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The pushback against progressive religion seems to be in full swing, as Charlotte Allen's despicable piece in the Sunday LA Times demonstrates. Closer to home, I seem to have picked up my very own concern troll. Why this person thought my fellow Kosmonkeys would be upset by having a heterodox preacher in their midst is beyond me, but then I never found troll psychology to be a particularly rewarding field of study.

It's not true, in any case. I actually fall pretty squarely on the orthodox end of the scale. I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, affirm the ancient creeds, practice baptism and eucharist, and look forward to the resurrection and Jesus' return at the end of time.

And yet, I'm a pretty progressive guy. I certainly don't read the Bible literally. How is this possible?

It's natural to question on what foundations Christianity can be built, if a literal reading of the Bible is not followed. It boils down to a question of authority. Without universally accessible principles, what moral claim can be made? And without a central, commonly held body of doctrine, how can Christianity be said to stand for anything? Or - I hear this all the time - how can Christians pick and choose which parts of the Bible they believe?

I don't want to rehash the entire debate between fundamentalism vs. modernist readings of the Bible. Suffice it to say that one of the unifying characteristics of progressive Christians is that we do not believe the Bible to be the "inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God." Rather, we see scripture as the record of a people's journey with God over time - about 1500 years - and reflecting many divergent perspectives on the meaning of that story. Nuances, differences of opinion, and downright contradictions are a feature, not a bug, because scripture records a conversation, not settled doctrine. The early church explicitly rejected a synthesized gospel in favor of the four we know today for exactly this reason. It was held that the event of God's coming into the world in the form of Jesus was simply too large, too complex, to be contained in a single perspective.

Which is not to say that there is no unity to be found in scripture. Christians discern a narrative arc from the origins of the world in Genesis to its destiny in Revelations. Jews see consistent ethical concerns - holiness, concern for the poor and the stranger, among others - in the Hebrew books. Still, given the number of voices recorded, it's no wonder people get dizzy. How do you know which voices to trust? How do you know which imperatives to prioritize over others?

You know because you read scripture in community. The conversations of the Bible take place not just within its pages, but in the living, breathing community of believers. For Christians, that means in theory all believers in the world today - but even worse, all believers through time. Love or hate St. Augustine, Gregory the Great, or Martin Luther, they are our conversation partners as we seek to discern God's will through the reading of scripture. That doesn't mean that we must agree with them - in fact, we are free to accept or reject their perspective, just like any other - but they deserve to be heard, and considered. Often, in disagreeing with them, we come away with some crucial piece of wisdom we wouldn't have had otherwise.

It is this willingness to continue the conversation over the course of centuries that prevents modernists from being truly "freelancers" of religion. Modernists such as myself, that is. I don't cotton to the idea of adding books to the Bible, or throwing others out. We've been fighting over basically the same texts for twenty centuries. I'll be damned if Dan Brown is going to screw that up. We've got enough shit to deal with as it is. Why make up new shit? For better or worse, being in that single conversation is what makes us Christians. It is what gives us our moral authority, such as it is.

As you might imagine, continuing that conversation is a frightfully complex project. Modernist readers of the Bible must attempt to enter the world of Biblical writers, and engage their perspective. Ditto later commenters, right up to our own time, sorting through the pros and cons until - hopefully - we come up with something solid.

Tenous? You bet. Prone to error? Sure.

Requiring considerable intellectual enterprise? Damn skippy. Call a modernist reader "mindless" and you deserve to get a poke in the nose. It's hard work, this Bible.

But it's more than a cerebral workout. Our readings must respond to the living concerns of the community. How do we choose between Luke's message of radical grace and acceptance, and John's apparent exclusivism? In one context - say here at Daily Kos, where many have felt keenly the sting of rejection at the hands of the church - Luke's message is surely preferable. Another group - for example, a pre-Constantinian church threatened with harassment, if not death, for their faith - might have responded more to John.

So, then God must mean all things to all people, and religion be ultimately an empty concept, right? Not at all! Scripture afflicts as much as it comforts. At least it does, if you're honest enough to allow such a thing. Looking at how John's "way, truth, and light" has been used to oppress countless non-Christians challenges us to look at the ways we have participated in the marginalization of others in our society, and to find ways to put an end to it. And whatever else you want to say about the Levitical writers - dirt-obssessed sex-hating freaks, for starters - the legal code found in Leviticus challenges us to think about the ways in which we use our bodies, and whether they are in the end as acceptable as we thought. That's particularly true in the modernist way of approaching scripture because of the importance it places on reading scripture together. It's one thing to sleep around when you have no one to answer to. It's quite another when you are responsible to an entire community.

Look, I don't expect you to believe in or agree with everything written above. I imagine that readers who buy into Enlightenment ideals will find the idea of a living stream of history to be offensive, if not downright nutty.

What I do want you to get ahold of, though, is this: the modernist reading of scripture is a profound threat to conservative Christianity, for a number of reasons. Because it is an essentially democratic way of reading, it threatens the authority of pastors and church elders passing along The Truth paternalistically. And because it allows communities to read scripture differently, it makes a hash of the narrative of Absolute Truth on the march across the land.

We progressive Christians are really inconvenient. There are a lot of people who are quite heavily invested in the idea that all Christians care about is abortion and keeping teh gay down. But here we come, with our little Bibles in hand, saying "well, umm, actually, in our church we like to accept people, and we seem to be more concerned about poverty than Ellen DeGeneres."

This infuriates right-wing Christians. It scares the crap out of them. They'd like you to think that progressive believers have submarined themselves with all their wild-eyed loonie beliefs, that our organizations can't attract anyone new, and we're all going to die out soon, before we have a chance to change anything. (Sound like the criticism lodged against any other group you know?)

But the truth, as I say, scares the crap out of them. For they know that community knows no end.  Don't get me wrong - communities have, and need to have, boundaries to keep alive - but in principle, there is nothing to prevent me from sitting down with a Jew, a Hindu, or a secularist to work through the Beatitudes, or Isaiah, or Paul's Letter to the Romans (as we did at Yearly Kos), and finding there common cause. The fundamentalist way of reading the Bible derives its authority by obedience to an external truth. The modernist reading finds authority in agreement negotiated through dialogue. In a society that continues to grow more diverse - and more secular - every day, which of those perspectives do you suppose stands a better chance in the long run?

Originally posted to pastordan on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:27 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A bit I had to cut from the intro text: (160+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mapantsula, Sharoney, Leslie in CA, wozzle, spyral, Alumbrados, Ed in Montana, DavidW in SF, Yosef 52, AggieDemocrat, Granite, eafredel, joejoejoe, musing85, 2pt5cats, ArkansasJoseph, Grand Moff Texan, Lahdee, Elizabeth D, Coldblue Steele, Shockwave, Lipstick Liberal, AAbshier, martianchronic, Pompatus, clone12, shpilk, Carnacki, Abou Ben Adhem, Matilda, Poika, Radical Faith, bostonjay, davelf2, shermanesq, monkeybiz, concernedamerican, ReneInOregon, BlackGriffen, rktect, brillig, baba durag, Mary Julia, guyute16, susakinovember, mkfarkus, vmibran, LeftofArizona, valleycat, javelina, Ignacio Magaloni, peraspera, marylrgn, L0kI, cognitive dissonance, Fe, exiled texan, Cedwyn, antirove, Alna Dem, KathleenM1, celticshel, cappy, wader, nio, asterlil, ktakki, hhex65, MrSandman, oldjohnbrown, jeysiin, draftchrisheinz, DeadB0y, TiaRachel, Caldonia, texasmom, hono lulu, 42, Catte Nappe, AbsurdEyes, FLDemJax, towit, One bite at a time, ChiGirl88, Mrs Pastor, idiosynchronic, SanDiegoDem, Schwede, Irish Patti, bibble, Timroff, joanneleon, god less force, 3goldens, el dorado gal, Elise, docangel, lale, Quotefiend, Chinton, Halcyon, PBen, Webster, Sinister Rae, reahti, catleigh, KiaRioGrl79, Ranting Roland, devadatta, marathon, Morrigan, Pam from Calif, Buffalo Girl, Ambrosius, Robert in WV, Joy Busey, bmaples, babatunde, Yamara, Jay Elias, wiscmass, FindingMyVoice, sbdenmon, Rogneid, liberalsouth, noweasels, begone, occams hatchet, dannyinla, BachFan, PatsBard, virgomusic, tobendaro, Mahanoy, Ky DEM, seefleur, Mrs White trash poet, darthstar, Texas Blue Dot, kck, Alexandra Lynch, paul2port, FireCrow, Unitary Moonbat, Turbonerd, ilyana, vox humana, WI Dem, means are the ends, Dreaming of Better Days, Zoskie, coznfx, AmericanRiverCanyon, Dave the Rave, cgiselle12, Cronesense, wa ma, Cat Whisperer, rtfm, katrinasolo

    "I didn't want to write this diary. Believe it or not, I don't like for my views on religion and politics to dominate the conversation here. I was relieved to see Darksyde's interview with Brent Rasmussen the other day. It's good to see another perspective."

    It's true, I swear.

    Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

    by pastordan on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:24:54 PM PDT

    •  what's this? (36+ / 0-)

      ... a person of faith accepting other opinions?  
      out, out i say, foul demon!


      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

      by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:30:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

        •  absolutely nuts! (10+ / 0-)

          i mean, how crazy can someone actually be, without being certifiable... or, uh, are you certifiable?

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

          by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:34:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am, actually. (25+ / 0-)

            There really is a piece of paper in a doctor's office somewhere that diagnoses me as bipolar 2.

            Well, crazy is as crazy does, I suppose.

            Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

            by pastordan on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:36:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Jokes aside (31+ / 0-)

              Thanks for answering these diaries with humor, grace, and intelligence. My faith is pretty vague, and I appreciate someone who can speak of God and religion without sounding "preachy" as it were.

              A friend of mine years ago asked my opinion on his going to a seminary to become a Catholic priest. I told him if he went, he needed to learn to talk to people, not preach at them. The former lets you reach people, the latter makes them turn away from you.

              Anyway. Thank you.

              Common sense, decency, concern and caring for those less fortunate - is that too much to ask of a government "of the people, by the people, for the people"?

              by PatsBard on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 09:08:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  We're even. (7+ / 0-)

              Somwhere, I have a piece of paper that certifies me as an ordained minister.

              How, you may ask, does a agnostic become ordained? Through the twin modern miracles of the World Wide Web and powerful over-the-counter cold and flu medication.

            •  Concern Troll? (5+ / 0-)

              Pastor Dan - thanks for the reasoned reply to my diary yesterday. I've learned a lot about your personal views, and about progressive Christianity, through your writings here - starting long before today.

              I'm sorry you felt like my diary was the work of a "troll" or a "concern troll" or "stealth troll" or whatever the current Kossack terminology is. Believe it or not, I was and am sincerely curious about your take on Christianity, and I respect it as much as any other view. This curiousity, not any malevolent intent, was the motivation for my diary. (I understand why you'd doubt my good intentions, we don't know each other and I probably come off as a jerk sometimes.)

              But your diary hasn't cleared up my confusion about progressive Christianity.  On the contrary, based on what you've written today, I'm more confused than ever.

              You wrote that you "look forward to Jesus' return at the end of time." You've written that you "affirm the ancient creeds," which state, among other things, that Jesus will "come again in glory to judge the living and the dead."  

              My confusion is this: with Christ coming back to separate humanity into saved and not-saved (because that's the clear meaning of judgment, right?) exactly what happens to those who Christ judges unworthy of heaven? You've stated you don't believe in Hell. So do those unfortunate souls simply remain dead? What's the criteria for condemning them to this fate? And is it something you'd feel comfortable inflicting upon humans who've offended you in some way?

              Personally, I have a huge problem with the idea of a divisive and punishing God, who separates humanity into worthy and unworthy based on how well they've pleased him. I feel this presents a very troublesome model for human relations, one that we imitate all too willingly. Is this the God you believe in? If not, how do you reconcile your concept of God to the one described in the "orthodox" beliefs and ancient creeds you affirm?

              I ask that in all sincerity. I'm not trying to harrass you, and will greatly appreciate your reply.

              •  Perhaps an alternative (4+ / 0-)

                Maybe what is commonly referred to as Hell is simply a complete absence from the Creator.  

                Much the same reasoning as the opposite of Love is apathy rather than hate.  Just something else to mull over.

                The truth always matters.

                by texasmom on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:17:02 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Maybe, but doesn't it come to the same thing? (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  rktect, L0kI, walkshills, USAFguy

                  Would you lock your kids out of the house (for all eternity) if they disobeyed you? Even if they did it out of their own "free will," the punishment seems awfully excessive. And should any relationship be based on punishment and reward, depending on how well the less-powerful party manages to please the powerful one?

                  Unless you're suggesting that Hell (ie: absence from the creator) is a temporary state that can be ended whenever the absent party decides to return to God's presence. That's a rather intriguing idea. I wonder if that's how progressive Christians view it?

                  •  These are the questions that come to me at night (6+ / 0-)

                    Part of me wants to think so - what if the story of the prodigal son is to teach us that our Father/Parent will always, always take us back whenever we are ready to repent? I'm sure I would take my own children, no matter what they did if I could only see into their sincerely repentant hearts.  I do wonder if our Creator's depth of forgiveness can be less than that of a mortal parent.

                    Then there's that one lost sheep that the shepherd goes after, leaving the 99 faithful, because he cannot stand the loss of the one. What is that supposed to teach us - that there is a deadline?  That the stupid little sheep should come back on his own?

                    On another line of reasoning, if one were truly a nonbeliever or even actively hostile to the idea of a Creator or afterlife, would ultimate separation be that much of a punishment?

                    The truth always matters.

                    by texasmom on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:41:54 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Interesting questions (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      L0kI, KathleenM1

                      But if the Creator is pure Love, how could anyone be actively hostile to it? (I don't subscribe to the idea that there are "evil" people with no love in their hearts.)

                      And anyway, can pure Love ever be anything less than pure acceptance? This is the thing I can't get past in Christianity. I can't imagine a loving Creator who would condemn his creations to ANYTHING - not separation, not death, certainly not Hell.

                      •  You are closer to me than you think (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        amsterdam, L0kI, Quotefiend

                        That kind of thinking is often condemned as wishy-washy or "lukewarm" Christianity by those who are very certain about themselves and God.

                        I tend to think of it as something much more vast than my mortal mind can hold - the "glass darkly" thing.  I really don't think we are supposed to have all the answers and I am finally growing comfortable with that position.  Perhaps is it hubris to claim we can know all.  I am human and the Creator is, well, the Creator and I cannot assume to know all that is.

                        The truth always matters.

                        by texasmom on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:00:52 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  We condemn ourselves, by separating ourselves... (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        L0kI, walkshills, Quotefiend

                        "I can't imagine a loving Creator who would condemn his creations to ANYTHING - not separation, not death, certainly not Hell."

                        Nor, frankly, can I. In fact, I think "sin" is something that man thought up to try to explain why he felt so bad about himself.

                        To me, the message of Jesus was "relax, quit hating yourself! God loves you, and your sins are forgiven. And besides that, you are eternal beings who don't just vanish from existence when your human body dies. So quit fighting over getting everything and everybody in the here and now, and live in peace and love with your fellow children of God." Everything else was to explain that further and, if you believe that his sacrifice was on purpose, then you have to admit that it sure got people's attention. "See? Told you so. Now will you believe me?"

                        I don't think that God condemns and separates us, but I do think we do it to ourselves. And while I really have no idea what happens after we die (and am not worried about it), I can imagine that Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell would find it to be hell if they had to choose between their egos and self-importance, and a God who loves unconditionally every child of His, including those who are gay or Muslim or, for that matter, who don't believe He exists.

                        Try being a <font color="red">Red Letter Christian</font> for a couple of days -- go read the Four Gospels only, and only what Jesus is quoted as saying. (Which doesn't mean that he did say it, but it's a lot closer than reading the Epistles or Revelations which is other people's interpretations, religious politics, and hearsay.)

                        That may give you a different insight.

                        America will never again be the land of the free... Until she again becomes the home of the brave.

                        by Ducktape on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:19:32 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I LOVE that conception (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Ducktape, L0kI, walkshills

                          of Jesus. As I've said before, if that was the Christ of Christianity, I'd be Christian. But like it or not, the Bible and the creeds say something significantly different. And that difference boils down to one word: judgment. Take that out of Christianity, give us a God who is loving and accepting WITHOUT EXCEPTION, even when his will is disobeyed, and you've got a convert. I hope your concept of Christ catches on. The world needs it.

                          •  'Christian' vs a Follower of Jesus (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            texasmom, walkshills

                            "if that was the Christ of Christianity, I'd be Christian."

                            As would I. But on the other hand, "Christian" is just a label, isn't it? And too many people want to tell you what that "must" mean. I don't need that label, and I don't think you do, either.

                            Frankly, our relationship with our Creator, Great Intelligence, whatever you call that spark that animates each of us, is private and uniquely personal. One reason that we have so much difficulty communicating it is that words can't adequately describe what I feel, even to me! How could they possibly communicate to others so that they'd understand the same way?

                            About 25 years ago, I had an experience of personal spiritual enlightenment. My mother tells me that it was a "Born Again" experience, but it wasn't "religious" -- if anything, I no longer had any need for religion after that, because I had lost my fear of death (and my fear of life along with it).

                            I immediately went to the bookshelf, picked up the New Testament, and turned to Mark. He was the earliest of the canonical Gospels, and is the most straightforward like a news report: "They did this, then straightaway they did that."

                            I read it with new eyes ... and I thought, "I think I understand what Jesus was saying. Wow, has his message been perverted into the opposite for the last 2000 years!"

                            I'm interested in every thinking person's insight, and I'm interested in the core of all religions because of it. But I'm not interested in following anybody else's rules!

                            I did have a very interesting additional expeience, that taught me a lot. My awakening changed me a lot, and everyone who knew me could see it. I didn't talk about it, but it just was.

                            What amazed me was the number of people who wanted to attach themselves to me, or sit at my feet and let me dribble wisdom on them or something -- anyway, they wanted some shortcut "tell me how do get what you have" regimen to follow. If I'd told them that they had to give me their money and then recite the first 3 pages of the phone book each morning, some of them probably would.

                            It made the temptations a bit more understandable...

                            America will never again be the land of the free... Until she again becomes the home of the brave.

                            by Ducktape on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 12:27:33 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            for the heartfelt words. I'm hoping for a similar experience someday. If it ever happens, I'll pick up a Bible and see how it sounds...

                      •  (This is the discussion Dan was talking about) (0+ / 0-)

                        -9.13, -7.79 Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November.

                        by L0kI on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:55:14 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  Your case forgets forgiveness and free will (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Relief comes through forgiveness.

                    Why are you so obsessed with punishment, and why do you feel that an authority figure must do all the thinking for a child. One teaches one's children to think on their own and realizes that sometimes they burn their hand on a hot stove. It isn't punishment, it is natural consequences and common sense.

                     Screaming stupid, and punishment from God over a child's curiosity to touch something orange, and discovering that it burns...... screaming stupid, is what teaches, in your mind that curiosity must be guided by authority lest it stray into unChristlike realms.

                    Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                    by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:45:18 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  A more apt analogy (6+ / 0-)

                      would be this: would I instill within my children an irresistible desire to touch hot stoves, then scatter hot stoves throughout the house where they're sure to reach them? Sure, the kid can stop touching them whenever he wants, but I know he's not gonna, and I've deliberately filled his world with opportunities to burn himself. Is this the act of a loving parent?

                      And is free will truly free when we're told ahead of time that our "freely made" decisions will bring certain punishment or reward? It doesn't make sense to me. Can you explain this?

                      •  would you rather God had created (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        perro amarillo

                        robots living in perpetual perfection?  How amusing would that be for God?

                        MB, I don't think for a secound you are sincerely just asking quesions.  I think there is judgement and anit religion evangelism in everything you post.  If I had the power I would troll rate you off the board because you seem to have one concern only, to preach your brand of non belief.  Luckily for you, not all people are as tired with that routine as I am.    

                        mcjoan is the new Armando

                        by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:08:37 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Teresa (9+ / 0-)

                          I'm aware of your opinion of me, and it doesn't bother me. Feel free to troll rate me if it'll make you feel better. I can't prove my sincerity to you, but the fact that I'm here engaging with you politely should tell you something. Would you be willing to return the favor?

                          To answer your question, no, I wouldn't like a society of "perfect robots." If I could design my ideal God, I'd create a God who gives us free will, provides us with the consciousness and support we need to make healthy decisions, then REFUSES TO JUDGE US when we inevitably fail. Instead of holding a figurative gun to our heads, why can't God just patiently communicate to us the following message, the same way you would with a child: "Nice try, but this isn't working. But there are other options. Why not choose differently next time?"

                          How, praytell, does it help matters if God gives us free will, then terrifies us to the point where we're afraid to use it?

                        •  WHAT??!! (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Ducktape, amsterdam

                          I'm loving this discussion and he's not a troll, christ, sometimes I don't understand you people.  

                          (And were he preaching his own brand of non-belief, would that be trollish?? Why can't he talk about this in a diary dedicated to the way people view Christianity???)

                          I'm ashamed of you Teresa... you're normally right on.

                          -9.13, -7.79 Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November.

                          by L0kI on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:04:55 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  You seem much more trollish (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          amsterdam, kd texan

                          than MB does.

                          You seem genuinely uninterested in discussion.  So why discuss?  If this sort of discussion doesn't interest you, why read it?

                          Republicans worry about our souls and their bellies. Democrats worry about their souls and our bellies

                          by plf515 on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 11:12:44 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            I've often wondered why people come here, read a diary and an entire thread, then jump in and say "This conversation is so boring (inappropriate, insulting, etc.) - I can't believe you're discussing this -stop it stop it!"

                            Free will includes the right to read other threads, or to read none at all and to get back to work (advice I should take...)

                      •  Your analogy is false (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        perro amarillo

                         A curious child, learning from the experience that touching a hot stove causes pain.
                         It is  a pretense that any parent would deliberately fill a room with an opportunity for a child to burn himself and it would seem to betray sadistic tendecies on the part of the parent.

                         Your God seems to be a sadistic God. But you set him up that way with your own free will. My house has only one stove. Your house is filled with many.

                        Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                        by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:17:57 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  The world is filled (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          L0kI, KathleenM1, Quotefiend

                          with opportunities to "sin." Who put them there, if not God? Who gave us the tendency to commit these "sins," if not God? Then if we take one of these countless opportunities, God punishes us by inflicting suffering of some kind. This is indeed sadistic. And bewildering. And I don't believe it reflects the true nature of the Divine. Hence, I'm not comfortable with Christian teachings as I understand them.

                          (By the way, the God I've described is not "my" God - I've never claimed to be Christian, and have always tried to make clear that I'm not a member of the faith.)

                          •  Free will to sin or not to sin (0+ / 0-)

                            that is the question.

                            God does not punish us, we discover the path to light by making choices.

                            Touching a hot stove is not a sin.

                            Setting a child in a room full of hot stoves is sadistic. That is your premise of "free will". It is a false premise. Just as I believe you are playing a game of your own, to make yourself feel morally justified that punishment is God's way of loving us.

                            You assume a lot. From your words, I am assuming that you think it is okay to torutre people, to get information that would "protect" this countries self determination from future terrorist attacks. IN other words, you want to bring Jesus to Baghdad, to punish those who have turned against God and country.

