We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Sunday, December 9. 2018
It's a centuries-old complaint that Christian morality detached from its religious roots can turn into a monstrous and terrifying thing. Take utilitarianism, take angry moralizers, take witch trials, take communism, and a hundred more examples of humanist evil.
Christianity is not primarily about morals and resistance to humanity's animal nature. I think Christ was clear about that in word and deed. I think he was clear about it, and that Paul elaborated on the religious truth that transcendent blessings like those of faith, mercy, love and kindness, hope and good cheer, are consequences nurtured through interactions with God and Christ through the Holy Spirit. Not rules, but secondary effects which can bind people together through God's graciousness and His tough sort of love.
As One Cosmos often explains, earthly gravity pulls us to the x-axis, the horizontal plane, of daily life and its struggles, but there is the vertical axis, the transcendent axis, available to us and for which we were born.
It's been part of my religious "journey" (I hate that smarmy expression) to come to realize that spiritual warfare is not Good vs Bad or Evil, but the inner battle of holding highest what is most high vs. the temptation to worship false idols. "I, me, mine," etc etc. Even pride in virtue is a false idol - it is about Self Love.
"Stop that, Bird Dog! No more preaching! You ain't no eddicated Preacher!" Well, ok, but Advent is our chance to be pregnant, in a spiritual sense, with holiness, and a time to have a dramatic chance to feel reborn ourselves as naked babies. That's the story of A Christmas Carol.
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Happy Advent. Whether my theology is correct or not.
Almost forgot: this is what prompted this Advent post: Our New Religion. Humanitarianism is displacing Christianity, but without its redeeming effects.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Read about Miles Standish leading a party of armed raiders to Merrytown to wipe out the only other town then in America's English settled areas and strand it's founder on a reef off the coast.
There is no God in organized religion.
BD, preach as much as you want. It's a wonderful site and has brought much Christmas cheer to people over the years. And Curtis I'm going to look that up.
Thanks again BD for all you do.
“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart -- and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains ... an unuprooted small corner of evil." Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Oh wow. Gee whillikers, that like just proves everything. It never occurred to me that people still do evil things.
Seems to me that the misuse of religion, on the part of a single person or group of people, does not make that religion corrupt or wrong or credible.
It simply shows that people are corrupt, that religion is a good guiding force, but like any other system (such as government) it can become a force for evil in the NAME of good.
Governments have far worse human rights records than religions.
I have not been part of an organized religion for a very long time. It's been my choice to not be, I rely on the Groucho Marx view that I don't want to be part of a club that would have me as a member (I'm part of Maggie's, I'm part of a fraternity, I have a family...I make exceptions where they work well).
Being a part of a religion often means you have to provide answers (which aren't always difficult) for questions like Curtis posed. But the reality is bad things happen to good people all the time, and bad people pose as good people all the time. It's not unusual at all.
Seems to me if the devil is going to appear, he's going to appear as someone you like, appreciate and somehow look up to. This is why I distrust ALL politicians - PARTICULARLY those who claim to 'do good' for others.
That said, it's my view religion, Christianity, belief, spirituality, etc. is all part of a larger scheme. The main point isn't to be part of a large group of like-minded people (who, by the way, differ on many points of the religion you're of like mind about). The main point is to be a better you than you were yesterday.
You can't benchmark yourself against Mother Theresa. Who would? Her life choices are not mine, and frankly I don't have that kind of personality. Few of us do.
I can benchmark myself against an eight-year-old me, who thought it was funny watching teenagers kill a frog with a rock. When I told my mother she said "what makes killing a helpless thing funny?" It was a lesson in ethics and peer pressure, because at 8, teens were 'cool'.
I can benchmark myself against 18 year old me helping friends cheat to pass classes. I was good at it, had a great reputation with the nuns so none suspected me, and it got me friends. It never occurred to me that losing the reputation I'd developed was a larger cost than the gain of friends who weren't really friends and just using me. Another lesson learned (thankfully never caught, but reflection is part of moral growth).
