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Author Topic: Have classical churches lost their relevance?
Groggle
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Icon 5 posted July 21, 2004 19:56      Profile for Groggle     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A couple of discussions on the forum recently have left me wondering if the notion of religious observance as expressed by the construct of a 'church' is losing its relevance in today's society.

There are number of things that make me wonder about the role of "church" in today's society:

1. I've seen a lot of people speak of their spirituality in very strongly personal terms. Their relationship with 'God' {whichever one you want} is very personal, and relatively self guided.

2. The horrors that have been perpetrated by church leadership in the 'name of God' (or, in some cases, personal gratification) have become manifestly public over the last 50 years. Whether that is the decline of the Roman Catholic Church's grip on power in Quebec in the 1950s, or the ongoing prosecution of pedophiles playing at priest. This has tarnished the image of church - of any sort - an amazing amount.

3. There has been a rise in the political profile of many members of the clergy. Whether that is political leaders being lobbied to legislate various topics along scriptural lines (e.g. George Bush and the recent attempt to put an amendment into the US Constitution to ban Gay Marriage), or Bishop Fred Henry in Alberta making all sorts of pronouncements about the spiritual well-being of certain politicians, based on their position on topics such as divorce, abortion, gay marriage, whatever. Part of me suspects that this is a degree of desperation on the part of the church leaders - they are trying to reassert a political and social influence that vanished in the 1960's.

My own experience of religion has left me deeply cynical of churches in general - no matter their stripe. Everywhere I look in the world, religious leaders use their assumed power over the spiritual well-being of their flocks for their own desires for wealth and power. Priests in Africa condemning the use of condoms while an entire generation dies of aids; priests in North America attempting to sway elections in both Canada and the US by making pronouncements about the candidates - often engaging in little more than threats; Imams in the Middle East calling for 'jihad' over one thing or another.

So little seems to be rooted in wonder over the beauty of the world we inhabit, and so much is about the ugliness of human affairs. If I want to appreciate the notion of a forgiving, gentle God, it is up to me to find that in my own reading of scripture.

The odd thing is, for all that I have had a fairly secular life, I don't reject religious thought per se, but rather I find I have synthesized my own particular flavour of it that I use, when and as I need to.

The open question in my mind is whether others see a similar pattern of spirituality emerging? (Or perhaps you don't, and you do attend church for one reason or another?)

{whoops! - I just previewed this and realized it was getting a bit wordy - sorry about the long post}

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Icon 1 posted July 21, 2004 20:30      Profile for Too Cool To Quit     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I for one, am GLAD that classical churches are losing their relevances. Caught up so much in their man-made traditions that they forget about the God-made ones. I know there are a lot of non-believers here and they may scoff at me for saying that any of the traditions are God made but anyway. Just don't see this is as an attempt to troll and I'll be cool.

God created us. We screwed up. I screwed up, you screwed up, and we all still do. We fail. We try. We fail. Jesus was sent down to earth to ensure that we would still not burn in hell if we did fail again. Jesus left us with two conditions though, to love Him, and to love and accept others. Not others that are like you. Not just others that are in your tax bracket. Not just others that are your age, or society. Not just others that are from your country. Not just others
who LOOK like you, talk like you, or eat the same way you do. We all bleed the same blood. We all cry the same tears. We all laugh the same laughter. We were all created by the same being. We don't accept other people, especially if they look different. But Jesus loved the outcasts, the ones the world so loves the hate. Christians are supposed to model after Jesus, not the CHURCH. People are finally starting to realize that, I guess.

--------------------
Alright now, that's the last straw, I'm calling the ass taxidermist to tell him to stop making hats in your size RIGHT NOW.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted July 21, 2004 21:19      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Taco, you make some very good points. Let me take a moment to play devil's advocate (pun realized, and not fully intended). Why Jesus? How do you even know that he is it? Can you tell me that this is the one and only one solution out there? How is it that huge parts of the world think they have the answer, and are wrong? (And they think we're wrong.)

