Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Critique of Christianity part V: Absolutism (2 of 2)

This will be the last in my series of articles on Christianity. Picking up from where I left yesteday, then.

The absolutist register of the NT reflects an anxiety as to whether the potential converts will believe in the doctrine. This leads to some of the most litigious statements in the entire Gospel. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew again, 10:37-38). But why? Why is something like paternal or filial love supposed to be an obstacle to Jesus Christ, or circumvented and controlled as if it were a potential sin? Just to make sure this is clear, we’re talking about love, and it is being discussed as if it had the implications of a sin. Even more importantly, how illuminated or mature can we consider an ideology to be when it speaks of love as if it were a quantifiable object, that is to say, as though you could say ‘I love my dad with 70% of my spirit but I think I love my mom with 90%, so I’ll love Christ with 120% just to be sure.’ I mean, of course our feelings for people change and grow more or less powerful over the time that we are in touch with them, but it’s not like I’ll love my mother less than I’ll love my wife, or my greatest friend less than my brother, I’ll just love them differently. There’s different forms and expressions of love, and they can be more or less powerful depending on the relationship we have with a person, but it’s still love. It’s still the same core sentiment, whether I feel it lightly for a friend I’ve made in the last month or deeply for someone who is my flesh and blood. And the fact that I love someone very much does not imply that my love for another person is reduced – the amount of love for which there is space in the human heart is, quite simply, infinite. It does not detract from itself. The idea that the Word of God could include such pointless bickering as ‘do you love me more or less than this other chap?’ is unbelievable – it sounds more like the kind of thing a sixteen year-old girl would tell her boyfriend over the phone as a way of flirting.

As it endorses the suppression of ideologies only on account of their having a different matrix from its own, Christianity endorses the erasure of difference and therefore richness from the world. It does not acknowledge that as the human spirit grows in infinitely different ways and circumstances, so the solutions that it finds to its problems are infinitely various in form and expression. Some may find illumination in hermitage, others in social life. Some may discover that their vocation is in dancing, others may find it is in writing or cooking, or even in something basically violent like boxing. Some may find that romance works for them when it’s the One True Love, others may discover that flirting and playful seduction with one partner after the other is more their thing. And of course, some may find that their peace in spirit comes not through Christianity but from other religions (if Christianity is imposed on you when you are young, illumination may represent precisely a liberation from Christianity!). I’m not saying that anything goes when it comes to being happy. But I am saying that I don’t buy the notion of one Truth as counterpoised to one Untruth. If Truth were a house, Christianity would be telling us that there is only one path that leads to it, whereas I’m saying that I believe there’s dozens of paths to it, some through the woods, some through the mountains, some through the air or underground, and that it is only walking them, not through doctrine or dogma, which teaches us which one is the right path for us. This is why, to me, the concept that several different Truths can be true at the same time, even if they are contradictory, is so crucial. The paths to Truth and Truth itself are really the same thing. There can be many and one, especially when it comes to the spirit. Heck, even an atheist can find his own way through the woods towards the house of our solitary illumination. The road to the spirit is not restricted to the highways of God.

Since it endorses the erasure of difference from the world, Christianity inevitably leads to conflict between differences – and this is what has led to all the violence in the name of Jesus Christ. People who believe in Jesus Christ think it is correct, and in fact good, to try and homogenize us all into Christianity. Even those who do not enact this belief violently seem to think it. The notion that different individuals require a different good is not one which they recognise – there is only one good, and it is the same for every one. By consequence, anything that does not take part in that good is expendable, if not outright harmful.

It is this hostility to difference which has led, however indirectly, to Christianity’s considerable history of violence. For this reason, we must recognise that said violence is an implicit outcome of the word of Jesus, not a distortion of the doctrine. Of course, the Gospels do not textually state ‘go out there and kill others,’ but by sending out an absolutist message into a population which they know to be ingenuous, they are responsible for the absolutist interpretations which are derived from it. This is the principle of indirect rhetoric – to draw a paragon for Christianity, the Communist doctrine must be held responsible for the dictatorships that derived from it even though it preached principles which condemned tyranny. This is because Communism released a blueprint for liberalism into its cultures without a safeguard against the power dynamics of the societies which received it. Communists must take responsibility for that, rather than take refuge in negation. Similarly Christianity preached love in terms which would necessarily turn the texts into a weapon to be wielded by authoritarian spirits – simply because the terms are themselves authoritarian. ‘He that is not with me is against me.’ It’s as terribly simple as that.

If I proclaim ‘Black people are bad, but we must respect them and love them,’ it will inevitably and eventually lead to racist violence and discrimination, regardless of the fact that the sentence commands to do the opposite. It is not enough to say the word of peace. You must couch it in a voice of peace as well, in an act of peace as well.

