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This diary was originally written about ten months ago. It is written from a quite specific and often lonely perspective, that of a Christian who is theologically conservative and who is also politically progressive. This is a mix which has resulted in Christians telling me I'm not a Christian and Progressives telling me I am not a Progressive, but there are others - few though they may be - who have the same mix as I. Maybe there's more than I think but they have been bludgeoned into silence.

Nevertheless, if I may be so humble as to say, I think this article says some significant things. By and large, Image of God has been a neglected subject in Theology at least partly because it is nowhere defined in the Scripture. As I point out, though vaguely defined it is applied ethically. This ethical application should give Christians pause in their willingness to sign up for the whole Conservative agenda.

All men matter. You matter. I matter. It's the hardest thing in Theology to believe - GK Chesterton

Like many, I was encouraged watching the events in Wisconsin unfold. We had similar things going on in my state of Ohio. In my circle of theologically conservative Christians, some have taken to declaring their support for the Governor by claiming his stand biblical and at the same time calling the Unions immoral and anti-Christian. As I look at the issues and the people, I find another force is at work. I find that the tenor of business in America today is an attack against the Imago Dei. And, because corporations have tremendous - almost dictatorial - influence over the politicians, our country’s leadership is following suit and our Churches are complying with alarming docility.

Now don’t get me wrong: Under Communism, man oppresses man; Under Capitalism, it is exactly the opposite

As my heading quote indicates, this drive is not unique to any system of economics but in reality is the drive of mankind. Theologically, if it is true that Genesis 9 contains the germ of government, that government’s mandate was for protecting the Imago Dei. The current climate among the Conservative churches in America is to remove government and its regulations and hand over to corporations’ free reign. Given the attack of the Imago Dei on the part of corporations, I believe that this is in the exact wrong direction.

Imago Dei is a Latin phrase used theologically for the concept of the Image of God. Biblically, this concept begins with Genesis 1:26-27:  And God said: 'Let us make man in our image …  And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. The teaching says there is something significant about the makeup of mankind.

Biblically, there is no strong description of what the ‘Image’ means (My attempt to define the Image is here). Often the discussions on this teaching - I believe erroneously – revolve around how man is ‘like’ God. What characteristics man has (Such as the ability to reason or creativity or morality) which can be called ‘godlike’. Rather, the biblical record applies the teaching ethically. Essentially, it is applied in a way that anybody who has seen a protest with an effigy recognizes: how you treat the image is how you would treat the reality behind the image. As Jesus put it, I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me. (Matthew 25:40)

In Genesis 9, which as I mentioned above is considered the divine mandate for human government, capital punishment is proscribed for murder. What is important is the reasoning for it. "Whoever sheds human blood, by other humans must his blood be shed; for in God's image God has made mankind." (Gen 9:6) The first point made about governance is that it reacts to attacks on the Image. Every homicide is in reality attempted deicide. While modern conservatives would agree that the point of government is to protect its citizens from foreign attack, this first mandate is quite pointed towards individuals.

In the New Testament teaching, there are a couple of applications of the Image of God teaching that I would like to quickly point out. The first is the well-known teaching of Jesus, He said to them, "Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:21). What connects this to the Imago Dei is the set-up. The Leaders tried to trap Jesus by asking if the people should continue to pay taxes. Jesus asked to see the tax coin. “Whose image is on the coin?” asked Jesus. Upon hearing that Caesar’s image was on the coin, Jesus gave the above response. What was owed to Caesar was that which carried his image, so what is owed to God is that which carries his image. The Image of God is given an ethical application. This is what stopped the Leaders in their tracks. Far from discussing taxes, Jesus confronted the Leaders with a choice to give themselves to God.

The second is found in one of the New Testament letters. It makes the exact application of the Image and treatment of the image which reflects back on the reality. Talking about how we use our speech, James writes With it (the tongue, a figure of speech for our speech) we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God's image. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. (James 3:9-10) Applying the Image of God ethically, James says that it is incongruous to bless God and curse his image. Indeed, cursing the image shows the blessing of God to be a false confession.

