Looking Back – U.S. Christianity

For this Sunday’s Look Back let’s look at the MAGA/Evangelical cult. I never would have dreamed that U.S. Christianity would have taken the fatal hit it has when I wrote the above words five years ago. Yeah, we had the Tea Party back then that was identified as a radical right fringe but for the most part they were not identified as a primarily Christian organization. The phrase “Make America Great Again” and “Evangelical” are now combined into MAGA/Evangelical and are irrefutably joined at the hip. I’m sure the roots of today’s cult were from the Tea Party but it … Continue reading Looking Back – U.S. Christianity

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.  ======================================================= All of this makes me wonder if pews are misleading in churches. They trick people … Continue reading Churches Are Misleading….

Humanism And Jesus…

My 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 … Continue reading Humanism And Jesus…

Christianist Cult of Trump…

I will admit up front here that I cherry-picked the quotes below and the Facebook shot from a very long, agonizingly long, article from a Catholic site entitled Patheos.  The author is Mark Shea who is evidently a regular contributor to that venue. The gun debate is an obvious case in point.  Virtually everything I have had to say about it turns on a very fundamental moral point, summed up here: The Christianist cult of Trump advertises itself to the world as the face of Real Christianity.  So proud is it that it routinely declares the pope a heretic as it … Continue reading Christianist Cult of Trump…

Sunday’s Religion In America Series..

  My intention going into the new RJsCorner was that I would use Sunday to sometimes post about things religious. With that in mind I thought I would start a new series about the founding of the U.S. by people escaping religious persecution in other countries. I probably have a couple of dozen of these type communities I have visited over the years of traveling across this country. This post will start us off on this direction. These posts will probably be more about our country’s history than religious beliefs. They will highlight communities throughout the country that were started … Continue reading Sunday’s Religion In America Series..

Wicked Theology

When I came across this post a while back it got my immediate attention as the topic is probably one of the primary reasons that more and more people are declaring themselves spiritual but not religious.  There is just too much baggage attached to too many of our religious institutions today.  Too many twist the words  of Jesus to match their current view of the world. It is kind of surprising that the author of the words above is a Baptists professor. Flat- Bible advocates, of which many Baptists are a part, believe that every word in the Bible comes directly … Continue reading Wicked Theology

Religious Certainty…

Some of the biggest problems today are caused by religious certainty. People who are very certain that their religion is better than all the others tend to want to impose the rules laid out in their Holy Book on everyone. They have little respect for the fact that some people are guided by other Holy Books, and other equally valid types of ideals based on values instead of beliefs. Unfortunately this concept has spread into the political arena where religious literalists often try to impose their religious standards on our nation. They fight important social trends, like the acceptance of … Continue reading Religious Certainty…

They Deserve Their Failure….

That is the moral-ideological core of conservatism today. It presumes that life is a competition or race, that people are unequal in talent, drive, and ambition, and that those who end up on top deserve their victory and rewards — and those who come out on the bottom deserve their failure and hardships. Any attempt to overturn or even mitigate this moral order — whether through government regulation or changes in habits or assumptions in school or on the playground — amounts to an offense against justice itself. Source: What defines conservatism today? I want to spend a few posts … Continue reading They Deserve Their Failure….

Like a Death Wish… I Can Only Hope….

Last week, Jeb Bush told an audience in California, “It is strength, and will, and clarity of purpose that make all the difference.” This is the Tinker Bell school of foreign policy that has spread over most of the Republican presidential field. Clap if you believe in a stable Middle East where Syria is rid of ISIS, Al Nusra, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and any Iranian influence. Clap if you believe Iraq will be safe for religious minorities and free of undue Iranian influence, too….. As an electoral strategy, it is absolutely nuts that Republicans would preemptively tell the American … Continue reading Like a Death Wish… I Can Only Hope….

Paul or Plato – Part II…

This is a continuation of the post about two distinctive worldveiws so prevalent in our society today. Let me say up front that even with violating my self imposed 500 word limit on posts this will only very lightly touch on the matter of good or evil. Lets pull a couple of quotes from yesterday’s post to concentrate on here. Still, the distinction is real and important — and its implications touch on areas of our cultural life far beyond criminal justice. It helps to explain, for example, the very different ways that Platonic liberals and Pauline conservatives approach sex — with … Continue reading Paul or Plato – Part II…

Blessed Are The Peacemakers….