I'm having a bit of deja vu now - I'm not sure if someone said this in the forums or not, but I definitely recall discussing this with a friend of mine over dinner a bit back. She's an atheist, and she said, "Well, some religious people will say, "my deity says I can't kill, so I won't.' I won't kill, not because someone else made it a rule, but because I know it's wrong." (paraphrased)

I'm really not sure what to make of some of this mess - where religion stands in the world today. I think far fewer people hold religious beliefs, and I don't think that's an especially bad thing. Should religion exist at all? Does it help establish a moral system for many people as they grow up? Personally, I'm against baptism at birth, as it's a decision that's put on a child without their say. I've seen some truly devoted people, and I think they are to be respected, not ridiculed. When I see these people (I've noticed it the most among some Muslim friends of mine), and then compare to people who have just had stuff shoved down their throats as they grow up, who just don't care about it, but call themselves Christians (or whatever religious persuasion they might be), I find them laughable. I think that people should see what's out there, and decide on their own if there's something they want to follow. However, I do recognize there are many valuable moral lessons that might be learned along the way, so I question whether there might be some merit to growing up with it, and then later casting it away. I just don't know.

Speaking of personal relationships with a deity and what not, I happen to think that Shinto is quite interesting that way. There really isn't that much in the way of religious ceremonies that one attends. One can find a kami in just about anything, and pray to them if they like. There are also some silly purification rituals, but I guess there has to be a tradeoff. The shrines are also quite nice most times, and offer place for reflection, embracing more of nature. Tori gates are usually placed stragetically, and their varying styles are quite fascinating. I guess I picked something up from "Religions of Japan" after all [Wink] . ("Asian Religions" didn't do much - Vishnu can keep far, far away. I'd rather hear about Isanami & Isanagi (sp?!) and how they crunchingly crunched diamonds [Wink] .)

--------------------
There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

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drunkennewfiemidget
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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 05:51      Profile for drunkennewfiemidget     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think the church, and religion in general are slowly falling by the wayside in today's society. Why? Probably because of the lack of it in schools, and the inability to preach it in schools. Do I think it's a bad thing? Absolutely not.

Now, most of you know by now, I do not believe in religion, nor do I believe there is any particular deity or entity that looks over us all.

But as people have already said before, I don't need a scripture or a priest to tell me that adultery is wrong, or that killing someone is wrong, or stealing is wrong. I know that because I was brought up to know better. Not because I'll be eternally damned to hell for doing it. Neither I, nor anyone else can verify or denounce the truth in that, so I'm going to deal with the consequences that I can see and visibly deal with: guilt, jailtime, ridicule, etc.

I do believe that the churches have taken one helluva hit as a result of pedophile priests, televangelists, and others who've taken their religion and used it as a soapbox from which they preach their own personal views, or use as a method for personal gain, or jamming their own views down their congregation's collective throat.

I also believe that churches do have a place in our society. Why? Because those who choose to believe in it, such as my grandmother for example, have something they can look to for guidance, something they can count on being there tomorrow.And as long as she believes in Jesus and God, then she will never ever be let down, because at no point in time during her lifetime, will anyone be able ot prove or disprove whether they actually exist or not.

And if religion and the church is what it takes to keep people from committing heinous crimes, then I say so be it.

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CommanderShroom
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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 06:37      Profile for CommanderShroom     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by drunkennewfiemidget:
I think the church, and religion in general are slowly falling by the wayside in today's society. Why? Probably because of the lack of it in schools, and the inability to preach it in schools. Do I think it's a bad thing? Absolutely not.

I spent a good amount of my childhood in the south. My family, neighbors, and freinds all were hugely religious and I never saw it in school. My teachers kept god out of the classroom, so I can't believe that was the reason why I went the direction I went.

The church was a focal point for my life until I moved out west. It may seem funny but the morality is different between these places. In the south God was everything, spoken or not. It was something to aid in the poverty and lack of ever having a future. Here religion was a thing to do on Sunday.

Over time I became soured to anything so easily manipulated and bastardized. I watched 2 pastors go through my church. They drained my mom's finances to help build a church that after nearly 15 yrs. still hasn't event bought property. I watched the rumors and ridicule between the people in the building. These people began to look more evil every day.

I am not very religious at all. If I aligned myself to anything it would be Buddhism. At least I don't have to reach perfection all at once.

--------------------
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quote:
Originally posted by drunkennewfiemidget:

I think the church, and religion in general are slowly falling by the wayside in today's society. Why? Probably because of the lack of it in schools, and the inability to preach it in schools. Do I think it's a bad thing? Absolutely not.

