« Save the Soft Money Ban | Main | Credit Crunch »

November 17, 2008

Comments

This is one of those cases in which I think that the actions of a religious person, though justified entirely in the language of faith, can best be understood on the assumption that the person in question does not really believe in God at all, in any serious sense

There is little correlation between the professed beliefs and actual behavior of people who claim to be religious. Make of this what you will.

If you believed in Christ as described in scripture, it is perfectly clear how you would live your life. Maybe someday I'll meet such a person.

Just think what George Carlin would have to say about this guy.

In 2002, three weeks after the death of his wife, Scott, who was then 55, stood before the congregation and announced that the Bible instructed him as a high priest to take a virgin bride from the faithful. A week later, he did -- a pretty 20-year-old.

The article seems appropriate with the 30th anniversary of Jonestown and all.

He said his father lives off church-paid credit cards, and 2005 card statements he provided to The Post, addressed to Calvary Temple and sent to Pastor Scott's house, show personal spending of $10,000 to $13,000 a month. Items include $2,377 to a company that makes wheels for Harley Davidson motorcycles, $1,450 to a sports memorabilia firm and $544 to a winter sports rental center in Lake Tahoe.

That's pretty high on the hog for a pastor.

speaking of Jonestown, this article was just in LAweekly

Don't forget the verse about preaching water and drinking wine.
---
And btw http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/3464073/Educated-Catholics-have-sown-dissent-and-confusion-in-the-Church-claims-bishop.html>education is bad for you.

In his position, that thought would terrify me. Suppose you believed in a just and loving God, a God who had said the things I quoted above. And suppose you had taken it upon yourself to tell parents to throw their kids out onto the street, children to stop speaking to their "apostate" parents, and the various other things detailed in the Post story. The thought that you might be wrong might not worry you much if you didn't take God seriously -- if you just took Him to be a name you could toss around at will. But if you imagined that He was real -- a real other person who might or might not approve of the things you had done in His name -- then how could you not lie awake at night, wondering whether you had somehow mistaken His will?

Well, I've just spent the weekend arguing with people who say they believe God is real, and they know God approves the things they've done in his name - such as forcing annulments (or trying to, at least) on 18,000 married couples just the other week. Having children grow up certain (their mom and dad say so, and their teacher isn't allowed to say any different) that they're inferior and immoral by their nature.

So, you know. It's just not that uncommon an attitude among Christians.

And no amount of human misery ever seems to change their mind.

There are more than a score of examples that the Washington Post could have used of lesbian or gay teenagers being kicked out of their Mormon families for refusing to lie about their sexual orientation and refusing to get into a fake marriage, and never getting to see their families again. That would have been topical enough, given the recent crusade by the LDS against LGBT equality in California: I wonder why they didn't?

Aren't you being just as selective as they are in your choice of scripture? It looks to me like you want the bible to be a good moral guide, and you're extracting from it a message that accords with your pre-existing values.

I don't think their positions are without scriptural support ("if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out" etc)-- which reflects poorly on scripture as a source of moral guidance.

Showing that the Good Book does not speak with a single voice is the first important step in liberating the fundamentalist.

those texts speak of love, and of justice, and of compassion. How could you be told that Christ required you to throw your child out onto the street and not know that whoever told you this was not speaking for God?

I think this would never, ever be permitted in a church like mine, and we certainly fall under the "evangelicals" generalization. My personal view on this is that you don't break ties with people that don't share your beliefs, if only (and this isn't a huge piece of my thinking, but it should be sufficiently behavior-altering) because it removes any future opportunities for you to affect them in a positive way.

But that's not entirely useful thinking in the context where the flock just blindly follows along with the pastor, and those who disagree just might be in the right. There's got to be room for disagreement. Protestants weren't called that by accident; I'd think that kind of thing would be dead obvious.

Where congregations and whole denominations go wrong, I think, is when they start favoring the Old Testament over the New, as a matter of their own choice. I don't think anyone can possibly want the rules to actually be: you have to be perfect to get into Heaven, and oh, by the way, no one can ever be perfect.

