I consider myself a cultural Christian

Sent in by Angela

Let me first start out by saying that I love Christianity. Many of my fondest memories as a child and some of my dearest relationships are based on this religion. But I am not a believer.

There was a time when I struggled to reconcile my doubts about Jesus, the Bible and the Christian Church, but now I am able to completely accept the logic that used to nag me.

Despite my evolution of thought, I have not completely expunged Christianity from my life, and I don't think I ever will.

I now consider myself a cultural Christian.

I feel free to partake in all religious rituals and holidays because Christianity is a part of my family history and culture. I don't skulk away or outwardly protest at family gatherings when a prayer is said, I just respectfully bow my head. I don't take any of it too seriously, it only means something if you let it.

People who have strong beliefs about Christianity or Atheism may see this as a dire conflict to be resolved, but life is too short to spend time quibbling, especially with loved ones.

I am a homeschooling parent and I am teaching my Children about all religions, but they are Culturally Christian and often are read bible stories by their grandparents. I teach them that it should be taken lightly, but to treat all peoples beliefs with respect. Hopefully they will someday come to see that there is wisdom and truth to be found everywhere, in the Bible, in other religions, in nature, in science, and in their own life experiences.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

I understand your viewpoint, but I'm not so sure I agree with this notion that we have to "treat everyone's beliefs with respect." If you had a group of adults who fervently believed in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, could you honestly treat their beliefs with respect? Yes, they'd have the right to believe whatever crazy nonsense they want, but you have the right to think they are nuts!

Steven Bently II said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Bently I said...

"But I am not a believer."

"I feel free to partake in all religious rituals and holidays because Christianity is a part of my family history and culture."

By joyfully and willfully participating in Christian activities, you are essentually telling them that you condone their way of thinking and that you approve of their beliefs.

This type of behavior is exactly just what they are lookin for, other people's approval.

But if you stood up to them and told them why their beliefs are silly, they would immediately ostrasize you away from them.

It's a one way street, their way only, not your way.

I tried that for a while, it didn't work out for me.

I have no use for their xtian nonsense.

Thank you for your honesty tho, that was admirable of you.

Mriana said...

I don't see it as a conflict. It sounds like it, but I know of others who don't believe yet attend church. Most notably Robert Price who is a Humanist, atheist, and attends the the Episcopal church.

Like Price, I study many different religions, but I don't buy into any of them. I think, even if you don't believe any of them, it's best to know about them, because it is one of the ways to get a glimpse into the human condition.

The only time I get irritated is when people deny the obvious, such as the possibility that other religions like Hinduism, Egyptian religion, Buddhist religion and alike contributed to Christianity.

Anonymous said...

I see where you are coming from. You see christian stories and celebrations as more of a cultural thing. It sounds like you had good experiences in church, which is a change as many here suffered abuse. So if you are happy with where you are at, I don't see a problem. Though as someone mentioned, it is a one way street with christians- you have to accept and fit into their beliefs but they will not give the same courtesy- usually. I'm curious as to how many know you no longer believe and what they think of that?

Justin said...

I don't feel that everyone needs to be a militant atheist. I am an ex Christian of about one year now and am finishing up college. I still gather with family for Christian holidays and I see no problem with this. I am in no way trying to hide my beliefs, If someone asks me I will tell them jokingly that I am a "heathen" and have no need to believe in something such as this. I'm not sure how it is everywhere but most people I tell respect me for my decision. Maybe not at first , but after they talk to me and realize I know more about all religions, specifically theirs, than they do.

Brooks said...

"I feel free to partake in all religious rituals and holidays because Christianity is a part of my family history and culture"I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with this. Holidays are one thing since they also have secular sides to them that anyone can participate in and they weren't even Christians holiday to begin with like Christmas and Easter, but to me it seems dishonest and disrespectful to participate in a religious ritual that you don't believe in if you have the choice to not participate in it. For instances, what about some churches like the Catholic church where you have to be a believer and confess your sins to partake of the communion? Wouldn't that be disrespectful for you to partake in rituals half-heartedly? Isn't that even more blasphemous to violate someone's sacred ritual by participating in it when you secretly think they're full of shit than outwardly and honestly telling them you don't believe in them? Because you're pretending to be something you don't believe in?

I can understand if you don't have a choice in the matter as I'm still forced to go to church since I still live with my family and don't have any other options unless I want to be thrown out in the streets, but if you're out on your own raising your own family and have the freedom to make your own choices, do you really think you're setting a good example to your kids by teaching them it's ok to pretend to be something you're not and hypocritically blaspheme sacred rituals by actively participating in the rituals that you don't believe in? Do you really want to teach your kids to be hypocrites? And if people never stand up for themselves and refuse to do things they're being forced to do, then we would never get anywhere in life because we would always be trying to be people-pleasers.

So, why shouldn't we refuse to pray if we have the choice not to just because somebody might get mad? There's always somebody out there who's going to disagree with you and look down on you, so why bother trying to please people that you're never going to 100% please and deny your rights to disbelieve in what they're trying to get you to conform to?

If an atheist tried to get a Christian to attend a secular humanist organizations, do you think a Christian would conform to atheists to make them happy? Hell no, so why should we conform to make Christians happy when they wouldn't offer the same courtesy to us? And do you really think it's ok to teach your kids that it's ok to lie and be hypocritical to fit in instead of standing up for your rights?

CarlK said...

Reading the comments emphasizes what I have long held -- that there are significant differences in how fundamental belief is to the various denominations. Angela and justin (and me) seem to have been reared in environments where even unbelievers are welcome at services and in church activities ... I sometimes think in the hope that the congregation will win the unbeliever over.

Other denominations seem to be rather more unforgiving about an absence of belief, to the point of making an unbeliever uncomfortable in their presence.

I have gone with my wife to Catholic services on a number of occasions, and I never felt uncomfortable. Usually there are a number of people who don't take communion, so this really isn't a problem. I used to wonder what their reasons were.

I think I actually feel more comfortable in a Catholic (or Epsicopalian) Church than in many Protestant ones, which tend to be more inquisitive of your theological views.

