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Sunday, September 6, 2009

sheepnip.

I bought a bible a few months ago. A simple black covered bible that I probably could have just as easily stolen from a hotel room, and with it, an equally unadorned copy “Of the Imitation of Christ.” It came as a set and until today I had set the latter aside, knowing the New Testament would be a great wall to climb in itself. I have had a few steps up that wall but I certainly don’t imagine I’ll be arriving on the other side anytime soon. The bible is not one of those books you can ever “finish” reading. Every story can be read hundreds, if not thousands of times and interpreted very differently. As with any book that challenges perception of yourself, or your world. I’ve read chapters of Carlos Castenada’s Journey to Ixtland over and over again, and walked away feeling like I still understood very little. The bible can do that to me too, although as much as I try to read without prejudice, I see each page, each word, and with it an endless pool of injustice, and tyranny carried out in the name of those same words. How many people before me have read these sentences, and interpreted them to suit their own meaningless purpose? How many have done evil things in proclamation of the Lord, spewing power from the pages of a book and the impressionable minds of the common people, seeking answers when there weren’t any, aching for something to believe in. Something to explain the unexplainable. If only we hadn’t been so quick to diminish and trivialize the very meaning of faith. Had we been a little more careful with those words, a little more open to those who were different, a little less power starved and a little less greedy. A pack of wolves working together, or an ant colony with a co-ordinated system of seeming chaos. Instead, a few shepherds got together and said perfect! This is what we need. A tool for obedience. A tool for deep loyalty. A tool that very much resembled sheep food, or perhaps sheepnip. And those shepherds laughed themselves rich and fat and drunk, while the rest of the world struggled with the us/them attitude force-fed into their beliefs. God is a beautiful thing to believe in. It is man, and man made traditions and firmly held personal prejudices, and motivation behind the church, and every connotation behind what man will say, or do, or even think "in the name of the Lord" that we need to start questioning a little more.
A lot more.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
St. Paul
Colossians 2:8

Jesus never said "I'm a Christian." Buddha never said "I'm a Buddhist." Muhammad never said, "I'm a Muslim." People came along later to write stories and categorized them. Maybe hoping to unite those who believed in the same God or God's, but in doing so, infinitely dividing them forever. Is it fair to call yourself a "community" with pride, if what you are doing is simply excluding those who are different? I dream that one day, going to church will be simply a location, with people of all religions, gathering to think, or pray to whoever they choose. Whenever they feel the need. To talk and learn amongst each other. To respect the beliefs of others, without feeling insecure or habitual about their own faith. To say with conviction that you love God, or Allah, or no-one in particular, but do so without disregarding that the rest of the world... is not you. Outspoken atheists bother me for this very reason. You don't have to believe in a God of any kind, that's your prerogative, but you cannot hope to disprove his existence for others. Atheists involve themselves in debates and discussions with only the purpose of demeaning the beliefs of others. Not supporting their own. Because there is no belief to support. There is a non belief. A negative within the very definition. The doctrine or belief that there is NO God. Or DISbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings. If you dont believe in even the possibility of a God, then what else could you be trying to accomplish by arguing with those who do? It is just as wrong to push your lack of faith onto others, as it is for them to push their excess of faith onto you. I dream of a world that may never be able to exist, but still, if I can dream of it, perhaps others can too.

13 comments:

Drag said...

I don't consider myself as believer or an atheist. Even if god would prove his existance in form of some revelation. I would not start to worship him, simply cause my life is fine as it is, I don't need devine favour. Still never I've tried to discourage anyone from their faith. Although crossed my path with few people trying to question my ways. You summed it up very well, thank you.
Weird, I'm trying to visit your blog more often than you-tube site.

noel said...

Funny thing there last sunday week,came home from mass and put on the dinner,so while waiting for the potatoes etc to cook,i went on to youtube and was surfing through and came across that comical-funny oxford prof. Richard Dawkins puting out his thoughts on athesim..good arguments on a scientific and debate scale. As a catholic myself,i think its good to listen to all creeds/colors/religons(even dawkins) and one day in my lifetime see different religons come together on the odd sunday and prove to ourselves that its soo easy to get on with each other and life.....but alas i live in 97% catholic Ireland...any wonder i travel so much to see diversity

LupineLooPine said...

