Saturday, May 26, 2012

Early Christian Socialists

Christian fundamentalists declare their faith that their Bible is the holy, inspired word of God and that it is inerrant in every respect.

By and large, Christian fundamentalists in this country do not represent either the Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels nor the Jesus of the Gospel of John (there is a large dichotomy between the between the Synoptic Jesus and John's Jesus.)  Christian fundamentalists in this country are basically ultra-rightwing members of the Republican Party.

As such, one of the economic philosophies they hate the most is "socialism."  Why this is so is an enigma, for the Jesus of either the Synoptics or John would have soundly denounced the Republican vision of the "good life" as it is presented today.  For example, Jesus castigated rich people.  In fact, he said explicitly that rich people don't have a chance in hell of getting into heaven!  Jesus did not care about politics.  He said to give to Ceasar what was due Ceasar (in other words, pay your damn taxes and stop complaining!) and get about the tasks he gave his followers - heal the sick, help the poor, visit those in prison, make sure that the children are cared for (universal healthcare, perhaps?), and tell everyone that there is a father-like God who loves them.

Interestingly enough, some early followers of this Jesus figure, tried to do those things.   The New Testament book, the "Acts of the Apostles," is purported to have been written by the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke.  Probably not.  Acts has all the characteristics of a book written more near the middle of the 2nd century, C.E.  One sign is the fact there are many disagreements between Acts and the letters of Paul, the latter being written some 100 years earlier and to particular communities in the Mediterranean area.

Acts describes some of what went on in Jerusalem as the early disciples gathered together and tried to figure out what they hell they were going to do.  Jesus had not shown up like he had promised.  But they had heard tales that he had been resurrected and had floated off into the heavens and would come back soon and many people saw and knew about these things, but that didn't help them much because he had not returned to earth.

All of these early followers of Jesus were Jews.  There was a certain amount of animosity between them and Jews who had neither heard of Jesus nor particularly cared to "follow" him.  So Peter and others were said to have preached in the city of Jerusalem and many of the "Jews" were converted to this new faith and accepted the Jesus figure as the Messiah.  In fact, one legend says that about 3,000 were "added to their number that day."

But what else did these early Jesus folks do?  Here's what the writer of Acts says:

"They met constantly to hear the apostles teach, and to share the common life, to break bread and to pray."

Notice they shared "the common life."  Sounds pretty suspicious, doesn't it?  Especially to patriotic Americans who hate Communism and Socialism!

"A sense of awe was everywhere, and many marvels and signs were brought about through the apostles."  Like most legends, you will note the lack of specifics in that phrase.  But now for the best part!

"All whose faith had drawn them together held everything in common:  they would sell their property and possessions and make a general distribution as the need of each required.  With one mind they kept up their daily attendance at the temple, and, breaking bread in private homes, shared their meals with unaffected joy, as they praised God and enjoyed the favour of the whole people.  And day by day the Lord added to their numbers those whom he was saving."

Ok, so the author of Acts went a little overboard.  It is not the least likely these early Christians "enjoyed the favour of the whole people," especially when the Gospels report that this "whole people" not long before cried out for the head of Jesus!

But, notice they were COMMUNISTS!  The "held everything in common."  The sold their stuff and gave the money to everyone as it was needed!  My God, if that ain't Communism, it sure is Socialism!

Actually, it is more like socialism.  Communism is a political system.  Socialism is an economic system.  Acts is talking about an economic system in which the people took care of one another.  Just think if we had that kind of a system in this country today!  Think of all we could do.  We wouldn't have One Percent of the people owning most of everything and 99% out of the loop financially!  We wouldn't have 45 million people uninsured.  We wouldn't have millions of kids go to bed hungry every night.  We'd have decent schools and good teachers because we'd all chip in (especially the rich) to make that happen.  We'd have good roads and bridges and cops and judges and politicians and doctors.   

And so forth.

But who the hell believes the Bible these days?  Sure isn't the Christians!

[Biblical quotations are from Acts, Chapter 2.  You might also read Acts, chapter 4, beginning at verse 32, which describes further how "everything was held in common," how "they had never a needy person among them, because all who had property in land or houses sold it, brought the proceeds of the sale, and laid the money at the feet of the apostles; it was then distributed to any who stood in need."  All Biblical citations are from The New English Bible.]

Bush, the Neocons and the clamor for war

Politicians, by nature, lie.  It must be part of their DNA.  I dare say such a thing because the lies of politicians occur daily and are duly noted, if lamely, by the so-called "Lamestream Media," most of whom are employed by corporations which provide their personal politicians the means whereby they can remain in office and continue to lie.

Georgi W. Bushki once commented to the effect it's better to err on the side of life (see photo above).  Today, after thousands of American soldiers were killed via his orders, and multiple thousands of Iraqis lost their lives, we know Mr. Bushki to be an enormous liar.  We know his concern was never to err on the side of life, but rather on the side of those who would control the oil reserves of the Middle East.  Any contrived contriteness on the part of Mr. Bushki for those who died as a result of his illegal and immoral militaristic adventures was just that - contrived and phony:  his tears were crocodile tears!

Currently, many of the neocons who clamored for invading Iraq and Afghanistan, are once again beating the drums for war - this time with Iran.  Iran has lots of oil.  Iran is engaged in becoming a nuclear power.  For peaceful purposes, of course.  Or so the Iranian leaders claim.

The neocons have no problem with India having the bomb, or Pakistan, or Israel, or Russia (which appears to be metamorphosing into the old Soviet Union), or China, or...  So, what's the problem?  Why pick on Iran?  Is Iran more of a threat to the United States than these other countries (not counting Israel, of course)? 

