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Ask, Seek, Knock

Still processing a lengthy conversation about Christianity versus cult practices.

After posting chapter after chapter of the New Testament, some particularly zealous people insisted that the views of the defendant in a discrimination case (as well as her supporters) held Orthodox views, while I was expressing Humanist views.

So let's dispel that lie once and for all.
The word "Orthodox" is derived from a Latin phrase meaning "Right In Religion."
Calling yourself "orthodox" does not necessarily make it so. In fact, in my experience, it is often the opposite.
"Humanism," in its true form, is related to philanthropy, or love for one's neighbor. This much is true. Yet, neoconservatives use the term, strangely enough, as a slur! True, many people who are humane do so with no religious affiliation. Or... do they? As 1 John 4:8 says, God is Love. Let's quickly revisit the Good Samaritan. He was different from the priest and the Levite. In fact, the priest and Levite would look down on a Samaritan. But it was the Samaritan who as actually being a good neighbor, not the people who claimed they were Right In Religion. So let's assume for a moment that God is an invention of Man. That invention is Love. For some reason, species crawled out of the waters, and for some reason they reproduced, and for some reason it was important to them that their offspring live to reproduce... But then instinctive self-preservation, and preservation of the species, and competition with anyone who interfered with that preservation, gives way to an invention called Love. Cooperation. Community.
What Christian would sneer at that, regardless of what motivates it?

But the sneer is doubly foolish because I am not only a Christian, but a Red-Letter Christian.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-Letter_Christian
Now, I consider the whole New Testament, not just the quotes directly attributed to Jesus. (As I've stated elsewhere, I consider the Old Testament, in so much as it is like George Lucas' prequel trilogy to Star Wars...) So then, let us consider one of the most concise encapsulations of Fundamental Christianity: The Sermon On The Mount.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%205-7
All citations will come from Matthew.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." 5:10-11
Conservatives seem to perpetuate the myth that they are persecuted, but they in fact have persecuted others, and worse, they do so in His name. But when is the last time you heard a Teavangelical post that passage?

"For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." 5:20
Why then do Teavangelicals insist upon being teachers of the law?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles." 5:38-41
So... If someone wants to sue you to get a wedding cake, photographs, or flowers... fight them in court? Naw... There is no vagueness here. I'm not offering an "interpretation," I am making a direct quote.

Love.
Love.
Love.

This is the foundation of Christianity. This is Right In Religion, where Christianity is concerned.

So let us take the long way back to my summation...
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” 7:24-27
Foolish men are often false disciples and prophets. "I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" 7:23

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." 7:3-5

Is there anyone in the world who should be taking my advice? I certainly don't recommend it, but I'll give it if asked. Just the same, if you're contemplating telling someone else how you think they must live in His name, you bet I'm going to call you a hypocrite. I will show you the doctrine of the religion you claim to be a part of, especially the quotes written in red letters, and ask you whether you believe they are correct or in error.

I may never convince the false disciples and prophets. That's not even on my agenda. But the word is shared. Maybe someone in doubt will ask, "Should I follow this person, or the word that contradicts what he says?" And maybe, just maybe, that person will reach their OWN conclusion.

By that same process, I hope to share as many facts as I can about the things that matter most to me. When it comes to politics, I might share someone's post because, even if it's not necessarily newsworthy, there's something about it that amuses me. I make no pretense about that. I will certainly post a lot of facts with sources, because #FactsMatter, and the facts usually eliminate a lot of false conclusions that emotions might mislead folks about.

But... Make no mistake. When it comes to America, we are especially prone to the #CultOfPersonality phenomenon. Politeness is... nice, but, it doesn't address the problem. You have to shine a light of truth so bright and harsh upon the personality that even the most susceptible to being indoctrinated will see the truth before it's too late. And the best tools to intensify that light is the personality's own words.

I had this thought earlier. There were folks discussing certain NeoConfederate personalities in the news lately. I will not even name them. They aren't elected, not appointed. They serve no official purpose. All they have is their notoriety, which they use to collect even more notoriety. Them, I shun. I would respond to posts about them to say this, but that too would add to their notoriety. And I'm just over that. It is something I wish I HAD done with Donald Trump before he was able to capitalize on Russia's efforts to steal our government for him. I tried at times, focusing on forcing Jeb! and Little Marco out of the race. I thought by speaking too much about how the majority of Americans hate Trump as a candidate, it would be fuel for the NeoConfederate fire. But now that the damage is done and the worst has happened, refusing to say his name won't really solve the problem. I will say Trump's name in the same breath as I talk about him bragging about punching a teacher -- if it's true it's hateful and if it's a lie it's hateful too. I will say Trump's name in the same breath as I mention being sued for racist practices in renting his properties, for which he was sued, and in the same breath as advocating for the execution of the Central Park, even though they were proven innocent. I will say over and over that Trump is a racist rapist evildoer, unpopular, illegitimate, a liar, a fraud, a conman, a threat to America's safety, and the world's. In your guts you know he's nuts. Unless, of course, you're nuts too... I will still make sure that you have clean water, safe food, clothing, shelter, health care, and compassion as a human being in need. But, as pertains to Trump, I have worked very hard to remove any possible beam in my eye. I have listened with an open mind to the things people said about him, and the things he said about himself, and even in the best case scenario, he is doing evil deeds. Not only is he not doing as he is called to do, he is leading people away from doing what THEY are called to do. He is hurting them, and using them to hurt others.

