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Bess writes: "If the teachings of Jesus were really taken seriously, the Christian Right wouldn't be devoting so much time to protecting the wealth of the wealthiest. True Christians would be demanding redistribution of the world's riches in ways far more radical than modern politicians would dare propose."

A stained-glass depiction of Jesus. (photo:
A stained-glass depiction of Jesus. (photo:

Jesus, the Radical Economist

By Rev. Howard Bess, Consortium News

13 June 12


esus made his reputation as a Jewish economist, one with very strong opinions about wealth and property, about the relationship between the rich and the poor.

He also was intensely religious and loved nothing more than debating the meaning of the law of God or Torah. For instance, he is presented in the Gospel of Luke as being a precocious 12-year-old boy absorbed in debating religious leaders about the meaning of Torah.

From early childhood he must have understood that he was seen as a brash, pushy kid from a small town in Northern Palestine, an area without religious leadership and an unemployment rate well over 50 percent.

Whether by divine wisdom or genius insight, Jesus figured out what wealthy and powerful people were doing to the poor, illiterate people with whom he lived. Primarily through his teaching and storytelling, he became identified as a populist teacher with a good deal of influence. He was good news to the poor and bad news for those who clung to their riches.

Clearly Jesus was fascinated by Torah and its application to everyday life. Luke’s gospel reports that a lettered leader of the religious community approached Jesus and asked how to attain eternal life. Jesus responded with two questions of his own: What does Torah say? How do you read it? The first question is easy to answer. The second question is the real test.

Jesus knew what Torah said, and he had strong opinions about how Torah should be read. Jesus had come to his own understanding of the property codes in the book of Leviticus. These codes are credited to Moses, but more probably come from the massive rewrite of Israelite traditions during the years of Babylonian exile in the sixth century BCE.

Torah is very straightforward. Land and ultimately all wealth belong to God, who places property in the control of human beings, not as owners but as stewards who must share it and return it to God every 49 years for redistribution.

For Israelites, time was divided into blocks of seven years. Land was not tilled in the seventh year. After a series of seven, seven-year blocks of time, a Year of Jubilee was declared. During the Year of Jubilee, all land was to be returned to the control of the priests, who, in the name of God, were to make a new and fresh distribution of all land.

In other words, the wealthy were supposed to surrender their stewardship and the poorest of the poor were given land with the encouragement to be productive for God and their fellow Israelites. All slaves were set free and all debts were canceled.

At the time when the Israelite system of Sabbaths and a Jubilee was codified, the economic and political structures may have accommodated such radical economic and social changes in a one-year observance of Jubilee.

Hundreds of years later, however, when Jesus lived and taught, the combination of Roman rule, compliant fat-cats and religious elites made the observance of Jubilee impossible. So, almost every Israelite knew what Torah said, but the prescription had not been followed in anyone’s memory. The poor had given up on the idea of a Year of Jubilee, but apparently not Jesus.

According to Luke’s gospel, early in the public ministry of Jesus, he went to a synagogue gathering and read a passage from Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. God has sent me to bring good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim release of captives and liberty to the oppressed. This is the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Everyone in his hearing understood what he was saying. Israelites had gone too long without a Year of Jubilee. It was time for the wealthy to turn loose what they had accumulated. It was time for the poor to receive their full stewardship.

But most poor people had taken on the understanding of life that their oppressors presented and taught. It was true then; it is still true today. So, the Year of Jubilee code was regarded as impractical. However, the principles of the ownership of God, the end of slavery, and economic justice still were possible.

The Israelites who held wealth and power knew what was in Torah, but they were not interested in reading it with new eyes of compassion and justice. (When Jesus finally took his message to Jerusalem – riding in on a donkey to mock the rich who favored horses and turning over the money tables at the Temple to protest religious corruption – he was deemed an insurrectionist and was executed.)

Jesus died almost 2,000 years ago, but the laws of Sabbaths and Jubilees are still on the books today. Torah still has a powerful message, especially since the evils of greed and mindless ownership are with us in ever growing magnitude. Resulting inequities and injustices surround us.

We Americans live in a secular society, but Christians have a responsibility to influence and to train the conscience of our fellow citizens. Here in election season, Jesus appears on the scene and asks the same two questions: “What does Torah say? How do you read it?”

The Rev. Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister, who lives in Palmer, Alaska. His email address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . your social media marketing partner


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+100 # BradFromSalem 2012-06-13 14:36
Fascinating how the Religious and the Political Right have joined forces to invokes the name of Jesus to justify discrimination against homosexuals, treating women as livestock and employees as slaves. They codify into law wealth as a birthright to be handed down to each generation in perpetuity, declare sex outside of marriage as immoral and a sin against God. They believe the only way to resolve international differences is with war a first choice. They see humanity's stewardship of the entire planet as God's permission to rape and pillage it without regard for any of the millions of life forms human are responsible for.

These are all the exact opposite of what their Lord and Savior taught. Supposedly in Christian theology there is supposed to be an anti-Christ. Does the anti-Christ have to be an individual? Can it be the entire Religious & Political Right are the anti-Christ?

It is certainly a subject that Jesus himself would have looked to Torah for some answers. Right after he padlocked Wall Street.
-33 # Noni77 2012-06-13 17:00
Explain Romans 1:21.
+17 # bluepilgrim 2012-06-13 18:28
This requires explanation? People know what is right and what is wrong, and they choose to do wrong. And god's gonna get 'em.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
+8 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-06-13 20:15
t is a general statement against teachers who knowingly corrupt what they teach.
+23 # BradFromSalem 2012-06-13 21:51
I cannot explain Romans 1:21. I am not a Christian. Nor is this a discussion of singular excerpts from anyone's Bible. The article references how Jesus himself viewed the Bible, which at the time consisted of Torah.
+24 # JSRaleigh 2012-06-14 10:06
Quoting LiberalLibertarian:
I cannot explain Romans 1:21. I am not a Christian. Nor is this a discussion of singular excerpts from anyone's Bible. The article references how Jesus himself viewed the Bible, which at the time consisted of Torah.

It's fairly simple in this context. It says many who know god turn away from god. Implied is that many who claim to be christian don't actually follow Jesus teachings.

In fact, I would go so far as to say MOST modern American christians don't follow Jesus teachings.
+5 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 00:33
"For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart." (or similar)

i.e. they began to think that they themselves were responsible for whatever success they had, rather than being the beneficiary of a benevolent providence, and started tossing money around and wasting their resources on trivia and meaningless materialism.(Pr esumably in contrast to the endless exhortations to help the poor and sick and homeless and starving and so on)
-48 # Noni77 2012-06-13 17:19
Your notions are a perverse misrepresentati on of Christianity. God and Jesus do not think sexual promiscuity is "OK". If you read through Romans you will see that Jesus came to provide forgiveness that wasn't possible before for sins that forever separated us from God without Jesus' sacrifice to cover all of our sins at once - if we accept him and ask forgiveness. (The check was written, but you must cadh it!) In Romans it is clear that people who persist in sin - people who blow God off, reinterpret his word to serve their own purposes, will not go to Heaven. He also admonishes those severely who encourage such behavior saying right is wrong and wrong is right. There are reasons certain behavior is prohibited because it harms someone, it damages them either physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. Christ met a met a woman by a well and told her he knew she had bern with 5 men who really were not her "husband", but he forgave her with the caveat that she "go and sin no more (no more adultry)". God sees women as having value, Satan sees them as vessels ti be used and thrown away. Indeed, women sell themselves short with promiscuity. This pains God, it does not please him. He knows your perfect match if you consult him, but part of this sin is that you blow him off. Read for yourself in Romans what is said. The Bible is to be taken literally and as a whole, unless it is obvious by context (such as in the book of Revelation) that it is allegory.
+17 # BradFromSalem 2012-06-13 22:01
Everything you say presumes an acceptance of Jesus Christ as God. You also take a very singular interpretation of Bibilical passages.

I can speak more to Jesus as a Jew, and not as a Messiah. Jews encourage study and discussion of Torah. Personal interpretations of are an integral part of a Religious life. I am well aware this is not unique to Jews, and that some Christian groups treat Bible study in the same manner. But since Jesus was a Jew, it is relevant to my assertion that in my understanding of Torah there are many contradictions. And those contradictions are the puzzle we know as Torah. Jesus was not the first person to try and make sense of it, nor was he the last.
+4 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-15 15:52
Noni, if I get you right the Bible is to be read literally unless one sees the allegory?
("obvious" = "that appears before the sight")

Then I mostly agree, it is just that it is nearly all allegoric.
-3 # Noni77 2012-06-16 20:57
Hosea 4:6 - My people are destroyed (perish) from lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, ..."
Yes, Jefferson did do that. That was unfortunate. He wrestled with his belief and no one knows if ultimately he was a Christian or just a moral man with admiration for whom he considered the ultimate moral man.
Indeed, Satan can and does perform supernatural acts. the Bible does teach how to tell God's miracles from Satan's deceit but that would be "grad level" for a group that wrestles with the basics.
In a nutshell, God exhorts people to pray: pray for indwelling by the Holy Spirit, pray for wisdom and discernment of things not easily discerned by corporial beings, pray for daily guidance and supernatural protection and favor, pray for those who need healing, etc. How is it not like believing in witchcraft? If humans pray, citing God's word and the promises he has made, the miracle comes from him through us or to us. Even a real faith healer does not heal, he is the vessel that knows God's word and how to present the prayer. (God listens for his word to be spoken and claimed and BELIEVED). My mother went to a revival years ago to pray for a sick friend, and came back with her nearsighted vision healed to 20-20. Being somewhat vain, she had not worn her glasses, and she had asked nothing for herself. But the pastor holding the revival discerned she too had a need she was not asking to be addressed. We are not merely human.
+11 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 00:35
"people who blow God off, reinterpret his word to serve their own purposes,"

Yeah, we don't see much of that today, do we?
+3 # ardvaark 2012-06-14 08:55
You are right. Dont confuse apostate Christianity with the true teachings of The Master. The truth has been restored, have you not heard?
+3 # jamal49 2012-06-15 04:38
Christianity IS the anti-Christ.
+55 # margpark 2012-06-13 14:50
I love Jesus and knew he was a "left wing rabble rouser." As presented in this article he must have been a true conservative, clinging to the righteous was of the Torah. Conservatism has a bad smell these days. To be a true conservative one should cling to truth not money. To be a true liberal one should be open to new ideas and able to separate bad ideas from good ideas.
+56 # LiberalRN 2012-06-13 17:12
Quoting margpark:
I love Jesus and knew he was a "left wing rabble rouser." As presented in this article he must have been a true conservative, clinging to the righteous was of the Torah. Conservatism has a bad smell these days. To be a true conservative one should cling to truth not money. To be a true liberal one should be open to new ideas and able to separate bad ideas from good ideas.

Gee... he sounds more like a (gasp!) Socialist to me.
+25 # Michael Lee Bugg 2012-06-13 20:12
Yeshua was the original Socialist. It seems to me that He talked about the evils of worshipping mammon more than all other sins combined! Yeshua said, "A rich man has no more chance of entering the Kingdom of Heaven than a camel has of going through the eye of a needle"! Yeshua also said, "Sell all that you have. Divide it equally amongst you and follow me.". Yeshua said, "where your treasure is so your heart is also."
+97 # fredboy 2012-06-13 15:00
Jesus was remarkably progressive and caring. The "religious" right has rejected his beliefs and teachings and are, in effect, anti-Christian. If he lived today they would try their best to destroy him and all he represents.
+54 # LiberalRN 2012-06-13 17:11
Quoting fredboy:
Jesus was remarkably progressive and caring. The "religious" right has rejected his beliefs and teachings and are, in effect, anti-Christian. If he lived today they would try their best to destroy him and all he represents.

Yes, I've often been struck by the disconnect between the all-too-vocal screeching from the hypoChristian right about how "God hates" various groups with whom they take issue... when Jesus himself consorted with lepers, prostitutes, and would surely not have condemned a loving relationship between two committed individuals, even if they happened to be of the same gender.

