Georgia’s Rain Prayer Farce

It may be the 21st century, but you wouldn’t know it from stories like this:

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue stepped up to a podium outside the state Capitol on Tuesday and led a solemn crowd of several hundred people in a prayer for rain on his drought-stricken state.

“We’ve come together here simply for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm,” Perdue said after a choir provided a hymn.

These past few months, the American South has been suffering from its most severe drought in decades. So far this year, northern Georgia has received half the amount of rain it would usually have gotten by this point. Lake Lanier, Atlanta’s main reservoir, may run dry in as little as three months if the rains don’t come. Undoubtedly, this is a serious crisis – which makes it all the more ridiculous and embarrassing that the governor of an entire state is engaging in a superstitious magical ritual which he hopes will change the mind of his omniscient, infinitely intelligent god.

The logic behind intercessory prayer makes no sense. Does Gov. Perdue suppose that Georgians’ prayers will bring to God’s attention a need of which he was not previously aware? Is God forgetful, so that he needs to be reminded to send rain each year? Or did God knowingly cause the drought for reasons of his own – and if so, what arrogance it would be for a Christian to assume that they know better than God what God should do and that they can persuade him to alter his plan!

Worst of all, it seems clear that this event made no effort to be inclusive, but instead employed the full machinery of the state to promote a Protestant Christian belief system in an atmosphere resembling a revival sermon:

A church choir belted out “What a Mighty God We Serve” and “Amazing Grace” as a keyboardist swayed to the rhythm. While preachers spoke, worshippers chanted “amen,” and some stood with eyes closed and arms outstretched.

…The hourlong event was billed as an interfaith ceremony but only three Protestant ministers joined Perdue, who is a Baptist, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Thankfully, this egregious violation of separation of church and state did not go entirely unchallenged. The Atlanta Freethought Society was in attendance to protest, with some welcome words of reason, and most of the media articles about this event that I’ve seen at least noted their presence. Their press release put it best:

This is embarrassingly foolish, a great mistake, a waste of taxpayer money, and unconstitutional on its face.

Defenders of the faith may say that the state is in crisis, human efforts can’t help bring rain, and there can’t be any harm in praying, so why not try it? But if that were the case – if this truly was a desperate last resort – then we should expect the governor to try everything that might help. Why not sacrifice some livestock? Perform a rain dance? Bow towards Mecca? It can’t hurt, right? But Gov. Perdue hasn’t tried any of these things. Doubtless, that’s because the real purpose of this event isn’t to seriously petition God for rain; it’s to put on an ostentatious show of public piety for his constituents. If it were otherwise, he could simply have encouraged people to pray at home – which would have been bad enough, but less offensive than this farce.

If Lake Lanier runs dry, the consequences would be catastrophic. On the other hand, if the rain returns in time to avert disaster – which is not unlikely, considering that rain is statistically inevitable given enough time – we can be sure that Gov. Perdue and his religious cronies will claim that their prayers saved the day. But even in the worst-case scenarios imaginable, it’s a certainty that no one will call prayer a failure or think to blame God. In this scenario, as in others, religion has positioned itself in a no-lose situation. A more rational government, meanwhile, would not waste time imploring the gods for help, and would instead have used the crisis as a springboard for setting up water-conservation measures (such as reuse of graywater), in the hope of averting a similar disaster in the future. As Mark Twain once said, “It is better to read the weather forecast before we pray for rain.”

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Straight from Bill O’ Reilly, what he might have to say about matters like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCdSyhlzBPg

  • http://www.the-meme-pool.blogspot.com A.

    I heard the prayer on C.N.N. last night and I found it outrageously silly. While completely understanding the sentiment of wishing for rain, I could not help but think, “What these folks need is rain. RAIN. Not GRACE or GOD! Do these folks honestly believe a loving god who wishes to give them rain (which he has obviously withheld from them without telling them why) would so deprive them and then visit such devastation on, say the victims of Hurricane Katrina? Did a God simply miss? What point do they think a god would be trying to make with this kind of random, infantile, and capricious behavior? To see an organized group of adults engaging in the behavior just strikes me as bizarre beyond description.

