Sunday, September 16, 2012

I Got Jesus' Back!

I marvel lately at how often I am defending the life and teachings of Jesus to Christians.  It seems that many of those who proudly take on the name of Jesus have little awareness of what his life and teachings were about.

For example, the other day on Facebook I got into a discussion with some Christians after I commented on a poster one had displayed.  The poster gave honor to a president who bombs foreign countries, but derides a president who would ever apologize to one.  This discussion migrated its way toward Jesus' teaching on enemy-love and turning the other cheek.  I, the agnostic, was promoting the ethic of Jesus... against three different Christians who felt that the directives of Jesus were simply unrealistic and not worth considering.  In fact, one of them felt I was being insulting by suggesting that the teaching of Jesus be taken seriously.

We live in interesting times.

Andrew Hackman Sure... a person can take that tact... but it does make any proclamation to our country being "Christian" laughable.
Joe  1st Samuel 17:1-58 Read It!! David and Goliath? Did God not bless Israel in war? Did God not guide Davids hand to KILL the enemy dead??? was David not a Christian??? Was God helping the ARMIES of Israel that day?
Andrew Hackman Judaism is quite different than the teachings of Jesus. America does not claim Samuel, or David... theoretically they claim Christ...
Joe  kann man sagen, dass in Deutsch bitte?
Cheryl  um, Jesus was a Jew......
Joe  I meant "Can you ask that in German?"
Andrew Hackman Jesus constantly takes the base, human responses of Israel and calls them to something more... "You have been told an eye for an eye, but I tell you..." "You have been told to love your friend and hate your enemy, but I tell you". When you use the OT as a basis for a proper response, you use the very measure that Jesus declared was unfit.
Joe  good night Andrew.
Joe In a perfect society, we would hold hands and pray for our enemies. But when they breach our shores and bust down our doors, what do you suggest we do?
Andrew Hackman Turn the other cheek?
Andrew Hackman Joe, you are making the same arguments the zealots made to Jesus... Jesus did not live in a perfect society when he gave those directives.
Joe  You turn the other cheek... if that doesn't work out... I'll cover you.
Andrew Hackman :)
Joe  night night people
Christopher  the jews in WW2 turned the other cheek when the gestapo and SS started to hunt them down and look what hapened to them... almost got completely anhilliated...
Friday at 22:55 • Like
Christopher "all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to standby and do nothing..."
Andrew Hackman Chris. You are assuming violence is the only action or solution available
Brook  yeah, and Jesus turned the other cheek when the soldiers came to arrest him and look what happened to him! that "turn the other cheek" shit just doesn't work!
Christopher Then why did God give governments the power of the sword and tell is to respect the laws of the government (does that mean following the draft too??) 

Jesus had a legitimate reason to turn the other cheek though... He had to do what he did. I'm not saying that turning the other cheek doesnt have its place in society.. It's more practical with day to day living with other people regarding arguments and idiots trying to start stupid fist fights. But, when your life is unnesecarilly threatened by a foreign governments military, an insane demon possessed man who's shooting up a shopping mall, or an intruder coming into your home to kill you, rape your woman and steal your stuff.. Well.. As the bible says, "theirs a time for peace, theirs a time for war, theres a time for love, and a time to kill". 

Since God or his personality and world view perspective hasn't changed since the old testament, we can safely say that violence has its place... Granted its place is small and circumstantial... But it's there. Remember, God helps those who help themselves...
Andrew Hackman I don't safely say that at all. As I stated above, Jesus was constantly declaring OT ways of thinking unfit for the kingdom he envisioned. I sometimes wonder why so many people become Christians... it certainly isn't an attraction to the teachings and life of Jesus, because I find most Christians have little interest there.
Christopher  The kingdom he envisioned doesn't come to earth until after the tribulation...
Christopher  Out of curiosity, if a pistol was next to you and a mad man with a knife was running at you twenty yards away, would you shoot him or let him filet you like a fish?
Andrew Hackman I'm not sure... since you are a Christian, I am curious how you feel your master, Jesus, would have you handle yourself...
Christina  Shoot him. The mad man has intentions to kill me first and therefore no longer an innocent person.
Andrew Hackman Is that the dividing line Christina? Turn the other cheek... unless the person is not an innocent... then fire away? I am curious how you reconcile that with how Jesus had his followers deal with Rome... unless you are not a follower of Jesus, at which point you have to determine what your own ethics are on the matter.
Christina  What happened to Jesus is what he became man for. You have a God given right to defend yourself. Over my dead body will I turn the other cheek about terrorism toward the United States of America. 9-11 is why I joined our Armed Forces and went to Iraq. To defend America and her beautiful Constitution. You dont mess with America and get away with it. Just like on a much smaller scale, you dont come after me, terrorize my home, scale my fence, attempt to kill me and my family and expect to get away with it by me turning the other cheek.
Christina  And if you are an athiest that fine, but your arguements about Christianity and more specifically Catholism for me, become moot. I will not try to justify my religious beliefs and how it becomes my moral and ethical backbone if you have none.
Andrew Hackman Which is fine Christina, you can choose your ethic... that just isn't a Christian ethic. You would have a hard time making a scriptural argument that Jesus call to enemy-love was simply for himself but he had no expectation of it for his followers.
Christina  You can research this "scriptural argument" by reading the Bible, spending time studying it, going to a church of the Christian faith and ask these questions to religious clergy with an open heart to really understand instead of critizing others of faith and trying to use it against them.
Andrew Hackman I have read the bible Christina (you are making a lot of misplaced assumptions). I offer no criticism of anyone's faith... other than pointing out where the follower is living in contradiction to the master. In each of those cases, I offer a scriptural argument, because I think there is one to be made. I hear a lot of human rationality being presented here, but very little drive to implement the Christian ethic. That is because love is a narrow way, and few find it. Protecting the self and the ego is a broad path, and it is the one humans default to without the words of someone like Jesus offering a different path and a willingness to take on those words.

