Christianity vs. NYC Mosque

I have been doing a lot of debate on this subject in the last while, mainly on Chad Estes blog ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’

I am starting to wonder, do Christians want these people as neighbors? Here is an excerpt I put on that blog:

Let me reiterate: there is nothing loving about passivity, because love is active.” (Matthew)

There is not much passive about what I am saying, I stand 100% behind them in building that mosque – as you point out – wherever they would like…just happens they like the spot they picked. I don’t see why it such an issue for them to have a mosque at that spot, unless people are reading more into their construction of this building than is really there.

And the opposition of them building a mosque is a problem, because the issue is not the mosque as much as it is the placement of that mosque…explain to me why that is even an issue…and once you do you will likely arrive at a spot of bigotry or discrimination (or mis-information). Question is, is there where a Christian wants to be standing?

The debate is about the good samaritan and Chad’s take on that – in essence – an updated version that has a Muslim not being helped by various religious groups. In this case, the mosque being at the pinnacle of the debate because basically it’s a mosque close to ground zero – an American commemorative spot – and Muslims shouldn’t be that close to something that important. In the end, it’s discrimination, if not bigotry, blanketing all Muslims under the same definition (generalizing) – which they disagree with.

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#500…Posts that Is.

I finally reached a long time goal – 500 posts in my 5th year of blogging (about a 100 a year). I guess I wanted this because 500 is such a nice round number that seems significant enough. Plus I needed to reach for something with my writing.

I would like to thank all the people that blogging worthwhile and interesting, all you free-thinkers that are challenging the mold of what the plain of existence has to look like. It’s thinkers like these that will change tomorrow. I am really quite blessed to be around such a handful of people with such great ideas. Who are these people? Well, these are the people that live in your neighborhood and you didn’t know it.

Yael – Jewish lady studying rabbinic thought and process; a gem of gems.

Andrew – Utah boy, searching for truth and insight in a deeply religious environment (and a teacher)

Beggars & Bread – Conservative site; keeps me thinking – but I am seeing some change going on there

Mr Blue and Miz Pink – a Christian social conscience in the heart of America

Jolly Beggar – Local Pastor, artist, musician, and general theological enthusiast

Johnny Bird, Just 1, and Wolf Bird – My brothers, proud of them all and their embracing of blogging and their own passions

Ken Smith – Local boy who seeks change to a church environment that just ain’t right

Kevin Beck – Probably the most well rounded interpreter of the bible I have ever read – and that’s quite the kudo’s

Jim Jordan – Floridian – writer, theologican, entrepreneur – passionate about his beliefs (we’ve had some convo’s)

Naked Pastor – artist, former pastor, Canadian, etc…the funnest site to comment on ever

Don – Probably one of the better sites about change from Evangelicalism to Liberal…much appeciated

Sabio Lantz – Great writer (as far as organization of thoughts) – my favorite atheist – and really 21st Century thinking!

Stupid Church People – where would be without someone pointing this out…always great when they blog or podcast

Stand to Reason – Want to debate with some very Conservative Christians…go and test your metal

Steve Martin – a Lutheran that leans on the grace of God, we don’t see eye to eye but the convo’s are fun!

Steve Scott – Enjoy his insights into theology and daily life – this is real deal local person theology from the pew

Temaskian – an athiest that has recently de-converted – very interesting thoughts and ideas – I am so into observation

Xander – Christian theology and interpretation, wonderful guy, great convo’s

Chris Ledgerwood – My homeboy – musician and blogger – great person and has a great heart for humanity

Doug/Karmen – Kind of dropped off the radar – but I always liked the fact they challenge the status quo theologically

John T – One of the more outspoken people I have read, but that’s more like reality to me than most blogs I read – I like a lil attitude

John Turtle – Enjoy his theology and his journey through faith – very honest dude

OSS – If there was a prize for thought provoking – you’d win; One of my favorite bloggers.

But that’s what happens when you reach 500, you just have to take a look back and see what has helped you along the way!

The Corner of Nowhere

Watched a great documentary called 12th and Delaware last night; about an abortion provider and an anti-abortion place that co-exist across the streets from one another. By co-exist, I do mean there is some serious opposition from the anti-abortion place (of course).

The Christians continually picketed (harrassed) the abortion clinic. Now this wouldn’t be so bad if they knew why they were doing what they were doing, but theologically these were some of the weakest people. They basically call it ‘murder’…but in fact there is nothing in the bible that would back their case on this issue (ie: abortion). Yet I can find many places in the bible about ‘respecting/loving your neighbor’ and they didn’t seem to do much of that. In fact, I think they hated their neighbor. Oh the conundrums of being anti-abortion.

One scene a man ‘stalks’ the people that pick up the doctors so he can find out who the doctors are…then picket their houses and harrass them at home. Crazy much? I could not believe this invasion of privacy and mass dis-respect for another person’s civil liberties. I wondered as this man held the picture of Mary and pretty much hoped someone would hurt this doctor ‘What Would Jesus Do?’.

The anti-abortion care place functioned in misinformation to serve their ends. They actually lied to the people that visited them about their due date or other information associated with having an abortion. Pretty sad for a bunch of people that say they follow the ‘truth’…by any means neccesary I guess.

Again, another show where Christians and their anti-abortion stance leave a bad taste in my mouth (reminds me of ‘I will spew thee out of my mouth’). That coupled with the fact some 150,000 incidents of violence have been committed against abortion clinics and what more can one really say to defend pro-life stances (which have quite the terrorist extreme).

