From A Branding Point Of View, “Christian” Is Kinda Spent; Followers Of Jesus Need A New Name

I’ll own it — a born atheist has no business telling Christians anything about their brand. Except, Christianity — being a sales-based religion (“Hey, have ya heard the ‘good news’ style proselytizing started with Paul, the actual inventor of Christianity) — relies almost entirely on how it’s perceived by others. After all, isn’t the point of me hearing “the good news” the hope that I’ll come to my senses and convert?

Christians are preaching to a shrinking choir. Have they ever stopped to ask themselves why? No, they haven’t — because self-analysis isn’t part of the brand. Confession is. So’s an intense focus on rules & regs at the diminishing expense of any sort of spirituality. Christianity’s problem isn’t branding. Christianity’s problem is its brand.

I’ve blogged on many occasions with receipts (so I won’t do it here) about the Christian Church’s origins. It’s entirely Paul’s invention. Entirely. Jesus’ simple (Jewish) message — Do Unto Others — got subsumed into and under the mythology that Paul created and spread to the brand new churches forming across the Roman world. Paul never met Jesus. Never heard Jesus preach or teach. He failed trying to sell his version of Jesus to the Jews (with its wild, magic-heavy “proofs” that Jesus was the messiah) and, so, turned to the Gentiles.

The Gentiles, having no knowledge of (or concern for) Jewish mythology, accepted Paul’s version — because why wouldn’t they? Paul had created something genius — a way to conquer death. Accept Jesus as your lord and savior and you can live forever.

That has nothing to do with “Doing Unto Others”. And the church Paul created was big on forcing non-Christians to accept Jesus. Ironically, those Christians were going to “Do Unto Others” on pain of death.

The Catholic Church, once it acquired political power, never let that power go. Whatever spirituality there was in the institution died. More irony — Jesus preached against having churches because churches, he said, were corrupt. What could be more corrupt than the Catholic Church? Almost from the day it hung out its shingle, the Catholic Church has concerned itself with rules & regs, getting money into its coffers, and increasing its “membership”.

There is no way to count the number of humans who have died because of religion. Christianity — with its crusades and its inquisitions and its own internecine wars — has put its stamp on a veritable shit ton of them. And all to sell a product that its own supposed creator would never ever EVER recognize.

The Christian Church and Jesus aren’t just estranged, they’re strangers. That disconnect is what’s killing the church (whether Catholic or Protestant). I have a dear friend — a Presbyterian minister — whose job is trying to keep Presbyterian congregations alive.

The proud conservative Christians running the Republican Party — bowing in total obeisance to the evangelicals — have also helped destroy any notion that such a thing as “Christian mercy” exists outside of a sanctimonious Sunday sermon. Brown Children in cages was not what Jesus had children suffering unto in his mind.

If I’m a brand that needs new followers to stay alive — that needs brand loyalty from current followers — that has to compete with a thousand more ideas than it ever had to before — I’m afraid (if I’m Christianity). I wouldn’t be however, if I were Jesus.

Is there a more potent antidote the vile, self-serving piggery of Trumpism than “Do Unto Others”? Republicanism — same question. Christianity — you, too.

Jesus and Christianity have nothing to do with each other. Followers of Jesus — even now — are loathe to associate themselves with evangelicals or the rapey Catholic Church or any of the rules & regs heavy institutions their parents forced on them when they were kids.

I would say Followers Of Jesus need a new Paul — to create a new institution that gets the mythology right. But, right off the bat, that would violate one of Jesus’ core tenants — the need for a church.

Maybe a better way to go would be to actually follow Jesus. If you want to follow him theistically — go directly to god. Skip the institution. If you just want to Do Unto Others? Well, who’s stopping you? All you have to do is “Do”.

Maybe the best new brand for Followers Of Jesus is to call themselves DUO’s. They Do Unto Others. That’s all you need to know about them (so long as their actions match their words). I’d say they don’t even need that.

But what do I know? I’m just a dumb atheist.

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Why Do They Even Call It “Christianity” When Their Religion Has Nothing To Do With Jesus & Never Did…

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.

For a good, solid understanding of and perspective on Paul, I recommend A. N. Wilson’s excellent book Paul: The Mind Of An Apostle.

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”.

Hi — I’m Mike Pence’s Vibrating Butt Plug And I Have A Story To Tell…

If the Trump White House is a Rogue’s Gallery, VP Mike Pence is the Elmer Gantry character — without any of the charm or self-awareness of what a damnable con he really is. I dare you to conjure the words “hypocrite” or “sanctimonious shit” and NOT think of Mike Pence almost immediately.

