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Jesus ‘Love-Bombs’ You

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Posted on Apr 23, 2007
baptism
AP Photo / Rick Bowmer

By Chris Hedges

There is a false, but effective, fiction that one has to be born again to be a Christian.  The Christian right refuses to acknowledge the worth of anyone’s religious experience unless—in the words of the tired and opaque cliché—one has accepted “Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.”

The meltdown, often skillfully manipulated by preachers and teams of evangelists, is one of the most pernicious tools of the movement.  Through conversion one surrenders to a higher authority.  And the higher authority, rather than God, is the preacher who steps in to take over your life.  Being born again, and the process it entails, is more often about submission and the surrender of moral responsibility than genuine belief.

I attended a five-day seminar at Coral Ridge in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where I was taught, often by D. James Kennedy, the techniques of conversion. The callousness of these techniques—targeting the vulnerable, building false friendships with the lonely or troubled, promising to relieve people of the most fundamental dreads of human existence from the fear of mortality to the numbing pain of grief—gave to the process an awful cruelty and dishonesty. I attended the seminar as part of the research for my book “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” Kennedy openly called converts “recruits” and spoke about them joining a new political force sweeping across the country to reshape and reform America into a Christian state.

“I would always go in first, introduce myself, Jim Kennedy,” he told us. “I’m checking the lay of the land and I will look around the living room and see if there’s something there that I can comment about. Frequently, there will be a large picture somewhere and where did they put it, this picture ... why would they put it over the fireplace? Significant.”

“In Fort Lauderdale you don’t find too many fireplaces,” he added, smiling, “but there’s some kind of central focus. Maybe ... golf trophies ... I’m over here looking at these golf trophies ... painting ... I say… beautiful painting, did you paint that? The first rule about looking at trophies, don’t touch them ... did you win all those trophies? So we have a little conversation about golf, but I know enough about golf to have this conversation ... now what have I done? I’m making a friend.”

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“Compliment them on whatever you can,” Kennedy said, “discuss what they do, you’re going to find out what are their hobbies, maybe right there in the living room. Then you’re going to ask them about what they do, where they’re from, how long they’ve been there ... something to discuss with them ... in doing this, you have made a friend.”

We are told to “emphasize the positive” and “identify with your prospect.”  We are encouraged in the green “Evangelism Explosion” instruction manual to use sentences such as “It is wonderful to know when I lay my head on my pillow tonight that if I do not awaken in bed in the morning, I will awaken in paradise with God.”  We are told to paint graphic pictures of personal tragedy that God has helped solve, such as: “I had a Christian son killed in Vietnam, yet my heart is filled with peace because I know he has eternal life.  Even though he was killed by an enemy mortar, he has a home now in heaven, and one day we’ll be reunited there.”  We are instructed to pepper our testimonies with words like love, peace, faithfulness, forgiveness, hope, purpose and obedience and remember to talk about how we have found, in our own conversion, “courage in the face of death.” 

Kennedy warns us not to carry a large Bible, but to keep a small one hidden in our pocket, saying “don’t show your gun until you’re ready to shoot it.”

The conversion, at first, is euphoric. It is about new, loving friends, about the conquering of human anxieties, fears and addictions, about attainment through God of wealth, power, success and happiness. For those who have known personal and economic despair, it feels like a new life, a new beginning. The new church friends repeatedly call them, invite them to dinner, listen to their troubles and answer their questions. Kennedy told us that we must keep in touch in the days after conversion. He encouraged us to keep detailed files on those we proselytize. We must be sure the converts are never left standing alone at church. We must care when no one else seems to care. The converts are assigned a “discipler” or prayer partner, a new friend, who is wiser than they are in the ways of the Lord and able to instruct them in their new life.

The intense interest by a group of three or four evangelists in a potential convert, an essential part of the conversion process, the flattery and feigned affection, the rapt attention to those being recruited and the flurry of “sincere” compliments are a form of “love bombing.” It is the same technique employed by most cults, such as the Unification Church or “Moonies,” to attract prospects. It was a well-developed tactic of the Russian and Chinese communist parties, which share many of the communal and repressive characteristics of the Christian right.

“Love bombing is a coordinated effort, usually under the direction of leadership, that involves long-term members flooding recruits and newer members with flattery, verbal seduction, affectionate but usually nonsexual touching, and lots of attention to their every remark,” the psychiatrist Margaret Thaler Singer wrote. “Love bombing—or the offer of instant companionship—is a deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives.”

The convert is gradually drawn into a host of church activities by his or her new friends, leaving little time for outside socializing. But the warmth soon brings with it new rules. When you violate the rules, you sin, you flirt with rebellion, with becoming a “backslider,” someone who was converted but has fallen and is once again on the wrong side of God. And as the new converts are increasingly invested in the church community, as they cut ties with their old community, it is harder to dismiss the mounting demands of the “discipler” and church leaders. The only proper relationship is submission to those above you, the abandonment of critical thought and the mouthing of thought-terminating clichés that are morally charged. “Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior” or “the wages of sin are death” is used to end all discussion.

Rules are incorporated slowly and deliberately into the convert’s belief system. These include blind obedience to church leaders, the teaching of an exclusive, spiritual elitism that demonizes all other ways of being and believing, and a persecution complex that keeps followers mobilized and distrustful of outsiders. The result is the destruction of old communities, old friendships and the independent ability to make moral choices. Believers are soon encased in the church community. They are taught to emphasize personal experience rather than reasoning, and to reject the reality-based world. For those who defy the system, who walk away, there is a collective banishment.

There is a gradual establishment of new standards for every aspect of life. Those who choose spouses must choose Christian spouses. Families and friends are divided into groups of “saved” and “unsaved.” The movement, while it purports to be about families, is the great divider of families, friends and communities. It competes with the family and those outside its structure for loyalty. It seeks to place itself above the family, either drawing all family members into its embrace or pushing those who resist aside. There were frequent prayers during the seminar I attended for relatives who were “unsaved,” those who remained beyond the control of the movement. Many of these prayers, including one by a grandmother for her unsaved grandchildren, were filled with tears and wrenching pain over the damnation of those they loved.

The new ideology gives the believers a sense of purpose, feelings of superiority and a way to justify and sanctify their hatreds. For many, the rewards of cleaning up their lives, of repairing their damaged self-esteem, of joining an elite and blessed group are worth the cost of submission. They know how to define themselves. They do not have to make moral choice. It is made for them. They submerge their individual personas into the single persona of the Christian crowd. Their hope lies not in the real world, but in this new world of magic and miracles. For most, the conformity, the flight away from themselves, the dismissal of facts and logic, the destruction of personal autonomy, even with its latent totalitarianism, is a welcome and joyous relief. The flight into the arms of the religious right, into blind acceptance of a holy cause, compensates for the convert’s despair and lack of faith in himself or herself. And the more corrupted and soiled the converts feel, the more profound their despair, the more militant they become, shouting, organizing and agitating to create a pure and sanctified Christian nation, a purity they believe will offset their own feelings of shame and guilt. Many want to be deceived and directed. It makes life easier to bear.

Freedom from fear, especially the fear of death, is what is being sold. It is a lie, as everyone has to know on some level, even while they write and rewrite their testimonies to conform to the instructors’ demands. But admitting this in front of other believers is impossible. Such an admission would be interpreted as a lack of faith. And this too is part of the process, for it fosters a dread of being found out, a morbid guilt that we are not as good or as Christian as those around us. This dread does not go away with conversion or blind obedience or submission. This unachievable ideal forces the convert to repress and lose touch with the uncertainties, ambiguities and contradictions that make up human existence.

We were instructed to inform potential converts that Jesus came to Earth and died “to pay the penalty for our sins and to purchase a place in heaven for us” and that “to receive eternal life you must transfer your trust from yourself to Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.”  We were told to ask the convert if he or she is willing “to turn from what you have been doing that is not pleasing to Him and follow Him as He reveals His will to you in His Word.” If the covert agrees to accept a new way of life we are to bow our heads and pray, with the convert repeating each line after us.

“Lord Jesus, I want You to come in and take over my life right now. I am a sinner. I have been trusting in myself and my own good works. But now I place my trust in You. I accept You as my own personal Savior. I believe you died for me. I receive You as Lord and Master of my life. Help me to turn from my sins and to follow You. I accept the free gift of eternal life. I am not worthy of it, but I thank You for it. Amen.”

And when it is over the new believers are told “Welcome to the family of God.” They are told to read a chapter a day in the Gospel of John and that they will be visited again in a week to talk about the Bible. They are encouraged to pray, because God “promised to hear and answer our prayers.” They are told to find “a good Bible-believing church and become a part of it.” They are told to join a Christian fellowship group. They are told to witness to those in their family. With this, the process of deconstructing an individual and building a submissive follower, one who no longer has any allegiance to the values of the open society, begins.

Chris Hedges, who graduated from seminary at Harvard Divinity School, is the author of “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.”  He is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and a Lannan Literary Fellow.

On May 22, Chris Hedges and Sam Harris will debate “Religion, Politics and the End of the World.” Click here for details and tickets.


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By nonsequitor, April 25, 2007 at 10:41 pm Link to this comment

‘I am in fact one quarter Jewish , of which I am proud . I am a Holy Ghost Catholic , of which I am proud .’ (Conrad)

when are you going to be Conrad?

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By nonsequitor, April 25, 2007 at 10:35 pm Link to this comment

‘My problem with Protestants is that they do a great iniquity to Jesus with their proclamation of the Word of God being a book (a common belief for them) and their insistency that no matter what they do to others, Jesus paid their ticket to Heaven. Protestantism was founded on heresy.’

here’s a ‘true’ christian speaking.

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By nonsequitor, April 25, 2007 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment

maani:
‘The term “true Christian” does not refer to denomination.  It refers to how one talks, lives and acts; i.e., whether they live a “Christ-like” life, according to the precepts of Jesus’ life and ministry.’

You are telling us that you need a book that was compiled some 2000 yrs. ago to tell you how to live today?

‘In this regard, although it is not true in EVERY case, it is usually fairly easy to spot “true” Christians from those who claim to be Christian but whose words and actions clearly show otherwise.’

Is it now? According to who? Me? You? According to who’s version of what he suppossedly said? It’s all opinion and it sits in your head. It’s your idea or some priest or preacher that put it there. As soon as you start believing in something you stop thinking. Life isn’t about belief unless you’re too scared to live it for what it is. This great book you’re talking about was put together by Constantine, roman emporer in order to keep the Roman state from falling apart.
He wrote the book. He chose which ‘gospels’ were to be included and which not. The church was and is a political organization.

‘Re “bringing the sword,” this as a metaphor.’

the whole thing is metaphor. that’s why everyone can interpret it according to their point-of-view- and that’s why your ‘true’ christian is different from my true christian. and we go to war over it. its moronic.

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By Maani, April 25, 2007 at 9:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tucker:

The term “true Christian” does not refer to denomination.  It refers to how one talks, lives and acts; i.e., whether they live a “Christ-like” life, according to the precepts of Jesus’ life and ministry.  In this regard, although it is not true in EVERY case, it is usually fairly easy to spot “true” Christians from those who claim to be Christian but whose words and actions clearly show otherwise.

Re a couple of your comments, please direct me to the Scriptural citations where Jesus says that “slavery is okay” and that “selling your daughter into sexual slavery” is okay.