I embrace the ideas and teachings of Jesus. I reject the iteration of the "religion" that has co-opted his name, and practices hatred and malice in the name of God.
+8 # dovelane1 2012-06-15 03:37
It's been said that you can tell when man (or woman)has made God in their image, because God hates the same people they do, and God also loves the same people they do.

How convenient.
+8 # Michael Lee Bugg 2012-06-15 10:01
Great observation! God was created by man and ascribed all of the abilities humans would like to have, particularly "all powerful" and "immortal"! When asked if you believe in God reply, "Do you mean as an 'existential being' or as an 'anthropomorphi c diety'?". Odds are they won't know for sure.
+20 # Mrcead 2012-06-13 15:27
So much for the honor system. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Every 49 years seems about right.
+83 # eaglew 2012-06-13 15:29
I used to be a Republican. Jesus is the reason that I am a Liberal.
+9 # Mohanraj 2012-06-13 15:38
Jesus was a militant politician also. He said, "“Think not I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace but a sword.” (Mt.10:34) As I said in
my book, The Garden and the Cross -- A Materialist Interpretaion of the Bible (the second edition of which is being brought out by Aakar books, Delhi, India) I have expounded his role as a revolutionary who fought for the liberation of Judaea from Roman imperialism. And I said, "Unfortunately, the historical Jesus has been eclipsed by the Jesus of Christology, the reason for which is the undue importance given to the religious movement that his Apostles led after his death over the revolutionary movement that he spearheaded and shoving him into the realm of mythology, thereby diminishing his stature. So it can be said with certainty that he was a true son of man who fought and sacrificed his life on the altar of freedom from hegemonistic imperial Rome. The torch of freedom that he lit then had been ablaze and could not be put out. No wonder, a few years later the fire of anti-imperialis m engulfed the land of Judaea and shook the mighty Roman Empire to its very foundation. Looking at his life and teachings from a materialist perspective, it has to be conceded that the Jesus of history is far greater and more important than the Jesus of Christology."
+4 # ardvaark 2012-06-14 09:18
Conveniently omitted in this view are such statements as "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight..."(John 18:36)and the fact that Jesus came back in a resurrected body and taught his disciples for 40 days about how to attain eternal life for themselves and those who would listen. Yes, He taught freedom from oppression in temporal matters, but his main objective was to free us from sin, the greatest bondage.
+4 # dovelane1 2012-06-15 03:41
From what I can tell, "sin" is purely subjective. What is sin to some, is experimentation to others.

I believe that what we all need to be free from is fear, which is also a subjective thing.

In the end, the continuum is between love and fear, inclusion or exclusion, an open hand or a clenched fist - choose.
-4 # Noni77 2012-06-15 20:50
Biblically, sin is imperfection. Consider for a moment that big industry uses diamond cutters on certain materials that defy cutting with any other substance. Those industrial diamonds have have a certain percent of perfection, let's say 99.9%, or the diamond will selfdestruct under the task. The diamond cannot tolerate imperfection. Let's say God is 100% perfection. He is unable to do things like go back on his word or do evil. He cannot allow imperfection to touch him or be connected to him in any way to maintain that perfection that is God. The one act of disobeying him in the Garden of Eden made it necessary for him to sever the connection to humans. Also note that when Jesus was just about at the point of death on the cross, he cried out, "My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" Why? At that very moment, the sins (imperfections and evils) of the world were spiritually laid upon him personally. He became sin. For the first time, God severed his spiritual ties with Jesus. At the moment he died, he was truly "alone" for the first time. Not only did he take small imperfections, but huge imperfections into death, but he defeated death and became purified in so doing. You could say he fell on a spiritual handgrenade for us. Once sin was defeated in death, God purified him and raised him. Sure, sin can be a glass of sewage or it can be a small drop of sewage in a magnum of fine Champagne. But the addition of even one drop of sewage makes the Magnum sewage, does it not?
+50 # angelfish 2012-06-13 16:02
Christ wouldn't recognize the Cretins who call themselves "Christians" today. They, themselves don't understand the meaning of the word or what it TRULY means to BE a Christian. It's not hard if you believe what Jesus said about loving one another and doing unto others as you would have done unto you. Being kind and practicing the Golden Rule is so easy, which makes it doubly hard to try and understand why most "Christians" don't get it. I believe it's because Greed is their Religion and Mammon is their god. So sad.
+41 # bluepilgrim 2012-06-13 18:33
"Christ wouldn't recognize the Cretins who call themselves "Christians" today."

Of course he would -- he talked a lot about hypocrites.
0 # Noni77 2012-06-15 20:57
The Book of Revelation predicts that the End Time church will be splintered into those who are right with God, those who are spiritually dead but going through the motions, and heretics who twist the Gospel for their own agendas. (The last three letters in the Book of Revelation address these churches). All 7 letters were to real historic churches but if you review them in comparison with the history of the Christian church, you will see that they are perfect historical representations of what at that time, was the future history of the church. So you are right to some degree but also wrong to some degree technically.
+34 # LegendBert 2012-06-13 16:08
What scares the hell out of the right has nothing to do with religious, philosophical or economic issues. It is the word "redistribute". It makes them think tax corporations out of existence, destroy incentive, and socialism. Try making it clear that opportunity for the middle class is the fast track to prosperity for everybody and the idea will gain more traction.
-11 # Noni77 2012-06-14 20:06
Certainly it invokes the failed idea of Socialism, the millions killed in the 20th Century for an impossible Socialist Utopian ideal that isn't possible due to man's nature, and the fact that Socialism demands the state religion be atheism in order to position the state to be worshipped. That is anathema to Christians indeed. Worry about the too big corporations? No. The Tea Party was started to wrest power from corporations so that the real people would regain representation. There is furious anger among Conservatives at the GOP becoming serfs to
Megacorporations at the expense our freedoms and the health of our country. I have no love for nation-state corporations, they are too big, too rich, too powerful, too corruptive. Nor do my friends. We are trying to vote OUT the RINO traitors and sell-outs in the GOP and make human beings the focus of the GOP again. So here you have it. If you don't like my input or perspective... Fine, but is progress not made by dialog? Are bridges only built with dialog? Is common ground only found through dialog?
+9 # dovelane1 2012-06-15 03:56
Would you include Bachmann from Minnesota? From what I know, she's an evangelical T'bag fruitcake.

Here's one thing to think about. One common trait of all zealots or fanatics, Muslim or Christian, Liberal or Conservative, is that none of them have the ability or the desire to say, "I might be wrong." Nor can they say, "This is what I believe - at this point in time."

If a person cannot admit to even the possibility that they might be wrong, it will never be possible for that perswon to change their mind. If one cannot change their mind, what can one change? And if they can't say "at this point in time," it means they are not open to any information that might cause them to change their mind.

Indeed, most fanatics would rather die than change their minds, and, in too many cases, that is the outcome.

Of course I could be wrong, but I don't think so at this point in time.
-3 # Noni77 2012-06-15 14:52
Or you have not read or experienced how they got to a certain conclusion. So, you are saying to study and educate yourself and have convictions born of such is to be a fanatic? To stand for something and not blow with the wind or latest trend is fanatical? There are issues where many factors change and opinions can "evolve" and there are issues that have but one answer. If you ask me if you can jump off a 15 story building and fly, I will tell you no - and I will not be open to "evolving" on that topic. Other topics I will.
+3 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-15 15:59
Do you think possible of ever changing your mind?
Or do you like one (very nice) of my colleagues, read left wing talking points to hone counter argumetns and endoctrinate her kids so that they know what to answer if someone is doubting the existence of a bearded guy in the sky?

I have doubts, and I did (and probably will) change my mind on many things.
I am open for being convinced, although depending on of what I might have to wish you good luck.
+11 # AMLLLLL 2012-06-15 07:25
Noni, very few tpartiers I've heard are proposing re-balancing the tax code. I always get the impression they are protecting the 2% with a smokescreen of libertarianism.
-2 # Noni77 2012-06-15 15:01
Not to my knowledge, I support scuttling the tax system and starting anew. Maybe start out with a 10% flat tax, no exemptions to start. I would be open to saying the tax can be graduated to 15% above a certain income and that it could be diminished below a certain threshold in extreme cases. Tea Partiers are still coelescing as a group. And certainly we have to watch for weasels claiming certain values to garner Tea Party support but who are sell-outs or frauds. And I as a "Conservative" hold dear and non-negotiable the protection of our environment, the "conservation" of it. Not one penny profit is worth harming God's creation to include humans. I am outraged by "fracking", it is not safe. You have a much more reasonable competitor and potential ally in a Tea Party Conservative than a RINO in a Tea Party Conservative than a Corporate Republican.
-3 # Noni77 2012-06-15 15:53
I replied before, but it seems to have disappeared. Most people I know who are Conservative and either members of the Tea Party or are sympathetic to it, indeed want tax reform. Most talk about a set rate, no exemptions. That of course can be debated, maybe there should be a top graduated rate of 15% for incomes past a certain level, or graduated downward for incomes below a certain threshold. No doubt the tax system is one more broken system weighing down society as well as individuals. Most people I have spoken with are amenable to a much more fair tax rate for all. The top 2%? I think they have enough blessings to serve them, why give them special treatment or special exemptions? Flat tax is the most fair. I do not hear pro-billionaire bias in my circles, only concern that the middle class will find itself taxed as if it were "the rich" while the rich buy themselves outrageous exemptions - from both parties. Pardon me if this eventually repeats.
+8 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 00:43
Why is flat tax more fair? Why is it fair to take $3,000 from somebody making $20K a year, leaving them $17K to live on and take $3,000,000 from somebody making $20,000,000, leaving them "only" $17,000,000 to live on? Or is the fairness because the second person works 1,000 times as hard as the first person? Puts in 40,000 hour weeks? Or is more valuable, because they are 1,000 times smarter; has an IQ of 100,000?
+3 # PGreen 2012-06-16 17:47
If you are looking for an effective economy, benefiting the middle-class, look at the post-war tax levels, which were the highest in US history (91% at the top, but with many more "brackets") The usual counter-argumen t is that the richest people tried harder to dodge their obligated payments because of how high it was, but this ignores several points: 1) Even dodging half their tax obligation resulted in the wealthy paying far more than they do now, and more fairly than they would under a flat tax. 2) The economy did better, which raises the point that a many-layered tax system with high top rates-- AND a degree of cheating-- is still better for the overall economy than a flatter system in which the rich pay less. One more thing: somehow people seem to forget that tax rates, even on the most wealthy, only applies to income that exceeds the limits of the previous bracket. Hence a very wealthy person would not pay 91% on every dime they received-- only on the amount that falls into that bracket. Their first $10,000.00 is taxed at the same rate as everyone else who earns only that amount. It sounds fair to me.
+6 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 00:39
God is the Quoting Noni77:
The Tea Party was started to wrest power from corporations so that the real people would regain representation.

And oddly enough, want to show this by eliminating regulations on corporations, and reducing their taxes.
+41 # tomo 2012-06-13 16:28
A root question is whether our Puritan forefathers were Christians. One can say, well, we all fall short in our religious aspirations, but that at least they MEANT to be Christians. I am not content with that kindly answer. I think Puritan religious aspiration had been put through such a wringer by the Calvinist doctrine of predestination that what came out the other end was Christianity-tu rned-upside. The tenacious acquisition of land and wealth became urgent to the Puritans in a way they never were for Jesus. I'd say members of the religious right in America today are not Christians at all; but I'd add that they're very good Puritans.
+6 # James38 2012-06-14 18:22
Excellent comment, tomo. Very accurate and acute.
+34 # Jyl 2012-06-13 16:30
It doesn't take a rocket scientiest to understand that most politicians and corporate America are far from being Jesus-freaks! They are more aligned with the anti-Christ.
-12 # Noni77 2012-06-13 16:35
From the Bible: "Render what is Caesar's to Caesar, render unto God what is God's". This is what Christ responded when the Pharisees asked him if people should pay taxes. He then asked them whose face was on the coinage they carried, they said, "Caesar's". Then Christ uttered the aforementioned response. The Bible also has many teachings regarding giving. Another admonition is that to whom much is given, much is required. In past times this encouraged or sometimes shamed the selfish and/or wealthy to give. But this influence has been squelched more and more over the decades by unbelievers who now marvel that people ate unabashedly selfish. When you reomove God from the equation, you have no moral standing to tell anyone what to do with his wealth. All the major scientific fields were begun by Christians, as were hospitals, schools, missionary efforts that raised the standard of living and education in countless countries and villages, major universities founded by Christians, etc., etc., that pagans wish to erase from history. You can't have it both ways. Christ supported finding your treasure in God and earning the wage of Heaven because that is eternal, worldy wealth and poverty are fleeting. Heal the soul, heal the world.
+37 # bluepilgrim 2012-06-13 18:38
"When you reomove God from the equation, you have no moral standing to tell anyone what to do with his wealth."

