Monday, August 23, 2010

Religiously Damaged Thinking.

What is wrong with the mind that believes humans would be nothing less than beasts were there not the teachings of Ten Commandments? What is wrong in such a mind, is, that it possesses no regard for, or has no awareness of humanity's social development.Such minds may be inattentive to the history of writing, lacking the knowledge that the human, as a specie, was not always able to read and write, that there was a time in the evolution of humanity when writing did not exist,and so written commands did not exist, yet humans have been governed by unwritten rules influencing what was deemed right or wrong, fair or unfair by human communities.
The animal of the wild do not have commandments, nevertheless they evidently have some instinctive appreciation of right or wrong, fairness or, to some degree, unfairness. This awareness, of course, is not as sophisticated or as ordered as rules governing human behaviour, but it is still observed when food is located and shared,and when larger animals defend weaker ones against aggressors.
It is difficult to imagine there are people who believe that, had it not been for commandments which forbid humans to kill each other, we would simply take lethal weapons and slaughter our fellowmen; that people would be capturing other people's wives had the commandments not ordered us not to "commit adultery", and that we would all be "bearing false witness against our neighbours" if the commandments had not cautioned us against doing so.The implication of this is that without the Ten commandments we would all be savages.
It is unthinkable that some believe humans can only be civil when commanded to be, although it is evident that, (if one believes the Bible) the Ten Commandments came to a tribe of humans who were already living in communities and had already established some type of working social order, and even if there was the practice of adultery or covetousness, greed and theft in such communities,the development of the human brain, and the essential human need for order as an ingredient for survival, (even without the Ten commandments) would have put together their own commandments in attempt to avoid chaos.(Humans cannot thrive in chaos). Believers of the Bible are compelled to see that God's Ten Commandments were therefore introduced to people already governed by rules of their own. They could not have escaped the bondage of Egypt if this were not so.
The passionately defensive religious would argue that the laws of God were already written in the hearts of men, hence, man's sense of right and wrong.The irony is that neither the laws written on stones nor those etched "in the hearts of men" have made any difference in the way man has behaved, because man must command and govern himself, or the laws, written or otherwise would mean nothing to him.
The Bible is full of commandments; many more than ten, and they are not only in the Old testament; they extend deep into the new. (New Testament is a term not recognized by the people who best understand the book, Jewish religious scholars).It is the commandments in the New Testament that pose the biggest challenge for Westerners, because many of the rules outlined by the Apostle Paul, in particular, are steeped in a culture and an era that is foreign to Western Societies of the Twenty-first Century.Many of the teachings are simply not applicable, and when followed, have done tremendous damage to adherents.
Take the commandment in Second Corinthians, chapter six and verse fourteen, where the Apostle Paul admonishes believers not to be "yoked" with unbelievers. it is difficult to believe that the people to whom Paul referred as "unbelievers" in his day, are nothing like what Christians refer to as "unbelievers" in Twenty-first Century Western Societies. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find unbelievers (of the type referred to by Paul) in societies once gripped by Christian Colonialists and the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, as well as, Pentecostalist-Evangelical-Protestant influence.
In the Caribbean, for example, an unbeliever is someone who has not "accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior". What this means is that the person perhaps has sex outside of marriage, probably lives with someone to whom he or she is not married, dances in the street during Carnival, uses swear words and basically does not adhere to any of the regulations and teachings of any established religious organization.Such persons would not have been considered "nonbelievers" in Paul's society because a "nonbeliever", as far as Paul and his followers would have been concerned, would have been exactly that; a person who did not believe in nor give any credence to the new"cult" called Christianity. Paul himself rants in the book of Corinthians, about the many "idols" that the "nonbelievers" worshiped during his time. The people who worshiped these "idols" were the people to whom Paul referred as "unbelievers".People who did not believe in the Christian God at all.
But the Caribbean is teaming with "believers"; they are everywhere. Most attend no church at all, but they believe everything those who attend do, including the teachings about adultery, fornication , judgment-day, hell fire and that Jesus died on a cross for their sins. There is nothing that the Caribbean "believer" believes, that the Caribbean "unbeliever" does not. In fact, some "unbelievers" do believe more fervently than many "believers" do.
When a beautiful person, (let's say a young lady) in the Caribbean church is deprived of the pleasures of marriage because she is fearful of breaking the "commandment" forbidding her being "unequally yoked" with unbelievers, when there is an adoring, young, intelligent, caring unbelieving-believer at her workplace whom she is aware would be a beautiful husband with whom she probably could raise a wonderful family had he only been the correct "yoke".It becomes evident that our thinking processes and our effort to build bonds of unity have been damaged by religion.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rogue Omnisciece

