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  1. #1
    Senior Member darlets's Avatar
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    Default Survey on faith in America

    This is an interesting read.
    article
    I've read "The God Delusion" and watch a couple of presentation by Sam Harris and they both seem to be really out of touch with what a typical person on the street believes about religion. Some of these stats seem to back this up

    "Ironically, however, both atheists and committed Christians share one unusual area of common ground: concern about superficial, inert forms of Christianity in America. There are nearly 130 million American adults who describe themselves as Christians, but who are Christian in name only; their behavior includes little related to experiencing and expressing their alleged faith in Christ."
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    shoshaku jushaku rivercrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darlets View Post
    "Ironically, however, both atheists and committed Christians share one unusual area of common ground: concern about superficial, inert forms of Christianity in America. There are nearly 130 million American adults who describe themselves as Christians, but who are Christian in name only; their behavior includes little related to experiencing and expressing their alleged faith in Christ."
    Personally, I think Christianity started to lose some of its power once it started being codified in the early Councils.

    More of its esotericism got lost during the de-emphasis of ritual. What ritual is good for is to give the active mind a focal point while stilling it. A reaction was the turn to Eastern religion.

    While I think it is possible to find an enveloping experience in modern Christianity, I think that experience is downplayed and denigrated by large parts of the faithful. I'm willing to accept that what the Evangelicals describe as being saved is a similar experience, but I'm not convinced it's a transformative experience, which I think it should be. It's too clean and contained and doesn't seem to change the core--only serves, in many cases, to re-emphasize existing beliefs.

    But, who am I to say for sure? I am not the people I speak of.
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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rivercrow View Post
    Personally, I think Christianity started to lose some of its power once it started being codified in the early Councils.

    More of its esotericism got lost during the de-emphasis of ritual. What ritual is good for is to give the active mind a focal point while stilling it. A reaction was the turn to Eastern religion.
    I would say the same thing. The shift in the 60's and 70's towards more Eastern religions was very predictable. And Christianity always seems to lose power once it is transformed into the establishment and codified. There is a fine line between standardization and sterilization.

    While I think it is possible to find an enveloping experience in modern Christianity, I think that experience is downplayed and denigrated by large parts of the faithful. I'm willing to accept that what the Evangelicals describe as being saved is a similar experience, but I'm not convinced it's a transformative experience, which I think it should be. It's too clean and contained and doesn't seem to change the core--only serves, in many cases, to re-emphasize existing beliefs.
    Well, there are groups/philosophies that would identify themselves as part of the Evangelical movement that promote the very transformative faith that you describe here. Spiritual development and growth (and not just "pray three times a day and read 30 minutes in your Bible as a Quiet Time" as pseudo-spiritual development, but actually trying to connect with God and experience something more fulfilling, integrating your relationships with other people) is growing within the church. I think the most sterile times were actually the 80's and early 90's for the church.

    The largest difficulty nowadays still seems to be the political movements -- the notion that it is the church's job to create a theocracy, rather than simply having people as individuals be effective in their roles in life and impact the lives of those around them.

    That is my perspective, as an "insider" type.
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    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    The largest difficulty nowadays still seems to be the political movements -- the notion that it is the church's job to create a theocracy, rather than simply having people as individuals be effective in their roles in life and impact the lives of those around them.
    I hope that the theocracy stuff is losing some steam. Sometimes it seems as though it is, other times I think it's simply that I'm around a different group of believers. I've lost my tolerance for, well, intolerance, not to mention the complete overlooking of the social justice and economic teachings of the Bible.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  5. #5
    Senior Member darlets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    The largest difficulty nowadays still seems to be the political movements -- the notion that it is the church's job to create a theocracy, rather than simply having people as individuals be effective in their roles in life and impact the lives of those around them.
    Where does that stem from is the question?

    I could be wrong, but I think pushing for a theocracy from the right wing fundies will force americans to rethink their religious belief because a theocracy goes against the American constitution. Giving people an ultimative, we are one people under one god, might not be such a bright idea.

    Do they honestly believe they can turn America into a theocracy, or do they have some other goal?
    Last edited by darlets; 06-20-2007 at 11:14 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by darlets View Post
    Where does that stem from is the question?

    I could be wrong, but I think pushing for a theocracy from the right wing fundies will force americans to rethink their religious belief because a theocracy goes against the american constitution. Given people an ultimative, we are one people under one god, might not be such a bright idea.

    Do they honestly believe they can turn american into a theocracy, or do they have some other goal?
    Well... (it's a good question!) I can't really speak for an entire mixed group of people... but my ideas on the matter...

    For some people, it's not even a group-political activity, it's simply what they feel as individuals. Here is what the Bible says is right and wrong, and the law should reflect true morality, so therefore the law should be the same. (It's very simplistic thinking but seems very sensible if you are that sort of believer -- the "Law" should be the "Truth!")

    For others, they might see American as losing ground morally, they don't like the promiscuity and the horrible things that people do (drugs, sex, gluttony, greed, etc.), and they feel that to reestablish laws based on God's principles will provide the sort of society that is needed to nip such sin in the bud. This is more an SJ "Garbage in, Garbage Out" philosophy -- people are malleable and need to be put into a positive environment in order to ensure they respond positively.