I wonder what the "cultural Christians" identify themselves as when in the various polls on belief. Somehow I suspect a lot of them identify themselves as Christians, even though they would more accurately be classified as atheists or agnostics.

Maybe we need to push for a new polling category.

Anonymous said...

Angela,
I respect your position, and I thank you for posting it, because it goes to show that even though in this forum we're all unbelievers, we don't all have the same belief system.

I am terribly curious to see, however, what your children will make of it. Christianity being a poison hard to avoid, I see the chance for the religion to creep in, as I've seen it happening to many children of unbelievers.

I am also curious to know how you handle people who preach at you or want to convince you that Christianity is the only way.

Because respecting them is one thing, letting them disrespect us is a different story.

R David said...

Angela: You and I share similar thoughts on religion. I was raised an evangelical Christian before coming to the realization in my mid-20s that I just didn't believe what I professed. Now in my mid-50s, I am most comfortable describing myself as an agnostic.

I love the old hymns I grew up singing and can still happily belt out "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" while driving alone on the freeway.

I am happily married to a wonderful Christian woman, with whom I attend church most Sundays. (Last week I participated in the Lord's Supper.) She is just as fervent in her beliefs as I am in mine, so who am I to try to convince her otherwise?

My children are being raised in the church, and I don't interfere with that. If one of them asks my opinion about a religious matter, I'm honest about how I feel, but I don't try to indoctrinate them with my agnostic views - I want them to come to their own conclusions just as I did.

I, too, bow my head when someone is praying - I don't see that as betraying my own beliefs any more than being respectful during another country's anthem would be betraying my country.

boomSLANG said...

r david...I am happily married to a wonderful Christian woman, with whom I attend church most Sundays. (Last week I participated in the Lord's Supper.) She is just as fervent in her beliefs as I am in mine, so who am I to try to convince her otherwise?

I have to say, I find this simply fascinating. But before I go any further, I want to make it crystal-clear that whatever works any specific couple, works for them. 'Good? Cool.

Okay, hypothetically, I could not fathom sitting next to someone with whom I've made a life commitment, in a place of Christian worship, no less(church, or what-have-you), knowing that this person, and all surrounding people, actually believe that I, a non-believer, am going to be incinerated mercilessly for all of eternity. Seriously, I don't know what would be worse, sitting there in silence and saying to myself, "who am I to convince them otherwise?", or standing there and singing hymns of Praise to the very guy who is presumably going to make that ruling. Good grief, yuck! = /

resonate11 said...

I think many American Christians are primarily cultural Christians. They believe and practice Christianity mostly because that is the religious culture they are immersed in.

As our culture becomes more and more informed by scholarly knowledge, more and more cultural Christians will slip into naturalism.

Jackie said...

I can respect where you come from and I agree to a point. When your whole family and family friends are Christians it's pointless to cause a riff because you don't share the same belief system. As long as they respect you then you should respect them. You don't have to participate in prayer. My husband and don't bow our heads. They don't pay attention b/c they aren't looking. We just make funny faces at each other while they thank god for the food they worked hard for.

However, I do draw the line when it comes to my son. He is only 2 1/2. Under no circumstances are the grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc allowed to read bible stories, witness etc unless they are willing to admit that it is just a story and a work of fiction. Of course they won't. I think it damaging to a young child to be told bible stories as fact and scared about hell and the parents teach otherwise. It's very confusing and they don't understand.

We also teach him that Santa, Easter Bunny etc are make believe.

Telmi said...

Jackie,

"We just make funny faces at each other while they thank god for the food they worked hard for".

People who pray before eating their meal probably have no idea or have never thought about the billions of people in the world who are suffering or dying from hunger. They think God is the one responsible for the meal they are about to eat and they also think of God as all-powerful, being able to produce anything and everything by merely thinking or speaking.

But have they ever stopped to think: God, what about the people who suffer or die from hunger? God, are you still having favorites? Or are you impotent?

ryan said...

I should not be participating in this exchange, because I feel perplexed.

I am perfectly aware that xristianity has shaped this culture, or warped this culture, take your pick. xristianity has given us Thomas Aquinas; Dante; Palestrina; John Milton. It has also given us adolf hitler; pat robertson; fred phelps.

I do not intend to pick on Angela, or on anyone who supports her, but I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would want to come within smelling distance of a church. A church. In the name of all that's unholy......a church. I would sooner wallow in the lowest dive in Bangkok.

Hail Satan

Free Thinker said...

This is a very interesting post. I don't think these cultural Christians understand the dangers of god believers as shown when they get to "run" this country as the Bush administration has. Religions propensity for war is terrible. just think, no religion, no terrorists....and its the same god they believe in.

Ray Braun said...

Angela,
You are to be congratulated for your wonderfully positive attitude. One of the most common situations described in the Gospels is the shock that various religious leaders and townspeople had when they saw Jesus associating with people they didn't consider appropriate. The significance of this is in the quality of relationships. I wish I had more time to write because there is much I could say in support of you and a few other of the positive responses you have gotten. Those who are negative are, it is my guess, reeling from the dregs of relationships with "Christians" of the theologically most ignorant and most aggressive most literal in their biblical interpretations.

Your attitude is the kind that is more likely to break down defensiveness of other people and make it possible, perhaps, for some to begin leaning more in your direction of thinking. I have plenty of personal experience with that including living next to a near fundamentalist family with whom my wife and I get along famously despite their clear knowledge that we do not support their way of thinking about Christianity.

I am sure there will be negative responses to what I have just written but I am not threatened by that.

Good for you. Keep up the "faith!"
O boy, that'll get me in trouble!

jason said...

Stevev B. - ......It's a one way street, their way only, not your way.....

Jackie - .......However, I do draw the line when it comes to my son. He is only 2 1/2. Under no circumstances are the grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc allowed to read bible stories, witness etc unless they are willing to admit that it is just a story and a work of fiction. Of course they won't. I think it damaging to a young child to be told bible stories as fact and scared about hell and the parents teach otherwise. It's very confusing and they don't understand. We also teach him that Santa, Easter Bunny etc are make believe.............

