Sunday, March 11, 2012

Crucifer

This is one of my former CC students as she looked the last Ash Wednesday.What I find interesting about this is that when she posted this picture she commented how it would be a test to see how people around her reacted to a public display of faith.

Here was my first thought; I wonder how many people were just confused?

I grew up a suburban Presbyterian in the Sixties. Suburban Sixties Presbyterians didn't do none of this forehead/ash/cross stuff. If I had seen someone wearing this symbol I'd have thought that they had been cleaning their chimney and missed a spot washing up afterwards.

And my second thought was; this woman is a genuine Christian; she is a devout, hard-working, compassionate young woman whose faith makes extraordinary demands on her. She is one of the few people I know who really tries to live her faith, with all the personal difficulties and hardships that represents. So I find it almost viciously ironic that she believed that she might be scorned for publicly proclaiming her faith in a gentle way, one that silently testifies to her beliefs without getting all up in your grille, without hectoring, without accusing, without confrontation, without finger-wagging of any sort at all...in a time when it seems like you cannot turn on a piece of electronic media without being confronted by some sanctimonious jackhole wagging his finger about some damn thing.And this is supposed to be what a peaceful carpenter's son laid down his life for.

Sometimes I wonder about humans. Really, I do.

40 comments:

Podunk Paul said...

That’s a beautiful picture of the young lady. People of faith often seem to have that look, their eyes radiating a kind of deep energy. Makes one think that the Greeks were right – eyes, some of them anyway, generate light.

Been thinking about that sort of thing because of recent email contacts with Elizabeth McAlister, widow of Philip Berrigan. He fought at the Battle of the Bulge, subsequently was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List and spent more than a decade behind bars for actions against the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons. His wife also did time for her beliefs. Puts one to shame, those brave people.

I guess we’re all torn that way. The ancients also – Hadrian thirsting for the pure air of philosophy and, meanwhile, ordering troops on the Rhine to destroy their flower gardens.

Lisa said...

'Tis a lovely photo, and I've known some very fine people of faith. OTOH, there are a whole lot of blue and white-collar criminals who also affiliate with a faith . . .

So, I guess the bottom line is, if one understands the dogma of one's faith (and I s'pose everyone understands or manifests it in one's own way) and becomes a kinder person because of it, that is all to the good.

IMHO, one can achieve that radiance Paul spoke of via a humanistic understanding of one's place in this life. Often as not, I've seen the Sunfay-go-to-meetin' crowd enter and exit their houses of worship with shark eyes. God's frozen people.

Now, it's a different story outside of the Bethel AME churches; for them, the spirit is a living thing which animates their being. Again, mainly in church, and for a few hours afterwards.

(BTB -- to me, the ash cross on the head is rather pagan.)

Lisa said...

oops -- that would be "Sunday"

Ael said...

I recall Steven Colbert also wore an ash cross on his show that day.

FDChief said...

I guess that's the thing about religion that baffles me.

On some people it seems to act like a tonic (as it does with my student); it helps them be kinder, gentler, stronger, more humane, better people than they might have been without it.

One some it acts like a drug; they use it to let out some frightening things they'd otherwise probably have kept hidden; rage, hate, bloodlust, war...everything from slut-shaming to jihad, and all jake because God "tells" them it is.

And its supposed to be the same God.

Perhaps tha's why I'm a clueless pagan.

And speaking of pagan, Lisa, I mentioned to my student that I thought that while the cross itself was Christian the whole notion of bearing the symbol of one's faith on one's face was probably much older. She's a student of religion and sorta-agreed, while insisting that the Christian version was somehow special - and that's very human, isn't it, believing that we're all Speshul Snowflakes?

Somehow I wish we could breed out the shark-eyed strain of religiousity. But then we'd be something else than the hairless monkeys we are.

Lisa said...

It's a nice thing when one stumbles upon something -- a poem, a babbling brook, a rock ("Upon this rock ....") that ennobles one.

The problem is, as stated, when people think they are somehow above it all by somehow stumbling into a faith system, and "cleaving to" is always cleaving from.

While the different faiths mostly preach nice things, obviously man has a splendid track record of perverting the message. Also, if one merely listens to the message hook, line and sinker without reflection, one is really no better than a shark trolling for chum. Hence the adultery and other offense recently discussed, i.e, whatever feels good.

Pick your sin, then go to Confession. A wonderful purge. Rinse and repeat. Wow -- one can feel re-born anytime by virtue of their magic dogma.

