If The Religious Were Truly Honest

How loving god has proved an impossible task.

Lord, I know I have been commanded to love you, but you bore me—you’re too demanding, authoritarian, and domineering. I probably ought to love you—but I’m sorry, I don’t. So rather than lie to you and everyone else I’m going to be straight with you”—Alan Watts

You think an honest expression of your feelings would be disruptive to the church? Not at all. If you are honest and say; I’m not doing this because I love you, or because even I like you—but because the book says I must. And I hate this whole hypocrisy game so here’s the deal.

Making a bargain that is most sensible and honest (for you really ought not to ever lie nor pretend when it comes to religious matters) it would go something like this; Lord, I really don’t love you (although I have tried) and I really often doubt you were the one, but for now I will go along with it to keep harmony in the family, church community, business, or whatever the benefit is (social insecurities) That type of honesty would nurture the inclusion the churches preach, but never attain.

It is formidable to admit unbelief, or non-love of god in the churches. There is much pressure to say you do, even when you don’t, even for an outright atheist.

The command to genuinely love god is the breakdown

Ought one maintain the pretense of love after entering a covenant with the Lord, or should we now see how we can provide ourselves with these spiritual conveniences? First the initiate attempts the first, then your inner self, your consciousness, your personality, the pragmatic side, the you you can’t insist away, demands the second—so you do. And then you go inserting things into the religion you can tolerate. Creating your own scripture to add to the very book that which nothing can be added. You cannot stop you, from being you, any more than you can insist your blood to stop flowing by hoping.

The demand of God to love Him above all else is to assume you can command the true feelings of your heart. “The moment that you subscribe to the idea that your inner feelings can be commanded, you have opened the door to hypocrisy“—Alan Watts

If you tell someone you love them, but know in your heart that you do not love them—your a liar. And the more you insist on that lie, the more you feel it’s your duty to usurp your true feelings, merely gesturing (pretending) to love that other person, the more you get into trouble. Because in love, if anywhere, the truth will win out. You will not be able to sustain the pretense. You will not have the energy to mock the real feeling of love. You all may say that you love the lord, but the actions of the churches (composed of its members) say you tired of that years ago—about 2000 of them

Real honesty is the authentic basis of morality. Real honesty is not pretending that your feelings are other than they are, so you keep your deal inward because the desire to conform is greater than our respect for objective facts. At the foundation of Christianity we’ve been commanded to love someone we readily admit we can’t comprehend and, other than a couple of neat sermons has shown to be difficult at best to love within our human ability. That would wear anybody down to the nubs.

And by the way, who wants someone to pretend to love them, when they don’t? Certainly not the Lord nor the man or woman. You may want to love god but you really don’t.

Conformity implicitly makes history. The world has seen enough of this type of pretense and would benefit itself to write some different chapters.

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

140 thoughts on “If The Religious Were Truly Honest”

  1. Sha, wish I could respond directly under your comments. It gets confusing. Anyway, different Christians will interpret the application of the teachings of Christ differently relating to healing. I don’t want to negate or dispute with my pentecostal brothers and sisters that God sometimes can miraculously heal. He can. My difficulty is the notion that this will always be the case, and that if not the difficulty is with a lack of faith. I don’t think this can be born out looking at the context or overall teaching of Scripture as well as our own experience. We are all going to die of something, here.

    For me, the real miracle is that God has made the body to be self healing, and that He is present and with us no matter what. Just last summer, I ended up in intensive care with legionella pnemonia, aka the dreaded “legionairres disease. ” I have no clue how I contracted this serious illness. I’m in great health, one day riding my bike with my husband for miles, and the next laid low. I became incoherent and was rushed to the ER. Of course, the predictions sound dire. It can take people a very long time to completely recover, and some have long term problems. And, yet within a few weeks, I was completely back to normal.

    Just a few days ago, I was jogging along a hiking trail with my Border. Foolish, foolish decision as a thunder storm was brewing, with high wind. I kid you not. Only a few feet in front of me, the wind sheared a large tree almost in half. It came crashing down down on the trail. A few more seconds, and I would have been done. Toast.

    What this all says to me, is that life is fragile and relatively short. Heck, I’m happy that I wake up every morning. Life is a gift.

    And, I’m trusting God that when my time comes, He will be with me. As far as I’m concerned, nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ. Ok, know this is a faith statement. But, for me it’s true and real, and reflects my authentic self.

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    1. Ok, I think this is basically where “I” began the hike with you. In this comment you clearly reveal the lens through which you choose to see the world, life in general. I never had any argument with that. It’s your reality and as I clearly stated some comments ago, I recognize that as sacred for you. What you will need to realize is that the path you are walking on doesn’t exist for those who have rejected it. Further, you have not given me any reason why I should reconsider my own choice which is just as sacred as yours though it rejects every aspect of your theodicy. In rejecting religion I chose something far superior: to give myself to the process of becoming an avatar of compassion and eventually, long term on my infinite journey to become compassion itself. I have no use for any deity that uses evil (pain, loss, hate) to pretend to accomplish something good. Jesus is no better than YHWH or Yahweh. He fully endorses punishment in hell and many other evils drawn from the Old Testament. His judgments are not compassionate and if you read the book of Revelation you will see that. Any “new heaven and new earth” established under the conditions described in that book will restart the whole horrible Earth pain scenario all over again. It isn’t justice that is described in Revelation but bloody vengeance. I have rejected those ways because they are psychopathic. I repeat, what I have now and the path I am on is far superior to anything Christianity ever pretended to give me.
      Christians live in their little soap bubbles reflecting pretty rainbows in the sunlight and thing it’s all so wonderful when they look at one-another. They think it’s a disaster when one of them bursts and the contained soul falls to the earth and starts running around free of theology. But it isn’t. It’s those in the soap bubbles that are spirit dead.

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        1. I (again) thought I made that clear: to literally become the compassionate being, eschewing all aspects of evil and by evil I mean anything that brings pain, loss or sorrow to any other in which transaction I would somehow benefit in well being, pleasure or wealth. That is also the path I chose in order to become a human being, for the true human never takes from another; never-EVER-kills. The people of Earth are considered pseudo human by more advanced civilizations of humans because of their unwillingness to forego their lust to kill, to steal the lives of others for their own ends when other ways are clearly open to them. Earthian gods fall in the same category of failure. Some would say it’s because they are created in their worshippers’ image and that is a fair judgment. That is my path. It is not transferable to anyone else through any kind of social interaction though anyone is free to choose a similar path. Such choices may arise from visions (my case) or from seeing the choice demonstrated.

