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View Diary: Letter to the Editor nails authentic Christianity in two paragraphs (117 comments)

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  •  Religion (15+ / 0-)

    The problem with religion is that it's filtered through human beings, some of whom are nice and some of whom are incurable @$$holes. Blame or praise the person if you think faith is being perverted or used wisely, but there's no point in blaming the existence of religion itself for whatever ills are out there. If a jerk claiming to be Christian suddenly had a change of heart and became a dedicated atheist, they'd still be a jerk, and vice versa.

    The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

    by Korkenzieher on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 11:25:09 AM PDT

    •  Couldn't agree more (6+ / 0-)

      I was an evangelical Christian until my twenties, now an atheist. The only thing that hacks me off more than a crooked Christian is an asshole atheist.

       I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine.     -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by SteelerGrrl on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 11:43:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmm...yes & no. (8+ / 0-)

      Disclaimer: I'm a practicing Christian.

      I agree with this:

      The problem with religion is that it's filtered through human beings, some of whom are nice and some of whom are incurable @$$holes. Blame or praise the person if you think faith is being perverted or used wisely, but there's no point in blaming the existence of religion itself for whatever ills are out there.
      But not this--at least, not always:
      If a jerk claiming to be Christian suddenly had a change of heart and became a dedicated atheist, they'd still be a jerk, and vice versa.
      The fundamental premise of Christianity--and secular psychotherapy, and 12-step programs--is that jerks can stop being jerky. Redemption. Personal change. Our personalities may be to some extent set, but we can develop our better traits and improve our management of our worse ones. We can't be perfect, but we can be better people.

      Certainly many Christian jerks exist, so the mere fact of professing Christianity is not an automatic cure for jerkness; and probably some people have become LESS jerky when they gave up religion. People find inspiration, motivation, strength for personal change in many sources. Christianity can be one of them.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 11:49:30 AM PDT

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      •  Fair points (13+ / 0-)

        Let me expand my thought here since you raise a valid point. What I mean is that a profession of atheism or Christianity (or profession of any faith, really) does not make a person good or bad. That are what they are irrespective of their faith or lack thereof, although of course a person can change their ways, and there are many mechanisms that exist to accomplish that. I think we're in agreement here, though I initially expressed that with less clarity than I should have.

        The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

        by Korkenzieher on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 11:58:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I am unaware of the existence of any religion, (14+ / 0-)

        club or philosophy or culture that makes one automatically:
        Moral
        Compassionate
        Knowledgeable
        Wise
        Law Abiding
        Pure
        Kind
        Nice
        or a leader.

        But many times I have encountered people who claim otherwise.

        All of those qualities take hard work to cultivate. Saying magic words isn't going to make it so. Only actions can do that, and maybe a touch of humility.

        Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

        by GreenMother on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 12:12:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry, but your idea of what the "fundamental (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eyesbright, davidincleveland

        premise" of religion is is hogwash.  The fundamental premise of religion is that all people are naturally evil and only by having a clear set of rules for everyone to follow, with corresponding threats of misery forever if those rules aren't folowed, can they become decent.

        If your idea was actually the underlying premise, it would be a good thing.  But it's not.

        •  You paint with too broad a brush. (4+ / 0-)

          Fundamentalist Christians believe you get eternal punishment if you don't follow the rules. A lot of other Christians (including me) don't believe that.

          I think Christians are more united on our view of human nature. The consensus view is that we have within us both evil and good. Some Christians may emphasize one more than the other, but nearly all Christians acknowledge we are a mixture of both.

          I addressed only the fundamental premise of Christianity, not of religion in general.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 12:42:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sorry, but no matter what religion you look (0+ / 0-)

            at or how you word it, your claim of that being the "fundamental premise" is just simply wrong.  It sounds good, but it's simply not true of any religion.  

            If you want to eliminate the belief in an afterlife, your claim is still not the basic premise.  At best, it's still a premise of there being some kind of supernatural being who we can't see or hear, but who has established rules we're supposed to live by and who has granted authority to a certain group of people to interpret and enforce those rules.  The religion might claim that you'll become a better person if you practice it and follow those rules, that is not the same as a belief that it can happen being the "basic premise" of a religion.

            •  Please apply your argument in more detail to ... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Batya the Toon, Ahianne

              ... Hinduism, Buddhism (the various varieties, including Zen, Tibetan, etc), Taoism, and Native American spirituality, please.

              I'm interested in hearing more of how your claim applies to all religion.

              •  I have no claim; I was refuting a claim made by (0+ / 0-)

                someone else.  It's quite a sweeping claim to make when a person states what the "fundamental premise" of religion is. If indeed what he claimed was the fundamental premise, then the focus of all religions would be on exactly that.  Yet the focus of most religions are on anything but that.

                You can try to play silly games by listing all the religions you want, obscure or otherwise, and demanding adherence to what you believe I should say, but that's just a game.  

                The person making the absurd claim regarding the "fundamental premise" of religion is the one who has to be able to argue their thesis.  That has certainly not been done.

                •  The original claim (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  niemann, Ahianne

                  was about the "fundamental premise" of Christianity, not religion in general.  I checked.