  • terrence

    What is god spelled backwards?
    What horrible things were done to dogs by a certain member of the Atlanta Falcons?
    ….problem seems pretty obvious to me….:-)

  • Brock

    So what would they say, do you suppose, were Georgia suddenly to be visited by catastrophic hurricanes? Would they claim that god had answered their prayer??
    Seriously, though, I find it amazing how god gets the credit whenever things go well, and how when things go badly, it appears to be something that his worshippers have done wrong.

  • http://blog.atheology.com Rastaban

    According to my wife, who has followed this more closely than I have, Gov. Perdue did not announce the date and time for the rain prayer event until after there was already a forecast for rain on Wednesday from the weather service. They were apparently careful to schedule it a day before it was supposed to rain anyway. See, prayer does work!

  • Stephen

    How many people in the American South have already been praying for rain for months? And how much good has it done?

  • hb531

    Don’t forget that Christians believe in Satan’s power as well. Therefore, he could be behind this drought, which would validate the asking of god’s intervention.

  • Karen

    Charlie Gibson had this on ABC nightly news last night and he chuckled fondly as if it was really adorable. He wound up the broadcast by saying – half under his breath – “and wouldn’t it be terrific if it rained buckets tonight!” or something like that.

    I was not so amused at this idiotic charade, frankly, and apparently I’m not alone. Today’s LA Times account mentioned both the Freethought protest and several negative comments both from people in the crowd at the event and from people posting online at the Atlanta Journal Constitution website. Here’s what a “smirking” 22-year-old Georgia State student had to say: “You couldn’t make this up. You can’t make up for years of water mismanagement with a prayer session. It’s lunacy!”

    Even if our politicians still hew to this ridiculous piety and think it provides cover for bad public policy, people seemingly are starting to see through the nonsense. That’s the encouraging part.

  • Eric

    If it rains, god is swell and prayers are super-keen…if it doesn’t rain, they didn’t pray hard enough and it is god’s will… And we wonder why American kids are sucking hind teat in science and math… To use a great liittle phrase here…it doesn’t take a rocket scientist…

    And just ONCE I want to see a professional athlete, after losing the game say publicly, “I’d like to blame Jesus for our loss.” JUST ONCE. I’d root for that team for a LONG time!

    Eric

  • Ric

    Of course your argument about the illogical nature of praying for rain goes for all prayers.

  • Eric

    Absolutely Ric, prayer is the last refuge of the complete scoundrel…

    And I do like the quote, “The hard work of one accomplishes more than the prayers of a million.”

    Eric

  • Marty

    My favorite prayer quote is from Ingersoll: “Hard work is the only prayer that is ever answered”.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    “Is God forgetful, so that he needs to be reminded to send rain each year?” – Ebon

    Without trying to be overly anal, Eb, he sure is forgetful, that is if you put any stock in Biblical commentary. References to god’s being “reminded” of someone or something litter the Pentateuch. Of course, I can certainly relate; I’m only forty years old and I’d forget my ass if it wasn’t attached to my back. I expect I can forgive an eternal being who must be terribly busy anyway, what with running galaxies and creating each and every new species ever, and answering idiotic prayers from moronic experiments who’ve been long since surpassed.

    PS — NPR replayed part of an interview this AM with the organizers of the event, who expect rain to occur immediately after the prayer. This should set up a wonderful test, if only they were rational enough to understand it. Hmph.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Here’s the thing that gets to me about this story.

    According to the NY Times:

    “The response to the worst drought on record in the Southeast has unfolded in ultra-slow motion. All summer, more than a year after the drought began, fountains blithely sprayed, football fields were watered, prisoners got two showers a day and Coca-Cola’s bottling plants chugged along at full strength. In early October, on an 81-degree day, an outdoor theme park began to manufacture what was intended to be a 1.2-million gallon mountain of snow.”

    I told Ingrid about this, and she immediately remembered that religious story about the pious man in a flooding town who sat on his roof praying for God to save him. His neighbors came in a rowboat to save him; but he said, “No, I’m a religious man, I pray, God will save me.” The water rose, and rescue workers came in a motorboat; but he said, “No, I’m a religious man, I pray, God will save me.” The water rose some more, and more rescue workers come in a helicopter; but he said, “No, I’m a religious man, I pray, God will save me.”

    He finally drowns, goes to Heaven, and complains bitterly to God: “I’m a religious man, I pray — why didn’t you save me?” And God says, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter — what were you waiting for?”

