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The War Against Tolerance

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Posted on Feb 11, 2008
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AP photo / Carlos Osorio

By Chris Hedges

Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani are the three stooges of the Christian right. These self-described former Muslim terrorists are regularly trotted out at Christian colleges—a few days ago they were at the Air Force Academy—to spew racist filth about Islam on behalf of groups such as Focus on the Family. It is a clever tactic. Curly, Larry and Mo, who all say they are born-again Christians, engage in hate speech and assure us it comes from personal experience. They tell their audiences that the only way to deal with one-fifth of the world’s population is by converting or eradicating all Muslims. Their cant is broadcast regularly on Fox News, including the Bill O’Reilly and Neil Cavuto shows, as well as on numerous Christian radio and television programs. Shoebat, who has written a book called “Why We Want to Kill You,” promises in his lectures to explain the numerous similarities between radical Muslims and the Nazis, how “Muslim terrorists” invaded America 30 years ago and how “perseverance, recruitment and hate” have fueled attacks by Muslims. 

These men are frauds, but this is not the point. They are part of a dark and frightening war by the Christian right against tolerance that, in the moment of another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, would make it acceptable to target and persecute all Muslims, including the some 6 million Muslims who live in the United States. These men stoke these irrational fears. They defend the perpetual war unleashed by the Bush administration and championed by Sen. John McCain. McCain frequently reminds listeners that “the greatest danger facing the world is Islamic terrorism,” as does Mike Huckabee, who says that “Islamofascism” is “the greatest threat this country [has] ever faced.” George W. Bush has, in the same vein, assured Americans that terrorists hate us for our freedoms, not, of course, for anything we have done. Bush described the “war on terror” as a war against totalitarian Islamofascism while the Israeli air force was dropping tens of thousands of pounds of iron fragmentation bombs up and down Lebanon, an air campaign that killed 1,300 Lebanese civilians.

The three men tell lurid tales of being recruited as children into Palestinian terrorist organizations, murdering hundreds of civilians and blowing up a bank in Israel. Saleem says that as a child he infiltrated Israel to plant bombs via a network of tunnels underneath the Golan Heights, although no incident of this type was ever reported in Israel. He claims he is descended from the “grand wazir” of Islam, a title and a position that do not exist in the Arab world. They assure audiences that the Palestinians are interested not in a peaceful two-state solution but rather the destruction of Israel, the murder of all Jews and the death of America. Shoebat claims he first came to the United States as part of an extremist “sleeper cell.” 

“These three jokers are as much former Islamic terrorists as ‘Star Trek’s’ Capt. James T. Kirk was a real Starship captain,” said Mikey Weinstein, the head of the watchdog group The Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The group has challenged Christian proselytizing in the military and denounced the visit by the men to the Air Force Academy.

The speakers include in their talks the superior virtues of Christianity. Saleem, for example, says his world “turned upside down when he was seriously injured in an automobile accident.”

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“A Christian man tended to Kamal at the accident scene, making sure he got the medical treatment he needed,” his Web site says. “Kamal’s orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist were also Christian men whom over a period of several months ministered the unconditional love of Jesus Christ to him as he recovered. The love and sacrificial giving of these men caused Kamal to cry out to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob acknowledging his need for the Savior. Kamal has since become a man on a new mission, as an ambassador for the one true and living God, the great I Am, Jehovah God of the Bible.”

This creeping Christian chauvinism has infected our political and social discourse. It was behind the rumor that Barack Obama was a Muslim. Obama reassured followers that he was a Christian. It apparently did not occur to him, or his questioners, that the proper answer is that there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim, that persons of great moral probity and courage arise in all cultures and all religions, including Islam. Christians have no exclusive lock on virtue. But this kind of understanding often provokes indignant rage. 

The public denigration of Islam, and by implication all religious belief systems outside Christianity, is part of the triumphalism that has distorted the country since the 9/11 attacks. It makes dialogue with those outside our “Christian” culture impossible. It implicitly condemns all who do not think as we think and believe as we believe as, at best, inferior and usually morally depraved. It blinds us to our own failings. It makes self-reflection and self-criticism a form of treason. It reduces the world to a cartoonish vision of us and them, good and evil. It turns us into children with bombs. 

These three con artists are not the problem. There is enough scum out there to take their place. Rather, they offer a window into a worldview that is destroying the United States. It has corrupted the Republican Party. It has colored the news media. It has entered into the everyday clichés we use to explain ourselves to ourselves. It is ignorant and racist, but it is also deadly. It grossly perverts the Christian religion. It asks us to kill to purify the Earth. It leaves us threatened not only by the terrorists who may come from abroad but the ones who are rising from within our midst.


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By loan, August 12, 2011 at 8:55 pm Link to this comment
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When you’re in uncomfortable position and have got no cash to get out from that point, you would need to take the personal loans. Just because that would aid you emphatically. I get consolidation loans every time I need and feel myself fine because of this.

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By Michael E Piston, February 23, 2008 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment
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This was an intelligent informed and persuasive rebuttal right up to the last paragraph, when the author suddenly let facts go to the wind and engaged in the same unsupported name calling that he attributes to Mr. Hedges.

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By RS Janes, February 23, 2008 at 6:22 am Link to this comment
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Chris Hedges: “The love and sacrificial giving of these men caused Kamal to cry out to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob acknowledging his need for the Savior. Kamal has since become a man on a new mission, as an ambassador for the one true and living God, the great I Am, Jehovah God of the Bible.”

It’s a shame most Christians don’t better understand the roots of their own religion and those of Judaism and Islam, or else they’d know how ecumenically dumb it is to make some separation between the Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Allah of Muhammad—they are, in fact, one and the same—the ‘One True Living God’—and Muslims revere Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus, as well.

Only in the twisted minds of the ignorant Christopublicans could it be construed differently, for their purposes, I assume, of sparking a Holy War and Armageddon, a prediction resulting from a questionable ‘L. Ron Hubbard’ interpretation of the Book of Revelation, followed by ‘The Rapture,’ the details of which appear nowhere in the Bible and were probably invented in the 18th century.

Gee, what if the Council of Nicea had simply dropped Revelation from the Bible, as almost happened. What would these Christian fanatics be buzzing about these days?

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By marie, February 22, 2008 at 7:06 am Link to this comment
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If Shoebat was spewing “racist filth” Chris Hedges would have quoted Shoebat. Yet no quotes are provided. If Shoebat was a “fraud,” Hedges would have given evidence. Yet he doesn’t. However, the evidence for Shoebat’s claims are overwhelimng. I read his books, Hedges didn’t. Even liberal media confessed that Walid’s cousin Jawad Younis (a terrorist as well who was extradited from Israel) was the attorney of Abu Zubaydah http://www.muslimedia.com/ARCHIVES/oaw00/jor-death.htm
Younis is also associated with Hizbullah. Abu Zubaydah was Younis’s defendant in Jordan while being judged in absentia. Zubaydah was the first high-value detainee taken by the CIA in 2002, is now being held with other detainees at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Zubaydah was the one that confessed Ramzi Bin Alshib, and the two men’s confessions also led to the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who the U.S. government said was the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The link to prove that Shoebat is a relative of Younis was proven beyond doubt as Kamal Younis, Jawad’s brother, along other family members of Shoebat began to spill information to Eileen Fleming, a journalist who was interested in smearing Shoebat.
Members of Shoebat’s family tried it’s best to protect Al-Qaeda operatives and Usama Bin Laden key agents behind 9/11. A complete rebuttal to articles that lack credibility currently circulates the web in attempt to discredit Shoebat can be read at:
http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_walid_sh_080206_i_was_a_terrorist_3b_i.htm

During these testimonies by Kamal Younis, the brother of Jawad Younis, as well as other members proved Shoebat’s link is true and accurate. Even his prison and life in Israel as he tells in his speeches and books.

The real fraud is Hedges. When I say “fraud” I am talking about patriotism. Would Hedges love to see Israel and America toppled by terrorists or extreme leftists. The answer is YES. It is obvious from all his writtings.

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By Douglas Chalmers, February 22, 2008 at 4:20 am Link to this comment

“God” is not a derivative of the Original creation, Maani - unless you want to refer to the Sun as god. It is the nearest thing to god in our part of the cosmos anyway.

Despite the bad press, the Pagans were basically Sun-worshippers. That is, they had it better defined than most of us today. And the Sun is neither male nor female despite what some astrologers say.

Even the ancient religions referred in some way to an “absolute” and unknowable creator as well as a pantheon of lesser gods. Pity the foibles of some of the ones in human guise, ha ha, and especially the Roman ones.

But what you say is that humans are still somehow at the centre. This is our illusion. We are all actually on a journey to some (also unknown) point in Space known as “the Great Attractor” - and have been for all of human existence.

As such, it is the human race which is “co-incidental” and unnecessary - or so it might seem. The one true fact about us all, though, is that we have not yet realized the real true reason for our existence, whether you believe we were “created” or were “evolved”.

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By Maani, February 21, 2008 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

Doug:

This is really good: it is a nice concise assessment in a few short sentences.

I would simply add that, for those on the fence, the anthropic principle plays a part here; i.e., even if they do not believe in a “creator” or “personal” God, it does seem rather…coincidental to them that the Big Bang just happened to lead inexorably (after 13 billions years, of course) to the existence of humans - the only creatures in the entire universe (that we know of) who are “conscious” enough to even realize that the universe (and its “laws”) exists, and to have been given the ability to ponder it.

Peace.

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By Leefeller, February 21, 2008 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

Would it not be more accurate to say some scientists? 
You are so full of it, enlightenment, wisdom and truth that is, go DC.

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By Douglas Chalmers, February 21, 2008 at 4:04 am Link to this comment

By Inherit The Wind, February 18: “I do not have faith there is God. I do not have faith there is no God.  I do not have faith…

The Marxists are old hat (I mean black shirts, uhh) and Atheism is hardly a faith as it is a form of desire for non-existence as a means of relieving oneself of the human condition or its true origins.

Of course, it is not possible as there is a god whether you call IT a g-o-d or not. There was once a radio program on which it was not permitted to mention the ‘G’ word. But that is as unnecessary anyway now as it was then anyway.

