Who Is Just And By Which Faith Are They Living?
by Ester Lighthorse
Sometimes it can be a little difficult to see some of the conditions of mankind and to feel hope, and to think of how things can only get better. It is virtually impossible, if you are a reasonable person with any viable sense of humanity within you, to watch news footage of people hurting and killing each other, starving each other, treating each other with immeasurable disrespect and contempt, people living in literal dumps, children walking over bodies and carrying machine guns and machetes through the thick of black smoke from burning cities, it is close to impossible to see such things and not be moved in your heart.
While there are those individuals who will assert that together and with more than just cursory effort man can indeed make things better, there are also those individuals who will vehemently claim that such things will never get better by the efforts of man. Ever. Sometimes these same people will announce that terrible circumstances that plague man are a given, a must, a definite and inescapable punishment meted out by a just God onto a faithless and belligerent creation.
Worse yet, there are even those individuals who celebrate what they interpret to be the ever degrading state of mankind. This is because it is in their delusions that they selfishly interpret the supposed increase of destruction within mankind as the divine harbinger, the final jeopardy, and the checkered flag in the spiritual race of their own ultimate salvation through impending rapture. Such individuals are not looking to make anything in the world better because their faith tells them that they are the just, and it is in this grand delusion of fickle justness that such individuals assert that the worse off man is, the more terrible the condition of everything on this planet, the better. Why? Well, because such circumstances would mean that Jesus is returning and the ‘just’ are that much closer to living in perfection that does not include those who think, live, believe, or love differently.
What is it exactly that the ‘just’ hold sets them apart from everything and anything? Faith. And whose faith qualifies? Is it the faith of the Mormons, Catholics, Protestants, or Episcopalians? What about the faiths of the Baptists, Methodists, Unitarians, Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, Nazarenes, or Jehovah’s Witnesses? The particular faiths I mention don’t even come close to scratching the surface of the countless denominations of Christian faiths, or variations thereof, so what about all those that are not mentioned? What about Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca, and Shinto? The list only grows exponentially when you addin all the religions within the known history of man. There is truly no shortage of choices when it comes to the religious and spiritual buffet placed before the mind, emotion, and will of man.
Does the supposed justness of a particular faith pivot on that faith’s interpretation of the Bible? What about those individuals who do not necessarily adhere to any particular religion or holy book, but who do everything that they can to live peaceably, with compassion, with considerateness and a helpful and nurturing attitude toward their fellow man? Is living justly contingent on biblical based faith? If so, if it is truly the case that just living is in fact contingent on biblically based faith, exactly whose version of the Bible is the correct version from which to glean the facts and instructions of just living?
This particular subject, the just living by faith, is truly a subject that deserves the considerations of all mankind; not solely from a Christian or any other religious perspective, but also from a philosophical, intellectual, ethical point of view. Such considerations should be given not only to what people may think who and what the just and proper faith are, but also to what purposes are served or intended by such, what consequences are enjoyed or suffered, and whether or not such things are beneficial and worthy of the attentions and devotions of man.
I would like to approach this subject a little differently than the standard that starts with the specific verse in the Bible that addresses faith in relation to the lives of the just and Martin Luther’s considerations and spiritual ponderings of the same. I will refer to biblical passages as little as possible as I don’t want to focus on that the Bible says the proper faith is, or the just according to the same. I would like to instead focus on what such things are in relation to the mind of man, the intellect of the human being.
Think about what your personal understanding of what just living is. What is it exactly that rings true in your own heart when you think of justness? I am not referring to what you may have been taught in regards to what is just. I am talking about what truly, deeply, and from the most sincere depths of your heart you hold justness to be.
To look at what qualifies as just it is important to look past the basic beliefs of what right and wrong are. Right and wrong are simply not specific enough and are too shallow in their approach. I know, that sounds all jacked up, but I am serious. Right and wrong are too shallow if you are going to consider what being just is. Right and wrong are oftentimes referenced when speaking of the laws that humans create, but that which is considered just supersedes any of the laws that man can prod his legislatures or manipulate common law into creating.
For many, their ideas and opinions in regards to what is just center heavily upon being courteous and considerate and kind to those around them, wary of both speech and action in an effort to refrain from saying or doing offensive things. This is a good place to start, yes, but sometimes in the process of this approach people forget who they are inside. So caught up in their own efforts to help and assist others according to what they are being informed of as to justness and faith, many people fall into a swamp that is created by the individual being, or trying to be, just to everyone but themselves. Justness is great, sure, but if you forget yourself in the process of trying to be just you totally miss the forest full of trees, for what worth and what value are your efforts of justness if you cannot even be just to yourself? Where does that leave you?
Confusion overflows interpretation and understanding of just living when you drag religion into the discussion. This is because instead of the individual looking and digging into themselves for what is just they instead focus on an outside source. Further complicating issues is the fact that the outside source itself is riddled with violent disagreement from every angle imaginable. That is why a person must first look into themselves as to what they inherently know to be just; if a person cannot identify and further evolve and assimilate the just qualities within they are not going to do any better with identifying and applying the same from outside sources.