I also seem to remember Jesus saying something about having to give up all your worldly possessions to follow him.

The problem with Protestanism -- speaking as a Protestant -- is that you get power hungry nutters like this pastor going off on their own and founding their own religions, without any hierarchical community review. These P.H. nutters always seem to gravitate to the OT, where they can forget the living Jesus and get off on the prohibitions, bannings, and judgment. That is so much more fun than actual trying to love other people.

I think you assume a bedrock good faith on the part of Pastor Star Scott that does not exist. Swindling, manipulating, and controlling the gullible and foolish has become the chief labor of intelligent psychopaths. It's legal, and it pays well.

I think you have an overly rosy picture of the Christian scriptures.

Matt. 10
" 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35For 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.

36And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

37He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. "

So that seems pretty straightforward to me.

You know, I am not worthy of Jesus. I know fully well that to fulfil the Law, I should be God. I am not, and in my weakness, I am bound for eternal damnation, save for the grace of God.

As a human, I am utterly incapable of ever doing a single good deed. When I consciously do a deed characterized as virtous by other men, I am only satisfying my own pride. Only when I do something good without realizing its goodness, I may do something virtuous, but then, it is God acting through me, not myself. So, I am not only incapable of redeeming my sins through good works but also incapable of doing a single good work.

And if I am such a miserable creature, only capable of wickedness, completely at the mercy of God, how could I judge someone else?

I think it's pretty clear that Star R. Scott does not believe in a kind and loving God, or at least a different definition than we would.

I can think of a few different options other than "they are deliberately lying about their belief" -- which I grant is probably occasionally true.

* Such people could be slightly demented, externalizing their own decision-making processes onto an imaginary character. This doesn't require lying, just another disconnect from reality.

* They may actually *be* in communication with a god. The character of the Christian god, if you look at everyone who characterizes it, ranges from barely there to trivial to homicidally insane. From a cosmological standpoint the only way I've been able to make sense of this is that people are worshiping other gods but have become convinced that theirs is the only, true, Christian god of the Bible.

I don't think very many Christians, even among those who believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, make major life decisions by clearing their minds, opening up the Bible, reading it through, and rendering a judgement based only on what's in the text. (I'm not sure that's even possible; once you start worrying about how to reconcile different passages like the ones quoted above in this thread, you're in the realm of hermaneutics, and that way lies graduate school.)

Instead, people gravitate towards churches that satisfy their felt needs (social, spiritual, whatever), and whatever parts of the Bible that church emphasizes are, as far as the worshippers are concerned, the Bible.

the assumption that the person in question does not really believe in God at all,

I disagree. Given the traditional stressing of the importance of faith, it's easy to take away the message that mere belief is the only thing that matters. From there, it's not a huge leap to think that anyone with beliefs that differ in any regard is a non-person. If you come to think of yourself as, by definition, a faithful chap, then it's not too hard to come to believe that your every thought is God whispering in your ear. And there's plenty in the OT, as well as some stuff in the NT, that justifies savagery.

To say nothing of our innate tendency to divide the world into "our tribe" set against "not our tribe," and confound morality with tribal allegiance.

In other words, Pastor Scott loves Jesus like Dick Cheney loves America.

Coincidentally, my wife and I were just having this conversation about how absolutely jarring it is when you discover Christians behaving badly. I suspect it's because they have this conviction that the Lord is on their side in all that they do, therefore they can do no wrong.

Which, manifestly, is wrong. It's one of the reasons I tend to keep my religious beliefs to myself, because I deeply, deeply distrust that anyone, anywhere (especially me) has any kind of even indirect tap into the will of God. So for me, faith is kind of a tightrope walk, with sin on one side and pride and arrogance on the other. Knowing myself, I try to put a little extra windage in leaning away from the pride-and-arrogance side.

But if you imagined that He was real -- a real other person who might or might not approve of the things you had done in His name -- then how could you not lie awake at night, wondering whether you had somehow mistaken His will?

I don't know about Scott in particular, but I can imagine cases where people might well lie awake at night worrying about such things and still do them.