Re “bringing the sword,” this as a metaphor.  The passage is: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”

What He is pointing out here (and it is really just a simple observation) is that His ministry will cause a rift between those who believe in it and those who do not - those who continue to believe in the “letter of the law” versus those who understand and believe in the “spirit of the law” as He taught it - even within families and households.

I am sorry that your experience with Christianity was not a good one.  I hope you find the comfort and answers you seek.

Peace.

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By Harlon57, April 25, 2007 at 8:15 pm Link to this comment

Before you were born, you did not exist.
After you die, you will not exist.
Get used to it.

I realize you have myths that make you feel better about death, but they are not true.

When you die, you cease to exist. That is all. You are no better than any other human that ever existed, and you get the same end as all other humans. Non-existence.

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By Marina, April 25, 2007 at 6:14 pm Link to this comment

Conrad,

You are correct, I did misunderstand you because of your reference: ‘Jesus Christ not needing to “study” or “gain knowledge of” the Old Testament, because He is The Word made flesh.’

If you don’t think the “Word of God” is the bible, great, you are awake then. Sorry if I offended you by my post. What is a “Holy Ghost Catholic?” I have never heard of it.

My problem with Protestants is that they do a great iniquity to Jesus with their proclamation of the Word of God being a book (a common belief for them) and their insistency that no matter what they do to others, Jesus paid their ticket to Heaven. Protestantism was founded on heresy.

And by the way, your comment that I think everyone else who posts here is “an infidel” is pretty silly. If you had truly read my posts you would see that I have stood up for atheists and non-Christians.

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By Tucker, April 25, 2007 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

continued….

And so, little by little, I began to question my faith, especially after returning home from Indonesia. I began to research the Christian faith itself. If you research the history of civilization in the Middle East, it’s easy to see how cultures influence one another. Thus I was troubled by the resemblance that pre-Christian faiths, such as the Cult of Mithras, had on Christianity. I found other gaping holes, such as the fact that there was a 40 or 50 year gap between when the Christ ascended to heaven and when the first Gospels were authored. Paul never mentions Herod, or the passage into Jerusalem, or Mary, or Pilate. He simply mentions the crucifixion and resurrection, which were not exclusive to this religious group at the time.

Then I began to read Mark Twain, Bertram Russel, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. I would sit and think for long hours about why this was this and that was that. Finally I came to the conclusion I had been living in a fantasy world for much of my “saved” life, and I wanted to live a healthy and happy life here and now while I’m alive. It was much preferable than treating the life I was living on Earth as a “waiting room” for the afterlife. What a hollow pursuit.

As happy as I claimed to be when I entered the Christian fold, my joy from leaving it was exuberant. No longer did I judge people on who was “saved” and who wasn’t. No longer did I consider human nature to be “sin”(i.e. I could look at the picture of a nude woman and be aroused without feeling guilty). No longer could I derive my “morals” from an outdated book of mythic stories that are no more true than the Odyssey, and far less entertaining.

Am I atheist? Nope, more agnostic. There could be a higher power. But giving the possibility of a higher power will beg obvious questions. Who created God? If a higher power exists, does that immediately validate what the Old Testament, New Testament or Koran says?

Anyways, I truly hope that the 21st Century will be the time period where the Western world, if not the rest of the human race, finally puts its collective foot down and says “Enough of nonsense! This is no way to live!”

When I see articles like these, I feel sad. Sad because I know what it is like to feel lost and alone and feeling that archaic doctrines are my only hope. Sad because I know what it feels like to be strangled by pseudo-righteousness and encouraged and warned not to think objectively and not to question the beliefs that supposedly are keeping me from eternal torment.

Just another dreamer who hopes people will wake up from their nightmare.

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By Tucker, April 25, 2007 at 5:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I see many replies stating “these people are not true Christians”. Excuse me, but just what is a true Christian? Evangelical? Baptist? Methodist? Presbyterian? Roman Catholic? Pentecostal? Greek Orthodox? Take yer pick!

While relativism might be a turn-off to some folks, it’s fairly easy to see that each one of these groups feels they have it right and others have it wrong, as is the case with most religions. Look at Islam, where the Sunni feel the Shiites are heretics and not true Muslims, and both have a distaste for the Sufi mystic branch.

How about this, NONE OF THEM HAVE IT RIGHT. Religions are little more than opinions rooted in mythology and legend that is taken as literal fact. Whatever semblance of unity they provide is negated that all outside of the flock are pitied, proselytized, condemned or avoided all together. Whatever feeling of support and comfort they give to the individual is still grounded in delusional thinking, and if that delusional thinking can be disproved or swept away the individual may very well be back to square one. Whatever “good points” most religions have are still outweighed by the bad points and the fact that many of those good points are attainably without superstitious dogma.

I say this as a former born-again Christian. When I was 14 my parents go divorced, and for an only child that’s a terrible nightmare made reality. My mother turned to alcoholism and despair for a few years, while my father got to indulge in his midlife crisis by cavorting around with women old enough to be my sister and living like the stud he always wanted to be. They both fostered unwanted attention on me(fake materialism and reassurance) and for fear of being swallowed up by the teenage vortex of depression, drugs and little regard for life, I got “saved”. And as I was a part of the “Jesus is cool dude!” generation of Christians(see the articles on the Battlecry campaign), I went out in the world and made it known how “on fire” I was for Christ.

I succeeded in annoying the hell out of and/or driving away many of my closest friends with my pious badgering. I doubted evolution really happened(despite overwhelming scientific evidence). I ranked abortion and abstinence as my chief concerns for society(ignoring poverty, environmental issues and political corruption). I wanted to “give America back to God” even though this was always meant to be a secular nation. And I couldn’t think for myself, because my pastor warned that was Satan trying to lead me astray. Yup, rational inquiry and thinking is Satanic.

Little by little, cracks began to appear in my faith’s foundation. Jesus is a problematic figure, even among nonbelievers he is regarded with respect and is a compassion personified. But some of things he says….wow! Slavery is ok? Selling your daughter into sexual slavery is ok? Bringing the sword? Wow that’s nice. When I pointed this out to my youth group, I found my inquiries as being regarded as “Satan’s temptation”. Hmmm ok. Then I went on a mission trip to Southeast Asia, and I met Hindus, Buddhists, animists, Muslims and Catholics who were just as devout in their faith as I was in mine, which confused me(many of our conversion attempts did not work). It also occurred to me how arrogant it is to travel to some far off country with the sole purpose of telling people that they are wrong and that we are right because…..ummmm, we say so and our book says so.

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By Maani, April 25, 2007 at 5:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RAE:

Here, here!  I second that emotion!

Conrad:

Are you suggesting that Jesus knew He was “God” from the moment He was born?  That He was (for lack of better phrase) a “fully cognizant infant?”  That He already knew “everything in the universe” literally a second after He was born?

The question is (hopefully) rhetorical.  The answer is: of course not.  Then we must ask: at what age did this “full cognizance” of “who He was” occur? 3?  5?  7?  10?

In Luke 2, we are told that “the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him.”  But in order to “wax strong,” one must first have been “less” than strong; this indicates that He did NOT have “all knowledge” (even of who He was) in His infancy.

And it is in Luke 2 that we get the first indication of His growing self-knowledge.  At age 12, He stayed behind after His family left Jerusalem, discussing and debating the Old Testament with the elders.  And when His mother found Him and asked Him why He had not left Jerusalem with them, He asked her, “Did you not realize that I would be about My Father’s business?”

This the first time that Jesus makes any suggestion that He “knows who He is.”

Jesus is often described theologically as “fully God and fully man.”  You yourself admit that He was “the Word made flesh.”  Therefore, He is NOT “the Word,” but a “human manifestation” of “the Word.”  And it is in this regard that He was fully human: He laughed, He cried, He expressed both joy and anger, He experienced betrayal, humilitation and ridicule, and He felt pain and experienced (physical) death.

By all means revere Jesus for who He was, what He “came here to do” (the “work” He accomplished on the cross), His life and ministry, and His resurrection.  But it is theologically and Scripturally incorrect to suggest that He Himself “was” the Word, and that, therefore, He did not need to “learn” anything, including the Old Testament.

Peace.

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By Tim, April 25, 2007 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Theories about an afterlife, angels, a transcending intelligence of some kind, connectedness of many things and dimensions, and other kinds of metaphysical ideas are also being examined in modern physics and psychology. “

==No they’re not. Don’t be silly.

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By bogi666, April 25, 2007 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Flattery is a warning of a confidence scheme. 1   Thessalonian’s 2:5 the use of flattery is condemned for what it is a con. For Kennedy to use flattery is an outright admission that he is doing Satan’s bidding, in the name of god. He and others like him such as Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, Hagee, Franklin Graham an their ilk are the Harlots of the Bible; their false doctrines such as the rapture and Left Behind Fiction made non-fiction are the Fornications of the Bible; their churches are the gathering places[synagogue’] of Satan and their congregations are fools.These Harlots insult, abuse,lie and call their members and their families foul names AND THEN BEG FOR MONEY FROM THE VERY SAME PEOPLE THEY HAVE JUST INSULTED, ABUSED, LIED TO AND CALL FOUL NAMES and the congregations of fools give them money. These spectacles are viewed on television and are not overlooked by the Republican Party politicians who will exploit the fools for their votes and money. Faith based initiative, abstinence programs and other such type funding is used to bribe the Harlot ministers to help influence voters.

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By nonsequitor, April 25, 2007 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

‘Clearly there is something in SOME people which urges them, attracts them, even requires them to “believe” in a supernatural creator’

could be the ‘lemming syndrome’ ??

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By Naturaldeath, April 25, 2007 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Arguing over faith is like arguing whether Schrodinger’s Cat is alive or dead.
We will never know, and to presume that our own attempts to comprehend the unknowable are superior to another faith’s makes fools of us all.
Why do people fear the unknown so? 
I am happy to admit that I do not know if a higher force exists, or does not exist.  I am happy to accept and tolerate the beliefs of all peoples, providing they do not encroach on the freedoms of others.
And all around, I see people squabbling like children: “My God’s bigger than your God”...