The absolutist register also leads, again indirectly, to one of the greatest paradoxes in current Christian rhetoric. When trying to convert you, Christians will often say that you must take ‘a leap of faith.’ You must open yourself to God and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and saviour. You must embrace the revelation. This would be fine if it meant opening yourself up to the possibility of Christ being the saviour, but in its enunciation, what it refers to is the certainty that Christ is the Lord. And this is the great fallacy – treating belief as if it were a choice. Genuine belief is not a choice. It is the outcome of experience. You do not switch belief on or off as though it were a lamp. In the ‘leap of faith’ rhetorical routine, belief comes before the experience which allows for it. That’s like imagining a man who is asked to love a girl before he has met her. Yes, clearly ‘leap of faith’ may have different meanings for other people, but if that is the case, then the terms are just terribly chosen. And I’ve had it preached to me often enough that I know this specific fallacy exists and is widespread among Christian communities. Christians essentially pose a request for belief – and more than that, they frame it as an ethical request, as though you had a moral choice on what you believe to be the truth or not.

I mentioned at the beginning of this long critique that it didn’t matter to me whether you believed or not in God, but only whether your belief was a bridge or a wall between yourself and other people. Learning to read the Gospel must be an act of building a bridge. There are many things in the Gospel which we can learn if we are just open to its teachings and if we are willing to learn. But, conversely, there is a dark side to the Gospel, an authoritarian side which we must learn to be wary of – one which teaches us to believe that only through and from Christianity can something come that is good, and that no happiness is real if it is not Christian. This authoritarian side is the part that I cannot endorse and what keeps me from being a Christian, alongside the issues previously discussed. As for my critique, if there is anything I wished to achieve, it was not to dissuade anyone from becoming or being a Christian themselves. I really hope that’s clear. Only I hope to have provided both believers and non-believers alike with a worthy perspective on the dual nature of the Gospels. That the non-believers may learn to recognise the words of love, and that the believers may recognise the seductive and dangerous side of the absolute, which can lead (and has led) to destruction on the earth we share regardless of our faith.


ElderChild said...

Taking the bait! And The LIES are swallowed, hook, line and sinker ;-(

Someone had written: "When I talk about people buying or being sold 'absolute junk' I'm not only talking about the material but also about the ideological. We are 'sold' on consumerism, the wars (Iraq), elections (the presidency), all manner of things. Unfortunately, so few people see that just because these ideas are on sale, that they don't actually have to buy them!"

Sadly, the multitudes have bought The LIES ;-(

The multitudes have taken the bait which is "ease of life", so-called, and The LIES were swallowed(believed),

and sinker(technology/"progress") ;-(

This place they call the u.s. of a. is the "bait"master and they catch their "fish" in every nation of this world ;-( Yet in england, france, germany, japan, etc, in all nations of this wicked world there are those who have become disciples of the "bait"master and they also have found other "waters" in which to catch their "fish" ;-(

And so it is that today there are multitudes in every nation under the sun that have taken the bait(ease of life), and swallowed(believed) the hook(money), the line(education/religion) and the sinker(technology/"progress") ;-(

Tempted, hooked, reeled in, and held captive as they but serve "time" in the prison that is this wicked world ;-(

Simply, they could not withstand the media blitz(krieg), or their own desires, and their "imag"ination got the best of them ;-(

Some two thousand years past The Truth bore witness to the fact that, "the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one"! (1John5:19) Yet, the "fish" continue to seek out that "good" place in the world, when in Truth the world today is but the product of mankind's "imag"ination, a dry and thirsty land of mirages, nothing but shadows, vapors and smoke ;-(

And in this wicked world, "image"s abound and are worshipped ;-(

So why receive that which is of mankind's "imag"ination?

Even when such is supposedly "free" there will always be a price to pay, for mankind's "imag"ination is destroying the earth(land, air, water, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is Spirit(Light, Life, Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Grace, Faith, etc.);-(

Consider the time when there were no radio's, no tv's, no movies, no newspapers, a time when there was no way yet "imag"ined and then manufactured, that would allow someone to publish or display the vain "imag"inations of mankind to the "masses". Sadly those who rule in this wicked world, and who control the "media", consider the "masses" to be but the M in E=MC(squared);-(

And yet today, here i am publishing(sharing) that which i believe to be from the heart, The Spirit within, not the vain "imag"inations of my fleshly mind, for i believe that which i share is of The ONE whose Voice i have heard and whose Power i have experienced in The Miracle that is receiving "the love of The Truth", and The Miracle that is New Life, Real Life, and The Miracle of healing more than once, and The Miracle of deliverance that sets me free, free from the "I" in me!

i believe that which i share is of The ONE who revealed the lies that are of this world, it's 'god', and it's systems of religion, as i received evermore "a love of The Truth". HE is The ONE WHOM i know and believe is the Giver of Life, The ONE and Only True Living G-D and Father(Creator) of ALL!

Father Help! and HE does.......

ElderChild said...

In times past, when i would wonder why things were as they were, i questioned?

Do you feel as i feel?
Do you wonder just what's real?