No wonder Christianity was so successful: The mulligans.

Podunk Paul said...

I didn't make myself clear in the comment posted above.

Religion, for all of the bizarre bullshit, manipulation, exploitation and sheer stupidity that it enables, remains the most powerful force available to humans. This is why both Gandhi and M.L. King used religion as a lever for radical social change, and why the Communists were so adamantly opposed to any expression of it. The religious patina attached to the Emperor and to home islands probably explains why the Japanese continued to fight well past hopelessness.

And religious faith gives people like Philip Berrigan the courage to call down decades of imprisonment upon themselves. I doubt that Berrigan hated nuclear weapons anymore than I do, but his actions seem orders of magnitude more effective than the petitions I have signed.

This does not mean that the United States should be turned into more of a theocracy than it already is. Religion at the nexus is, IMO, a profoundly private affair, arising out of solitude and suffering. The slender thread that we sometimes think leads to the infinite breaks and entangles when imposed upon others.

Labrys said...

One wonders...and I am a terrible person, before I saw the pic, I saw the title "crucifer" and thought "Cabbage or broccoli?"

Of course, if I got out wearing signs of MY faith, I get much more than dirty looks from some folks. Course, lol, some of my 'signs' are tattoo'd on...and visible in summer dress.

And Lisa? I found Paul a lot of things, but humanistic was not among them.

FDChief said...

Lisa: As I recall, in the scriptural stories Christ does the confession/absolution thing a couple of times. The crux of the biscuit there, though, is he always closes with something like "Go now and sin no more." The deal seems to be that His forgiveness isn't a free resource. You keep fucking up and you get what's coming to you.

And here's where, again, I keep seeing this huge difference between one sort of faith, the other sort, and religion.

People who seem to start with the idea that God wants them to be peaceful, loving, and giving seem to find elements in their faith(s) that emphasize those qualities. People who seem to begin with a lot of wrath seem drawn to the "smite ye the enemies of God" sort of "faith".

I'm sorry, Paul, but I've seen a lot more examples of people finding the sort of faith that suits them than people changing their natures to meet the demands of a kindly God.

As an old platoon sergeant of mine used to say: "People, eh? Them fuckers could fuck up a wet dream with a steak dinner in it..."

FDChief said...

Labrys: Well, the poll that came up with something like 60% of the GOP voters in the Southern states believe that the President of the United States is a practicing Muslim says something about how fucking ignorant the average bible-pestering semi-rural jackhole is.

So I hope you take any and all comments at that sort of value...

I hate to sound like a secular humanist, but IMO the "worth" of any faith is what it does for the bearer. So if believing that Perkūnas, or Parvati, or Kuanyin, or Cerunnos is a living force in the world helps you or I be saner, more vital, happier, more decent people? Then more power to Perkūnas, Parvati, Kuanyin, and Cerunnos, then.

Only a fool mocks what is of value to another unless that something is obviously making that person act like a complete fucking gobshite.

Lisa said...

Labrys,

I never said Paul was humanistic.

Like Chief, I am pragmatic: If a belief system helps you be "saner, more vital, happier, more decent", more power to you. Whether that's Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, primal scream, NLP, church, synagogue, a tamagotchi . . . whatever gets you through the night, and helps you inflict the least damage upon yourself, your fellows and your planet.

Beyond that, it would be nice if we could care and love, but I think that takes more than a directive. To do that, one must be involved, and that means engaging brain and heart. Dogma won't get you there, for all that might have been written down by the sages through the ages.

basilbeast said...

Sooo, Ranger starts up a Bible class and gets comments and here you go too.

Not that I'm complaining. :)

The Orthodox viewpoint:

http://www.schmemann.org/memoriam/1984.svtq8.hopko.html

The first "no" was to what Father called secularism – any kind of explanation of this world as having its meaning in itself. He loved to quote the French poet, Julien Green, who said, "all is elsewhere." All is elsewhere, and this world has its meaning from "elsewhere." And any attempt to dare to explain this world except as from God must be rejected. The world has no meaning in itself. None at all.

The second "no" – in a very peculiar use of the term, of course, which confuses some people – is when Father said, "We must also say ‘no’ to religion." Christ did not bring religion; Christ brought the Kingdom of God. Christianity is not a religion to help secular man to cope with his "problems." Man does not have problems, he has sins. This world does not need "therapy"; it can’t be "helped." It has to die to rise again. There is one sentence in For the Life of the World where Father says that this, as a matter of fact, is the heart of the matter.