Freethinker...... This is a very interesting post. I don't think these cultural Christians understand the dangers of god believers as shown when they get to "run" this country as the Bush administration has. Religions propensity for war is terrible. just think, no religion, no terrorists....and its the same god they believe in..........

Talk of respect boils my blood. I can not respect any human who chooses delusion over reality. It’s like having respect for a pedophile who believes that raping children is OK!!!! (FCOJCATLDS in ElDarado Tx)

christianity/religion is a Cancer growing in the body of humanity. If left alone it will invade surrounding society with vicious malice. Some of us have recognized the symptoms and excised the tumors from our personal bodies. Those of us who have been cured must seize every opportunity to offer help to others who suffer from the christian disease, tactfully and with great patience. Militant Atheism is not the answer.

My own personal belief is that there are millions of Cultural christians among us, who play along with the insanity, that would easily walk away if they had a better place to reside. The numbers of the cured will grow the more we speak out against the delusion.

Ignoring any disease leads to death........eventually.

boomSLANG said...

Braun, to Angela...You are to be congratulated for your wonderfully positive attitude.

I have to wonder---what does having a "positive attitude" toward a negative religious doctrine actually accomplish? What I'm saying is, the few poetic "truths" found in the Christian doctrine are most certainly not unique to Christianity; they are found in many other religious and cultural philosophies, as well. Such truths as love they neighbor, thou shalt not kill, yada, yada, blah, blah. The common denominator is humanity, not religious doctrine/dogma. And from what I see all around me, and in my experience, "relationships" are based on "love" and mutual respect; they are not "based on religion", which is one thing that raised an eyebrow from the original poster.

Thus, why support, even implicitly, a religious doctrine that clearly causes divisiveness, bigotry, and elitism, simply because of its cultural aspects? And here's another question: In all of the childrens songs in "cultural Christianity", why is there no mention of "Hell"?

Braun...Those who are negative are, it is my guess, reeling from the dregs of relationships with "Christians" of the theologically most ignorant and most aggressive most literal in their biblical interpretations.

You've got it wrong, Braun---you'll encounter "negative" people because the doctrine, itself, is negative, and it's the liberals and "buffet style" Christians... or wait, if you prefer, "cultural Christians", who give way to the wack-job literalists, who, ironically, adhere to what the doctine actually says.

And BTW, why is the word "Christians" in quotations? One can be "ignorant" and "aggressive" and still be a believer in Christ/a believer in Christian doctrine....e.g.. a Christian.

Braun...I am sure there will be negative responses to what I have just written but I am not threatened by that.

Frankly, whether you feel threatened, or not, is immaterial to me. The point is, your words do not, and will not, hold water, unless/until you can logically and reasonably show that the Christian doctrine has a monoploy on Universal Truth.....you know, the way it claims?

xrayman said...

I think for the most part the vast majority Catholics are cultural Christians. They go through all those silly god damn rituals every Sunday and then behave as they please the rest of the week. I was at a huge Catholic wedding a while back and I believe myself and one other guy weren't of the faith. It was just comical watching all these supposeded intelligent people partaking in such nonsense. Sit up, Kneel, Stand, eat a chip....What the hell is the insense supposed to do anyway?

How in the fuck could any non believer be a cultural Chrisian? Sitting through a church sermon is the most painful event in the world. It hurts your ass, and the hour seems to last for three. I just don't get it for a minute. Being a cultural Christian is just plain silly.

Aspentroll said...

Telmi wrote:
"But have they ever stopped to think: God, what about the people who suffer or die from hunger? God, are you still having favorites? Or are you impotent?"

What an excellent statement.
This sums up exactly what a christian doesn't consider.
They pray to god for just about everything they can think of but never think about the fact that if there
was a god he would have provided them with all their needs because he would know of their needs. What about all the people of the world who haven't a clue about this christian god, are they to starve to death because they don't know enough to believe?
Where is this god hangin' out anyway? Maybe he is hangin out with Ben Stein trying to I.D. another solar
kazillions of light years away. ,

godsfavoritecolor said...

telmi, rayan, jason, boomslang, xrayman, et. al.
Amen brothers, preach on.

AtheistToothFairy said...

xrayman said...
Sitting through a church sermon is the most painful event in the world. It hurts your ass, and the hour seems to last for three
---
Xrayman,

Your sentiments here exactly mirror my own, in that, not only was sitting through a [catholic] church service boring as heck, but "painful" as well.

Perhaps this boredom and suffering is meant to be in 'preparation' for what this god's heaven will be like for the believers?
Sure, you will still get your nice fluffy cloud and harp for all eternity, but you will spend a third of the time kneeling, a third standing, and the last third; playing the extended length harp version of 'Danny Boy'.

Now don't everyone line up at once.


ATF (Who wonders what happens if one's fluffy cloud, decides to rain?)

Ray Braun said...

Jackie
As you might have noticed, posting anything on this site is like walking through a jungle full of pythons. If you don't get a negative note from one of the "reformers" on this site you are lucky. They seem to think that the only ExXtians in the world think exactly as they do.

The main reason for my note is in support of your concern about your son and relatives reading to him. To the best of my understanding of child psychology ( I was a teacher of Special Education), a child under the age of about 5 years has no mental ability (yet) of discerning the difference between reality and fantasy. What that means for you and son is that if your relatives read any story including religiously based stories to him, he sees the characters as REAL. Telling him that they are something else, such as imaginary, is meaningless until he is at least six years or older. In other words, either you forbid them from reading religious stories or you son has been introduced to characters and situations that, for him, are now real and will remain that way until he is much older. Hope the info is useful.

P.S. I personally don't think there is any reason to take away a child's love of the romance of Santa or the Easter Bunny. My son son decided for himself when that was over and made no secret of letting me know. But that is your choice. Peace!

John of Indiana said...

Well, I guess I can call myself a "Cultural Black Man" because I had a few Brothers Johnson albums and hung out at a few clubs "in Da Hood" when I was younger....

Or maybe I could be a "Cultural Nazi"? I don't believe a WORD of that bullshit about White Supremacy, but I like U-boats and the marching songs and black, red, and white...

boomSLANG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
boomSLANG said...

Braun...If you don't get a negative note from one of the "reformers" on this site you are lucky. They seem to think that the only ExXtians in the world think exactly as they do.