There is a creator of the Universe. The scientists accept that with their ‘big bang theories’. Obviously, that is not a human creator and therein lies the dilemma for most people. Being able to think outside of our human existence is not really possible.

What is more, we are the mere product of some form of supposed evolution on this Earth which is, in itself, a microscopic speck in the Universe. To say that we motes who/which crawl on Its back have any decisive opinion is thus ludicrous - and always was.

So, I do agree that is is not wise to be either an aethiest or a Marxist. Neither lead anywhere beneficial and are superseded or irrelevant constructs anyway. Reality is the great Truth and Truth is the great religion.

I hope you are feeling better in the last few days, Inherit The Wind. LOL

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By Tony Wicher, February 21, 2008 at 1:31 am Link to this comment

ITW,

How about faith as hope, faith in the possibility of a better world, faith that problems can be solved, that peace can prevail, that reason can obtain, as opposed to cynicism and despair?

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By Friends Of Liberty, February 20, 2008 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment
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I find it curious that you “very much doubt that there was any such person as “Jesus” who was crucified under Pontius Pilate,” and that you “regard the whole thing as a myth.” Yet you are moved by the Book of Matthew, which not only speaks of the birth of Jesus, but also details his genealogy.

You say Jesus is a figment of the fertile imagination of Paul (who never met Jesus until after His resurrection), yet Matthew (who knew Jesus personally) said Jesus not only existed, but was the Son of God.  Just curious.

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By Leefeller, February 18, 2008 at 9:01 pm Link to this comment

A self righteous Agnostic takes the cake. Faith? You have an accident or something, your delusions supersede the orthodox religious. 

You talking about the Marxist brothers? 

Now I know where that hole in the wall came from.

Guess, I can say I am glad you are not an Atheist, could not care less if you were a Marxist.

You may have your A’s mixed up, and really want to say your an antagonist not an agnostic. 

ITW, it is one thing to state what you believe or do not, another thing to state what you believe others believe or not.

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By Inherit The Wind, February 18, 2008 at 8:29 pm Link to this comment

Dictionary definitions, Maani, not grounded in reality. I call myself an Agnostic to differ myself from the Atheists who believe, without any evidence, on faith, that there is no god. They have faith—that there is no god.

As Agnostic, I denounce the concept of belief, and of faith.  I do not believe in god.  Likewise, I do not believe in no god.  I do not believe either way because I do not believe in belief!  I do not have faith there is God. I do not have faith there is no God.  I do not have faith.

The Marxists celebrate Atheism—as a faith.  That’s why I’m neither an Atheist, nor a Marxist.

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By Maani, February 18, 2008 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

Tony:

Actually, it is not delusions that determine one’s sanity.  In fact, the definitions of “sanity” and “insanity” are woefully lacking in any sort of details that would make understanding those terms clear to a majority of people.

Einstein, of course,came up with one fairly good definition: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

Personally, I believe sanity is defined by each specific culture.  In our culture, sanity would seem to be “the acceptance of the generally accepted norm” and insanity is “deviation of acceptance of the generally accepted norm.”  Though this is by no means as “solid” a definition as we might like, it seems to be fairly close to the…generally accepted definition of sanity and insanity.

Delusions only tend toward “insanity” if they are incompatible with an OVERALL “normality.”  Plenty of people are delusional without being “insane,” and, indeed, would otherwise be considered “normal” if you interacted with them.

A belief in God is not a “delusion” in either sense, since (i) more people believe in God than do not, so it is, like it or not, the “norm” rather than the exception, and (ii) a belief in God is not mutually exclusive from an OVERALL normality, and ability to interact with people and the world in what would be considered a “normal” fashion.

Peace.

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By thebeerdoctor, February 18, 2008 at 11:03 am Link to this comment

“There was a door to which I found no key,
There was a veil through which I could not see”
  The Rubiyat by Omar Khayam

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By Leefeller, February 18, 2008 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

Maani, your synopsis seems in agreement with my own on the defining of religion.

We happen to disagree on the best choice for president.

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By Maani, February 18, 2008 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

There is an incerdible amount of semantics going on here.  Let’s look at some basics.

“Atheism.”  Literally, a-theism, or non-belief in “theism,” which is “the belief in the existence of a god or gods.”

“Religion.”  Primary definition: “The service and worship of God or the supernatural.”

Thus, atheism is NOT a “religion,” but rather the ABSENCE of religion.

Indeed, even the tertiary definition of “religion” - “a cause, principle or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith” - would not give rise to “atheism” being a “religion,” since atheism is not a “cause” or a “principle” or a “system” of beliefs.

In this regard, psychology/psychoanalysis is only a “religion” in the broadest sense of the tertiary definition of “religion,” if we accept psychology as a “system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”

Peace.

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By Leefeller, February 18, 2008 at 7:55 am Link to this comment

A person who believes in delusions is considered to be insane.  A person who does not believe in same delusions of the deluded individual, cannot be declared insane except by the deluded one.  Many people who believe in a delusion and call themselves religions, does not make the fact any less deluded.  Atheists do not believe in the delusions of the religious, Tony Witcher so why when you say atheism is the same as religion, is your argument any different than an insane person? 

In your case, calling someone a close-minded bigot for not agreeing with a deluded sense of self rightness is stretching it.  You should know of all the delusions out their Buddhism seems to have the most enlightenment.  Unlike you who speak for Buddhists, I speak from not knowing myself ignorance with mild amusement.

Must agree with you though, it does appear some atheists do use their non beliefs like religion, I part company with them, when they get their tax exemptions.

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By richards1052, February 18, 2008 at 1:57 am Link to this comment

Earlier reporting about Shoebat has noted that he is a U.S. citizen.  If he indeed ever was a terrorist then the U.S. government has granted citizenship to a self-admitted terrorist.  Either we’ve made a monumental goof or Shoebat is a liar.

There’s lots of money to be made by these people who go on the lecture circuit spouting their propaganda & fantasies.  Plus there are lots of Christian evangelicals prepared to fund their activities.  It stinks.

Shoebat also speaks widely to Jewish audiences too naive to understand how they are being exploited in a campaign to discredit Islam by fomenting Islamophobia among Jews.

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By POTASSIUM, February 17, 2008 at 5:43 pm Link to this comment
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DOESN’T come as a surprise to me coz a certain montreal dweller called Mr Kosher explained certain things to me and since that day i avoid zionists like the disease it is and like the disease they are.

greg bacon, thanx and the advantage of such a forum is that all bring something to here and hence i just get the headlines easy instead of sifting through 90 pages per day

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By Bill Blackolive, February 17, 2008 at 9:26 am Link to this comment
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We may talk on things during the past ten thousand years of organised religion, city states with priests and barracks soldiers to keep workers to work.  Before this we do know, of any written histories this time, the aborigines on Earth invaribly knew all is eternal, interrelated.  All is motion, this homosapien knows for two hundred thousand years minimum, ho hum.  Truth does not stand still, said the Peyote Woman, read TALES FROM THE TEXAS GANG, by Blackolive, soon published by Jeff Potter of OUTYOURBACKDOOR Publishing. Ok, nevertheless, the more immediate mystery is what the hell is all going down in the US and now entire world since the Twentieth Century US secrets.  Maybe Obama is very hip or “brilliant” like says Oprah and that he knows all this is being kept from you and me. But what ever could he do? He cannot close US military bases all over the globe. Well, I repeat, one route to be breaking some of this loose is to go to patriotsquestion9/11, understand your real voice is no longer alone.  Once this stuff starts breaking out and into corporate tv, the shock upon vanities and starved identities will become so intense, there will be forms of revolution, cascading, incremental, anything can happen.

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By cyrena, February 17, 2008 at 2:02 am Link to this comment

Thanks for this excellent history lesson Village Elder.

Having recently added to my own ‘enlightenment’ about the Colonial history of these United States, I can only say that there’s more than a tad bit of hypocrisy in the political use of Christianity, when the colonists were hashing things out with King George, and trying to become emancipated and all. (I mean the ‘original’ King George of course) wink

So, it would seem like things haven’t changed all that much. Christianity is somehow conveniently manipulated to work on either side of the argument, or to play both ends against the middle. Like a reversible jacket, or a double-edged sword.

Then again, maybe all religions are like that. Now of course that’s just sort of a passing thought, seeing as how it’s not my area of expertise. (religion that is). I could argue better on spirituality, which is of course a different concept, if only because it comes from a different source.

Thanks again for the learned correction on the Constantine connection.

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By cyrena, February 16, 2008 at 3:50 am Link to this comment

Fadel,

I’ve just ordered this book by Stephen Sizer. Thanks for the recommendation.

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By Douglas Chalmers, February 16, 2008 at 12:56 am Link to this comment

By Tony Wicher, February 15: “The “Crusader-Zionist alliance” is a reality, and it is the most reacionary and dangerous movement I have ever seen…”

It IS really scary but you still vote for “the crucible of the sword” and “I don’t oppose all wars”, uhh. You must know that you are an idiot, TW…....

But as far as “The Buddha is a philosopher” is concerned, I note that your lot here are as arrogant about your white Western version of Buddhism as you are about your PC pretensions in favor of Barack Obama.

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By Inherit The Wind, February 15, 2008 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

Straw man, TW, straw man.

Atheism comes in two flavors:
One: Those who believe there is no deity.
Two: Those who do not believe in a deity.

Into the first fall, of course, the Marxists—“Atheistic Communism”.  To me, they are no different than a religion because they take it ON FAITH that there is no deity—they “believe”. They are, if you will, cynics.

To me, the latter is more properly defined as Agnostics. They do not believe in a deity because it requires BELIEF—which is faith.  Faith to an Angostic is the real issue—They are skeptics.

The concept of belief and faith lumps Atheists in with religion but separates Agnostics from them all. The Agnostic does not, like the Atheist, deny the existence of a deity dogmatically, but, rather, because when held up to the scientific standard of proof, there’s no evidence.

