Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why do religion and hatred go together?

There is no shortage of religious haters in the world. I would be an unbeliever if the Bible didn't tell me to expect this. But run an eye through the prophets, and you'll notice who killed them. Run an eye over the gospels and you'll see who pursued Jesus to death. Notice who stoned the apostles and drove them out of town. You can't see things being just the way God tells you to expect and find that to be a reason not to believe in God. Be mad at God and argue with him about it, like Job or the writers of the Psalms, but you can't disbelieve somebody for telling you the truth and then it turns out that way.

Jew haters will answer that it's the Jews, but in that they're just showing how their hatred makes us stupid. The problem is religious people feeling competition from the truth, Jewish or not, as the past 1800 years have shown.  In fact, if you include the worship of Mammon as a religion - and how can we not? - I'd say that in the Bible all persecution is driven by religious "faith," without exception.  Go look.  Please find me any exceptions to the rule.

This is pretty sobering when I consider that I and others reading all this rather obvious stuff are the religious people in view. These warnings are directed to the reader.

Murderous religious people are generally pursuing redemption through who or what they hate, rather than humbling themselves in repentance, and generally by devoting themselves to some counterfeit salvation. We see this in others easily: Germans whirled away into their devotion to Hitler, or Communists in the 1930s in love with Stalin or, or later with Mao Zedong.

Only it doesn't do us much good to see this folly in other people.  Here the log-in-eye thing kicks in.  Christian Jew haters have blinded themselves by seeing this in Jews so as not to see it in themselves. American messianists, people who like Woodrow Wilson think that America is the savior of the world - he actually uttered this blasphemy in 1919! - worship their favorite empire in the same way, while being experts in seeing this problem in their favorite enemies. Rabbi Michael Lerner, in "Jewish Renewal," points out that American Jewish leaders quite consciously decided to form Jewish identity around the state of Israel, and that's the definition of idolatry, something besides the true God in which we find our identity. It doesn't look pretty when an idol fails you.

Zionism is idolatrous in its foundation anyway: Psalm 90 says that God is the dwelling place of the Jewish people from generation to generation, and Zionism says oh no, the needed dwelling place is a state of our own making. And God is not in the business of blessing an idol.

Actually, the best way to curse something or someone is to worship it, which is why Paul and his companions rushed into the crowd at Lystra and prevented them from offering sacrifice to them. Any reader of the Bible can see that the US and Israel are cursed because people worship them, thus making them into accursed things (Deuteronomy 7:25-26).  If that's not obvious in nations, see what happens to people you know when they're flattered in that way - husbands, for instance.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Religious futility

It's a mark of pagan religion, including most Christianity, to consider ethical conduct and religious devotion to be unrelated matters.  It's not easy for Christians to explicitly say that in the face of the Bible that they claim to believe, but that is obviously what they really believe - their Bibles be damned.  I deal with such, for instance, on school boards all the time.  Such religion is certainly worse than nothing.

I think it's unjust to call this simple hypocrisy, although it is hypocrisy of the utterly sincere kind we see in the Pharisees.  These hypocrites are not con-men.  They are zealously convinced of their religion.  It is what C. S. Lewis called the innocence of evil.  They believe, these Christians, what their gods teach them.  And all such religion in the world, the gods actually worshiped, simply do not see anything wrong with being zealous for God and given to any sort of depravity, because that religious devotion makes up for all that corruption. 

Well, yes, I have been doing little boys in the Sandusky manner, but celebrating Mass and hearing confessions is service to God that makes up for that.  Yes, the kids in our mission school are being beaten and raped, but we're proclaiming the gospel, so it's OK and indeed service to God to cover that up, because if we didn't - if we did the truth - the kingdom of God would be harmed because people wouldn't be believing our story about Jesus.  No marvel that these Christoids bring the same mentality everywhere they go in the world in whatever they do, whether serving on the school board or higher political office, or in businesses like Amway, or whatever. 

The faith that Jesus teaches has nothing in common with any of this.  It is all about the truth and nothing else.  In John 3, he said that the condemnation is this: that light comes into the world and men hate the light because their deeds are evil, something that he held to be the case when he was not yet on the scene personally. For Jesus it was not whether you professed to believe in him.  In John 8, some of them believed in him, and then he said a few things to these believers in him, identifying them as sons of the devil, and they picked up stones to kill him. 