                  •  Yes, so did I. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Ahianne

                    What gustynpip says HeyMikey said:

                    It's quite a sweeping claim to make when a person states what the "fundamental premise" of religion is.
                    What HeyMikey actually said:
                    The fundamental premise of Christianity--and secular psychotherapy, and 12-step programs--is that jerks can stop being jerky.
                •  I'm sorry, but yes, you made clear claims ... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ahianne

                  ...  about all religion in general, stating the following as if they are objective facts:

                  The fundamental premise of religion is that all people are naturally evil and only by having a clear set of rules for everyone to follow, with corresponding threats of misery forever if those rules aren't folowed, can they become decent.
                  no matter what religion you look at or how you word it, your claim of that being the "fundamental premise" is just simply wrong.  It sounds good, but it's simply not true of any religion.
                  "The fundamental premise of religion" ... "no matter what religion" ... "not true of any religion" ...

                  Those are, indeed, claims.  Again, please support them by applying those statements to religions other than Christianity.  I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that in being able to state those things so definitively, you must have extensive familiarity with other religions.

                  If you indeed believe your statements to be true and factual, you should be able to support them with examples.  If I'm playing a "game", it is simply in pressing you to support your claims in an intellectually honest way.  If you don't, I can only conclude you don't really know what you're talking about and are trying to get out of supporting your own assertions by accusing me of "playing games."

                  The person making the absurd claim regarding the "fundamental premise" of religion ...

                  And as noted, you have completely misrepresented ... or at least misread ... what HeyMikey actually wrote in the first place.

            •  A few points. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ahianne
              At best, it's still a premise of there being some kind of supernatural being...who has granted authority to a certain group of people to interpret and enforce those rules.
              I can see how an outsider might think that. But it's actually incorrect, at least as to Protestants (i.e., all the Christians who aren't Catholic or followers of one of the eastern Orthodox sects). A core concept of the Protestant Reformation is the "priesthood of all believers," which means that each believer has the right and responsibility to interpret the Bible and decide what it means:
              http://www.britannica.com/...
              supernatural being who we can't see or hear, but who has established rules we're supposed to live by
              On this, as on some of your other points, you assume a simplistic view that does not recognize the range of beliefs among Christians. The "rules" are seen by many as simply good advice--more or less equivalent to telling your child not to play in the middle of the interstate. Jesus was very harsh on the Pharisees because they kept all the rules, but let their emphasis on obedience thwart the goal the rules were supposed to serve: love.
              The religion might claim that you'll become a better person if you practice it and follow those rules, that is not the same as a belief that it can happen being the "basic premise" of a religion.
              I respond to this point as a Calvinist--a particular variety of Protestant that includes Presbyterians and other denominations in the "Reformed" tradition. We see ourselves as saved not by our good works, but because God chooses to save us. We are saved not because of who we are, but because of who God is. God loves us not because of who we are, but in spite of who we are. And any following of the rules we might do is a consequence of God redeeming us; God's redemption is not a consequence of us following the rules.

              God's unconditional redemption is very much the fundamental premise of at least Calvinist Christianity. Unconditional.

              I know many terrible things have been done in the name of Christ. Perhaps some of them have affected you personally; or perhaps you are merely--and rightly--outraged on behalf of others who have suffered because of things done by Christians. Either way, I am sorry.

              What makes Christianity unique (AFAIK) among religions is our claim that God, in the person of Jesus, chose to share our sufferings. Jesus was born in poverty to an unwed teenager, in an oppressed ethnic minority in a podunk third-rate country, and allowed Himself to be tortured and killed by the midlevel military bureaucrat representing the major political power of the day. The shortest verse in the Bible is perhaps the most profound--when Jesus learned of the death of his friend, and the grief of his friend's sisters, "Jesus wept." Christians are called to follow Jesus' example--I believe this means to share and work to alleviate the sufferings of others, not to cause others to suffer. Many who call themselves Christians think differently, or at least act differently. I pray for the day we all--not just Christians, all people--will have more insight, which will only come through more empathy.

              Jesus's resurrection is the promise that love can transcend all that.

              May your future contact with Christians be with the empathic ones. May God grant Christians, and all people, more empathy.

              All the best to you.

              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 06:44:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  There are many religions that don't say that (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HeyMikey, dougymi, niemann, Batya the Toon

          Many have no afterlife, or eternal hell/heaven, or similar simplistic punishment/reward concepts.

          “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

          by Catte Nappe on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 01:03:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Religion is a creation of man. (9+ / 0-)

      At least, that's what atheist's and other non-believers have concluded.  It's what I know. (You'd have to believe it was real in order to think otherwise.) I also believe that at least as long as man has been writing things down to remember them, religion has been used by man to manipulate the masses to do what the powerful want them to do.

      Religion's are lead by powerful people, usually men, who play an enormous role in how their followers, adherents, believers think, act, and behave.  

      So I do blame religions and the existence of religion for many, many ills out there.

      The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

      by Back In Blue on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 12:23:33 PM PDT

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      •  But I don't blame every person who believes. (8+ / 0-)

        Sorry, this got left out:

        Being particularly uninterested in anyone's religious beliefs, I see all people by who they are, what they say, and what they do.  Why only comes into play once and a while.  I don't care why the guy volunteering next to me at the food pantry is doing it.  I care that he's there.

        The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

        by Back In Blue on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 12:27:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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