Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Psychology of Protest

November 29, 2016

When you are suffering, when your life is unsatisfying, you will always search for meaning.  For some, the meaning is found in a particular ideology or worldview that puts everything you experience emotionally into a niche of the system.  If you are suffering poverty, there’s a reason that fits the paradigm.  If you suffer what you experience as oppression, there’s a reason.  If you are sad, fearful, depressed, or dissatisfied with life, there’s a reason.  According to the ideology the reason is never found inside yourself or your life choices, but always in the society at large, and the solution is found in government.  That is why protesters from many different causes can join together in one large march.  They are all demanding change according to their ideology, and one that encompasses every grievance will attract a variety of people.

Protestors are not reasonable people.  They don’t really want solutions to problems facing the nation as a whole.  They want their own way.  They are convinced that a change in government policy will give them what they want, and they are convinced that what they want is righteous.  There is no middle ground, no center, no compromise.  Frustrated that they have not found a way out of their dilemma, being exposed to only one point of view, anger at their situation becomes anger at everyone else who isn’t protesting with them.  They may not understand how government works, but since government is the god of their worldview, they are demanding government give them what they want, regardless of consequences.

Politics as Religion

November 29, 2016

An alarming trend has occurred in America that hasn’t probably occurred since the Civil War.  Families have become divided, to the point of not speaking to one another, over politics.  A recent New York Times article on the subject shows that it tends to be the left who separates from others over their views.  What has happened?

It would seem for some people that politics has become their whole reason for being.  They see themselves, their world view and their ideology as having all the answers for a fulfilling life.  Rather than look at every issue from both sides and form a rational response, politics for some has become irrational.  They have only looked at one side of an issue, refuse to see there might be another side, and instead brand those who disagree as not “wrong” or “misinformed” but as actually evil.

If I do not agree with the worldview, I am a hater, and an evil _____  fill in the blank with whatever pertains to the issue at hand.  There is a litany of words to choose from.   And the person who banishes a family member feels very righteous and justified in doing so.  They see themselves as being on a moral high ground, courageous and sacrificial in banning others from their lives, even if those people were once important and loved.

Politics has become the religion of some.  It is based on a philosophical system that sees the world according to a particular paradigm.  Everything about life, meaning and satisfaction can be explained according to this paradigm.  It differs from religion only in lacking a God, and lacking a faith in a life after this one.  It gives the person meaning and purpose, as well as a sense of their own righteousness, and therefore, examining and possibly changing some of their beliefs is psychologically threatening–hence the lack of ability to reason with someone who disagrees.

A reasonable faith, one that is based on looking at all the available arguments and choosing the reasonable solution, is a faith that allows one to listen to others without feeling threatened, and allows for a periodic re-examination of conclusions based on further evidence.

The ideology as religion will probably not last for most people.  Government becomes a very unsatisfying God, and the older one becomes, the more one realizes one’s own mortality.  Ideology doesn’t answer questions of transcendence.

Reasons to Believe Jesus

October 23, 2015

There are at least 5 reasons to believe Jesus.  Here they are–in no particular order.

  1.  Scientifically.  Jesus talked about the Creation many times.  There is a creator.  If you have intricate design and purpose, you have a designer and a creator.  It is just not possible to get from amino acids to even the simplest cell.  To get to the simplest protein we know of, you have to have the right DNA combination.  The chances of getting that are 10×10 to the 77th power.  All the rest of the combinations won’t work.  That makes chance mutation, over and over, mathematically impossible, and this chance mutation is the basis for evolution.
  2. Historically.  The resurrection is one of the best testified events in history.  All history is based on the testimony of reliable witnesses.  The witnesses to the resurrection wouldn’t recant their testimony even under pain of death.  All but one of the apostles died for their witness.  Only John did not, and he was persecuted, imprisoned and exiled.  People will die for what they believe is the truth, they will not die for what they know is a lie. And the tomb was empty.  If there had been a body, somebody would have produced it.  As for the theory he really didn’t die–no one survived a Roman crucifixion.  Their job was to see their convicts died.
  3. Change in the apostles.  The changed lives of the apostles are a testimony that something happened.  They never portrayed themselves as heroes.  They all abandoned Jesus at his arrest.  Yet, after seeing the risen Jesus and receiving the Spirit, they became bold witnesses who traveled all over spreading the news of Jesus resurrection and his teaching.
  4. Prophetically.  Jesus fulfilled 317 prophecies about himself that were written in the old testament more than 400 years before his birth.  No one could do that on their own.  You can’t control how you will be born or die.
  5. Practically.  Look at the changed lives of people today, whose path has been turned around completely when they asked Jesus to come into their lives.  So many of them have experienced things they can’t explain and they will tell you they didn’t make it on their own.

This may not be enough reasons for everyone.  Nothing can be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt.  Thats why in a court of law, proof must be based on  the “beyond a reasonable doubt” premise or the “preponderance of the evidence” method, depending on how the applicable law is written.

“”God always gives enough light for those who believe and enough shadows for those who doubt.”  Pascal

Another thought about imagining God

October 11, 2010

I spoke to another senior citizen about the whole idea of “imagining God.”  He said it was a symptom of  how egocentric we are.  Isn’t it more important, he said, to be concerned about what God thinks of us?

