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ETHICS & REALITY in Practice: Real People Talking Honestly Message Board › Teresa's question: are there any Christians at Richard's gatherings:

Teresa's question: are there any Christians at Richard's gatherings:

Dennis R.
user 13535989
Portland, OR
Post #: 12
Teresa asked if there was a Christian in the group. If so, they keep their head down.

I speak up now and then, as I did with some awkward passion at the end of our "Christmas Carol" discussion. It happens that partly inspired by what I learned about Dickens prescient "Christmas Carol" (almost postmodern in its intelligibility to believer and doubter alike), when Teresa's posting caught my attention, I was writing a brief Xmas Eve e-mail to my family about why I am not attending Christmas Eve services anymore, almost all of my relatives being what I would call post- 400 AD “Christians,” which I am not. In my view what passes for Christianity in the United States today is a truncated, imperialistic version, the origin of which has been pretty well accounted for by now by scholars of the history of the Middle East.

As for Jesus, himself, however, as a Jewish anti-imperialist activist his legacy seems to me a better normative guide to cooperative peaceful life among diverse peoples even today than many religions in the world; Jesus’s beatitudes and parables still resonate for me. So I am more a Christian than anything else, having been socialized in a family church and then undertaking graduate study of the history of and sociology of religion in the United States, which probably explains why although I won’t be going to any Christmas Eve services, in my moral life as an American and citizen of the world I am probably a follower of Christ more than any of the other prophets of the “divine.”

It’s just that I regret how the bishops in bed with Constantine stripped out the breadth of Christ’s teachings as various written “gospels” tried to record them. There is a book, "Paul Among the People" and books by Elaine Pagels that place more of what has been preserved of Christ’s teachings in historical context and that is the kind of Christian I suppose I am close to being. I am of course embarrassed and appalled, especially after the Portland Mall and Connecticut massacres, that 70 percent of white church-going citizens usually vote for the Presidential candidate who makes the most adamant defense of guns and such. I suspect they are actually staking their lives on secular ideology that trumps the beatitudes and parables. I no longer sit comfortably in the pews with them, tolerant as I try to be as a Christian.

There is plenty of anti-imperialism in the literary legacy of Israel's history we call the Old Testament, as scholars have well established. Politicized "Christians" and their political "stars" simply cherry pick the "Old Testament," too. In my view, this dynamic in American political life began to accelerate after Jimmy Carter when Reagan successfully co-opted Carter's evangelical rhetoric with a right wing slant.
Christopher G.
user 28504182
Clackamas, OR
Post #: 14
“Politicized "Christians" and their political "stars" simply cherry pick the "Old Testament," too.”

Aren’t you also cherry picking? You say “Jesus’s beatitudes and parables still resonate for me.” I like those parts, too. The problem is aren’t you ignoring the parts I read, the parts where Jesus talks about “the lake of fire”, as if it’s a wonderful thing? I can’t unread those parts, so unfortunately, they also resonate for me. So in order to keep believing, after we read this “bad Jesus”, we find scholars who will perform the laborious archaeology needed to find out that he really didn’t say the bad stuff, that was someone else. Isn’t it interesting that this largely isn’t a problem with other ancients like Plato? Maybe it helps if you write down your own thoughts, which Jesus didn’t bother to do.

It’s too bad the Pagels type scholarship can’t become a kind of third or “New” New testament, with the other two either being ignored or edited down to pamphlet size, with only the good in them preserved. But it’s getting late in the game after 2000 years., isn’t it? As we now still have hundreds of millions of people worshiping a god who runs a torture chamber. Which can’t be good for the mental health of a society, as recent events are making clear.
Christopher G.
user 28504182
Clackamas, OR
Post #: 15

Thought you might get a kick out of this CNN story that has already received more that 3000 responses in a just a few hours. Apparently Christians, don't want to hear that the creator of the universe spent 30 years walking around in a world that was not "sanitized for your protection." I just saw the King Tut exhibit in Seattle. Tut died at 19 from a simple fracture of his leg. The richest most powerful person in the world died from something that would not kill 99% of us thanks to medical science.

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