______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Bill Maher on Christianity & Osama bin Laden May 17, 2011

[The following is a transcript of a Bill Maher monolog.
I’m not necessarily a big fan, but I think he pretty much nails this one.
If you click on his picture, it should take you to a Facebook page with the video segment]

{Explicit Language Warning}

New rule: if you’re a Christian who supports killing your enemies and torture, you have to come up with a new name for yourself.

Last week, as I was explaining why I didn’t feel at all guilty about Osama’s targeted assassination, I made some jokes about Christian hypocrisy and since then strangers have been coming up to me and forcing me to have the same conversation.

So let me explain two things. One, I’m not Matthew McConaughey. He surfs a long board.

And two, capping thine enemy is not exactly what Jesus would do. It’s what Suge Knight would do.

For almost 2,000 years, Christians have been lawyering the Bible to try and figure out how “love thy neighbor” can mean “hate thy neighbor” and how “turn the other cheek” can mean “screw you I’m buying space lasers.”

Martin Luther King gets to call himself a Christian because he actually practiced loving his enemies.

And Ghandi was so fucking Christian he was Hindu.

But if you rejoice in revenge, torture and war – hey, that’s why they call it the weekend – you cannot say you’re a follower of the guy who explicitly said, “love your enemies” and “do good to those who hate you.” The next line isn’t “and if that doesn’t work, send a titanium fanged dog to rip his nuts off.”

Jesus lays on that hippie stuff pretty thick. He has lines like, “do not repay evil with evil,” and “do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you.” Really. It’s in that book you hold up when you scream at gay people.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but nonviolence was kind of Jesus’ trademark. Kind of his big thing. To not follow that part of it is like joining Greenpeace and hating whales.

There’s interpreting, and then there’s just ignoring.

It’s just ignoring if you’re for torture – as are more evangelical Christians than any other religion. You’re supposed to look at that figure of Christ on the cross and think, “how could a man suffer like that and forgive?” Not, “Romans are pussies, he still has his eyes.”

If you go to a baptism and hold the baby under until he starts talking, you’re missing the message.

Like, apparently, our president, who says he gets scripture on his Blackberry first thing every morning, but who said on 60 Minutes that anyone who would question that Bin Laden didn’t deserve an assassination should, “have their head examined.”

Hey Fox News! You missed a big headline; Obama thinks Jesus is nuts!

To which I say, “hallelujah,” because my favorite new government program is surprising violent religious zealots in the middle of the night and shooting them in the face. Sorry Head Start, you’re number 2 now.

But I can say that because I’m a non-Christian.

Just like most Christians.

Christians, I know, I’m sorry, I know you hate this and you want to square this circle, but you can’t.

I’m not even judging you, I’m just saying logically if you ignore every single thing Jesus commanded you to do, you’re not a Christian – you’re just auditing.

You’re not Christ’s followers, you’re just fans.

And if you believe the Earth was given to you to kick ass on while gloating, you’re not really a Christian – you’re a Texan.


My Review Of “A New Kind Of Christianity” March 11, 2010

“I am a Christian who does not believe in Christianity as I used to, but who believes in Christ with all my heart, more than ever”
— Brian McLaren –

Some people read material to find the good in it.  Many read material, especially if they think it will challenge their perceived “rightness,” to find the bad in it.

If you read “A New Kind Of Christianity” to find fault, you will find it (as you will with any book).  But if you read, not out of fear of challenge, but rather with the embrace of challenge, you may find a well of new life flowing from its pages.

This book is far different, and I believe better, than “A New Kind Of Christian” in both style and substance.  I’m glad I read the previous work, but if you can only read one, this is the one to read.

In his new book, McLaren covers what he calls “Ten questions that are transforming the faith.”  He talks about things like, what the Bible is and isn’t, and how we should approach it;  the nature of God, and how the Bible, starting with Genesis, expresses a maturing understanding of God, culminating in Jesus;  the true “gospel” of Christ, as opposed to the gloom-and-doom we have tragically called “good news;” the reality of the kingdom of God in the here-and-now; how we relate to people of other religions; the future; and, of course sex.  (OK, I read the sex chapter first.  What can I say?)

I found the sections on how we got where we are very interesting; the whole “Greco-Roman” thought patterns that we don’t even know we have.

