Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Religion"

Has religion destroyed us? For years, religions all over the world have separated people from coming together. Christians separate themselves with the various types of sins each person commits. Forgiveness has been forgotten. Love is something that ended up being conditional; unlike what 1rst Corinthians 13:4-7 has to say about it. We’ve deemed everyone judgmental, intolerant or hypocritical if their beliefs aren’t the same as ours. But how can you tell if someone is giving you good advice as a Christian over the other?

I believe it’s by words, which are Christ-like. It’s the actions, which are Christ-like. Your words will fall upon deaf ears, if you speak with a forked tongue, or lash out with profanity while speaking about God and Christian-related matters. Jesus never did any of this with his techniques of teaching. The words you choose show your true character. Of course, we all get angry at times and say strong-worded phrases to get our point across, but when someone starts spewing hateful insults with a siding of profanity, you have to wonder about their true motives. Can you really take Christian advice from this type of person? Are they credible as a Christian in order to help you? Which will you choose?

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh words stir up anger. ~Proverbs 15:1

Mockers can get a whole town agitated, but those who are wise will calm anger. ~Proverbs 29:8

People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs. ~Proverbs 19:11

Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. ~Psalm 4:4

When I used to work for a call center for a major telephone company, in our training seminars, they said, “You’re voice is the face of our company when customers call in.” It basically indicated that when someone calls in for the first time, his or her first impression is “you”. We were trained to say a warm greeting and handle irate customers in the most tactful way as possible. Why can’t we use this in our daily lives? Our voice is the face of who we are.

Your tone, your choice of words and your actions can have an everlasting effect on someone. I’m guilty of hurting other people with words. I think it’s safe to say that everyone has had a downfall or two with bad choice of words, but in a sincere apologetic manner, it can go a long way – of course with forgiveness involved. In the bible, it states that you can debate and argue with your friend, but if you insult them, you’ll lose them completely. I firmly believe that. Even if forgiveness has taken place, an insult can manifest into a scar. Forgiving is great, but forgetting is hard for most of us, because we’re human. We’re more delicate than we make ourselves out to be.

I also want to say thank you, to a reader of mine who just apologized to me. I was hurt over his words, but taken aback by his apology. I fully accepted his apology and forgave him completely. We don’t see things eye-to-eye, nor do we handle things the same way, but the one thing we have in common is our love for the Lord.

Forget about “religion”. Think “relationship”…A relationship with God. A relationship with those around you. A relationship with yourself to know who you are in Christ- to know that you’re “right” with God.

Forgiveness
Respecting one another
Healing
Yielding to those who have different views and beliefs than your own
Words to uplift and edify
Encouragement
Words of hope
To identify those who love God
To identify everybody has a unique relationship with God
To love God with all your heart
To love His children as you would yourself
Putting aside your judgment and seeing the person as a human
Acceptance
Tolerance
Faith
Hope
Love
Patience

They all go hand-in-hand with being a loving Christian. I admit, I have some work to do as far as the list above. I'm not perfect.

If we incorporate these things I’ve listed above, I believe we can manage to live in a world where people can have different beliefs, different lifestyles, and different relationships with God. If you disagree with another Christian, simply state your beliefs and let God take control from there. People cannot change people. Only God can change people.

Is it possible that we can live like this? Probably not, but it’s a great idea concept to think about at least. I dare you to take a different stance on how you approach someone who’s a Christian, yet with different views. Will you judge them? Ridicule them? Hurt them? Belittle them? Or, will you listen to them? Will you tell them your side of faith, as opposed to shoving the scriptures down their throat? Will you also understand that many people interpret scriptures differently? How can we argue with the people who wrote the bible? Who will clear it up for us? Will you encourage people that God loves them regardless? And will you pray for them?

How will you hold yourself up as a Christian- by love or with hate? Will you let “religion” destroy all of your relationships, simply because people have different beliefs? It may just destroy the relationship you have with God.

59 comments:

Jo said...

Deb,

I love you're vision for the world ... never lose it.

Sometimes I look at religion like I look at an apple. If I look at an apple I can say that it is red, basically round and other familiar characteristics can be described. Now these are all truths about this apple, but these truths are subjective to the observer and there are many deeper truths then what simply meets the eye. Now if we were color blind the truth of the red apple would be a different truth for the blind person. Both would be the observers truth but the deeper truth is that the apple is neither red or not red as the truth is that the color is simply a vibration. A vibration that is perceived by a living organism and 'manifested' into something 'meaningful'. But if either the color blind or non color blind person were to bite into the apple they would get the nutrients that the apple provides. I wish that we could all see past the “color” of religion and learn to share in the nutrition that God has for our Spirits.

Matt-Man said...

I think you know where I stand. I cannot stand "organized" religion. To me it's a business that uses God as the product and doctrine as the price, not to mention generous titihing. I pray everyday and my church is wherever I am standing at the time. Cheers Deb.