Religion is (supposedly) still very dominant in schools in the UK. This always used to really irritate me when I was at school but as my father points out to me on a regular basis this can be viewed as a good thing because it works as a tool for putting young people off religion. If you compare youth in the UK (where religion is taught in schools) to, say, those in the US or France (where it isn't taught), those in the UK are much less likely to be taking an interest in religion.
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chromatic
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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 09:57      Profile for chromatic   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It's an interesting question and I don't mean to treat it casually. However, this may be a case where people find exactly what they're looking for.

If you think all teenagers are rude and immature, all businesses are hostile and greedy, or all Americans are stupid bumpkins, you'll see things that reinforce your perceptions.

I don't think it's fair to lump all of Christianity together into one basket, especially a basket with a sign reading "Screwed Up in a Big and Public Way". That completely fails to account for the recent rise of community churches unaffiliated with denominations and large organizations, for one thing.

Do you live in a large urban area along one coast?

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 11:49      Profile for Too Cool To Quit     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
dragonman97_: Obviously I'm biased to Christianity, thus my answer seem unacceptable for some. I have faith that what the bible says is true. I know I don't have PROOF. But, AFAIK, Christianity is the only religion with a saviour who gave EVERYTHING to people that hated him and didn't have fear of what was to come.

quote:
Originally posted by CommanderShroom:
I am not very religious at all. If I aligned myself to anything it would be Buddhism. At least I don't have to reach perfection all at once.

Whoever should say that Christianity requires you to be perfect at once? It is only possible to become pure through sanctification. It is possible, but not all at once, and you don't HAVE to reach perfection ever to be saved. You are already saved. Nothing can change that. Nothing you do can change that. Nothing you do could give you that salvation. You are already saved because Jesus gave you salvation.

--------------------
Alright now, that's the last straw, I'm calling the ass taxidermist to tell him to stop making hats in your size RIGHT NOW.

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DoctorWho

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 11:55      Profile for DoctorWho     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Groggle:
A couple of discussions on the forum recently have left me wondering if the notion of religious observance as expressed by the construct of a 'church' is losing its relevance in today's society.

Churches in one form or another will be relavent, as long as people worship God. They will always reflect the kind of people who go to them. There will be churches intolerant of people who don't believe as they do and angry at everyone and everything, and then there will be the jewels that are really striving to follow the idea of love one another.

quote:
There are number of things that make me wonder about the role of "church" in today's society:

1. I've seen a lot of people speak of their spirituality in very strongly personal terms. Their relationship with 'God' {whichever one you want} is very personal, and relatively self guided.

Well, speaking personally, [Smile] I believe that God is with me, every ready at my side, in my heart, whatever you want to call it, helping me to guide my life. It doesn't mean I can't stray and do something against His will, because I do often slip, and I don't follow God out of any sense of guilt, or dread that if I don't I'll be sent to hell. I am just being who I am since I have had God in my life.

quote:
2. The horrors that have been perpetrated by church leadership in the 'name of God' (or, in some cases, personal gratification) have become manifestly public over the last 50 years. Whether that is the decline of the Roman Catholic Church's grip on power in Quebec in the 1950s, or the ongoing prosecution of pedophiles playing at priest. This has tarnished the image of church - of any sort - an amazing amount.

This has been going on sense the beginning. Check it out.

quote:
3rd John 9-11
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the bretheren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

I speak from personal experience, it is better to stay away from churches that behave in that manner. Love and pray for the people to see what is going on and come out of that mess, and let that church wither away because it is no longer following after God.

quote:
3. There has been a rise in the political profile of many members of the clergy. Whether that is political leaders being lobbied to legislate various topics along scriptural lines (e.g. George Bush and the recent attempt to put an amendment into the US Constitution to ban Gay Marriage), or Bishop Fred Henry in Alberta making all sorts of pronouncements about the spiritual well-being of certain politicians, based on their position on topics such as divorce, abortion, gay marriage, whatever. Part of me suspects that this is a degree of desperation on the part of the church leaders - they are trying to reassert a political and social influence that vanished in the 1960's.

