?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Another not-a-book excerpt, just some rambling by a person who is… - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
John

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

[Nov. 29th, 2004|08:42 am]
John
Another not-a-book excerpt, just some rambling by a person who is writing it.

What is it about religion that's separating this country? Is it Christianity, as in, "the religion of those who consider Jesus to be the Christ, the annointed one"? Is it Christianity, as in "the message of Jesus, and the actions people should take in following it"? Is it Christianity, as in "the actions of the humans who claim the title of 'Christian'"? Is it "Christianity"... or is it something else?


This is the primary reason that I walked away from the human institution of Christianity. Am I a "Christian"? Well, that's between me and God, isn't it? If I were in your church, Paul, and Jesus himself, would tell you to come to me privately, and then to come to me with witnesses... but I am not in your church.

I will tell you this much: I still follow the message. I love those around me, as best as I am able, and regret when I fail in that love. I care for those less fortunate, and try to keep my concerns to be less for the riches of this world, and more for the riches in another. I love that which is good, and strive to love my neighbor as myself - and, I strive to love myself enough that my neighbor doesn't have to wish I loved my neighbor *more* than myself.

That should be enough for a person to make a decision... but I think that's the crux of the problem.

Christianity is a religion of love; God loved the world, and Jesus loved the world, and Jesus came and told us to love each other, as he loved us. Out of love for us, Jesus suffered and died, and, rising, showed that love was stronger than death itself.

In a perfect world, there'd be no reason to muster any anger about such a religion, unless a person's heart was devoid of love... but we don't live in a perfect world, and a religion is more than its basis; it is also the beliefs and actions of its followers.

Christianity could not be, and is not, merely a religion of love, because love exists beyond our ability to describe it; love just is. You can not preach love to people; you can only preach words. So, Christianity is, and must be, a religion of beliefs as well.

In an ideal world, the Christianity-of-beliefs and the Christianity-of-love would be one and the same, at least as a person grew into the beliefs.

It's becoming clear that this is not the case.

There is a loud and harsh religion-of-belief, claiming that belief is the whole, and there is nothing else. The love has been lost from these people.

A belief that does not change your life is either trivial to you, or is not true belief. If Christianity is 'trivial' to a person's life, then it is most surely not a true belief, so there is no 'either/or' in this case.

A true belief in the message Jesus brought must bring a deep and abiding love, as best as one's heart can manage. It must not bring anger and hatred and disharmony, or it is being misused, for love does not create those things.

The gospels say how one should look to those who claim to speak for Jesus: look to their fruits, for by their fruits shall you know them.

Are they sowing the seeds of love, and reaching out to those they disagree with, hoping to show them the truth? Or are they attacking, forgetting their own sinfulness in their eagerness to condemn others?

Are they reaching out to those less fortunate than themselves, as Jesus commanded? Or are they simply using their "values" as a club to attack those who they dislike?

When they speak out against sinfulness, do they sound grieved, wishing to make the world better? Or do they sound angry, and divisive, suggesting that those who sin are already damned, and beyond hope?

Are they attempting to draw people in, to show them the love that should fill the heart of a good Christian? Or are they claiming that they are righteous (despite their belief that all people are sinners), and all others wrong?

Look to the fruits of those who proclaim to follow Jesus. Those that show his love, even unto his willingness to sacrifice his own life to make the world better, are the ones bearing the fruit that one should look for, to find a person who truly speaks in his name.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: siliconshaman
2004-11-29 05:54 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, the differnce between Christianity, and what is becoming known as the Christianic cult...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2004-12-07 07:30 pm (UTC)
Nod. There've been several people starting to take up that tack... noticing the difference between Christianity as stolen by the Republican Party as a marketing tool, and Christianity as it really is.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: elimloth
2004-11-29 06:30 pm (UTC)
> What is it about religion that's separating this country?

I think it is not religion that has caused a separation of peoples but instead it is exclusionary religions; those are usually the fundamentalist sects, for they explicitly set forth a division of the anointed, chosen, saved against the heathens, damned, unhuman, treating 'other' as worthy of attack.

I recall going to my mother's church in Florida to watch a play presented by the children and young adults in which they wielded automatic weapons (hopefully replicas) and combat clothing, and presented the christian war, saving the lost ones held prisoners by the heathen tribes. Mock killings of the unsaved took place. I listened to the preacher praising them of their deep understanding that this is a war, an all out war, that every christian must attack the heathens, separate themselves from them, etc. Why do you think almost all home schooling is done by fundamentalist christians?