Actually, no -- I'm an atheist and I have said quite a bit about it, and morality. The secular humanists have many essays on it. Morality has no need of a belief in god, and even Socrates argued that. (BTW -- the ancient Greeks did quite a bit of math, science, philosophy, etc. without Christianity. So did the Indians and other non-Christian cultures.)
+3 # tomo 2012-06-14 21:20
What you say, bluepilgrim, is wonderfully politically correct. But I remain unconvinced. When I browse though the great dissents against tyranny and on behalf of human rights and on the obligation to act in the service of justice, I find the notion of "our common father" or "the great spirit" or "the source of our being" introduced as motive for treating others with respect. I also seem to note, in the more secular culture of our time where one is too wise to reference things along these lines, that respect for others is declining. Go figure.
+2 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 00:46
true; Quoting tomo:
. When I browse though the great dissents against tyranny and on behalf of human rights and on the obligation to act in the service of justice, I find the notion of "our common father" or "the great spirit" or "the source of our being" introduced as motive for treating others with respect.

True enough. But on the other hand, whenever we see manifest destiny, or exceptionalism, or white man's burden, it's always because God wants us to have all the power and the wealth, for his mysterious reasons.
+15 # BradFromSalem 2012-06-13 22:06
Even as a Religious person, I know that morality is a human concept and thus belief in God is not a prerequisite to be moral. Without getting all philosophical, God is unknown and we cannot define God in human terms. It may be that God only exists because we believe in God, but since God is unknowable....
+2 # tomo 2012-06-15 11:11
It seems to me we can follow out your train of thought--much as David Hume actually did, and in a way that has contributed to moral bankruptcy in many quarters today--as follows: "Human nature is a human concept, and thus belief in MORALITY is not a prerequisite for being human--for our sense of it depends on what notion of human nature WE INVENT. Avoiding metaphysical pretentions, let us acknowledge that MORALITY is an unknown quantity--there is no bridge by which our mind can pass from a knowledge of what-is to a knowledge of what-ought-to-b e. That we cannot really define MORALITY is evident from all the differing definitions humans have given to it. It is probable therefore that MORALITY only exists because we believe in it; since, however, MORALITY is unknowable...."
-1 # Noni77 2012-06-15 15:07
Secular morality however is undulating depending on person and circumstance. You can confront a Christian or Jew based on precisely what is written in the Bible or Torah and there isn't much weasel room.
+3 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 00:55
Oh there is plenty of weasel room. Look at the very most basic law, not just of the Bible, but of most moral structures; the Golden Rule. Treat your brother/neighbo r, etc. Seems clear enough. But who is your neighbor, or your brother? Your actual family members? Your tribe members? Other members of your nation? Your religion? All mankind? All you have to do is decide that those brown folks who don't speak English and live far away and don't wear a lot of clothes aren't really your brothers or neighbors, and you are free to steal their continent, and/or kidnap and enslave them.
+1 # dovelane1 2012-06-18 00:37
I like your comments gz.

Here's something you, and probably most others have not heard of. It's called "The Platinum Rule." I like it better than the Golden Rule. This came from a book titled "Sex Can Be An Art," by Charles Cooke and Eleanore Ross.

Do unto others as they want to be done unto, if it is possible to do so without martyring yourself, sacrificing your integrity or violating your standards.

Communicate, listen, tell your friend what you want and find out what your friend wants. Be honest and recognize your friend's honesty and sharing. Learn and accept differences between you. Give what is wanted, not what you want.

Not as simple to say, but I think it helps make things more direct.
+2 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 00:51
Heck, plenty of studies have shown that babies, chimps, even dogs have an innate sense of fairness; get upset if they are not being treated fairly, or even if somebody else is not being treated fairly, and even are motivated towards treating others fairly, themselves.

Of course, this doesn't imply that God doesn't want critters to act fairly; more likely that He wants it bad enough that he wouldn't wait until the Bronze Age to plant the idea into the book of some mostly illiterate two bit tribe hunkered down on a corner of the desert, but would write it into the operating system.
+8 # CTPatriot 2012-06-14 04:42
It's a beautifully written book of fairy tales written by man and has been subject to various interpretations of "god's" word over the last 2012 years. You can no more prove it is god's word than I can prove it is not. So what you claim to interpret so literally is nothing more than the most recent version of the bible, and only one religion's bible at that.

As though Christianity is the only correct religion in the world and all the others are wrong.
0 # Noni77 2012-06-15 18:21
Consider "religion" is man's searching for God and questioning creation and existence, and Judaism and Christianity is God answering?
-4 # ardvaark 2012-06-14 09:28
"Heal the soul, heal the world." Beautiful words. These also:
"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of the people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold people by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature." Ezra Taft Benson, 1985
-3 # Noni77 2012-06-14 18:45
Precisely! Well put!
+9 # James38 2012-06-14 18:38
Noni, and anyone else who believes stuff without evidence, please try to remember that unless you were there listening to "Jesus", you have no idea what was said, or who said it.

Likewise, anybody who says "God is real, exists, watches over us, etc." needs to think about why they think those things. Unless you can introduce someone else to "God" and have a clear conversation, no imaginary sky fairies allowed, your beliefs have no more validity than any other uninformed opinion.

This problem becomes very acute when some people "Believe in God" and then accept the idea that certain special people have a direct connection to God that they don't have. Then the "authority" (Priest, Minister, Mullah, whatever) can say "God told me to tell you to strap on this holy bomb and go kill a bunch of people. God told me to tell you that you will get your reward in heaven." And off goes "faithful" to go boom and kill people he/she doesn't even know.

We wouldn't have suicide bombers or a lot of other problems if people would just wake up to the fact that faith has nothing to do with the truth or lack of truth of anything.

It is OK to have opinions about whatever. Opinions with some evidence behind them are more useful. However, anyone who confuses their opinions with facts is making a useless and dangerous mistake.
-7 # Noni77 2012-06-14 20:28
Evidence like the origin of the Bible which realistically speaking, defies the known odds to even exist in such a form? Ask any archeologist how far astray other works have gone after hundreds of years of "copying". The Bible is so large and complex, it should not have survived being copied so often and over such a long period of time by so many people? Yet, early scrolls compared to our present Bible show no perceptible change in meaning. That is a "first clue". In order to pronounce God a fairy tale, would you not have to have supernatural abilities? You would need to be omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, wouldn't you? You would need the ability to see and be every place in the universe in order to pronounce there is no God. And you would need the ability to see the smallest world of subatomic particles as well as be able to see the universe in its entirety - simultaneously, to make sure God didn't "move" in the meantime. A good book is "Priviledged Planet", written in great depth by scientists who base their own belief in a great intellect behind creation on the break throughs in in cutting edge scientific fields of cosmology, quantum physics, and microbiology. Another good set of books is by physicist and linguist Gerald Schroeder, first book, "Genesis and the Big Bang". Proof is to be searched for... Faith is a FIRST step. As another book title says, "I don't have enough faith to be an atheist".
+8 # James38 2012-06-14 21:54
I am glad you took the time to answer.

In the first place I did not say god does or does not exist. I simply indicated that I have never had a direct conversation with him/her/it, and indicated that until I do, I will not know.

In the second place, just for starters,you need to go read up on the history of the "King James" version of the Bible. King James was not satisfied with the degree of obedience demanded by the Bible most commonly available at the time, so he ordered one produced that suited his tastes. It has become rather famous, and is just as invented and cobbled together as the rest of them.

Your idea of the Bible remaining unchanged is so far from the truth as to be ridiculous.

As to your demand for "omniscience, omnipotence, etc." before I could say anything is also ridiculous. Where do you get the idea you can manufacture such a requirement? (especially since I did not "pronounce there is no God" as previously pointed out.) What I said is that it is pointless and illogical and unreasonable to "believe" in anything without proof.

As to the books you suggested, I have no reason to think that those authors have anything to say but more unfounded opinions, and you have given us plenty of those right here.

0 # James38 2012-06-14 22:06
"Faith is a FIRST step" to a life of credulous belief instead of a life of vital and fascinating curiosity and discoveries. Since you have obviously taken the "FIRST step", you have blocked yourself from further growth.

I do find your last statement quite amusing, since I often find, as others do, that doctrinaire atheism is just as "religious" sounding as any religion.

I do not "believe" in the Big Bang. something happened 14 billion or so years ago, but the latest theories to me do not deal well with the actual origin of all that energy and stuff. Also, to say that consciousness results only from brain chemistry seems to me suspect, and has assumed a level of unquestioned acceptance that is unjustified.

We have more to discover, and even the Bible, full of flaws and contradictions as it is, and existing in as many versions as it does (irregardless of your belief in its unchanging nature), has some hidden secrets that may be deciphered by some.

I will suggest one. The "seven days of creation" do not refer to days, but to discrete different levels of the universe. The levels are separated by the "speed of light" of each level, and there are seven of those. Light is therefore best understood as one of the boundary phenomena separating the planes.

+2 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 01:22
Quoting James38:

I will suggest one. The "seven days of creation" do not refer to days, but to discrete different levels of the universe. The levels are separated by the "speed of light" of each level, and there are seven of those. Light is therefore best understood as one of the boundary phenomena separating the planes.


Well, it has been noted that "day" can literally mean something like era or epoch, in Hebrew as well, as in "It was the Day of the Dinosaur" referring to a few hundred million years, so good point. And light is certainly a very big metaphor biblically for a lot of things involving goodness and virtue and generally the presence of God. (As you would expect, of course, in a book written by a species whose ancestors were diurnal creatures who huddled in fear at night when the carnivores were out).
+2 # James38 2012-06-14 22:08
Religions sometimes contain bits and pieces of actual profound thought, but such thought is profoundly difficult, and far beyond the average mind. However, any individual who is determined enough can expand his/her mind. The first step is giving up "faith" and all unchecked assumptions of any sort.

Then the real challenge of understanding can begin.
+1 # Noni77 2012-06-15 15:37
Are you familiar with the fact that science says when matter ceases to exist, it becomes energy? I'm sure you are. Sounds kind of like when a corporial being ceases living, it becomes spirit. I have also read that every substance has its own "frequency" at which it vibrates. Trees/wood have a different frequency than stone/granite, or steel, or water. Speed up the frequency, and it becomes energy. Slow down energy, and it becomes matter. Sounds like God, who is energy, slowed down parts of himself at myriad frequencies, to make the universe and everything in it. But I could be wrong. ;-)
+2 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 01:33
Yeah; the big error in our era is letting the dummies seize religion, much as the left lets (again and again) the jingoistic nasty folks seize patriotism.
But that old time religion involved a lot of deep thinking and interpretation and arguing and debating and so on without any question of heresy or accusations of disbelief for not taking every word literally; even those who believe in the literal truth were happy to admit that human understanding of the literal word could and would be fallible.

Of course, in those days the search for "ultimate reality" didn't have much other path than religious study; when things like physics came along they largely replaced it for materialist science. "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin" seems quaint now, but at the time it was the equivalent of the search for dark matter, today.
+1 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 01:34
But mainstream, Cartesian reductionist science has failed badly for the phenomena that don't fit that model, like psychology and sociology and all those sorts of studies, and historically books of legends and myths and folklore and religion and so on are valuable items for that sort of study; we just keep hands off our own religion(s) as too sacred to study that way, while at the same time relegating our religions to status as comic books, basically; thus implicitly discouraging everybody from investigating whatever religious feelings well up in themselves, and how that relates to what's gone before, particularly the great thinkers. Meanwhile the serious theological study that still goes on is cut off from the masses even more than cutting edge theoretical physics. Western society's greatest failing.
+1 # dovelane1 2012-06-15 04:28
Does this mean that you see God in Fukushima?