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          1. Thank you, Sha, to become an avatar of compassion. That is worthy and in a sense, my own goal as well, to more and more be fully human and to reflect the love and compassion of Christ. Every blessing and deep joy to you in your spiritual journey. Some Christian people especially from the more mystical and sacramental streams of the church envision an aspect of God that is “the ground of all being” or like an underground stream in which many religions are seen as wellsprings that in some measure connect and draw from this common source. It is certainly a thought for reflection.

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            1. If people learned to replace religions with self empowerment then they might get somewhere but as long as they remain dependent upon deities and other types of “powers and authorities in the heavenly realms” nothing will ever change here. Reminds me of a joke: “50 year old brain for sale. Like new, never been used.”

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            2. Sha, I agree with you in part. I’m all for self improvement and using our minds. But, IMO, this can only go so far. Look at the division, heartbreak, and conflicts all around us, even within families. Consider division rooted in religion and ethnicity. Good people at each other’s throats. IMO, we cannot fix all this by ourselves. We also need healing and transformation that comes from the grace of God.

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            3. Actually Becky, at 73 now, with my eyes and intelligence wide open all my life, hungry to reason the why’s and wherefore’s and my personal experience, not in theology or belief so much as within the swell of church life, I have to say that God’s grace only exacerbates the situation. People as a general rule are not nice; they are fearful, selfish, greedy, self-centered creatures. They are “consumers”. When they turn religious, they add hypocrisy to the pile and claim that their sins are forgiven in Jesus/Christ/God, which means no repentance and mega hubris. That is the “non-Teddy Bear” view of Christianity. Add history and you will immediately realize that the more “God’s grace” you throw on the burn pile, the brightest and hottest it burns – ask any non-believing victim of Christian imperial depredation in the last 1500 years or so. Any religious person sincere about change will have to, first of all, cut themselves off from whatever god they worship and from the worship system as well. Once free of that, choices become available on a personal basis. Personal self empowerment, something very few people understand in the least, then becomes available. If accepted and understood, every thought, act and deed from there on becomes one’s own choice. As to what you do with that choice, that becomes another choice. If you like killing, you can use it to hone those skills. If making money, the same goes. If expressing compassion, that now becomes your duty, not to others or your world, but to yourself. Self empowerment is like the Force: it has a dark side and a light side. You can be an Obi Wan or a Darth Vader and be entirely justified in your choice. That is the responsibility people, and yourself today, are fearful of. What will you do on the day you realize the God you worship is indeed one of those powers and authorities and forces of evil in the heavenly realms? What then if you know nothing of self empowerment? Despair? Hedonism? Humanism? Science? (Check out ex-minister Valeri Tarico’s blog) But if you are seeking to empower yourself you will plunge into that black hole of free choice and come out a different person. You will be your own “goddess” and there will no longer be any other gods before you. We were originally spiritually and mentally designed (by ourselves) to express as autonomous intelligent sentient and self aware beings… then we got conned, dummied down and mentally and physically enslaved. We still have the choice to regain our place in the greater scheme of things or we can keep going as we are and become a blip in the fossil record.

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            4. By the way (in re-direct your honor, as Perry Mason used to say) “self improvement” has nothing whatsoever to do with self empowerment. Self improvement is in league with New Year’s resolutions.

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  2. Did the people who wrote much of the Bible even have a concept of love that most here would comprehend? Look at the examples of parents in the Bible that are considered exemplary people(even in the New Testament, no excuses). Abraham, who would have sacrificed his son without a second thought. This same guy abandoned his elder son, once he has no use for him as an heir. Lot, who was going to shove his daughters out to be gang raped or killed. This same Lot got dunk and impregnated both of his daughters. Noah, who cursed his grandson Canaan for some vague thing that his son Ham did, even though Noah was laying around drunk. Jacob put his wife and children between himself and Esau out of fear that Esau would try to kill him(Jacob had cheated his own father, brother, and uncle). I recall a quote from a father in the Bible, saying that if he had spit in his daughter’s face, it would have shamed her greatly(this was about a dispute). Jephthah actually did sacrifice his own daughter, but at least he showed some remorse over the necessity of doing it. Moses blessed the Levites who killed their own kin over the golden calf, saying they had won Yahweh’s favor for their merciless zeal. These are examples of righteousness that Yahweh showed favor to.

    Yahweh doesn’t seem to care about the Israelites very much, not to mention everyone else. He kills them or torments them any time he gets an excuse. He often punishes those who had nothing to do with offending him. He even makes contrived circumstances to do this. And his loyalty toward them goes only so far as his contract. He calls them his slaves(ebbed) and his possession. Even calling Israel his “son” isn’t much when you think of the examples above. At one point, he was going to kill them all and start over with Moses. No one here would use “love” to describe any of this, if they were not obliged to by dogmas that were made up later.

    Yahweh threatens many times that he will starve people to the point that they will eat their own children. I have not found anything like this in other religions. Even in the ancient near east, and that is saying something. Only the Bible has such an emphasis on cannibalizing one’s own children. I guarantee Christians would start muttering about “evil” if the names were changed. But because they believe they will be sent to gehinnom to be burned and tortured, they dare not speak against Jesus. I have seen that in Christians many times, at the bottom it all is a desire to avoid punishment. Why else do they go on about “salvation”?

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      1. Yes, I think so . But, there is a growth in spiritual insight and understanding over time. Scripture is like an “earthen vessel” showing this progression through plenty of messiness.
        There are strands of thought in the OT as well speaking very much of God’s deep love and mercy. One of the verses that speaks most strongly to me is Mic. 6: 8. ” What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

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      2. That question was on my mind for a long time. They are related as religions, but there was a lot of change over time. And not just from Judaism to Christianity, even within non-Christian Judaisms. Look at the difference between the Torah(or even the Primary History) and works like Jubilees, Maccabees, Daniel, Enoch, Tobit, and the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs.

        I believe that it was the effect of axial age thinking on Judaism. It was not just a development within Judaism. Similar changes happened in other places even earlier, along the same lines. Look at the difference between Homer and Plato, or even Plato and Plotinus. Even a tendency toward some form of monism or monotheism was nothing new. They had that in Babylon before the Jews jumped on the bandwagon. Marduk was declared to be all-gods in one. Same thing in Egypt with Amon-Ra being declared the all-god(other gods are his countless manifestations), and that was back in the New Kingdom before the Israelite state was supposed to have existed. The Egyptians seem to have started this trend, not a surprise considering how it seems to spread out from there. Moralism and dualism also came along, as well as an emphasis on personal piety over religious obligations. Zoroastrianism and its role in forming the Persian state religion is another example. Some call this whole time period “the axial age”.