                            Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                            by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:38:48 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Sex outside marriage is a sin (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:


                            Your God (as far as I can tell) sets us up on a journey through a minefield of desire and lust and opportunity and says "You better not...!!"

                            That is the stove analogy.

                            -9.13, -7.79 Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November.

                            by L0kI on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:09:34 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I did not say that at all. (0+ / 0-)

                             I am somehow not surprised that you read things into my comments that are not there, as this would not be the first time. Read the whole series of comments.

                             The stove analogy goes to natural consequences.

                             Mr. B set up a minefield of stoves in the true the "Christian God is a punishing God" form. I don't believe God is a sadist. But I believe humans can be, if they are brought up to believe in a punishing God.

                            Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                            by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:17:53 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  His point is that Christianity emphasizes (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            punishment... he doesn't believe that to be a characteristic of a compassionate God.

                            Don't start running a muck just b/c I've disagreed with you before.

                            I have read the whole series of comments, and the theme I seem to see is that you're not really understanding what he's trying to explain to you.  Setting us up in a minefield of temptation to sin, and telling us what we can and cannot do, and threatening a pretty big punishment (ETERNAL damnation in hell) does not seem like the actions of a good, compassionate God, it seems false; God is much more likely to say, "here's the minefield, do what you think you should do, I'm here for you if you need me").

                            -9.13, -7.79 Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November.

                            by L0kI on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:22:36 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I think he believes that torture is justified (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            as a means to an end, as is the War in Iraq.

                            He is playing games with your head, if you will allow me to say that without accusing me of some groupthink mindset.

                            He seems curious to understand a God that does not support the war on terror, because for the war on terror to be justified in Christ you must serve a punishing God.

                            He comes here to accuse the liberal God of being wrong with his false annalogies and his false concerns.

                            I am glad to see he has lots of questions. I do not think it is God's will as GWB has said that we are in Iraq. It was man's choice. Therefore we suffer the consequences.

                            I get his point, duh! I am challenging it.

                            Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                            by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:42:56 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  'The liberal God'... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            I don't think we all believe in the same God... perhaps I'm wrong.  

                            Nonetheless, my point is that his questions are valid, perhaps points he's made in the past have been misguided.  Perhaps he just likes to follow a train of thought to it's logical conclusion, no matter how ridiculous.  Perhaps one cannot judge a person's character based on the questions they ask on a liberal blog.  

                            Who really knows?

                            -9.13, -7.79 Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November.

                            by L0kI on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 11:12:26 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Perhaps I just enjoy a philosophical discussion (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            with someone that has a different point of view than myself about who and what God is.

                            His questions are valid, as are mine.

                            Yet you seem to give his more weight. Perhaps you God is a punishing God also.

                            Frankly, the punishing God crowd, I fear is a lot of what has led the US to be in the position it is. It is so easily used to manipulate people....... as this Mr. B has been trying to use it to manipulate himself into a liberal conversation, all the while wanting God to punish the "enemy".

                            It is the ideology stupid!

                            Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                            by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 11:17:50 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Your mischaracterizing again (0+ / 0-)

                            "my god" (if I have one, did I mention I don't have a firm opinion on that?) is not a punishing God, in fact, I've been arguing the whole time that I believe that if there is a God, he is NOT that way, he is compassionate to the end, and then some.

                            Secondly, I agree with you that the Punishment mentality is likely a large factor in current US policy.  That is bad.  

                            I haven't been giving his opinions more sway, I've been trying to convince you that you're having a false argument b/c you're not addressing the ACTUAL points he's trying to make, you just keep twisting it around to tell him that his God is a punishing God, meanwhile he is telling you that he doesn't believe that God would be that way and that's why he removed himself from Christianity b/c the going belief structure emphasizes punishment excessively.

                            Lastly, I jumped into this conversation b/c many of you were trashing this guy for no reason as far as I could see, he just viewed the situation differently, and people were reaming him.  Maybe I've missed his comment history, but the points he was making were valid, but you and others kept attacking him for no apparent reason other than his view of Christianity strayed from yours.

                            Anyway, I think I'm done with this, it's difficult to talk to you b/c you seem to miss what I'm trying to say each time I post.  

                            -9.13, -7.79 Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November.

                            by L0kI on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 11:42:38 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  He doesn't seem to mind the reeming (0+ / 0-)

                            which is why he posted this controversial topic.

                            You don't need to defend him, he seems quite capable. I am having a hard time taking his arguments on face value.

                            If I have misstated his position, it is up to him to clarify it. His post seems somewhat disingenious to me.

                            Don't worry we will all be okay. When you have hard discussions, about complex subjects, it usually helps to clarify the issue all around. I think debate is healthy.

                            Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                            by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 03:04:14 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I think the same way... (0+ / 0-)

                            I just think you tend to get really excited about something and perhaps come off as though you are attacking and attacking, when we're just trying to talk... that's just my view... feel free to "constructively criticize" me...

                            -9.13, -7.79 Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November.

                            by L0kI on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 04:18:16 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I have no idea what you're talking about (0+ / 0-)

                            and if you've somehow found a justification for torture in my reluctance to embrace a punishing God...well, I can't imagine how you could possibly come to a more bizarre and inaccurate conclusion.

                            I really don't understand your comment well enough to respond further.

                          •  It is the folks that believe in a punishing God (0+ / 0-)

                            that seem to embrace torture.

                            I am happy to see you are not one of them.

                            We see that a man can easily manipulate "the teachings" to suit his purposes, which is what it seemed you were doing.

                            I hope that my challenging you and likewise has made each of us see more clearly what our feelings of faith and spirituality embrace. You said you were confused by a punishing God.

                              I hope you understand that I feel, it is man that chooses  (free will) his path to God (if you will) not God that chooses his path to man. Therefore God is not a punishing God. He celebrates our joys and anguish's over our "sins", and has the courage to not interfere in our journey.

                            Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                            by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 03:22:23 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I can respect that (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            Your views are no less valid than mine, and I thank you for taking the time to share them. There really is no right or wrong answer to these questions, I think. But it is nice to get them out in the open and discuss them - in spite of the occasional misunderstandings and tense moments.

                        •  How is an infinitely compassionate God (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          amsterdam, kd texan

                          sadistic, how is a God that allows people to LEARN FOR THEMSELVES sadistic.  To tell someone exactly how to live their life provides nothing to learn; THAT sweetie, is a robot.

                          -9.13, -7.79 Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November.

                          by L0kI on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:07:28 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  Wrong questions (0+ / 0-)

                        You're not searching for God, you are looking to reconcile reason and an orthodox version of God.  You will never run out of questions, no one will ever provide you a satisfactory answer.  You're looking in the wrong place if you want something that makes sense.  There are simply too many contradictions. You're playing the wrong language game as they say.

                •  Or maybe it's an empty threat to try to get us to (0+ / 0-)


                  Who knows...

                  I don't believe in "ultimate evil" so that precludes me from believing in hell, I only believe that in the end, all that is left is knowledge (understanding, enlightenment, whatever you want to call it) and that leads to a joy or love that encompasses everyone and all things, so that only leaves one end of the spectrum for me to believe in (which is of course why I've never been a Christian - however, pastordan has a view that I have NEVER in my life thought of as Christian; I like what I'm seeing in many modern religous thought).

                  Man I ramble a lot these days... must be something in the melting arctic water...

                  -9.13, -7.79 Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November.

                  by L0kI on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:44:05 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Varied Christian denominations--I respect them al (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                That is why it is convenient for Catholics like me to believe in the pope and teaching authority of the Church and that it traces its roots to St Peter.

                That is my belief but I do appreciate Pastor Dan's teachings and services and I read him religiously--it is still the same Christian tenet.  

                Mr. Belvedere's questions have many different answers giving rise to many denominations.

                Agree to disagree and join that which fits your concept of God.  As for me I think if one wnats the fullness of the Church of Christ one should become a Catholic--but that is my opinion.

                Stop Corporate Influence; buy DEMOCRACY BONDS!!!

                by timber on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:29:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  You're Not Sincere (0+ / 0-)

                And I have some serious doubts about whether you are a Christian.

                A belief in "ancient creeds" does not equate to an endorsement of the literal language of the Apostles Creed which you paraphrase in your remarks.

                Seriously, you should do some serious Bible study and thinking about your own religious beliefs before you challenge those of others.

                •  You have no idea (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  amsterdam, L0kI, lirtydies, KathleenM1

                  if I'm sincere or not, and I've done quite a bit of thinking about my religious beliefs.

                  If Pastor Dan states that he "affirms the ancient creeds," then provides a link to the very creed I quoted, why should I not assume that he affirms the actual words of these creeds? He made no qualifications and issued no disclaimers.  

                  And he still hasn't answered my question. Nor have you. Nor has any progressive Christian, to my knowledge. Why is that?

                  •  I Don't Believe in Your Strawman (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Ducktape, Caldonia, dannyinla

                    You create a version of Jesus Christ that is at odds with the Jesus I know from the Bible.

                    You view Jesus as a wrathful figure who is willing to send people to hell.  I don't because nothing that Jesus says or does in the Bible suggests that Jesus ever sent anyone to hell.  The closest he got to being mad or vengeful occurs when Jesus confronts the money changers in the temple.  

                    You make no distinction between the life and teachings of Jesus and the teachings of various denominations.  As I said yesterday, Jesus himself said there are two important commandments:  love God and love other people as you would love yourself.  The rest is interpretation.

                    •  Pastor Dan said (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      amsterdam, walkshills, plf515

                      that he affirms the ancient creeds of his faith. Those ancient creeds describe Jesus as returning someday "to judge the living and the dead." Revelations also describes a vengeful, judging Christ that bears little resemblance to the loving figure you (and I) revere in the Gospels.

                      I personally favor the Jesus you described. If he were the sole basis for Christianity, I'd be Christian. Yet I can't get past the rest of the package, the judgment - pretty clearly stated in Christian creed, and even in the Bible - that awaits those who fail to please God.

                      Remove that from Christianity, and I'm there. Pastor Dan has said he believes in judgment day. I take that to mean that he's OK with whatever punishment God gives to those who are judged unfavorably. Do you interpret your faith differently? If so, I commend you.

                      •  I Draw A Distinction (0+ / 0-)

                        Between what Jesus Christ does and says in the Bible and the interpretations of what is to come from those who say they follow Christ.  In particular, I have little or no use for those who claim to have an exclusive telephone line to God today.

                        The important thing to me is to live my life using the life of Jesus Christ as an example.  

                        •  My compliments (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          I'm sure you'll live a productive and beautiful life. But notice that you've had to draw a line between your deeply felt beliefs, and those you've learned from certain core elements of your religion. I think more Christians should have the courage to draw that line - and to encourage others to do the same.

                      •  Luckily enough, MB... (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        eafredel, perro amarillo

               aren't required to like the prospect of judgment. But you can't remove it from the Christian faith. Exercise your free will and choose what you will believe. But you cannot prevent anyone who is not you from their own exercise of free will, the choice to believe.

                        •  I don't want to prevent (0+ / 0-)

                          Christians from believing in whatever they wish. I don't like the concept of a judging God, and I don't see how it fits into a progressive mindset - but that's just me. Other people, like Pastor Dan, are obviously less troubled by (what I see as) these contraditory messages, or perhaps they don't see a contradiction at all.

                          I exercised my free will in removing myself from the Christian faith. Others are free to stay. But I'll continue to wonder how kindhearted, progressive Christians can embrace an authoritarian, punishing deity. And I don't see anything wrong in discussing the issue with those Christians who are willing to engage.

                  •  You are one irritating motherfucker, Belvedere. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Either you're too damn dumb to ever get it, or you're here on a mission of mischief.

                    God gave humans free will. It is a troublesome gift. But I'm really glad we have it, as it is our job to help create this world and we need to be smart and experienced to do it right.

                    You've got free will, bubba. You have no choice.

                    Slap those goddam hogs away from the trough. They've had enough.

                    by perro amarillo on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:26:49 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  No free will from the Biblical God (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      kd texan

                      See my post above. If painful consequences are inflicted based on his choice, a chooser isn't truly free. I don't think that's dumb or mischievous, it's just a fact.

                      By the way, tone it down a bit, man. We're just having a conversation. If it's upsetting to you, take a break and come back later.

                      •  Do you understand anything? (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        We are free to choose painful consequences. It is the only way choice has meaning. People do that all the time. That does not disprove the existence of free will.

                        If there are no consequences, there is no reason at all to choose. No one would learn to make good choices.


                        Try to follow this: I know someone who taught this principle to enlisted soldiers. In class, she would suggest that they were there voluntarily - had made a decision to be there. "No, ma'am. We were ordered to be here."

                        "But you elected to obey those orders did you not?"

                        "Well, sure, we'd have been punished if we didn't."

                        "So you chose to come here? That's what I'm saying."

                        God doesn't punish us for our sins, but through them. Twenty years ago, I stopped drinking and using drugs. Why? Because my life was unbearably painful. Was that God's fault? I don't think so.

                        Free will. You got no choice.

                        And if we're having a conversation, try listening to others. Many believers affirm the reality of free will. That's how they read the bible.

                        Slap those goddam hogs away from the trough. They've had enough.

                        by perro amarillo on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:58:40 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I like your analogy (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          and congratulate yourself on getting your life back on track. Surely, people suffer or avoid suffering based on their freely-taken decisions. But I'm referring more to the punishment that comes in the afterlife, that's meted out by God (if you believe in that concept of God.)

                          I don't think there must be a supernatural punishment for engaging in perfectly human actions here on Earth - even if those actions are clearly harmful. I don't think the divine, however you define it, would treat its creations that way. I view the divine as something far less judgmental - in other words, far less human - but nevertheless essentially loving.

                          And I wouldn't dream of denying believers their freedom to affirm the reality of free will - or to read the Bible anyway they wish. I'm simply disagreeing with them, and trying to explain my views. That's not a crime, is it?

                          •  But if you pay attention to what people here are (0+ / 0-)

                            saying, including PastorDan, many Christians actually agree with your position. You're trying to put them into some kind of box, then whack them with a stick for being there.

                            And frankly, there are as many views of the Bible as there are viewers. That is why theology is so interesting.

                            Even in the more doggedly orthodox religions, splits and schisms abound. I could refer you to some of the differences between Muslims. Those can get you killed.

                            Slap those goddam hogs away from the trough. They've had enough.

                            by perro amarillo on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 03:25:48 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  And btw, that wasn't analogy. (0+ / 0-)

                            Slap those goddam hogs away from the trough. They've had enough.

                            by perro amarillo on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 03:26:33 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                •  He's said time and again that he's not (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  a Christian, and stop holding it up as a mark of a "good person" or someone "worthy of commenting"... so what if he's not Christian, that means he can't comment on Christianity???

                  -9.13, -7.79 Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November.

                  by L0kI on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:10:58 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Mr Belvedere (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lirtydies, kd texan, plf515

                I think the questions you are asking are legitimate. I doubt the sincerity of any christian who ducks these questions. I believe those questions are essential to finding true meaning in our lives. May I suggest you read C.G.Jung's Answer to Job, in this book Jung enters
                some serious soul searching concerning these questions you have been asking.

                I find it offensive you have been labeled a concern troll.

            •  Not anymore (0+ / 0-)

              DSM-IV "redefined" bipolar disorder right out of existence.

              I that makes you "differently sane," I suppose.

              -4.88, -4.15 "It's all complicated; it's all connected. That's why we have to pay attention." - Jon Carroll,

              by Turbonerd on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:01:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I've heard people opine (0+ / 0-)

              that religious belief=mental illness.

              "Orthodoxy means not thinking -- not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness" - George Orwell, 1984

              by mkfarkus on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 11:58:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Someone with a suspicious voice told me (18+ / 0-)

            Pastordan's an asshole. I distinctly heard a "woof" after it, so take that as you may.


            Common sense, decency, concern and caring for those less fortunate - is that too much to ask of a government "of the people, by the people, for the people"?

            by PatsBard on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 09:03:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I'd lift a glass to toast you... (31+ / 0-)

          ... but  Jewish orthodoxy forbids us sharing a drink.

          Which is among the reasons why I'm not an orthodox Jew, despite my family heritage.  I was told as a child that my ancestors alternated between generations of rabbis and horse thieves.

          Which explains a lot.  

          "Two souls, alas! are lodg'd within my breast..."

          So... cheers!  L'chaim!

    •  Man... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizabeth D, Carnacki, rktect, javelina

      I'm goin' shoe shopping.  You deserve a new pair of non-doggie-blessed ones.

      Thanks, PD.  Glad you're around.

      "the Greater Good and the Greater Profit are not compatible aims" -- Yann Martel

      by baba durag on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 09:52:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks PastorDan (9+ / 0-)

      Thank you for continuing to give voice to a progressive and modern interpretation of our dialogue with faith and belief.

      I'm the son of a Canadian Presbyterian Minister and an AIDS Activist Mother who grew up in Socialist Saskatchewan, where progressive thought and liberal government has long been born from the roots of the social gospel and the church. Indeed, Tommy Douglas, founder of Canadian medicare and first socialist premier of Sask, was himself a Baptist Minister. As were most of the leaders of the Canadian left at one time.  Maybe that is the reason we still have a "left" in Canada, it was pretty hard to argue that all these ministers and preachers were communists, too.

      When I moved to Ontario for school, I was shocked how little or no room there was in the classic left/right/centre debate for someone with liberal/socialist leaning beliefs (WWJD) who still yearned for an arena to acknowledge his faith in GOD publically.  I felt that I had to hide my faith in front of my friends and colleagues on the left because too often we associate "Christian" with the fundamentalist conservatives who shout the loudest. I believe that Christ came to challenge our beliefs not to to freeze them into a statue to be worshipped as an idol. Christ also challenges us to go out into the world and make it a better place by his example, a difficult task for a navel-gazing, twelve-step-program, version of fundamentalist Christianity to respond to.

      Anyway, maybe a diary is a better the place to examine my own beliefs and how they evolved but I wanted to thank you for your inspiring (and challenging) diaries over the past little while.  (Also enjoy the converstion in the replies section enormously, so keep it up people!)

    •  Its possible to read the bible literally (6+ / 0-)

      if you strip all the religious gloss away and read it in the original languages.  If you do that you will find a much smaller but much richer document because in its original languages it evidences some significant wordsmithing.

      For example a statement of belief or faith in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit might be better understood if you know that phrase originated with the titulary phrase used to connect prenomen with nomen in the Egyptian royal cartouch

      The upper right corner reads sa re (son of the sun and is a reference to the Pharoahs Sharia, power or authority.

      The original document we call the Bible was composed of the Pentetecuh or Book of the Law plus Joshua, Joseph and Kings of the Historical books. The document that forms the book on which the religions of the Christians Jews and Islamics is based is a lawbook.

      If you can recognize which parts of the book come from which ancient documents its a much richer read because you don't have to believe in anything or have faith, you can go to the source and look up what it really said.

      You can find in the bible instruction for scribes in  the proper forms of contracts. There is a reverence for the written law carved in stone as in the form of the ten commandments, placed in an ark and housed in a sanctuary as soverign over the spoken word of the king.

      There are clear concerns that the power and authority of the law require that it take as consort an eros for wisdom in order to deliver justice and that it be placed in the hands of competent administrators.

      There are detailed instructions as regards property law, common law, civil law, history, mathematics, science, medicine, and philosophy, but the best part is the linguistic skill found in the arts of the wordsmith.

      In the story of Abram who becomes Abraham the father,

      ENTRY: b.
      DEFINITION: Common Semitic noun *ab-, father. 1. Abraham, from Hebrew abrhm, the (divine) father is exalted, from ab, reduced form of b, father. 2. Job, from Hebrew iyyôb, perhaps from an early Northwest Semitic dialectal name meaning “where is the father?”, from ôb, father, of dialectal origin, akin to Hebrew b, father. (Alternatively, iyyôb may be akin to Hebrew yb, enemy; see yb). 3a. Joab, from Hebrew yôb, Yahweh (is) father (yô, Yahweh; see hwy); b. Ahab, from Hebrew ab, father's brother (a, brother; see ). Both a and b from b, father. 4a. Abigail, from Hebrew bîgayil, my father (is) joy (see gyl); b. Absalom, from Hebrew ablm, short for bîlm, my father (is) peace (lm, peace; see lm). Both a and b from Hebrew bî, shortened form of bî, my father, from b, father. 5a. abelmosk, from Arabic ab l-musk, source of the musk; b. baobab, from North African Arabic b ibb, tree of many seeds; c. borage, probably from Arabic bcaraq, from ab caraq, father of sweat; d. bwana, from Arabic abn, our father; e. pataca, from Arabic ab qa, “father of the window,” a type of coin. a–e all from Arabic ab, bound form of ab, father, source. 6a. abba, abbacy, abbatial, abbé, abbess, abbey, abbot, from Aramaic abb, the father, my father, from ab, father; b. Barabbas, from Aramaic bar-abb, son of the father (see bn).

      and his wife sarai who becomomes sarah, there is an attempt to establish a claim on the land. In order to seal the deal Abraham mist be willing to comply with what is right and proper even if that extends to cutting off the end of his dick and sacrificing a son to the holocaust.

      If you know the semitic root of sarai you know we are talking about Sharia law.

      ENTRY: sr.
      DEFINITION: To set, set up, erect, prescribe. shari'a, from Arabic arca, law, from araca, to ordain, prescribe.

      We have a fascinating situation where the creation and ultimate sovreignity of the law of inheritence by which a claim can be made on the land is conceived of as a process for which the author has resort to a parable.

      1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."

      The author compares the legitimacy of the Sharia law to the offspring of an elderly woman of the tent, a woman who has spent her life wandering the desert, going with one man here, another man there, a common law wife, barren with no legal status to set up, erect or prescribe an inheritence and assumes a challenge to it.

      Sarais handmaiden Hagar (ha is the semitic definitive article)

      ENTRY: qhr.
      DEFINITION: Arabic root, to conquer, vanquish. Cairo, from Arabic al-qhira, the conquering one, feminine active participle of qahara, to conquer, vanquish.

      ursups the authority of her mistress by conceiving of a new heir, under the power or authority of a new god.

           Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.

           When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me."

      6 "Your servant is in your hands," Abram said. "Do with her whatever you think best." Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from
      a well called Beer Lahai Roi

      El roi, the god of the well is outside the control of sarai. The issue is how to regain sovreignity so that the sons of Israel can claim sovreignity over the descendants of Ishmael and Yahwah can later say, thou shalt have no gods (laws) before me.

      The solution is that sarai the harsh mistress becomes sarah the beloved princess through consorting with Abimelech (a name claiming the inherited right to rule, a common name of the Philistine kings, literally father of Moloch) in return for the inheritence.

      There are many online aids to things like Semitic Rootsand disctionaries and grammars of ancient languages such asSumerian and its derived merger of Akkadian and Egyptian phrases

      Live Free or Die (-8.88 -9.49) IMPEACH THEN TRY FOR WAR CRIMES

      by rktect on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 06:44:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  in what way are the things you believe Christian (0+ / 0-)

      different from what is Pagan, Jewish or Islamic? I ask because I honestly don't understand how religions which have so much in common can get so excited over their common differences?

      Take for example the wiccan who went to war and died for his country having earned a purple heart and a bronze star. His widow wants to have a pentagon placed on his tombstone just as others might wish to have a cross or a jew a star of david. Why is that wrong?