    So that’s what I want to ask the pious governor of Georgia. When the drought started, when you were running fountains, watering football fields, and making fake snow for a theme park — what were you waiting for?

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Is God so forgetful?

    I get the impression that for religious people, god is like an elected official who must be bombarded with letters from his constituents in order to get his attention.

    Finally, god decides “Alright, I’ll cure the fucking brat’s cancer! Now leave me alone!”

  • Polly

    Finally, god decides “Alright, I’ll cure the fucking brat’s cancer! Now leave me alone!”

    Indeed that reminds me of a parable that describes god exactly that way – the “evil judge.” An old lady had to wear him out with her pestering in order to get justice. Of course, JC says that god, unlike the evil judge, is apt to respond much more quickly, but reality says that he is much less reliable.

  • OMGF

    I think we can all agree that drought is bad, but I’m waiting for the Xians to come and claim that god is doing this for a good reason. See, because of this, it caused Perdue to hold this little vigil, which brought more people to god. Apparently, no hardship is too much so long as god gets another convert.

  • CalUWxBill

    Praise Jesus!

    Rastaban sure looks like they set this up. It’s going to rain tonight and tomorrow in Georgia. Some severe weather should occur as well.

    P.S. Can we post links on these comments?

  • Mrnaglfar

    I hope their prayer gets answered, and immediately after they pray it starts raining. Then it just keeps raining and raining and raining and raining and raining and raining and raining, and it rains steadly for 5 years. After that, for the next 10 years it’s cloudy, with ocassional showers.

  • OMGF

    I’d be careful about that Mrnaglfar, because the last time it rained for 40 days and nights straight, the whole world flooded. I don’t want to get caught in the crossfire because the governor of Georgia gots the spirit in him.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Well, it looks like the results of Gov. Perdue’s prayer experiment are in:

    1. Georgia is in severe drought
    2. Governor Perdue decides to pray for rain on Tuesday
    3. Forecast called for rain Tuesday
    4. Prayer service goes ahead as planned
    5. Skies completely clear up immediately following prayer service
    6. No rain

    At this point, one has to wonder why the “divine punishment” hypothesis isn’t being pushed more vigorously. After all, unlike hurricanes and wildfires, drought is a recognized Biblical means of punishing the unrighteous.

    But what could God possibly want to punish Georgia for? They have an anti-gay-marriage amendment and everything. O Wrathful Lord of the Universe, what other minority group must we hate to secure your mercy? Show us who to smite and they will be smoten!

    On a more serious note…

    As one of John Cole’s commenters put it, Georgia’s drought crisis is very likely a taste of what the entire South may begin to experience in the near future. We’ve been using aquifers and rivers frivolously and unsustainably for decades, building whole cities in the middle of deserts, planning our society under the assumption that natural resources are limitless. I fear we’re about to receive a very rude reminder that they’re not. (And global warming, which is shrinking the mountain snowpacks that provide water for whole regions, is making things worse on top of everything else.) We’re not going to pray our way out of this problem; if we don’t change our ways, and fast, the United States may end up in the middle of a refugee crisis that’s going to make everything we’ve known before seem like a walk in the park.

  • javaman

    So the fundies thought we didn’t have to worry about taking care of the planet and global warming, because JC was coming any day now (in our lifetime) and we were in the endtimes. They wanted the apocolypse, because they would be raptured to heaven. If this drought is due to changing weather patterns due to climate change (which may be part of the endtimes), why are they now praying for help? They wanted the end times to come and if this is it, they are getting exactly what they were wishing for, so how do you like your god and his plan now?

  • lpetrich

    And where are all the non-fundie Xians in this, all those “moderates” and “liberals”, the sort who whine about being lumped in with the fundies?

    Are they criticizing their fundie brothers in Christ about how dumb it is to expect God to act like some magic genie? Are they organizing demonstrations to publicly advertise their position? If they are as numerous as they brag about being, then they should have no trouble organizing BIG demonstrations.

    But they have let themselves become politically and culturally marginal, something that they themselves have conceded on occasion.

  • James Preston

    I was skeptical too but it workAfter the prayers, the rain

    By SAEED AHMED
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Published on: 11/14/07

    When his hour-long prayer vigil for rain ended with the sun shining through Tuesday, Gov. Sonny Perdue made a bold proclamation.

    “God can make it rain tomorrow,” he said.

