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View Diary: Struggle and Faith: How Occupy Has Taught Me To Tolerate Religion (231 comments)

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  •  Your post doesn't make the point (0+ / 0-)

    that I think you want it to make.  For instance:

    And the above leaves out a huge proportion of the continual shrieking that Jesus did about Hell...
    And so?  Your point is?  Jesus was shrieking about hell in the hereafter for those who weren't part of his fan club.  Yup.  But so what?  That has nothing to do with the politics of compassion for the poor and downtrodden that he espoused.  Those quotes may offend both of us as overly aggressive marketing, but they're irrelevant to the topic.  The religious left could throw those same words at the right if they wanted to.  

    The Gospels are also very clear on certainly worldly acts that are the obligation of Christians, obligations that have less to do with the arcane metaphysics of the hereafter and more to do with actual politics.  There is an obligation to help the poor and downtrodden.  Fail at that, and Jesus says, you'll go to Hell.  

    I suppose that's unfair, too, that conservatives who rail against welfare for the poor and waterboarding prisoners are going to be doomed to something as dire as Hell... but that's the tough titty of the Gospels.

    •  WTF? (0+ / 0-)
      Your post doesn't make the point that I think you want it to make.
      Then you clearly have no idea what point it was supposed to make.

      My comment was—shockingly?—a response to your comment, in which you asserted:

      [O]ne of the greatest weapons you could use to beat over the head of the Christian Right are the words of Jesus.
      Which, given a complete account of "the words of Jesus," is in fact a ridiculous notion... as I then demonstrated.
      And the above leaves out a huge proportion of the continual shrieking that Jesus did about Hell...
      And so?  Your point is?
      "Your point is?"?!? Are you serious?

      In the context of your assertion that the Gospels are some kind of useful weapon for liberalism, the blatantly obvious point of the overwhelming amount of dreck the Jesus character in the Gospels shrieks about Hell is that it demonstrates that said character is a bloodthirsty zealot who advocates responding to people who defy or merely disagree with him by torturing and butchering them. Your notion that that exact character's words, complete with their intricate fantasies about unbelievers and dissenters being brutally tortured, are "one of the greatest weapons you could use to beat over the head of the Christian Right" is ludicrous.

      The modern Christian Right fantasizes about torturing and butchering their spectral enemies just as savagely as their mythological hero does. That you think said hero's words could be a useful weapon against them is just bizarre.

      Jesus was shrieking about hell in the hereafter for those who weren't part of his fan club.  Yup.  But so what?
      So what? Again, I have a hard time believing you're serious.

      So that—the freakish joy Jesus takes in threatening his enemies with hellfire and damnation—is disgusting. Immoral. Radically illiberal. Utterly divorced from any political notion that's the slightest bit progressive.

      How much gall and callous disregard does it take to greet that with a "so what?"

      I'll also note that you flatly disregarded the entire blockquote. Hell is Jesus' most frequent fixation—but as I just proved, it's far from his only disgustingly immoral one: above I've demonstrated that he's also into threatening genocide, condoning slavery, spitting racist hatred at a desperate mother (who has the ill fortune to be a worthless Greek "dog"), and plenty more reactionary inhumanity. Do you plan to use all that stuff as a "weapon" against the Christian Right as well?

      You decided to ignore all of that, though—reasoning that the Hell stuff was more defensible...?!? (Guess you ignored Twain, too. Pity.)

      Those quotes may offend both of us as overly aggressive marketing, but they're irrelevant to the topic.
      "Irrelevant to the topic"? The subject of eternal torture, to be imposed at the whim of a religious zealot, is "irrelevant to the topic" of responding to the Christian Right?

      Nice try. Fail.

      (And "aggressive marketing"? Eternal torture is just "aggressive marketing"? Your callousness is unbelievable.)

      The Gospels are also very clear on certainly worldly acts that are the obligation of Christians....
      The hell they are. And once again, you're ignoring the very passages I quoted for you that show the opposite.
      There is an obligation to help the poor and downtrodden.  Fail at that, and Jesus says, you'll go to Hell.
      Oh, really? So Jesus went to (and stayed in) Hell then, eh? Given his disgusting "the poor take a back seat as long as I'm around; I'm special, so I deserve my swanky ointment more than they deserve help" declaration in Mark 14:3-7 (which I quoted, and you've once again simply ignored), Jesus himself falls afoul of the "obligation" that you claim the Gospels are "very clear on."

      Ergo you're wrong: the Gospels are in fact not clear on that point, or really on any other point of value to modern liberal politics, at all.