When an individual finds within themselves the love and joy that should be felt when they consider their connection with the rest of humanity, when they find these things they have identified that which is just. This is also where faith gets its hands into the dough of life, mixing, kneading, and nurturing that love and joy. Faith is the persistence of nurturing the love and joy, knowing from deep within that doing such a thing is excellent and can be only beneficial to yourself and all of humanity.
All-in-all, faith and justness must consist only of positive emotions and expressions. Belief itself is not what is just and this is because anyone can believe anything, anywhere and at anytime. But that belief on its own does not make or lend whatever is fervently believed any measure of truth. Heck, for a huge chunk of time within human history people really and truly thought that the earth was flat. Of course, now we know and understand differently. Belief can sometimes, and most unfortunately, consist of hate and separation, and such things are contrary to that which is love and that which is just. When something is correct, pure, fair, and even synchronized in its definition and expression of such it may quite correctly be considered just.
Don’t you want to know what being just is and how you can live such through faith? I do, and I very strongly doubt that I am the only one to want to know. For me, the best way to discover such things is to ask myself whether or not something is harmful to myself or the people around me in any way. If it is, then whatever the involved ideal or theory or practice it is that is the first indicator that whatever I am doing or thinking or thinking about doing is not valid as justness or faith. Therefore, I should immediately work toward something better.
There is something wrong with the belief that in order to find justness and in order to live in faith according to that justness a person must live according to the Bible. That one statement there throws all kinds of wrenches into the works of humanity. Not everyone desires to believe the same, worship the same, love the same, or live the same. And why should such be necessary anyway? Because the Bible says so? In all actuality, it is the interpretation of the Bible that seems to say so, but that is for another time to discuss. It is not in the least bit wise to base opinions and ideals of justness and faith on something that inspires and incites argument from the very first word. Take a good look through recorded history and you will find that wherever lies religious disagreement, there too lies a well of injustice.
If man can only move away from the thoughts that justness and faith must be gleaned from religious living he will do himself a great favor. And I must reiterate that believing in God is not necessarily a bad thing, no. What IS a bad thing is believing that all men must believe in God and that just living and faith are born solely within those who specifically believe in God, and that justness and faith cannot be experienced without the presence of a belief in God.
One of the main problems with religion in regards to justness and living in faith is the amount of fear that is cultivated within such. Fear is a negative element that causes mental, spiritual, and emotional friction that works against justness and faith. Justness and faith are not negative elements and therefore cannot be properly seeded with threats of hell and everlasting damnation, and when an individual tries to be just and faithful as a result of such threats they are not functioning justly with faith or by faith.
Being just must occur for the sake of being just. Having faith must occur for the sake of having faith. These things must occur for their own sake and not as a result of the individual desiring such in order to avoid something. That is not right, because doing something out of a desire to avoid another something that is unpalatable injects selfishness into the situation, that selfishness being the desire to save your own ass from whatever it is you are avoiding be it hell, the wrath of God, or anything else for that matter. Justness and living in faith are not in any way, shape, or form connected with any type of selfishness. In fact, selfishness on any level is the antithesis of what justness and faith are.
So, who are the just and by which faith are they living? If you are an individual who lives each day and each moment according to what you know from the very depths of your being to be true and good and viable and correct in regards to how you treat yourself and those people around you, then you are such a person. If you as an individual make the connection to your core being, who you are truly, deeply, and without supposition, then you have taken huge strides to discovering and living that which is truly just living by faith. What is important to understand and consider is that this type of introspection provides a way by which to change your core being for the betterment of you and everyone around you.
Many modern faiths would have their members believe that they cannot change who they are in their core being, instead offering a set of ideals that recklessly advises mankind that there is nothing he can do to change anything about his core being. Man is given one option by which to render a solution to his alleged damaged inner core being: Jesus Christ and the salvation of God offered to man through Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of man.
However, in reality this is not a viable solution. A solution would rectify the problems, but in this case the proposed salvation through Jesus Christ is more like a smathering of goop intended to cover the terrible truth with absurd esoteric assumptions, presumptions, and expectations. Salvation does not teach or instruct man to repair himself. Salvation teaches man that on his own, man cannot do anything to fix himself, cannot identify and implement faith and just living. So, man is told he needs Jesus, for Jesus makes all the bad parts of the hearts of man, all of his inefficiencies, all better.
Man is told over and over that he is impotent to change himself; only Jesus can change man. The problem with this is that Jesus is not repairing the individual, but rather he is replacing the defective part of the individual with himself; Jesus is not showing man how to fix himself, but rather gives the individual his own divinity, his own divine nature, holiness, and salvation which man then uses to cover and hide his ugliness. It is the ultimate under-the-rug sweep.
Man is told that in salvation Jesus Christ makes him like new. Do you see the problem here? It is Jesus who is the one doing the renewing, Jesus who is replacing the supposedly inherently fallen nature (core being) of man, and Jesus who is making the decisions. Not man. Man isn’t really changing for the better then because he isn’t the one making the necessary changes.