When people came under condemnation for not believing him it was because, and only because, the truth before their face demanded that they believe in Jesus, and they could not, given what was before them, refuse to believe without denying the truth.  Unfortunately, that's not what happens much these days.  The reason people these days don't believe in Jesus is that the Jesus being presented to them is a lie.  They're not disbelieving because they're rejecting the truth.  They're disbelieving because they're rejecting religious garbage.  In spite of appearances, Jesus and his gospel are not actually even coming into it.

The only God that any Christian has any business presenting is the God who is worshiped by receiving and doing the truth, and who is denied by walking in the lie, however zealous for God we may be.  That doesn't happen much.  I can't speak of other times in which I haven't lived, but I find this a very tough time to live, and most religious assemblies worse than useless.  Paul wrote even in Corinth 1900 years ago that they were coming together not for the better but for the worse, and that sure hasn't stopped being true since he wrote it.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hating the stranger, and proud of it

Last week a mob came to Murrieta to scream and spit at kids that had fled here, unaccompanied, to get away from the conditions where they lived.  It has to be pretty bad where you are, if your parents send you off on a 3000 mile journey by yourself - and not on Air France either.  These are desperate people.

As far as I am concerned, there is less excuse for these people than for the similar mobs that screamed and spat at little black kids going to school in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, or New Orleans in 1960.  Some of them - as in those days - call themselves Christians, just the kind that has no interest in what Jesus had to say about strangers or children.

About the same time, Israel is again trashing Gaza, supposedly because people there have been shooting rockets into Israel.  These rockets began to fly, most immediately, because Israel was already obviously looking for a pretext to attack Gaza anyway, because they had just spent three weeks on a pogrom in the West Bank, supposedly to find three kidnapped boys which the government knew all along were already dead, and they were blaming the Hamas organization in Gaza which they knew perfectly well had nothing to do with it.  As a direct result, Hamas in Gaza hunkered down and could no longer send out teams to stop others from launching rockets, and so rockets got launched.

Israel now routinely acts like the Germans in 1938, and you can imagine how much worse they would be if they were not still somewhat afraid of European opinion.  Kristallnacht, as some of you may remember, was the German government's response to the assassination of a German consular official - opposed to the Nazis himself, as it happens - by a 17-year-old Jewish kid who was outraged by how the Jews were already being treated in Germany.  So the present Israeli conduct looks familiar to those of us with memories.

And the Israeli state has the audacity to call itself Jewish, the kind of Jews that have no interest in what Moses and the prophets had to say about how to treat strangers.

It's no marvel that this kind of "Christian" and this kind of "Jew," both obscenities in Christian or Jewish terms, find each other so attractive.

Here Matthew 24 comes in, which describes how things will be just before Jesus returns.  The reason it has been of great worth to us the past 2000 years before his return is that it describes not just that time, which could still be a long way off, but any time in which a civilization is collapsing.  It was instructive in Jerusalem in AD 70, and as Rome collapsed, and now as modern industrial civilization heads for history's dumper.

To my mind, the most critical point is this: "Because lawlessness is increased, the love of many will grow cold.  But he who endures to the end will be saved."  It's obvious in that context that enduring to the end is not about shouting that Jesus is Lord - there's never any lack of that and never will be - but for our love not to grow cold in the face of increasing lawlessness.  Christians will have to find that that particular endurance needs for us to know Jesus and have him around.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Independence Day, again

One of the strange things for me is how many people think that the highest glory of this country, and those that serve it best, are the ones that kill people and break things.  I was reminded of this by a bunch of Unitarians singing the Star Spangled Banner tonight while watching the Disneyland fireworks display.  Yes, I well remember the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air - in Baghdad on March 19, 2003.  The Germans at least have learned to be ashamed of such conduct.

What I find especially strange about this is two things - first, am I the only one that realizes that breaking things is actually a whole lot less work, requiring far less ability, than building them?  I'm reminded of that every time I knock a bottle or a cup off the counter and then get to clean it up.

And isn't killing people, especially when you have fancy toys with which to do it, a lot easier, requiring far less ability, than healing people or building them up; and second, what is accomplished by such deeds?  Is vandalism and mayhem really the height of any nation's glory?

Why do they not instead glory in the effective teachers, or the speech and language pathologists, or bridge inspectors, or helpful and courteous clerks at the DMV, or any others that actually do something for the people of this country.