      If you called Jesus, Zeus pitar (sky father)would it really make a difference?

      How about if you called your god Ju pitar? or Ptah? or worshiped nature as a pagan.

      Is it really necessary to believe or take on faith the doctrine of a religion to be able to celebrate it? Would it be less futhfilling to know you are happy than to believe you will be happy when you die?

      When it comes to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, of the three its the concept of Holy Spirit as opposed to personified deity that intrigues me.

      What if instead of having the concept that it was the son of god rather than the father that should be the more prominently worshipped, you simply didn't personify your god, included all three in the concept of being spiritual or thought of the relationship as the essence of life radiated down from above upon everything that lives as the rays of the sun?

      There are several places in the Old Testament that refer to Satan (sa aten) as the son of god and Lucifer as an angel.

      Does that place either in relationship to Jesus as an elder brother or first born? Is that explained away by the necessity of passing the first born through the fire as a sacrifice? Why wouln't a religion which reveres the sacrifice of a son regardless of the order of birth be considered a pagan religion?

      How about the references to the sons of god? In Egyptian the aten is the luminous disk that surrounds the son as a halo on the helios (helios is the Greek word for sun)

      Islamics seem to think of or personify the sons of god as angels or messengers or prophets and include Jesus among their numberWhy does Christianity need to differentiate good from evil when both are a part of life?

      Given all of that, is it really necessary to be an approved religion for freedom of religion to apply in this country?

      Is there a big difference between the concept of Jesus as a son of man, or son of the swet of men and Jesus as a son of the sun?

      I certainly don't read the Bible literally. How is this possible?

      Isn't the question of the authority of the "inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God.", really resolved by Lenny Bruces comment that what is is, and thats the way it is, not the way it should be, but the way it is

      Live Free or Die (-8.88 -9.49) IMPEACH THEN TRY FOR WAR CRIMES

      by rktect on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:07:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Kingdom Coming (0+ / 0-)

      I'm now reading "Kingdom Coming", an excellent look at what Michelle Goldberg calls the "Christian Nationalist" movement (I call it the American Taliban).

      When I finish, I plan to Diary it - in the meantime, anyone read it care to discuss here?

  •  Far better you... (34+ / 0-)

    ...than me Pastor.

    If I haven't said it before, my thanks and respect, from an atheist Jew, for your abiding faith and good works.

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:26:22 PM PDT

  •  We appreciate your contributions here pastordan. (22+ / 0-)

    Just say the word, and I'll find that troll stalker of yours and pee on the interior of his car on a hot summer day.  We've got your back.

    I belong to the LMTFA wing of the Democratic Party.

    by Sam Loomis on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:30:53 PM PDT

    •  tis better.... (6+ / 0-)

      ... to paint the interior with milk... stinks up something awful, and DOES NOT go away, no matter what you try.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

      by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:31:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Leave my car alone (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sam Loomis

      if you please. And read the diary yourself, then decide if it was the work of a "troll stalker."

      If you think it was, please explain why. If not, feel free to apologize for the unpleasantness.

      •  I read the diary! (0+ / 0-)

        And the comments. I didn't think it was especially trollish. I thought it raised some good, sincere questions. I understand that it was originally titled in a way that would be considered inflamatory or trollish, but you changed it and apologized. Oh well, forgive and forget. You maybe spent too much time focussing on Pastor Dan in a diary that could have been more generic. Whatever, I find it easier to keep track of bible contradictions than diary rules. That's why I stopped doing diaries back in aught-four, but dammit, I'm still playing trip-up-the-fundy. (Not here, and not PD, I really like his progressive stance, and besides, he's not a fundy)

        Your discussion in the comments seemed sincere enough, although you were struggling with a definition of Christianity that was, at best, a box.

        But otherwise, I don't think you were a troll because you asked a fair question. You would have asked it differently if you'd had more info.

        Or maybe I'm going easy on you because you, like me, are not Christian but have a Christian upbringing. I was raised as a Lapsed Catholic, now I'm a Pagan with Buddhist statuary in my garden. You know, you grow.

        I might still put milk in your car, but if I do, it's only cause I got caught up in the mob mentality. Nothing personal.

        -- We need more trees and fewer Bushes

        by Sarkasba on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:51:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The mob mentality (0+ / 0-)

          can lead to strange things. After re-reading some of these comments, I'm almost ready to put milk in my own car...

          But thanks for saying I wasn't a troll. I thought the question was fair, and I hope my comments were at least courteous. I can see now that my definition of Christianity was limited. But I'm not sure I'm any closer to nailing down exactly what Christianity is - and isn't.  

  •  Amen (25+ / 0-)

    There's nothing so inconvenient to someone who claims to live by the Bible but supports Rethug policies as someone who actually endeavors to live the ideals of Scripture.

    Similarly, there's nothing so inconvenient to someon who generalizes (intolerantly) about religious folks' intolerance as religious folks who follow the Golden Rule.

    We will only fail in our efforts to make the world a better place if we get sidetracked by creating petty differences where none exist.

    Thwarting the forces of idiocy since 1978. -6.38, -6.00

    by wiscmass on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:32:58 PM PDT

    •  I am convinced (35+ / 0-)

      that a certain percent of the "hostility to faith" you see on the blogs is actually ginned up by trolls. I can't tell you how much - and some is legit, there's no doubt about that - but some is fake, I'm sure.

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:35:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i would hope so... (5+ / 0-)

        ... or it'll be a long time before people of faith are truly reconciled with secular progressives.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

        by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:39:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You'll get no disagreement from me on that (10+ / 0-)

        But after a life time of fighting both religious bigotry and anti-religious bigotry, and given the tendency of many otherwise decent people to buy into the anti-religious bigots' arguments, I'm not sure we can let down our guard at all. For some reason, a lot of voters have gotten it into their heads that progressives really are hostile to faith; we need to show them otherwise.

        Thwarting the forces of idiocy since 1978. -6.38, -6.00

        by wiscmass on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:41:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In my case... (7+ / 0-)

        my own upfront, personal and long term experiences with conservative Christians numbering in the dozens feed my 'hostility to faith'. While it is nice and comforting to imagine the people PastorDan talks about, I have never really met any. Why are they so reclusive?

        It seems Christianity is subject to Gresham's Law: bad Christianity drives out good Christianity. Which we see all about us.

        •  I'm not sure where you live, but... (7+ / 0-)

          ...there are lots of the people pastordan talks about here. Just look around this diary. Or if you prefer, join us over at Street Prophets. We come from a broad spectrum of faiths, and if you spent any time chatting with any of us about our faith, I think you'd find we're different from the people who turned you off from religion.

          Thwarting the forces of idiocy since 1978. -6.38, -6.00

          by wiscmass on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 09:03:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  the question isn't... (5+ / 0-)

          ..."why are they so inclusive?" (we're not.)  instead, the question is, "do you assume that the people of faith you meet are going to be conservative christians feeding your "hostility to faith" or are you open to meeting a "nice and comforting" christian?"

          that sounds WAY harsher than i intend, but i'm not really sure how else to phrase it... my point is that i've often looked outwardly for answers that I have not found until i turned inward.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

          by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 09:05:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  my goodness, i'm an idiot... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Elizabeth D, wiscmass

            that should be, "the question isn't Why are they so REclusive..." not INclusive.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

            by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 09:24:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  to answer your question... (0+ / 0-)

            do you assume that the people of faith you meet are going to be conservative christians feeding your "hostility to faith"

            You get used to it after a while, really. It's called 'experience'. As someone who's been teased and ridiculed from a very young age for not slavishly believing in that which I do not have proof, it's entirely unsurprising.

            The above poster who mentioned Gresham's Law is right on about this, by the way: the really overly zealous conservative Christians out there make it their mission to convert (i.e. badger) us, while the good people of faith out there are generally nice enough to leave well enough alone. That means that people like me will see a lot more of people like this guy instead.

            The UCC also has the right idea by the way, by actually preaching a message of tolerance and acceptance and trying to get it out there, which draws a nice contrast between them and the overzealous conservative Christians out there. But apparently tolerance is more taboo than hate is, nowadays.

          •  IMHE (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            the nice inclusive people you mention spend much of their time running around apologizing and making excuses for the zealots. Which I have come to see as enabling bad behavior. I recently ended a 5 year effort at the site Bridges Across the Divide where the focus is on dialog between conservative Christians and others. Which has convinced me that even talking with cC's is a waste of time and effort. And further convinced me that the liberal Christians, who keep apologizing and explaining and making excuses for the cC's, are a large part of the problem. This 'even thought they attend a hardline fundamentalist church, they are really nice people' is not a particularly effective line of argument for people like me. If they were so nice, why do they associate with such a church? This looks like highly incompatible behavior to me.

            I am an out gay man who has lived through the whole AIDS epidemic as an adult. In the early and mid 90's I was an AIDS activist in rural Arkansas. There I saw first hand what these 'nice people' either allow to be done in their name or actually do themselves. If you ever have had the experience of some very scared PWA knocking on your door at midnight because while taking care of his elderly parents, some church members found out he had AIDS and threatened to burn the house down you would perhaps be a bit more skeptical about this 'nice' line of thought.

            Or, if while caring for your dying partner, you found out that the conservative Christian hospice caregivers decided to refuse to perform the job they were being paid to do at, the request of their churches, maybe you would not be so quick to speak as you do.

            It seems to me that gay people might have a very different perspective on this topic. Based on many personal experiences. Please do not be so quick to discount and trivialize people like me who have had a string of ghastly adventures with conservative Christians. And with the liberal Christians who feel compelled to explain that the ones who just left your lover to die without trained medical comfort care are really nice religious people. And do not feel moved to help find actual care, just keep apologizing for the religious ones who dumped you and him.

            I want to vomit when I hear the name of Jesus.

            Looking for a nice Wiccan group in the San Fernando Valley.  

        •  Street Prophets (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          brillig, Buffalo Girl

          Online, many of us hang out at Street Prophets.  Offline, the denominations of refuge are the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ, though each parish has its own flavor.  Before you go, you may want to check the parish website and the sermons since neither denomination claims uniformity on hot-button issues.  

          To respond to your complaint of reclusiveness, here's my parish (progressive priest and moderate congregation):  St. Stephen Episcopal Parish, 1360 S. State Street, Hobart IN.  Eucharist at 9 am on Sunday.  (all baptized Christians welcome at the Communion rail)

          Cathedral Church of St. James (Episcopal), corner of Huron and Rush, Chicago IL.  Low Mass at 8:00 am, sung Eucharist at 10:30 am.  

          Perhaps other progressive Kossack Christians who would like to recommend their parishes or others should reply with a quick plug?

          •  PCUSA (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            texasmom, Buffalo Girl

            we are a mixed bunch, but the main denomination is doing some terrific things in the world, in particular a lot of mission year round to repair homes in MS.  
            My congregation is full of moderate republicans as well as liberals and a few real conservatives (politically) but the sermons tend to be intellectual, non political and the church itself is full of love and acceptance.  
            We are also all about music.  We have:

            One of the best Adult Choirs I have ever sung with
            Childrens choir
            Teen choir
            Adult bells
            Teen bells
            Music with Friends (a small orchestra)
            People grouping up in trios and duets, quartets

            mcjoan is the new Armando

            by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 06:31:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'll jump in (0+ / 0-)

            on the off chance anyone in northern ATL is looking for a church. Mine is North Point Community Church; we're nondenominational and completely apolitical, and we have additional campuses in Buckhead and Cumming. And the music rocks.

            "I will make a bargain with the Republicans. If they will stop telling lies about Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them." -- Adlai Stevenson

            by sbdenmon on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:43:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Little Eagle Creek Christian Church (0+ / 0-)

            3233 W 166th Street
            Westfield, Indiana
            Sunday School at 9:30 am  Worship at 10:30 am

            We're a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregation.

            All DOC congregations are not the same as each congregation is free to choose it's own path.  But my experience of DOC congregations in Central Indiana is that they are all pretty progressive and likely to either become more so, or to disaffiliate from the DOC becoming unaffiliated Christian churches.

            Our Adult Sunday School will soon be discussing The Phoenix Affirmations by Eric Elnes.  They are  a theological work in process that is an effort to eludicate the three great loves -- of God, of neighbor, and of self that are the essence of gospel as Jesus defined it, and to more fully flesh them out in light of the changes and challenges facing our world and the Church today.  

            In the book Elnes takes both faith and scripture seriously.  The experiential, philosophical and scriptural grounding of each principal is laid out in a way that is easy and exciting to follow and in the cases where the fundamentalist/dominionists have largely shaped the discussion in the public mind -- Elnes explores those views and their grounding as well, so the topics are opened to discussion in a way that requires no specialized knowledge.  It's a very lay-friendly, discussion-friendly book that offers progressive and progressive-leaning Christians with no background in biblical studies or theological the means to begin to articulate the faith that is in them, so the little group of us that already have or currently are reading the book are really looking forward to engaging it congregation wide as we begin the search process for a new minister.  (Right now, Rev. Maris Walters is our Interim, and I'm the Minister of Music.)

            Also the Gay, Lesbian and Affirming Disciples Alliance, Inc. links to Open and Affirming Disciples congregations  The congregations and ministries in the link above have publicly declared themselves Open & Affirming, that they are committed to including all persons and expressly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons into their whole life and leadership.

        •  well, I have the exact opposite experience (0+ / 0-)

          I am a spiritual not religious person, raised in a religious household. My entire family is Christian and one of them is a fundamentalist and the rest are pretty much like Pastordan. I have none of the rabid "Christians" around me.  Even my conservative Republican Christian uncles who thing Howard Dean is unhinged aren't rabid about gays and abortion and etc like the fundamentalists. I believe these people are far fewer than many people perceive.

          I like to think of Armando as our MetaBeetlejuice......

          by Buffalo Girl on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 06:54:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  that is my experience too (0+ / 0-)

            I know a few people who go to a Asembly of God church and I find some of their beliefs really off putting even if they themselves seem like nice enough people.
            But most of the religious people I know are pretty moderate in politics and theology.. many of them are really liberal in both.

            mcjoan is the new Armando

            by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:16:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  i couldn't have said this better myself... (8+ / 0-)

      i think that the left tends to view "religious" as the problem, and not "religious hypocrisy" as the problem.  

      rather, i think that many on the left think those two phrases are synonymous.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

      by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:37:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, great diary as usual (6+ / 0-)

    and I agree as usual.

    I think the jury's still out on whether America is becoming more secular; I'm going to write about this soon on my blog (as soon as I get a bit more free time).  

    Bush: The Peter Principle President.

    by lungfish on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:34:18 PM PDT

  •  It is refreshing to hear from someone who has (14+ / 0-)

    such a deep and abiding faith, but who also advocates acceptance of all people as well as someone who finds that poverty is a moral issue and one that all true Christians should be working towards ending.  

  •  here's a question (5+ / 0-)

    can a modernist teaching/reading of the bible be taught in a public school?

    "if you believe in nothing, honey, it believes in you/ for god's sake don't waste any faith on me." - Robyn Hitchcock.

    by BiminiCat on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:35:48 PM PDT

    •  Actually it can, I believe. (8+ / 0-)

      We tend to emphasize looking at books of the Bible as a whole - ie, as literary units - and to employ the historical/critical model. That's essentially an academic way of looking at it.

      Now, you couldn't teach the same conclusions we'd draw from those texts in a Sunday school class...

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:40:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  possibly? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizabeth D, TiaRachel, Elise, wiscmass

      ...  i've seen it taught as literature:  analysis of creation stories and the like.  and i've seen it used in ethics type classes (again, with multiple other, non-christian sources...)

      so, possibly?  i think it all kind of depends on context.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

      by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:42:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Perhaps (9+ / 0-)

      but for all of our sake, I really hope it won't be.

      It might be legal to do so.  But it is an utter impossibility that you can do this in a way that pleases even the majority of students and parents.  It is an unwarranted intrusion by the state in what is a private and family matter.  It is what public schools do most poorly, and the children are compelled by law to attend.

      The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

      by Jay Elias on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:57:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  teaching the bible as a literary text (4+ / 0-)

        the impact of religious texts on secular texts is too profound to be ignored scholastically.

        it would most likely have to be limitted to secondary classes or just university.  which is typically pretty practical.  a forum where the student would be aware of a religiously motivated curriculum.

        i do believe at some point no matter what religion you are, if one takes a class on milton's paradise lost or dante's inferno, one should expect to learn something about the bible in a public forum.

        it would be like studying chemistry or physics without learning the periodic table of elements.

        "if you believe in nothing, honey, it believes in you/ for god's sake don't waste any faith on me." - Robyn Hitchcock.

        by BiminiCat on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 09:44:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ... true.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elizabeth D

          ... thanks for putting into words the sense of wrongness that that comment left me with.  i knew i disagreed, but couldnt necessarily identify why i disagreed.  thanks for putting it into words.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

          by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 09:48:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Which is why... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elizabeth D, Fe, kd texan, Elise

          ...most students do not study Paradise Lost or the Divine Comedy in public schools.

          I'm not disagreeing with the merit of such education, merely with the merit of attempting to put such education in a compulsory public education.

          The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

          by Jay Elias on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:03:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  They save it till college (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lipstick Liberal, Elise

          Takes the parents right out of the picture, since the students are not minors any more. And you can tell them that if they don't like it, they can drop the class and get 50% of their fees back.

        •  I had a 'Bible as Literature' class...and a (9+ / 0-)

          "Folktales and Mythology" class...both of which discussed sections of the Bible (that's a bit obvious with the first one...but the second was focused more on creation stories and then Job).

          And everything was pretty much okay...with the exception of the two Fundamentalist girls in class who simply REFUSED to do anything but take the Bible absolutely literally. They were offended that the creation stories were compared and contrasted to the creation stories from other religions because "the Bible is the word of God...blah blah blah".

          The real entertaining day came when they told the rest of the class and the prof. that we were all going to burn in hell for eternity. And then they left class and never came back.

          So, no, I don't think it's generally a good idea to teach the Bible in public schools. Certainly at the college level...because then students everywhere have the ability to avoid the class if they want to...but I think it would be a bad idea in grade school or high school because students have less choice. Also, imagine how hard it would be in some areas of the country to find a teacher who could actually teach it WITHOUT imposing specific religious views on students. I see what happened recently in Delaware happening all over the country if there were Bible classes in public schools.

          Sure...some schools and areas would be able to do this...but I think we're likely to see even MORE problems crop up. Not to mention that...but why would the Bible get (what I think seems to be) preferential treatment? Why aren't we suggesting reading the Koran, the Vedas, etc. etc. Each of those could be read as "literature" or any of them could be taught in the context of philosophy too.

          Frankly, what I'd most like to see is a comparative religions class...but then again, same problem as do you find an appropriate teacher. At my community college the Baptist Minister that teaches the "American Religious Diversity" class spends 14 weeks on Christianity...and 2 weeks on ALL the other religions of the world. And that apparently passes for a decent curriculum for the class according to the administration. He also has no MA in Theology or Philosophy. He's a Minister and apparently that is enough credibility for him to teach the course. Even though I've been denied the ability to teach entry level spanish because I'm short 6 master's level credit hours. He also doesn't actually READ the homework or papers he assigns (students have literally turned in FULL pages of just the word "Whatever" repeated over and over on a page and tucked that under the first page which they bullshit). This teacher is SO bad that whenever religion pops up in my classes...or before my classes begin...I have students asking me to explain "Deism" or "Pascal's Wager" or "Why are all Catholics drunks?" or "How can gay people be religious?" etc. etc. According to the students, I should be teaching that class because I can actually explain things in a way they understand. The book he chose for the class is a book published by a "Christian" publisher which is written for people going to school to be Baptist Ministers.

 think it's a bad idea.

        •  I disagree with PD, Wicmass and you (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rktect, alwaysquestion

          I do not think that the bible should be taught in any form untill college, which you actually list as one of the options.  If we are studying Dante's inferno it is appropriate to breifly discuss the biblical references and curious students will look further.  But the Bible itself as a subject?  I think it is a really bad idea.  No teacher can be without bias whether it be religious or non religious.  

          Kids have to be in public schools and there are usually a limited amount of elective courses with budget cuts.  
          I would really prefer my children, grandchildren etc... learn about the bible somewhere besides public school.  
          My kids were raised to be open minded and chose for themselves.  Like most young adults, they don't attend church much if ever.  They may or may not start going one day.  Several of my siblings are atheists.  Most are agnostic, a few attend church like I do.  

          I have no problem with a variety of beliefs.  I just don't see the purpose of teaching the bible or the Koran or any other religious text being taught in public school.  I would much rather see a course on multiculturalism and inclusion.

          mcjoan is the new Armando

          by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 06:42:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ahem. (0+ / 0-)

            The question was not whether it should be taught, but whether it could be taught.

            Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

            by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:05:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  no bible in public schools... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ... until the fundamentals of reading, writing, math, history, civics & science are comprehensively taught (and learned!). we aren't falling behind the rest of the world because we lack "bible as lit" courses.

          •  I do think the bible should be taught (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            in public schools, not as the Bible, Torah or koran, not as religion, but as a class on how to play with words, and how to tell a story really, really well.

            The ability to use and recognize the use of metaphor and analogy and their different shades of meaning and the experience of playing with words as a poet or musician does making them into a celebatory experience that people remember comes naturally to kids.

            I would love to see kids given the opportunity to take a bible story, address honestly the full scandalous, satiric and irreligious implications,
            break it down to rap, set it to song and dance and just have fun playing with it so that when thye were grown they could really enjoy it in the way it was intended.

            Live Free or Die (-8.88 -9.49) IMPEACH THEN TRY FOR WAR CRIMES

            by rktect on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:57:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  As a retired teacher, I can tell you there are (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kd texan

          two factors that play into the curriculum. 1) What is the required learning criteria a student must demonstrate a knowledge of in order to advance? 2) What are the student's learning objectives?

          If the learning objective is to be well versed in Bible knowledge, I recommend a religious school of learning. If the learning objective of the student is to seek a career as marketing rep or a dentist, Bible study is no more a tool for that learning as would be the Quran or the Tao.

          One of the biggest fights liberals and progressives have had over the past 230 years of our country is keeping religion away from government and public academic influence. There is no doubt that Milton's Paradise Lost is one of the finest epic poems of literature. Dante's Divine Comedy is without doubt the finest piece of literature that bridged Middle Ages to the Renaissance. However, I say that as an American who was raised in a certain religious infrastructure. If I was a Muslim, I would say the Quran should be the only book taught in schools, if I was an Atheist, I would be insulted in every way if any religious book was forced upon me. It is not a dilemma because books of all kinds can be read at home, or within the religious institution. You are asking Christianity to be a part of everyone's life, whether they want it or not.

    •  You almost have to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave the Rave

      It's a necessary cultural text to understand most of the canon of American literature. You can't get much of anything out of Moby-Dick unless you have at least some passing familiarity with the Old Testament.

      Teaching the Bible as literature or culture is fine, as is teaching any other religious text the same way for the same reason. From the point of view of a public school, they're just books.

      •  One reason that standardized tests (0+ / 0-)

        seem slanted or prejudiced in favor of Judeo-Christian backgrounds.  Not so much in the actual texts, but the underlying themes and the (now removed!) analogies and archaic, little-used vocabulary.

        So many of the words I had only seen used in scripture and in the hymnal.  Good for me but too bad for someone raised "outside the loop".