. . . It is here that we reach the heart of the matter. For Christianity help is not the criterion. Truth is the criterion. The purpose of Christianity is not to help people by reconciling them with death, but to reveal the Truth about life and death in order that people may be saved by this Truth. Salvation, however, is not only not identical with help, but is, in fact, opposed to it. Christianity quarrels with religion and secularism not because they offer ‘insufficient help,’ but precisely because they ‘suffice,’ because they ‘satisfy’ the needs of men. If the purpose of Christianity were to take away from man the fear of death, to reconcile him with death, there would be no need for Christianity, for other religions have done this, indeed, better than Christianity.

"No" – "no" to secularism. "No" to religion in that sense.

basilbeast said...

Here's a video of Fr. Hopko speaking on a similar subject, for about a half-hour:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJBlp9UgkUk

I had the pleasure of meeting Fr. Hopko some years ago, and talking with him a bit.

Very decent fellow.

bb

Podunk Paul said...

That's funny, Chief. You're humping along, minding your own business and, all of a sudden, your website becomes a smorgasbord of theological disputation.

FDChief said...

basil: I would tend to agree with your discursion about "religion". To me religion and faith are two very different things, and although at times and in places they may intersect that confluence is often happenstance and usually brief. Faith is about many things, but "religion" is often mostly about the very things you mention; "they ‘suffice,’ because they ‘satisfy’ the needs of men".

I mean, when you think about it, there is no real reason for a "church" or a "religion". If you believe in the things that Christ, or Muhammad, or Moses, said (or Gautama Buddha, or the various sages and precepts of the other faiths) what more do you need than that? But, as Lisa notes, "Dogma won't get you there, for all that might have been written down by the sages through the ages." We monkeys seem to need a troop, with the graybeards to enforce the rules and the matriarchs to slap the brash young apes around until they conform...

What is interesting is your citation's use of the term "Truth". Because the young woman I pictured at the top of this post is a very strong believer in the idea that there is a Truth, an epistomological Truth that can be ascertained by faith.

I am not so sure. Because if so, then there seem to be as many "Truths" as there are people, or at least, as many groups of people as can be found in places of worship or even places where people gather for other reasons; society, discussion, politics...

The problem I have with a single "Truth" is that the necessary consequent from that is that everyone else is lying. Not just thinking differently, not just believing something else - if your belief is the one and only Truth then theirs HAS to be a lie.

And it's a small step from there to hating, fearing, and attacking the Other for that Lie.

I much prefer the idea that I have A truth, my truth, that works for me and that I have no quarrel if you believe your truth is different. But the very nature of certain faiths doesn't allow that; "No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus said, and Muhammad replied "There is no God but God and I am his prophet." and therein lies generations of holy wars.

FDChief said...

Paul: Y'know what? I'm fine with that. I'm even beyond Labrys - not even pagan but completely outside the entire faith-and-religion biz. I got no skin in the game.

But the permutations of theology and the ideas of faith and religion fascinate me. I can talk about it endlessly. Just don't ask me to come down on one side or another. To me all faiths are as incomprehensible and meaningless as phlogiston chemistry.

But I will be the first to agree that they are incredibly powerful factors in human events.

basilbeast said...

The problem I have with a single "Truth"

More comment on this and the last 3 paragraphs it begins, but I don't have the time, life intrudes.

bb

Lisa said...

Now, bb and Paul,

I don't just lapse into theological stuff -- Chief's post featured a young woman with a cross on her forehead. What're you gonna do -- just smile and say, "How nice"?

I didn't even mention Squeaky Fromme because I was behaving myself ;)

Podunk Paul said...

I guess you're right, Lisa. The photo called up those inchoate, half-formed thoughts we all have about why we're here and where, if anywhere, we're going. Stuff that's probably best not to dwell too long on. But it's fun sometimes.

Lisa said...

Paul,

I think it's always fun :) We're cogitating animals . . . not that the others aren't, but we're also systematizers with those opposable thumbs, so we can pick up quill or chisel or whatever it takes to record and then shape our thinking.

Problem is, we keep discovering the wheel ... Using the brain to consider the brain will always be a limiting factor, ISTM.

However, the possibility of growth is quite seductive, and a project to which I fall prey.

Lisa said...

bb,

Just reading your excerpt more closely, and correct, were Christianity to work correctly it would have a planned obsolescence about it; it would be like human grade school.