        The religion of Orpheus in Greece had many of these features. It also had a teaching that one had to get current and past impurities forgiven(including impurity just for being born in this world) through sharing the mystery(death and resurrection included)of Dionysus, the savior. It was not a complete monotheism, but it had tendencies toward some kind of henotheism. To the Orphics, Dionysus son of Zeus was also Zeus, who is also Hades, who is also Helios, a single divinity in 3 or 4 persons(sounds familiar). Some later(Roman period) Orphics even included the Jewish Yahweh in this scheme, Yahweh was considered another form of their deity. They even had sacraments of bread and wine. Orpheus comes up a bit in early Christian art, strange that. There are inscriptions from devotees of Dionysus about how he has saved them, and that his believers will be with him after they die. They called him the looser of bonds and the liberator from this world. Salvation of this sort is not in evidence in the Old Testament, but you start to see it in other Jewish works. The parallels between Dionysus(and other mystery cult gods) and Jesus are strong, in my opinion. Early Christians knew they were strong too, because they had to go out of their way to explain them away. That Jewish tomb with the figure of the resurrected Attis explains in my mind the process of how Christianity likely came about.

        All of these groups happened to surround the Jews and Israelites. A royal seal of Judah that is now a valuable artifact has the winged sun symbol of Egypt on it. This symbol became widespread even outside Egypt, and it was the symbol of the highest god Ra, who was considered the embodiment of divinity itself. Winged suns appear on many other Judean artifacts, and the Bible itself alludes to the symbol at least once, relating it to Yahweh(the sun of righteousness with healing in its wings). There is a lot of evidence that the old Temple in Jerusalem was the center of a solar cult, and very much influenced by Egyptian forms.

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        1. Great comment and insights. “Who are you you anyway?” “No one to trifle with.” “I must know.” “Get used to disappointment”—Dread Pirate Roberts, Inigo Montoya.

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        2. K, I want to say that although I don’t always agree with all your conclusions, your comments are some of the most interesting I’ve read. If you are not teaching at a theologically progressive seminary or in a university department of religious studies, you are missing your calling. 😊

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    1. Well said K. I remember reading and questioning most of the Biblical instances you mention here, and so many others too. I came to the conclusion that if that was my God and his example of how things would be in his heaven I need never fear either Satan or his hell for he never exhibited near this sort of blatant psychopathy. Beware Christians, if you actually believe in your loving god and are likely going from the frying pan into the fire. The life-long con, then the sting.

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  3. Jim, I’m so sorry to hear about your son and brother. What is wrong with these Christian people? If there ever was a need for some decent pastoral counseling. For myself, if I couldn’t see my grandkids, I’d probably be ready to break the door down. I absolutely can’t understand it. What is their church background, if I might ask? Is it possible they might have become caught up in a cult?

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    1. It’s a tolerance issue. They love me I’m sure, but they can’t tolerate my presence. Haven’t seen the grandkids over there in 7 years. If they knew of this blog I’d be done forever, but I’m hopeful.
      This is a little like the relationship with god. He has his true love in his only begotten, while he tolerates the rest of us. It is simply his patience and good grace that he doesn’t just wipe us out, right? Every breath you take is out of tolerance, not love—If any of it were true

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      1. Jim, how sad for you and even more so for them. I have adult kids and stepkids that are not all Christian believers, but there is not this kind of division over differences in belief. I love them dearly. I see God’s love as unconditional, so I feel as much as is humanly possible we should all strive to reflect that even more so toward family. Maybe you’re right in that your family’s experience of God is also impacting your relationship together. Would they be open to other ideas and expressions of Christian faith or are all their convictions pretty much set in stone?

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        1. I think most people are pretty set, and I know they are. No worries on my end Becky. I’m not going to let it spoil my vacation. On the bright side, five of my eight grandchildren I see all the time.That is enough smiles for me 🙂

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  4. Yep, I can connect and resonate with the insight, Nan and Jim. I’m a Stephen’s minister and so am reading a book called, “The Way of Grace, ” with my care receiver. This is a book written more from the mystical stream of the church. It’s all about being open and letting go to better appropriate God’s grace rather than to mindlessly cling to what we think we know or think we need all the time.

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    1. You’re still talking the Xtian faith talk here Becky. Your audience is getting antsy and threatening to walk out on the sermon… now what do you do? Nan asked specifically, who is God? I’d sure like to hear your own “description” of this god you seem to think everyone should love. Personally I do know WHO and WHAT god is and for those reasons I despise the Abrahamic/Christian/Muslim god. When I think of god I compare with the likes of Trump, Bezos and Gates to name but a few but they are small potatoes when it comes to the big con and the final sting. Now in normal talk explain why I am wrong.

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      1. What do I do? I reflect on why there is this difference between us and how to more deeply understand and communicate. I agree with Nan in that we are all conditioned by our culture and will almost unconsciously reflect that bias one way or the other. So, of course we are going to express that paradigm. However, if there is a universal creator, then it makes sense to me that there is a truth which also transcends culture. I think that truth is Jesus Christ. When you read the Sermon on the Mount or the parable of the prodigal son reflecting an image of God as a loving parent do you see a heartless despot or a cosmic dictator?

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        1. Wasn’t the Sermon on the Mount cobbled together and inserted at a late date to make the rather…horrific…god of the Bible more palatable? Plus, I question how unique these teachings are in any way. Many if not most cultures had similar pieties of compassion.

          Plus, which “Jesus” are you even talking about? The physical, living, breathing religious thinker? The Man-In_God_In_Man who is one and three all at the same time? Or some version of the ethereal spirit being that Paul hallucinated? They are not the same thing at all.

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          1. I was never able to reconcile the Jewish Jesus with the Greco Roman Christ invented by Saul of Tarsus to draw the early believers away from and against the loser Jews and into the Roman hegemon with the long term goal of taking over than conquering monster. I’ve always understood Saul/Paul to be a Roman spy.

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          2. I have never studied this concerning the Sermon on the Mount, basen. I do agree that certain teachings of Jesus are paralled in other Faith’s. We can certainly find common ground. I think that all the writers of the NT had their own theological agenda. I don’t mean agenda in a bad way, but more in the sense that they centered in aspects of the life and teachings of Jesus that were geared toward their targeted audience. The apostle Paul was primarily addressing problems and issues in the respective churches. So, I think we really end up with a many faceted image of Christ. However, I’m also able to see a continuity throughout. It all adds to the richness, IMO

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  5. I thought you were agreeing with Alan Watts. Yikes, wrong again. Maybe I need to rest my typing finders for awhile. 🙂

    Well, I do agree with being transparent and authentic. I must admit after Holy Week, I’ve had enough of liturgy for awhile. Maybe, I need a dose of a rip roaring pentecostal service with folks being slain in the service and such, running around wildly. Those brothers and sisters are never boring.