Belief and Faith are, to me, then enemies of mankind.  For every good and kind person of a faith (any faith) there are 10 of that religion who will kill everyone who deviates from it.

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By Tony Wicher, February 15, 2008 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

Some religions have a god, or gods, and some don’t.

Psychoanalysis is one atheistic religion, Marxism is another. Two great atheistic texts are Freud’s “The Future of an Illusion” and “Civilization and its Discontents. I think there is a lot of truth to be found in them, yet I do not accept what they say to the exclusion of other viewponts. 

I leared from my comparative religion teacher in college that there are five major branches of Indian philosophy, and Buddhism is considered one of the two “atheistic” branches. In the following Buddhist text, the venerable Malunyaputta approaches the Buddha with the following question:

“These theories that the Blessed One has left unexplained, has set aside and rejected – that the world is eternal, that the world is not eternal, that the world is finite, that the world is infinite, that the soul and the body are identical, that the soul is one thing and the body another, that the worthy person exists after death, that the worthy person does not exist after death, that the worthy person both exists and does not exist after death, that the worthy person neither exists nor does not exist after death– these the Blessed One does not explain to me. And the fact that the Blessed One does not explain them to me does not please me nor suit me. Therefore I will draw near to the Blessed One and inquire of him concerning this matter. If the Blessed One will explain them to me, . . . I will lead the religious life under the Blessed One. If the Blessed One will not explain them to me, . . . I will abandon religious training and return to the lower life of a layman.”

Buddha replies as follows:

“Pray Malunkyaputta, did I ever say to you, ‘Come, Malunkyaputta, lead the religious life under me, and I will explain to you either that the world is eternal, or that the world is not eternal . . . or that the worthy person neither exists nor does not exist after death’?”

“No, indeed, Reverend Sir.”

“Malunkyaputta, any one who should say, ‘I will not lead the religious life under the Blessed One until the Blessed One shall explain to me either that the world is eternal. Or that the world is not eternal . . . or that the worthy person neither exists nor does not exist after death’; that person would die, Malunkyaputta, before the Tathagata had ever explained this to him.

“It is as if, Malunkyaputta, a man had been wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and companions, his relatives and kinsfolk, were to procure for him a physician or surgeon; and the sick man were to say, ‘I will not have this arrow taken out until I have learned whether the man who wounded me belonged to the warrior caste, or to the Brahmin caste, or to the agricultural caste, or to the menial caste.’

“Or again he were to say, ‘I will not have this arrow taken out until I have learned the name of the man who wounded me, and to what clan he belongs.’

“That man would die, Malunkyaputta, without ever having learned this.”

“The religious life, Malunkyaputta, does not depend on the dogma that the world is eternal; nor does the religious life, Malunkyaputta, depend on the dogma that the world is not eternal. Whether the dogma obtain, Malunkyaputta, that the world is eternal, or that the world is not eternal, there still remain birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief, and despair, for the extinction of which in the present life I am prescribing . . .

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By Tony Wicher, February 15, 2008 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

The “Crusader-Zionist alliance” is a reality, and it is the most reacionary and dangerous movement I have ever seen. It is really scary.

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By Leefeller, February 15, 2008 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

Your inclusion of atheism as a belief seems a personal necessity to support your premise,  since ignorance is a perfect perch for religion, the need to pigeon hole seems important to religions and you, why do you find it necessary to include atheism as a religion? 


Your seem to be an expert on atheism, not I.  You also seem to be a proclaimed expert on bigotry’s, FYI, I am trying to give them up.

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By werewolf, February 15, 2008 at 1:34 am Link to this comment
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This article published on the Alternet website on 12-February has just been removed from their site about 8 hours ago. 

If they, the Christian Rightists, manage to have the article removed from Alternet with 326 comments from readers, then certainly they are most influential and dangerous to the internet community as well.

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By Tony Wicher, February 15, 2008 at 1:10 am Link to this comment

It is once again a case of failure of self-knowledge. The charicature of religion you present here is a perfect case intolerance and prejudice. The Buddha is a philosopher and saying that an atheist “would not care” what he says just shows once again your narrow-minded, ignorant bigotry. As I said, atheists do not have lack of belief; on the contrary, they are very passionate about their beliefs, as you are.

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By werewolf, February 15, 2008 at 12:29 am Link to this comment
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This article published on the Alternet website on 12-February has just been removed about 6 hours ago from their site.

If they, the Christian Rightists, manage to have the article removed from Alternet with 326 comments from readers, then certainly they are most influential and dangerous to the internet community as well.

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By werewolf, February 15, 2008 at 12:24 am Link to this comment
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This article published on the Alternet website on 12-February has just been removed about 6 hours ago  
from their site.

If they, the Christian Rightists, manage to have the article removed from Alternet with 326 comments from readers, then certainly they are most influential and dangerous to the internet community as well.

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By Rommel, February 15, 2008 at 12:00 am Link to this comment
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This article published on the Alternet website on 12-February has just been removed from their site about 6 hours ago. 

If they, the Christian Rightists, manage to have the article removed from Alternet with 326 comments from readers, then certainly they are most influential and dangerous to the internet community as well.

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By Maani, February 14, 2008 at 9:26 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller:

“Now how many atheists do you know stand on the street corner and give out Atheist towers, bang on your door the one day off and try to give you some propaganda on what you should think, believe or breath?”

Forgive the outrageous controversiality of the statement I am about to make, but in fact atheists DO tell me, and most of us, what to do every single day - because they control our educational system, the biggest propaganda machine in the whole country!

Note that I am NOT suggesting here that Jews or Christians or Muslims of Buddhists or Zoroastrians or any other religion should control our educational system.  But to suggest that atheists do not in any way “try to give you some propaganda on what you should think [and] believe” is simply dishonest.

At the risk of opening an enormous can of worms, let me give you an example.  Although I am not for the teaching of creationism, or even intelligent design, in anything resembling “equal time,” our educational system essentially teaches, whether tacitly or otherwise, that Darwin set out to disprove the existence of God - which, of course is not the case.  Darwin simply set out to disprove that each species was “specially created”; i.e., that species come about through the processes of random mutation and natural selection.  And Darwin DID prove this.  HOWEVER, while he eventually gave up Christianity, he remained a diest his entire life; i.e., he believed in a “Creator,” and, in The Origin of Species, made it clear that he believed that the Creator created “life,” and “set in motion” the “processes” that led to speciation.  In other words, Darwin believed in evolution “with first cause.”

But do you hear this in the classrooms?  Does any teacher teach that Darwin started out as a Christian, got his only earned degree in theology, studied for the ministry, fell away from Christianity (but not deism), but, after writing his last book, became a deacon of his church?  Why should this information be withheld from students?  Are the atheists who run the educational system afraid that it might “confuse” them?  So what!  Let them be confused.  But tell them THE TRUTH!

And again, while I am not suggesting that believers should run the educational system - or exactly what kind of job they would do with it - you can be sure that if they DID, they would NOT be turning out the consumerist worker bees that our educational system is set up to create to maintain the status quo of our power-money-greed Madison Avenue mentality socio-culture and politico-economics.

Peace.

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By Fadel Abdallah, February 14, 2008 at 9:00 pm Link to this comment

Another sober piece by a super intellectual and a fine first-rate humanist!

Certainly, “three stooges of the Christian right,” “frauds,“con artists,“ignorant,” “scum,” “racist,” and “deadly” are all appropriate words to describe the three individuals mentioned in Chris Hedges’ article. However, when he describes them as “three jokers,” I beg to disagree. Far from being jokers, those three, along with the movement they represent, are not to be taken lightly or dismissed as “jokers;” they are part of a big, well-financed and highly connected dangerous movement of home-grown would-be international terrorists, whose aim is to hasten and bring about the fictitious Biblical battle of Armageddon.

In a recent international interfaith dialogue, I had the honor of sharing a panel with a very fine British Christian scholar by the name of Stephen Sizer. He recently published a book entitled, “Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon.” A very well-documented history about this dangerous movement and their unholy work to marry their religious chauvinism and fanaticism to politics. If you need to know the enemy from within, then this book is a must read.

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By Inherit The Wind, February 14, 2008 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment

No point in that.  Clearly you are lost in fantasy. I’ve seen people calculating and I’ve seen them acting, and I’ve seen them frozen in fear.  That’s what George Bush was—frozen in fear.  And I’ll stand on my judgment long before I’ll stand on yours.

If you use new tin-foil, it doesn’t wrinkle so much and reflects the telepathy waves better….

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By Inherit The Wind, February 14, 2008 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment

Bacon:
Perfect name for a nazi pig.

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By Leefeller, February 14, 2008 at 7:10 pm Link to this comment

Not for the intolerances, but for your definition of religion.  Atheism is a non belief, not a belief, so your premise is not even out the gate, but you try very hard to keep carrying it down the road, just to keep the empty air moving along. 

Now how many atheists do you know stand on the street corner and give out Atheist towers, bang on your door the one day off and try to give you some propaganda on what you should think, believe or breath?  When was the last time the Atheists had a Grand Pubea instill the way you part should part your hair, live and sleep and live your life? 

For one thing atheists would not attempt to tell you what your Buddha really means, nor would they care.  Knowing a Catholic dose not make an expert on Catholicisms,  so you come off as an expert on non believers of believers?  Tell me more.

Now how atheists behave is another story, and they are not all the same and may be intolerant of different aspects of life, just like anyone else.

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By Tony Wicher, February 14, 2008 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

Re By WriterOnTheStorm, February 14 at 2:07 pm #
(45 comments total)

“With equal respect, your ‘logic’ contains the same flaws of most conservative arguments in this debate. Claiming that criticism of intolerance is itself intolerant is dishonest. And I think you know this. It’s like calling an executioner a murderer. It’s the same shabby rhetorical trick calling atheism a religion.  A cheap play on words that will convince few except the most disingenuous among us.”
——————————————————————————
I’m having trouble with your logic. I agree with the first thing you said. Tolerance is absolutely necessary for a democracy to work. Intolerance is the enemy of democracy. The intolerant deserve not to be tolerated in a democracy. It is their just desert.