Does this sound familiar? It should, as this refrain is happening throughout most of the united states and in the middle east.

Now compare that with any of the religions (including christianity) that follow the spiritual track. There you will find tolerance and a desire to find common ground in the myriad spiritual paths. The Parliament of World's Religions (http://www.cpwr.org/2004Parliament/) is a fine example of reaching common ground.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: erin_c_1978
2004-11-29 07:34 pm (UTC)
I recall going to my mother's church in Florida to watch a play presented by the children and young adults in which they wielded automatic weapons (hopefully replicas) and combat clothing, and presented the christian war, saving the lost ones held prisoners by the heathen tribes. Mock killings of the unsaved took place. I listened to the preacher praising them of their deep understanding that this is a war, an all out war, that every christian must attack the heathens, separate themselves from them, etc.

That is deeply disturbing. I've heard of the "hell houses" at Halloween, but this is just... I have no words.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2004-12-07 09:46 pm (UTC)
Nod. If they saw it somewhere else, they'd be aghast... but for them, it's okay, because they're *right*.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2004-12-07 09:44 pm (UTC)
Nod. One of the things that's hit me recently, and really bothered me in the election.

People talked about how good Bush looked when talking about religion in the third debate. He didn't look good at all to me, and not just because I didn't expect him to. I don't think he's very religious at all. He didn't seem to be speaking from the heart at all. Kerry, *he* seemed to be speaking from the heart. Okay, yes, I'm biased... but, damn it all, this is one of those times when my instincts tell me I'm right, that it's not just a dislike of Bush.

I think that many people using religion are using it as a convenient weapon.

But I don't want to put it that way in my book... not at first. I promise the reader straight talk many times, and I will say that I see it being used as a weapon, but only after I've laid the groundwork. If you make too strong a statement at first, people keep looking for ways to counter it, rather than listening to what you're saying.

I do think anyone who seeks the truth will find it, and that's why there will be huge amounts of common ground in the world's religions.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kitsunegeek
2004-11-29 08:40 pm (UTC)
It has been my sad belief for some time now, that many (though not all) of the people who call themselves Christians, mostly those who are the "fundamentalist Christians", are more interested in spreading hatred and dividing people, that in messages of love. They search the Bible, and other religious texts, for passages, that they believe, support their hateful ideas. They build websites, movements, political campaigns, television stations... devoted to promoting hate.

I can't reconcile this with a religion that is supposed to be about love, and salvation of the immortal soul through love, good works, and living without sin. "Do onto others as you would have others do onto you"? They would have homosexuals protest them in the street and build hate-sites on the Net about them? (just as one example) *shakes head* I don't get it.

I know there are good Christians out there, I know some personally. People who really are in it for the love, and the path of peace and redemption. People who really are trying to do right.

But, by and large, I think if Christ did return, in the manner described by their belief, he wouldn't recognize most of these people as followers of what he began.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2004-12-07 09:49 pm (UTC)
Nod. It hurts me like blazes, and it's one of the things that energizing me towards getting this blasted book done.

I really think that the truth will set most of them free. I really think most of them truly want the truth, and the love... but it makes me nervous, and yeah... seeing the difference between what Jesus called for, and what some people who claim to follow him do, well... *ow*.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kitsunegeek
2004-12-08 04:30 am (UTC)
Exactly.

By the way, you (and this post) were one of the people I had in mind when I made this post. I very much enjoyed reading the article it links to, and I think I will find it food for thought for quite some time. It stikes me as something you might find interesting as well.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kitsunegeek
2004-12-08 04:38 am (UTC)
Feh... Or, if I manage to break my own link, you could just look in my journal for the post on 12/06/04 (managing to be one of the few posts I've ever made that doesn't have a subject line... extra cool).

Sorry about that, I tried to make it easy. Must be past my bedtime...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2004-12-08 05:34 am (UTC)
Yes, I did read it, and it was good. It helped stir some of the thoughts that are going into my book, and it even gives me hope I might find a market. (And then I come back down to earth, reminding myself "complete unknown, questionable narrative tone, complex subject matter... are you sure you don't just want to buy a lottery ticket instead?" But the alternative to writing it is, well, *not* writing it... and I just can't' handle that.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kitsunegeek
2004-12-09 04:16 am (UTC)
*nods* The thing with not writing is... you'll never know. I, for one, will certainly read it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)