Every child that leaves its mother's womb enters a dangerous world. His exit from the shelter of his mother's warm body must be handled by medical practitioners with sanitized hands, or the infant could instantly contract a fatal germ.That child soon begins to learn that he has entered a world in which he must be kept alive; living is not automatic, death is.As he grows, he will learn how to avoid the things that will harm him. Gradually he gathers that there are things that would bite, sting, poison, choke, stifle and drown him. Those who care about him must watch over his growth and welfare. They must guard him, warn him, advise and shield him with words and swift actions until he can manage to secure his life all on his own. He will finally be taken out of the world by some evil thing, either an accident, the evil plot of some other being, an opportunistic illness or disease that will get him either in the prime of his life or in his latter years.
Numerous philosophers (such as C.S Lewis) have battled with the issue of evil: debating its origin, philosophizing about its source, examining ways of coping with its presence and questioning its benefits.The church attempts to provide answers.
Ministers flip through obscure passages of the Bible to find verses that suitably address the matter of the presence of evil in the world. They locate scriptural passages to comfort the destitute and dying,to pacify victims of rape and relatives of the murdered.Some men of the cloth( particularly Pentecostals) bark their commands and orders directly at the perceived source of the evil, they loudly rebuke Satan, commanding him to take his "filthy hand" off God's property.They firmly believe he has done so, but there is no way to be absolutely certain that Satan has obeyed the order.
But who is Satan?
A passage in The Old Testament of the Bible (Isaiah 14: 12) gives an account of God tossing one of his Arch Angels(Lucifer) out of Heaven as punishment for being lifted up with so much pride and ambition that he envisioned himself taking the place of God.It was Lucifer who has now become the Devil. But he was not excommunicated alone. Apparently he had quite a number of angelic supporters, and they were tossed out with him. These fallen angels are now demons who assist Satan with his evil work of spreading war, diseases and death.
One of the first things Christians learn early about the attributes of God is that he is omnipresent( he is everywhere) omnipotent( he can do anything) and he is omniscient ( he knows the past present and future. There is nothing God does not know).
The Bible reminds its readers that there is nothing in existence that God did not create. He made the serpent and the centipede. He made the birds and the trees; he made everything that is visible or invisible to the human eye. Without him, according to Genesis, there was nothing made that was made.This includes the making of Lucifer, the evil one who is causing all the wars diseases,child-rape, cancers, floods and famines on Planet Earth and beyond.
But God is omniscient, he knows everything. God, then, must have known while he was creating Lucifer, that He( Lucifer) was going to attempt his (God's) overthrow. He must have known (since if he did not know he could not be God)That Lucifer would have to be excommunicated, that he would become the ultimate of evil beings roaming through the universe creating wars, devastating diseases, disasters, murders, deformity of all sorts and finally tempting many of God's own dearly beloved children to stray away from his ways.In spite of knowing all this, God nevertheless creates this futuristic monster.
I do not know of any father in his right mind who would take home a puppy knowing that the pup would grow up, become rebellious and eat up his children or cause them unimaginable horror.A father who would do such a thing could not be called a good father at all.
But even for this the church has an answer; granted , not one that makes any sense at all, but that is not surprising, since, when it comes to matters of faith all reason is suspended and rationality is held at bay.The church answers by saying that we will never, in our puny minds, be able to understand the workings of God.With this they can sleep well, knowing that although the child is screaming in deepest pain from the cancer that is eating at his brain, God must have good reason for allowing this to happen.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Putting Common Sense on Hold.