Does this mean that you see God in the death of seven million bats from the white-nose fungus? Was God in Hitler and Stalin, and in the people that did their bidding?

These all seem to be contradictions. Is God the ultimate contradiction?

Is it possible that, if there is a God, that he/she/it may not be anything like what you think the Bible says it is?

But then, you would have to be God to know what is or isn't true. If God is unknowable, then how would you or anyone else know what is or isn't true?

Is it possible that you are afraid to say "I don't know?"

Just curious...
+4 # James38 2012-06-15 09:00
Quoting myself, from the first of the two posts above, "In the first place I did not say god does or does not exist. I simply indicated that I have never had a direct conversation with him/her/it, and indicated that until I do, I will not know."

That sort of answers your last question, hm?

The rest of your questions are just silly, full of assumptions and your own opinions.

Try reading what I said again.
+3 # dovelane1 2012-06-15 13:06
Sorry James38. I'm new to this. I thought I was responding to Noni77. I actually agree with everything you wrote.

Noni77 is the one the last question was directed to.

Does my post make more sense to you now?
-6 # Noni77 2012-06-15 15:30
The world is imperfect BECAUSE we as humans decided to do the one thing God told us not to in order to stay in his perfect presence in a perfect eden. If you have read Genesis, God removed his perfction from the world... weeds, presumably parasites, disease, harsh weather, came as a result. The bad things that happen like earthquakes, floods, etc. are from a world into which we ushered imperfection. Legalistically, God "gave" mankind the world. When mankind "subleased" it to Satan by the act of knowingly and willingly "eating the apple" ( emphasis on willful disobedience, not the apple), then we invited Satan's destruction and decay into the world and our lives. God could not simply take it back, he gave it, he couldn't renig on a gift and implied promise. He can't break a promise and be perfect. So, he had to put a plan together to redeem a lost world and humanity. The things you speak of are our choice, our choice as humanity. Fukishima, Chernobyl, and such, are the result of our knowledge stretched slightly too far or the responsible people not being fully responsible. We as people told God to get out of our lives, and this is what we wished for, non-interferenc e. Let the chips fall where they may for our automomy. Now, it is one individual at a time who says, I want a new contract, God please come back into my life. We are not promised that THIS world is to be perfect, we are told we are to OVERCOME this world. And note that God does intend to transform & reclaim earth.
+3 # dovelane1 2012-06-16 00:01
Sylvia Cordwood was quoted in the Readers Digest as saying "My opinion is something that is true for me personally. My conviction (however) is something that is true for everyone - in my opinion."

If you cannot prove your belief to be true, what you have is an opinion, not a fact. The problem with all fantaics is they believe their opinions to be facts, and then they respond to them as if they were. And then they respond with disdain, subtle put downs, or worse to everyone else's opinions or facts they don't agree with.

As Sydney Harris put it, "A zealot is someone who berates us for not having the courage of their convictions."

The problem with people who make assumptions, is that they actually make two assumptions. They assume something, and then they assume their assumption is true. That is what I see happening with you. You believe that all the assumptions you make, and the opinions you hold about God to be true, all or mostly all based on assumptions others have made, none of which can be proven, or haven't been proven yet.

To answer an earlier post, a lot of people congratulate themselves on having the "courage of their convictions," while they totally ignore a much higher and rarer kind of courage. And that is the courage to examine one's convictions, and allow others to dos so as well, and to revise or abandon them in the light of such scrutiny. More to follow.
+3 # dovelane1 2012-06-16 00:15
Sydney Harris wrote "Convictions are dear to us: they are comfortable and familiar and reassuring, and it takes a genuinely courageous person to change his convictions when they should be changed.

Jitler had the courage of his convictions. Stalin had the courage of his convictions . What they lacked, of course, was the ability or willingness to alter those convictions, to give up their precious dogmas, to subject their passionate and fanatical beliefs to the cool and cleansing light of reason, and decency, and the living actuality of the human condition.

This is what takes real courage of a high moral order: to say, 'I was wrong, I was mistaken, I have changed my views.' Not one in a thousand can bring himself (or herself) to this act of heroic repudiation."

Socrates wrote "Courage is not a virtue unless it is also wisdom."

I, too, have considered the idea that God is pure energy, and we all go back to the continuum. Most of the religious zealots I know take everything so literally, they hav no room for any other possibilities but what opinions or assumptions they've learned to believe. The male Muslims that are convinced to strap bombs on their persons have learned to believe they will be met in "heaven" by 76 concubines, or something of that nature. Of course, that hasn't been proven yet.
+2 # dovelane1 2012-06-16 00:34
I don't have a problem with anyone having an opinion. As soon as one considers an opinion to be a fact, there is little to no room for anyone else's point of view.

I don't buy the idea the are here to overcome this world. That sounds too much like competition. I don't know if that is a mistake in interpretation or not. I prefer the idea that I don't try to control the wind, I work to adjust my sails.

Your mention of the legend of Adam and Eve is, again, unprovable, and not something I would take literally.

As far as God being unable to be "perfect," what you have here is human's (and generally male's)definiti on of "perfect." This assumes that God lives by human rules. You know, of course, that God works in mysterious ways. How convenitent is that rationalization.

If you get a chance, I would recommend three books. One is "When Society Becomes An Addict," by Anne Wilson-Schaef, the other is "Toxic Faith," by Steven Arterburn and Jack Felton. And there is also "A Return To Love" by Marianne Williamson.

There is an A.A. quote that goes, "It is gratifying to be cured of an affliction, but it is terrifying to be divested of a crutch." I suspect that this could be said of all addictions.

As I understand it, all addictions are based on fear. As I said in an earlier post, all zealots fear change. Hitler and Stalin are two prime examples.
+2 # dovelane1 2012-06-16 00:51
As was shown in the book "The Primal Scream," most people learn their fear when young and vulnerable. It's been writtne that no one outperforms their (learned) self-image.

I would submit that if we were able to change neurosis in the world, we wouold have no need or desire for what most people learn "God" is promising. Instead of dealing with our human failings and conditionings, and overcoming them, we've learned to place blame on others, because most of us learned to seek answers outside of ourselves.

Someone once wrote that the difference between religion and spirituality is that most, if not all religious beliefs come to a person from outside themself, where a spiritual belief comes from inside oneself. In that sense then, spirituality is a religion of one.

What I see in most religions is the support of addictive interactions so as to deal with people's socialized fears. Take fear out of the equation, and people would not respond as they do. Religion can be just as much of a crutch as alsohol. As was pointed out in "Toxic Faith," this is not a substance addiction, but a process addiction. That's why it isn't seen by most people involved as an addiction. The rules, roles and end results, however, are the same.

There is a Swahili proverb that goes it's not the name one is called that is important, it is the name one responds to that will tell you who you are, and what you have to deal with.
+3 # dovelane1 2012-06-16 01:05
One last thing, I think. My mentor in college once told me that people are free if they are willing to be responsible, not only for their decisions, but for the consequences of their decisions as well. I believe the people who are irresponsible, have not been willing to be responsible for the consequences of their decisions.

I think most people focus on their good intentions, and ignore the consequences of their decisions. And if the consequences are not immediate, it's much easier to focus on the good intentions. I believe this is why the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Frackers have lots of good intentions. Jobs, money, and so on. But good mostly for them. Oil company executives have good intentions. For them. And so on.

The problem is the limited nature of their awareness. And because most in this culture have learned to see money and power as the indicator of what is good, and "right," they are able to rationalize their choices, and ignore the consequences.

Though we both support the idea that conservation is necessary, we reached that concept from different directions. What may be most important is that we came to the same conclusion. I certainly appreciate and agree with that priority.

As for the rest, I await further proof.

Thanks for responding. Sorry I was so long winded. I didn't get where I am overnight.
-1 # Noni77 2012-06-17 06:12
Certainly what is proof to one person is not to another. And on this topic some people are not sure what kind of proof they want but "they'll know it when they see it". ;-) I merely have had my threshold met and offer a different perspective for consideration if it meshes eventually with something someone here discovers. It is interesting to note that linguistically, the word used in Genesis to say that God gave "dominion" over the earth and all it contains is exactly the root word used in other places in the Bible for SHEPHERDING a flock. This indeed defines dominion as a great responsibility TO what is being put in our care. It is absolutely not license to destroy. Those in power who do so are certainly not Christians whether they say so or not. This is where a better honed translation would have been nice earlier on.
-1 # Noni77 2012-06-17 06:31
Note: Overcome is in the spiritual sense. It means in context to overcome the evil that drags us down, clouds our beliefs, influences our action to the detriment of ourselves or others, the evil that separates us from God. It does not mean literally planting a garden in the desert or crossing a mountain range. It is strictly spiritual.
+1 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 01:39
Well, another thing that's occurred to me lately is how badly Western society, centered around Christianity, handles the destructive side of things, compared with say the Hindu god of destruction Kali, or the scientific notion of entropy, or even the tough-guy image of God in the Old Testament. Because the Hindus are right; you can't have the light without the dark, you can't have the constant creation without constant destruction, and entropy must increase globally even if it decreases locally, so all these "negative" things must share in the celebration we give the "positive" things, logically. I.e., we are wrong to see them as absolute loss. Maybe the concept of "God's will" is closest in our side of things.

Or, maybe, as Tom Waits says, it's just that God gets mean when he drinks.
+1 # wrknight 2012-06-16 09:22
One has to admit, humans are doing their best to maximize entropy. In the end, all will be random chaos.
-1 # Noni77 2012-06-17 05:54
Entropy in the sense of decay within a social system? (I'm sorry, not a word I use). My understanding is that creation is decaying and dying because original sin introduced imperfection into the entire ecosystem.
You may indeed prefer the other outlook. People raise the question, why bother with humans if God knew we would be tricked into secering the close one-on-one ties Adam and Eve had. Well, there are patents when told their unborn or just born child has serious defects, vow to fight for every moment they can give that child. And there are people who stick by a friend, relative, spouse to see them through addictions to destructive behavior. I think God also saw the situation as changing from where humans loved him naïvely to one where they fought to find him and extablish a relationship. In essence, turning a piece of coal into a diamond. Would you value a friend who fought to defend you and stick by you more than the casual aquaintance with unproven loyalty or affection? Remember, believers are often depicted as heirs to his kingdom. Not a casual thing. And the Bible says that he will take earth, restore it after Armageddon and make a New Heaven incorporating it as well.
0 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 01:16
Quoting Noni77:
Ask any archeologist how far astray other works have gone after hundreds of years of "copying". The Bible is so large and complex, it should not have survived being copied so often and over such a long period of time by so many people?

But the Bible is full of repetitions that contradict one another. The Creation, for instance; everybody remembers God makes the sea, and the land, and the creepy crawlies, and the birds and animals, and then Man, and he makes Eve from Adam's rib. But (as you probably know) there are two separate stories; one where God does that sort of evolutionary thing, but ends with Adam and Eve, period; and one where God makes Adam first, and he's lonely, and so God makes all the animals, and he's still lonely, so God does the rib trick. They both can't be literally true; I'd guess that in fact they're two versions and somebody couldn't decide which so wrote them both down. Same with even the Ten Commandments; there are two versions in the Torah, which differ by one word. Same deal; instead of choosing one, I'll just write them both down and let the future sort it out. Or the Israelites take a census before 40 years in the desert, and another census after 40 years in the desert; but the number in both places is identical??
0 # Noni77 2012-06-17 05:35
For the first I would direct you to Gerald Schroeder's book, Genesis and the Big Bang. He is a physicist and linguist. He has some very illuminating points to make about Genesis. One of my favorite books.
The second I will have to take a look at but I know there are books specifically dedicated to ferreting out what look to be contradictions. If you look through a decent sized Christian book store, then note any books that seem to address this topic and try to find that book at a library, or perhaps borrow it from a church library - if you don't want to spend money on it? Sometimes seeming contradictions are a difference in emphasis by one author over another.
+1 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 01:17
Quoting Noni77:
Evidence like the origin of the Bible which realistically speaking, defies the known odds to even exist in such a form? Ask any archeologist how far astray other works have gone after hundreds of years of "copying". The Bible is so large and complex, it should not have survived being copied so often and over such a long period of time by so many people? Yet, early scrolls compared to our present Bible show no perceptible change in meaning. That is a "first clue".