I don’t believe it too far a stretch to observe that the well-known summary of the Law given by Jesus, to love God and love your neighbor, is found in these two applications of the Image of God.

Pilots are expenses. They are not assets, like planes and computers – American Airlines Vice President during contract negotiations in early 1990s.

I can’t think of a better summary of the modern attitude of corporate boards towards their employees than the above quote. Nor can I think of a better illustration of the attack on the Image of God which I am seeing at work.

Readers who have accounting degrees or accounting experience may wish to point out that “bookkeepingly speaking” the above quote is an accurate statement. When one is accounting for the financials of a company, what the company pays for its employees and their benefits go into the “Expense” ledger. When the company buys equipment it is placed in the “Assets” ledger, as it retains value even as its depreciation goes into the expense ledger.

Clearly, though, the above quote is not about accounting categories. In that statement, accounting categories are being used to dehumanize. Accounting categories assign value to the company and its people (Imago Dei) are being placed on the side of negative value. Employees - those who provide services to the customers or manufacture the product which the company sells – are viewed as threats to the company’s best interest. So, some are to be eliminated. Those who remain must take cuts in pay and benefits as well as take on the added work of those who were cut. Also, there is the shutting down of factories to take advantage of slave and close to slave labor in other parts of the world, destroying whole towns for the sake of “good business sense” to eliminate these “expenses”.  

The things you think are precious, I can’t understand – Steely Dan

An incredibly blunt comment confirming what I am saying was made last year. CNBC Host Larry Kudlow reporting on the 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan which killed over 30,000 people said, "The human toll looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that". Of course, Mr Kudlow apologized for his comment explaining that the human toll was “tragic”, but he was just trying to say something positive about the situation.

Besides the dehumanizing of the Image of God, there is the clear hypocrisy that the Vice-President speaking the above quote no doubt considers himself an asset to the company. He considers that his multi-million dollar a year salary is earned, even though he does not fly a plane himself nor do the “assets” he apparently prefers to pilots fly themselves. Recall the recent government official who when asked about the huge salaries given to corporations’ board members said “maybe it’s because they are the only ones who do anything”. The class warfare inherent in the quote is more flagrant now, whether it is my $8 million/ year CEO telling me I have to concede pay and benefits because my 40k including benefits is what is wrong with the company, or Gov Walker giving millions in tax breaks and giveaways to his rich friends while demanding the teachers pay for it, or my own Gov Kasich who gave a 45k raise to his chief of staff while cutting secretaries’ pay from 27k to 25k “to save money”.

Also related here is the drive to eliminate the expenses of safety regulations and safe waste product disposal. Everybody knows that it is cheaper to just pour something untreated down the drain than to go through a treatment process which neutralizes harmful effects, but what is the human cost to those around the plant? or Downstream from it? Rather than calling for the elimination of regulations or defunding their enforcement, a commitment to the Imago Dei would wish to be concerned beyond the drain to protect the people even if it means the company makes less profit. An interesting verse in Deuteronomy says When you build a new house, install a parapet along your roof so that if someone falls from the roof, you won't bring guilt of bloodshed on your house. (Deuteronomy 22:8) Under this law, negligence of the safety of workers and bystanders brought guilt. It may be cheaper and quicker to work without the parapet, but there is a more important concern - the Image of God. I recently read an explanation of that verse saying that God is concerned with the expenses of a job and the parapet ultimately saves money, but that explanation fails to consider the verse’s concern with “guilt of bloodshed”. This law ultimately is to protect the Imago Dei, not some construction company’s bottom line.

An old man, covered in sores and continuously wheezing, has been there 40 years.
“He’s allergic”, The workers tell me
“Why doesn’t he quit?” I ask.
They stare as if I had lost my mind. “And lose his benefits?”
– Hamell on Trial, Vines, from the album The Chord is Mightier than the Sword

Ed Hamell’s brilliant take on blue-collar work contains this great scene. The picture is of one in terrible conditions which adversely affect a worker’s health and yet “benefits” keep him there - a not uncommon occurrence in American employment. It is not surprising that keeping a worker dependent on the company for ever-decreasing benefits is part of the attack.