Nothing frightens Caribbean people who have come under the influence of Protestant Pentecostalism as much as the thought of roasting forever in Hell.However we look at it, whatever or where ever Hell is situated ( no one seems to know for certain) we all are certain about one thing; we do not want to go there. The strange thing, though,is that getting to Hell is far easier than getting into Heaven, believed to be located somewhere deep in the sky.In order to get to Heaven, one must struggle feverishly to suppress nearly all desires native to human interest, pleasure and passion.
The things that may keep the human soul out of Heaven and damn that soul to Hell for all eternity have been altered dramatically over the decades, making it increasingly easier, it would appear,with each passing century, to enter the kingdom of Heaven. For instance, there was a time when women who wore trousers would have been considered doomed for all eternity. This, in most religious circles, is no longer the case. Going to the movie theater has also, it appears, slipped from the list of forbidden sins that could once damn the soul. With each passing decade other sinful practices are moving along the conveyor belt toward elimination from the list of of sins that may bar us from the kingdom in the sky.
Some things surely will remain on the list of sins for decades longer than others, or will simply be ignored by the morality-police of the religious right: the smoking of tobacco or marijuana,the drinking of alcohol, dancing in the street to the pulsating rhythm of the road-march tune during the Caribbean Carnival and sexual intercourse before marriage ( sex before marriage appears to particularly bother God more than most other things, if we judged by the way "born again" Christians react to the discovery of its occurrence among the church membership) and the tolerance of homosexuals.
Hell is a punishment for wrong or sins, and sin is a condition which none of us sought after for ourselves, but one which was imposed upon us from the moment we were issued with a soul at some point in our mother's stomach.... or before that, no one is certain.In other words, one does not have to actually do wrong to be guilty of doing wrong. We are guilty of doing wrong because, according to the Bible, the first man and women who lived on the planet did that wrong for us. So, we are guilty of the wrong they did before we were even conceived.This is supposed to be seen as reasonable and acceptable to the minds of rational people., as one of the things we are expected to do when we become believers is to suspend all inclination to make rational, logical sense of the teachings of the church, because it is strictly a faith issue, and we are not to lean on our own understanding at this juncture ( we can always resort to being rational again later when dealing with earthly matters) They tell us this is  because great is the mystery of godliness and because God uses the foolishness of the gospel to confound the wisdom of men.
According to the teachings of the Bible, an innocent child is born an already condemned creature. The child is born a vile sinner, a filthy wretch who is grudgingly(it appears) permitted to swing along on borrowed grace until he arrives at about age five, six or some say seven years old when he becomes "accountable", and it does not matter how well behaved he is, he is still a wretch that must be washed in the blood of Jesus for the remission of his sins, for all our goodness is as filthy rags, all our goodness of course except the goodness of putting our monies into the offering plate.
The safest way to ensure one's entry into heaven is to die the moment we become "born again".If one does not die immediately after accepting Jesus as Lord and personal savior, one's chance of making it into Heaven immediately begins to becomes increasingly precarious because of the billions of temptations that instantly begin bombarding one's natural instincts.Of course one is assured by his Minister that Jesus is able to "save and keep", but at the same time the newly "saved" still bears much of the onus for keeping himself from the temptations that are everywhere, including those which are part of his basic human nature; the things that make him human.
The most strange thing about the message of salvation is it's propensity to be unjust in its equitable distribution of reward and punishment. A murderous, muscular man, for instance, may leave his home and descend on the dark alleys to rape , rob and plunder. He attends a born again preaching Revival Service and hears a message about God's love, mercy and forgiveness.He is deeply convicted and genuinely repents of the murders, rapes and robberies he has committed over the years. Immediately after his sincere penitence, the roof collapses and he is killed. According to the teachings of the Bible, that man has gone straight to the kingdom of heaven as long as his repentance was deemed sincere by God.
Another man has been good: he has fed the hungry, aided the destitute, been kind helpful and generous. He attends the same camp meeting under the tent, but he walks away from the invitation because he cannot find himself believeing what the preacher said. The roof caves in on him and he dies. He goes to Hell for all eternity to burn with some of the most evil, murderous men who ever walked the planet,and  for what?
Simply because He did not believe.
Observe the young Christian girl who has served her Lord well for many years. If she is found thinking even the smallest,lustful or unholy thought when Jesus comes blasting through the sky on his secret second coming, she is doomed without the slightest consideration of her many yeas of faithful, committed service to her Lord.
The amazing thing is that people who are otherwise intelligent and thoughtful about other matters find reason to accept and pass on such teachings to their children.Intelligent people suspend their common sense and accept things they would otherwise dismiss as being blatantly flawed thinking, because we are taught that we will never be able to understand the ways of God.They are unable to think that there is something wrong with this type of irrational thinking.

