As I have promised before (Welcome to the Involuntary Agnostics Association), I will not pointlessly argue the existance of any deity. However, this evening while I sipped my mocha and read my book in my favorite cafe, two young men sat near me and debated semantic religious crap over a table piled high with bibles, bible study guides, bible study guide study guides, bible study guide study guide outlines, cheat sheets and who knows what else.
"...well define sin!", one challenged heatedly. Define sin?
The bible tells you all the sins in length. Read Deuteronomy. Its like an instruction manual for the conceptually retarded.
"Don't touch your pee-pee"
"Don't touch his pee-pee"
"Don't fuck goats, bats, armadillos, cows, pidgeons, camels, ducks, (etc)..."
Or, for the more advanced jr. theologian, there is always the ten commandments. They pretty much sum it all up for you in ten basic "guideline" rules.
Then, the sandle wearing hippy showed up. He had a rather interesting idea: "Love your neightbor as yourself, love God above all else."
The god part I am unable to give endorsement for but will you kill your neighbor if you are busy loving him? Its the golden rule people, must I get my ruler out? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
or the wiccans... "Do as ye will, lest ye hurt none."
Most religions have a similar universal guideline. In my humble yet usually misguided, misspelled and often offensive opinion; if you attend "Church" once a week and are obviously taking some sort of class, this should all be quite apparent.
If you cannot already tell, I was once a victim of Catholic schooling and by far the most annoying part is the unrelenting mental thrashing they perpetuate upon themselves and their children as they hurl themselves headlong against the archaic walls of the Bible with the expressed purpose of comming up with the exact same conclusion they have for the past 2000 years.
I am again, a firm beliver in admitting we know nothing and trying to handle that fact as gracefully as possible, but if you are going to insist upon being a devout christian please do me a favor and stop embarrassing yourself in the intellectual arena.
You choose faith, and so I now submit to you that by the time you have chosen to follow in faith, you know all that you need to know. You have heard the entire bible in church sermon or read it yourself and it hardly offers much insight that cannot be inferred by the perceptual. Nothing new has been added, and when it has the church will be sure to notify you and where they fail the media shall surely succeed.
"So did Jesus think (blah)?"
"What do they really mean by (blah)?"
I have a question for you jr. theologian...
When will they cure aids? Can you help? What about Cancer, hunger, beaten wives and children? That slob hopped up on a few too many glasses of the blood of christ about to get into his car and plow into a mini-van...
Like golf courses are a waste of land, semantic disection of faith is time lost, money lost and brain power wasted.
Do you need the intellectual reassurance provided by mind numbing facts and figgures to insure your faith? I think thats sad. I don't belive in God and I think the redundant frame by frame reduction of the simple faith of a child into something like a 10 cassett PBS documentary on the Kennedy assasination is as far from the proposed goals of the basic christian doctrine as you can possibly get.
Stop being so fucking high and mighty, get out of your class rooms, your churches and towers and go HELP someone. You want to make it to heaven; the collection plate ain't gonna cover it compadre.
If you want the key to getting into heaven (because we all know thats the only reason anyone is good; won't get into heaven if you don't behave), I can tell you.

Be nice...
and stop being such a self serving prick.

Remmeber? 2000 years ago the "son of man" told you all this, and now you are being reminded by an Agnostic who can't spell. You don't need a fucking rule book or divine interpretation, you need swarms of locusts and a nice long walk in the shoes of Job. argh... *breath* </RANT>

If I tried to say I was not Ignorant and lazy, I would then be a liar too. ;)
I suppose I did not clarify enough during my little rant and was misinterpreted on a few points, but in the interest of not being pitch-forked I won't defend myself against any of the other accusations.
Its not that I don't think you should be intellegent and use your mind but for the most part, Christians I have met do not partake in the teachings of Jesus, the golden rule. They know the dictionary definition of sin, but do they do anything that warrents calling themselves christian? I am not going to sit here and talk bad about christians as one lump of people, what I am disappointed in is the fact that you can sit here and waste time teaching a person how to be nice. But WHY? They don't teach sociology in religion class.
If you sin, you go to hell.
If you are naughty, Santa will put coal in your stalking.
What the hell is the spiritual value of that crap? Be nice to save your own hide. A favorite teaching of mine to be sure.
Teaching a person how to look inside themselves for their own spirituality would be of a much greater value. I have been to Catholic school, and you can call me a moron all you would like. Did I pay attention? Yes. I got A's in religion. Frankly, it makes me sad because I didn't LEARN anything of value. It was like a bad history class. They don't teach you how to look inside yourself, or even touch on more advanced reasoning for being a good person. That is what I am getting at. Religious history is static, does one need to learn it over and over to be a good person?