Collosians 2:8 by the way, is more a case against science and philosophy.. the rational understanding of our world, than it is against organized religion. It is true that it claims to be against "false" institutions , BUT it has nothing against its own institution you see.. which is obviously true despite scientific and historic evidence, and plain common sense. Any institution that teaches the teachings of Christ is fine... all else is crap. And, what DOES constitute this teaching of Christ? Who has defined the metric? Clearly the Bible extends far more than just the teaching of Christ, and therefore it may appear that they shouldn't be able to teach the Old Testament. Catch: Jesus mentioned (somewhere, I can't be bothered to look... google it; I know this shit a little too well) that you should follow the Old law, that of the Torah, very strictly. Maybe Anglo can help me out as to where it is. So his teaching is pretty much that stoning people is acceptable under certain circumstances. Point being that this institution of Christ should teach the whole Bible (actually it should teach more, but they satisfy the bare minimum. Mind you, there is no Gospel according to Jesus, thus we need to not only have faith in Christ , but faith also in Mathew, John, Mark and Luke, but forget Judas and the dead sea scrolls and the other stuff that was removed from the "official" Bible. I digress). Since it is logically impossible to teach the Bible literally as a coherent structure, therefore every such institution of Christ shall teach an interpretation. They will weight such and such teaching here with a certain higher amount than this other contradictory teaching there. That's ok I guess, and is the only way to have some order out of this chaos. The problem is that many such interpretations exist not all of which will manifest in a very "good" way. Further, these institutions will not be acting very Christ like ... because all of them will be caught up in the game of acquiring power and control. So it's impossible in a competitive environment for them to act as Christ taught, and there will always be competing ideologies due to human efficiency not being infinite.

Fine, so how should I sum up this rant? Basically, if there is an organized mass that has a dude blabber a few bits from the Bible and then have sex with the alter boy, that's good in Paul's eyes, whereas if a person dedicates his life to science, art or other fields that nurture of "vain deceit" , then we're gonna burn in Hell for all eternity while our sinful field flourishes and makes potential sinners (all humans?) fall into the trap!

I say a church with pedophile priests is fine in Paul's eyes, since the criteria of the institute teaching Jesus' .. teachings, is satisfied. That's the only criteria (unless Paul meant that in so teaching the teachings of Christ, you will necessarily be a good person, which really... even from a Christian standpoint, is a pathetically naive assumption. I can only hope he's so gullible when I meet him at the Pearly gates).

*sings and dances to the song "I'm going to hell in a hand basket"*

LupineLooPine said...

Ok.. I didn't take on the point of your post because I was so blinded by that annoying quote that I know so well. I actually didn't bother to read this post MissP, until just now, for a variety of reasons - religious discussions on a firm logical basis is stupid and a waste of time being the most dominant, followed by me not giving a shit being a close second. Sure enough, reading it has annoyed me, especially when that quote was used as an "anti- proud community" argument.
So onwards to your post.

"Is it fair to call yourself a "community" with pride, if what you are doing is simply excluding those who are different?"

Why do communities form MissP? They form for the same reason that tribes do (they are tribes after all). A group is stronger than an individual. The tribe is linked by a common property, in this case that of following a nonsensical, contradictory book, that none of them have read.. let alone have interpreted in their own way, following a desire to understand the meaning of life and themselves. They have not used the book as a spiritual walking stick so to speak, but rather flaunt it like an erect penis that ejaculates air (no substance comes out of all that jerking around). That's religion in a nut shell.. and a nut shell is the appropriate term in more than one way.
What you seem to desire is a community that comes together accepting the mere fact that they're human. Such a community will have to learn to accept themselves and be happy about it, which... as it so happens, is the absolute opposite of what religion does. Religion brings about a rotten cohesion through their organized form... globally speaking. There will always be the small communities that do a lot of good, but on the whole, it definitely does a lot more bad, and satisfies the analogy I mentioned earlier. The more fanatical the religious base, the more it will resemble the group of dicks.