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By Jim Hanley, April 25, 2007 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There Never! Never! Never! was a “Jesus”!
If you have trouble accepting this, you need your head exmined!
After the recent discovery of Essene documents at Kimberth Qumran (Palestine) it has been PROVEN that Jesus was (falsified) the result of falsifiers in the second century! Stop promoting a criminal conspiracy! Santa Clause, “Jesus” and Mickey Mouse are fairytales! They NEVER EXISTED!
Religion is Absolute Bigotry!  A Contagious Disease!  Religion is the putrid vomit of criminal minds! I avoid all contacts with idiots I know to be infected with that horrible infectious ‘Plague-like’ disease called “Religion”. And this goes ‘double in spades’ for any fool who is stupid enough to promote this sort of crap by writing about ‘it’!  The exception being, of course, if the writing exposes the racketeering ‘Ponzi-like’ criminal activities of charlatans who brainwash, mesmerize, indoctrinate, and brand innocent children and fools for the purpose of using them, and abusing them.  There is no excuse for intelligent people to be so ignorant of facts about the charlatan fantasies and make-believe pretenses of religion, that works to undermine the true Democratic principles and unifying influences of our Democratic Society! To promote, propagate, profligate or publish the same pretentious and pompous falsehoods that are the evil tools used by Fallwell, Baker, Haggard, the Pope, and their ilk to brainwash, indoctrinate, brand, and subjugate innocent children and fools for the purpose of using them to gain ever more money, power, and divisive influence, is tantamount to supporting pimping, and prostitution. And because those charlatans use their evil schemes and lies to control, and enslave those misled ‘bovine-like’ advocates by rendering them ‘virtual’ robots that do their bidding; they are criminals, and those supporting them, are criminal cohorts, equally guilty of the crimes they commit against humanity, those fools, and the children. The vast majority of “religious” people were: forced into their ‘belief’! They had no say in the matter, they were imposed upon, brainwashed, and indoctrinated when innocent and defenseless! They were not old enough, wise enough, or informed enough to make a decision, or to determine the value of the information passed to them by elders who, they were taught to obey and were not able to question or contradict! And, generation, upon generation the same methods have been perpetually used and promoted by a big gang of thieves as their victimizing schemes to rob people of their pristine mental facilities and their ability to determine fact from fiction!  Most religious indoctrinated “children” never reach an “age or ability"to recover from the ‘disease’!
‘Religious’ “parents” already mesmerized and ‘indoctrinated’; are the absolute worst ‘indoctrinators’! because, they have first access to the innocents at the earliest age!
Religious parents mind’s are warped by the charlatan’s lies and fairytales, and by passing it on, they are naive, unwitting cohorts of the ‘criminal’ charlatans’; and are abetting the spread of the infectious plague-like disease “Religion”!  These “parents” are criminals! They are guilty of ‘branding’ and ‘warping’ the ‘pristine’ minds of the innocent defenseless children and robbing them of the mental acuity they were born with. Any person or entity that intentionally supports, promotes or in any other way encourages a criminal enterprise or activity that victimizes innocent children is guilty of a felony and subject to imprisonment!

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By nonsequitor, April 25, 2007 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

...bears repeating
‘The writers of the US Constitution made a major mistake. It should have been editorilly corrected as follows: Freedom FROM religion; not Freedom OF religion.’ - posted by MYRONH
...........

voodoo, superstition, smoke and mirrors, pediaphiles.
this man probably never existed.

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RAE's avatar

By RAE, April 25, 2007 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

It’s amusing to watch as people tippy-toe around the landmines of politically incorrect terminology while attempting to express their contempt for those whose views they vehemently do not share.

Clearly there is something in SOME people which urges them, attracts them, even requires them to “believe” in a supernatural creator. It is equally evident there are a significant number (likely the majority) who consider such “beliefs” as irrational, illogical, and just plain silly.

It is not reasonable to expect those in opposing camps to have very much in common except a lack of respect for the views of the other.

I think those who don’t hold the same philosophy of life as as I do (non-believer in the supernatural) are quite a few bricks short of a full load… BUT, just so long as they do not interfere with my enjoyment of life, I have no trouble in just leaving them alone to believe and behave as they wish. It’s their life and if they wish to waste it on their knees praying to some imaginary deity, that’s their business.

I think this is the “rub” as they say. There are so many in the “believer” camp who just cannot tolerate those who do not believe. They assume it’s their right and duty to do whatever it takes to convince others to see the world through their lens, and failing that, to FORCE them to do so. Until this crowd understands they have no right to impose their views on non-believers and/or the secular state and laws we will continue to have conflict, strife, wars and other hostilities. Which means don’t count on anything to change anytime soon.

There’s just TOO MUCH MONEY to be made in the “belief” business for them to go away quietly.

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By Dale Headley, April 25, 2007 at 11:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Can you say, “Jonestown”?

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By Rich Evans, April 25, 2007 at 11:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for an interesting read.

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By Gabir, April 25, 2007 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

To the People of All Faiths , Agnostics , and Athiests ,
      In my most recent post in reply to Marina , I commented that Marina labels anyone she disagrees with as a misguided Jew or Prostestant . At the end of my reply to her , I invited her to take another “cheap shot” at labeling me .
      The term “Cheap Shot” was not used to convey that I view People of The Jewish Faith or People of The Protestant Faith as inferior . Rather I was commenting on Marina’s obvious hostility towards anyone who dares to contradict her .
      I am in fact one quarter Jewish , of which I am proud . I am a Holy Ghost Catholic , of which I am proud . I respect and love people of all Faiths and Denominations . I respect the Agnostics’ right to question whether there is a God and I respect the Athiests’ right to reject Religious Belief . If we are good people and do Good Works and Deeds , then we are all part of the Mosaic of a Universal Faith . To that end we are all parts of the plan our Loving God has for us . We are not infidels , as Marina seems to believe .
      And the use of the “term” “Frikken’(incorrect spelling) in the coarse of any discussion is as vulgar as the word “frigging” (correct spelling) , which is derived from the word (Vulgar) Frig ( To Copulate) which somehow has become a socially acceptable replacement for the Extremely VULGAR “F**K .
          God Bless ........... Conrad

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By Respiro, the logo designer, April 25, 2007 at 9:23 am Link to this comment
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This article contains many true ideas, but the following is not true: “There is a false, but effective, fiction that one has to be born again to be a Christian.”

Where are the arguments?!...

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By MyronH, April 25, 2007 at 9:09 am Link to this comment
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The writers of the US Constitution made a major mistake. It should have been editorilly corrected as follows: Freedom FROM religion; not Freedom OF religion.

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By Gabir, April 25, 2007 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

Dearest Marina ,
    I do not understand why you would think that I refer to Jesus Christ as a “book” . I said exactly what you “attempt” to “correct” on , that Jesus Christ is The Word Made Flesh . Perhaps you are confused by my statement that Jesus Christ did not need to “study” or “gain knowledge of” the Old Testament . Why would the Son of God need to study the Old Testament ? I never equated Jesus Christ as The Word Made Flesh with Jesus Christ is a “BOOK” .
    I have read your posts and it is interesting that you assume that anyone you disagree with is either a “MISGUIDED JEW OR PROTESTANT” , of which I am neither . Now that I have clarified that I am neither Jewish or Protestant you could , maybe you can take another cheap shot at labeling me .
                  May God Bless You ,
                    Conrad

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By MAN, April 25, 2007 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

ALL IS FORGIVEN - NOW DO BE FORGIVING TO ANOTHER AND “SIN NO MORE”
A RESET BUTTON.

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By MAN, April 25, 2007 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

ALL IS FORGIVEN
NOW TRY IT YOUR SELF

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By Marina, April 25, 2007 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

Conrad,

Jesus is not a book! The ‘WORD’ of God is not a book. What do you think, that before there was even a sun, moon or stars, this book was flying in the Cosmos? The Word of God EXISTS but it is not a book.

Please excuse me, but Protestants have been terribly misguided and do a great iniquity to the Truth of Christ. The Word of God is what Saint John Tells us it is, clearly, WITHOUT ANY OBSCURITY.

I do not understand who started this business of the ‘book being the Word of God’ - in that book, there are God inspired writings, writings added by Esdras a Jewish rabbi because of social and political interest of the Jews and the Gospels that relate the ‘words of God when He walked this earth, but are NOT THE WORD ITSELF - uplift YOUR UNDERSTANDING and READ WELL THE QUOTE Saint John, he is NOT TALKING OF A BOOK!

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 25, 2007 at 3:44 am Link to this comment

#66235 by Jo Nathan Jones on 4/25 at 1:06 am: “...I wish there were a god and that it would immediately rapture all the damned fools off this planet…..”

Look, there’s this new planet ......maybe they could all go there?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6589157.stm

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By Jo Nathan Jones, April 25, 2007 at 2:06 am Link to this comment
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I wish there were a god and that it would immediately rapture all the damned fools off this planet. Then it will be a much better place to live.

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By TAO Walker, April 25, 2007 at 12:34 am Link to this comment

And having attained that self-mastery (or -misstery, maybe, for the better-half of us) mentioned by Douglas Chalmers (#66210), chances are excellent we’ll also’ve learned to let well-enough be, so far as the rest of IT is concerned.  Because by then we should’ve figured out, too, that we are much more the “perpetrators” than the “products” of Creation….along with All Our Relations, of course.

Ain’t Life Herownself the most beautiful one you’ve ever laid eyes, or anything else on?

HokaHey!

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By Gabir, April 24, 2007 at 11:18 pm Link to this comment

Jesus Christ is THE WORD MADE FLESH ! HE is the Son of God . Jesus Christ existed from the beginning . He did not need to “study” or “have Knowledge of The Old Testament . He is the Word .
    I feel sorrow for the subjects of this article on “Love Bombing” . What is most alarming is their belief that in their “Process ” of being born again or saved , they assume that they are guaranteed a place in Heaven . No one is guarenteed a place in heaven !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Jesus Christ is my Lord , Savior , and Master . I attempt to please him on a daily basis , but I know that at the end of time and on The Day of Judgement of the Living and the Dead , I may not escape the fire of Hell . I have asked only one huge favor - that no matter what His Judgement of me is - If I only see His face , my life will be fulfilled .
    So have a great time , all of you , the love bombers , the non-believers , the annalists , the Biblical Scholar WANNABEES . At some point between 2033 and 2040 you will either be welcomed into The New Jerusalem or thrown into eternal fire .

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By RobertBennett, April 24, 2007 at 10:43 pm Link to this comment

DAG wrote:
“Has anyone ever done a study to determine how much energy is expended in being religious and or defending those positions?  I wonder what we as a society could accomplish as a whole if we weren’t encumbered by those divisions.  I find it sad indeed.”

Sad to the point of Tragedy.

I am a deeply spiritual person, but I understand that my spiritual Beliefs are not perfect.  My mistakes guide me to refine and improve my Beliefs, and therefore, to improve myself as a person.

But many religious people feel that if what they believe is not The One True Path, they are lost.

The One True Path is a Knowing path, not a Believing path.  It is not Known if Jesus was a real person, and it never will be Known.  You either Believe it, or you don’t.  Simple.

Reading the Gospels gave me ideas I hadn’t thought of before.  Jesus did not have to exist for these ideas to ring true for me.  An idea either speaks to me, or it doesn’t; the source is irrelevant.

Much of the conversation in this tread, and on this site, is aimed at disproving the Beliefs of others. It is impossible to disprove the Beliefs of others, and attempts to do so are extraordinarily counterproductive.  It’s hard to to achieve the level of introspection required to change a Belief….

....while being attacked.

It is far wiser to develop Beliefs of your own, than to attempt to destroy the Beliefs of others.  The former is possible, the later is not.

My Beliefs:
http://thespiritandthestone.squarespace.com/

Peace,
Bob Bennett
Lick Skillet, AL

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 24, 2007 at 10:10 pm Link to this comment

Cool, TAO Walker!

We are only the product of Creation. As you suggest, we can live happily in it - or not. If we want mastery over it, we must first attain mastery over ourselves.

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By Marina, April 24, 2007 at 9:36 pm Link to this comment

Maani,

“....while hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others - including scholars and others with FAR more knowledge and understanding than you - are all “wrong.”...”

I have never been one to follow crowds, as they usually fall off a cliff. In addition, there are so-called “scholars” who say that Jesus never existed, or was married and had children, or that He never Resurrected. I don’t put much weight in what scholars say.

“This certainly SEEMS to show a dangerous spiritual arrogance on your part.”

The danger is in people believing that God instructed murder, rape, and theft. The danger is so-called theologians and scholars who say that Jesus was a myth.

You ought to open your mind and read the Essene Gospels of Peace.