    • Photos: Lake Lanier revealed:
    A photographer’s essay

    DEALING WITH THE DROUGHT:
    • 10 tips to save water
    • A guide to the new landscape: What you can and can’t water
    • Watering garden during ban requires creativity
    • Map: Heavy demands on our water

    RELATED:

    After the prayers, the rain
    Cobb top water guzzler says he’ll try to cut back
    Sandy Springs decides against tougher water rules
    Tighter water limits likely in Gwinnett
    Legislators to vote on water use plan in January
    • More on coping with the drought

    Just like Perdue — and the National Weather Service — said, it was a rainy night in Georgia on Wednesday.

    The rain was triggered by a cold front coming through, and it was expected to last until the early hours of Thursday morning.

    “It will tease us a little bit,” said Lans Rothfusz, meteorologist in charge at the Weather Service, “but it will come nowhere close to breaking the drought. The ground is so dry, it will absorb everything that falls on it.”

    More than 250 faithful Georgians joined Perdue outside the Capitol to ask for divine intervention to end the historic drought.

    The faithful ought to keep praying.

    Thursday is expected to be cooler with morning clouds, afternoon sun and only a 20 percent chance of rain.

    Friday will be sunny and cool, with the chance of rain falling to 10 percent.
    ed….

  • Polly

    1. Georgia is in severe drought
    2. Governor Perdue decides to pray for rain on Tuesday
    3. Forecast called for rain Tuesday
    4. Prayer service goes ahead as planned
    5. Skies completely clear up immediately following prayer service
    6. No rain

    Maybe there is a god and he wants everyone to be atheists? Perhaps, all these years he’s been trying to conceal himself via the world’s seemigly utter randomness, but these stupid hominids keep using their highly evolved pattern recognition-cognition appendages to try and attribute events to him. Events that he has nothing to do with.

  • john

    You athiests will all be sorry when your day comes and you are all burning and screaming for mercy that wont ever come in hell! I’ll be laughing at you.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Hahaha, Johnnie-boy. Perhaps your deity has started creating hell right smack in the middle of the Bible Belt. Now wouldn’t that be a delicious irony? Hey, pass the marshmallows, wouldyapal?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Normally I’d delete comments like john’s, but I’ll leave this one intact as evidence of the extremely evil and wicked nature of people who follow beliefs like his.

    And, I acknowledge, Georgia did in fact receive some rain today. (The fact that the National Weather Service was predicting rain prior to the prayer session will, I’m sure, make no difference to the terminally credulous.) I hereby pronounce myself duly awed by the wonder-working power of prayer, and I’d certainly renounce my atheism forthwith and praise Jesus – except for one little, inconvenient fact.

    Lanier got 0.11 inches of rain yesterday (while the lake fell about 3 more inches) and has seen a total of 0.92 inches today. Sadly, despite the rain, the lake is down 0.05 feet for the day — about 1/2 inch.

    Evidently, Gov. Perdue’s god is teasing him.

  • Mrnaglfar

    something just occured to me. Whenever people point to all the hardships in life and ask, “why would a loving god make me do this” the normal response is “god wants you to suffer/ we live in a fallen world/ god wants people to do things for themselves”. Yet everytime a disaster rolls around people try to not suffer and start praying to god to make it better. Is that not the slightest bit odd; do these people not believe what they say when they have to deal with it?

  • tenebrous

    Mrnaglfar it’s the same double standard as with death and heaven thing.

    If Christians believe they’re going to this wonderful heaven upon dying then why do they bother with doctors, healthcare or even praying for good health. Surely a good Christian should be eager to die so as to get to this heaven thing all the quicker.

  • Mrnaglfar

    or maybe health care. Do they think Jesus wouldn’t vote for sick kid’s health care? Everyone likes to cite jesus as saying peaceful things, so maybe they could support peace? Maybe they could work on loving one another before they start figuring out which group (atheists, gays, muslims) to hate? Or is everyone just going to their eternal judgement a little faster? It’s all very confusing

  • Mrnaglfar

    http://www.spiritofmaat.com/announce/ann_dryice.htm

    The ending of that article inexplicably calls on people to look to god to know what to do. The issue is worrying enough, looking at what these religious people do when confronted with this environmental issue.

  • kxfan5

    it rained.

