I just don't think the church gets all the credit and takes a lot of the heat from people. Much the way people bitch at the president about things he's not even largely responsible for. He's the head of the country, if something goes right or wrong, people look to him. It's the same with the church. But many people sound like they'd burn a church down before stepping into one.
They're just not that bad. I'd think if you stepped into Christianity in a selfish manner, you would step into a church with the same manner, wouldn't you say? "I need religion." So you become Christian. "I need help." So you go to a psychiatrist. "I need supprt." .. THe natural decision would be to go a church and pay your small dues for that support. I'd venture as far to say that people who aren't aware of how important spirituality is on their own NEED to go to church to at least experience once a week in one form or another. I dont' think it's a self-less decision being in a church whatsoever. You can certainly be in one without becoming a saint and compromising your own spirituality and who you are. If nothing else, you learn other people's opinions on similar topics and get new eyes and words to aspects of the religion.
^ Moving around must be a real hassle for people. I was terrified at the prospect of moving a year before my graduation from high school.. I couldn't imagine moving around all the time like that.GIVEN:
I'm an Army brat, I never lived anywhere more than 2 years when I was a kid, so I never bonded with or benefitted from a particular congregation. My neighbors were my family, we took care of each other, regardless of creed or anything else.
^ I think both are entirely necessary. The Catholic church is a strong one due to the international level that it's on.. but since I entirely agree with the both of you that religion is a selfish deed, how you do church should also be entirely up to you. On one hand, something with international strength can help you on an international level.. but on the other hand, you might only need to go every week and keep the priests eating and help the occasional picnic. I don't think either way you go is at all wrong.. but both are necessary. If eveything was local, there'd be no cohesion or standards. Imagine a military where everything was run at the local level? The standards would be absurd and we'd be weak and generally useless.ELEMENTS OF MY VIEWS:
(1) A local church is much less of a problem than a state church, national church, or international church. Why? At the local level money collected can be dispersed according to local need. At the international level, money collected is used at the discretion of leaders who have a big chance of dispersing the money in a politically motivated manner, in direct conflict with the views of many national, state, or local congregations. For instance, most Catholics would not have wanted any of their tithed $$$ or basket funds to go toward the defense of priests that commited sexual abuse against children of their parish(es) or to go toward settlements for the abused as it should not have happened in the first place.
^ I'm not a bible nut. I don't claim know anything about the history of the Bible. What I will say is that when a poet writes a poem.. it's always subject to being interpretted differently. No art is looked at the same way twice. That's never stopped art from moving people and being an influence in their lives.. Nor will the Bible. How accurate it is doesn't stop it from being an influence, nor do I think the accuracy is the most important thing. If it were, there'd only be one form of christianity. Since I believe everyone's interpretations of the world creates a balance in the world.. I think the different aspects of interpretation are entirely necessary and needed.(2) Also, let's be real here. The first Bible was written almost 60 years after the crucifiction of Jesus Christ. Christians in Jerusalem dispersed in a radially from the city, as they thought they were next. The New Testament was as oral history for many decades, and when ultimately written down and compiled, was canonized, and hence subject to the editorial opinions of men with an agenda. If you have a room of 60 people, and you speak a simple sentence into the ear of the first person in the room, and they speak what they heard to the second person's ear, and them to the third, and so on and so forth, the 60th person's sentence when spoken to the first person in the room is NOTHING like the original verbiage. Thus, oral relay of knowledge, especially over time, is inefficient and subject to a large amount of error.
I don't disagree with how you believe. Only.. You cannot borrow Christianity for all it's nifty good stuff and ignore the rest. (See Em's post below on Buddhism.) If you read the highlights of a lease when you get an apartment, and fail to read the fine print, you end up hurting and owing in the end somehow. You have to know all aspects of what is taught, not just what is always emphasized. I'm like you, I see those teachings and I say "You know, it's a good thing I believe.. to treat your fellow man well." In this, I take the teachings to heart and go on with my life with it. I do not, however, grasp that teaching and say "Well, this is the most important part, so I'm just gonn'a do the bare minimum." or claim to be a good christian because I enjoy that particular portion of the teachings.(3) The teachings of Christ are very similar to those of Rabbi Hillel, and I have heard (in a western civilization lecture as an undergraduate student 15 years ago) the simplified intent of each referred to as "Kerygma", or (1) Faith in God that he is the one true God, and (2) Love for your fellow man as if they were Christ himself (or something damn similar to that). So, I am of the belief that I can do these things without anyone telling me how to implement them in my daily life.