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By TAO Walker, April 24, 2007 at 9:13 pm Link to this comment

No offense was intended to Douglas Chalmers (#66168) in this Indian’s suggestion that his otherwise dynamically balanced sketch of “Things-In-General” became sort of (mono?)-polarized there at the end when he said they’d just keep-on keepin’on “....until the Original Cause chooses to end it all.”  Presumably he meant, too (but didn’t exactly say), that the Original Effect would have to go along as well with any such decision to eat “The Word” once uttered to such profound and spectacular consequence.

Attributing such arbitrary and, to-all-intents-and-purposes, absolute “power” to some “supreme” entity is what has got so many people on their knees these days bowing-and-scraping in hopes of postponing that extremely prejudicial terminal “option”....‘til Hell freezes over or the pension kicks-in or they can qualify for an exemption from the predicted “punishment” (or maybe working and praying to actually “Bring it on!” if they’re convinced they’ve already acquired that free pass). Us Indians don’t go “there” for the same reason no one can ever really go to Oakland (apologies to all the Raiders and A’s fans here….and there).

No such “decider” exists in or out of our natural Living Arrangement.  Pyramid schemes everywhere are of course infested with them….witness the over-aged frat boy currently fronting for the rogue regime occupying all that Greco-Roman architecture there on the Potomac.  It’s sure no mere coincidence G.W. Bush is such a favorite among the types of “religious leaders” taken-to-task here by Chris Hedges….answering as he does to no one but that “higher father” whose all-seeing eye is featured so prominently on America’s dollar bill.

The particular “Word” once spoken to get The Ball rolling in these parts can’t now be “recalled” just because its elocutor apparently suffered from some sort of speech defect.  It must, like words everywhere and in all times, reverberate in the medium of its “transmission” until its last faint echoes’ve faded finally away.  Then we’ll all get to see whether any among us even dares ever to open their mouths again, to sing perhaps a different key note….one not so tentative and tremulous with the needless fear of “failure.”

None of us here in Indian Country is the least bit worried about any of it.  Who singing The Song and dancing The Dance and playing The Play of Life Herownself could be?

HokaHey!

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By Maani, April 24, 2007 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Marina:

You say, “It is not “my” interpretation of Genesis. There is no personal interpretation, it is simply written.”

Not quite.  Indeed, your logic is circular: “It is written, and I read it a particular way, so that is the way it must be, since it is written that way, and that is the way I read it.”

Thus, in your mind, you are “right” while hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others - including scholars and others with FAR more knowledge and understanding than you - are all “wrong.”  (And no, I am not specifically including myself in this group.)

This certainly SEEMS to show a dangerous spiritual arrogance on your part.

Doug:

I am neither pedantic nor sensitive.  If you read the way in which you wrote that post, one could not come away WITHOUT thinking that you were talking specifically about me.  However, I accept your… begrudgingly ungiven apology (LOL).

Re “say something positive,” I believe I have done this more than once, not least in “defending” Marina from the oft-illogical Logician (LOL).

Peace.

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 24, 2007 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment

#66171 by Maani on 4/24 at 5:04 pm: “...Doug: You said, “Once you stop seeing yourself as ‘separate’ from your Universal Creator (god), you can then appreciate what a significant role you have in the world by co-operating with Its plan (instead of Bush’s schemes and lies!).”........... Setting aside my theological differences with the first part of your statement, exactly how do you come to the conclusion that I “cooperate” with “Bush’s schemes and lies?” I have never supported Bush, and do not now, in any regard.

Oh, Maani, I didn’t mean that YOU “cooperate” with “Bush’s schemes and lies?”  It was a general reference to what people around the world are being asked or coerced into, for example. Stop being so sensitive and pedantic ....say something positive today - while there is still a chance before it is all too late!!!

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By Marina, April 24, 2007 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

Peace to you Maani,

It is not “my” interpretation of Genesis. There is no personal interpretation, it is simply written. If you are using a bible that has not been too terribly distorted by men over the centuries then you can see that two creations exist. You do know don’t you, that the bible was written by men and that it has errors (some deliberate)?

As I said, Freud’s theories were derived from Pierre Janet. And it is you who needs to do your research. I have researched and studied the subconscious mind and Dissociative Amnesia -in depth- for ten straight years.

“As well, why would you look to a rabid atheist like Freud for ANYTHING having to do with theology?”

It is often atheists who are willing to see errors in the bible and who are not afraid to question that book.

Did you ever think that maybe Freud was an atheist because the destructive, murderous, demon Jehovah was passed off as God?

In addition, you have not even read Moses and Monotheism so you really can’t judge it can you?

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By Maani, April 24, 2007 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment
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Logician:

Re Marina and I, you say, “These two mouth-breathers are all in a lather over whether THEIR version of their favorite fairy tale is better than the OTHER’S version…And that, ladies and gents, is how religious wars get started.  Because…they will argue until they come to the inevitable result of ALL religious disagreements: they will try to kill each other, just as other mouth-breathing fools have done before.”

Whatever Marina’s and my disagreements over interpretations of Scripture, I doubt very seriously that our discussion (call it debate, if you must) is likely to “lead to blows” - even if Marina and I were in the same room.  Because as “serious” as our differences may be, I also know that Marina, in her own way, is as much a “Christian” as I am; i.e., attempting to live Jesus’ principles to the best of her abilities.

This is what you (and others here) simply cannot fathom: that Marina and I (or any two Christians) can have a serious theological debate WITHOUT sacrificing Christian love, compassion, forgiveness, etc. for each other.  And BECAUSE we understand that aspect of Jesus’ ministry, it would absolutely PRECLUDE us from engaging in anger, hatred or violence.

Doug:

You said, “Once you stop seeing yourself as ‘separate’ from your Universal Creator (god), you can then appreciate what a significant role you have in the world by co-operating with Its plan (instead of Bush’s schemes and lies!).”

Setting aside my theological differences with the first part of your statement, exactly how do you come to the conclusion that I “cooperate” with “Bush’s schemes and lies?”  I have never supported Bush, and do not now, in any regard.

Peace.

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 24, 2007 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment

#66140 by TAO Walker on 4/24 at 2:56 pm: “...Douglas Chalmers’ cosmology (#66086) is sure an improvement over the various universe-as-wargame scenarios ......Still, it suffers somewhat from what might be considered a kind of universal “bi-polar disorder.”......”

Huh? I described your peoples’ framework, TAO Walker - sky-walking Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus and traditional Native ‘religions’. I simply left it for you to paint in the human detail, ha ha!

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By TomR, April 24, 2007 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment

——
“Love bombing is a coordinated effort, usually under the direction of leadership, that involves long-term members flooding recruits and newer members with flattery, verbal seduction, affectionate but usually nonsexual touching, and lots of attention to their every remark,” the psychiatrist Margaret Thaler Singer wrote. “Love bombing—or the offer of instant companionship—is a deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives.”
——

This brainwashing technique is illustrated in the film “Ticket to Heaven.”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083201/

Seduction is one of several manipulation tactics that abuses an individual on an emotional level. Praise is used to gain the person’s confidence and trust.  For more info on manipulation tactics, see the second comment here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathleen-reardon/dont-you-smell-a-rat-h_b_20727.html

- Tom

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By DAG, April 24, 2007 at 4:33 pm Link to this comment

Has anyone ever done a study to determine how much energy is expended in being religious and or defending those positions?  I wounder what we as a society could accomplish as a whole if we weren’t encumbered by those divisions.  I find it sad indeed.

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By TAO Walker, April 24, 2007 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment

Douglas Chalmers’ cosmology (#66086) is sure an improvement over the various universe-as-wargame scenarios put-forth by several of the “major religions” (echoed loudly in the various “wars” on this or that waged by “science” these days), and so popular among the masses of dimensionally-challenged “individuals” (ie:  driven to try forcing everything, including theirownselves, into just one or two) who inhabit this worldwide factory-farm for two-leggeds called “the global civilization.”  Still, it suffers somewhat from what might be considered a kind of universal “bi-polar disorder.”

One of this old Indian’s great-grandfathers once described the universe as The Great Hoop of All the Hoops.  It’s the living arrangement in which everything that can happen is happening.  The Creative and Receptive principles (Principals?) who “make clouds and rain” together and so people the near infinity of places made out of their dynamic tension, ARE what they DO, and do what they are, by virtue of their having no concern whatsoever for their own (personal?) existence.  Only what is “between” them matters, in the Tiyoshpaye Way of Life Herownself.

Us free wild natural people, happy to take “yes” for the answer, are not all caught-up in speculative arguments about “the Alpha and the Omega,” for example.  We’re given our chances and we pays attention….to what is in-front of us at any given moment, which is our natural area of response-ability.   

GreatGrandMother Yin and GreatGrandFather Yang told us in the beginning that we are to take completely for-granted their abiding interest in our welfare.  They neither want nor need our adoration or our praise or our obedience.  We are perfectly free to Sing ‘n’ Dance and Play-along….for as long as we all shall live.  Turning this gift of Life into some kind of ordeal or trial or test, with some kind of penalties or rewards for getting it more-or-less “wrong” or “right” is certainly there to do.  The essence of “growing-up,” however, as persons and as peoples and as humanity itself, is discovering the inherent futility in such make-believe exercises. 

The native wisdom of all the world’s peoples counsels the conscientious practice of bringing all our human integrity to both “doing” and “not-doing.”  The domesticated breeds have become slaves to “action,” and suffer all the inevitable consequences of not knowing when to stop (or even how, here in these latter days).  So they mill around in a kind of null-space in no-time, looking vainly for “mommy dearest” or “big daddy” to save them, or at least put an end to their misery.  That is the “bipolar dis-ease” afflicting so many of our brothers and sisters today.

There is a remedy, of course.  It is in recovering what the Lakotas call “the Tiyoshpaye Way.”  It is free (Ain’t that wild, here in the midst of this “market economy”?), and there’s plenty for everybody.  Don’t be fooled, though, by cheap imitation plastic substitutes that will cost you an-arm-and-a-leg (not to mention the ineffable essence some call their “soul”).  Come join-in and en-joy with us what our people call “The Give-away Way.”

HokaHey!

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By RobertBennett, April 24, 2007 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

Douglas Chalmers wrote:

“...would actually have to change themselves and they find that difficult. It frightens them - they would have to face what they really are.”

I’m not a Christian, but my spiritual path involved discovering who I was.  Many of the things I discovered about myself were painful to accept, but I did accept them, and through acceptance I transcended these things.

The process continues.

I am always open to the possibility that I am wrong, and this has been my salvation.  Complete acknowledgment of my imperfect nature is what saved me.

Many of the people here at Truthdig seem to feel they’ve found the One True Path.  It’s as if they believe themselves to be perfect.  They will never grow, and will never be able to see the world, or themselves, from a different perspective.

They are no different from Conservatives.  One True Pathers to the core.

Forever ignorant, and forever afraid.

Peace,
Bob Bennett
Lick Skillet, AL

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By William DeMente, April 24, 2007 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The term “Judeo-Christian” is not much more oxymoronic than the term “Anglo-American” given that both Jews and Christians are heavily influenced by the Babylonian religious system.
In the eighth century BCE, King Hezekiah allied Judah with Babylon in a mutual defense pact against Assyria.  When Judah refused to pay tribute to Babylon in the sixth century BCE, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took many citizens of Judah (or Jews) into captivity where their religion was eventually incorporated into the Babylonian religious system.  Some of the Jews who remained in Jerusalem adopted the Babylonian religious system in their worship of Tammuz.  Tammuz was born to the Babylonian Sun God and the Goddess Ishtar (or Easter).  His birth was celebrated on December 25.  The festival of Easter was in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz who had been killed by a boar.  The Easter Ham was eaten in memory of that incident.  The Jews also included the month of Tammuz in their calendar which they patterned after the Babylonian solar calendar.  Prior to that, the Jews had followed a lunar calendar.
When Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians, the Babylonian elite fled to Pergamos on the western coast of Asia Minor where their royal lineage was maintained through the Attalids.  Prior to his death in 133 BCE, King Attalis III of Pergamos bequeathed his throne and title “Pontifex Maximus” to Rome.  The Roman Caesar maintained that title until it was transfered to the Catholic Pope.
Inspired by the “sign of the cross” which was actually the initial “T” for Tammuz, Emperor Constantine established Christianity as a favored religion in order to keep the Roman Empire united.  The Roman priests who had practiced their rites under the Pontifex Maximus were simply given priesthoods in this newly state-recognized religion.  Emperor Constantine presided over the Council of Nicea circa 325 which established the Babylonian Feast of Easter as a Christian rite.  The Council of Laodicea declared which scriptures would be considered canonical circa 364.  It is interesting to note what is mentioned about Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-16.  What many Christians call the “Bible” today is merely some version (King James Version for example) or translation of ancient scriptures.  That is not to say that it shouldn’t be studied.
Over the centuries, this religious system has seen many reformations but, as the saying goes, the acorn never falls very far from the tree.  It is evident that the adherents of this religious system have been abandoned by the God they claim to have a relationship with and are following nothing more than the voices in their heads.

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By RobertBennett, April 24, 2007 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

Fadel Abdallah wrote:

“I’ve been wondering where all this American violence and militarism originates!”

I can’t think of a more relevant thing to worry about. I’ve pondered this question myself, and I have to say Fadel, I’m glad I’m not alone.

Anger and violence are defense mechanisms, and defense mechanisms are triggered by Fear.  In what I consider to be the single most important Truthdig posting, Zbigniew Brzezinski (Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor), describes America as a “culture of fear”.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20070327_terrorized_by_war_on_terror/

I believe the bulk of our cultural fear came during the height of the Cold War. For decades, everyone believed they could be incinerated at any moment, with no notice. 

Fear lingers.

I believe the Fear created during The Great Depression, WWII, and the Cold War, is why American Seniors are bankrupting our country.  Many more children than Seniors live in poverty, but the AARP Seniors only think about themselves.  They are very well off, and are constantly using their considerable political clout to get more. 

They are the greediest, and most fearful, generation in History.

MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) played a major role in getting them where they are.

The Seniors have shone no inclination to pay any of the National Debt, despite the fact they are the generation who created much of it.

And, I must sadly admit, my generation has shown no inclination to pay it, even though we accelerated the process begun by our parents and grandparents.

I can only assume the debt is intended for our children.  If you divide our nation’s 9 trillion dollar debt amoung just the children, it comes to about…....

$110,000 per child.

You see, children can’t vote, and in America, those with the least power, are always passed the Greatest Debt.

We are feeding off of our Children, and I don’t see how it’s possible to be any more Fearful than that.

Peace,
Bob Bennett
Lick Skillet, AL

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By mike, April 24, 2007 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Marina   jehovah is a mistranslation of yaweha ( sory not sure of the spelling)  this was written down in the orginal text but being the true name of god was not to be spoken it was written down with the puncuation marks for elohim the name that could be spoke this cause the monks in the middle ages to translate this as jehovha wich appears in the king james version but not in any of the older text

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By michael, April 24, 2007 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Marina
There is a very interesting book by DR Issac Asimov about the old and new testement.  In this he points out that yes there are 2 version of the creation story and also the flood. also that there are 2 names for god elohim and yawhe.  This is because at the time of the writing down of the old testement the holy land had already split into the northen kingdom of israel and the southern kingdom of judea. he explain these double stories as the bible trying to incroporate both kingdoms traditions.

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 24, 2007 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

#66022 by Maani on 4/24 at 6:00 am: “...As noted, Jesus certainly brought a new vitality, a new perspective, a new “spin” to the accepted dogma.  But He did NOT ignore it or dismiss it.  His life was lived according to the principles of that dogma that had been forgotten or deliberately ignored by the Jewish leaders.  This is why they labeled Him a heretic, and sought His death: because He was showing not simply how corrupt they were, but how spiritually “empty” they were; that their “letter of the law” perspective was hopelessly narrow, unloving and unforgiving (like the “Christian Right” of today), and that it was the “spirit of the law” – including re much of the accepted dogma – that mattered, and that revealed the love, forgiveness and compassion of the God that the Jews already worshipped….”

Well, there you are, Maani, you can call yourself a Christian or a Judeo-Christian and still have it all. Just as long as you don’t then call yourself a Zionist!

 


#66010 by Frikken Kids on 4/24 at 4:59 am: “...Death frightens them - without their faith, they would have to face what they really are…the beautiful and wonderous product of millions of years of evolution living on a non-spectacular planet orbiting a not so special star on the outskirts of a normal galaxy somewhere in a massive and totally indifferent universe.  And when they die, it’s over….”

Not really, FK. The Chinese believe in ancestor worship and the Buddhists and Hindus in re-incarnation. As you say, “death frightens them without their faith” but these people are willing to “stay the course” and go around again.

Christians fantasise that they will go to heaven and the more they pay the church the more they feel sure of this. Existentialists (athiests) fear their own continued existence so much that they wish to deny themselves any future whatsoever and thus any relevancy in the Universe.

 

#66027 by Erik Thorson on 4/24 at 6:14 am: “...This article seems incomplete, however.  Hedges says that it’s a fiction that one must be “born again” to be a Christian.  So, show us the quiet, sane churches where real faith is going on.  People need to hear that story…!”

They are the people who go daily to the dawn services at their church and then go to do their work as a service to others in the world. Others are night people, they have a chapel and they live their lives in service in other ways - the original Salvation Army was like that.

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By Craig, April 24, 2007 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All Religions, ALL, are nothing more than a Fantasy based on a Fairy Tale. They all work the same way, they all say the same thing. They all sell fear. They are all about control.

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 24, 2007 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment

#65986 by Maani on 4/23 at 9:32 pm: “...It is not a matter of “humanizing” God; He did that Himself by having His spirit born into a human body…”

Your creator-god’s spirit is all that there is in the Universe, Maani. We all are “his” (or rather, Its) spirit individualised and incarnate. Once you stop seeing yourself as ‘separate’ from your Universal Creator (god), you can then appreciate what a significant role you have in the world by co-operating with Its plan (instead of Bush’s schemes and lies!).

“...Are you suggesting that God as “first cause” was thus “nothing?” Because He could only be one or the other: nothing or everything.  There is no in between….”

This is where the Hindus and the Daoists are far, far ahead. Nothing is really something. It is not possible to create without space to occupy. Not even space existed before the big bang. Thus, space AND matter were created in the beginning.

In the beginning there was only darkness….. In religions which understand the ultimate significance of the feminine (Hindu = Kali), the dark unlimited Potential of space was brought into existence and then “the word of god” or the big bang created all of the matter of the Universe.

That is, the static Potential for creation was brought into being by the Original Cause and then an opposing force, Light (photons in motion), was manifested and all of creation was thus formed in a dynamic but cohesive state. Do you want to go further?

In as much as the origins of the universe, science and religion are actually quite close. But one must understand both to get the full picture. Don’t forget that there is also a binding force in the universe which both preserves all matter (that which has been created by the interaction of the original male and female aspects) and can also cause dissolution and transmutation thus ensuring a never-ending cycle - until the Original Cause chooses to end it all.

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By Doug Tarnopol, April 24, 2007 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

Excellent work, as per usual.

It’s time to <u>tax</u> any church (or any other religious entity) that gets involved in politics. I’m sick of my taxes supporting these freakin’ yahoos who are trying to dismantle what little is left of our democratic and republican (small-d, small-r) traditions and institutions.

I would also like to see thorough investigations of these (or any) religious institutions—are laws being broken? Money handled properly? Etc.? I mean, the government is happy to wipe out Koresh & Co. at Waco, but this threat is handled with kid gloves?

Chances of any politician making this call? Negative, if that’s possible.

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By Logician, April 24, 2007 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

Re# 66066 by Marina on 4/24 (Actually ANY of Marina’s posts) and Re# 66022 by Maani on 4/24 in response to Marina’s posts.

Anybody get the sense of two school kids on the playground taunting each other: “My big brother can beat up your big brother!” and back and forth?

What an absolutely lovely example of the supreme stupidity of basing one’s life on a fairy tale.  These two mouth-breathers are all in a lather over whether THEIR version of their favorite fairy tale is better than the OTHER’S version of their favorite fairy tale. 

And that, ladies and gents, is how religious wars get started.  Because there IS NO GOD to prove either of these drooling, deluded fools right or wrong, they will argue until they come to the inevitable result of ALL religious disagreements: they will try to kill each other, just as other mouth-breathing fools have done before.

I am saving these drooling diatribes to hard copy to show my friends and students.  What a beautiful example of the incredible idiocy of religious belief!  “God is god!  No, god is satan!  No, no, god is god!  No, no, no, god is satan!”  Too, too much! 

Who needs TV with you mouth-breathing, drooling fools providing such entertaiment?  Keep it up!

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By Maani, April 24, 2007 at 11:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Marina:

It is an absolutely frightening thought that niloroth and I should agree on ANYTHING (LOL), yet our feelings about your theology coincide.

Re Genesis, your interpretation is among the most “tortured” I have ever heard.  Indeed, there is no contradiction between the creation of man/woman in Genesis 1 and that in Genesis 2.

If you read it more carefully, you will see that all it says in Genesis 1 re the creation of man is: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”  But it does not give any DETAILS of that creation.  In this regard, Genesis 2 provides those details, which in no way contradict the single generalized statement in Genesis 1.

Genesis 1 and 2 are completely reconcilable; Genesis 1 serves as a kind of “executive summary” of creation, while Genesis 2 (starting at 2:4) provides additional details of the creation.

Re Freud, you need to read more recent literature, interpretation and critique of Freud.  If you did, you would find that a great deal (though admittedly not all) of his work has been dismissed).  As well, why would you look to a rabid atheist like Freud for ANYTHING having to do with theology?

You sound like a good soul.  However, you are trying way too hard when you don’t need to (e.g., re Genesis), and not doing nearly enough research when you do need to (e.g., re Freud).

Peace.

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By Marina, April 24, 2007 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

Dear Maani,

Yes, Jehovah is Satan. Read my message to niloroth where I spell it out from Genesis. In that message, I have also listed which bible I use. Who taught me this? My own eyes and my God-given intelligent discrimination. What I say is right there in the bible, people just don’t like what it says so they deny it.

A person being a cocaine addict and a man who likes to put his P#&!$ into another woman has ZERO to do with the book Moses and Monothesism. He makes excellent points in that book. In addition, you have no idea what you are talking about with rgeards to psychoanalysis. His theories (they were actually Pierre Janet’s) have been PROVEN to be true by hundreds, perhaps thousands of studies, and by human experience.