Once the probation period is done and the employee is given his benefits. That makes it harder to leave and start the probation period somewhere else. As such, the benefits become a huge leverage for corporations to hold over employees’ heads. Given corporations’ commitment to the bottom line “first and always and only”, it is surprising that corporations were so against Health Care Reform so that America remains one of the few countries without national health care even as they spend multiples more for health care than other countries, whose health care is rated better. Such a national policy would greatly lessen a huge financial burden for companies, but it would also lessen an employee’s dependence on the corporation. Free from the concern of how they will be taken care of, an employee would be free to negotiate on other issues.

So, since a company’s bottom line is more important than the well-being of the employees, what resulted was the argument, which I heard amplified as the “Christian” position that health care - care for the Imago Dei - was not a “right” and certainly not something the government should concern itself with. Christians – who in other situations would call themselves “pro-life” – arguing “when is enough enough?” to advocate taking health care away from someone who is “costing the taxpayer too much to take care of”. Christians arguing that profits are more important than people.

Not surprisingly, the “employees are expenses” philosophy is committed to eliminating even these benefits. A part of the multi-governor push to eliminate public employee bargaining is so that they can cut into their pensions and health care. Also, one friend finished his agreed 6 month probation at a company only to be told that his health care was not to kick in for another 6 months and then found that after those 6 months that the company wanted him to wait another 6 months before getting health care. Such overreach will eventually get push back as without the benefits there is a resulting lessening of the leverage. My friend left that job, but at the cost of a year invested in a company (a profitable company at that) which did not honor their agreement and future interview questioning over why he left this job.

It is argued, with some justification, that Corporations are machines dedicated only to making money and so we must accept whatever serves their bottom line (this by the same people who also argue that corporations are “persons” who have a right to buy elections with their money). The problem with that is that the management of these corporations are themselves people (Imago Dei) who must deny their own Image to deny the Image in their employees. Biblically, the true bottom line is the Imago Dei. Capitalism, with its drive for profits above people, with its commitments which look at people as the enemy who cost too much to treat well, or even honor agreements with, is attacking the Imago Dei. Government, which was created to protect the Imago Dei, is exactly within its bounds to regulate business and to place the Image above profits in its concerns.

Originally posted to xulon on Sat Apr 07, 2012 at 07:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by Anglican Kossacks, DK Lending, Community Spotlight, and Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's impossible to respond (6+ / 0-)

    ...and do justice to your elegantly structured position. Nonetheless, modern societies are finding a way to reach a secular morality that exists independently of theology -- a morality that is probably much finer. Of course, we are only a few hundred years into that -- still at that awkward stage. Plus, if you are in the US, you are probably even further away from the epicenter of conscious evolution, and may not be fully aware of the frontline of this transformation.

    My comment here, however, is about your final sentence:

    Government, which was created to protect the Imago Dei, is exactly within its bounds to regulate business and to place the Image above profits in its concerns.
    You do realize how truly bizarre that notion is. Right?

    "Armaments, universal debt, planned obsolescence — the three pillars of Western prosperity." — Aldous Huxley

    by Pluto on Sat Apr 07, 2012 at 08:28:04 PM PDT

  •  Makes perfect sense to me, but I'm (8+ / 0-)

    Episcopalian and imago Dei is a big part of our thinking. I republished to Anglican Kossacks - please let me know if you would rather not.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Sat Apr 07, 2012 at 09:06:13 PM PDT

  •  Okay, I'll bite (13+ / 0-)

    I'm Jewish by ethnicity, and I'm non-observant, but I grew up in the Reform tradition and I'm as Biblically literate as anyone who also reads other books. I have to express my delight in finding a conservative Christian who, in your cherry-picking of the Bible, comes up with a humanistic, dare I say liberal, reading of both testaments.

