts to erase this fact, if we listen, we also learn that he had women disciples. Although many people have used Christianity to argue for the inferiority of women and the stigmatization of gays and lesbians, this actually goes against Jesus' own message. He reveled in the company of those who were rejected by society, he liked poor people better than rich people, and he didn't like stupid rules.

Again, in Mark 2:23, he totally pissed off the religious authorities of the time, the Pharisees, by letting his disciples root around in the grainfields for food during the Sabbath:

The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?" And he said to them, Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the House of God when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions." Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."

Yikes! Breaking the rules of the Sabbath? Saying the Sabbath was for the people? Arguing against using religion to control people? EATING THE BREAD OF THE PRESENCE? This was pretty shocking stuff. After that, he went on to (GASP!) heal someone on the Sabbath as well. This was considered a faux paux, to say the least. Again, the ruling elite was aghast. Mark 3 says:

Again he entered the synagogue and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come forward." Then he said to them, "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him."

Of course they did. Like authorities everywhere, they were threatened by people who were willing to use common sense and their own judgement rather than blindly obeying the rules. Jesus went on to throw the capitalist money changers out of the temple, enraged that they had turned the commonal spiritual life of the people into a crass commercial enterprise. (Sound familiar?) So the authorities called out the riot cops, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The point of all this is that early Christianity wasn't about oppressive, relentless, intolerant authority. It was about reclaiming a spontaneous, giving, loving, (dare I say anarchist?) spiritual life. Far from being intolerant, it was probably very syncretic. So people who were Pagans, could also be Christian. The spiritual thought behind all religions is the same, deep down inside. I believe that's how so many Pagan traditions came to be part of Christmas. We bring a tree into our homes, symbolic of everlasting life and a connection between worlds. We hang decorations on it, symbolic of the gifts of Mother Earth, to sustain us all through the cold, dark winter. We light candles and yule logs to celebrate the return of the light into the world. We feast together, warm in the wombs of our homes, ready for rebirth into the world in the spring.
thanks 25.Dec.2003 12:34

red suspenders

Thanks a lot for posting this one.

It is the hardest thing... 25.Dec.2003 15:54

Betty

The hardest thing for me to do these days is believe that there is any relationship at all between Christianity and the person of Jesus. It is hard to believe that the cosmic energy we call God even cares for us anymore. It seems that we were created and have not evolved much. We are the same people struggling in the desert allowing kings and temple watchers to use the wealth of the nations to fight their ego wars.

I keep thinking it's probably more likely that we are what Zecharia Sitchen refers to as a genetic experiment gone wrong. It might be true that the "Gods" are watching...but only passively to see what we will do next. Once in a while they drop an evolved being amongst us and we invariably find a way to torture and kill them. The only difference between the humans of the bible and now is that we have more dangerous ways of offing each other. Instead of chariots, horses, and swords we now have WMD's. Instead of a collesium full of aristocrats watching the lion tear apart the poor, we have TV and on the spot coverage of present day gladiators shooting up people's houses, blowing away children, and carpet bombing villages.

Where is the light?
Why are we waiting for the light to come back?

what a wonderful posting...thank you! 25.Dec.2003 17:20

Merlin

since a great many people on this planet celebrate Christ's assigned Birthday today, I think it's sobering for all to re-read
the very words he spoke in the courtyard of the Temple, which once spoken, unleasted the conspiring evilness of all the
"authority-figures", who then, had Him up on the cross in less than a week...

"1. Then spake Jesus to the mulititude, and to his disciples.

2. Saying, the Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:

3. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works; for they say,
and do not.

4. For they bind heavey burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves
will not move them with one of their fingers.

5. But all their works they do for to be seen of men; they make broad their phylacteries (ancient word for "roads" and
"public works"), and enlarge the borders of their garments. (a legal means to differietiate the "classes")

6. And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synanogues.

7. And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

8. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

9. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

10. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

11. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

12. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

13. @ But woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against
men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

14. Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widow's houses, and for a pretence make
long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

15. Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte (a
"believer" or a "consumer"), and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

16. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever
shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is debtor!

17. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?

18. And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is
guilty.

19. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the alter that sanctifieth the gift?

20. Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.

21. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.

22. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

23. Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have
omitted the wightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to
leave the other undone.

24. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

25. Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter,
but within they are full of extortion and excess.

26. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be
clean also.

27. Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed
appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

28. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteousunto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

29. Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish
the sepulchres of the righteous,

30. And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood
of the prophets.

31. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

32. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers,

33. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

34. Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and Scribes; and some of them ye shall kill
and crucify' and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city"

35. That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto
the blood of Zacharias son of Bar-a-chi-as, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

36. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophet's and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how
often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,
and ye would not!

38. Behold, your house if left unto you desolate,

39. Fore I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name
of the Lord.

1. And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple; and his disciples came to him for to shew him the build-
ing of the temple.

2. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one
stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

Mattew 23: 1-39, 24:1-2, King James Version of Holy Bible

CHEERS! MERRY CHRISTMAS! AND DO KNOW "what" KIND OF NEW YEAR IS UPON US ALL!

Merry Christmas! 25.Dec.2003 23:40

Adammonte9000 adammonte9000@aol.com

Merry Christmas everyone!

A pagan holiday celebrating the sun 26.Dec.2003 06:40

Aunt Sam

Why Pagans celebrate Christmas.

An exceprt:
The Sun of God

The ancients pointed to the sun and said, "There is the Sun of God. The everlasting light of the world, who gives up it's life, light, energy, so there may be everlasting life, on earth. The Sun of God died on the cross and on the third day, arose again." In the dead of winter, the ancient astronomers noted the sun's southern journey ended on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of December. For those three days the sun would appear to rise and set at the same points on the horizon. On the 24th of December they noted the sun rise a degree northward, it was out a minute longer, and set a degree north of the day before. On the 25th of December they verified it rose one more degree north and that day was celebrated as the rebirth of the Sun of God. Born of a Virgin, because the constellation Virgo is behind the Sun while in rebirth.
The ancient agrarian myth, has been told, and retold for tens of thousands of years, long before Christianity made it's patriarchal debut. Passed on by the wise one's of the villages or tribes, usually the eldest woman. Pharaoh is feminine, it means Throne. The wise one named her successor which was usually the wisest female. The problems began when they began to choose within their own blood line. Progress began to slow down untill finally there was none for thousands of years. Still, no wars were fought, no police force for 2000 years, and no army for a thousands of years. Then, a not so wise woman gave birth to a boy. When it came time to name her successor, she asked her council for permission to pass her title on to the boy. After great deliberation it was finally allowed. The first male pharaoh came to power and abruptly went on to war. Today he is recognized as the Pharaoh who united upper and lower Egypt. Signaling the sunset of Matriarchal reign.

End exerpt.



The first Christians, according to the remenants of the earlies bible, housed in Dublin, believed that Jesus was gay, god was a woman, ect. YOur version of the bible wasn't written until four hundred years after "jesus" died. It is similiar to me suddenly deifying Queen Elizabeth. The earliest writings about Jesus were bizzare becuase they recount it totally different. But some conservative men decided to rule the world. So they took the ancient truths and shrouded them in doublespeak and lies.

As I said they are in Dublin, Ireland. You can research it yourself if you like.


Merry Christmas.

Disagree with your translation 26.Dec.2003 09:21

Andy the Anarchist Jew

Good posts, but some inaccurate translations:


>."But all their works they do for to be seen of men; they make broad their phylacteries (ancient word for "roads" and
>"public works"), and enlarge the borders of their garments. (a legal means to differietiate the "classes")"



I think you misunderstand. Phylacteries are leather strips that observant Jews use to tie around their foreheads and wrists during daily prayer. Borders of their garments are blue strips of thread observant Jews weave into the corners of their garments. Both of these are commandments from the Old Testament. To broaden and enlarge them are to make a show of their piety, which goes along with the subsequent passages dealing with hypocrisy.

A thought on all this 26.Dec.2003 09:28

seeking

I love this thread!

It is true that Christianity, as we know it today, has little resemblance to it as originally practiced. Jesus was, indeed, a revolutionary. And there were many interpretations of his teachings, both during his time among his believers and afterwords. The gnostic gospels, for example, are entirely different than the gospels that most of us are familiar with. Over the years, human frailty has done a lot to change the original message, and much blood has been spilled over whose version is "right." Not so much a matter of spiritual disagreement, as a means to control people. Whomever could make the claim that they were speaking for God could control a lot of people.

But the original spiritual impulse, I think, was pure. And it does, indeed, stretch far back into history, before Christianity itself. All religions, somewhere, are based on this spiritual seeking, this feeling that there's something more, this desire to connect with it.

Regarding Christianity, yes, it's very interesting to note which things have changed over time, and how much. Jesus, for example, had a great deal of respect for women. Some scholars, in fact, regard the teachings of Jesus as a re-feminization of the religious life of people in that part of the world. Jesus was born into a highly patriarchal, highly misogynist society. Yet he specifically and very visibly treated women as equals. He was questioned about it numerous times, even by his own disciples. And according to three of the four gospels, the people who stood by him while he was crucified were women, and the first people to whom he appeared after the crucifixion were women.

Even the early Christian church was much more egalitarian than the outside society. Women, for example, held leadership roles in the early church, and provided much of its financial backing. Women were ordained as deaconesses.

This was going against a powerful tide, though, and in less than a generation we can trace the return of the oppressive patriarchal structure. The church began to solidify an organizational structure, and women began to be pushed into the background. In the pastoral letters, coming after the gospels in the New Testament, we can see this debate raging. (Interestingly, however, some of the more vitriolic anti-woman words that have long been attributed to Paul were probably not written by him at all. Scholars are starting to recognize that Paul's works were generally very supportive of women's equality, whereas a psudonymous "Paul" came along sometime afterwards and put some fiery words in his mouth. Who knows.)

The Biblical texts which came to be cannonized represent a small portion of the overall works written by people practicing Chritianity during that time. Early Christian works, by the way, weren't "the Bible." The Bible was created by a bunch of men who got together more than a century later and decided which works would be cannonized and which would not. Strangely enough, most of the works showing women as strong, virtuous, intellegent, and independent were edited out. It's interesting to note, though, that as the new religion began to spread, it was the old pagan elements that grew along with it. The veneration of Mary, for example, and the nativity stories, have strong pagan roots.

We can still find it all, though, if we look for it. Human frailties are present in every religion, as surely as the grain of truth from which the tradition originally grew. We can choose to reject the entire message out of disgust, or, if we want to, we can seek what is really there, under all the nonsense. We can reclaim the map that someone laid out for us, which I think is present in every religion.

For my part, I will celebrate the return of the Son, and the Sun.

Did a historical Jesus exist? No. 26.Dec.2003 12:25

GRINGO STARS

 http://www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm

"...examine the evidence for the Hercules of Greek mythology and you will find it parallels the historicity of Jesus to such an amazing degree that for Christian apologists to deny Hercules as a historical person belies and contradicts the very same methodology used for a historical Jesus."

"Many Christian apologists attempt to extricate themselves from their lack of evidence, claim that if we cannot rely on the post chronicle exegesis of Jesus, then we cannot establish a historical foundation for other figures such as Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Socrates, etc. However, there sits a vast difference between historical figures and Jesus. There occurs either artifacts, writings, or eyewitness accounts for historical people, whereas, for Jesus we have *nothing*."

Where did the story of Jesus come from? 26.Dec.2003 13:36

A

Look up the tales of Mithra. Virgin birth in a cave, radical life, last supper, betrayel, resurrection from the cave,....
it's all there.

Celebrate Christ-like folk but fuck Christmas! 26.Dec.2003 14:19

One of the many Time keepers for Christ

Happy season to everyone out there reading these comments!

I like the essence of what the author is saying about Christ the Revolutionary

BUT...

The timing of Christmas is pure power politics.

The rest of the story...

Several centuries ago Pope Gregory figured out a great way to control the folk-- control their public festivals. Especially the ones that are based on the seasons of nature. So check out the twelve days of "Christmas" going from Dec 25th to January 5th. That's the Pope's Jesus' made up birthday to the celebration called Epiphany or the Day of the Kings. What's smack in the middle? The so-called New Year. We count the revolution of the earth around the sun at this day because it is at the center of the Christian creation myth, as opposed to a more logical day like the Spring or Autumnal equinoxes (as Pagans and moon-worshipping Jews and Muslims do). Controling time around the celebration of your particular God mythology makes your God strong. Your power to control the people with your God, that is.