I recently remarked that, as a Christian, I don't know that I could have held a gun even to liberate the Jews and others being killed in Nazi Germany. And I still don't think that I could carry out violence, even under those extreme conditions. But... If facts hurt someone's feelings? So be it. There is apparently now debate about whether a slap is appropriate to bring a hysterical person back to reality. But a verbal slap of facts? A severe tongue lashing? That I am prepared to do. And if I'm wrong, I'll seek forgiveness. Later. But there are 7 billion brothers and sisters to save now. And if anyone is looking for knowledge, sincerely seeking it, knocking on my door and giving me the opportunity to speak truth, I will take it.

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When your "Good News" is #FakeNews

Trump recently bragged that one fundamentally flawed pollster indicated that Trump's approval rating was still slightly above the toilet rim. Bragged! But upon closer inspection, you find a few obvious problems. But don't take my word for it, look for yourself:
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/trump_approval_index_history
In the first four weeks, his "Strongly Approve" numbers have gone up by 1%, to 39%. But his "Total Approve" numbers have gone down by 1%, to 55%. To extrapolate, there is a Moderately Approve category, and for every percent Trump gained here, he also lost one.
Statisticians point out that the Robodial surveys used by Rasmussen skew very conservative (Robocalls to cell phones would violate the law, so either Rasmussen makes illegal calls, or, they leave out the growing number of Americans who no longer keep landlines), and their error averages 4.6%, so at this point, even Trump's best survey puts him at just about 50% approval.
On the other hand, the Moderately Disapprove extrapolation is a steady 18%, and the Strongly Disapprove has gained a point, climbing to 45%, and using the average error again, that would come to just under 50%.

And that's his brag.

So let's dig a little deeper into the mind of the Illegitimate Trump supporter's psychology.
There was a trending story about a defendant, Barronelle Stutzman, who discriminated against the plaintiffs who asked her to make her floral arrangements for them. One post by Sean Timothy Maguire was shared with the added commentary:
"In Washington, failure to provide flowers for a gay wedding may result in the loss of your home and other personal assets.
#tolerance"

I found that particularly ironic. Violating the Constitution may result in a trial, and if you fight the offers made to you, you may incur numerous costs to defend your "right" to be intolerant and violate the Constitution? So, I responded as I often do in the face of such intolerance:
"As a Christian, I'd be curious what faith she practices that allows discrimination, because mine specifically does not, because we are #AllOne in Christ Jesus.
#Tolerance"

What followed was a lengthy process of people who hate people saying they represent God's love. People who sincerely believe that the Gospel (translated: "Good News") is Hate.

So, I tried to use the Bible to illustrate certain fundamental points. The Good Samaritan is a good go-to. After all, the figures used are a Priest, and a Levite -- you might remember them from Leviticus, the one with all the laws Teavangelicals break except for the one about male prostitutes -- and a Samaritan, someone who Jesus' peers looked down upon. Yet, he is the good neighbor. He is the one doing what we are called to do if we profess to be Christians. He didn't judge the man on the road as unworthy. He loved.

I used a passage I don't really use, to specifically address the question of #Tolerance. Romans 14.

The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.

So often, those who want to ignore inconvenient parts of the Bible will try to treat the Bible like a law book. That is, in fact, the kind of thing the Pharisees and Levites did -- and we are warned in the New Testament not to make the same mistake. It's pretty clear.
1) Those who do not love do not know God, for God is Love. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Do not judge. Do not cast the first stone. Love your neighbor. Love your enemy. For what will it profit if you only love people who are like you? Don't even tax collectors do that? If you follow the Spirit of Love, you will never break any law. Christ came to free us from the yoke of the law, and now we are free.
2) If you still insist on living under the law instead of the Spirit, then you have to live under ALL the law. Don't be a hypocrite. Don't make public show of charity. Etc...

But let's not even address the Biblical problem these Teavangelicals often have. Let's just look at man's law. If you own a flower shop, that falls under the Public Accommodation category. Some states and localities have specified that those protections include LGBT people. But even though federal law doesn't specifically cover them, the spirit of the law is that those protections are self-evident. Not only do these Teavangelicals not consider these truths to be self evident, they do not consider discrimination to be discrimination! Which is not really the argument in the case. There seems to be no disagreement that this is discrimination. She knew she was discriminating. The contest was, does she have a First Amendment right to discriminate? There is no "right" to discriminate, but if she wants a special privilege to discriminate, let's examine where such a right might come from. What is her faith doctrine that I can study it the way I've studied the Christian doctrine, and let's see if we can find some sort of mutually agreeable accommodation to allow her privilege to coexist with the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights.

But they don't want that.
They want a hierarchy.
And the problem we have in America is that they know that their numbers are in the minority, and dwindling.

The good news is, the vast majority of us are striving to move past the notion of hierarchies. We are #AllOne, and just want to be equal. The example I used in another discussion was, the Teavangelicals believe that what we want is the old school rule, "If you want to eat in class, you have to bring enough to share with everyone." Which is actually a lovely sentiment. But it's not what we're asking for. All we're asking is that, if Progressives bring cupcakes to share with the whole class, don't try to take all of our cupcakes for yourself.

We've done this under FDR, and even Republican Eisenhower followed these sound principles. And America didn't just survive, it thrived.

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