The God our Masters Gave Us

Man has always tried to control everything within his reach: we have tamed wild horses, caged ferocious lions, ridden the backs of elephants and conquered the skies. The things that man has not been able to control he has tried desperately to understand and has done a masterly job of grasping with his mind the things he has not been able to grasp with his hand. Nevertheless there are things in the universe which are far too mysterious to be fathomed by man's mind, nevertheless man has, despite this, arrived at explanations for these things which he is able to observer yet has not been able to understand.Man's rational mind has caused him to arrive at the explanation that there must exist somewhere, a being that is bigger and far more powerful than himself. This is man's way of explaining the rumble of the sky during a storm, the split- second lightning lighting up the night sky, the pouring rain, raging hurricane winds and the overwhelming majesty of the ocean. Man has witnessed and experienced the power of nature long before he understood what caused such things, long before man knew anything about Science, and so these were happenings that man was compelled to acknowledge as being well beyond his ability to control. But man is unable to accept that there is anything absolutely beyond his understanding, he therefore must show that although he does not understand the power of nature he understands its origin. He therefore assumes there must be a living being who is in many ways like himself. This being he named God.Some primitive men assumed that there must be many Gods.
Man has not only had a history of controlling the material things around him, he has had a history of controlling and using his fellow human beings whom he has enslaved for his own selfish gains. The slave owners early learned that if they were able to make their captives fearful, these captives could be kept in subjugation forever.There is no bondage like fear. This is where the colonial slave masters saw some benefit to the religion they embraced. The teachings of the Christian Religion became a rather useful tool for holding African slaves in captivity. There was nothing more frightening to the slave( who had been branded sometimes several times with hot steel)than mental images of a sizzling, burning, everlasting Hell; images that were drilled into their minds in order to make them behave.The slaves were taught that Hell was a place to which rebellious slaves went after they died. Slaves, therefore, were awfully afraid of dying while being rebellious runaways gunned down by the master's bullets and tumbling headlong into a burning Hell from which there would be no escape.
It worked against the slaves. But children of former slaves are now asking reasonable questions about the religious teachings of their fore-parents' slave masters.Why would a loving God that you have preached to us permit the creatures he so loves to roast like barbecue for all eternity?What crime have these beloved creatures of God committed that causes them to deserve so brutish and severe a punishment( since Hell is a punishment station, a type of torture chamber to which people are banished for doing wrong) It now seems to the children of former slaves, that no loving father in his right mind would ever permit such cruel thing to befall even his most rebellious child. That would be more like the behavior of a heartless, brutish moron.
The Jesus-worshiping slave owners explained to the enslaved that Hell-bound slaves did not have to do anything that was awfully terrible in order to end up in the flames. Slaves were taught that a rather long time ago, a man who lived in a lovely garden known as Eden disobeyed God and ate a fruit given to him by his wife. The children of slaves are now asking reasonable questions such as, "why should anyone be punished for an offense that someone else has done?" The idea of consequence of wrong being inherited makes no sense, especially in a situation where people will be actually banished into to Hell by the slave master's God.Diseases may be hereditary, but certainly no one can inherit banishment to an eternal Hell; and simply for the harmless matter of not believing in the God introduced to us my the masters of our forefathers.
One hears the argument, "well, we have a choice, either accept the God of the slave master or reject him",we hear that the choice is fully ours, but is this a choice with all the meaningful qualities of choosing? It cannot be a choice simply because someone tells us that it is. An offer to accept the carrot or be beaten with the a stick is not a choice, it is a display of cruel power. Why would an all powerful God offer mankind the limited option of either a Heaven or a Hell? It is tantamount to a mother having a gun held to her head by a thug while being told that she has the choice of either handing over her baby or being blasted to kingdom come by a bullet.
Aside from this, shouldn't punishment be commensurate with the gravity of the crime committed?If so, how then does disbelief merit the eternal roasting of humans in the pitiless flames of Hell? Could this ever seem like the doings of a just and righteous father that the masters of our forefathers imposed upon them?What have little boys and little girls who have reached the mythical "age of accountability" done to merit the damnable eternal flames of a torturous burning Hell?
The whip of Hell, once used to make slaves behave is losing its effectiveness. The descendants of slaves is arriving slowly at a place where frightful images of Hell are becoming useless as a whip that once made descendants of African slaves behave themselves.

The way I see it: Which Jesus do Christians Love?

The way I see it: Which Jesus do Christians Love?

