Article 43

 

Spiritual Diversions

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Religious Diversions Part 3

They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.” - Revelations 7:10

Jerry Falwell and the Making of an Uncivil Religion

By Jeffrey Robbins
Huffington Post
May 16, 1007

Decorum dictates that we should not speak ill of the dead, and in what follows, I have no intention of doing so. But with the occasion of the death of Jerry Falwell on Tuesday, I cannot help but consider what his true significance will be. In a nutshell, I believe his life and legacy mark a transition in how religion is understood and employed within American public and political life, from its status as a civil to an uncivil institution, from its role as a unifying cultural force to its frequent employment now as a political wedge.

In order to chronicle this transition, allow me a brief foray into history.

Back in 1967, the sociologist of religion Robert Bellah published what has become the classic statement about the role religion plays in American public and political life. The article is entitled “Civil Religion in America.” It begins with the observation of how every president in U.S. history has made reference to God in his speeches, particularly during solemn occasions. It then asks the question of how we should interpret this fact of our history? Does it represent a betrayal of the separation of church and state? Is it a case of political pandering that conveys the “semblance of piety” or a “sentimental nod” to the “unenlightened”? Or might it just perhaps reveal something essential about our national character?

Bellah pursues the last of these explanations. In the course of his analysis, he draws on the anthropological tools of ritual studies to demonstrate how what appears as “only a ritual” with “only a ceremonial significance” is in fact “indicative of deep-seated values and commitments.”

The values and commitments he has in mind can be boiled down to the following: First, the religious language employed by our elected officials suggests that, broadly conceived, it is the religious that legitimates our political system. That does not mean, as those on the religious right would have it, that the U.S. was or is a Christian nation. Rather, there are certain foundational beliefs that we as a people share in common that take on a religious quality. As expressed in the Declaration of Independence, we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. This means that in spite of the democratic principle of popular sovereignty, “we the people” are not absolutely sovereign, that there is a limit to our power, and that there are times when we may be judged wrong in spite of an overwhelming majority of popular opinion. It also means that we will have to answer for our actions, that there is a moral accountability to our politics.

In Bellah’s mind, this first aspect of our civil religion provides our politics with a persistent revolutionary leverage --which means that whenever our government oversteps its bounds, the people have the right and the responsibility to resist. In this sense, it is our civil religion that saves us from all forms of totalitarianism by making “any form of political absolutism illegitimate.” Second, our civil religion provides us with a transcendent goal --meaning that our politics must be about more than winning the next election or securing our hold on power. As an expression of our national character, our civil religion bespeaks our collective sense of purpose, even a divine sense of mission.

It is with this second meaning to civil religion that we as a nation have so often fallen into trouble, and it is on this point that Bellah has so often been misconstrued. For instance, one might read this as an expression of American exceptionalism --that is, that the U.S. has a “manifest destiny” or is a “city on a hill” or a light to all nations, as any number of preachers and politicians from John Winthrop to James Polk to Ronald Reagan have famously done. But for Bellah, the transcendent goal provided by our civil religion is no excuse for national self-idolization. On the contrary, Bellah is exactly in line with someone like Reinhold Niebuhr who cautioned against the elevation of any nation or ideology as an ultimate truth. For Niebuhr, and by extension for Bellah, all institutions, all nations, and all ideologies stand under the judgment of God. While we might strive for justice and liberty for all, we would be fools to think that we have ever realized this striving. The sad and ironic fact of history is that we always fall short of our promise. In this sense, our civil religion teaches us that America remains always a promise unfulfilled. Indeed, even civil religion itself suffers a similar fate whenever it precludes religious dissent or the healthy skepticism which is necessary to our democracy.

One further point from Bellah before turning back to Falwell: think of the meaning of this phrase “civil religion.” The term civil has at least two connotations. First, the civil is that which pertains to us as citizens; it belongs to our civic life together. Second, being civil is characterized by benevolence and common courtesy; it adheres to the norms of social intercourse. The term religion is drawn from the semantic root that means “to bind back” or “to bond together.” Putting these two terms together, then, we see how religion might function as a social and cultural thread weaving a fabric of diverse beliefs and identities into a whole--the one out of the many, e pluribus unum. In other words, there is much that we can and should agree about, and religious language, at least in the past, has been a useful tool for giving expression to that unity of conviction and commitment.

Of course, this notion of civil religion comes well before today’s 51% rule that governs our present politics. Sometime after Falwell’s sermon from 1964 called “Ministers and Marchers” when he condemned all forms of religious inspired political activism, he himself, along with the evangelical right that he came to represent, had what can only be described as a conversion. The result is not only the commonly referenced finding that the level of one’s religiosity is the greatest single predictor of how one will vote in American politics, but more fundamentally, this new politics of religion now finds its strength by stressing our differences. This Manichean mindset not only plagues our domestic politics (who can forget Falwell’s statement in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 that it was the secularists, abortionists, homosexuals, and lo, even the ACLU who were somehow responsible for the devastation?), but also drives the present war on terror, which is seen by our president as a clear-cut case of good vs. evil.

As the Reverend Jim Wallis has written, this is not only a case of bad theology, but it is a dangerous religion (see Wallis’ article from Sojourners. I would only add that it is also a remarkably uncivil one, and as such, is a fundamental betrayal of our best and most promising character as a nation.

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Religious Diversions
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5 - PART 6

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Posted by Elvis on 05/17/07 •
Section Revelations • Section Spiritual Diversions
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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Religious Diversions Part 2

god.jpg

WHY am I posting something blasting God AGAIN here? BECAUSE I think CHURCH LEADERS, POLITICIANS and corporate ELITISTS, including officials of UNIONS are the FALSE PROPHETS of our time, FOOLING maybe 91 PERCENT of us regarding PIVOTAL world events.  Religion and WEDGE issues are the CURTAINS they hide behind - begging to be REVEALED

It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling and those who dwell in heaven.
- Revelations 13:6

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Book - God Is Not Great
By Bruce Desilva
Yahoo News
April 28, 2007

Christopher Hitchens is an essayist and pundit who loves a good fight and is never afraid to pick on someone his own size; but this time he’s outdone himself. He’s picked on God.

The title of his new book, “God Is Not Great,” is an intentionally inflammatory twist on “Allah Akbar.” Indeed, he lambasts Islam as “not much more than a rather obvious and ill-arranged set of plagiarisms” from Judaism and Christianity.

But Hitchens is an equal opportunity atheist. His reviles all religions and scorns anyone foolish enough to accept any idea on faith.

A spate of atheist screeds has arrived in the bookstores lately, but Hitchens’ may be the best since Bertrand Russell’s “Why I Am Not a Christian” (1927), laying out the essential arguments with force and precision.

He makes his case in the elegant yet biting prose we have come to expect from him. His style is erudite (he cites Richard Dawkins, Shakespeare, George Eliot, Blaise Pascal, C.S. Lewis and Thomas Aquinas in a span of three pages) yet manages to be accessible to the casual reader. He is at once funny and mean spirited, sniffing at the absurdity of the Bible’s “minor miracles” and dismissing as buffoons all who would disagree.

Hitchens is the reincarnation of H.L. Mencken, the penultimate social critic of the first half of the 20th century, who used words like gunshots and considered most Americans “boobs.” Of course, reincarnation is another notion that could induce paroxysms in both of them.

Hitchens’ quarrel with God is too complex to invite summary, but it can be fairly said that he considers religion just plain childish.

“It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species,” he writes, “and it is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge as well as comfort, reassurance, and other infantile needs. Today, the least educated of my children knows much much more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion.”

But Hitchens is not satisfied to merely refute religion. He must also demonize it as “an enemy of science and inquiry,” as “subsisting largely on lies and fears,” and as “the accomplice of ignorance and guilt as well as of slavery, genocide, racism and tyranny.” Hence the book’s subtitle, “How Religion Poison’s Everything.”

And he does mean everything. As he would have it, religion foments hate and war. It justifies the torture and murder of “heretics” and “infidels.” It represses healthy human sexuality. By discouraging contraception and encouraging reliance on prayer instead of medicine, it is even bad for your health.

This is, of course, a familiar augment. Hitchens has nothing new to say, although it must be acknowledged that he says it exceptionally well.

But what is the point of writing such a book? Surely, it will change no minds. Surely, with a title like this, it will not be read by anyone who does not already agree with it.

Hitchens is, if he will forgive the religious reference, preaching to the choir.

SOURCE

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A Call To The Faithful

By Lou Dobbs
CNN
May 8, 2007

The separation of church and state in this country is narrowing. And it is the church, not the state that is encroaching. Our Constitution protects religion from the intrusion or coercion of the state. But we have precious little protection against the political adventurism of all manner of churches and religious organizations.

The leadership of the Catholic Church and many Protestant churches, as well as Jewish and even Muslim religious organizations, are driving that political adventurism as those leaders conflate religion and politics. And while there is a narrowing of the separation between church and state, there is a widening schism between the leadership of churches and religious organizations and their followers and members.

Conservative evangelical leader James Dobson recently said actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson wasn’t Christian enough to be president. He instead chose to commend Newt Gingrich, who has been married three times and recently admitted to an extramarital affair. Five evangelical Christian leaders signed the “Land Letter” to President Bush in 2002 affirming a Christian theological basis to invade Iraq.

This week the head of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Cardinal Roger MAHONEY, basically threatened his faithful with denial of heaven if they don’t support amnesty for ILLEGAL ALIENS. The good Cardinal said: “Anything that tears down one group of people or one person, anything that is a negative in our community, disqualifies us from being part of the eternal city.”

The nation’s religious leaders seem hell-bent on ignoring the separation of church and state when it comes to the politically charged issue of illegal immigration. A new coalition called Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Wednesday will begin lobbying lawmakers with a new advertising and direct mail campaign on behalf of amnesty for illegal aliens.

The Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners Magazine put it this way: “If given the choice on this issue between Jesus and Lou Dobbs, I choose my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.”

But before the faithful acquiesce in the false choice offered by the good Reverend, perhaps he and his followers should consult Romans 13, where it is written: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

There is a more obvious and immediate judgment offered by the followers and members of both the Protestant and Catholic Churches. A Zogby poll last year asked churchgoers if they supported the House bill that would make illegal aliens return home and reduce future illegal immigration by securing the border and performing checks on illegal employers. Seventy-five percent of Protestants responded that was a good or very good idea, 77 percent of born-again Christians also agreed, and 66 percent of Catholics also backed tougher enforcement measures.

This schism between our church leaders and church members is just as broad and deep as that between our elected officials and their constituents across the country. Neither the state nor the church is exhibiting wisdom or fidelity to our national values in permitting the widening of that divide.

SOURCE

Religious Diversions
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5 - PART 6

Posted by Elvis on 05/10/07 •
Section Revelations • Section Spiritual Diversions
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Religious Diversions Part 1

Image credit - Democracy Forums

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners nor sit in the seat of scoffers.” (Psalm 1:1)

Most people I know believe in God and believe we’re created in God’s image, and that if we do whatever our church leaders tell us to, we’ll ultimately end up in ETERNAL BLISS IN HEAVEN.

Maybe they’re right. Maybe they’re wrong. A MORE REASONABLE truth to me is WE CREATE GOD from our image, SHAPED BY RELIGION and fears of WHAT COMES AFTER DEATH

What’s really sad these days is that we’re increasingly allowing the divider between religion and politics to disappear, and politics to GET INTO everything, like SCIENCE and RELIGION. As individuals and society - we’re GIVING MORE AND MORE OF OUR POWER AWAY every day, and possibly NOT REALIZING IT.

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Thanks to the folks at BOING-BOING for posting THIS. It’s GREAT TO SEE people debating and questioning things - hopefully SEEKING their own answers and truths.

THE BLASPHEMY CHALLENGE is a website that invites people to submit video testimonials denying the existence of the Holy Spirit.

According to Mark 3:29 in the Holy Bible, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” Jesus will forgive you for just about anything, but he won’t forgive you for denying the existence of the Holy Spirit. Ever. This is a one-way road you’re taking here.

CHALLENGE BLASPHEMY was created in response to The Blasphemy Challenge.

(Matthew 12:22-31) will show that eternal damnation may only be assured by attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to the work of the Devil. The passage is centered on unbelievers telling Jesus that he was possessed by an evil spirit, and that he used the evil spirit to cast out another evil spirit. Jesus replied, telling them very specifically that they had just committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, as it was the Holy Spirit that empowered him, not Beelzebub.

To QUOTE PAUL LEVY:

“To treat things religiously is to develop a more wholistic attitude towards our experience, in which we realize that we are inseparably united with our universe”.

Is out next step as a society to have THE WOOL PULLED OVER OUR EYES?

Or is it time to start LIFTING THE VEIL?

Check out THE GOD MOVIE, and THE FOOL Tarot card.

Religious Diversions
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5 - PART 6

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Posted by Elvis on 04/25/07 •
Section Spiritual Diversions
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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Pyramid Of The Sun

The Hierarchical Structure is the hidden structure of human invention based upon the pyramid shape “ a triangle “ this structure of a ranking system ordered according to status or authority controls most interaction in our daily life.

The Corporation, Government, military, Roman Catholic Church are but a few examples of how a chain of command can effect the lives of many.

The decisions of a few people who sit upon the top of said institutions do have a crushing effect on the mass population.

The people on top do control most activities of the people below.

pyramid.jpg

Presidents, Generals, Popes, Bishops, Chairmen of the boards or (CEO’s) these people are the leaders.Much news is written about these individuals. History has shown the Pharaohs built pyramids with this population control machine. There should be no doubt even for a sober minded layman that these structures play a large part in any one persons life. As life is lived history is written and populations grow, civilization has and always will be directed by this structure.

The purpose of THIS INTERNET PAGE will not to point fingers or label anyone leader as particularly unrightious. The fact that these INSTITUTIONS have existed for the HISTORY of civilization shows how important the structure is and not the individual.  The organization of populations into nation states and dominate belief systems where a HIGHER power(s) is often held above those who live below .IE: God, gods, goddesses, kings, preists, popes, politicans, presidents.These earthly humans who hold power often are on stages or platforms (above those others watching) to give the people a sense of disconnection from thier leaders. Unkown to the superstitious mass these people are the same living flesh and blood breathing animals like them. Many are told thier God’s live in a heaven far above and THE PEOPLE SHOULD OBEY the laws told to the human agents of any generic organization. In the case of ancient civilizations the sun, moon, planets, and star formations were to be revered and feared because these Heavenly bodies could be seen in the night sky. Ancient man used this supertision to build huge temples and gather huge wealth through the creation of RELIGION.

What Do you Say? Just another Conspiracy Theory? Well what is A conspiracy theory? You would not have read this far down the page if you didn’t think that the Corporations and media organizations have consolidated together just for fun! Why? Why? Why? Always ask yourself, Why does these events that shape Your society come about? You are a human being and not a Social Security Number! You are not a machine! You use the machine to read, learn and hopefully come to a conclusion about what YOU feel the truth means to you! You should be Entertained by my opinions and conclusions. Do not fear the unjust Hierarchical Structure! When you fear them you give them the power to control you! I really hope YOU understand that.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 04/08/07 •
Section Spiritual Diversions
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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

False Hopes

falsehope.jpg alt=False hopes - scientology and casinos

DO YOU KNOW someone IN YOUR LIFE who by CIRCUMSTANCE is, and has been, working TEMP JOBS with no HEALTH INSURANCE, no BENEFITS, and low pay. Someone who appears on the outside as one of those happy - always smiling - nothing bothers me - types?  And keeps working as hard as ever, while impending layoff draws near?

Is that GOOD?

Working as temp with no benefits, low pay, and little hope of being hired SUCKS. Loosing that temp job and being out on the street sucks WORSE. I walked that PATH for two years. And DIDN’T make believe everything is fine.

Is that BAD?

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The Painted On Smile

Happy-Go-Lucky

This is Peter - a happy-go-lucky, super friendly and super helpful guy. He’s always sporting a big smile and whistling a happy tune, and seems to have limitless amounts of energy.

Even on the day he lost his career.

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Q. Why are some people always smiling? It gets kind of annoying, but I don’t get how someone can be happy all the time.

A. They’re either deranged, high, or complete phonies.  No normal person is in a perpetual state of merriment.

A Look at False Happiness

Smile… You’ll make your brain wonder what your face is up to.

Have you ever seen a poster featuring that old saying “Smile, everyone will wonder what you’re up to?”

Where I grew up there was a version of that poster hanging in our laundry room that had Garfield on it, his big cat grin was always pretty humorous.

But no matter how I tried I couldn’t force myself to smile all the time. I felt like a moron trying to walk around with a grin on my face for no reason.

I was just talking to a friend at work and he said he was driving along behind woman and he caught sight of her face in her side view mirror, she was wearing a huge grin. Maybe she was listening to something funny on the radio, that would do it, then again maybe she was just applying that old “feel good” technique.

That’s actually what it is. Check it out - when you hear, see or think something funny your brain releases endorphins that cause you to feel pleasant and happy, the muscles that make you smile go to work and you end up looking happy.

It’s been found to work in reverse too. When you smile for no reason, your brain will release endorphins causing you to feel happy. So, you can smile because you’re happy, or smile to be happy, it works either way. But is it a good idea to pretend be happy all the time? I don’t think so.

Someone who tries to be happy all the time could end up being confused with their inner feelings and emotions. There’s no logic in smiling just so others “wonder what you’re up to.” Even if smiling makes us feel happy, there’s a time and a place.

There’s a fellow where I work who’s always sporting a dumb grin with his eyebrows raised as if he’s in a state of euphoria. He looks like a complete idiot. I don’t wonder what he’s up to, I wonder why the heck he walks around looking like a dope all day.

A positive attitude is one thing, a false expression of happiness is quite another. Think positively, be positive all you want, that’s great. But why sport a smile just to appear happy? Will it truly make you happy?

Humans have various emotions and facial expressions to match them. We can’t trick ourselves into being happy, we’ll only end up fooling ourselves and looking like demented twits to everyone we pass on the street. If we’re sad we need to feel sad, let the emotion run it’s course and get to the bottom of the sadness. If we’re angry we need to handle our anger, not try to mask it with a phony smile.

Where I grew up there was another poster, this one hanging on my father’s filing cabinet. It was, and still is, my favorite sentiment. It was a close-up of a majestic bald eagle, appearing rather stoic, with eyes half-massed, beak fixed and stern. The caption: “I Am Smiling.”

Be yourself, and feel the way you feel. Everyone will wonder why you’re not like everyone else.

SOURCE

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A Painted On Smile
By Margaret Stretch

A blank canvas,
A palette with a couple shades of red,
A paintbrush paints on…
A painted on smile.

The teeth show,
And they never know
What goes on inside.
The smile works like a charm.

Sticks and stones,
They break your bones.
Words can make your smile
Or break it.

Throughout the trials and tribulations,
The palette is used more often.
The paintbrush has to be replaced.
The smile starts to transform into a frown.

How much paint have I used?
How many paintbrushes have been frayed?
How many smiles have worked?
How many people have I really fooled?

A blank canvas,
A palette with a couple of shades of red,
A paintbrush paints on…
A painted on smile.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 04/04/07 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Spiritual Diversions • Section Personal
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