Again their are churches that try to use their members in politics for religious gain. And some of them mean well; however, I personally believe that christians should not try to impose their morals on non-christians. Most people don't understand that when God gave the law to the Jews, and Moses asked them if they would follow the law, the question was asked in such a way that the Jewish people were expected to say no. The Jewish people however said yes, and were foolish enough to believe they could follow all of the law. God gave the law for one reason, to show us that it could not be followed, and that we needed mercy and grace.

quote:
My own experience of religion has left me deeply cynical of churches in general - no matter their stripe. Everywhere I look in the world, religious leaders use their assumed power over the spiritual well-being of their flocks for their own desires for wealth and power. Priests in Africa condemning the use of condoms while an entire generation dies of aids; priests in North America attempting to sway elections in both Canada and the US by making pronouncements about the candidates - often engaging in little more than threats; Imams in the Middle East calling for 'jihad' over one thing or another.

So little seems to be rooted in wonder over the beauty of the world we inhabit, and so much is about the ugliness of human affairs. If I want to appreciate the notion of a forgiving, gentle God, it is up to me to find that in my own reading of scripture.

The odd thing is, for all that I have had a fairly secular life, I don't reject religious thought per se, but rather I find I have synthesized my own particular flavour of it that I use, when and as I need to.

The open question in my mind is whether others see a similar pattern of spirituality emerging? (Or perhaps you don't, and you do attend church for one reason or another?)

Hang on and keep looking, if you have faith, you can find a church that does follow God. Don't expect it to be perfect, none ever are, but they are out there. If you believe in God, ask Him to help you find one.

quote:
{whoops! - I just previewed this and realized it was getting a bit wordy - sorry about the long post}

Better to be clear and verbose, than to be vauge and brief.
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DoctorWho

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 11:59      Profile for DoctorWho     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sorry, I hit the wrong button.

Edit: Oh well, no sense in wasting a post. Dragon, I hope you know not all christians, baptize babies. In fact, my oldest son was not baptized until he was eight. He was seven when he decided he wanted to be baptized, I made him wait a year and a half because I wanted him to be sure. I don't expect him to follow God as closely as I do. I expect him to walk his own path, and walk in as much light as God gives him. That is all that is required by God, so it is all I require.

My youngest, I recently dedicated to God, just like I did when my first child was born. Basically this means, I promised God that I would raise my child in a way that would be pleasing to God and that hopefully one day my son would come to have a personal relationship with God, like my wife, oldest, and I.

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CommanderShroom
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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 13:01      Profile for CommanderShroom     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
TCTQ,

Am I safe to assume that you are a Baptist?

Some of your verbage points me to that conclusion. Feel free to correct me. Again, if you notice one of the lines I mentioned a difference in beliefs from different parts of our states. I noticed that Crawgator and yourself are from our beautiful southern states.

Unfotunately, when it comes down to it, you are allowed "X" amount of years to make amends and live a wholsome life in the eyes of God. No religion says you can be on the death bed and go "Oops, sorry can we reverse all those charges on my soul?"

I personally no longer can feel close to the church and Christianity as a whole.

The church is not totally irrelevent. It has become a much more powerful figure in the last 2 decades. I call to example the rise in the headlines regarding religion. These are dark days. Many people began to look for guidance in things that are greater than themselves.

Is it right or wrong? Does it really matter? I don't think it does. edit: Your beliefs are yours.

I am happy to find people that work hard to live to the ideals of Christianity. And I am equally disgusted by the ones that use Christianity to cover up the evil they do.

--------------------
Does he know our big secret?
Has one of us confessed?
'Bout the wires circuits and motors
Buried in our chest

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DoctorWho

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 13:11      Profile for DoctorWho     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by CommanderShroom:
Unfotunately, when it comes down to it, you are allowed "X" amount of years to make amends and live a wholsome life in the eyes of God. No religion says you can be on the death bed and go "Oops, sorry can we reverse all those charges on my soul?"

The thief on the cross next to Jesus was forgiven. Yes it is a "by the skin of their teeth" conversion, but it can happen. The problems I have with people waiting until near death is:
1) Why did they wait so long?
2) Did they really mean it?

Neither question, however, is any of my business. That is between them and God. If they were genuine great, if not God knows.

Edit: The whole point of christianity, is that you can't spend 'X' amount of years working your way to heaven. If you could do that Jesus would have died for nothing.

--------------------
Laughter is like changing a baby's diapers. It doesn't solve anything but it sure improves the situation. Leo F. Buscaglia

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 13:23      Profile for Too Cool To Quit     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by CommanderShroom:
TCTQ,

Am I safe to assume that you are a Baptist?