The “God question,” and the “Jesus question” are of extreme importance.  It becomes clear that, though Brian has very little use for what we have called Christianity, his awe, love, and commitment to Jesus are only increasing.  That’s very much where I’ve been for a number of years now.  It’s great to read of others on the same, or similar, journeys.

He does a great job of clarifying what the gospel of Jesus really is, and how that ties right in with what the kingdom of God really is, and the vital importance of knowing each.  Those beliefs have direct consequences in how we treat others, and in how we treat this home that God has asked us to take care of.

Chapter 15 contains the best treatise on Romans I have ever read.  This chapter could be worth the price of the book.  Very often, I’ve seen Romans in contradiction to the Gospel.  I thought this chapter really clears that up.
Of course, many of  teachings of the four gospels, as wonderfully explained in “The Naked Gospel,” are, indeed in opposition to many teachings of the epistles.  But that’s another book.

Brian takes a look at how we view the future.  Both Greg Albrecht and Bert Gary have a good deal to say on this subject, especially in how we look at the book of Revelation.  Much of all this focuses on Jesus’ repeated teaching that the “kingdom of God is with you,” and how that kingdom is expressed.

In Chapter 17 Mr. McLaren tries to find a way we can better address the issue of human sexuality without fighting about it.  Many people still seem the best way to speak to those with whom they strongly disagree is via a shouting match.  Wow, talk about proving the definition of “insanity.”  He ,as expected, addresses homosexuality and shares some very insightful and, in my opinion, very practical information.  One chapter doesn’t really do the subject justice, but he’s not attempting to provide all the answers.

There are a couple of ideas that seem to spread through all the chapters.  One is what Brian refers to as “the Greco-Roman narrative.”  The other is a call to find a new way of reading the Bible.  (The latter of the two is a much larger and more thorough look at some of the themes Bert Gary and I dealt with in our joint article for PTM, “Does The Bible Really Say That?”
This new way of reading (or approach to) the Bible involves replacing the “constitutional” reading with the “community library” reading.  Of course, you’ll need to read the book to see those ideas really fleshed-out.

The “thought police” are already screaming “heresy!”  That is to be expected.  The church has a long history of suppression.  I read a lot that I often don’t agree with, but I’m not afraid of thoughts or different ideas.   Many people are scared to death of new ideas.  This is often with good reason.  Their views are often so rigid, that if one “card” of their house is removed, the whole thing comes tumbling down.  As one teacher once said “If you don’t believe in a literal six-day creation, then you don’t believe in the cross of Christ.”  Gee, I thought I could separate my ideas.  Anyway…

This book goes in my list of the 5 (maybe 3) most important books I’ve ever read.  I do have to be careful.  As McLaren said, “I gradually learned to simply share with those who either “got it” or wanted to get it and not to bother – or look down upon – those who didn’t.”

So, yeah, I recommend this book.  “A New Kind Of Christianity” is really just about getting back to Jesus.  Not the gun-toting, flag-waving, war-loving, earth-abusing, “them”-hating, semi-deity we’ve made God into, but the real Jesus.  The one who really is the way, the truth, and the life.

Buy the book HERE.
A small sample from “A New Kind Of Christianity” —

“I love the Bible.  I’m in awe of it.”  “But my quest for a new kind of Christianity has required me to ask some hard questions about the Bible I love.”

“The slippery-slope argument – that we’d better not budge on or rethink anything for fear we’ll slip down into liberalism, apostasy, or some other hell – proves itself dangerous and naïve even as it tries to protect us from danger and naiveté.  [For one thing] it assumes that we’re already at the top of the slope, when it’s just as likely that we’re already at the bottom or somewhere in the middle.”


To say that the Word of God is in the biblical text, then, does not mean that you can extract verses or statements from the text at will and call them “God’s words.”
We can very easily confuse “The Bible says” with “I say the Bible says,” which we can then equate with “God says.”  Protestants, Pentecostals, Catholics, and Orthodox could all be found proving points by referring to Scripture in exactly the way the pro-slavers did.

Very few Christians today have given a second thought to — much less repented of — this habitual, conventional way of reading and interpreting the Bible that allowed slavery, anti-Semitism, apartheid, chauvinism, environmental plundering, prejudice against gay people, and other injustices to be legitimized and defended for so long.  Yes, we’ve stopped using the Bible to defend certain things once they were “discredited by events,” but we still use the Bible in the same way to defend any number of other things that have not yet been fully discredited, but soon may be.  [We need] a new, more mature and responsible approach to the Bible.
Buy the book HERE.

