American Christianity Has Turned Itself Into A Death Cult That Would Have Horrified Jesus

Though I am a hard core (I’d even say devout) atheist, I consider myself a “fan of Jesus”. I don’t know for certain if Jesus actually existed (at present, no one can prove that he did, but, I suspect someone vaguely like him did exist — heavy emphasis on the word “vaguely”) but even a humble atheist like me can appreciate and take to heart the simple teaching “Do Unto Others”. It makes so much sense. Want to be treated with respect by others? Do unto them as you would have them do unto you.

Respect them.

The problem with sacred texts in a modern setting is that the modern setting knows way more than the sacred texts do. Lots of “new information” was available to the modern setting that the writers of the sacred texts had no way to access. If the men who wrote what was assembled into the Old Testament had had access to microscopes and telescopes and the internet, would they have written what they wrote the same way? Of course not. They didn’t KNOW that pathogens cause human disease, not magic or Yahweh (the god character’s actual name — “god” is his job description as in “That Yahweh’s a pretty thin-skinned god, don’tcha think?”). Had they seen photos of distant galaxies taken from the Hubble Telescope, do ya think they’d have invented a mythology to explain everything that still put Earth at the center of all creation when all evidence says the opposite?

Jesus did not invent Christianity. He lived his whole life — and died — a Jew. For all we know, he never was called “Jesus” or the “Christ” at any point during his life. Rather, if he existed, he was referred to like every other Jew of his time and place — by his Jewish name (Joshua Ben Joseph for instance). Jesus may have been somewhat radical in his message but it was still a radically JEWISH message that did not stray one iota from Jewish thinking.

Do Unto Others is a deeply Jewish way of thinking. Of course a lifelong Jew like Jesus would have thought that way. The everlasting genius that was Jesus (whoever, however, whatever he was) comes from his ability to articulate that profound message (in English anyway) in three simple words that anyone can understand. And it’s not hard to do. It’s not hard to figure out “how to do”. You just do it.

Jesus also taught you don’t need a temple or a high priest to talk to Yahweh. Go directly to the father was how Jesus put it. Talk to Yahweh yourself.

That puts priests and the church they’re sitting in into a bind. Jesus says his followers don’t need them to follow him. That makes priests and their churches completely redundant. “Useless,” my construction worker friends used to say (I worked construction briefly during the WGA strike of 1988), “As titties on a bull”.

So where the hell did priests and a church come from if it wasn’t part of Jesus’s “plan”? It came from the same place most of the early church’s mythology came from — Paul, The Apostle. It’s a simple fact. Jesus wrote 0% of the New Testament while Paul wrote about 30% of it, give or take. 27 texts make up the NT. 13 to 14 are attributed to Paul, 7 of them with absolute certainty. Even if the rest attributed to Paul weren’t actually written by him, still they speak from Paul’s point of view; they aspire to tell Paul’s version of events.

The bulk of Paul’s contribution are the letters he wrote to the new, burgeoning Christian communities beginning to form around the eastern Roman world. In them, he describes a Jesus he never met as if he knew him intimately. He speaks for Jesus and begins to lay out the ideas that later writers — the early church fathers — would use to craft an entire mythology out of whole cloth — that springboarded from Jewish culture and custom into the fantastical world of the New Testament.

If you brought Jesus back to life today and explained modern Christianity to him, Jesus would have no idea what you were talking about.

If you did the same thing to Paul, you’d get a completely different reaction. Paul would recognize the story. He’d be taken by all the new additions to what he started (though he’d probably find Mormonism — where Jesus visits North America — a continent Jesus never knew even existed — as especially egregious). Paul started as Saul From Tarsus who “converted” on the road to Damascus after experiencing an epiphany. As Paul, he became determined to spread Jesus’s message even if the message Paul was spreading had nothing to do with Jesus or his actual message.

To that end, Paul aligned Jesus with Jewish tradition (which, being Jewish, Paul was knowledgeable about) and the mythology he created (at first), struggled hard to line up Jesus with the attributes and story precedents required to justify Jesus as the “messiah”. If Jesus was indeed the prophesied messiah, he needed to fit into a certain box with certain attributes. He needed to be related to King David… needed to be born in Bethlehem (regardless of where he was actually born)… needed to be born of a virgin (not sure where that came through but the world Jesus and Paul came from believed deeply in magic and magical powers and Paul’s was not the first version of a new god being born of an old god and a human).

