Tag Archives: Fear

Are Christian values really Christian?

5 Aug

What are “Christian values”? Well there are as many different answers as there are different Christians, so your personal views very well may be different from others’. I googled the term and two of the first pages that popped up were the wikipedia page on it, and this “Access-Jesus” page. According to them “Christian Values” are this:

  • Worship of god above all things, including family members and loved ones
  • Fidelity in marriage
  • Faith
  • Rejecting worldly goods
  • Rejecting violence
  • Forgiveness
  • Love
  • Righteousness

So now that we have this grocery list of values, what about them makes them “Christian”? Lets go down the list one by one.

Worship of god above all things: Well, lots of Christians do this, yes, but they by no means have a monopoly on it. Other faiths do the exact same thing, many of them have been around thousands of years before Christianity was ever invented.

Fidelity in marriage: Again, what makes this Christian? Billions of people around the world are married, the majority of them aren’t Christian. Marriage has existed for millenniums before Christianity ever came on the scene. Heck, if you look at divorce rates among religious groups in the US, Christians have the highest, non-theists have the lowest. It would seem that you’re more likely to be faithful to your marriage if you’re not a Christian. (Just look at the news, it’s as if every month a new conservative Christian leader is being flushed out as an adultery or a sodomite)

Faith: Mark Twain once said “Faith is believing in something you know ain’t so.” Since when is faith a value? Taking something “on faith” is an admission that there is no good evidence to believe something, but you’re going to believe it anyways. Faith is the last stand of the indefensible. It make people credulous and gullible, which makes them extremely vulnerable to getting scammed (as they all too often do) which leads us to our next “Christian value”…

Rejecting worldly goods: Still, nothing that makes this specifically Christian. Many religions around the world preach this, far fewer actually practice it. Instead most believers like to flaunt their wealth and piousness by building bigger and grander churches, wearing flashy religious jewelery. There are a lot of very wealthy religious leaders around the world, many who live off the donations of a poverty stricken flock. This has been a problem for religion since it was created. In the middle ages there was a cycle where the church would become too corrupt and oppulent whereby a monastic order bent on poverty would be founded. These new monks would try to live as beggars and try to reform the church until eventually they too became rich from donations and tithes; at which point a new corrective order would be founded. Greed is just in human nature.

Rejecting violence: This is a nice one that again every faith preaches, but few follow.

Forgiveness: This is an interesting one to me because growing up, I honestly thought Christians had invented this. I remember my mom telling me that in Japan they didn’t have the concept of forgiveness until the west introduced Christianity to them. (I know, sounds absurd, but it’s just a blip of a memory I have that influenced me as a child). I felt for the longest time that Jesus was a revolutionary in bringing this concept of forgiveness to the world. Now that I’m older I realize just how silly this is. Forgiveness is not solely a Christian Value, it wasn’t something divinely given to us by a god.

Love: Of all the values, I think this one is the least Christian. Even though this value is universal, Christians like to claim they have the market on love cornered. “God made us knowing we were going to sin and decided to send all sinners to be tortured for eternity, but then changed his mind and made a big gruesome show of killing his son in order to appease himself so he would let a select few escape eternal punishment, and this is because he loves us all so very deeply.”  No, Christians very seldom practice love, and when they do there are always strings attached. It could be helping the homeless only after they agree to sit through a sermon first, or bringing food over to a church member, solely because they’re a church member, or any kind of aid that is contingent on the person accepting some dogma or jumping through hoops of another kind to appease the religious. For the most part, many of them do good works because they feel it will earn them brownie points with god. It’s not that they really love, it’s that they want a reward for their generosity. You want to see how quickly the “Christian value” of love evaporates? Try leaving a church, the whiplash will snap your neck.