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By Marina, April 24, 2007 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Niloroth,

I can give you some of what you ask but I am not going to do your research for you. If you truly want to know the truth, you will seek the answers and you will find them—IF in your heart, you TRULY are searching for the truth.

In the interim, you can use The Holy Bible Translated form the Latin Vulgate First published 1582 and again in 1935.

You can read Genesis again, and carefully. You will see that there are TWO creations. The first is by Elohim, the Father of Jesus. He is found in the beginning of Genesis where The One True God created Heaven and earth. When the creation of humankind comes into the chapter it is very important to note that God not only created humans in His own image, but that He created male and female in His image. “Male and female, He created them.”  1:27

Now, in chapter two we find a second round of the creation of man. This time ‘god’ creates man “out of the slime of the earth”  2:7 Keep in mind that God already created man and woman in chapter one. In Genesis Chapter two verse 21, a new ‘god’ is creating woman, only this time, from Adam’s rib. So here we have two very different creations. One is by Elohim, one is Jehovah, the volcano god.

You can read Genesis 2000: The Forbidden Initiatic Version, Secret Key to Understand the Mysteries of the Origin and Destiny of the Universe Unveiled, a Unified Field for Science and Religion… by Ysatis De Saint Simon

You can do your own looking into the Essenes because I can’t go through my notes to try and find all of those references.

“You read things into passages that no one else can see.”

No, others do NOT WANT to see what is right there before their eyes. We see with the mind, not the eyes.

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By Marina, April 24, 2007 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

Greg: “Christianity, as a religion, is based on a fraud. That fraud is the concept of “free will.””

Christianity is based on overcoming the self and embracing love instead.

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By Leefeller, April 24, 2007 at 10:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After searching for faith at a local church, and finding nothing buy social retardation and manipulation.  My religious experiences by the hands of Christians, have been some of the most unpleasant experiences of my life. (Local Methodist Church, Open hearts, Open minds and Open Doors)?  My memories of serving in Vietnam are fonder, and I did not enjoy them either. 
Christianity is not the problem, organized Religion is the problem.  All organized religion!

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By Julia Heyward, April 24, 2007 at 10:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I read Chris Hedges book and found it fascinating. Another related book worth reading is “The History of the End of the World” by Jonathan Kirsch. My father was a liberal Democrat and a Presbyterian minister… I also think Chris is a PK. After recently reading both the Gospel of John and Revelation (authored also by a later John) it occurred to me that both Johns are strangely misogynist. For instance the other three synoptic gospels and (especially) the Gnostic Gospels acknowledge Mary Magdalene as “the one that Jesus loved the most” except for The Gospel of John which gives that honor to John. According the author of the book of Revelation the first to be saved (ascend to heaven after Armageddon) will be the 144,000 men whose only apparent merit is that they “have no defiled themselves wih women.” No love of God, no helping the weak and the sick just no women. Another two books worth reading in regards to the connection between violence and written language are “The Goddess vs The Alphabet” and “Sex, Time and Power” by Leonid Schlain. The Bible was the first mass printed book. In the wrong minds and hands it is the most dangerous narrative and has lead us to the world we poetically refer to as free.
Schlain makes the observation that within the first five to seven years of the Guttenberg press coming to a city genecidal behaviors followed… the witch burnings were mostly women.

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By Marina, April 24, 2007 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

SHZ, to answer your questions:

No one can crawl into the hearts of these people and know what their true intentions are. Only God knows the hearts of men.

The most likely answer is that some of these people are lost souls searching for anything to make them “happy.” For others, it is about belonging to a group that accepts and “loves” them. For others it is a search for a religion that tells them they can do whatever they want to other people and still get into Heaven (Protestantism). For others it is about power, greed, control.

“Either way, they’re a frightening bunch.  They’re coming close to replacing our Democracy with their Theocracy.”

It is more likely that there will be laws created so that no one can practice or display their religion in any way—even to the point of being murdered or imprisoned for doing so. Those will be the days of the antiChrist, the days when he will force everyone to accept him as “god.”

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By niloroth, April 24, 2007 at 10:05 am Link to this comment

Marina,

i feel that there is no more use to responding to you.  You have an interpretation of the bible that only you seem to understand, and when anyone calls you on it, you change it around.  You claim sources for your knowledge, but produce none.  You claim that all the versions of the bible i have listed are wrong, yet recommend none.  You read things into passages that no one else can see. 

You are either the most insightful person to ever read the bible, or you have a serious issue with reading comprehension.  I think the later. 

My point still stands, you have made up your own religion, don’t fell to bad about it, every other religion is fiction as well.  But yours seems to be especially crazy, and based on nothing but your own whim.  I am glad it comforts you i guess, but i have a strange feeling that it really doesn’t.

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By Erik Thorson, April 24, 2007 at 7:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I always appreciate Chris Hedges’ nonhysterical look at the worst facets of American culture and religion.

This article seems incomplete, however.  Hedges says that it’s a fiction that one must be “born again” to be a Christian.  So, show us the quiet, sane churches where real faith is going on.  People need to hear that story!

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By Maani, April 24, 2007 at 7:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Marina:

“Jehovah is Satan?!”  What Bible are you reading?  Where did you get your theological training?  Who in God’s name taught you THAT?  And it what world does one look to Freud, of all people, for a position on faith and religion?  Freud was a cocaine addict who was having an affair with his wife’s sister.  More importantly, much of his theory of human psychology has been dismissed as wrong-headed.

Doug:

It is not a matter of “humanizing” God; He did that Himself by having His spirit born into a human body.  Are you suggesting that God as “first cause” was thus “nothing?”  Because He could only be one or the other: nothing or everything.  There is no in between.

Yet even were I to accept your position re “the OT God,” once God became flesh in Christ, He personally and physically experienced every human feeling and emotion it is possible to feel.  Indeed, it is this fact that gives Christians the knowledge that God (via Jesus) “knows how we feel” and can thus empathize with us and comfort us when we need it.

This hardly leads to “having other Gods before me.”

Finally, re Jesus and dogma, I have given some facts about Jesus vis-a-vis the OT that are irrefutable, assuming we are all reading the same NT.  If you are going to posit that Jesus became “entirely free of dogma,” I would like to see Scripture that supports that position. Indeed, I would like to hear how you get around Matt 5:17-19.

As noted, Jesus certainly brought a new vitality, a new perspective, a new “spin” to the accepted dogma.  But He did NOT ignore it or dismiss it.  His life was lived according to the principles of that dogma that had been forgotten or deliberately ignored by the Jewish leaders.  This is why they labeled Him a heretic, and sought His death: because He was showing not simply how corrupt they were, but how spiritually “empty” they were; that their “letter of the law” perspective was hopelessly narrow, unloving and unforgiving (like the “Christian Right” of today), and that it was the “spirit of the law” – including re much of the accepted dogma – that mattered, and that revealed the love, forgiveness and compassion of the God that the Jews already worshipped.

Peace.

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By Greg Bacon, April 24, 2007 at 7:00 am Link to this comment

Christianity, as a religion, is based on a fraud.

That fraud is the concept of “free will.”  Free will stipulates that one has the will to either choose the love of some god or not.

If you choose to accept this so-called “love”, you get a pass to some version of heaven when you die.

However, if you refuse, when you die, you are consigned to something called “hell’ for eternity.

How can “free will” be free when if one chooses to use their own mind to think instead of becoming a “Storm Trooper for Jesus”, then you are sent to hell after death?

There’s nothing free about that decision.  It’s like the philosophy of the Bush/Cheney Junta; That is, it’s either “My way or the Highway… to Hell.”

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By Frikken Kids, April 24, 2007 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

Marina, that’s awesome that you had such a wonderful personal journey.  You still didn’t dispute or disprove a word I wrote.  I agree that there is a lot of bs on the history channel.  You’d have to be almost insane not to think that the bible has its share.

And Douglas Chalmers posts “There are some people who don’t want Jesus to exist - or to have existed. It means that they would actually have to change themselves and they find that difficult. It frightens them - they would have to face what they really are.”

Sorry Dougie, you’ve got it backward.  There are lots of people who desperately want Jesus to exist.  It means that they don’t have to think about things - and that’s easy.  Death frightens them - without their faith, they would have to face what they really are…the beautiful and wonderous product of millions of years of evolution living on a non-spectacular planet orbiting a not so special star on the outskirts of a normal galaxy somewhere in a massive and totally indifferent universe.  And when they die, it’s over.

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By MAN, April 24, 2007 at 5:20 am Link to this comment

IN PARTICULAR,OUR SACRIFICE OF THE WOMANS WAY FOR THE WAY OF MAN. WHAT DO I HAVE HERE MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS? HOW MEEK THEY APPEAR. A FATHERLY LION COULD EVEN EAT THEM..NO!

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By Logician, April 24, 2007 at 5:17 am Link to this comment

Re#65947 by Maani on 4/23:

Here I thought you would just be nattering on and on again, and then you summed up the ENTIRE field of religion in one concise statement.

Really, no one else (on this blog, certainly) has even come close to such a succinct description:

“That Jesus lived and taught the “kinder” side of God does not negate the fact that God must, by His very existence, encompass all human traits.”

EXACTLY! God must “encompass all human traits” because god is a human invention!  I could not have said it better myself, Maani.  You sly dog!

Thanks!

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By shz, April 24, 2007 at 2:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have a question that someone might be able to answer….....Are people like Jim Kennedy out and out frauds, or do they actually believe what they’re saying?  Do they use these sales techniques because they sincerely want to help others?  Or is it just for money and power?

The religious right Christians seem so far from their namesake that it’s hard to think they believe their own words.  Could such a large group be that deluded?

Either way, they’re a frightening bunch.  They’re coming close to replacing our Democracy with their Theocracy.

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By Marina, April 23, 2007 at 11:04 pm Link to this comment

Dear Maani,

The term “Judeo-Christianity” is an oxymoron.

In addition, your claim that God is “loving” as well as a God that “hates” is also an oxymoronic statement.

You are trying to convolute a murderer of tiny infants, a being that instructs people to commit rape/theft/destruction—with Jesus.

Stop tyring to mix Jehovah with Jesus. Elohim is the Father of Jesus. Elohim and Jehovah are not the same. Read “Moses and Monothesim” by Freud. Jehovah is a blood-thirsty volcano “god”. He is a demon who shuns the light. Clearly, not The Father of Light and Love.

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By Maani, April 23, 2007 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Marina:

“Jehovah is Satan?!”  What Bible are you reading?  Where did you get your theological training?  Who in God’s name taught you THAT?

Doug:

It is not a matter of “humanizing” God; He did that Himself by having His spirit born into a human body.  Are you suggesting that God as “first cause” was thus “nothing?”  Because He could only be one or the other: nothing or everything.  There is no in between.

Yet even were I to accept your position re “the OT God,” once God became flesh in Christ, He personally and physically experienced every human feeling and emotion it is possible to feel.  Indeed, it is this fact that gives Christians the knowledge that God (via Jesus) “knows how we feel” and can thus empathize with us and comfort us when we need it.

This hardly leads to “having other Gods before me.”

Finally, re Jesus and dogma, I have given some facts about Jesus vis-a-vis the OT that are irrefutable, assuming we are all reading the same NT.  If you are going to posit that Jesus became “entirely free of dogma,” I would like to see Scripture that supports that position. Indeed, I would like to hear how you get around Matt 5:17-19.