So celebrate Jesus the revolutionary, but learn who wrote the story of Christmas and why.

Peace to all free thinking voluntary cooperators, solidarity with all humans,

and to all a good night!

Jesus/Myth/Infancy Narratives 26.Dec.2003 14:48

Christian Pastor

The pre-Christian myths were used to write the infancy narratives ( the scholarly term for the stories of Jesus birth) along with other material.
The stories of Jesus birth were written long after the fact and are not based on facts about Jesus .
The stories were added as a sort of prologue to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke --- there are no birth stories in the Gospels of John or Mark. --- and the stories in matthew and Luke are distinctly different and contradictory in some instances. More fundamentalist or literalist Christians have tried unsuccessfully to reconcile the accounts because it is important to them to have the stories be "true" in an eyewitness kind of truth. But that is not why they were written.
The stories were written to point the reader to the story that would follow and to make some connections to other religious tradtions. The stories are like icons that need to be read as well as enjoyed for the surface picture or story. Everything means something. For example, in the Gospel of Matthew three maji or kings or astronomers show up bearing gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold --- symbols of divinity, death and royalty --- pointing to Christian beliefs about Jesus.
In Matthew there is a story of Herod killing the first born children which makes Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt. This story is to connect Jesus with Moses as a great prophet.
On the other hand the Gospel of Luke has no kings and no killings. Luke writes of a stable and shepherds. He puts Jesus among the poor and the outcast. ETC ECT,
An interesting reference for interested readers would be Ray Brown's The Birth of the Messiah.
Anyway, Christmas is about hope. About the promise that there will be light in the darkness. About the sense that God is with us not somewhere else, and that peace is possible. Whether we are Christian, Pagan or Jew or other., this time of year can be celebrated wherever people come together and and honor one another's deepest beliefs and dreams, with love and joy.
Merry Christmas to all the posters.

Wake up. Smell the coffee 26.Dec.2003 19:58

tom

Thank you all for your posts-- in these cynical times it is refreshing to see a gleam of hope peeking out of the darkness.

The essential Christian message has not been lost, but it certainly has been covered over with layers of imperium (Rome, mainly) and Orthodoxy. If Jesus were alive today, he would probably be crucified-- or more likely, rolled over by a bulldozer.

We the people can reclaim the world from the Illuminati-- it requires only that we wake up.

wow! I agree with the last poster... 27.Dec.2003 01:50

let's bash the Illuminati

fancy that! as I'm reading this thread, I've been listening to Art Bell's talk radio program and his guest, Richard C.
Hoagland, who spoke on themes ringing with this thread. It was so refreshing, so invigorating, so liberating to
"feel" the vibrations of truth. This in contrast to earlier TV special in which a frequent feature was that old arch-
Illuminatist looney himself, Bush, Sr. with dear old George Washington by his side (oops!...was that really poor
old George W. or who was ii...?) and his idiot son, with his Sweetie Pie that talk's like she's got a couple of little
ol' Sugar Babies stuck in the roof of her mouth...all seeking to gain illumination by being with the "stars". And
let me tell you...they needed all the shine from other's they could get in order to even begin to spark a shine from
their own rotten carcess's. The Illuminati are dull dudes for sure...give us REAL shine, not dullards...give us the
TRUTH, not bullshit! What a wonderful time to be alive!

Re: Christ the Revolutionary 27.Dec.2003 02:11

truthSeeker

I find it interesting to read the article and see so many things that Christ did, that would totally undermine so much of the present day Church. It seems as if man as corrupted so much. Then again I find it a bit funny to only accept the part of Christ that makes us feel better. I mean after all, he was a revolutionary, we all celebrate Christmas (or at least have Christmas interfere with our lives) for one month of the year. With 2004 upon us we still allow One man to control so much of our world. From our calendar to multiple holidays (both celebrated or avoided) and yet we only take time to extract the "meaning of Christmas" that "we" find in it. I mean afterall, this intrusive behavior of the Christ is everywhere. I heard it on TV today coming out in Dean's Campaign and Mel Gipson is bringing a whole movie to market about his crucifixion. I mean, no offense, but I don't see us celebrating the birth of Hercules anytime soon.

So that makes me think that there are a great deal of decieved people out there. One way or the other.

Jesus himself claimed to be God's Son. That just seems crazy, yet at the same time, I guess it's easier to just pick and choose what we like about him and what we don't. Of course, if we do that then we squash everything he stood for; you know "with him or against him".

I like the part that catWoman wrote (But I think it's possible to see meaning and truth in any religion, once we remove the layers of misuse and control that have collected like dust over the years.)
I tend to not think that all roads lead to one place. Mainly because the don't here on earth. I do think that I have never read a story that hasn't borrowed something from a bigger story. It seems a story always has sacrifice and redemption. In fact, I'm wandering if there is a story with out it. Oh and if there is, did you like it?

One more comment about a catWoman quote: "The point of all this is that early Christianity wasn't about oppressive, relentless, intolerant authority. It was about reclaiming a spontaneous, giving, loving, (dare I say anarchist?) spiritual life."

Close but not quite, the point of the early Christians (you know real Christians -apprentices of Jesus) was not to reclaim a spontaneous, giving, loving spiritual life, it was to do one thing: bring Glory to God. Nothing else. In fact, "dying to oneself" would seem to me to be just the opposite of a blissful spiritual life. The mystery behind it all is the fact that in giving all Glory to God they claim a spontaneous, giving, loving relationship with God. This way man is not central in the story, God is. Who knows maybe that's where we all miss it! Maybe we aren't central to this story - especially if God wrote it!

catWomen: thanks for making me think!

truthseeker
" . . . trying desperately to have an original thought " and "I think I might have even heard this one"

O yes and "Merry Hercules-mas" to all


- just kidding

What a great thread. 27.Dec.2003 08:11

: )

Thanks to all who posted here. This is a great thread. (Grongo, I love ya buddy, but you completely missed the point.)

Do tell 27.Dec.2003 11:32

GRINGO STARS

...???

I got the point - giving/sharing/family/etc (which willfully ignores much of the Bible's warmongering, sexism and ethnocentrism). Am I right? But most people believe that a person names Jesus actually existed and I wanted to remind readers that there has never been any evidence of that.

Keep an open kind 27.Dec.2003 15:00

To Gringo

Well, in the first place, Gringo, there actually is evidence of a historical Jesus. Not that this has a lot of bearing on the Christian mythology of Jesus, as this is largely metaphorical anyway. But the Roman historian Josephus gives us an eye witness account of the crucifixion. Josephus, not being a Christian, had no motive for making it up, and it's strikingly different from the gospel accounts. (He apparently wandered out that way out of curiosity, describes Jesus as scrawny, makes some unflattering remarks, and seems baffled about all the fuss.) He mentioned Jesus very matter-of-factly, in only a few sentences in his monumental works, from which historians have learned much of what we know from the Roman empire during that time.

There is other sporadic evidence, but this one is fairly credible. If you're interested, though, there are lots of excellent scholarly works out there you can pursue on the subject. Lots of people have been interested in this very topic, so the research is voluminous. Not all is contaminated by prejudices of the researcher one way or the other, but one does need to steer clear of the frilly Bible thumping as well as the stogy, unsubstantiated skepticism.

As for "willfully ignoring the Bible's warmongering, sexism and ethnocentrism," I gotta bring you back again here too. First, the Bible is an excellent anthropological, philosophical, and humanist document besides being the cornerstone for Christian faith. I think you might be reacting to the oppressiveness of present-day Christianity, which isn't really Christianity at all, but political maneuvering and opportunism. That's in every religion. (Hinduism, for example, is a beautiful and poetic religion that's been co-opted by various nasty factions, used to justify class stratification and subjugation of women.) Any religion can succumb to the weaknessed of the human condition, but any religion can also serve as a map to something more. It's all in how you look.

Yes, there's a lot of weird stuff in the Bible, like some really homophobic stuff written in the same place that we're admonished not to wear more than two fabrics at the same time. But it's you who is being ethnocentric if you choose to ignore the fact that the Bible is a lot of stories that were first told, and then written by a lot of different people, in a different place, in a different time. They were trying to figure it all out then, just as we are today. Some did a better job of it than others, by the way. Much of what is written today fits the same description you give for the Bible, so your looking down your nose that way is short sighted and ethnocentric.

Finally, the original post was referring to the story of Jesus, as described in the Gospels in the New Testament. The New Testament is a much different work than the Hebrew Bible, known to Christians as the Old Testament. Without passing judgement on the relative merits on the two works, one must recognize that they are completely different maps. For example, while the Old Testament was indeed full of "warmongering," the same cannot be said of the New Testament, particularly not the Gospels. Again, written by different people, in different times, in different circumstances. Also, the Gospels are anything but "sexist." For their time, they were absolutely revolutionary for their emphasis on the equality of women. It has only been later additions that have attempted to justify the subjugation of women through religion.

I urge you to learn more about the subject before just reacting to it. Yes, a lot of crappy things have been done in the name of Christianity, just as with every other religion. But there have also been a lot of good works. I've known some very committed people of faith who take it to street level. Catholics who have created women's shelters and fought against war. Remember the Catholic nuns who went to prison for breaking into a missle silo in Colorado and damaging the missle? Faith means a lot to some people, and I don't think you can just write them all off like you have.

Even if you do choose to do so, at the very least, educate yourself a little more about the issue before blaring out baseless, closed-minded assumptions as if they were fact. I understand your urge to react against Christian oppression, but there are more productive ways to address that than this.

Merry Christmas to all response 27.Dec.2003 15:25

Purest_truthSeeker

I read the article that CatWoman posted entitled "Merry Christmas to All" as well as the rest of the thread. It is quite an interesting read. I think that I found something interesting yet incongruent that ought to be addressed.

Jesus Christ was indeed a revolutionary. Here in nearly 2004 we are still invaded on a daily basis with the person of Jesus. He has invaded our lives in countless ways. If either by Christmas that we all celebrate (or avoid) or by the fact that everyone on earth functions off of one "Christian" calendar, we are still invaded by his life. I heard on the news yesterday that Dean is about to start including words of Jesus in his political speeches and Mel Gipson is about to release his movie, The Passion of The Christ. Everywhere we turn whether Christmas, Easter, speeches or movies; this man is still invading everything.

So what's the incongruent part? Well it seems to me we have once again taken the part of Jesus that we like and tried to use it for our good. I think the idea of us interpreting our own "meaning of Christmas" and utilizing it as a means to look for a new year with hope and peace and make reflections on good times past is just pathetic. I certainly don't think the couple of tokens thrown to Jesus for his being "one of us" would be accepted. No offense, but I think that would undermine everything Jesus stood far according to his words. If Jesus was just one of us then he would have said so, but he didn't. In fact, he claimed something that we all cringe on, he claimed to be God's Son and he claimed to be born of a virgin.

Christians have done so much to destroy the works of Christ. Ironically, they have also done the most to support it. What does that mean? Well it certainly means that the holiday of Christmas is not up for sale. If it's a day celebrating the birth of Christ, then let it be. Let's not convolute it with warm fuzzies to help us feel better for the choice's we've made.

Another quote made: But I think it's possible to see meaning and truth in any religion, once we remove the layers of misuse and control that have collected like dust over the years.

I tend to not think that all roads lead to one destination, primarily because they don't here on earth. I do however agree with your sentiment on this level. It seems to me that all stories borrow from one big story. In every story there is always an element of Sacrifice and Redemption; the original elements that are found in the story of Jesus. In fact I don't think you can find a story without it. (And if you did -did you really like?) It seems to me that the whole idea of finding truth in multiple religions is once again something that Jesus himself would squash. You said that he didn't like religion; which is funny because so many people say they are Christian yet they don't follow Christ; they simply are religious to some church building. He made a claim that you won't agree with: He said he was the way the truth and the life. Christ himself was intolerant!

The point of all this is that early Christianity wasn't about oppressive, relentless, intolerant authority. It was about reclaiming a spontaneous, giving, loving, (dare I say anarchist?) spiritual life.