On the other hand, you call saying atheism is a religion “the same shabby rhetorical trick”. I may be among the “most disingenuous among us” that you speak of, but I find this way of looking at theology very useful sometimes. If one’s religion is defined as one’s belief system, then atheism is a religion. Like all religions, it is liable to intolerance of other religions, and some atheists are among the most intolerant people I know.

Thus atheism is a belief system and people who have such a belief system act very much like adherents of other beliefs systems that we do call religions, such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. So why not call atheism a kind of religion? 

Tolerance is to live and let live, believe whatever we believe, and allow others to believe whatever they believe.

Buddha tells us that whatever we believe, it is only a modification of our essence of mind. Meditation on this fact may enlighten the mind past the limitations of belief.

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By Tony Wicher, February 14, 2008 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment

Re By Maani, February 14 at 11:31 am #
(545 comments total)

Re: A Christian nation?
Tony:

Amen!  Actually, the country was founded by theists (not Christians) who established the principle of the separation of church and state to protect BOTH from the other, but allow the free expression of both.

Peace.
——————————————————————————-
Quite. I would describe them as eithteenth-century rationalists, most of whom may have espoused some form of non-sectarian deism.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, February 14, 2008 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

With equal respect, your ‘logic’ contains the same flaws of most conservative arguments in this debate. Claiming that criticism of intolerance is itself intolerant is dishonest. And I think you know this. It’s like calling an executioner a murderer. It’s the same shabby rhetorical trick calling atheism a religion.  A cheap play on words that will convince few except the most disingenuous among us.

You are correct when you suggest though, that just as Christians take much on faith, so too does the liberal. Few liberals in America really challenge the sacred cows of capitalism or “democracy”, or American military and cultural hegemony. These are simply not to be questioned.

It’s as if every culture is blind to it’s most dangerous element: itself.

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By Rick, February 14, 2008 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, I agree.  I meant ANY claim in either direction is unfounded.

Have a great day.

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By Maani, February 14, 2008 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

Village Elder:

“The primitive christianity was less less idyllic than your description.  The Pauline doctrines were being discussed and taken seriously throughout christendom.  Specificaly I refer to the misogyny which carried over from the OT.”

Actually, this is not entirely true.

Women played important roles in the NT, and particularly in Jesus’ life.  Mary, his mother, for one.  Then the sisters, Mary and Martha.  And of course Mary Magdalene, whose role within Christianity - and particularly vis-a-vis Jesus and the other apostles - was FAR greater than after the Council of Nicea got hold of her and turned her into a second-string prostitute and disciple, eliminating any evidence that she had played a substantial role, one which was broadly accepted by the early church.

Even in the Pauline documents, women serve important roles, including Priscilla (a co-minister of a home church), Tabitha/Dorcas, Phoebe (also a minister), Euodia and Syntyche, Etc.  Indeed, women served in all roles in the early (pre-Nicean) church, including deacons, ministers, elders, etc.

And, of course, there is Paul’s admonition that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus,” which would have been a powerful statement to the early church, and one which they would almost certainly have taken to heart.

I am not suggesting that sexism and misogyny was magically eliminated in or by the early church.  But it was almost certainly not as pronounced as you suggest, and only became truly pronounced after Nicea.

Peace.

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By Maani, February 14, 2008 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

Tony:

Amen!  Actually, the country was founded by theists (not Christians) who established the principle of the separation of church and state to protect BOTH from the other, but allow the free expression of both.

Peace.

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By Tony Wicher, February 14, 2008 at 11:25 am Link to this comment

Indeed, this country is NOT a “Christian nation”. Our democracy is based on the ideas of the enlightenment. Fundamenalist Christians reject the Enlightenment and would like to go back to the Dark Ages into which they originally plunged Western Civilization when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire. Over my dead body, you reactionary bastards!

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By VillageElder, February 14, 2008 at 11:14 am Link to this comment

Maani,

From your reply to Cyrena:

“Religious extremism in the form of violence is relatively new to Islam. It’s formed the foundation of Christianity, and those are just the facts.”

No, that is not the fact.  The “foundation” of Christianity existed peacefully for almost 300 years before it was co-opted by Constantine at the Council of Nicea.”

The primitive christianity was less less idyllic than your description.  The Pauline doctrines were being discussed and taken seriously throughout christendom.  Specificaly I refer to the misogyny which carried over from the OT.

I agree with your assessment that christianity began settling around a core dogma circa 300 CE.  Interestingly enough after Constantine recognized christians as having a legitimate cultus they provided him with extra military fodder.  Constantine remained of follower of Sol Invictus until his death bed.

The christians and other cultus had been content to worship virtually side by side until 300 CE.  Having been recognized by the state, given the support of the state they used their new found powers to destroy libraries, temples and books moving the European peoples into the dark ages.  That which was not doctrinaire to their cultus was not tolerated.  We have seen this patten repeated when ever members of the abramic traditions gain power.  Look a Colonial history of these United States.  Theocracy abounded with the usual dismal results.  How about those witch hunts in Germany, and the Spanish Inquisition?

As a matter of personal thoughts:  I find all these cultus based in the stone age and before.  There seems to be a growing amount of evidence that our morality is shared throughout all primates to a great extent.  This is probably a matter of the shared DNA.

I am wondering why we are having this discussion of who and what makes one a christian.  We live in a secular democratic republic.  This was settled in the mid 18th century by people who very aware of the excesses of the preceding centuries.  The were individuals who were living in and products of the Age of Reason/Enlightenment and wished to insure that this country never fall into the hands of kings or theocrats.

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By Tony Wicher, February 14, 2008 at 10:48 am Link to this comment

I have to agree - the disconnected thinking, the non sequiturs indicate that beneath a cultured veneer he has some “issues” that affect rational thought. Of course this is probably true of all of us to some extent, but if it gets bad enough, one is called “psychotic”.

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By Tony Wicher, February 14, 2008 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

Re By Greg Bacon, February 14 at 3:45 am #

“Jews are the most hateful people on the face of the earth.”
——————————————————————————-
I know lots of Jews, and some of them could perhaps be described as hateful. But when you say “Jews are ...’ you are smearing a whole people. That makes you an out-and-out anti-Semite. Know yourself. The hate comes from within you. Hate comes in many forms. I don’t think this cartoon particularly is funny,  but I would no more censor it than I would those Danish cartoons the idiot Muslims were rioting about.

Go back to your neo-Nazi blogs. You are not welcome among civilized people.

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By Maani, February 14, 2008 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

Rick:

I would only add that this holds true for atheists, scientists et al: since THEY don’t know what happens to us after we die either, any claim THEY have to such knowledge is equally speculation.

Peace.

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By Maani, February 14, 2008 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

Cyerna:

I’m proud of you: at least you didn’t call him a moron.  LOL.  (Laughing WITH you, not AT you.)

Peace.

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By Greg Bacon, February 14, 2008 at 4:45 am Link to this comment

This particular cartoon proves beyond a doubt that Jews are fearless and wantonly explicit in their hatred of our European-American heritage and our people and they are not scared in the least to say it openly because there will NEVER be consequences for them. Of course if this cartoon taught someone how to cook a Jew, careers would end, death threats would commence and fines or imprisonment would follow. Jews are the most hateful people on the face of the earth.

The magazine was not bought at a Zionist meeting or AIPAC meeting, no, far more insidiously it’s sold openly on the shelves of Barnes and Noble.

A pdf of the cartoon has been uploaded here, check it out, be outraged, these Jews have some serious explaining to do as to what makes this “funny.”

More trash passing off as Jewish entertainment can be seen at Heeb Magazines website.

How to contact Barnes and Noble and get this garbage off of store shelves? Contact customer support and share a piece of your mind.

http://newsfromthewest.blogspot.com/2008/02/jewish-magazine-shows-how-to-cook.html

Think CNN’s Wolf Blitzer will cover this story?  Or maybe FOX’s Britt Hume will give it some air time.

Don’t hold your breath for this atrocious cartoon to ever see the light of day in the Zionist owned MSM.  In that Never-Never Land of disinformation and propaganda, news anchors get a pat on the back and pay raises anytime they slander, malign or distort anything Muslim/Arabic.

But woe to the fool who dare question anything about Israel/Zionism, for their reward is to be fired, threatened with violence, possibly even tossed in prison, all for asking honest questions about the descendants of the Khazars.

Here’s a link to the original story in Heeb Magazine

http://www.heebmagazine.com/articles/view/125

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By cyrena, February 14, 2008 at 2:12 am Link to this comment

Chalmers..what the hell are you talking about?

You write:

“By cyrena, February 13: “Maani writes: It was only AFTER that that Christianity was “spread by the sword” and came to be “used” for violent purposes via the Crusades, etc.”...”


You use MY name, “by Cyrena”, and then proceed with a quote from Maani,(?)about Christianity and the Crusades, and then you continue with this gibberish:

•  “Isn’t following the Golden Rule all you need to be a Christian?”

What does ANY of that have to do with me or what I wrote? Yeah, I suppose following the golden rule is all one ‘needs’ to be a Christian, if one is really hung up on having a religious identity/affiliation. I’m NOT, and I’ve made THAT pretty clear. Why do you presume that somebody, -anybody- ‘needs’ to be a Christian? (or any other religion for that matter)

Consequently, this is even MORE bizarre and inappropriate:

•  “Frankly, I find some of your statements to be offensive but Christianity is not the Catholic Church or the current Neocon pope. Nor is Islam any less of a religion of peace in actual fact.”

Now, presumably this is directed at me, since my name “by Cyrena” is at the beginning of this bizarre post, despite the fact that you follow with a quote from a different poster. (Maani) The only other recent poster that I see here that has made any reference to Catholics is DesertFather, and that was because he was relating a personal experience about his travels in the Muslim community, and ON TOPIC for the discussion about TOLERANCE! (as in religious and multicultural tolerance.)

So, why are you telling me/us that Christianity is not the Catholic Church? I’M not the Catholic Church either, and I certainly don’t give a rat’s ass about the current Pope. I also don’t have any interest in your description of various religions. Who the hell are YOU to say what religion is peaceful, or if Catholics are Christians? THEY think they’re Christians, and apparently they WANNA be Christians, so what the hell is it to YOU, one way or another?