  • Becky

    I live 90 south of Atlanta and the drought situation is becoming very very serious.

    What made me the angriest about our goofy Governors public pious and totally ridiculous display is the fact he waited until there was a slight chance, finally, of some rain in the forecast!!! duh

    I declined even watching that embarrassing episode, but as the nation saw, most of the Georgia residents thought he was sooo wonderful seeking the help of ‘the Lord’. That is what it is like down here in the midst of the Elmer Gantrys of the south.

    I wondered how many of those hypocrites have prayed one prayer to their god to protect the innocent people of Iraq. I wondered if they even care that children are getting blown to bits or losing their entire families. I wondered if they gave one thought to our brainwashed military who are dying daily for a useless war leaving wives and children behind.

    Most of those in the crowd that day will sit on nice cushy church pews Sunday after Sunday and every prayer they manage to mumble will be for their benefit.

    I also wonder why there has never been a call for a public prayer by our Governor and people on behalf of our homeless and hungry.

    I live in the town the Perdues are from and personally I believe he is a fake and an enormous hypocrite. I guess he thinks when god heard the prayer coming from THE GOVERNOR OF THE GREAT STATE OF GEORGIA he would sit up and take notice.

    A note to John, you sound like a typical hate filled christian. When someone does not agree with you, you can take joy in thinking you will see them burn in hell. Remember the Inquisitions when the catholic church went on a 3 to 4 year murdering spree to kill all they could find who disagreed with their dogma? I read your comments and see nothing has changed in the good old god loving christian world.

  • Damien

    We’ve been assuming that John is a Christian. Doesn’t Islam promise the exact same hellfire for atheists and infidels as well?

  • Becky

    (We’ve been assuming that John is a Christian. Doesn’t Islam promise the exact same hellfire for atheists and infidels as well?

    Comment by: Damien)

    John is a christian and he is a perfect example of them. Can’t you feel the love? Also, even though all 3 major religions, the children of Abraham, hate one another, they all damn those who dare disagree. Ain’t god good? |

  • OMGF

    Yes, Islam also teaches hellfire for infidels (anyone not Muslim and even some apostate Muslims). They also teach that those who are infidels are made that way by Allah, and yet they still feel the need to fight against the infidels and blame the infidels for their heresy.

  • lpetrich

    An especially annoying aspect of this whole business is where all the self-styled religious sophisticates have run off to. The sort who piously lecture us about how God is not some magic genie who grants wishes.

    The next time someone claims that such a notion is a caricature of Xianity, we can ask them why have not they been lecturing Governor Perdue on the error of his ways, why have they been so happy to let such crude magical thinking be the public face of their religion.

  • http://www.missionofhopeministries.com Albert G. Pollock

    I regularly frequent this forum because I am interested in why and how the general public and skeptics perceive today’s Christianity. To begin with, I would like to apologize to all for my constituents’ ignorance, pompous, arrogant, religious, attitude toward Almighty God and His creation of mankind and this world in general. Personally, I don’t blame any of you for your candor on how we as Christians perceive this world today in its wantonness for answers concerning God’s views and stand on the issues of today. I for one am appalled at any one who tries to put God on a demonstration platform just to prove we can coax God to jump through our hoops. If you really know God for who He is and what He is, one would never be so naive as to demean the deity of God of all living things. This childish endeavor proves to me the insincerity and uneducated efforts to promote My God as a cheap hoaxer of soap box rhetoric. In short, they (Christians), really don’t whom they are dealing with on the premise they do not read or study the Word of God. They are all presumptuous of who God is. And you dear skeptics and atheists are absolutely correct in your assumptions of Christianity. My colleges and constituents’’ prove that they themselves do not believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God of the universe, but boast themselves in being able to motivate God through organized religion. I stand ashamed of their ignorance of the truth of matters of mankind. Any one, who truly knows Jehovah God, knows He must be approached with a personal repentant and contrite heart, breaking for the needs of the nation and humanity. It is tears that motivate God and not any form religion, but with child like faith in Christ Jesus. Yes, I know for sure bad things happen to good people, and for good reason. It is God’s intensions to bring people closer to Him through whatever means deemed of God. He has all the answers, if we really and truly want to know. But that would entail a closer examination of us as individuals.