This was something that I think the early Christians would disagree with. The point of the early Christians (you know -the real ones -Jesus' apprentices) was to do only what Jesus had done; and all throughout Scripture we see that Jesus' sole purpose was to bring Glory to "His Father". In fact, scripture speaks of "dying to ones' self". This is a far cry from reclaiming a spontaneous, giving, loving spiritual life. I think the mystery is the fact that they proclaimed that upon this "dying to ones' self" they found spontaneous, giving, and a loving relationship with God.

My point is simply if Jesus was who he said he was then we can't pass tokens for his tactics that we like; we must cut loose all other ties and claims and follow him or claim him to be the biggest liar and deceit that walked on the face of the earth. His message had no other alternative that "with me or against me". This means that when we try to make our story good, we seem to always borrow from his. Maybe that's because life isn't our story at all. I mean if it were my story I would certainly make me and my son the center-not man.

Thanks! CatWoman for making me think!

Purest_truthSeeker: "Trying desperately to have an original thought and I think I've even heard this one"


(Note to GRINGO STARS: "Merry Herculesmas")

Concerning Josephus and the rampant sexism within the Bible... 27.Dec.2003 15:42

GRINGO STARS

To quote the article I linked to above:


There occurs many problems with the reliability of the accounts from ancient historians such as Josephus, Tacitus, etc. Most of them did not provide sources for their claims, as they rarely included bibliographic listings, or supporting claims. They did not have access to modern scholarly techniques, and many times would include hearsay as evidence. No one today would take a modern scholar seriously who used the standards of ancient historians, yet this proves as the only kind of source that Christology comes from. Couple this with the fact that many historians believed as Christians themselves, sometimes members of the Church, and you have a built-in prejudice towards supporting a "real" Jesus.

In modern scholarship, even the best historians and Christian apologists play the historian game. They can only use what documents they have available to them. And if they only have hearsay accounts then they get forced to play the cards that history deals them. Many historians feel compelled to use interpolation or guesses from hearsay, and yet this very dubious information sometimes ends up in encyclopedias and history books as fact.

In other words, Biblical scholarship gets forced into a lower standard by the very sources they examine. This got illustrated clearly in an interview by the renowned Biblical scholar, David Noel Freeman (Freeman, the General editor of the Anchor Bible Series and many other works). An interviewer asked him about Biblical interpretation. Freeman replied:

"We have to accept somewhat looser standards. In the legal profession, to convict the defendant of a crime, you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases, a preponderance of the evidence is sufficient. When dealing with the Bible or any ancient source, we have to loosen up a little; otherwise, we can't really say anything."

-David Noel Freedman (in Bible Review magazine, Dec. 1993, p.34)

The implications appear obvious. If one wishes to believe in a historical Jesus, he must accept it based on loose standards. Couple this with the fact that all of the claims come from hearsay, and we have a foundation made of sand, and a castle of information built of cards.


Actually, the Bible is quite clear in its warmongering, sexism and homophobia. God himself tells people to slaughter entire people. God supports genocide, in other words. Homosexuals are to be killed, according to the book of Leveticus. And women are told in no uncertain terms that their sole role is to obey their men just as their men obey God. I am well aware that the Bible was written my many different people, but all of them were patriarchs interested in creating a system of social control, including rules and laws and everything. I would love for youto cite any passages that in any way promote "equality" of women anywhere in the Bible. I am definitely approaching this issue with an open mind, and expect you to do the same.

1 Corinthians Chapter 11 vs 3
"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God."

In 1Timothy 2:11-15 we are told that women are not permitted to have authority over men and that they must be silent because Adam was formed first then Eve.

There are several verses in the bible that emphasise women's uncleanness.

"A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding. These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl. She is to bring two doves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean." Leviticus 12: 1-8

If a woman gives birth to a girl she is unclean for twice as long.

"When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. ... If a man lies with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days..." Leviticus 15:19-32.

"Man born of woman... Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one!" Job 14:1-4

In some denominations women are still considered unclean during their menses. E.g. in the Greek Orthodox church women who have given birth attend church forty days after the birth to make amends for their uncleanness and be declared clean by the priest. Young women are still exhorted by their mothers and mothers in law to bow to this insulting and demeaning ritual.

The words whore and harlot are used frequently in the bible to describe women who deviated from the double standards sexual moral code. Women's bodies were not their own but the property of fathers and husbands. Virginity and chastity were mandatory for women and any woman breaking the double standard moral code was put to death. Under Mosaic Law men were permitted many wives while women were permitted only one and were subject to a test for unfaithfulness - Numbers 5:11-31. Men could divorce their wives on a whim - Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Women's main role was to bear male children and infertile women were scorned. In the bible it was always the women who were sterile, never the men.

"... If however the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death..." Deuteronomy 22:13-21.

"For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head;" 1 Corinthians 11:9, 10.

"... women should remain silent in churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission..." 1 Corinthians 14:34

"Wives submit to your husbands, as is fitting to the Lord." Colossians 3:18

I urge you not to take my word for it but to check it out yourself. Here are some more biblical "gems" to look up:

GENESIS

2:22 Eve created from Adam's rib.
3:16 Cursed with painful childbirth and domination by husband.
4:17 Cain marries sister?
4:19 Man marries two wives.
12:13-19 Abraham prostitutes wife.
19:1-8 Rape virgin daughters instead of male angels.
19:26 Lot's wife turned into pillar of salt for disobeying god.
19:30-38 Lot impregnates his two daughters while drunk. (So much for "family values"!)
20:2-12 Abraham prostitutes wife - again.
25:1-6 Keeping many concubines is OK.


EXODUS

20:17 Wife as property.
21:4 Wife and children belong to master.
21:7-11 OK to sell daughters. Female slaves can be used for sex.
Polygamy permitted. Unwanted female slaves can be set "free" without payment of money.
22:18 Kill witches.


LEVITICUS

12:1 Childbirth a sin, Women unclean after childbirth.
15:19-32 Menstruating women are unclean.
20:10-16 Death penalty for homosexuality and various sexual transgressions.
21:7 Priests must not marry prostitutes or divorcees.
21:9 Burn daughters.
21:13-14 Priest must marry virgin, not "used" woman.


NUMBERS

1:2 Census lists only men - women do not count.
5:11-31 Fidelity test for women only.
30:1-16 Woman's vow invalid unless approved by her father or husband.
31:17-18 Kill all except virgins. Keep virgins for yourselves.
CH 12 Miriam punished for rebuking Moses.


DEUTERONOMY

20:14 Take women, livestock as plunder.
22:13-21 Stone non-virgin bride.
22:23-24 Stone rapist AND rape victim.
22:28 Rape victim must marry rapist; rape victim's father compensated for depreciation of his property.
25:11-12 Cut woman's hand for touching foe's penis.
24:1-5 Man can "send" wife from HIS house. Man must not marry "used" woman.
28:18 The FRUIT of your womb will be cursed - eclectic "pro-life" verse!


JUDGES

5:30 Women are spoils of war.
14:20 Samson gives wife to another man.
16:1 Samson visits prostitute.
CH 19 Concubine pack-raped and butchered.
21:10-12 Slaughtered all inc. women and children. Saved virgins for wives.
21:21 Abducted girls for wives.


1 SAMUEL

15:2-3 Attack Amalekites, kill men, women, children and livestock.
22:19 Kill all inc. infants and livestock.
21:4-5 Men avoid defilement with women.


2 SAMUEL

5:13 David took many wives and concubines.
16:21-22 Absalom sleeps with his father's concubines.


1 KINGS

11:3 Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.


2 KINGS

9:30-37 Brutal murder of Jezebel.


2 CHRONICLES

11:21 Hoards of wives and concubines.


ESTHER

CH 1-2 Queen Vashti dethroned for disobedience; setting "bad" example to all other women.


PSALMS

51:5 Sinful since conception.
127:3 Sons are heritage from god.


PROVERBS

CH 5 Beware of wicked women!
CH 7 More of the above.
6:24 As above.
31:3 Do not waste strength on women.


ISAIAH

3:16-26 Lord punishes haughty women.
4:4 Filthy women.
13:16 Ravish wives, dash infants.
19:16 Will be like women! (insult to Egyptians)


EZEKIEL

CH 16 Prostitutes, stoning, promiscuity...


NAHUM

3:4... wanton lust of a harlot... prostitution... witchcraft.
3:13... Your troops are all women. (insult to Nineveh)


MATTHEW

5:32 Husband can divorce wife for adultery. Can wife divorce husband for the same?
CH 25 Sexist tale of ten virgins.


LUKE

2:22 Mary must be purified after birth of Jesus.
2:49 Jesus rebukes his mother.


I CORINTHIANS

11:2-10... Woman created for man.
14:34 Women must be silent in churches.


EPHESIANS

5:22-24 Wives must submit to husbands in everything.


COLOSSIANS

3:18 Wives submit to husbands.


I TIMOTHY

2:11-15 Woman must not have authority... she must be silent. Women can be saved with childbearing.
5:9-10 Widows should be faithful to dead husband and must wash saints' feet.


1 PETER

3:1 Wives submit.
3:5-6 Sarah calls husband master.


REVELATION

CH 17 Destroy great prostitute.
14:4...they did not DEFILE themselves with women but kept themselves pure.

 http://exchristian.net/exchristian/2002_05_10_archive.php

You don't have to be a Christian 27.Dec.2003 16:46

Christian Pastor

Gringo,
You sound like you were raised in a fundamentalist or authoritarian patriarchal family or otherwise came into contact with some pretty difficult religious zealots.
It seems that you want to convert people to your way of thinking by bullying them. Have you considered what is different from your approach and the approach of fundamentalist Bible thumpers who also think they have all the answers if only we will listen to them or read their volumes of material?
Maybe it would help to think of the Bible as evolving along with human kind. After all the people who wrote the various books of the bible came from a variety of societal situtations and spanned centuries. Some of what I wrote as a teen would appal me now. SOme of what human beings did centuries ago is appallas well. We can and do evolve, learn and grow - as individuals and as communties and species. ( Though some never do it is true)
You sited the Hebrew Scriptures(Old Testament) in a proof texting style that is common with fundamentalists, were you aware of that?
Proof texting is a technique that looks for passages in scripture to support a particular view. The passages are often taken out of context or out of the historical sitz en lieben (place/situation/culture) in order to prove some modern thought.
There is another way of approaching scripture. Clearly you have encountered some pretty unChristian Christians in your day.
I don't believe that it is necessary or possible to change your mind --- I just want to offer that for some of us, what you are saying is just as remote as what we are saying is to you. Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree.

Please explain how I have "bullied" anyone... 27.Dec.2003 18:49

GRINGO STARS

...by bringing up the fact that there is no reliable historical evidence that Jesus ever existed? I meant to bring some real historic rigor into the discussion rather than blindly accepting the word of early Christians, who admitted to lying in order to spread the gospel.

Yes, I am aware that I quoted passages that support the sexism of the Bible. Yes, I know that several different Patriarchs from over a couple centuries wrote the books that made up the Bible. Yet they were all Christians and they were all typical products of a misogynistic time.

Do you consider it a little opportunistic to decide to keep the parts you like in the Bible and discard those passages where God himself told people to commit genocide, for example? True, interpretations of the Bible change over time in order to serve the earthly churches. That's why I included the verses in order for readers to look them up and decide for themselves. remeber to take context into account, as well.

no, not by bringing up information 27.Dec.2003 19:14

Christian Pastor

I used the word bully because that is how i personally feel about people who drop a dump truck load of information on a person rather than just keeping a conversation or dialogue going. It is like they are trying to say "see I have a bigger arsonal than you" but maybe that is just how it felt to me. i did not mean to be simply offensive.

Gringo, There are different ways to look at and use scripture. First let me correct one comment --- that the people who wrote the bible over time were "all Christians" I am sure that is not what you meant since you were quoting the Hebrew Scriptures as well...