If I wanted to know that stuff, I’m surrounded by scholars of Religious Studies, who actually have STUDIED these things, and make sense, if one is interested in learning more. Since I’ve certainly learned all that I’m interested in knowing, (at least in reference to Christianity) I’m not interested. If I ever DO have a question though, I’ll ask an expert.

Seriously Chalmers, for anyone whose attempted to pay any attention to your posts on this board, the warning signs are obvious. It doesn’t take a professional in mental health care to know that there’s something seriously wrong with you. I don’t know the actual ‘diagnosis’ because I don’t claim any certified expertise. Whatever it is, it’s the EXTREME form of it. And, as with most of the extreme forms of any mental or personality disorder, the person doesn’t KNOW that they are psychologically impaired. It’s called delusional. I know THAT much.

Even for a non-professional, your obsession with religion is a clue. Then there are all of these issues that you have with femaleness and womanhood, and motherhood, and just this overwhelming need to defend all of the women of the world. What is UP with that? If you’re not accusing everybody on this board of being a misogynist, or accusing people of having ‘issues’ with their mothers, you’re mumbling this unconnected gibberish about religion.

WHO ‘really’ has these ‘mother’ issues? WHO is a misogynist? Makes people wonder.

You’re a scary dude, and I’m sure you should be under constant professional observation and treatment.

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By Maani, February 13, 2008 at 10:16 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena:

“While you aren’t obligated to agree with or accept …AS YOU OWN, the opinions or beliefs of other people, you should cultivate a RESPECT for the beliefs and opinions of others, based on, (if nothing else) what those beliefs MEAN TO THEM. (meaning the other people).”

That is an exceptional beginning to peace between people.  I applaud it whole-heartedly.  Brava.

“It’s been at least a full 24 hours since I’ve called anybody a moron. Maybe longer…”

I like you better already…LOL.  Actually, while you certainly don’t need ME to pat you on the back, all ANY of us can do is make EFFORTS toward changing bad habits, and hopefully minimize or eliminate them.  Again, brava.

Peace.

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By Tony Wicher, February 13, 2008 at 10:06 pm Link to this comment

Yup, this racist filth about Obama has been spreading around for a while now. I would have thought it was something that nobody but a low-grade moron could possibly believe, but I guess there are more of those than I thought, because I see this caca all over the place.

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By Douglas Chalmers, February 13, 2008 at 9:58 pm Link to this comment

By cyrena, February 13: “Maani writes: It was only AFTER that that Christianity was “spread by the sword” and came to be “used” for violent purposes via the Crusades, etc.”...”

Isn’t following the Golden Rule all you need to be a Christian?

Well, I’ll graciously accept that Barack Obama should offer a correction about his inappropriate assertation of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount  being adversarial to the wellbeing of the US Department of Defense. 

And he shouldn’t have been so careless with his language in referring to the Civil War as “the crucible of the sword” as if shedding the blood of a million white men to free a few black slaves was desirable or even commendable.

I don’t know what you and your friends of The Ring care to imagine, my response was actually that Christianity should not be equated with the cult like Islam in that BO “doesn’t oppose all wars”.

Frankly, I find some of your statements to be offensive but Christianity is not the Catholic Church or the current Neocon pope. Nor is Islam any less of a religion of peace in actual fact.

In reality, the great warmonger is the USA. The rest like Rome and the states of France and Britain are merely hangers-on seeking to vicariously relive their own past ‘glorious’ iniquites.

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By cyrena, February 13, 2008 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment

Maani writes:

“No, that is not the fact.  The “foundation” of Christianity existed peacefully for almost 300 years before it was co-opted by Constantine at the Council of Nicea.  It was only AFTER that that Christianity was “spread by the sword” and came to be “used” for violent purposes via the Crusades, etc.”..

Maani,

I’ll graciously accept the correction about my inappropriate ‘terminology’ here, in the use of ‘foundation’ and the word ‘fact’.

I’ll except that the first 300 years of whatever you call Christianity, were ‘violence free’.

I shouldn’t have been so careless with the language, since it obviously took your mind off of the point that I was making.

I don’t know what friends of liberty wrote, and my response was actually to whomever it was who didn’t believe that Christianity should be ‘equated’ with the ‘cult like’ Islam.

I find the statement somewhat offensive on an intellectual level, but I don’t lose any sleep over it, and wouldn’t even give it any thought, if this so-called “Islamofascism” hadn’t been ‘created’ by the fascist here in the West, to terrorize the world.  In short, THAT is ‘fascism by terror”, terror being the primary tactic in the creation of a totalitarian paradigm.

Personally, I’m not religious. I don’t accept ANY of the religious texts as having as literal meaning, but there are scattered parts of a variety of them that I can appreciate and utilize for my own understanding and appreciation for morality and ethics in general. For me, the basis has always been relatively simple, as explained by my dad.

The kernel of it is this, “While you aren’t obligated to agree with or accept …AS YOU OWN, the opinions or beliefs of other people, you should cultivate a RESPECT for the beliefs and opinions of others, based on, (if nothing else) what those beliefs MEAN TO THEM. (meaning the other people).

Now of course that’s not always easy to do, since I’m quasi-stuck on logic and reason, and have a tendency toward utilitarianism. (and you’ve probably figured out that I sometimes lose my patience with bullshit, because of the whole ‘waste’ thing). STILL, I do believe it to be excellent advice, and so I’ve tried at least, to incorporate that into my own toolkit of fundamentals. Usually I’m successful, but not always. I keep working at it. It’s been at least a full 24 hours since I’ve called anybody a moron. Maybe longer…

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By Maani, February 13, 2008 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment

JS:

Re the Cathars, although they claimed a line of succession back to the apostles, none has ever been found, and most scholars believe they did not even appear until the 11th century.

As well, while they largely followed precepts of the Gnostics, they were all over the map re dogma and doctrine, cherry-picking pieces of Manicheanism, Marcionism, even Buddhism.  They completely rejected the idea that the OT God (Yhwh) and the NT God were the same God.  They believed in reincarnation.  They did not believe that Jesus was a flesh-and-blood human being.  Sex was considered “undesirable” EVEN for procreation.  Etc.

They certainly had some unusual positive beliefs for their time as well, including: vehement opposition to war and capital punishment; pescetarianism; and largely ascetic lives of simplicity, frugality and purity.

Thus, I would not put the Cathars into the same group as, say, the Essenes and even, to a large degree, the Gnostics (though, of course, Gnostic theology also departs in many ways from traditional early Christianity).

Peace.

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By ocjim, February 13, 2008 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment

It will take some time and effort to reverse the “dumbing down” of Americans. If you consider the tactics of the neoconservatives over the last several decades, every effort has been promulgated to render the public less active, effective, rational, and educated.

These were conscious think-tank plans.

Institutions that were formed to equalize the intelligence and rationality of average Americans have been attacked, starved for funds and/or disbanded. Our incompetent leader told us to shop after 9/11, accentuating the forces of materialism and greed. The lies and propaganda rendered us emotional tools of the plutocratic ruling class. The lack and/or deficiencies of health care made paupers out of many who became subjects for debtor’s prison when bankruptcy laws were changed to the plutocrat’s advantage. Hedge issues diverted the propagandized masses from rationally chosing candidates.

Workers are rendered impotent by forcing 2-3 jobs for the poor, giving them little or no time to vote, be educated, or healthy.

Hedges has indicated that religion is just another tool to confuse Americans and to obfuscate the real motives of a neocon plan.
To reverse this trend will take years.

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By Maani, February 13, 2008 at 8:31 pm Link to this comment

ITW:

How people react in a crisis is trained into them.  There is no “in the moment” without preparedness.  Your example is NO different. Not a bit.  Which do you value more? The child’s life and future or your own? Perhaps, in that split second, you know you value the child more—you dive in front of the car to toss him/her out of the way. Or, you know you value YOUR life more. You don’t dive, the child is killed, you are sorry but “What could I do?”

But we were not talking about “training” per se; we were talking about logic.  You can also be “trained” via morals, ethics and values, but that is not the same as “logic.”  Logic is defined in Webster’s as “an interrelation or sequence of facts or events when seen as inevitable or predictable.”  Thus, logic is a mental process or applying knowledge and reason.  However, when one acts “in the moment,” asd with the child and the car, knowledge and reason go out the window, and sheer emotion - concern, compassion, etc. - come into play.

“We saw, on tape, on 9/11, that our President, when told of an emergency, froze like a deer in the headlights for an agonizing 7 1/5 minutes.  He was unprepared to do even the obvious: 1) “Kids, sorry, but I have to go! Bye!” and walk out. 2) On the way out “What do we know and when did we know it?”
3) “What assets do we have?”  4) “Who is on the scene? Who is the best person to counter this?”

Obviously, you are not a 9/11 “truther” or you would understand that Bush’s non-reaction was calculated, and was not the result of either a lack of logic or a lack of emotion.  In this regard, you need to provide a very different example.

Peace.

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By Tony Wicher, February 13, 2008 at 8:23 pm Link to this comment

Re By Friends Of Liberty, February 13 at 4:41 pm #
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: Who is a good Christian?
A Christian is someone who, first of all, believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and second, follows the teachings of Christ through his good works and his faith in all that Christ said.  Atheists who care about the poor are good people, but they are not Christians.  There are non-Christians who are good people, and that goes without saying.
——————————————————————————-
Isn’t following the Golden Rule all you need to be a Christian? Doesn’t Jesus say somewhere that this is the whole of the law? I don’t know what the words “Jesus Christ is the son of God” means. Apparently you do. They just never made any sense to me. It is not part of my native language. Nobody ever read me the Bible when I was growing up. My father was a rationalist who equated religion with superstition. So I guess according to your definition I’m not a Christian. I very much doubt that there was any such person as “Jesus” who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and I regard the whole thing as a myth. I furthermore believe that Paul of Tarsus, who brought the Gospel to the gentiles, is the real originator of “Christianity”. Before that I think it was a Jewish sect that had existed for hundreds of years, and that continued to exist for hundreds of years more. I suspect that most of the Gospels are the product of his fertile imagination.

