Sunday, January 07, 2024

Abraham Failed the Test

I wrote this in a discussion about Abraham and Issac 10 years ago-

First, I don't think the event actually happened... It is a moral fable which a nomadic people told to make a point. If you get emotionally invested in it being real, you will probably miss the author's intended point... as you would if you felt Apollo was the negligent party with Asclepius by letting him drive the chariot in the first place.

But let's assume it all happened as it is written. First, we may error in assuming Abraham viewed Isaac the way modern parents view their children. Abraham most likely viewed Isaac as his most treasured possession... but still a possession. If it came down to it, he would save his own rear end before he would save Issac; in the same way any of us would sacrifice any possession we have to save our own skin.

However, I would look at it this way. What if the god Jehovah really wanted Abraham to say no? He is the most powerful being in the universe... he always gets what he wants... but he has no equal, so he lacks relationships. Here he is trying to forge one with his creation... but he can't get around his... imposing personality. He can't help but feel his relationship with Abraham isn't really a friendship... and it was proved that day. He had Abraham's obedience but that is a poor substitute for friendship.  He knows Abraham fears him... and this leaves him disappointed. 

God was like the bully of the playground who one day realizes that he has a big posse but no friends. He is surrounded by sycophants and those who are afraid of him. What he yearned for was for Abraham to say no. That is what friends do... sometimes they help protect us from ourselves. A true friend would never acquiesce to such a demand.

I don't think Abraham passed the test that day. He failed his son, and he failed the god who wanted to be his friend.

Monday, January 01, 2024

Conservative Faith Can Never Bring Peace

"'People kill for money or for power,' DeMello's Holy One teaches. 'But the most ruthless murderers are those who kill for their ideas.' It is not belief that causes war, it is believers who refuse to allow others to hold ideas other than their own." - Joan Chittister

This is why when you look through history, there are not examples of successful conservative religious societies.  They cannot tolerate other religions.  There is no peaceful coexistence.  Even if all are converted to the same faith, the orthodox will discover heretics.  Conservative religion despises, yet needs, the 'other'.

In my last years as a Christian, I had taken to announcing questions and conclusions I was coming to regarding my faith.  On one occasion, I got a retort on FB from one of my pastors.

Me: I believe Christianity competes with other religions, and that is a mistake.

Pastor:  REALLY? Jesus said, “go and make disciples of every nation.” Guess what his disciples did. They went out and made disciples of Jews, Gentiles, Idol worshippers, and people of all religions. That’s not competition, that’s obedience to Jesus. We Christians still follow Jesus’ commands, whether you think that is a mistake or not.

Our church was not a particularly heavy-handed conservative fellowship but showing an aversion to conversion was enough to categorize me outside the faith.  

There is no peace in conservative faith while unbelievers and folks of other religions remain.  Presently, "obedience to Jesus" when converting others is not violent but it has not always been so.  We can look around the world at conservative religions and see that they don't play well with others.  

I don't suspect America's conservative faithful would fare any better should they acquire real power.  Remember this, moderate believer, when you assume that voting for a conservative Christian is a good thing.  History and present-day global examples tell us otherwise.  There are legions of Christians in America who would use the force of law to make you obedient to their vision of 'Jesus'.

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