    Why is this so rare?

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Apr 07, 2012 at 11:31:42 PM PDT

    •  It's rare because one faction of Xians... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Timaeus, Dave in Northridge, caul

      ...has hijacked the discussion and assert that they alone are the TRUE XIANS and all the rest are cultists or deluded heretics.

      And the faction of loudmouths is dominating the ReThuglican Party.

      Meanwhile, other people of faith are inhibited from asserting their beliefs because the Bat-Shit-Crazy-Faction has sullied the whole idea of being a person of faith.

      Lemmee quote some New Testament: "The Name of God is Blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you!"

      (I'd have no surprise if a Jew informed me that the quote has a basis in the Torah someplace...)

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 12:12:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It was an easy google search! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        From the Sententias web site ("meaning, purpose and a way of thinking":

        The Old Testament reference is Isaiah 53:5 which states:

        Now therefore, what do I have here,” declares the LORD, “seeing that My people have been taken away without cause?” Again the LORD declares, “Those who rule over them bowl, and My name is continually blasphemed all day long. (NASB)

        It's Paul, from the book of Romans (2:24:), and remember, Saul of Tarsus would have known the Bible very well!

        All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

        by Dave in Northridge on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 03:53:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am familar with Paul... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I was thinking the line might have come from the letter to the Hebrews, but didn't remember who wrote it or if that's where it came from....I've always relied on the charity of others.....

          "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

          by leftykook on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:45:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe not so much rare as unobtrusive? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      srelar, ridemybike

      Someone posted a few days ago that they needed a break from DKos for a short while, to regain some peace of mind and a hopeful perspective before the fall election campaign begins in earnest.

      I've found that a few days away from thinking overtly political thoughts can sometimes open my eyes again to all the "humanistic, dare I say liberal" actions by people around me who probably never think political thoughts.

      I'd like to believe that there are millions of people of faith who never comment here, who never watch the televangelists, who don't fill the pews of hate-filled churches, and who don't shout and rant and seize the airwaves with their poisononous "conservatism".  

      They're just busy being ethical and humane and compassionate, which - depending on how many nitwits you have to deal with in the course of a day, is pretty much a full time job.

    •  It's rare (0+ / 0-)

      because it's not theologically justifiable.

      The diarist may choose to redefine Imago Dei as "people," but the texts themselves pretty clearly mean it to mean "God."

      I fully support the diarist's liberal conclusions; and given that all religion is a fantasy, I can't get too worked up over the diarist substituting his own fantasy in place of the historical texts; but I also understand why other people, who think the text means what it says, would find it... eccentric.

      •  Your objection is very puzzling. The quote from (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Genesis that the author takes as his basic text says:

        And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.
        Imago Dei is Latin and doesn't mean "God."  It means "image of God."  Genesis says human beings are created in the image of God.  Genesis says it three times, a common form of emphasis in Hebrew.  So, human beings are, or contain, the image of God and that's important.

        To think and talk about this and reflect on its meaning is perfectly conventional within Christian thought -- not eccentric at all.  It's tied in with the concept that all human beings are of value and must be treated with dignity and respect.  Because we all share, in some admitedly limited way, in the nature of God.  Thus God is not simply an external authority; rather, the moral law that eminates from God resonates with our deepest nature, because we're made in the image of God.  That's why the voice of individual conscience is considered so important.

        Xulon is far from being the first Christian to move logically from Imago Dei to progressive politics.  Many progressive Christians, in my experience, make that connection, though not necessarily in as clearly verbalized a way as Xulon does.

        The diariest is not "substituting his own fantasy in place of the historical texts."  It's the fundamentalists with their rigid judgmentalism and wierd dedication to "free-market" capitalism, who are re-writing the texts.