Which Jesus do Christians Love?

The growing number of Caribbean people who claim to love Jesus is nothing short of astonishing. Thousands of people across the region ensure that they attend church somewhere at least once each year(particularly at the close of year) for although vast multitudes do not practice the teachings which the Ministers of the churches say people who love Jesus must, they are convinced that (despite their disobedience) they do love Jesus. In fact many who attend church only at the end of the year claim to love him just as deeply and sometimes more than those who frequent the regular services. Although they do not attend as often as faithful church members, they drop in occasionally in order to maintain some semblance of a contact with Jesus in order to remind him that though he does not see them there very often and are sexually involved with someone to whom they are not married( in the Caribbean premarital sex is the gravest of sin for which one can burn in Hell throughout eternity just as mass murders would) They are nevertheless still very much in love with Jesus.
The Caribbean is, in fact, an ocean of palm-treed, floating theocracies. It is nearly impossible to attend any function at which there isn't someone prepared to begin the proceedings with a word of prayer. Even the island Carnival, the festival most rife with drunkenness, nudity, readily accessible, free sexual intercourse and vice is launched with a church service and a word of prayer on some of these islands.
But in the midst of it all, Jesus is still somewhere on the people's minds; he is simply not at the front of it until the last blast of the soca rhythm is stilled. After Carnival, Jesus will take center stage again.
The Caribbean is the head quarters of Jesus, he is everywhere, and no one dares say he does not love or believe in Jesus, or such person would immediately be considered an ignorant fool (even if educated one) who has definitely lost his way and is certainly headed directly for the pit of Hell... and that's not all... one must not only believe in Jesus, one must also possess a belief in the existence of real, living spirits, demons, devils and ghosts,(particularly the Holy Ghost). Belief in the sure existence of a Holy Ghost is inevitable if one is to be held in any regard by thousands of Caribbean people, even if one holds doubts that other types of ghosts exist. One must believe that there are angels flying all around. Although these angels cannot be seen by frail mortal eyes, Caribbean people know they are there, some having testimonies of having been rescued or visited by at least one, and something is terribly wrong with the mind of anyone who refuses to believe such things. Loving Jesus must be incorporated into this train of accompanying beliefs. It is impossible to love Jesus and not have this reservoir of connected beliefs stored somewhere in the consciousness, or the Christian community would be convinced that your claim of loving Jesus is simply not credible.
But let us look at what we know about the times in which the Jesus so loved by Caribbean people is said to have lived.
Jesus, they tell us, lived on Earth over two thousand years ago in the Middle East. The Middle East is a real geographic place with real people. The place has not, to a large degree, experienced many changes since that era. Most of the people who live in vast areas of the Middle East still dress and live the way Jesus would have dressed and lived. Fortunately the Caribbean was colonized by capitalists who were able to transition the Western World out of the first Century.
In the days that Jesus is claimed to have lived there were no toothbrushes, it had not yet been invented, not even in the primitive imaginings of humans at that stage of social development. There was no toilet-soap ( any type of aromatic substance would have been out of the affordability of the average person) There was no ready access to clean, fresh water, even to this day water is a scarce commodity in the Middle East.There was no hair-comb that could have cause human hair to look as groomed as that seen in pictures of Jesus hanging in our grandparents' dining room.
In the days when Jesus is said to have lived there were no dentists and no dental-labs, there was no skin-lotion and no deodorant( keep in mind that people walked or rode for days on the backs of animals through sweltering deserts).There was no washing machine, no hair spray, finger nor toe nail-clips, no scissors for cutting of the hair, shaving creams nor razorblades.He would have lived at a time of many incurable, transmittable diseases ( science has brought about the only credible cure for diseases known to humanity) and men died young; their lives were fierce, brutish and short.
Caribbean people are unable to imagine a Jesus who looked and functioned like the people of his time, such imaginations are outside the pale, such thinking is sacrilegious and downright dangerous, how dare anyone suggest the Jesus experienced the absence of these modern day conveniences. His father must, must have found a miraculous way of keeping him unaffected by this lack if this is how things were in the first Century. His father must have, must have miraculously preserved his teeth, his hair and the hygienic qualities of Jesus and his twelve disciples, because it is difficult to love a Jesus with an image unlike the one which has been etched, not only on the wall of our grandmother's kitchen but also on the walls of our psyche.