Loud Mouth said...

Matt-man, organized religion is like organized crime brotha! These scary radical fanatics ruin their relationship with God through their wicked and horrific views of the world. They feed this b.s. to many people who think they're going to hell, unless they don't become like them. If you think about it, these people totally isolate themselves into "groups" and don't associate with any other human, besides their own drones.

Sick man.

Anonymous said...

I, too, agree that religious nuts are ruining our culture. But the true religious nuts today are not the usual suspects. There is another group of people far greater in number than all fundamentalists, evangelicals, and conservative Catholics combined -- whose religious behavior is truly nutty.

You see there are three types of people in the world: (1) those who believe God is real and live their lives accordingly; (2) those who believe God is a myth and live their lives on the basis of this view; and (3) those who believe God is real but live their lives as if He can be completely ignored.

The people in the first group (usually described by the parenthetical quotation mentioned earlier) behave very logically. If God is real, if each human being possesses an eternal soul which will dwell for all time in either heaven or hell, and if our eternal destination is based on how we relate to God, then trying to make religious faith the most important aspect of life is not nutty; it's smart. You may disagree with the original premise--that God is real and that He is personal and that He cares--but you can't disagree with the behavior that results from that premise.

The people in the second group (generally referred to as atheists, humanists, agnostics, etc.) also behave very logically. They believe the concept of "God" is superstitious nonsense invented by our ignorant pre scientific ancestors. Since they are certain that God is a myth, modern society is foolish to remain shackled to ancient religious customs and values. If there is no God, then, as the humanists proclaim, "Man is the measure of all things." The wisdom of educated, intelligent, rational mankind should determine what is right and wrong, not some dusty old documents attributed to a non-existent deity.

Although I passionately disagree with the initial premise of people in the second group, I can relate to the way they think (especially being one for so many years), and I would never describe their behavior as nutty. Wrong, yes. Nutty, no, given their philosophical starting point.

The people in the third group, however, are the true religious nuts. These are the folks who claim that God is real, that people possess an eternal soul, and that heaven and hell are real, but live their day to day lives as if God can be ignored.

Just imagine if a person comes home from work one evening and finds a 600-pound lion prowling around the living room roaring at the top of its lungs. Now imagine that this person acts as if the lion is nothing more than a 6-pound house cat sleeping on the couch. He just goes about his usual routine, nonchalantly calling toward the kitchen, "Hi, honey, I'm home. Boy, traffic was a mess. What's for dinner?"

We would not hesitate to describe this mans behavior as nutty and downright dangerous. Why is it any different with God? If the Bible is true (as most people in the third group acknowledge), then God is infinitely more powerful and awesome than a lion. To nonchalantly waltz through life as if God were no more majestic and mighty than a house cat is irrational.

This is exactly where we are in modern America. The Barna Research Group recently found that 66 percent of American adults say they have made "a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today." Also, 60 percent of American adults "maintain that the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings."

If that's the case, however, why are professing Christians statistically indistinguishable from non-believers when it comes to behaviors such as divorce, abortion, adultery, cheating on their taxes, and swiping pencils from the company supply room?

This is nutty behavior. These people are the true religious nuts. They claim God is real and the Bible is true, but then completely ignore it. They act like God's clear commands about morality are optional, as if we have been granted the final authority on whether or not we need to obey. Truly nutty. History shows that no civilization has ever survived without morality, and morality has never been possible without firmly held (and practiced) religious beliefs. This is why the religious nuts threaten our freedoms. When a society ceases to be moral, the government must use heavy-handed tactics to control the chaos.

The religious nuts may not consciously seek to ruin society and force us all to live in a totalitarian police state, but that's where we're heading. If we don't wake up and notice that the Lion of Judah-in all of His majesty glory and power-is prowling our living rooms, then our fate is inevitable.

wwwebb said...

