Works In Mysterious Ways…

2018-06-08_08-13-18.pngWhen I was a member of an Evangelical church the most often phrase I heard when its members couldn’t reconcile something recently happened with their beliefs in the bible was that “God works in mysterious ways, we just have to trust Him”. I always thought that was more of a cop-out than an explanation of the situation. But that is not the topic of this post.

It seems that these same Evangelicals put that phrase onto unexplainable actions of #CO3!  They say that he just needs to be trusted and we should disregard all the lies and gross exaggerations that come from this mouth in order to get the greater good that his presidency will provide. Again this is a humongous cop-out as far as I am concerned.

I was personally exposed to an extreme narcissist for a good part of my life and see the same things in #CO3. He emphatically believes that he is capable of doing anything and doesn’t have to put in the work to do it.  He proudly boasts that he basically sleeps through his daily briefing and he simply operates at a gut level and doesn’t need anything else. That is not a person I would put ANY trust in.  How can the Evangelicals put total trust in this very untrustful person is beyond my comprehension. That belief is doing as much harm to their religion as it is to our democracy.

Cackle Footer Banner

#CO3 = Current Oval Office Occupant

Toxic Evangelism

Sadly the word “Evangelical” has come to mean a very negative thing for many people but to see it deemed toxic is simply frightening. But that is what happens when you mix Christianity with politics.  As the old saying goes it is like mixing ice cream with horse manure. It doesn’t hurt the manure but it sure changes the flavor of ice cream.

My friends over at RedLetterChristians recently held a prayer vigil near Liberty University. Liberty’s president Jerry Falwell Jr said any if any in the praying group step on his property they would be arrested for trespassing.  That is not the expected greeting of one Christian to another but that is what you get in today’s most recognized brand of evangelical. It is nice to see at least some versions of Christianity are sticking to their foundations.  Far too many have abandoned their principles in order to condone their politics. That makes the word evangelical toxic indeed.

I want to close out this post with some thoughts from Will Rogers almost a hundred years ago. Can you even imagine what he would have to say about it today?

If some of these birds would follow His example instead of trying to figure out His mode of arrival and departure, they would come nearer getting confidence in their church.

If they are going to argue religion in the church instead of preaching it, no wonder you can see more people at a circus than a church.

Missionaries are going to reform the world whether it wants it or not.

Cackle Footer Banner

 

 

Will Rogers – About Religious Beliefs

Will Quote

A regular part of RJsCorner is going to be looking at Will Rogers quotes and seeing how they apply in today’s world. So, this is the first of many in that area.

Even  80 years ago it seems that there were more than a few who thought religions did more damage than they helped. I think what Will was saying is that “Bible thumpers,” and whatever they are called in the other religions, are the most intolerant of differences of faith.  They are just convinced that they are the only one who has got it right. This is what gets us into so many wars. The Sunni and Shiite quarrels cause thousands of deaths a year against each other and even to some of our boys and girls stationed over there trying futilely to control them.  Not that many years ago it was the Irish Catholics vs. the Protestants and so on, and so on… People disagreeing with others about religion seems to be the norm in our world and we can’t figure out how to get past that ignorance.

I am a big believer in “Coexist.” That is telling ALL the faiths to just play nice. If we could only manage that, war deaths could be almost eliminated.

Let the other fella believe what he wants as long as he lets you do the same. It couldn’t be simpler than that.

But sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to actually accomplish, aren’t they?

Cackle Footer Banner

Religion And Global Conflict

It is becoming more and more recognized that religious beliefs are and have most likely always been one of the primary sources of conflict in this world.

Here are some words about the underlying reasons for this:

2018-01-24_09-05-50“Religion often becomes the master variable,” Harris says. “It provides a unique reward structure. If you believe that the thoughts you harbor in this life and the doctrines you adhere to spell the difference between an eternity spent in fire or one spent on the right hand of God, that raises the stakes beyond any other reward structure on earth.”

Tribal tendencies are natural for humans who need groups and community to survive. But the driving forces behind especially alienating, fundamentalist beliefs are a combination of nature and nurture, experts say.

via Tribal Divisions Created by Religion Most Harmful in Global Conflict, Experts Say | Best Countries | US News

Personally, I have always struggled to fully understand why religion has such a strong hold on so many. The quote above helps me understand that a little better.  I am just not one of those people who believe things without proof as most religions demand.