It would be considered opportunistic under a fundamentalist/literalist system to take some of the words of scripture as edifying and discard the rest .
Under the system which approaches scripture as the work of a people (community) that has recognized God in their midst, it is not opportunistic. You see, for someone like myself, and I am trained in scripture - though not in a fundamentalist way, I read scripture knowing that people wrote this work -- not "God -Himself" --- I don't even think of God as He. All of scripture was written by people reflecting on what has happened to them, thus, they are not writing in the midst of something, but reflecting back as they have come to understand their experiences with the Divine and always within the framework of their own prejudices and culture. Is it inspired? Yes! Inspired by the community's experience of the Divine --- but not inspired if by inspired you mean God was pushing the pen....
Divine presence is something very different than the presence of you or I -- it is explained in metaphors and symbols. The biblical authors were trying to convey something in human terms. Sometimes they did better than others. A close reading will tell you when they missed the point or when they edit or simply add the common sense of their era.

hope and beauty 27.Dec.2003 21:46

tom

There is hope and beauty in the Bible-- so by modern literary standards ("Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know") there must be truth in the Bible. On the other hand, there is much ugliness-- left in place by generations of editors who could have removed it-- which must mean it is present of as a sort of mirror to reflect that truth.

To me, the genius of the Bible is that it tells a lot of stories about a lot of different people in a lot of different places. I don't think of it as historical. Though some people insist that it is literally and "historically" accurate, that can't be so-- even a 4 or 5 generation family history is only partly "true"-- even though all the familiy members in the 6th generation would recognize the general accuracy, a lot of detail is blurred or just plain wrong. So how can a collection of stories many hundreds of years old be accurate in every detail-- it's just silly.

But what is true is that it is a long, consistent, fairly tightly edited account of a group of people who were psychological astute and kept meticulous track of what worked and what didn't. And they weren't shy about recording their errors.

The closer it gets to real historical people, the less the Bible becomes a meditation, and the more it becomes a rant. I'm quite sure there is a reason that the "canon" was "closed" some time before there was clear accountability for the actual authors-- it is important to leave the mystery in religion.

THE TRUE GENIUS OF THE BIBLE 28.Dec.2003 01:13

AUNT SAM

The true genius of the bible is that it was written by men and for men in the worship of men.

I always love the argument that the new testament is love but the rest is that violent jewish shit. The torah is much different than the old testament. A lot was cut out of the torah to make the old testament. Besides the "symbolism" of the bible is entirely different than the "symbolism" of the old testament.


Have you ever read the entire bible? It seesm like one war after another and then they attack women and blah blah blah. How about the brain numbing retelling of jesus over and over like brainwashing?

Also the bhagvahad gita is an extremely violent book as well. A bunch o gods in battle.

I know, every one admonsihes me and say, "Auntie, that book is about symbolism." I say, "OF WHAT, IRAQ?" and they get frusterated with me. I am not bashing on anyones faith but the fact is that there are so many wonderful books and thoughts on this earth. You do not have time to read them all, why should I get trapped reading this stuff over and over?


Ya know, I am tired of reading war as an allegory for something else when clearly it is not. When I look in Bahgdad and see bloody children I know there is not an allegory for worship in this.

If this is historical then I say let me worship my ancestors instead of yours. If this is allegory then let me make my own symbolism rather tahn take yours.

I understand having the beautiful faith of the women who were Catholic. I respect that. But when you say, Pastor, that Grino is bullying you because he gives you too much info but Merlin is not, then I see your fear of confronting anothers spirituality than your own. Though Gringo never directly states this , and may even deny it, he is somewhat of a spiritualist but because you do not read between his words and deny any religion but your own, with anything than the usual blowoffs (Hinduism is good, peaceful stuff) you are unable to comprehend any other viewpoint than a weird psycho reversal of "who hurt you with my religion? " Come on, not all of us where raised with your religion, cared that much of a fig about it, but do celebrate similiar holidays with barely a hats lift to ya. See, the thing is not everyone who argues with Christainity really was ever affected by it. Let's say you aruing the Talamud. Were you ever turned off by it by someone of faith? No, probably not. It is probably an excerise in dictionary linguistical information and statistics and numbers. Most likely you sit and compare your knowledge and word intrepetation of ancient history without reading or knowing the language of that time. Like that debate earlier on the interpretation of a word.

The only true debate I have evr had against organized religion in America is that all religions are tax free. That is a huge front for organized crime. I don't like that. If you don't believe me look into Pat Roberton. Check out the "Best Money Democracy Can Buy."

the list is important 28.Dec.2003 09:17

Catherine

I find Gringo's list personally affirming that I live in a war culture that is hateful of the feminine. I have felt for a long time that each of us is being conditioned to live in controlled, indoctrinated world. I read the message from Jeff Luers (see message of December 25th) and said to myself "Jeff, it is no different outside the walls of that building you call a prison". None of us is really free.

As a woman who was raised Irish Catholic I was able to drop the most blatant indoctrination that I as a woman had no value except to have children, lots of them, and then die early.

Long ago I stopped going to mass and stop listening to the priests and even the women of that oppressive culture and started reading everything I could find that would break apart the illusion of this culture. I had to do this work alone because few around me were willing to give up the security of the illusion.

Many in the resistance movement feel lost right now because they don't know what culture could be created that would be better than what we have now. "Tear it all down"? And what will we have?

For you who think the bible and religion is an expression of sprituality, think again. The bible is the code of the repressive culture. Yes, you can find "good" passages in it, and if you look really hard, you do find that Jesus was a revolutionary...however, look at what happened to him in this "good" book. He was killed. What message does that give to those who would resist?

Those Christians who refuse to look at the destructive code, the anti-feminine, the anti-Gaia, the pro-war are lost in their own indoctrination.

How can we resist a culture so fully entrenched that there is no recognition of our own jail? That we cannot see that we are being led to destroy our own future?

The first step is to challenge oneself and ones most basic beliefs. It is hard work and makes one feels disoriented. You may have to do this work alone because most will not go there willingly.

There are several books that I think give a better view of how religion is used to control resistance. Here are a few:

Egalia's Daughters by Gerd Brantenberg. This book is about a world in which women are in power and have created a culture and religion that portrays women as the all powerful. It was good for me to read this because I realized that replacing patricarchy with matriarchy would solve no problems if rank, power over and hierarchies are the blue print of the culture we live in. It is also very enlightening as to how entrenched we are in our indoctrination and shows a way out of the personal prisons we live in.

Brave New World by Aldus Huxley - a book read by a past resistence movement. I have heard that many will not read it because it is said to be inconseqential. However, so much of what Huxley wrote about have come true. And, so many feel as though we have lost to the corporate dictators. We need to start filling ourselves with tales of hope. Hopelessness gets us no where. This book is a tale of hope.

Others: The monkey wrench gang by Edward Abbey. The "Webs of Power" by Starhawk.

There are many books available to tell us the way out of this maze. And, we need to start talking to each other using a new symbolism. We know that what is being created for humanity is anti-life. We know that war is wrong. What do we want to create for the future? What is the plan? Be aware as we have this conversation that those who have been most oppressed will want to be part of creating the future. It is hard work to hear them. Sexism, racism, ageism, ranking (classism), oppression of the species, environmental destruction, ... all these things need to be part of the conversation in order to create something new that is life affirming and provides hope for the future.

The most important work will happen on the personal level. We each need to learn to listen to each other. We need to learn to support each other as we walk out of this maze. We need life affirming symbolism to give us hope. On the most personal level we need to start supporting each other and building a new community.

Thanks for the great discussion 28.Dec.2003 10:00

I love Christmas too

While I don't agree with everyone or anything, I love this discussion. It seems like we're all trying to find something. I think we might all be on the right track. We're on different paths, but we all mean well and we're all looking in the right places.

I do want to add that I used to really despise so-called "organized religion" too. Especially Christianity. Because to me, Christianity was only represented by greedy, money-grubbing, hellfire white guys out to push people around. They don't even believe what they say, why should I? Not to mention awful incidents like the crusades, or all the other times people have killed for God. Or whatever it was they thought they were doing.And church was all about passing the collection plate and telling people what to do. I figured, if God wants us to know something, won't s/he tell us to our faces, and not through those flawed little white guys in the pulpits?

I've come a long way since then, though. I've discovered that this isn't really what religion, even organized religion, is about. It's about a sense of community, seeking together. Sometimes people need that, sometimes they don't. I still think God speaks to us personally, and we don't necessarily need to go to church or the temple or wherever to hear him/her. But I have much more respect for communities of faith than I once did. I don't mean the "here's the collection plate, and aren't those gay people bad, and get into the kitchen woman" churches. But believe it or not, that isn't all there is out there. Communities of faith do a lot of quiet community building among us, without ever preaching about it. (Thanks especially to Pastor Valerie.)

It's always good to question things, especially things people have used against us for so long. But it's also good to keep our eyes and our minds open, and not to just write things off before we've given them a thought. (By the way, Gringo, Jesus never claimed to be born of a virgin. Also, from what I recall, he usually called himself the Son of Man, didn't he?)

yes, we should ALL keep our minds open 28.Dec.2003 10:29

GRINGO STARS

No, Jesus never said anything that wasn't ascribed to him by another person. And it was those other people who claimed that Jesus is the Son of God. But the truth of the matter is, if we apply the same rigor of history to Jesus as we do to any otherhistoprical question; there is no reliable historic record of Jesus. At all. So historically speaking, there was no Jesus to say anything at all.

To the commentor above, just because time progresses does not necessarily mean that you have, whether you felt you have or not. Your initial opinion of organized religion is still as valid as your new appreciation of the church. It is definitely both of those things. When so many "Men of God" are shown to be hypocrites, what does that say about the function organized religion has within hypocrisy itself? When Martin Luther King, Jr. AND Billy Graham AND Jesse Jackson are all shown to be adulterers, which goes against what they rpeach, how can we believe a word they say? When the Dalai Lama preaches one thing (peace and democracy) while his holy Kalachakra outlines something the opposite (holy war and a worldwide Buddhocracy) what are we to think th etrue function of an organized religion is?

As Aunt Sam pointed out (and Catherine listed a few good examples) there are countless excellent books in the world, with new ones published every week, and every one of them penned by humans, just like the Bible. So why look to ONLY one book for wisdom/guidance/spirituality? Is it something in the mindset of those drawn to religious society? IS that why Christian Pastor was so averse to "a lot of information" getting "dumped" on him?

The problem of organized religous crime 28.Dec.2003 11:43

Aunt Sam

The problem with organized religion in America is its abuses and excesses. I am for religous tolerances. I truly believe and uphold our constitution. Howver putting atax on organized religous business in no way infringes our our rights. I believe Jerry Falwell and all these othere circus clowns need to pay taxes. they should not be exempt. they are in the "business of god" and so saying it seems to me taht Jesus would have wanted them taxed. (Actually he would have driven the TV evangilists out of the studio with a whip according to that new and improved version of the bible.) The problem with organized religion not being taxed is that very year we hear of unscrupulous people taking advantage of the citizens, embezzling, blah, blah, blah. If we had a tax trail on them we could capture tahm like Al Capone. Some people treat religion as if tehy were bible belt mafia and this is sick. You know this would curb excesses of religious fervor that has more to do with wall street than any other thing.

I celebrate Christmas. I might as well, the stores are all closed, I like giving perfect "presents" and there is nothing like my mom's irish soda bread. Even when I can't spend the holiday with her just teh memory of Christmas morning, and sitting down to the wonderful breakfast in abrandnew pair of house slippers makes me feel warm inside.

I have spent my life affirming and celebrating many different faiths religous holidays. I have celibrated Chanukkah on occasion. Just sitting down and watching the bright flicker of candles, eating toasty warm latkes with homemade applesauce, spinning the dreidel and checking out what it means, eating chocolate money this stuff is good as well.

If you pastor or minister doesn't want their church taxed what have they to hide?

Taxing religion 28.Dec.2003 15:03

tom

The Constitution, as I understand it, says that the Government shall not *establish* a religion-- i.e., no church will be the official church of the government as in England, where most of the writers of the Constitution had their origin. People were to be free to worship-- or not-- as they chose. I am sure the Founding Brothers and Sister Abigail Adams would be quite appalled by the excesses of organized religion living in tax havens.

Also, while a lot of the Bible is misogynistic, quite a lot of it is not. The bible is of significant literary value (read Northrop Frye's --Canadian professor of English and acclaimed critic-- "The Great Code") and virtually all of Western literature-- whether written by males or females or blacks or whites is rooted in the Bible. Pretty hard to understand Blake or Shakespeare or Faulkner or Toni Morrison or Gospel Music or etc..... without having some familiarity with the Bible. You don't have to believe it to know the stories, of course.

Anyway, let's keep up the dialog. I suppose that some males really do hate women and really want to suppress them, but in general, I doubt that that is true-- it is more like men are afraid of women, or uncertain how to relate to them and are caught between homophobia and misogyny in their ignorance and inexperience. Men need to be taught, and women need to be taught how to teach men.