    Blessings and good thoughts. Hope you had a great holiday with your family, Jim.

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    1. I was agreeing with Alan Watts, but simply as an example. Whatever the reason you don’t actually love god, it should be freely expressed and honest. It isn’t.

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        1. It’s funny that the only believer that addressed this (Frederic) didn’t dispute it. Neither did Becky, neither did you. Neither have the ex-believers, nor the life long atheists. Here again the premise is really; when you don’t love god, why feel compelled to pretend you do?
          “I know I probably should love you, but I don’t” I love you because the book says I must! That in not any authentic form of human love. That cultural obligation is the core of the guile in the churches. It’s lying from the depths of who we are. That leads to trouble as you can see. Faith is simply a forced emotion anyway, conflicting another emotion—that divides at the heart of what makes humanity a pleasure.

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          1. I think people want to be accepted and well thought of by others. I’ve met people who have financial and social interests in not being genuine. But, I feel there are many Christians at the sametime who really do genuinely love God, albeit not perfectly or completely. How can we judge the depth of this?

            But, it seems to me this is a problem not just with the Christian church, but in all segments of society. It can be difficult for people to be completely transparent and genuine for fear of judgement and possible rejection.

            I would like to ask the question of why people feel that God is a “con artist?” Like, in what way? Or maybe I can reframe this in another way, is it possible that the difficulty is with our own expectations?

            To give an example, a while back we had a friend visiting us who brought her family by from another state. They were wonderful and kind Christian people, but with some convictions that, to be honest, I thought seemed very strange. These folks had the belief that if they prayed to God in a certain way using the name of Jesus, He was almost compelled to respond in a proscribed matter, especially in the area of miraculous healing. My heart sank hearing this. It seems to me a doctrine almost certain to lead to deep disillusionment.

            I’ve also know folks that think if they come to faith in Christ, all of their troubles are basically going to be over, and they are not going to face real trouble or even suffering in the world. God will deliver them from everything. like yesterday. I can’t see it at all.

            Actually, my poor husband’s troubles intensified when he came to faith. Lord have mercy!

            I realize there are some verses of Scripture and teachings of Jesus that can be interpreted in this matter for sure, but I don’t think the concept can be substantiated by the overall teaching of Christ or the witness of the entire Scripture.

            What do you think?

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            1. Actually, my poor husband’s troubles intensified when he came to faith” This is a good point. Thank you. This, in principle is the way of the sly-man. Not just your husband, but basically it’s this; When the sly man decides to leave town, (or his old way of life) he packs his things quietly and disappears. If he announces it all his creditors come calling. This, in principle is the same when coming to Christ. We announce it and here comes the devil—and we all know who that is! This conflict within ourselves is amplified. That is one of the principle barriers to enlightenment or any great breakthrough. You don’t try, you just do. Only when we have tried till we’re blue in the face and surrender, give up, does the talent blossom.
              So in principle, whether religious or irreligious, if we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging, but letting go. Being “at-one” is a complete life in the present. “Take no thought for what you will eat, or wear,” But if you start thinking about it you have already lost. Funny that the Christian impulse is never brought to fruition by its religion, but the wisdom of another.

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            2. Time is short today but I’ll take that one on: Quote: “I would like to ask the question of why people feel that God is a “con artist?” Like, in what way? Or maybe I can reframe this in another way, is it possible that the difficulty is with our own expectations?”
              One: how about the fact that “your” god does not deliver on any of his promises, even those made by Jesus. Where are the “greatest” things and the miracles I was promised as a disciple and haven’t seen anyone else do those things either – and please don’t bring up the Pentecostals, that is such a pile of garbage it reeks worse than the silage and manure they’re currently spraying in the fields around here. (Yes, Penteostalism is another Xtian excretion I tried out. Oh yeah, could speak in “tongues” with the best of them and had short lived fun dancing and waving and crying out the “Praise Jesusssss!” and the “Halleluiah’s”. Never healed anybody though, and never saw anyone being healed though plenty whacked on the forehead and declared healed: all absolute idiotic fakery, but it sure pays if you’re in the right position.
              Two: Am I not to have serious expectations when God’s “word” makes explicit promises? Is Jesus just another politicians making promises in the need of the moment not caring in the least if any of it can materialize since any failure can always be blamed directly on the “sinner”? Pure con artistry from the word go.

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          2. So your evidence that Christians don’t really love God is:

            a) no one has disputed your argument,

            b) People only love God because the Bible commands them to and that is not an authentic form of human love.

            C) People don’t really love God, but rather attend churches as a cultural obligation.

            It seems to me both Becky and Frederick did dispute your main point by explicitly claim there are people who genuinely love God.

            As to your second argument, I would think all those neurochemicals that flood people’s brains and the way many Christians spend so much time passionately arguing with atheists or whomever (actual behavior), clearly suggest that many of them do feel some sort of genuine emotions related to the phenemena in question.

            As to the third point, I think everyone is agreeing with C in at least a limited way. Clearly some people attend churches to fit in or as an cultural or social obligation, but it doesn’t follow that means everyone does so. Also, religions are social phenomenon so this isn’t really shocking at all. There are plenty of religions, ancient or otherwise, where if you walked up to an adherent performing a ritual or practicing the religion and said, “you shouldn’t be here if you don’t really believe in the gods or if you have some doubts” you would get some funny looks.

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            1. Certainly lack of dispute is not the only evidence, nor why I wrote the piece, simply commenting on the responses.
              Would the believer ever profess a love naturally for god having not been commanded? The concept basically is contrary to nature and wisdom. Has anyone loved any of their gods? Fear? Yes. Respect? Maybe. But not love.
              One decides the emotional pull is great enough, then they agree to believe (maybe because they need to feel loved themselves) but to genuinely love an authoritarian who is often capricious and frequently angered (one you are helpless to combat) is merely lipservice.
              The command to love god over yourself or your neighbor is one reasons ethics is more sound in principle. Having no other gods before him is also contrary to the constitution which is no respecter of any religion, but equally to all of them. America is against the Bible and neutrally Yahweh, if you think about it (so much for a Christian nation) But I digress.
              Would you feel free in the church to state your true opinion if you didn’t actually love god, who is always in the way of social progress? Is anyone, that is not on their way out stand against it without guile for fear of rebuke? I know I had doubts for a long time before I ever voiced a word of it. Virtually every “evolved atheist” here suppressed their doubt because of the culture of the the church.
              I have some first hand experience getting to know every memeber at my church. What they say in private is not what they say in the open. It’s a “we’ll do it for the kids” sort of hush so we don’t disrupt the tea cart.