        Of course, my experience was before the crash SAT/ACT study courses.

        The truth always matters.

        by texasmom on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:41:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Mega Churches (10+ / 0-)

    I was driving out in the suburbs, and there were megachurches larger than NBA arenas. I wonder what will happen if they begin to lose members - it has to cost a lot of money to keep them going. I agree that the right is getting awfully worried about progressive Christianity. I've found that Biblical literalists will briefly abandon literalism if it proves inconvenient at the moment. They often don't seem to take the Jesus literally.

    It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.

    by A Citizen on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:39:00 PM PDT

    •  One of the lessons (7+ / 0-)

      they're very reluctant to draw from mainstream Christianity is that we were too close to the liberal power structure that existed from the New Deal to the close of the 1960s. When that collapsed during Vietnam, so did mainline numbers. The same could very easily happen to all those megachurches you see...

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:42:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  heck, they don't even take leviticus literally (13+ / 0-)

      yeah, you know that famous verse about "thou shalt not lie with a man as you would with a woman..."?  try taking that literally.  first read it literally as a heterosexual male.  pretty clear. now try it as a heterosexual female.  clear?  not at all.  homosexual male?  also not clear.  homosexual female?  just as clear as the first case, and not a problem.  pretty much all it ends up saying, if you take it literally is "don't be bisexual."  it's obvious we're missing something in translation and context.

      nobody really reads the bible "literally."  it's just not possible.  all it ever means is "i think my interpretation is more hardcore than yours."

      politics is a war of ideas; those who do not embrace this are no realists

      by zeke L on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:52:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I always took that verse... (5+ / 0-)

        to mean that God hates female heterosexuality ... or that the writers of the Bible were not the sharpest tools in the shed.  

        But you're right about the literalists -- they literally pick and choose which Levitical laws they wish to be still valid and which they choose to ignore.  

        Shrimp cocktail?    

        •  Cotton / spandex Speedos, too (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ROTFL at your 'shrimp cocktail' invite, but I disagree with your characterization of the authors of the Bible. In their native language, they were sharp as sabres, making full use of nuance, double entendre, biting sarcasm and sophisticated philosophical ideas. All that is lost by the literalists who cannot or will not connect the writing to the culture it was written in. Maybe they are the dull tools in the shed.

          •  The Biblical literalists are not so literal (0+ / 0-)

            when it does not serve their purpose. The King James Bible translates "I am a son of God" into "I am the son of God." And then adds the italics, which of course is not for emphasis.

            •  My favorite with Biblical literalists ... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TiaRachel, texasmom, ohiolibrarian

              is to ask them if they think Jesus is the only son of God.  Invariably, they answer "Yes."  And then I ask them to explain Genesis 6:1-4:

              "When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.  Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."

              "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown."

              Generally, they'll either deny that it's in the Bible at all until you can actually show them, or when pressed will say that it doesn' LITERALLY mean the sons of God, or that it's some kind of a metaphor that we don't understand, or something like that.  I've never seen one not try to explain it away.  It seems pretty clear to me that this story is a survival of a pre-monotheistic belief system, but if it isn't literally true, why would anybody think that everything else in Genesis is literally true?

            •  I'd have to look at the specifics (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              of that quote, but the KJV adds the italics when they had to interpolate to make sense of the text (both Hebrew and Greek, for example, will drop pronouns, which is confusing in English), or when they were unsure of the translation.

              Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

              by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:10:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            In their native language, they were sharp as sabres, making full use of nuance, double entendre, biting sarcasm and sophisticated philosophical ideas.

            Some of the phrases of the wordsmiths are a religious experience in their own right, but you simply don't get the sense of that by reading translations.

            Although a lot of whats in the collection of literature we call the bible has been glossed over with religions skirts and uncomfortable monkish cloaks for millenia, if you strip off the outer layers of ostentation fancied by the abbots and bishops and cardinals and popes there is some damm fine looking lingerie underneath.

            You also are right about needing to connect the writing to the culture.

            Live Free or Die (-8.88 -9.49) IMPEACH THEN TRY FOR WAR CRIMES

            by rktect on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:04:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  The law would have been aimed at men, (0+ / 0-)

          since they were considered the head of the household, and responsible for keeping the law in their own families.

          But you're absolutely right about the literalists.

          Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

          by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:08:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Because the laws were not written for women (0+ / 0-)

        but for the men to read, and tell the women what they were. Therefore the laws are written from a male perspect for a male audience. The women were most likely rarely literate.

        Definitely not the sharpest pencils in the drawer, and it helps to remember that these were the tribal ancestors of the tribal traditions that have come down to modern Islam in the Middle East.

        "Fight-em 'till Hell freezes over, then fight-em on the ice." David Van Os

        by PlaneCrazy on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 05:33:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I have no problem taking that literally (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The ancient doctrine of living the life in Ma3t held that the doing of what was right and proper required the acquisition of some skills.

        It seems perfectly reasonable to me that you should make love to men and women differently and that to not respect the requirements of technique in doing what is right and proper is abominable.

        You could carry it a step further and allow that you lie with (or to) a man differently than you do with (or to) a woman.

        Most ancient and many modern cultures don't even make the distinction between homo and hetero so much as between youth and adult.

        Live Free or Die (-8.88 -9.49) IMPEACH THEN TRY FOR WAR CRIMES

        by rktect on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:10:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  They Were Organizing Against Liberal Christianity (11+ / 0-)

      40 years ago.

      They are not going to lose members, they're going to grow. The societal conditions which cause fundamentalism to thrive are increasing.

      Fundamentalism works better for large numbers of people, in their lives, in their communities, than rationalism does. As technology becomes increasingly magical, as the economy and government become increasingly aristocratic and unresponsive, and as the masses' knowledge base becomes increasingly simplistic and limited, fundamentalism is increasingly the reasonable choice.

      Liberals adamantly refuse to let themselves think about this possiblity and it's killing us.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 09:27:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fundamentalism destroys people (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pb, Elizabeth D, Elise, Yamara

        that is why they do their best to drown out alternative views, restrict media choices, home school their kids, etc...

        They know that when their children are exposed equally to
        a)  fundamentalist christianity
        b)  progressive views

        that most of their children would choose the latter.

        •  what I can't understand is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          how a force so socially destructive - religion - can be so addictive to so many people

          •  strong sense of community (0+ / 0-)

            is very attractive.  There are socially destructive elements to this, but there are also elements that are not.

            I have to say, I have a fundamentalist cousin who is 39 years old and has 8 home schooled children, and they are the sweetest, most intelligent, well adjusted kids I've ever met. They are respectful, not fearful, of their parents, and they respect and take care of each other in ways that I've rarely if ever seen among other sets of siblings. The family acts like a strong community, with everybody pitching in to manage the household.   I haven't experienced how they feel about the rest of the world, how they interact with people outside their own world, only how they've interacted within family, so I don't know if the more hateful aspects of their fundamentalism are playing out in their children.

            But I can see that there are certainly very positive elements at play in the way they raise their family. Of course, this is one example and I can't say much of anything about others, so....

            I like to think of Armando as our MetaBeetlejuice......

            by Buffalo Girl on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:05:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  my guess would be that these children (0+ / 0-)

              and their parents also relate to the rest of the world the way they do to each other.  While they may have beliefs that condemn and ultimately hurt (by the way they chose to vote), say, gay people, I doubt if you would ever catch them holding signs that say "God hates fags". In fact if anything they probably struggle with the concept just as most people do who don't know many gay people are aren't the least bit religious.

              mcjoan is the new Armando

              by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:29:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  but fundamentalism provides answers... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...for life's persistent questions. It provides people relief from having to challenge themselves to ponder meaning. It fits very well into a society that seeks instant gratification because it means someone has already taken the time to figure everything out for them. Now that I've been handed the nature of God and the meaning of life on a silver platter, I have more time for vacuum cleaning, DailyKos, and the latest episode of Desperate Housewives. And if I still don't have enough to do, then I can make sure that gay couple down the street doesn't ever get married.

          •  They don't have the time to think (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Fundamentalism's prey are the lower middle-class, pressured by declining wages, increasing prices and the onslaught of materialism and marketing to provide for their kids what everybody else seems to have. Small wonder marriages crack under the stress. The enemy is faceless, so it's easier to imagine young guys playing with each other all night as the threat than to see a politico-economic system a helluva lot more complicated conspiring to enslave them.

      •  Gooserock, this is a really powerful comment and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I think it would be great if you expanded on it a bit and post it as a diary.

        You always have really insightful comments in threads, though I noticed you've only ever posted just one diary.

        As you yourself mentioned, this is an incredibly important topic that may indeed be "killing us".  I think it therefore warrants more exposure, from those with reasoned voices such as yourself.

                -- Dave.

  •  Some people cannot distinguish symbols (14+ / 0-)

    from the real thing.  To them "God's word" is the same as God, the flag is the same as the country, and the picture or statue of Baal is Baal himself.  That's why idolatry is widely condemned.

    •  and widely practiced. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't believe literalists understand idolatry, certainly not in its currently practiced form. I don't believe most Murricans grasp just how many idols we worship on a weekly basis. The Bible, Marriage, The Family, NFL, Tom Cruise, Katie Couric, the list goes on and on. You certainly won't hear much about idolatry from the Christianist conservatives, they're too busy leveraging it for their own gain.

    •  Bibliotry - (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      which I may not have spelled right - is placing the Bible above the continued revelation of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. That is, making an idol of the Bible itself.

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:13:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Core Contradiction of Theocracy (12+ / 0-)

    the modernist reading of scripture is a profound threat to conservative Christianity, for a number of reasons. Because it is an essentially democratic way of reading, it threatens the authority of pastors and church elders passing along The Truth paternalistically.

    Theocracy's main focus is not the theo, it's the cracy--how the theo's decisions are communicated.  You either have one guy (a Pope, let's say, or maybe just a bishop), or a bunch of guys (a council of elders or a presbytery or a synod), or a congregation (which is distracted by the actual tasks of living) deciding what the theo has communicated.  Any way you cut it, there are fallible human beings involved.  That is the core contradiction of theocracy, rule by God turns out in the end to be rule by overinflated human beings, generally male.

    It is instructive that the modern theocratic mood--it's not quite a self-conscious movement in the sense that some preacher says "damn straight, I'm a theocrat"--issues from the essentially entrepreneurial Christian congregations with their communication networks and big cathedrals.  And it is interesting how closely entrepreneurial Christianity aligns with corporate culture.

    And where the entrepreneurial single autocratic or charismatic leader is not involved, the congregation or the council of elders or the annual assembly is beset with what for lack of a better term should be called Republican operatives.  The first denomination subverted by Republican political operatives was the Southern Baptist Convention, in a direct attack on Baptist President Jimmy Carter in 1979.  Today congregations and wider church bodies are under siege from those same political operatives.

    If Republicans didn't hate Christianity, why are they trying so hard to subvert congregations?

  •  PastorDan Are you familiar with Taize prayer? (6+ / 0-)

    Or the Taize community?

  •  You Must Be Gettin' Pretty Damn Important (10+ / 0-)

    to have attracted your very own troll, PD;-)

  •  Can you not take the bible literally?! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, Elise

    Come on- for all the contradictions that the bible has, I can fine one (1) passage to prove you wrong. Let's not think of the bible as a philosophical guide to understanding a decent moral compass.

    Snark intended.

    (-7.88, -7.95) I'm a non-union non-Chicago machine blue collar Illinois Democrat- because I care!

    by Poika on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 08:56:30 PM PDT

  •  Great diary (11+ / 0-)

    great diary. I also have to admit to finding it charming to see this phrase come from a pastor:

    We've got enough shit to deal with as it is. Why make up new shit?

  •  Leviticus (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, shpilk, davelf2, Elise

    Most of the posters here probably don't care what time of month they approach their wives to contaminate themselves with them, but I would argue that those particular laws come from a perspective that recognizes that sex is powerful and wants to keep it that way. The laws requiring husbands to satisfy their wives come from the perspective that they only get two weeks a month to do it :)
    Otherwise, nice post, PD. It is extremely important to emphasize that Scripture is a source of truth only when you are engaged in a conversation with it.

  •  It Comes Down to Rules Vs Principles (7+ / 0-)

    Fundamentalism is about rules and authoritarianism. So is Republicanism.

    Liberalism and rationalism are about principles, methods, goals, leadership and consenus.

    Jesus' own words and the gospel commentary make plain his position when they portray him breaking strict law, teaching about the law's higher purpose, and criticising literalism that adds to the burden of the weak and suffering.

    There is no reconciling fundamentalism and any kind of modernism. This might in principle take them to different spheres where they would rarely if ever interact--except that fundamentalism happens to be charged with taking over and converting the rest of the world.

    So the problem can't go away on its own.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 09:20:59 PM PDT

  •  Great diary, as usual, but an honest, modernist (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, nio

    reading of the Bible, certainly does not leave progressives off scott free. (I know that you do not suggest such a thing.) The very lesson that Jesus rejected the political struggle of his Hebrew people against their Roman overlords still has to give progressives pause to wonder too.  It is that part of the Bible that lead the last and current Popes, among others, to conclude that liberation theology was an errant teaching, Catholic or not, because of its tendancy to prioritize political struggles over and above the personal ones.  You can be great on all the progressive political issues and still be a real jerk and a living hell to be with.

    •  I've always wondered... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizabeth D, Elise, paul2port

      ... why my church (i'm catholic), moved away from liberation theology.  i've never really looked into it much.  would you consider explaining it and/or pointing me in the right direction about good sources?

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

      by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 09:31:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shpilk, Elise, FindingMyVoice
        I don't know much about it either, but wikipedia suggests some of it has been thought (especially by conservatives) to encourage class conflict, which would actually be at odds with basic Christian teaching. It's been used by Latin American socialists to support their political stances.

        •  I replied below too; after college I worked (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elizabeth D, Elise, FindingMyVoice

          as missionary for four years in South America.  I went there very much a believer in and student of liberation theology.  I was not in contact with other Americans or English speakers for almost two years, but I grew to be good friends with two  young Spanish priests, also radical leftists, who were nearby.  After a few years they developed a cynical joke between themselves:  Q: What is a conservative?  A: A liberation theologist who actually lived with the poor.

        •  Class conflict... (7+ / 0-)
          does not originate at the bottom, but at the top.

          However, when the current power structure tells you class conflict is bad, what they're really saying is, "God wants us to be able to take unfair advantage of you. If you dare to notice and object He will surely consign you to Hell."

          That isn't God speaking. It's selfish men trying to use God as a ventriloquist's dummy.

          Now, the question of what you should do about people who are grabbing way more than their share, leaving others to starve... that's not easy. God doesn't approve of what they're doing, that's fairly clear. But do people have a responsibility to stop injustice, or should they accept it passively on the theory that God will right the balance in the afterlife?

          There's a Christian tradition that advocates passive acceptance. Fine and noble, maybe, for yourself, but what about other people? It's not so fine to be passive about suffering being inflicted on others.

          Yet revolutions often cause more suffering than they remedy.

          As I said -- not easy.

          Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

          by Canadian Reader on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:43:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not only is it not easy (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Canadian Reader, Elizabeth D, Elise

            But, as I mentioned above, there is the glaring fact that that Jesus, who in the Beatitudes indicates God's preference for the poor and afflicted, specifically rejects participation with those who were in a political struggle to free Palestine from the rule of the Romans, a struggle as urgent and violent as today's American occupation of Iraq.  Jesus' own thinking on the topic was apparently more sophisticated than just, "poor and powerless = good; rich and powerful = bad."

            •  Violent struggles, even the best intended, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rarely decrease the sum of suffering in the short term. And in the longer term, fiery revolutionary leaders who win have this nasty track record in human history of becoming what they fought, and turning into dictators for life.

              So yeah, it's not simple.

              On the other hand, Jesus had no problem getting violent with the moneylenders in the temple. It's not as simple, either, as, "God wants things to stay the way they are no matter how bad it looks, so shut up and close your eyes if you see something wrong happening."

              Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

              by Canadian Reader on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:04:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Accepting it passively -- not (4+ / 0-)

            There are not a lot of lessons in the Bible about accepting injustice passively.  Even the "turn the other cheek" passage is not about passivity.  It is about personal discipline. (There's that personal action vs. political action again.) While berating Peter for cutting off a soldier's ear, Jesus acted immediately to rectify the injustice by curing the victim -- nothing passive about that.

      •  Here's a source document from Cardinal Ratzinger (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elizabeth D, jeysiin, Elise

        who is now Pope.  There are other later ones too.  He is the intellectual backbone of the crackdown on liberation theology.  But the fact the liberation theology simply lost force at around the time that the Soviet Union stopped existing is evidence that Ratzinger was essentially right:  Liberation theology was too closely connected and dependent upon a Marxist world view (by definition anti-Christian) to be able to be theologically consistent with Christianity.  

        Thus, despite the truth that one can see God more closely by living with and being poor, where the modern materialist elements of capitalism are not as grating, it does not follow that joining a political struggle against the purported causes of that poverty can substitute for personal struggle against sin in everyday life.  Since that struggle, and the realization through it that you and I are not God, but mortals in need of one, is what the meaning of life is all about, any teaching that would seek to replace it with a purely political salvation must be false.  That is essentially what Ratzinger had to say about it, although he was also quite concerned about the logic of the theology that could lead people to believe that the teaching authority of the church could be replaced with base communities just reading the Bible and witnessing one's own tough life conditions -- another modern protestant revolt, basically.

        •  Hold on: More explanation, analysis please (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TiaRachel, ohiolibrarian, Yamara

          Do you disagree with PastorDan and call for the suppression of another modern protestant revolt, basically.?

          Ratzinger and JP2 were fighting eastern European communism. In many respects it was JP2's defining political mission. At the time of the fall of the communist Soviet Union you say liberation theology fell too. These men certainly associated the two as you have. And they actively crushed the liberation theology movement. That was a political act.

          Your analysis doesn't seem to address the Church's support for Spanish Fascism and Franco. That complicates the picture in Spain and its former colonies. So Archbishop Romero, the most prominent of the liberation theology priests, is eventually martyred by the right-wing death squads but the Popes refuse to acknowledge and celebrate his life's accomplishments choosing instead to promote Fascist priest Escriva. That too is a political act.

          Ratzinger and JP2  had a barely concealed contempt for democracy that is reminiscent of the Popes of an earlier century.  Could it be they longed for the return to fascist governments that acknowledged the Catholic Church as the official state religion as it had been in Spain and Italy?

          It was certainly part of their plan to install the most conservative bishops and supress any diversity and debate within the Church. All authoritarian all the time. Time and again these two Popes have attempted to deal with the modern world by retreating from it into the more comforting call for more Church authority. The condemnation of John Kerry by the Catholic hierarchy was a political act. As is the condemnaton of the Iraq war by Ratzinger.

          You seem to have a rather stunted understanding of the role of religion in political life. It bothers me that you seem to promote an acceptance of modern capitalism with all its flaws as your political stance. Can't you see that some engage in the personal struggle against sin by attempting to change flawed systems?  

          Our economic systems, of every description, can and should do a better job of delivering the poor from their suffering. Our political systems throughout the world can and shoud do a better job of serving individuals instead of favoring the rich who oppress the poor. You don't have to be a religious person to acknowledge sufffering and seek justice. Even an atheist utilitarian would be more concerned about improving the world than you seem to be. I suppose you could be so indifferent to the world that you are a Cistercian, or member of a contemplative order, but then you shouldn't be here.

          Just how do you account for the Popes' support of the fascist Escriva and the ascendency of Opus Dei?

          •  JP2 did honor Romero... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ... he bitterly denounced his assasination, saying "He was a zealous pastor who died for his flock."  Too, he expressed outrage that a plaque honoring Romero was not prepared for a dinner honoring martyrs.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

            by jeysiin on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:46:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Whoa .... hold on a minute (0+ / 0-)

            I haven't really even discussed my personal beliefs and concerns here.  I just had a two paragraph comment, and entire books have been written about your questions.

            Let's start with the first part.  I don't think pastordan is calling for another new schism against the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.  I never got the vibe from him that he is anything but tolerant of the many different forms of Christianity, including the Roman Catholic tradition from which most of the other forms were begotten.  I think the revolution he was talking about is not another Reformation, but instead an evolution of more and more people reading the Bible from a progressive outlook and finding that it makes more sense and is more useful to people from that point of view.  I don't think either of this pope or the last would disagree with that.

            On the second part, the Catholic Church, with over a billion members, is also a large political organization, with her own state even.  No one ever said that she, or her members  should not participate in political affairs.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Catholics are encouraged to participate fully and aggressively in politics, and they do, much to the consternation of many.  Opposition to war and prioritizing the needs of the poor and oppressed (such as undocumented immigrants) are the two major issues that Church invests a lot of resources educating and activating her membership on.  Comparatively, although it gets more air time, the Church invest little to none of her resources on the issue of abortion, although a lot of Catholic activists on that issue do it with their own time and energy.

            The problem the Pope had with liberation theology was not that it was political, but that it's principal authors believed and taught that political action on the side of the poor was more important to God than all the other aspects of life.  While I am concerned that Benedict is de-prioritizing the poor relative to his predessor, who was as anti-capitalist as he was anti-communist, if you read his works, he has done nothing to discourage Catholic political action on behalf of the poor.  

            The political world is not a clean one. Compromise, and reasonable degrees of deceit and ruthlessness are all morally acceptable tools for successful participation in politics, especially when confronting evil regimes. And there is always the risk of error, failure, and defeat. As Jimmy Carter says when confronting those who criticize his willingness to negotiate with the world's most brutal leaders, if you're not willing to deal with such people, your only other option is to kill.  Popes do deals with evil powers, just like Jimmy Carter. That's what happens when you have a policy of non-violent politics, and sometimes you don't win in the end.

            The Catholic hierarchy did not condemn John Kerry.  Some priests did say some things, and a lot of them are being removed from their positions because of it now.  A few members of the hierarchy did too, and are still there.  Most voted for Kerry.  It's a big church.  The current pope wrote a letter to the American bishops giving his opionion on how they should handle a case of a prominent Catholic politician who promotes views that directly contradict a fundemental teaching of the church on the value of life itself.  The suggestion, and one that I agree with, is to simply ask the politician to not participate in one important sacrament -- communion -- while he is promoting that view in a campaign or in office.  Catholics are even asked to not go up for communion if they missed Mass last Sunday, so asking a presidential candidate to do the same while he is promoting a position that contradicts his religious beliefs is not a tall order.  He was not being kicked out or even asked to not come to church. It's just part of the religion, and Kerry would have gained a lot of Catholic votes by just showing respect for both his Church and his position on abortion by just not receiving communion. It was another soft toss that he missed.

            On Opus Dei, you've got me.  I can't account for it other than that I've learned that when I can't explain something, it usually means I don't have all the facts.  We probably don't know the whole story there either.

            •  Thanks for replying (0+ / 0-)

              Sorry I didn't get back sooner. I hope you read this.

              The advantage of revisiting a comment or diary is the perspective that comes with time. On your first point yes I agree that my comment was too pointed and personal. Sorry.

              I will respectfully disagree with you about the desire of the Catholic Church to read the Bible with less authority and a more progressive attitude. However, your parish, or your bishop may be taking a different approach than mine.

              On the issue of political action, once again you may be in a different diocese where your experience would be different from mine. As you said the Church is large.

              In the Toronto diocese many years ago the Church broke away from United Way over the issue of abortion and founded its own charity. Yes there is money that goes to a variety of causes throughout the year.

              However the opposition to abortion and gay marriage is ongoing and high priority. (Note the prominence given to abortion upon visiting the home page of the USCCB website I link below) It is misrepresenting the Church to downplay the importance of these issues. Last Sunday the K of C were distributing postcards to be sent in support of the Conservative Party's policy to rewrite law regarding gay marriage.  And I'm in Canada where gay marriage is a settled Constitutional matter.

              The Church, if it was honest, would start its own party, or throw its full support a party like the Christian Heritage Party and stare forlornly at the 0.2% of the popular vote those political positions Elections Canada Results are likely to gain on election day. Note: that's about 28,000 votes of more than 14 million votes cast.

              The problem the Pope had with liberation theology was not that it was political, but that it's principal authors believed and taught that political action on the side of the poor was more important to God than all the other aspects of life.


              he has done nothing to discourage Catholic political action on behalf of the poor

              Source? The position you put forward is somewhat academic, dispassionate, and curiously removed from the realpolitik of the 1970' and '80's in South and Central America. It misrepresents what the JP2 and Ratzinger did to Romero and others. While the theologians argued about the number of angels that could dance on the head of a pin JP2 mistook the struggles in Central America as being similar to those of his youth in Poland.

              They, JP2 and Ratzinger, removed the protection and leadership of the Church in the unjust wars against their poor parishoners. People were being slaughtered and the Pope counselled cooperation with the governments responsible. Eventually Romero was killed by those JP2 advised him to cooperate with. You might want to review the politics of the day and the US government's covert and overt operations against the popular rebellions such as Chiapas and revolutions such as those in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

              The Catholic hierarchy did not condemn John Kerry.

              Bishop Raymond Burke made a public statement that amounts to Kerry's being ex-communicated in his St. Louis diocese. To be denied communion, a sacrament, is to be ex-communicated. I don't know all the details but some right-wing commentators, (ExampleLes Kinsolving)make the point that he would be excommunicated for having remarried, if he hasn't received an annulment for his first marriage.

              The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops made a policy statement Catholics in Political Life which I think is quite different from the position you have put forward.

              We have the duty to teach about human life and dignity, marriage and family, war and peace, the needs of the poor and the demands of justice. Today we continue our efforts to teach on a uniquely important matter that has recently been a source of concern for Catholics and others.

              It is the teaching of the Catholic Church from the very beginning, founded on her understanding of her Lord’s own witness to the sacredness of human life, that the killing of an unborn child is always intrinsically evil and can never be justified. If those who perform an abortion and those who cooperate willingly in the action are fully aware of the objective evil of what they do, they are guilty of grave sin and thereby separate themselves from God’s grace. This is the constant and received teaching of the Church. It is, as well, the conviction of many other people of good will.

              and furthermore

              To make such intrinsically evil actions legal is itself wrong....

              Our obligation as bishops at this time is to teach clearly. It is with pastoral solicitude for everyone involved in the political process that we will also counsel Catholic public officials that their acting consistently to support abortion on demand risks making them cooperators in evil in a public manner....

              Catholics need to act in support of these principles and policies in public life. It is the particular vocation of the laity to transform the world. We have to encourage this vocation and do more to bring all believers to this mission. As bishops, we do not endorse or oppose candidates. Rather, we seek to form the consciences of our people so that they can examine the positions of candidates and make choices based on Catholic moral and social teaching.

              The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.


              The question has been raised as to whether the denial of Holy Communion to some Catholics in political life is necessary because of their public support for abortion on demand. Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness, we recognize that such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action. Nevertheless, we all share an unequivocal commitment to protect human life and dignity and to preach the Gospel in difficult times.

              The polarizing tendencies of election-year politics can lead to circumstances in which Catholic teaching and sacramental practice can be misused for political ends. Respect for the Holy Eucharist, in particular, demands that it be received worthily and that it be seen as the source for our common mission in the world.

              So the Bishops well understand the significance of their actions. Their words are more nuanced than most would realize but the message is clear.  

              John Kerry did not have their support.

              You are absolutely right Kerry did not show himself to be a good politician in handling this hot potato.

              I appreciate your taking the time to write, thanks.

              •  And another thing... (0+ / 0-)

                The canonization of Escriva, a fascist supporter of Francisco Franco (and vice versa) who taught that the poor should be meek and accept their station in life, not seek justice is evidence of what is truly in the hearts of JP2 and Ratzinger. And the fascist structure of his organization, Opus Dei, is influential at the highest levels of the Church.

                In other words they chose fascism and authority over progressive reading of the Bible.

                Have a nice day.

    •  That's a tough creed to wrestle with (0+ / 0-)

      Calvin also dealt with it at length, since his little book was upending Europe.

      From my point of view, the goal of the doctrine is to define an inflection point: If you're nowhere near being able to effect change, don't get yourself and your entire community killed in a futile effort: The Romans did finally suppress the Hebrews in a brutal and horrific act of butchery that only stopped when the sword arms of the legionnaires wore down. On the other hand, it does allow for action when a society has reached that inflection point.

      I'm suspicious of how this doctrine applies to liberation theology for the simple reason that its grassroots popularity attests to the proximity of inflection points in the societies where it was introduced. (I apologize for the structure and tone of that sentence, BTW. I'm too tired to do better, and I can't sleep.) If the liberation theologians had been a more or less stagnant minority attempting to disrupt the status quo, that would more clearly fall under Jesus' teaching in my judgment.

    •  That's certainly true. (0+ / 0-)

      Like I said, you have to be willing to let scripture challenge you, if you're going to take it seriously.

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:17:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  but how is that an answer? (0+ / 0-)

        I mean how do you prevent your efforts in the political realm from corrupting your spiritual struggles, and vice versa? The Enlightenment was about separating these things out, perhaps artificially, but it did that for some very good reasons.

        •  You don't. (0+ / 0-)

          At least not if you want to stay in the world. You can withdraw completely, or you can try to use power, knowing that inevitably, you'll eff it up. That's what it means to be human.

          Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

          by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:55:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  which is why the founders separe out these things (0+ / 0-)

            the problem you face even with your version of things is that there is some version of absolutism that are part of the mix- the only way to avoid this for the minority religon or non religion in society is to keep them separate in my mind- to have reasons for equality, for example, that go beyond faith or else you risk this very problem

            •  Yes, the founders believed (0+ / 0-)

              in limiting people's ability to accumulate power - a philosophy that was derived in part from John Calvin. But though they separated church and state, they never created a device to entirely divorce religion and politics, which is an entirely different conversation.

              As for absolutism, there have been plenty of secular totalitarians. Religion certainly isn't the only thing vulnerable on that score - not even uniquely vulnerable.

              Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

              by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:25:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  i would argue the impact of a secular (0+ / 0-)

                tolitarian regime are more fleeting than religious ones because they aren't as personally felt.

                an the separation out point isn't about denying that people of faith are involved in politics, but whether their faith should be the basis of their involvement.

                I ask this elsewhere, but it's equally good here- Should equal protection be defined according to how far one's own religious tends suggest one should advcoate for it- or does it go beyond this? I know this seems like an odd unncecessary question, but I have to wonder if the biggest problem in our society isn't whether people believe in God or not, but rather do they believe there are some things in our society that we share outside of faith that are of equal moral weight. One can find equality I suppose in the bible- but its not the same I think as what is meant in a secular way by equality.

              •  ps (0+ / 0-)

                my fear is that this discousre about faith is repeating the mistake of the right- and will lead to balkanization rather than integration of the society.

  •  This is probably a gross misrepresentation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, Elise, Buffalo Girl

    ...but the impression I get reading your diary is that you see God as a personification of the human community. Not that that's how you would define God; but that such a personification is the vehicle through which God is experienced by believers.

    <div style="color: gray; font-size: 80%">(-7.88, -8.97)</div>

    by Abou Ben Adhem on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 09:58:07 PM PDT

  •  how many fundamentalists (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, Elise

    no this is not the introduction to a light-bulb joke. How many fundamentalists can actually read the Bible as written, as opposed to depending on translations of it? I suspect very few. Any claim to interpret the Bible 'literally', then, is mere posturing unless you can, you know, actually read it.

    I say this as an atheist who has no particular interest in reading the Bible, but who finds the New Testament a heck of a lot more meaningful in Greek than in any English translation ever devised.

    •  But in PD's metaphor of religion-as-conversation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AggieDemocrat, Elizabeth D

      the translators themselves would be contributors to the conversation, with valuable perspectives of their own to add, right?

      <div style="color: gray; font-size: 80%">(-7.88, -8.97)</div>

      by Abou Ben Adhem on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:22:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  so many problems with biblical literalism (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      smintheus, TiaRachel, ohiolibrarian

      Translation is just the tip of iceberg.  Even people who can read ancient greek, have the problem that is the original manuscripts for the books of the Bible have been lost.  What we have today are texts that are have been copied and altered numerous times.  See "Misquoting Jesus" by Bart Erhman for more information on how the Bible was altered through time.

      Beyond the alteration issue, literalists tend be fundamentalists who love to to selectively quote parts of the Old Testament to justify their regressive ideas.  The relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament is a complex theological question.  Even using the New Testament as the guide, Paul's letters give many instances of where the Jewish law of the OT does not need to be followed by Christians.  Circumcision is one example.  

      Paul does not give a system or comprehensive list of what in the OT has been supplanted by the NT.  In fact, there were many early Christian thinkers (going all the way back to the 2nd century) who believed the OT only purpose as scripture was to prophecize the coming of Jesus.  Kinda of takes the wind out of fundies gay bashing using Leviticus.

      I could go on about how the books of the Bible were selected, or about how literalism was is a modern idea.

  •  revelations was clearly written by a schizo (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    throw it out please...if you have any rational sensibilities at all...'cause who ever wrote that was clearly nuts...i'm just sayin' it's pretty obvious.

  •  What is this site coming to??? (4+ / 0-)

    I scanned that entire troll diary and not one recipe. Not one. What's the matter with you people? It goes like this:

    Boiled Lettuce

    Wash the lettuce thoroughly, discarding withered leaves.  Cut through the heart and rinse thoroughly.

    Put into a small amount of boiling water, 1/2 cup for 2 medium-sized heads, cover and simmer 5 minutes, turning the lettuce over once to wither all the leaves.  

    Drain, add salt and pepper, melted butter, margarine, or hot bacon drippings.  A bunch of leaf lettuce, or 1 small head makes 2 servings when boiled.

  •  There's a book- American theocracy??? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, Elise

    In which the author states the problem is that Christianity isn't meant to  be in the political realm at all - that it is a struggle within the person not outside of the person. That the concepts that Jesus discussed were never meant to be used by people on the left or right in politics- what do you think of this argument b/c it would seem to suggest  you are as equally mistaken as the Christian right???

    •  not sure how you'd classify this... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharoney, Elizabeth D, Elise

      i think that Christianity was never meant to be a political weapon, to be wielded by either party.  however, i think that political affiliation and Christianity are equally infused in the individual. As a result, one cannot separate their Christianity from their politics.

      I'm a Christian.  everything i do stems from that basic fact.  I hodl the political beliefs i hold because i'm a christian.  Others hold different political beliefs as a result of different interpretations of their Christian faith.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

      by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:38:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is Jonathan Meacham's American Gospel (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizabeth D, Elise

      and it dispels the myth the religious right are propounding that this great country was a "Christ-centered" country from the get-go.  I am a devout Episcopalian, but I know from studying history that this "Christ-centered" argument is a myth and a lie.  Our founders valued free exercise and freedom.  Ergo: the Constitution.  

      1-20-09 the darkness ends

      by noweasels on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:44:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have that book...I haven't read it yet... (0+ / 0-)

      I really need to get on that.

      I think I'll NOT come here tomorrow and read that instead...

    •  I don't buy that at all (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharoney, TiaRachel, ohiolibrarian

      You do not feed the hungry, clothe the widow, visit the prisoner, etc., etc., within yourself. When Jesus said 'no part of the law shall perish' he was affirming the explicitly social and ethical character of Jewish law: 'Love thy neighbor' is as pure a social ethic as you can get, and pace Jesus it is the whole of the law.

      There is definitely an interior aspect as well. Paul and John both argue, from different directions, that to be truly Christlike the inner faith in God must express itself in good works. It's not an either/or proposition.

      Deuteronomy expresses not only politics, but economics. Jesus expresses a politics and also an economics—nearly all of his parables involve money. There is plenty of room for interpretation and disagreement on some issues, although I'd argue that social support for the poor is not one of them.

      What the author is stating, in fact, is the conservative position that Christianity (one can easily generalize to any and all religion, and secular ethics as well) is purely personal, and thus it cannot be used to justify any sort of social movement or program (beyond a church—their arguments get a little murky around that exception). While I agree that faith is personal, I'd argue that the main criteria for determining the means by which good works are done is effectiveness. If a secular government program is the best way to e.g. keep people out of poverty then I am impelled to press for and oversee a secular government program.

      •  you miss the point of the thesis (0+ / 0-)

        it's that those actions aren't political actions- they are spiritual ones.

        •  they are also political (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          At the time Christ lived as a Jew there was a "law" that said everyone had to give a certain amount of their wealth to a fund for the poor.  It was both a religious and a political law because the two were the same.  Jesus never rejected the idea that good Jews should pay their bit of tax for the poor.

          mcjoan is the new Armando

          by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:41:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  What does political mean, then? (0+ / 0-)

          If what he meant was that religion should not be yoked to a particular political party or movement ('left' or 'right', whatever those actually mean), well, yeah. Establishment only sounds good to people who are either ignorant of history or interested in corrupting a religion to serve a political end. But if religious people and religious institutions are to fulfill their mission they will act politically, and perhaps form tactical allegiances with political organizations. Individuals can (and do, and will) ally themselves with political organizations that they feel best express their beliefs, which is fine as long as the organizations actually do express those beliefs.

          I really despise the hijacking of 'political' to mean 'partisan'. Politics is good. Politics is the expression and debate and refinement of beliefs in the public square, the negotiation between different parties with different needs and interests to arrive at a common good. Political action is necessary to sustain our democratic republic. If the author means 'partisan' he should say 'partisan'. Otherwise, he's playing into another right-wing distortion.

      •  C. S. Lewis was font of saying (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that the spirit/body dichotomy some subscribe to is false, because God make the material world (of which our bodies are a part) "and he saw that it was very good."

        Sacraments (at least the two Protestant sacraments, baptism and holy communion) make use of material things - water, bread and wine - to connect the work of the Holy Spirit with the material world. The problem Gnostics have with the material world (which, if I'm not mistake, they see as subordinate to the spiritual world) is but one disagreement they have with orthodox Christianity.

        But, Lewis argues, you can't separate the two, which is why orthodox Christian theology was so adamant in asserting that when Jesus rose from the dead, he rose as a corporate being, which is why he invited Thomas to touch his wounds, and why he ate some bread with the apostles when he appeared to them after he rose again.

        "God likes matter," Lewis said. "After all, he made it."

        That Christians are called to act, as well as to be, could be seen as analogous to the spirit/matter "problem." Regardless of which side of the faith/works arguement you subscribe to, mainstream Christianity is pretty much in agreement (even, at long last, Catholics and Lutherans, Deo Gratias) that faith without works is meaningless, however you choose to label those works.

        "We lucky few! We band of bloggers!"--Malacandra

        by Sharoney on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 11:11:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  well if someone wrote it in a book (0+ / 0-)

      it must be true.

      mcjoan is the new Armando

      by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:09:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  rather than starting off from a position of being (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        pissed off b/c you are assuming things into what I said that aren't there.- try to actually get the point. the point being whether the doctrines of Christianity - essentially spiritual actions- can be the same as political actions without corruption. The point also being that Chrisitianity can not be used by the right or left for political action b/c Jesus was neither right nor left. This person who wrote the book- the one you are putting down- is a premient scholar on CHristianity- I wish I could remember his name. So rather than coming at this closed mind why not simply read up on the subject

        •  Kevin Phillips (0+ / 0-)

          They're not just a number, Tony Snow.

          by terrypinder on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:13:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  what makes you think my mind is closed? (0+ / 0-)

          You didn't get my joke...just because something is in the Bible doesn't make it gospel.  Just because someone wrote a thesis doesn't make him right.

          I personally think he's wrong.  Spirituality is both with-in and with-out you and while I object to the idea that Jesus is either a liberal or conservative, democrat or republican...I don't think using Jesus is what anyone on the religious left has in mind.  
          On the other hand you can't separate religion and politics because you can't separate thought, belief, conviction etc... and politics.

          mcjoan is the new Armando

          by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:49:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  b/c you started off from the attack (0+ / 0-)

            whereas others debated my point. You have done that throughout the thread with others as well.

            And, you can separate thoughtout- the analysis for equal protection doesn't require that one have had to read the bible first. there is a clearly delineated test for it.

            I find that comment- that we can't separate out things- problematic. It means that you can't find principles ou tside of your faith to define the world by- if I take you seriously- and if you can- then you can separate it out, but choose not to do so.

            This is not a simple idea by any means- but part of the breakdown we face in this society is because people aren't willing to find points of commonality- whereas to me faith is almsot always about an internal process. Even among Christians beliefs vary. At base PD is referring to the same absolutes that the right are- he simply reaches a different conclusion.

      •  Kinda like... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kd texan

        ..the Bible, no?  
        If someone wrote it in a book, it must be true.  

    •  FYI (0+ / 0-)

      Kevin Phillip's concern was more that historically, nations that go down the nutty fundy path tend to decline in an ugly way. He provides several examples, including Hapsburg Spain and Victorian England.

      while a very good book, what I got out of it was that he wants to maintain the hyperpower empire that we're in, while I personally think it's time to let that go.

      They're not just a number, Tony Snow.

      by terrypinder on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:59:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh, yeah? (4+ / 0-)

    Well then curse God and Die!

    Heh heh.  Just kiddin'.  A little inter-diary referetial multilateral unitarianism between friends.

    You know, PD, you're really damned smart.  I love reading these non-Brothers-and-Sisters diaries of yours because they showcase your grasp of a whole bunch of really deep shit.  (And, by the way, you said "shit", Mr. Going-to-Hell-for-Your-Potty-Mouth.)

    My Dad, the other pastor, was a fan of the Jesus 2000 movement.  He didn't cotton to all of it, but he knew that the scripture needed to expand to embrace our current planetary situation.  Also, Marcus Borg was a college prof of mine.  Brilliant guy.  And funny.  (But he has these wierd bulging eyes that made lengthy lectures sorta - uh - mesmerizing.)

    Anyway, thanks for this.  I love it when you make me think.


    (-6.75, -6.24) George W. Bush deserves a fair trial.

    by CJB on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:25:39 PM PDT

  •  Pastor Dan (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, shermanesq, Elise, reahti

    2 points I'd like to make:

    1. I've been a Christian for almost 10 years now. I came to it rather late. But I don't understand the Holy Ghost. I know the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit as you wrote is part of the trinity, but where does HG fit in? What is the HG?
    1. My second point got really long and involved so I deleted it.

    So those are my two points. BTW, my wife and I were talking about something similar on Sunday on how the Republicans claim the mantle of "values voters" even though probably just as many people who describe themselves as religious voted for John Kerry in 2004. But when has the national press corpse ever let facts get in the way of their stenography work for Karl Rove?

    Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. Sherlock Holmes.

    by Carnacki on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:25:47 PM PDT

    •  the way it was explained to me... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizabeth D, Carnacki, Elise

      ... is that the holy spirit is the embodiment of the love of the Father for the Son and vice versa.  That their love for each other was so great that it "spawned" the Holy Spirit.  

      i'm sure i've bastardized this almost beyond recognition, so feel free to contradict me.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

      by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:32:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  'Values Voters' (7+ / 0-)

      I agree. I think everyone missed the boat on this.  If someone had polled me in 11/04 regarding whether this country was sinking to moral hell in a handbasket, I probably would have said yes -- because we have abandoned the poor and voiceless, cratered important social programs, mistreated our children and elderly. My "yes" would have had NOTHING to do with gay marriage (which is fine by me) or the right to choice (same) or, heaven help us, such ridiculous anti-Constitutional ideas as banning flag burning or taking away attorneys' fees in cases brought against public officials who want to cram their own particular religious beliefs (and I use this term advisedly) down the throats of their constituents.

      1-20-09 the darkness ends

      by noweasels on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:35:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the answer's historical (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizabeth D, Carnacki, Elise, rtfm

      before it's theological.

      Ya got your God. Then there's Jesus. Then Jesus wasn't here anymore. But that power was(Read "Acts").

      So whatcha gonna call it, that "God present with us," that power "closer to you than your own breath" it says Paul says?

    •  I don't get it either... that holy spirit..except (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Carnacki, Catte Nappe

      when I do and that is usually in communion with God (other people may or may not be present)when there is an actually presense.

      For example, I was at a African American Baptist Church in 2004.  The service was about 2 hours long and I stayed for the whole thing, though other people seemed to come and go.  At one point there was a dancer and about half way through her dance I started crying and I continued for another half hour through hymns and the final part where people were invited up be prayed with or over.  You would go up and some person, perhaps they were elders or just really good at praying, would take your hands and pray for you and whatever problem it was you had told them about.  
      I didn't go up though I really wanted to (I am a yankee presbyterian after all, lol).  But I saw a young man who was so obviously angry and dispirited, the kind of kid you might avoid on the street just because of the look on his face.  But he sat there for two hours and he went up and got prayed over and the person grabbed right on to him and loved him and prayed with him and I thought "if the Holy Spirit isn't in this place, I don't know where he is".

      I have had that feeling hearing or singing great music.  There is an alleluia section of a Tchiakovsky piece I sing that is so glorious when the choir is right in perfect communion with the composer and the conductor and the audience that brings me to tears.

      There were many times during my trip to Haiti that I felt that same way.  One time when our van broke down and so many people came to help us....people who have so little that all they have to depend on is each other.. they came to help us and the whole experience overwhelmed me.

      I always think of that line from the "Wedding Song"
      "where ever two or more of you are gathered in his name, there is love..." pretty much explains the Holy Spirit to me, limited explanation though it is.  

      mcjoan is the new Armando

      by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:32:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  golden rule baby (5+ / 0-)

    That is all you need.

  •  PastorDan (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, shpilk, Elise, Yamara, ilyana

    This is off topic, but it occurred to me today that Americans of faith could reconcile ourselves with the dreadful horrible rape/murder of the 14 year old Iraqi girl (and the murder of her family) by holding a candlelight vigil for all victims of violence in Iraq IN HER HONOR on what would have been her 15th birthday on AUGUST 19 -- but I have no idea how to organize this.  Could you provide some guidance?  Gratefully yours, noweasels (a proud member of your flock)

    1-20-09 the darkness ends

    by noweasels on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:51:51 PM PDT

    •  that is a great idea (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      noweasels, ilyana

      of course some people will have a fit that we are not making it all about our dead soldiers.  But I do think it can be organized by a couple of people agreeing on what it might look like and getting some progressive organizations such as Tikkun and Sojourners behind the idea.  You could also promote the event on all the political blogs.

      mcjoan is the new Armando

      by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:49:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  See Ilyana's Diary today (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        She is organizing!  thank you.

        1-20-09 the darkness ends

        by noweasels on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:36:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you Noweasel! (0+ / 0-)

          I've been trying to organize..
          Sometimes I think we are all too fat and happy :-)
          It took me weeks to commit to code pinks' fast for peace, for just two days per week.
          My conflicting thoughts were, "I don't want to",
          "i'm getting too old for that", "it will mess up my blood sugar and make me crazy"..
          Stuff like that..
          But anyone can fast for one day...

          Abeer and her family lost so much more than a day of food. They didn't volunteer the loss either. OUR War brought the wolves through their door.

          Nothing clarifies desire like being hungry..
          and if that desire can be focused on peace..
          oh what a world it could be...

          "Let us not be conservative with compassion. Be generous with compassion."

          by ilyana on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:55:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  God's will... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, Elise that we have a will of our own.  He (in the non-gender relative sense) does not want slaves or sheep, but willing acolytes who choose him because they believe that, in so doing, their lives will be better (here or hereafter).  The fundamentalists believe that the guided social organization represented by a large body of believers (what they call a church), will better allow individuals to find the correct way to choose God.  This effectively negates His will that His children come to Him because they want to, and not because they've been told they have to, or how they are supposed to go about doing so.  The "church" should exist to allow people to draw from and give to each other in time of need, as well as to teach and to learn from each other.  But the fundies have reduced masses of individual will that appeals to God, into a mass of will directed by an individual or two.  Although... I suppose it could be that they are using their individual will to choose to have collective will to choose God instead.  I'll form my own church of one, thank-you-very-much.

  •  This fits in really nicely with (4+ / 0-)

    Reality Bites Back's diary about how conservatives tend to WANT to live in a dictatorship...and that they like authoritarian rule...

    They don't just want it from political leaders, they want it in their religion as well...and in their businesses...

    Everything with these people has to be top-down rather than about equality and community.

    Great post of my faves of yours!

    I'm gonna pass this along to some people...

  •  logic, to me, requires that one consider that the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, jeysiin, TiaRachel, Elise

    works of written religion, of any faith, are created strictly by man. I accept that as 'fact' until proof can be presented to show otherwise. So far, with over a half century under the widening belt, and working on the 2nd, I have seen nothing to show me otherwise. Of other people who think the way I do, I have yet to read any that have had that 'eureka' moment, and reversed their course and 'found God' after thinking in the same general terms I do.

    To be sure:

    I have serious existential conflicts, as I cannot fathom the complexity of a bacterium, a flower, a tree, the ocean, any living concious being, or the seemingly unending universe and think that all I see, everything (since it is inside my own mind) had, at it's core, a beginning from a random conglomeration of amino acids in some primordial soup, with a deep extra helping of cosmic rays, perhaps.

    So, I have not ruled some sort of 'Being'. I simply reject all man-made attempts to discern it's Nature. So far, anyway.

    Being Jewish {and yes, I still consider myself to be a Jew}, we have lots of traditions. That is what Judiasm is about; "Tradition!" - AKA as the Rev Jackson and Tavis Smiley say .. 'keeping the faith'. One tradition is the Talmudic questioning. I fear my personal questioning would drive the poor rabbis insane. So, I will stop with my questioning. It only serves to antagonize others.

    But yet, I am part of the human community; I still feel a connection - and even to non-Jews .. anyone who is searching for meaning, I feel kinship as a fellow human being, as they search for meaning.

    I respect that.
    I can only wish they find their own way: accepting that people have their own right to decide what they want to believe, to me is a very progressive and human thing to do. I think it is a very 'Jewish thing' to do, as well .. to try to heal the world, we must respect and understand how others view it.

    Reminds me of this song ..

    'I got a smile
    For everyone I meet.
    Long as you don't try dragging my bay,
    Or dropping a bomb on the street'

    The crux of the problem?
    It's how some deal with these concepts:

    Some DO want to drag our bay, and drop The Bomb on our street .. all in the name of (insert appropriate diety figure here).

    If only ...

    Journalistic standards aren't just for 'journalists', anymore.
    We're all journalists, now.- 8.69, - 9.69

    by shpilk on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 11:20:21 PM PDT

  •  The problem being (3+ / 2-)
    Recommended by:
    jethropalerobber, KathleenM1, Elise
    Hidden by:
    Sharoney, Elizabeth D

    Religion is entirely based on the concept of a divine being. The various texts are THE WORD of this divine being.

    When people continue to hypocritically cherrypick their religion, they are not only disobeying their god, but they enable a total pass on logic and reason

    We cannot tolerate religion any longer, period, and it's time for believers to put up or shut up. Produce your god, and have him go on the record in a public, and scientifically verifiable fashion, or admit you're a total nutter.

    Face the facts- followers of Abrahamic religion are REQUIRED to murder and destroy non-believers, Red Lobsters, and other things that offend their God. If you aren't murdering and pillaging, then you're not a good theist. They composite mythical figure of Jesus (there is zero contemporary evidence for him) himself affirmed the validity of the old laws, and their validity till the end of the world.

    So if you're comfortable being a hypocrite, know that the moderates create the environment where religion cannot be questioned, and from moderates come fundamentalists, and the abortion clinic bomber/Pat Robertson types.

    Remove faith from our equations, and the world will be a far better place because people will have to accept reality, and deal with it accordingly, without the crutch of easy ways out, and moral certainty that their invisible friend provides them.

    •  here ya go... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... you say "it's time for believer's to put up or shut up."  given the rest of you're statements, i'm going to assume that you're an atheist.  that's a belief.  a belief that there is no god.  so, "put up or shut up."   prove there is no god.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

      by jeysiin on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 11:28:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Fallacy of the Negative Proof. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Inky, jethropalerobber, kd texan

        Prove that there's no Magical Spaghetti Monster.
        Prove that there aren't invisible green gremlins living in your armpit.  
        Prove that the universe doesn't sit on top of a Supernatural Cherry Slurpee.  

        There's every bit as much evidence for these figments -- and for unicorns, vampires, elves, and woodnymphs -- as there is for any god.  

        •  I have no problem with that... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ignatz uk

          as the Magical Spaghetti Monseter, invisible green gremlins, and Supernatural Cherry Slurpee's are all tolerable in my book.  

          My problem with the poster's comment, which I obviously did not enunciate well enough (if at all, looking back), was this:  the poster essentially said that religion was intolerable and would remain so unless there was proof to the contrary.  My point was that religion-- and particularly the religious-- should be tolerated because a god might exist as there is no evidence to the contrary.  

          by all means, be intolerant toward lies, mistruths, and deception.  BUT you should remain tolerant to ideas, faiths, and beliefs which are possibly true.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

          by jeysiin on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 12:19:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Atheism is not a belief, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KathleenM1, kd texan

        , any more than baldness is a hair colour.

        Atheism, contrary to what it seems to have become known as in the American vernacular, does not imply an active belief in the non-existence of gods; it is simply the absence of belief - a-theism. One might seperate that into 'strong atheism' and 'weak atheism' depending on the degree to which one is convinced of ones position, but even 'strong atheism' isn't a belief system.

        I believe there are not fairies at the bottom of my garden. I have good reason to believe this - I have never seen a fairy, I know of no person who has verifiably seen a fairy, and I know of the folk traditions which gave rise to the concept of fairies. This is really no different to a god.

        Please don't try and equate belief in what is eminently sensible - there is no god - with a belief in the fantastic divine. "Atheism is a religion" and other such crap is just nonsense.

        A conservative understands the price of everything, but the value of nothing.

        by Mephistopheles on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:18:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Gosh, you really (0+ / 0-)

      know so very much about all the faiths in the world.  How did you get so smart?  And so perceptive?

      "As scientific knowledge advances, it does not mean that religious knowledge retreats." - horse69 on the bnet recon C&C board

      by lonespark on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 11:58:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  sigh (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      perro amarillo, TiaRachel, ignatz uk

      Only a literalist would be "required" to do any thing.  There are plenty of frameworks for reading and thinking about scripture that are not literal.  It seems like you did not comprehend at all what Pastor Dan wrote.

    •  troll (8+ / 0-)
      this appears to be the first-ever comment for this user name.

      The reason some atheist trolls are in favor of violent, judgmental literalism as the basic form of religion is because it's a wonderful, wonderful strawman. Tilting quixotically at such obvious strawmen is not a rhetorical advantage, of course; it's really a kind of non-sequitor. But it lets them express their emotional feeling against religion categorically, while insulating themselves from any conversation with the actual views of actual conversants. It is a kind of bitter non-engagement.

      •  Even so, the comment has some merit (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Inky, jethropalerobber

        The best example of this is the Southern Baptist Convention. For decades, the Baptists were distinct from more other, more hierarchical sects, precisely because they relied on the democratic interaction of members of individual congregations for matters of policy, even including the interpretation of scripture. And yet, they have now united and have become one of the most dangerous denominations in the country, through more or less the same kind of process advocated in this diary: shared belief in the set of core propositions listed by Pastordan, discussion, negociation, and democracy.

        From the outside, the use of near-Rovian political strategy and gamesmanship thwarted the process, but from within, there is great satisfaction from the unity of purpose that has been the result (I'm perfectly aware that there was considerable dissent at the time of the power play that changed their leadership, and of a limited degree of dissent even now, but this has been ineffective and insignificant in changing the direction of the sect as a whole).

        I think that it may well be that as long as a group has faith in any supernatural principles, constructs, or entities, that they will almost be more vulnerable to the kind of take-over that occurred in the SBC.

        Greg Shenaut

      •  strawman? (0+ / 0-)

        recent gallup polls suggest that only about 30% of americans believes the bible to be "word for word" literal truth from god.

        but until the remaining believers, about 50% of the nation, get together and clear up exactly which parts are true and which aren't, why shouldn't they we held to account for everything the bible preaches?

        this is a serious suggestion by the way. each church could edit the book according to their actual real beliefs. there would be some realignment, but then things would settle down again. why hasn't this happened?

        censure: if not now, when?

        by jethropalerobber on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 12:29:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

          "why shouldn't they be held to account for everything the bible preaches?"

          Because Christians' faith is in God, not in the Bible. The Bible is not God--though there are some conservatives who shave pretty close to idolatry on that point.

          The (mostly) shared canon of the Bible is one of the things Christians unite around. To start messing with that is really to opt out of the broader Christian conversation that has been going on for 2000 years, and go off in your own direction.

    •  I'm okay with destroying Red Lobsters (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel, Buffalo Girl

      Their food sucks.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro" - Hunter S. Thompson (RIP)

      by redfish on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 03:14:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  good luck with that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      perro amarillo

      you are way out numbered and way out thunk too.  

      mcjoan is the new Armando

      by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:54:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Did you even read PD's diary? (0+ / 0-)

      Or did you just see the work "Bible" and decide to come into what had been a respectful discussion with guns blazing for your very first comment ever?

      This comment is nothing more than a collection of insults and sweeping assumptions and stereotypes, and is just a content-free reiteration of similar trollish comments by similarly ignorant trolls.

      Congratulations. Have a zero.

      "We lucky few! We band of bloggers!"--Malacandra

      by Sharoney on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 11:26:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hey, check it out. (0+ / 0-)

      It's yet another one of those people that Obama was talking about as being hostile to religion but who, we were assured in multiple diaries, doesn't exist.

      •  And whom I'm not convinced (0+ / 0-)

        is not a troll here to stir up exactly that impression.


        Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

        by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 01:09:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe, maybe not. (0+ / 0-)

          But I went to college with several hundred people quite loudly hostile to religion, so it's not exactly a minor sect.

          •  It's easy to be hostile to religion (0+ / 0-)

            when the most prominent representatives are so repulsive - the Falwells, Swaggarts, and so on in Christianity, the Hasidim in Judaism, and the most radical sects of Islam, as well.

            If every religious person acted like PastorDan, or like my Rabbi, or like the more moderate Moslems, there would be a lot less hostility to religion.

            Even if the moderates were simply more prominent, that might help.

            Republicans worry about our souls and their bellies. Democrats worry about their souls and our bellies

            by plf515 on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 02:09:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Getting late, and I'm tired. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, Elise

    So, I won't add my own views, but I've put together a list of progressive religious thought in this handy list.

    Hope somebody finds it helpful.

    -8.75, -6.10 "Now I am a gay man. I know what a phone service repair man is meant to look like." John Scagliotti

    by dirkster42 on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 11:26:30 PM PDT

  •  Look, let's face it - (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nio, Catte Nappe, kd texan, Elise, ignatz uk

    Conservative Christianity (i.e., neocon Protestantism) took religion out of the hands of Big Business (the Roman Catholic Church) and empowered small businessmen (i.e., all of the Diaspora of the fundamentalist one-off churches) to make money that they could keep, without the Church's rake.

    And there's nothing more American than that.

    As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. - Justice William O. Douglas

    by occams hatchet on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 11:33:33 PM PDT

  •  thoughtful comment but... (1+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    Elizabeth D

    Religion of all stripes has been the curse of humanity.  It has been the cause of most of the wars, torture, sexism, and other terrible things men do to other mena and expecially to women.  I understand that the rise of the conservative Christian Nazi bigot women haters will lead to more  strife and pain, but I can't help smiling a little bit when some people see the truth...tht the last place to find god is  in a church.

    •  asdf (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharoney, musing85, perro amarillo, nio, reahti

      I wrote this to someone above; it applies to your comment also.

      The reason some atheist trolls are in favor of violent, judgmental literalism as the basic form of religion is because it's a wonderful, wonderful strawman. Tilting quixotically at such obvious strawmen is not a rhetorical advantage, of course; it's really a kind of non-sequitor. But it lets them express their emotional feeling against religion categorically, while insulating themselves from any conversation with the actual views of actual conversants. It is a kind of bitter non-engagement.

      Religious people, non-religious people... we all have good human interests for which which we come together here on Daily Kos. It is deeply important to respect each other and get along.

    •  nah (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      perro amarillo

      human nature has been the cause of all the problems you list.

      mcjoan is the new Armando

      by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:00:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ...but yours was anything but, professor. (0+ / 0-)

      It's the rhetorical equivalent of sticking your tongue out and saying, "Nyah nyah." Is that how you taught your students?

      Try actually learning about what your're insulting first instead of repeating the same lame sentiments that have been posted elsewhere in other religion threads, and maybe you'll be able to say you've actually added something substantive.

      "We lucky few! We band of bloggers!"--Malacandra

      by Sharoney on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 11:37:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just curious, Pastordan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Inky, UniC, kd texan

    Do you believe that something very bad will and should happen to those who do not believe that Jesus was God's only son?

    •  (or 'is' as the case may be..) n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      musing85, javelina

      I think you must be new. Dan has probably said no to variants of that question hundreds of times in the years of his involvement here at Daily Kos, so I think his answer would still be... OF COURSE NOT. Progressive Christians simply don't believe any such thing, period. He is well liked here by Christians and non-Christians alike. He runs Street Prophets, a "faith & politics" site associated with Daily Kos where Atheists, Wiccans, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians etc etc are warmly welcome, as long as they don't act like jerks.

      •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Inky, UniC, kd texan

        Well, I hope the question was fair enough and that my asking it did not call for a label. I presume the pastor does not mind people asking him what he believes. Also, he has already stated that he believes in "the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit," that he affirms "the ancient creeds" (correct me if I'm wrong, but those are still dogmas) and that he believes Jesus will "return at the end of time" and presmably do something. I am not making assumptions about pastordan, on the contrary, was asking because I was curious and I still think the question was (and is) fair.

        •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I think you may have a sincere question, but it seems kinda hostile to ask someone if they think "something very bad will and should(!) happen" to people like (I'm making an assumption) you. Again, no, Dan and other progressive Christians don't believe that and definitely don't want that. If someone describes themself as a progressive or liberal Christian, it's safe to assume that they do not believe that "salvation" is exclusive to Christians.

          The following is a Beliefnet/Newsweek poll of 1000+ Americans from August 2005; the question was "Can a good person who isn't of your religious faith go to heaven or attain salvation, or not?" It should give a sense that what you're asking about is actually a minority belief among Christians, and a pretty conservative one.

          Evangelical Protestants: 68%yes  22%no
          Other Protestants: 83%yes  10%no
          Roman Catholics: 91%yes  3%no

          btw, I should probably explain that "don't be a jerk" is Dan's oft-stated rule for Street Prophets.

          •  Elizabeth (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Inky, lirtydies, UniC, kd texan

            I think that if there is any hostility here, it originated in your comment above; I had no hostile intent. I was asking because I did not make assumptions.

            Lutheran and Catholic doctrines hold that God/Jesus is infallible and that His plan and actions are good and just. Consequently, an act of God, is also what ought to happen, following that logic. If God passes judgement, it is fair to ask a Christian if he believes the judged person got what he/she deserved. I'm not saying this is pastordan's view, I was asking for his opinion. I don't know how I can put that more clearly. My quesition was not hostile. If you become a pastor, I am sure that you are prepared to answer far more demanding quesitons than the one above.

            I appreciate your comment about progressives. Still, the extension of my question above (for pastordan) would be what the implications are with respect to the axioms/doctrines/dogmas that he says he affirms, even if he likes dialogue?

            F.i.: What does Jesus intend to do when he "returns at the end of time"? (Also: Which ancient creeds does pastordan affirm, and how are they reconciled with a view where people who reject Christianity do not "perish everlastingly." Are there people who are damned? And if not, how would you know that some people are saved? Etc.)

            •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

              Maybe I am really not understanding you; I'm sorry if I seemed rude. But honestly most Christians don't claim to know exactly who is eternally damned (if anyone). I'm a Catholic and I know the Catholic Church doesn't teach that non-Christians are necessarily going to hell, which is why only 3% of Catholics thought that in the poll I cited. And I have a friend who is a Lutheran theologian and I know he doesn't think that either. There is not any ancient creed that I know of that says anything like "all non-Christians are going to hell." Some conservatives interpret the Bible to say that, but most Christian beliefs about salvation are more nuanced than that, and come down ultimately to God's judgments.

            •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

              You know, if there are some people in the world who go around convinced their neighbors are damned, that is unfortunate for them, their peace of mind, and perhaps their capacity to love as all are called to. Please don't let it get to you.

      •  Btw, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Inky, kd texan

        Pastordan spoke very highly about dialogue, so I don't see why you would have a problem with me asking him that question in a comment to his diary.

      •  Btw, (0+ / 0-)

        Pastordan spoke very highly about dialogue, so I don't see why you would have a problem with me asking him that question in a comment to his diary.

    •  The way I like to put it: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizabeth D

      I believe that Jesus way "the way, the truth, and the life." As far as I know, Jesus is the way to God. That's the best answer, and the one I'm convinced is right.

      But that's what I think. I might be wrong about that. I'm certainly not interested in forcing you to believe that.

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:40:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what about (0+ / 0-)

        people who never hear about Jesus Christ. Let's say somewhere there are a group of people who never hear of Christianity. All they know is their local religion. Are these people ammoral? Are they denied heaven because they don't believe Jesus is the way to God? If yes, why? if no, why?

        Essentially we are having discussions about political discourse- so I would like to see how you would handle the political side of the eventual assumptions as well. Thanks.

        •  I'm not sure of the political consequences (0+ / 0-)

          of the assumption, but nearly all traditions these days teach that you won't be condemned if you haven't had the opportunity to hear the gospel. Others, like mine, don't even lay that layer of judgment on in the first place.

          Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

          by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:41:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I had that argument in elementary SS class (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Perhaps we are wiser when we are young, but by about 10, I was completely convinced that the hoards of little Asian and African kids were NOT condemned to Hell simply because we didn't give enough money to the annual Mission Fund.  I argued then the same as now that a truly LOVING God would not do that to an innocent people.  That it would be condemning them for nothing more than the sin of being born in the wrong place - not "lucky" like I was.

            Didn't make me a very popular Sunday School pupil in a Southern Baptist church, I'll admit.

            The truth always matters.

            by texasmom on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:48:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Shoot. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Caldonia, kd texan, LodinLepp

      I didn't actually answer your question. No, I don't think anything bad will/should happen to those who don't believe in Jesus. I don't actually know what's going to happen when Jesus returns, but the God I know isn't interested in zapping people with lightening bolts, if that's what you mean.

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:42:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for your reply. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elizabeth D, kd texan, rgdurst

        I wish more Christians would have a similar view. Even in my country, where the fundamentalists are not in charge.

      •  So if God decides (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lirtydies, bjornmmcc

        that those who don't believe in Jesus DO deserve some kind of punishment, what then? Would that be enough to make you reconsider your belief in God?

        You sound uncertain about whether a punishment happens or not, and not particularly concerned about it. I would imagine the matter is of more pressing concern for those who run the risk of suffering your God's wrath.

        Again, that's what it boils down to for me: does coercion have a place in the relationship between God and humankind? Saying "I don't know" is probably the most honest response, but it's not the most satisfying.

        •  Karma (0+ / 0-)

          You reap what you sow.

          Sowing seeds of doubt, show a complete lack of faith, whereby you will live in a constant state of indecision, thereby  a crippled and whithering heart.

          Is it God's punishment that two soldiers were shown mutilated? Should I watch it? Is it a consequence of lack of good judgement, or retribution for sins unseen?

          The whithering heart that cannot cope with rape in the name of "liberty", comes to justice with the most putrid form of violence.


          Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

          by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:38:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There you go (0+ / 0-)

            The mutilation of soldiers as "retribution for sins unseen." Would a loving God countenance this? Is this a valid basis for a progressive understanding of the divine?

            •  do you (0+ / 0-)

              ask the same damn questions over and over and over again every freaking day?

              They're not just a number, Tony Snow.

              by terrypinder on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:44:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  A loving God (0+ / 0-)

              gave his children free will.

              That they abuse it without his interferance, is their choice not his.

              To hide behind God as an excuse to destroy another culture, another country's people as a means of liberation is the zenith of pretense.

              It is not God's choice, but the choice of man. Man suffers his own punishment when he choose's such stark violence and pretends to hide behind that violence as some greater path to liberty for others.

              Spiritual liberty comes from self determination and inner reflection, not looking to an authority figure for justification. The bible is a series of historical stories about these very struggles.

              Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

              by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:58:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not quite (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                KathleenM1, bjornmmcc, kd texan

                A loving God cannot give his children free will if he assures them ahead of time that one "freely made" decision will result in their destruction, and another will result in their eternal reward.

                Say I hold a gun to your head.

                I give you a command, then tell you that you're free to disobey it if you choose. I'm not gonna tell you what to do, I'll just respond to your choice.

                Of course, if you freely choose to disobey, I will shoot you in the head.

                Can your choice truly be described as "free?"

                •  You glorify yourself mightily (0+ / 0-)

                  You are equating your self to God, saying you have ultimate control over my life if you hold a gun to my head.

                  Am I then to assume that for you personally God is a Gun?

                  Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                  by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:29:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  What? (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    lirtydies, KathleenM1, bjornmmcc, kd texan

                    It was an analogy, nothing more. But to answer your question, the God described in the Bible, and in Christian creeds, could be compared to a gun, in certain ways. Obey, or face the consequences. That's coercion, like it or not.

                    I don't personally believe in that God. In fact, I'm horrified by it. That's why I have such difficulty with  some of Christianity's core teachings - as exhaustively documented in recent discussions here.

                    •  A revealing analogy (0+ / 0-)

                       to say the least.

                      You realize that you will be going straight to God's punishing hell for your deception. That is your own free will at work.

                      Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                      by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:45:53 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  For someone with the nom de plum of (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        kd texan

                        missliberties who implies a lack of liberty of one's actions will cause eternal damnation is what is revealing. This is a perfect example of use of hell as a guilt weapon in order to convince others your way is right and theirs is wrong. Not very liberal of you.

                        •  Ouch that so hurts (0+ / 0-)

                          not very liberal of me?

                          Is that like punishing me  (Christian style)for not being a group think liberal?

                          First of all I implied no such thing. Where do you see that sir.

                          You have no idea what the fuck you are talking about sir. I think this man Mr. B is a pretender.

                          If you would please withhold judgement on me until you know what you are talking about I would appreciate it.

                          And just to clarify for you for the record, I do not believe God is a punishing God. I believe a punishing God is man's creation to mold and engineer villages and societies to certain ways of thinking, The punishing God loves war. Get it.

                          This man wants to fill a room with hot stoves with a kid in it. Does that tell you anything.

                          He wants to hold a gun to my head, for the sake of a "free will" lesson.
                          Does that tell you anything. And you have the Nerve to call me out as not being liberal. Get a clue dude.

                          I am trying to make a reasonable argument, and then the meta liberals comes along, with a total lack of comprehension Yes what I said to him is paradoxically playing on his own fears, because he believes in a punishing God that would fill a room full of hot stoves and set a child in it and give God's good warning not to touch it.

                          Not very liberal of him is it?

                          Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                          by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 11:13:44 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Your comment (0+ / 0-)

                            to say the least.

                            You realize that you will be going straight to God's punishing hell for your deception. That is your own free will at work.

                            As someone who doesn't believe in hell, I find that comment to imply that someone who doesn't believe like you do goes to hell. I guess I'll go to hell too. I didn't even care what the previous poster said.

                          •  That is the nature of a punishing god is it not (0+ / 0-)

                            And why do you assume you know what I believe?

                            I don't believe in hell, I believe in karma, consequences and the laws of nature.

                            Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                            by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 03:07:19 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Good Lord (and I don't use that word lightly) (0+ / 0-)

                            Missliberties, are you kidding? Could you possibly have misunderstood so entirely everything I've written? I don't want to fill a room full of hot stoves and set a child in it! I don't want to hold a gun to your head! Those were ANALOGIES meant to illustrate the behaviors of the Biblical God THAT I REJECT! You can argue that these analogies don't apply to the Biblical God, and we can discuss why you feel that way. But don't argue that I've endorsed performing these actions on human beings!

                            Is this somehow not clear to you, or are you messing with me?

                          •  They are you analogies (0+ / 0-)

                            and I am messing with you. Somehow you comes across as, to me as being less than sincere.

                            Saying you have Buddist leanings, and talking about Christian Creeds while illustrating your philosophy with sadistic analogies strikes me as pretentious, or hypocritical if you will.

                            As for tazz, no I do not believe in hell, but Mr. B keeps talking about Christian screeds of do right or die and burn in hell, with protestations of authoritarian warnings to "do right" by god.

                            By Mr. B's own analogy if he is pretending then what you blockquoted in your post would be God's righteous punishment.

                            Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                            by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 02:28:13 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  And btw I have enjoyed the discussion throrougly! (0+ / 0-)

                            So we can now  call ourselves Libertarian Liberals???? ;+)

                            Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                            by missliberties on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 03:09:42 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  DitWit- (0+ / 0-)

                      remember hearing about free will? Jesus as a model for us to follow?
                      I don't know where you went to Sunday school, but I'll bet it was fire and brimstone hell. Get over it.

        •  No, coercion has no place in the relationship. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elizabeth D, texasmom, kd texan

          As for what happens at the last day: we'll know when we get there. In the meantime, there's poor people to feed, sick people to tend to, and wars to end. And if we're to face judgment, it will be on those counts, not whether or not we confessed Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.

          Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

          by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:43:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lirtydies, bjornmmcc, kd texan

            That's an answer to my question. If we face judgment, it will be based upon what we do, or fail to do, to create a healthy world.

            I like that philosophy, to a point. And I say this in complete respect: If I had any doubt as to whether the God I worshipped was going to someday consign billions (or millions, or dozens, or ONE) to hell, death, "separation from God" or anything else, I'd have a hard time viewing this God as a truly loving being. I don't view the paradigm of punishment/reward as conducive to any relationship between the powerful and the weak. In fact, I find it profoundly un-progressive, and it's the basis for my estrangement from the faith I grew up with.

            I understand why progressive Christians would prefer to  kind of gloss it over, but it's a real sticking point for me. I thank you for addressing it to the best of your ability.

            And again, I hope I haven't offended you with my questions or my tone.

            All the best to you, Pastor Dan. Thank you.

    •  Not PD but here's my humble take on your question (0+ / 0-)

      Do you believe that something very bad will and should happen to those who do not believe that Jesus was God's only son?

      I can say with firm belief that "something very bad will...happen" to all human beings. I don't address "shoulds" very much as it seems to keep me too much ensconsed in my own projections.

      By taking guidance from the gospels, proverbs, etc., much comfort and hope accompany me in the trials and joys of life. Others may use different tools. The timeless stories in the bible conveyed through the varied perspectives of the storytellers has always satisfied my needs, its content sustains me. When I turn away, nothing seems quite as right in my life. So I go back...

      > 518,000 American children are in foster care. Got any bandwidth?

      by kck on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:10:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As you know, pastordan, I don't hold ... (13+ / 0-)

    ...with those ancient creeds, not the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed or the Athanasian that my stepfather's Missouri Synod Lutheran family recited on special church days, which starts:

    1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
    1. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

    We could spend a lot of time debating much of what you've said here - say, for instance, that the reason the early church put four gospels into the canon was for the purposes of dialog.

    Be that as it may, and even though I've probably read more books about religion than any single other topic in half a century of reading, I always learn something fresh from you. Thanks.

  •  Home sweet Home (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Buffalo Girl, Wbythebay

    I have just returned from a 12 day tour of New Horizons of the Treasure Coast due to my schizophrenic addiction to the issue of religion and politics.  I am taking Seroquel and Depakote in fairly high doses.  My unsatisfactory behaviors have been modified, due to the drug Geodon and behavior therapy ...

  •  Time for The Washinton Journal on C-Span (0+ / 0-)

    No news for almost 2 weeks.  But I did read MoDo's last 2 editorials ...

  •  Which perspective stands the better chance? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    UniC, TiaRachel, kd texan

    The one which is willing to use violence.

    In this centuries-long communal conversation with living and dead, is everything subject to interpretation?  Are there any facts?  Are the miracles of Jesus facts or subject to interpretation?  If they are subject to interpretation in what way is this so?  Is their specific purpose, because surely Jesus intended them to mean something, unknown, and therefore we are free to try to decide their meaning in light of current events, or in light of any era we choose to discuss?

    If there are facts are we not then free to write a new gospel which explains the facts?

    Why do you reject the addition of new books?  If a new scroll were discovered that filled in some missing years in Jesus' life, and if it had the appropriate provenance for such a document, would you not add it?  What if it were the beginning of an autobiography by Jesus?

    Can any interpretation that arises from the communal discussion be wrong?  Can any be right?

    Is all authority in the past and none in the present?  How did those in past get authority, and how do you know it?

    I always thought of a progressive as someone who works for progress.  But the progressive Christianity that you have just described to me seems to just go with the flow.  It is on the sidelines content to live with whatever the real world brings so long as it has the freedom to interpret events in scriptural terms.  Right?

    Is there any part of your belief system that works, not just talks, to build a better world?

    I suppose that speaking our against fundamentalists here is helping to build a better world, but that is dependent on individual action.  Many hands make the work go faster and with more confidence.  So is there a plan, or do those in your religion simply go as the spirit moves them?

    If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

    by hestal on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 03:19:39 AM PDT

    •  fighting modernism with more literalism (0+ / 0-)

      I like to think of Armando as our MetaBeetlejuice......

      by Buffalo Girl on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:21:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm sorry to be so dense, but I am. (0+ / 0-)

        What are you saying?

        If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

        by hestal on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:29:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think you are reading pastordan a little too (0+ / 0-)


          Why do you reject the addition of new books?

          for instance. I think that pastordan is not saying he would reject any new text. He's saying there are plenty of texts to dialogue with in the first place and that no new texts are needed to be able to have the dialogue. (he will correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure)

          And where does he say anything about talking taking the place of progressive action?  You have read too literally into his statements about interpretation and study of the Bible, as if that is all there is to the practice of his faith. He is addressing a specific concern that came up here yesterday. This is not the be-all end-all statement of his practice.

          I like to think of Armando as our MetaBeetlejuice......

          by Buffalo Girl on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:41:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well since you understand his practice, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kd texan

            and I clearly do not... Does his practice have a practical application or is it just a stroll through the ages dipping in here or there to enjoy a little talk, a little coffee and then on to the next discussion.  I am seeking something, but it is not conversation.  I am looking for a place wherein people analyze problems, develop plans of action and carry them out.  I take a systems engineer approach to life.  I guess you are telling me that I should not look for Pastordan to join me in my search.

            BTW characterising what I was doing or thinking is just a little tiresome.  Either answer my questions or not.  Disagree or not, but putdowns and dismissals are not productive.

            If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

            by hestal on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:15:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  oh boy (0+ / 0-)

              I am not invalidating what you are looking for, nor am I putting you down, nor am I telling you not to look for pastordan to join you in finding what you are looking for. I am pointing out that you are reading too much into his statement and that you are making assumptions about his practice that I think are a rush to judgement. I am absolutely sure that he is committed to the same thing that you are, as am I.

              I like to think of Armando as our MetaBeetlejuice......

              by Buffalo Girl on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:33:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You are the one making judgements. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kd texan

                I read what he said, and I took the common sense meaning of his words.  You wanted to substitute a different interpretation for this common sense meaning, one based on your own understanding of Pastordan's philosophy, and which is not known to me, and frankly is not of much interest to me.  You also read something into my words, which actually are easy to understand, in a common sense ordinary way.  Your exclamation of "oh boy," is just another put down, which of course you deny, but it is.  So my suggestion is for you to leave me alone.  I asked Pastordan some questions.  If he chooses to answer them I will be interested and appreciative, but I no longer have any interest in what you may or may not have to say on this matter, because what you have offered so far is decidely off subject.

                If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

                by hestal on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:35:22 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  You're asking a decent question, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizabeth D, reahti

      which is how we determine the boundaries of belief without propositional logic at the core. If I get you right, you're struggling with the notion that any way of reading the Bible could have authority without that kind of propositional thinking.

      But here's my point: the authority of the reading, for modernist readers is relational. If it connects us to the stream of believers - past, present, and future - then it's a good reading. If it doesn't, then it's not. That's why I'd reject a new book of the Bible. Not because it's evil and wrong and stinky, necessarily. It might have very good things to say. But it wouldn't be the same conversation.

      And the same thing is true of Supply Side Jesus. Jesus lived and preached in the Jewish context of concern for the poor. To turn his words around to favor the wealthy over the poor is, in my opinion, wrong.

      Where do I get off saying that? Well, because I understand the church to have been concerned for the poor over the course of its history, and the communities of which I am now a part (dKos and Street Prophets) certainly believe that poverty is of great concern.

      Now, it's also true that the church has protected wealthy interests over time, and there are communities who call themselves Christian who worship something resembling Supply Side Jesus. But I can't do much about them. I've chosen to follow the Christ of the poor because I find that to be a much more productive way of life - the evidence comes in seeing what Christians can do when they stand in solidarity with the poor - but the basic fact is, you makes your choices, and you have to stand by them.

      Again, I don't expect you to understand or agree with any of this. I'm just trying to tell you where I and people such as myself are coming from.

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:15:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Questions about PD's point of view (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Inky, Sarkasba, kd texan, alwaysquestion

    is what, if anything, is different about the Bible than other works of philosophy?

    If one believes, as PD says, in a democratic reading of the Bible, then what about communities or groups who read the Bible in ways that disturn you?
    Whatever the exact percentages are, there are certainly quite a few people who read the Bible the way the Hasidim do, or the Falwellites do.  Personally, I'd go so far as to call their reading evil, but that's me.  Clearly PD doesn't agree with their reading.  But what then?

    Or what of people who seem, somehow, to do both?  My boss at work is an orthodox Jew.  Also a progressive.  I don't talk about it with her much (doesn't seem proper) but why would someone, say, take the rules of Kosher seriously if the Bible is NOT the word of God?

    I'm just full of questions

    Republicans worry about our souls and their bellies. Democrats worry about their souls and our bellies

    by plf515 on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 03:34:06 AM PDT

    •  I second that question. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Inky, kd texan, alwaysquestion

      And I'd like to add:
      Pastordan says:

      And without a central, commonly held body of doctrine, how can Christianity be said to stand for anything? Or - I hear this all the time - how can Christians pick and choose which parts of the Bible they believe?
      the unifying characteristics of progressive Christians is that we do not believe the Bible to be the "inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God." Rather, we see scripture as the record of a people's journey with God over time - about 1500 years - and reflecting many divergent perspectives on the meaning of that story. Nuances, differences of opinion, and downright contradictions are a feature, not a bug, because scripture records a conversation, not settled doctrine.

      I don't really see how the diary addresses that "pick-and-choose" question. After all, it seems to me that pastordan does choose certain (essential) doctrines, without which the whole idea of a Christian monotheism would indeed seem rather meaningless:

      I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, affirm the ancient creeds, practice baptism and eucharist, and look forward to the resurrection and Jesus' return at the end of time.

      So does pastordan affirm only certain chosen creeds, if so which ones? What does Jesus intend to do when he returns at the end of time? Are some people saved and others damned (or will they be)?

      Is belief in the trinity necessary to be a Christian? If not, what sets the Bible apart from a number of other ancient texts?

      Alan Watts claims that reading the Bible as doctrine is less enlighetning than reading it as myth, i.e. as an image in terms of which people have tried to make sense of the world. I get the impression that pastordan touches on the same approach, but then he still seems to pick out certain doctrines and appear to give them the status of historical fact. I don't mean to make assumptions about pastordan or anyone else, I just don't see how people can have it both ways.

      Heaven need not wait for a grave.

                       --Alan Watts

  •  pastordan, what I worry about (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KathleenM1, bjornmmcc, FutureNow

    is these people who want to follow "biblical law".  I did a diary on what would happen if we  decided to to use biblical law rather than the constitution. It would be rather horrible:
    Capital Punishment Laws as taken from the bible:

    • All witches will be executed.    (Exodus 22:18)
    • Homosexual men are to be executed (nothing about women, however)   (Leviticus.20:13)
    • Anyone who curses his father or his mother will be executed (Leviticus 20:9)
    • Anyone who works on Saturday (even lighting a fireplace) will be executed (Exodus 31:1-3)
    • Adulterers will be executed (Leviticus 20:10)
    • rape victims who don't scream out loudly enough will be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)
    • If a man decides that he doesn't like his wife, he can claim she wasn't a virgin when he married her.  If her parents haven't kept the proof of her virginity (bloody sheets, nightclothes), then she will be stoned to death. (Deuteronomy 22:13, 21)

    I'm sorry, but these things are written as laws in the bible.

  •  Rock On PastorDan! Progressive Christians FTW! (5+ / 0-)

    I quick anecodte about the debate over Biblical literalism in my church, the ELCA or liberal Lutherans.

    Our church is currently having a dialog on the issue of ordaining men and women who are in openly gay relationships and the issue of Biblical clearly dictated commandments and pronouncements that are the religious equivalent of case law,pronouncements has come up for obvious reasons.

    Our church is currently having a dialog on the issue of ordaining men and women who are in openly gay relationships and the issue of Biblical pronouncements has come up for obvious reasons.

    During a synod-wide event, a learned pastor made the point that one has to distinguish between clearly dictated commandments and pronouncements that are the religious equivalent of case law, ie precedents that evolve from the interpretation of the law, interpretations that are no doubt strongly influenced by social conventions.

    This pastor pointed to a section of the Bible in which Paul is instructing Timothy and tells him that he does not allow women to speak in his church. Clearly, nowadays we allow women to speak in church (women are pastors in the ELCA). This is an example where what is said in the Bible falls into the "case law" category. The many prohibitions in Deuteronomy also fall into this category.

    After this pastor made his point, a woman stood up and denounced what he had said saying that it was dangerous for us to start deciding that some parts of the Bible can be ignored, which prompted me to lean over to a friend and whisper, "Hey, what is she doing speaking in church"? We both laughed pretty hard.


  •  Modernists (4+ / 0-)

    make everything more difficult, PD, don't you know that?  Being a hard line fundamentalist makes it a whole lot easier to control people.  You're just being difficult.  Trying to control modernist thinkers is like trying to herd cats.

  •  Thank you, pastordan, thank you... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    javelina, Caldonia, Buffalo Girl

    for another excellent discourse. The religious community (all faiths), the political community (all leanings and affiliations), the blogging community (right, left, neocon, progressive, liberal, rabid lamb, middle, far out, etc.) needs to hear often and over and over: Religion is personal, not universally homogenous; religion is for doing good works, not for forcing your views on others others; religion is open to interpretation (duh! how else does one explain the hundreds of sects and denominations?); religion is something slightly (or greatly) different to everyone, including worshippers sitting next to each other.

    Please keep writing these essays, pastordan. They always add a positive, needed lesson for the community.

  •  Once again... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musing85, Elizabeth D, x, Buffalo Girl

    Amen, my brother...from another inconvenient Christian.  

    Keep on keepin' on, pastordan.

    Sometimes we go about pitying ourselves, and all the while we're being carried on great winds across the sky. Ojibwa wisdom

    by Caldonia on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 04:47:25 AM PDT

  •  Do You Think AUTHORITY is the message (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that the conservatives are hiding....that when they practice religion they are actually exerting their authority over their flock. There is a basic thought by many about spiritual ones own self be true....but when they...(THE WINGNUTS) take control of your mind, body,spirit,pocket book and your vote....they have it all...AUTHORITY

    "It's Hard Work!" George Bush..."He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else." Bejamin Franklin

    by JellyPuddin on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 04:52:10 AM PDT

  •  If you want morality to be based on (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kd texan, FutureNow, LodinLepp

    'universal principles' why are you arguing for the authority of a mythological document from one particular culture?  Why not base morality on principles inherent in every human being (fairness, defense of loved ones, etc)?

    Someone who believes in God will believe anything. Base your reality on facts, not myth.

    by RequestedUsername on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 04:56:07 AM PDT

    •  Another reason for eschewing the Bible (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It is open to incorrect interpretations.  Why use a document that must be interpreted at all and is therefore available to be exploited by literalists?  Why not write a document that explicitly lays out moral principles rather than using metaphor and allegory?

      Someone who believes in God will believe anything. Base your reality on facts, not myth.

      by RequestedUsername on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 05:14:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The US constitution can be misinterpreted (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        in ways that hurt people.  Should we also reject the constitution?
        You don't have to pay any attention to the bible but it is none of your business if others do. The one writing that we are all required to worry about is secular.

        mcjoan is the new Armando

        by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:21:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good point, but (0+ / 0-)

          there's a lot less latitude in the misinterpretation of the Constitution.  Maybe that's because it's been around for only 1/10th the time or maybe it's because it's a lot clearer than the Bible.  

          Someone who believes in God will believe anything. Base your reality on facts, not myth.

          by RequestedUsername on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:43:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  You can, of course, (0+ / 0-)

      prove empirically that there are "principles inherent in every human being" and that "fairness" and "defense of loved ones" are among them, right?

      I thought not.

      •  Uh, yes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Check out any recent research in psychology or anthropology.

        Someone who believes in God will believe anything. Base your reality on facts, not myth.

        by RequestedUsername on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 06:48:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Uh, no (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Not my job to provide proof. You made the assertion, you provide the proof. And I won't be holding my breath waiting, because as of the last time I looked, there wasn't any.

          •  I didn't actually make the claim (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I just referred to it.  The same way I might refer to the Sun rising without providing a footnote.

            Someone who believes in God will believe anything. Base your reality on facts, not myth.

            by RequestedUsername on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 06:52:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Except that the rising of the sun (0+ / 0-)

              is readily observable to all. The putative existence in human beings of inherent principles, on the other hand, is not. And, incidentally, is a vexed question which philosophers and others have been wrestling with for at least the last half a millennium.

              •  Longer than that--Socrates mentioned it (0+ / 0-)

                Nonetheless, it is an "readily observable" fact that all cultures share certain traits and that things like "defense of loved ones" are among them.

                I'm sure you are going to have some insupportable "human nature is infinitely malleable" reply, so I'm going to just pre-emptively rebut that right now and point out that infinite malleability is not only not observed but impossible.  

                I'm also going to end this thread since the inherent principles aren't really the point of my post.  If the moral foundations aren't inherent, they can be arrived at by some global consensus or what-have-you.  The idea here is the question: "Why do we have to use the Bible, especially since it has a history of being abused?"

                Someone who believes in God will believe anything. Base your reality on facts, not myth.

                by RequestedUsername on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:00:10 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  what does it matter to you? (0+ / 0-)

      the fundamentalist would like to tell you where you must get your morality from.  You would like to tell others where to get their morality from.  What makes you different from the fundamentalists?

      mcjoan is the new Armando

      by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:19:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are no universal principles (0+ / 0-)

      'fairness' and 'defense of loved ones' are interpreted so differently by different people and different culutres that they are useless as basis for a code.

      'Defense of loved ones' from what?  Well, in some of the more fundamentalist creeds, the 'protection' of one's loved ones invloves dressing all women in chadors, or stoning people who do things like play Western music.

      'Fairness' is even more vague.  

      Republicans worry about our souls and their bellies. Democrats worry about their souls and our bellies

      by plf515 on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:28:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What specific moral code... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anna M you see in the Bible?   I've studied it and I don't see anything consistent.  

  •  Pastor Dan is wonderful (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, Catte Nappe

    the comment about "why make up new shit" is a bit off the mark, imho. It is not "new shit" at all, it is old. There are some serious scholars who question the exclusion and inclusion of certain Gospels by the Council of Nicea. Elaine Pagels does some thoughtful work in this area. I think Pastor Dan, in brushing it off as "Dan Brown shit" makes too light of the fact that women were an important part of the early church and became excluded more and more as time went on. This is not "new shit."

    •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
      "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." --from Paul's Letter to the Galatians

      The Christian take on the sexes is basically to acknowledge them as distinct and different, but transcendently united "in Christ" and morally equal. Beliefs about gender roles are very culture related and haven't been the same in all times and places. It is true that women had leadership roles in the early church, and that is again increasingly so today.

      The point about "why make up new shit" is about the limited set of texts that have been the bounded common ground of the Christian conversation for 2000 years. It's perfectly fine to read other texts and think about how they relate to the canonical texts.

      •  1st Crinthians 14:34-35 (0+ / 0-)

        "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
        And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."

        I guess it depends on what you want to quote when it come to Paul. The shame was that he didn't want them speaking in church. It certainly wasn't like that with the Christians to begin with. It became that way.

        •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

          This is the kind of thing I mean when I say that beliefs about gender roles are very culture related. The essential and unchainging principle, though, is that male and female are one in Christ.

          Look at what the passage actually says, that it is "not permitted to them to speak" and they are to be obedient to that rule... what rule is this? I don't know, but we don't have any such rule today. I've seen it said that some scholars believe this passage to be a later insertion, and not original to Paul's letter, but it seems probably not possible to know the truth of something like that.

