08 January, 2011

Religion and Representation - NYTimes.com

A NYT columnist (Charles M. Blow) writes about the generational difference between his personal faith convictions and those of his son. It is an instructive vignette that helps to shed light on a process that is only now really making its presence felt: that the Gen X'ers and after are shedding the personalist conception of a god concerned with their welfare. It makes for interesting reading.

Religion and Representation - NYTimes.com

24 comments:

  1. There are still 7 US states (including a progressive state like Maryland) where the state law disallows non believers from holding public office. It's unconstitutional, of course, but legislators in those states probably don't dare change it because of the feelings towards non believers. Voters surveyed said they'd vote for a Catholic, Jew, Morman, Muslum or gay before the lowest ranking group, non believers. It's no wonder legislators won't come out of the pew and announce their unbelief.

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  2. I think the increase in those who identify as non-affiliated with any religion is a result of the secularism of our society. In previous centuries, people would abandon their religious affiliation for other reasons, e.g, getting divorced, living a "sinful" lifestyle to name just two obvious ones.
    Since those are all accepted these days and not considered deterrents to religious affiliation, people will find another way to disassociate themselves from a belief system.
    It is in keeping with the mindset of our time to describe what used to be simply known as abandoning one's faith as something more intellectual. Another example of calling something by a different name in order to evade the truth.
    People are simply abandoning their belief, but don't want to be as clear as that in their statement, so let's just make another belief system, one that is vague and in keeping with the temper of the times. It sounds like something a person who is educated beyond the Bible should say and everyone should accept. It is still the rejection of God's word.

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  3. Larry Green09 January, 2011

    Michael:
    Why do you have Jew ranked higher than Mormon?

    Julie Culshaw :
    Those of us who believe in God are for own sake very fortunate , but in no way are we better than anyone else.Jesus loves the believers and the non- believers all the same.

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  4. Larry- The other categories were not in order, my comment was just to illustrate that atheists are the bottom of the list. Here's the actual list.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/26611/some-americans-reluctant-vote-mormon-72yearold-presidential-candidates.aspx

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  5. "Those of us who believe in God are for own sake very fortunate , but in no way are we better than anyone else.Jesus loves the believers and the non- believers all the same."

    Well, assuming you set aside the fact that he joyfully sends people in one group to heaven, while joyfully sending people in the other group to hell. One of those is - presumably - a much better fortune than the other.

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  6. Anri: IF God sent people to either heaven or hell, you would be correct. The fact is that He will not send anyone, anywhere! We make that choice entirely by ourselves.

    God PERMITS us to choose whether we wish to spend eternity in His presence (heaven) or outside of it (hell). He simply honors our decision.

    Fr. Tim

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  7. "IF God sent people to either heaven or hell, you would be correct. The fact is that He will not send anyone, anywhere! We make that choice entirely by ourselves.

    God PERMITS us to choose whether we wish to spend eternity in His presence (heaven) or outside of it (hell). He simply honors our decision."

    Odd, then, that a quick search search of the text gives a number of references to people being 'cast into' or 'thrown into' hell, or the eternal fire.
    Just as a quick example, from Matthew: "Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

    God's saying 'go there, get away from me'. He's sending people, ordering them around, casting them out.

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  8. Anri: You are misinterpreting the text. God lets us choose in this life where we want to spend eternity. Once we die, our decision is effected. God 'sends' (or perhaps 'directs' captures the sense better in English) us to our chosen end.

    What you are objecting to (if that's the correct verb) is the fact that you will have to carry the responsibility for your life decisions into the next life. You would seem to want to be able to act as you chose here and now and then get to choose your eternal resting place once you get there and survey the choices. I can appreciate that if our faith is correct that you might want to change your mind when you get there - but that is not an option.

    To use an old saying: once we die its a 'you've made your bed, now lie in it' situation.

    Fr. Tim

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  9. Larry Green10 January, 2011

    Anri:
    You are very fortunate , even if you don't yet believe it.

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  10. Larry Green10 January, 2011

    I have to say Anri that it is becoming increasingly evident to me which category you belong to. I think you believe in God , wish to increase your strength in that belief but a little lazy with your “quick searches. “
    It also sounds very much like you are afraid that if you admit your belief in God you may feel to vulnerable and appear unintelligent. It seems it is very important for you to show how intelligent you are. You do in fact seem to me to be a very intelligent person. That is a good thing Anri but it has also the powerful potential to inflate ones ego to the point that it destroys any potential to gain wisdom

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  11. Julie Culshaw,

    "In previous centuries, people would abandon their religious affiliation for other reasons, e.g, getting divorced, living a "sinful" lifestyle to name just two obvious ones.
    Since those are all accepted these days and not considered deterrents to religious affiliation, people will find another way to disassociate themselves from a belief system."