As noted, Jesus certainly brought a new vitality, a new perspective, a new “spin” to the accepted dogma.  But He did NOT ignore it or dismiss it.  His life was lived according to the principles of that dogma that had been forgotten or deliberately ignored by the Jewish leaders.  This is why they labeled Him a heretic, and sought His death: because He was showing not simply how corrupt they were, but how spiritually “empty” they were; that their “letter of the law” perspective was hopelessly narrow, unloving and unforgiving (like the “Christian Right” of today), and that it was the “spirit of the law” – including re much of the accepted dogma – that mattered, and that revealed the love, forgiveness and compassion of the God that the Jews already worshipped.

Peace.

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 23, 2007 at 10:06 pm Link to this comment

#65971 by Fadel Abdallah on 4/23 at 8:38 pm: “...the metaphor of the Bible as a gun, when the quoted evangelist said: “don’t show your gun until you’re ready to shoot it.” ....I’ve been wondering where all this American violence and militarism originates…!”

From the Rifleman’s Association - quote Charlton Heston holding up a rifle:  “The only way they’ll ever get this gun from me is to take it from my cold dead hand!”

Quote Cho: “You forced me to do this ......I had no alternative…..!!!”

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 23, 2007 at 10:01 pm Link to this comment

#65947 by Maani on 4/23 at 6:54 pm: “...He would have to have all “human” traits (since He gave them to us), and the OT and NT show this: He is loving, but there are some things he “hates”; he can be both angry and gracious, vengeful and forgiving, warlike and peaceable.  If He is God, how could it be otherwise?....?”

Maani, sorry to say that you really seem like a chook running around with its head chopped off!

Humanizing something which can only ever be known as the “original cause” of creation or the big bang is rather dated and that is what is what leads the religious into having “other gods but Me”.

If there is one thing that one needs to understand about a person like Jesus (for some, surmising momentarily that he did exist) is that he was, or became, entirely FREE of the dogma of his own upbringing! We can do that too - if only we will allow ourselves the chance to do so.

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By Fadel Abdallah, April 23, 2007 at 9:38 pm Link to this comment

I was particularly entertained and saddened, at the same time, by the metaphor of the Bible as a gun, when the quoted evangelist said: “don’t show your gun until you’re ready to shoot it.”

I’ve been wondering where all this American violence and militarism originates! This statement helped me a great deal with the answer

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By RAE, April 23, 2007 at 9:05 pm Link to this comment

If what Hedges writes is correct, and it’s my belief that he is, then those who perpetrate such fraud should be prosecuted.

Taking any advantage of those with diminished mental capacities, eg “targeting the vulnerable, building false friendships with the lonely or troubled, promising to relieve people of the most fundamental dreads of human existence from the fear of mortality to the numbing pain of grief” is, in my view, profoundly immoral and if not illegal, should be.

These charlatans make me puke. I feel so sorry for those caught up in their webs of deceit and lies. Please… all sane thinking parents out there… do your kids a huge favor and teach them about these creeps who’re out to trap and enslave them.

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By Maani, April 23, 2007 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All:

I would like to take the disparate theological views of Judeo-Christianity here and provide some semblance of a comprehensible whole.

1.  OT.  With the exception of the creation story (a typical myth), and possibly the flood, the majority of the OT comprises three areas: history, “law” and prophecy.  Re history, most of it is accurate, or very close.  Re “law,” some were way ahead of their time and gave us some of the laws we still follow, while other laws are obviously dated.  Re prophecy, this is a separate discussion.

Thus, with the exception of those “laws” that are clearly dated, there is little in the OT that need be “thrown out.”

2.  The OT “God.”  Assuming God is the creator of the universe and everything in it (including humankind), He would have to have all “human” traits (since He gave them to us), and the OT and NT show this: He is loving, but there are some things he “hates”; he can be both angry and gracious, vengeful and forgiving, warlike and peaceable.  If He is God, how could it be otherwise?  [N.B.  The only trait He would not have is “evil”; this is the purview of His first creation, Satan.  Don’t forget what Keyser Soze said…]

That Jesus lived and taught the “kinder” side of God does not negate the fact that God must, by His very existence, encompass all human traits.

3.  Jesus and the OT.  It is absurd to claim that Jesus had nothing to do with the OT.  He was raised on it and had a deep knowledge of it by His teens, when He began discussing it with the elders.  He “declared” Himself after reading from Isaiah.  He constantly referred to it during His ministry.  He specifically said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill. Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

What Jesus DID do was teach the difference between the “letter of the law” (as taught and practiced by the corrupt Temple Priests) and the “spirit of the law.”  And yet, even here, He actually “intensified” certain aspects of the law.  (See Matt 5:21-44)

4.  “Christianity.”  With the exception of a handful of passages in Paul’s writings, there is little or nothing in the NT that does not comport with Jesus’ ministry.  In this regard, there is a five-step process in determining how to address any particular issue.  In order: (i) Did Jesus DO anything with regard to that issue; (ii) if not, did Jesus SAY anything with regard to that issue; (iii) if not, is there anything that can be “reasonably inferred” from something Jesus DID do or say about a similar issue; (iv) if not, did the apostles do or say something about that issue; (v) if not, does the OT address the issue in any way.

Using this process, the “essence” of “Christianity” is seen more clearly.  That is, if Jesus’ life and ministry come first and foremost, then those who believe in Him should attempt to live as much of a “Christ-like life” as is possible for each of us.  In that regard, the basic precepts of Jesus’ teaching – love, peace, forgiveness, compassion, humility, patience, charity, selflessness, service, justice, truth – MUST trump everything else.  This does not mean there is no place for “religion” (laws, rules, behavior) within “faith,” but that “faith” must come first.

Finally, re Revelation, it would be a mistake to dismiss it.  Far from being a “dream,” Revelation was exactly that: a “revealed” vision.  It did not occur in a single night; it was revealed over a period of time (according to scholars who have studied the oldest existing version of the document).  There is no question that it is highly allegorical.  But this does not mean it has no purpose or applicability.  It is a “mystery”; i.e., something which is revealed slowly, over time, a little at a time.

Peace.

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By Marina, April 23, 2007 at 7:28 pm Link to this comment

Frikken, if you feel my asking if you are a Jew or my comment about you watching the History channel are a “personal attack” then we won’t get very far.

I asked if you are a Jew because your comments sounded very familiar. I have heard them before by many Jews because it is a fact that many Jews contend Jesus did not exist (even though their own Talmud admits He did exist).

My comment about the History Channel is because that station runs many so-called historical documentaries that are often truth mixed with bs. Often the information is superficial research which deliberately leans towards trying to discredit The Gospels or the life of Jesus.

You asked: “Do you watch too much Nickelodeon, or are you a moron?  Maybe both?”

I don’t watch Nickelodeon. Due to life’s hardhsips, I used to be uneducated and I lacked wisdom. I finally educated myself outwardly, and gained wisdom from within when I began to rid myself of my own inner enemies (hatred, anger, shame, guilt, fear).

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By Marina, April 23, 2007 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment

Justin, peace to you.

Look, I won’t argue with you about Jesus being an Essene. You need to do much deeper research than a few superficial Internet searches.

Your first problem is that you are using versions of the bible that have been tainted by time and the Protestant religion. Secondly, you still don’t grasp that it is our own free will which causes us to be absorbed into either hell or Heaven. Fire only merges with fire, and water with water. Our thoughts, actions, and words are what create our destiny, it is NOT God “DOING IT” to us. We punish ourselves by our own choices.

I never said that Jesus was talking of God in John 8:44. He was talking about Jehovah, the god of the old testament, the god of the hebrews. Jehovah is Satan. 

“Let me repeat my point, you have made up your own version of christianity.”

No, excuse me, Protestants have made up their own version of Christianity and have created great confusion and loss of faith because of it.

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By Patrick, April 23, 2007 at 6:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Excellent link by Christopher Robin to the YouTube video on Democracy and Despotism. It strikes me that the values that liberals in our political system espouse are inclusion, reduction of economic disparity, freer and more open media and exchange of ideas, power in the hands of many rather than the few, open discussion, respect for others, etc. And what has been happening in recent years is media in the hands of fewer people, breaks for the rich with more burden on the poor, attacks on those who differ with the party line of those in power, the bowing of legislatures to executives. I do believe things are changing. Hopefully we will move in the direction of more democracy. I think the Internet has provided a freedom of the many to be heard without the control of the few.

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 23, 2007 at 6:52 pm Link to this comment

#65914 by RobertBennett on 4/23 at 3:41 pm: “...Frikken Kids wrote - “It cannot be proven that Jesus even existed.” I agree. But even much of what is written about recent history cannot be proved….”

There are some people who don’t want Jesus to exist - or to have existed. It means that they would actually have to change themselves and they find that difficult. It frightens them - they would have to face what they really are.

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By niloroth, April 23, 2007 at 6:30 pm Link to this comment

Is my math off, or is 70*7 actually 490.  A far sight short of infinity.  Or is this more like the bibles version of pi as 3.0?

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By victoria jablonski, April 23, 2007 at 6:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Most of the comments sound as virulent as the Christians they claim are in such great error.
  They are ranting as rabid fearful dogs.

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By Frikken Kids, April 23, 2007 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

Marina, apparently you don’t agree with what I wrote.  Do you have any intelligent criticism of it, or just ad hominem attacks? 

Tell me what in my post was incorrect.  Tell me what it would even mean if I were a jew (I’m not - I concider all relgionists to be delusional). 

The story of the adulteress was a late addition to the gospel of John.  Matthew and Luke are largely based on Mark.  None of them were written within fifty years of when the events they describe are supposed to have happened.  None were written by witnesses.  There is no solid evidence of the existence of Jesus.

Can you tell me what of that is incorrect?  Do you watch too much Nickelodeon, or are you a moron?  Maybe both?

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By Tim, April 23, 2007 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Very interesting.  All cults are basically the same.  One common facet seems to be that the elite members of the group possess a specialized body of knowledge.  In the Church of Sceintology, there are the Operating Thetan (OT) Levels.  In processing for OT3 level, the member learns that millions of years ago, human ancestors were thrown into volcanoes by an evil magician.  Scientologists warn novice members not to confront this knowledge until they have reached the OT3 level, or it may be traumatic.  In addition, they will have to undergo specialized remedial auditing, which cost $800 an hour 20 years ago.

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By RobertBennett, April 23, 2007 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

Frikken Kids wrote

“It cannot be proven that Jesus even existed.”

I agree. But even much of what is written about recent history cannot be proved.

Also, whether Jesus actually existed is irrelevant to me.  Even if the Gospels are complete fiction, I learned from them and I value them.

I take what rings true and reject what does not.  As a non-Christian progressive, I was very surprised at the wisdom I found there. 

The Conservative Movement insists he is perfect, and if you don’t do exactly as he said you will burn in Hell forever.  They also insist that making lots of money is a fine thing to do.

Jesus (real or fictional) repeatedly said “Don’t get rich” and “forgive”.  Conservatives scour the Bible looking for anything to justify their already existing passions for blood and money.  And they always find what they are looking for.

They don’t seem to understand the concept of a ‘theme’. 

For Conservative Only:

Theme:  A theme is a central idea of a book.  The author emphasizes the theme by repeating it throughout the text.  For example, in the New Testament, the character of Jesus repeatedly talks about Love, Forgiveness, and the dangers of material wealth.  Some books have multiple themes, and this may be the source of your misunderstanding of The Gospels.

