Ask ten people what “god” is and you’ll get ten distinctly different answers. That’s not because “god” is such an expansive, all-encompassing concept. It’s because “god” is an “idea” you can alter on the fly. The magical power god has one moment, he doesn’t have the next. Or he chooses not to use them that time though the circumstances are exact.
You know how “god” is — he works in “mysterious ways”.
In fact, “god” is so mysterious that he regularly hires clowns like Kenneth Copeland to speak on his behalf. You remember Kenneth Copeland, don’t ya…?
I keep thumbing through my copy of the NT (I do have one and it is well thumbed through) but, for the life of me, I can’t see what chapter or verse Ken is using here as the basis for his Christian behavior.
I definitely can’t see what, if anything, Jesus said that Ken thinks he’s emulating.
Evangelicals like Ken (like most American Christians) are churchists, not followers of Jesus. They couldn’t pick Jesus out of a police line up — which is exactly where they’d expect to find him. They know for a fact that the LAST place Jesus would ever show up is at one of their mega-churches. Just as well — they’d never let him in.
Pick an evangelical. Listen to them speak. Watch them while they do it. Bore in on their eyes.
See Ken’s eyes? That’s not “madness” shining out of them. It’s the absolute belief that he is god and it is beyond his comprehension that the reporter isn’t bowing down to that fact.
Kenneth Copeland isn’t special. He’s just good at what he does — bamboozling the mooks, half-wits & ignoramuses who keep him well supplied with jet fuel. If any of those mooks, half-wits or ignoramuses could, they’d ask themselves: “How can a follower of Jesus explain the need for a private jet to begin with?”
But they can’t, so they don’t.
Instead, they comfort themselves with their own godliness.
Want to know what’s scarier than a zombie coming to eat your brain? An evangelical opening his mouth to speak.
Let’s get this straight: what happened to us in 2016 was nothing less than a coup d’etat — a messy love triangle of first rate Russian spy craft with American Right Wing Money and America’s fatal flaw, the fact that we made slavery legal. There’s one theme that touches every part of that triangle — Christianity.
What motivates Vladimir Putin? A deep, deep Russian nationalism. And deep faith in the Russian Orthodox church. That “faith” is colored by realpolitik of course. Religion and politics always are. Putin wanted sanction relief because he wasn’t rich enough for his liking. They were willing to back Trump all the way — to accomplish their ends.
Right Wing Christian Money — the Kochs, the Mercers, Sheldon Adlestein too (greed is Sheldon’s religion) — may have hated Trump but when you’re that cynical, you can tolerate an awful lot of rot to get what you want. The Right Wing money recognized that Reagan was their last hurrah. The demographics going forward were completely against them. The only saving grace — the perverse way the senate overweighs open real estate vs actual humans. The RW money knew that, except for stealing the executive branch via phony legal logic (Bush v Gore), there’d never be another Republican POTUS. The House of Representatives is beyond anyone’s control. It’s the Peoples’ house. Our most direct connection to actual Democracy. Expecting to hold the senate — and therefore its overweight toward conservative states — the RW money set its sites on the judiciary. They tasked Mitch McConnell with denying Barack Obama any and every judge they could — including Merrick Garland.
What motivates RW money? Keeping that money of course. To do that, you have to have the reins of power in your hands. Otherwise, those in power might try to take your money — never mind the fact that you built your pile of money on the back of the Commonweal. The rich getting richer does not make Democracy better, it undermines Democracy because some votes become more powerful than other votes.
RW money is also motivated — here in America — by Christian faith. That’s perverse right from the get-go considering how Jesus felt about money changers and greed. But, then, the bulk of American Christianity — to judge purely by the way it talks about itself — couldn’t care less about Jesus. The bulk of American Christianity sees Jesus as a pretty mascot — Santa, but “holy”. “Do unto others” is great stuff for sermons — platitudes always are. But the real purpose of any church is to keep being a church.
Jesus spoke pretty clearly — you don’t need a church or a high priest to talk to god. Anyone can do it directly.
Again — you don’t need a church. But, once you start building a church — literally or metaphorically — it takes work to keep it from falling down. Gravity, the elements and time destroy a building’s integrity. Logic, knowledge and learning destroy metaphorical churches.