How silly---I would no more think, or expect, that all of us think alike, than I would that all recovering alcoholics think "exactly" alike. Of course, I'll wager that "cultural drinking" paved the way to making them drink, religiously. Wha' d'ya say, Braun?

Braun...I personally don't think there is any reason to take away a child's love of the romance of Santa or the Easter Bunny.

Right...and exactly which one us "pythons" has implied such a thing? Furthermore, I fail to see the parallel between teaching a child to believe that Santa Claus won't fulfill their wishlist of toys if they "pout" or "cry", and teaching them that the Creator of the Universe will incinerate them if they "sin"... which, according to the Christian doctrine, is unavoidable, anyway. 'Seems like a set-up, to me.....but regardless, it's a horrible thing for children to be taught at any age.

And previously I asked: "...what does having a 'positive attitude' toward a negative religious doctrine actually accomplish?"

Well?

Steven Bently I said...

What it boils down to in the end is:

We were all grossly misinformed as children with a blatant lie that was formed in the minds of ignorant sheep herders over 2000 years ago.

The blatant lie is, God loves everybody, except those who do not believe in his only begotton son.

Whereas true love has no conditions, nor any conditional strings attached.

The same conditional love is displayed with the church members, they will love you and accept you as long as you play along with their scheme, but you are not allowed to openly voice your opinions of disbelief in their church.

The church and it's activities is not an open forum for voicing your opinion, the church is a vessel and a platform to brainwash it's minions, and to spread it's hatred toward those that do not hold the same beliefs, it's not an institution for the study of realistic modern day truths based in reality.

The churches are maily filled with adults that were misinformed when they were children.

That's the reason if you jump in and show them what a delight they are to be around, they will continue pat you on the back, but if they find out that you are an Atheist or nonbeliever or belong to an outside denomination, they are quick to condemn you to hell, and then you will have the mark of the beast put on you.

It's called conditional love, they will love you as long as you do not disrupt their delusional fantasy.

It's a false conditional love based purely on faith, because the Bible was written based on faith, not based on reality.

The church is a social club for people who want to associate with others that want to believe in a delusional after-life, and they are convinced that the Bible is 101% true, and they are therefore guaranteed heaven, even if most of those believers may have hidden vices.

Astreja said...

Ray Braun: "To the best of my understanding of child psychology (I was a teacher of Special Education), a child under the age of about 5 years has no mental ability (yet) of discerning the difference between reality and fantasy."

This is an excellent argument for keeping very young kids very, very far away from potential religious indoctrination. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are relatively innocuous tales, but Christian mythology is sufficiently ugly and violent to cause long-lasting psychological trauma.

It's a very short hop from VeggieTales and "Jesus loves me, this I know" to the Lake of Fire, and I suspect that more than a few relatives have taken young kids on that nasty little mythological side trip without the consent of the parents. Discretion is advised.

Ray Braun said...

Mr Boomslang,

In deference to your persistence I will sort of answer one of your questions. I say "sort of" because I can only, at this point, answer it with another question.

Before I do so however I should apprise you of the fact that I am not one who regards anything in the Bible from a literal standpoint. That can make a huge difference in how one defines Christianity. It is a collection of separate books written by different authors with definitely different axes to grind. That means we cannot take anything that is said literally. Further we all must judge for ourselves, the wisdom or common sense of anything we read in any of those books.

My attempt to express sympathy for the many members of this site who have been quite negative (and I see no need to apologize for that) was totally lost on you. That paragraph was a piece of what I considered deserved sympathy! Any "Christian" (the quotes mean they call themselves Christian, but in my book, they are far from it. They think they are being Christian when they condemn you but instead they are being very ignorant of Jesus teaching.

Now here is my answer to you in the form of a question: Can you find, for any of us, a quote FROM JESUS in any Gospel where he says anything in any way that encourages negativity toward people. I emphasize, "from Jesus" because there is much in the New Testament that is not really a valid interpretation of anything Jesus taught.

Any Psychologist or Psychiatrist (scientists, if you will) will tell you that a negative attitude accomplishes little to nothing beyond that of satisfying something in the deliverer be they Christian or non. And that ain't from the Bible, Bro.

boomSLANG said...

Braun....In deference to your persistence I will sort of answer one of your questions. I say "sort of" because I can only, at this point, answer it with another question.

Wonderful. Okay, then I can take comfort in knowing that you will have no problem should I "answer" your question with another question. And if my "persistence" bothers you, you know what to do.

Braun...Before I do so however I should apprise you of the fact that I am not one who regards anything in the Bible from a literal standpoint.

Thanks-so-much, but I don't really see that as any astonishing disclosure, at this point.

Braun...That can make a huge difference in how one defines Christianity.

Yes, yes, of course!... how one "defines Christianity". And that's the problem---like all religious belief that claims Universal Truth, "Christianity", too, is one big subjective grab-bag, hence, why we see upwards of 23,000 sects/denominations/split-offs, all of which their respective proponents claim that their interpetation is "spot-on", and all those other "Christians" are a little bit "off". In other words, they employ the ol' "True Christian" fallacy. You're doing it right now, and all throughout.

Braun...It is a collection of separate books written by different authors with definitely different axes to grind. That means we cannot take anything that is said literally.

Good, I'll bear that in mind as Ray Braun attempts to extract what he thinks are the "gems", and discards the parts that MILLIONS of bible-believing Christians believe are essential, integral, and yes, literal...i.e..triune God; death on cross for sins; resurrection from the grave; salvation through blood sacrifice; heaven for saved/hell for unsaved.

Braun...Further we all must judge for ourselves, the wisdom or common sense of anything we read in any of those books.

Yes, of course, judge for ourselves---that is a given. But hopefully, you'll agree that in order to make such a judgement "for ourselves", we'd need to see what's in the pages of "those books", for ourselves, yes? Is there anything unreasonable about that? If not, I'll continue by stating that I'll wager that the vast majority of liberal or "cultural" Christians have, in fact, NOT taken that personal task at hand, and instead, leave it to the "cherry-picking" believers to spoon-feed them the "gems".