I hope this helps.

Peace,
Bob Bennett
Lick Skillet, AL
http://thespiritandthestone.squarespace.com/

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By James Yell, April 23, 2007 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And I thought I might be “being extreme” for saying that I thought Fundmentalists were one step away from drinking purple cool-aide in Guyana, or finding themselves escorting a family out to a barn to execute them. The Communists had a phrase for this type of surrender to a single person “the cult of Personality”. No wonder Stalin started out as a priest.

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By niloroth, April 23, 2007 at 4:23 pm Link to this comment

bad justin, next time reread the post before posting it.  The 3rd paragraph should read

“As for your response to john 15:6, look at the tenses, it is easy to see that the people who do not believe are not casting themselves into the fire, they are being cast.  Really, go read it again, NIV, KJV, and ASV all use the same tense.”

Sorry folks.

-justin

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By niloroth, April 23, 2007 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

Marina,

Actually, no, i am unaware that real *christians* only do what jesus did in the 4 gospels.  Most i think don’t do that, but i guess you do, in your own personal version of christianity. 

Your assertion that jesus was an essene is also rather suspect, and the evidence to that effect is tenuous at best.  As for your secret roots of christianity and the miles of records, i have no idea what you are referring to, and i have no knowledge of the ones that say “only pay attention to the gospels”.  Feel free to point them out to me though.

As for your response to john 15:6, look at the tenses, it is easy to see that the people who do not believe are the ones casting themselves into the fire, they are being cast.  Really, go read it again, NIV, KJV, and ASV all use the same tense. 

And while your at it, please reread john 8:44, actually, read all of john 8, cause in no way shape or form is jesus talking of god in section 44, he is very very clearly talking about satan. 

Let me repeat my point, you have made up your own version of christianity.  Fine, you are allowed, however, it is no more valid and true than any other made up on the spot religion or belief.  I could right now decide that midgets are aliens from Saturn here to teach us the wonderful path to heaven via ‘the wizard of oz.’  this is just as valid as your beliefs, and quite frankly, if i were to express them in public, it would be right for people to ridicule me.  But at least midgets, Saturn and The Wizard of Oz are all real.

-justin

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By Marina, April 23, 2007 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment

Frikken Kids, you are watching too much of the History Channel, or are you a Jew? Maybe both?

Just curious.

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By Marina, April 23, 2007 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment

Bob, even though you don’t follow any religion and don’t believe Jesus is God, your thinking is probably better off than many so-called Christians.

However, you misunderstand what Jesus taught. We are not to judge the soul of others because our own soul has deviations from God, and we are to forgive seventy times seven (the number of infinity) but this does not mean that there is no action/reaction, cause and effect. Quite the contrary, this is universal law and Jesus designed the Universe.

You are making a great error in saying that “The Book of Revelation is an account of a Dream had by an unknown man named John.” The Apocolypse was written by Saint John, but it was written in a form that only certain individuals can properly interpret. It was revelation made to Saint John, it is prophetic.

I don’t know where you are reading The Apocolypse from, but it is probably a King James version, or some other Protestant version, not helpful.

And you are wrong when you say The Apocolypse does not fit the words of Christ. In the Apocolypse, Saint John repeats the Words of Jesus from the Gospels and refers to the end times in very similar terms as Jesus did.

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By Marina, April 23, 2007 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment

Niloroth,

Any *Christian* should only do what Jesus taught in the four Gospels. The bible is only one book, and a convoluted one. The Old Test is filled with error.

There are miles of records about Jesus, the roots of Christianity, and what Christianity teaches that are not widely known about. In addition, Jesus was an Essene. The Essene Gospels attest to true Christianity. You can read them online.

The Old Test discounts itself.

John 15:6 is speaking of humans casting *themselves* into what you call hell. God is like the sun, He shines for everyone. We humans *choose* to pull ourselves away from Him and disinigrate into nothing, or we can *choose* to draw near to God and the Love teachings of Jesus. The old testament “god”, Jehovah, is a murderer, Jesus said it Himself in John 8:44.

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By moodygirl, April 23, 2007 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is important information for all who are looking for a religious community. I’m planning on reading the author’s book. He is describing cultish behavior that is perpetrated not only by evangelical Christians. Much of this goes for Scientology as well.

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By michael, April 23, 2007 at 2:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Marina

You might want to check out the quote of jesus saying I have not come to replace the laws or prophets that came before me.

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By John Lowell, April 23, 2007 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This series of articles by Hedges while
in many instances reaching tangentially to the truth of Evangelical Christianity, more often than not employs hyperbole in characterizing the danger offered by it. Describing one method employed by some Evangelicals in doing “soul winning”, Evangelism Explosion, in almost conspiratorial terms, Hedges says more about his own mind set than theirs.

In offering his typical litany of exagerations, one detects in Hedges not so much the honest researcher as one prejudiced. Where criticisms of Evangelism Explosion - and for that matter much of Evangelical “outreach” - as objectifying and, what’s worse, comodifying are quite fairly made, these are virtually ignored by Hedges who seems intent on drawing the reader into a fear thesis that appears to have nothing more than book sales as an objective. Might we call Hedges purpose “libsploitation”? I think that’s eminently fair.

John Lowell

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By Frikken Kids, April 23, 2007 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

To RobertBennett

There are a couple problems with your post.

First, the statement “Jesus H. Christ said,“Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

No he didn’t.  It’s pretty much unanimous amongst biblical scholars that the story of the adulteress was added to the bible long after the gospel of John as originally written.

You also say “The Gospels of Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John, are valid historical records”

Not even close, my friend.  It cannot be proven that Jesus even existed.  The stories of the gospels are all second or third (or more) hand accounts.  Two of the first three are based on the other and none were written within fifty years of when the events were supposed to have happened.  The gospels may be a lot of things, but valid historical records, they are not.

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By 127001, April 23, 2007 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

Just die a couple of times. You learn to avoid these cultists and figure out quickly what G*d is and isn’t. Of course, you are a product of the devil because you lived, but ...

oh well.

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By Adam, April 23, 2007 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment
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If this christo-fascist movement is preying upon the beleaguered and hopeless among us, then what actions do those of us intent on creating and maintaining an open society take in order to fend off the love-bombers?  What’s our answer? 

I was struck when Hedges wrote: ‘We are instructed to pepper our testimonies with words like love, peace, faithfulness, forgiveness, hope, purpose and obedience and remember to talk about how we have found, in our own conversion, “courage in the face of death.”’  Yes, these statements are pure double-speak, but how is the open society offering any path toward attaining ‘courage in the face of death’?  I look around me and find the denial of death to flourish well beyond the walls of the born-againers’ temples.  I see a society which has largely constructed its sense of meaning upon the scaffolding of consumerist comfort.  They’re aggressive with their cult-like recruitment, and the open society responds by ... complaining and name calling, mostly.

Hedges continues to serve us all through some of the most insightful journalism available to us.  I propose that the best way for the contributors of this comment string to honor his work is to share ideas of how to build an open society worthy of our ideals.  A society which values peace, offers pathways to meaningful work, encourages forgiveness and reconciliation, and makes space for honorable death within our daily lives—this society would seem to gain a sort of healthful immunity to the scourge Hedges describes among us.

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By beijair, April 23, 2007 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

we have all witnessed what a small amount of religion has done to our country and our government.  it is clear we need to stand up against this religous push and take back our country….which was not founded on jesus or god.

christian don’t seem to understand that this is something that is going to divide america and americans and we will soon become like the middle east and fighting each other over what one groups is telling us is allowed or not allowed.  this is the very reason our founding fathers wanted religion out of the government.

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By RobertBennett, April 23, 2007 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

While I don’t agree with all of your points, this is a wonderful, and relevant essay.

The power of Christ is simply the power of Love.  Conservatism is the Politics of Fear; they want to destroy everything that even slightly threatens them.

I believe Jesus was a Human Being, with flaws and imperfections just like the rest of us.  But I also believe he is one of the most enlightened people who ever lived.

On my spiritual journey, I traveled through Buddhism, Dance, Photography, and Jungian psychology.  I recently read the Gospels, just to see why all these Christians are insane.  I was amazed.  The words of Christ differ sharply from the Conservative Agenda.

Seeing Christ as a Human Being has freed me to hear his words.  I don’t agree with everything he said, but then, I don’t believe everything about anything.

Jesus H. Christ said,“Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

You might think this would mean Christians are supposed to forgive, rather than punish. But many Christians have a deep and abiding affection for the Hell on Earth scenario spelled out in The Book of Revelation, the last book of The New Testament.

This strikes me as odd.

The Book of Revelation is an account of a Dream had by an unknown man named John.  It is not an account of actual events.  None of the words ‘spoken’ by Jesus in John’s Dream have ever been attributed to the actual person of Jesus.

The Gospels of Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John, are valid historical records, with the imperfections inherent in all such records.  The words of Jesus in these books are directly attributed to him by witnesses who heard him speak.

The judgmental Jesus of John’s Dream is just that - John’s Dream Jesus.  Dreams reflect the truest and deepest beliefs and desires of the Dreamer; John’s Dream has nothing to do with the Human Being who was Jesus Christ.

If you like, you can read it for yourself , but I don’t recommend it.  I wouldn’t want you to develop a nasty case of Revelation Fixation.

In the bibles of the Revelation Fixated, words spoken by Jesus are in red, including the words “spoken” by him in John’s Dream.  While this may be irrational, it isn’t dangerous.  You see, you can’t legally slander dead people.  After somebody dies, you can attribute any words you like to them.  Jesus can’t sue.

Unfortunately, there’s only one cure for Revelation Fixation:

Forget about John’s Dream.

Only your own Dreams will take you where you need to go.

Dream on.

Peace,
Bob Bennett
Lick Skillet, AL
http://thespiritandthestone.squarespace.com/

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By niloroth, April 23, 2007 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

marina

just so we are clear, are you saying that the only part of the bible anyone should pay attention to are the parts where jesus speaks?  If so, how do you discount the rest of the bible?  And how is your loving and wonderful jesus being nice in John 15:6 casting non believers into hell?  Or are you asserting that the god of the new testament does not condone slavery?  Check ephesians 6:5 and 1 timothy 6:1-4. 

I think you have made up your own religion, which is fin i guess, but still just as make believe as all the others, and if this is the case, why defend a religion that while similar to your made up one, is not the same as yours?

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By Leefeller, April 23, 2007 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It would be quite interesting instead of being armed with the bible, insead have copies of “Why I Am Not A Christian”?by Bertrand Russell. As your gun,? (bad choice of words)

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By desertdude, April 23, 2007 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment

These people are not Christians. My gosh how could anyone believe what they are doing. Just from the seminar you can see it is to use people to steal their money. God is Lord and these people serve themselves not God. I pray for Dr. Kennedy and his people. But then they have their reward.

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By Aeneas, April 23, 2007 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The first thing that struck me about this article was the prayer towards the end.  I noticed that it’s quite literally about “me, myself, and I.”  Almost every third word is in the first person singular.  I have never seen a more self-centered text in my life.

What’s more interesting is when you compare that prayer to the “Our Father” from Catholicism, with sentences like “give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Maybe it’s that traditional Christianity was centered more on the collective rather than the individual, like the modern fundamentalist kind.

In any case, I think Nietzsche said it best, “The only true Christian died on the cross.”

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