Dear Deb:
I've read with interest some of the recent blogs, a quiet bystander. So many things race through my mind that I'd like to say. But as you stated so well in today's blog, communicating on these issues is delicate, and as you've noted, the things we believe are faith-based...the things we say are "statements of faith", manifestos of what we truly believe--or at least claim to believe.
The critical issue with such manifestos is not so much their content, but their substance. The scriptures ask, "Can two walk together unless they are agreed?" The implied answer is "No." We can dialog, but not walk together in any real unity unless we share manifestos. Congenial conversation, yes; real unity, no. By definition, our beliefs (heart beliefs, not cognitive beliefs...we DO what we really believe in our hearts, not what we profess to believe in our minds) constitute the path that we are on. Our paths may join for a stretch, whereupon we dialog together, but eventually, we will head to different destinations unless the object and substance of our faith is the same.
However, the fundamentals--the substance—of our faith have bearing only if there is some objective reality, some absolute truth upon which they are based. If not, while they may be interesting or attractive, they are relative and of little consequence in the eternal scheme of things. They are then just interesting diversions to occupy us as we pass through this “vale of tears”. Many of us espouse a relativistic truth which accommodates all points of view equally and graciously. As attractive as this is, it cannot be supported by logical consistency or by the laws of the universe. It seems we must choose. Some say we don’t, but in the big scheme of things, passivity is a choice not to choose. We all choose SOMETHING. Nevertheless, our discussion of these matters should be seasoned with grace.
Dani and Mark have a different belief system than you do. On surface inspection, it may appear to be the same: "Christian"; but it is not the same. To be sure, both views claim Jesus as Savior and Lord. What defines saving Christian faith (if there is such a thing)? Our interpretation of God, Jesus, and the Bible? Or God's revelation of these things as he defines them? And if such a revelation exists, are we obligated to conform to it, or are we free to conform it to us? Whose Christianity is "right"--yours or theirs? Is there a "right" way, ONE way, and who defines it? Who and what is Jesus Christ, anyway? Does it matter?
These are the important, fundamental issues of the dialog, not homosexuality, profanity, judgement, love and hate, anger and forgiveness. Oh, these are issues to reckon with, but not at the root. We have to find the root first. Fruit comes from the root.
Thank you for your stimulating blog. I look forward to dialoging with you more.
--Michael

Gary Baker said...

Anonymous,

I think that your comparison has some validity, but could use some refinement. My opinion of the third group is that they believe that God is real, but that he operates on a scale relative to people as opposed to an absolute scale when it comes to morality. Therefore, a person doesn't have to be really "good," just above average.

So when the person comes home and the 600 pound lion is on the prowl, maybe the person does picture a house cat. Maybe the person pictures an annoyed labrador that really wants to be taken on a walk. Now.

General note to others - When you condemn or refrain from participating in all "religion" you also generally cut yourself out of a lot of big projects and ministries that single believers can't engage in. You take less garbage from people, but you tend to bless a lot fewer as well.

~Deb said...

Jo: Great analogy. I loved it. I feel that each and every one of us would like to view God the same way, however, we all see, hear and experience God differently. The post today was more about what would be nice in my opinion, or what I think a Christian should behave like. I can’t fathom someone who professes Jesus and then preaches with profanity or lashes out with various insults. It doesn’t sit well with me. And, the same holds true for those who can’t seem to grasp that I believe that I can be a Christian, as well as a lesbian. I don’t think that homosexuality is a sin. So, therefore we differ. The apple analogy hit it right on the nose! Thanks!

Matt-man: Well, if the “organized religions” aren’t out to get people for their sins or “play God” as they worship Him, then I have no problem with it. I just don’t understand those who preach the good word, preach with profanity and insults.

Loud-Mouth: That’s a huge sign of a cult-like religion---isolation.

Anonymous: I believe that a lot of people don’t have enough faith, because they haven’t seen Him in physical form or experienced a true spiritual encounter with God. Blind faith goes a long way- without it, it’s all a bunch of questioning. Should we stop questioning even if we do hear the word of God, by God? No. I think questioning is a wonderful thing. To me, it’s seeking Him out further. Just a question, where was the “parenthetical quotation” that you mentioned in your comment? I was lost on that one.

Wwwebb: Hi Michael, thank you for your thought provoking comment.
You said, ”Our paths may join for a stretch, whereupon we dialog together, but eventually, we will head to different destinations unless the object and substance of our faith is the same.”
I totally agree with that statement you’ve made, however, it’s a shame that people just can’t be comfortable with those whose beliefs are different than their own. Even as Christians, there are various belief systems within the very same religion. So, it separates all Christians with different views. I find myself befriending many people of different religions, beliefs, lack thereof, etc., but it doesn’t stop me from worshipping God and most importantly, it doesn’t take away my faith in God.
You stated, ”Nevertheless, our discussion of these matters should be seasoned with grace.”
Totally my point.
Then you asked, ”Whose Christianity is "right"--yours or theirs? Is there a "right" way, ONE way, and who defines it? Who and what is Jesus Christ, anyway? Does it matter?”
I’ll answer you back with a question… What would Jesus do? Would He judge and ridicule me, as Dani and others have? Would he insult me and call me a schizophrenic psycho lesbo? Would he tell me that I’m going to hell? Or would Jesus encourage me if my belief was wrong? It does matter. (To me anyway.)
Thank you so much for taking the time out to share your thoughts with me. I truly appreciate it. Stop by any time!

Gary: I’m not quite sure I understood your last paragraph. Were you referring to those preaching with profanity and insults? Or were you referring to people like me, who profess Jesus as their Savior and yet, I still can associate myself with many other different people of various religions?

Gary Baker said...

Deb,

The last paragraph was directed at those who generally say that they decry organized religion, but essentially define "organized religion" as any kind of a church. While I agree that most any church you go to can have some items of policy or doctrine that you won't agree with, there are still huge parts of our Christian lives that will never develop properly without associating and ministering with other believers. It's kind of analogous to saying "I love people! I just can't stand to be arouned them."