At one point they do convince a girl to not get an abortion with promises of helping her with money, clothes, and food for her and her 6 children (plus the one about to be born). I like the idea, I just don’t think it happened. More lies perhaps, behind good intentions? Like I said, I wish their was a ministry like this, then the church would actually be putting their money where their mouths are at.

I think we could use more common sense concerning this issue, a middle ground where facts can be presented and conversation can ensue around what is the best information available so everyone can make a informed decision, from picketers, to abortion providers, to fellow Christians, to the women coming to the clinics. I care about the face of humanity; this was inhumane at times.

Understanding ‘Righteous-ness’

On my own, I am not righteous or good. But under the grace and mercy of God, I am granted the “vicarious righteousness,” as you termed it.” (Darius)

I think the key thing to understand here is the term ‘righteous’ and what that means. I am not sure in our current society we have a real grasp on what is being said when that term is being used biblically.

To be ‘right-eous’ is to be in good standing with some object – in this case the law. What it means is you are living by the law and are in ‘right’ standing with what is being asked of you.

Now since you are a Gentile, like myself, we are actually exempt from the law – since we are not required to follow it (not being Jewish and all). Paul makes this same argument a bunch of times – however his clause seems to be because Jesus included us in the ‘faith’ tree (as a branch of that tree) and this inclusion by the messiah has also made us exempt from the law (which we were anyways). Now one can see Jesus as fulfilling our place as Gentiles to fulfill our righteousness before the law, thus providing the exemption (which seems to be what you are saying). I basically see it as inclusion and we still have to live ‘righteous lives’ to the teachings of Jesus.

I know it sucks but we’ll never be perfect or ‘good enough’ as compared to the standards set. However, the goal seems to be a disciple, a student of the teacher (master in the subject) and to follow it the best we can to show we actually are his students. Now some might get a 60% while others get a 80% – but nonetheless they are all students of the same teacher. The hope is we take the teachings, elaborate for our situations, and build from them – proving the teacher’s work was not in ‘error’. That’s not really about perfection as much as it is about following a paradigm and ‘way’ of living to honor your master.

So I think that you have to be righteous in some way, in fact the gospels make no bones about that concept and applying it to people trying to live in that ‘way’. If it is vicarious – and we are added righteousness – then why stay a Christian…isn’t all your spiritual needs fulfilled already by the vicariousness of that righteousness?

*Comment was said on Stupid Church People’s blog ‘Church People Say Some Dumb Sh*t’

Why Christianity is Losing Members

(1) It’s has decided not to move it’s theology with the moral progression of the world – essentially being ‘left behind’ on moral grounds (which was it’s point of interest)

(2) Christianity is really hard to nail down. What are the beliefs exactly and what is essential to one’s faith in God? How is one’s faith supposed to look? With some 100+ denominations and varying beliefs between them as to importance of certain issues – it becomes confusing.

(3) It’s got quite the sordid past. For a religion centered around love it has a lot of skeletons in the closet that make one re-think this premise. Maybe the foundation is not love, but conformity and institutional adherence? It’s got a serious PR problem and makes no bones about its past.

(4) It’s in a Western society of individualization but demands a culture of confomity to their societial rules; many people cannot make a committment that relieves them of their own thinking.

(5) It’s definitions of certain areas is short-sighted. For example, worship comes to mean the service you attend and the musical aspect of that service (or praise). It’s fairly clear that worship is a much bigger idea but it is hard to determine if this is the case within some churches.

(6) Christianity does not speak for the current problems in society. It does not neccesarily address global warming, pollution, poverty, problems in capitalism, the food industry, etc. In this sense, it is deciding to stay neutral which is as good as being irrelevant.

(7) Christianity is thoroughly steeped in capitalism and politics and reduced itself to irrelevance in face of the new ‘religions’ and definers of daily ethics – business/work. With this faith being so steeped in the processes of capitalism, business, and gov’t – it does not realize the usurption happening.

There are probably more reasons – like dis-satisfaction – but usually we can find our faith being reduced by the religious restrictions we find in the institution. This in turn makes us ask the tougher questions like ‘how important is this place to my livelihood/living’? This is when we start to find out some stark realizations, ‘not very’.

Religious History in Spain

I had a chance to watch the history of Spain yesterday and was quite amazed at what can be learned from history.

Apparently that country was shared by Muslims, Christians, and Jews for a whole long time (some 600 years or so). Within it that we get to see the beauty of 3 faiths working alongside one another and at other times, those 3 faiths working against one another. It really taught me a lot of things.

It seems in working together we get more accomplished and push society to it’s true beauty. Within Spain when these 3 faiths worked together we got to see better scholarship, architecture, studies in science, etc. When they sought one another’s peace and safety, within that they found the freedom of expression.

When times were turbulent everything kind of reverted back to ‘black n white’ thinking – and the religions wanted purification – it was in this they took steps backwards. Scholarship suffered (books were burned and libraries dismantled), buildings were destroyed, people were forcefully converted or enslaved, and the country splintered into regions ruled by various strict ideologies. It really was the ‘dark ages’.

I also realized the Abrahamic faiths (Christianity and Islam) broke off from Judaism only to be the thorn in Judaism’s side forevermore. These 2 faiths always had Judaism stuck in the middle of their wars…it wasn’t exactly Judaism that ruled within Spain and caused these horrible conditions. I find it funny these 2 faiths cannot come to terms with their own identities and history, they are merely branches off of Judaism (which is very clear historically). Yet it is these 2 faiths that are the most ungrateful, in some ways, to their own mother.

We must learn from the mistakes of this era and see that only in peace can we truly accomplish more human achievement and success. To in-fight about what and who is right is to miss the point concerning God. Like Adam choose to leave the garden, we must choose to make earth one.