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            2. ideas of deities and God predate written material. So clearly people have thought about God and other deities prior to specifically having a book commanding them to do so. As I already pointed out the belief in God or experience often is a very similar response to love. See this article below:

              https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2016/11/29/health/religious-brain-mormon-mri/index.html

              So based on the brain scans, we can actually say some believers feel something akin to love. Not just fear or respect.

              Likewise you haven’t really given any definition of love. The love I feel for my children is different from the love I feel for my wife which is still different than the love I feel for a close friend. Why assume life must take one shape or form? Who says one easily definable thing out there called love?

              If I were an atheist, I would generally feel comfortable telling my loved ones or other Jews. It’s relatively normal to be an irreligious or even an atheist Jew. So I can’t really relate on the last part. For example, my brother is an atheist. It just not really a big deal.

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            3. I’ve seen the Mormon brain scan study before. Of course, the standard lines in Mormonism ingrained this idea of how much god loves them—and how much they’re supposed to love god. It’s not surprising they would have warm feelings, even over an outright lie that confirms their faith (which has happened) These emotions are as unreliable as the presentations that creates them. I could go silent here for a time, make up a big fat reconversion story where a miracle appeared to me in a crisis and bolster the faith of every believer on the planet.
              Belief is unreliable, even though they are just thoughts that trigger emotion. without the hormones there is no spiritual experience.
              Neither here nor there. Humans are easily fooled on every front, then difficultly unfooled. I know some people that have spent their entire life searching the non ordinary of their lsd trip, which has amplified those senses without any effort. The brain is basically a big drug. And secretions—the tool of the gods, if not the gods themselves.
              It may not be a big deal to you, but I lost a hundred friends and a brother and son simply over not believing. It is a big deal in most Christian circles. Dwain (as you know) lost his children, and I know many that just keep it a secret and live the lie within themselves because the cost is too high to be honest.

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            4. … because the cost is too high to be honest. — And that’s a DAMN SHAME!! It should NOT be so. BUT … indoctrination is a tough nut to crack.

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            5. It is much easier to fool someone than to convince them they’ve been fooled. Grouchy Farmer (I think) did a fake tarot table in college. After gathering some information on some fellow students, they read their cards and astonished them. After the experiment they were unable to convince the subjects they’d been duped.
              Vikram Gandhi also proved this true with his fake guru experiment he turned into a documentary (Kumaré) He even told them all along “I am not a guru, the real guru is the one inside you”. People ate it up and when it was over, they held on that he was a real guru. Funny, but tellingly so.

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            6. I understand it can cause rifts in families, but so can any major difference in political beliefs or a host of other issues. My experiences neither invalidate yours, nor do your experiences invalidate mine. I think, though, this conversation is moving into a different area from where it began. The initial issue was do some Christians generally feel something akin to love for God and your suggestion that they couldn’t. I pointed out that:

              A) both your Christian interlocutors said they do.

              B) Brain scans suggest they do feel something like love.

              . . . Regardless of the reasons for them feeling it, they do in fact feel it.

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            7. I just want to let you know I appreciate your grounded insights. I may not always see things correctly or eye to eye, but I am always open to seeing people in a more positive light if possible. Honestly, I think most people are trying their very best with what they been dealt. All of us should seek to surpass our shortfalls with positive conversation.

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            8. [Quote:] “Would the believer ever profess a love naturally for god having not been commanded? The concept basically is contrary to nature and wisdom.” [end quote]
              Let’s change believer to anyone. Why would anyone, anyone at all, ever profess love for a god they had never seen, never heard of and never been commanded to “love” naturally come to love such a god? It wouldn’t even exist… how do you love something that is nonexistent? The idea is indeed contrary to nature and whatever is contrary to nature cannot be wise.

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            9. Excellent add on! And, nobody ever reasons their way to monotheism. It’s an imitation religion, made in Israel. It took a lot of mental wrangling for the churches to decide there was one god. Maybe that ought to tell us something

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            10. There is a simple explanation of how, and why, a particular tribe came to accept and (more or less – it was never so clear cut according to many biblical texts) worship a single deity. Unfortunately it’s also a very long story that involves a part of our history that has been made taboo by the establishment. I’ve written some essays on the subject which I think I blogged. If I find something relevant and concise enough I’ll link it to your blog, Jim. By the way, I dig your new Gravatar picture!!!!

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          3. How do you love something second hand; something you only think exists; something you have to constantly invent a relationship with? On top of that how can you love something that does nothing at all for you; never answers your greatest questions like, what’s it like in heaven and who is really there? 🙂 and is never there when you really, really need it. How can you love a CEO of the largest corporation on your world who does nothing to correct or curb the overt corruption, the lies, the sexual misconduct and greed publicly exhibited by his bureaucracy? What’s there to love?

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          4. How do you love something second hand; something you only think exists; something you have to constantly invent a relationship with? On top of that how can you love something that does nothing at all for you; never answers your greatest questions like, what’s it like in heaven and who is really there? 🙂 and is never there when you really, really need it. How can you love a CEO of the largest corporation on your world who does nothing to correct or curb the overt corruption, the lies, the sexual misconduct and greed publicly exhibited by his bureaucracy? What’s there to love? But God’s caveat is, love me or be damned. So you get love under duress but since that is an impossibility, you get hypocrisy.

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            1. WordPress must have been really impressed by that comment to post it twice almost verbatim. Just kiddin’ – it’s what happens jumping around from phone to tablet to notebook, one of which still refuses to sync with the others… my apologies!

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  6. He is like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, like the Shepherd who leaves everything to find the one sheep that was lost. He’s like the Samaritan who takes care of the man who was attacked by the side of the road. He reveals Himself in Christ so we can know Him.

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    1. It probably feels good for you to spout this Christian bromide, Becky, but it’s simply no answer. If that had been on a test and I had been grading your response I would have given you a clear zero. Not because I don’t like your answer, or your faith (or you for that matter, you are a very likable person) but because it does not address the issue. You can’t answer our questions with Christian platitudes. Most of us here already know “those” non-answers; we also know they aren’t based on anything tangible because we’ve all tested them before we reached our conclsions. Want to try again?

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      1. Sha, I understood Nan to ask how do we know what God is like? So, I shared my thinking in this. I feel like we know Him through Christ
        But, how are you feeling in this? Do you feel as if I misunderstood? To me this doesn’t feel like a platitude. Can you explain more fully to help me understand your thinking or reframe this in a different way?