Paul’s genius — the thing that gave his creation (Christianity) legs — was how he employed Jesus — as a kind of mascot — for a pretty radical idea (for then just as for now): “Want to beat Death? Believe in Jesus.”

That’s really what Christianity is all about — eternal life. It was never part of Jesus’s message because he never met Paul — and never heard the wacky ideas that Paul had in his head. As the early church fathers — the men who came after Paul and set out to finish the work that Paul started — settled in to their roles, they expanded upon Paul’s mythology.

Christianity as we know it today has almost nothing to do with Jesus. He really is just a Ronald McDonald-like mascot selling “Do Unto Others” burgers to suckers. Church buildings do more to undermine any congregation’s integrity than all the atheists combined. Buildings are expensive to build, expensive to maintain. Every church has to do that math: what does it take to have a church and what does it take to keep that church operational, the doors open & the lights on? The answer? Lots and lots of money.

Jesus, as far as we can tell from the message that filtered down to us, was deeply into the spiritual side of things. He didn’t teach how to manage a church’s finances so as to keep it in the black. Do Unto Others. That’s it.

Now — picture Jesus actually getting to have that second coming Paul and HIS followers imagined for Jesus. Finally, Jesus gets to rise from the dead for all to see and acknowledge. There’ll be no disputing it this time. Jesus comes back and sees for himself what Paul did and what sprang from what Paul did.

Does Jesus ever stop projectile vomiting?

I think not.

The Bible Is What Happens When Books Meant To Answer “One” Question Are Used To Answer Another…

I’ve always said Hebrew School made me the atheist I am today. That’s not entirely true. I have been an atheist since inception. Hebrew School simply closed the deal.

But I don’t regret any of my religious education (which lasted from age 6 to 14). I genuinely learned a lot from it. In particular, I had one truly excellent teacher — Henry Hyman. Mr. Hyman taught this: the bible is a religious text. It isn’t a reliable work of history. But, as a religious text, it is incredibly valuable.

In other words, Mr. Hyman taught “perspective”.

I remember one especially meaningful conversation I had with Mr. Hyman. It was probably when I was 12 or 13. Like I said, I was born an atheist. Skepticism runs in my blood alongside the red and white blood cells. I bumped hard on the Abraham almost sacrifices Isaac story — and I said so.

I’m sure I didn’t articulate well what bothered me then but the same terrible lesson still disturbs me: Jews are meant to revere Abraham (the foundational “First Jew”) because of his absolute fealty to Yahweh. If Yahweh says “kill your son” (“sacrifice” being a kinder-gentler way of saying “murder in cold blood”), we’re supposed to look to Abraham for guidance. Well, we’re meant to think, since Ol’ Abe was down with killing his son, who are we to go a different way?

To Mr. Hyman’s credit, he tried very hard to sell the metaphorical qualities of the story as a whole over the more disturbing, realistic story beats themselves. I wasn’t having it. In the end, Mr. Hyman encouraged me to continue asking questions. Either I was going to find an answer inside the faith that satisfied me or I wasn’t. That he appreciated that fact — that he encouraged a 12 year old to think that way — I am eternally grateful.

Want to have a religious debate? The bible — OT or NT — are excellent resources. Want to know anything about history? Avoid the bible like the plague. Yeah, sure, there’s “background information” — lots of good insight into both Jewish culture and how Jewish culture thinks about itself. But if you want the historical record backing up your “faith”? Prepare to be disappointed.

As Mr. Hymn said: “The bible is not a work of history”. No, it absolutely is not. Fact — it is debatable that Hebrews were ever slaves in Egypt. The Egyptians kept records. Lots of them (they’re called “Hieroglyphics”.) Nowhere in those records do we find Hebrew slaves building pyramids or a Hebrew prince rescued from certain death, raised by an Egyptian princess and slowly remade into a kind of Hebrew Avenging Angel.

Someone made that story up. Or they took a small thing and wrote it larger. Kinda like how Paul did with Jesus. If Saul of Tarsus never has his “come to Jesus” moment on the Road to Damascus, then Christianity never happens.

Jesus — whoever he actually was — did not “invent” Christianity. If you sat him down today and explained to him what “Christianity” was, he’d look at you like you were nuts for suggesting HE was its “founder”. Jesus was born a Jew, lived his whole life as a Jew and died a Jew.

As for creating the Christian church, what we can ascribe to Jesus (at least it’s one of his more consistently reported on teachings) is a very simple (and very Jewish) message — “Do Unto Others”. Also “You don’t need a church in order to have a relationship with god”. Jesus’s message is spiritual perfection — it teaches people how to live a good, happy, successful life and it even teaches them how to do it: be nice to people.

But, of course, not everyone wants to see these religious texts for what they are. We have a whole segment of our population — uber Christians, evangelicals & fundamentalists — who believe that the words of the bible magically appeared on parchment. They say “divine inspiration” motivated the writing.

J. K. Rowling feels exactly the same way. She might not call the inspiration “divine” but her readers do.

Using the bible — old or new testaments — as anything other than a dated “how to live in the past” manual is guaranteed to screw up your life. Ask yourself: if the men who wrote those texts had been aware of germ theory, if they’d had access to microscopes and telescopes and the internet and all the information we now have today about our bodies, the natural world, the cosmos, would they have written the texts they wrote in exactly the same way?

Doubtful. Do televangelists avoid electricity because it would have been unknown to Jesus? Of course not! Modern religionistas use technology when it suits them to accomplish their goals. If any religious work’s author had had access to our modern knowledge base, it would have fundamentally changed what they wrote.

That makes it even more appalling when the faithful try to use their religious texts to answer science questions. They’re compounding the ignorance of the past by continuing to make it part of the present. Wrong information doesn’t suddenly become right.

Bullshit doesn’t suddenly become true.

Magic doesn’t suddenly become real.

The bible doesn’t suddenly become anything other than a story based loosely on reality.

Every Evangelical Has A Deep, Dark, Dirty Secret — They All Think THEY Are “God”

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.

The Deep Down Dirty Secret Inside Every Evangelical: They All Think THEY Are “God”

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 Christianity.

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 behalf.

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 go wrong? 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.

Why Is It So Much Easier To Sell People Bullshit Than It Is To Give Them The Truth?

Cut to the end of the chase: even the smartest people you know have a taste for bullshit – their own. 

We all believe things that – if we actually had to back them up – we’d realize how silly we were for saying such things out loud (never mind actually believing them). We might even realize our problem’s much worse: bullshit has taken over most of our lives.

That ain’t bullshit.

I was watching the football club I follow – Tottenham Hotspur – play horribly again this morning.  With ten minutes to go, they were down 3-0 to a team they should have thumped.  Spurs lost earlier this week 7-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champion’s League.  With ten minutes to go – and defeat a dead certainty (in a week we’d been outscored 10-2 FFS!), I still experienced a moment where I thought “Hey, we’re Spurs, we can still do this!”

No, we couldn’t – and we didn’t.  We couldn’t get the ball past midfield.  We’re in a mental freefall as a team.  That’s the Truth.  It’s bullshit to think Spurs can win anything right now.

But, for a moment, I tried to convince myself that they could.  I tried to bullshit myself and I succeeded.

Bullshit is Hope’s evil twin.  Just as Hope is aspirationally positive, Bullshit is aspirationally negative.  It’s a lie easily thrown together, easily tossed off and easily forgotten – especially when new bullshit is created to replace the old.  It’s the sausage factory from the seventh ring of hell.

And yet, damned if Bullshit Brand Sausage doesn’t sell. 

For a lot of us, the addiction to bullshit starts early – with our “religious education”. That’s a non sequitur.  You can learn about religion, but to be educated IN a religion is to be fed a diet of pure, unadulterated bullshit. Religion, mind you, is entirely different from spirituality.

Spirituality is the ineffable essence of the awe any human feels as they gaze up at the cosmos and tries to see how they fit with it.  With the pure fact of “being”.

Religion is rules & regs.  It’s crowd control.  It’s the perverse corporatization of spirituality: an institution invents a “way” to spirituality – through them, through following their rules.  Followers may flirt with spiritual experience but it’s always within the context of the religion’s rules.  Any spiritual experience outside those rules?  It’s heresy.  You’re allowed the church’s definition of “spiritual” and not your own.

Funny irony?  Jesus himself preached AGAINST having a church.  He taught his followers to speak directly to god.  No need for the Temple, its authorities or priests. 

And no need to tithe any church either.  Just “Do Unto Others”.  It’s that simple.

How many American Christians “do unto others”?  Not many (relatively speaking).  Most are “church-goers”.  They’re not followers of Jesus.  They’re in it for the “exclusivity”, the clubiness. They like the mythology, too.  They like the magic behind it because the magic says they’ll never die.

Magic is sparkly bullshit. It’s no more real just because it glitters a little. 

The Truth is we’re all going to die.  There’s no escaping it. There’s no proof of any afterlife.  None. To insist that one might exist is simply magic forcing itself upon you. 

It’s me thinking Spurs could come back from three-nothing with minutes left when all the evidence said they were already in the locker room, their heads hung low.

Dear Conservatives — Your Problem Is: No One (Except YOU) Wants To Conserve What YOU Want To Conserve

Want to know what a conservative wants? Look no further than their name: “CONSERVATIVE”. Conservatives want to “conserve“.

Now — ask the next logical question — “WHAT do conservatives want to CONSERVE?”

Do conservatives want to conserve the future? Of course not — you can’t conserve what doesn’t exist. Do conservatives want to conserve the present? That’s a little closer to the mark.

Yes — conservatives want to conserve what “is” — because what “is” still reflects a large measure of what “was” — and “what was” is exactly what conservatives want to conserve: WHAT WAS.

Now — ask the NEXT logical question: “What was it in the past that conservatives want to conserve?”

In America, it’s the quaint notion that America was ever a white person’s country. Yes, white people may have been the country’s political founders — but even as they crafted the country’s foundational documents, the truth about the country they were founding sat in a cultural blind spot. White men saw only their contributions, ignoring the considerable contributions coming from every other part of America’s already diverse and diversifying population.

Remember — aside from America’s native peoples — who were wiped out more by the Europeans pathogens than anything else — the real estate on which America sits belonged to no other “tribe”. By contrast, the real estate that became France or Spain or England had gone through a millennium at least of tribes slowly evolving from, say, Gauls or Visagoths or Celts into French people, Germans & British.

Just because you control the history doesn’t mean you control the Truth.

Conservative (Christian) thinking insisted that since slavery was “in the bible” it must be morally okay. What they really meant was paying fair wages to the people picking their cotton or cutting down their sugar cane would make profitability really hard. What those conservatives wanted to conserve in this case was as much money as possible.

In this instance, what conservatives wanted to “conserve” was their greedy hold on their part of America’s economy. And we made that deal. We gave slavery and slavers outsized political control over people who hated the idea of slavery.

That’s conservatism’s real problem. They’re a minority proposition in America. When more Americans vote, they vote Democratic. They vote for more progressive candidates & policies. They vote for progress & NOT conservatism.

That’s why Republicans work so hard to minimize Democracy. That’s why they suppress votes and demand voter ID laws. If Republicans thought the great mass of Americans would vote FOR them, they’d make walk-up voting as normal as breathing. But that’s not the case — so they don’t.

Moscow Mitch McConnell — whose whole mandate was to install permanent minority rule — has raised conservative corruption to a high art. Refusing to even give Merrick Garland a hearing wasn’t just another example of Mitch being a clever, cynical politician (which he absolutely is), it was Mitch asserting that only conservative goals matter — the harm done to who and what we are being utterly irrelevant.

The more “sane” conservatives will insist that conservatives don’t want to stop progress, they just want to “slow it down”.

The technical term for that is “bullshit”. Conservatives don’t want to slow America’s future down — they want to stop it dead in its tracks and reverse it. Conservatives want to live in a “golden past” that only ever existed in their own racist, misogynist, bigoted, ignorant minds.

So — the next time a conservative sits a little straighter while insisting they want what’s best for America? Be sure to laugh long and loudly at them. The America THEY think is best looks a hell of a lot like your average Antebellum cotton plantation.

Slavery epitomizes conservative values. That is what conservatives REALLY want to conserve.