Most Christians don't really believe they are capable of loving their enemy. Loving your enemy, doing good to those who wrong you, turning the other cheek.... these have all been moved to the miraculous category. Yes, Jesus loved his enemies... but he also walked on water and raised the dead. In the minds of most Christians, they no more believe an enemy can be loved than they believe they will walk on water this evening. So, they quickly move past these commandments to ones that are more do-able... say, witnessing or going to church.

I also think Christians struggle to take these teachings seriously because their faith is often built on a faulty foundation. To love your enemy, you are going to have to put aside your needs, your pride, your need to be right - perhaps even your safety. You have to give up self-protection. Your ego is going to have to die... daily.

However, most Christians turned to the faith by an appeal to their ego and their sense of self. Jesus will save you from Hell - or from drinking or drugs - or from a bad relationship, etc... saving one's own ass is a primal response.

With all of this ME cemented into the foundation of popular Western Christianity, is it any wonder that enemy-love gets scant attention from Christ's followers? Go to a Christian church in America this Sunday and you will most likely hear a message about Hell or what blessing God has in store for you next. A message on how to do kind acts for the person who opposes you, hurts you, hates you? How to joyfully surrender your rights and protections? Not so much.

People like benefits of church culture, belonging, being in the "right" group... but I find few Christians who have an interest in living like Jesus

Where The Problem Starts

If this is true Ms. Clinton, we are in for a long time of strife.  The problem starts with a belief in a god, which begets -

  • my god is better than your god

which begets -

  • you need my god in order to be happy

which begets -

  • you need my god in order to be saved

which begets -

  • I need you to need my god so I can be more comfortable

which begets -

  • I need you to need my god so I can be safe

which begets -

  • I need you to need my god... or I need you to be gone.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Who Is "We"?

I don't have respect for "people of faith".  There are many people whom I respect who also happen to subscribe to a particular religious tradition, but their faith standing is incidental to my respect.

For hundreds of years, American society has given preferential treatment to people of faith. It has been assumed by the public at large that anyone who is religious has the fast track to honesty, courtesy, compassion, and morality. This was the default standing given to anyone proclaiming the language of the popular religion. If one was not part of the popular religion, the opposite case was assumed. An irreligious person must be morally hobbled.

All of these assumptions have led us astray on many, many fronts. I think it is about time people were judged by the content of their character, and not the stamp of their baptism.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A New Species Evolving

In the primordial soup of Western Civilization a new species is evolving.  As with all evolution, this creature has self preservation written into the blueprint of its code.  It wants to live.

This new species is crawling out of the sea of ideas, clawing its way to the land, gaining strength with each handhold it acquires.

This species still bears the name of  its ancestor, but it has only a passing resemblance with that from which it came. Have no doubt that a new species walks among us.

The ancestor was known for its sacrifice, the new species for asserting its rights.  The ancestor gave, the new species takes. The ancestor turned a cheek when attacked, the new species destroys the opposition. The ancestor stood with the weak, the new species aligns with the powerful.

The newcomer to the evolutionary landscape and its ancestor look identical, it is only when they act that you can distinguish the two.

This new creature wants Jesus for the hereafter, but Ayn Rand for the here and now.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

About Right

Nakedpastor was giving these shirts out in a drawing yesterday.  I laughed out loud when I saw it.  Truth is often funny because it is true (as Homer says).  Hard "A" atheist is probably a little strong for me.  I lean more toward the agnostic.

Atheish seems to be the perfect description.  It seems to say:

"I am not sure whether a god exists or not... but I am confident yours doesn't exist..." :)

Friday, September 07, 2012

Thich Naht Hanh and Tombstone

I saw this on Facebook today.  I love Thich Naht Hanh and I think he is generally right about this.  However, I also agree with Alfred Pennyworth who said, "Some men just want to watch the world burn."

I think this great scene from Tombstone says it best:

Wyatt Earp: What makes a man like Ringo, Doc? What makes him do the things he does? 

Doc Holliday: A man like Ringo has got a great big hole, right in the middle of him. He can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it. 

Wyatt Earp: What does he need?

Doc Holliday: Revenge. 

Wyatt Earp: For what? 

