Sunday, March 29, 2009

Who Is Favored?

Over at the blog Superstition Free, several of us have had quite a discussion centered around the post, "Open Letter to The Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church". Of all the various back-and-forth comments, this one by host Robert Madewell really caught my eye.
Seems that a mustard seed portion is quite a bit actually. Because, thousands of hungry children who pray every day for a little bit of food can't seem to pool together enough faith to make food (or even a mustard seed appear).
I've always found it exceedingly odd that the so-called creator -- who created all of us -- seems to favor white-skinned male capitalists over everyone and everything else. If you are unfortunate enough to have been born a woman, dark-skinned or in a non-capitalist country, the telegraph lines of prayer seem to have a short in them.

Both television and the internet are filled with conservative Christian self-help gurus who, for a hefty price tag, will provide spiritual guidance to white-skinned male capitalists so that they can increase their already egregious wealth and power. Such people are exhorted to ask God to help them succeed in business, philanthropy or social circles. Each time one of these types increases their pocketbook or climbs the social ladder, all glory rests with God.

So, it would seem that God is listening to them. It doesn't appear to matter to the almighty that many of these folks don't have a moral or ethical bone in their body.

Yet, the people who genuinely need God's grace to survive don't seem to merit the same kind of results. There are Christians in Iraq right now who, I'm sure, have been praying fervently for an end to their violent nightmare. There are innocent Christian children the world over who live in abject poverty and pray to God each night. And there are decent Christian women across the globe who are subjugated and oppressed. They cry out to their Lord for deliverance from their misery.

In all these cases, it looks like God has left the receiver off the phone and he's not checking his email either!

What legitimate reason can there be for rewarding the comfortable while neglecting the impoverished and needy? What glory can there be in providing the haves with even more while providing less to the have nots? What kind of perverse being is this Christian God?

27 comments:

  1. You are describing what Chögyam Trungpa pegged as "Spiritual Materialism" -- and unfortunately, all faiths have the potential to practice this through dogmatic thinking. And most major religions do, in one way or another. No one should think they are immune to it.

    Spiritual Materialism is when you believe you are virtuous, and others who do not accept your creed, are not virtuous. Furthermore, if others do not believe what you believe, then they are less than you, and like objects, you can do whatever you want with them. Through this materialistic spirituality, by gaining possessions, wealth, and titles, it proves you are blessed -- denying non believers possessions, wealth and titles, it proves your faithfulness and sacred power over external reality.

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  2. But what about innocent little babes? They haven't had the time nor the wherewithal to accumulate anything.

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  3. Cherish them, no matter what. Protect them as a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, etc. Recognize, and reject spiritual materialism. Dig deep. Love.

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  4. And to make one thing clear -- I was not saying that spiritual materialism is a unavoidable evil -- but it is something that needs to be challenged, mentally, personally, and utterly rejected.

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  5. Thanks for writing that, Taoist.

    I've been a somewhat privileged woman of colour from a third world nation. But the world of privileged white people made me paid sorely for my little success. And God was never there to help me.

    The church people are the worst at it, unfortunately.

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  6. yet again, prayer is not TO CHANGE US. NO THEOLOGICALLY SOUND CHRISTIAN WOULD EVER TELL YOU THAT GOD WILL GIVE YOU WHAT YOU WANT BECUASE YOU PRAY FOR IT.
    The point of prayer is that we will allow God to work in our lives for the betterment of HIS WILL, not ours.


    What legitimate reason can there be for rewarding the comfortable while neglecting the impoverished and needy? What glory can there be in providing the haves with even more while providing less to the have nots? What kind of perverse being is this Christian God?


    What kind of perverse beings are we? huh? have you done EVERYTHING that you possibly can to help those impoverished people? I know I haven't.
    I'm reminded of one of my favorite stories---

    Two men are talking and one says-
    "I wanted to ask God why he allowed all the sin and evil that's in the world today but I didn't"

    The second man asked-
    "Why not?"

    The first man replied-
    "I was afraid God would ask me the same question"

    If God wanted to, He could end sin right now. But would you enjoy that? he would have to destroy all humans who have not accepted Jesus because "all have fallen short of the glory of God." God is a patient God however, and does not want anyone to go to hell.