D you see the little child?
Do you see them running wild?

i see their doubts and i see their fears,
i see their hurts and i see their tears.

Now could be that's what i look to see,
Yet what i see is real to me.

Now am i alone to care and cry?
Or must i close these eyes and surely die?

Sadly, the children, or those who once were called children, today are referred to as "kids" ;-(

Sadder yet, the reference is true ;-(

Baby goats abound because their 'parents' feed them all sorts of "trash", and so it is that as they grow, they "eat" any and all things, no matter the dis-eases(no-peace) that causes them to be pill pushers, peer pleasers, or worse yet enslaved by the media ;-(

"Where have all the children gone? long time pa-as-sing" ;-(

Progress? As promised things are getting progressively worse and worse!

For "evil men and seducers are waxing worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived".......

Yet Hope IS Alive!

For Miracles do happen!

Hope is there would be those who would take heed unto The Call of Our Father(Creator) to "Come Out of her, MY people" for they will "Come Out" of this wicked world(babylon) and it's systems of religion, and they will no longer have their portion with those who are destroying the earth(land, air, water, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is Spirit(Light,Truth, Life, Love, Peace, Hope, Grace, Faith, Mercy, etc.) ;-(

And for those who have embraced "mother earth" and the oneness that is the natural Creation?

Hope is they would also experience and embrace that Spiritual ONEness that is a common union with their Brother, The Messiah, and Their Father, The ONE and Only True Living G-D(Great Spirit), HE WHO is Creator(Father) of ALL!

Family! indeed and Truth.......

A Simple and Spiritual Life.......


Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this wicked world and it's systems of religion, for "the WHOLE world(not just a portion) is under the control of the evil one"(1John5:19) indeed and Truth.......

Truth is never ending.......

John Silver said...

Just popped over on your blog, Elderchild. An extract -

"As stated previously, "that which is called ""progress" is of mankind's "imag"ination and can pervert, yet not destroy, that which is Spirit", and so it is that this world, and it's systems of religion, have their version of "Light", which can be turned on and off;

Their version of "Truth", which is of the "imag"ination;

Their version of "Love", which should be called lust;

Their version of "Peace", which needs be enforced;

Their version of "Hope", which is but a desire for temporal "things";

Their version of "Faith", which is powerless;

Their version of "Grace", which is the liberty to "do your own thing";"

Well, Quod Est Demonstratum or however that's said. Terribly immoral of me to want to "do my own thing," I guess.

ElderChild said...

"you guess"?

Well could be your Creator given "conscience has been seared with a hot iron" ;-(

John Silver said...

Why do you keep speaking of "their" truth, "their" love, "their" grace, etc.? Who are "they"?

You keep invoking an "us versus them" register which I cannot abide to. The man of the spirit is a peacemaker, not a warrior.

ElderChild said...

The man of The Spirit while yet on this earth is continally engaged in spiritual warfare against the forces of evil that rule over this wicked, evil world and especially the systems of religion which bind men in the chains of strong delusion.......

Truth testified "Peace on earth" when The Messiah was born in the likeness of sinful flesh, and when The Messiah ascended Truth testified "Peace in Heaven"......

Thankfully i am at peace with The ONE and Only True Living G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL.......

Father Help! and HE does.......

John Silver said...

I'm pleased to hear you're at peace with God. You do not sound at peace with the other people of the world, though.

ElderChild said...

i am temporarily in yet not "of this world" for my "citizenship(Life) is in Heaven".......

Simply sad for those who are of this world for they know not Peace because they continually deny and defy The ONE and Only True Living G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL ;-(

Father Help! and HE does.......

John Silver said...

1 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

By what right are you "sad" for other people? Since when did the Lord confer upon you the right to give moral judgment on the spiritual path of your brothers?

ElderChild said...

Especially sad for you ;-(

"And He answered and said unto him that asked Him, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren"?

And as He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples, He said, Behold My mother and My brethren!

For whoever shall do the will of My Father which is in Heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother."

Seems you're but of the perverse whose conscience has been seared with a hot iron ;-(

John Silver said...

I'm sorry that I disappoint you, or embarrass you. I am sincere when I say that Christianity did not give me the answers that I was looking for. But it appears my response does not please you.

ElderChild said...

Simply, pagan "catholicism" and her harlot "christian" daughters are anti-messiah, as are all other systems of religion.......

Yet because of pagan "catholicism" and her harlot "christian" daughters 'The Way of Truth is evil spoken of" ;-(

Faith will not create a system of religion.......

John Silver said...

I agree with that to a great extent, except for the obvious hostility you bear towards people who choose to endorse the Christian religion. I don't think their motifs can be written away as a "perversion" as easily as you do, no more than yours can.

If you'll accept a suggestion, I would also encourage you to practice your writing skills. Your writing is very obscure and often it is difficult to understand what you mean.

ElderChild said...

What is obvious is that you have not yet received "a love of The Truth".......

Yet there is hope!

For Miracles do happen.......