Or the "my sister/my wife" stories; first, Abraham tells Pharaoh his wife, Sarah, is his sister. Then later on, Abraham tells Abimelech his wife, Sarah, is his sister. Then later on, Isaac tells Abimelech his wife, Rebeccah, is his sister? And the two Abimelech stories are almost identical, except for swapping one Patriarch/Matri arch for another; the nonHebrews in the cast are the same, the locations mentioned are the same, the events following the fib, the eventual unmasking, and the happy ending all identical? Doesn't it kind of make you wonder whether somebody tried to fix the duplication by rewriting the Abraham version so it didn't clash, but in the end all three got jotted down? etc. etc.
0 # Noni77 2012-06-17 05:21
Or was this a common defense in days when a more powerful person could (and did) routinely kill the husband of a woman he wanted? Certainly claims of being a brother put the male in the position of being her defender but not competition to be done away with, but still an authority over her who had to be dealt with respectfully..
+3 # ABen 2012-06-16 08:07
This notion of the contours, text, and tone of the Bible existing unchanged through the past two thousand years is an interesting notion typically pushed by people wishing to base their authority on such a divine missive. Unfortunately this notion simply does not comport with the historical record. Here are a couple of flaws in that notion of an unchanging Bible. The makeup of the Bible, what books it should contain, was contentious and changing for more than 800 years following the prophet's death. English language versions of the Bible represent a translation of a translation of the original texts--texts done in four distinct languages. Through the centuries, most translations have been done by religious scholars, not linguists. If you read a linguistic translation of the Vulgate Bible, you might well wonder how the King James version can be taken very seriously.
+1 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 01:01
Reminds me of the old Jewish joke:
"Rabbi, rabbi, wonderful news! God came to me in a dream and told me to become the rabbi of thousands of devout followers!"
"That's wonderful! Now let me know when God sends the thousands of devout followers that dream."
+1 # PGreen 2012-06-16 18:28
There are many ways to interpret the Bible, depending on one's beliefs, logic and understanding.
If we regard the Bible in a historical context, it should be noted that the writers of the gospels were keenly aware of the potential wrath of the Roman empire against early Christians should Jesus be portrayed as advocating resistance to Roman rule. This same context is thought by historians to explain why a biblical story relates Pilate as "washing his hands" of responsibility for Jesus's sentence-- when he was likely condemned by Roman law as a trouble-maker in a straight forward manner. When the council of Constantine codified the Bible and established four official gospels (amongst many-- remember that the "gnostic" gospel of Thomas is probably older than John, and every bit as authentic) they wanted to unite Christianity and Roman law-- not great disunity.
0 # Noni77 2012-06-17 05:14
Certainly the Jews at the time were desperately looking for a Messiah to help them free themselves from the chains of Rome, they did not understand Jesus had cone first to free all from the chains of sin. The various books that were codified and or eliminated as not accepatable had to pass muster on not only authenticity of fact, but whether heretical to Jesus' teachings, or consistent with spreading his message. Also, there indeed are books that were included in some versions of the Bible that others don't have. These have no heretical issues as the Gnostic writings, which seem to try to agrandize that sect above Jesus and his message. The basis for what was included was it God inspired, did it advance the Gospel Jesus preached and was it true to what Jesus preached. The Bible warns of false prophets and how to test their message. The few books that differ are seen by some as nice stories but not particularly God inspired for the advancement of his kingdom, though they do not harm the message.
0 # PGreen 2012-06-18 08:44
In historical context, "God inspired" is pretty subjective-- or were you quoting a source? There was certainly disagreement in the early days of the church about the exact way to interpret Christianity, as demonstrated at the council of Nicea. Even the synoptic gospels show considerable differences with John, and it is believed by some scholars that John was originally more gnostic in flavor, but re-worked after divisions in the Gnostic communities. Other scholars hold that John was written partly as a response to the gospel of Thomas, to bring Gnostics to a more orthodox perspective centered on the (more or less exclusive) divinity of Jesus-- which was not believed by all Christians at the time. But I never heard the Gnostics described as, "seem(ing) to try to agrandize that sect above Jesus and his message." Would you apply that statement to Protestant religious founders? In the early days of the church all of Christianity could be characterized as a sect. The council of Nicea selected four gospels most likely to uphold the administrative and social structure of the Roman empire-- it became the state religion.
The gospel of Thomas is more or less a collection of 114 sayings of Jesus. As such it may have emphasized the words and spirituality of Jesus over his divinity, as perhaps Gnosticism did in general.
+37 # pernsey 2012-06-13 16:43
The right wing has made Jesus unrecognizable.

When Jesus fed the 5000 with a few loaves and fish, he didnt ask the people to work for it or deserved it? He gave to them and fed all not just a chosen few. Jesus gave liberally, not stingily to the richest few.
-11 # Noni77 2012-06-13 21:33
He also gave as a symbol of his divinity ( they had far too little food to feed all those people, if you read the story). He miraculously increased the amount of food that existed into leftovers that were more than what they started out with. He showed the people the desire God had to increase their blessings if they included God in their lives and believed that he, Jesus, was sent by God to bridge the gap severed by sin.
+7 # bluepilgrim 2012-06-14 07:10
Don't take it all so literally -- that's what stories are for.

Loaves and fishes are like computer software and files: you can give away as much as you want and they are not used up but multiplied. Same thing with speaking truth and being nice to people.
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."
The story is not really about loaves and fishes or eating actual food.

Mark 4:
9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.
11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables
12 so that,“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding;o therwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”
+5 # BradFromSalem 2012-06-14 10:17
Let me see if I understand.

The quoted word of Jesus states that Torah requires one to understand (read intepret) the word of God. Because without understanding it is undecipherable, contradictory stories.

And now we have an interpretation from Noni77 that states the word of humans and the word of God is not undecipherable, contradictory stories. But the man Noni77 assigns divine authority to has just stated otherwise?

Sounds like an undeciphrable, contradiction to me, unless, of course you understand the word of God.

So, Noni77 has determined for himself (or herself) that he/she understand God better than I? Such a claim of understanding the unknowable is in fact a "violation" of the 3rd Commandment to not invoke the Lord's name in vain.

Noni77, feel free to claim for yourself whatever understanding of Torah and other religious documents you may choose. But, please refrain from imposing your beliefs upon others.
+1 # Noni77 2012-06-14 19:11
So expressing my understanding and having equal say in an open discussion is "forcing" an opinion on you or someone else? And your right to express your opinion is somehow more equal... Like Orwell's Animal Farm? Perhaps the unknowable isn't. Check out the first Chapter of Romans and why some people do not have a clear understanding and others absorb and don't repell the word of God. A lifetime is not adequate to understand all, but that is not a reason to not begin the journey. The Bible instructs us to pray for discernment, pray for wisdom and God will open his word to us. It also says that his word is nonsense to those perishing.
+1 # BradFromSalem 2012-06-14 20:36

You have managed to certainly sound like you are pushing your point of view on others. Two particulars; first you misinterpret a single bullet point comment regarding sex outside of marriage as an advocacy of promiscuity and then later you attach morality to a belief in God. I may not agree with how you believe in certain but if I have told you to believe in what I believe because I claim to know what God meant or exactly what angers God or what pleases God, then I apologize. But since I do not think of God in human terms I really doubt I put anything in those terms.

I do find it interesting that of all the items I listed in my first post, you chose the item regarding actual sex activity as the one to criticize.
-1 # Noni77 2012-06-17 05:24
Also please cite exactly which verse you are referring to in your beginning premise. Thanks.
-2 # Noni77 2012-06-14 19:14
The sermon on the mount was literal, the loaves and fish were one of his miracles - literal. Allegory is obvious in such books as the Book of Revelation but should not be applied to literal events or obvious parables.
0 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 01:49
Well, here's the 64 million dollar question then, as posed in many ways by many people: what if the miraculous parts of the Gospel were in fact not literally true? Jefferson had his famous Bible where he removed all the supernatural/mi raculous references and left just the teachings of Jesus which he felt would stand on their own.

Or to put it the other way around, do miracles attest to the truth/divinity of a prophet? Everybody says things like "The Devil is a liar" but that of course implies that he could show up with a pocket full of miracles himself, loaves and fishes and what not, to get disciples. I think that's part of the Antichrist story, no? I'm not as familiar with that part of the Holy Books. Or, even more to the point; the folks who go to church and/or pray to get their wishes; money, love, even the life of their sick family; is that really that different from, say, belief in witchcraft? If it developed that some form of such deviltry was actually effective, more so than regular prayer which seems not too effective, since everybody eventually dies, would these folks stick with the losing strategy or change teams, selling out their morality? If not, then why, since they are praying to get things, after all? How many Jehovah's Witnesses end up letting their kid have a transfusion, after all? (I don't know, not a rhetorical question)
+1 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 01:41
If Jesus were running for the Republican nomination, he'd have to say that while the loaves and fishes thing was correct for the Promised Land at the time, it would be wrong to extend it to the federal government like Obama wants to do.
+33 # jon 2012-06-13 17:12
A bumper-sticker:


Somebody do it and start distributing them, nationwide!
-20 # Noni77 2012-06-13 18:31
I think God and Jesus would be offended to be used and referred to in petty human squabbles. He was (is) neither Conservative nor Liberal since that is meaningless to the God of the universe and all creation. The creature defining the Creator, or attempting to put him in a jar with a label on it? Not realistic. The Conservatives "seem" intolerant by your limited and superficial understanding of the Bible and why Jesus was sent to earth. When Christians stick to the literal Bible, they are right, when they stray - or right wing non-Christians try to cobble together bits and pieces of the Bible to justify cruelty or iresponsibility or selfishness, they are wrong. (Phonies like Aryans desparaging other races, or women's importance to God, etc.) Many liberals prefer to belief Jesus was a man and the spiritual aspect is mythology. This is a cop out. You cannot take bits and pieces of what Christ did while on earth, remove the eternal consequences and spiritual purpose and make him some kind of Che Guavara. The Bible is not a smorgasbord, it is an utterly amazing, and miraculously coherent and perfectly meshing God-inspired, work that spans 2-3,000 years, about 16 writers, and yet, its message is in sync from page one to the end. Whenever ancient scrolls have been discovered an compared to their counterpart in the Bible, they are miraculously correct. Shakespeare's work isn't even as faithfully translated in a mere 400 years.
+1 # ardvaark 2012-06-14 09:34
Do you have to politicize everything??
Jesus speaks for himself, thankfully , and does not need our pathetic labeling.
+3 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-15 16:21
T'was done already:
"Who would Jesus bomb?"
+23 # Sensible1 2012-06-13 17:16
No matter how often it is said, it still does not sink in. Republicans have no interest in doing humanitarian works. They will do and say whatever it takes to get elected, and nothing else matters. They have no real values, on the values they need to get elected. They care not for their fellow man, only as much as required to get elected, and they will push and walk over whomever gets in their way. Why does it need repeating, don't their actions speak loud and clear.
-17 # Noni77 2012-06-13 20:55
Then why do statistics show that Conservatives consistently out give Liberals in regard to charity? (See Romney vs Obama for just one example). Why are the greatest and longest sustained efforts to educate and teach horticulture, agriculture, etc. to third world villages Christian missionaries? These efforts are funded by people givibg their own money - not appropriating the money of others in addition. Its easy to be generous with orher peoples' money.
+9 # pernsey 2012-06-14 07:16
Quoting Noni77:
Then why do statistics show that Conservatives consistently out give Liberals in regard to charity? (See Romney vs Obama for just one example). Why are the greatest and longest sustained efforts to educate and teach horticulture, agriculture, etc. to third world villages Christian missionaries? These efforts are funded by people givibg their own money - not appropriating the money of others in addition. Its easy to be generous with orher peoples' money.