  Of course the title of this post came from the Sermon on the Mount found in the Christian Bible. Many, if not most Christians, believe that these teaching called the Beatitudes are fundamental to their faith. They are one of the primary lessons that Jesus left us on how he wants us to act. Here are all eight: Blessed are.. ….the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. ….those who mourn: for they will be comforted. ….the meek: for they will inherit the earth. ….those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. ….the merciful: for they … Continue reading Blessed Are The Peacemakers….

Despite the Loud Minority…

Despite a loud minority, most of the U.S. has moved on. Last year, seven states accounted for 80 percent of all executions. And it is even more evident when you look at counties. More than half of death penalty convictions originate in 2 percent of the counties in the U.S. More and more Christians are troubled that 85 percent of executions take place in the Bible Belt. A 2014 poll showed that millennial Christians are overwhelmingly against the death penalty, and only 5 percent of Americans think Jesus would favor it….. It feels like we have death-fatigue. Perhaps it is no surprise that … Continue reading Despite the Loud Minority…

Christianity is Harder Than We Pretend it is….

Surprisingly, many people don’t reject Christianity because they’ve given up on God. Instead, they’ve given up on the people and things that represent God. They don’t hate Jesus, they just become tired of not finding Him within Christian culture. As Christians, we sometimes mistakenly try to compensate for God by presenting our faith as easier than it really is. We cover up the ugliness and hardship of authentic faith.But while following Christ is beautiful and worthwhile, disappointment, pain, suffering, betrayal and hurt are also a part of life, and Christians aren’t immune or excluded from these horrors. Contrary to a … Continue reading Christianity is Harder Than We Pretend it is….

Before Becoming A Christian…

1) Christ is perfect but “Christianity” is not. Don’t mistake Christian Culture as God, they aren’t the same thing. Churches, pastors, theologians, and other believers will inevitably fail you, but Jesus never will. 2) It’s OK to change your beliefs. You’ll never have Christianity fully figured out. You won’t have an answer for everything. Theology is a journey, a Pilgrim’s Progress. Life, relationships, and experiences form, shape, and change the way you see, experience, and understand God. The disciples didn’t understand God much of the time, and you probably won’t either. 3) Christianity Isn’t Easy. It doesn’t magically fix things, … Continue reading Before Becoming A Christian…

All Trying To Arrive At The Same Place…

“Now, just suppose, for a change they preach to you about the Lord and not about the other fellow’s church, for every religion is good. There is none of it bad.  We are all trying to arrive at the same place according to our own conscience and teachings. It don’t matter which road you take.” – Will Rogers March 11, 1923 Since Will Rogers is a hero of mine, of course I get a daily dose of his Facebook page. Here is one that strikes me as typical of his wisdom. Will was not particularly a religious person, his mom … Continue reading All Trying To Arrive At The Same Place…

Wounded Souls….

Christians have a presumption against war as well as an obligation to help heal those who suffer its consequences. The above title and words come from a Sojourners Magazine article by Gregg Brekke in the April 2014 issue. I have made it clear on most of my blogs that I am pro-peace in almost all regards and of course that makes me anti-war. All the wars and conflicts that the U.S. has fought in  my lifetime have not had any long, or even medium term, consequences. If they had not been fought at all nothing much would have changed. The … Continue reading Wounded Souls….

Helping The Poor – Reason 2

2)      It’s Not a Sin to Be Poor In a culture obsessed with consumerism, money is seen as the ultimate form of power and success, but it’s not a sin to be poor. For Christians, especially middle-class Westernized believers, it’s easy to assume the worst of the poor. We blame them for not working, being lazy, having drug addictions, making poor choices, and not trying hard enough. We often equate financial worth with personal value, and we place the poor in the lowest system of our preconceived (often subconscious) human caste systems. We treat them accordingly—bad, and are continually blaming, … Continue reading Helping The Poor – Reason 2

Happy Holidays…

I know there are those out there who despise the phrase “Happy Holidays”! They say the phrase takes away the Christian meaning of Christmas.  I am just not one of those. I don’t have any trouble recognizing that other faith traditions, and even those without any strong faith, also celebrate events this time of year. I say the more the merrier…. Since it has been pretty well documented that Jesus was not really born of December 25th and that much of the Christmas story is likely a myth passed down from one generation to another I don’t think we Christians … Continue reading Happy Holidays…

Shall We Celebrate the 1%?