Righteousness: Again, other faiths practice the same thing. Feeling you and your actions are some how set-aside, better perhaps, than other people because you feel you have the “truth” is unfortunately not restricted to Christianity. Why is it that so many conservative Christian leaders in politics can commit horrible hypocrisies and get off scot-free while liberals go down in flames? Simple, they are “righteous” and many belong to “the family“. If you are a member of that family, you are seen personally chosen by god to carry out his work, and thus you can do no wrong. Think I’m kidding? Why is governor Mark Standford still the governor of South Carolina after leaving his post without telling anyone to go bang a woman, not his wife, in South America? His friends were the very same people who impeached president Clinton for having oral sex in the White House, yet they were silent when their friend did something much worse. Why? Because he’s righteous and can do no wrong.
That last one, righteousness, or self-righteousness, ties into the scary trend within the past half century of wedding “Christian values” with “Conservative values”. Today the two are pretty much synonymous.  Again, there are as many different definitions of “Conservative Christian Values” as there are conservative Christians but the majority, to me, seems to be as follows:

  • Dedication to dogma : Conservative Christians do one thing really well, and that is stick together. There is a party line that must always be towed, regardless of what happens in reality, there is an agreed upon narrative. Jesus is lord, America was founded by fundamentalist Christians for Christians, and Reagan was a prophet. No ifs, ands, or buts. There is a reason this group is such a strong, vocal, and cohesive voting block: their members swallow the dogma whole and fall in line.
  • The white male rules all. Don’t be fooled by the small handful of conservative public figures that are women or minorities, the white men still have the power in the party. This group has continually dug in there heels when it comes to leveling the playing field for women and minorities. (Here is a really interesting shift. Over the course of the 20th century, the religious completely switched sides on social issues. They once carried banners for women’s suffrage and for civil liberties for blacks, but in the 1970’s something drastically changed and I’m not exactly sure what it was. Perhaps it was the influx of people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Ronald Reagan. Somehow the people of progressive change for the better became the people who fought to deny women rights to their own bodies, or equal pay in the work place. After fighting to help blacks get equal protection under the law, they threw down their banners when the LGBT community stepped up and asked for their turn. What happened? It’s as if hate became a value.
  • Fear and war. Again, in the last half century, these have increasingly become conservative Christian “values”. Fear of immigrants, fear or minorities, fear of your neighbor, fear of the government, fear of foreigners. Everywhere you look, fear, fear, fear! It’s the reactor that powers the modern conservative movement. 9/11 was a turbo boost to their fear reactor and they used it very effectively. A fearful people are quick to bite their tongues and fall in line with the dogma, which leads to wars. We’re scared of Iraq, we must invade. We’re scared of Iran, we must invade. We’re scared of North Korea, Venezuela, Somalia, China, you name it. As a conservative Christian and they’ll most likely tell you that we should steam roll these countries. Ann Coulter famously said after 9/11  “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”  The peace talks in the middle east are a farce, why? Because peace in the middle east is the last thing conservative Christians want. They want the wars, the killing, the blood. Why? Because according to their “to do list”, in order for Jesus to return and take all his followers to heaven there has to be an apocalyptic religious war. Peace would only delay that. Don’t believe me?
  • Ignorance. (The brother of faith)  This is fast becoming a virtue in the fight against the teaching of science in schools. Religion was invented to explain the unexplainable: where did we come from? Why do my crops fail? What causes rain? What causes fertility in women? Why did my family die in a flood? Where does the sun go at night? Over the course of human history science has slowly discovered the natural explanations for things and vanquished the superstition that once filled the gap in understanding. In the past two-three hundred years, when society and science started to break free of the shackles of religious dogma, we’ve made tremendous advancements in everything. This trend shows no sign of slowing down and there are many in this country that see this advancement in knowledge as a threat to their deeply held beliefs. Thus they dig in their heels and demand that science not be taught in schools, that their iron age beliefs with only their faith for “evidence” should be taught. Meanwhile the rest of the world (and their economies that benefit from new products produced by science) are moving fast ahead of us, which brings us to our next value.
  • Greed. The stories of Jesus being generous to those in need must be liberal lies edited into the bible. I’m sure Jesus asked for proof of health insurance before healing the sick and the blind. Increasingly conservative Christians are turning against the poor. Just this week a $30bn unemployment benefits package was passed by congress, with almost every single republican voting NO. They had been shamelessly delaying the bill since early July, when the benefits ran out and real people ran out of options. At the same time they decry the $30bn addition to the deficit, they are gearing up to staunchly defend making Bush’s tax cuts for the richest Americans permanent. That add another $600bn to the deficit, but no, we can’t help the poor people. I’m sure Jesus was meant something else when talking about a rich man, a camel, and the eye of a needle.

So in conclusion, there are no values that are uniquely “Christian”, values are universal, regardless of your creed or politics.

Just watched “Capitalism: A love story”

7 Jun

I will state up front that I consider myself a socialist. Not the “Zomg! Obama’s a fascist/socialist/communist/racist/muslim!!!11” kind that the people with tinfoil hats seem to think is socialism, but the one of the actual kinds of socialism.