There are always cases where in order to benefit a person you feel justified in doing something that will initially hurt them (physically/emotionally), but in the long run is better for them. It's the dilemma of a parent punishing a child or making them do their homework, but also other forms of 'tough love', such as forcing someone onto a drying-out program etc or even saying people need to lose their jobs in a dying industry so that they can have a better economic future. ;-) And in the case where there's genuine love for the people you feel forced to 'hurt' in this way, there is genuine pain to yourself as well as to them.

The problem is that this impulse lends itself very easily to distortion. It’s easy to come to focus on the pain that you suffer by having to do something harsh, more than on the pain that the other person suffers: the old slogan of ‘it hurts me more than it hurts you to do this’. That’s bad enough, but it gets worse when you wrongly conclude from the fact that doing what’s right sometimes hurts that only if something hurts is it right: ‘if it’s not hurting it isn’t working’.

At that point you can do terrible things to other people, because you believe you are really helping them, and the fact that you feel so upset about this perversely becomes a ‘proof’ that you’re right to do it. It’s the same logic by which some people who want their country to torture people feel they are being brave, not because they don’t believe torture is awful, but because they do. I don’t think there is anything intrinsic to Christianity in this, though there are parts of the Bible that can be used to justify such behaviour, just as there are parts of the Bible that can be used to justify almost anything.

The problem with Protestanism -- speaking as a Protestant -- is that you get power hungry nutters like this pastor going off on their own and founding their own religions, without any hierarchical community review. These P.H. nutters always seem to gravitate to the OT, where they can forget the living Jesus and get off on the prohibitions, bannings, and judgment. That is so much more fun than actual trying to love other people.

Much more fun, and an easier way to controlling their wallets too. As the older Catholics figured out, there's nothing like the threat of excommunication and eternal damnation to ensure that the 'donations' keep rolling in!

There is little correlation between the professed beliefs and actual behavior of people who claim to be religious.

as soon as i learned this, i decided to just skip religion altogether. since i can follow the same rules most people actually follow, by skipping the part where i claim to follow the rules nobody actually follows, i come out better in the end; at least i wasn't trying to fool myself (or anybody else).

[O]nce you start worrying about how to reconcile different passages like the ones quoted above in this thread, you're in the realm of hermaneutics, and that way lies graduate school.

Nicely said.

The vast majority of Christians don't usually approach it that way though, they just come to the conclusion they like and find the proof-text that supports their claims. Whether you are the most tolerant UCC member or a fire and brimstone reactionary, there's always a Bible passage that will show you that you are right in your personal Christianity.

hermaneutics

Derives from the Greek God Herman, messenger to Lily.

I am never sure how to think about this. Hilzoy's conclusion is possible, though it would go against the person having spoken in presumably every connection in terms of God being real.

Another possibility - which I find more frightening, but not necessarily less likely - is that the person has completely failed to imagine the Good supposed to be possessed and embodied by God. I don't even mean to depend upon a particular diagnosis of that Good; just, the person is not using any of the possible resolutions of the problem "Why would/how could a good God do that?", because he has not truly encountered the question. In its absence, the various parts of the Bible can be picked among to support some mighty austere and merciless and vindictively unforgiving postures(hilzoy is herself being likeably optimistic in her own picking of the messages of "love and justice and compassion"; of course, hilzoy is passing it through a confrontation with that question and the question of conceiving good), and of course God is supposed to not be fully comprehensible by us... And with God's intent so rootless, what prevents it from being thought to fully agree and harmonize with the person's other god, one's own self and ego: "God smiles on His faithful servant and wishes him the best"? Young woman and sports cars and all?

It is a scarier thought that this can be perfectly sincere.

"But if you imagined that He was real -- a real other person who might or might not approve of the things you had done in His name -- then how could you not lie awake at night, wondering whether you had somehow mistaken His will?"

You could ask the same thing about someone with any political ideology or ideas. How can any sane person, faced with complexity and, well, the human world, not often lie sleepless in terror that his or her favored positions and policies and framings, which we speak firmly and out loud, might actually in self-indulgence have missed something - perhaps something terrible?

It is no small objection.

But we pretty much sleep just fine.

Which is not a terribly good thought either. *sigh* But I suggest the psychology may be similar.

Coincidentally, my wife and I were just having this conversation about how absolutely jarring it is when you discover Christians behaving badly.

Yes, who could ever imagine such a thing happening? The history of people going by the label "Christian" has been so spotless up to this point in history, I can well imagine your shock at these discoveries.

I can well imagine

No, you can't; you don't the context of the conversation. The only thing you can presume to know about this, just now, is how to behave badly in this discussion.

That's one victory for today. You can go back to bed, now.

hilzoy;

You have just described something that has puzzled many a Christian scholar and not a few Saints. The amount of inhumanity that is done by man on his fellow man 'in the god' is quite appalling. That someone who professes to follow the teaching of a loving and forgiving god is mindboggling.

To me one of the true tragic elements is parents or children who follow such a person. The harm done to those who 'cast out' their loved one(s) on the command of the 'man of god' is much greater than those who have been cast out. Given how much harm is suffered by those 'cast out' it is truly beyond comprehension the harm inflected on those who did the 'casting out'. And what is very sad to me is that there is nothing anyone can do for them until they have an epiphany and start to suspect that they just might be wrong.

Christians behaving badly

Splitting families up is pretty standard practice in charismatic cults. Scott describing his cult as Pentecostal Christianity seems to me kind of the luck of the draw -- it was the closest thing to hand when he embarked on his cult-building project.

Dear Slartibartfast,

Gee, thanks.

Love,

The Jews

It was less visible, and the clergy involved weren't usually so public and so crooked, but this kind of expulsion has a long and sad history among ethnic groups who immigrated from heterogeneous societies to the pluralism of the US.

In my own family, my mom's next oldest brother, and closest sibling (who died a number of years ago) was cut off from the family when he married a non-Jewish woman in the 1930's. My mom says he was a wonderful man, but I never got to meet him.

The same thing happened in various Catholic ethnic groups, and among Asians. Sometimes it was as arbitrary as marrying the "wrong kind" of co-religionist (i.e. Irish Catholic vs Italian Catholic).

I no longer practice religion, and I never believed in an afterlife, but to the extent that priests, ministers and rabbis enabled and encouraged this behavior, they deserve to burn in hell.

"Where congregations and whole denominations go wrong, I think, is when they start favoring the Old Testament over the New, as a matter of their own choice."

This seems reasonable for Christians, but problematic for Jews.

"Derives from the Greek God Herman, messenger to Lily."

What a munstrous idea.

"In my own family, my mom's next oldest brother, and closest sibling (who died a number of years ago) was cut off from the family when he married a non-Jewish woman in the 1930's."

Although tangential, since it was for different reasons, my father's brother and his family cut off all contact with us when I was around 12, and my parents divorced. It was perhaps understandable that they'd cut off contact with my father, who was bipolar ("manic-depressive," then), and rather nuts and problematic, but I never understood why, since my father had moved out and we had only sporadic contact with him for some years, my uncle and aunt and cousins totally cut off my sister and myself, as well, since we were just innocent kids.

But I never heard from them again until decades later, at my father's funeral. I still don't really understand it at all.

But, then, I'm also someone whose mother cut off contact with him decades ago, as did the rest of his family, for whatever set of reasons stemming from my lifelong major depression.

Not all families are like those you see in movies and tv, where people earnestly assure you that, no matter what, you'll always be their brother/son/cousin/nephew/whatever.

This seems reasonable for Christians, but problematic for Jews.

Judaism? That would be an entirely different religion.

I think. Last time I looked, Judaism wasn't a Christian denomination. Probably I ought to have been specific that I was referring to Christianity exclusively, though. I'd thought the New Testament reference would have been a clue, but I've been dead wrong about that kind of thing before.

I've probably invited similar drubbings about forgetting about the Hindus and Buddhists and Shintoist and Atheists, too. Some days I just can't do anything right.

"I've probably invited similar drubbings about forgetting about the Hindus and Buddhists and Shintoist and Atheists, too."

Unless they center on "favoring the Old Testament over the New, as a matter of their own choice," probably not.

"Last time I looked, Judaism wasn't a Christian denomination."

You didn't write anything aobut "Christian denominations." You wrote about "[w]here congregations and whole denominations go wrong." No "Christian" in there at all, or in your whole comment.

I won't otherwise try to pick this apart further, since I doubt it would be productive to try to understand how perhaps some people/congregations who favor the Old Testament go wrong, but others don't, or everyone does, or whatever.

No, you can't; you don't the context of the conversation.

Hey, you brought it up. Why would you expect me to know more context than you've offered? All you've offered so far is, "My wife and I find it jarring to discover Christians behaving badly," and that's what I responded to. Want a different response? Offer more context.

(You should probably know all that by now, one would think. Why you would continue to find it, er, jarring that obliqueness elicits different responses than clarity is a mystery for the ages.)

The only thing you can presume to know about this, just now, is how to behave badly in this discussion.

I'm not sure how understanding the following:

1. People sometimes behave badly.
2. Christians are people.
3. Therefore, Christians sometimes behave badly.

. . . is, itself, behaving badly, but whatever.

"That would be an entirely different religion."

Incidentally, although Jews take this stance, large numbers of Christians do not. Thus "Jews For Jesus," "Messianic Jews," "Hebrew Catholics, ""Torah-submissive Christians," and a number of other perhaps-blurry sorts.

As for Abraham, I agree with my wife (a Jew) who says that Abraham failed the test. He was supposed to say no.

As for Abraham, I agree with my wife (a Jew) who says that Abraham failed the test. He was supposed to say no.

Me too.

What I would say to ignotus and Anthony, based on my own inadequate understanding of the Gospels, is that yes, Jesus did often speak in terms of extreme division and renunciation, and used some pretty aggressive images... but every time there was any question of conflict between being humane to a person and cleaving to principle, Jesus came down firmly on the side of the person. Over and over, the Gospels assert that although we're all in big trouble with God and may get kicked out of His house, punishing other people is just not your business. You call your brother a fool at the risk of your own soul; that's not qualified by "unless he deserves it."

"If your eye offends you, pluck it out" can only be taken to mean "throw your kid out of the house" if you think your kid is a body part or a possession, rather than a person. Jesus doesn't allow this.

"And a man's foes shall be they of his own household" can only be taken to mean "throw your kid out of the house" if you think you shouldn't love your enemies or treat them well. There's no basis for that in Jesus's words or deeds -- unless you count him kicking the moneychangers out of the temple, but that only works if you believe your house is a temple to yourself, which is blasphemy if you're a Christian and are not Christ.

Slartibartifast nails it.

"In an interview, he cited scriptures: "Deuteronomy says if your kid doesn't follow your God, kill 'em. That's what we do, but not physically. To us, you're dead if you're not serving our God," he said."

What do you call a Christian that quotes the Torah? A Pharisee. Nothing wrong with being a Pharisee; just don't confuse it with being a Christian.

"So that seems pretty straightforward to me."

Apparently not, ignotus, if you think those verses apply to obeying this or that piece of the Torah.

You didn't write anything aobut "Christian denominations."

The subject matter dealt with a Christian denomination. I'm a Christian; I think I've made that clear. I mentioned Protestants. Oh, and pastors. It may be that Jews have pastors, though. Oh, and Jews, in general, don't have a New Testament, as a religious document. As far as I know, I mean.

Messianic Jews are Christians, by any sane definition of the word. Hebrew Catholics are no less Christian than Roman Catholics. Different flavors of Christianity: still CHristian.

Sometimes what seems dead obvious to me, as I mentioned, isn't, to others. I really regret that.

"Where congregations and whole denominations go wrong, I think, is when they start favoring the Old Testament over the New, as a matter of their own choice."

This seems reasonable for Christians, but problematic for Jews.

It really shouldn't, because to Jews (as I learned anyway), the New Testament is Just Another Book, with no more specialness than any other religious book.

But when Christians start pulling text from the Old Testament (then say that all the surrounding text was supplanted by the New Testament) is where they go wrong. At least that's what I believe Slarti was saying, and I tend to agree with him.