Braun...My attempt to express sympathy for the many members of this site who have been quite negative (and I see no need to apologize for that) was totally lost on you. That paragraph was a piece of what I considered deserved sympathy!

What we need, is for people to first attempt to understand our position, and how we arrive at it, that is, before they offer us their "sympathy" and their "pity".

Braun...Any "Christian" (the quotes mean they call themselves Christian...(EDIT)

Yeah, 'got it.....call themselves "Christian". 'Just out of curiousity, is there some other way to acheive/obtain the title, "Christian"?

continues....... but in my book, they[Christians who aren't "True Christians"] are far from it.

We've already been over this. To review the fallacy of this argument, see "No True Scotsman".

Braun continues...They[Christians] think they are being Christian when they condemn you but instead they are being very ignorant of Jesus teaching.

Now here is my answer to you in the form of a question: Can you find, for any of us, a quote FROM JESUS in any Gospel where he says anything in any way that encourages negativity toward people.


Sure I can. Let's start with this one....

From the Gospel of Matthew 10:34-37:

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."

Okay, here we learn two things about Jesus: 1) He does not come to establish peace, and 2) He evidently has no qualms about turning man against his own family. Welp, in my book, that's "somewhat" negative. Although, I have very little doubt that you cannot defend it in some way, so we should probably give you the opportunity to show us the "True Christian" interpretation. 'Listening.

Braun...Any Psychologist or Psychiatrist (scientists, if you will) will tell you that a negative attitude accomplishes little to nothing beyond that of satisfying something in the deliverer be they Christian or non. And that ain't from the Bible, Bro.

Yes, uh huh....and I see how you combat the "negative"---you merely pick, choose, and extol what you deem as "positive", and sweep the negative under the rug.

I must say, in my experience, I've never seen any legit', practicing "Psychologist or Psychiatrist" condone such a process, "Bro".

Hellbound Alleee said...

Sounds like we have a case here of not enough bible readin'! Honey, you goota crack that book a little more!

Not that Christianity has anything to do with the bible...

xrayman said...

Hey Mr. Boomslang,

Your rebuttal to Mr. Braun was absolutely delightful reading. This is my favorite line.......


"Yeah, 'got it.....call themselves "Christian". 'Just out of curiosity, is there some other way to acheive/obtain the title, "Christian"?"

Ray Braun said...

Dear Mr. Boomslang,

". . .the vast majority of liberal or "cultural" Christians have, in fact, NOT taken that personal task at hand, and instead, leave it to the "cherry-picking" believers to spoon-feed them the "gems". "

I completely agree with you. However, in any organization, those who dive into the depths of a subject are always in the minority. As you point out, the rest are "content" to rely on others for their information. I don't think that's so terrible. There are millions of people of all religions who are submerged in the stress of making a living, raising children, trying to have some personal life, etc., etc., I know from being a private instrument teacher that people, in their mid-life years are overwhelmed with things to do. Bible or religious study is only one of a myriad of options they must choose from. No one can do everything. There are only a few, such as yourself, I presume, who are interested in the crucial issues of birth to death that they take any kind of religious thinking seriously. That is why I presume that you are a minister of your particular
religious/nonreligious choices.


". . . Christianity", too, is one big subjective grab-bag, hence, why we see upwards of 23,000 sects/denominations/split-offs, all of which their respective proponents claim that their interpetation is "spot-on", and all those other "Christians" are a little bit "off".

Some of that is quite true but your second half is really not academically proveable no less respectable. There certainly many
sects/denominations who see themselves as having the only "truth" which is of course ridiculous and so stupid one wonders how they can maintain such a concept. But there are quite a number of major denominations who quite regularly address the fact and act in a way that shows that they do not consider themselves exclusive. You tend to academically generalize to a degree that you unwisely invalidate your case.


"Good, I'll bear that in mind as Ray Braun attempts to extract what he thinks are the "gems", and discards the parts that MILLIONS of bible-believing Christians believe are essential, integral, and yes, literal...i.e..triune God; death on cross for sins; resurrection from the grave; salvation through blood sacrifice; heaven for saved/hell for unsaved."

Millions likely, but there are 2.1 billion people in the world who claim adherance to Christianity. Therefore you have to increase your estimates or face the fact that those people you are griping about are, albeit a pain in the ass, not in the majority. Further, Ray Braun, really
invests his life in finding the "Truth," whatever that may be. You are right. Lots of people will look only for the "Gems" but you have no basis,
evidence, proof, or whatever word you prefer, to make that claim against me. There is no way you can prove such a hostile claim. Don't make a fool of yourself.
BTW Your stated concerns about theological concepts at the end of your paragraph are legitimate. I don't buy them either. Although a Triune God is no big deal concept.

" . . .before they offer us their "sympathy" and their "pity".

Again, just a genuine, friendly and polite gesture on my part. And I didn't and won't offer you any pity. If that generates your hostility, you,ve got a problem I
cannot help.


OK! And now, here it is: Matthew 10: 34-37. You might want to also look at the 12 and 14 chapter of Luke where you will find practically
the same thing.

I would not for a minute disagree with your assessment of these passages. They are the source of a great deal of discussion which can, by the way be found on the internet. Much of the discussion however, is the result of not knowing enough of the background related to the writing of those two gospels and the cultural situation of the period. That is not in any way to make any excuse or favorable explanation for
the passages. At best, one, taking the words as is and literally interpreting them would say: Giving the many, many other words said by Jesus that address the issue of peace and love of one another, they seem totally out of character. If, in fact they are not, then the only explanation we can offere is this: Any issue that is strongly debatable is likely to divide people and he was reminding his followers that
exactly that was going to happen. It is in families, where emotions can run really high as I imagine you know. Therefore it is no surprise to me that he would predict that family members would basically be at each other's throats over the issue of Christian discipleship versus
being a traditional Jew with all the rules and so forth that the rigid Jews had to follow.

All that said, it doesn't explain why Jesus phrased his opening line the way he did: basically " You expected me to bring peace but I bring instead, a sword." If I were his political advisor, I would tell him to rewrite that real quick. It is not the way to get votes from the believers. In
fact, Jesus, it's gonna be used against you.