In case you have any doubts about this resurrected neocon vision for another war, just Google "Neocons want war with Iran."

Neocons lie!  All of them.  Especially neocons holding public office.

If they get their way, thousands, perhaps millions of human beings will die.  And you can bet your life neither the neocons nor members of their family will be in the front lines.  They'll happily send you, your wife, your children and your grandchildren into the maelstrom, but they'll hide out in D.C. bars, swizzling martinis while their apocalyptic vision of death by firestorm is carried out and your flesh and blood are seared beyond recognition.

Georgi W. Bushki lied.  The neocons lie.  They lie, we die.

How can this happen when the people oppose such action?  Consider this quote; you may have read it before but it has become particularly pertinent in mid-2012:

"Of course the people don't want war.  But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.  Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

         --Hermann Goring at the Nuremberg Trials

Friday, May 25, 2012

The history of life on earth

Most home-schooling is of a religious nature.  Home-schooling is for fundamentalist Christians (for the most part) a means of indoctrination, not education.  What especially curls the hair of the fundies is the belief that Evolution is a valid method of understanding the history of the earth and its creatures.

Home-schoolers believe the Bible.  Anything they deem contrary to the Bible must, ipso facto, be false!

In many states, a form of Creationism is being taught, often called Intelligent Design.  This, in spite of the fact that the courts have struck down such teaching as religion is disguise!  Nowhere is this misguided teaching more prevalent than in the Lone Star State.  The majority of the Texas Board of Education are fundamentalist Christians who care little for education but are intent on indoctrinating young Texans in the mythologies and legends of the Bible.  Thus Texas children are taught the earth is 6,000 years old, that humans walked with dinosaurs, that Adam and Eve were real people, etc.

And this is a cause for lament as well as legal action.  The youth of Texas are heading into a world ill-prepared to compete because they lack fundamental knowledge of the nature of life and how life has evolved through literally millions of years!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Obey all the laws of God

[Thanks to Atheist Cartoons]

I've seen this particular piece on several occasions and although there is an attribution for it, I'm not sure exactly where it originated.

Having said that, however, I thought it serves as a valid reminder of the fact that the Bible is filled with all kinds of nonsense and also of the fact that people who proudly claim to be "Bible believers" and insist the Bible is God's inerrant word for all time are delusionary.  

These fundamentalist Christians cherry-pick through the Bible just like all other professing Christians.  Passages they dislike or find discomfiting, they simply ignore.  

In our world, the Bible does not provide answers.  It confuses people and too often leads to hatred and the denigration of human beings for reasons unrelated to reality.  Sin is a religious concept.  It has no basis in fact.  How many Christians and Jews work on the Sabbath, which is expressly forbidden by God in his Word, the Bible?

The Sabbath prohibition against "work," for almost all people in the Hebrew and Christian traditions, is ignored because we understand that it is nonsense; to disobey the commandment is "sinful" only within a religious construct which we no longer accept and thus is of no value in our modern world.

Today, fundamentalist/evangelical Christians spend much time and energy railing against homosexuality and gay marriage, citing several Biblical passages.  It is strange, though, that they do not get exercised about all the other commands in the Bible which almost no one takes seriously today.

As you will see from the following:

* * * *

In her radio show, Dr Laura  Schlesinger said that, as an observant  Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination  according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot  be condoned under any circumstance.  The  following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura,  penned by a  US resident, which was posted on  the Internet.  It's funny, as well as  informative:

Dear Dr.  Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to  educate people regarding God's Law.  I  have learned a great deal from your show, and try  to share that knowledge with as many people as  I can.  When someone tries to defend the  homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply  remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it  to be an abomination ... End of  debate.

I do need some advice  from you, however, regarding some other elements of  God's Laws and how to follow  them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states  that I may possess slaves, both male and female,  provided they are purchased from neighboring  nations.  A friend of mine claims that this  applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians.     Can  you clarify?  Why can't I own  Canadians?
2. I would like to  sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in  Exodus 21:7.  In this day and age,  what do you think would be a fair price for  her?
3. I know that I am  allowed no contact with a woman while she is in  her period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:  19-24.  The problem is how do I tell?  I  have tried asking, but most women take  offense.
4. When I burn a bull  on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates  a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9.  The  problem is my neighbors.  They claim the  odor is not pleasing to them.  Should I smite  them?
5. I have a neighbor who  insists on working on the Sabbath.   Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be  put to death.  Am I morally obligated to kill  him myself, or should I ask the police to do  it?
6. A friend of mine feels  that even though eating shellfish is an  abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than  homosexuality.  I don't agree.  Can you  settle this?  Are there 'degrees'  of abomination?
7. Lev.  21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of  God if I have a defect in my sight.  I have to  admit that I wear reading glasses.  Does my  vision have to be 20/20, or is there  some wiggle-room here?
8.  Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed,  including the hair around their temples, even  though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.  19:27.  How should they  die?
9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8  that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me  unclean, but may I still play football if I wear  gloves?
10. My uncle has a  farm.  He violates Lev.19:19  by planting two different crops in the same  field, as does his wife by  wearing garments made of two different kinds  of thread (cotton/polyester blend).  He also  tends to curse and blaspheme a lot.  Is it  really necessary that we go to all the trouble  of getting the whole town together to stone  them? Lev.24:10-16.  Couldn't we just burn  them to death at a private family affair, like we  do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev.  20:14)
I know you have studied  these things extensively and thus enjoy  considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident  you can help.
Thank you  again for reminding us that God's word is eternal  and unchanging.
Your  adoring fan.

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D.  Professor Emeritus,  Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and  Special Education --  University  of  Virginia

P.S. (It would be a damn shame if we  couldn't own a Canadian  :)