That said, there is something special for me about the book of Matthew. I get a very different feeling from it than the other Gospels. The teachings presented there have great meaning and tremendous spiritual power for me. I do not know where these words came from, but there is great wisdom in them and in I try to live by them as best I can.

So, for me the teachings of Jesus are important, but not whether “Jesus Christ is the son of God”, whatever that means. That part, for me, is Pauline dogma. That’s the part of Christianity I can do without.

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By Rick, February 13, 2008 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here is my view about religion.

Does anyone truly know what happens to you after you die?  The answer is no.  Therefore, any claim to such knowledge is not based on fact, but completely on speculation.  What that tells me is that no one is more right than anyone else about the subject because NOBODY knows the truth. 

Any explanation other than “I don’t know” is either a hopeful fairy tale, a delusion, or a lie made up to control people by fear of eternal damnation.

Occam’s razor prevails.

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By Inherit The Wind, February 13, 2008 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

ITW:

“Think of an EMT at an accident…they move with lightning speed, but it’s not by accident. It’s the result of training and re-training so that circumstances are INSTANTLY familiar and don’t require analysis to know how to act and react.”

Yes, but in my example, YOU are not an EMT, YOU are NOT trained, the circumstances are NOT instantly familiar.  YOU are reacting “in the moment” re something for which you are NOT prepared in any way other than being a human being and having a heart and a sense of “morals” which guide you in that moment.

Sorry, but logic has ZERO application in that instance.

Peace.

Really? I completely disagree.  How people react in a crisis is trained into them.  There is no “in the moment” without preparedness.  Your example is NO different. Not a bit.

Which do you value more? The child’s life and future or your own? Perhaps, in that split second, you know you value the child more—you dive in front of the car to toss him/her out of the way. Or, you know you value YOUR life more. You don’t dive, the child is killed, you are sorry but “What could I do?”

Soldiers in combat are forced to make this decision all the time.

We saw, on tape, on 9/11, that our President, when told of an emergency, froze like a deer in the headlights for an agonizing 7 1/5 minutes.  He was unprepared to do even the obvious:
1) “Kids, sorry, but I have to go! Bye!” and walk out.
2) On the way out “What do we know and when did we know it?”
3) “What assets do we have?”
4) “Who is on the scene? Who is the best person to counter this?”

etc, etc, etc.  Preparation and practice and George W. Bush would have been ready and able to act on 9/11, or when Katrina hit, or when the tornadoes hit, or the California wild fires.

You’ve said nothing that convinces me otherwise.

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By Friends Of Liberty, February 13, 2008 at 6:01 pm Link to this comment
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‘“First, Jesus actually said that….”

These kind of sentences always make me laugh. No one knows what Jesus said or if he in fact existed. ‘

Those who believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God naturally accept this information as legitimate.  And since the Bible tells us what Jesus said, then Christians know what He said. It’s that simple.

Why would it be the case that no one knows what Jesus said?  The same could be said of Socrates, whom no one knows if he even existed, yet his student Plato told us Socrates existed.  Yet there really is no way of knowing if Plato existed because his writings could have been someone else’s.  Yet his student, Aristotle claimed that Plato existed.  Yet how can we really prove that Aristotle existed?  I could go on and on, but you get my drift.

Jesus’ existence has been accepted by those who personally knew him—his apostles, who told their disciples, who told others, and so on and so forth.

I could easily claim you have no brain.  You would argue that you do indeed have one, and I would counter that you’ve never seen it, yet you believe.

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By Friends Of Liberty, February 13, 2008 at 5:49 pm Link to this comment
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That’s amazing.  Now religion is a virus.  How quaint.  I’m assuming your connection of religion to a virus is supposed to be negative, so that religion is, in your opinion, as deadly to a human as an infection?  What leads you to this conclusion?  Is it because “religious” people adhere to a belief system?  Is it because many religious people claim to be righteous yet act in unrighteous ways?  Are they hypocrites?  Does their belief system infect their minds with strange ideas of beings they can’t see (God, angels, demons), and phenomena (miracles) they can’t explain?  May I remind you that those who swear by science also adhere to a belief system?  That many people who disdain religion are as close-minded as “religionists” in that they close their minds to things they cannot see (until of course they “discover” what was there all along).  That many atheists (devout in their beliefs) commit many of the same wrong behaviors as the “religionists” they denouce and condemn?  Hypocrisy is a characteristic of humanity, not of religion.  Why is your atheistic perspective of the universe more valid than a Christian’s?  Your analogy of the virus only shows that a person with a belief system is infected with a belief.  Kant said that God can neither be proven, nor disproven.  And since we humans can only perceive a fraction of reality, most of our scientific beliefs about the universe are still just theories.  You may not like to view yourself as someone who believes in things he cannot see, but the truth is you do. And you’re no different from the people you denounce.

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By Friends Of Liberty, February 13, 2008 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment
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“Think of Christ as a philosopher rather than a deity and it all works out just fine. In fact, my guess (and its only a guess) is that when he said that he was the son of God, he was trying to convey that everyone is…not just him.  The Church has tended to twist that for the sake of its temporal power. “

There are those who think that, when Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light.  No one comes unto the Father except by me,” that Jesus meant, anyone like him.  Clearly Jesus was referring to Himself alone.  Those who believe this are the same people who don’t want to believe that Christ is the Son of God, because that would mean that Christianity would be elevated above all other religions, and that seems unfair to everyone else.  So to level the playing field, some people reinterpret scripture in ways that are almost comical, to give it a different meaning.  Jesus was very clear when He spoke.

When Christ said He is the Son of God, He was clearly speaking of Himself alone.  When Jesus told His apostles that He would be crucified, was He saying that we will all be crucified at Golgotha?  When He said His name is Jesus, did he really mean that everyone’s name is Jesus?  Obviously not.

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By Friends Of Liberty, February 13, 2008 at 5:43 pm Link to this comment
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‘By what authority do you get to delegate who is and is not a “true christian”? ‘

The Bible defines a Christian as someone who, first of all, believes (has Faith) and declares that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (and not a mere teacher, educator or philosopher, but a Deity), and second, who not only believes Christ’s teachings but puts them into practice through his behavior.  How does a man define himself as a Christian if he does not fit the above two conditions?
My point, which you’ve completely missed, is that those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk are not what they claim to be.  There is a popular saying: If it quacks like a duck and it acts like a duck, it’s a duck.  But what if it quacks like a duck but doesn’t act like one?  If a man claims he is a Christian, yet does not behave like one, is he really a Christian?  A man who claims to be a Libertarian, yet demands government intervention in the economy, is not a true Libertarian.

‘by your vague hand-waving definition, some good atheists and good muslims who feed the poor and sick are also christians. ‘

I’m not sure how you came up with this reasoning.  There are good atheists and good muslims in this world, and that goes without saying.  Yet, obviously, they are not Christians because they don’t accept Christ as the Son of God.

“Why can’t we reject the bible, qur’an, and all this other nonsense and be moral beings for the sake of being moral beings? “

You’re free to reject anything you want, but what you view as “nonsense” is the basis of other people’s morality.  Most of America’s most cherished values are Judeo-Christian.  Which of the ten commandments do you reject?  The one against anyone stealing from you?  The one against anyone murdering you?  The one against anyone sleeping with your wife?  How about the Golden Rule?  Do you reject the idea of treating others as you would like to be treated?  Do you reject forgiveness, and loving your enemy?  You may reject the idea of God, but do you really reject the morality taught by Christ?

The problem with people who hate religion is that they see professed Christians behaving contrary to what Christianity teaches, and instead of blaming the so-called Christian, they blame Christianity, which is tantamount to blaming an alcoholic man’s personal physician for the drunkenness of his patient, even though the doctor has strictly forbidden him from drinking.

I am not one to delegate, but the Bible itself offers the distinction between a true Christian and one who is Christian in name only.

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By Friends Of Liberty, February 13, 2008 at 5:41 pm Link to this comment
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A Christian is someone who, first of all, believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and second, follows the teachings of Christ through his good works and his faith in all that Christ said.  Atheists who care about the poor are good people, but they are not Christians.  There are non-Christians who are good people, and that goes without saying.

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By jackpine savage, February 13, 2008 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment

Maani,

That was how i took Friends of Liberty’s post as well.

I whole heartedly agree with you on the transformation of Christianity happening in conjunction with Constantine’s co-option of the faith.  For just one example, the quest for the true cross.  There is little evidence to suggest that the cross was even symbolically important to early Christians, and that many early Christians saw it as negatively symbolic.  But Constantine, through his mother, was wholly enamored with its talismanic power.

On another thread, zeitgeist, outlined the Cathars.  There were strains of Christianity which operated well past Nicea (in the case of the Cathars, into the 13th Century) which fit your description of “primitive Christianity”.  Though i think “enlightened Christianity” is a better phrase.

But keep in mind, it is only very serious Christians and a few people who’ve studied the tangents of Christian history who have ever been exposed to anything outside the Christian history of the Church and its intertwining with the state for the sake of increased temporal power of both.

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By Maani, February 13, 2008 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment

ITW:

“Think of an EMT at an accident…they move with lightning speed, but it’s not by accident. It’s the result of training and re-training so that circumstances are INSTANTLY familiar and don’t require analysis to know how to act and react.”

Yes, but in my example, YOU are not an EMT, YOU are NOT trained, the circumstances are NOT instantly familiar.  YOU are reacting “in the moment” re something for which you are NOT prepared in any way other than being a human being and having a heart and a sense of “morals” which guide you in that moment.

Sorry, but logic has ZERO application in that instance.

Peace.

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By Douglas Chalmers, February 13, 2008 at 5:29 pm Link to this comment

By Mike Mid-City, February 13: “If your a theist to have any understanding if God at all is to understand that we can not comprehend the mind of God….  To claim that the gate of heaven is barred by having eaten the wrong food or broken some religious statute, is folly…”

Not actually correct, MMC. That is where the novice is as naive as the fundamentalist. Even the Hindu Auyurveda Tridosha and Chinese TCM will tell you that different foods produce different results, like ‘hot’ and ‘cold’.