This is so stupid. It is the equivalent of requiring a person with poor math skills to take a math course, but allowing someone else who is proficient in math to do all of the work and the test taking while allowing the person who is supposed to be taking the course get the good grade that they did not work for. They have learned nothing. Their knowledge of mathematics has not improved, and while their academic marks for mathematics look great that does not matter. Why? Because nothing has changed and they still don’t know how to multiply fractions, solve equations, find the area of a square, or find the circumference of a circle.
It is the same problem with man and salvation through Jesus Christ, salvation that is supposed to show man what is just and how to live that justness through faith. With Jesus doing all the work man learns absolutely nothing. There is a reason why it says in the Bible, “Not I, but Christ.” Jesus is doing all the homework while man gets the good grades. I know I am repeating myself, but it is imperative that you understand this concept. You do not need to agree with my opinions on just living by the faithful children of God as I am simply trying to stir up dialogue on this particular subject, an effort intended to give the ‘just living by faith’ issue more consideration and attention.
It is argued by some that should man truly look inside himself he would be overwhelmed by the atrocity of his nature and would consequently recognize that he is powerless to make true and lasting changes. Due to this amazingly pessimistic view, many faiths assert that it is better that Jesus do it for man. Man simply does not have the power or the authority on his own to change all of the wickedness and sin that he is born into.
No. This is wrong.
Mankind is not composed solely of intelligent beings that are entirely terrible, sinful, thoughtless, selfish, and by sinful default possessive of all sorts of unpalatable characteristics. Contrary to the beliefs and teachings of some religious groups and individuals there are plenty of people who are simply outstanding, people who love truly for the sake of love, people who help and express compassion for the sake of their fellow man, people who by the sheer force and expression of their wonderful nature make the world a better place.
But, what about those factions of mankind that aren’t that hot, that could give a good goddamn about anyone other than themselves, that feed into the despicable myth that there is no hope for mankind to continue on his own, or that there is nothing good to be found within man that can fix what ails any part of him to make him better? The answer is amazingly, and wonderfully, simple.
Man needs to look inside himself and recognize the ugly, repugnant elements of his nature. And if he is overwhelmed, GOOD! This is an excellent start! This is because (are you ready for this?) the best part is that in making that connection to your core being you will see exactly what it is you need to change about yourself. Look inside and you will see what you must change in order to be just to yourself and to your fellow man. Make those changes without reservation, fear, and without delay. Then, be faithful to yourself and be persistent in living the truth of what is just. THAT is what the just living by faith means.
Maybe I will repeat it just one more time for good measure.
Are you just? Are you living by faith? Find your core being and reconcile everything that you are in the depths of your soul with everything that is loving, good, beneficial, compassionate, constructive, caring, devoted, fair, enduring, persevering, and appreciative…because to do so is to be just. Live this justness every day, every moment, in the presence of everyone, in all sincerity, and with the understanding and trust that to behave in such a manner WITH EVERYTHING YOU ARE AS A HUMAN BEING will only add to and expand the love and joy that fills the universe…because to live in such a manner is to live by faith.
Purchase, sample read, and borrow these Ester Lighthorse books from the Amazon Kindle virtual library/digital book lending program:
"Turkey Broth for the Spirit: Confessions of a Born Again Atheist" is now available for sample reading and purchase at:
'The Autopsy Of Christianity Stoops': http://www.amazon.com/Autopsy-Christianity-Stoops-ebook/dp/B005ES6WRS/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1329546249&sr=1-4
'Turkey Broth For The Spirit: For The Theologian's Spirit': http://www.amazon.com/Turkey-Broth-Spirit-Theologians-ebook/dp/B004LX0IOK/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1308702224&sr=1-3
'Tales From The West: A Collection Of Short Stories': http://www.amazon.com/Tales-West-Collection-Stories-ebook/dp/B0070Z67SM/ref=pd_rhf_ee_p_t_1
'The Tenement Gospel': http://www.amazon.com/The-Tenement-Gospel-ebook/dp/B004W0ITIY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1329546249&sr=1-1
'All The Fish In The Sea': http://www.amazon.com/All-Fish-Sea-ebook/dp/B004MYFVEA/ref=sr_1_25?ie=UTF8&qid=1311901443&sr=8-25
To listen to the 2/16/12, Smooth Drama radio show with Ester Lighthorse as a guest speaker go to this link:
Ester Lighthorse has been a guest on Smooth Drama talk radio! If you would like to hear a replay of the April 26, 2011 show please go to the following link and go 18 minutes and 48 seconds into the show: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/smoothdrama/2011/04/27/smooth-drama
Good morning. I am well, thank you. How about yourself?
I am very good, thank you. Well, why don't we begin with you telling us a little about yourself.
Sure. I am Native American, as you can probably surmise from my name, born and raised in the United States, and I enjoy studying religion and philosophy.
How old are you?
Definitely old enough to know better than to think that there is only one way to think or live or believe.