Taxing religion 28.Dec.2003 16:27

Christian Pastor

I happen to agree that we should take a look at the tax structure where church is concerned. The reason as I understand it, that churches and religious institutions have not been called into the tax strucuture is because of the good they give back to the community. I think that if the religious institution is indeed giving back to the community, then it should not be taxed in the same way that a non profit is not taxed.... However, it becomes questionable if the good is done for the members only, sort of like a private club... I wonder what kind of tax structure a place like the Multnomah Athletic Club falls under?
By the way, my comment about getting so much information dumped was purely about keeping a conversation flowing. I feel the same about many of the comments to articles that get posted here when they go on for page after page. A few examples would have been enough. It would be possible to run up a whole ton of material either way, I just prefer the conversation with some references rather than references with a few comments.
Aunt Sam, I feel the same way about televangelists, however, the "jesus" that the televangelists know would approve of what they are doing. He just isn't the Jesus I speak of.
Maybe Gringo had no experience of Christianity, you may be right. I just found it curious that at one point he said things like "written by God himself". That is a very fundamentalist Christian view that many active Christians do not hold. For some reason it is okay to judge Christianity from the outside but whoa to the one who said unkind words about another tradition that they were not part of on indymedia. Have you ever noticed that?

No I don't agree pastor 28.Dec.2003 19:07

Aunt Sam

All religions institutions should be taxed and not on a teired system of "good." This gets into shady areas which I would prefer not to see. Especially with States like Utah.

Neither do I agree that Christianity is the only religion that gets criticized. We are all very critical thinkers so we tend to really look into the background of things.

Judaism has been criticized so heavily that one member JP CUPP regularly says that Jews are the problem with the entire world. This article was front page news for Christmas. Happy anarchist Christamas. For Chanukkah it was the poem Cry Palestine. Happy Chanukkah.

If other people say well maybe Christmas has little to do with christianity, I can understand that you as a pastor would balk. However you need to understand that there is much evidence documeted by Christains that make this so. I have studied the bible, I watched huge series narrarated by Joseph Campbell exploring all the known historical records of the bible, etc,etc... You had to take a leap of faith to believe what you do. You will have to excuse us if we rely on our logic.

I do not mean to alienate you in anyway. I believe in your right to believe. I also believe in our right to question your beliefs. I hope that if we in our questioning do not shake your beliefs that they only make them more humane, stronger, and more developed.

A Comment From Based On the Original Article 28.Dec.2003 19:25

Purest_truthSeeker

I read the article that CatWoman posted entitled "Merry Christmas to All" as well as the rest of the thread. It is quite an interesting read. I think that I found something interesting yet incongruent that ought to be addressed.

Jesus Christ was indeed a revolutionary. Here in nearly 2004 we are still invaded on a daily basis with the person of Jesus. He has invaded our lives in countless ways. If either by Christmas that we all celebrate (or avoid) or by the fact that everyone on earth functions off of one "Christian" calendar, we are still invaded by his life. I heard on the news yesterday that Dean is about to start including words of Jesus in his political speeches and Mel Gipson is about to release his movie, The Passion of The Christ. Everywhere we turn whether Christmas, Easter, speeches or movies; this man is still invading everything.

So what's the incongruent part? Well it seems to me we have once again taken the part of Jesus that we like and tried to use it for our good. I think the idea of us interpreting our own "meaning of Christmas" and utilizing it as a means to look for a new year with hope and peace and make reflections on good times past is just pathetic. I certainly don't think the couple of tokens thrown to Jesus for his being "one of us" would be accepted. No offense, but I think that would undermine everything Jesus stood far according to his words. If Jesus was just one of us then he would have said so, but he didn't. In fact, he claimed something that we all cringe on, he claimed to be God's Son.

Christians have done so much to destroy the works of Christ. Ironically, they have also done the most to support it. What does that mean? Well it certainly means that the holiday of Christmas is not up for sale. If it's a day celebrating the birth of Christ, then let it be. Let's not convolute it with warm fuzzies to help us feel better for the choice's we've made.

Quote: But I think it's possible to see meaning and truth in any religion, once we remove the layers of misuse and control that have collected like dust over the years.

I tend to not think that all roads lead to one destination, primarily because they don't here on earth. I do however agree with your sentiment on this level. It seems to me that all stories borrow from one big story. In every story there is always an element of Sacrifice and Redemption; the original elements that are found in the story of Jesus. In fact I don't think you can find a story without it. (And if you did -did you really like?) It seems to me that the whole idea of finding truth in multiple religions is once again something that Jesus himself would squash. You said that he didn't like religion; which is funny because so many people say they are Christian yet they don't follow Christ; they simply are religious to some church building. He made a claim that you won't agree with: He said he was the way the truth and the life. Christ himself was intolerant!

Quote: The point of all this is that early Christianity wasn't about oppressive, relentless, intolerant authority. It was about reclaiming a spontaneous, giving, loving, (dare I say anarchist?) spiritual life.

This was something that I think the early Christians would disagree with. The point of the early Christians (you know -the real ones -Jesus' apprentices) was to do only what Jesus had done; and all throughout Scripture we see that Jesus' sole purpose was to bring Glory to "His Father". In fact, scripture speaks of "dying to ones' self". This is a far cry from reclaiming a spontaneous, giving, loving spiritual life. I think the mystery is the fact that they proclaimed that upon this "dying to ones' self" they found spontaneous, giving, and a loving relationship with God.

My point is simply if Jesus was who he said he was then we can't pass tokens for his tactics that we like; we must cut loose all other ties and claims and follow him or claim him to be the biggest liar and deceit that walked on the face of the earth. His message had no other alternative than "with me or against me". This means that when we try to make our story good, we seem to always borrow from his. Maybe that's because life isn't our story at all. I mean if it were my story I would certainly make me and my son the center-not man.

Thanks! CatWoman for making us all think!

Purest_truthSeeker: "Trying desperately to have an original thought and I think I've even heard this one"


(Note to GRINGO STARS: "Merry Herculesmas")

Happy Herculesmas! 28.Dec.2003 20:43

GRINGO STARS

"Also, the Gospels are anything but "sexist." For their time, they were absolutely revolutionary for their emphasis on the equality of women. It has only been later additions that have attempted to justify the subjugation of women through religion."

The above I quote from an earlier comment, and was the reason I commented with an extended listing of truly sexist bible passages. When such a statement is made that I wonder at how someone could ever come to such a conclusion, given the easily-verifiable words in such a common book, I felt that if I had only cited a couple of blatantly sexist passages, they would be poo-pooed as unrepresentational of the whole body of work.

I don't know about others, but i find any organization of ANY spirituality to be inherently corrupting and degrading to that spirituality. When you make a church out of a belief system it turns into politics. Is politics religious? Can politics enhance spirituality? Every spiritual tradition has been utilized as a system of control, violently and oppressively. Hinduism's reprehensible caste system has kept slavery alive in modern-day India. Buddhism's Tantras are full of th epromotion of global holy war and worldwide holy rule by a living Buddhic incarnation. The Abrahamic religions - Islam, Judaism and Christianity are also all sexist, homophobic and warlike - something which all organized religions share.

I am aware of people who have benefitted from spirituality on a personal level, and I belive that is where spirituality can be positive. It allows people hope and certainty when there is none in their lives and I know people whose life various spiritualities has literally saved. But when there are people interpreting spirituality for others, the power game comes into play, and that game is brutal and even with the best intentions ends up being exploitative.

taxing religion 28.Dec.2003 20:44

Christian Pastor

I understand your reasons for wanting a uniform tax, I feel similarly about the "good" that some religious institutions do . My reasons for wanting a tiered system stem from the fact that most of the socially active churches I am most familiar with operate on a shoestring. They don't put money into lush halls and fancy artwork. They put money into shelters and food banks and refugee relief. They would not be able to operate if they also paid taxes. Non profits have a separate system, usually a 501c3 status, that allows them to operate without paying taxes though they have to turn in reports and must be scrupulous about how they keep records. I don't think that system would hurt churches and other religious institutions.... they could be forced to examine what they are doing in the name of their God... Personally I think that might be a good thing. I am one of the pastors who view Jesus as a revolutionary. I believe that Constantine destroyed Christianity by making it a state religion and that in order to capture the spirituality that Jesus personified one must look behind the mask of imperial religion. The story one finds is found in scripture but one must sift through the chaff.
Thankfully, I am not alone in the search or the belief.
Thanks for a good discussion.

pastor 28.Dec.2003 21:13

Aunt Sam

I understand your point. The fact is that their should be a speration from church and state. Giving church's immunity from taxes is a clear violation of this principal. I don't believ in compromising on this.

Look if congress wanted to eat peyote buttons and do a sweat while trying to balance the budget I would say that is wrong. Look, if a judge wanted to take peyote buttons instead of swearing on the bible to tell the truth wouldn't you be a little shocked?

Great faith is beautiful. We need to have faith and spirituality. But like Emily Dickinson I believe that church is not in a building. Faith is within us. Not for others to judge but still we must devide these lines drawn. My line is that native americans can not practice their religous beliefs in a court room why should you? If we were to actually get religion taxed I would hope all churches would get taxed. Those buildings are often wasted space. Many churches fail to accurately house or feed people in the community. Most of the time they rent not loan their space to others. They often spend so much time worrying about their budget they lose sight of the people sleeping outside on their doorstep every night. This is especially true of those who are on shoe string budget.

Taxing religion 28.Dec.2003 23:16

tom

501-c-3 status should also be reviewed-- a lot of mischief occurs tax free under that system.

All organizations, of any kind, that operate on a cash basis should be taxed. Like a business. And if their business is taking care of the poor, and they expense their revenue in service to the poor, they won't have any taxes to pay. The same for hospitals, which are notoriously corrupt.

Jesus (at least the mythical person) didn't have a church; he wandered around with friends-- several of them women. It certainly is debatable whether he intended his ministry to grow into a militant servant of Empire. I choose to think not.

another thought 29.Dec.2003 01:18

Christian Pastor

What if my church is anti war/ anti state murder/ anti greed --- isn't it a mixing of state and religion to make the religous community pay for that stuff?
Telling religious bodies they must support the government is not in my opinion a separation of church and state.
I also think that the bush plan of faith based initiatives is a scary blending of state and religion and it is designed to assist some very right wing churches while leaving the progressive left churches out --- not that they would want to take money from the government. To me that is a real mixing of state and religion.
What if the community/church/body of believers is actively working to transform the existing government into a more tolerant and compassionate one?
Jesus was very political you know. That's why he was crucified.

Money is the State 29.Dec.2003 08:19

tom

RENDER UNTO CEASAR WHAT IS CEASAR'S.

Churches, hospitals, think tanks, public radio. Everything that deals with money deals with the State, and all of them should be taxed on any excess they have over expenses.

Of course I don't like paying taxes to beat up on Salvadorans and Columbians and Iraquis and buying yachts for Ken Lay. But to the extent that I make any money, I am buying into the system.

My solution is to pay taxes (otherwise my business will be confiscated and my employees will be out of a job) but to keep my income as low as possible to avoid as much tax as possible. This is by no means a perfect solution, but life is a series of compromises-- especially when dealing with corrupt power.

To Christian Pastor 30.Dec.2003 14:07

Aunt Sam

Being anti-war, anti-poverty-anti whatever and having faith or belief in it does not mean that you are in any way shape or form, mixing state and religion. Because those feelings have nothing to do with government, unfortunately. Government often does little towards addressing those problems, and often does more towards hiding those problems.

