Define Idolatry…

to connect it to the topic, that statue and those icons are reminders that “we’re in the matrix” to honor Doug and these are tools to access the absolute. does that make any sense?” (Luke)

Now you got me going – what is idolatry Luke and would you know in this generation if you legitmately saw it?

What you say are windows to the next world – I also say may be misrepresentations of the next – yet with an idol we are given some solidarity…and that’s all some people want – the mystery unveiled and removed.

The first commandment in the decalogue is quite simple – no idolatry:

You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. (Exodus 20:4)”

What does this actually prove? Well, for starters God has no image and no image we can find will make that any clearer. So avoid it – lest we also find the image becomes a ‘piece’ of our God (our definition of God is part and partial with figurine/painting/icon/etc) and unremoveable.

You also play down the role of superstition in this whole thing – as to what icons can and possibly help build up. Superstition is directly related to iconagraphy in religion – and superstition is a sort of ‘control’ over God (if we do this around this icon we can make God do said thing).

I have seen a plethora of times in Greece and in general in the West. That type of thinking comes from iconagraphy and if you refuse to believe that – watch people when they do some of this superstitious stuff they do to religious icons – it’s actually quite revealing. Sometimes they feel as if they don’t do it – God might be ‘mad’ or they won’t be ‘blessed’. As if this crossing of the chest or certain amount of the same prayer will do that.

Top that of, here is God’s name:

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.‘” (Exodus 3:14)

There is no name given. Moses, maybe thinking he could get the name, gets none. God just is.

Yet Christianity taps on the end of prayer’s ‘in Jesus’ name’ as if it were some magical formula for the rest of the prayer. Jesus doesn’t even give God a name – but only a placement – Our Father.

So we have no name and no image. Then comes along human ingenuity to fill in both so as to make ourselves more comfortable and assured. We seek to remove the mystery, not for God’s sake, but for our own.

But what can I say – this is the inevitable outcome when we place a human as God. Thus your gma’s game with the icon…you call it a reminder – I call it shaping and adding a form to God – complete with a name and everything. Now maybe she doesn’t worship that statue (I agree) – but she needs that for some reason…you say as a reminder – of what exactly? That God cannot be seen or imaged or has no Name (just IS)? How the hell can a reminder be built from that is the real question? (Sorry if this seems harsh – your gma is likely a wonderful lady).

But we are dealing with something that is a non-issue to the majority of the Christian world – and they don’t really take that 1st commandment serious anyways. I mean how can they – their God has a name, a place of birth, a death, and iconagraphy out the wazoo. So concern for the 1st commandment is a non-consideration in Christian circles…yet I think the slip into idolatry is quite present.

Now don’t get me wrong – we want pictures (or art) about our spiritual experiences as things to think about it is just A OK – but I get skeptical when those become images for God that people cannot let go of for fear of losing their own spiritual connection. Then we cross paths with idolatry.

***Comment taken from Luke’s ‘Absolute Truth’ Blog

Protest-ant Revolution…

So I had a chance to catch some of this series on BBC called the ‘Protestant Revolution’ (part 1 I watched – the politics of belief). It got me thinking as I watched it.

Martin Luther’s challenge to the Pope in the 16th century inspired conservatives and radicals alike, and its history is one of conflict, challenge and rebellion” (from the BBC site)

Protestantism is really a movement of ‘protest’ – which sparked the use of political movements in Luther’s time to our current landscape of politics (ie: moral majority movement). With protest comes the obvious – division – which has been quite the cornerstone of the Christian faith in Protestant movements for 100’s of years.

Luther started something that had Protestant fighting Catholic – but ironically – had Protestant fighting Protestant also – so much so – some of the worst bloodbaths in Germany and Britian history happened in this stage of the game (with challenge to monarchs from various Protestant factions). Protestantism’s free thinking kind of touched off a problem – divisiveness and control.

Fact is, Protestantism is a rebel movement – went against the abuses they saw in Catholicism and each new strand to come out of this developed their own ways of thinking – from Luther to Calvin to Knox. Eventually many strands of Christianity are to become defined by this ‘protest’ idea – namely in the West.

I am aware that within the West there are some 100’s of denominations that have sprouted from movements that find their roots in Protestantism. Why so many splits? Well, simply put – protest is part of the cornerstone of what they are built upon – and this idea permeates the theology and views adopted by new leaders in each generation. Nevermind trying to mend the repairs one see’s with church structure – just split off and start something new where authority is not a question anymore in change.

After seeing this program I realize the problems with the Protestant Revolution – it’s not much different than any other revolution we see (ie: in Russia or Cuba)…it’s just packaged differently. One needs to realize that the Protestant Reformation called into question the leadership of it’s day and set off horrendous battles for power among church and monarch and peasant. Like Che & Fidel taking Cuba back for Cubans – Luther saw it kinda the same way – take Germany back for the Germans.

As nice as some of the things that came out of the Protestant Revolution (ie: bible in our langauages – seperation of church and state) – the horrors it touched off from it’s first movements are far worse. They still reverberate with us today – a type of colonialist attitude towards minorities wherever this movement went (ie: America’s or Africa). One could also say the Protestant Revolution touched off elitism…the ‘them and us mentality…and that is at the cornerstone of Christian theology still.

Questioning Christian Roots

So I just finished reading Barrie Wilson’s book ‘How Jesus became Christian’ and I really liked a lot of what was presented in the ‘theory’.

The idea behind the book is Jesus is Jewish and was for all intensive purposes – following Judaism. The other contention is the Pauline community won the day concerning interpretation and changed the way Christianity was to look for the future (more Hellenic in nature). The distance between Christian faith and Judaism faith was born within the pages of the very New Testament we use in Christian communities to this day (and I agree – it’s all there if we care to look).

What I learned:

(a) There is a distinct seperation between Judaism and Christianity – they are different faith systems. What began Jewish (with Jesus) ended up Hellenistic (with Paul) and the direction of the split was truly complete.

(b) Christ and Messiah are different terms and mean different things to Judaism and Christianity – and to Jesus and Paul.

(c) Paul never met Jesus – nor did he have much interaction with the actual disciples – Paul based everything on his ‘mystic experience’ with the ‘Christ’. This experience seemed to have led to differences between James/Peter/John and Paul (so much so – they actually seem to be writing against one another in certain letters).

(d) Christianity from it’s on-set (when Paul arrived on the scene) was headed in 2 directions – one remaining Jewish and one catering to the Gentiles. The law was at the heart of the contention and what was required of Gentiles (see Acts 15 for more) – but Paul rejected the Torah and this was the truest split that appeared.

(e) The original Jesus community likely never held the views we see in churches to this day. Trinity, God’s only begotten son, Christ-Saviour-Redeemer, and a virgin birth. Jesus was more about the ‘kingdom of God’ and it’s realization on ‘earth’ (which was totally a ‘doing’ thing – here and now). This view can be found in Matthew and James (as I have contended for some time) – but not in Paul.

Is Christianity wrong is the real question?

No, if we accept it is a different religion altogether than Judaism and has no connection whatsoever to Judaism – then no – it is not wrong…it has all the right in the world to develop however it chooses. If it is connected to Judaism somehow then I have to contend – Christianity made some fatal errors in interpretation along the way – and this is plainly obvious when comparing the 2 faith systems.

But what do we say then – Christianity and Judaism have no connection? May it never be (to quote Paul) – Paul and Jesus understood the faith of Judaism a lot differently is the real contention.

Happy Anniversary!

5th year anniversary – and celebrating it in Greece…how wonderful is that!

We are spending some time in Tolo (rented a hotel for the day there) and we went swimming and had lunch at a taverna…tonight we are going to walk around, have supper, and just enjoy the night life of Tolo.

Greece is pretty fun I have to admit – the weather is beautiful and shopping here is quite fun also (bought $300.00 Euro for presents for people back home). Being here alone with my wife is also very nice – we can just be tourists and not have the constant of people trying to figure out what to do for us today – we can just blend in and walk the streets.

I think this is the best anniversary so far – and no need for presents – the adventure of being in Greece is reward enough!

Greece Part 2

Been here for 2 weeks and some interesting stuff has happened.

(a) Country life in Greece is pretty sweet – not as good as city life – but very nice also! We were in Agrinio and stayed on a farm and I really loved the atmosphere and the people there.

(b) Local stores run by mom and pop still exist here – and I fricken love it! I wish Canada had not went the route of ‘Wal-Marts’ and big business – these local stores create and sustain community I am seeing.

(c) Greece has lots of ancient sites and beaches – if you are into sight-seeing and swimming – this should make your list of places to visit.  I am not too interested in the biblical stuff myself – but it doesn’t hurt it’s near me and I can go and see it (ie: Corinth).

(d)  Greek Orthodox faith is very superstitious and I think linked to Greek mythology still in some ways. However, I think both have interesting pasts and through-out this country I have learned a lot about saints and mythology.

(e) I got into my first care accident here…boo. And it was a doosy – but it was at this moment that we learned St. Dimitry is ‘watching over us’. Not that I totally believe that kind of stuff – but there is some interesting coincidences with that name.  

(f) I love the relaxation and true vacation that surrounds this country – they have naps in the afternoon and everything closes – man I love that idea!

(g) Everyone needs to do this at least once in their lifetime – visit a foreign country and live like the residents and have a real vacation. Something about this trip opens up so much more in life to me and makes me realize how another half of this world lives – and I can appreciate it!