I see. You do not wish to state your age. So, tell me more about yourself.
I am an ardent proponent of true freewill. I am also a firm believer in the idea that if people would put more effort into celebrating the things we all have in common that a whole bunch of things in the world would go a heck of a lot better than they are currently going.
So, what is it exactly that you write about?
Various human issues concerning God, faith, and religion. For the most part I rely heavily on using sarcasm, purposeful misinterpretation, and absurd humor with a heaping helping of whacked out moxie to get my messages across.
What messages are you trying to relay to people?
Firstly, I am trying to share with people that there is far more than just one interpretation or explanation of God, to include the assertion there is not God. Some of these interpretations have been around for what seems like forever and some have not. Also, some of these interpretations encourage violent behavior in some form or other.
Secondly, there is not one belief system or particular faith that is better than another. And the religious individuals everywhere need to lay off the people who hold the belief that there is no God. All of the people who really seem to go great lengths to live their every waking moment fighting in an effort to establish religious superiority seriously need to chill out.
Thirdly, there are numerous and huge inconsistencies in regards to interpreting God and the Holy Bible. There are also some ideologies that I think are either insane or have been completely and totally twisted from their original meaning and purpose.
And lastly, religion as a whole has developed into a major crutch, a tool of separation, and also a tool with which to control people. So many people use religion to say that God is testing them when they screw up, I mean, never mind that they are the ones who made stupid decisions, not Jesus or God or whoever they are choosing to believe has control of their lives. They seem to have no clue that they are the ones who need to get control of themselves and their lives. Not some imagined divine being.
Then you have people fighting over whose God or whose version of God is better. Isn't that a sketch? My imaginary friend is better than yours. Then there are the kind folks who like to preach, "Believe this way or die! Believe this way or go to hell forever! Believe and live this way or God will not accept you." It is completely ridiculous.
How did you come to start questioning religion?
Actually, I was raised in a very religious environment. Up until the age of fifteen I absolutely, wholeheartedly believed in the Holy Bible and Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of humans. I was raised very, very Christian.
From a very young age I was taught about the Holy Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. I was grilled on what the Holy Bible meant, you know. Everything and anything having to do with salvation, redemption, crucifixion...you name it. I can still quote much of the Holy Bible by heart. Actually, that has come in handy with most of what I write. I know exactly where to look for certain things.
So, what happened when you were fifteen that made you change your mind about what you had been taught?
Well, the church my parents were part of was super strict in their interpretation of the Holy Bible. Not only that, but the children in this particular group were bombarded from a very young age with this particular church's dogma.
The correct manner? There is a correct manner in which to follow Jesus and worship God?
Yes. According to the sermons we were being given, if a person did not worship in the manner this particular group had 'discovered' within the Holy Bible they would not be found in the Book of Life when Jesus came back.
What if they were good people?
That is the exact same question I asked.
And what was the answer given to you?
That God created all men with the freewill to either choose to believe and worship the correct way, or surrender their chance to end up in heaven with Jesus, instead burning in hell for eternity. It did not matter if the person was a very good person or the worst criminal ever, the ONLY way to get to heaven is to believe a certain way.
What were you thinking when you heard that explanation?
I thought it was totally ridiculous and unfair. Why would God deny heaven to a person who was a good person, but let in a total creep of a criminal simply because a special way to believe and worship was not followed or followed? It sounded stupid.
I remember saying it did not make any sense, because according to what they were saying someone like Mother Teresa, someone who devoted her entire life to helping others, was going to hell, right? But then you get these terrible criminals, asshole thugs who commit horrendous crimes and 'find' Jesus in prison, and they get to go to heaven? What crap.
What was the response to your comment?
That Mother Teresa was Catholic and did not follow the correct interpretation of the Word of God.
Are you serious?
Yes. I was told that it says in the Holy Bible the just live by faith and not good works. Apparently, in their minds Mother Teresa was all about good works, not faith, and was going directly to hell without passing 'Go' and collecting two hundred dollars. Of course, the idiots sitting in jail who never did a damn good thing in their life and instead chose to kill or steal or destroy WERE going to heaven because they had faith. What a crock of shit. Whatever. That still upsets me when I think about it.
Did you respond to that?
Oh, you betcha! I said that was stupid, because if God was just and loving and merciful like we had always been taught there was no way He would send a person like her to hell and yet let a murdering idiot like Ted Bundy into heaven. There simply would be zero justice in that.
They told me I was just too young to understand the mysterious ways in which God moved. I countered by saying that if God is love and if love is patient and kind and everlasting then so is God. That being the case He would never send such a person to hell.
What was the response to that?
I was banished to my bunk for the rest of the day for being purposely obstinate and difficult. After that incident I began thinking that if God was a real divine being that something was seriously wrong with Him if He really did run things the way they were saying that He did. Of course, now I know there is no God who runs anything. There is simply a bunch of religious whack jobs who use fear to control people and get what they want.
What did you do next?