Its easy to be generous when your filthy rich too!
+3 # Third_stone 2012-06-14 08:05
You have chosen a poor example to compare Romney vs. Obama. Romney plays whichever side the votes are on. Remember as governor of Massachusetts he passed medical insurance reform. I see Obama as at least as conservative as Romney. Romney is a wild eyed radical, but to some extend is acting it out for the far right voter.
Do we know just what a christian missionary is? There is a broad spectrum of people using that name.
-2 # Noni77 2012-06-14 19:22
A news report came out in regard to Obama's charitable giving and Romney's when their tax returns were released... I do not remember the exact numbers but Obama's was about 3% and Romney's about 15%. that is quite a difference. John Stossel has also done studies showing that Conservatives give more than Liberals (of their own money) and the middle class give more than rich in regard to percent of their income. Stossel is a libertarian.
+4 # mozartssister 2012-06-14 21:37
Perhaps it's because conservatives think they can give to charity whatever they want and their responsibility to others is ended--whether or not others' needs are met. (See: "Am I my brother's keeper?")

Liberals understand that charity will never be the answer to solving serious social problems. It's an important component, but by far not the only or even most important solution. Nor does charity fulfill the responsibilitie s that every person in society has to others and to support healthy, functioning communities. Conservatives call taxation "forced charity" as though they had no responsibility to others except whatever they feel like doing--or not--on any particular day.

Liberals understand responsibility to the collective and to the Public. Conservatives, "giving" to assuage their consciences and then walking away, do not.
+2 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-15 16:31
Quoting Noni77:
Then why do statistics show that Conservatives consistently out give Liberals in regard to charity? (See Romney vs Obama for just one example).

Romney vs. Obama is not a good example: just look at the $396M the Koch brothers promised Romney and the $200 odd gathered by crossraods.
I have just commented about GOP generosity (a fact) but this, my Lord, is intitutionalize d corruption.

Corporations are NOT people, my friend, unless it is writen in the Bible.
Repeal Citizens United
+2 # Noni77 2012-06-17 17:12
I fully agree that the decision by the Supreme Court that Corporations are the equivalent of individuals was an utter abomination.
+1 # gzuckier 2012-06-16 01:58
Quoting Noni77:
Why are the greatest and longest sustained efforts to educate and teach horticulture, agriculture, etc. to third world villages Christian missionaries? These efforts are funded by people givibg their own money - not appropriating the money of others in addition. Its easy to be generous with orher peoples' money.

These efforts are funded by people giving the money the church collected from parishioners. Even appropriating it via compulsory tithing, if not by implicitly requiring donations to keep your public standing.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great; certainly better than the churches collecting parishioners' money for more material power and wealth for the church, which unfortunately seems to be needed to keep up the PR that gets folks through the doors in the first place. (As Lenny Bruce said, if people live in a shithouse, they don't want to go to church in a shithouse)

Fact is, if the goal in your mind is really the alleviation of suffering, then you don't really care how the money was collected, you just want to see it get there. An unfortunately, too much of the voluntary contributions of the wealthy conservative segment go to alleviating the sufferings of those who have to go to the opera in an old ugly building, or who have to send their kid to prep school where the tennis courts need to be redone. The Koch Bros donate to Gingrich, not to soup kitchens.
-2 # ardvaark 2012-06-14 09:44
Accusations speak loud and clear also. Is not every "politician" left or right going to say whatever will get him into power? Whoever thought politics was a game of values and not power? Lucky we'd be if any elected officials had a moral conscience based on something beside aggrandizement of party or self. But then they would be accused of bringing God into the equation.
0 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-15 16:28
Quoting Sensible1:
Republicans have no interest in doing humanitarian works.

Actually you are mixing up the politicians on the republican party with the grass root.

Quoting Sensible1:
They will do and say whatever it takes to get elected, and nothing else matters.

This applies to the politians.

The GOP grassroot tend to chip in to charity and to volunteer for working in the third world, where I live.
It does not chnage that I disagree with their political views but I have to recognize their form of generosity where I can see it.
+14 # cordleycoit 2012-06-13 17:30
The early church was like an anarchist commune until they invented a hierarchy to fleece the sheep. So they took the real stuff out of the book and invented a Pope. The Man was no liberal He was a revolutionary.
-12 # Noni77 2012-06-13 21:05
read the Book of Revelation - the 7 letters to real churches were chosen for inclusion in the Bible because they simultaniously would tell the history of the Christian church. God critiques each phase of the church (criticism and praise). The last three churches represent the three types of churches that would (and do) exist loosely simultaneously in our times (began in different time eriods). The spiritfilled, true church, the spiritually dead church, and the church that is suffering from false teaching, i.e. heresy - contradicting the Bible, picking and choosing what to believe. These are not necessarily one or another denomination, though that can be part if it. But this also applies to individual churches.
+3 # Selwick 2012-06-14 18:10
Noni77, if you want to live by the Bible, fine. But let other people out of it. The greatest fault of this christian religion is its missionary character or better zeal and you are right there in the tradition.
-2 # Noni77 2012-06-14 19:25
So that point of alone view is not to be tolerated and is to be censored?
+1 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-15 16:34
I am afraid you misread Selwick: our point of view should be tolerable as well.
0 # Noni77 2012-06-16 21:01
Absolutely or I wouldn't be here.
0 # mgreen 2012-06-13 17:32
Many of us see criminality in democrats & republicans. Our reps fail to rep. Each "uses" religion but abides not in any integrity. A great video on YouTube and a great book: Jesus in Kashmir. the book by Olsson. It certainly shifts the dogma.
+8 # frankscott 2012-06-13 18:30
this view of jesus doesn't sound liberal at all...far more socialist..and acts of the apostles can be read as an intro to the communist can actually find anything you like in scriptures, including genocide, incest and just about anything humans have done or thought that was suitable for storytelling,be coming alleged history and more often legend...but this interpretation probably has at least as much truth and possibly far more( though who can "quote" the jesus figure correctly when most people have no idea what the hell political leaders are saying and doing in the present moment, and they are not in ancient scripture but on tv, radio and computer screens right now?)than the dimwit satanist patriarchal brutality that brought us profit and loss financial interest-withou t moral principle- global capitalism...
at one time back in the biblical day, christians were told collecting interest was a sin but when they saw how much money jews were making they jumped into the sordid only islam forbids collecting interest from fellow humans...gee, aren't they just awful?
+11 # Pancho 2012-06-13 18:50
Howard has the distinction of having written a book, "Pastor, I am gay."

It was such a threat to Wasilla fundamentalist they apparently did the work of Jesus by stealing it from the library.

Palin became mayor and had a chat with the librarian, probably over this book, but not mentioned save obliquely and by implication. She fired the librarian who seemed unconvinced for the need for censorship.
+15 # Third_stone 2012-06-13 19:41
Let us remember his context. He lived in occupied Palestine, under the Romans at that time.
I think he and Ghandi and Martin Luther King are of the same cloth, and all three died at the hands of people who did not want to hear their message of peace.
+16 # carolsj 2012-06-13 19:53
Jesus told the rich man that to get to heaven he should sell all he had and give it to the poor. Where do you think the 1% are going?
-11 # Noni77 2012-06-13 21:27
You left out - sell all you have, give it to the poor AND "follow me". Because works without faith is just as dead as faith without works. The Bible says that the works the Holy Spirit inspires on earth, have eternal consequences and standing. Those devised and executed without God's input disappear after a while. They have no eternal standing. He breathes life into good works. The Bible also teaches you can't get good fruit from a bad tree or vice versa.
+7 # hillwright 2012-06-13 20:31
Read Upton Sinclair:

A few good choices -

The Profits of Religion
They Call Me Carpenter
Jesus - His Secret Life
Our Lady
+8 # pernsey 2012-06-14 07:27
Rich people more likely to cheat, behave badly, research finds
By Linda Carroll
While the poor might seem to have the most reason to cheat and steal, the rich are more likely to be dishonest, a new study shows.
In a series of experiments, University of California at Berkeley researchers showed again and again that upper-class individuals were more prone to unethical behavior than people from more deprived backgrounds, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

I just copied and pasted part of this article so apparently the people saying the rich give more then the poor, are basing it off of their Fox News facts. Its just more garbage we have to sift through from the no nothing Fox news crew in here.
+12 # wrknight 2012-06-14 08:24
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."
Mahatma Ghandi
-7 # Noni77 2012-06-14 08:48
Wrknight- read the letters in the Book of Revelation, they are critques of 7 various churches. They receive praise AND criticism. And some of the criticism is very harsh. When people become Christians they are advised to ask for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit because man is so very corrupt, because he was born into a world where corruption reins, that he is incapable of living a real Christian life on his own. Church is where Christians go to learn what is expected, how to get there, how to walk closer to God to overcome natural hypocracy of the human. You can bet, the better the Christian, the more presence he has allowed God in his life, the worse the Christian... Then he has not matured or is only giving lip service to his faith. Yhe Bible warns over and over again about hypocracy and God knowing who is really following him and who is giving him lip service. The Bible warns that even those who claim to do great works for God may be found wanting because they failed to submit to God's transformation of their sinful nature. They will not go to Heaven. So yes, Ghandi had a very good point that should shame people and serve as a warning and reminder that God - and other people - see through pretense and hypocracy.
+6 # Quickmatch 2012-06-14 09:10
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of poverty, I will fear no evil: for I have re-interpreted those parts of the Law that suit my purposes, and my riches runneth over, assuring that those with the power to do so will support me and I will dwell in the houses of wealth forever.
-2 # ardvaark 2012-06-14 10:00
Just for the record, in regard to the above article we are all commenting about, there is absolutely nothing in Leviticus about "redistribution " of wealth.This is made up to use the Bible to advocate some socialist idea. What the ancient Jubilee talked about was land that had changed hands reverted to the family to which it had belonged (not the priests)at the original settlement, and all bondmen of Isrealitish birth were set free. (Non-Isrealites , by the way, were not under the same rules.)
+2 # tahoevalleylines 2012-06-14 10:37
Correction on the Jubilee/land detail appreciated.

Jesus the "Ancient of Ages" appears in Old Testament several times, and it is a serious matter that "If all the miracles Christ performed were written down, the world could not contain the books...

"Isabel Piczek image found" is a sobering display of modern science verifying scriptural account of Christ's divinity... Islam & Mormonism & arrested development conservatism are just a few examples of johnny-come-lat ely attempts to create a franchise on the coat tails of a diminished Christ, and thereby prevent their followers from full communion and fellowship with our savior. Something about millstones in there...
-6 # Noni77 2012-06-14 12:42
See the book by Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cohen, "The Harbinger". There is a reason the 2008 collapse happened 7 years after 9/11. And more is to come.
+1 # James38 2012-06-14 20:26
Noni, if you revisit this forum, please check a ways above for my comment.

You are confusing faith and opinions with facts. That is never justified. It leads one astray from the process of rational thought and mental growth.
+1 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-15 16:37
Quoting Noni77:
See the book by Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cohen, "The Harbinger". There is a reason the 2008 collapse happened 7 years after 9/11. And more is to come.

That's the best one so far!
+6 # worldviewer 2012-06-14 12:56
It isn't necessary to get so complicated and so radical. God called his people out of slavery--the slavery of Egypt--and black slaves in the U.S. heard the call over 3000 years later.

People who had endured slavery had a profound sense of justice--and of fairness because they had endured without it. That sense, and a sense of equality is written in our genes--hunter/g atherer societies were small--and egalitarian. Egalitarian groups can best exist when they are small and everyone knows one another.

But yes, Jesus was a radical. He called people to think for themselves. He set up puzzles for them to solve with his parables. And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
+10 # exomike 2012-06-14 13:12
Here, in 2 parts, are the economics and politics of Jesus explained by another great American around the time of the last Great Depression _and_ the last fight against Fascism.

Woody Guthrie)

Jesus Christ was a man who traveled through the land
Hard working man and brave
He said to the rich, "Give your goods to the poor."
So they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

Jesus was a man, a carpenter by hand
His followers true and brave
But the street corner Prayers didn't want competition,
So they laid Jesus Christ in his grave

He went to the sick, he went to the poor,
And he went to the hungry and the lame;
Said that the poor would one day win this world,
And so they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

He went to the preacher, he went to the sheriff,
Told them all the same;
Sell all of your jewelry and give it to the Poor,
But they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

When Jesus came to town, the working folks around,
Believed what he did say;
The bankers and the preachers they nailed him on a cross,
And they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.
+10 # exomike 2012-06-14 13:15
Here is the 2nd part of the the economics and politics of Jesus explained by another great American around the time of the last Great Depression _and_ the last fight against Fascism.