To be completely honest, I’m not quite sure exactly where I fit on the socialist spectrum. I think I land somewhere between “progressive” and “democratic socialist“.  (At least those were my top too according to this test)

I’m of the position that a government, formed by the people, should be charged with conducting itself in a manner that best protects the interests of the people as a whole. In other words, the government should work to make sure the greatest number of people possible have the best standard of living possible. (Yet the rights/views of minorities should be protected, hence why I don’t believe in direct democracies that lead to mob rule, but I digress)

I feel that hard work should be rewarded, and that people should benefit from their labor. But then this is where my views get confusing, even to me. I do not feel that the wealthiest people in America are necessarily “hard workers”. I feel they cynically game the system much the same way welfare freebooters game the system.

My view that the wealthiest people unfairly manipulate the system was really confirmed by this movie. Now before you make the assumption that I am some Michael Moore fan boy, there was a lot about this movie that did not sit well with me. I felt the lion share of this movie was an appeal to emotion, which makes sense, Moore is trying to outrage you into action, yet I would have preferred he focus more on facts rather than sensationalist teary-eyed families being forced out of their homes.

The facts that are in this movie should speak for themselves. The most compelling part of the film is when Moore weaves together the story of how America became a plutonomy starting with the recession of the Carter years and the capturing of the government by Wall Street during Reagan’s presidency. The scene where Don Regan tells president Ronald Reagan to “speed it [his speech to the NY stock exchange] up” is amazing.

The whole tale of a calculated and organized hijacking of the nation by Wall Street’s CEOs seemed to smack of conspiracy theory. It’s an amazing, and infuriating, story, but I would like to find some evidence outside of Moore’s documentary in order to decide for myself if it’s true. There is one thing, however, that this conspiracy story has going for it that others don’t:

In most conspiracies, the actors are the government. The problem with this is that the government is notoriously incompetent.* The “9/11 was an inside job” conspiracy is extremely improbable merely because of the high level of planning and competency required to pull off such and act and then cover it up. A government is just not capable of that level of finesse. (Especially under Bush’s incompetent reign) In this conspiracy story, however, the actors are not some clumsy government, but a small collection of some of the smartest, most brilliant people in America, the CEOs on Wall Street.

“But wouldn’t market competition dictate that different CEOs be working against each other?” Yes and no. While they most assuredly were in competition with one another, it makes more sense for them to work together on something that would benefit them all greatly. (Like no regulations) However, the ultimate “winner” was Goldman Sachs. Under Clinton and Bush, Goldman Sachs managed to fill top Treasury Department positions with its “former” employees, including even the position of Secretary of Treasury with Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs. (His net worth was $700 million when he left to become Sec. of Treas.) With this superior posturing, Goldman Sachs was in prime position to pressure its will on the government.

(Goldman Sachs also had their CEO in the Sec. of Treas. position with Robert Rubin. (Who also served as CEO of Citigroup) The current Sec. of Treas., Timothy Geithner, is a protegee of Rubin’s)

The most shocking and outrageous part of the film for me came when Moore discussed the recent bailouts of the super banks.  Two months before elections, Sec. Paulson drew up a 3 page plan to bail out Wall Street. (Keep in mind, usually legislation passed by congress is hundreds, if not thousands, of pages long) In that plan Paulson stipulated that all laws, including court review, would be waived:

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Checks and balances anyone? The American people were rightfully outraged, but Paulson and his goons ramped up the fear factor, hoping to cram through the bill with a little debate as possible, just as Bush had done for the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq. Amazingly, for once, the American people fought back and the bill was defeated, by 12 votes. Congress then went home to prepare for elections.

Here is where I become really furious: Enter the democratic party leadership. Paulson and company rush back to DC and enter in backroom deals with the democrats. Promises are made, futures are sealed, and then congress does a complete 180, the American people be damned. Paulson gets the key to our pockets and makes off with 700 Billion; proof Wall Street has muscles to flex over our government.

The film is very thought provoking to say the least. It’s clear that our “free market” system is being manipulated to the benefit of a very select few. Employment near 10%, thousands of people being evicted from their homes, corporations making millions off of “dead peasant” policies, meanwhile banks take billions in our money, only to send their executives on luxurious vacations and the CEOs retire with unholy amounts of money. This isn’t working, but what’s the answer?