I believe my church should get taxed. It isn't a matter of where, I do not and have not attend church and believed that just ya'll who attend church should do it. I have been very active in my church before and all during that time I thought that we should get taxed. I am not currently active in my church. I have other things I have to do, but when I go back it will not be as if I have been gone. My church will welcome me back, not as lost, not as found, but as have been going all along.

nonprofits/ taxes/ churches etc. 30.Dec.2003 16:32

Christian Pastor

Aunt Sam,
Think through this with me okay? I am really trying to get a grasp on what you are thinking. I am sorry if I am not getting something.
In an earlier post I suggested that churches be subject to 501c3 status rules which force them to keep really good records and hopefully to think about what they are doing. I don't think that churches should be for profit entities. I too find it disagreeable when a massive church building is used only on Sundays and sits empty all week while it could be used. But many small communities do a lot of good for the community at large.
In my own denomination there are many church communities that operate as private clubs. i am curious however about a place like the MAC Club --- Multnomah Athletic Club, an expensive private club for the well off - do they pay taxes? Is there, do you think, a place for non profits at all? Are churches a target because of abuses that exist in some? What about non profit service agencies or collectives etc.? Do you think the government should have access to the records of all organizations?
Thanks for your response.

to Aunt Sam 30.Dec.2003 16:49

Christian Pastor

Forgive me if this turns out to be a repeat. I sent one of those disappearing posts so I am trying again..
Please think through this issue with me. I am really trying to get a handle on what you are thinking. I am sorry if I am missing something.
In an earlier post I suggested that churches or religious institutions should be 501c3's . Non proftis have to turn in records to the government and I thought maybe that would be helpful. I really dont' think that religious bodies should be for profit entities. I too find it abhorent when large buildings are used only on Sundays. Even in my own denomination there are communities that operate more like private clubs. Perhaps that is judgemental on my part. I do wonder however, about places like the MAC Club, -the Multnomah Athletic Club- which is a private place for the wealthy --- do they pay taxes? Is there in your opinion a place for non profits at all? What about co-ops and service agencies etc? Do you really think it best to hand over all records to the government? Or is it just churches and if so, why?
Thanks for responding. Hope this isn't a duplicate.

if anyone is still listening 05.Jan.2004 08:58

a few remarks

Starting with Gringo, who says we should ALL keep our minds open: what makes you think "Christian Pastor" is a male? (You said, "IS that why Christian Pastor was so averse to "a lot of information" getting "dumped" on him?") Isn't that a little sneaky sexism there, Gringo? Two of my favorite pastors in the whole city are women, and this thread sounds very much like one of them. (Pastor Valerie, is that you?)

Another question for Gringo: You insist that there was no Jesus. How do you come by that "logical" conclusion? Granted, you may logically argue that we can't say for sure without a leap of faith, but equally you can't say for sure that there was no historical Jesus. (Exactly the opposite -- there's more evidence for a historical Jesus than there is proof that he did not exist.) It's like saying Joe Schmoe of the 16th century never existed because I can't prove that he did. Whatever. You seem really bitter and angry, and it's clouding your objectivity. Not that there is such a thing anyway....

Wow, gringo, it looks like all my questions are for you! The next one: You answered this quote:

"Also, the Gospels are anything but "sexist." For their time, they were absolutely revolutionary for their emphasis on the equality of women. It has only been later additions that have attempted to justify the subjugation of women through religion."

with this one:
"The above I quote from an earlier comment, and was the reason I commented with an extended listing of truly sexist bible passages. When such a statement is made that I wonder at how someone could ever come to such a conclusion, given the easily-verifiable words in such a common book, I felt that if I had only cited a couple of blatantly sexist passages, they would be poo-pooed as unrepresentational of the whole body of work."

In point of fact, most of the things you cited came from the Old Testament. The Gospels are the first founr books of the New Testament. Looks like it's back to the ol drawing board for you. You know, you might read a little book called "women of the early christian church." I can't remember who wrote it, but it's an interesting look at how the role of women evolved through early Christianity. At first, Christianity was actually very empowering for women, in contrast to the outside culture. Women held positions of authority, taught, and were well respected. Slowly, however, one can trace the re-emergence of the prevailing sexist attitudes into the new religion. So Christianity didn't invent sexism, it merely re-absorbed it after first trying something new. And actually, the re-emergence wasn't all that slow either. Within one generation, most of it is back with a vengeance. It's really a fascinating read.

Actually, Gringo, I appreciate your willingness to explore the obvious sexism and other inherent oppressions that have been part of Christianity. I'm not trying to make you change your mind or anything. Instead, I'm just pointing out that you have some obvious and glaring biases that are preventing you from really exploring this issue in depth. For my part, I don't like to see people of faith condemned because of their faith. You and I have no idea what Christianity means to many Christians, including the one(s) posting here. It's really immature to just go off on someone about how stupid their beliefs are, and how stupid "organized religion" is when we're only referring to annoying stereotypes. I can't stand the thought of the money-grubbing, Bible-thumping, sweating, hypocritical, naive, white guy preaching that women should be in the kitchen and pretending to have all the answers for everyone either. But let's face it: that's a stereotype. It's hyped by the media, fed by self-serving Bible pimps feeding off the easy bucks they can get from people who believe everything they see on TV.

Faith and spirituality are important components of many people's lives, and it's rude and ignorant to pretend we know better than they do. Rail against oppression if you will, rail against the unwise use of religion to oppress, or whatever. But don't lay down dogmatic "facts" about how Christianity or "organized religion" is wrong because you don't like it. Don't try to "prove" things that can't be proven. (You can always prove that something or someone exists, but you can never prove that someone or something doesn't exist. Think about it. Finding one example of the thing you are looking for proves its existence. But not finding an example never proves conclusively that it doesn't exist, because an example could, theoretically, always come along someday and that would blow the "proof." It's the nature of science.)

Oops sorry 06.Jan.2004 18:02

GRINGO STARS

You are right; I assumed that the Christian Pastor is male. That was a mistake. In my personal experience, I see easily 90-percent male clergy, and I made the leap. Perhaps Christian Pastor is female. either way, I am wrong in making that assumption.

Of course I am angry but I am not bitter. I wish more people were angry in general. If they were, there would be less injustice in the world today if it was suffered less. But I am not bitter. People who aren;t angry aren't paying enough attention to this unjust world, in my opinion.

People have swallowed the Jesus myth whole for many centuries. I ask that this myth be held to the same rigor as any other historical question. When it is, it does not survive. The burden of proof is on those who claim there was a Jesus. And no one has proved that.

the fact is: The Old Testament is part of the bible. So yes, the bible is very sexist. despite all the new Testament, there the Old Testament is, screwing it up for women.

Jesus has still not been proven to exist, by any real standard of history. When that happens, I'll say as much. But I am pointing out that most likely he didn't exist - there is no historic Jesus.

It is similarly arrogant for vendors of faith to incessantly talk of someone who has as much historical evidence of existance as Hercules. Ancient Greeks firmly believed that Hercules existed too, and claimed he did miraculous things just as Jesus did. By referencing the reality of something by mere dint of repitition, there is no conformation that he existed. Why preach un-reality? It is arrogance to claim One True God, and that unbelievers deserve hell.

To Gringo Again 07.Jan.2004 15:17

Looks like you and me are the only ones left

I understand where you're coming from, but I still think you may be stereotyping Christians. Not all of them think unbelievers are going to hell, for example. I know the bible thumping fanatics you talk about are definitely out there. I don't agree with that at all either. But that's one very small facet of the huge number of people who derive some spiritual guidance from the Christian faith. I believe there are good and worthy elements in every religion I've ever encountered, including this one. And I have found that people who genuinely live by their faith (and not by their need to dominate and control others, which is a different thing entirely) are usually very good people who do good work in the world. I don't want to see them insulted and written off this way. I know you mean well, Gringo. I always appreciate your thoughts on every subject. But I wonder if it might not be helpful for you to do a little more reflecting on this one.

Incidentally, I don't think "the burden of proof" is on anyone here. Some people gain spiritual guidance and a worthy role model from Jesus. Others don't. What's wrong with that? Why do we need to "prove" one thing or another? Why is it more important for people who believe in a historical Jesus to prove his existence than for you to prove a lack thereof? Either way, you would be hard-pressed.

I'm not stereotyping Christians... 07.Jan.2004 18:18

GRINGO STARS

...I'm commenting on the "holy" book that Christians claim. In these series of books (known collectively as the bible) there is a very clearly outlined spiritual blackmail going on. This blackmail says that the bible is to be taken wholly and entirely and as a blueprint as ones life, at the risk of eternal damnation. This isn't merely what most evangelist/preachers say, it is what the bible itself repeatedly says.

To pick and choose the parts that one likes, new-age/postmodernist-style is a vast improvement. But keep in mind that those who do this are ignoring most of the bible's wisdom. Many of those who pick and choose the wisdom they wish to learn from the bible do so in order to gain control over more people, at the expense of the "holy word" they claim the bible to be. This makes them hypocrites. I appreciate CatWoman's choosing the better parts of the bible, but the fact is that those are rare moments in the bible, and research shows most every word written in the bible to be politically-motivated.

I think it's good that even things designed to uphold violent patriarchy can turn out to give someone who fights against such a thing hope. that is a pleasant irony. But there are better books with similar messages that lack the hypocrisy of politics inherent in the bible. I'm sure many people got strength from believing the Hercules myth to be real. That's great too.

You're still missing most of Christianity, though 07.Jan.2004 22:33

Still Here

You're absolutely right that every "Christian" monarchy on the planet used God's word as political cannon fodder against the people. And much of the works of the Bible were, indeed, politically motivated. This is true of every other religion as well. The word of God is a powerful tool often weilded by those who would control us. That doesn't mean it's all there is to those religions. And the blackmail to which you refer is not necessarily inherent in Christian belief. Sure it's in there, as are a lot of other things. But not all Christians believe you're damned if you don't believe the same thing they do. In fact, I would hazard a guess that most do not. Instead, most people have a much more personal relationship with their own faiths, whatever religion they are. It's not about what other people believe, it's what I/you believe.

Religions themselves, including Christianity, come from the heart of the people. It's only later, when they've become important to large numbers of people, that they become prized targets of co-optation by would-be rulers. So your indictment of the misuses of Christianity misses the root.

As does your indictment of people who see good in Christianity of being "hypocrites." There's a long tradition, in this religion and in so many others, of finding one's way through the wisdom that's offered by the religion by finding what speaks to you, what feels right to you, what seems to "fit." There are lots of things in the Bible, for example, that jump out at me as being, well, just wrong. Mostly, the things you pointed to. The sexism, the warlike xenophobia, and things like Moses turning a stick into a snake. Those things just never spoke to me. So it was easy to abandon the whole faith, just as you have done. It's only been through learning about, and learning to respect other religions that I was able to circle around and see the value and meaning in this one too. It's really quite beautiful when one really looks at it. And people's relationships to their faith are often very beautiful as well. I don't think you know more about Christianity than they do. And I think, if you take a moment to really think about it, you'll see that.

You CAN pick and choose the parts of a religion that speak to you. That's what everyone does, it's what religion is all about. People do it all the time. Maybe this will help you see beyond the stereotypes you've drawn up around Christianity.

Actually I'm getting ALL of Christianity... 08.Jan.2004 16:14

GRINGO STARS

...and that is where we differ. Whereas some people pick and choose what they want from Christianity and conveniently forget or ignore the oppressive, sexist, genocidal material, I am pointing out the huge pink elephant sitting in the corner of the room that everyone seems intent on ignoring. It's there. It's an integral part of Christianity. The fact remains that all the best parts of Christianity can be found elsewhere - places where there is no promotion of sexism and genocide. Spirituality is all about picking and choosing what speaks to you, but religion is an organization, a control system that demands you swallow it all whole.

I guess the other point where we diverge is that I see the books in the bible written after the supposed events/lives - written precisely for the purpose of social control and hence, oppression. The "misuses" of Christianity are actually devout followings of the teachings of the bible. Nothing happens ion a vacuum. the crusades, with hunts, inquisition did not come out of nowhere - they emanated from the same place; christianity, the church, the bible.

Perspective correction 08.Jan.2004 22:50

PureTruthSeeker

I have listened long enough. I must speak. I think it is quite funny that the thread has come this far from where catwomen started. However, I think it has been a good read. I find things that are very out of place. Throughout the bible you find many good things gone bad. Why is it that we take the things of the bible and totally turn the bible and God's "religion" (that he doesn't even claim himself) into a collection of false and negative fiction. There is nothing going on today that wasn't going on back then and we believe it today. Let me better explain. Many good things always skew and get off balance. Like the Enron deal for example. Good job to many people, and produced energy (indirectly) then all of a sudden things go bad due to corrupt management. Since things turned out bad and we don't like what happened we sit back and say how much we hate them for what they did. We through the baby out with the bathwater. We never take a minute to understand the fact that Enron produced a living to a lot of good people for long time and provided a service to people for a while, both good things that will never be brought up again simply because of the focus on the corrupt management.