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          1. Nan, I’m hearing your question in one way. You are thinking of something else. Can you reframe so I’m able to understand? Who is he? I think He is known and revealed in Christ. When you were a Christian, what did you believe to be true concerning the nature of God?

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            1. My question seems pretty straightforward to me. Who, exactly, is god? I’m not asking about his nature, his attributes, his (supposed) revelation through Christ. These all fall back to what has been written about “him.”

              So once again, based on what you wrote (We should love and serve God just because of who He is), who is he? Try to step out of your Christian/religious thinking and see if you can tell me “who He is.”

              As to what I believed about god when I was a Christian? I believed he was whatever the church leaders told me he was which, as you know, comes from what has been written about him. Which makes the circle complete.

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        1. Ok, saying that God is revealed in Christ IS a non-answer as would saying that God is revealed in the Bible. I’ve been there and done that. God is not revealed in Christ because, well, again, what is Christ (not who for there is no knowing that except as personal belief) but anecdotal records and pseudo-epigraphical history if I may use that term? Unless I can verify the authenticity of Christ how can I verify the authenticity of God using Christ? Using one unknowable to prove the existence or character of another unknowable doesn’t get one anywhere except with people easily fooled into accepting the ridiculous or unverifiable. I know what the Bible says about faith (Hebrews 11) – I used it as proof-text for years. But it’s a statement that is based on nothing – meaningless – except, again, to an individual’s personal choice of belief. What YOU believe, Becky is of no relevance in this discussion and it seems to me that is what you cannot comprehend. To you, what you state from your belief makes total sense – I know, I’ve been there too – but most of us here are beyond that now. If I drive a Porsche to work chances are I’m not going to bed at night hugging a teddy bear. Jesus is your teddy bear aspect of Christ and that’s fine by me, but I don’t want to accept that we all need to have a teddy bear to sleep soundly at night. A teddy bear wouldn’t “do it” for me. The problem, I sense, with your presentation is it’s emotion-based. Your faith creates deep feelings within your mind and these feelings express outwardly as emotion. All hell breaks loose when emotions are relied upon and used to express one’s truths. I don’t mean to belittle your faith (and I’m aware I’ve just done that, please forgive me) but just trying to make a logical point. You can’t talk to us (me) using YOUR faith language, I can no longer accept it, even if I still understand it. It can never reach where most of us are, it can only pull us back and that is why the gap between your explanations and our questions is only widening. Can you talk our language? Material evidence? Historical evidence? I would even accept miracles if they were properly authenticated by non-biased observers or participants. Anything that proves beyond any reasonable doubt that what you claim is in fact, fact. To repeat and close, we know ALL the stories, faith based or bible based and we’ve logically concluded they are not acceptable as incontrovertible evidence of God, Christ, Jesus or any of the subsequent pseudo history that holds the religion together. Your own personal beliefs or faith is an entirely different matter. That is sacred and if it’s what makes you a good person, you should hold to that with your very life. Just know that such a thing is not transferable to anyone else. Only your personal goodness as expressed by your character can help another change; but know also there is a dangerous flip side to that. If your goodness is done to impress others and “bring them” to your way of seeing, that makes you a total hypocrite. I write from personal experience. I hope (just an expression, I don’t do hope) that you had an exceptional Easter day. It was the ultimate day of the year when I was a practicing Christian.

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          1. Hi, Sha, I see where you’re coming from. I was interacting with Jim’s article in a different way, reacting with the idea that God is boring, domineering, authoritarian, etc. like “love me or else.” I feel that in reading the parables of Jesus as a whole, and looking at His life and ministry, a very different picture of the character and nature of God is being presented. That’s what I was reflecting upon .

            But, you are asking why do I believe at all? What is the objective, intellectual basis for Christian faith, for me? Well, for starters I don’t know that evidence of most things, particularly interpretation of events that happened in the past is every completely inconvertible. There is most always, an alternate interpretation/ explanation that can be found by various folks.

            Here are somethings that are most persuasive to me, and have shaped my thinking in a more objective, intellectual kind of way. I’m most persuaded of the existence of a creator by the argument of “a fine-tuned universe.” Here’s a link explaining this in greater detail.

            https://biologos.org/common-questions/what-do-fine-tuning-and-the-multiverse-say-about-god/

            Just looking at this, I would find it very improbable to suppose that there is not a creator at all.

            But, how do I move from this to Christian faith? It seems reasonable to me to think that if there is a God who created the universe, and formed us, albeit through an evolutionary process, He would reveal Himself in some way. There would be clues to this. So, I’ve looked at the major world religions.

            To me, Christianity makes sense. My faith is centered not in the Bible, but in the apostolic witness of the resurrection which precedes the writing of the NT. The vast majority of scholars accept the historicity of Jesus. This is not contested by most. I feel that the apostolic witness of the resurrection of Christ is the most reasonable explanation for the genesis, and spread of the church.

            There are other alternate explanations that can be found, of course. One would be that the apostles and the earliest Christian believers conducted this elaborate hoax. But, of course, why would they do this? I can see no real advantage. Other explanations given might be things such as hallucination, delusion or mental illness on the part of the apostle Paul, or grief delusions. For various reasons, I’ve found these explanations to be unlikely. Really, it would have had to be like this “perfect storm. ” But, remember, I don’t reason within a naturalistic paradigm, so that makes acceptance of the apostolic witness for me much more likely.

            Also, and this is subjective, I feel as if I’ve had personal experiences on top of this where God has revealed Himself and made a difference in my life. I realize this cannot be accepted as evidence by someone else, but for me coupled with some of the other reasoning and thinking that I’ve shared above it is very powerful.

            But, what about you, Sha? What caused you to question your previous faith? Do you feel that it had to do more with objective intellectual kinds of thing or with personal experience?

            You had mentioned that you are into Celtic spirituality. I want to say that I also have a strong interest in this because of the strong connection to the natural world. Aspects of this are very beautiful to me. I feel very drawn to Celtic Christianity, and can definitely find common ground with Wicca.

            Probably there’s tons more I could say, citing scholars and all that, but how much can be written on one blog post. 🙂 So, there you have it, albeit in a nutshell.

            Pax.

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            1. Really the intent of the article was to help fix the church by having its members stop pretending to love god as a way of life, when they don’t. The ills and exclusions in the church spawned by giving your core to conformity. Pretending love when they don’t. They all say they do—2.4billion. Funny, Jesus said “straight is the gate and narrow is the way and few there be that find it”. That’s a lot of fews! That’s a lot of pressure to say something you don’t mean. That’s sheepism. Baaa. 😃
              I find it interesting too (in a loving way) that you choose to read and reason from the post from a certain angle that my interpretation of god is a bore. The intent (though maybe a bit wordy) was to point out the guile of the members who say they do love but they don’t, and the inability of members to be honest in the churches with their feelings about god.