    Rev. Albert G. Pollock

  • OMGF

    Aside from the fact that those people are also not true Scotsmen…

    Yes, I know for sure bad things happen to good people, and for good reason. It is God’s intensions to bring people closer to Him through whatever means deemed of God.

    This is a classic example of the ends justifying the means. It’s OK for god to act immorally and harm people because some people will come closer to him? I’m going to call a partial victory for sorta-predicting this one up thread. But, it is hard to swallow that an omni-benevolent god that has infinite power would have to resort to harming people in order to gain converts.

    Still, at least it sounds like you disapprove of this vigil display, which is a good thing.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    What would convince me of the power of prayer. If Christians prayed for it to rain in the Rub al-Khali, or Empty Quarter, of Saudi Arabia, a harsh desert where it never rains. That would be a miracle.

  • Eric

    John wrote:

    You athiests will all be sorry when your day comes and you are all burning and screaming for mercy that wont ever come in hell! I’ll be laughing at you.
    Comment by: john | November 15, 2007, 5:37 pm

    Yes, how christian of you. I believe it was jesus who said, “And ye shall laugh and bellyroll in peace whilst I roast infidel arse.” Was the Ecclisiastes? Or was it something more contemporary…Hey John…if you are a chirstian…and you don’t like what we are saying…forgive us. Think about it big fella.

  • Becky

    John wrote:

    You athiests will all be sorry when your day comes and you are all burning and screaming for mercy that wont ever come in hell! I’ll be laughing at you.
    Comment by: john | November 15, 2007, 5:37 pm

    Yes, how christian of you. I believe it was jesus who said, “And ye shall laugh and bellyroll in peace whilst I roast infidel arse.” Was the Ecclisiastes? Or was it something more contemporary…Hey John…if you are a chirstian…and you don’t like what we are saying…forgive us. Think about it big fella.

    Comment by: Eric | November 18, 2007, 9:00 pm

    Eric, can you imagine even thinking about another human burning and screaming and then have one thought of laughing about it?! I wouldn’t wish something like that on the most evil person I knew. There is something very wrong with that picture. Thomas Paine wrote that serving a mean god makes a mean man. I think we can understand just what he meant. I don’t believe John is a “big fella”. He seems to be a small small man.

  • OMGF

    Actually, Eric, it is rather Xian of him. Xians are supposed to rejoice in what god does, so if god sends us infidels to hell, then they should rejoice in it. I would say that most Xians are very un-Xian, because they don’t follow the morals that are taught by the Bible, following the morals that our society has evolved instead.

  • lpetrich

    John:
    You athiests will all be sorry when your day comes and you are all burning and screaming for mercy that wont ever come in hell! I’ll be laughing at you.

    From Tertullian to Thomas Aquinas to Ann Coulter, it has been a long tradition.

    Ann Coulter? In Godless: The Church of Liberalism, the middle of Chapter 10, she writes:

    I defy any of my coreligionists to tell me they do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell.

  • Becky

    (John:
    You athiests will all be sorry when your day comes and you are all burning and screaming for mercy that wont ever come in hell! I’ll be laughing at you.

    From Tertullian to Thomas Aquinas to Ann Coulter, it has been a long tradition.

    Ann Coulter? In Godless: The Church of Liberalism, the middle of Chapter 10, she writes:

    I defy any of my coreligionists to tell me they do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell. Comment by: lpetrich | November 19, 2007, 2:16 am )

    Is it just me or do these people sound more like they worship the devil? I thought old satan was the one who was supposed to rejoice when someone “burned in hell”. Maybe these folks need to really examine just who they are serving! If these creatures are what will make up the population of heaven, I don’t think we will be missing much.

  • goyo

    Rev. Pollock: Thanks for the commentary, but you still don’t get it. What did jesus say? Ask and you shall receive, don’t worry about tomorrow, knock and it shall be opened, blah, blah… You yourself probably preach that there’s nothing too great for god to accomplish, yet he refuses to work in everyday situations where people really need him. What would be easier for god to do than send rain? Don’t you believe that he sends it everywhere? I’m sure that you thank him for the seasons, the rain, the snow, etc…or do you believe that he created this universe and just sits back and watches it work? You can’t have it both ways. And surely there must be many people of a contrite heart that cry and everything else, praying all over the nation for this very drought to end. And if it did, god would get the credit.
    Sorry, but I’ve heard all this before. And it doesn’t work!