"If you dont believe in even the possibility of a God, then what else could you be trying to accomplish by arguing with those who do?"
I guess you're talking specifically about Atheists, that too the militant kind. But any discussion that in some way brings to light the low possibility of there being a God with the characteristics that "he" is believed to have should not be demonized. If a persons faith is so blind that they ignore all of reality and knowledge in order to maintain that faith, then it is completely useless, for it involves such an enormous degree of self deception. Faith should liberate, not trap you like that.

Now, that being said, I too am against militant Atheists. Reason: People don't seem to understand WHY organized religion is bad. It's bad because it's a structure that has their own agenda and is intolerant towards other groups. It is this intolerance that really produces all the problems, the intolerance that blinds people from appreciating the deeper truth that we are first and foremost, humans.. with far more in common than our stupid societies struggle to make us forget and ignore. It's the truth waiting patiently to be found, submerged in a sea of hateful noise and stupid rhetoric. Atheists, for precisely the kind of group that is not conducive to bringing together the desired peace you speak of. They don't come together due to "non faith". They don't act like "non-faithists", but rather like stupid people who think their incredibly smary for perceiving the obvious. People of faith could have been brought up under certain social and societal situations that make renouncing their faith equivalent to abandoning their family... their pack (this takes on a malignant form as well... but I won't go into that again). Other people of faith could be drawn into it by a deeper desire to understand truth and reality. I'm talking about people of faith now... not organized religion. I don't know how many Atheists go after religious dudes practicing their own interpretation of their texts.. but I think they're a minority.

Yes, I've typed enough to torture most of you I think.

Heather Maria said...

Collosians 2:8 (by the way) is more whatever I want it to mean.

The bible cannot be Lupined.

You are one of the exact same people you speak of, interpreting the words to suit your own cynical self-oppression. "Vain deceit" jumps to represent some form of science or truth, because your mind tells it to jump there, and YOUR mind dear Lupine, is mighty aggressive in nature, and will be obeyed at all costs.

If I was reading the bible to make rational sense of anything at all, I would have gave up a long long time ago. I'm simply reading it to learn something, about history, about human nature, faith, perspective. Not learn everything, not even hope to understand very much... but every little bit helps.

Your rant has indeed impressed me this time though. Maybe I need to go back and read it again. "It is impossible to act as Christ taught?"... Do you know what it is Christ was trying to teach? Because I sure don't - although I agree with the corrupted and competitive nature of the bible, and organized religion in general...

but just as you have your own moral guidelines, religion is trying to mass produce them for the everyman... and so some value system, some scale of some sort must be used, or there is no basis of commonality. And what is a church without everyone believing just what the next person believes?

It's just a building.

*sings and sways to John Lennon's Imagine"

Heather Maria said...

Round Two:

The quote was not meant to be seen as an anti-proud-community argument at all. It was a plea for questioning your faith, questioning the methods behind why man will proclaim something in the name of the Lord. To realize that it is all just an interpretation, the bible especially, with personal motivations and prejudices involved at every turn of the page.

But you know.. I forgive you, because yes, I was talking about Atheists... it's in the title of the post I believe, and mentioned several times.. so I'm going to take this one as a... Lupine got lazy, or too agitated to pay full attention to the message.

Or maybe you just felt like reinforcing my points, and for some reason came into my mind as argumentative....

Either way, you confused the hell out of me. Pun intended.

This line is beautiful.

"It's the truth waiting patiently to be found, submerged in a sea of hateful noise and stupid rhetoric."

Kat said...

“I will not play tug o' war. I'd rather play hug o' war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.” - Shel Silverstein

LupineLooPine said...

Collosians 2:8 describes a sin (sin according to scripture). It's different in that regard firstly.