    Just wondering. Do you think divorced people should be accepted into a church as full members? Or how should they be dealt with?

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  12. Tim,

    Some interesting comments in this section this morning.

    You said "Anri: IF God sent people to either heaven or hell, you would be correct. The fact is that He will not send anyone, anywhere! We make that choice entirely by ourselves.
    God PERMITS us to choose whether we wish to spend eternity in His presence (heaven) or outside of it (hell). He simply honors our decision."

    How you explain the many verses in the Bible that teach predestination?

    Just one or two for example.
    "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love;
    Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." Ephesians ch1 vs 4 to 6.

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  13. Tim,

    "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." John ch15 vs16

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  14. Larry Green10 January, 2011

    Small Town Guy:
    You could sit here all day long reciting quotes from the bible sounding like Elmer Fudd but there really is an abyss between such quotes and the context in which they were written , without which they are extremely senseless and meaningless. It just ain’t as simple as you were led to believe.

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  15. Larry Green,

    "Small Town Guy:
    You could sit here all day long reciting quotes from the bible sounding like Elmer Fudd but there really is an abyss between such quotes and the context in which they were written , without which they are extremely senseless and meaningless. It just ain’t as simple as you were led to believe."

    Not sure how Elmer Fudd fits into it. If I am incorrect in the context of any verse, please show me where and in what way. To make a blanket statement that I am wrong without any evidence is meaningless. We should be able to engage in a more rational discussion that simply dismissing something without explanation.
    I welcome reasonable discussion and debate.

    I understand where Michael and Tim are coming from. Michael intimates he doesn't read much of what I post, and Tim simply doesn't respond to my questions about some verses. The reason is clear. They don't believe anyone has the right to interpret the Bible in any way contrary to mother Church. Only the Church has the ability to understand and say what the Bible means.

    Sorry, I don't agree that the Bible was only addressed to church hierarchy (bishops or Popes) to interpret for the common people. Check your Bible. It is addressed to individual believers in many places. That is why the Reformation was necessary and a work of the Holy Spirit. It gave the Bible back to the common people. The RCC has been struggling ever since to reverse that and bring everyone back into blind submission again.

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  16. Larry Green10 January, 2011

    Small Town Guy:
    I’m with you in your conviction that the bible is no doubt a source of inspiration and certainly it is good to read for laity just as it is for clergy.
    Understanding what is written though , involves much more than a literal interpretation of the quotes.
    E.g. the bible was not written in English and unless you are familiar with the language it was written in , you have lost something in the translation before you begin.
    It was written in a time and a culture far from our own and unless you know much about the history and the culture of the corresponding quote it is nearly impossible to decipher it’s relevance today.
    The quotes you cite were written by very deep thinkers of the day and they were not easy to understand even at that time -much more so now- .
    There is certain danger when one latches on to the notion that the bible provides us with the means to change a world filled with grey to one of only black and white.
    Reading the bible is good but it needs to be accompanied by other things ( including but not exclusively help from the Author).

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  17. Larry,

    You raised some good points. Some though are common misconceptions.
    Yes, some verses do require involved explanation to understand what they mean.
    From what I have been able to learn, the English translation (KJV 1611) is an extremely accurate translation. The KJV New Testament is based on copies of the original Greek manuscripts which were kept by Byzantine scholars who fled to western Europ from the Islamic invasion of the easter empire. They took the manuscripts with them.

    The claim that one needs to know the original language in which it was written is a false claim. That is a claim made usually by certain ministers who know some Greek or Hebrew who want to give the impression they have special knowledge that nobody else has. It is without any basis. The reason is because God promised in his Word that he would preserve it for believers. (see John ch.16 vs14)What good would it do if the words which God gave to man were only accurate in the original manuscripts thousands of years ago? The originals no longer exist anyway. So God's promise to preserve it up to the present day makes sense. See also Psalm 12 vs6,7.

    Other versions convey much the same meaning in a high percentage of it, although there are exceptions in some wordings.

    Sometimes, we need assistance to understand certain things. That's why we have historic confessions of faith. We can always look at Bible commentaries as well to obtain further assistance. These are especially useful and are on the internet.

    The important point is the Bible is addressed to in dividuals, not church hierarchy to be the interpreters as Rome claims. There are some people who are blindly following whatever a man tells them and have no idea what the Bible says. Sort of like the captain and officers of the Titanic who ignored warnings. There are certain absolutes in the Bible which become clear to individuals who search the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit is the teacher as Jesus said in John chap.16 He would be. (also 1 John 2:27)
    The RCC doesn't want anyone to know that. They at one time forbade anyone to read the Bible without the permission of a priest. In fact it was on the Index of forbidden books centuries ago. The interpretation is still locked up and controlled by them as far as they are concerned.