I believe there's a portion of the bible that indicates a man being thrown with a rock tied to him if he'd steer his children wrong. Have you ever had your boss gather a bunch of people together and say, "Look, This whole breaking the pencils thing needs to quit. I'm addressing you all and saying stop it." Even if you didn't break the pencils, you're part of the group. Even if they didn't fail, they were in that group being addressed. You take in stride, and take note, and move on. It's not meant to be an insult to anyone or their children. It's an address that yes, we're sinners, and yes we have or we will soon fail to be good Christians in one way or another. We, as in the group. Not we, as in your cute innocent daughters that don't know the difference between right and wrong yet.(4) I attended a Catholic mass about a year ago. The priest started the mass with the following statement: "Let us reflect on how we have failed to serve God this week." I looked at my 3 year old daughter, and my 6 year old daughter, and they were confused, and after they got bored and frustrated I took them home and let my wife finish attending the service. How did my sweet little girls fail to serve God that week? Kiss my a$$.
I'm very ritualistic, so I will just have to plain disagree here. I think taking the time to acknowledge your service is important. Your way is just different from the ritualistic way.. There's nothing at all wrong with that, and I wouldn't at all try to criticize you for it. Some people don't see symbolism is drinking of cups and lighting candles.. For me. I'm a human. Humans are physical creatures by nature in all accounts. To physically light a candle, and take note in the form I live my life in, this is a good way to pay my dues. So I see it. I don't dislike it if no one else does.. but I would ask you not make fun of it or belittle it. No one would belittle you for helping build a house out of service.(5) I am not one who feels any type of spiritual completeness out of performing random rituals, like making X's over my forehead, chin, and chest; or eating a water wafer while pretending it is the body of my God, or drinking wine from a chalice with hundreds of people's germs on it. Whatever, not for me. I feel closer to God when I help someone repair their home, help an old man start his chainsaw so he can prune his bushes, or donate money out of my paycheck every two weeks to Shriner's Children's Hospitals. That's more my cup of tea.
And you'll have to forgive me here. I failed to see your point.(6) Let's not forget that the Old Testament and the Epic of Gligamesh both contain the same great flood story (Noah's Ark ), despite being texts from different cultures in different lands. Why? Due to the eruption of the island of Delos, and the flooding of the old world (e.g. Babylon = Epic of Gilgamesh, and Israel = Old Testament) from a great tidal wave. That same tidal wave actually moved the Greek city of Knossos, on the isle of Crete, far from its original coordinates, only to be discovered by the German archaeologist Hermann Schliemann in the early 1900's, thus confirming its effect on a third culture in the region at the same time.
When there are humans involved in anything, there will be human error and misjudgment. When it's on a huge scale, there will be scandal, and just plain wrong done. The more power within a human, the more corrupt they can be, and thus the more corrupt they tend to be. I don't think the ideals of the church should be blamed on human error and regarded as wrong altogether for that reason. The local churches you hold in higher regard have little to do with international affairs and the dealings with the corrupt across the ocean. Just the same.. if a baseball player does steroids and is discovered, the entire team shouldn't be condemned.(7) Finally, I do not appreciate the religious right getting behind the political machine of this nation, forcing anti-abortion legislation, and then turning a blind eye to helping families with young children that are in need of money, support, and guidance. You want to exert your will on others so they cannot have an abortion, then you get to help pay for and care for the kids as far as I am concerned, and I am not pro-abortion, I am against it, but I do not feel it right ot force my will on others as such through legislation.
For my conclusion.. I've done a lot of defending here because a lot of people don't bother with it on this forum. I believe in balance. If everyone were organized with their religion, there would be chaos. If no one had organized religion, I believe chaos would still reign. I think there's a pretty good resolve of being somewhere in the middle.. and I like moderation of everything. I think the church is a great idea, and a great concept. But certainly not for everyone. Some people just are happier with religion being within themselves, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.CONCLUSION
So my dear friend, all I can say is that organized religion is not for everyone, me inlcuded. I do not slight anyone that benefits from particpation in it as such, but I myself have never, or at least not yet anyway, been compelled to become a participating member of any parish. My kids go to camps at local Methodist churches during Spring Break and Christmas, when school is out. I am thankful for these churches and their programs, but I remain comfortable being a consumer of their services as a neutral, third party consumer.
Well, I don't think I could ever hate your Johnny Bravo-lookinass, and even if I could, it certainly wouldn't be over something retarded like a difference of opinion about something personal in nature.I hope you don't hate me, I'm just explaining my thoughts and beliefs for the sake of honesty and clarity.
I think the laws of energy are some of my favorite natural laws, to boot.One last note, I am a big believer in God.
[Insert plant stuff here]
The law of conservation of energy states that energy is not created or destroyed, only that it changes form. When we die, our life energy moves on, out our physical bodies (hopefully I will still be buff when I die) and on to its next universe of existence, which I think is where it came from in the first place, in heaven with God, ready to tell him all that it experienced after he gave it free will and a body to experience a physical life with...