It continues to amaze me that there are Christians –both preachers and politicians- who seem to be much more interested in defending the honor and the interests of the very wealthy than they are to lending support to the less advantaged ones among us. Their priorities are the opposite of those reflected in scripture (James 2:1-7; 5:1-5). They will speak up for low taxes on the rich but not defend livable wages for the working poor. They will call for deregulation on businesses but not stand up for better consumer or environmental protections. They sound much more like the devotees … Continue reading Shall We Celebrate the 1%?

God Knows More Than I Do…….

Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do….. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products. SOURCE:  Morf Morford: It’s NOT the economy, stupid | Red Letter Christians. I am going to do a rare cross post here between two of my blogs. I am doing so because I think this post has a spiritual as well as general message. While the referenced source above is about life being more than just … Continue reading God Knows More Than I Do…….

Atonement….

One of the current foundations of the Christianity is the atonement. Generally that is thought to be Jesus taking the wrath of God for us with his substitutional crucifixion in order to appease God wrath toward man’s sinfulness.  I, like many others I’m sure, thought that atonement was a foundational issue with Jesus and the early church.  In reality it was post-Constantine theologians who gave us the doctrine of original sin and the blood atonement, the belief that Jesus came to earth solely for the purpose of dying for our sins, was a doctrine not fully developed in the church … Continue reading Atonement….

Shame On Us…….

April 15, 2013 — The rise of the so-called “Nones”—the increasing percentage of adults who claim no religious affiliation—has been a much-discussed trend in American religion. Is the nation moving away from Christianity and other forms of conventional faith? To provide insight on this topic, Barna Group analyzed 42,855 interviews conducted in recent years, looking at 15 different measures of non-religiosity. In other words, the research explores the emerging post-Christian landscape of the nation. The above words are from an email I recently received from the Barna Organization.  For those of you who might not know Barna is a Christian … Continue reading Shame On Us…….

Humble Emergents vs. Absolutists….

Lets continue on with some more quotes from the book by Tony Jones entitled The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier “I’m humble,” an emergent might tell you, “because I don’t know what I’m wrong about today. I’ll speak with confidence, and I’ll speak with passion, but I won’t speak with certainty.” Being humble/uncertain in any area of theology is very intimidating to some within the church. They say we must believe everything in the Bible comes from God. They say we will invariably go down the “slippery slope” if we question anything in that document. They say if we … Continue reading Humble Emergents vs. Absolutists….

Skiing The Slippery Slope

Anyone who has read much of this blog knows how I feel about the slippery slope. I believe that the very concept has damaged us theologically, politically and personally beyond anything good that could come out of it. The very concept that everything we believe about a subject becomes worthless if we come to believe that any small part of it is questionable. Here is what Tony Jones says about the slippery slope in his book The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier: That theology is local, conversational, and temporary does not mean that we must hold our beliefs without conviction. … Continue reading Skiing The Slippery Slope

Jefferson And The Gospels….

This is a continuation of our study of Thomas Jefferson to discount the belief that he intended the United States to be a Christian nation. He started out and spent much of his life as a deist. That is he believed in the presence of God in the world but did not proclaim it as a Christian presence. Later in life after he was president he undertook a serious study of the Christian Bible and other religious documents. He took this study to the point of making his own version of the New Testament. Many are confused by the Jefferson … Continue reading Jefferson And The Gospels….

Being Told What To Believe……

This is a continuation of my mini-project to strike down some of the myths around Thomas Jefferson. The myth at hand is that he intended the United States to be a Christian nation.  If anything can clear up the misconceptions of Jeffersonian history, it must come best from the author himself.  Here are some of his words about things religious: About Heresy Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782 Anyone who has visited … Continue reading Being Told What To Believe……

Happy Holidays….

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Being a Christian I was taught to be very much offended when I ran across the words “Happy Holidays” as that somehow diminished the real meaning of the season. But after I came across a blog post recently I have changed my opinion on those words. I wish I had kept the explanation as I’m sure the original author explained it much better then I can but since I can no longer find it I will have to do the best I can in justifying his idea.