I began to take a look at other denominations as well as religions that were not based on the Holy Bible. I mean, I read about them a little. I didn't go to those specific churches.
By my senior year in high school I had come to the conclusion that each religious group puts its own spin on what the Holy Bible says, or they have a different set of scriptures altogether. By the end of my second semester in college I had come to the conclusion that no one interpretation of God was better than another, and the so-called 'Holy' Bible was a load of crap.
By the time I was in my third year of college I had decided that there was no such divine person who was a single male entity who directed everything in the world and who went by the name of God. God was no longer a real, true person in my mind. No way. Just a mega fairytale used to make children behave and lull the deluded to sleep.
What had God become to you?
A descriptive term that was all-encompassing of the power that made everything in the universe that man did not yet understand work, to include all things of a spiritual nature that humanity did not understand or have an explanation for. God is what people think is impossible or improbable. Then, when the reasons for something are discovered it is no longer part of God because the fact of it, the truth of it is known.
And that is why you write so much about God and religion?
Yes. Well that and I really do find them to be amazingly interesting subjects all on their own. People believe some crazy things.
Tell me something specific that you find interesting.
That so many people seem to spend a good deal of their time trying to debunk the way other people believe in and interpret God and what God is. It is the ages old, school yard type argument of My-God-Is-Better-Than-Your-God. Craziness. People fight terrible wars over this kind of silliness. Let's see...who's imaginary friend is better? Hilarious.
No one at all?
I think that there are many paths that lead to what people understand as God, but when you take a good, close look at these things they are all things people do not understand. So, some people, instead of searching for a viable answer they slap a tag of 'Must Be Jesus' on it and sell it as the work of some imaginary being.
Then, religious folks build all of these confusing, convoluted, and totally false paths to what they are selling as God, as actual TRUTH. And you know what? Not one path is better than the next. This is because they are all lacking in actual truth, based solely and entirely on belief, and therefore are all false.
Belief is not the same as fact, and there are loads of religious folks who have not yet discovered this. And, what else matters is what people do with the information they find on a particular path. The craziness is that all of these paths are false for they all lack truth and substance.
And people, well not all people, seem to think that whatever version of God they believe in they are bound by some religious code of faith to try to convert everyone to their particular version of belief in God. They don't really seem to see their version of faith as just another way to view what some humans recognize as God.
That is not right. I mean, what if someone does not wish to participate in a particular belief in God? What if they don't want to believe in God at all?
Believing in a different version of God does not make a person good or bad or more right or wrong or more or less deserving than the next person.
Likewise, choosing to not believe in any God at all does not make a person good or bad or more right or wrong than the next person.
Well, you have many different kinds of people, cultures, backgrounds, practices...yada yada yada. Of course there are going to be different versions of God and faith and all that. People have invented God and that is why God has all the human qualities that He does. People also have problems getting along. That contributes to the different versions of God not being able to get along.
I think there was a philosopher named Anaxagoras who said something along the lines of if zebras had invented God then God would have looked and behaved like a zebra. I am paraphrasing that, by the way.
Right here, right now...what is your final opinion? Do you believe in God?
Do you mean in the current mainstream religion sense? Like there is some Great Male Entity somewhere directing everything we all do for some great plan, or something?
What do you think about people who believe it and who preach it?
To me, God is not a Who. God is a What. God is the word that is all-inclusive of the energy that runs through everything everywhere that cannot be explained, yet. The moment a discovery is made and something that was once thought to be unexplainable is explained, well, God gets just a little bit smaller.
You absolutely do not believe that God is a person, one person, that has a plan for everyone and for all of mankind?
The idea that some great person of a God plans everything is ridiculous. Not to mention, the planning competency of this 'God' is absolutely horrible. Seriously.
Look around you. Better yet, go back through history. Let's take the discovery of the Americas, for instance.
Now that was great planning there, right? How many tens of millions upon tens of millions of Native Americans in each of the Americas died as a result of the diseases brought by explorers?
How about Mount Vesuvius obliterating Pompeii, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and other massive quakes, or the recent tsunami horrors? What about what happened on that most terrible September 11 not all that long ago?
You can't sell me on some crap story that a divine personality planned that garbage and let it, made it happen for some supposed purpose, namely to turn people to God.
The list goes on and on. Is there some great God planning all of these terrible things to scare the daylights out of people so they will believe in Him? Hell no. It is regular, everyday stuff that happens to humans because of the choices we make. Not because it was planned. Please.
There is no great being planning all of this terrible crap in an effort to teach all of humanity a lesson. Humans do all of these terrible things to themselves and each other. Period.
Seriously. People say there is a God who plans all of these things. But there isn't. They say things like that because they do not understand why things happen, and the idea of God doing it all for a purpose helps them to deal with things better, to deal with what they do not understand.
This is where religion and God become a crutch for some people, because instead of saying, "Geeze we humans really need to change the way we treat each other," they say, "God allowed it to happen to teach someone a lesson. It is all part of His grand plan."