Some of your verbage points me to that conclusion. Feel free to correct me. Again, if you notice one of the lines I mentioned a difference in beliefs from different parts of our states. I noticed that Crawgator and yourself are from our beautiful southern states.

Unfotunately, when it comes down to it, you are allowed "X" amount of years to make amends and live a wholsome life in the eyes of God. No religion says you can be on the death bed and go "Oops, sorry can we reverse all those charges on my soul?"

I personally no longer can feel close to the church and Christianity as a whole.

The church is not totally irrelevent. It has become a much more powerful figure in the last 2 decades. I call to example the rise in the headlines regarding religion. These are dark days. Many people began to look for guidance in things that are greater than themselves.

Is it right or wrong? Does it really matter? I don't think it does. edit: Your beliefs are yours.

I am happy to find people that work hard to live to the ideals of Christianity. And I am equally disgusted by the ones that use Christianity to cover up the evil they do.

I don't call myself to a denomination. I believe in the bible. I believe in Jesus. I'm not Methodist, not Baptist, not Catholic, and I'm not Pentecostal Holiness. I'm Christian. My opinion stands as saying, let Christ's body have no divisions.

You know, if you guys who are saying these things would look it up you'd find all of your answers. The reason that the bible says Jesus died for, is so that you wouldn't have to make amends.

As far as being from the southern states, I grew up most of my life an atheist. In the past year, I was converted. I happened to be running as far as I could from Christianity, and fell right in God's lap. But I doubt you want to hear my testimony, it's a bit long.

But, (and again, not to sound like a troll) but some of the stuff you guys are saying, if you'd read up on what Jesus said in that aspect, you'd have a few of your questions answered. It's not a matter of you believing what it says, it's that some of you are saying things of Christianity that are completely wrong.

--------------------
Alright now, that's the last straw, I'm calling the ass taxidermist to tell him to stop making hats in your size RIGHT NOW.

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 14:19      Profile for sconzey     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hmmm. Don't judge church by the churchgoers. [Smile]

Okay, so a lot of evil has been done by churchgoers. A lot of evil was done by atheists too! Evil is a human thing, and while churches are made up of humans you will find bad apples, whatever barrel you look in.

Don't judge a religion by it's worst, judge it by it's best. Most, if not all of the Christians I know are kind, sensitive, thoughtful people, their behavior stems from a belief that they should put Jesus first, others next and themselves last.

I do however agree that personal religion has an important place. Religion is a very personal and individual thing, many religions do emphasize personal walks with God.

To see what the Christian church *should* be like, look up some commentaries on the letters of Paul to the various churches. Read his criticisms and encouragements. Then tell me that people who agree shouldn't support eachother.

--------------------
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--Isaac Asimov

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 14:51      Profile for GMx     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, according to the other J.C., the cops have God on their side . So everything's ok. [Big Grin]

Edit: How could I forget the classic This Was Your Life?

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 15:27      Profile for Orpheus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I doubt the power of various religious organizations is either waning or waxing overall. Religious leaders are in positions of power and by the very job description lead people according to their own beliefs. There will always be political leaders that follow religious ones whether to gain the support of their constituents or by personal choice. People will always want somewhere to turn for support and community, and yes in some cases for someone to tell them what to think (not a phenomenon restricted to religion either).

I've also never believed that a religious belief is required to be a decent human being, I've been doing it for my 24 years of life. Reading this thread I feel a bit compelled to point out that there have been other more recent historical figures that have devoted and sacrificed their lives for the good of others. It seems to me that it really doesn't take much more than a little thought and empathy to be a good person. I know that's basically at the core of most religions, but they come with so much excess, dated baggage that I'd rather just figure things out on my own.

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 15:55      Profile for DoctorWho     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
GMx

I am going to ask you to please try to put this in context. If you were trying to explain black holes using Stephen Hawkings theories, and someone decided to ridicule you using Newton, you would easily be able to say that they are distanced by years of physics theory, and that the person was acting like a troll. I don't speak for my fellow christians on this board; however, I am pretty sure I echo their sentiments when I say that you using Jack Chick as an attempt to bring the topic off focus is trollish behavior. It is fine if you disagree with us, and I would be the first to welcome your well thought out post, but I would appreciate it if you would be intelligent about it and give us your opinions rather than post examples that we have no control over. The only time members of this board seem to look the other way when it comes to trolling is when religion is discussed.

Furthermore, God is capable of using anything to further His cause no matter how foolish it seems. True story, I know a christian who was atheist that converted because a drunk man in a bar was angry because everyone in the bar was going to hell. He decided he didn't want that and found Christ.

In conclusion, there are some threads where we have all made fun, i.e. the endless puns, but you should be able to tell that this is not one of those threads. So if you can't post intelligently in this thread, please don't post.

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Laughter is like changing a baby's diapers. It doesn't solve anything but it sure improves the situation. Leo F. Buscaglia

Posts: 1694 | From: The TARDIS | Registered: Apr 2000  |  IP: Logged
MacManKrisK

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 16:49      Profile for MacManKrisK     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi. My name is Kris and I'm a practicing Roman Catholic. BUT WAIT A MINUTE before you toss a bunch of stereotypes my way. I'm not just a stereotype, and I'm not /just/ a Catholic.

From what I see around me, many "Christians" today act a lot like the Jewish people acted about... oh 2000 years ago. Many of us look for rules and regulations to follow because many seek rules and regulations to live by so as to avoid having to make decisions for themselves. Let me assure you, this is *not* what Christianity is about, however, it *is* what it has grown into for many.

The Church (that is the groupings of people that call themselves "Christians"), in it's regulations and rules, is an establishment formed by people, and people are fallable. People expect there to be an easy "black & white" answer to every question, they want there to be one so badly that they often create issues as black & white and ignore any of the grey area. Many of these rules, though, that people have arbitrarally made up over the years, have become part of the multitude of Christian denomenations that we know today, each with it's own set of "beliefs," that is, particular rules and regulations that they choose to follow. Let me repeat, these rules and regulations are *not* what Christianity is all about!!

Modern-day Christianity has, in effect, formed a new Law, as in the Law of the Old Testament, and as CrawGator pointed out, the Law cannot be followed. There are exceptions, grey areas, and the simple fact that people just arn't 100% good 100% of the time. No, we can't follow the Law, but we /can/ follow Jesus.

The true message of Christianity is so freakin' simple, however, that for 6000 years of existance (or more?) we havn't been able to put it all together and work it out. As Christians, followers of Christ, our mission is simple: "Love one another as I have loved you." That's it, right there. We are to love one another as Jesus loved us all.

Which begs the question, "how much did Jesus really love us?" Well, he's hanging on a heavy cross, which he was forced to carry himself after being whipped and beaten; beeing jeered at, hissed at, spat at; dying slowly and painfully. About those who are jeering at him, sptting at him, and even those who drove the nails into his body, he says: "Forgive them."

Jesus doesn't say that we're to love only others who think the same way we do, or who look or act the same as us. We are to love one another, every person, simply because they themselves are children of God.

If I stop looking out for my own self, and instead worry about if my own actions are good for the sake of all, then I am doing Good. If everyone stopped looking out for their own selves, and instead worried about if their actions are good for the sake of all, the World would be Good.

There was a time when the World was Good, man roamed the earth, and lived in harmony with nature (instead of trying to combat nature) using the good gifts of the Earth in accordance to the natural order. Then one day, (as we portray it...) the serpant said to Eve, "you know that tree over there has some pretty tasty fruit. I know you've got pretty much everything you could want, but.... don't you just want a little more.... for yourself?"

That, my friends, is the essence of sin, in fact, quite the essence of temptation itself. You've got plenty, but don't you just want a little more.... for yourself?

As a Christian, I say: No, I want more for the World, their gain is mine. And the ultamate gain in this life, is to learn to love.

{woah! Got a little wordy there, sorry.}

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"Buy low, sell high
get rich and you still die"


Posts: 2331 | From: Southwest Michigan, USA | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Too Cool To Quit
SuperBlabberMouth!
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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 20:34      Profile for Too Cool To Quit     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is honestly the most sensibly maintained and on topic thread that I've seen in the history of GC except for the 'what are you listening to' threads.

No trolling or flaming(For the most part.)

Hopefully it'll stay this way. And hopefully the thoughtfulness and informativeness that has been generated in this thread will spread to the rest of the forum. Because, man do we need more of that.

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Alright now, that's the last straw, I'm calling the ass taxidermist to tell him to stop making hats in your size RIGHT NOW.