Continue reading “Happy Holidays….”

The Words of Jesus….

This is a continuation of the previous post about the words of Jesus taking front and center in Christian living.  Last time we talked about  how the red letters came about in our Christian bibles and about an organization dedicated to putting them back in their proper place in Christianity.  This time I want to tell you about a couple of books that put the red letters front and center. The first is a book by Phyllis Tickle entitled The Words of Jesus. This book which was published in 2008 was the first time I have come across something dedicated … Continue reading The Words of Jesus….

The Third Great Rummage Sale — The Reformation

I think most people, especially those who call themselves Christian, are at least a little familiar with the third great rummage sale in Christianity which was the Reformation.  I will only give a very brief look in this post. Martin Luther, a monk with an incredibly low self-image, started it in 1517 when he nailed his list of 95 complaints about the workings of the church on the Wittenberg church door.  Martin’s initial goal was to try to turn the church from corruption of its day. But, due to bruised egos he ended up causing the second great schism in … Continue reading The Third Great Rummage Sale — The Reformation

Saving Jesus — (Part 2) Post-Easter Jesus

This is a continuation of my review of the book Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus by Robin Meyers. Here are the quotes we will look at on this post: Adoration of the post-Easter Christ so dominates the language and liturgy of the church that the wisdom of pre-Easter Jesus is all but lost. We know that Saul of Tarsus, who never met Jesus, became the apostle Paul through a completely mystical experience and seemed to care nothing for the earthly teachings of Jesus, only his “adoption” as the Son of God … Continue reading Saving Jesus — (Part 2) Post-Easter Jesus

And Its All Small Stuff…..

This is a post that I have carried over from my other blog at RedLetterLiving. It is about an epiphany I had several years ago about my spiritual beliefs. I wanted to share it with my readers here.

Posted on October 22, 2012 at RedLetterLiving.net

In 1997 Richard Carlson wrote a very popular book entitled Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…. and it’s all small stuff. In that book he listed one hundred things to make our lives more peaceful. Some of those topics that I took to heart included: Continue reading “And Its All Small Stuff…..”

Ayn Rand – Mr. Ryans Hero….

Source: Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them | Alternet. Ayn Rand was not only a schlock novelist, she was also the progenitor of a sweeping “moral philosophy” that justifies the privilege of the wealthy and demonizes not only the slothful, undeserving poor but the lackluster middle-classes as well. Her books provided wide-ranging parables of “parasites,” “looters” and “moochers” using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes’ labor. In the real world, however, Rand herself received Social Security payments and Medicare benefits under the name of Ann O’Connor (her … Continue reading Ayn Rand – Mr. Ryans Hero….

How Faith Changed….

This will probably be my last post about the early christians for a while. Next time I will begin to concentrate on some of the early theologians,bishops/historians/leaders or whatever you want to call them, and how they influenced the direction of the church. Closing this chapter, at least for now, it is important for you to remember what “faith” was to the early Christians. Here are a couple of quotes from Harvey Cox in his book The Future of Faith that I think summarizes this important topic. At its outset “faith” meant a dynamic lifestyle sustained by fellowships that were … Continue reading How Faith Changed….

Official Christianity….

I am going to jump ahead a little here so that I can put something into your mind before we tackle early church leaders. To illustrate my point I want to once again use a quote from The Future of Faith by Harvey Cox: Thus, it is now clear that the “official Christianity” that eventually emerged was only one among a range of “Christianities” that thrived during the earliest years. The distinction we still make today between “orthodox” and “heretical” movements did not exist. There was nothing inevitable or preordained about which version, if any, would predominate. It is very … Continue reading Official Christianity….

It’s Hard To Make a Fine Wine When All You Have Is Sour Grapes….

The title of this post came to me as I was recently reading the book Falling Upward by Richard Bohr.  In this book the author says each of us has two distinct parts of our lives. The first is making the container and the second is filling it with what we were meant to do.  Although I don’t necessarily agree with some parts of this book the thought of having two distinctive parts of your life is thought-provoking for me. It just makes sense. How much of your life you spend building the container and how much filling it with … Continue reading It’s Hard To Make a Fine Wine When All You Have Is Sour Grapes….