So... What's my point? Well, everyone seems to want to take the bible and find the bad things in it and focus on those things. Well, if you look at the scripture you will see a large number of people who fail all the time. In fact that is the whole point to the Old Testament. The law that given was an entire picture to everyone that you can't make it! You will never live up to the standard of the law. That is why you see so much violence, murder, sexism, and any other thing that is immoral. It was designed to turn mankind over to themselves to prove you can't do it with out God. I certainly am not saying to overlook the bad things, just understand them. When Jesus came, (yes gringo, Jesus) he came to fulfill the law. The law or old testament is best looked at as a mirror to prove to mankind the condition he/she was in.

The whole bible shouldn't be looked upon as a book of things to pick and choose from for moral guidance. It is a romance story about a God who loves and desires a relationship with mankind. Why do you think Jesus opposed the Pharisees? Because they tried to uphold the law. They represented religion. God hates religion! ( I know your laughing by now) But that's what the bible constantly points to. This whole conversation about picking and choosing things that fit from different religions. --That sounds very out of context with what Jesus taught. In fact, it's way off base from the bible. The bible must be read from the perspective that God gets the Glory. Look at any story in the bible and ultimately God will get the Glory in the end. Besides, who ever promised to us that life was about us!

a romance story indeed 09.Jan.2004 00:14

GRINGO STARS

"[The bible] is a romance story about a God who loves and desires a relationship with mankind."

And in the course of that romance, God commands certain followers to go and slaughter every last person in a neighboring town, down to the last woman, man and child. This happens more than once during the wonderful courtship.

I LOVE romances!

(God sounds abusive in this relationship, no?)

Definitions and understanding 09.Jan.2004 19:28

PureTruthSeeker

I need to introduce you to a word called Righteousness. Now I don't expect you to agree with it, I just want to explain the whole perspective of the bible, for clarification. Righteousness defined is simply (dictionary.com) -Morally upright; without guilt or sin. When the bible speaks of God sending individuals to "kill all" you must understand two concepts: 1) Righteousness and 2) Law. These were the only options! You either followed the Law or you paid for it with your life. (Both were impossible) God made something impossible! He turned people over to themselves to show them they were incapable of living life with him. Life was 100% for God or 100% against him. There was no grace! With grace (welcome the New Testament) the rules change! All of them!

Another point before I continue: The difference between human logic and God's infinite glory are two components that don't mix. If you think that God was "abusive", then that proves you have not understood his glory. God's glory must be dealt with when it is violated. Find me a time in the Bible where God was "abusive" to some people because he they did nothing. You won't. Every time you look, you will find they did something to dishonor God; so the word you would look for is not "abusive" it is "fair". You see the only thing fair when you offend God's glory is death! His name above all others - nothing else!

Now back to the romance: The romance is indeed a romance. You see, God can be reasoned with! Moses reason with the God about the Children of Israel. He spared from killing them. However, he did make them wander in the desert for 40 years ( a journey that took only 2 weeks) and he made provision for them the whole time. All the children of Isreal did was continue to look to other god's the entire time they were wandering. What happened? Ultimately, they all died in the desert and their Children passed into Canaan.(The Promised Land). Once again another point that death is the price for dishonoring God.

Last point for now: Speed up to today. We still have people in this world that do the same thing as back then. It makes me furious that there is idiots out there even right now that are planning or contemplating the cruelty of murder, rape or some other pompous arrogant and despicable act. Here's the crazy point of all: Real Christ-apprentices understand something that we could all understand. There is no difference in the murderer and the one who doesn't. Whatever is in the murderer is in everyone. We all have the same propensity to achieve such acts. The only thing that changes this is what Jesus claims. He claimed to give people new life! And he was just crazy enough to believe it to his death.

All is fair when God does it; including killing gays 09.Jan.2004 21:37

GRINGO STARS

<<you will find they did something to dishonor God; so the word you would look for is not "abusive" it is "fair".>>

So when God found that the people of Sodom were having gay sex, was it fair to kill them? God definitely is homophobic, then? Is that fair? I mean; it's God's word, so it's fair? Kill the gays?

Gringo, Gringo, Gringo 09.Jan.2004 22:52

PureTruthSeeker

Gringo, Gringo, Gringo, this is not my story! I don't make the rules! I just read the whole story for what it says! I didn't ordain anything! But God did! I don't think God was prejudiced though. He treated all sin the same! (Now listen, he made the rules, argue with him about him calling homosexuality sin.) (Although I think He even explains that heterosexual marriage is a picture of God loving his bride - the church. The bible refers to this heterosexual union as an ordained institution. It also refers to anything else other than this is an offense to God's ordination.)

Once again, you are trying to make God and all Christians out to be righteous bigots who hate certain people groups because they are different. This couldn't be further from the truth. (However, there are many foolish "religious" zealots that make all people of the Christian faith look like bigots) The truth is that once again, the true Christ disciple puts there faith in what Christ did - you know: hanging out and loving prostitutes, thieves, murderers, the terminally ill, and yes you guessed it Gringo, Gays! Your theories don't hold water in reference to the scripture, they just deny the fact that God gets to make the rules and we have to live with them. The irony in the whole matter is what the true Christ followers say they claim to find the "life" that Jesus spoke of, and in our world of letting each person choose their own path, you can't deny them that right. Of course, you can disagree with them, but they claim something even more hard to believe, they say that they didn't even choose God, but God chooses them!

According to the believers, anything less than a God-centered life is doomed to fail. Man-centered life won't work. There's just no satisfaction in it! That is why this world continues to fight desperately for heaven on earth. They want some peace and satisfaction. You would think that by 2004 we would have found some, but we haven't, just more ways to continue our wanting, wanting, wanting!

Gringo, if you had a child break your rule, would you wait for a reasonable explaination from your child as to why the rule wasn't fair? Why is our finite logic supposed to always agree with his infinite Glory?

So God knows better (that "fags" are to be killed) 10.Jan.2004 12:26

GRINGO STARS

I know you didn't make the rules. But you did choose to follow them. So God, in his "infinite wisdom" (which is incomprehensible by us mere mortals) decided that gays are to be slaughtered and we are not to question him - I understand that. Nothing that you have told me is new. What I am saying is; that is BS. Am I correct in assuming that you hate the "sin" of homosexuality, just as all-knowing God demands?

Children should have rules explained to them, and when a rule seems unfair it should be discussed. That makes for a child who understands how to be social and considerate and why limits are placed on him/her, instead of a blind respect for any authority figure.

. . .It's not Man vs God? 10.Jan.2004 16:20

PureTruthSeeker

I'm sorry; I missed the scriptures that you are speaking of. Tell me again where I am commanded to hate gays and also the scriptures where God arbitrarily states Christians are supposed to kill gays.

Gringo, you are speaking beyond your knowledge. I never said anything about hating anyone. And once again, you have spoke of an event in the Old Testament (before Grace) as if it was mandate for the rest of life.

In case you missed it last time I will say it again. Jesus hung-out with the ill, murderers, prostitutes, tax collectors, "normal people" (whatever that is), as well as Pharisees(I'm thinking of Nicodemus) and gays. Let me ask you a question. Does it sound like Jesus hated gays? Did Jesus ever command anyone to hate? As soon as you say "yes" to these to questions you are wrong ( and I will need some proof), and if you say "no" then your last argument falls apart.

Your still missing the point that the bible makes: When Jesus died on the cross, according to the bible, the rules changed! This means that man's sin (i.e. yes he defined sin in his infinite wisdom) was finally dealt with. Grace was extended to man through Jesus.

Your trying to make Jesus and his followers into a group of prejudiced people. If you do this then you are getting your assumptions from the experiences and perceptions you have seen from the "zealot religious" of our day and not the character and example of Jesus that is found in the bible. Don't base your view of Christianity on people (and that is sad to say since more Christians ought to act Christ-like) Base your view of Christianity on Jesus. He was far from prejudiced. I mean remember the Samaritan and the Woman at the well. These were society's outcast people and he loved them. He didn't hate them or slaughter them.

God is infallible and eternal... 10.Jan.2004 20:32

GRINGO STARS

...as I'm sure you'd agree. I'm speaking of God, the Holy Father, not Jesus. In Leviticus, it ios written that gay men are to be put to death. The penalty for being gay is death, according to the Holy Father.

God kills every last denizen fo Sodom and Gamorrah, listing homosexuality amongst the sins of perverse sexuality that earned them this penalty of death.

Please don't play dumb. We both know that according to Old testament scripture, homosexuality is a sin that demands the death penalty.

Argue all you want for a God that changes his mind. I think you are twisiting the scripture towards your own ends, in that case. I am not saying that followers of Christianity are a prejudiced people (although this is also mostly true - just look at history) - I am talking about scripture - what is written in the Holy Word of God - that is the bible. My view of Christianity is mainly based on the supposedly Holy Word - the Bible, and to a much lesser degree, secondarily from the followers of the earthly church.

Whose god is more vicious? - a quiz 10.Jan.2004 21:25

GRINGO STARS

Is it the Moslem Allah, or the Christian God?

 http://www.landoverbaptist.org/news1001/viciousgodquiz.html

He's not vicious; He's Jealous! 10.Jan.2004 23:16

PureTruthSeeker

Gringo, I am not playing dumb. I know exactly what the Bible reads. It seems as if you disagree with it. (. . . your given right) I do think it is funny that you try and separate God from the Old Testament with Jesus in the New, like they would have different objectives or goals about God's glory. I am simply making the point that the Old Testament was to prove that we couldn't make it on our own. (Passing thought- had the rules have not changed with Jesus' death, would we still be under the law?)

I concede the fact that I think homosexuality is a sin. (Now I guess you think I hate gays!) But your immediate assumption is that I would consider myself "better" or more "righteous" than others; but I don't. In fact a true Christian would love gays and everyone else as well. The fact that God is infinite and holy seems to bother you. You don't like the fact that God gets to ordain something and you disagree with it and he doesn't change the rules for you. (Would you raise your children this way?)

What if he is just saying that you won't find what you're looking for with out him? You see, this conversation has nothing to do with sexual preference; it has everything to do with who is going to sit on the throne of your life and run it; you or God. My contention is this: 1) You can. (Which seems to not be working for anyone down here. If we were absolutely honest we would come to only a couple of conclusions, us managing our life will at best offer either pain, insanity or suicide.) 2) God can.( Which is where we still experience pain, but this way with the pain, you find a life full of purpose and the discovery of living from your heart. Colossians calls it discovering your hidden life in Christ. This life learns that no matter the circumstance, your desire is for the presence of God and nothing else. We begin to live a life that is God centered; not man-centered.) or 3) You and God. (This unfortunately is impossible and is probably the most common of the three. I personally would say that most believers profess #2 but live their life like number #3. This of course is not possible simply because God won't share the seat.)

How about this one, on the off chance that God did make us and he did make sexuality, and he made the earth; why would we consult anyone else on how to live this life. I mean surely you don't think we are going to one day get everything ironed out and working properly down here; do you?

More Bible Quizzes for you 11.Jan.2004 11:00

GRINGO STARS

I'm not the one trying to "seperate God and the Old testament from Jesus and the New Testament" - YOU, in fact, are the one who claimed that the "rules changed" when Jesus came to Earth, which is what I was responding to.

I am not bothered by the "fact" that God is "infallible and holy" - because I do not accept God's existence as fact at all. I do not accept Jesus' existence as fact either. I think it's great that you have apparently found peace in your life. I'm disheartened to see that for you, life without God brings only sadness and thoughts of suicide. But at least you have found something with which to make things easier.

It's too bad you are not tolerant of people's choices. I understand you hate the sin not the sinner, but that is still a teaching of intolerance from your "holy" book. Homosexuality is not tolerated, and homosexuals are to be put to death. It's there in black and white in your "holy" book.

Life without God IS working well for me, personally. I'm the only one I can speak for. Although there is both sadness and happiness, I have purpose and drive and have done some helpful things. I daresay I have done much, much more helpful things than most of the God-followers, who have done so many crimes of violence, oppression and exclusion in their brief history on this planet. On the balance, I feel great about myself and happiness wins. I count myself lucky to have never contemplated suicide.

There is absolutely no evidence that a single powerful being created everything, so yes, it is an "off chance" indeed that God created us, which makes any such hypothetical questions useless.

