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Switch to Forum Live View Summertime thoughts...
2 years ago  ::  Jul 09, 2012 - 11:06AM #1
mokantx
Posts: 3,826
Hi Gang
It's summertime, and hot in much of the country.  So I thought a bit of an indoor conversation might be in order.

You've all heard me rant over the years, about the scandal, about the need for dialog in the church, the need for change, etc.  I thought maybe I'd try a slightly different approach here (perhaps modeled after Cherub's formation of Cherubinoism?)

The question i'd tee up would be this.  If you were asked to form a Christian religion or movement today, based on the Gospels, and the heritage of the old Testament, what would it be like?  Where would you put your emphasis, how would you structure it, and what would be important in it?

For me (rather obviously), any such religion would focus a lot more on the mindset of the laity.  I'd want a church that truly saw itself as a "pilgrim" church, meaning one that recognizes that it is on a journey, and that just about any/everything we think we know is subject to change as we learn more, experience more, and discern more.   The wisdom of life held by the laity would be highly respected.  So church leadership would rise from the laity, as would authority.  Those in positions of leadership would be accountable to the laity.

In terms of "truths," I think we'd have to start with what we know of Jesus from the Gospels.  We know he was unconventional, and smart.  We know he not only taught, but LIVED a life of compassion.  While he may or may not have been poor per se, he lived among the poor, ministered to them, and tried to raise them up.    I think a central theme to this religion might be the beatitudes as a gauge of how to live and serve.

So if YOU were in charge, what would you look to do?
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2 years ago  ::  Jul 09, 2012 - 11:40AM #2
StephenK.Adams
Posts: 2,004

Jul 9, 2012 -- 11:06AM, mokantx wrote:

Hi Gang



--- If you were asked to form a Christian religion or movement today, based on the Gospels, and the heritage of the old Testament, what would it be like?  Where would you put your emphasis, how would you structure it, and what would be important in it?

So if YOU were in charge, what would you look to do?




I wouldn't start a Christian style religion.  Mainly because it is based on superstition.  I am sure you don't want to hear this but sometimes the truth hurts.  If Christianity tried to get started today, DNA testing would prove that Joseph, or some other man was Jesus' natural father and the whole mythical belief system would never get offf the ground.


 


That is not to say that good rules for living have not been put forward in the name of Christianity.  But it does say, that if one truly accepts the basic concepts of Christianity, that it can literally unhinge the human mind and make an otherwise "sane" person, involve themselves in irrational or "insane" activities.  As an example: burning people at the stake to scare them into accepting your religion rather than using the force of common sense to allow the person to voluntarily join your belief system.


 


In my not so humble opinion, if you cannot attract intelligent people, (those who are not easily led into superstitious beliefs) voluntarily, that fact in itself should dictate to the prospective follower that the belief system is flawed at the very core.



Perhaps this next paragraph will be considered prosletyzing and this whole submission will be deleted.  If not, --- then in order to curtail the size of this submission, I would respectfully suggest that you take a look at the Other Beliefs section of this website and choose --- The Religion Of Truth --- from the new topic titles.   After all it says so right in the Bible, --- "The truth will set you free." 






We have nothing to fear except our lack of understanding of fear itself.
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2 years ago  ::  Jul 09, 2012 - 2:52PM #3
mokantx
Posts: 3,826

Jul 9, 2012 -- 11:40AM, StephenK.Adams wrote:


I wouldn't start a Christian style religion.  Mainly because it is based on superstition.  I am sure you don't want to hear this but sometimes the truth hurts.  If Christianity tried to get started today, DNA testing would prove that Joseph, or some other man was Jesus' natural father and the whole mythical belief system would never get offf the ground.


 


That is not to say that good rules for living have not been put forward in the name of Christianity.  But it does say, that if one truly accepts the basic concepts of Christianity, that it can literally unhinge the human mind and make an otherwise "sane" person, involve themselves in irrational or "insane" activities.  As an example: burning people at the stake to scare them into accepting your religion rather than using the force of common sense to allow the person to voluntarily join your belief system.


 


In my not so humble opinion, if you cannot attract intelligent people, (those who are not easily led into superstitious beliefs) voluntarily, that fact in itself should dictate to the prospective follower that the belief system is flawed at the very core.



Perhaps this next paragraph will be considered prosletyzing and this whole submission will be deleted.  If not, --- then in order to curtail the size of this submission, I would respectfully suggest that you take a look at the Other Beliefs section of this website and choose --- The Religion Of Truth --- from the new topic titles.   After all it says so right in the Bible, --- "The truth will set you free." 