Imagining God

October 10, 2010

I just read an article in USA Weekend magazine, where they want people from all over the USA to tell them how we imagine God.  What arrogance to think that how I or anyone imagines God should matter.  If how I imagine God matters, aren’t we assuming God is imaginary ?  God is God, whatever any of us may think, and what we think doesn’t change a thing about God’s person and character.   I am who I am no matter what others think, and what others think doesn’t define me.  Why, therefore, does anyone think that their imagination defines God.

Of course, what we think of God in a sense defines us.  God said many times He hates idolatry.  Idolatry is defining God, or imagining Him, in any other way than the way He revealed Himself.  The only way God directly revealed Himself was by becoming human in the form of Jesus.  What Jesus himself said and believed is all we know directly of God.  We can know God indirectly through His creation, but that has been spoiled by the evil his free creatures have foisted upon his creation.  There has been a great deal of prophecy and prophets.  How can we know who to believe when they all contradict one another?  The only prophecy Jesus believed was the Jewish scripture, and we know He did believe it because he quoted from nearly every book of what Christians now call the Old Testament.  Should anyone believe Jesus?  He rose from the dead, something no other prophet did.  His resurrection is one of the best attested facts in history, but that is another whole essay.  Suffice it to say, any imagining of God by us is idolatry, and any interpretation we place on scripture says more about us than about God.

California Religion

October 10, 2010

I recently spent a couple of weeks in California, and was quite interested in the religion of that culture.  It is quite a different culture from the majority American culture, although there are many “Californians” all over the world, and many in California who don’t share the culture.  However, the religion of California is the majority religion in that state.

In California religion there isn’t a definite God.  One doesn’t worship a definite God because defining God might be considered intolerant to other’s beliefs of a God or gods or no god.  Only bigots go to church in California.  If you subscribe to a particular belief system, that means you don’t accept other’s belief systems, and that is intolerant.  You must accept the behavior of others no matter what it is, except for some forms of murder, but not all, and some forms of child abuse, but not all.  If you don’t accept what others do, you are judging them, and that is bigotry.

It is important to be spiritual.  You are spiritual if you talk to something spiritual.  This is not a definite god, but can be an angel, a spirit guide, your own divine self, your better self or someone  you loved who is now deceased.  If you live according to the better spirit, honor the earth and honor your self, you are correctly spiritual.

The earth is the most important thing.  The earth is more important than people.  There are too many people.  A good number of people might be a million of two.  We should quit having children until we get down to just a few million people.  Then the earth will heal itself and be what it should be.  That is why alternate sex is good–so we don’t keep breeding.  Those who are breeders are bad.  Any other sex is good as long as no one is forced.

Business is bad.  Business people are all greedy, conniving and bad, and they are ruining the earth.  There should be no business.  Governments are the proper way to conduct business.  They tightly control all the bad things businesses do.

Marijuana and some other drugs are wonderful for us and should be allowed in abundance.  They make us all peaceful, humorous and creative.  We see more and learn more when we use drugs.  If everyone had a couple joints a day there would be no more war.  Marijuana must have been invented by the angels for our good.

Marriage is bad as it is practiced in our society.  No one should give in to anybody else.  We should all be free always to do whatever we find it in ourselves to do.  Marriage is too stifling for most people, unless you agree ahead of time that you will each remain free to do whatever you want.

Socialism is a good thing that has been much maligned by evil right wingers.  If the government takes care of everyone, there is no need for marriage or children.  The government will be your safety net and will take care of you when you get old.  The government is necessary to ensure everyone gets treated fairly all the time and that wealth is spread and evil business doesn’t mess things up for everyone else.  People are poor because business people take everything for themselves.

All of us should be whatever we want to be no matter what.  We should follow our own desires no matter what.  Never give up a dream no matter who gets in your way.  Be your best self.  Follow your own star.  Do whatever feels good to you, its the spiritual thing to do.  Listen to your body and listen to your feelings, for they will never lead you wrong.  Don’t get involved with evil, rich, business or right wing people.

People who live in California have asked me why I don’t live there.  I ask too many questions, and therefore am probably considered  intolerant.  I don’t fit.

Jesus in my Purse

March 26, 2010

Crazy Love by Francis Chan is one of the most profoundly life-changing books I have ever read.  It is truly counter-culture, both in terms of American culture and Christian culture.  Ultimately it asks, “How much do you love Jesus?”  How much do we think we love Jesus?  How much do we love the real Jesus?  How much of our love is devoted to a Jesus who fits our own image of what a God should be?

I think American women really want a Jesus they can fit into their purse.  If Jesus can fit into my purse, the convenience is amazing.  He’s small enough that I can carry him wherever I go, not a big God who (God forbid) carries me!  He’s  easily hidden so he doesn’t show up and embarrass me.  I take him when I please, and leave him home if he’s too much trouble to drag around wherever I’m going.  If  he’s with me, I want him to be sort of like a small spray can.  If I’m lacking confidence, poof!  I have it.  If I’m scared, poof!  I have  courage.  If I’m feeling weak, poof!  I have the Power!!  If I need money, the right words, a parking place, I name it and poof!  I have what I need instantly.  Oh yes, I’m grateful.  I’m always saying “Thank you Jesus!”  People think I’m really religious since they hear my thanks so often.  I even try to do things for Jesus to keep him happy there in my purse.  God forbid he should jump out and quit taking care of me.