      Look, you can feign ignorance all you'd like about the astounding amount of brutal inhumanity that can be found all over the Bible, very much including the Gospels and Jesus' words and deeds therein. Your willful blindness and denial does nothing to change the actual text.

      Regardless, the entire point of my previous comment (though you've clearly missed it) was to show the gaping holes in your notion that the Gospels are some kind of useful weapon against modern reactionary religious conservatism. If and when you try to use those books in the way you suggest, Christian Right-ists will laugh—because they know, far better than you clearly do, that the Jesus they worship is far more of a barbaric zealot than the worst of fundamentalists themselves. Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson may be disgusting pigs, but neither of them has condoned slavery (and beating slaves) or threatened genocide on every non-Christian in the world. Jesus does both in the Gospels. Fundies know that. The fact that you don't doesn't change what's in the Bible.

      •  What part of my original title, (0+ / 0-)

        "I'm not a Christian, but," did you not understand? I don't defend or condone Christianity and feel no obligation to.  If Hell is disgusting to you, I say, fine, that part disgusts me too, and I don't believe in it, and I'm not a Christian.

        HOWEVER (back to the point, since this is about having a point to make) the disgustingness or factual incorrectness of any facet of Christianity is irrelevant to whether it's theologically more compatible with the right or the left.

        You try to make a point, and you're really, really stretching things here, that Hell is an endorsement of torturing "your enemies."  That's creative.  I tend to see it just as I put it -- successful religions spread themselves through some marketing scheme, and telling people that not believing will send you to hell is a good idea.  I don't endorse the idea of Hell.  And if you can control the urge to hyperbole, you might be willing to grant that Hell is not itself offered up as a model of how humans should treat each other.

        This is the lynchpin, Matthew 25:35, the sheep and the goats.

        he Sheep and the Goats

        31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: 36Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink? 38When saw we you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? 39Or when saw we you sick, or in prison, and came to you? 40And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me. 41Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungered, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

        If you want to have some fun, google up Jesus+Socialism+goats+sheep and read the rationalizations on some christian right webpages for why this passage doesn't mean anything that it says it means.  This is the point I was making. I don't defend nor feel the need to defend Christianity, but I'm at least aware enough of the Bible to know how far from the text the "literalists" of the right take things.
        •  Oy. (0+ / 0-)
          What part of my original title, "I'm not a Christian, but," did you not understand?
          You seem to have a very difficult time staying on topic. Your status as a Christian or non-Christian is utterly irrelevant to this exchange. You have made claims about Christianity, and I have rebutted those claims. It makes no difference whatsoever what (if any) religious beliefs either one of us holds; our claims and objections stand and fall on their own merits. Why you insist on tilting at ad hominem windmills I have no idea.
          I don't defend or condone Christianity....
          Yeah, sure. If you want to pretend that your "one of the greatest weapons you could use to beat over the head of the Christian Right are the words of Jesus" line, and the efforts you have exerted to defend it (or, more often, to distract attention from it and talk about something—anything—else) don't amount to "defend[ing] or condon[ing] Christianity," knock yourself out. Your disingenuousness is pretty funny, but it's really neither here nor there with regard to the point in contention.
          If Hell is disgusting to you, I say, fine, that part disgusts me too, and I don't believe in it, and I'm not a Christian.
          Which, again, has nothing to do with anything. The reality you simply refuse to face is that the obscenity of hell entirely undermines your notion that "the words of Jesus" are "one of the greatest weapons you could use to beat over the head of the Christian Right." The Gospels' Hell shows that you're wrong, because that Hell is not only disgusting, it's directly parallel to the manner in which the Christian Right wants to treat all of us who defy them. To those millions upon millions of people who do, unlike you, believe in it, the Gospel Jesus' fervent support for the degeneracy of Hell is a massive point in favor of Christian Right governance.

          You simply refuse to consider this problem. You also simply refuse to notice that the Gospels' Jesus supports, in word and deed, several other notions that are (1) disgustingly immoral and, more to the point here, (2) closely parallel to Christian Right notions of proper social policy. "I'm not a Christian" and other attempts to evade the issue do nothing to rebut the massive problems these textual realities present for your "one of the greatest weapons" thesis. A thesis that just happens to be the thing we're talking about, if you stoop to consider such procedural trifles.

          [T]he disgustingness or factual incorrectness of any facet of Christianity is irrelevant to whether it's theologically more compatible with the right or the left.
          "Theologically more compatible"? WTF is that supposed to mean?

          The Gospels have a number of overwhelmingly blatant messages. Several very consequential examples of these are entirely congruent with Christian Right inhumanity. What in the world does "theological compatibility" have to do with anything?

