Author Topic: DM17  (Read 10243 times)

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Offline Daen

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« on: January 10, 2022, 07:27:45 AM »
Daen's Musings #17
Yesterday on the drive home from work, I heard a sermon on the radio.

Now that's not surprising for where I live. I'm in the south, and as much as I like classical music, it's just not playing at the time of day I drive home. What is surprising is that I listened to the whole thing.

I'm not that religious. I mentioned in my core beliefs that we were created, but by who or what, I'm unsure. As a result, I have little invested in most church services. I usually find the music too loud, the parishioners difficult to talk to, and the offering plate an exercise in hypocrisy.

Which is why I listened to that sermon yesterday. It was like watching a train wreck- I just couldn't turn it off. The pastor talked about God's love, and how we can trust that He's looking out for us and all that, for at least 20 minutes (my commute is over half an hour). But interspersed in that speech, with almost machinelike precision, were constant beratements of socialism, communism and Marxism.

'What the hell was I listening to?' I remember asking myself. 'What possible place does economic theory and social theory have in a frickin' sermon of all things?' But he kept on bringing it up, again and again. He mentioned Bible verses like Proverbs 13:4 and Zacharia 11:12. He described how the Bible supports personal property, ownership of land, wage labor- all the things we've come to expect in our current system of doing things.

At this point I was just staring at the radio in disgust (don't take your eyes off the road, by the way. This is not an endorsement for driving recklessly.) 'What about the golden rule?' I asked the radio. 'Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you isn't exactly a capitalist ideal. For them it's more like do unto others BEFORE they have the chance to do unto you.'

And what about Matthew 19:23? The eye of the needle part. That was about how hard it is for rich people to get into heaven! Or when Jesus trashed the temple because a bunch of merchants were using it to sell stuff? Or in Matthew 6:24 when he says 'you cannot serve both God and wealth.' That last one is especially telling in earlier translations, where wealth is actually the word 'mammon'.

Have you heard that one before? Mammon is literally the name of Satan's child. The actual antichrist is named after money! Now granted, the 'name' of the antichrist is about as Biblical as the name Satan itself (they were both chosen well after the Bible was written), but it does tell us a lot about how those early Christian scholars viewed money and its accumulation. As a bad thing, to be clear.

So we've got some Bible verses condemning what that pastor called socialism, and we've got some verses extolling it. We're also skipping over the fact that all those verses have been translated and retranslated and reinterpreted dozens of times since they were first written down! Take Mark 6:11, for example. The modern form is pretty benign, in my opinion: And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Now let's rewind a hundred years or so, to the King James Version: "And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”

Whoa, whoa there! That's... a bit of a difference. Sodom and Gomorrah were famously destroyed by fire from Heaven! God may be timeless, but all it took was a few decades to go from a message of divine retribution and mass death, to a mild rebuke of people who don't welcome you to a place. So we not only have contradictions between passages, but also between times.

It's almost as if the Bible was written by a bunch of different people, over a long span of time.

There was one other thing that irked me about Mr. Pastor's sermon. He told his congregation (and anyone listening on the radio) that we, presumably America, were on a path to socialism. I was about to agree with him, at least in part, but he went on. He used Venezuela as an example of socialism!

That's total crap. Venezuela is about as socialist as the USSR was. Or Germany in the 1930s for that matter. SINO, or Socialist In Name Only. What Mr. Pastor failed to explain was the biggest difference between socialism and communism: socialism is enforced by the people, and communism is enforced by the state.

By the state. It's impossible to be socialist in a country that has any kind of organized government, because that government would either control it (which is communism), or squash it. We're definitely not socialist, despite what Mr. Pastor wanted us to think. Venezuela, the USSR, and Germany were never socialist. Mr. Pastor just picked Venezuela because of how horrific it is there right now. He cherry-picked it just to scare people.

This is a man who's supposed to uplift people! A man who people turn to in hard times for advice and support! He's a frickin' pastor!

Enter the angry breathing again.

I don't have any problem with people having faith. I've seen how much comfort it gives my friends and family. I've seen how they can be kind and supportive of each other, using people from the Bible as a model to follow. But when that trust of the Bible, and of pastors by extension, is used to put forward an economic agenda, it makes me feel sick. Because it is sick. It's no different than how the Vatican went well beyond just being a religious center, and became a political, economic, and military force, back in the day! The pope said jump, and most of Europe jumped. Many people are still jumping to this day. Then... he said invade the Holy Land. We all know how that turned out.

The personal conclusion I've reached from all of this is pretty simple: Faith is good, but organized religion is bad. Belief is fine, but basing your beliefs only on what others tell you is bad. Being spiritual is good, but letting that spirituality be used as a weapon makes you bad.

My final thoughts are equally simple: go to church if you want to, and listen to the sermon if you like, but listen critically. Evaluate what the pastor says, not with the express purpose of incorporating the message into your life, but to see if it's worthy of being in your life. Read the Bible if you get something out of it, but remember that it has contradictions. If it makes you a better person, that's great. Just make sure it doesn't make you into a worse person.

Or worst still, a servant of such a person.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2022, 05:32:18 AM by Daen »