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            2. That’s what I got from your article, Jim. The same dishonesty that was for me part of the push out of the churches, then the “Church” and eventually from the religious god concept altogether. When I finally admitted to myself that god was a con artist and would never change that was the end of it for me. So it isn’t too surprising that Xtians are dishonest since their god is. (I’ve explained before how I arrived at that conclusion, as have others on this blog.)

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            3. It’s easy to speed glean the parts that are easy. It’s called special pleading. I have dealt with numerous believers that expertly handwave the thesis and pick on writing style or punctuation, ignoring intent, but more often than not it’s a matter of not being able to comprehend a viewpoint outside their beliefs. Mel used to say I was completely incoherent, although ANYONE outside of his faith understood the premise perfectly.

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            4. Those who plead for Xtianity use the faith language. What they fail to realize or refuse to, is that most of us are already familiar with the faith language and attendant stories and we’ve thrown it out as a dead and irrelevant language. If I ask ‘Who is Jesus’ and someone says, ‘Jesus is Lord’ that is a non answer for anyone who does not believe that. Believers somehow can’t reason that one has to have a particular faith before a faith answer can be acceptable. As long as my questions are answered with faith claims nothing will ever be answered.

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            5. I don’t think I responded to this lengthy comment but any response would take us into a private conversation not conducive to this current one. Let me know if at this point you would entertain a private email conversation.(shatara@telus.net)

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            6. Sha, if one thing that hangin out on some of these blogs has shown me is that people have very different experiences and even different notions of what constitutes Christian faith. To give one example , that all the Christians are primarily motivated by fear of Hell ……This has certainly not been true for me.

              And, while I agree that there is plenty of hypocrisy and fault within all the churches… I mean the church is made up of fallible humans after all who are not all beginning their life of faith from the same place.. Who among us has ever led a perfectly consistent life? I’m inclined to be merciful toward the faults of others partly because I can see my own.
              Perhaps this is all a chasm that we ‘re not able to bridge together and we can only agree to disagree. Pax.

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            7. Shalom Becky! Of course we would never agree, that is never the reason why I engage conversations. I am always searching for original thoughts, original ideas. (I had a dollar and met a man who had a dollar. We exchanged dollars and we each still had a dollar. I had an idea and I met a man who had an idea. We exchanged ideas and now we each have two ideas.) Ideas are of, and for, the freeborn. They do not seek agreement nor collusion. I wanted to learn if you could, coming from a Christian faith-based world, offer me one original thought; one original idea. Too predictably, you could not. Well, I offered you some.

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  7. “The moment that you subscribe to the idea that your inner feelings can be commanded, you have opened the door to hypocrisy“…. Wow. This line. The truth that it holds is unmeasurable. This post is very well said. Hope you’re doing well Jim!!

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      1. Well to be honest Jim, I haven’t been able to write for months.. it’s been awful.. I’ve been painting instead but I’ve had to step out of mind lately… It’s been pretty awful to be honest. 😔 But I’m so thankful for continuous bloggers like you. Come to your page and it feels like home. Always so blown away with how you’re able to break down your understanding. It’s always so on point! Miss ya buddy. 🤗

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  8. In love with a concept, an idea, a utopia. Okay. But define love. Fear of Hell is all the love they should need. But what they really fear is that I will not be there when they arrive. Oops.

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    1. If there were a heaven it would be based simply on the level of integrity based on what you know to be true. It would be non denominational and full of zealots. Something in revelation a bout lukewarm and spit? You gotta really fall for it to make it.

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      1. I’m uncertain of what you mean, but one option (honest) of several Act of Contrition Prayers says, “…I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments…” IMO, peeps fear hell much more than they love god.

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        1. What I found hilarious about all that when still doing the Catholic thing was how stupid God had to be that he couldn’t tell the difference if his sycophantic followers feared hell more than loved him. Wasn’t he supposed to be able to read into the deepest thoughts of men’s hearts???

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            1. Says a lot that, doesn’t it! “Fear God and obey his commandments…” (or else!) Problem with modern Xianity is no none knows which “commandments” to obey and which to discard since Jesus died for their sins so most of them simply take the easy path: obey none, trust in the four spiritual laws and even if you just squeeze into heaven with no accumulated points, at least you’re guaranteed by your faith you won’t go to hell. That’s how it was presented to me and I was supposed to be all excited about that possibility of retiring safe and sound behind the pearly gates even if I had no pension coming in…

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  9. That all makes perfect sense, Jim, but my reasoning is that religious people, like politicians, can never be honest because of necessity they carry an agenda of belief that demands proselytizing. There is that constant need to con the other into your way of thinking or believing.
    Imagine this conversation: “Hi, I’m a Christian and I have to ask if you would like me to explain how you can believe in Jesus. Is that OK?” “No.” “Whew, thanks. Now that’s out of the way maybe we could be friends instead? Can I get you a cup of coffee?” “Sure, thanks.”

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    1. It would be nice to drop the pretense and the gamesmanship to get validation to placate their own needs. I wonder what percentage of believers actually love this and what it’s done?

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        1. “Hey Sha’Tara?”. “Yes Jim, what is it?” “Let’s go do some missionary work!” “Ok, Jim, meet me at 7am” this’ll be great!” Don’t you just love this?

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            1. “I feel the lord is calling us to this house right over here…shall we pray?” Maybe it will be someone from work or school that we actually know, god forbid. Sorry, I’m having a meltdown of embarrassing flashbacks. Haha

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        1. Jim, I totally agree that we should be honest with God and with each other rather than to simply go through the motions simply because the Bible says so. We should love and serve God just because of who He is not based primarily in fear or what we get out of it. I also think people can experience ups and downs in their feelings, and we also grow in our relationship with God over time. Like any commitment or relationship, it’s not static. People are just, well, human. It’s not unusual for someone going through tough times to feel abandoned or even to hate God, and yet to want to love Him at the sametime. I think God understands. I see loving Him more as an invitation rather than like a do this or else kind of thing.