SKA


I think there is still great purpose and meaning in myth, if used and explained well.  Much human myth, over cultures and time, has centered on a few basic, but very foundational questions, typically as we humans try to figure out what life is all about, our place in the universe, etc.  Today, we may think it quaint that shepherds used to see Bears, Archers and such in the stars, and built strong mythologies around those images.  When the modern man looks at Greco-Roman Mythology, again we often "dont get it" because the imagery used just don't make sense in our world.  I think when mythology works, it works in part because it evolves.  You might think of the myth as a vessel, a bucket so to speak, carried forward in an attempt to convey some kind of a truth or thought.  So in that sense, myth becomes the media attempting to transmit something deeper.


I say that because about the time of Jesus, mankind seemed to be making a transition from a polytheistic theology, to more of a monotheistic viewpoint.  While the Jews had been there for a very long time, popular society took a lot longer.  I think Jesus dumped "mythology" per se as his media, but often substituted parables to get to the same kind of thing.


Cher often cites to someone who says, in effect, that the minute a movement becomes institutionalized, it gives up much of it's power to grow, becoming ever more stifled by the rules, politics ad structure.  I think that's what's happened to Christianity.  I don't get the impression that in the early church, they worried all that much about a 'dual nature' of Jesus, about a virgin birth, etc.  Those kinds of things seemed to creep in later, perhaps as a bit of "me too" to what was being claimed by so many other movements of that era (and it was a Messianic era).


So I guess when I muse on some kind of future religion, part of what i'd seek would be something that is freed of much of those things that seem to have so constrained the thought and thinking of so many.  The trick, of course, would be to not throw out the baby with the bathwater.  Christianity has a lot of really great messages.  Certainly the idea of protecting and even emulating the innocence of children is a great concept: much easier said than done, and thus something we need to always be mindful of.  Compassion is yet another, and so forth.


I think a lot of the current problems in the church ultimately stem from that institutionalization, and the resultant politics as leaders jostle for power, prestige and influence.  How to try to keep some of that out becomes a big challenge.  I think giving the laity more power, perhaps even imposing something akin to 'term limits' on church leaders... 


For me however, I think it's high time for us to throw the doors wide open to serious theological thought and rethinking, unencumbered by constraints.  While most certainly we'd see a lot of kooks come out of the woodwork, I also think that we'd be surprised not only at the beauty and wisdom of other thinkers, but we'd engender the same kind of intellectual excitement and curiosity that does science.  And THAT would be a world in which I'd love to participate: one where science and theology work to be complementary, and wherein each pushes the other to be better...



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2 years ago  ::  Jul 09, 2012 - 6:14PM #4
TemplarS
Posts: 6,924

Of course, attempts to strip "superstition" away from Christianity are not new (Jefferson's Bible e.g.).  What you cannot do (in my opinion) is strip God away; so, the idea is then, to paraphrase Crossan, that "As an historian, I do not accept the virgin birth of Jesus; as a Christian, I believe God was incarnate in Jesus."


So now you need to examine what Jesus said and did in the context of his time, and try to discern how his God was present in his life.  A few things come to mind to me.


- There is a continuum and not a disconnect between this world and any idea of "heaven." Jesus said "the Kingdom of God is among you";  he prayed "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."   He was concerned about God's justice, and how this plays out here and now.  By his practices in what we now call the sacraments, he affirmed that God's holiness can extend to the physical things in this world.   Whatever we today decide to make of salvation, or the resurrection, or "the life of the world to come"- must be consistent with this.  Environmentalism was not a part of his world; but I think it must consequently, today, be a part of his philosophical legacy.  And the science which explores the universe becomes a partner, not a foe.  Here is the role for those intelligent people Stephen mentions; we are all in this together, so let us work together to figure out our path forward on this earth; if we do this, eternity will take care of itself.


- His was a theology of actions, not just words, and not abstractions. He went among the people, healed the sick, tended to people's needs; he did not (in more modern terms) practice "faith alone".   God's kingdom is built out of such actions, I think.  Ever since: too many words, too much idle preaching,  not enough human kindess.


- He insisted that God's love and justice apply to all equally, without regard to rank, wealth, background, social status, ethnicity.  He was neither (again in modern terms) a socialist nor a capitalist; socialism and capitalism are material philosophies, and he was an anti-materialist.  He would have little good to say, I think, about current western society where one's success seems to be measured in how many HDTVs one has set up in a house of so many thousand square feet and so on.