"KNOW the truth, and it shall set ye free." But one must "know it", not just witness it or have it floating around as the actuality. Recognition must meet the "it is" of it.

Krishnamurti said, "Truth is a pathless land." True, that.

FDChief said...

Lisa: Ooooh! I SO won't tell this young lady about the Squeaky! I had forgotten that addled character myself until you mentioned her. Yikes!

The thing is, I think a lot of people WOULD just smile and nod. The notion of actually thinking about things like faith, religion, truth and not-truth are the sort of things that can get you in trouble everywhere from bible school to bars. A lot of us prefer to either swallow the entire business whole or to just try and avoid it.

Both seem to me to be substandard ways for a human being to live life. The issues raised by religion, faith, belief, and their impact on our lives and our societies are important. If you've really looked at them and chosen a place to stand, I really don't have any beef with WHERE you stand (other than I do think that some places are less harmful than others).

But if you're just following the herd, if you're too lazy or foolish to think about what you believe or don't believe...

Well, then there's a vacant log on Monkey Island for you.

One thing that always impresses me is that I have seldom encountered a question of weight you have not pondered. Not just to develop your rhetoric, but genuinely thought about. I can say that about many of the other commentors here, as well.

IMO human history, though, is dominated by those whose approach to such questions is of the "God says it, I believe it, that settles it" variety.

The results of this approach have not, in general, been good for anyone but the best weaponed-up...

basilbeast said...

The problem I have with a single "Truth" is that the necessary consequent from that is that everyone else is lying. Not just thinking differently, not just believing something else - if your belief is the one and only Truth then theirs HAS to be a lie.

Not a "necessary consequent", but I am in agreement with most of what you've written here and elsewhere and it is a not unexpected consequence.

If you've looked at the first 10 minutes or so of the video of Fr. Hopko above, he discusses the spirituality that people talk about and construct for themselves.

If you tell someone who asks you in your present location the way to San Jose, you're not likely to say "Everyone finds their own way" or worse say "Go east!". The decent person will pull out a map or say hop on to this highway and go south.

Jesus is saying that here, if you want to get to this place, follow me.

When you included the term "lying", you added a value that's not there in the scripture you've quoted.

Why would someone else tell your recent questioner about the way to S.J. that you were lying?

Most likely b/c it is of some benefit to them to do so.

The Truth does not change, but the interpretation of it becomes warped.

It's the same with Christianity, when we describe the way to Human Salvation.

bb

basilbeast said...

But the very nature of certain faiths doesn't allow that; "No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus said, and Muhammad replied "There is no God but God and I am his prophet." and therein lies generations of holy wars.

I can't speak for Islam, but your point is made.

The basis of Christianity is that there is an Entity Who created us and all that we see and blessed it.

And Who sent a Piece of Himself to redeem us through His Death.

"For God so loved the world . . ."

Love.

The 2 simple commands to make it in Christianity, "Love God with all you are, and love your neighbor as yourself."

Matthew 22:37-8

A good passage to read on this Love business, to determine who is Christian and who is not, even by you heathen/pagan types:

1 John 4

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

bb

basilbeast said...

In summation, I cannot diagree with you when you say that those who claim religion, faith, belief whatever do not as a general rule prove their faith or uphold their stated principles.

There is a variety of answers for this depending upon the various individuals or the various situations under the 'scope.

One of the keys, I think, is from a surprising bit of good theology from Neil Diamond's "Brother Love".

We got 2 hands, one for the One Who loves us, and the other for the ones we love, which should be all.

bb

basilbeast said...

Let's try that last bit again! :)

Just reading your excerpt more closely, and correct, were Christianity to work correctly it would have a planned obsolescence about it; it would be like human grade school.

But lucky for us, we don't fall dead at the end of 6th grade.

Christianity has always been described as a process, with appropriate self-evaluation rubrics.

"Have I treated others like I want to be treated?", for a start.

"KNOW the truth, and it shall set ye free." But one must "know it", not just witness it or have it floating around as the actuality. Recognition must meet the "it is" of it.

Yup.

Krishnamurti said, "Truth is a pathless land." True, that.

Sounds like this guy:

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate.


And then, Pilate releases Him to the mob.

Those who search for Truth among the "pathless wastes" tend to make it up as they go. So a little "necessary" evil here or there, no big deal.

bb

Lisa said...