Before we look at that any further, it should be pointed out that you, who seem to be so hostile to all the peaceful stuff that Jesus preaches which is, by a long shot, in the majority of phrases compared to any negative stuff, are very quick to readily adapt for your own use, a phrase
that is used to justify hostility, aggresiveness and outright war. That is, plain and simple, why I sense you to be so full of hostility. That phrase, attributed to Jesus is totally out of character with almost everything he has been qouted as saying.

The specific phrases to which you refer, and those same phrases, which are in the Gospel of Luke as well, are in fact regarded by biblical scholars as not an original part of either Matthew's or Luke's gospel. They come from a somewhat mysterious source referred to by historians as "Q" which is identified in various places in Matt. and Luke's writings by the fact that the literary style, grammar, and or whatever else that I do not pretend to understand, is by another person as yet unidentified. That information suggests that those verses and others that are in question, were
possibly plugged into the distributed documents by someone else who had an axe to grind. The presence of the alien document "Q" is recently and reasonally well proven. The speculation around the details are just that--speculation.

Further, Matthew is a document written by a Jew about fifty years after the death of Jesus. With the exception of the Q material, Matthew's document is pretty much copied from the Gospel of Mark which itself, was written about 30 years after Jesus death. Matthew was primarily concerned with addressing the Jews who were holding out against the Christian message. He was trying to convince them that this story of
Jesus was really a fulfillment of the age old prophesies of the jewish Prophets. Luke's document was written, I think about the same time as Matthew's and is also a copy of Mark's but with his own slant and he also, as I think I said, borrowed from the Q material.

All of that suggests that we cannot know for sure whether Jesus said those things in question or not. Thus, a rational and reasonably educated type of
Christian would be sensible to reserve some judgment as some do.

All of that does raise another question which might occur to you. Why would God, if he were dictating the bible material to some dedicated scribes, write such stupidly confusing stuff for people to read a couple thousand years down the line. That make's no sense to me which is
in part why I would never accept any literal interpretation of the Bible. Sorry if that somehow troubles you--it shouldn't!


Finally and unfortunately,just for the record, I still detect a hint of either hatred, sarcasm, hostility, or just plain bad manners in your wording. I
still am one who thinks that human relationships are quite important (they help to avoid wars and misunderstanding between people who are different) or I wouldn't be spending the time on research and writing to respond to you. I, after all, didn't write to you. You are the one who decided that a nearly vicious message, had to be sent by you to me, and I wasn't even addressing you. There is an
element in you that I find to be quite legitimate and, in my sense, likeable. Nevertheless I get the sense that you are practically making a hobby of seeing how successfully you can embarrass, or hurt, or put down, or prove wrong another person, whoever it may be. There really is no reasonable excuse for that, so you won't impress me with self pitying excuses despite the fact that you have a right and an obligation
to yourself to recognize if you have really been hurt by someone else.

" . . .Thanks-so-much, but I don't really see that as any astonishing disclosure, at this point."

I displayed a few words of courtesy to you Mr. Bloomsang. I, no more than any one else, do not owe you any "astonishing disclosure," or anything else. That response, on your part is simply rudeness and hostility and an attempt to put someone down.


You have a real message! It is good, but if you have any compassion in you, you can make your point much more effectively with messages that communicate that you want to expand your relationships and understand more, not alienate people with your hostility to them or their
information offered to you in friendship.

sconnor said...

Ray Braun,

Thanks for sharing you vast and lengthy, knowledge of scripture, the history of christianity, and how and when the new testament was constructed, in reference to Matthew 10. Your knowledge of the subject matter is awe-inspiring -- you sure do know your stuff and you don't mind showing it off.

But what you don't comprehend is there is nothing that is authoritative in the Bible -- it's absolutely meaningless. Men wrote down what they thought god was to them and then used god's supposed voice, to lend credibility to it and now men like you try to make sense out of it by putting it into the "right" perspective. Guess what? We don't care. About half of what you presented shows that there were embellishments, add-ons, mistakes and the like. And who cares if there are good things in the Bible -- they are hardly profound. Philosophers, poets, diplomats, and other religions have covered peace and love, too -- whoop-d-doo! On the scales of good and bad -- christianity and the Bible -- pull the bad side, waaaaay down. There is no need for christianity or religion in general -- the bad far outweighs the good. And on the flip side, tell me one thing, that is good from christianity, that can't be done without christianity, or religion in general?

BTW your diatribe comes off as superficial, arrogant, vomitus and it is equally received as such -- hear that sound, it's everyone at ex-christian flushing your spew down the toilet.

--S.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Ray Braun wrote:

>That is why I presume that you are a minister of your particular
religious/nonreligious choices.
------
Ray,

I won't pretend to know the bible as well as you obviously seem to, but certain things you state, beg my logical mind to wonder how they could make sense.

Before I comment on those items, I have to say that if you used the word "minister" to describe my atheism, I'd would be just a wee bit irritated by such a label.
Let's just see how Boomslang feels about that label being applied to his own character.


>.....Jesus phrased his opening line the way he did: basically " You expected me to bring peace but I bring instead, a sword." If I were his political advisor, I would tell him to rewrite that real quick. It is not the way to get votes from the believers. In
fact, Jesus, it's gonna be used against you.

Assuming that Jesus did indeed utter these words, he would have had to known how they would be perceived, both immediately and centuries down the road, yes?
Even if the 'human' jesus did not know, by the time they got around to writing the bible scripture, god was supposedly directing that effort and should have instructed the writer to not write it down for posterity, right?


>The specific phrases to which you refer, and those same phrases, which are in the Gospel of Luke as well, are in fact regarded by biblical scholars as not an original part of either Matthew's or Luke's gospel. They come from a somewhat mysterious source referred to by historians as "Q" which is identified in various places in Matt. and Luke's writings by the fact that the literary style, grammar, ....

Okay, if the bible is the '"inspired word of god", as almost every xtian claims it to be, then why would this all powerful god ALLOW a falsehood to be inserted into HIS one and only book?
Did he not have the power to stop such falsehoods from being put into his book, or did he just turn a blind eye that particular day?


