Monday, April 03, 2006

Using His Name, Ignoring His Lessons

I went to Sunday school as a little kid and attended church until my early twenties. I listened to what I was told during those years. I found it interesting to hear the stories from the bible, and the lessons they imparted benefited me as a person. The stories and the lessons were, for the most part, very positive or at least what I took from them proved to be positive in my life.

There was one aspect of attending church that always bothered me as far back as I can remember. I dreaded the part where they passed around the plate for donations. See, my family was always seriously financially challenged. We barely had rent and food money let alone money to give to the church. When I would see that donation plate coming my way I would almost panic. While others dropped in folding money, I dropped in a measly amount of change, seldom adding up to a quarter. I always felt ashamed that I wasn’t in a position to give more. That was the worst part of my church experience.

Somewhere along the way I decided that I didn’t need to attend organized religious meetings in order to live the kind of life I knew that I should. I had learned the basic teachings of Jesus. I learned to try to be kind to people in need. I learned to be as good a person as I could be and not to intentionally cause harm to others. I learned to respect people as much as they would let me and to try very hard to understand people with whom I disagreed, no matter what.

Today I see praying as another form of wishing. I don’t believe there is a superior being who is playing traffic cop and controlling which way our lives must lead. I hope there was a person just like the Jesus whose lessons I learned. I hope there was a person like that at least once upon this earth. I sure do hope there was.

Today the Christian Right is the worst enemy of religion. They are intolerant of anyone who doesn’t believe the way they believe, and for some reason, they are grand supporters of this war. My feeling is that these “Christians” never bothered to read the New Testament. That’s the part that’s the most important. The world according to the Old Testament was a miserable mess. Then in the New Testament, along came Jesus to try to get it straightened out. I don’t know how you can claim the word “Christian” if you don’t know the story of Christ.

So to me it’s kind of ironic that I, as an atheist, try so very much to live my life by the teachings of Jesus while the Christians on the Right seem to fight his teachings all along the way. We’ve all heard the question, “What would Jesus do?” Because I remember the lessons and based on what those lessons taught me, I pretty much can guess what he would do in most situations. I think he would be fair and tolerant. I think he would approach each situation with an open mind and a gentle heart.

Too bad, if there really was a person like Jesus, he couldn’t come back now and help us get our world back on track. We could use someone like him right now. The Christian Right says Jesus may return any day. For their sake they better pray it isn’t today. He just might not like them using his name but ignoring his lessons.


Blogger Kathleen Callon said...

Very deep. Very moving.

You touched on many things I wonder about all the time.

Whether it be God or self-realization, I think we're all drawn to what's bigger than us, to finding Truth.

We all have prophets, but most every organized religions uses and convelutes messages to be superior or to harm others... I guess because of this, I like to leave the organized out, but revere the wise words of all prophets I admire, no matter what religion they are or aren't part of, too... don't believe in God in a robe with a big bushy beard, but I believe that there's some kind of consciousness greater than mine helping to guide things... not people, not free will, but homeostasis, all that jazz... thatnks for this. You've given me a lot to think about.

April 03, 2006 9:27 AM  
Blogger Chancelucky said...

One thing I've noticed since I was a child is that certain passages from the New Testament that used to be "important" or at least got mentioned a lot aren't. The tale of the good samaritan is the one that seems to have disappeared. The other one that comes right after that is the bit about the rich going to heaven and a camel going through the eye of a needle.
Going back to St. Francis, it almost seems bizarre in contemporary American terms to think that anyone read the Bible and that it inspired him to take an oath of poverty.

April 03, 2006 9:50 AM  
Blogger Left of Center said...

I am so in ageement with you. I think Jesus as written about in the New Testament was a great teacher. I don't think he was god. But thats my belief. I think it is very true that Evangelical Christians seem to preach from the old testament whenever they want to be punitive and nasty. They rarely act Christlike to anyone but there own. I think Jesus would run them out of his churches for not being preachers of peace.

April 03, 2006 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Asta said...

I found your blog through BagNewsNotes -- I liked your blog name Martini Morning and am most happily surprised at the quality of your writing.

I can certainly identify with your early church experiences. We went to a southern baptist church, and there was always this segment where you were asked to come up to the front if you were gonna give your heart to Jesus. I was only five years old, but I loved Jesus because he loved all the little children, so I mustered up all my courage and walked up that long red-carpeted aisle and promised my heart to Sweet Jesus. Afterwards, I was grilled by the elders for what seemed like an eternity because they just could not believe that a child could possibly ... I the Lord? Anyway, I must've failed some test, like I didn't float in the pond or I sank, or they found a numb spot on me when they pricked me with a pin...I am just kidding at this point, but those people ruined that moment for me and I've never been able to get that feeling of pure innocent love back again. When I hear about "being saved, giving one's heart to Christ" I go right back to that moment when those people scared the BeJeebus outta me and made me feel somehow ashamed.