Woody Guthrie)


Poor working people, they follered him around,
Sung and shouted gay;
Cops and the soldiers, they nailed him in the air,
And they nailed Jesus Christ in his grave.

Well the people held their breath when they heard about his death,
And everybody wondered why;
It was the landlord and the soldiers that he hired.
That nailed Jesus Christ in the sky.

When the love of the poor shall one day turn to hate.
When the patience of the workers gives away
"Would be better for you rich if you never had been born"
So they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

This song was written in New York City
Of rich men, preachers and slaves
Yes, if Jesus was to preach like he preached in Galillee,
They would lay Jesus Christ in his grave.
+6 # rblee 2012-06-14 15:27
Noni77 is wrapped in the Bible like a mummy in bandages. Kinda restricts one's ability to see other contexts. The Jesus of the Bible was arrived at by the Council of Nicea, which was formed by Constantine to create a de facto state religion--not for the joyous enlightenment of humanity, but for his increased control. A very controlling English monarch named Henry is the only reason that America is predominantly Protestant (although that will change as the Latino population overtakes the Anglo). The Church has been the handmaiden of rulers throughout most of western history. What Jesus might or might not have meant is endlessly argued, but the practical result of what Christianity actually is is demonstrated by the desire of modern Christians to control the State--as usual.
-4 # Noni77 2012-06-14 19:45
After reading, reading, reading about other religions, reading about the origins of the Bible, the history of Christianity, the historic Jesus, the religious Jesus, the arguments for and against Jesus as a man and Jesus as the son of God, etc., etc., yes, I find the Biblical perspective ultimately to be the most sound, least contradictory, most solid. I enjoyed reading other people's perspectives along the way - they never "threatened" or "offended" me by their mere existence. I also have been following Bible Prophesy for this time and am fascinated to see how what was predicted so long ago is unfolding, though disappointed that so many people stick to their blinders in an approaching time you will find unlike any in all of history approaching and you will be caught unaware and unprepared. Fascinating that you so vehemently "dislike" what you really don't have knowledge of.
+1 # Michael Lee Bugg 2012-06-15 10:31
Biblical prophecy is mostly recounting of what already had happened then altered to make it look like a prediction. Over the past 2000 years, thanks to the depravity of too many humans, the conditions ushering in "the Apocolypse" have come and gone many times and we are still here! Over time the faces have changed but the story stays the same - the greedy, the ruthless, and the foolish try to take advantage of everyone else for their own temporary advantage! Here is a Bible prediction for you to explain. Jesus said repeatedly, "the end is near, the Kingdom of God is at hand". Jesus also said, "Some of you shall not taste of death before I return with power"! Spare me the nonsense that a thousand years is but like a day to God because no one he was talking to lived even 100 years! And as I related subject, if Jesus was "God made man" how could he have died on the cross in any meaningful sense of the word die? If Jesus was in fact the "son of God" and knew that he was going to leave this mortal world with all of its problems and dangers to go to spend eternity in a "wonderful" place called Heaven, how would that be a sacrifice even close to comparable to a man going and dying in a burning house in an attempt to save a stranger or a friend or even a family member???
-2 # Noni77 2012-06-15 13:51
No, prophecy is to be taken as many things coming about in a similar time, not one or two separate. It is the culmination of certain things. Obviously it is too complex to properly deal with here. One key aspect: the generation that sees the return if the Jews to their homeland will not entirely pass away before Jesus returns. Generally a generation is 40 years in the Bible. So the generation born between the founding of Israel and 40 years later will not entirely die off before Christ returns. Other aspects, a falling away from Christianity and morality (it will be like the days of Noah), a preciptous increase in knowledge, increase in wars, earthquakes, worse than ever before, the uniting of essentially what is Europe (you have to know the historic references given in the Bible) into one governed entity, economic crises that affects the world like never before, etc., etc. too much for here but to be taken in total. Sure there have always been wars, earthquakes, etc. but the culmination of all signs in the same era is the give away. Find a Christian book store or library and read for yourself if you like. The coming economic collapse will usher in a moneyless society, you will be given a sort of bar code on your person, either on your forehead or hand. Without it, you will not be able to buy or sell. At the very worst, you'll understand what you will consider Christian mythology somewhat better. More knowledge can't hurt, right?
+1 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-15 16:38
...But it is all literal.
-2 # Noni77 2012-06-15 18:08
All literal comment: The Bible or Biblical prophecy? The Bible is to be taken literally but for obvious parables and obvious allegory. Whenever people have critcized Biblical stories as being mythology, not history, archeologists have consistently found supporting proof the story in question was historic. I have read that about 40% of the Bible is dedicated to prophecy... First, Christ's birth, life, sacrifice, purpose and triumph over death. Second, his Second Coming (7 years after the Rapture - another supernatural event). The latter prophecy is indeed replete with allegory that has only slowly unravelled in the last 100 years or so with world events setting the stage to finally understand what the alkegory was saying and idenifying the particular players by their ancient historic names compared to who and what they are now. (Such as Gog, Magog, etc.). Its literal meaning was intended for the people who live in the times or just preceding those which it is describing, also as a "proof" and to encode it such that people with agendas could not "orchestrate" events..
0 # dovelane1 2012-06-17 02:07
From Anthony de Mello / "One Minute Wisdom": The following day, the Master said, "It is, alas, easier to travel than to stop."

The disciples demanded to know why.

"Because as long as you travel to a goal, you can hold on to a dream. When you stop, you face reality."

"How shall we ever change if we have no goals or dreams?" asked the mystified disciples.

"Change that is real is change that is not willed. Face reality and unwilled change will happen."

Dear Noni, is it possible that you are trying to rationalize and/or neutralize "unwilled change" by interpreting everything as being connected to the "will of god?"

You write that you NEVER feel "threatened" or "offended" by the mere existence of other people's perspectives, yet you bring this up on a regular basis, at least, on this thread. (I don't trust the word "never.")

I don't think I have blinders on, but I have not run across the information on prophecy that you, apparently, have. So, just out of curiosity, because you believe these "prophecies," are you working to change them, or does your belief system make you assume that nothing can be changed because it's "the will of god?" Isn't that a "fatalistic" point of view?

If so, consider this thought from Hugh Prather: "Given the alternatives we (have learned to) allow ourselves, we always do what we want."
+1 # barbaratodish 2012-06-14 18:59
Religion: an addiction same as the addiction to money fame and power. But, how do we trancsend all addictions, when without an addiction to survival, instead of trancending addiction we would die due to lacking our basic needs? Maybe we are all ALREADY emotionally, if not physically, dead?
+2 # James38 2012-06-14 20:23
Being interested in doing things, including those activities related to survival, is not an addiction. It is just enjoying doing things.

The real challenge of existence is to figure out where we came from, and part of that is learning how to pass through the "death" experience without losing continuity of consciousness.

That is a somewhat advanced idea. Try any part of it as as theory, and see where you can go with it.
0 # barbaratodish 2012-06-15 12:20
Quoting James38:
Being interested in doing things, including those activities related to survival, is not an addiction. It is just enjoying doing things.

The real challenge of existence is to figure out where we came from, and part of that is learning how to pass through the "death" experience without losing continuity of consciousness.

That is a somewhat advanced idea. Try any part of it as as theory, and see where you can go with it.

Perhaps I should try the following as a theory:I had a NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE (NDE) 2 and a half years ago. I AM already dead and I am just imagining that I am alive!
+1 # Noni77 2012-06-15 14:22
Near death experience: my mother, a good Christian woman, was in the hospital and seemed to be close to death. She was in her 40's and was praying to God that she had anxiety leaving her family that included a couple young children. A voice inside her responded and told her not to worry, called her by name saying, " It is not yet your time." Unbeknownst to her, her doctor was telling the family they were losing her and to prepare for her passing. The doctors found something they overlooked soon thereafter and she lived. I myself was driving at night when from out of nowhere a similar voice with told me to switch lanes... I had no idea why, but did it anyway - JUST as a drunk driver came up a dip in the road (on the wrong side of a divided highway), that had also been hidden by a bend in the road. Had I stayed, we would have hit head on at highway speed. These are only a couple of experiences within my family on this topic... But you have to be open to it.
0 # barbaratodish 2012-06-15 12:22
Quoting James38:
Being interested in doing things, including those activities related to survival, is not an addiction. It is just enjoying doing things.

The real challenge of existence is to figure out where we came from, and part of that is learning how to pass through the "death" experience without losing continuity of consciousness.

That is a somewhat advanced idea. Try any part of it as as theory, and see where you can go with it.

James 38:How do we DISCERN what is drama and ego and what is ABSOLUTELY necessary for survival?
+3 # James38 2012-06-14 22:20
The real beginning of conscious thought on a high level depends upon understanding something very simple. Believing in anything has nothing to do with the truth or lack of truth of the thing.

Any group, religion, or so-called philosophy that demands its basic assumptions to be accepted on faith is a fraud.

If the leaders go on to claim to have a "special relationship" with "god", so that they can pass on messages and orders from "god", they are running a very dangerous fraud.

It is "believers" in such authoritarian frauds who become suicide bombers, "believing" that "god" is talking through the "authorities", who are delivering "divine orders" that must be followed. This is nothing more or less than organized insanity.

These are not hard concepts to understand. Hopefully the spread of this understanding is behind the change in awareness that appears to be taking place. It is about time we throw off the yoke of "faith and belief".
+2 # Noni77 2012-06-15 13:36
Any leader who says he is trying to follow the Bible in his morality and leadership stule can be checked up on by anyone with a Bible. In fact, the Bible encourages any leadership to be compared with what the Bible says. I am not trying to "force" my observations and study upon anyone. Is the mere mention of another opinion taken as an assault? How can people be so insecure in their own beliefs as to not allow a different perspective to even be mentioned? I am not threatened by yours.
-2 # Noni77 2012-06-15 13:56
Faith is a first step, it dies if not fed. Learning and building a relationship with God through prayer and reading his word is transforming. To get to know anyone, you must spend time with them, right? God listens for people praying his words for a chance to act. You forget, what Eve and Adam did made us autonomous... God does not "interfere" or "force himself" on people who have no desire for him or interest in him.
+3 # rblee 2012-06-15 00:27
None77: Again you have shown us how limited your view is from inside the bandages. You assume that I have no knowledge. My 10 years of religious schooling and subsequent binges of personal study on the historicity and mythicism of the character called Jesus along with a general study of philosophy over 50 years say differently. Here’s something else for you to chew on--and maybe chew your way out of your bindings. Religion, regardless of how grandiose and mysterious it may be structured is nothing more than Original Sin. Having eaten of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and lost true innocence in an attempt to gain the power of a deity, you exercise your false righteousness while simultaneously exhorting the deity to save you from the results of your actions. This is the trap religionists find themselves in and why they inevitably hunger to control those about them. It’s all about projection and control under the guise of “brotherly love”. Try unwrapping for a while. Life and the universe are much deeper and more interesting than anything religion has to offer.
+3 # James38 2012-06-15 09:09
rblee, I also have been studying this stuff for over 50 years. Glad to see your statement. Have you discovered the parts of the universe that exist beyond what we call the "speed of light"?

One clue is the existence of telepathy. If a person has had such an experience with clarity, and wonders how the information was transmitted, one thing becomes obvious. It is not a frequency or type of energy on the "physical plane", meaning between absolute zero and C. This is one of the reasons the "scientists" deny the existence of it. But there are other realms beyond C, and that is where we tap into and use other energies. Those levels are also "physical" within their own particular limits and physical laws.

"...deeper and more interesting..." indeed.
+2 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-15 16:43
Have you had such experience as telepathy?
Have you seen it proven beyond reasonable doubt?
(Does it go faster than light?)