>Further, Matthew is a document written by a Jew about fifty years after the death of Jesus

I would like to know where you are quoting this 50 year number from?
From the books/material I've read on the history of Matthew, it sure seems to have been written at least 100 years (if not more) after this jesus figurehead was said to have lived.

Don't you find it quite odd that jesus/god decided to wait many decades before he began this very important book to his beloved creation?
If this one and only god book is truly that important, it would have made far more sense for jesus to have had scribes amongst him in his travels, writing down his words AS HE SPOKE THEM or shortly thereafter. The words would be fresh in their minds and jesus himself could have proof read what was written to be sure they penned it correctly.

Sure seems god's method was error prone, to say the least.


>Matthew's document is pretty much copied from the Gospel of Mark which itself, was written about 30 years after Jesus death

So let me understand this. Instead of this great god coming up with something original to have Matthew write for him, he instead chose to re-write many things that had already been written by god's hand, yes?
I guess your god likes much redundancy when he writes his thoughts down for us?


>He was trying to convince them that this story of Jesus was really a fulfillment of the age old prophesies of the jewish Prophets

Why was all this convincing necessary, if this jesus character really had lived and had thousands of followers, traveled to many towns and cities and was well known by both rich and poor, the famous, the leaders of the day etc.?

With ALL those great miracles he did, along with making himself un-dead, and having 500 dead folks suddenly come to life as well, why should there have been any question left about him being sent from god?

If such a thing happened in the public eye today, a public eye that has to be even more skeptical than the magical thinking that was all too common in those days, how many disbelievers would be left in such a small geographical region, that still would need all this persuasion?


>Luke's document was written, I think about the same time as Matthew's and is also a copy of Mark's but with his own slant ....

So once again, your god has a need for yet further redundancy...why?


>Why would God, if he were dictating the bible material to some dedicated scribes, write such stupidly confusing stuff for people to read a couple thousand years down the line. That make's no sense to me which is in part why I would never accept any literal interpretation of the Bible.

Better yet, why would god allow his own important sacred writings to become contaminated with ungodly human dribble?
Did he not realize that his book was becoming a hodgepodge of god AND human thoughts?
Could he not foresee this problem long before the effort was even begun?

Perhaps your god isn't as powerful as you make him out to be.

Perhaps if the bible is a tangled mixture of god thoughts intertwined with human agenda, then no one, including yourself, can ever know what one should take literally and what one should take with a grain of salt.
Of course, we then add in what one should totally dismiss as textual corruption/additions, by those with some specific agenda to make the bible say what they wished it to say.

Sconner makes some good points to you as well here.
What good is it to TRY and become a bible expert, when the detailed history of your bible can never be known, so you can only realize a best-guess as to what should have been included in it.

Worse though, you are spending all this time becoming an expert on the writings that are attributed to a god-being, that has provided ZERO evidence to us of it's own existence.
All anyone (expert or not) can say, is that they have faith in this god, that they can 'feel' this god inside them, but beyond faith and feelings, there is no reason to believe this god exists anymore than we should believe that purple fire breathing dragons inhabit volcano's.

If you're not going to believe that the bible is made up of nothing but god's sanctioned words, then you can't possibly reconcile which parts belong to god and which belong to man.
That being the case Ray, your method is really no different than every other 'true xtian' that pays us a visit and insist to us that they alone have been told by god the absolute truth of what this bible says.

Ray, do you ever get the feeling that your grand biblical efforts, are much like running hard on a treadmill, but wondering why you never leave the room you started out in?
You sir, are truly spinning your wheels and sooner or later, you'll find as we did, that the god tires eventually become bald.


ATF (Who once went down this same path as Ray, but knew when it was time to quit)

boomSLANG said...

Ray Braun,

In review of your most recent lengthy post, I contend that it can essentially be broken down into two simple categories: 1) arguments that defend Holy text(specifically, of the Christian bible), and 2) an amateur psychoanalysis of my on-line character, and second-guessing of my psychology/motives.

For economy of time(and space), I won't give a point-by-point rebuttal this time, and instead, reply, in general, to both "categories".

Previously, you asked: Can you find, for any of us, a quote FROM JESUS in any Gospel where he says anything in any way that encourages negativity toward people.

To which I responded...

"Sure I can. Let's start with this one....

From the Gospel of Matthew 10:34-37:"

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."


My comments on said quoted scripture, were:

Okay, here we learn two things about Jesus: 1) He does not come to establish peace, and 2) He evidently has no qualms about turning man against his own family. Welp, in my book, that's "somewhat" negative. Although, I have very little doubt that you cannot defend it in some way, so we should probably give you the opportunity to show us the "True Christian" interpretation. 'Listening.[bold added]

I suppose I could be a "Prophet" in my own right, as I predicted that you would have an excuse, despite that I provided, what in my view, is precisely what you asked for.

Anyway, in response to the provided scripture, you said:

At best, one, taking the words as is and literally interpreting them would say: Giving the many, many other words said by Jesus that address the issue of peace and love of one another, they seem totally out of character.

Notice, please, that this might very well be how you, Ray Braun, would interpret it; but not necessarily how several million other Christians would interpret it, which of course, illustrates my central point, perfectly. I thank you.

Again, something that is so obviously open to personal interpretation; something that you admittedly say cannot be taken at face-value, cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, nor by reason, be an objective, and/or, a Universal "Truth".

If, in fact they are not..

Yes, yes, "if". And?...just who determines the "if"? Who, yOU? Or some other Christian? Can you put it into objective terms for us, please?

you continue..... then the only explanation we can offere is this: Any issue that is strongly debatable is likely to divide people and he was reminding his followers that
exactly that was going to happen. It is in families, where emotions can run really high as I imagine you know. Therefore it is no surprise to me that he would predict that family members would basically be at each other's throats over the issue of Christian discipleship versus
being a traditional Jew with all the rules and so forth that the rigid Jews had to follow.