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            1. That was going to be my question also, Nan… I just didn’t want to give Becky more of a hard time… but I do find her references to her god lacking in credibility. She makes it sound as if she has an on-going two-way conversation with said god. If he does talk then why did he never talk to me, or answer a single one of my questions? Might have kept me on board. I used to compare my relationship with god as a marriage in which I do all the work and my partner not only does nothing, but provides no income, and is never there. And yet he’d send people around to remind me I had to give him all the credit for whatever I accomplished and if the kids turned out it was because they believed in their absentee Big daddy. If you’re “married” to god you’re a single parent is how it worked out for me but I was damned if I was going to continue to give him the credit for what I did. Bottom line god is the ultimate con man. Maybe Becky’s got herself a different god, one I certainly never met though I’ve heard plenty about. But I’ve heard plenty about the other guy too, you know the one with the horns and hooves and pointy tail, and I’ve never met him either. Maybe it’s just a “Oh just shut up, put up, put out and believe!” or maybe it’s more luck of the draw. Did I pull the short straw, or did Becky?

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  10. “Love” is a poor translation. “Loyalty” is probably better. I have seen it translated as “covenant loyalty”. That is closer to the context in Hebrew, when you see the commands in the Old Testament to love Yahweh, as well as statements about Yahweh’s “love” for the Israelites. It is more like keeping a contract than anything else. The treaties between imperial powers(like Assyria and Egypt) and vassal states often used language commanding the vassals to love their overlord. The Amarna documents use this language about the Pharaoh all the time. The Assyrian documents include a list of plagues just like those in the Bible, for vassals that are disloyal to the Assyrian ruler. The god Assur will punish the disloyal. They use the phrase “the sky will be brazen, the earth will be like iron”(which is also in the Bible). And the curses include future generations as well.

    There is ancient evidence of a very personal dimension to worship. These often come from documents or inscriptions that remain from private or family devotions. I bring this up to make it clear that it was there. It was not all about covenants, rules, and politics all the time. The Bible is a product of a set of elites that were actively trying to shape a new religion. It uses a lot of political language from the highest circles of power for that reason. I keep that in mind, because this picture of Yahweh was probably not very much like what most in Israel or Judah thought.

    But all that aside, it makes a mockery of what Christians themselves say love is, to be commanded to love or be punished. I don’t think the inconsistency hurt early church leaders, though. A lot of those statements in the New Testament strike me as more for convenience than anything else. Throw the congregation some things about the god’s love for them, but when they get out of line there is also a stick to use in the form of threats of punishment. Kind of like how Muhammad could at one time say there is no compulsion in religion, but later say the opposite. Paul wrote that nothing could come between the love of Jesus and his congregation, but when there was a disagreement involving him, he condemned his detractors to be handed over to Satan. Apparently something could come between them, if anyone disagreed with the church authorities. This sort of thing does strike me as a sort of practiced hypocrisy, unlike the more basic Old Testament concept mentioned above.

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    1. Loyalty or love, I don’t see how that changes the hypocrisy of the entirety of it, or the essay for that matter. But you certainly provide some interesting perspective. I wonder in the context of loyalty how his most ardent followers feel or felt when he’s a no-show time and again? Talk about failed promises! Personally that is one of the most difficult challenges I face as a person, is people who show no loyalty and will turn on you over a trivial difference of opinion. But to profess loyalty to god over your own wife and children then do what normal people do anyway, seems like a waste of energy to play the game, the way that they do. Thank you sir. Always good to get your insights.

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      1. Most of these problems revolve around their doctrine of eternal punishment. If they had not made up that nonsense in the first place, they would have avoided so many problems.

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  11. Jim! Spoken like a true idea finder and haver 😉! I do have the idea that the Bible presents many more questions than it does answers. I wished all my Christian peeps would take the approach you give here. However, not everyone is prone to the kind of thinking this trail takes. So now I wish each, including myself to be kind and as honest and as accepting as can be. I will let God, or the powers that be, take their course. Eh?

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    1. Well thank you for the compliment. As a believer I would be curious to know your analysis of this improbable love you’ve been commanded to place in front of your own family that is untenable, but often pretended?

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      1. Reason crushes tradition. Life trumps “scripture”. Can’t fake love. I have felt all those things my man Alan describes. Sounds like what a kid feels about his parents at times. Well, if I’m a child of God then those things are natural. Jesus said, “Unless you become like a little kid, you won’t get it.” The Bible points beyond itself to something nonsensically crazy. and good. But to cut to the answer, the love I know as a person is analogous to God’s love. It’s the place I have to start because it’s what I know. So, where scripture, or somebody’s interpretation of it contradicts the love I DO know, then the scripture or the interpretation OR, my understanding of love or the scripture is wrong or at least incomplete. This is the quest, to find the truth about existence.

        Next question: Why believe in God in the first place? (Like we need somebody judging everything we do 🙄)

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        1. Thank you. If your being methodical, the next question would actually be, who in the church can take on the role of authenticity? Without guile or pretense? Be honest about their level of actual belief and love of god? Speak freely in the Sunday school or bible study without fear of losing the good judgements. This is the authenticity the church should be striving for. But no, that is to be kept private or risk your community, for we all know anyone that will embrace you over belief will abandon you over unbelief. This I know.

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          1. Amen , agree with every word. People are afraid of being judged. But, no one is strong in faith all the time. Most people at some time in their lives will go through tough times or experience “a dark night of the soul.” We all need to support and accept each other rather than to stand in judgement. However, there are some pastors who enjoy atheists in the congregation. They aren’t threatened by questions.

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            1. no one is strong in faith all the time”. It’s like staying in a marriage for the kids. You can pretend most of the time, but when challenges arise it’s nearly impossible to tolerate them. If you lower the bar and accept your fate, it’s merely an existence because at no time can you really count on the lord to do anything.

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          2. I personally have concluded from association with Christianity that “authenticity” is not in the least possible within it’s many institutional excretion. A [quote] from Thomas Paine “Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.” [end quote] Yet in the final analysis, it’s profession of belief in a false belief that powers all religions and such a profession is the worst of lies because it is lying to the self in order to convince the self that things are what the self always knows they are not.

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  12. As atheists we do not allow ourselves to be religious whores. But religious people, believers, cannot see themselves as whores either. They are god’s chosen. If their god could see, he wouldn’t see them as whores. He would see them as john’s.

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    1. I was raised that way. Practice makes perfect, right? Essentially it’s pretending, conformity by pretense. I do think there are some genuine people that honestly think they can do this, but that is not being honest now is it?

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  13. There is a reason the word chutzpah comes to mind. This religion is the disease (Original Sin + more sin) and the cure (Salvation!) and then demands … as the core of their teachings … that you love your oppressor. Could there be a more disturbing and disequilibrating and unsettling commandment? It keeps us off balance and struggling and, of course, we are to blame for any faults in the relationship because he is fucking perfect, don’t you know.

    Taking advantage of people this way for political gain infuriates me.

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