Bless you hilzoy, for a great post and inciting a great thread. I’d love to and may yet go through the thread posting ripostes and noddings and all kinds of stuff (though I’ll pass by on the other side of the scuffles—which is one of the thread’s marvels; they are thin on the ground and don’t spoil its pleasures until near the present end).

But directly: the first bit of Scriptural relevance that came to mind was Jesus’ story of the full-of-himself Pharisee and the emptied out publican. Pharisee makes a big show of praying and his prayer praises himself; publican says God, be merciful to me, a sinner: Jesus said God heard and blessed the publican but refused to waste time on the Pharisee.
The second thought was about Romans 1 and 2. Romans 1 is the all-time fave of gay-bashing Christians, all about how God turned them over to their own lusts, and how men made God into something trivial. The passage has powered most of the more elaborate frothings about homosexuality from the pulpit. That’s 1. But 2 begins Therefore (my italics) whosoever you are that’s judging insofar as you condemn another you condemn yourself b/c you do the very same things. The frothings always skip over that big fat ‘therefore’ in the middle of the road making the frother stink to high Heaven. Thus the root passage justifying homophobia in the Bible in fact damns homophobia.

(In passing perhaps the strongest issue for the the first Protestants was that believers ought not just take the priest’s words as final but rather read the Bible and think for themselves. As one with strong Protestant affiliations I think it’s true; but it clearly has made some monstrous openings for evil.)

I spent Saturday before last on the verges of the Void; badly managed detox from a badly misunderstood regimen for broken-rib pain. (Gerard Manley Hopkins can be a comfort of sorts then b/c few have ascended so far into the radiance of Creation, and have expressed the experience of the Void so fervently, all in the same breath.) To the point here is that of all the images of final, endless isolation without bearings, infinite weight of infinite darkness, the Horror, that passed through my mind then, the most awful was the story of God’s making the Covenant with Abraham, b/c when God lays aside the sturm und drang He comes as a Horror of Great Darkness. The final truth of all Creation is that at bottom it’s empty, nothingness, huge expanses of emptiness, with a frosting of atomic phenomena. It is the truest horror. And God said (so to speak): That Horror? That’s Me.
Casting it lightly is likely not a good thing, but neither is it something I want to rub anybody’s face in.
Agsin, Hopkins spends many of his grandest moments exploring this final extremity. The unbearable division in Unity, the Unity in unbearable division. All of that is tied together in the Cross, God being divided from Himself, experiencing the Horror full force, submitting to it, and so breaking its power, reducing it to a monstrosity, and promising that in direct consequence finality is already in principle ended and will at the end disappear altogether. But meanwhile we are called to bear up in His strength under extremity and give substance to His love by passing it on prodigally.
There is very little of substance connecting this emptying, this becoming a vehicle for Love, this unconditional commitment to a hope beyond all hopes, seeking anything but self-satisfaction; to, well, huge swathes of many things called Christianity.
God be merciful to us sinners.

And all honor to hilzoy and obsidian wings for stepping into this territory. Where else may a person find such measured, thoughtful conversation on such a rich topic?
I regret my inadequacy in expressing these things either briefly or clearly; sketchiness acknowledged and apology offered. Problem is there’s so much that needs saying about it.

Felix, except for the part about your voided weekend, which I hope is all better now, that was entirely a pleasure to read.

I can't find my copy of Russell Hoban's beautiful novel Pilgermann, but he was also struck by the darkness traversed by flames in the Abraham story. He concludes that whenever you make a covenant with God, you do so from in between the pieces of yourself.

"I spent Saturday before last on the verges of the Void; badly managed detox from a badly misunderstood regimen for broken-rib pain."

That sucks; best wishes for feeling better.

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day ,
What hours, O what black hours we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light's delay.

With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.

I am gall, I am heartburn. God's most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see

The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

-Gerald Manley Hopkins

These discussions always remind me of this scene in West Wing where 'ole Bartlett tears up that Dr.Laura clone.

I actually attend the church where the witch trials happened, in Salem. It's still around, next year it will begin it's 380th year as a continuing congregation.