Better yet, how about sitting in a church with 200 bored, rich, white, old people who spend the entire sermon thinking about what sort of doughnuts they are going to have at the reception. Can you possibly hope to explain that to me? You don't need to justify your faith to me, but if you could explain that part to me as a favor, all sarcasm aside, it would be a great insight to me since I have never been able to figure it out.
I mean, the two young men I was speaking of in the beginning went on later to disect some Psalm while one of them calmy tried to justify pre-marital sex. I belive in pre-marital sex, but really...
I just find it sad that spiritual education lacks the spiritual so very badly and compensates by making it cerebral.

I don't often issue rebuttals to writeups, but I have to disagree with you on a few points here.

"You choose faith, and so I now submit to you that by the time you have chosen to follow in faith, you know all that you need to know."

I chose faith after having been an agnostic for thirty years, because I was slowly developing a strong hunch that God existed and wanted to know him/her/it better. It took me a long time to get to a point where I could take that leap however, and that time was spent gathering evidence, weighing arguments, and basically trying to know all I needed to know before making a decision. But I found that I could never gather enough evidence or hear enough arguments to convince me either way. Then I finally realized that I would never know all there is to know, could never, not in a million lifetimes; and that the learning process would only truly begin when I escaped that awful paralysis and just made the decision to believe. I had relatively little knowledge of orthodox Christianity per se.

"You have heard the entire bible in church sermon or read it yourself and it hardly offers much insight that cannot be inferred by the perceptual."

I seriously doubt that I would be able to infer that the universe we live in is a moral one by simply observing the workings of nature. Granted, we can learn a lot about God just by taking a look around, but there are some things that by their very nature must be apprehended in other ways.

"if you are going to insist upon being a devout christian please do me a favor and stop embarrassing yourself in the intellectual arena."

I'm having trouble grokking what you're trying to say. Taken in context, it appears that you are asking us to stop thinking, or abandon reason. I firmly believe that there is an intellectual component to faith as well as an emotional one. To switch off our brains when it comes to the really big questions of Life, the Universe, and Everything would not only be a disservice to ourselves but a disservice to the God who created us as intelligent beings capable of asking those questions.
Yes, we should be out there helping people. I totally agree with that. But our relationship with God has many, many facets; and while different people are better suited to different expressions of faith, I feel that to live your faith fully you should not ignore any of them. (Besides, where is this "intellectual arena" we're allegedly embarassing ourselves in? Can you honestly say that you have the learning and experience necessary to accurately judge the worth of a given debate in the setting of, say, a seminary? Or are we confining ourselves to coffee shop banter?)

"If you want the key to getting into heaven (because we all know thats the only reason anyone is good; won't get into heaven if you don't behave)..."

You might be thinking of some other religion here, such as Hinduism with its laws of karma. Christians don't believe that "being good" gets anyone into Heaven. It's an unfortunate but common misperception.

In conclusion, while I have nothing against you personally or as a noder, I don't appreciate it when Fundamentalists tell me I have to shut down my critical faculties just because I'm a Christian, and there's no reason I would find it any more welcome coming from people who think I have my head up my ass to start with.

I've only got a couple of minutes right now, and the caffeine has failed, this morning, to provide any sort of wakefulness or energy for this sort of tripe, but here goes...

Intellect is very important in all this. And moJoe takes a swipe at Deuteronomy and asks some of The Questions in such a way as to imply intellectual laziness or flat-out ignorance; maybe he was taught badly, or was a bad learner during his Catholic School education. Obviously, I don't know. Intellect is important, but mainly for doing the groundwork; intellect doesn't get you to see or experience God. Christianity is supposed to be accessible even to those people who aren't intellectual or even literate. But if you're going to take potshots at religion, you should load your potshot gun first by knowing your enemy, lest ye look kewl but stupid.

Work is very important in all this. Faith is work, and a life's work. It's hard to impart this to a kid, since I figure one is deluged with facts facts facts in the aforementioned Catholic education, perhaps divorced from a full context. Christianity has the One Triune God, but each of us experiences His Clear White Light through our own unique prisms, so the One Size Fits All approach of Religious Education can sometimes be counterproductive.

Christianity is "simple", but it's not user friendly, nor is it cool, nor was it meant to be popular (no matter how nicely you put it, the sin-Hell connection and the "don't do this, don't do that" admonitions can't be sugar coated, though it all comes from love, believe it or not). It's a lot easier to slide into Churchianity or Christianityism than to actually come to grips with a God who insists that you give up your rights of autonomy and to spread your radius of compassion as far as a radius can reach.

Maybe I'll get this thing finished later, but, in general, I find all this ranting about religion quite boring. This isn't where the action is.

You can't just blindly "look inside yourself" for spiritual nourishment - in this discipline, the Holy Spirit dwells within you (...should you choose to accept it), and that's where one looks, if one looks inside; we ourselves are vile creatures, however much gooditude we may innately contain.

Maybe I'm finished now. I don't know. moJoe, just remember this: Jesus loves you. I love you. I want to fuck your brains out. I'll even divorce dannye and elope with you. I'm one sexy motherfucker who can please you 'til your eyebrows drop off. Or something. Do you have eyebrows?

I'm sorry. What was the question again?

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