There’s a way of speaking Evangelicals take on — PreacherSpeak, ya could call it. It’s got an oiliness to it — a big bright squirt of emotion but no substance beneath it so the emotion feels staged and phony. There’s a sing-songiness to it also — to distract, I suppose, from the complete & total lack of substance. And the compete & total lack of logic. It’s a vocal delivery that surfs giant waves of hubris and self-satisfaction like a pro. And if it needs to bring on the tears? Wait, wait — is that Noah I see, building another boat?

That voice sounds like this (I enter, as evidence, Pence’s speech at the 2016 Republican Convention — a classic in the annals of complete & utter bullshit). In fact, Mike took sanctimony to bold new heights in this speech. It’s still feeling puke-y and vertiginous from being up so high.

Now, to be fair to Mike (as much as it pains me), I don’t know for a fact that Mike Pence is a closeted gay man. I’ve known many over my life. It’s not fun being them. They shouldn’t have to be “them”. Everyone should be free to express what their biochemistry makes them feel. No one chooses their biochemistry — it’s a package deal. It comes with the DNA that forged us.

Religious faith and science are mutually exclusive propositions. That’s not true of spirituality, mind you. One can be spiritual and scientific without any conflicts. But religious? No. Religions (unlike spirituality) flows from religious organizations. Churches, let’s call them.

One could, in fact, follow Jesus on a spiritual level (by doing unto others) while ignoring all the church’s mythmaking and ooga-booga. I’ve pointed out in other posts that Jesus preached against the need for a “church”. A big part of Jesus’ message was “speak directly to God, the father — you don’t need the priests or the temple interceding on your behalf”. The guy who “built” churches was Paul. Paul was the one who, taking his version of Jesus out to the gentiles (who had no idea who Jesus really was or even if he really was), invented The Early Church as a series of communities spreading throughout the Roman world.

The bulk of the NT is Paul writing to those far flung communities as he invents what we now call “Christianity”.

Mike Pence is a church-goer but he ain’t going there for Jesus. FFS, the last thing Mike Pence wants to do is “DO” unto others. Nope. Mike sees religion as a way to turn others into him. Like a god.

That’s the dirty, dirty secret about the extremely religious — about every single televangelist — about Mike Pence himself. They all think THEY are “god”. Not “a” god — “God”. They may tell you that “God” (or Yahweh — that’s the god character’s actual name, “god” being his job description) speaks through them — they’re lying. No one or nothing is speaking through them. The “god” you hear spewing from their mouth parts is them, all them and nothing but them.

What makes these “gods” so much worse is that they’re all so screamingly ignorant. Why can’t these “gods” have a little knowledge in their pockets to go along with the sanctimony & judginess? I guess that would be too much to ask of men for whom sanctimony & judginess are their principle skill sets.

If you’ve never heard Mike Pence On Evolution — you kinda owe it to yourself. You should know how “god” “thinks”.

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There’s A Huge Honkin’ Difference Between Being “Spiritual” & Being “Religious”

Even a stone cold atheist can feel profound awe as he or she stares up at the stars. Atheists especially understand the scale — tiny human on a rock at the far edges of a galaxy in the middle of a billion galaxies feeling both his insignificance in the greater scheme of things while also being keenly aware that he “is” and therefore can “experience” this feeling of cosmic scale. That awe is spirituality. It’s abstract. It’s a riddle. It’s a quest.

But not everyone wants to go on a quest. They just want to live their lives and leave the heavy thinking to others: Just tell me what to believe and I’ll believe it. THAT is religion. It’s NOT about a journey or a search or an exploration. It’s about following rules. It’s about crowd control.

I grew up in a Conservative Jewish, deeply Humanist culture. That’s the middle ground between rule-following orthodoxy and total rule-rejecting reformed Judaism. In my house we rejected most of the rules. We didn’t keep kosher. Didn’t do any of that whatsoever. We went to shul on an occasional basis (for sure on the High Holidays). Though the ten commandments are a cornerstone of the faith, they’re not complicated. As rules go, they’re straightforward. Don’t do this, don’t do that. One thing we didn’t do — as a religion or culture — the institution (the synagogue) was not set up as your over-seer. Unlike the Catholic church, a synagogue never demanded that you confess every last bit of your dirt to it — so it could hold that dirt over your head in perpetuity.

THAT is how religion works.

Jesus was pretty clear in his message: Do unto others… suffer the little children unto me… the meek shall inherit the earth. He didn’t preach about how he wanted his church hierarchy to be structured because Jesus wasn’t about building churches. He was about teaching spirituality.

I mention this because Jesus is kinda the Poster Child for what happens when a spiritual message gets religion. Doing unto others requires a spiritual connection with the rest of humanity. Confession requires that you feel guilty mostly for just being human.

Isn’t that the whole point of “original sin”?

The Church’s genius — dark genius though it was — was to convince all those billions of people that being human wasn’t good enough. That instead of a spiritual journey, its followers needed to be locked in a box — like a veal being fattened up for slaughter without ever having seen the sun. The greatest threat overhanging any church member is expulsion from the group. Excommunication.

No one, it seems, gets excommunicated for diddling little boys. Question the church’s authority though and you’re gone.

A religious person looks up at the stars and wonders where their imaginary friend lives — and is that imaginary friend spying on them? A spiritual person sees a life-long journey of discovery, all to answer one question: how do I fit into that? How can I make my brief time as a sentient being more meaningful? How can I fill every moment with meaning? How can I…?

Spirituality is the freedom to explore. Religion is its diametric opposite.

It Sucks Being Hated. It Sucks More When The Reason You’re Hated Is Entirely Based On Fiction

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.

I recommend this book by the award-winning novelist, biographer and journalist A. N. Wilson — Paul: The Mind Of Thttps://www.amazon.com/Paul-Mind-Apostle-N-Wilson/dp/0393317609he Apostle.

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.

An Atheist’s Easter Sermon: Why REALITY Matters More Than Ooga-Booga

Christmas is a pagan holiday redirected.  For all its “holiness”, all its fanciful storytelling about Wise Men from the East and stars that shine above spots on a planet light years away from them, Christmas still celebrates something; it’s a happy holiday.  Easter, on the other hand, is about Christianity’s core message: “Jesus died (but then rose from the dead – as YOU can, in essence, IF you agree to accept the story we’re pitching you as ‘gospel’ truth.”

Jesus being born and having a life is all well and good.  He can preach all he likes.  But it’s dying that gives the Jesus character purpose.  If Jesus never dies the way he dies (if, say, the NT celebrated his living a long life, dying in his bed surrounded by loved ones), there’s no Christianity.  It doesn’t happen.  But it wasn’t Jesus who told his own story.  Most of what we call “The New Testament” was written by Paul.  13 of the canonical texts are ascribed to Paul though only 8 can really be ascribed to him.

In 1985, the bible scholar Robert Funk created a group of 150 similar scholars.  The Jesus Seminar wanted to coax a historical Jesus from the NT texts.  They discerned a Jew whose core message (they found a dozen-and-a-half sayings that Jesus could have said — that weren’t clearly PUT IN HIS MOUTH BY OTHERS (like, say, PAUL).  What they also saw clearly — “According to the Seminar, Jesus was a mortal man born of two human parents, who did not perform nature miracles nor die as a substitute for sinners nor rise bodily from the dead.  Sightings of a risen Jesus represented the visionary experiences of some of his disciples rather than physical encounters.”

The historian A N Wilson wrote a biography of Paul that I highly recommend — if only to create the proper context in which to understand Christianity’s creation.  The bottom line is simply this: Jesus did not “invent” Christianity.  Paul did.

Paul took the notion of Jesus as a messiah — threw out Jesus’ core “Do Unto Others” message and focused his proselytizing instead on making Jesus The Messiah the basis for a whole new religion that he sold to non-Jews for whom Jewish tradition was meaningless.  But, to prove, HIS invention’s “truthfulness” (maybe “truthiness” is more warranted), Paul based his mythology on Jewish mythology.  Paul needed Jesus being prophesied as part of his branding.  To make the “prophecy” part of Jesus’ story stand up, Paul had invent a story for Jesus because Jesus’ actual story just didn’t fit.

Paul didn’t worry himself with his story’s lack of authenticity.  He wasn’t selling real.  He was selling magic.

But part of Paul’s mythology involved making Jesus’ death important — more important than his life, really.  Jesus needs to rise from the dead to garner the star power needed to front Paul’s new religion.  To rise from the dead, Jesus needs to die spectacularly — even more spectacularly than mere crucifixion. And, because Paul was now committed to selling his story to non-Jews, it mattered nothing to him if Jews became the villain in the STORY he was inventing.

The early church fathers who bought & then themselves began selling Paul’s story loved having a villain.

As a member of the “villain” tribe — I have issues with this.

Jesus preached a simple message.  Even a humble atheist can easily (and happily) “Do Unto Others”.  Most do, actually because, humans are social creatures.  We recognize that behaving one way versus the other makes your life better.  There’s no reason to muck that message up.  It doesn’t cry out for explanation.

It requires no magic.

It stands — resolutely — without any need for Ooga-Booga to justify it.

So here’s the deal.  Believe whatever you like, Christians — it’s your “god-given right”.  But what you do with that faith — how you manifest its teachings out here beyond the walls of your church — it matters.  When your pervert “Do Unto Others” into “Kill The Jews” — you’re doing it wrong.

Dear Christians: Stop Listening To Paul; Listen to JESUS Instead

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.