Very nice, Ray, very nice. Again, minus your personal, subjective spin on it....can you be certain that this is what the Creator of the Universe meant by this? Or better yet, by your own admission, you say that "Jesus" may have had not one thing to do with those words. How then, can you be certain that the biblical character known as "Jesus", has anything to do with anything written in the bible??? And further still, even if you could somehow be certain that "Jesus'" views were delineated concisely, and they meant exactly what you posit they meant.....SO WHAT? As I stated previously---simple, common-sense "poetic Truths" are NOT unique to "Christianity". In other words, unless you can provide objective evidence that the bible was of Divine inspiration, you've got nothing greater than the word of mortal man. Whoopty-doo.

Part II:

Braun, if you don't care for my prose, and/or, the way I "minister"---and, if by your own admission you feel that I have a "real message", then I have a simple suggestion. What I propose, is that you focus on the the things that I write that you agree with, and simply ignore what you find undesirable. 'Sound familiar? It should.

Be a "cultural" boomslang fan ; )

Ray Braun said...

A note to all of you gentlemen who are writing to me

I do not have the time to respond to all of your questions. I don't, for a minute, regard your questions as trivial. However, for the most part they are based on reactions to a negative segment of Christianity--not the whole. But, all of you are very fixed on that very negative segment and fighting tooth and nail against it. As long as that segment of Christianity exists you will have something to fuel your energies.

You, Boomslang, will do everything you can to put down anything I say. Mr. Atheist TF, I think I understand your perspectives. I would gladly make some responses (not rebuttals) if I could afford the time. Mr. Sconner, I appreciate your kind words but your emotional blast at the end leaves me wondering which person you really are.

Final comments guys: I do not buy the notion of resurrection, virgin birth or the other miracles described in the Bible.

I do get the impression that you all think even a person who does not take the Bible literally still thinks it is Divinely inspired--that is ridiculous. When someone tells you the Bible cannot be taken literally, they also mean it is not God or divinely inspired. If you accept that then I suspect there will be a pile of questions as to why pay any attention to the book at all. I do not have the time to provide you with all the answers. If you really want to know, you simply need to reopen your minds and do a hell of a lot of research into contemporary information. That won't and doesn't need to make you return to Christianity--it need many of the changes that skeptics could plug into it.However, If all you are doing is investing time in looking for ammo to blow up the establishment, that's all you're going to accomplish, if that.

The story of Jesus has enormous value because what he focused on was relationships. That is what I think is important and generally missed by the evangelical literalists. I would never have responded to any one of you if I didn't care about that. Remember that I wrote a positive note to Angela. You guys jumped in on that.

I can see a great deal of value in relating to you all becasue I think that relationships are far more imporant than arguing theology. If you look between the lines you may see that I haven't argued theology. I have simply tried to correct erroneous notions that are for the most part related to history.

All of you are really prone to making incredible generalizations that simply could not hold water under a microscope. I have no time left to invest in explaining your rebuttals. To me a rebuttal is little more than a sincere question that the rebutter is afraid to ask so I try to answer it.

Internet Road Rage is quite obvious on this site. Anyone who takes advantage of their anonymity via the internet to let their emotions rage is not looking at themselves with much scrutiny and setting standards for their own behavior. Why not try Buddhism?

Peace, guys

AtheistToothFairy said...

Ray Braun said:
Mr. Atheist TF, I think I understand your perspectives. I would gladly make some responses (not rebuttals) if I could afford the time.
-----
To ALL:

I often wonder why so many xtians that visit our site and then begin an 'extended' conversation with us, always seem to run out of time to finish up the conversation; or they just vanish into the same "thin air" their god resides within.

Could it possibly be, that they really have run out of god-answers to our pointed questions?

Ray said: "I do not buy the notion of resurrection, virgin birth or the other miracles described in the Bible."

Well Ray, if you have no problem with ejecting these basic tenets of the xtian faith, why not also eject the afterlife in god's heaven, as well as any god intervention in our human lives?
Then you can add to that list, that god didn't create the universe by any method, nor the life within it.
When you're all done ejecting these basic xtian beliefs, you might explain to us what purpose this god has left in our universe, okay?

Seems to me it would be pointless to worship such a god, even if that god did exist somewhere out there.

Ray also said: "All of you are really prone to making incredible generalizations that simply could not hold water under a microscope."

Oddly enough, this is exactly how we feel about the "incredible generalizations" that Christianity makes claim to.

I would ask you Ray, who/what/where are these incredible generalizations that have been made, that don't hold water in your opinion?
Please, enlighten us about our fallacious blatherings.



ATF (Who thinks Ray fell halfway off the xtian horse he was riding, and is stuck there)

sconnor said...

Ray Braun,

you, obviously, didn't note the sarcasm, in my first paragraph.

Most of us have thoroughly researched the history of christianity and we, too, know scripture. Your BLOVIATING, lecture is falling on deaf ears, because we already came to the conclusion christianity and the bible has ZERO validity, absolutely, NO authority and zero to little value -- and throughout history, has done more harm then good. Your esoteric view on the value of Jesus is nothing profound, hell, Dr. Phil expounds on relationships and their importance, all the time and he's a dick. Again, philosophers, poets, and great thinkers, of our time and the past, have expounded volumes on relationships and their importance -- nothing new or mind-boggling. It relegates the new testament to the mundane and inconsequential. There is no "positive" to christianity; it is a deluded human construct, where the bad, hugely, outweighs the good.

Again, I'll ask you, what can christianity do, that is good, that can't be done without christianity?

--S.

boomSLANG said...

Oh, Jiminy christmas.

Well, okay, I guess this much of what I said before evidently needs repeating:

..simple, common-sense "poetic Truths" are NOT unique to "Christianity". In other words, unless you can provide objective evidence that the bible was of Divine inspiration, you've got nothing greater than the word of [a] mortal man. Whoopty-doo.[emphasis added]

Sconner...Your esoteric view on the value of Jesus is nothing profound, hell, Dr. Phil expounds on relationships and their importance, all the time and he's a dick.

Priceless!

unknowing1 said...

Attending a family get together is one thing but to actually participate in the rituals in which you do not believe is another. It's just my opinion that bowing your head and pretending to pray is more a sign of disrespect.

I equate it to being in another country and the citizens say their nations pledge. I wouldn't say it, nor would I say the pledge of my country. I'd show my respect by standing quietly.

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