Natalia said...

Marx was soooooo right. Religion truly is the opium of the masses. And religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand.

-N

~Deb said...

Ah, I see. Excuse me for my ‘dimness’ today. I do agree that fellowship with same believers of a certain faith is good, but it’s also great to share your faith with those believe differently. I guess it's just the way we should approach it.

~Deb said...

Natalia, even though I have great faith in God, I do have many questions still. I totally agree with what you said- we fully cannot "understand" it. It's like fish trying to understand math. It's impossible. We are forced to rely on faith, unless we have some sort of spiritual encounter, which makes our faith greater. Faith is not the same as 'fact'. Science doesn't equate with spirituality.

Michelle said...

Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog. I appreciate it. :)

I completely agree with what you are saying in this post. It's a shame that people chose hatred over a more loving approach when they disagree.

Gary Baker said...

Natalie,

Considering the success that there has been instituting Marxism, and the forms it takes as opposed to what he envisioned, I tend to think that it was his understanding that was lacking.

Loud Mouth said...

Gary, I don't understand.

Enemy of the Republic said...

You ask good questions and make solid points. At one point in my life, I would have answered: yes, religion ruins lives, ruins our relationship with God, ruins our interpretation of God. I've changed on that...to a point. Church is a gathering of people; you don't need a building for that. I dislike organizations and playing any administrating role, so I stay out of the deacon or any kind of political role in the church. Let's just say I am a bit blunt and I've been known to argue. Religion works if it is about our faith walk and maintaining community. It falls apart under man made rules, emphasis over one aspect of Scripture from another, focus on behavior--even when people are watching others at church to see if they are doing this or that--I see it as an affront to God. I keep myself oblivious in church unless I sense someone needs companionship. If people are so bored that they have to watch whether I take communion or not, then they need to bring a novel, not the Bible.

I don't claim perfection in my walk, and I do fight for my beliefs. I am fortunate to be in a church that allows me to be who I am. No, we don't agree on doctrine. But we agree to disagree. And I turn to the pastoral staff often. They are flawed like anyone else, but unlike many pastors I've known, THEY ADMIT IT and ask us for prayer. I need honesty in leadership or I will refuse to belong. Perhaps that is why so many people are disenchanted with religion: they see it as fake.

wwwebb said...

Hi again Deb, et.al.

Sorry for not separating my paragraphs the right way...I'm new at this.

I asked:
”Whose Christianity is "right"--yours or theirs? Is there a "right" way, ONE way, and who defines it? Who and what is Jesus Christ, anyway? Does it matter?”*

Your reply:
"I’ll answer you back with a question… What would Jesus do? Would He judge and ridicule me, as Dani and others have? Would he insult me and call me a schizophrenic psycho lesbo? Would he tell me that I’m going to hell? Or would Jesus encourage me if my belief was wrong? It does matter. (To me anyway.)"

No, I don't believe Jesus would ridicule or insult you. And those who do so clearly are resorting to the force of human words to accomplish what only the Holy Spirit can accomplish.

Back to my original question:* Yes, I too feel it matters greatly. How would you answer the questions I posed? Remember, we're talking roots here. Gotta nail those down.

Thanks again for your warm welcome to your blog.
--Michael

Gary Baker said...

Loudmouth,

To the best of my knowledge, Marx thought that under his system of collectivism that, once freed from the tyranny of religion, the workers could construct a true paradise. Yet all of the attempts to do so yield a workers hell with a crippled economy that has to adopt at least some free market values or perish altogether. And religion, or more accurately religious faith, keeps flourishing.

Amy said...

Gary,

Don't include The Smurfs in that assesment.

;)

Natalia said...

Gary-

It's Natalia. And what Marx talked about has never been tried. This of us who have really read his works know that. And even if you were right, my comment was about his thoughts on religion...not anything else. Don't try to throw a red herring. I teach logic.

-N

Take 2 said...

Deb,

YOu are back!!! I am so glad.... amazing blog girl. You sound more at peace now.

Loved it..... all I can say is Amen to letting Jesus be Jesus in our lives.....


blessings,
Dana ;-)

Catch said...

I think as I have aged I have learned one very important thing...do not judge others. I used to be young and judgemental....but life teaches us some valuable lessons. And one of those lessons is that God loves us all and only he can forgive us or judge us. I try to be the person God wants me to be...and its not always easy...but I keep trying.

Gary Baker said...

Natalia,

Sorry about the mistake with the name. If you teach logic, then you need to respect the facts. What Marx taught has been tried. It has been tried on small scale (communes)and large. The reason that it fails is not for lack of trying, but because of it's incompatibility with human nature. What Christ taught has never been achieved either, but attempts by individuals to follow the precepts lead to generosity, peace, and joy. Attempting Marxian economics leads to poverty and suffering. Considering how his theories on economics have worked out in practical trials, I am not inclined to have much respect for his views on religion, but you have a ball. Good luck with that logic.

