So I took a little stroll past the field negro's spot and caught him talking smack about the folks who distribute camouflage Bibles to U.S. troops. Field went to jaw-dropping lengths to find an appropriate Bible reference to begin his blog post (I swore he was allergic to bibles and scripture references):
"Rescue me o Lord from evil men; protect me from men of violence.
[men] who desive evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day."
Apparently, field not only has heartburn with the distribution of religious materials to troops in the field, but he also can't swallow the oxymoron of camouflage appearing on the covers of a religious book as if our self-professed "Christian nation" should experience protection from God during a war with a "Muslim nation."
Disclaimer: Before you get this twisted, I love love love field's blog. He was the first blog on current/political issues that I labeled a personal "daily must read." And I find myself agreeing with field on some major points. But - as commonly happens in households across the country - religion is an issue that we can disagree on for centuries. And don't get this wrong either: Field doesn't dislike Christians. In fact, field doesn't discriminate along religious lines or hold one above the other. What he despises are folks to wield religion like a battering ram to control and otherwise belittle others.
With the disclaimers out of the way, let's start with what I think field and I agree about...
Strict organized religion is one of the worst things that ever happened as a means to represent a good and loving God. The Bible describes the believer's role as an 'ambassador of Jesus Christ.' At times, organized religious groups look more like drunken ambassadors breaking all the laws of a foreign country. "Oh good Lord. Peter p*ssed on the daisies again."
And in the world of critics, Siskel (rest his soul) and Ebert don't hold a candle to random church ladies in big hats. Once a critical mass of flawed humans design a religious experience, the love of God starts looking like a cloud of criticism as filtered through the lens of xenophobia. Here's what a few from field's spot had to say:
"The more I study religion, the more I'm convinced that man never worshiped anything but himself."
~ Dr. Know ~
"I'm with you on this one Christoper, humans need to explain the unexplainable and hence religion. Humans also have the need apparently to control and persecute other humans and hence organized religion." [emphasis mine]
~ classical one ~
"...I'm always disturbed by people who claim we are a Christian nation, because they are usually more concerned with controlling the nation and not with practicing Christianity."
~ kellybelle ~
So while field and his readers and I generally agree that humans have done much to harm each other in the name of organized religion, I believe we eventually walk opposing directions at the fork in the road. Why?
Because no man is God. And organized religion is not necessarily spirituality - the place where we connect with God on an individual basis.
I will never oppose the sale of baseball bats. For every person who uses a bat to commit a violent crime, another may train to become a world-class athlete.
I will never oppose the sale of sharp knives. For every thief who holds a victim at knife-point, 10 mothers are using knives to feed their families.
And along this same thought process, I will not discard my faith because of every fool who carries a Bible but doesn't have an ounce of love for others. Five words come to mind... "The baby with the bath water..." Another commenter from field's spot alluded to this point:
"I always get so frustrated though, when those who don't believe in Christianity seemingly ridicule faith. In this post, maybe you are just ridiculing proselytizers but not the actual faith. I think tough, it sort of think that the same thing.
I'd like to say that it is a difficult path to follow God and "walk in love" all the time. Sometimes you screw up.
But, though I love God I am still fallible and don't always operate in love. (I believe that God is love) Just because I love God does not make me God (perfect). I still face the same temptations that everyone faces, perhaps more so, because I have outwardly chosen to follow a specific doctrine. Now, there are people watching to see if my relationship is real. You see some of you wait to see if we will falter so that you can validate your belief that what I (we as Christians) believe is fallacy.
You can't necessarily judge the faith by its followers; but I know that people do. So, I try to live it in the best way. But, as I mentioned above we make mistakes, too. Allow us the opportunity to make mistakes." ~ anonymous aka SS ~
While many define "religious" in
terms of a complex math equation that includes
(church visits) x (Bibles owned) - (the use of expletives) = Holy,
I believe some of the most "Christian" and "religious" things you could ever do in this life are:
1. Love your neighbor
2. Love yourself
3. Fight for justice and equality
4. Treat the planet (e.g. nature) with respect
5. Distribute wealth (i.e. eradicate greed)
6. Treat others exactly the way you would want to be treated
At the end of the day, field and I find
ourselves in agreement, that self-professed "Christians" aren't the
only people on this planet who demonstrate those truly blessed behaviors and religous labels are far less important than what lurks within the heart.
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Where the discussion all started: