Rip Off! Man, What a Rip Off!

“I would challenge everyone on here to take on this simple exercise.

(1) Go and study Mormonism (an off-shoot of Orthodox Christianity – which tried to replace it)

(2) Use your history and scriptures to find the illogic in what Joseph Smith did – from his own writings to his Book of Mormon.

(3) You will see the glaring weaknesses in many respects – from historical analysis problems, to copying from the King James text in the Book of Mormon, to the usurping of the Christian lineage based on what can only be called ‘trumped up theology’.

It’s not hard, everyone go and try it – I have – was a great experience to defend the faith in that regards and ‘seek the truth’ in that endeavor. Very fun.

Now after that – let’s do the same with a study of Christianity and Judaism and see the outcome.

Read all the literature of the rabbinics od the day, study the history of the time, the gospel creations, the letters, and basic Judaism as compared to Christianity (then and even now).

The problem that you will find is really simple…Mormonism wasn’t the only one to redefine the way a religion should be expressed.

Yeah Mormonism tried to steal the monicker of the ‘true church’, added ‘new scriptures’, and tried to basically usurp the Christian identity. (Uhm…that’s not really that new)

I am just asking to be real is all.”

*Comment taken from Stand to Reason’s blog “McClaren’s New Kind of Christianity is Old and False’ (Ironic Title – lol)


Identifiable Christianity?

(1) “In the case of Christianity, however, from the late 1st Century onwards the inculturation process was handled by Gentiles only superficially acquainted with the Jewish religion of Jesus. As might be expected, within a relatively short time no Jew was able to find acceptable the new incultured doctrinal legacy of Jesus. In fact, I think he himself would have failed to acknowledge it as his own.” (‘The Changing Face of Jesus’, pg 265, Geza Vermes)

Vermes makes some comparions to these 4 Hasim fellows of the same inter-testamental period as comparison of what is happening (spiritually) within Jesus time frame and within Galilee.

  • Honi
  • Abba Hilkiah (Honi’s son) – could control the rain via prayer (Elisha/Elijah like)
  • Hanan the Hidden (Honi’s son) – could also control the rain via prayer
  • Hanina

Just to show how much we Christians really don’t know about the spiritual movements of that time and where a person like Jesus may perhaps fit in or how the writer’s may have seen this historic person.  

(2) “Luther, a notorious anti-semite, and in some ways prefigured the oratory of the 20th century Nazi’s and the wicked and vulgar caricatures of their weekly magazine, Der Sturmer

*Footnote to that passage on Der Sturmer: “The editor of this Nazi journal, Julius Streicher, pleaded during his trial by the Allies that if he was guilty of anti-semitism, so was Martin Luther, whose anti-Jewish slogans his magazine was repeating” (‘The Changing Face of Jesus’, pg 266, Geza Vermes)

Talking about the repeated loss of the Jewish voice into the persona of Jesus – the reformation, even with it’s good aspects, failed to repeal one aspect that continued from John Chrysostom, Augustine, and St Jerome of Hippo…anti-semitic beliefs formed from the gospels.

Fear and Love…Marriage

What makes a marriage work? What makes it successful? What are some of the keys to a happy marriage?

I really don’t have all the answers on this question (few do)…I have only been married for going on 6 years (July 17). However, I have been with my wife for 10 years approximately and I have learned a few things from that time. Thought maybe I’d share a few ideas.

  • Love is to be greater than the sum of your fears – if you have not realized this yet – you will someday understand the preserving strength that love is (ie: love does conquer all). I found this out last year when I challenged a few of my fears (ie: flying and heights) to help my wife realize one of her dreams – travel to Greece to visit family.
  • Time together is better than the ghosts of loneliness. I found this out last year when I was having a rough time – and one month alone in a house I shared with my wife showed me the power of sharing time with someone you love. Now my wife and I carpool to work and I am not sure I would ever change times like that.
  • Feelings may not remain in a strong place forever – but that doesn’t mean your marriage needs to suffer. In the beginning of a relationship there is a about a 2 year period where one’s relationship can do no wrong…then it ends and reality kicks in again. However, I have found that doesn’t mean the relationship shouldn’t evolve in something just as good – friendship, laughter, sharing, learning together, having fun, children, etc.
  • Marriage isn’t about the ‘I’ in ‘I Do’. Marriage is more about the verb piece ‘Do’. I find marriage to be quite meaningful when each partner helps one another and learns to build one another up…versus using arguments and names to demean the other person.
  • Sorry…we all need to learn we make mistakes and will get short with one another…if we can learn to say sorry that helps in creating conversation again.
  • We cannot hold the ‘sins’ of one over their head. Mistakes get made in a marriage, big and small, no one comes out of this experience squeaky clean….nor should we. The fact is we learn from our mistakes and they can help us to see things in ourselves our wives have been pointing out for years (lol). The big thing is to learn to forgive and let those mistakes go…we should not actively seek making mistakes mind you…they will inevitably find us. Be of good cheer, mercy does lead to life.
  • All the small things are exactly that, small things. We need to learn to not sweat the small things that irritate us…we need to learn to laugh. For example, my wife always asks me to help her spell words…and sometimes I get a little annoyed. We both realize that when I do that it is time to laugh (I say sorry also) and I am taking something way too serious.

Figured I’d write something on marriage since I have been at the business for about 6 years (in July). I also realize I have a pretty good one.

Geza Vermes on the Synoptics

“From the very moment of his proclamation of the imminence of the Kingdom of God, he showed himself, and exhorted his followers to be single minded, absolute and decisive, concentrating on the inward aspects, and putting the accent on the root causes of every religious action.

The best summary of the programme pursued by Jesus, presenting also the quintessence of his religious persona, is the resolute determination to do all that is required for the fulfillment of the plea, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. And the absence of a literal fulfillment of his belief does not detract in any way from the fundamental truth that no religious attitude is real without an all pervading sense of urgency which converts ideas into instant action. (pg 210, ‘The Changing Face of Jesus’, Geza Vermes) 

Not sure why that stood out to me – but it did. Maybe I see Geza affirming something I continually re-ittirate concering the synoptics (namely Matthew)…we are dealing with the ‘here and now’ in the message of Jesus – not the ‘there and then’ so much. Also, our actions are important and the teachings of a teacher (ie: Jesus) are not recorded for lip-service – but for the actual idea of ‘converting ideas into instant action’.

Dealing With Racism…What a Scourge.

Over this past weekend I had the pleasure of interacting with someone that was thoroughly racist (in a fb convo). I have to admit I have never met someone that was actually an open racist – and this convo on fb was a complete eye-opener. Top that off with a person in my province that is also running for a Federal seat in Parliament that is also openly racist/ignorant – it made this topic come alive.

I don’t think very many people are actually racist – I think most of us are just ignorant and can be educated on various cultural issues. I tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt on this issue because I seen many decent people get labelled something they definitely are not. I do know that there is a lot of ignorance across cultural lines regarding histories and cultural nuances – which we don’t get because we just may not be familiar with their perspectives…but we can be open enough to learn.

I am starting to realize some people don’t care and no amount of reason can change their opinions of certain races. The reason being, they don’t think they are wrong – even if statistics, logic, and history destroy any and all claims they are making. This is when I have to think someone is actually a bigot – when presented with the best reasons available to explain the problems within a society and they resist them to maintain a certain group is to blame.

In this case, my group was to blame (First Nations people). According to this person he had never met nor had any good experiences with First Nations people; they were all troublemakers his hard earned tax dollars was helping to keep living for ‘free’ off the land. His family was obviously saints who came over as settlers and although this man was admittedly uneducated, he didn’t like the fact he worked hard so others could live off his dime…problem is…that kind of logic is actually ‘retarded’ (and I mean that in the actual sense this word is defined as – ‘Occurring or developing later than desired or expected; delayed’).

 The problem with his argument is it’s not based on a single fact whatsoever. Here are the facts:

(a) First Nations people make up 15% of the province I live in – they are actually not a huge cultural group – 85% of this province is non First Nations

(b) His family of settlers were allowed to thrive off the land based on a long standing contract called a Treaty – in this case Treaty 4 (1874) – signed with the best intentions by leaders of Canada and First Nations leaders from across the spectrum of this province. In that treaty is details the partition of the land….this resulted in reserves but also land for this man’s family to ‘farm’. No one is actually living off the land ‘for free’…there is a contractual agreement in place in case anyone cares to check.

(c) First Nations people are such a minority (15%) that it is hard to justify how anyone’s tax dollars are being eaten up by this contingent of people. Tax dollars are used for such things as roads (infrastructure), police, schools, and health – is there any argument these are bad things? Likely not…however those probably eat the majority of tax dollars and help us maintain a quite good living standard. Next time this racist wants health care I’ll make sure to guard the door…don’t want him eating up my tax dollars either.

(d) The policies of the Indian Act (Federal legislation) have not allowed for many things within Aboriginal communities until about the mid-50’s and 60’s…including voting (1961), attending a Post Secondary institution, economic gain from their own lands (permit system), the right to leave that land without a pass (pass system), control of education or even the reserve lands they were partitioned. It was actions like these that held a whole nations of people out of the ‘free market’ for 80+ years as settlers around them developed as they wanted. For someone to complain about the First Nations involvement – it’s only truly been about 49 years of real access…compare that to 80+ and we may have a case for serious inequalities.

(e) In this province there is a unemployment rate that is 14% – it occurs among young people aged 15-24. That group is unemployed because in all reality not everyone has access to jobs (just a simple fact)…sometimes the work is just not there. Some of our tax dollars go towards Social Services to help fund those people until they can find a job. I don’t see a problem with helping people in a society that does not have full 100% employment…we gonna let those people starve and die? Likely not, the system is built to protect those who have been dealt a hand they have no control over. The fact is, this racists’ tax dollars and mine are going to help 14% of people in that age group that do not have a job…and I really don’t see the problem with that.

Even after being presented with facts like this – this person decided to remain ‘ignorant’…meaning he is choosing to be a racist. And I have decided I have no room nor patience for such wilfull idiocy. I will debate them down wherever and whenever they show their faces.

Step 1 in Interpretation…

Start with interpreting something you are familiar with before you approach the scriptures. Helps one learn about contextualization.

I would suggest studying music lyrics. We all like certain types of music and songs by various artists. Those songs are trying to depict a story and tell us something about the writer’s thoughts…and they can carry quite a few meanings within one song. However, in order to fully understand a song it must remain in context of the whole song (can’t take one line and say it is saying something contrary to the intent of the author). It’s really great practice for understanding the process of interpretation.

Then move onto the bible – also various artists writing on similar subjects of the human experience. Then read a whole chapter in that same intent and see where and what the author is doing with their writing. Sometimes they are quoting others works and elaborating a little more on them (like Neil Young’s ‘Southern Man’ does with a Skynyrd song; and Skynyrd does with Young’s ‘Southern Man’ in ‘Sweet Homa Alabama’). But if we had no context for that, we might miss some intention…and authors all use intention.

So let’s try a song.

Southern man/better keep your head
Don’t forget/what your good book said
Southern change/gonna come at last
Now your crosses/are burning fast
Southern man

I saw cotton/and I saw black
Tall white mansions/and little shacks.
Southern man/when will you pay them back?
I heard screamin’/and bullwhips cracking
How long? How long?

Lily Belle,/your hair is golden brown
I’ve seen your black man/comin’ round
Swear by God/I’m gonna cut him down!
I heard screamin’/and bullwhips cracking
How long? How long?
(Southern Man – Neil Young)

Free Will…is Freeing!

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that’s clear/I will choose freewill
.” (Freewill – Rush)

I haven’t talked about this very much over the past while but figured I’d bring it up (after reading some diatribe on Robertson and how God controls everything). The topic of today is ‘control’ and ‘free will’.

No one chooses ‘free will’ (if anyone cares about the intentional irony in the Rush lyrics). You are born a person of ‘choices’ and there is no if/and’s/or but’s. This is the point Rush is making…even when you try not to make a choice you still do. Free will is something we are born with and for anyone to argue against the blatantly obvious is to argue obliviously.

Which brings me to control. As free as we are to choose what is we want to do (all the time) – why is it control of everything around is still not possible? No one controls much of anything. Think on it for a few seconds.

There is not a single relationship you have with a single person that you actually control. Not one. Oh we exert a lot of influence in certain spheres (ie: spouse, children, work, etc) but the finer things of each and every relationship is not ours to control. We don’t even truly control the things that happen around us (altogether). Again, we exert a lot of personal choice-making in the outcomes for our lives but we cannot altogether control those outcomes…we are the whims of love and lunacy some of the time.

Great relationships fall apart. Children rebel against parents. Your company lays you off. Your run for 15 minutes of fame doesn’t last as long as you thought it would. People murder others. Animals attack children. Armed robbery for the unlucky gas station attendant. Stray bullets strike an innocent bystander. Etc.

Why is it we get uptight when the world is hit by a disaster? We just need to blame someone don’t we? On other scenarios we can blame the spouse, the kids, our work, our managers, the weapons industry, people who use those weapons, wild animals, gov’t’s that made neighborhoods that way, etc. We are very good at blame…so good we should have a science for it (something like forensics or investigative journalism). Funny thing about blame, it’s an internal choice we make (based on the best evidence we have).

So…we blame God. We intentionally, by free will/choice, blame someone we cannot see nor hear for something we can see and hear. Heck our blame methods aren’t even that good – we are known to blame certain people for certain things without scant evidence…‘I know your friend stole my Ipod, he is just the type’. We want justice for that which we cannot control. You need to know, and maybe this is the best kept secret…

You’re not in that much of control of anything.

Conservative Christians Support Hitchens…?

Yes there is a distinction, and no people who reject what Hitchens brings up really can’t call themselves a Christian. Amen and amen” (Shane)

Ok, someone needs to talk some actual sense here…second time I have come across more conservative Christians supporting what Hitchens has said – with basically no back up for their point whatsoever.

I am here to put Hitchens, and Christianity of the stripe that would applaud this man for his ‘comment’ (which I think is absolutely ignorant), back into their rightful place.

I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian” (Hitchens)

(a) The woman never denied the claim of Jesus being messiah. However, if we are going to discuss a term like ‘messiah’ with any shred of honesty within the very sphere of Christianity then let’s do just that and see who comes out with the correct label based on ‘facts’ and ‘integrity’.

Let it be strongly noted that Hitchens only says ‘believes Jesus to be the Christ and Messiah’…that brilliant scholar did not even recognize they are the exact same term (first off). He does not say Jesus as messiah is equal to God…which actually is consistent with the idea of messiah from Judaism – even during Jesus’ time. So Hitchens is not asking more than a simple belief in the messianic idea.

(b) To me the resurrection is key to the ideas of the faith – it really is our hope as Paul once put it. However, it should be noted Paul followed a Pharisee interpretation of the faith (and so did Jesus it would seem)…they believed in the resurrection. The resurrection was not actually believed by the Saducee’s (who ran the temple) and various other sects in Judaism. However, the resurrection is now believed by Judiasm (in general – some still question it) and a mainstay in Christianity. I think the idea is key, but I can also accept someone that may not believe it to be true (but still see’s meaning in it).

(c) Atonement is a relatively newer concept in the biblical stories. Jesus never taught on the actual idea – none of the earliest gospels record such an idea (Matt/Mark/Luke)…and Paul, not an apostle of the original Jesus crew (since he did not know Jesus during his fleshly life), seems to have developed this idea only to small pieces of a doctrine. Acts does mention some of it but I think we all know Hebrews (a letter with questionable repute) is where the doctrine actually comes from.

And yet atonement is a mainstay in Christian tradition, the washing of our sins away with the blood of a ‘man-god’. It can be obviously ascertained certain Christian communities of the earliest writers did not follow such a concept (like the writers of some these letters and books)…and are we going to dispute if they went to ‘heaven’ or ‘were Christian’? We probably won’t second guess people like James, Jesus’ actual brother, who writes nothing on such an idea…nor Mark (who people believed wrote for Peter). Think about it.

(d) Finally, Hitchens determines the person is “not in any meaningful sense a Christian”. How can Hitchens make a detrmination in an arena he is admittedly not a scholar in…theology and the cross comparison study of scripture (from Torah, to Writings, to Prophets, to Gospels, to Letters). It would be an absolute joke to let that man determine what constitutes and does not constitute being a Christian…because I think if Hitchens had has way – no one would be an actual Christian…and we’re gonna pay him some homage in this case…it just seems weak.

So there ya go, some things matter and some don’t…and we need to be able to start opening our minds and hearts to accepting more people into this faith and stop trying to determine who is and isn’t in the ‘in crowd’…at the end of the day that is not anyone’s call to make.

***Taken from Shane Vander Hart’s blog ‘The distinction between liberal religion and fundamentalist faith’

*Also blog topic on Stand to Reason’s blog ‘At Least Hitchens Gets It’

You May Not Always Get What U Need…

but ‘you always get what you are looking for’.

That sentence contains something that is absolutely true – and it’s completely based on perspective.

I thought about this today – after hearing a variety of problems and circumstances some of my friends find themselves in. Then I thought about my life and the value we put into what we see/believe (or how we think).

It’s true in the sense that we only seek out of something what we want from it (in this practical sense everyone is using faith in some regards).

For example, 2 different people can earn 2 of the exact same degree’s in university/college (may even take the exact same classes in those 2 or 4 years). However, what does each person see in that degree? What can that degree do for them? How do they envision the outcomes of how they apply this skill? In the end, people will only do that which they see is possible for them with what they have.

So, you always get what YOU want. Key terms being ‘You’ and ‘Looking For’. We are all at the whims of what we dream is possible.