~Deb said...

Michelle: You’re a rare breed! You’re blessed, and so is anyone who comes across your path.

Enemy: I agree with that. I used to belong to a church, until it became more of a focus on “people” and instead of God. In my opinion and in my life, it works better for me to pray to God in private. Rules, regulations and certain agendas of the church makes me lose sight of what’s really important—which is God and my relationship with Him. Some churches (especially when I used to attend Catholic churches), I was bored out of my mind. Everything was so monotone. Then, when I decided to go to an assembly of God church, the people in there were so excited ---dancing and singing, that it actually made it fun. It was the warmest place ever! Nevertheless, I still had to “remain quiet” and not let anybody know I was just the “single girl” that went to church.

Wwwebb aka Michael: Who’s scrutinizing you for paragraph separation?
You asked me, ””Whose Christianity is "right"--yours or theirs? Is there a "right" way, ONE way, and who defines it? Who and what is Jesus Christ, anyway? Does it matter?”
I believe everyone is right, if they have a relationship with God. However, Jesus would never curse people- even the sinners. For me, Jesus defines Christianity. Jesus is the Son of God, who came to earth to die for us to take away our sins. It certainly matters to me.
Sorry I didn’t answer all of the questions you posed. This is definitely how I feel about Christianity- it’s about loving God, loving others around you, and sharing what you believe- not force-feeding people with “religion”.
Michael, I appreciate all the questions, and your input. Thanks again for stopping by. Let me know if I’ve fully answered your questions.

Take 2: Thanks Dana! Jesus works miracles in our lives everyday in unique ways! I’m glad you stopped by! God bless!

Catch: I feel the same. I try to be the person God wants me to be too. It isn’t easy. We’re full of flaws, but God knows your heart, He knows my heart, and He knows everyone else’s heart, so He is the only one who can judge righteously.

Jaded said...

Man created "religion" as it exists today, so of course it will be flawed. I can't imagine God intended for us to fight over which way is best to worship Him. In that sense, I'm pretty sure we've gotten it wrong.

All we can really do is know God, try to live our lives according to His Word, and do it with love.

Natalia said...

Gary-

I don't need luck. There is no sense in what you are saying. What Marx wrote about has certainly not been tried. And if anything has caused poverty, suffering, inadequate health care, overworked people, shallow societies, uncaring governments, etc. is savage capitalism. But you would never admit to that, would you.

And, regardless of what you think of his views on economics or politics, it is irrelevant to the ideas he had on religion. Just because he doesn't make sense to you in one area, it doesn't mean anything else he said has to also make no sense.

That's another fallacy. I could do this all day. But I am not inclined to. I don't respect you enough to.

I am here for Deb. Not you.

Take care.

-N

Gary Baker said...

N,

I read about this in a book by Ann Coulter called "Godless." There's a chapter in there called "You're Stupid: The Joy of Arguing with Liberals." The premise of the chapter is that when liberals can't answer substantive points, they resort to insults (such as declaring their lack of respect).

I guess that one of the differences between you and I is that I respect even people I disagree with.

Natalia said...

No, it isn't about that Gary. It is about the fact that I don't like wasting my time with people who are so indoctrinated in something fake that they cannot see beyond the bible. If I didn't like discussing things with people who have different opinions, I would not be here, as Deb and I don't see eye to eye on loads of things. As far as Ann Coulter, well, the fact that you would quote her clarifies a lot for me. She makes so many mistakes on her claims that even the republicans are starting to be ashamed of her. She is a joke.

And I respect a lot of people with whom I disagree. I just don't have to respect all of them.

And now I am gonna go comment on that lovely video of the two men adopting.

:)

So long.

-N

Gary Baker said...

N,

And again, lots of remarks directed at me personally, a stab at guilt by association, and nothing substantive to say. I would have thought that someone who taught logic would have welcomed the opportunity to employ logic. Instead, you repeat the same remarks about Marx (which are still incorrect), and try to discredit the source. It is fitting though. Even as Marxism cannot survive with a sustained capitalist alternative, so discussion of Marxism cannot stand where ideas are freely exchanged.

~Dawn said...

Revolution Church is running a good series of sermons on Galations that people may want to check out if they don't want to go to church but want to the Word preached.

http://www.revolutionnyc.com/media.htm

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Well said.

"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." ~ Steven Weinberg

Natalia said...

G-

That's exactly why I don't want to argue with you anymore. It's not stabs at you and guilt by association. I am pointing out that I don't have to respect you. Respect is earned. And you have not earned mine. And I am also pointing out that you quote a woman who is known for manipulation of and mistakes in fact. So, I am now less baffled by how you can be so off the mark. And no, my facts are right. That you think are wrong doesn't concern me cause I see where you get your logic. And, again, and for the last time...I have no interest in engaging you. So I will leave it at this...have the last word if that's gonna make you feel better. Nothing you have said has remotely touched any of my arguments or proven me wrong. So, I am happy to let you say whatever you want to say in response to this cause it won't merit my checking back on this post at all. I am moving on to the next posts and my time would be better put to finishing my dissertation.