For a variety of reasons, only some of which were actually religious, the members of that congregation circa 1690's decided what they really needed to do was hang or press to death a number of their neighbors. "Press to death" means pile rocks on someone until they can't breathe.

Happily, that practice has been abandoned, at least in our congregation.

John Calvin had Michael Servetus burned at the stake. Or, at a minimum, consented to it. They used green wood so it would take longer.

Servetus didn't think the doctrine of the trinity was actually in the Bible.

And it's not just Christianity. Shia and Sunni folks drill holes in each other's heads. Muslims and Hindus in India blow each other up, shoot each other, and set fire to each other's places of worship.

And it's not just religion. History is full of examples of folks crushing other folks in the dust in the name of, for example, some great historical destiny.

I don't know how you start from Jesus' teachings of love and mercy and end up burning somebody at the stake because you don't agree with their reading of a doctrine invented hundreds of years after Jesus' life.

I don't know how you start with Mohammed's teachings of justice and the equality of all people and end up drilling hole in your neighbor's head.

I don't know how you start with Marx's "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his means" and end up murdering entire populations in their millions.

I don't know how you start with "We hold these truths to be self-evident" and then enslave a race of people for the first hundred years of your bold adventure.

All I know is that it's in us, each and every one of us, to do it.

As best I can make out, the way Scott is able to live with what he does is because he's a bad guy, and it just doesn't bother him all that much. The reason folks let him get away with it is because, for whatever reasons of their own, they are attracted to that kind of bullying and domination.

Hopkins:

The man is one of the most beautiful writers in English, but every time I read him it breaks my heart.

What crime or sin did he commit, that he should see himself as so unworthy?

I think there people whose burden in life is the tenderness of their own conscience. Hopkins seems like one of those.

Thanks -

russell; with all due honor, respect, and admiration (and a non-negligible possibility that my vision is clouded):
I have never found in Hopkins that much of an autobiographical bent.He reflects on tragedies elsewhere; he praises glories he witnesses around him, and he meditates on the horror and loss to which humanity is subject. Overarchingly, and in these contexts, he adores God in Christ as the origin of all that is good and the Redeemer of all that is evil.

I do not know all, even many, of his poems; thus my judgment may readily be questioned by anyone who knows a single poem as a conterexample: But I know none of his poems making claim to report authorial distinction in either praise or blame,or horror or exaltstion.
His heart is torn by pity for the human lot, its suffering, drudgery, and end. His pity is nourished by a keen, searching gaze. But never for himself. And one of the reasons he can bear to look so searchingly ia because it is for him meditation on Christ’s sufferings, compacted of more and worse than we can possibly imagine.
His “sighs heave, herds-long” and he is sighing for and with Christ (not explicitly in that poem, but elsewhere, yes); “they huddle in a main, a chief woe, world-sorrow.”
At the heart of his horror is the bottomless sadness of all the good, all the beauty, lost in infinite darkness, lost in death.

In fact it was that infinite darkness that I was saying I felt brushed past me then. It persuaded me that it lies behind all our best efforts to buck up and be happy. All our speaking is at some level a way of covering over underlying, infinite, emptiness.

Afterward I was (uneasily) glad of it. I felt I understood my father’s suffering on his death-bed better, and I count that a good thing; and it offered me a hermaneutic (hah!) tool with which to examine matters of interest more closely. I think I have seen something concealed everywhere that drives much if not most human activity. It binds tightly with both paleolithic humanity and the most ardently secular advanced thinker, and is the abrasive heart of humanity’s pearl.

I used to go to that church. I am another witness that "Pastor" Star Scott is just like most Americans.
He is a liar, he is greedy, he is a thief, he is immoral, he does not believe what Jesus believed, etc. etc. etc.

He's money hungry, power hungry, and there are MANY witnesses to these facts. I can give proof of each one.

Anyways, still gotta just believe that my prayer will keep on being answered as it HAS BEEN since I prayed it last year. That more and more people will leave that place and start learning the truth. It'll happen. ;)

Thanks for reading.
- Marc Stinebaugh
(Aka. Gzuz the Man Child)
[email protected]

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad