Fourth in a four part series entitled:
How to talk to a Christian -
because we have to, whether we want to or not.
Why should a rational person use religious symbolism? For the same reason an American ought to learn Spanish. It makes it easier to communicate with someone who doesn't speak your language.
But do we really need religion? That's a subject for long debate, but my opinion is "yes". I love religion. I'm not crazy about the things people use religion for, but that doesn't mean that religion itself is bad. It just means that people who don't question authority are easily manipulated by governments and religious hierarchies. I actually believe that some form of belief system is better than no belief system at all. It gives the world context, and makes it easier to navigate. I believe we crave it psychologically. It gives people hope, and comfort, and it can bring out our best qualities: mercy, compassion, joy. Some people use science in the same way others use religion, to give structure to their perceptions of the world. There are times when that approach can be just as harmful as religion. Science is great, but it doesn't have all the answers, and thinking that it does can cause a lot of problems. Global warming, for example. But that's a different subject. I personally believe that science and religion have to be congruent, and mine are. That's a different subject, too - I've written about it in my discussion of the Bright Movement titled "Looking toward a Bright Future" posted at The-Goddess.org.
The question is, how do you talk to someone who believes "God" spoke blank verse Middle English and wants you to stone your neighbors for working on the sabbath? Well, first, you don't laugh at their religion. Second, you realize that you need to know what their religion is, and study it. Then you speak to them in their own language. It makes them comfortable, it shows that you take their religion seriously and there are more points in our favor in the Bible than in theirs.
3 Blessed are the poorin spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers:for they shall be called the children of God.
NOTE: No mention that "blessed are the war mongers" nor does it suggest, as Falwell put it, that we should "blow them away in the name of the Lord".
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor,and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:
and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
NOTE: No dispensations offered for manipulating California energy markets and ripping off little old ladies, or stealing anyone's retirement fund. Enjoy the heat, Kenny-boy.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him,
and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more,
when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him,
Go, and do thou likewise.
13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee:for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
7 He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
32 And ye shall know the truth,and the truth shall make you free.
4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
6But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
The teachings of Jesus repeatedly emphasized caring for the poor and the sick. The Republican agenda has done just the opposite. It has benefitted the wealthiest among us, at the expense of the middle class and the poor. They are trying to wipe out social programs not controlled by the church. This is very dangerous for several reasons. First, class warfare can get ugly. Think French Revolution. Second, part of the reason we're in this mess is that our public school systems are failing. People don't understand that we are not a Christian nation; that, in fact, our government was deliberately designedto prevent a theocracy from taking over. Children who are home schooled or raised in parochial school will never learn this from those sources that we count on to create good citizens. Why are Christian Schools and Universities accredited when we know at least part of their curriculum is false?How are people going to develop higher levels of moral and intellectual thought if their misconceptions are never challenged?
There are times when you have to shake someone's faith a little to get them to consider that other ideas might be as valid as theirs. I hate doing that, but if someone is ready to kill or be killed for faith, I'm going to question it. In the end, all we have is conjecture. If you must use logic, know your subject. When people try to recruit me, I point out that I'm not Pagan because I haven't studied Christianity, I'm Pagan because I have studied it and found it full of contradictions and philosophies I don't believe. For example, I will sometimes ask a person why they aren't a Buddhist. How do they know Jesus was the Savior? They never met him. The people who wrote the New Testament did so after his death, and some of them never knew him. Who told you Jesus was the Savior? How would they know? Do you trust that person or authority that much? Who says it's the word of God? How do you know the "Saints" weren't just a bunch of tribal hash smokers seeing "God" in the smoke. Maybe the Bible is what happens when a Nomadic people encounter UFO's. Have they read Chariot of the Gods? Why not? If a guy who looks like the blonde hunky Jesus in your Bible showed up at the door, would you invite him in or call the police? What if he looked like an actual Middle Eastern Jew, with dark hair, skin and eyes? Would he be welcomed in your house? Would his twelve companions? I doubt it. I doubt I'deven be welcome if my religion were known, and I'm perfectly charming- ha ha.
Most of the tenets of Christian Legalism have nothing to do with actual scripture. Few of the most rabid legalists have actually read the Bible and even fewer have the education to understand it. What about the Apocrypha? Why did Catholic priests have the authority to leave books out of the original Bible? Are you going to believe the Dead Sea Scrolls, or the interpretation written by Shakespeareand a few others, who were under orders of a King and a Pope to alter certain passages to their liking? I have an uncle who says that the Holy Spirit worked through all of them so that the King James Version is the "literal word of God". How far is logic going to go with someone like that?
You can also point out that Jesus said:I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.[Matthew 15:24]
- Gentiles weren't included in his teachings until after the death of Jesus.
- So does his work apply to them or can only Jews be saved?
- Why should you trust the word of someone who never knew Jesus to contradict "his own words"?
Do you use Rosaries? Jesus said:"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do:for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." [Matthew 6:7]
- Rosaries are Pagan in origin. The beads are the petals of a rose, which is a symbol for the labia of the Goddess.
- Are you a Christian or a Pagan if you pray the Rosary?
- If Jesus didn't approve, why are Christians doing it?
- Why did Bush appeal to the Pope for help when most evangelicals think Catholics are Pagans?
- Why did Catholics support Bush when the Pope said Bush might be the AntiChrist*?
- Doesn't anyone believe what the Pope says anymore?
- Why do Christians not object when Bushtells us a lie?
As I've said, though, logic will only get us so far. We have to address fear, include hope, and make sense. That's not easy. We are looking at the task of re-educating an adult electorate on our most basic American values. Short of buying ad.s on the Super Bowl, I don't know how we'll do it on the scale needed.
For a great discussion of Christian Legalism, go to http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-Christian-legalism.html It's a Christian site that addresses Christians, but it's a good explanation of the difference in Legalism and Grace. We need all the Grace we can get.
End of Part IV
*Wayne Madsen, New Catholic Times, May 18, 2003 "Pope fears Bush is antichrist, journalist contends"
©Morgaine Swann 2004