Have a pleasant day and life,

-N

Gary Baker said...

Hi N,

No, your assertions are wrong, and therefore not facts. Everything Marx proposed has been tried, and failed miserably. Ann Coulter may make mistakes, but one thing I notice about most of her books is that she documents her sources so that they can be traced. You've got assertions, and nothing else. And you either realize that you are trying the discredited method of guilt by association, or you are proving it is also a fallacy that because one teaches logic one will apply it. I can see why you would go into teaching, however. Your arguments are only like to stand up as long as you have a captive audience that can't contradict you for fear of reprisal. I notice that a lot of people who believe Marx was correct run into the academic field. It's one of the few places where they can move out of a competitive system. To me, the most fascinating thing about Marxism is that though most of its adherents look down on religion, they accept his teachings with a fanaticism that would make most fundamentalists blush.

Well, if nothing else, you've given me a reason to stop respecting you - intellectual cowardice. Have a good life.

Natalia said...

ROTFL!!!!! Can't breathe. Laughing too much.

Gary Baker said...

N,

BTW - Considering your expertise on logic, I thought you might enjoy the following series of quotes:

"As far as Ann Coulter, well, the fact that you would quote her clarifies a lot for me. She makes so many mistakes on her claims that even the republicans are starting to be ashamed of her."

"That you think are wrong doesn't concern me cause I see where you get your logic."

"Just because he doesn't make sense to you in one area, it doesn't mean anything else he said has to also make no sense. That's another fallacy."

So, you say that my quoting Ann demonstrates why my logic is faulty because she is known for "manipulation and mistakes of fact" (even though she documents her sources and facts, unlike you). At the same time, you prove her point, and just for icing on the cake you use the same type of argument that I did and which you said was fallacious. Yeah, better work on that dissertation so that you can keep teaching. In the private sector, you wouldn't last very long.

wwwebb said...

Deb:
Yes, thank you for answering my questions. Following the posts, it's clear that one of the few things that is agreed upon is that "religion" is man-made and is messed up. And many seem to agree that a relationship with Jesus is the antidote to religion.

What I'm concerned about is what that means. Do we define that, or does some objective source define it: God, Jesus, the Bible, or our individual ideas and preferences? Natalia, who teaches logic probably could relate to this question. Is God--and Jesus--who we say they are, or who they reveal themselves to be? And where does the revelation come from? Can diametrically, fundamentally opposing views of what constitutes a "saving" relationship with Christ both be right, or is that logically inconsistent? Where are authoritative answers to be found? Is there a foundation of rock to build on, as Jesus taught, or is sand just fine?

I hate to sound like "Johnny One-Note", but "Jesus" and "Christian" are defined so many ways as to make meaningful interpretation and dialog difficult.

Is there a fundamental, operational definition of what Jesus describes as a "true believer", his disciple? Does he leave all parameters wide open for us to define, or does he at all narrow the definition of discipleship, of what he expects love for him to look like? Does Jesus answer these questions? How does the continuing revelation (if you accept the notion of scriptural inspiration)of the epistles fit into this paradigm?

Thanks for hearing me out.

Michael

Natalia said...

Still laughing. Please stop. ROTFL!!!!

-N

Anonymous said...

Deb:

I am a long-time reader, first-time commenter. I have been watching for a while and 'tis a fine circus around here. I wonder how you keep sane.

You have blind people like Mark, who preaches hatred and who is so remarkably deluded and would not make it into heaven if he barged in.

You have people like Gary, who is clearly deluded and picks a fight with someone obviously more intelligent and educated than he is, and still thinks he is winning.

And people like Dani, who is so ashamed of the life she used to lead that she has made it her life's mission to preach doom and try to bring unhappiness to others who are living freely and happily.

It's funny when you visit these people's sites and see how deluded and alone they are, while the people they argue with and try to shame are beacons of light, reason, happiness, comfort, friendship. Is it any wonder these people are on other people's blogs spewing hatred? They are so fundamentally unhappy with their own existence that they need this so that others will be as miserable as they are.

Gary Baker said...

wwweb,

I think that you would have to go back even further before posing your questions. While most people here seem to think that it's "religion" that is causing the problem between people and God, I doubt that you would find any kind of wide spread consensus as to a meaningful definition of what "religion" is. I think you would get more of a vague condemnation of what the readers found objectionable in the faiths of others they disagreed with. Natalia might find the question interesting as a teacher of logic, but as someone who derides capitalism as "savage" yet fails to consider that attempts to institute Marxism lead to the murder of millions in Russia alone, I'm not sure that I would consider her opinion as particularly valid. That is for you to decide, of course.