Even Christianity’s own history tells a story of what happens when make-believe rules. How many people have died because they stood on one side vs the other in one of Christianity’s great schisms? How many Catholics have killed Protestants because they were Protestants and vice versa? I can’t say I see where Jesus fits into it.
I can see clearly how churches do though. Churches sell religion. They don’t sell spirituality. They’re not qualified.
Churches sell exclusivity, too. That’s why groups like Opus Dei and the Dominionists exist. They’re exclusive clubs within the exclusive that is their denomination. They’re the “extra-religious” ones who see themselves doing Paul’s work — spreading the “good news” that if you say you accept the ooga-booga, you, too, can beat death.
Religious people also confuse success and failure in life with religion. They believe their success is the result of a sky deity smiling on them because they’re special. Literally – that is what they believe.
Poor people, conversely, are poor (to this way of thinking) because they deserve to be poor. It goes no deeper that.
But then, how deep do you really have to do when you’re making it all up?
American RW money and its twisted version of Christianity have always seen the bible as their justification for slavery. If slavery was in the bible, it must be because it’s good. As five minutes spent with any televangelist will tell you, the bible is the most dangerous piece of literature (that’s all it is) ever compiled — if only because it makes stupid people stupider.
You have to be stupid to think slavery is acceptable. Greed made slavery acceptable. Greed makes everyone stupid.
America’s Christian-iest Christians insist that “God” chose Donald Trump to be POTUS.
Somewhere — if he ever existed — Jesus is weeping.
Here are a few highlights of Barr’s 1) profound ignorance, 2) profound ignorance, and 3) profound ignorance:
“Militant secularists,” Barr insists, are behind a “…campaign to destroy the traditional moral order”. By “traditional moral order”, of course, Bill Barr means white, Christian men like him being in complete control.
America’s “…traditional Judeo-Christian moral system” is under siege by “modern secularists” who, Barr insisted, are responsible for everything from drug abuse to rising suicide rates to illegitimacy.
Catholicism and other mainstream religions, Barr claimed, are the target of “organized destruction” by “secularists and their allies among progressives who use mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry and academia” against them, poor babies.
How about we cut to the end of the chase. Bill Barr — and people like him — use fairy tales as the basis for their life decisions. I’m not talking about Jesus here. Jesus taught “Do Unto Others” and “You Don’t Need A Church — Talk Directly To God” — two concepts totally foreign to Bill Barr. Bill Barr isn’t a follower of Jesus — he’s a Christian; a very, VERY different thing.
Bill Barr is a church-Christian (the opposite of a Jesus Follower). Bill believes in all the rubbish the Church (Paul and the early church fathers) invented out of whole cloth while they formulated what Christianity was and wasn’t. Paul, remember, was trying to match Jesus (who he never met, never heard preach) to a pre-existing messiah mythology. To make Jesus fit the story mold (and the messiah mythology is pure fiction to begin with), Paul created the basis for what we still think of as “Christianity”. The “mystery” of a virgin birth and a resurrection.
Meanwhile, off to the side, there’s Jesus — asking only that Bill Barr do unto others.
If that was the extent of Bill Barr’s religion on the rest of us — Bill doing unto others — we’d be okay, I bet. Instead, we’re faced with the fact that Bill Barr believes in all the magic — and nothing BUT the magic. And if YOU don’t believe in the magic that Bill Barr believes in?
Bill Barr thinks you are destroying America. Certainly for him.
I’m weird like this — if I go to get on an airplane — and the pilot says he doesn’t believe in physics (which is why he doesn’t have a license to pilot a plane), he believes his religious faith will keep the plane aloft — I’m not getting on that plane. Same goes for the surgeon about to work on my heart. No idea how any of my plumbing works — but you’ll pray on it before cutting into me?
If you tell me that magic always wins over reason and logic when you go to problem solve? I’m going to doubt every solution you pitch. Especially if the problems you’ve got in your sights are mine. You telling me you believe in magic is you telling me you’re willfully ignorant. It’s you telling me to ignore you any time there’s we need to make a decision more weighty than a lunch order.
