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Old 11-28-2006, 06:52 PM   #1
Brynn
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Radical Jesus

What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus in a postmodern world?
As a Social Justice Christian (married to an agnostic/atheist), I'm frustrated that many of the audible Christian voices out there come off as judgmental, politically conservative, homophobic, not only promoting an unbridled consumption of resources, but in the process turning a blind eye on the poor and the marginalized in society.

I've never really felt right about discussing this in the "What Are Your Beliefs?" thread because it's really specifically not open for a discussion of Christian issues. And that other Tiki Stanley thread - well, for starters, it's misspelled!

Do you like what Jesus stands for, or even just the idea of trusting something bigger than yourself, but traditional/conservative organized religion doesn't quite do it for you? Talk about it here.

Got a beef? Talk about it here. Actual discussion as opposed to just letting Sam Harris speak for you is preferred though.

A rejection of organized religion can cut a person off from the benefits of prayer for specific concerns. I pray in the name of Jesus, and will take prayer requests from anyone of any faith or nonfaith. Once a month I meet with a group of people who get together to do nothing but pray and will take outside requests. It can be powerful at times. You can post them here, or you can pm me.

I'm no expert, and definitely no angel - just doing the best I can. If traditional Christians who are perfect in every way have a problem with my unsaintly behavior, language or earthy sense of humor, then please pray for me.
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Old 11-28-2006, 06:54 PM   #2
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AP
Christian Coalition pres.-elect leaves

Tue Nov 28, 12:17 PM ET


ORLANDO, Fla. - The president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America has declined the job, saying the organization wouldn't let him expand its agenda beyond opposing abortion and gay marriage.


The Rev. Joel Hunter, who was scheduled to take over the socially conservative group in January from Roberta Combs, said he had hoped to focus on issues such as poverty and the environment.

"These are issues that Jesus would want us to care about," said Hunter, a senior pastor at Northland Church in Longwood, Fla.

Hunter announced his decision not to take the job during an organization board meeting Nov. 21. A statement issued by the group said Hunter left because of "differences in philosophy and vision." Hunter said he was not asked to leave.

"They pretty much said, 'These issues are fine, but they're not our issues, that's not our base,'" Hunter said.

His resignation is the latest setback for the once-powerful group.

The Christian Coalition, founded in 1989 by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, became one of the nation's most powerful conservative groups during the 1990s, but it has faced complaints in recent years about its finances, leadership and plans to veer into nontraditional policy areas. The group claims more than 2 million members.
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Old 11-28-2006, 10:32 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brynn
Do you like what Jesus stands for... but traditional/conservative organized religion doesn't quite do it for you? Talk about it here.
that's me to a T. in fact, there really isn't much to talk about beyond that since you summed it up pretty succinctly

i think jesus's words are good words to live by....... well, up until the part where he tells you that the only path to god is through him. but all that other stuff? that's good stuff.

the way i usually put it is that i believe in the philosophy of jesus, but not the religion of jesus. probably the sticking point with me is that i absolutely wholly reject the idea that there is a personal, loving, involved god who gives a flying fig about anyone's actions. and that makes me resistant to the view that jesus was actually sent from this fictional god, and that he truly voiced this fictional god's thoughts.

it's strange and contradictory. i believe in what jesus said, except for the parts where he talked about being jesus.
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:16 AM   #4
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I'm not sure why you need Jesus. Why pick him as your role model? There are any number of other inspiring, compassionate, intelligent people -- both historical and contemporary -- one could turn to AND who alone or together can provide you with inspiration for a way to live without the religious stricture, without the hateful dogma, without needing to pick and choose which parts of their stories suit your particular brand of reverence for them, without the doubt whether they actually existed or were invented for some ulterior controlling motive, etc., etc....

