Not Afraid To Call Them Out

My new blogging friend John  Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina is certainly not afraid to call out Evangelicals for their discrimination against others.  That is one of the primary things I admire him for and why read him daily. Here are some words from a recent post. I encourage you to click on the link to read the entire story.

[And please, my Evangelical friend,] don’t give me that hackneyed, tired nonsense, that you are loving LGBTQ people by doing the things you do to them, because that’s an insult to all of us.

 If you’re going to tell me with a straight face, that ridiculing them in the streets and excluding them from your churches and passing legislation to take away their civil rights and prohibiting them from being fully authentic—is loving them—I’m respectfully calling bullshit. The day you convinced yourself that this was love, you lost the plot completely.

Source: Stuff That Needs To Be Said

I hope at least a few Evangelicals will read his post and realize that they are poisoning Christianity by their hateful words and actions. There is far too much judging among Evangelicals if you ask me but I readily admit that I judge others more than I should. The difference between them and me is that I recognize it as a personal fault and is contrary to my Live and Let Live pillar of life, and for some weird reason they see their prejudices as following Jesus.

As the title of John’s blog says “Stuff That Needs To Be Said”, maybe he can get through to that guy who works in an oval office. But I kinda doubt ANYONE can get through to him except maybe Meuller. 🥺 But, maybe he could convince a few of his loyal base that they have attached their dreams to a con artist. That’s stuff that really needs to be said…

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff

Shane Claiborne is one of my favorite Christian authors. He definitely lives the words of Jesus and he is not bashful when it comes to telling others that Talk is cheap and actions are where you demonstrate your beliefs.

At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, “I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ.” A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That’s the ugly stuff. And that’s why I begin by saying that I’m sorry.
via Shane Claiborne – Letter to Non-Believers by Shane Claiborne

Sadly for many, the Bible Belt Trumpsters now represent Jesus’ church. They very much confirm what the non-Christians see as hypocrites and very narrow-minded people. Maybe that is one of the reasons I no longer say I am a Christian, I am just tired of apologizing for these people.

I realize that many if not the majority of Christian churches try at one level or another to be good followers of their founder Jesus.  They read some texts in their Bible and vow, at least vocally, to follow his words.  But there are too many other words that they blatantly ignore. Maybe they see them as too hard so they just pretend they don’t exist?

Maybe they have been told for too long that Christianity has nothing to do with how you act, the only thing that matters is what you believe, so why bother with the hard stuff? I just wish those folks would open their Bibles and read some of the stuff they have not evidently discovered yet.

In conclusion, the sad part of all this “hypocrite” views of the non-religious is that those who do see others as their neighbors in need and do good works in His name are so silent when it comes calling out the real hypocrites. The rest of us need to quit apologizing for these type people and proudly stand up for Jesus’ actual words

A Nuanced Skeptic & Religion

I seem to get a fair share of email and comments about my “religion” posts here at RJsCorner and also over at RedLetterLiving. Some are in agreement, some take the post where I never intended it to go.  And then there are others who assume that I hate religion and see me as attacking what they hold as sacred. In this post, I want to try and address those issues.

As I mentioned a few posts ago I lead a joyous life as a nuanced skeptic.  That is, I see small and sometimes not so small slices of various topics that I question. I don’t hate religion.

The graphic here pretty much sums my overall beliefs about religion in general. In my mind, God is not attached to just one religion. In fact, I have come to believe that all the various religious beliefs in the world today, and there are thousands of them, are for the most part made my man. 

I realize it’s nice to be around people who believe as you do. Religion meets that need for those who require that.  When I was part of a couple of different versions of religion in past years I did enjoy the hymns, some of the traditions, and the short-term friends we made there. I was enlightened by some of the group studies, but there were some I had to voice an opposing opinion of and I sadly found those opinions not very welcomed.  I am not against religion.

I do believe that the church serves a valuable purpose of teaching young minds the fundamental beliefs. But after the basics, it should not be so condemning of the next step a person might take. Do we really need to believe so many things that were invented by men?

But more fundamentally, I do sadly believe that most religions almost totally focus on what you are supposed to believe instead of how you are supposed to live your life.  Maybe even more damaging is the belief that many have that they are the only ones who have it right.  

In closing, believe it or not, it is possible to love God and even be a “follower of Jesus” without being religious. I am one of that group.

Churches Are Misleading….

For my winter 2018/2019 project, I have decided to study the topics of philosophy and spirituality and how they intermingle. I am starting out this study by reading a book entitled “Belief without Borders” by Linda A. Mercadante. I will be putting out numerous Sunday posts about it in the coming weeks. Associated with that study, I have also been visiting some of my more than 500 posts over at one of my other blogs at RedLetterLiving.net 

This post was originally written on February 18, 2013. 

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All of this makes me wonder if pews are misleading in churches. They trick people into thinking that Christians learn best by sitting quietly in rows, listening to lectures, and memorizing ideas about the faith. But churches should not be lecture halls. 

The above quote grabbed my attention. It is from a book by Diane Butler Bass entitled Christianity After Religion.  I came to the same conclusion a couple of years before I read these words.  Churches, in general, are very misleading of what Jesus expects of us. Yes, I know some of my Christian friends believe that all we are supposed to do is to accept Christ as our savior and then spend the rest of our lives laying back and letting his grace flow over us.  To me, nothing could be further from the truth.

I am not one to have memorized the Bible so I can’t say for sure but I don’t believe that Jesus put much emphasis on us being passive followers. I suspect the folks who are aligned with that belief can quote at least a verse or two that if you twist it just right might infer that we are supposed to be passive.  I know I read the red letters frequently and what I see is Jesus telling me again and again to actively love my brother and to love God.

Getting back to the quote at hand, I think churches in general do trick people into thinking they are following Christ by just spending an hour a week sitting in the air-conditioned churches listening to  lectures and memorizing selected words to back up their static beliefs. To be quite frank, I just can’t understand all the lavish cathedrals built through the ages by the church. I believe in my heart that Jesus never intended that to happen.  I totally agree with Ms. Bass that churches should NOT be lecture halls and that includes lectures by the clergy of your favorite flavor.

If we truly want to reflect the heart and message of Jesus we should shut down our lavish palaces we have constructed in his name and move out into the community as he taught us.  Jesus did spend a few sparing times in the synagogue but he did not live there, or hide there as Christians today seem to do.  As a matter of fact one of the most visible bible stories is about Jesus going into a church to upset the local traditions of the time. He upset a lot of carts in that story and I think we need to do the same for him today.

Let’s quit spending all the money we collect in God’s name on ourselves and instead put it out in the community. Lord knows there are plenty of opportunities for us Christians to make more of a difference in the world today. If we want to be a follower of Jesus we should take his examples to heart and get out there loving the tax collectors, prostitute, poor and destitute in our day as he did in his.

Humanism And Jesus…

2018-03-05_15-42-33My conservative Evangelical friends would like me to believe that you can’t be a humanist and also be a follower of Jesus.  From what I have discovered in the last few months, that is categorically false. The two beliefs align very well with one another.

Yes, there are differences in beliefs for different versions of humanism, but since there are over 39,000 versions of Christianity that kind of seems a lame argument to me. I’m sure some humanists are more aesthetic in nature just as there are Christians who basically ignore the teaching of Jesus.

Jesus was about caring for “the least of these”. It was a core part of his nature and teachings.  Show me where the words in the graphic above are contrary to that? I have always been uncomfortable with the anti-science nature of many versions of Christianity. That, and the political one are the reasons I no longer call myself a Christian.  To me, those folks who reject science are simply too stuck to a few limited words in the Bible that they take far too literally.

It seems that in my old age I am just not much of a joiner so I no longer call myself a Christian and I probably won’t call myself a humanist either but I do agree with much of their philosophy. I definitely don’t call myself a Republican or a Democrat for that matter, both are now stained beyond recognition.

About Empathy

2018-09-13_07-38-39.pngI am convinced that, as a general rule, my Republican friends pretty much lack empathy to any degree. I know this could be “painting with a broad brush” type thing but hear me out. I find example after example of this fact in my daily life. Let me give you a few examples.

I have a Republican friend who goes on and on about how all those people on welfare are freeloaders.  To him, they are just too lazy to go out and get a job.  I try to tell him that on the average most people are on welfare less than a year. He has admitted that his sister was on welfare, but he assures me that she really needed it.  He just can’t seem to understand that people who have temporary circumstances need and should get help. To him, everyone besides his sister is just lazy freeloaders.

Then there is Betsy DeVos, the current leader of the department of education who is now in the process of making sure that for-profit colleges get the money they need to pay their shareholders lavish dividends while at the same time making it harder for students to pay off their college debt. There just seems to be a serious lack of empathy among those who call themselves Republicans.

Then there is the soon to be ex-congressmen/ house leader Paul Ryan. His adoration of Ayn Rand along with her “Empathy is the scourge of mankind” certainly shows that he lacks empathy to any degree.

One thing I most admire about Jesus of Nazareth was that he had a huge amount of empathy. He even said that if your neighbor needs help give him the shirt off your back. He said that if you adore money give it all away to the poor and then you can follow him. Sadly, there are just so many who call themselves Christians who seem to believe the exact opposite of Jesus’ teachings! They rail against anyone getting something they didn’t work for. But isn’t that the foundation of Christianity.  “You don’t deserve it but since Christ died for your sins you will live an eternity in heaven.” Talk about freeloading…