It is just a really stupid way of trying to displace the blame of the selfish and crappy decisions of humans and their horrible consequences from the shoulders of man to the shoulders of God. Of course, a contributing factor is there is so very much that humanity does not understand inasmuch as spiritual matters are concerned.
How is the lack of human understanding a contributing factor?
No one likes to feel like they cannot understand, mentally grasp something. Human beings are creatures of habit. When we do not understand something, well, we find a way to explain it and use that explanation to make ourselves understand it better.
That in no way makes our explanations correct, and this is because not all of the explanations we come up with are fact and truth. Lots of people fool themselves into thinking foolish answers based on zero fact and zero truth are reality.
No. Religion is not wrong IF used properly when people choose to use it for themselves and for positive things. IF the people participating are doing so out of freewill and not fear of any kind. I would include the absurd threat of believe this God or go to hell as fear. Religion is ridiculous and pathetic when people force it on others.
Religion is really good for lots of people. It helps them to stay in line and not do too much crazy stuff to themselves or others, because for some reason or other some people just cannot do what is right without thinking that some big God is hanging over their shoulder watching everything they do.
Religion can be a great thing for many reasons. Many churches and religious individuals and groups do an absolutely outstanding and excellent job in truly caring for their fellow man and making their communities better. They give food and clothing and shelter to those who do not have such things.
They encourage people to do really good things with their lives and also urge them to try really hard to put something beautiful back into themselves and the people and the world around them. This is excellent. And remember that you do not have to be religious or believe in any divine being to have such a wonderful impact on the world.
And of course there are many groups that do not draw lines of eternal division between faiths and are in fact very open and non-judgmental to individuals of a different faith or individuals who do not believe in God at all.
Many such groups don't even play the hellfire and damnation card, instead opting to worship God as a being Who brings ALL beings and ALL things together in compassion, love, and harmony no matter who they are or what they believe.
For these kinds of groups their understanding of God and the Holy Bible translates to people doing their best to live a thankful, generous, giving, and kind life...doing something wonderful with the life you have been given.
That right there, in my opinion, is the original message and the original purpose of the things that were supposed to be in the Holy Bible...before it was seriously tweaked and turned into a bitter book of fear. Unfortunately, there are some groups and individuals who have taken these scriptures and have completely mucked them up with additions, retractions, and wildly inaccurate, self-serving interpretations.
Well, that and claims that everything the Holy Bible says is true. Sheer lunacy. The Holy Bible is just a compilation of stories intended to portray lessons and ideals and whatnot. Every civilization creates stories and myths to maintain heritage and cultural lessons and such. They are not literal truth.
So, you do not believe that the Holy Bible is the Word of God?
No. It is a collection of things written by people who claimed to have been under the influence of divine inspiration.
Have you ever really listened to the explanation offered as proof of the Holy Bible's validity? Think about it for a second. Whenever the proof is offered you will realize that the supposed proof of the truth of the scriptures comes from those very same scriptures.
That is not valid proof of truth. No matter how many ways you cut that pie it will never be valid proof.
When you try to call out those who use this type of 'proof' they will almost always respond with, "These scriptures are absolute proof. It says so many times in these same scriptures. We don't question what we hold to be true, and that is why it is called having faith."
Faith is not intended to be used as a tool to avoid searching for actual fact and providing proof of what is truth. And that is just the beginning of the hypocrisy.
How do you mean?
The moment anyone presents their differing faith or lack of faith the same individuals who say they do not need proof, well, the people who just said they don't need to question because they have faith turn right around and ask for proof of the validity of that particular faith or set of scriptures or particular belief that is contrary to their own.
My displeasure with religion is with those who abuse it, those who insist on trying to cram their opinion of why man is in the universe down the throats of everyone around them, those who say their version and understanding of God is better than the next person's or better than the idea and opinion that there is no such thing as God.
What issues with freewill?
Well, many different faiths that preach hellfire and damnation say that God created man with freewill. Then they go and say, "Believe this way or die and burn in hell forever." That is silly...and it is in no way indicative of freewill.
I take it you do not believe in heaven or hell?
Only in the sense of what people create for themselves. As actual places? No.
What do you think about the stories of the End Times and Judgment and the end of the world?
I think such stories are absurd and in all cases absolute hilarity. Could everything end in a really bad way? Of course! Look around you. There is a frightening number of people who, for some reason or other, cannot seem to get their stuff together and live peaceably. Everything ending by the judgment of some make-believe boo-bear? No.
They want the world to fight so they have a cause on which to base their dangerous and violent faiths. Not all faiths are violent. Just some. You know, the ones that encourage people to kill themselves or others, usually under the tweaked idea of sacrifice.
But the end of all time? Earth as we know it reduced to the equivalent of ashes in outer space? A final battle where good defeats evil for good? No. Hell no. That is a load of shit through and through.
And the worst part of it is there are religious groups and people out there who play on the fears many other people have in regards to the supposed end of the world.
