Theology quote for the day

I realize that previous Christians actually got to shed blood for the testimony of their faith, while we in our turn have to battle oozing, sticky treacle instead. It’s almost an insult that while they had to confront men who could burn them alive or stuff them into iron maidens, we get stuck with Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen. Who knew that one great trial of the church would be silliness and faddishness? We face the twin sea monsters of self-infatuation and religious imbecility, but let’s be of good cheer.

Jeri Massi

This is from last year. Dunno how I missed it, but any time is a good time for smacking-around Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen.

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The Will to Power

Book Two: A Criticism of the Highest Values That Have Prevailed Hitherto
I: Criticism of Religion

§228   What, in truth, is this struggle “against Nature” on the part of the Christian? We shall not, of course, let ourselves be deceived by his words and explanations. It is Nature against something which is also Nature. With many, it is fear; with others, it is loathing; with yet others, it is the sign of a certain intellectuality, the love of a bloodless and passionless ideal; and in the case of the most superior men, it is love of an abstract Nature — these try to live up to their ideal. It is easily understood that humiliation in the place of self-esteem, anxious cautiousness towards the passions, emancipation from the usual duties (whereby a higher notion of rank is created), the incitement to constant war on behalf of enormous issues, habituation to effusiveness of feelings — all this goes to constitute a type: in such a type the hypersensitiveness of a perishing body preponderates; but the nervousness and the inspirations it engenders are interpreted differently. The taste of this kind of creature tends either (1) to subtlety, (2) to indulge in bombastic eloquence, or (3) to go in for extreme feelings.

The natural inclinations do get satisfied, but they are interpreted in a new way; for instance, as “justification before God”, “the feeling of redemption through grace”, (every undeniable feeling of pleasure becomes interpreted in this way!) pride, voluptuousness.

General problem: what will become of the man who slanders and practically denies and belittles what is natural? As a matter of fact, the Christian is an example of exaggerated self-control: in order to tame his passions, he seems to find it necessary to extirpate or crucify them.

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ISIS:Islam ~ (Westboro Baptist):Christianity

Pamela Geller, High Priestess of the Propaganda Underground, is still upset that President Obama refuses to declare Holy War upon Islam.

Obama’s State Department called the kidnapping of 150 Christian women and children an act of “evil,” but pointed out that most terror victims have been Muslims.

They. just. can’t. stop.

Dropping below the level of a savage, who believes that the magic words he utters have the power to alter reality, they believe that reality can be altered by the power of the words they do not utter—and their magic tool is the blank-out, the pretense that nothing can come into existence past the voodoo of their refusal to identify it. (Ayn Rand)

The Islamic State has been slaughtering Christians because they are Christians. Whether it is on a beach in Libya or a town in Nigeria or the CAR, Chad, Niger, Iraq, the Philippines, Thailand — they are following the religious imperative to “Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them” (Quran 2:191).

It is true that ISIS has killed more Muslims than Christians, and it is also true that the administration has acknowledged repeatedly that ISIS is a sect within Islam.

ISIS stands within Islam as Westboro Baptist Church stands within Christianity — a loathsome and universally despised subset of the larger religion that is always able to justify its indecencies by quoting holy texts.

I am not, notice, suggesting moral equivalency between the two1; I am merely pointing out that each is small relative to the whole, and justly reviled by the larger body.

What Geller would like you to believe is that ISIS is r-e-e-e-a-l Islam, and that the colossal majority of Muslims who loathe them are cultural Muslims. William Lane Craig, a Christian apologist who ought to know better, made the identical observation at a conference favorably reviewed by the war-drummers at Baptist Press:

“Moderate Islam is to Islam what nominal Christianity, cultural Christianity is to Christianity,” said William Lane Craig, a professor of philosophy at Houston Baptist University who has studied Islam for 30 years. “It is a mere cultural set of mores that one has adopted, but it isn’t representative in either case of the fundamental teaching of the original book of that religion, whether the Quran or the Bible.”

Fred Phelps, citing Leviticus, used to say the identical thing of his critics.

I wish, as the old expression goes, I had a nickel for every time some blustery yahoo got going about who is and who is not a representative of r-e-e-e-a-l Christianity, or Islam, or whatever; I would, indeed, be a very wealthy man. You would think that, just by listening to themselves, they would eventually realize how meaningless such commentary actually is. Nobody owns a copyright in the words ‘Christianity’ or ‘Islam,’ and the sets of incompatible beliefs that travel under their respective rubrics is in both cases huge — and the devotees of each camp are convinced that they are the genuine article and everybody else is misguided. Practically, the words Christianity and Islam are meaningless, and tell you nothing whatsoever about a person’s actual beliefs and behaviors; they tell you only how somebody tries to salve their insecurities.

The president is quite within his rights, intellectually, to refuse to identify ISIS as r-e-e-e-a-l Islam, and he is politically prudent to do so. At the first whiff of suggestion that America is at war with Islam, as opposed to a pack of depraved gangsters, we will lose any scintilla of goodwill we may now possess in the Middle East, and we will stimulate our domestic loonies of all stripes to increased activism.

The Abrahamic monotheisms are false, one and all, and they are now failing egregiously before globalization and the progress of technology; they are inadequate to explain the world, and the tribal morality they peddle invariably, unavoidably, conduces to violence. The sooner we are frankly done with them, the better off all of us will be.

But, of course, the human animal dislikes changes just as much as any other animal, and encouraging people to believe they have the formula — the Eternal Truth — (if only all those other benighted folk would see it) is a big industry; the Holy Men aren’t going to go away without a fight.

Humanity has been here before — 2000-years ago, when Christianity ate the pagan, polytheistic world and launched 10-generations of chaos. Now, it is the turn of the Abrahamic monotheisms to be eaten. As Bette Davis might say, “Fasten your seat-belts.”

And stop paying attention to self-serving Chicken Little hysterics like Pamela Geller and the howling yahoos at Baptist Press.

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1   This does point, however, to a difficult theological dilemma. Since ISIS fighters, and Fred Phelps, are all going to receive identical punishment and spend eternity sizzling on a hot griddle, like a strip of bacon, should we suppose that the Big Guy imagines them to be morally equivalent? I know: The apologist will wearily explain that the offense is failing to accept Jesus, which, stripped to the basics, means that the punishment is for offending His vanity. No actually-sane adult is going to accept that as justification for such punishment, or as the morally exemplary behavior one is told to expect of the Creator of the Whole Big Universe.

It’s just one more reason theology should not be considered an intellectually serious enterprise.

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Feel-the-love-love-love department, ctd.

With the Supreme Court widely expected to uphold a constitutional right to same-sex marriage this year — and it’s difficult to imagine them doing otherwise in light of their recent decisions — pious folk are making haste to enact discriminatory, anti-gay laws in the states. Michael Hamar surveys the bills, here.

The upside, though it will bear fruit slowly, is that anybody who isn’t blind should be able to see clearly how stubbornly vicious blind faith actually makes people.

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The Will to Power

Book Two: A Criticism of the Highest Values That Have Prevailed Hitherto
I: Criticism of Religion

§227   Ignorance in matters psychological. The Christian has no nervous system –; contempt for, and a deliberate and willful turning away from, the demands of the body, from discoveries about the body; it is assumed that all this is in keeping with man’s nature and must perforce work the ultimate good of the soul; all functions of the body are systematically reduced to moral values; illness itself is regarded as determined by morality, it is held to be the result of sin, or it is a trial or a state of salvation, through which man becomes more perfect than he could become in a state of health (Pascal’s idea); under certain circumstances, there are willful attempts at inducing illness.

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