That’s the hardest thing for religionistas to grasp. They think they’re spreading the good news. What they’re spreading is the news that they’re gullible.
Ask ten people what “God” is, you’ll get ten different
answers. That’s because “God” didn’t
invent us, we invented “him”.
Ask ten Evangelicals what “God” is and they’ll draw you a
word picture that, if you stripped it of all the larger-than-life puffery would
look exactly like them.
For reference-sake, let’s remind ourselves that Jesus
preached a simple message: Do Unto Others.
It was Paul, selling his version of Jesus and Jesus’ message to the
gentiles, who actually invented what we think of as Christianity. If Paul doesn’t do what he does, there is no
Jesus, in fact, taught his followers that they didn’t need a
“church”. He raged against not only the
money changers but the Temple Priests, too, who Jesus believed were corrupt. Speak directly to the father, Jesus preached.
Talk to Yahweh (the “god” character’s actual name; “god” is actually his job
description) directly, no need for a church or a priest to intercede on your
Yet lots of American Christians – Evangelicals especially – could
ditch Jesus entirely and be completely at peace practicing a religion that
couldn’t care less about doing unto others. What matters most to them is
maintaining political power and keeping all the money.
The trick every theist plays on themselves – and anyone they
then talk to – is believing that they have a direct line to this Yahweh
guy. When push comes to shove, they can
get Yahweh on the phone and get him thinking straight. The truth, of course, is way more
complicated. Cue the Magical Thinking.
Theists imagine a deity clever enough to create the whole
cosmos – and everything in it – but too inept to get human beings right. In fact, the Yahweh character, as written, is
so inept and incompetent that he (only a male would react like this), faced
with the mess he’s made with humans (it never says Yahweh is unhappy with any
other creature except the talking snake), is willing to destroy ALL LIVING
THINGS – non humans included – out of… what, spite?
What kind of tin pot, third-rate deity is this guy?
Then – when he gets the humans he really wants, Yahweh
cranks the incest meter up to a thousand.
Think about it. First there’s
Adam & Eve. They have two sons –
Caan & Abel. It’s written how Caan,
after he killed Abel, has a massive family.
Okay, fair enough. Where’d his
wife – and HER family – come from?
Unless she spontaneously sprang into being, she had to be conceived,
born and raised. Well – who conceived
her? Who was the sperm donor? Whose was the egg?
If other people existed on earth then those people also had
to spring from Eve. If this story is “historical”
(good thing it isn’t), then every human on earth is the bi-product of
incest. Theists happily re-play the
incest meme hen they get to Noah. If
every other human being is wiped out, every other line of human genetics, then
every last human on earth must be related to Noah – and sprang from incestuous
origins. There’s no way around it.
Religionistas all insist that they have insight about Yahweh
that no one else has. They know what
Yahweh means across however many translations from the Aramaic to the Greek to
the English. Religionistas all claim to
know what lurks in a fictional creature’s fictional heart. What could possibly
History is littered
with the victims of religious people who spoke for god using violent
means. Religionistas destroyed whole
cultures because “God” wanted it. That
would be their “god”. Their white
man’s “god”. Them.
I’ll confess right here — lifetime atheist though I am, I am also a big time fan of Jesus. I don’t know for sure if a historical Jesus ever existed but someone like the character depicted in the New Testament seems to have put forward a teaching — “Do Unto Others” — drawn directly from the Jewish culture into which he was born and lived his entire life — that, today, still resonates loudly across the millennia.
In 1985, a group of actual bible scholars (people with actual academic degrees from reputable institutions of higher learning as opposed to bullshit degrees from bullshit Christian universities with bullshit standards and zero integrity) got together and formed The Jesus Seminar. Their goal — apply some serious objective analysis to the NT texts so as to coax out, as best they could, an historical Jesus.
The Seminar identified 15 or so phrases unanimously agreed upon by the canonical gospels which, the seminar felt, could have been spoken by a historical Jesus — so as to be disseminated by his followers. The Jesus who steps from the pages of the Seminar’s analysis has a simple message — Do Unto Others (which includes suffering the Little Children to come unto you) and, if you need to speak to god, go to “the father” directly. You don’t need a church to intercede on your behalf. GO DIRECTLY!”