What will it take for religions to finally come to agree to coexist in the world today? That is the major question at hand.  When will they accept that everyone has a right to believe in the god of their choice or no god at all? Thomas Jefferson understood that early on and thankfully at least the concept is part of our constitution even if it hasn’t been fully implemented.  In fact, Jefferson was more strongly a believer in freedom “from” religion than “of” religion.

Given that there are literally tens of thousands of versions of God in the world today coexistence is the only logical way to approach religious beliefs.

 

Killing Religion With Your Political Cause..

2017-11-11_10-04-27I don’t know why the 1973 song “Killing me softly ”  by Roberta Flack got stuck in my head recently. Maybe it has something with my brain bleed of eight months ago but that is pretty much a stretch. 🙂  But those verses put the foundation together for this post.  If you want to see the lyrics click here.

Now on to the purpose of this post. There are simply too many in this world who are killing religion with their various causes. They put God into situations that she would certainly not put herself in. By doing this they are possibly poisoning the well of religion for many generations to come. It is a known fact that recent generations of Americans are much less religious than their parents or grandparents. I’m sure this poisoning effect is much the reason for this trend.

Far too many people put religious spins on their prejudices to try to give them some validity. An example of this is the recent allegations against Roy Moore who is a rad-con candidate for the Senate in Alabama.  He is accused among the dozen or so allegations, of sexual harassment of a 14-year-old girl while he was in his thirties. Anyone who has looked beyond the surface on these allegations has to come away with considering them to be valid.  But instead, some Alabama politicians are putting a religious spin on it.  They say that since Joseph was much older than Mary so it is ok for Mr. Moore. Some are even comparing Moore to Jesus who was wrongly persecuted by his enemies.  Religious spin for political purposes poisons the religious well.

Then there is the KKK who cloak themselves in religion as the reason for their racial hatred. Another radical fringe group who are doing basically the same thing is ISIS and radical Islam. They say their god tells them to kill everyone who is not an avid believer in their version of religion. They are killing religion with their causes.

It is common nature for us to look beyond ourselves for the deepest meaning of life. We want to believe that something or someone much wiser than us controls the high-level stuff. Most of us attach to one form of god or another for that knowledge. When others use religion to justify their radical beliefs they are poisoning the well for the rest of us. I’m pretty sure that God is neither a Republican or a Democrat and I’m absolutely sure he doesn’t hate people due to the color of their skin, or any other flippant reason we humans give as justification for our spiteful ways.

Having No Religion or Faith..

Britain is becoming an increasingly faithless society, according to a new survey that has found 53% of Britons now describe themselves as having no religion.

The proportion is the highest ever, up from 48% in 2015 and 31% in 1983 when the British Social Attitudes survey was begun by the independent National Centre for Social Research.

The trend is evident across all age groups but is particularly marked among young people, with 71% of 18-to 24-year-olds surveyed in 2016 saying they had no religion, up from 62% percent the previous year.

The majority of older people still have some faith, with only four in ten of those aged 65 to 74 describing themselves as having no religion, and only 27% of those aged 75 and over.

Source: More than half of Britons have no religion – survey

From what I remember the US has similar  but lower numbers and also trends significantly downward but not yet to the extent of Britons. I wonder how much of this decline here is associated with politics? Evangelicals are now known more as an ultra right political group than a religious one.  That fact alone does serious, and maybe deadly, harm to religion.

On another thought, there are just so many things that educated people today see to enforce their belief that religion does more harm than good in our societies. They look at all the wars in the world today and see that religion is the source for almost all of them.

Too many versions of religions demand a blind faith.  That is, you are supposed to take whatever they say is true no matter was current day facts prove. That alone will eventually cause the demise of most forms of religion in the world. God gave us intellect and a questioning attitude for a reason.

When we as a world community finally come to see that we are all praying to the same God we may be able to eventually salvage what’s left of religion from the dust heaps of time.  These are pretty harsh words but I think they need to be said.

I proudly say I am a follower of Jesus Christ and his messages to us but I am currently not religious. This statement causes confusion in many but once I explain this dichotomy they understand what I am saying.

God’s Still On Holiday..

This is insane, and mainly because God patently hasn’t taken care of any of these things. Humans do these things and humans do stuff to mitigate or eradicate them. God’s still on holiday, where he has been for a few thousand years.

Source: Lazy and Incoherent Theology: God Will Take Care of It

I know that many of Mr. Trump’s supporters are evangelical Christians who believe that everything that happens, and especially his election, is God’s will.  When things happen that they don’t like or can’t reconcile with their beliefs then they fall back on  “God works in mysterious ways.” I also know that since the enlightened age there has been no documented evidence that God has intervened in the world in any supernatural way as he supposedly did regularly in the pre-Christian era.