Chief says,

A lot of us prefer to either swallow the entire business whole or to just try and avoid it.

That’s the thing with belief systems: We either swallow it or disgorge it (Gawd, it sounds like I’m ready for a Larry Flynt publication!) Agreed, both actions seem "to be substandard ways for a human being to live life.”

Thank you for the kind words; as you say, we are so fortunate here to have so many thinkers with whom to discourse.

As for me, I have this impulse when I encounter someone to know about him; I genuinely care to know. Often, I am kindly rewarded with his confidence, and I learn much that way. It is unsolicited, but I find people often do confide in me.

The unexamined life . . .


bb says,

Those who search for Truth among the "pathless wastes" tend to make it up as they go. So a little "necessary" evil here or there, no big deal.

I am not dismissing the value of our received belief systems by any means; knowledge by necessity accretes and is available to all (until we hit the next Dark Ages.) However, I believe you are suggesting that those who do not claim for a faith will languish and behave in unethical ways (excusing "evils" if expeditious.)

I would argue that membership in a faith does not guarantee adherence to the verse of John, which you quote. In fact, accepting something lock, stock and barrel often leads to transgression due to a feeling of pre-exoneration due to club membership.

One must be vigilant and mindful to abide by a code; it must be internalized and made one's own. I would argue that believing one is a sinner (originally, out of the chute!) and must redeemed but an intercessionary does not lead to the greatest sense of personal responsibility.

IOW, Santorum et. al. may have "fall[en] dead at the end of 6th grade."

FDChief said...

My experience is that the best Christians are people who truly try and live by Christ's earthly example; humility, decency, caring, love, humanity - for as much as he is God his incarnation is a deeply human man.

The worst are those who take Christ's name and then proceed to use it to excuse the worst of human behavior - hatred, wrath, selfishness, anger, cruelty.

And yet...both lay claim to the same "Truth".

Islam, Judaism...the same problem; the identical faith produces both saints and sinners.

So in the end, I have to retreat to the excuse that I cannot judge faiths by their own statements, but by the actions of their adherents, and those actions leave me deeply confused as to which one - if any - represents the "Truth".

I honestly cannot decide; the evidence is too fractured, too diverse.

Eventually I come back to my original position; faith that makes a person a better person seems to me of value, or, perhaps, is an integral part of a good person. The opposite, well...I don't think it negates faith as such. But it does call the entire notion of an eternal and undisputed "Truth" into question.

It's rather sad, really, that the hairless monkey can find ways to pervert the most benign and comforting of ideals...

FDChief said...

"When you included the term "lying", you added a value that's not there in the scripture you've quoted."

The thing is, basil, that if your faith is The Truth - the only Truth, the immutable and eternal Truth - then the inescapable conclusion is that other faiths are NOT the Truth.

And what is not the truth is a lie.

Or, at the very best, a sort of non-truthful statement; the wandering in the wilderness you mention.

So if you know the way to San Jose, and you take out your map and you show the person who is "lost"...and they insist that, no, San Jose is the OTHER way...then what can you do?

If you are a Buddhist you just shrug and agree that there are "many paths to the Buddha (enlightenment)". Many of the polytheistic religions take this approach, and, not coincidently, polytheistic societies tend to be pretty inclusive, religiously.

But...a monotheist doesn't have that luxury. As you said - Jesus told us that His way is THE Way, the Truth, and the Life. So...if you insist that your different way is OK...what are you doing?

You have to either be lying...or you KNOW that Jesus was right, and you're being deliberately ignorant.

Either one is a problem. And you can see how things like crusades get started.

You can see how that can be a problem.

Lisa said...

bb,

Your choice of the verse from John is a fine test. I know many avowed Christians who nonetheless are foursquare behind our current crusades b/c they feel the heathens must be brought to heel: They must treat women better, boys, or whatever their argument is. So, they do not love the people we are fighting.

Or . . . maybe they do. Maybe one can love and still kill; I don't know. I see to recall a prohibition against this. But ISTM the problem with most faiths is that they do believe they have a handle on the Truth, which it seems for many is their ticket into another world.

To me, the ideal education would allow for education in the basic tenets of all major belief systems. I have this vision of the Africans and South Americans being visited by the Christian missionaries, whose beliefs they often take up because the religious groups provide them schools or hospitals. That is understandable. That is why Hamas is successful, or the Wahhabis. Filling empty bellies takes precedence over dogma.