We are what we eat and our hormonal/endocrine balance can be affected by what we eat. That should be all the more obvious these days when there are so many strange chemicals in the environment to be wary of.

Sugar highs, endocrine disruptors and a cocktail of hormones and poisons are not going to advance your spirituality and neither will the koolaid. At the least, they upset your liver…....

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By Inherit The Wind, February 13, 2008 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

ITW:

“I don’t say we shouldn’t engage in altruism—not at all. But if it’s totally irrational to commit an altruistic act, then yes, it should not be done.”

But one doesn’t act “in the moment” from a point of logic.  If you see a child about to be hit by a car, you don’t logically think “Well, if I save him, I might get hurt or die myself, and that would leave my wife without a husband and my kids without a father.  But if I don’t save him, I will not have expressed an important part of my humanity.”

Please.  You either act in the moment or you don’t.  And that does NOT come from logic; it comes from emotion.

Ultimately, I can only say that I feel bad for you if every single aspect of your life - including love - is determined by your “rational” self.

Peace.

You’re not serious, are you? 

A baseball player doesn’t go through all the rational processes while he’s in the flow of the game waiting for the pitch. But he spends his LIFE in advance of that moment going through that process.

A concert pianist doesn’t think about every note while he’s on stage—that’s why he practices 8 hours a day.

A soldier, in battle, doesn’t have time to go through logical processes—but that’s why he trains —so, as the Romans said, drills were bloodless battles and battles were bloody drills.

When you act “on the moment” it’s actually anything but that.  It’s the culmination of training and practice.  That is, if your acting on the moment is to be effective. 

The logic is there. Always.

Think of an EMT at an accident…they move with lightning speed, but it’s not by accident. It’s the result of training and re-training so that circumstances are INSTANTLY familiar and don’t require analysis to know how to act and react.

I don’t need your sorry or your pity. I don’t need to talk to an imaginary friend, or pretend I have magic powers of perception to experience Joy in my life. Instead, I pity you, so insecure in your self and your body that you must resort to mysticism and magic to convince yourself of your value and worth.

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By David Williams, February 13, 2008 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment
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“....Buddhism or any of the other Isms, then you must acknowledge that they do kill people….”

Buddists kill people? I am completely unaware of any Buddist terrorist cells.

Silly trolls

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By Maani, February 13, 2008 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena:

“Religious extremism in the form of violence is relatively new to Islam. It’s formed the foundation of Christianity, and those are just the facts.”

No, that is not the fact.  The “foundation” of Christianity existed peacefully for almost 300 years before it was co-opted by Constantine at the Council of Nicea.  It was only AFTER that that Christianity was “spread by the sword” and came to be “used” for violent purposes via the Crusades, etc.

What I believe Friends of Liberty (with whom I agree whole-heartedly) was referring to when he spoke of “true” Christians is what some call “primitive Christianity”: living Christianity as it was understood by the earliest (pre-Nicea) Christians; i.e., practicing one’s faith quietly and privately, sharing it with others but forebearing if they expressed non-interest (i.e., not ramming it down their throats), and trying as best as possible in the temporal world to live the main precepts of Jesus’ ministry: love, peace, forgiveness, compassion, humility, patience, charity, selflessness, service, justice, truth.

If all self-proclaimed Christians practiced this type of Christianity, they would remove Christianity from many of the accusations (some legitimate, some not) that are made against faith and religion in general.

Peace.

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By Maani, February 13, 2008 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

ITW:

“I don’t say we shouldn’t engage in altruism—not at all. But if it’s totally irrational to commit an altruistic act, then yes, it should not be done.”

But one doesn’t act “in the moment” from a point of logic.  If you see a child about to be hit by a car, you don’t logically think “Well, if I save him, I might get hurt or die myself, and that would leave my wife without a husband and my kids without a father.  But if I don’t save him, I will not have expressed an important part of my humanity.”

Please.  You either act in the moment or you don’t.  And that does NOT come from logic; it comes from emotion.

Ultimately, I can only say that I feel bad for you if every single aspect of your life - including love - is determined by your “rational” self.

Peace.

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By ShawnK, February 13, 2008 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

“First, Jesus actually said that….”

These kind of sentences always make me laugh. No one knows what Jesus said or if he in fact existed.

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By Maani, February 13, 2008 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

Jackpine:

“If the definition of a true Christian is taken as that suggested by Friends of Liberty, then it is possible to be a true Christian without believing or going to church.  Moreover, if i read Christ correctly, a non believer who acts well will be as welcome into heaven as the regular church goer.”

Please tell me where in the NT or Jesus’ ministry He suggests that “a non-believer who acts well will be as welcome into heaven as the regular church goer.”

In fact, I find this statement prima facie strange.

First, Jesus actually said that there were self-proclaimed believers who would NOT get into heaven: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Second, the concept of “church-goer” was not yet known, since there were no churches in Jesus’ time.

Third, Jesus made it quite clear who He was and what it took to be “saved”:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  A few scholars interpret “but by me” broadly to mean “by living as I have lived, and following the precepts I have given you.”  However, most scholars interpret it more narrowly to mean literally “through” Jesus; i.e., only by believing that Jesus was Himself the “image” of God: “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”  Meaning, if you have seen Jesus you have seen the Father as well.  Thus, to NOT worship Jesus is to NOT worship the Father.

And Paul adds to this when he notes that, “[I]f thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

That is where “salvation” comes from: “confessing” Jesus and believing in His resurrection.

Note that I am simply providing the Scriptural underpinnings for “salvation” and “getting into heaven” from the Christian viewpoint.

Peace.

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By ChrisJ, February 13, 2008 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment
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Chris, what are Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani actually saying or lying about?

Thanks in advance.

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By Inherit The Wind, February 13, 2008 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment

“You have forgotten that we also have hearts.  Indeed, among the qualities almost unique to humans is altruism.  I would also include among “essential” human qualities some level of goodness, compassion and, of course, love.”

A heart is just a pump.  But I would argue that ALL those other qualities are the result of a logical process.  Emotions reflect what we TRULY value.  They flow logically from those values—and alot of people have VERY dark values.  I don’t just “love” my wife irrationally willy-nilly.  I love her for very specific and logical reasons—and not “We both love to play golf” (BTW, neither of us does). 

I don’t say we shouldn’t engage in altruism—not at all. But if it’s totally irrational to commit an altruistic act, then yes, it should not be done.  Altruism should be just as relentlessly logical as any other act.

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By Inherit The Wind, February 13, 2008 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

“Oh, you’re astute. Since I couldn’t stand Tom Lantos, I mustn’t have any values or morals. “

No, it’s because you are celebrating that he’s dead.

You are entitled to not “stand” anyone you want. Nothing wrong with that.  Wanting them dead is something else again.

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By Maani, February 13, 2008 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

ITW:

“The very concept of faith is to deny your fundamental human qualities: Observation, Connection, Logic, Premise-Forming, Hypothesis, Repeatability, Conclusions, Concept-Building and, finally, Transference to Others.”

I quibble with this in two regards.

First, while it is true that far too many people follow faith and religion “blindly” - and do “deny” some or all of those qualities - it is not NECESSARY to deny those qualities in order to be a person of faith.  I could put you in a room with ten of my colleagues, and if you didn’t know that they were all believers (and ministers), you would not be able to tell which were which in discussions from astronomy to zoology, from philosophy to psychology, from history to politics.  It is a canard that the “tension” between faith and science (or faith and “rationality” or “empiricism”) is inherently NECESSARY.  It is not.

Second, I’m not sure I agree that the qualities you mention are THE “fundamental” human qualities.  They may well be AMONG them, but they are not the sum total.  And many “fundamental” human qualities have nothing to do with rationality or empiricism; in fact, ALL of the qualities you mention are “intellectual” (i.e., “brain”) qualities.  You have forgotten that we also have hearts.  Indeed, among the qualities almost unique to humans is altruism.  I would also include among “essential” human qualities some level of goodness, compassion and, of course, love.

Peace.

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By RATIONALTHINKER, February 13, 2008 at 10:22 am Link to this comment
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Have you ever read the Old Testament, it doesn’t order it’s followers to behead any one, but it does tell them to stone someone to death if they want to worship other Gods, check out Deuteronomy chapter 13, I suggest you read the Bible and learn.

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By Jim Evers, February 13, 2008 at 8:40 am Link to this comment
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The religious wars of this century are beginning.  Pop some popcorn and sit back because you are in for the ride of your lives.  The infestations we call cities with their superstitious inhabitants crawling all over each other are about to erupt into unheralded violence.  It is obvious that human beings can’t come to grips with the inherent danger that all religions pose.  There will be no victor, all religions are dictatorial in nature and will destroy freedom when threatened.

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By Expat, February 13, 2008 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

^ goes on and on.  Just read these responses and there can be no doubt.  Tolerance!  HA!!!!  There is none, save a few sane souls.  Just bring up the subject of religion and see the whacko’s come out of the woodwork.  With no apologies whatsoever,

Expat

Sorry, this is just too much.  Later, much later.

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By Expat, February 13, 2008 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Thanks, that guy put me over the top….beyond belief…for the first time I reported him…outa here I hope…god is there no end to stupidity?

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By Expat, February 13, 2008 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

In fact your comment is so offensive and off the mark I have for the first time reported it.  Bye, bye I hope.

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By Expat, February 13, 2008 at 7:30 am Link to this comment

^ ignorant as to defy logic.  Buddhism surely doesn’t care about what religion you are.  Buddhism isn’t even a religion.  How you can say the things you say is so far off the mark as to be beyond belief.  Please take yor hateful ignorance to another site.  We have no use for you hear.  Don’t spread your poison here for we are better than that.

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By thebeerdoctor, February 13, 2008 at 5:36 am Link to this comment

Mike Mid-City, you nailed it.