Oh, and anonymous:
I've been insulted much more creatively before, and to my face. Come on now, you have a facade to hide behind and nothing to loose, so go on and get into it!

Natalia said...

ROTFL! Still!

-N

Michael O said...

Natalie: You are certainly on a "Roll" (pun intended)! Glad you're having fun. You said: "Please stop!" Stop what? Just curious.
Michael

Anonymous: Your comments would seem to indicate that your targets don't have a corner on the "hatred and judgement" market. "Deluded"? "Fundamentally unhappy...Miserable"? "Blind"? "Couldn't [barge] his way into heaven"? Sharply contrasted with your favor shown to those who share your views: "beacons of light", "obviously more intelligent". Sad.
Michael

And Nick: re: Weinberg quote. Do you seriously contend that it is only in the context of religion that "good" people do evil things? I hope notl
Michael
Michael

Jon said...

Have you taken a look at Michael O's blog? Two views. Get what? He's probably Gary!!

Natalia said...

OMG...this is the funniest argument ever. I cannot stop laughing. Seriously. :)

-N

Michael O said...

Dear Natalia: Sorry for misspelling you.
Michael O

Jon: Interesting thesis. But not true. I am not Gary. My sign in name is wwwebb, but miraculously this time it changed to Michael O, which actually I prefer. Did you do that, Deb? Are you omnipotent?
:>)
Michael O.

~Deb said...

Yes Michael, I have the great power to change your name. Viola! It shall be done! ;)

Hope you're doing well! I wish I was able to serve drinks on my blog. I think a few people in here need it. (Including myself of course!)

Michael O said...

Wow, thanks! I have a new respect for you.

The drinks idea has merit...but not for Natalia, I think she's already over the limit (all that rolling and chortling.)

Michael O.

Gary Baker said...

Jon,

You wound me. I may not always say the wisest things in the world, but I've never tried to hide behind a "sock puppet" web identity. I leave that to the people of greater "intelligence."

It's a funny thing though about intelligent people. They don't always come up with things that work, and if they do work, they don't always work well. Years before I got my engineering degree, I worked in submarines. Everything in them works, or should I say can be made to work. The layouts for some of the panels and valves required to operate them are ridiculous, the maintenance load is extreme, and the whole mess takes an ungodly amount of hours to keep poking holes in the ocean. I spent a lot of time commenting about engineers that designed some of the systems I operated. But at least they worked. Marxism doesn't. If you don't believe it, keep your eye on the economy in Venezuela. Chavez and his band of socialists have already begun the assault on free speech. It shouldn't take them that long to abolish the rest of the liberty down there as they trash the economy. It's very easy for Marxists to claim that capitalism causes misery. It's much more difficult to point out a long term Marxist success story.

Interestingly enough, while I was doing that work on subs, I was also living under a Marxist system - the military. I've often wondered how it is that so many academics in the US can be so fond of Marxism, and yet so hateful of the best American example.

Natalia said...

I am so using this conversation in class. Deb, would you mind? :) I gotta love you girl. I have not laughed this hard just reading posts in a long time. You attract the weirdest people. xoxox

-N

~Deb said...

You sure you want to scare your students with this type of discussion? Of course I wouldn't mind. :) Thanks Nat!

Natalia said...

Not at all, Deb, everything is welcome in my class. We talk about politics, religion, sex...sometimes the three of them together. With a class of over 100, there are so many different opinions and great discussions. I think it will be fun. There will be an amazing back and forth about this. I can't ask for anything more. And just the fact that I have been laughing so very hard.

I really am sorry I didn't spend more time in NYC on my way to Greece. I would have loved to get together for a drink.

I am headed to London to present a paper at a conference. If I fly through NYC and have some time in there, you and I have a date, darling!

-N

~Deb said...

I would love to be among the students in your class! I'm always intrigued by your thought process. Anytime you're in Manhattan, let me know - would love to pick your brain!

Michael O said...

June 3, 2007
Hey Gary:

I think that communism (not necessarily Marxism) has gotten a bad rap. Many of its tenets could have profoundly positive impact on the lives of much of the world's population. The economic disparity that we see in our world is immoral (and I speak as one of the very fortunate ones), and actually I think that Christians should be some of the best examples of communism. The reason communism as we know it is dangerous and a failure is corrupt leadership.

Our family lived in post-revolution Romania from 1993-1996. There is a Romanian proverb which says "The fish rots from its head down." Romania suffered under one of the most cruel, repressive and megalomaniacal dictatorships of the former Soviet bloc. Nicolai and Elena Ceausescu created the most incredible bubble of luxury around themselves (and their loyal party elite) in their "workers' state", while their "comrades" eked out bare survival, standing hours in bread lines, rising in the wee hours to queue for the limited bags of milk and insufficient eggs to keep their families alive. They maintained 13 presidential palaces while their brothers lived in subzero weather without heat or hot water, rooms lighted with a single 40 watt light bulb, if that. Right before their demise, they were nearing completion of their newest home ("Casa Poporului"--The House of the People), second largest building in the world after the Pentagon, with a chandelier so enormous that it had enough bulbs to light a small city.