In the best of all possible worlds, the bellies would be filled, and 1st the Christians could have a stab at it; next Mr. Romney's sons on their mission year; then the Urantians, etc., and they could sort out what they like. I imagine for people living close to the earth it would be an eclectic mixture, with a totemic bent.

Or are we at a point where no new religions may be created? We didn't seem to like Waco or Jim Jones very much, did we?

FDChief said...

Lisa: The bottom line is that you're most likely to "choose" the religion your parents have; like fashion and language, religion pretty much tracks with parentage. So it would be interesting if people were encouraged to "shop" various faiths before "buying". Ain't gonna happen, but it'd be interesting to watch.

And when you think about it, the real difference between the People's Temple, Mormonism, and the Big Three monotheistic religions is age. Well, OK, and the fact that Jim Jones was a nut whole killed his followers.

But Mormonism seems ridiculous only because we have the accounts of outsiders that point up what a marginal sort of character Joseph Smith was and the ludicrous nature of the whole "golden tablets" story and the production of the Book of Mormon.

What if we had an unbiased account of first-century Judea and Jesus' ministry?

What if we had a personal memoir of someone who knew Muhammad and didn't buy his ideas?

So I think the problem with a "modern" religion is that we now have too much media; the ability to smooth over and cull the thorny problems of real people and events is nearly impossible. There's always a record of the stuff that doesn't fit, and while a religion/faith can withstand hatred and opposition ridicule is utterly fatal...

Lisa said...

Yes -- interesting the sanctioning value which media and longevity confers.

We've had modern attempts at new systems: Theosophy or Baha'i, for instance. Each has gathered its own followers, but as you say, we tend to bow to lineage, even though 3,800 or 2,000 or 600 years isn't much at all, really. Funny, too, that we in our culture at least tend to disdain "Old School" ideas, which generally means a flip attitude to those over ... 40 (?) We suffer a real culture of youth and The New (and the disposable).

So it is odd that Christianity perdures, while the other religions have become marginalized. Of course, Christianity is a brilliant package as it both creates the consumer and the need (the antidote). "Sin? We got ya covered. Here's some beads and prayers and forgiveness."

Perhaps I see things differently because I was raised in a family that encouraged the study of many different ways, and imposed none. (After converting many times herself, my mother decided she liked Judaism the best simply because they didn't proselytize :))

As you've noted, we all like to think ourselves "speshul snowflakes", and it would be nice if we could realize that we can be special to somebody, but just not in a "Dancing With the Stars" way (a program I've never seen.)

Why must people think there's a grand old guy in the sky who gives a flip what they do?

FDChief said...

To me the interesting things about Judaism, Lisa, are 1) its tradition of scholarship for the laity, something that neither the other two of the Big Three encourage, and 2) it's willingness to be upfront about what "God is...", that is, a sort of Tribal Patriarch In The Sky - if you're in His tribe and one of his made guys you're jake. If you're not? Sucks to be you; the Big Guy is a pretty merciless enemy - ask those Philistines without foreskins, etc...

Islam has a trifle of the second without the first, Christianity neither one. Christians seem to me to have the added problem of dealing with a religion that says "love thine enemies" while living in a world that makes that a practical unreality. Nice thought, suicide in practice. And in fact about 99% of Christians don't bother - they hate, fear, and do their best to kill their enemies just like everyone else...

And as for the Big Question...I think that the biggest reason is that it's a cold, bleak, scary world if you work from the assumption that this is all there is; you're born, you get the deal you get, you die, and that's it. And the ugly truth is that for most of us the world is full of pain, suffering, poverty, hate, misery, and general crappiness.

So there's a lot of comfort in the thought of a Heavenly Godfather up there who can be called on for help when times are bad, and who (if you work the right magic) helps you live on after you die...

Lisa said...

I like the scholarship tradition of Judaism, but wow -- it seems a pretty hard-luck life to be Jewish on this planet; it's not the easy row to hoe, for sure.


Per:

So there's a lot of comfort in the thought of a Heavenly Godfather up there who can be called on for help when times are bad, and who (if you work the right magic) helps you live on after you die...

I've always found this amusing ... I mean, if life's a vale of tears here, why would you want to prolong it after your expiration date? What's to say you won't be a housefrau in the next life? (I know, it's not quite a concept of reincarnation, but still, you might be charged with housekeeping duties on the cloud -- someone's got to do it!) The deferred gratification is an odd thing, to me, but that's what comes of viewing one's lot as that of a slave.