I am a scientist. I don't deny telepathy. It just has not been proven to me.
-3 # Noni77 2012-06-15 14:08
Are you trying to control me with your opinion? I would not characterize it that way. Why is offering a different view "controling"? " our Founding Fathers revered the exchange of ideas. It can only enrich and challenge those with open minds on both sides. "Religion" indeed is as old as humanity. In Romans (1st Chapter) you find the claim that God put a knowledge of his existence within every human, a God instinct, and that his creation speaks to his existence. So that "none are with excuse". As far as I know, only modern man (last 2 Centuries or so) has imagined there is no God. No primitive tribes have ever existed that were atheists - correct me if I have missed one. So religion is man's expression of knowing an entity created the world and trying to communicate with it respectfully. Judeo-Christian ity is God reaching down and planting the seed of who and what he is, and what he can offer and what he requires for a relationship. Indeed he can be known. But HE will not force himself on you. There is a diuference in knowing disparate facts and having an understanding of a topic.
-1 # dovelane1 2012-06-17 00:37
There was a time when the people could not understand lightning and thunder, so they created "gods" to try to explain what they could not understand. (Zeus, Thor, etc.) Someone named Fran Leibowitz wrote: "Randomness scares people. Religion is a way to explain randomness." Or chaos, if you will.

H.l. Mencken wrote: "The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,000 revolutions a minute. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him (or her) the ride."

The idea that god is a "he" is more than likely a socialized concept, based on, or fostered by the men who wrote the books. You know, of course, that the men took out the concept of the feminine in the holy trilogy. How cconvenient.

If God is perfect, why in the world would he/she/it need or even want to be glorified? My guess is that this is another human symptom of neurosis - to bask in the reflected radiance of their perfect being. I don't trust those who want to glorify or honor god. More likely they are trying to bolster a weak self-image by believing in something they've learned to believe is greater than themself.

To my knowledge, neurosis is as old as humanity as well. I would like to try getting rid of neurosis first, and then see what is left. Unfortunately I'm concerned we have already reached or passed the tipping point, and all this is moot.
0 # Noni77 2012-06-16 21:16
The book, "The Priviledged Planet" speaks to the amazing depth of the Universe... It is so full of information that it is written in a smaller font and thinner paper, somewhat like the Bible, in order to have a book you can still lift and read confortably. Written of course by scientists. But those involved in Cosmology, one of the three cutting edge fields (+ Quantum physics, microbiology) where it is increasingly obvious that intelligent design is the only intelligent answer. I think this book responds to your post more eloquently and completely than I could here, or at all. ;-)
-1 # rblee 2012-06-15 10:18
Thanks, James38. Unfortunately, I do not possess the physical, mental or mechanical apparatus to probe the outer limits of the universe or anything outside that “physical plane”. But, I have a very good imagination and can make up all kinds of fun stuff. I could probably convince you that I’ve had “otherworldly experiences”. Shoot, if I was having some mental deterioration, I might even convince MYSELF that I actually have had those experiences. I have run across some individuals who fall into this category. But, I am certain that none of us could, under more clinical circumstances, prove our abilities and convince another James, The Amazing Randi, to part with his $1,000,000 prize.

This is not a joke. It’s a serious offer and has been in effect for a long time. Haven’t heard of any winners, have we?
+2 # James38 2012-06-15 11:14
Pretty much what I expected. Randi has overdosed on skepticism, and your background sounds similar to his. However, he and you are logical enough.

The boundaries between planes are difficult to see through, since a person who is totally identified with their physical body is limited to the phenomena that are observable between the limits of Absolute Zero and C, and all the instruments we can use are limited to the same range - since the atoms they are made of have the same limits built in.

I used to feel the way you do. However after a few totally clear telepathic experiences, I was forced to discard the old theories, since I had data that was not covered by the theories.

Good luck. Try being a little less sure of your theories. You may not actually know everything. Being snarky about it ("Shoot, if I was having some mental deterioration, I might even convince MYSELF that I actually have had those experiences") is just part of being closed-minded. It will work better and be more in line with your avowed interest in new things if you ask questions instead.
+1 # Nick Reynolds 2012-06-16 09:08
If the Left wonders why its message is so often ignored by many Americans it has only itself to blame. Jesus may be a myth, but such a good myth if one cares about justice. Why does the Left hand Jesus over to those who do not understand Him when so much of what Jesus said is so favorable to the Left?
-1 # rblee 2012-06-16 16:12
What the heck. One more round. James38, it sounds like you think that all scientific and logical expressions are theories. Theories are probable explanations for phenomena that are based on FACTS. They can be proven or disproven. When proven, they become facts. Evolution is a fact. Human-caused global warming is a fact. There is endless propaganda trying to contradict these facts, but eventually they will be accepted as such. Remember the corporate sponsored propaganda about how smoking was harmless. We generally got over that one, but still people smoke in the face of the deadly facts and kill themselves. Fantasy is very persistent. Myself, I am fully open to proof on any “otherworldly experiences”. I would love to see you take the Randi challenge and be sitting on a cool million bucks in the near future. What do you say?
-1 # Noni77 2012-06-16 21:26
Evolution fact: to my knowledge, the Cambrian explosion of life refers to the "fact" that 5 or so protospecies of animals "appeared" suddenly and as of yet no linking fossils have ever been found to connect them with the decidedly primitive life forms of the pre-Cambrian era. From those 5 prototype species of course, "evolved" all our mammals, i.e. canids became wolves, dingos, foxes, etc. and from there they further evolved to suit their environments, dessert fox, arctic fox, etc. i was under the impression that the theory of evolution still does not in fact have the fossil evidence to lose the "theory" status.
+1 # dovelane1 2012-06-17 01:32
There is an article on a web site called io9 titled "Could Aliens Have Created Life On Earth" that I found to be an interesting hypothesis. It was posted on June 14. It offers a possible explanation for your point of view.
0 # Noni77 2012-06-17 17:19
Also, did Darwin not write in his Origin of Species that if his assumption that the single cell is nothing more than a glob of protoplasm (paraphrasing) was ever disproven, then he himself would admit that his premise was flawed and theory incorrect. And here we are with microbiologists telling us that single cells are made of trillions of proteins acting in a highly organized, even mechanical way .
0 # dovelane1 2012-06-18 01:38
Hi Noni. What I think I have seen you and others do, is something that is fairly common among most human beings.

When a person acts in a dogmatic fashion, it's like they are issuing an invitation to others to respond to that person in a dogmatic way.

My guess is that when you were responded to in a critical way, it's because you were seen by another person as acting in a dogmatic way. To rebuke others for their dogmatic reactions, and act like you had no part in the interaction, is to avoid being responsible for your actions, and the consequencial reactions.

If you think you are not being dogmatic, then I think you might be in denial.

In any case, welcome to the human race.

From his book "Love Me, Love My Fool," Theodore Rubin wrote: "The most prevalent and destructive fear is not of sickness or death itself. It is the fear of being human. All of our neurotic symptoms are retaliation against ourselves for daring to be human, that is, less than godlike martyrs of masters. This is what psychotherapy is all about; getting over the fear of being human."

I believe their is an intimate connection between fear and neurosis. All of this is, of course, my point of view at this point in time.

I find it interesting that we end up with some of the same priorities (Citizens United, conservation) though we come at them from seemingly different directions. However, the underlying motivation may be the same.
-3 # rblee 2012-06-16 16:13
Hi, Nick! Jesus is a “good” myth? Let’s see: a deity creates human beings for its own amusement, knowing beforehand that they are going to turn out defective. When they do, it punishes them, but then impregnates one of its “children” to give birth to itself so it can allow itself to be brutally murdered in order to satisfy its own desire for revenge and also “save” its children. Of course, if they don’t accept this “salvation”, then they must spend eternity in agony. You know, I think the human mind has come up with some way better myths than this one, but patriarchy is a horrible impediment.

Re your use of the term “the Left”: Left vs. Right. Black vs. White. Good vs. Evil. Eat of the forbidden fruit of that Tree in the Garden and this is how your eyes see the world, and that condition is its own punishment (and is maintained for ages by patriarchal religion). Now there’s a better myth!
0 # dovelane1 2012-06-17 01:25
First of all, I really like your analysis of the religious myth, and the fact that you pointed out the "us vs. them" mentality behind so much of our "neurotic" society.

However, I don't know if Jesus, the person, was a myth or not. I've read and heard conflicting opinions on that. I think some of his teachings had wisdom to them, so I'm willing to work with some of his teachings. (See the posting about Jefferson taking all the supernatural happenings out of his bible, leaving just the teachings.)

I think Nick has a point in asking why the "Left" doesn't point out the rational part of his messages as a way of pointing out the hypocrisy of the people that invoke his name, but ignore his teachings.

So much of what you mention seems connectd to the "God" myth, though Jesus, the man and/or the myth, is certainly connected to that.
-1 # rblee 2012-06-17 11:17
Looks like we’re on a roll! Should probably send RSN some money in reparation.

Hi dovelane 1. The historicity of Jesus or Yeshua is EXTREMELY tenuous. There were lots of Yeshuas running around in early first century, but the record on a particular one, supposedly from Nazareth (which has been recently shown to not even have existed at that time!), is almost NIL. The mythic basis for a Jesus type, however, is very widespread, occurring in many cultures extending into the Far East and south Asia. Egyptian mythology had a huge effect on the Hebrews for obvious reasons, as did Babylonian. You are right that it is an interesting subject.

I like the myth of the “Fall of Man” because I consider that to be the Birthday of Religion. The Christian myth of Jesus is about Sin and Salvation. While in church dogma the “Son” aspect of the Trinity may have existed for all time, believe me, we would never have heard about him without the need for Salvation, due to the first couple making a bad decision in wanting to see things as God supposedly does: as either Good or Evil. So, no Original Sin, no need for Salvation and no need for Jesus’ birth and ugly death. Just think: if “Man” hadn’t fallen, there’d have been no need for even the Bible, except maybe as light entertainment on a pleasant Edenic afternoon. And, of course, without all the murder, mayhem and perversion, it would probably read more like “Winnie the Pooh”.
-1 # rblee 2012-06-17 11:19
Keep them doggies rollin’!

Noni77, Noni77, Noni77! You are “under the impression that the theory of evolution still does not in fact have the fossil evidence to lose the ‘theory’ status” because you are under the compression of your mummy bandages. Loosen them up a little--enough to see your computer monitor and the results of 5 minutes of Google search on “proof of evolution”. And, for gawdsakes, stop getting your information from Creationist-the med amusement parks!
-1 # rblee 2012-06-17 11:36
One more one, dovelane 1: by using the “good” parts of Christian mythology “against” Christians, you are playing with their ball, on their court, according to their rules. What’s the advantage? George Lakoff has a lot to say about the conceptual framework of debate. Check him out.
0 # dovelane1 2012-06-18 01:14
I understand your point. At the same time, if I can use christian language and myths bettr than they can, and point out the hypocrisy between what they say, and how they act, would that not prove to be more effective? Though it may be a case of beating my head against a wall, I want them to see that I am, at least, willing to listen.

It's been written that zealots believe communication means you agree with them. As I tell my born-again brother, I hear everything you say, I just don't agree with much of it. He's gotten to the point where he soesn't like to argue with me much.
+1 # DAVID PIDCOCK 2012-06-18 03:02
-3 # rblee 2012-06-19 08:26
dovelane1: I, for one, am no longer willing to debate religionists within their own framework. Beating your head against their wall only inures them, although sometimes it can be kinda fun. I know a guy who practically lives in the lion’s den. See DeVaney is perfectly capable of shredding those cats, but I suspect this only increases their sense of martyrdom. We need to completely reframe the dialogue and create a new paradigm. For me, this is Humanism, which is the positive force of the real needs and values of human beings, sans supernaturalism.

David Pidcock: out of the mouths of True Believers (or satirists thereof)...come s ALL CAPS! You are absolutely right about the usury. The debt-based monetary system is the ruination of human society and must be eliminated. The mythical anthropomorphiz ed supernatural entity known as Jesus echoed a long line of biblical criticism of usury. Hey, they were primitive, but not brain-dead! For a very well thought out and presented recent explanation of the problem--with videos--see:

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