I am also heartened when I see people - family, friends or acquaintances - whose lives have gone off the rails to a degree, or severely, regain their lives through religion. How many people can say "I regained my center, my life, and my family because of government"? None. How many people have kicked an addiction with the help of religion? Many.
Religion provides a balance which some people need, and many want. I watched as a young girl in my son's class became ill with a very rare form of cancer. Her family became close to the Church, I remember seeing her father go to Mass every day before catching the train. I was impressed. She lived for 10 years before succumbing at age 18, accepted at every (3) Ivy League school she'd applied to. Her family was devastated, but the entire community supported them.
People can, if they want, spend time talking about the 'destructive force' of religion. They will talk about pedophile priests (a small minority of the entire group), they will talk about the Crusades, witch burnings, and anything they can think of as 'evidence' that religion is somehow evil.
That, to me, is just the 'devil' (for lack of a better term) finding his way into everyday life to drag down the good ideas and foundations which support religion.
Maybe religion shouldn't be all about measuring up. Live the Golden Rule as best you can, be kind to animals, tip your waiter, and go to Sunday school only if you find it interesting and can make a positive contribution (not necessarily monetary).
And yes, the version of A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sim in the part of Scrooge is far and away the best movie version.
There is a distinction that must be made between Christianity and Secular Humanism. The fathers of this new religion, Comte and Rousseau, felt that in society the individual counts for nothing; the group is everything.
Christianity, with its focus on individual responsibility and happiness, stands in direct opposition. Hence the hatred that leftists feel toward the Christian religion. At the forefront of the attack on Christianity is the so-called "Unitarian Church." Here's a sample of their agenda:
Held an interactive workshop on racism, white privilege and implicit bias led by the Reverends Donnell Jones and Ben McBride with 100 church members and friends in attendance.
I've joked that, even with all the talk of teamwork, I've never seen a team get promoted. Christianity and Catholicism, are about a relationship between an individual and his or her creator. It's a relationship rooted in love, and, as with any other love relationship, requires work.
During today's homily, our excellent Priest, Father John, asked, since in this time of Advent we're all thinking of gifts for one another, what gift does God want from us? To be just, to be humble, to be obedient, and to love one's neighbor. It's individuals caring for other individuals.
Secularism is very rational, which taken to its logical conclusion is selfish. Christianity, as Christ on the Cross shows, is sacrificial.
Sorry to inform you, Bulldog, but you are a Christian.
Bob was the same kind of Christian. In spirit, from that powerful Holy Spirit. It is sneaky that way.
It isn't about being better, per se. It is about a new community that learns to treat each other well. Being part of a community, with all its difficult people, is actually the main point.
At least, it's what Jesus called the main point. CS Lewis reluctantly concluded that, though he wished it were not so. I wish it myself, more and more as I age, to simply be left alone with my thoughts and ideas, choosing carefully who I interact with.
Well actually you are all Jews.
As oppposed to pagans old and new who think might makes right, have no sense of the human brotherhood that flows from monotheism, and who find cruelty entertaining.
Keep preachin it , Bird Dog. I enjoy your posts and usually agree with you.
In essence, what you're saying is that because a person who claimed to be a Christian allegedly did something bad, we should dismiss the Christian religion entirely.
That's like saying Bill Clinton is a Democrat. Bill Clinton raped a woman. Therefore, the beliefs of the Democrat party are invalid. NOTE: The Democrat party's ideology may be bad/foolish/etc., but that has nothing to do with Clinton's behavior.
I read about Hillary Clinton using an illegal server to hide her criminal activity and about her nuts or sluts cover-up of Bill's sex crimes, etc.
There is no honest person in the Democrat party.
"...I don't want to be part of a club that would have me as a member..."
By that line of reasoning, have you renounced your US citizenship?
"Being a part of a religion often means you have to provide answers..."
Nope. It means you should seek answers. In truth, one is a lazy Christian/Muslim/Hindu/atheist/Democrat/etc. if one simply parrots what their "leaders" say rather than seeking to understand what's "behind the curtain". But from perusing you essay, it looks like you do seek those answers.