April 28, 2007

Leaving Jesus at the Altar of Thought Control

Posted in marriage, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, psychology of religion, scripture at 10:09 am by Jerry

Lately, I’ve been wondering about the Christian value of “free will”.

I’ve read and had conversations with many Christians who argue for the existence of free will by saying something like – you can’t truly love someone if you don’t have freewill (as if the choice itself rather than the act authenticates love). Nevertheless, if God couldn’t (or wouldn’t) look into the future of possible Universes to decide which one he was to create, and – if the present Universe is not completely governed by the laws of causality, then – there would seem to be room for the ever-popular “FREE WILL”.

According to bible-based Christology, the volition or will of a Christian will be sacrificed to God when they enter into heaven so that God can make it perfect, thereby – making it so that God’s followers will always choose what God wants.

1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12 (NASB)

10After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 5 (NASB)

I suppose, if I knew that someone who was all-good, and had the power to give me a righteous brain-washing (and was willing), I’d consider having it done for the simple purpose of stopping myself from harming others and myself. But I have a hard time imagining myself handing someone control over every facet of my mind because I’ve never met anyone THAT trustworthy! (And as you can see from four previous posts of mine, I don’t think the God presented in the bible is “all-good”.)

I use to be a Jesus follower…

[The bible paints a metaphor of the body of Jesus followers as a virgin betrothed to Jesus the bridegroom. And whenever Jesus followers die in this world they walk down the afterlife-isle to be married to Jesus – a match made in their heaven.]

..but I left him at his altar of thought control.

April 20, 2007

Should a Christian Support the Death Penalty?

Posted in politics, religion, scripture, theology at 1:40 am by Jerry

Yes – if they think the bible is a revelation from God.

The theology of bible-believing Christians requires “a life for a life”. Yet many Christians don’t believe that today’s criminals should get the death penalty because even though everyone deserves the death penalty, Christ took their place on the cross. But through this support of Christ’s atonement on the cross, Christians in fact, do support the death penalty.

So, to these Christians, withholding the death penalty from criminals is not because justice is better met through a lifetime of incarceration. Rather, it’s because one man took the death, that everyone deserves, upon himself.

Does this motive make you as uneasy as it makes me? Personally, if I was the criminal being spared the death penalty, I would prefer it be done by those who DON’T think I really deserved it anyway.

April 16, 2007

Proselytizing Piety

Posted in church, culture, philosophy of religion, politics, psychology of religion at 6:23 am by Jerry

Whenever you’ve bumped into piety, you’ve probably had people attempt to obligate you to “respect” what’s going on.

“Respect” is a great euphemism for “obey,” isn’t it? It gives you that sense of autonomy that “obey” fails to provide. It appeals to your indoctrinated scruples of etiquette, asking you to be compassionate for something that could very well be filled with fabrications and immorality.

And this compassion of yours is required to be patronizing in this context, accomodating all failed attempts by others to properly revere something you yourself wouldn’t consider worthy of worship. You’re told (out of respect) that it’s up to you to bow down to (or not challenge) others’ “weaknesses,” making the “weaker brothers'” spiritual journey the greater priority (or authority) in your life.

And so, you develop a feeling of obligation need to protect the vulnerable from their ignorance, because now you know you have a better understanding of their religion than they do. Now YOU are also considered an authority in this religion (even though you bow to the weaker brother).

BUT, by accepting obeying this obligation, rather than challenging it, you’ve entered the pious circle, becoming one of them. And by obeying the pious, you’ve obeyed the authority of their religious practices.

Beautifully done, isn’t it! Etiquette wins over reason!

Some may say, “There is plenty of freedom to express your rational concern in a religious gathering!” Really? Even in a public sanctuary during the service?

“No! You must respect the context of a service!” And what kind of context is that? Entertainment or education?

“Well, now you’re just being mean.”

Maybe I shouldn’t expect a separation of entertainment and education. After all, what is a novel if not the combination of the two. (But then, there’s plenty of room for anyone to critique a novel.) Also, I was being sarcastic to emphasize my point, which can lead to tonal issues. (Does that automatically imply that I’m “angry” or “mean”?)