Despite the film being directed by Michael Moore, a person people on the right hate as strongly as they love Reagan, I feel a large portion of the movie would appeal to the right as well, especially the Tea Party movement. The fact that we’re being universally fucked by our leaders is something we can all rally behind, and I think this is one of the great points the movie tries to make. Moore references a Citigroup memo that was leaked where Citigroup explained to it’s top investors that they [Wall Street] had successfully turned America into a plutonomy, and that it was no longer a democracy. (Seriously, go read it, it’s scary) The memos explained that the top 1% of America now had more wealth than the bottom 95% COMBINED. Here’s the real kicker: Citigroup states in the memos that the biggest threat to their “gravy train” (yes, that is a direct quote) would be if society demanded a more equitable share of the wealth. The biggest problem was that despite having more money, a rich person can only cast as many votes as a poor person, 1. In other words, if the peasants realized that they were never going to get that carrot, the “American dream” of wealth, that they would revolt and vote the puppet government out of office. (Seriously, go read the memos)

I certainly feel communism is just as evil as American style unregulated capitalism. While we have vast economic inequity, communism, as practiced as a political system, is totalitarian and oppressive. I want there to be a middle ground, that’s why I call my self a progressive socialist. But do my views work? I don’t know. To be honest, I’m not sure how closely my views fall to those in Europe. I’ve always dreamed about moving to Europe because there they work to live, whereas here we live to work. Unfortunately, Europe is going through a financial crisis right now because Greece took that to the extreme, completely unbalancing their budget. I’m interested to see how European style socialism weathers this crisis.

*unless you work for the Coast Guard

May 20th, Draw Muhammad

20 May

May 2oth is Draw Muhammad Day! Will you stand up and exercise your freedom of speech? Or will you cower in the shadows and allow barbaric fanatics to take away you inalienable rights? Do you have the courage to do what is right?

Fear of atheism

1 Jan

One of the things I think stands in the way of atheism is people’s fear of it, fear of the implications. I know from personal experience that this was one of the things that kept me in the christian faith for as long as I was.

I was having atheistic thoughts a few years before I eventually shed my faith, yet I was scared of these thoughts. I remember lying in bed at night thinking there might not be a god, but I wouldn’t want to live in a world like that. It would be so……boring……. No spirits? No dark forces of the devil to combat as  a holy soldier for christ? No magic? It just didn’t seem like any fun without that stuff. Later I realized that I was just holding on to wishful thinking instead of facts, but the idea where this is all there is, nothing but math & science (and I hate math) to explain everything just didn’t appeal to me.I was afraid of the implications of atheism, boredom.

There was another implication, however, that scared me more than the fear of boredom. It was: if there is no god then all the religious wars in history, all the martyrs for every religion, all the sacrifices in time, money, effort, and lives, everything was for nothing. I think fear of this realization is something very powerful that keeps people away from atheism. It’s just so horrible you don’t want it to be true.

The historical implications alone are mind blowing. The crusades, for nothing, the inquisition, for nothing, the European religious wars, for nothing, the destruction of Incan and African cultures, for nothing, religious and ethnic “cleansing”, for nothing, terrorist attacks, for nothing, just to name a few things in Western history alone in the past few centuries.

The present day implications are also not too pleasant. How many hours each year do people spend in church? How much money is spent funding a church, or new construction when the money is badly needed elsewhere? I have an uncle who has gone through several stints of unemployment, and yet he still tithes 10% of whatever he makes to the church. It’s all for nothing and he’s throwing away 10% of desperately needed money that could go to help feed and house his family.

I had to cope with problems like these before and shortly after I deconverted. When I finally accepted reality, my fear that everything might be being wasted for nothing soon gave way to rage. I wanted to stop the waste. I wanted people to start using their resources to better their lives here and now. So much time and effort is squandered on what might be when we’re dead that nothing is done to help alleviate the suffering of here and now.

As for the boredom, well when I started to look into scientific explanations for things more closely, this gave way to excitement and awe. They always say truth is stranger than fiction, and the real ways things come about is so interesting. Before I was limited to only thinking about this planet as all there was, but in reality, through science, we have the entire universe to explore! There is so much cool science out there that you can’t possibly be bored. As for fighting demons and what not, well, Diablo III should release sometime this year…hopefully. ~_^