Saturday, October 11, 2008

Being Religious

It's the antithesis of being love.

15 comments:

- A - C - said...

Ahhh... I love this one!

judith ellis said...

It says much doesn't it? I awoke from a nap this afternoon and this single line came to mind. Just think of all the loveless actions done by religions and religious people. Christ, for example, often spoke against the religious people of his day. In fact, these are the only people Christ spoke against. He never spoke against those who did not believe in him or his words.

- A - C - said...

You've been inspired, Judith, for sure. And you're right.

judith ellis said...

God is love.

John O'Leary said...

Judith, I'm with you on this one, of course. Religions tend to be promoted by organizations dedicated first and foremost to their self preservation. In the case of Christianity the "church" has (in my opinion) continually distorted Christ's message, beginning with their selections of books to be included in the New Testament. For instance, the Gospel of Thomas - discovered in the 20th century - would be a sensible addition to the "canon." More on this on another occasion! (This is a hot button for me!)

judith ellis said...

John - I agree that the "church" has distorted the message of Chirst which is one of love. Distortions, however, do not make the message less effective.

I would very much be interested in reading Thomas' account. However, it would not matter much, for the message of Christ as written is powerful enough for me.

"Perfect love casts out fear."

judith ellis said...

A minister in Iowa at one of McCain's rally delivers this prayer, "There are plenty of people around the world who are praying to their god, be they Hindu, Buddah, or Allah, that (McCain's) opponent wins. I pray that you step forward and honor your own name."

This is the kind of religious fearmongering elitism that does not draw others to McCain or his God. (McCain was not in the audience at the time of the innvocation.) The prayer smacks of a loveless prejudiced God who only loves Christians. It is a prayer that pits one group desires over others, instead of saying "not my will but thy will be done."

We do not have all of the answers--none of us, regardless of our religion. "We see through a glass darkly."

John O'Leary said...

Judith, when you say "the message of Christ," my question is which version? Within the 4 "approved" gospels we have blatant internal contradictions and several different Christs. Even within the same passage from the same gospel there are textual "interpolations" - sentences that are clearly written by a different author. Now if you're talking about a direct experience of Christ that's different. But individual passages in the New Testament in my opinion have to be taken with a grain of salt because the books have clearly been "tampered with" for political/social purposes. This doesn't deny Christ's life or overarching message but particular details or quotations (which have assumed such significance over the centuries, with horrifying consequences - e.g. "his blood be upon us and our children" which justified centuries of antisemitism) need to be skeptically challenged. Modern scholarship - historical, linguistic, literary - has much to contribute to this subject but the fundamentalists can't hear it. And various texts shedding light on Christ's life that were discovered in the 20th century seem to now confirm the more "gnostic" interpretations of Christ's message - but the religious powers don't want to open up THAT can of worms, which was nailed shut in the early Councils. Alas, as a former New Testament Greek student I could write for days on this but...

judith ellis said...

Thank you, John, for your words and the spirit of your words too. They are appreciated. One could discuss ad infinitum who has done what to what passages for whose benefit. This argument is irrelevant for me as it does not negate the meassage of love that Christ spoke of and lived.

The love of Christ comes through clearly in any version. (And, of course, I have not read all of the versions, though I have read many versions but not cover to cover.) Anything that does not speak of the love of Christ for all mankind regardless of religious belief, I flatly and routinely reject.

Regarding the passages that you quote, I go back to my brother's sermon when he said "all thing in the Bible are truly spoken but not all things spoken are true." Just because someone spoke it does not make it so. We are all of clay feet. But I do strongly believe that words have creative power.

The life of Jesus is documented in not only the new Testament passages, but elsewhere too as in the writings Josephus. Your comment about the direct exprience of Christ is well taken. The historical Christ is also well taken. Here Josephus writes:

"About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared."

Another point to consider is that just because a thing cannot be explained at any given time in histroy does not mean the thing is not so. Science redoubles all the time as well as our arrogant belief that we have all the answers to things both seen and unseen.

John O'Leary said...

I think we're in basic agreement, Judith. It's unfortunate that some people use religion - and even Scripture - to justify acts of hatred and violence.

I once saw a bumper stick in Ojai, California that read, "My God loves your God."

Now I've got to catch up with your other posts!

judith ellis said...

John - I respect your words. The bumper sticker had to be some sort of joke, eh?

judith ellis said...

Actually, I guess this is exactly what the pastor was saying recently while giving an invocation at a McCain rally.

John O'Leary said...

I believe that "My God loves your God" was intended to point out the underlying unity - the divine oneness - that infuses creation. In other words, my God IS your God, underneath all the "I'm right, you're wrong" claims of many religions. According to this metaphysic separation is the grand illusion ("maya"). You and I and God are one (not metaphorically but literally, actually) but we're culturally indoctrinated (hypnotized) into believing we're separate, different, isolated entities. ("Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself" makes perfect sense because our neighbor IS ourself. We just forgot! And when we die we'll wake up from this amnesia.) This I believe was Christ's message, but it was too radical for many of his followers - and most of the "church" - to accept.

Jeez, I love talking about this stuff, but I gotta go make a living... :-)

judith ellis said...

Beautiful summation of Christ's words, John. Thank you. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in Christ's prayer for us in John 17. It speaks to your point of oneness:

"And all Mine are Yours and Yours are Mine and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but those these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are." (John 17:10-11)

Every person I meet are those that I have been given to show love. Love should be radiant in all those we meet.

judith ellis said...

The name of God is love.