Why Jesus, ferchrissakes?
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Old 11-29-2006, 02:19 AM   #5
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Jesus is easy for the remedially religious. The grace concept has hook appeal.
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Old 11-29-2006, 05:40 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smartypants
Why Jesus, ferchrissakes?
because the kid needs a name. i also like the philosophy of what jesus had to say and i just accept it as 'the word of jesus' although i'm sure he's not the only one who had these ideas in the past and if you want to give this philosophy a different name, i don't mind one bit. detached from religion and god. jesus must have been a very charismatic person or we wouldn't be talking about him 2000 years after his death. he also was a pretty bad nutcase and if you saw him standing at a streetcorner today, you would see him alone, without his 12 disciples. no one would give him the time of day.

in a way, that's a good thing because many people think for themselves and get on well without someone to lead them or post a fixed set of rules to live by. i also believe that this is what jesus tried to teach. i find it hard to believe that he ever intended his words to be interpreted by a bunch of selfish, greedy old men in robes to elect a brightly-dressed CEO who sits on his fat arse in rome and has the swiss guard chase the homeless a safe distance away from st. peters so they don't bother the tourists.
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Old 11-30-2006, 06:17 AM   #7
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My dad was a Roman Catholic, who fell in love with a divorced woman with three kids, so that pretty much destroyed his relationship with his own father. I think there are a lot of "catholic survivors" out there.
I never really understood the "infallible pope" thing, myself, not at all. Nor the celibate priests and nuns. Not to knock them totally - there are some pretty amazing people in the past who married the church, and wrote about it and the scholarship that came out of it is fairly breathtaking in some cases. Sister Wendy the art critic, for instance, is someone I'd fervently like to sit down and have dinner with, or better yet, walk through a gallery with. But what's the deal about using priests as intercessories? Why not just talk to God yourself? There are so many Catholics who have told me that they've never really read the Bible - that was the priest's job. That astounds me.

i hope nobody minds, but I'm not going to get into trying to decide if the Bible is history or fiction. Not anytime soon anyway. I can approach talking about it as literature, no problem. But that means talking about it on it's own terms, like any other book. We don't pick up To Kill A Mockingbird to talk about it and say "Yeah, but it's all fake. Boo Radley never actually existed, so why even pick it up?"

I agree that Jesus comes off as a nut case. Everything he told people to do was completely counterintuitive - give away your money to the poor, if someone takes your coat, offer your shirt too, offer your other cheek if someone smacks you one. Don't even think evil of someone or you might as well be committing murder. And hey, then he claimed to be the Son of God.
But he also said that this scary, wrathful God of the Old Testament was not just his father but everyone's father, heartsick with love for us, like the father of the prodigal son in the parable that sees us from a long way off and forgetting all the dignity of his station, runs out to meet us, forgiving all and celebrating without restraint.
The two personalities, just from a literary standpoint, are hard to reconcile - it's like the Rashomon story.

Unless - just looking at it as a story, anyway - that God himself came to earth and allowed mankind to get his revenge for all the years of being a harsh taskmaster by nailing him to a cross. A lot of Christians would be horrified to think that maybe there was a part of God that actually deserved to be crucified and would call me a heretic, but from a literary, not to mention humanistic point of view, it's very satisfying in that light. But still, the humility and love it would take for a fallible but all-powerful god to allow that is enough to take my breath away, were that the case. What a decent, honest guy after all.

I disagree that jesus would be all alone today. He'd be a celebrity just like back then. He had to have been, at the very least, entertaining and funny. The bible says that scholars were astounded with his knowledge and intelligence and authority - even at the age of twelve. People followed him in crowds to the point where he had to sneak away for half an hour of solitude. He was mobbed everywhere he went. Just because people were doing this in ancient times - well, I don't think the essential nature and tastes of mankind have changed all that much.
He must have been a really - to use a silly word - nice person. The kind of person that, years later, people would fvcking die for. If it were me, I don't think I'd die for a philosophy or a set of abstract ideas. He must have been really, really nice.
I can almost imagine what it must feel like for someone to look at me with complete and unconditional love and acceptance in their eyes. There are some old ladies I know who have it - this grace, this sweetness that just kind of shines out of them. You bet it's a hook. In a world full of ungrace and road rage, are you kidding? If that makes a person unsophisticated, remedial, that's okay. I just want to be around them. I think that's what he was like, and why people fell in love with him. All that healing stuff went over big, too, I'm sure.
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1. While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.
2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.
3. Your foot will change direction.

