Monday, October 10, 2011

Jesus teaches that I must hate my family, so I'm told.

In a couple of days, I will be attending a meeting of the "Society of Non-Theists" here at Purdue University. They are a group for Purdue students who consider themselves an atheist, agnostic, ignostic, Objectivist, Pastafarian, skeptic, Secular Humanist, or are just otherwise not inclined to have religious or supernatural beliefs. And why my dear reader you may ask, why am I (Mr. "Episcopalian 'in' Planet Earth", Mr. "Christian", Mr. student of theology, etc,) going to this meeting?


I shall be giving a talk called:
'One of Those People': My Life As A Christian on Planet Earth

Wednesday, October 12 · 6:30pm - 8:00pm

PHYS 203

Among the many topics I will cover:
1) My background.
2) My life as a Christian.
3) My personal perspective on the Atheist movement.
3) My own views on religion, faith, current national and world issues, etc.
4) Ways to leap tall building with a single, I cannot guarantee that you may be able to do this yourself.

One of the many issues I will cover is how I "read" the Bible. During my many discussions with Atheists, I am sometimes told that Christians either A) Do not really read the Bible, B) Do not understand the Bible they claim to follow, C) Only follow the "good stuff" but don't want to talk about the "bad stuff"; more to the point Christians are really good at 'cherry picking'.

Greta Christina, an Atheist thinker and activist, is one writer (including Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, JT Ebehard--love you JT--and many others) that thinks that Christians (specially moderate or progressive Christians like myself) like to 'cherry pick' from the Bible the parts we like and, the parts we don't like (the bad stuff) we either ignore or simply have terrible arguments that allows us to ignore all that" bad stuff". At the end of her article "The Messed-Up Teachings of Jesus" (June 30, 2008), she said:
--Yes, the Jesus character in the Gospels spoke of love and respect and humility, healing the sick and taking care of the poor. But he also spoke of the wickedness of thought crimes, and the sinfulness of divorce; of the value of surrendering rational thought, and the nobility of abandoning family and responsibility to pursue a religious practice. He spoke with approval of the calm acceptance of evil and oppression in this world. And he spoke — over and over like a broken record — about the all-importance of believing that he was God, and obeying his commands. He spoke again and again about how there was just one right way to practice religion, and how doing this was a far greater priority than being a good person in the world.--

This conclusion is in part based on her interpretation and analys of the Gospels, as she focused her exegesis on the "bad stuff" in the Gospels when she states: 
--The point is this: The bad stuff — the stuff that runs completely counter to the most important values of most progressives I know, including progressive Christians — is not hard to find. It’s all over the place. I basically just spent a few hours with a Bible in one hand and my laptop in the other, and came up with this rather frighteningly long list. And it’s not like these are the minor teachings, either — some of them are among the most famous and beloved teachings of everything Jesus supposedly said.--

Among the many verses from the Gospels to make her arguments, she goes to the following verse from the Gospel according to Luke: --Luke 15:26: “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”-- Her comment of this particular verse is: --Nice. Do I have to say it again? Obedience to Jesus over affection and respect for your family; the dividing of people from their families to a degree that’s creepy and cultish. Ick.--

So according to her arguments I am not a Christian or (to borrow a term used by Sam Harris) I am not a "serious Christian" because:
1) I do not hate my parents, I do not hate my daughter, I do not hate my brother and sister, and (since I am not walking around with a gun to my head) I do not hate my life.
2) I let my "affection and respect" for my family override my "obedience to Jesus".

A 'serious' Christian loves and obeys Jesus AND hates his family, and people like myself who claim to love and obey Jesus AND also LOVE our family are NOT 'serious' Christians. And since my interpretation of this part of Scripture tells me something different from her interpretation, my exegesis is obviously wrong. I may be a Christian with tolerant, diversity-loving values, but I am not a "serious" Christian.

So a "serious" Christian MUST think that:
It is terrible that I love my daughter and call myself a Christian.
It is terrible that I love my family and call myself a Christian.
It is terrible that I am in love with a wonderful woman and call myself a Christian.
It is terrible that I defy Jesus by doing all these things.
Terrible, just terrible.

Or like I was told once, I am doing all these things for the "wrong reasons".

Speaking of Sam Harris's expression of a "serious Christian", he was quoted by Richard Dawkins in "The God Delusion" at the end of the chapter "The 'Good' Book and the Moral Zeitgeist" when he said:
--The danger of religious faith is that allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy. Because each new generation of children is taught that religious propositions need not be justified in the way that all others must, civilization is still besieged by the armies of the preposterous. We are, even now, killing ourselves over ancient literature. Who would have thought something so tragically absurd could be possible?--

But, do not worry my brothers and sisters of the Society of Non-Theists! I am not planning to kill anyone over "ancient literature". Come to my talk and see what I have to say about all this and other things. Hey, who knows. Maybe this "crazy" Christian who refuses to hate his family may not be so crazy after all.  ;)

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