Their self-titled "Epocul de Aur" (Golden Age) came to an end when they were executed in 1989 during the revolution which their abuses eventually precipitated.

Communism really derives its chief and best features from the Judeo-Christian worldview. The problem again is corrupt human leadership. The communists really tried to create a Kingdom of God without God. But the fish rots from the head down. When the head is corrupt, sinful at its core, the whole fish will rot. The Kingdom of God is really a benevolent dictatorship, but one which is not externally enforced ("The letter of the law kills...) but one inwardly embraced and submitted to (...but the Spirit gives life.") And the Kingdom of God presumes Holy Love as its Head. Power in the hands of sinful man corrupts, and "absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Calvin Miller wrote (paraphrase) that the chief issue before all of us is whether to have a lord or to be one. "Gotta Serve Somebody", Bob Dylan's song from the '70's expresses a profound insight:

"...you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody."

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find some asbestos garments to put on before my "blogger brethren" read this. (Hey guys, please keep in mind that I'm really a nice person, ideas notwithstanding!) :>)

Michael O.

Gary Baker said...

Michael O.,

I read a lot about communism and Marxist theory while growing up. I agree that on the surface, there is a lot to recommend it from a moral standpoint. The problems have, and always will, come in the implementation.

Communist principles can work for relatively short periods of time in small groups provided that everyone agrees to follow the rules. As soon as a significant percentage of the membership decides that they don't like the rules, then either the collective has to get rid of them, or the collective will fail.

Large collectives (like countries) can't really afford that option. That's why they have to force compliance. That's the reason that all communist countries become dictatorships, and they always will.

Now you mentioned the concept that communism could work if not for corrupt leadership. I say that it might be theoretically possible, but in reality it will always fail. Look at some of the precepts that are inherent:

1. Abolishment of religion. Communism scoffs at faith and notions of God. That means basically that a man or woman has no more divine value than a pack mule.

2. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Ah, but the individual is allowed to determine neither. The government will assess your aptitude, assign your work, and determine what you should get for it.

3. The only value a worker has to offer is his labor. As soon as cease to labor sufficiently for the state, you become a liability as opposed to an asset.

Add all three of these together and you can see why Stalin had very little trouble killing off 12 million of his own people, Hitler ran some of the most brutal and efficient labor camps in the world, and who knows what kind of carnage took place in southeast Asia.

Try to make a heaven on earth, and you are going to fail. That's pretty much a given. Try to make it without God, and you have hell.

Michael O said...

Gary:
That was the point I was trying to make. Communism will always fail, though it has some great ideals. The same is true however of capitalism or any other system that depends on "us". Unless God builds the house...
Michael O.

Gary Baker said...

Michael,

I guess that depends on how you define failure. At least capitalism provides an incentive for the person to work for good of others. After all, if you don't satisfy the wants and needs of others, you starve. That incentive is lacking in communism. Capitalism is also a great deal more flexible. Because it uses a competitive model, it can coexist along any other system and still work. Communism pretty much requires that everyone play under the same model. Also, as communism fails, it tends to increase poverty and destroy the will. Capitalistic societies continually raise the average standard of living and reduce poverty.

To be most effective, both systems should be "heartless" in that no one is favored and no one is disadvantaged. We know that isn't the case in the real world. But despite the inherent biases, capitalism provides the most opportunities and incentives for advancement.

Michael O said...

Gary,
True. Give me capitalism (or preferably the Kingdom of God) over secular communism any day. I think God is challenging us in our capitalism, to not use our liberty as license. It's lawful to become filthy rich, but is it profitable (unless it spills over to help those without)? He's challenging me anyway. It's not a law, but the current inequities are hard to justify.
Michael O.

Anonymous said...

God is dead.

Michael O said...

Anonymous:
I think most people who say that want to believe--hope that--God is dead. No God, no accountability. It's all by faith of course, but the evidence, to me, is overwhelmingly in support of God. My relationship with God is too unexplainable by coincidence or wishful thinking. I hope you find out that you're wrong. Oh, what you're missing.
Michael O.

Gary Baker said...

Michael O,
I agree that God may be challenging us in our capitalism. I'm not claiming that everyone is passing, or even advancing, but there definitely is some good news. In recent studies of who was giving the most as far as time and money to volunteerism and charity, church affiliation was the number one predictor. It's not the Marxists that are contributing above and beyond to the poor, it's the church members (I'm pretty sure there is only a minimal overlap between the two.) So while Marx might have espoused some ideas that people consider moral, his philosophy hasn't done a lot as far as actually getting the job done. As an engineer, I have a lot more respect for how well something works as opposed to how good it sounds.

Anonymous said...

No. God is not dead, Anon. God never existed. He was made up by people who can't cope otherwise.