        --------------- --------------- --------------- "Every part of you belongs to you." -- from a story of Virginia under the Personhood law. Read it here.

        by Fiona West on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 01:46:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I read this (10+ / 0-)

    because I didn't know what "Imago Dei" was, and wanted to find out.  I am astounded.  I am not particularly religious and not conservative about much of anything, but I very much respect some of the basic ideas I find in some religions.  
    What you have written just resonates with me.  Thank you.

    Here's an idea: how about the people run the government and the corporations can line up for whatever we leave for them.

    by J Orygun on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 01:28:30 AM PDT

  •  thank you, very interesting & thought provoking (4+ / 0-)

    "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." *Ansel Adams* ."Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."*Will Rogers*

    by Statusquomustgo on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 01:57:06 AM PDT

  •  Elegant and interesting. Don't want be provocative (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on Easter Sunday of all days, so stop reading now if don't feel like entertaining the doubts of an atheist skeptic. However, I want to ask the following of you, since you are obviously capable of expounding your ideas with clarity: to me, it is completely obvious that the gospels are works of fiction. Don't these doubts creep into your mind as well?

    •  Do you ever doubt that they are fiction? (5+ / 0-)

      Should I have doubts, I must confess I usually have a hyperactive "place on back burner" reflex. I usually find fiction tidier than the Gospels, so there's that.

      If I doubt a passage, or if I consider things a mite far-fetched I still find I can view the Scripture as a literary object. Take the Genesis passage which I quoted in the article. One can go back and forth about how "literally true" some things are in Genesis, but the book was still written for a purpose. Even if it is myth, it says something. I would say that I am a strong believer in the divine inspiration of Scriptures, but during times where I'm not so strong about it, I find the description of the world and humanity in the Scriptures to be more true to my experience and observations than others. That may raise a chicken and egg kind of question, but it's true of me anyways.

    •  The bible is full of doubters. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      old possum

      As are the biographies of the "saints", including most recently Mother Teresa, who apparently spent 50 years secretly unable to have any real confidence about what she professed to believe.

      I've never been persuaded by any of the logical counterarguments to doubt.  I think eventually a person's life experience might lead them to the conclusion that in some unfathomable way charity runs deeper than hate.  That's about all I know.

  •  thanks for writing this (7+ / 0-)

    Raised in a Christianoid fundamentalist church, I became biblically literate but intellectually disgusted, in no small part because most of the faithful were devoted to Bircherite politics but deaf to the imperatives of the Gospels.

    I'm not religious now, but I recognize consonance of faith and intellect when I see it, and I see it here.  Thank you for writing.

    •  Reccd for... (0+ / 0-)
      I became biblically literate but intellectually disgusted
      You've described my feelings perfectly.

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 12:15:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nice comment. I'm too late to rec, but would if (0+ / 0-)

      I could, particularly for "Christianoid fundamentalist church" -- a phrase I'm going to use in the future, I"m sure.   And for this:

      I recognize consonance of faith and intellect when I see it, and I see it here.  

      --------------- --------------- --------------- "Every part of you belongs to you." -- from a story of Virginia under the Personhood law. Read it here.

      by Fiona West on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 02:12:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wonderful diary. Racing to get ready (0+ / 0-)

    for church, will read this all carefully later today.

  •  The divine spark of reason is crucial (7+ / 0-)

    to understanding imago dei, man in the image of god.

    The whole concept was key to the Enlightenment and the development of science: the universe was lawfully created; man is a creature of reason, and can thus inquire into and understand the laws of creation. Or put it this way: we can  inquire into and understand the laws of physics, hydrodynamics, aerodynamics, and so on. This capacity is what makes each individual precious and unique. Not that all individuals fully grasp their role and try to fulfill it.

    And yes, there is not much separating this view of Judeo-Christian humanism from secular humanism.

    I highly recommend a sermon delivered in 1786, by Nathanael Emmons, The Dignity of Man. The full subtitle I think points to how this whole concept characterized the epoch: "A Discourse Addressed to the Congregation in Franklin, Upon the Occasion of Their receiving from Dr. Franklin, the Mark of his Respect, in a Rich Donation of Books, Appropriated to the Use of a Parish-Library."