Last edited by Brynn : 11-30-2006 at 06:50 AM. Reason: it's late and I make a lot of typos and the spelling/grammatical errors are humiliating.
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Old 11-30-2006, 05:08 PM   #8
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It all would have gone so much better if the Eleventh Commandment had read Thou Shalt STFU.
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Old 11-30-2006, 11:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brynn
All that healing stuff went over big, too, I'm sure.
assuming you believe that actually happened.


a lot of televangelists say they can heal. and the communities that follow them believe wholeheartedly that it's true. hell, a helluvalotta people think john edwards can talk to their dead grannies. that doesn't mean a lick of it is real.


i think i'm way off topic now but i'm kind of confused about what the topic was supposed to be.
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:25 AM   #10
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:48 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brynn
God himself came to earth and allowed mankind to get his revenge for all the years of being a harsh taskmaster by nailing him to a cross. A lot of Christians would be horrified to think that maybe there was a part of God that actually deserved to be crucified and would call me a heretic, but from a literary, not to mention humanistic point of view, it's very satisfying in that light. But still, the humility and love it would take for a fallible but all-powerful god to allow that is enough to take my breath away, were that the case. What a decent, honest guy after all.
Heretic! No, interesting. But capital punishment just isn't right, even if you do it to yourself.
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Old 12-01-2006, 06:14 PM   #12
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hmm. Just a thought.

Aubrey, theoretically now, if you asked a non-existent God as a last resort for healing for a chronic problem today, and you received it instantly, would you chalk it up to coincidence or divine intervention?

Very often, this is the point where people who didn't believe start believing. And when it happens again - and again - it doesn't make a lot of sense to question the origin of all these great things that keep happening. It just seems more appropriate to say "thank-you."
So yeah, I believe it's all possible.

I just started the thread to talk about this stuff and entitled it in an obvious enough way to warn off anyone who hates the topic so I wouldn't keep inflicting my minority point of view on others who want to chat about other stuff in other threads. It'll probably die soon enough, don't worry.
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Last edited by Brynn : 12-01-2006 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 12-01-2006, 08:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brynn
Aubrey, theoretically now, if you asked a non-existent God as a last resort for healing for a chronic problem today, and you received it instantly, would you chalk it up to coincidence or divine intervention?

Very often, this is the point where people who didn't believe start believing. And when it happens again - and again - it doesn't make a lot of sense to question the origin of all these great things that keep happening. It just seems more appropriate to say "thank-you."
So yeah, I believe it's all possible.
and if you asked for divine intervention and none was granted again, and again, and again, and again, wouldn't you just wake up and realize that the law of averages says sometimes stuff goes your way and sometimes it doesn't?

this is what i was getting at in the other thread. it makes absolutely no intelligent sense to praise god for the minority of times that events sync up with your desires, and then not blame god for the times when events contradict your desires.

if he's responsible for the boons, he's responsible for the banes.