Has God taken a holiday for the last few millennia as the author of the quote above suggests or is it possible most of the miracles and such recorded in ancient text really just myth passed down from one generation to another? I know I will be called a heretic just for thinking about this possibility but that is not the purpose of coming out with this statement. I do believe in a supreme force holding the universe together but I don’t believe it is anything resembling Homo sapiens. It is not a white haired old man in the clouds.  If I had to tag it as anything it would probably be more like the “Force” in Star Wars. It is a presence that started it all and maybe monitors it even now.

Now, getting to the point of this post and that is that we humans need to take responsibility for our actions both personal and corporate. We can’t put it off on God as if we had nothing to do with it. If we cause a problem we need to fix it. Global warming seems to the the biggest topic presently at hand in this category.  It is utter foolishness to sit back and wait for God to fix it for us.

We must be accountable for the problems we bring upon this world. I think that is what God wants us to do…

Religion Does More Harm Than Good..

It is interesting to see another country where the majority thinks religion does more harm than good, especially since this one is our neighbor. I’m not sure what the statistics in Europe are but I suspect that they are similar to Canada’s.

More than half of Canadians believe religion causes more harm than good, a new poll has found. The survey by Ipsos found the proportion of people who held the belief had increased in recent years, from 44 per cent in 2011 to 51 per cent this year. Less than a quarter of people, or 24 per cent, believed that religious people made better citizens, down eight points from 2011, Global News reported.

Source: Majority of Canadians think religion does more harm than good | The Independent

canstockphoto17505783I have been brave enough to openly hold this position for about a dozen years now but was kind of surprised that so many believe as I do.  Before you start flaming I want to explain my feelings.  It is not that we shouldn’t be praising God for everything he created but instead about the versions of religion that have sprung up over the centuries trying to do that.

If you are a history enthusiast it is hard not to come to the conclusion that religion does more harm than good.  We see so many wars started around one person’s view of God vs another’s.  By far the majority of religions believe that their vision of God is the only true one. That belief is the foundation for the Sunni vs Shiite, Protestant vs Catholic, Lutherans vs Baptists (I could go on and on..) and even inside the splits within a particular belief.  Personally I know that WELS Lutherans think that ELSA Lutherans are just plain ungodly.

I have come to believe in what I call the Woody Guthrie view of religions and that is that we are ALL just part of one big soul. We are all searching for God and far too many of us just refuse to believe that it is that simple…

We are all in this together

 

Nauvoo IL – Mormon Settlement

ISOA Banner   Nauvoo Village was one of several settlements established and then all but abandoned by Mormons due to battles with their neighbors.  The first was in Ohio, the second in Missouri, and then came Nauvoo in Illinois. This was the site that it’s founder Joseph Smith was killed and Brigham Young took over the leadership.

Mauvoo has recently been been called the “Williamsburg of the Midwest” and to some degree they deserve that title but in others they fall short. Many of the building have been restored to the 1840s but many are still in private hands. Unlike Williamsburg there are obvious places that the 21st century invades including cars parked throughout the village.

I think most, if not all the employees are of the Mormon faith so some don’t take criticisms lightly.   All being said however, I found all the people in the village to be very friendly and more than willing to accommodate my deafness.

Before I close I want to get in my “having my say” mode and talk a little about religion and Mormons particularly.  During the 1800 years or so between the beginning of Christianity and  the settlement of Nauvoo there were thousands of different version of Christianity invented. Many happened after Luther started the Protestant Reformation.  And of course there have been about 20,000 or more different version since that time.   I kind of find it ironic that there was as much ambivalence toward Mormons that there has been.  Why were they driven out of so many settlement locations before they finally reached Salt Lake City? Are they that threatening to other Christians?

I have become a “live and let live” believer in Jesus Christ.  That is I just don’t believe that any of the 35,000 version of this religion have a lock on what to believe. They are all just one person’s view of religion starting with St. Paul who had never seen Jesus and spoke little of the lessons of Jesus during his lifelong ministry. One great thing about America it that we, at least figuratively, believe in freedom of religion. Believe what you want as long as you don’t try to force your beliefs on others.

Finally getting back to Nauvoo, this village is well worth it if you find yourself in the area.

Here are some pictures from my visit.  As usual click on any one to see a larger slideshow view.

 

 

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…