Thank you for sharing your feelings on your experiences. You have helped me sort some things out -- I've never told anyone about what happened that day.

April 03, 2006 1:17 PM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

Asta, thank you for sharing your experience. See, it was all so nice until the people who seem to feel they were "chosen", got their hands on things. Too bad we couldn't have just read the stories and been left alone with our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Human beings tend to mess up more than they fix especially when it comes to religion.

April 03, 2006 1:32 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Callon said...

What's strange about Christians and Muslims and Jews warring with each other over being "the chosen people" is that if any of them took the time read their holy book, they would realize in every one of them, their God talked about "the great nations" (not nation), that in every one of them God talked about angels saving the founders of their religions (appeared to Abraham, Srah, and Hagar in Torah, Bible, and Koran), and their God said he views "Jews and Greeks the same". Back then all people of God were Jew, and Greeks were considered Gentiles (people not believing in God or non-Jew). So basically, all three faiths are "chosen", all can be a "great nation", and none are different in the eyes of God. Kind of makes you want to kick a bunch of priests, pastors, ministers, rabbis, and imams out of religion doesn't it? Especially since their God is the same God (Abraham's) and we're all supposed to be different "tribes" of His family.

April 03, 2006 2:32 PM  
Blogger Sheila said...

Hey Guys,

Isn't that the diferance between us Liberals and those "so called conservatives?

I'm a card carrying Christian and wholey believe everything your saying and my core beliefs.

I will add something else. Man wrote the bible. The majority of teachings are based on apostles writings, not God's. The aposltes were tackling the job of teaching people how to live a civil life by God's rules and how to live longer avioding bad living conditions. God's own writings are the Ten Commandments. That is all.

Your are right that the Right have jumbled everything up and have a whole group of people not understanding how to carry on with their lives as Jesus would have wanted. I'm sure he's shaking his head in wonder at the silliness of his followers.

Heck, I had to check my under arm scent after the last election. Why was I not worthy when I'm a Christian too? A lot of us had to do a lot of soul searching. We're we wrong? The ever increasing answer is a resounding NO! I think if the Lord comes back now, there are going to be a lot of surprised people.

For the record my friends, God is the final judge and NOT James Dobson.

April 03, 2006 2:54 PM  
Blogger An Angry Old Broad said...

These folks do love them some Revelations though.The rest of the New Testament?Not so much.All that caring for the poor and ministering to the sick is too bothersome.These folks are busy damnit,and besides,those poor people aren't holy enough to have money you know.

I can't STAND this crap.I lost my birth family to this brand of"religion"and that's something I can't forgive.No God would seek to destroy families like that.

April 03, 2006 3:22 PM  
Blogger Nash said...

You can believe anything you want but when you start to hate people because they believe something else, you're on the wrong track.

As my grandmother said, "There are good people, and there are people who go to church. And they're not necessarily the same people."

April 03, 2006 4:14 PM  
Blogger shutterwi said...

John 3:16 and The Golden Rule.

April 03, 2006 4:15 PM  
Anonymous rebellious renee said...

Nash...your grandmother was very wise.

The only thought I'd like to add to this discussion is to question why everytime God sends us a messanger....mankind makes a religion about him instead of just listening to the message.

April 03, 2006 4:22 PM  
Blogger Granny said...

I'm a Christian who is appalled by the religious right who know nothing abobt love, only hate.

Please don't be scared away from isamericaburning. Those guy were around a couple of months ago. Eventually they get bored and leave. We'd delete them but I'd rather show them for what they are.

I'm truly sorry you walked in on it. They're trolls, probably bored kids with too much time and not enough brains.


April 03, 2006 6:26 PM  
Blogger sumo said...

I feel we have enough on our plates these days keeping abreast of the I leave religion out of the equation...sort of separation of church and state thing.

April 03, 2006 11:56 PM  
Anonymous awqoc said...

All good points, but if someone like Jesus popped up today, don't you think he'd be marginalized, labeled as a Liberal traitor, and tossed aside? Isn't that what's alreay been done to every person that tries to walk the same path Jesus did?

April 04, 2006 6:14 AM  
Blogger JBlue said...

Great post. I feel much the same way.

April 04, 2006 10:22 AM  
Blogger rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

"So to me it’s kind of ironic that I, as an atheist, try so very much to live my life by the teachings of Jesus while the Christians on the Right seem to fight his teachings all along the way."

welcome to an epidemic.

April 04, 2006 12:15 PM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

Oh, I agree wholeheartedly with your post. It seems that the Religious Richt are more like the people before Christ. they appear to be ignorant of the Christ message - love and tolerance.

April 04, 2006 7:55 PM  
Blogger Rory Shock said...

yeah, they use "Jesus" the same way they use "democracy" and "freedom" and "compassion" ... like the underage hookers that they seem to love ...
nice post ...

April 05, 2006 6:19 AM  

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