When times are bad, there are many resources for comfort, all of which ultimately issue from the self, and which are available to anyone. One may see that when one gets free.

Lisa said...

p.s. --

I don't mean to be derisive of any faith system. As bb says, as with grade school, we presumably won't drop dead after 6th grade.

They are all fabulous efforts to arrive at a system for good and rewarding conduct. After making one's study, however, then I believe one is charged with taking personal responsibility. That does not mean assuming the New-Agey position of "I am a god."

No ... only if you can see god in a grain of sand, too. Then yes, we are all "gods" or marshals of our own existence, and I find this fact quite comforting. (Though it is also a burden of sorts, hence man's impulse to escape that radical freedom (Fromm, et. al.)

basilbeast said...

Lisa:

However, I believe you are suggesting that those who do not claim for a faith will languish and behave in unethical ways (excusing "evils" if expeditious.)

Substitute "moral code" or "guiding principles" for faith, which is a belief in a certain reality or at the very least, trust in a certain code of behavior in dealing with other people and the environment we all live in.

This bit from Paul, Romans 2, seems to echo what you are saying in your comments here:

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

It seems that those who die outside Christianity still get a shot at the goodies.

That the non-Christian who lives a life that recognizes the inherent equality of another life with his/her own and treats it that way can still enter Paradise.

What about those of us who are deluged with the Christian message constantly, do we get another shot after death if we don't become Christian?

In my belief, that's up to God.

I would argue that believing one is a sinner (originally, out of the chute!) and must redeemed but an intercessionary does not lead to the greatest sense of personal responsibility.

I'm not sure what you wrote here ( by an intercessionary? ), but what breeds responsibility is the self-awareness that what one does is not always good.

And that self-awareness comes when we learn from either a moral code or the reactions of others we affect.

As for

Santorum et. al. may have "fall[en] dead at the end of 6th grade."

there does seem to be some stunting in growth.

BB

basilbeast said...

Chief:

The thing is, basil, that if your faith is The Truth - the only Truth, the immutable and eternal Truth - then the inescapable conclusion is that other faiths are NOT the Truth.

No.

God is Truth.

Faith is the means by which we come to that Truth.

San Jose, at least in our reality, is a certain direction and distance from where you are, and your faith consists of the guides that allows you and whoever else wants to go there too to get there successfully.

The fellow who listens to your directions to SJ but yet goes off another way, may find something else interesting on his way and never get to SJ.

But being the decent person you are, you won't shoot him, will you?

As you say, that reaction to the rejection of your "Truth" is behind much of the misery of the world.

Now, you also wrote:

But...a monotheist doesn't have that luxury. As you said - Jesus told us that His way is THE Way, the Truth, and the Life. So...if you insist that your different way is OK...what are you doing?

Not quite, He said "I am the way":

John 14

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.


He also said "I and the Father am One"

And He said "I am" which is the unmentionable.

He's saying "I'm God, I'm It, you want Truth, here I am."

And what is not the truth is a lie.

Well, yes, if you want to put it that way. It could be just bull-headedness or ignorance or indifference, but still, Christianity tells me "Don't shoot!"

So, I want to go see Chief, I don't go see Lisa, although that might be a very pleasant thing to do, jim notwithstanding :), and she could tell me a lot about Chief, nice things too.

But not the real live Chief.

And no, shooting Lisa would not be good at all, completely and entirely evil. Not helpful a bit.

But again, as you say wrt religion, an easy cover for much evil.

bb

Lisa said...

bb,

Thank you -- an appropriate choice from Paul. Yes, living within the confines of the law -- not simply hearing it, but obeying it -- will help ensure a life well-lived and well-judged.

Same as we said with truth: Not just recognizing it, but "knowing" it. Some kind of effectuation -- a commitment to recognition and abidance -- is necessary.

"Intercessionary" was not the best word, but my suggestion here is perhaps a bit heretical:

We do not need anyone to intercede for us and lead us to the ultimate Truths. While that could mean priests and pastors, I might also go so far as to suggest Jesus himself, who suggests there is no way to God save through Him.

To make such a statement is the making of a founder of a great religion, but I have always been uncomfortable with this imperative.

God is there and I can access him myself, IMHO. (You meet all kinds of nutcases on the interwebs, bb ;))

basilbeast said...

No greater sinner, or nutcase, than I, Lisa.

:D

bb

Lisa said...

Thank you, bb :)