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By thebeerdoctor, February 13, 2008 at 5:33 am Link to this comment

Sorry Frank, I did not mean to be so rough about this. But point is that the texts of all the holy books contain absurd contradictions. One only has to look at the history of the Wahabi movement to see there is plenty of violence to go around. But it seems that Christendom has amnesia when it comes to the subject of the crusades. The desert gods I refer to are the Big Three: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. These religions have been responsible for countless deaths and trouble, and for that, I am “quite confused”. Thank you, my only prayer.

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By Inherit The Wind, February 13, 2008 at 5:26 am Link to this comment

The craziest and wildest of cults, are the ones that describe themselves as Christian, but say they have no religion.  It is the ULTIMATE in religious jingoism to claim that, because you are saying that all religions are superstitions (on this we agree).  Since you have “The Truth” of Christ, you don’t have a superstition and therefore no religion.

I may be a lifelong Agnostic but I sure can translate your jingoistic dogma.

The very concept of faith is to deny your fundamental human qualities: Observation, Connection, Logic, Premise-Forming, Hypothesis, Repeatability, Conclusions, Concept-Building and, finally, Transference to Others.  The simplest Bushman in the Kalahari has faith in his gods, but SURVIVES and thrives where you or I would die by the use of the qualities listed above.

He uses them the same way a scientist in particle physics or genetic de-coding uses them.

An engineer may have faith, but if he builds buildings and bridges with it, they will fail.

Yet it is those very qualities that makes us human, allows us to survive and thrive, that are DENIED by the major religions, particularly the 3 Abrahamic faiths.  Moslems aren’t alone in having a violent, bloody past…Christians, blessed by their priests, have murdered MILLIONS and enslaved MILLIONS throughout their history. How many were burned alive for the slightest deviations?

No, desertdude, you can keep your “non-religion”.  May the God you believe in forgive you!  You’ll need Him to be more merciful than YOU are!

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By thebeerdoctor, February 13, 2008 at 5:21 am Link to this comment

It is correct to say that the New Testament is the Christian part of the Bible, but never forget that section also contains the psychedelic rantings known as Revelations.

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By thebeerdoctor, February 13, 2008 at 5:16 am Link to this comment

Yes Desert Father, the God of Dobson is not a loving God.

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By Inherit The Wind, February 13, 2008 at 5:11 am Link to this comment

That’s right—another Jew who survived the Holocaust to come to America and build a new family and a new life, who participated in our American Democracy to the fullest is dead.

Of course that’s a reason to celebrate.

If you are a hard-core anti-semitic dogmatic bigot.

I’ll bet you cheered when Benazir Bhutto was killed, too.

I’ll bet you danced when Reagan was shot, and wept when he survived.  I voted against Reagan both times, hated every policy he proposed, but I was (and still am) glad he survived—that’s not how we are supposed to do things in America.

You continue to surprise me that there is no lower limit to your dearth of ethical emptiness.

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By cyrena, February 13, 2008 at 3:24 am Link to this comment

•  Don’t put religion in the same class as Christianity.

Desertdude,

Do you realize what this is saying in this one sentence? Don’t put religion in the same class as Christianity? Is Christianity NOT a ‘religion’?

Are you saying that Christianity is NOT a ‘religion’, but Islam IS a ‘religion’?  Or are you saying that Christianity IS, and Islam is NOT?

And, why would you suggest this?

•  To those on this board that equate Christianity with Islam don’t have a clue
what Christianity is. I suggest you read the Bible and learn.
What do you mean by ‘equate’? Are they not both religions? And, how would reading the bible inform us of the difference, unless we’d also read the Qur’an?

And, are you only directing us to the New Testament, since it is from Christ, (who didn’t arrive until the New Testament) that Christianity was formed? If that’s the case, then should you really just tell us to read “The Bible”, or should you direct us to the New Testament, if in fact it is Christianity that you want us to “learn”?

Now, we should be very honest here desertdude…For many people, (especially kids with delicate psyches) if they have to read the Old Testament first, (and that’s just the way it’s organized in the Book) then they might never even GET to the New Testament. Have YOU ever read some of that stuff? It will scare the bejesus out of ANYBODY!!

Seriously…that is some really violent text! I mean, I’m grown, and it gives ME nightmares. Now fortunately for me, I actually DID skip that part of the book as a child, because in my 12 years of Catholic schooling, we didn’t even address that part of the book much. I mean, a little of Moses and Abraham, but they mostly only gave a general outline of that. So, all of my ‘learning’ was relative to the Roman Catholic Doctrine, (and I don’t necessarily ‘recommend’ learning that religious doctrine either) and so what I did learn, was mostly just that and the gospels of the NT. Now compared to my much later, (albeit very brief) encounter with the OT, it wasn’t quite so violent, and for all intents and purposes, Jesus the Christ seems like a great guy; at least as he is portrayed in the Book.

That said, I can only repeat the words of Gandhi, to an American Christian visitor, “We like your Jesus, but we don’t like your Christians”. At my age, I’ve pretty much learned what I need to learn about Christianity, and at best, and at it’s most neutral description, it is a RELIGION, - a set of beliefs- just like any OTHER RELIGION, including Islam.

You’ll need to read more of the Book it would appear, (the NT) to LEARN the meaning of Christianity as proscribed by the life of Jesus Christ. (NOT those who have formed a movement using his name). If nothing more, the text of that describes tolerance as a most coveted virtue. A Christian principle.

I’m an agnostic by the way, though I certainly do admire the original idea behind Christianity, I think Buddhism has remained closest to what I prefer to practice as a religion, even though I wouldn’t (myself) label it as such, because I make a very clear distinction between ‘religion’ and spirituality.

For all intents and purposes though, Christianity and Islam are religions, and they both have ‘extremist’ extensions/elements/subgroups or ‘cults’ as you call them. They are NOT the majority it either religion, and that’s the bottom line.

Humm, I wonder if maybe you should read the Qur’an, so you can ‘‘learn.

I already have, (just as I have the Bible) and…I’m still agnostic. I did notice a lot of similarities though.

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By cyrena, February 13, 2008 at 2:49 am Link to this comment

I’m looking on the bright side. wink

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By Tony Wicher, February 12, 2008 at 11:13 pm Link to this comment

Atheists who care about the poor are good Christians in the real sense of the word. It’s what people do that counts, not what they believe.

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By Howard, February 12, 2008 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment

A man amongst men. Will be missed.

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By Desert Father, February 12, 2008 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This was a timely post, I just retured from Iraq working with our advisors and the Iraqis. i have also traveled about the Middle East and gotten to know many Moslem Arabs, both Sunni and Shia.  Unlike the Christian right’s propaganda most are delightful, hospitable and wonderful folks. I’ve become friends with some and have gained a profound respect and love for them.  I’m a theologically conservative Christian who had a great time talking about the similiarities and differences of our faith with my Iraqi and Arab friends without trying to convert one another. I’ve had Chi in tents of Bedouin and many meals with Iraqi officers. I’ve had them thank me for being a Priest and working with our troops. The Iraqis and other Arabs are a resilient and wonderful people, they are not the characture of evil portrayed by the stooges and the radicals of the Christian Right. I’m saddened when I see the propaganda aired all over the place and voices of peace and moderation either diregarded or blatently misrepresented.  I’m sure that the majority of the folks in this group of Christian extremists have never expereinced the friendship of Moslems and only want to hear the worst, because it resonates with their narrow, intolerant and paranoid world view, hell many Evangleicals don’t even believe that Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Anglicans are in the Christian fold, so it’s not hard to believe that they hate the Arabs and Moslems so, though they won’t call it hate. I think that much of the problem is that if you don’t fit the narrow world view of Dobson and his ilk that you the enemy of God, well at least the God of Dobson and his disciples. Good work Chris.

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By Paolo, February 12, 2008 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment

By definition, religion is the province of “faith.” That is: belief in something which is not objectively demonstrable. That is: it is the province of arbitrary assertions, requiring no proof. All that is required of religion is faith and feelings.

Having said this, I have no problem with people having a faith, so long as they accept it as a personal choice, and not something to be shoved down the throats of everyone who chooses not to believe their arbitrary assertions.

Despite the arbitrariness inherent in religion, many religions have a long and proud history of tolerance and intellectual accomplishments. Interestingly, Islam is one of them [though, to be intellectually precise, Islamic Civilizations have often endorsed cruel and barbaric practices, just as have Christians and Jews]. When most Europeans were living in hovels kept warm by farm animals, Muslim civilization was translating Aristotle and studying higher mathematics.

Thus, I am immediately skeptical of anyone who wants to bash a particular religion in favor of another. Christians, Jews, and Muslims all have practiced violence, and continue to do so, based on religious bigotry. The fact that Christian nations practice their bigotry by dropping bombs from a safe distance of fifty thousand feet, does not make them morally superior. Ditto for the one Jewish nation. No, I don’t exempt Muslims, either—their persecution of other religions, in theocratic countries, is truly execrable.

Religion, to be tolerable, must be personal, not political. A believer needs to be able to understand that his/her beliefs are, at a fundamental level, arbitrary assertions based on feelings. Thus, you cannot punish someone who does not buy into your arbitrary assertions.

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By desertdude, February 12, 2008 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment

that equate Christianity with Islam don’t have a clue
what Christianity is. I suggest you read the Bible and learn. To say Christianity is beheading people Like Islam is just ridiculus. Don’t put religion in the same class as Christianity. Islam and religion is nothing but a cult. I will pray for you all.
May you all be blessed by God.

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By jackpine savage, February 12, 2008 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment

Serious Buddhists aren’t even allowed to kill animals to eat.  There is nothing in Buddhism that suggests killing Christians.

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By jackpine savage, February 12, 2008 at 5:15 pm Link to this comment

If the definition of a true Christian is taken as that suggested by Friends of Liberty, then it is possible to be a true Christian without believing or going to church.  Moreover, if i read Christ correctly, a non believer who acts well will be as welcome into heaven as the regular church goer.

Think of Christ as a philosopher rather than a deity and it all works out just fine. In fact, my guess (and its only a guess) is that when he said that he was the son of God, he was trying to convey that everyone is…not just him.  The Church has tended to twist that for the sake of its temporal power.

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