coming back to the original post where you asked about people who are down with jesus's teachings but reject the idea of something bigger: i just feel baffled that people can't take what jesus taught and say "good lesson, i'll commit myself to that teaching" without attaching all of the ridiculous and imaginary hocus pocus to it. suddenly you take an admirable set of values and morals and confuse it all by throwing all of this magic and witchcraft wherein you conjure up good luck by having a secret conversation with the creator of the universe. or like chanting, because apparently god really likes it when you say a few hail marys and an our father before arbitrarily granting one person's wish and rejecting the wishes of another.
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Old 12-01-2006, 11:11 PM   #14
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It's been requested that I refrain from channeling Sam Harris here, so I won't, but dang that auntie aubrey is quoteworthy! I really can't add anything that she hasn't said, nor could I say it better.
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Old 12-01-2006, 11:39 PM   #15
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I do know what you mean. It's frustrating to send prayers up and feel as if it goes no farther than the ceiling. I've totally been there. There are some things that I've been praying for for ten years now. I see incremental changes that have been spread out over years instead of hours, days or weeks, but yeah, it basically sucks to have to persist in something that long. I can tell myself that it's all so very very "character-building" - and maddeningly enough, I think it is character-building - but the process blows when I want it now and I want to run things, and I know what's best for me and others and just want God to quit dragging his feet and get it done - "as if," Anne Lamott says "it would be so much skin off his nose."

But there's a Jesus way of doing things, and prayer falls under that. Talking about it is naturally going to piss people off. But I don't think Jesus came to be all sweetness and light - he pissed people off so much they crucified him.
He's pretty clear about repentance and prayer and how to go about getting God's attention.

Much as I hate to say it, I do think there are hoops to jump through, protocol to pay attention to, attitudes to adjust in order to approach God in prayer - at least to get the unique things that Jesus promises. It's a "it's-not-what-you-know-but-who-you-know" kind of situation, which should be hardly surprising, since we're talking about Jesus. And that's just what pisses people off.

I know it repulsed me for the longest time. Didn't like the whole idea, so I dabbled in other things. But if a person wants what Buddha has to offer, then they're free to go chase after him. If they prefer Shiva or Mohammed, or think it would be way cooler to go Wiccan, fine. But if a person wants the benefits of what Jesus offers (which are so extraordinary it's fairly hard to swallow to begin with), he's very emphatic about how to get it. An initial, whole-hearted commitment to him (which means taking the good with the bad) is just the kindergarten part.

He's very bald-faced about how hard it is to get God to give you what you want, as a matter of fact. He tells his followers that when they pray, they should be like the friend who wakes you up in the middle of the night pounding on your front door. You yell out the window STFU! He keeps pounding on the door. He needs bread and wants you to give it to him. No not tomorrow, now. Finally, just to get some sleep, you get out of bed and throw him some bread to make him go away. He said that praying for stuff is like being the widow who pesters the judge incessantly day and night about her case until she just plain wears him out and he gives her what she wants. Some picture. Nice, isn't it? Most people just say screw it, and I don't blame them.

Why does it have to be like that?
C.S. Lewis said something extraordinary. "Prayer doesn't change God. It changes me."


So Aubrey, maybe you know all this already. Maybe you actually jumped in the water and swam around and swam around and treaded water and finally got discouraged and tired - maybe you were euphoric at first at the dazzling simplicity and relief you felt and then were gradually misinformed about being a Christian by well-meaning but ignorant people - I know I was. Maybe you were surrounded by Bible Belt bitches who acted pious on Sunday and stabbed you in the back on Monday. I was. And you were let down again and again at crucial moments. So I completely get it. And today, without the very real comfort of the "hocus pocus" holy spirit part, I'd say screw it too. I did say it for years. The problem is, following the philosophy of Jesus is just plain impossible without the holy spirit to inform it and flesh it out. And yes, that part of it is extremely "hocus pocus," no joke there.

In my opinion, the sincerest of people trying to be like Jesus and admiring what he said like it's some kind of "good" set of rules and rituals to follow but not committing to his sovereignity, not accepting the mystery of grace, not letting God give them his supernatural love and strength for those convictions and refusing to admit that they are fallible and need the internal guidance of the holy spirit - that's what leads to atrocities. That's what leads certain politicians (giving lip service to the idea of Christ without the genuine humility and repentence and acceptance that has to go with it) to go around acting like God and invading countries and killing thousands of innocent people in the name of Christ. It's awful, it's deadly.
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