    ...what has been said concerning the nature and dignity of man, shows us, that we are under indispensable obligations to cultivate and improve our minds in all the branches of human knowledge. All our natural powers are so many talents, which, in their own nature, lay us under moral obligation to improve them to the best advantage. Being men, we are obliged to act like men, and not like the horse or the mule which have no understanding. Besides, knowledge, next to religion, is the brightest ornament of human nature. Knowledge strengthens, enlarges, and softens the human soul, and sets its beauty and dignity in the fairest light. Learning hath made astonishing distinctions among the different nations of the earth. Those nations, who have lived under the warm and enlightening beams of science, have appeared like a superior order of beings, in comparison with those, who have dragged out their lives under the cold and dark shades of ignorance.... the cultivation and improvement of the mind is more necessary for use, than for ornament. We were made for usefulness and not for amusement. We were made to be the servants of God, and of each other. We were made to live an active, diligent, and useful life. As men therefore we cannot reach the end of our being, without cultivating all our mental powers, in order to furnish ourselves for the most extensive service in our day and generation. Knowledge and learning are useful in every station; and in the higher and more important departments of life, they are absolutely and indispensibly necessary.
    Thanks for an excellent choice for posting on Easter Sunday.

    A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

    by NBBooks on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 08:15:52 AM PDT

    •  What an AWESOME rant... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NBBooks, Timaeus, caul
      we are under indispensable obligations to cultivate and improve our minds in all the branches of human knowledge. All our natural powers are so many talents, which, in their own nature, lay us under moral obligation to improve them to the best advantage.
      The sermon bridges the spiritual and secular, undermines the notion of "too much learnin' ain't good fer the soul"...

      I've always felt that whatever god there is would be a little pissed off if His/Her/Its/Their creation didn't make proper use of the tools of thought and reason we were created with....

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 12:22:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's great to see that those kinds of passionate (0+ / 0-)

        endorsements of reason and knowledge were present in Christianity around the time of the Revolution and the writing of the Constitution.  It's an awesome rant, as you say, and also a reminder of how much the Fundies have distorted the beliefs and attitudes of the founding generation in this country.

        --------------- --------------- --------------- "Every part of you belongs to you." -- from a story of Virginia under the Personhood law. Read it here.

        by Fiona West on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 02:51:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why doesn't the bible get updates? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I love the diary. Absolutely on the front lines of what is needed. I am an atheist - a very hard core atheist with respect to the abrahamic gods. They are NOT "out there" - and the diarists image of god and my own are very close. For me what folks call "god" is what I call "reality".

    What I love about the diary is the way it injects value into the conversation. The bible also has a bunch of crap that flies in the face of the diarists image of god, which I only mention as an explanation of my atheism.  I fully acknowledge the good bits, but it is me, as in the image of god within me, as in the real me, that acknowledges them. The bible itself and the christian myths are no more useful than any other myth. Hell, use Star Wars if that flies your plane.

    Which is why I attack religion. They screw it up. What I love about science is when someone proves a most cherished fundamental value wrong all the scientists will attack the claim and when they fail they become converts, so to speak. But always with the skepticism, always with the hope for "something better".

    So I ask - when will a religion, and for you as a Christian, update the Bible so it projects this image of god in the current language of this rapidly changing current time? We all need transformation for the better, why not the Bible?

    •  No matter how hard you try ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      They will take justified attacks for being pompous morons and jerks as "suffering for Jesus" (Note: I said "they" as if I never have done this).

      I think that supporters of Papal Infallibility go the "update the Bible" route in their apologia (at least some I have talked with have). There are other groups which have added "Inspired Books" or "infallible teachings" to the Bible. I mention them to bring up some issues with that Idea. Who can we accept to update the Bible? (Besides me, I mean)

      For myself, the fact that the Bible is an outside of myself standard is a plus. Teachings "on" the Bible and "from" the Bible can be notoriously subjective and self-serving, but they are still subject to the text. Any additions or subtractions to the text would be under a serious cloud - to me, it would be insurmountable to prove it a worthy change.