          In reading the Bible as with everything, you have to use your best judgment.

          •  I see what it says. (0+ / 0-)

            Any way you cut it, it's misogynst. As for gender roles being very culture related, Jesus trancended his culture in profound ways, in my opinion. I just can't see Jesus approving of women being silent in church just because the culture he lived n predicated that. The silencing of women was a later development of the early church, and a great tragedy in human history, not "Dan Brown shit." As for it being a later insertion, I thought you opposed to messing with the accepted canon?

  •  Devious ambiguity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, reahti

    Hours behind but nevermind...

    Love the diary.  It reminds me of this quote I’ve kept from a 1997 lecture by the Conservative Joe Sobran about Bill Clinton:

    As a Catholic, I’ve known many Catholics, including priests, who behave like the political liberals I described earlier. They adopt an undefined tone of derision toward the dogmatic and the traditional, but you can never really pin them down. In time you realize that they don’t believe in anything ...the character who will neither affirm nor deny, yet insists on being regarded as a good Catholic and resents having his orthodoxy impeached even as he sneers at orthodoxy and works to destroy it — he’s a problem. He’s the problem. I can’t imagine a Muslim or Eastern Orthodox version of the type; these faiths seem to be too rigid and vigorous to permit much in the way of devious ambiguity.

    Never mind his take on the Islamic and Eastern Orthodox religions, it’s that phrase “devious ambiguity” that makes me scared.

    This is what we’re up against, people who believe that an open mind is not only foolish; not only naïve; but actively devious.

    I have only a hazy knowledge of these things, but it seems to me that literalism is a relatively recent and often unwelcome by-product of the Enlightenment.  For hundreds of years, artists were happy to portray Jesus and the apostles in the clothing and style of the artists' own culture and time.  In renaissance paintings the artist's benefactors would be shown in the same scenes as Jesus.  They were happy to do this because they recognised the timeless nature and symbolic aspect of the stories.

    We have to fight against people who can’t separate the symbolic from the real, no matter what religion or political view they have.  Keep up the good work, pastordan.

    It's all fun and games.

    by ignatz uk on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 05:29:33 AM PDT

  •  Another quesiton for PD (0+ / 0-)

    How do you know which imperatives to prioritize over others?

    You know because you read scripture in community. The conversations of the Bible take place not just within its pages, but in the living, breathing community of believers.

    I get the impression that you have chosen to accept certain doctrines as true, i.e. the Trinity, the ancient creeds, the resurrection, etc, while you have rejected others. Have you done so merely by accepting the opinions of others, or have you had any profound religious experiences that have made you accept those specific doctrines over others? And if it is the latter, do you think you would have expressed those experiences differently had you been raised in a different culture?

  •  Here's what I see, Dan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I see you present us with a version of Christianity that has rejected all the authoritarian aspects and doctrines that originally chased me away. Namely, the top down distribution of power, the severe punishment for transgression, the false dichotomys of sin and salvation.

    Basically as Belvedere says, a liberally palatable spirituality that emphasizes community over authority, process over didactics, democratic principles over infallible orthodoxy.

    From what I can tell, your version of Christianity is fundamentally much closer to the old religions that worship the Sacred Feminine than they are to the Xtian church as it has become.

    Now you can say you're following the teachings of christ more closely, and you'd probably be right, but only in that HE was preaching the Old Religions as much if not more than his own Essene tradition.

    Which makes me wonder why you join the ranks of Christain punditry in denouncing Dan Brown who is merely putting forth what amounts to an "alternative" viewpoint on the life of Jesus.

    It seems to me, his viewpoints fall very closely in line with your's. Why the reaction, sir?

    [ Anyone who thinks my bark is worse than my bite, has never seen me bite. ] -6.63 | -5.38

    by dj angst on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 06:49:14 AM PDT

    •  my take (0+ / 0-)
      I haven't read The Da Vinci Code, but what I've heard of it is too unrelated to orthodox Christian theology to really contribute much. Christian mysticism is centered around one thing: humble self-giving compassionate universal Love, which really comes to life when it is shared in community. The (metaphoric) "maleness" of God unites with the "femaleness" of humanity in Christ, the embodiment of divine Love. This Love is conceived as all-encompassing and "eternal," not cyclical and regenerative like the erotic love evoked in "pagan" vegetal mythology and sex mysticism, like that which I have heard Dan Brown brings into his story.

      There may be features of the beliefs described in The Da Vinci Code that are in keeping with more progressive Christianity, but theologically I am under the impression that there are clearly some pretty basic disconnects.

      I don't know if this addresses what you were saying, but hopefully it is somehow helpful.

  •  interesting coincidence (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, tryptamine, TiaRachel

    I find it interesting that this diary from the good pastordan, appears on the reccomended section along with another diary about John Deans new book on the 23% of dedicated conservative.
    Seems both diaries are talking about the same thing, just dressed a little differently.
    I personally give the same weight to the Bible as I do to the stories about Zues and Odin. They are all attempts by humankind to understand the world by positing a supernatural authority that has understandable thinking processes. All such insights into how we as humans have viewed our world through the ages have value, but all seem to miss the mark in my mind. Mainly in the attempt to assume a reason for everything that happens. I happen to believe that "God" does indeed play dice with the universe, that is to say that random chance plays a big role in the world.
    This is disturbing to many because it implies that there are a number of things (quite a large number in my opinion) that we just cannot ever have any control over or even predict reliably.
    The 23% mentioned in the other diary, which I think also describes quite well the more rabid fundamentalists of all religions, are desperate to remove all uncertainty from the universe. A losing proposition in my book.
    Thanks again pastordan, your diaries are always thoughtful and well reasoned and written, I bet you're an interesting fellow to have a beer with.

  •  Boy am I glad that pastordan (6+ / 0-)

    is a part of this community. Gives me a lot of hope for the whole lot of us.

    I like to think of Armando as our MetaBeetlejuice......

    by Buffalo Girl on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:24:44 AM PDT

  •  however.... (3+ / 0-)

    I still want to see your Real Christian ID badge.....

    I like to think of Armando as our MetaBeetlejuice......

    by Buffalo Girl on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:29:27 AM PDT

  •  Thank you once again, pastordan (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, Cat Whisperer

    I would place your statement,

    "we see scripture as the record of a people's journey with God over time ... ."

    in the same team picture as,

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    Both are terrifying concepts for arbitrary authoritarians insecure in their own humanity.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will watch the watchers?)

    by The Crusty Bunker on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 07:36:03 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, Pastor D (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D

    I always enjoy reading these, especially as someone who comes from a rather conservative Christian background but who is himself quite a liberal and progressive Christian. (My family still are quite conservative)

    Blog this! Visit me at K Street Blues. It will change your life. (Actual life-changing not a guarantee.)

    by AggieDemocrat on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:05:40 AM PDT

  •  Pastordan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D

    Have you heard of the Chautauqua Institute? Do you ever go there? It would be a great place for a regional IRL KOS/Street Prophets dialogue sometime....

    I like to think of Armando as our MetaBeetlejuice......

    by Buffalo Girl on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:05:56 AM PDT

  •  Some things are just simply fundamental, as in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D

    The Love of Christ. And how each individual brings that love to work in her/his daily life.

    No interpretation required.

  •  Where do you find these people? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D

    There are a lot of people who are quite heavily invested in the idea that all Christians care about is abortion and keeping the gay down.

    That seems to me to be a patently false statement. I'm not a religious person and I know many other nonreligious people. But I know of no one who doesn't acknowledge and appreciate that there are many wonderful progressive people of faith. Everyone knows of the examples of Martin Luther King, Dorothea Day, Johnny Cash. etc. And all of us are friends with progressive people of faith.

    Our only question is why these Christians seem to be in the minority in this country? Why, for instance, does professing a belief in salvation through Christ make one more, rather the less, likely to support the war in Iraq (and please, I'm just speaking statistically here).

    Anyway, you are presenting a Straw Man argument here.

    •  I'm not entirely sure (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizabeth D, Caldonia

      I'd put Johnny Cash down as a progressive. In some ways he was, in other ways, he was pretty conservative.

      In any case, in that quote you cite, I was thinking mostly about conservative Christians, who'd like you to believe that those are the only issues Christians care about, never mind what the polls say. But there are people on the left who agree with them, mostly because that rhetoric is all they ever hear from Christians.

      As for the statistics about war, that's a good question. My (tentative) thoughts are that 1)Christians are more accepting of traditional structures of authority, and therefore military action, and 2)We're very aware of the responsibility to help those in need, a responsibility that has been sorely abused by the Bush administration.

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:30:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Johnny Cash (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elizabeth D

        I thought I might get some flak for including him, but he is one of my heroes. He consistently spoke out for the poor and for the nation's forgotton prison population, and before his death he asked his daughter to speak out on his behalf in opposition to the buildup to the Iraq war. So I consider his progressive record much better than most.

        As far as the majority Christian population is concerned, I tend to agree with your first explanation more than the second, since these same Christians tend to think Americans spend too much on foreign aid and domestic programs to help the poor. You know--God helps those who help themselves--and all that B.S.

        Anyway, thanks for your response.

        •  I was thinking (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elizabeth D

          more along the lines of Just War Theory. Pacifism, while it has many delights, can seem like it's abandoning threatened people to their fate. The Just War tradition asserts against that the positive necessity of protecting the innocent. But not pre-emption - that's what the Bushites have abused.

          Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

          by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:26:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks again PastorDan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    sorry for your irritating concern trolls (three, in particular, I'm thinking of.)

    They're not just a number, Tony Snow.

    by terrypinder on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:19:02 AM PDT

  •  Pastor Dan (0+ / 0-)

    I hope you're still around, because I'm dying to hear your response to some of the questions raised in this thread. If you get a chance, would you take a look at my post up at the top of this thread? Please don't take this as a "troll" goading you into argument. I honestly  want to know your views on the matter. I'll understand if you don't reply, but I hope you will.

  •  Liberal Christianity? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kd texan, alwaysquestion

    I don't know. To me there is no "liberal Christianity" or "conservative Christianity", there is only Christianity. Everything is else is cherry-picking.

    "Conservative Christians" focus on the vengence, homophobia and authoritarianism in the Bible.

    "Liberal Christians" focus on charity, mercy and love.

    Yet both sets of values are promoted in the Bible. Seems like the Bible has something for everyone, provided you're willing to ignore the parts you don't like.

    •  so you are a bible literalist and demand (0+ / 0-)

      that everyone else be one too?

      mcjoan is the new Armando

      by TeresaInPa on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:32:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  True, both points of view are expressed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in Scripture. However, I don't really feel that one must accept one while rejecting the other. In fact, in my spiritual journey, I have learned to accept both. IMHO, Jesus compels man to extol the virtues of "charity, mercy, and love". Venegeance and authoritarianism is in the Bible, but as it is written, it is the Lord's, not ours. The fault I find with the religious right is that it's adherents reserve God's authority for themselves. This amounts to blasphemy of the highest order. I will continue to pursue a path of love and charity for my fellow man. I will also accept God's authority and God's alone.

      Government exists to do the things that the private sector can't or won't do but should. (econ -9.13/social -5.28) IMPEACH

      by viriginia liberal on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:50:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Now all people who try to live by (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Christ's teachings and example, follow the Bible. Or those who claim to understand it.

      "Let us not be conservative with compassion. Be generous with compassion."

      by ilyana on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:59:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Europe (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kpardue, FutureNow

    Why has industrialized Europe (and several other places as well) been able to create a society in which religion plays little or no part in the political sphere?

    Firms make money, people wed and have children, social services are delivered to those who need them and people are happier and healthier according to several recent studies.

    Instead we in the US get continual debates about which flavor of religion has the true vision of society. We also get attempts by one group or another to seize power, or at least get their particular religious precepts made into law.

    Is there a correlation between the health of a society and its concern with religion? Certainly the most religious societies (Iran, etc.) are not models of social freedom or even economic development.

  •  I am looking for (0+ / 0-)

    a few Fast Friends...
    In the spirit of orthodox traditions to use the power of longing created by a fast,  to focus a commitment to peace..

    "Let us not be conservative with compassion. Be generous with compassion."

    by ilyana on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 08:31:41 AM PDT

  •  It's all quite simple... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Bokonism is the answer.

  •  Remarkable people (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caldonia, kck, ilyana

    have challenged the authority of paternalistic church authority and sucessfully kept the progressive interpretation of Christianity alive and well throughout American history.  One of the most interesting of these people in my view is Anne Hutchinson:

    Anne Hutchinson Entry at Wikipedia

    and American Jezebel by Eve LaPlante is one of the best biographies of her:

    American Jezebel at Amazon

    Thanks for the excellent diary Pastordan; you are also one of these remarkable people.  Although I am more of an agnostic myself; I find plenty of common ground with your beliefs.

  •  A quote from Pastordan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, DFWmom, Caldonia

    "Suffice it to say that one of the unifying characteristics of progressive Christians is that we do not believe the Bible to be the "inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God." Rather, we see scripture as the record of a people's journey with God over time - about 1500 years - and reflecting many divergent perspectives on the meaning of that story. Nuances, differences of opinion, and downright contradictions are a feature, not a bug, because scripture records a conversation, not settled doctrine."

    If only there were more like you (and before you say it, I know there are some, but you're an infetesimally small percentage).

    A conservative understands the price of everything, but the value of nothing.

    by Mephistopheles on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:12:53 AM PDT

  •  Cosmic Pong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, DFWmom

    PD, i've always enjoyed your writing. I've mentioned in comments to your diaries before (long before - you'll have to go waaay back) that I have a different theological perspective than you, but I enjoy being challenged by different perspectives. So please, don't read this as an attack, but as my contribution to the conversation. Of course, I know you won't take it the wrong way, you always respond to your naysayers with grace and conviction; I only hope I can express this with the same grace.

    Here is my essential beef with this diary.

    Whether you read the bible literally, figuratively, in community, with a modernist or fundamentalist bent, if you are not incorporating extant and external perspectives, your "conversation" as you put it (well put, by the way) is essentially flawed. You are playing a game of Cosmic Pong within defined biblical boundaries. It's poor academics, and it's dishonest academics.

    You say:
    scripture records a conversation, not settled doctrine and we see scripture as the record of a people's journey with God over time and you read scripture in community.

    All of which I totally agree with. But then you say I don't cotton to the idea of adding books to the Bible, or throwing others out. We've been fighting over basically the same texts for twenty centuries. I'll be damned if Dan Brown is going to screw that up. We've got enough shit to deal with as it is. Why make up new shit?

    So here's my problem: what's so bad about Dan Brown's shit anyway? does he not contribute to the conversation? If his personal experience with God or Gods inspires him to write a book, however poorly written, however fictional, that promotes the idea of the Divine Feminine, how is his shit any less valuable to the conversation than say, Saul of Tarsis's shit? St. Augustine's shit? Gregory the Great's, or Martin Luther's shit? Are they not all our conversation partners, like them or not? Why is Dan Brown's promotion of the Divine Feminine through fiction to be scorned, while your promotion of the "Holy Ghost" through appeal to Cosmic Pong is to be honoured? is it because your Holy Ghost has more mainstream acceptance, or is it because your Holy Ghost is programmed into the Cosmic Pong game while Goddess thealogy is a lesser known element from a less popular game system?

    Besides, Goddess thealogy and the concept of the Divine Feminine has been around since time immemorial. Dan Brown didn't cook it up.
    (for the record, I am willing to address, but don't believe, the idea that JC had descendants, but that's because I don't personally subscribe to the idea that JC was an historical person; more of a composite figure)

    It's the same problem I have with my neighbour's bible study group. Why is the conversation always limited to the bible? Sure, it can be the main text, otherwise it wouldn't be a bible study, but how can they really understand it if they don't take into account non-biblical perspectives? How can they really understand the socio-religious milieu in which both Old and New Testaments emerged without at least a working understanding of the alternate religious ideas in the air at that time? The bible didn't emerge in a vacuum, to me it's more of a snapshot; it's what certain people (with various agendas) chose to write down from oral traditions which were in turn a product of the vast array of religious perspectives around them and preceeding them at that particular period in history. The Koran records some of the same and some different. A lot of materials, stories and concepts from both testaments and the Koran can be found among the Greek, Egyptian, and Indian faiths, among others.

    Can they find no spiritual or moral message in Krishna? Horus? Prometheus? Is there nothing to be learned from a Divine Mother?

    Fighting over the same texts for twenty centuries? While there's value in that, it leaves a lot out.

    So, while I still enjoy and respect your writing, I take issue with the notion that you can derive moral authority by appealing to limited set of texts and a stable of "accepted" interlocutors like Augustine, Luther and the rest. When you miss the ball in Pong, where does it go?

    -- We need more trees and fewer Bushes

    by Sarkasba on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:25:28 AM PDT

    •  I never said don't consider other texts - (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizabeth D

      as you say, that would be daft. My argument is against incorporating new texts as part of scripture. The gospel of Judas doesn't belong in the Bible, even if it could be shown to have the same authenticity as the other gospels.

      Why? Because for all this time, it hasn't been part of the conversation. Which is to say, what makes us Christian is that we talk about Christian texts. Or, to use your Pong analogy, what makes it Pong is precisely those borders. Otherwise it might be Donkey Kong, which I'm sure is a very nice game, but not the one we started with originally.

      Street Prophets: where the cookies live now...

      by pastordan on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:35:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Touche! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elizabeth D

        You're right. The boundaries of Pong is what makes it Pong. You win this time, Pastor Dan, but I'll be back!

        Okay, I'm back.

        I'm sorry, I didn't mean you should add other texts to the gospels. But I can see how it came across that way, I chose my quotes before fully developing my point, and then I didn't change the quotes. THAT's academic laziness, and since I'm in my 4th year of a two year Master's program, I should know. It's only embarrasing when you do it in a debate with a respected person, so since I always have respected your writing, pleas eaccept my apology for not fully previewing my post.

        I really meant to be responding to your points that St Augustine and the rest are part of the conversation like them or not, and that Dan Brown's shit has no place.

        What's wrong with it being part of the conversation? Why let Luther chilax with the kewl kids and not the Gospels of Mary Magdalene or Thomas Or Judas? They all came to the dialogue late. Is there a criteria? Does it have to add to the dialogue but not detract from it? Who decides?

        Why are ideas espoused by (but not invented by) Dan Brown, couched though they are in atrociously stilted prose, "shit"; but Thomas Aquina's crackpot theories about angels on pinheads are A-OK for Christian discussion?

        Full disclosure, btw, I should have done this in the last post. I'm a Pagan with an academic interest in religion, theology, cosmology, mythology, and storytelling. I tend to consider them all related topics under one umbrella. I have great conversations with Christians I know, and I usually try not to offend, just discuss, but I've crossed the line before, so my apologies if I have.

        -- We need more trees and fewer Bushes

        by Sarkasba on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 11:46:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  a conversation loses life... (0+ / 0-)

        ... when it becomes repetitive variation on texts frozen for thousands of years. especially when old voices whose invitations were lost or withdrawn are refused entry, and no new voices are recognized. However, it does make for exclusive clubs, nice theme parties, and the basis for state-sanctioned orthodoxy. Both irrelevancy and mayhem arise when the conversation rejects subsequent revolutions of the human spirit and the impact of changes wrought by the human hand.

        One of the many reasons to depart traditional religions is their incapacity to transcend their own histories. I guess it's that fear of losing authority thing again.

        anyway, great discussion, thanks, PD.

  •  Ignore ....Agree to disagree....period (0+ / 0-)

    Stop Corporate Influence; buy DEMOCRACY BONDS!!!

    by timber on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 09:49:00 AM PDT

  •  Who ever said literal is good? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wasn't it the band of refugees from Authoritarian Europe who emigrated to the USA, had no educated leaders, had no normal leaders to look to for wisdom and guidance, so they turned to the Bible for "Authority"?

    Question:  Isn't the Bible tradition based on stories made to be understood on multiple levels? Parables, especially.

    •  The actual tradition (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      came from nomadic VERBAL story tellers who would adjust the tale to fit the situation... The TRUTH wasn't in a literal happening or not.  It was in the lessons taught by the stories.  Later these stories were written down and frozen. That's when dogma began to stiffen the spirit of the telling, threatening rigor mortis of the soul.

      "Let us not be conservative with compassion. Be generous with compassion."

      by ilyana on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:06:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  For those confused and conflicted (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, ilyana

    about the Gospel's message of morality, understand the essence of God. What is God? The Bible says two things. God is truth. God is love. To be more truthful and loving is to be closer to God. The whole of Christian morality, IMHO, is derived from truth and love.

    Government exists to do the things that the private sector can't or won't do but should. (econ -9.13/social -5.28) IMPEACH

    by viriginia liberal on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:03:36 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for this diary, pastordan (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    espresso, kd texan

    I certainly don't read the Bible literally. How is this possible?

    Because you're a Christian.  Among four Gospels, there are three different and conflicting accounts of the resurrection, which is kinda important to Christians.  This fact, considered with Jesus' use of parables, means that the NT, at least, cannot and should not be read literally.  

    Poor fundamentalists, wonder why Jesus was obsessed with mustard seeds!  

    Literalism is a modern concept.  Reading an ancient text with a modern method is an excuse to make stuff up while pretending to do the opposite.  While literalists are to be pitied, they are not to be trusted.

  •  Thank you SO MUCH, pastordan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D

    this is precisely what belief in the communion of saints is all about.

  •  ya know (0+ / 0-)

    I have to say I agree with mostly everything you agreeeing with mostly everything anyone has to say,especially religion, is pretty rare

    Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge

    by Cat4everrr on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 10:35:39 AM PDT

  •  Fer/Agin (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musing85, Elizabeth D, Caldonia
    Life In Hell

    The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.

    Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.  
    Jesus of Nazareth, Luke 17:21

    As a marginal Buddhist, this is one of my favorite JC quotes.  Hell is also within you.

  •  Absolute right and wrong? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Without universally accessible principles, what moral claim can be made?"

    None, but who cares?  We don't need morality.  To simplify and express myself crudely, if you unfairly hurt people, I will "f" you up (proportionally), because I don't want people to get unfairly hurt - it's all empirical, baby.  That is the way civilization has operated from the beginning and will operate until the end, IMHO.

    Let me explain a little differently.  Say there are two baseballs sitting on a table.  We would generally say that these baseballs are two objects.  The truth is, however, that these are not two objects in any absolute sense.  The molecules that make them up, as well as the air between them, are all part of the exact same system wherein all their quantum parts operate according to the same laws, no matter how much distance we put between them.  We call them two objects, because it behooves us to do so - it makes it easier for us to predict the sensory experiences that we will have, or so it seems - note how we don't distinguish between the threaded stitches and the leather that make up the ball unless the context of our "inquiry" demands it, then the ball suddenly becomes multiple objects.  There are no absolutes, but this doesn't mean we can't live happy, sensible lives.  We say, "X is wrong," because that's an efficient way of saying, "assuming our goal is to maximize human happiness while not oppressing the minority, X should be avoided because it seemingly will tend to lead away from the acheivement of our goal."

    I am probably one of the five most ardent agnostics in the world today and, yet, I'm no homicidal maniac - in fact, many people I know consider me one of the most compassionate people they know.  How can this be, Dan?

    PS  I know my post is pretty incoherent, but I'm too lazy to fix it up - sorry.  And, please understand that I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

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