Posts: 1097 | From: North Carolina | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
csk

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 20:38      Profile for csk     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Too Cool To Quit:
This is honestly the most sensibly maintained and on topic thread that I've seen in the history of GC except for the 'what are you listening to' threads.

No trolling or flaming(For the most part.)

Hopefully it'll stay this way. And hopefully the thoughtfulness and informativeness that has been generated in this thread will spread to the rest of the forum. Because, man do we need more of that.

I'd say that most of the religion threads have been that way all along. The most reasonable religious discussions I've ever come across have been here on these forums.

I am planning a proper response to the thread question, but I'm intending to take some time over it, so I'll do it when I get home.

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6 weeks to go!

Posts: 4455 | From: Sydney, Australia | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
The Famous Druid

Gold Hearted SuperFan!
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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 21:01      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
<hijack attempt>
Why are the churches so rich?

Because they're prophet-making organisations.
</hijack attempt>

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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

Posts: 10669 | From: Melbourne, Australia | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 21:16      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh ___ no, that was bad.

Errr....

/me whistles innocently...

/coat

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There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

Posts: 9331 | From: Westchester County, New York | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Aves Corax
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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 21:18      Profile for Aves Corax     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Voltaire:
If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.

We're stuck with religion, even if we end up making science or some other athiest philosophy that religion. People seem to have some instinctive need for a higher power, be it an essentially human diety (like the classical Greeks had) or completely impersonal forces. Of course, there are always going to be people who are going to exploit that, and the successful ones will turn their own trickery into serious dogma (to quote Pastor Richards from GTA Vice City "If you put something in a pan and bake it, somebody will probably eat it."). That's the big issue most "free thinkers" seem to have with religion, and I think it's especially prominent in Roman Catholicism. The Pope is, for all intents and purposes, God's will incarnate, and the clergy have a monopoly on God, and without God you're going straight to hell. Thus, you do what the priests tell you to or you go to hell. Of course, there are plenty of perfectly faithful, honest, and good-spirited Catholic priests, but still, the potential for abuse is so strong it can happen by accident.

Now the one thing I've never quite understood is how hung up people get on the stupid things. Take communion, for example. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches have a long-standing fued over what kind of bread Jesus was made out of, and one of the big ideological battles of the Protestant Reformation was over whether Christ was being poetic or literal when he said that the bread and wine were his flesh and blood. Can anyone possibly be so uptight as to burn someone at the stake because they don't think that they're literally eating the savior? Is St. Peter going to deny them entrance into heaven because they're been using the wrong bread in the Eucharist all these years? Yeah, sure, a lot of that was the result of the corrupt clergymen playing politics, but still, there are people who seriously believe all of that stuff justification for jihad.

So overall, I'm in favor of "the church" losing power. I'm all in favor of people believing the same thing and having a nice little organization to make worship easier, but institutions seem to polarize everybody. Maybe it's just me, but in my experience, the Christians that are the worst about disrespecting other people's beliefs are the ones who identify themselves as definate members of a certain denomination. I guess it's human nature to be more militant about your beliefs when you've got a whole group of people backing you up. So, in summary, my opinion on the matter is that religion is a good thing, but it should stay fairly personal.

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"Be ye not lost among precepts of order."
The Principia Discordia

Posts: 65 | From: Virginia, USA | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted July 22, 2004 23:57      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm going to try and make this as coherent as possible, but given that I came home all of twenty minutes ago (14 hour day for the labrat, and no, I don't get overtime) and my wrist is acting up, this is going to be quick.

I think that religion has always been what people have made of it. Going to church is as much about seeing and being seen for some people (not necessarily all!) as it is about being right with God. Social pressure is an amazing thing. Add in some religious belief and demagoguery and you've got crap like the Spanish Inquisition and Al Qaeda. However, if the social pressure to attend church is low, you've got the situation we're currently discussing: declining church attendance and people coming to their own conclusions about which god or gods to worship, if any, and how.