Christianity entered into a troubling alliance with [Constantine’s] Roman Empire.  In that alliance, unity of belief became politically useful – and enforceable.  The fusion was problematic from the beginning.  The church participated in the identification and execution of about twenty-five thousand people as heretics.  The religion that was ostensibly founded by a nonviolent man of peace had now embraced the very violence he rejected.
Dynamic faith that moves mountains was out; static belief that burns or banishes heretics was in.  Catalytic faith as an agent of social transformation was out; codified belief as a tool of social control was in.  As I ponder what this atrocity has meant in our world, I recall Woody Allen’s statement that if Jesus could see what people have done in his name, he would “never stop throwing up.”

Buy the book HERE.

What we need is not simply a new way of thinking, although our quest leads deep into and through the mind. We also need a new way of ‘being’, a new inner ecology, a new spirituality that does more than make us opinionated and fastidious, but that renders our souls an orchard of trees bearing good fruit, rooted in who we are before God and who we are becoming in God.

“We’ve gotten ourselves in a mess with the Bible.”

“First, we are in a scientific mess.  Fundamentalism…again and again paints itself into a corner by requiring that the Bible be treated as a divinely dictated science textbook.”  “This approach has set up Christians on the wrong side of truth again and again.”  “Many pious people deny our environmental crises by quoting Bible verses and mocking science.  Just as they were the last to acknowledge the rotation of the earth and its revolution around the sun, they’ll be the last to acquiesce to what science is telling us about our growing ecological crises.”

“Second, we are in trouble in relation to ethics.”  “…we are stuck now…largely obsessed with narrow hot-button feuds (eg. abortion, sexual orientation, nationalism, genetic engineering) that end up being little more than litmus tests for political affiliation.”
“In the United States, white Evangelical Christians are the most fervent advocates of government-sanctioned torture and…frequent churchgoing is a statistical indicator of support for torture.”

“Third, we are in deep trouble relating to peace.”   “When careless preachers use the Bible as a club or sword to dominate or wound, they discredit the Bible in a way that no skeptic can.”
“It’s an old and tired game:  quoting sacred texts to strengthen an us-versus-them mentality.”  “In case after case in the past, there is a kind of Bible-quoting intoxication under the influence of which we religious people lose the ability to distinguish between what God says and what we say God says.

—-  Taken from “A New Kind Of Christianity” by Brian McLaren. Buy the book HERE.


“There are two ways to read the Bible, frontwards and backwards.  If we locate Jesus primarily in light of the story that has unfolded since his time on earth, we will understand him in one way.  But if we see him emerging from within a story that had been unfolding through his ancestors, and if we primarily locate him in that story, we might understand him in a very different way.”

—- Taken from “A New Kind Of Christianity” by Brian McLaren.  Buy the book HERE.



Who Would Jesus Torture June 8, 2009

Filed under: Religion,Social Issues — lifewalkblog @ 7:50 am
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Why is it that ultra-conservatives, most of whom claim to
embrace Christian values, are the first to chuck their
morality once it becomes inconvenient?

–Walt D.


Evangelicals and Torture June 1, 2009

Filed under: Religion,Social Issues — lifewalkblog @ 1:14 pm
Tags: , , ,

I believe that the future of any nation is in the hands of God. I believe that it is far more important to be concerned about the welfare and goals of the kingdom of heaven, where I, by grace, am given my primary citizenship, than it is to worry about the fate of earthy governments and kingdoms.

I was deeply concerned to read a recent report that stated NORTH AMERICANS WHO ATTEND EVANGELICAL CHURCHES ARE MORE LIKELY TO APPROVE OF TORTURE of prisoners of war than those who at attend non-evangelical churches, those who do not attend church at all, or even those who do not even claim to be Christians! Given Jesus’ teachings about peace and nonviolence, I have to wonder whether such places of “worship” are drawing those who are attempting to impose political views on the body of Christ. I believe that true, Christ-centered living will result in the dynamic life of Christ and his values having its way, in our hearts and minds, with the kingdoms of earthly Babylon.

 –Greg Albrecht


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