  • Moses

    John:
    I am a Christian and you should be careful in how you judge others, especially non-believers because you yourself are still a sinner. 1 Cor 2:15 gives me the right to say this so don’t think I’m being a hypocrite all the sudden, okay fellas? John, I’m sorry to say but people who have not studied the Word and declare themselves believers are only eating away at our reputation and at the glory of God. Please be careful how you act for Paul says in Romans 12 to always live at peace with one another to the best of our abilities.

    Everyone else:
    Please forgive my brother John for his behavior. Most “real” Christians, or people who really study and follow the Bible are not so quick to anger but are actually loving and caring people as our Lord Jesus was. The Bible clearly says those sort of people will also be rejected by Jesus at the day of judgment – Matthew 15. Most true Christians will also be very open to all peoples as God offers salvation to everyone (which is another reason why the founders of this country allowed the freedom of religion – but I know this is a topic for another day).

    As for the prayer:
    I believe public servants should be free to be open about their faith as long as they don’t persecute or discriminate against anyone else. If people don’t like someone like Gov. Purdue being in power, why was he voted as governor in the first place? I mean, that’s what we get for living in a democratic society. I honestly would feel more comfortable with an aethiest governor with Biblical morals than a fundamentalist religious fanatic being in power as long as he/she was voted in by the majority. God bless.

  • James Bradbury

    Moses,
    I accept that many Christians are nice decent people, but surely you must also accept that some are vicious hateful misanthropes. You can’t just say they’re not Christians. Surely being a Christian just means believing in their salvation through Christ? Sorry to disappoint, but that doesn’t stop them also being a nasty piece of work in some cases.

    Which particular Biblical morals did you have in mind?
    Maybe Deuteronomy 13?

    Even the ten commandments are lacking if you want morality.

  • Matt R.

    James,

    You can’t just say they’re not Christians. Surely being a Christian just means believing in their salvation through Christ? Sorry to disappoint, but that doesn’t stop them also being a nasty piece of work in some cases.

    In the Christian framework, if someone believes in Jesus, it will change their life. Here, the term “believe” carries a much deeper connotation than simply an acknowledgement of an idea such as Jesus is the Son of God. It carries the connotation of submitting to Jesus’ teachings and living life in the manner that Jesus did. Therefore when a Christian says that “believing” in Jesus is the key to salvation, much more is entailed and implied.

    In the Christian framework, a person’s behavior is a gague of how much they “believe”. If someone says “I believe” but behaves as a scoundrel, it is clear that the individual lacks conviction or the desire to actually emulate Christ.

    So, I would say that people who claim to be Christians who behave abhorrently are simply not. It is not hard to look at what Jesus taught and develop a standard to see if someone is serious about following Jesus.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Mrnaglfar

    Matt,

    I submit that, for starters, christians will not be true scotsmen until they sell everything they own and give all that money to poor. Jesus said that twice. This of course means I have never heard of any true christians.

  • Damien

    I submit that, for starters, christians will not be true scotsmen until they sell everything they own and give all that money to poor. Jesus said that twice. This of course means I have never heard of any true christians.

    Well, a few of the monks and saints excepted, of course. But Mrnaglfar’s point is still valid, I think, for the lion’s share of the clergy, and all of the laity. If there are any Christians here with an answer for that, it would be welcome.

  • Moses

    James, you said:

    “Surely being a Christian just means believing in their salvation through Christ? Sorry to disappoint, but that doesn’t stop them also being a nasty piece of work in some cases.”

    I would disagree. If you read James 2:14-26 it says that evidence of our faith will be shown through our actions. If people who call themselves Christians don’t have the actions to back their faith with, they’re most likely not saved. But this is not to say that if you are saved, you must to good works. No, its purpose is to remind you, faith will RESULT in good works. Its also stated in Ephesians 2:10.

    “Which particular Biblical morals did you have in mind?
    Maybe Deuteronomy 13?”

    No, but with all due respect, I urge you not to take this chapter out of context.
    First off, Deuteronomy is the law of the Jews. I can see that many people here like to quote the Old Testament to prove their point, but don’t forget, Jesus came to establish a NEW covenant with the world (this is elaborated in the book of Hebrews). But we as believers should always remind ourselves and study the Old Testament because our God is still a jealous God (as the only God of the universe, only He deserves worship and He gets jealous if we worship other things) but he is also a just God (He is the only perfect being, and knowledgeable enough to give justice to us all in the end – punish those who deserve it, reward those who deserve it).