          You try to make a point, and you're really, really stretching things here, that Hell is an endorsement of torturing "your enemies."  That's creative.
          Uh, no, it clearly isn't. "That" is the bloody obvious message of the Gospels' entire treatment of Hell, as is clear from both the plain text and from two thousand years of Christian history interpreting and applying it.

          Jesus makes clear that those who defy his dictates and thus earn the title "wicked" (Matthew 13:47-50, Luke 19:22-27) or "evil" (John 5:28-29) will be subjected to freakish torture. That is precisely what the Gospels depict, over and over and over again. It's simply absurd to pretend that the utterly standard "Gospel truth" about the nature of Hell and how one winds up in it is somehow "creative" or out-of-left-field. It's flatly de rigueur historical Christianity, thousands of years old. What in the world are you talking about instead?

          I tend to see it just as I put it -- successful religions spread themselves through some marketing scheme....
          Then you are simply refusing to apply the slightest amount of seriousness or intellectual honesty to consideration of the issue you yourself raised.

          You cannot actually think that you can use a religious text as an ideological "weapon" against people who fervently believe the text to be true by presupposing that one of the most important ideas asserted in it is a mere "marketing scheme." The interpretation you have just presented is an entirely secular (if not indeed atheistic) gloss on the Gospels. How in the world do you expect to use those books against fundamentalist believers if your approach requires everyone involved to accept that the story the books tell isn't actually true?

          It would appear that you're flatly refusing to think seriously about what these texts say and what millions of Christians, both within the "Christian Right" and without it, believe about them.

          I don't endorse the idea of Hell.
          Who cares what you endorse? The Christian Right heartily endorses the idea of Hell. And the Jesus character in the Gospels does so even more fervently. Therefore your notion that the Gospels are a useful weapon against the Christian Right is refuted.
          This is the lynchpin, Matthew 25:35, the sheep and the goats.
          According to whom? You? The self-declared non-Christian non-defender-of-Christianity? What kind of authority do you have to declare that particular passage "the lynchpin" of Jesus' policy (which is expressed in a huge number of other passages as well) on Hell? What textual evidence is there that that passage overrules any other? Do you have anything to present here that you're not simply pulling out of your ass?
          And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
          Do you really have no idea that Christian fundamentalists read this as encompassing, for example, their own
          "righteous" defense of "the least of these my brothers" that they call 'unborn children'? Or 'ex-gays'? Or poor unfortunate souls burdened by heathen religions who haven't heard the Good News of the Gospel?

          This "lynchpin" passage of yours is entirely consistent with right-wing Christian ideas about the Clash of Civilizations they are in with other religions, secular skepticism, and heretical 'pseudo-Christianity' alike. They cast themselves in that passage as the righteous believers awarded with Heaven, while the liberals and evolutionists and multiculturalists they despise have their supposed self-righteousness mocked and dismissed by a Hell-waving Jesus. At the end, the "righteous" follow Rousas Rushdoony, Francis Schaeffer, Jerry Falwell, and other such heroes into "life eternal," while the wretched rest of us "go away into everlasting punishment."

          That fundamentalist gloss on Matthew 25:31-46 (it might help you to cite it correctly) is at least as plausible as the liberal gloss that you presuppose without evidently actually thinking about it. Indeed, given the ending in verse 46, the bloodthirsty right-wing reading is considerably more congruent with the text, given (as you've conceded) the obscenity of "everlasting punishment" on any ethical grounds that betray the slightest hint of humanism.

          If you want to have some fun, google up Jesus+Socialism+goats+sheep and read the rationalizations on some christian right webpages for why this passage doesn't mean anything that it says it means.
          Those aren't "rationalizations"; they're explanations, and typically far more logical and honest ones than you have provided here, for why there's not the slightest bit of conflict between that detestable Gospel passage and the detestable program of fundamentalist Christianity.
          I don't defend nor feel the need to defend Christianity, but I'm at least aware enough of the Bible to know how far from the text the "literalists" of the right take things.
          You've shown nothing of the kind. The only thing "far from the text" in this exchange has been your absurd evasion, both refusing to face the long list of Gospel Jesus obscenities I posted (regarding genocide, slavery, overt racism, etc.) and pretending that a straightforward myth about eternal punishment is a mere "marketing scheme."

          You want "far from the text"? Try your "marketing scheme" bit. It's hard to imagine a more text-free interpretation than that one.

          Fundamentalist Christians have textual arguments. So do you. Thanks in large part to your disingenuousness and your unexamined liberal and secular preconceptions, theirs are vastly stronger.

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