For "A complete" Sin List, you can try this place for instance:

http://www.biblestudies.org/Documents/Bible_Studies/Sin_list_part_6c.htm

Technically, it is a sin, but there are people out there who would want to not take it all so seriously for many good reasons (one being the need to live in a modern world). I really have to read that book Obby was recommending, The Year of living Biblically. It should be interesting, since I don't know how he pulled it off (yes, pun intended).

Second, one can look at A sentence and determine what it means to a greater extent. It would have say a 79% probability of meaning what I think, whereas it has a 3% probability of being about smurfs and bunnies. The problem arises in interpreting the whole book, and that is what I've always been... complaining about. There is no one context or theme, and the books as a whole tends to contradict itself. So to interpret the Bible as a whole is to make certain areas resonate with you more than others, and that's certainly not what I was guilty of.

Third, of course I make interpretations of the world and everything in it to lead my life. So does and so should everyone else. Certain interpretations are more coherent and consistent, but that's another topic for another day. My problem is with certain institutions brainwashing people with their own interpretations of the book. If a person has initiated his or her search into some deeper aspect of themselves, and then goes about looking for the answer in the Bible, or Quran or whatever, fine.. no problem. Just remember that religion is personal and was always meant to be personal.

My posts were not directed at you, but rather were just my views on the topic, and the arguments I have that lead me to the same conclusion. The Atheist thing you mentioned in the second response was not something I missed. Some people tend to clump Agnostics in the pile as well, and while you didn't do that clearly, such Agnostics wouldn't mind explaining why a persons belief in man riding on the backs of Dinosaurs and the Earth being formed in six days is wrong. Such arguments should not be ignored by those of... *cough* "high faith". Second, I think we're ALL Agnostics, even the ones of faith. The proof of this in my opinion lies in the actions of people, which really reveal what they believe. I don't think there is such a thing as a strict Atheist... a person incapable of filling the blanks of the unknown in any way (that's what it ultimately boils down to). Sure, not believing an old man with a beard is one thing, but I doubt how far that would extend for all things, and not just that retarded concept.

By the way, the fact that I'm here typing this clearly means my mind is not as aggressive as it ought to be. I have my weaknesses as of this moment, but it'll be taken care of in time.

Tripp Hudgins said...

Wow. There's a lot I want to say.

1. Take a deep breath.

2. Christianity and pre-Roman Judaism are not the same thing. The people who say "Take the whole Bible as is" don't. We would be selling our daughters and stoning people who charge interest on bank loans. So...Yeah, that argument is a red herring. You are free to think that people who try to live that way are insane. They likely are and deserve your pity and not so much of your debating energy.

3. Prooftexting, the act of taking one verse out of context to prove a point, is part of the trouble here. There is an historical context and a context within the book itself. So, for what it's worth, this is not talking about science. The Bible is a pre-scientific book. Why, O WHY, do we keep arguing this out? Why do we keep forcing the Bible to be science?

I will never understand that. I mean, no, that's not true. I do understand it, but it's crazy. Blergh.

What Paul is preaching against here are the cosmo-philosophies that served as pseudorelogious entities and institutions of the time.

The New Revised Standard Version translates the Greek as follows: "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ."

Loopy is right that many religious institutions can become "human traditions." See: Christianity. Yep. Jesus always pushed back from that Paul had a different M.O. in some ways, but there you go. Paul was, in a way, the first Christian. And he was desperately trying to get people to understand that following Jesus was not simply a philosophy, or an alternate cosmology. It was capital-T True.

Paul and I don't always agree on this stuff, but I get it. Jesus was not a Gnostic. Jesus was not Socratic or what have you. It's no philosophy. Paul is trying to talk about experience. Well, that's what I think anyway.

Paul is saying "Don't be a philospher" and "Don't be Jewish" (this is the traditions of man thing for Paul). And do not confuse these two with being a follower of Jesus.

This verse is used to refute science, but that's crap. It's a misuse and a poor recontextualizing of the passage.

I heart you both. Keep up the good work. Get another translation of the Bible. Heh. ;-)

Tripp Hudgins said...

One more thing (I still heart you both.)...