      •  And there is your limitation. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Any additions or subtractions to the text would be under a serious cloud - to me, it would be insurmountable to prove it a worthy change.
        The bible is just one stepping stone. There are thousands available. Millions, even. Once you get the point that it is you that recognizes them you become free from these limitations.

        As an atheist I do have a spiritual practice and my goal is first to be a better person, but ultimately to live in freedom. I also use the bible as a stepping stone on this journey. But I will not stand still on it - it is not the end of the story. I don't think there is any text I would be willing to stand on - which is why I liked the diary. It moved that standing from texts to the expression of that image of the Self. Now that is something to hold on to.

      •  Just by the by, the doctrine of papal (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul, Fiona West

        infallibility has only ever been invoked one time in history.  It was promulgated in 1870.  It was invoked once in 1950.  And it hasn't been invoked once in more than 60 years.

        •  Thank you, I ddn't know that. The idea of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          continuing revelation through the Church is older than that, yes?  But I thought that Papal Infallibility had been used to establish various aspects of "continuing revelation" as unchallengable doctrine.

          Maybe the Catholic Church has more flexibility to change than I thought, if it chooses to do so.  Not likely under this Pope, though.

          --------------- --------------- --------------- "Every part of you belongs to you." -- from a story of Virginia under the Personhood law. Read it here.

          by Fiona West on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 02:55:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Impossible to meaningfully update a myth (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, muddy boots

      All you can do is use more modern words and concepts which obfuscate the fact that imago dei is an unnecessary construct. It's unnecessary, because we don't need a myth to somehow give "credence" to the belief that man has value and dignity, regardless of form or function.

      If this is what it takes for you to accept this, more power to you. But the concepts are cherry picked from the scripture.

      From the Imago Dei community ... "What We Believe"

      We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New testaments to be the verbally inspired word of God, the final authority for faith and life, infallible and God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21; Matt. 5:18; John 16:12, 13).
      The final authority? And it all stopped being revised ... when? 2000 years ago? Please. People open this door with religion. No one wants to be the bad guy. No one wants to offend anyone. But this is sheer delusion. "The final authority?" This one sentence is the linchpin which allows people of religious belief to trample onward over all those others who obviously don't have "final authority."

      In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects. J. William Fulbright

      by crescentdave on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 05:07:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some people do update it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Mary Baker Eddy, the Book of Mormon, many others.  Not that I'm particularly crazy about their work, or advocating for them -- but ultimately, choosing to stick with the Bible as it is or to change or add to it is a theological choice.  Personally, I would be skeptical of someone trying to chnge my holy book (the Torah) but I wouldn't be absolutely closed to it.

  •  Corporations as Demons (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    old possum, Bob Guyer, wordwraith

    Immaterial beings with powers over the material world. Evoked through ritual (signing incorporation papers) for the sole purpose of gaining worldly wealth and worldly power, able to live for generations worth of human life, absent conscience, ...

    The list goes on if you think it through. The resemblances are more than just coincidence.

    Today, if you exist... that's already suspicious.

    by Jim P on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 03:19:27 PM PDT

  •  Xulon, you are the REAL Christian (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    since it's about caring for our neighbor. Only a politically progressive person can claim the title "Christian."

  •  I'm not a theist but I end up in a similar place (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fiona West

    I loved your diary. I know many Christians who are very much like you. In them I see the same love and compassion I feel in my deepest sense of myself and the world of which I am a small but valuable part, identical to everyone else in my inherent worth. Tom Joad expresses it this way in the Grapes of Wrath.

    Tom Joad: Well, maybe it's like Casy says. A fellow ain't got a soul of his own, just little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody, then...
    Ma Joad: Then what, Tom?
    Tom Joad: Then it don't matter. I'll be all around in the dark - I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look - wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too.

    Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

    by Bob Guyer on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 09:54:12 PM PDT

  •  Late to the Party (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fiona West

    I'm catching up on a lot of posts I missed over the weekend.  We Lutherans don't talk about The Image of God" very much, so much of this was new to me.

    As someone who is also conservative in my theology but Progressive in my politics, I appreciated your point of view and enjoyed your diary.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 10:51:46 AM PDT

  •  There are more of us out here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper, Fiona West
    Maybe there's more than I think but they have been bludgeoned into silence.
    It's very difficult to be a Catholic and also a progressive: perpetually stuck between pro-life one-issue Republicans on the one hand, and "how can you believe in that drivel" progressive- and scientific-minded folks on the other hand.  

    Thank you for your diary.  It made sense to me, and brought dimension to a simplistic picture I have had in my head since childhood.  Growing up my "elders" used to say that you should be nice to all people, because you never know which one of them might turn out to be Jesus.  It's a simplistic notion for a child's ears; I enjoyed your more scholarly take on it.

    I have often wondered why the Christian "values" I hear so much about from Republican candidates don't seem to be underpinned by the very fundamental golden rule put forth in Matthew.

    •  Hang in there. CHristian progressives, and other (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Domestic Elf

      religious progressives, have played important roles in every progressive movement in the US since and including Abolition.  Christians were also verymuch involved in forming the democratic concepts that underlay the Declaration of Independence and the Revolution.  

      There is no necessary conflict between science and religion unless you're a fundamentalist and/or literalist.

      I was raised Christian but stopped being Christian before I was 20.  However, I'm very aware of my Christian allies and co-workers in the Civil Rights and anti-war movements and other justice movements since the 60's.  

      Please remember that most non-Christain progressives don't hold Christianity in contempt.  Some do, and are quite outspoken about it.  But the essential thing is that we are allies and companions in an enormously important set of conflicts that will decide whether democracy survives, whether large areas of the Earth become unlivable for human beings, whether millions of people die by starvation, disease, and war.  We are progressives, and need to hold together for the sake of the people and the Earth.

      Most of us will respect and love those who hang in there with us, whether we find some parts of their spiritual world-view incomprehensible or not.

      --------------- --------------- --------------- "Every part of you belongs to you." -- from a story of Virginia under the Personhood law. Read it here.

      by Fiona West on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 04:13:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is excellently written. Can you spread it (0+ / 0-)

    farther?  I know the National Council of Churches, many denominations, and some independent Christian groups have magazines/newsletters/internet publications, etc.  WOuld you consider submitting this, perhaps with a bit more introduction, to any of those places?

    It's important that CHristians with decent values start seeing more clearly the connections between their beliefs and progressive stands.  They need to read something with the subtitle "Pilots are expenses.  They are not assets like planes and computers."  It would be a shock for many, I think -- a shock of recognition.  

    Most Christians in this country are of the 99%, not the 1%, and need to understand that.  You have a lucid, condensed style that I think could be very effective with some of the not-yet-DKos sector of the public.  I encourage you to explore that possibility.

    --------------- --------------- --------------- "Every part of you belongs to you." -- from a story of Virginia under the Personhood law. Read it here.

    by Fiona West on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 04:25:16 PM PDT

    •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

      I have put this up in a couple of other places, with far less interaction resulting. A few months back, I had contacted both The Christian Left Blog and Sojourners with it but received no reply. From the "conservative Christians" I know who have read it, they mainly see the title being critical of Capitalism and they've been taught to believe that anybody to the left of Milton Friedman is Stalin, or worse.

      I have to say, the reaction here has been very encouraging. I'll have to get it out there again.

      •  Glad you got some good responses. Sometimes (0+ / 0-)

        there's a random element at DKos -- whether some of the people who will get into the diary and keep it visible happen to be around at the time, I guess...  

        The Community Spotlight rescue option really helps.

        --------------- --------------- --------------- "Every part of you belongs to you." -- from a story of Virginia under the Personhood law. Read it here.

        by Fiona West on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:27:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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