- He set the bar high morally.  Sad to say for some today, he was not permissive, and he did not take sin lightly.  But neither was he overly judmental about individual sins; he was much more judgemental toward those who made a  habit out of criticizing the sins of others.


- The man was a revolutionary and would not be caught standing up for any institutions of wealth and power.  Hierachies, no; papal palaces and vestments and golden chalices, no;  televangelists, no. The "word of God" as  a book to be worshipped, no; the "logos" as a life to be emulated, yes.


As to how you structure a "church" around this, well, I don't know.  I think there's a place for a Pope, and Bishops, but not living in palaces making pronouncements from on high; they need to be facilitating those who are doing good work in the world, the nuns, the laity, the "radical priests" which Paul Simon sung about but who are now a vanishing breed.  It needs to be more about orthopraxy and less about ideological purity.

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2 years ago  ::  Jul 09, 2012 - 7:38PM #5
GodtheFather
Posts: 9,273

For all you sleep walking, clueless, nay-sayers,


 


Its all about the Fairy Tale ... Sleeping Beauty


 


When Beauty (the mother of all) awakens all those tied to her awaken also.


Then we can all have a good laugh and get on with Paradise...


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


and we can finally close the doors on all those boring sermons.Money Mouth


 

The best lack all conviction yet the worst are filled with passionate intensity.

Yates
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2 years ago  ::  Jul 09, 2012 - 9:01PM #6
mokantx
Posts: 3,826

Jul 9, 2012 -- 6:14PM, TemplarS wrote:


Of course, attempts to strip "superstition" away from Christianity are not new (Jefferson's Bible e.g.).  What you cannot do (in my opinion) is strip God away; so, the idea is then, to paraphrase Crossan, that "As an historian, I do not accept the virgin birth of Jesus; as a Christian, I believe God was incarnate in Jesus."


So now you need to examine what Jesus said and did in the context of his time, and try to discern how his God was present in his life.  A few things come to mind to me.


- There is a continuum and not a disconnect between this world and any idea of "heaven." Jesus said "the Kingdom of God is among you";  he prayed "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."   He was concerned about God's justice, and how this plays out here and now.  By his practices in what we now call the sacraments, he affirmed that God's holiness can extend to the physical things in this world.   Whatever we today decide to make of salvation, or the resurrection, or "the life of the world to come"- must be consistent with this.  Environmentalism was not a part of his world; but I think it must consequently, today, be a part of his philosophical legacy.  And the science which explores the universe becomes a partner, not a foe.  Here is the role for those intelligent people Stephen mentions; we are all in this together, so let us work together to figure out our path forward on this earth; if we do this, eternity will take care of itself.


- His was a theology of actions, not just words, and not abstractions. He went among the people, healed the sick, tended to people's needs; he did not (in more modern terms) practice "faith alone".   God's kingdom is built out of such actions, I think.  Ever since: too many words, too much idle preaching,  not enough human kindess.


- He insisted that God's love and justice apply to all equally, without regard to rank, wealth, background, social status, ethnicity.  He was neither (again in modern terms) a socialist nor a capitalist; socialism and capitalism are material philosophies, and he was an anti-materialist.  He would have little good to say, I think, about current western society where one's success seems to be measured in how many HDTVs one has set up in a house of so many thousand square feet and so on.


- He set the bar high morally.  Sad to say for some today, he was not permissive, and he did not take sin lightly.  But neither was he overly judmental about individual sins; he was much more judgemental toward those who made a  habit out of criticizing the sins of others.


- The man was a revolutionary and would not be caught standing up for any institutions of wealth and power.  Hierachies, no; papal palaces and vestments and golden chalices, no;  televangelists, no. The "word of God" as  a book to be worshipped, no; the "logos" as a life to be emulated, yes.


As to how you structure a "church" around this, well, I don't know.  I think there's a place for a Pope, and Bishops, but not living in palaces making pronouncements from on high; they need to be facilitating those who are doing good work in the world, the nuns, the laity, the "radical priests" which Paul Simon sung about but who are now a vanishing breed.  It needs to be more about orthopraxy and less about ideological purity.




Well said Temp.


