Originally I wrote this article called RE:Ligion for our usual Sunday run. Really nothing special, just things I’d said before. I posted it to a Facebook group headed up by a friend of mine for a quick preview. It was then I met “Orthello.” He began to ask questions about my beliefs, ideas, and “theology.” His questions were so good I copied them to a worksheet on Word. As he asked, and I answered, I began to understand that this brilliant young man was drawing me out, even surprising myself at the direction of our conversation.
I know nothing about Orthello, save he is polite, and receptive. I have corrected obvious typos which, working with an iPad, myself, I totally understand. This is how people can reach out to each other. This can circumspect hate, because most of us hate anything we don’t understand. It begins with the original article.
If you want to break up a nice Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas, or even a beer party just bring up religion. Most American families are long past every member being on the same sheet of music when it comes to religion. It eventually boils down to, “My invisible guy in the sky can whip your invisible guy in the sky!”
God made man, man made religion, and religion made money. From Mormon to Methodist the main question is how deep is your love. While the mainstream has this down to a fairly civilized level, TV, and now cyber evangelists will pimp that collection plate with unbelievable audacity. Then everyone will stand back in snake amazement when they spend it on wine, women, and song just like the rest of us.
Theology is man’s feeble attempt to try to explain the unexplainable. As our empirical knowledge of the world around us grows, theology wanes. Sorta like the democrats. Fundamentalists take every word of the Bible literally. Common sense tell us that if you do that with books as thick and as edited, not counting translations, as the Bible, Qu’ran, or the Book of Mormon that you will eventually screw the pooch when someone calls you to task for defending some translation done by Englishmen back in the Middle Ages who worked under the supervision of a despot.
Are these works “inspired?” You could say that their age and survivability prove their metal, but then you could apply that to the Karma Sutra, also. The fact is, they all have some inspiration. There seems to be a common strand running through humanity. That is a point for the existence of God, not religion. Contrary to Cecil B. Demille, God did not chisel out the Ten Commandments with His holy hand. Mohammed couldn’t even read, and Joseph Smith was excellent at quoting the King James as he buried his head in that hat. If you’ll notice I went soft on the Rabbis because I’m retired, and I know better than to go messing with them Jews without no money.
When theological debate ensues, each side picks something indefensible that the other side has done. When you find yourself in the presence of a Mormon, for instance, it’s always a good move to trot out all those sister wives, unless you’re a Catholic and have try to explain all those little boys. And the response is always, “We don’t do that anymore.” Well, alrighty then. As de Good Book say, we’ve all fallen short of the glowry. Why?
Well, to put it frankly . . . sinnin’s fun. The stolen watermelon always tastes better than the one you bought. Nothing is more exciting than being where you’re not supposed to be, doing what is forbidden. You love your wife, but your girlfriend makes your hands shake. And you’re not really looking at your niece, you’re just admiring her dress, right? Well, of course you are.
So whenever religion is debated both sides will drag all of this luggage to the table, with, of course, the appropriate verses to defunkify all that dirty laundry. The Catholics believe confession will wash their grimy souls, Mormons do Temple work, Muslims cry, “INFIDEL!” and Baptists, well, hell, they’re just saved! None of this has the slightest resemblance to what Jesus, Mohammed, or even Joseph Smith originally taught, the various brands having been “improved” time and time again since the release of the original IPO.
What makes it so bad is that all the faiths have one thing in common. Non-belief constitutes some sort of death sentence. We’re all scared to death of death. I don’t think it’s the “being dead” part so much as the getting there. Religion claims to hold the keys to the Kingdom, but it also holds the valve to the oven, and there’s nothing more frightening as you strangle to death at eighty-seven years old, than thinking you may be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire for swiping that candy back when your were six years old. So they try to smooth out all that fear, doubt, and condemnation with forgiveness. All except the Muslims, who take it to a whole different level.
The grip religion has is that immortal soul part. If you dot all the i’s and cross all the holy t’s you get a pass, but if you trip, have a question, or some, belief such as freedom of speech, you run the risk of being shunned, thrown out of the church, cast into outer darkness, each flavor has its own way of removing you. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. If you are asked to leave a church does the church retain title to your soul? Do you have to get re-saved, or is it like a cell phone where you just port your number over to the Pentecostals?
All religion has a formula for you to unburden your soul, but you gotta do it their way. From confession to holy underwear they’ve all got right spiri-biotic for your sinful ways. And it works right up until you are drawing that last ragged breath and remember all that stuff you DIDN’T tell the priest.
Jesus was so simple. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor. Things like that. But things like that don’t make any money. Temples make money. Mosques make money. That big ass church down there in Houston, it makes money. But a simple abiding belief in God won’t make any money. Got to have a product, and that product, my friends, is religion!
I just finished reading ur “theological thesis” and, I must admit, it is very well-written.
However, it sadly falls short of providing a solution to the theo-problem. It highlighted their shortcomings — all denominations — but fell short of giving that one swipe-of-the-wand religious-problems-be-gone that I was expecting.
Secondly, it seems u know very little of all these religions u mentioned because, u only nit-picked the actions of a few FOLLOWERS and ascribed those individual actions to an entire religion.
Finally, do u or do u not believe in a God (of any kind)? Do u or do u not believe in any of the scriptures u mentioned? Ok… now WHAT is it about those scriptures/verses etc that u have an issue with (or agree with)?
Nice post, by the way
Good response. I do believe in a creator, but I think scripture is the opinion of men. I firmly believe in Jesus, and he made it his life to stand against organized religion. I flew high above the issues so as not to upset, or infuriate those firmly bound to their beliefs. I come from a Mormon family, but don’t haggle about their underwear at Thanksgiving. If you want to see a good reconciliation of faith I suggest the book Sharon by Pamela Woodward on Amazon and several other stores. Cute little tale about a revivalist Baptist preacher meeting the Virgin Mary.
You “think scripture is the opinion of men”? Which ones? Have you had the opportunity to read them to form such an opinion? Or u r just familiar with a few?
And I also admire ur sensible approach to not offend those bound to their beliefs. But i also think if u can back ur opinion with an educated proof, then you’d b helping, rather than offending, those bound to their beliefs.
With that said, u have my blessings to lay it all out… looking forward to reading more from you on religion. 🙂
I’ve read extensively on religion. I’ve written on it for years. One example is
but there are scores of others. I developed my delivery after years of debating religion, and realizing that I’d never won a single argument. I convinced mySELF, but hadn’t changed a thing. Same rule applied for the other guys if they accepted it or not.
Your relationship with the universe is just that, YOURS! If you posit a god, and count blessings, then for you they ARE blessings, and no one can convince you otherwise. Yesterday I found some money that I didn’t know I had. Was it a blessing? Yes. Did it come from God? I certainly hope so.
I penned this one, too
I got the idea while in Salt Lake City. They were showing me the Temple, and I saw commuter trains running up and down Main Street. The Mormons took me to dinner, and later, on the way back I noticed all the industry that had grown around the eastern edge of the Great Salt Lake. I asked myself out loud, “Joseph did you know we’s all gonna ride the train?”
I’m a student of Christopher Hitchens, and while I’m not the hard hitting atheist that he was, I do understand that no one understands the power of the human spirit or mind. My high school English teacher told me that I’d never be able to communicate in the English language. Now she a retired school teacher, and I’m a writer of several books and thousands of articles.
Since you read extensively on religion, I guess you’d b the right person to ask these questions…
1. Where did the Torah come from? How was it transmitted and to whom?
2. Is the Torah the same as the Gospel? And how was that transmitted and to whom?
3. How about the Quran and it’s revelation?
4. Are they all from the same God/god? How can we know for certain?
Othello, The Torah was a work compiled by groups of writers over years. It most likely wasn’t the work of one person i.e. Moses. Various versions were bound together. This is why there are two versions of the creation in Genesis. Later they came up with the Talmud to try to wiggle out if these discrepancies, which is why the senior editor had to come down and try to explain things.
Each faith holds the Torah and Gospels with the same reverence respectively. I’ve already addressed the Torah. Like that work the four gospels were a collective work, not the work of one man and certainly not written directly by the apostles. That having been said, please note the title of the individual works says The Gospel ACCORDING to John, Mark, etc, handing down the tradition attached to each apostle according to the understanding of that time. That understanding becomes RE:Ligion.
Mohammed claimed to have seen an angel. So did Joseph Smith. Each left a book. Mohammed was remembered by what he said, and that oral tradition was quite like the oral tradition of the Christians in the first century who believed Jesus’ return was imminent. All faiths try to qualify their books by ascribing some mystical origin. The inspiration comes from within the writer, but that can be a form of heavenly communication. Adherents will defend their various works. The Mormon will argue with you with the same conviction as a Muslim. It is rude to tell anyone that their prophet, sayer, or guru is not inspired when, for them, he is! RE:Ligion.
God is God, and that is that. The Mormons ascribe to attain Godhood by following the precept, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” This, however begs to reason who was the first “God?” Man, as crafty as he is cannot create, he can only rearrange. We can make iPhones from the dust of the ground, but try as we might we cannot create a single leaf. Proof? Behold the humble leaf.
The Butcher Shop