    2 Peter 3:9 says- The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    So to answer your question, God doesn't want any of the problems in the world. In fact, He originally created the world perfect. But, he loved us so much that he gave us free will. Even the free will to reject Him. Adam and Eve did. they sinned. As a result of that, there is now suffering and pain and sin in the world.

    Sorry if I seemed a bit preachy or overzealous. These kinds of posts anger me because they take a view of Christianity that is typical, biased, and sterotypical and does not at all reflect the views of a true Christian.

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  7. Whatever you believe in, all that matters in the end is if it helps you be kinder & more tolerant -- one wheel less in the machine of misery and suffering. The depths of suffering and misery in this lifetime cannot be measured! The potential for giving and kindness to change our lives and others, for the positive, is boundless. As one dude said awhile back, "We are what we think. All that we are, arises from our thoughts. From our thoughts we make the world. Act with impure thoughts, and trouble will follow..." There is no hook. There is no free ride. No deus ex machina. There is only what we do.

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  8. whoa whoa whoa. back up there. "Impure thoughts"? What exactly is impure to you if there is no God? what objective moral standard do you compare to when you use words such as impure?

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  9. I didn't deny, nor support if God exists. Imagine me presuming to know about God! Job presumed, and what was he told?

    But on the other hand, *I believe* I can be moral and ethical with, or without, a supreme deity. Because I also believe all things are inherently pure. This inherent purity in all things has been empirically demonstrated to me, and I have experienced it directly.

    But, you could substitute "impure thoughts" with "hateful thoughts", or "lustful thoughts", or "hateful thoughts", or "wrathful thoughts", or "vengeful thoughts", etc.

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  10. What exactly is impure to you if there is no God? what objective moral standard do you compare to when you use words such as impure?


    Why would I need a moral standard if I have senses?

    For instance, it is quite obvious that killing is wrong, because what it does to others and the consequences it may bring me.

    So, unless I am mentally retarded, I truly don't need a standard.

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  11. This inherent purity in all things has been empirically demonstrated to me, and I have experienced it directly.


    Empirically demonstrated to you??
    By whom or what?

    Why would I need a moral standard if I have senses?

    For instance, it is quite obvious that killing is wrong, because what it does to others and the consequences it may bring me.


    Was it quite so obvious to Stalin? Or Hitler? Hitler especially thought he was doing the world a favor by exterminating the Jews. So if we have no moral standard to compare to, and there are different values, then moral values are subjective and merely cultural. all is permissable (morally) and you cannot judge anyone about anything because morals are subjective.

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  12. "Empirically demonstrated to you??
    By whom or what?"

    This inherent purity was described first, specifically, by the last Buddha of this era. It was demonstrated to me by a teacher of a form of Tibetan Buddhism, who had realized this in themselves first.

    I think using Hitler or Stalin as examples of whether one should kill or not, or be virtuous, or not, is not a great place to start as a reference point.

    But what about Hitler and Stalin? I believe they were damaged, I think we all start out with an innate sense of what is a good act and a bad act. I see this innate goodness, or positivity in all small children, before it is crushed, twisted and mangled by circumstances and Adults. Most kids manage to hold onto some sense of "rightness" that helps them make positive decisions and have a good life.

    I think there are some moral values and ethics that cut past cultural lines. Killing people, taking things that are not freely given, being a liar -- how can any culture be not offended by these actions? Over and over again you see cultures and civilizations throughout history prohibiting the same types of things. It doesn't mean that they end up doing the things they prohibit, but the sense is there that certain things/ actions are universally bad.

    Now, in my life, I have made the distinction between being Moral vs being Ethical. You can be as Moral as you like, but not help anyone -- that's lousy ethics. Ethics (to me) is Morality in action. I'd rather have excellent Ethics over a superior Morality.

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  13. a teacher of a form of Tibetan Buddhism, who had realized this in themselves first.

    they just happened to realize this? who taught them?

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  14. Turn this around. Now I will ask you questions: Who taught you what you believe? Explain. What authority do they have? Testify. In any case, do they have any realization??? Prove it. Do they show any indications of grace, or achievement? Verify. Are they kind, when there is no reason to be kind? Establish. Are they full of equanimity, in the midst of provocation -- even in the face of their own death?

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  15. 1. My parents, my preacher, my church, but ultimately- God through the Holy Spirit.

    2. authority? God has authority over all things.

    3. i'm not sure what you mean by realization.

    4. well considering Jesus died on the cross when He had done no wrong and as followers of Christ, we love our enemies then yes.

    5. just look at the 12 disciples. 11 out of the twelve died terrible deaths by stoning or beating and one was even crucified upside down.(one died of age in exile) all were told to "repent of their heresy" none did. missionaries do all the time. ever heard of the movie- at the end of the spear?

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  16. I believe there are many ways to find God, and be with God. I have my way, others have theirs. I am fortunate that I have found my path, after so many years of searching! My realization came from within, for others, they realize the truth from outside of themselves. Even for others, I do not pretend to know -- I do not need to know! For the Path is the Path. I hope all others find their way, through loving teachers, churches, parents, siblings, family and communities -- may they find solace in their spiritual journey.

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  17. Such a statement reflects true tolerance and would be great if religions didn't teach diametrically opposed things. For instance Christianity says that Jesus is the only way to God. either He is or He isn't. if He is, then all other religions are false. if He isn't, then Christianity is false.

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  18. I am curious -- if Jesus Christ is the only way to God, and Christianity must be true or false, then what church (or sect) of Christianity teaches the true way?

    Like the many other religions of the World interpreting the way to Truth, there are many many different churches of Christianity, and Christ's teachings.

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  19. Or, to ask it another way, here is a question, and a very serious one, that was eventually answered by Martin Luther:

    "Is there such thing as a bad priest?"

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  20. Only churches that preach that Jesus Christ is the physical manifestation of God, (or God in human nature) and that say He is the only way to heaven are right. only churches that acknowledge the sovereignty of God and the sinful nature of man are right. Also, they must believe that salvation was made possible by Jesus, who died on the cross and rose again and is obtained by believing with your heart and confessing with your mouth that He and He alone is Lord.

    Now, there are differences in doctrines like- Baptists believe that you should be immersed while Methodists do sprinkling. Presbetyrians allow women deacons and ministers while Baptists do not. It is not for us to say which one is right. It is simply a matter of how they interpret the Bible. but, all of these churches pretty much agree on the doctrine of salvation. that is what matters. the other doctrines do matter, but they do not affect your salvation.

    and i believe that yes, there can be a "bad priest". if he is teaching things that are contrary to the Word of God (like salvation is obtained through works) then he is in a sense a false teacher and could also be considered a "bad priest"

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  21. And what should be done, or said, to those other forms of Christianity that do not preach what you say they should be preaching?

    For instance, what will you say to the Catholic Church? They believe in the sanctity of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and of God, but the Catholic Church insists that salvation is not exclusively through Jesus Christ, but also through the Sacrament, only to be administered through the priesthood, that you must go to confession, and do other specific works, and that the Pope is God's representative on Earth.

    According to the CC, there can be no "bad priest" when they are performing the sacrament, confession, and other sacred duties. A priest could literally be a child molester, murderer, or psychopath out of the sanctuary, but be invested with all required purity when doing his duties as a priest, saying mass.

    Aside from you contradicting & challenging the supremacy of the Catholic Church, which Jesus Christ established in scripture, you are very tolerant when it comes to various forms of Christianity. Very inclusive.

    But there were times in the Reformation, started by Martin Luther, when one group of believers splitting from Rome would slaughter another group of believers over the slightest disagreement over scripture or practice -- one notorious 3rd rail of Reformation Christianity was when exactly the host and wine turned into the blood and body of Christ.

    So when, for you, does the host turn into the blood and body of Christ?

    This is a very important question. It will help us determine which non-Catholic Christianity is the right one, based off specific doctrinal and dogmatic traditions.

    Then we'll know the rest of them are close, but not quite right.

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  22. Of course, when all is said and done, it is the Jews that have the special relationship with God -- they are literally God's "Chosen People", and they have many specific historical agreements, in the Bible, that attest to this. And Jesus was a Rabbi. And what Jesus taught was from a mystic Jewish perspective, and from a Jewish frame of reference, but this distinction has been whitewashed, appropriated, and homogenized through he ages, and propagated further through translations like the King Jame's translation of the Bible, which was a political tool to assert Kingly power over Worldly Things.

    What Bible are you using?

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  23. To the catholic church- i don't believe that no catholic can be saved. but, i think that they are wrong. Hey guess what? Jesus actually didn't establish the Catholic church. That was Paul. Jesus didn't call us to be Christians, go to church, take part in religion etc. He simply said- "Follow Me."


    But there were times in the Reformation, started by Martin Luther, when one group of believers splitting from Rome would slaughter another group of believers over the slightest disagreement over scripture or practice -- one notorious 3rd rail of Reformation Christianity was when exactly the host and wine turned into the blood and body of Christ.


    I'm not sure what you mean "when did the host and wine turn into the blood and body of Christ?"


    What Bible are you using?

    hmm.. probably the one that says this-

    22What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25As he says in Hosea:
    "I will call them 'my people' who are not my people;
    and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one,"[i] 26and,
    "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them,
    'You are not my people,'
    they will be called 'sons of the living God.' "[j]

    27Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
    "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
    only the remnant will be saved.
    28For the Lord will carry out
    his sentence on earth with speed and finality."[k]

    29It is just as Isaiah said previously:
    "Unless the Lord Almighty
    had left us descendants,
    we would have become like Sodom,
    we would have been like Gomorrah."[l]
    Israel's Unbelief
    30What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. 32Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." 33As it is written:
    "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall,
    and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."[m]


    interesting how it seems to say that God used the Jews to reach the Gentiles and that only a remnant of the Jews will obtain salvation in the end.

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  24. Tye,
    I believe you have your P's mixed up. Peter, not Paul, established the church and, I believe, served as the first "Pope".

    Later, Peter & Paul joined up with Mary to become a legendary folk music group. But that's another story entirely. :)

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  25. Thank you for taking the time for quoting the Bible at me. Being brought up in the Christian tradition, I know it well! You didn't address the questions I posed, and whenever someone starts reciting passages, instead of speaking plainly and directly, it comes off to me as being sanctimonious.

    You think the Roman Catholic Church is wrong? Well, then, the world's largest Christian church, representing over half of all Christians and about one-sixth of the world's population are being mislead -- and you are not positive if any of these people can be "saved". To this, all I can say is, Wow!

    As for your apparent ignorance on the concept of transubstantiation, this was one of the central points of diversion of the emerging protestant community, and the various new interpretations into the mystery of the eucharist were in stark contrast with the Catholic Church.

    Doubly sanctimonious with you passing judgment on the Jews, that God used them and "...only a remnant of the Jews will obtain salvation in the end."

    I suggest you take a course in comparative religion (or on Christianity) at the local Junior College, before trumpeting the unsubstantiated opinions you profess. To quote from the King James Bible:

    "Who is as the wise man? And who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed."

    Ecclesiastes 8:1

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  26. I never said that i wasn't positive that any of them can be saved. I believe that they can be saved and i believe that there are probably many catholics who are saved. however, i do not believe that first communion and confirmation save you.

    Wow ok. The Jews are God's chosen people. I know this. I am very greatful to them. It was only through their nation that people like me (gentiles) could achieve salvation. However, Jews in this sense does not refer to the Jewish religion but the Jewish race. They are different. You can be of the Jewish faith but not necessarily born of the Jewish nation. the Jewish faith does not believe that Jesus was the Messiah or Savior. There are Messianic Jews however, who do believe in the divinity of Christ and I am sure that there are Christians who are of the Jewish race. I don't mean that they have no chance of salvation or that they are not God's chosen people. I'm not passing judgement on them. The fact is, is that a lot of Jews did not accept the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. the Pharisees and Saducees are prime examples of this.

    My point was that the Bible clearly teaches that salvation is obtained through faith, not by works and that if someone believes that they can get to heaven by "playing religion" they are wrong.

    Note- I will not be attending college for four more years.


    TRT- You are correct thank you.
    Also, aren't peter paul and mary the one's who sing puff the magic dragon?

    One last thing- this just struck me. representing over half of all Christians and about one-sixth of the world's population are being mislead
    Who's to say that they are Christians? There are a lot of fakes out there who just play religion and are "Sunday Christians" especially in Protestant churches. A person is not a Christian because they say they are. They are only a Christian if they truly believe Christ is their personal savior. In fact, there is no way to know for sure whether or not anyone else is saved. it is not a judgement we should make. however, the way we live our lives presents others with a picture of our inside.

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  27. Thanks for the response. Thank you for the spirited discussion! I'll let the thread go, now.

    From the book of Matthew:

    "Judge not, that you be not judged.

    For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."

    I wish you well, and may we all find our path to Salvation, however that path and destination may seem/

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