For myself, I'm on the fence, but leaning towards God existing. I was baptized at the age of five, when my parents found a church they felt they could raise their kids with. I remember the minsters hand on my head and his deep voice as he went through the ritual. I was wearing a pale blue dress. My hair was in braids. Our minister was very very good with kids (he could calm down a frantic baby in five seconds flat) so, even though I was typically very shy of strangers, I was not afraid. We moved away and stopped attending that church when I was 11 (3000 miles is a bit a of a commute) but between the age of 5 and 11 I went to church every Sunday. I went to Sunday School. I wore a dress. I even took part in the Christmas pageants. My father was a deacon. He helped build the shelves in the library. My mom taught a Sunday school class. Why did my family stop attending religious services after we moved? My parents couldn't find a church that suited them. They tell me it's very hard to be a Protestant and worship at a church that teaches that it take more than just faith alone to go to heaven - you need to do some good works as well. My dad had another litmus test: any church that preached from Revelations was worthless in his opinion. But the peace my parents came to with God is another tale in and of itself, and the church my family went to when I was young in also its own story. How many Presbyterian churches do you know of are willing to bring in a mullah to teach the adult Sunday School class about Islam?

I know I thought about what I was learning in Sunday school because I distinctly remember deciding, as we pulled out of the gravel parking lot to go home one Sunday morning, that the existence of Hell is inconsistent with a forgiving God, and I therefore quit believing in Hell. I was ten at the time.

When I was in HS I quit believing in the Judeo-Christian God, and I still don't believe in the sort of God the Bible speaks of. To me, God is more like the kami the Shinto believe in. God is indifferent, and God is everywhere. I've been to church services a few times over the past ten years and I can't stand them. I can't stand being stuck inside. I can't stand the rituals, bare bones as they are in a Protestant church, and I can't stand all the preaching. The closest I feel to God is when I'm out in the hills hiking, or maybe sweating on the mats at the aikido dojo. I can find God under the trees and out on the glaciers. I can't find It in a building, no matter how many crosses you hang or stained glass windows you place.

Someone is going to suggest I consider Pagansim or Buddhism. I know it. I can see it coming. My answer is this: first, I'm happy with what I've got. Second, I have considered both, but, in both of these cases, there's a good deal of ritual involved, especially in Paganism. And I really don't like rituals, especially the more complicated kinds. Doing science all day taxes enough of my mental discipline, and in the end, it doesn't matter how long I meditate or how many candles I burn. I can still only find peace under the open sky.

Man, that was longer than I wanted it to be. I hope that made some semblance of sense. If not, well, I'll try to find time when I'm more alert before I go to Bolivia to clarify.

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And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
Bibo
BlabberMouth, the Next Generation
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Icon 1 posted July 23, 2004 06:48      Profile for Bibo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I see where you are coming from Xan. The rituals are what really started turning me off around age 17. It also seemed that the church I went to was getting more and more like a theatre production between all the rituals and trying to pull in more youth. It went from being called a Lutheran church to an Evangelical Lutheran Church. The more traditional Pastor left, they started bringing in a band , next it was a multimedia system. Also having my dad make me go to sunday school and church every sunday until I was 18 did not help. Grated I did have fun with our youth group through my teens I grew out of it. I was during my confirmation classes that the rituals seemed more like a production and just repeating what was written.

Another thing that irks me is the amount of money churches waste on their buildings. When I went to my grandpas funeral at the church I used to go to they had yet again expanded. THis time there was a huge fountain in the middle of the lobby. Quit pissing away money on stuff like that and use it to help the needy or something more useful. I'm sure god could care less about how pretty a church is.

I went a few times on Xmess to get my mom to stop begging me but I finally said I was not going to attend anymore. I've been to churches a total of 3 times in the past 4 years. 1) for my wedding in Vegas with a civil ceremony and no mention of god. 2)My grandpas funeral. 3)My brothers wedding, at a catholic church. Next week I will be going to a church to pay my respects to my Godfather that just died. Weddings and funerals will be the only times I go to a church anymore.

I consider myself to be agnostic. Please don't feel the need to come save me for I shall do what I did to people going door to door last year. I knew these people were in the building going door to door trying to save people. As soon as they knocked I opened the door said I was not interested and before they could say anything I slammed the door in their face. Nothing turns me off more than someone that needs to "save me". What's gets me even more is the whole being born again thing. Do a bunch of bad stuff, become born again and wipe the slate clean like the past never happened. And don't get me started on the born again virgins !

I live a good life and treat people and animals with love and kindness. If there is a god that will be judging me in the end I think I'll be just fine.

Posts: 1641 | From: Grand Rapids, MI | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged


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