We Have No Purpose Anymore..

Banner Having Y Say    I have to admit up front that for much of my life I just didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I “grew up”. Strangely, it wasn’t until several years into my retirement that I finally put that question to rest. So, I am NOT the poster child for gaining purpose in life, but maybe my shortcomings in this area might be a lesson for others.

canstockphoto2256888.jpgA fundamental problem with this country and many others around the world is that too many just don’t have any idea what the meaning of our country is supposed to be about? Without this foundation, every bad thing that happens causes ever-increasing cynicism and selfishness. There is no hope because there is no overall vision for what we want our country to be. Positive thinking seems to have almost vanished in the world today. Maybe even more tragically, there are those who have come to a conclusion about purpose and their answer is simply too self-centered to be of value.

You would think that a country where so many claim it to be a Christian nation they would use the words of Jesus to find their country’s purpose. But that just doesn’t seem to be a reality even in those who consider themselves to be religious. Too many seem to be able to lock the teachings of Jesus into a neat bundle that is brought out on Sunday and then locked back in a box on Monday. Too many others have turned their religion into a political agenda that excludes any concept of “brother’s keeper”and is about making enemies rather than brothers. But there is hope in this area as religious organizations, especially those of the Radical Right variety are shrinking due to lack of young people buying into their convoluted rhetoric. They label them as hypocrites, as they actually are.

When purpose is lost, especially for a country, hope is usually also lost in the process. I think that’s kind of where we are today.

The best God joke ever … Revisited

This is a revisit of a post I wrote here in 2012. It still applies today.

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Dont do it!” 

He said, “Nobody loves me.” 

2017-01-20_16-30-32.pngI said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?” 

He said, “Yes.” 

I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” 

He said, “A Christian.” 

I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” 

He said, “Protestant.” 

I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” 

He said, “Baptist.”

I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” 

He said, “Northern Baptist.”

I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?” 

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.”

I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” 

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” 

I said, “Me, too!”Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” 

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” 

I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

Sometimes the funniest things are those that have the most tragic consequences. I think this is one of those. We Christians have divided ourselves so much that if being a “Christian” still has any meaning it soon won’t.  Between the hijacking of the term “Evangelical Christian” by those with radical right political agendas and our constant separations we have pretty much done in the term.

For those of us who simply try to follow the words of Jesus Christ and try to basically ignore where so many current Christian establishments stray from it, what should we call ourselves?

Cult Indoctrination…

This post might ruffle some feathers so if you are not in the mood I suggest you don’t read any further.

When you think of the phrase “cult indoctrination” I image some pretty dark things come across your mind. Cult leaders are usually people with an enormous egos and a corresponding quest for power.  Think of Jim Jones if you are old enough or maybe Branch Davidians.  These guys convinced hundreds of their followers to die for their cause when in fact their cause was really no cause at all.

But for this post I want to expand the cult/culture topic to also include our feelings toward wars and killing.  Generally speaking, except for a few forms of cultures like Quakers and Amish most people in the U.S. are taught at a very early age that killing is a necessary part of life and for many a fun part at least in concept. Just look at the top ten apps in any game genre and you will see they are dominated by a central theme of “killing the bad guys”. The games are becoming so real that it is scary to those of us who see them as almost making extinguishing life as a noble pursuit.  And then there is TV and movies, so many are centered around violence. Is it no wander that in the U.S. the number one employer is our military complex?

We are taught very early on that killing is fun especially if we can blow them to smithereens with super-advanced virtual weapons. Sadly many who rush to war given this indoctrination find the realities much different than what they thought.  Many then live the rest of this lives  totally harmed by their military experiences.

Now with our extensive use of military drones to do our killing actual war seems even more so like a video games and that is a bad thing as far as I am concerned.  One person’s cult is another person’s culture…

In my mind much of this aggression is the result of too much testosterone.  I know it was needed when we were dwelling in caves but it really serves no purpose in today’s world. If God made a mistake with us it was probably to give us too much testosterone, or maybe it is because of our lazy minds don’t really bother to think of the consequences …. 🙂

Teach theology, not religion

The quotes below come from input from Irish high school students when asked about having religious studies in their school system. The wisdom of these kids’ words are way beyond their years.

2016-08-29_17-39-25.pngBy giving all children the opportunity to learn about the beliefs and values of diverse groups in society, the government would be providing for their education in some of the liberal democratic values on which the State itself is based. They include openness to a range of views along with inclusive and respectful citizenship.

MANUS CHARLETON

Perhaps, as religion is one of the greatest causes of conflict in the world, rather than teach religion in schools we might study theology and get a greater understanding of our fellow man.

CIARAN McNAMARA (age 16)

Source: Teach theology, not religion

The Irish certainly know something about religious strife having lived through decades of Catholic/Protestant war in the north of their country.  They are basically proposing the teaching of theology instead of a particular religion. Theology has a very high brow look to many of us but it is really quite simple. It is the study of religion.

Given that there are currently about 39,000 different versions of Christianity alone we need to study and learn why so many have deemed it necessary to leave one version of their religion for another.  Then there is the Shia, Sunni, and other versions of Islam that need to be understood.

Everyone seems to be almost seeking their own private version of God. Maybe it is time to study that fact instead of insisting that “our” version be the only one to consider.

I imagine that there are many inside all the various religions who fear that if their kids learn that their parents religion is not the only one out there that they may lose their souls. But the reality is that whether they like it or not their children do not “inherit” their parents faith. They must come to God on their own terms. Seriously teaching them the entire religious spectrum may be better than trying to force them to join a particular version with no knowledge of other options. Everyone must come to God on their own, no one else can do it for them.

Just a thought for this Sunday morning…..

 

When Leaving Religion Costs You Everything…

When I read the words in the source article below they rang very true to me. Even though I was not a minister like he was I too felt the cost of being forced  out of a church community for having  different/unacceptable beliefs. I dared, among other things to say the earth was more than 6,000 years old.

After 36 years in the Evangelical Charismatic movement in Tennessee, Dave left his faith. “For me,” he says, “it all started with a critical examination of the Bible and how it came to be…when I quit making excuses for the inconsistencies and contradictions, it started to have some gaping holes in it.”….

After enough time in rigorous study, he says he saw the Bible as a collection of books written by very human individuals. Now he’s a stranger and pilgrim in a foreign land. “I feel like an alien here in the south. It’s all about where you go to church here,” he says.

Dave is not alone.

Source: When Leaving Religion Costs You Everything – The Daily Beast

No, Dave is not alone. There are probably millions of us who dared to critically examine their bible and came to the conclusion that it is very similar to Dave’s. When I quit letting the religious leaders tell me how homogeneous the bible was and discovered many places such as the paragraph that Lutherans base their religion on that works are irreverent, faith is all that matters an then read St James, the brother of Jesus, who said faith without works is worthless. Let’s face it when different men (and I do mean men, no women authors to be found) put out their opinions of religion/faith/morality there are bound to be conflicts. And they are relatively easy to discover if you really look at the Bible in the least bit critically.

I always found it strange that so many in the evangelical circles quote St. Paul much more than they do Jesus especially given the fact that Paul was the only apostle who never sat at Jesus’ feet to learn the lessons first hand. In fact the only direct encounter with Jesus was that  quick flash on the road to Damascus. If you read his words, and he has more words in the Bible than any other author, it becomes pretty obvious that he made up his own rules for what to believe in order to be called a Christian. I’m not sure he ever mentioned any of the words of Jesus in his epistles and that is probably because he had no first-hand knowledge of them.

No, Dave is not alone with his feelings and observations. While the Bible is made up of opinions of different author, that does not take away from its value to those who concentrate on the words of Jesus. It is a great history book and is, along with other writing not chosen to be included, the source of most of our information about Christ.

2016-07-09_17-58-37.pngBut there is also the shunning to goes on when one leaves a faith community. I always thought I made very good friends there but once I left only one couple even attempted to stay in contact. The two we considered ” best friends” never said a word to us after that day! Everyone just dropped us from their contact lists. That devastatingly changed everything in my wife’s social world and that is perhaps the biggest sorrow of all for me…

This Christmas Season…

2015-12-11_11-32-59.pngI want to spend some time this Christmas season talking about Jesus. After all, as the old saying goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season” at least for us Chrisitans. I have said more than once on this blog that I am  spiritual but not currently aligned with any particular religious organization.  At the same time I try to be a faithful follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  That might be a dichotomy to some but  not to me. I just believe that religious organizations today are too mired down in their dogma and theology that is simply not focused on the words and teachings of their founder.

Many seem to at best give Jesus’ word only a tepid acknowledgement and at worst readily admit that to them his words are no more important than any other words in their bible. Those folks treat the Bible as their god instead of Jesus. That saddens me greatly and drives me away from their version of Christianity.

One of my favorite Christian authors is Philip Gulley and one of my favorite books by him is “If God Is Love”. Here are some of my favorite quotes from that book:

For many, religion is a means of controlling human behavior. Dualistic religion, with the threat of hell and the offer of heaven, is especially susceptible to this temptation…


Jesus turns controlling religion, with its inflexible laws and requirements, on its head. The point isn’t obeying the rules (an act of the will), but in producing good fruit (an overflow of the heart). Our hearts are changed only when we realize God’s unconditional love for us and embrace our responsibility to love others unconditionally.


This is why many have left the church, synagogue, and mosque. They aren’t atheists. They’ve simply found the courage to reject religious fear and control. They seek a spirituality consistent with what they sense to be true—there must be more to life than escaping hell and keeping the rules. They yearn for a way of life that is gentle, humble, open, and compassionate.


SOURCE: Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-10-13). If God Is Love (Kindle Locations 1318-1320). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

When I read the words above several years ago I had an epiphany. I finally accepted that God is about love and not eternal punishment for failing to follow rules. God is not about condemning the vast majority of us to an eternity of unimaginable agony but instead is showing us how to love.

I like to include myself in the quote above about rejecting religious fear and control and instead seeking spirituality consistent with my senses. Yes, I’m sure some of you can rush to your Bible to find a verse or two, especially in the Old Testament, about a vengeful god. But if you concentrate on Jesus’ words it should become obvious to you that God is a god of love.

This holiday season I choose to celebrate life as Jesus taught me…