Doc Holliday: Bein' born.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Product Review: Mint Hard Floor Cleaner

A few weeks ago, I purchased the Mint Hard Floor Cleaner by Evolution Robotics. Earlier in the summer, my Father and I had laid vinyl planking all through the first floor of my home. It had previously been two-thirds carpet. My mom had warned us that, though it would look great, it would actually be a lot more maintenance than carpet; particularly because we had chosen a dark floor.

We underestimated how much more maintenance that would be. The floor showed everything (which made us realize how much "yuck" the carpet had been hiding within its fibers). We loved the floor, but there had to be another option to the constant dry and wet mopping.

I had considered the robot vacuums, but their reviews on hard floors were sketchy. Then I saw the Mint which, rather than vacuuming, was a mop. After a few more weeks of research I decided to pull the trigger.

Not one regret, our "Rosy" is worth every penny. Does she clean the floor as well as a person? No, but if we clean at a ten, Rosy is doing a good 9. The benefit to Rosy is that she cleans more frequently. If we are headed out the door, we set Rosy to work before we leave. I will usually set her to clean nightly once everyone has headed upstairs, or if she is still charging, I will let her loose in the morning before everyone else is awake as I head for work.

It takes her about an hour to mop the floor of our small kitchen, living room, and dining room. I do a dry mop and a wet mop about once each day which keeps our floor very clean. In fact, we haven't cleaned the floor once in the two weeks that we have owned her.

She uses various sensors to map the floor as she cleans. There have been a few occasions where she has gotten herself trapped, or stuck under a door. She loses her place when you pick her up, but that just means she starts over. No big loss.

The Mint comes with two dry mop cloths and one wet mop cloth. We just throw them in the washing machine after use. The Mint can use Swifter cloths, but I have found some cloths at the dollar store that work particularly well.

I am a geek, so the thought of having a robot floor cleaner was appealing. However, all novelty aside, the Mint is an extremely practical and useful item that I highly recommend.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Romney on Labor Day

I was wondering how Mr. Romney would address Labor Day today. After all, he has spent the majority of his adult life serving as an oppositional force to Labor. Owners typically hold more power when their labor is unorganized than when they are organized. Therefore candidate Romney, and the circles in which he travels, has always had a vested interest in keeping labor unorganized.

So, how does Mr. Romney say something positive on Labor Day?  Somehow, I think the conversation this morning went something like this:

Aide: Sir, we have to put a quote on your Facebook page about Labor Day.

Romney:  Could we announce that Unions are dead?

Aide:  Not yet sir.

Romney:  Hopefully by this time next year.....

Aide:  Hopefully sir, but we need a quote for today.

Romney:  I don't know...  What do people who work for a living like to hear?

Aide:  Well sir, you can focus on some positive Union accomplishments.  Perhaps child labor laws?

Romney:  WHAT?!  I hate those laws!  Do you have any idea how far we could drive down labor costs if we could make kids work?  Look at the profits we reap in factories overseas!!

Aide:  You would want your grandchildren to work in factories sir??

Romney: Not MY grandchildren you moron!

Aide:  Sorry sir.  How about safe working environments?

Romney: Expensive!

Aide:  Sick leave?

Romney:  Get sick on your own time.

Aide: Overtime pay?


Aide:  How about we just speak to the idea of Americans being good, hard workers.  Then we don't have to mention the Labor movement at all.

Romney:  Now, you're thinkin kid!  But we need to work in an insult to the guy sitting in my chair presently; a line about Americans being out of work.

Aide: But won't that remind people that those jobs were lost under President Bush?

Romney:  Speak his name near me again, and you will be joining the little people who are out there looking for jobs.

Aide:  Sorry sir.  Here, I just posted this on Facebook.  What do you think?

Romney:  Perfect kid.  Keep this up and we might even get you some health care coverage.

Aide: Heh-Heh.  That's a good one sir!

Romney and Aide:  Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Not Really True

I have seen this poster, or some similar version, posted on Facebook a number times over the previous weeks.  The people I see posting it tend to be tired of others expressing opinions on Facebook... or, probably more to the point, others posting opinions on Facebook that run in contradiction to theirs.

However, regardless of motive, I don't think the poster is all that accurate.  I think people's opinions on various issues are being changed all the time by what they read in social media outlets like Facebook.

Not the True Believer, of course.  No, those who see everyone on one side or the other are rarely affected by arguments that run contrary to their "truth".  But really, most people aren't like that.  Most people are a mish-mash of opinions and beliefs ... ebbing and flowing according to their circumstances, experiences, and education.  Having experienced changes of view in the past, they are more than aware they will have changes of view in the future.

That is what makes social media so amazing and effective - "You can't stop the signal."  Growing up, there were questions and doubts I had about various topics, but there was nowhere safe to vent these thoughts.  For all I knew, I was the only one having them.  But today, varied opinions and questions and answers are only a status or Google search away.  People find their voice when when they hear others speak of what burdens their heart too.  I think the growing acceptance of homosexual rights or the increasing population of atheists are examples of the influence of social media.

Contrary to the poster.... I think Facebook is changing people's views all the time.
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