"What if [God] is just saying that you won't find what you're looking for with out him?"
He is not "just" saying that at all. He is saying that without him, we are to be killed then tormented for all eternity in hell.

I understand that when life gets so bad there is an instinct to pull the wool over ones own eyes in an effort to retain hope and sanity. I understand that when something works for you it seems natural to evangelize it to others. But my opinion is that the Christian dogma (it is the very definition of an inflexible dogma) has been so toxically harmful in so many cases that it is worse than useless.

Consult these two quizzes for more evidence, backed by scripture, of what I'm saying...

The Role of Women Bible Quiz
Is a wife permitted to follow her own conscience? How long is a woman unclean after the messy act of childbirth? The Holy Bible has answers to these questions, do you?
 http://www.landoverbaptist.org/news0301/roleofwomen.html

What Did Jesus Say?
How well do you know the teachings of Jesus? There is more to the Bible than John 3:16. Take Betty Bowers' Interactive Flash Quiz to test your knowledge of Jesus Christ!
 http://www.bettybowers.com/bible.html

Friends don't let friends drive drunk! 12.Jan.2004 12:55

PureTruthSeeker

You are still misunderstanding some very important points. If you think you are tolerant of people's choices then you are being very hypocritical! People make a choice everyday to murder, rape, and torture other people. When this "choice" is made, then you are telling me that you are going to tolerate their choice, even if you don't agree with it. Since they made the choice to do it, it must be right and I must tolerate it? This is the precise point in which we disagree. You are no more intolerant than I am. You don't agree with other people murdering your close relatives or stealing any of your things, but if you were being tolerant then you would not press any charges and you would claim "tolerance" as the reason for no action towards the guilty. You stating that I am intolerant are simply telling me that whatever another person does has to be right simply because it is their opinion. My friend that is intolerant and I don't hold your intolerance against you. I think you ought to file charges on people that make bad choices toward you.

I also would like to acknowledge your strong faith. Your faith in what you believe is quite interesting. Unfortunately, for you, your faith is in yourself; your ability to manage life, and offer your own self hope by overcoming the obstacles that come your way. I don't know about you, but I have failed before, many times in fact. I realize that there is nothing in me that makes me good or even keeps me from making those "intolerant" choices that others make. I do know something you won't deny: That for me in this life, I have found something that no other religion (or non-religion) has; a relationship in which my circumstance is not the barometer of my life. My "life" comes from knowing God! (don't be intolerant now; just because you don't believe in Him doesn't mean he doesn't exist) All other religions start with the basic belief that I must do something for God (or whatever "higher power"). My faith (the one I find in the bible) is based on what God did for me and for all mankind. He made a way to cover all mankinds and my sin. Now understand this is not something so I can feel better about myself. The bible says that when I identify with Christ and I understand that there is nothing I can do to earn God's love (i.e. Grace) then I become new creation, given a good heart, a heart for Him. The central theme I find in the bible is about the heart. I have found for me that surrendering my heart and life to God, through Jesus, gives true life. I mean life based on the fact that this world has nothing permanent to offer and certainly nothing that satisfies a thirsty heart.

In this life the party always ends, the music always stops and the drink always runs dry. I have found a life in Christ that is beyond me, it has to do with others; loving others, serving others and most of all honoring God with my life. I don't expect you or anyone to drop everything they have ever believed to follow a "dogma". My point is that you base your life on temporary things that don't extend into eternity. You speak as if God were human; a mean man in the clouds out to get all who go another way than His. I know Him to be a provider, a deliverer, a father, a friend, and indeed for me . . . true life. I know you think he has done nothing for you and certainly done things you can't agree with, however, he didn't ask your permission, nor does he need it.

God exists outside time and space, and he created earth and humans. Now I know you don't agree with this part, but humor me. God created man (not out of a need or deficiency) out of an abundance of His love and His ever expansive Glory. His glory cannot be contained and it is forever enlarging. He created man in "our image"; "our" meaning the Trinity, (God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit). This means that our creation was to "let us in" on the already awesome community that was between the Trinity. In other words, we got and invitation to their party. We were given an opportunity of a life time to participate in fellowship in the Garden. (Yes this all sounds crazy - and yes I believe it) But, mankind blew it! We were given everything we needed and we still blew! God said you can have it all but this one tree! And mankind (yes both man and woman) sinned; disobeyed God. Now I am about finished, so hang on through this last point. Disobeying God is a serious crime in God's kingdom. In fact it's treason!(punishable by death) But God did something incredibly merciful. He kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden. Why? This was to keep mankind from eating from the tree of life (there were two trees). If Adam and Eve would have eaten of that tree in their sinful state then we would forever be banished to live in a sinful state. God instituted The Law and made it to where sacrifice had to be made for the forgiveness of sin. There is a cost for mankind's sin. You see, if God would have never sent his son Jesus as the only sacrifice capable of paying for Sin then we would still be making animal and grain sacrifices today. It is grace that my sin has been paid for, when I deserved death. But remember that Jesus said he came to give us life and give it more abundantly!

I have found that "life" and you or no one else can deny me that right. I am not cramming my faith on you either. But let me ask you something.

If I just found something to drink and it tasted like nothing else I had ever had, and all I did was tell you where I found it, then that makes me either one of two things: A friend or a liar.

Ironically, Jesus was the same; either a friend or a liar.

I happen to believe I'm a friend.

You completely misunderstand me 12.Jan.2004 14:28

GRINGO STARS

First of all, your comparison between homosexuals and murderers/rapists/torturers is sick. Do you see that? Your idea that I would tolerate such a thing simply because I am not Christian is pure silly dogma. My definition (and I may be wrong about the definition of the word) of the word "tolerance" is to be tolerant of people who don't hurt anyone. I certainly am not omni-tolerating of ALL actions - far from it. But how does a homosexual hurt anyone by having sex with a man? "No harm, no foul" as they say.

I have unquestioning faith in myself, a faith that is not connected with my circumstance. It is the way I was raised. I know I will be OK no matter what. Call it blind faith. It has nothing to do with any gods. And it IS eternal. As long as I am me, I'll be fine. That's eternal. Outside of me, I only trust (that is earned). I do not have "faith" in things outside of me, only EARNED trusts.

If trusting in a god or an iomaginary friend or a magic bean or ANYTHING works - then great. That's perfect. Go for it. As long as you don't deny other people their freedoms to go about their business (as long as no one is harmed) then there is absolutely no problem.

You start sounding like David Koresh near the end of your comment but I get your drift. You make a statement which is false; that you are either a "friend or a liar" and you say the same of Jesus. But the fact is I have found and tried that drink, and it tastes like schitt to me. But since you love the nectar, who cares? More for you, right? And it is not an either/or, friend/liar situation. For YOU, it IS the best tasting nectar, and you didn't MEAN to lie when you said it was the best-tasting nectar. In fact, you are undoubtedly friendly. But you weren't knowingly lying about how bad it tastes because YOU love the flavor so much. But that nectar has killed millions. I know making the Christian dogma into a matter of taste is unpleasant to hear for a Christian, but such is the way of dogma.

Prayer: God, please find Gringo. Amen. 12.Jan.2004 21:16

PureTruthSeeker

The problem with sitting on the throne of your life is that you have no protection from a holy God. Remember, mankind made a choice in the garden. That choice still haunts us today. Our sin is punishable by death. All sin, from lust to murder to envy to just being mean to even lying and yes homosexuality. But understand, there is no difference in the sin of a homosexual than my sin. We all have sin. You can label it whatever you want. Any amount of sin is still sin and it is all punishable by death. You name the smallest sin you can think of and it is still punishable by death. I am not out to hate gays. I am not going to protest at any event. I am not even going to call them a name or act crazy around them. In fact, I would love them just like I would anyone else. They are searching for something in this world that satisfies them just like everyone else is, and I don't condemn people for seeking satisfaction. But I know a God that desires a personal relationship with them and everyone else that has something to offer that lasts forever, and it truly satisfies( this is not a matter of taste, it's a matter of life). Does that mean I'm going to take out my bible and start calling them names and beating them over the head with it -no. If you had a "book of Gringo" it seems as if you would pound my head with it, just because I happen to believe the bible about homosexuality as being a perversion of something natural. I am not robbing anyone of any right. I just happen to have a scripture based opinion about it, that I am not imposing on anyone.

If you continue to think your blind faith in yourself is going to atone for your sins, then you have been decieved my friend. I know your lack of belief in God doesn't give room for an enemy like Satan, but for sake of argument, if you are wrong (actually whether you think you are or not) there is something out to kill you. Satan comes to kill, steal and destory. He is attractive and he is decietful. What makes you think he hasn't pulled the wool over your eyes? If he can make you think that you are all you need in this broken world, then he wins and you loose, but more importantly God would not get the honor and glory He deserves. You see life isn't about us. It's about God. God happens to provide life to us out of His grace and mercy, but only if we accept his Son. (I guess you are reading now . . . "swallow the dogma") You've heard before that Jesus is the only way to God. There is no other way. You know I don't even think you disagree with that statement. You just choose to not have a relationship with a "non-exsistent" God. The funny thing is, the more I get to know my father in heaven, I understand something more and more. I never chose God. God sought me. Let me say it this way. He pushed everything in this world out of the way to get to me. He chased me. So I don't worry if you don't believe, if he wants you. . . he will get you.

It's been fun. I give you the last word.

Who knows maybe we'll meet in Heaven!

Let me put it to you so you will understand 12.Jan.2004 23:40

GRINGO STARS

As long as you think the way you do; I am in Satan's grip and choose to defy God (like that Mole kid in the South Park movie). I see no sin in concensual homosexual or heterosexual love. You see sin everywhere, everyone is a sinner to you.

You inspired me to write my own two-sentence "Book of Stars"...
"Do what thou wilt is the whole of the law. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

And now, more quizzes to learn what the Bible says!

The Bible Slavery Quiz
Jesus Christ has a lot to say about disobedient slaves. Heed His timeless words regarding their treatment. Take the quiz and learn the Bible truth!
 http://www.landoverbaptist.org/news0401/slavery.html

The New "test" ament Inerrancy Quiz
Determine how well you know the Lord's best selling sequel to the Old Testament -- the less ribald, better edited NEW Testament.
 http://www.bettybowers.com/newtest.html

God's Favorite Ways To Kill
Use the Bible to determine God's most favorite methods of killing and/or torturing people who rub Him the wrong way.
 http://www.landoverbaptist.org/news1102/carnagequiz.html

The Wrath of God Quiz II
How many living things did God kill? Take this quiz to find out!
 http://www.landoverbaptist.org/news0102/wrathofgodquiz.html

A few comments... 03.Feb.2004 10:04

RockAndRollBot dan@thelemkes.net

On the original article, I enjoy the sentiment of it, and appreciate the idea of old school Christianity, however, I would love if someone could show me where Christmas is in the Bible.

Gringo, you keep mentioning that so many people take only the parts of the Bible they want to, and at the same time, you are referencing web-sites which do just that to show Christianity as a whole. I clicked on one of those sites and all I saw was hate, backed up by a collage of out-of-context Bible verses.

I would also like to say, some of your verses from way earlier, and i don't really have time to start looking at them in depth, but they are also not in context. Just because the Bible mentions an action, doesn't mean it's condoning it.

On your "book of stars:" The only problem with that, is if someone is sadistic/massochistic, then there are things they would be willing to do to themselves that should not be done to others. The problem I have with self-indulgence, or self-given purpose, or anything we do based merely on our own feelings and/or logic, is that no one person is alike. We all have different experiences and personalities that shape us, and what each of us finds okay to do (including okay to do to others) can be very different. I personally don't feel that the "golden rule" works all too well without a concrete set of rules to base it off of.

I think also, truthseeker, maybe you were trying to make this point but at least for me, it didn't come off this way, but the old vs. new testament isn't about God changing his mind, it's about the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. Basically, not "what" we do, neccessarily, but "why" we do it. To give a crude example, I used to bring my mom dandelions when I was 5 or 6. Now I bing my wife roses, the sentiment is the same, even though most of society views dandelions as ugly, because I do/did both out of love. And to me, life is about motivation more than action itself.

A book which I have started that may interest you both, Gringo and truthseeker: Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell.

I really have enjoyed reading this thread, and I hope I didn't come off disrespectful, if I did I apologize, for it's not my intent. Just wanted to add another perspective.