    And they already see other philosophies as "enemies" and ultimately sinful, who thus need to be defeated. Because God wouldn't want sin, and sin is bad for people in the long run... so let's get rid of it! And if it's a war... well, Christians should be willing to fight and sacrifice for Jesus, just like he sacrificed for us. (Etcetera.) There's definitely a war mentality in some of the conservative trenches, and they're defending the homeland which has been taken over by people who don't serve God, and they need to be patriotic and fight.

    So you get at least those three mentalities in place.

    And I suppose you could even throw in the "godless liberal media" cliche as well as working under the scenes, which basically prejudges any knowledge that arrives through the media that might challenge one's viewpoint as simply the work of the devil / sinful mentalities (which it WOULD be... if you are of that bent). This is why much of the scientific discussion has been shut down... because anything running against the Christian group-thought can simply be attributed to the "godless people" and ignored. (Put another way, scientists believe in evolution because their hearts are hard and they don't want God to be in charge of their lives, NOT because there happens to be any real evidential basis for evolution; it's a sad truth, they think, but that's what they've been told it is...)

    It's getting late... my head is swimming... did I make any sense?
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  7. #7
    Senior Member HilbertSpace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darlets View Post
    This is an interesting read.
    article
    I've read "The God Delusion" and watch a couple of presentation by Sam Harris and they both seem to be really out of touch with what a typical person on the street believes about religion. Some of these stats seem to back this up

    "Ironically, however, both atheists and committed Christians share one unusual area of common ground: concern about superficial, inert forms of Christianity in America. There are nearly 130 million American adults who describe themselves as Christians, but who are Christian in name only; their behavior includes little related to experiencing and expressing their alleged faith in Christ."
    What the typical person on the street believes is very heavily influenced by where that street happens to be. I could not find a link to the survey questions themselves, so I would find it difficult to reach any conclusion as to what the article would use to classify someone as "Christian in name only." However, the site does seem published by a conservative Christian group with the stated purpose:
    to partner with Christian ministries and individuals to be a catalyst in moral and spiritual transformation in the United States.
    Their number for the people they wish to classify as Christian (58 million) strikes me as low, because several recent polls have concluded that approximately 48% of the American population believes that God created man and all the animals in their present form less than 10,000 years ago. Another 40% believe in a theistic initiation and guidance, but over the course of millions of years. The number they gave struck me as pretty much identical to the number of Protestant worshipers who attend weekly service - it does not include Catholics (69 million) or Orthodox (over a million, I believe), nor does it include Protestants who didn't make the weekly service survey. Gallup estimates that there are 118 million Americans attending weekly service.

    I am quite confused by their statement that American infidels* are concerned about moderate Christians. I'm far less concerned about moderate Christians than I am about the ones trying to get Creationism into public school curricula, for example. I don't know any other atheists, agnostics, free thinkers, humanists, et cetera, who are more concerned about Cafeteria Christians than they are about Evangelicals.

    *It's OK. I'm taking it back for us so that it can be a symbol of pride. I just have to make sure it stays politically incorrect for anyone else to use it.
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    2. This is an interesting, but perverse, point of view.
    3. This is true, but quite unimportant.
    4. I always said so.

  8. #8
    Senior Member darlets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post

    It's getting late... my head is swimming... did I make any sense?
    Sadly a little too much. Sigh, that's all very depressing.
    "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."
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  9. #9
    shoshaku jushaku rivercrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darlets View Post
    Where does that stem from is the question?

    I could be wrong, but I think pushing for a theocracy from the right wing fundies will force americans to rethink their religious belief because a theocracy goes against the american constitution. Given people an ultimative, we are one people under one god, might not be such a bright idea.

    Do they honestly believe they can turn american into a theocracy, or do they have some other goal?
    Let's start at the beginning.

    Constantine converted in 312. Sometime soon after that, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Political and religious power was, in some way, strongly intermingled from that time forward. The Protestant Reformation and other such broke some of this combination of power, but it's always been there.

    Christian texts have always included some promise of a theocracy. The same promise is in the parts of the OT that were made canon--the parts about Solomon, the return from Babylon, etc. Theocracy is basic to Christianity.

    What we see now in the States is nothing new. It's a very literal reading of texts and traditions, right down to attempts to breed red heifers in Jerusalem because some document says that the Apocalypse will be signaled by the birth of red heifers in Jerusalem.

    Christianity has made itself purely exoteric--what you see is what you get, no hidden traditions or meaning here. The exorcism of esoterisicm forces literal readings of the texts. Subsequently, if we read of a "kingdom of heaven" then that must be a theocracy, rather than a state of mind or a guiding principle.
    Who rises in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, "I think I will do something stupid today?" -- James Hollis
    If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done. -- Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Whaling is illegal in Oklahoma.

  10. #10
    shoshaku jushaku rivercrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    I would say the same thing. The shift in the 60's and 70's towards more Eastern religions was very predictable. And Christianity always seems to lose power once it is transformed into the establishment and codified. There is a fine line between standardization and sterilization.
    You can see similar movements throughout Christian church history. The rise of monasticism was very unsettling to the established church. St. Francis and his notions of poverty threatened the corporate enterprise.
    Who rises in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, "I think I will do something stupid today?" -- James Hollis
    If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done. -- Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Whaling is illegal in Oklahoma.

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