Sarcasm is a result of bitterness, no doubt. But not always a bitterness over loved ones disappointing us. There is plenty of room to be bitter over the ignorance (or lack of empathy) in: the beauty we see in our planet (and universe) as an end in itself; the meaning we find in friends and family (diverse, intimate, genuine); and the purpose we recognize in rational discussion (non-authoritarian, informative, creative, challenging).

“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?” – Ray Bradbury

April 13, 2007

What Would YOU Do?

Posted in fatherhood, mythology, theology at 3:41 pm by Jerry

What Would YOU Do — if you were an all-good, all-powerful parent?

If I was an all-good and all-powerful parent, my children wouldn’t need ‘faith’ to believe in my existence and care. They’d have knowledge of my existence and care because I’d literally be with them, communicating with them (audibly – if they so desired) and helping them.

If I was an all-good and all-powerful parent, I wouldn’t add to my childrens’ suffering and maintain their new level of suffering for an eternity. I’d invite my children into my heavenly home and give them the freedom to come and go as they please.

If I was an all-good and all-powerful parent, I wouldn’t use punitive measures to bring justice to all. (That’s for parents with limited powers.) I’d reveal to my children a fuller awareness of themselves, educating them about the good and bad they’ve done, and plan to do. I’d explain to them their motives for desiring to behave badly. I’d show them how their bad behavior can hurt others, and help them imagine what that hurt would feel like. (I say “can hurt others” because I’d protect my children from being hurt by their siblings.)

Then, I’d appeal to all the good that remains within them instead of appealing to their bad nature. I’d use compelling positive reinforcement instead of fear. And I’d do this in a way only an all-good, all-powerful parent could.

WWYD

April 7, 2007

Definition of Hell

Posted in church, culture, family, friends, psychology, religion, scripture, theology at 9:13 am by Jerry

Hell: having family (and/or friends) consider the possibility that you deserve to suffer for an eternity because you don’t have imaginary conversations with a guy you’ve never met (a guy, who people of questionable objectivity, described two thousand years ago as a loving Creator BUT willing to remain unaffiliated with children of his forever).

I find it interesting when people who abhor the practice of fortune-telling are so eager to be fortune-tellers of the soul.

April 3, 2007

Social Disguises as Judgement

Posted in culture, film, mythology, psychology, scripture, theology at 1:41 am by Jerry

There may be many reasons why we don’t reveal certain aspects of ourselves in public. But only recently have I considered the thought of our social selves being a commentary on humanity in general. Is it possible that what we reveal of ourselves to the general public is a judgement of them?

If you’ve checked out the youtube above – I’m not saying we’re all superheros (or better than others) in our individual worlds. I want to emphasize the fact that when we’re at home (with or without those closest to us) there’s no need to build a relational bridge of commonalities. There’s no concern about how we’re perceived by others. We just are ourselves (which could be interpreted in so many ways from the perspective of so many different pairs of eyes). But when we’re in the public, something always changes. And my questions are: what’s changed? and why?

I suppose the positive commentary on humanity (via Clark Kent) is left out in the clip above to make a point about the negative. And since Easter is just next door, I’d like to explore the biblical theologians’ commentary on humanity in the same manner – through their rendition of God Incarnate…

Did the biblical God need Jesus to shed blood “for our sins”? Or did God want him to in order to make a communicative connection with humanity? There’s a big difference here. If God didn’t need Jesus to shed his blood to make us heaven worthy, if God was capable of making us good enough through other means, then isn’t the blood shedding (torture, gruesome death) merely a divine commentary on humanity’s archaic need for death as an appeasement of their fears?

You might have heard Christians say something like, “We all killed Christ by committing sin and we all deserve severe judgement. But innocent Jesus took the place of us guilty ones.”

No one deserves this.

Christians believe that Christ’s death and resurrection frees them from God’s judgement, but I can’t help but wonder if their theology ironically communicates that Christ’s death is God’s judgement – a judgement of what humanity wants rather than needs.