If you recall from the stories about Jesus, he didn’t like the money changers. He didn’t like that the temple authorities allowed the money changers inside the temple’s forecourt. That, Jesus taught, debased the core message. It invalidated the temple’s authority to speak for god or to even pretend that they could intercede on their followers’ behalves.
Jesus advocates AGAINST having churches or religious “authorities”. So — how come there’s a Christian “church”? How could so gigantic a contradiction sit right in the heart of the Christian faith itself? The answer is ask Paul.
Paul (the former Saul of Tarsus) invented Christianity. The majority of the NT texts are Paul’s letters & epistles to the various gentile communities to which he was spreading his version of Jesus, Jesus’ story and Jesus’ message. Remember — Paul never met Jesus. Never spoke to him. Never heard his voice.
While Paul started by selling his version of Jesus to the Jews, they didn’t want it — because Paul’s version wasn’t authentic. Gentiles didn’t have any history or knowledge of Jewish customs, thought or mythology so Paul’s contorted version — virgin birth in Bethlehem, wise men presaging greatness, rising from the dead — seemed perfectly authentic. Never mind the fact that it was all invented, top to bottom. When Paul speaks of Jesus, he never stresses the messages Jesus himself stressed.
That’s because historical Jesus was of no use to Paul. So he invented a new Jesus. A Jesus that worked for him. Paul invented the Jesus that smiled upon the Catholic Church — an institution Jesus would have hated with every single atom of his being. Don’t hurt yourself laughing so hard, Protestants — your version of Jesus is just as disconnected from reality.
We won’t even talk about the Mormons (whose version of Jesus even visited North America — a place the real Jesus had no way of knowing even existed).
Ya know how, these days, we can’t figure out why Christians are so… “un-Christian”? This is why. The problem isn’t them, it’s us. All those people are being COMPLETELY Christian. What they aren’t being are “followers of Jesus”. To follow Jesus means all those devout Christians would have to denounce their “Christianity” — and all the oppressive, regressive, obsessive rules and regs that are the real appeal of their faith — and, instead, become spiritual. That ain’t happening.
To follow Jesus, one must be spiritual or have the capacity for spirituality. That’s the opposite of following a religion. Religions are crowd control. They are defined by their rules & their structures — and those structures don’t build or sustain themselves. The money has to come from somewhere which is why churches work so hard to get bodies into the pews and money from the pockets in those pews. Churches don’t really exist for the benefit of anyone’s faith, they exist for the benefit of themselves. Churches are like sharks (and relationships) — they have to keep moving or they’ll die.
If a historical Jesus could come back, he surely would not recognize the faith being touted as his creation. That’s because it isn’t his — and never was. It pains me deeply to quote Woody Allen but he got this one right. If Jesus were to come back to see what’s been done in his name, “he would never stop throwing up”.
It sucks when the thing at the end of “I hate you because…” is bullshit.
I’m a yid. A kike. A sheeny.
I grew up part of a hated community. As a kid, you ask the obvious question — “But WHY do they hate me (never mind us)?” The answer you get back isn’t satisfying — or logical. Underneath the “because you’re a Jew” — to the reasons WHY they hate your Jewness — one finds fiction.
More to the point, one finds BULLSHIT. And Magical Thinking.
Antisemitism is not alone in its bullshittiness. Lots of white people think black people are less intelligent because of their skin color. The scientific basis for this thinking is exactly zero. It ain’t reality talking, it’s ignorant, racist bullshit. Of course.
Antisemitism is slightly different because it’s not based on an obvious tribal difference. It’s based on a story.
I bet if Jesus — a Jew every day of his life — were to be resurrected, he’d be horrified in a thousand different ways. He’d be especially horrified that HE was the reason his own tribe has been threatened ever since. Jesus preached a message so simple, even a dumb atheist can see its value and go along with it: “Do Unto Others”. It doesn’t require an ounce of ooga-booga. Jesus (I’m going with The Jesus Seminar’s findings here) never advocated for a church (he was too busy advocating against the temple ffs!) or talked about being any sort of messianic playah who was part of a complex, prophesy-following make-believe. That was Paul, actually, and the early “Church Fathers” — the boys club that put the early church together.