I just reread the Good Miss P's entry. I should have done so before I dove in. I'm sorry. I misspoke in my last comment. I'm an ass.

There are two things at work here, I guess. One, does the verse speak to what Miss P wants it to? Two, does the verse speak in the way Loopy is afraid it does?

Specifically, no. It doesn't. But the principal it teaches may very well hold true the way you two argue. Idolatry (A Big Problem to the Most High God), is what we're talking about. It's not that science is problematic. It's replacing God with science and then turning that science into a religion that is screwed up and simply a repeat of what has Paul's panties in a wad.

Making an absolute of anything may be our problem. Loopy, you are clearly very bright. So, tell me, why are you hunting for the absolute?

And I need to learn to read. Fuck me. You posted from the NRSV, I guess. Shit. Can I start over?

LupineLooPine said...

I'm not an "absolutist". Some things however are most general, and it these that I hunt for, since they are more true. But there is no absolute truth to take into account ALL things. If it does exist it might be beyond divine imagination as well. I think you brought it up in reference to my interpretation of the quote. Of course what you said is probably most right, i.e. see the quote from the perspective of Paul's eyes and times. The problem is that the Bible is not viewed as a book written by fallible individuals writing their own perceptions. Were that so, there would be no need to have this discussion... to castrate the impotent beast of organized religion. Paul's delightful message shall be interpreted in each time for however long this Battleship Totemshit stays afloat on the deep waters of our ignorance.
Had Paul known that the nature of "the church" would follow the historical trajectory that it has, he would have followed Judas' suit. In fact, any one who is trying to find meaning in the Bible is in turn trying to find the universal message within, applicable to all times. In so doing, they strip the message from its context and expose the bare bones structure, in this case Paul's message => Institute of Christ = good, Other institutes with faith invested in them = bad.

Science has to be followed like a religion, where the faith in the known.. or rather the range of applicability of the known, is used to probe the unknown. Now, while I was joking a bit in the first comment, and while I certainly won't lose sleep over whether the Bible says I'm doing something right or wrong, one can't help but look at the stripped, bare bones thing and say that any established thing we have faith in .. other than Christ's one, is bad. So, leading a life with too much faith in modern technology may even be construed as bad. If an airline is about to crash, does Paul think it makes more sense for the pilot to pray, or to think about how to best make use of technology to save lives?

I don't mean to be such a bitch Tripp, I just am. What is bugging me is that right now I'm not discussing something I care too much about, and as such it feels rather superficial and artificial. I frankly don't care about what Paul meant... I only care about what is. I love you too Tripp, and it has to do with the whole package, of which religion is most probably a big part. So you're proof for even the hardest cynic that religion does bring about some good... or in this case, some great.

Tripp Hudgins said...

*head spinning*

Wow. Thanks, Loopy. And you are no bitch...unless you really enjoy it. Then, well, you are a bitch! Ha!

Wow.

See, someone tell me why these conversations are so damn rare!

Anonymous said...

Atheists cannot prove there are no gods. Nor can they prove there are no unicorns. For one, the lack of evidence is sufficient to acknowledge that anything we say about unicorns is idle speculation.

The Bible says some good things but it also says some bad things, and is vague enough about both that different sects have interpreted and redefined them in drastically different ways. The good and the bad are mixed in with meaningless drivel. Take it how you will, but frankly a more specific and concise book would probably serve you better as a source of morals. The lack of a supernatural reward or punishment wouldn't hurt either. If your only reason for kindness or not murdering people is an allegedly divine promise, what happens in the absence of the promise? Also, is your kindness really worthy of praise if you believe you are being paid off with a trip to paradise?

I do not believe gods exist. I believe it is possible that they exist, but unlikely enough that I don't consider the possiblity in my day to day actions, in the same way I don't fear I will be caught in a hailstorm every time I go outside. The hailstorm is a lot more likely, but no more terrifying.

Should there happen to be a god, or gods, I haven't found one that is worthy of worship - praise or admiration of power, perhaps - but certainly not worship.

if you happen to be a billionaire...