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  18. (Sorry for the slow response...)
    Tim:
    "What you are objecting to (if that's the correct verb) is the fact that you will have to carry the responsibility for your life decisions into the next life. You would seem to want to be able to act as you chose here and now and then get to choose your eternal resting place once you get there and survey the choices. I can appreciate that if our faith is correct that you might want to change your mind when you get there - but that is not an option."

    Actually, I don't have an opinion on afterlife options, as I don't accept their existence, but that's not the main point I am trying to chase down here.

    I was merely questioning the assertion that Michael made that Christians are no more fortunate than non-Christians. Surely, having the only faith that allows one to avoid eternal damnation would make one more fortunate than the alternative, yes?

    If you would wish me to amend my argument to '...joyfully watching one group going to heaven while joyfully watching the other going to hell...', I'm willing to accept that for the sake of this discussion.

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  19. (Apologies for the possible double-post, but I just read this...)

    Larry Green:
    "I have to say Anri that it is becoming increasingly evident to me which category you belong to. I think you believe in God , wish to increase your strength in that belief but a little lazy with your “quick searches. “
    It also sounds very much like you are afraid that if you admit your belief in God you may feel to vulnerable and appear unintelligent. It seems it is very important for you to show how intelligent you are. You do in fact seem to me to be a very intelligent person. That is a good thing Anri but it has also the powerful potential to inflate ones ego to the point that it destroys any potential to gain wisdom."

    I was raised Christian (Presbyterian), lost my faith at some point between high school and college. Since then, doing some small amount of research and a lot of thinking, I have stopped considering myself an agnostic and use the term atheist. Let me make it very clear: I do not believe in any god(s), and I am quoting the bible here simply because it's what's being argued most of the time.

    Also, for the record, I'm no slouch, but I'm far and away from the most intelligent person I converse with on a regular basis. This has been another thing getting into the atheist community has taught me... lotsa very smart folk out there, and I'm not even in the running, unfortunately.

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  20. Larry Green11 January, 2011

    Anri:
    I cannot buy the claim that you are truly an atheist. You have provided further proof of that with an attempted act of humility. What I said Anri was that “ you do seem to me to be a very intelligent person.” That is long way from saying that you yourself must be the most intelligent person you have ever conversed with , which is the misinterpretation you modestly reacted to . It’s another example of how we see and hear the things we want to see and hear. Before you expressed rejection of what I didn’t say , you have allowed yourself to believe I said it.
    Keep practising Anri and I believe firmly that you will soon catch a glimpse of what is going on beneath surface and you will discover there is a profound ongoing, established and meaningful relationship with something unlike you have ever experienced intellectually.

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  21. Larry Green11 January, 2011

    Small Town Guy
    Okay , clearly you are convinced that you are right and I accept your position. Respectfully :You should be aware though that it is extremely boring and annoying to read for someone like myself who does not hold the same conviction.

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  22. Larry Green,

    "Small Town Guy
    Okay , clearly you are convinced that you are right and I accept your position. Respectfully :You should be aware though that it is extremely boring and annoying to read for someone like myself who does not hold the same conviction."

    OK, I apologize for misreading your comments. I had not meant to bore you. You had made a series of statements concerning the Bible and I felt it needed a response.

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  23. Larry Green sez:
    "I cannot buy the claim that you are truly an atheist. You have provided further proof of that with an attempted act of humility."

    So... your contention is that atheists cannot show humility? You know, the next time our esteemed host wonders why atheists are sometimes angry, I'll point out this sort of thing - we don't care to be personally insulted. We don't care to have people assume that we are lesser, or flawed, or broken, or pitiful, or somehow lacking in basic human emotions because we don't seek a cosmic dictator to fall at the feet of.
    Here's a quick test to determine if you're going to say something insulting about atheists: insert a religious preference of your choice into the statement, see how it sounds... "Well, he's not really a Jew, he's almost acting as humble as a good person."

    I would strongly suggest you actually read some things written by atheists (I'd suggest Sagan's Cosmos for starters - it's a bit dated, but well written). You will find awe and humility aplenty in many of those works.
    There is, of course, one major difference - no amount of religious awe, or prayer, or hand-wringing ever stopped (for example) smallpox. It took rational thought - asking "What if this is not god's will, but just something awful we can fix?" to eradicate it.

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  24. Larry Greeen12 January, 2011

    OK Anri:
    Even though I have a horrible fear of ‘tests‘ , Ill do it just to preserve our friendship.
    “ He says he believes that he is the cause of his own good therefore he can’t be a Jew and yet he’s almost acting as humble as one who does not , perhaps he is a Jew and doesn’t realize it.”
    Carl Sagan has since been awakened.
    If ther was smallpox stopped, would we know about it if God is to humble to tell us.

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