The Early Church was a literal construct. The New Testament did not suddenly plop down in the middle of Rome. It was put together in order to send out a message — a story. There are loads of interesting texts that didn’t make the cut (I highly recommend The Other Bible — which includes these texts). You have to ask “Why?”
Spoiler alert — because the Early Church made up its foundational mythology out of pretty much whole cloth. They invented a “Jesus” — borrowing just enough of the original to give it flavor — then manufacturing the rest from the ground up. That included the way this fictitious version of the Jesus Character died — at the end of a process started by Jews.
In the storytelling biz, that story doesn’t sell cause it smells. If you put it in a script — changing the names, of course, to protect the innocent — it would get killed by everyone who read it because it makes no sense. Even villains have to have logic. Especially villains.
The church manufactured a fiction that worked well for them. And because it worked well, they repeated it — and repeated it ad nauseum until a literal lie became, to those without the perspective or knowledge of history, a “truth”. And that false “truth” became the basis for a massive amount of unwarranted hatred.
If the Holocaust (as studies now say) caused actual genetic mutations — the emotional reactions to the experience literally altered its’ victims DNA — it’s likely strong emotional reactions caused earlier DNA alterations to those on the other side of that equation — the perps. How else to explain the seeming hard-wiring of this hatred? Maybe I’m just being paranoid about Jew hatred being universal.
How else to explain the persistent Magical Thinking that Jews use Christian babies to make matzoh or plot — together — to take over the world through the banks and media. Jews, as a rule, tend to be pretty independent in their thinking (it’s a cultural thing for lots of us). Getting a bunch of us to be that together in our thinking so we could pull such a thing off — hasn’t actually met any Jews. That’s Magical Thinking.
Magical Thinking based on rubbish — as all Magical Thinking is.
So, here’s the punchline to the joke. It sucks to be hated because of a fiction. But — are ya ready for it? Racial hatred, tribal hatred, pretty much most hatred — it’s all is based on fiction.
We need to fix our attention on the scumbags who regularly exploit that fact. I won’t point fingers here — I’d need more fingers. We all know who those scumbags are. They’re the ones who bray bullshit — because they know how well bullshit sells — and what bullshit will do as it spreads.
It sucks that an atheist has to explain Christianity to Christians. But — the fact is — atheists have a perspective on Christianity that Christians intrinsically lack (and can never get). THIS atheist — having perspective — sees a distinct difference between Jesus (the supposed “inventor” of Christianity and “Christianity” (his supposed “invention”).
Oy. Where to begin…
Back in the 1985, Robert Funk (an American bible scholar) created The Jesus Seminar. Funk wanted to promote “biblical literacy” via a “historical-critical” approach that viewed Christian orthodoxy with extreme doubt. Funk wanted the Seminar (composed of about 50 critical-thinking biblical scholars and 100 lay people) to identify (if they could) and draw out a “historical Jesus” from the texts — a man apart from any mythos. While the Seminar was most active in the 1980’s and 1990’s, its work has continued up to today.
The Jesus Seminar concluded that (this is taken from Wikipedia’s page on the Seminar) —
The seminar also concluded that at best we can put a dozen to a dozen-and-a-half sayings into Jesus’ mouth — as things Jesus might have said (vs the self-referential things he almost certainly did not say because it would never have occurred to him).
That means that, effectively, most of what we think of as Christianity had nothing to do with Jesus — and everything to do with Paul who was the one person hard at work creating far-flung churches (among the goyim) made up of goyim. The overwhelming majority of the NT is Paul communicating with and building his church communities. And he’s mythologizing Jesus as he goes — converting “Historical Jesus” into Christian Church Jesus.
Real Jesus despised the “church” (in his world – the Temple authorities). Jesus’ whole message was “You don’t NEED a church to have a relationship with god”. Since that’s the case (according to the Jesus Seminar), then why on earth would Jesus advocate for the creation of a “church” to speak for him? It’s ludicrous on its surface.
Jesus preached a simple message — that’s why it’s endured. Simple & doable. Why, even a humble atheist can “do unto others” without contradicting themselves.
For “Christ’s sake” — following Jesus is incredibly simple (and rewarding). I bet following a church can’t hold a candle to it.