I think about the only way I can see getting there, is to make the church look and feel a LOT more "local" than it does today.  Again, cut the theologians loose to study, to offer theories, etc.  But just as in science, some of what they come up with will not pass the test of time.  Still, by letting them run, we WILL see more development in our thinking and understanding of it all, and the end result likely will be exactly what you described: a faith based more on how we live, how we act, than how we may or may not adhere to a specific set of beliefs.  That's why I tend to like the concept of a pilgrim church:  You take a large group of people and tell them to walk from point A to point B, you're gonna have people with different idea, thoughts, beliefs, BUT, what would be common is that you're all trying to get to the same place.  So there should be room for healthy discussion, dialog and debate, etc. along that journey.  And we will learn from each other, and grow as a result of that discussion.


As to the "organization," sure, there needs to be somthing.  But I think it's likely not good that just about ANY position be for life.  And I DO thinkj that the laity may make choices at a minimum, no worse than what we get today.  In all likelihood, we'd select people we believe to be holy, compassionate, caring, and wise, with experience from the real world to assist them.   (but I dream.)


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2 years ago  ::  Jul 09, 2012 - 10:42PM #7
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,748

People need community, to exchange ideas, hopes, fears, strivings, accomplishments, sorrows and joys with other people. Religion? not so much.

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2 years ago  ::  Jul 09, 2012 - 11:01PM #8
cherubino
Posts: 7,277

Alan Watts said somewhere that any church whatsoever is an autocratic, secretive and vested-interest organization, adding, "And who would expect to hear the truth in a place like that?" So it has not so much to do with the what's what of the creed as it does with the who's who in the social structure. Any belief system creates pecking-orders and loci of authority, and science is no exception.

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2 years ago  ::  Jul 10, 2012 - 12:51AM #9
mokantx
Posts: 3,826

Jul 9, 2012 -- 10:42PM, newsjunkie wrote:


People need community, to exchange ideas, hopes, fears, strivings, accomplishments, sorrows and joys with other people. Religion? not so much.




News


I guess I'm both idealistic enough, and have seen on rare occasions something close, to believe it should be possible religion to be but one part of that community.  when it works well, it CAN be that way, which is part of what I think Jesus was trying to demonstrate.


Probably about as bad an example of how NOT to do this is a story I've told here before.  A couple about the age of my wife and I lost a dear son in a car accident.  They were devastated.  We didn't see them for a couple of weeks, but the first Sunday they did return, I went over to talk to them before mass, while my wife got ready with the choir.  They had been sitting there, all alone, a good 15 minutes before mass started. This was a tough morning for them, and as we talked, all three of us ended up in tears several times.  A few minutes into this, a lady from across the cafeteria (where we met for mass), gave an obnoxiously loud "shhhh" to us: apparently we were interrupting her rosary.


To me, that's exactly what is wrong with much of this neocon crap in church.  The simple truth is that if we are a faith community, we need to act like a community.  And if that wasn't a moment to try to welcome that couple back, and to offer whatever support we could, then I guess I don't get the nature of human community. 

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2 years ago  ::  Jul 10, 2012 - 8:36AM #10
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,748

Jul 10, 2012 -- 12:51AM, mokantx wrote:


Jul 9, 2012 -- 10:42PM, newsjunkie wrote:


People need community, to exchange ideas, hopes, fears, strivings, accomplishments, sorrows and joys with other people. Religion? not so much.




News


I guess I'm both idealistic enough, and have seen on rare occasions something close, to believe it should be possible religion to be but one part of that community.  when it works well, it CAN be that way, which is part of what I think Jesus was trying to demonstrate.


Probably about as bad an example of how NOT to do this is a story I've told here before.  A couple about the age of my wife and I lost a dear son in a car accident.  They were devastated.  We didn't see them for a couple of weeks, but the first Sunday they did return, I went over to talk to them before mass, while my wife got ready with the choir.  They had been sitting there, all alone, a good 15 minutes before mass started. This was a tough morning for them, and as we talked, all three of us ended up in tears several times.  A few minutes into this, a lady from across the cafeteria (where we met for mass), gave an obnoxiously loud "shhhh" to us: apparently we were interrupting her rosary.


To me, that's exactly what is wrong with much of this neocon crap in church.  The simple truth is that if we are a faith community, we need to act like a community.  And if that wasn't a moment to try to welcome that couple back, and to offer whatever support we could, then I guess I don't get the nature of human community. 




Sad example, but a good one. It seems to me that religion, at least in a diverse society, tends to divide rather than bring people together. 

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