Every time there is a great earthquake, a tsunami, a particularly large hurricane, mega floods, mass rioting, or any kind of war some religious people immediately stand high upon their soap boxes and claim that all of these things are sure signs that we are in the 'End Times' and Jesus is just around the corner.
Then, in order to back up their claims, they take whatever scriptures they can find that are even remotely relevant to what they are saying and use them as proof of their correctness.
Why don't you believe that good will defeat evil?
Good and evil need each other in order to survive. The inverse of one is the meaning of the other. If you take away one you take away the other. Now, there will be times when it seems like there is more 'good' in the world or more 'bad' in the world. Sometimes it will seem like they are about even. The point is they will both always be around together.
All of these things are part of the functioning health of this planet, and all of these processes will continue to happen whether or not man wants them to and whether or not any damn religious book says they will or will not. And you know what? Sometimes these processes kill people, LOTS of people. And no one want to think in such a way, but it IS entirely possible that at some point one or more of these processes could obliterate every human and animal and plant on this planet. That is a verifiable FACT.
Tell me about some of the rules or ideals of institutionalized religion that you do not agree with, or that you feel like don't make any sense.
Oh, wow. Where to start? Uhm...well, how about what many religious groups say about gays and lesbians being an abomination. That just gets my goat. I was watching the news one day and there was about a thirty second video clip that showed this religious group holding up signs that said, "God hates gays."
I thought, what the hell is wrong with these people? They use, or try to use, their faith as a tool of separation. God likes this person or that person more because they are heterosexual? Stupid, stupid, stupid. A God that hates people based on their sexual preference? Nice. Not a God I wish to know.
Besides, they really need to read the text in the New Testament of their very own Holy Bible that says love is patient and kind and everlasting and forgiving and all of that, right? Because if they say that God is love, and if love is all of these things, then out of logical necessity God is also patient and kind and everlasting and forgiving and all of that.
That being the case, a just God would give two squirts and a chocolate bar what anyone's sexual preference is. If love really conquers all that includes gender.
Doesn't the Holy Bible say that it is an abomination for a man to lay with a man as he does with a woman?
Yes, it does. More contradicting text, right? Love conquers all...so long as someone is heterosexual? No. I beg to differ. Love conquers all...and that includes gender. Straight people are not any more deserving of anything than gay and lesbian people are.
I want to ask you about your book "Turkey Broth for the Spirit: for the Theologian's Spirit."
Sure. What would you like to know?
Where did you come up with the idea? What planted the seed for that book in your head?
Well, I had written a paper for one of my philosophy classes in college about what happens when people take religious text and twist it to mean whatever suits their needs at the time. I had written it from the perspective of God Almighty.
How do you mean?
Well, I had Him saying, "What are you people doing? Are you insane? This is not what I meant for you to do with the information I gave you!" And He goes on to set the record straight as to what He meant.
From there the idea just snowballed into various personalities of God giving their opinions on the issues humans face or create for themselves. Then I took it further by taking many of the mental infirmities of humans and ascribing them to the different facets of God.
I mean, some people believe that man was created in the image of God. I happen to think that God was created in the image of man. Anyways, I gave all of the same mental and spiritual problems man has to God.
There are people who love to start fights and disagreements, so I created God the Instigator. There are people who truly believe that their spin on God is the correct one, so I created God the Self-Righteous. And so on, and so forth. I created a whole bunch of them.
In fact, on one of the links on my website you can go to where I have all of my illustrated works. One of them is an essay on the Divine Family Tree. I literally have an entire family tree for the divine that I mapped out.
Then I also use the various terms of God to work off of.
Well, for example, you have God the Creator, God Almighty, God the Everlasting...every possible reference to God that is made. I give each one their own personality and issues to deal with.
What are some of the issues God the Creator deals with?
In the "Turkey Broth for the Spirit: for the Theologian's Spirit" book I have a collection of essays that have been written by various personalities of God that address various human issues, or that address specific concerns these facets of God have.
The essay written by God the Creator addresses His concerns in relation to what He feels are really stupid and useless inventions and creations by man. He lists the particular product that He has an issue with, and then adds a sentence or two of His opinion of that product and what makes it stupid.
What are some of the products God the Creator feels are stupid and useless?
For example, He says 'Do Not Pee in the Pool' signs are useless since people are going to pee in the pool anyways. You look shocked.
I try to approach ideas of God and religion from the most unusual, odd, different, and attention grabbing manners as is possible. I told you I wrote some crazy stuff.
Well I certainly believe you now. What are some of the other essays about?
I have God the Instigator giving instruction on how to create a good old fashioned riot. Hades talks about the worst songs ever. Jesus talks about what He would do in given situations.
Yes. You know that 'What Would Jesus Do' question? I have Him answering all kinds of things...but they are pretty much all really off-the-wall stuff.
Like what? Give me an example.
Well, one lady asks Jesus what He would do in her situation. She thinks the police in her neighborhood are out to get her since they have given her sixteen speeding tickets in one week alone. She asks Jesus, "What would you do?" He says, "Slow the freak down!" Another woman asks Jesus what He would do in her situation when her fiance asks her to sign a prenuptial agreement. Jesus says, "Tell him to kiss your ass and keep the ring."
What are your favorite essays in the "Turkey Broth" book?
I like the one with God the Instigator telling people how to start a good old fashioned riot, the one with God the Self-Righteous telling people how to be good holier-than-thou, self-righteous believers, and the one where God the Dyslexic gives instruction on how to make a great Thanksgiving Day feast.
Yes. Right now, though, I am trying to work on other writing projects. I do have three more books in the Turkey Broth series, though. This book is available at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Turkey-Broth-Spirit-Theologians-ebook/dp/B004LX0IOK/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1308702224&sr=1-3
Tell me about your book "The Tenement Gospel" and what made you write it.
"The Tenement Gospel" is supposed to be the original set of New Testament books before they were twisted and altered to say what people wanted them to say. I came up with the idea for writing it when I was flipping through the channels on television one day and came across several religious shows, each one claiming to be preaching the correct interpretation of the Holy Bible.
So, I wrote something completely and totally different, working very hard to try to squeeze in or address various social issues like homosexuality, mind control, freewill, responsibility of the individual to society, and even some inconsistencies of modern religion.
Inconsistencies? Like what?
For example, the death of Judas Iscariot is described two different ways in the Gospels. One says he is hanged and another says he falls headlong in a field, or something. I thought that was interesting. So, I made each version in "The Tenement Gospel" end in a completely different fashion.
In one book Judas gets crucified. In another book neither Jesus nor His disciples get crucified. In another book they all get crucified. In yet another book they are all traveling through outer space on a spaceship called the Cruciprise on a mission to find a religion they can use to twist the truth in something they call 'Operation Scripture Scramble.'
What is the tone of "The Tenement Gospel"?
Very gruff and rough. Pretty much anything the opposite of a cultured presentation of faith. All of the characters have severe personality problems and even heavy drug abuse problems. They are mean, foul-mouthed, self-serving individuals who do not care for anything that is not after their own desires.
Basically fashioned to mirror how you think and feel that institutionalized religion has misinterpreted the Holy Bible and how it treats people who wish to believe in something different, to include not believing in God at all. Precisely.
What else is addressed in "The Tenement Gospel"?
Salvation, faith, redemption, sacrifice, love, honor, the energy of life and reincarnation, the supposed end of the world and all time. And also all kinds of things pertaining to seriously nonsensical issues within institutionalized religion. "The Tenement Gospel" is available for purchase at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004W0ITIY/ref=r_soa_s_i
One of two things. They either tell me I am going straight to hell to burn for eternity, or they tell me it was some of the funniest stuff they have ever read.
And you are still writing more things.
Absolutely. I have two other books. One is called "The Autopsy of Christianity Stoops" and the other a book called "All the Fish in the Sea." All of my books are ebooks on Amazon Kindle.
"The Autopsy of Christianity Stoops" is a novella presentation of the abuses and persecutions and lies of Christianity. "All the Fish in the Sea" actually has absolutely nothing to do with religion. It is about how women can use internet dating to get absolutely everything they want.
What about the people who complain about what you write? What would you say to them?
If you don't like it don't read it. If you are a person who has their religious feelings hurt very easily, do not read what I write.
For people who want to go further and say I shouldn't be allowed to write and say what I do, well, whatever. You shouldn't be allowed to scare people with your self-serving and deluded stories of a Big Bad God who is peeking around every corner just waiting to destroy anyone who goes against His word.
They want to announce their picky, stingy, selective spin on God and the universe and salvation and what I should and should not be doing with myself, and then they expect for me not to say anything back? They must be out of their minds.
If I think something is unfair I have always been the kind of person to stand up and announce whatever it is I think is unfair. Sometimes that gets me into trouble and sometimes it does not.
Are you ever wrong?
Oh, sometimes. Not always, though. For me the main point to get across is there is more than just one way to think, and just because someone thinks differently that does not make them better or any more or less deserving of anything good or bad. And of course the idea that if you do not know the why of something, well hell! Use your brain to go and find out why something is or is not. Do not just go and swallow some supposed truth because someone says if you do you will go to heaven, or if you don't you will go to hell. Stupid. Seek out the truth. Ask questions. Find the answers.
What they do, how they treat the people around them, the intents of their heart, their desire and actions taken to put beautiful things into themselves and the people and the world around them.
Sounds to me like there are plenty of people who believe you are not putting something very beautiful into the world considering what you write.
Well, sometimes you have to be willing to go well beyond the norm in order to get the attention of people, in order to show them a completely different way of seeing and understanding something.
Indeed. Funny thing is what I am saying is not different from what some people have said before. How I am saying it is different, sure, but what I am asking is in reality no different than what people who have been critical of Christianity have asked before.
I have one more question for you before we finish here.
Sure. Fire away.
Love. It really does conquer all, you just have to let it. And you must love yourself, because if you do not you will never find yourself worthy of searching for the truth.
You are quite welcome. Thank you for inviting me.