Oh wait!  I have just broken the second commandment and broken it in a huge way.  I’ve made a Jesus in my image.  This is NOT the Jesus who came to earth to teach me who HE is and what HE wants of me.  This is not the Jesus who “set his face like flint” and headed to Calvary so He could die for me and the boatload of silly, selfish, foolish users just like me who treat the Lord of Heaven and Earth like my personal assistant.  This is not the Jesus who asked me if I would take up my cross and follow him.  This is not the Jesus who told me to love God with all my heart(passion), all my soul (emotion), all my mind (faith), and all my strength (commitment), and actually commanded me to love the other person (any other person in need) as much as I love myself.  No, the real Jesus won’t ever fit in my purse, and I have to ask if He will fit in my puny life.  My life is about keeping my shoes clean, looking good and not breaking a nail.  My life is the life of a “nice” lady who is only beginning to realize the depth of her sin and the enormity of the loving grace of Jesus.

Casting Our Pearls

September 21, 2009

Jesus told us not to cast our pearls before swine or they would only turn and trample us.  I have often wondered what that could possibly mean.  In younger days, I would spend a great deal of time involved in trying to answer the questions of unbelievers.  A few people were helped by my answers, but most were hostile to my answers, and I found that puzzling.  Now I think I understand the statement about pearls. 

When I throw something precious to people who don’t want what I offer, I get a hostile response.  Just as a pig isn’t interested in pearls when its looking for food, a person hostile to Jesus doesn’t really want a reasonable answer to a question, they want me to be unable to answer, which in their mind justifies their unbelief.  If I spend time on such a person, I’m wasting time better spent on a sincere questioner.  If I spend energy on such a person, their hostility is an energy sapper, doubly leaching me of energy better spend on someone who is a sincere seeker.

A Christian writer once said we should concentrate our efforts at those nearest the “narrow gate” Jesus talked about.  These people have followed God’s guiding all the way to the way into the entrance, and they just want someone to help them with the gate.  Ministry among such willing seekers would be very successful and satisfying, and probably a source of further energy for more ministry.  However, I think its not necessary to stay only with those nearest the gate.  Someone could be still very far off, yet sincerely seeking help to find their way to Jesus.  I think its important to discern which way they are facing.  Are they facing Jesus and the gate into the kingdom, or are they turned away?  Those facing the right direction, even if still afar, are moving toward Jesus and can benefit from our help.  Those facing away from Jesus have turned away because of heart issues that have nothing to do with being shown or taught anything.  Its prayer they need, for only God can soften a hardened heart toward him.  That is beyond our capability.

Grateful for Faith

August 8, 2009

I feel overwhelmed today.  I just feel so much gratitude for my Christian faith.  I remember a time when I wasn’t sure that God existed.  I didn’t know the history of Jesus, and how he rose from the dead.  I didn’t know all the proofs that he is God.  I didn’t know His promises of eternal life.  I was afraid of death.  I was afraid of bad happenings after death.  I was also afraid that death might be the end.

Humans are the only beings on earth with self awareness.  We know we exist.  We are able to wonder why we exist.  We are aware of our mortality.  We are able to wonder what happens after our death.  Our awareness would be cruel if we didn’t have any answers, or if our lives were so short and death was final.  What would be the purpose of all we learned and all the loves in our lives?  What would be the point of a love that was so great you couldn’t believe it would one day die, if that were all there was…the death of love.  But then I began to learn and discover the promises of Jesus Christ.

No other religion has the promise of the Christian faith.  With some religions the best I can hope for is some kind of melding with the eternal–a loss of my self.  With other religions, I can only hope for some eternal reward from a God who is quite unknowable, not at all personal, and quite arbitrary.  With other religions, notably atheism and agnosticism, I can hope for, well, nothing at all.  That is my best hope with atheism–that there is nothing following this life.

Christian faith offers a personal God, a God who has had our experience of human life and understands what that is like to be human.  Christian faith offers the promise of God that life can be forever.  Christian faith offers the love of God, grace, forgiveness and the promise of a future home being prepared just for us.  It is backed up by the historical evidence of Jesus life, the miracles that proved his credibility as God, and His resurrection which proves His promise of eternal life to be true.  The resurrection of Jesus is one of the best attested facts in history.  If one were to throw out His history, we would have to throw out history books completely. 

I’m grateful for the Christian faith’s promises, I am grateful for a God who loves his creatures, and I am grateful He never made it necessary for our faith in Him to be a blind faith.

Rejecting Christ

April 15, 2009

The reason people reject Christ is the same reason we reject medical advice.  We want to be well enough for the pain to stop, but not so well we have to give up our bad habits.  We want enough religion to comfort us, especially when we are afraid, and when we think of our ultimate demise.  But we don’t want Jesus who might change our lives, or (God forbid) take over.