    My intentions are not to convert anyone, don’t get me wrong. I also don’t expect anyone to completely understand God’s nature and be satisfied with it as 1 Cor 2:12 says only those who have the Holy Spirit will be satisfied. I just want to honestly clarify misconceptions of God and Christians as to the best of my abilities. Please, I am always welcome to criticisms or questions. But at the same time, I ask everyone here to show everyone else the same respect you would want to be shown by others.

    Damien, you said:
    “But Mrnaglfar’s point is still valid, I think, for the lion’s share of the clergy, and all of the laity. If there are any Christians here with an answer for that, it would be welcome.”

    Someone else online explained it better than I could:

    “On one hand, it appears to be a mandate for all Christians to live in abject poverty. On the other hand, there appears to be viable alternatives to this “face value” concept. Which is right? I’ll leave that up to you. One thing that is inescapable here. Jesus called for radical disciples who would cling to nothing here on Earth and who would follow Him at all costs. This isn’t the vision of the American Christian. We tend to be comfortable, accumulating wealth if possible, certainly not giving to charity as we could and should. Indeed, we worship comfort. Perhaps Jesus didn’t mean a literal “sell everything”, but He unavoidably commanded that we should not be materialists … and for the most part, we are.”

    While this may be true to some of us, I also personally know at least 3 missionaries who have done this. It seems like the people who take this literally are missionaries who leave their home countries to serve God and establish churches elsewhere.

    God bless everyone.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Moses,

    No, its purpose is to remind you, faith will RESULT in good works

    Which is, of course, why religious people are normally behind resolving conflicts in this world and not causing them. Faith has also led to many advances in modern medicine too, right? People of faith surely haven’t been trying to deny universal health care to children, right? I mean, with all the tax exempt money that churches get they must surely be helping lots of poor and misfortunately people get back on their feet, help them function in the economy again and not wasting it on luxurious items (like one of the last posts addressed). And let’s not even mention all the good works of faith in the middle east. That’s quality faith for ya. This of course also forgetting for the moment that good works are not enough; matter of fact, Jesus himself said no one is good and all our good works aren’t worth anything. It’s also been said many many times that belief in Jesus is the paramount law, above deeds, otherwise there would have been no need for Jesus to die to supposedly make up for the sin of mankind would there?

    Ecclesiastes 7:20
    For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

    The long and short of all that is that faith (believing in something despite of a lack of or in spite of evidence) is not responsible for any sort of reliable good work. Quite the opposite actually.

    First off, Deuteronomy is the law of the Jews. I can see that many people here like to quote the Old Testament to prove their point, but don’t forget, Jesus came to establish a NEW covenant with the world…But we as believers should always remind ourselves and study the Old Testament because our God is still a jealous God… but he is also a just God

    Normally, I don’t put Jealous and Just together when describing someone. One tends to interfere with the other.

    I’ve heard this mentioned before, Old testament is for the jews, everything has been made new in the new testament. But if the old testament is the book of the jews, then it should not apply to christians at all, so I don’t much see the point in studying it. Unless of course you count that other thing Jesus said in the bible:

    Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 5:20

    The Parisees were following every one of the laws of the old testament. They were the ultra conservatives of their time. So it sounds like Jesus is saying, yes those do apply. Of course, this all depends on which “Christian” you’re talking to and what they’re trying to convince you of. But hey, “No true scotsman”.

    Likewise, you try and dance around the selling everything thing Jesus mentioned (which is in the new testament, and thus, a law for you to follow – if you don’t want to go to hell according to Jesus that is).

    Luke 18: 18-22

    The question was put to Him by a Ruler: “Good Rabbi, what shall I do to inherit the Life of the Ages?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” replied Jesus; “there is no one good but One, namely God. 20 You know the Commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery;’ ‘Do not murder;’ ‘Do not steal;’ ‘Do not lie in giving evidence;’ ‘Honour thy father and thy mother.’” 21 “All of those,” he replied, “I have kept from my youth.” 22 On receiving this answer Jesus said to him, “There is still one thing wanting in you. Sell everything you possess and give the money to the poor, and you shall have wealth in Heaven; and then come, follow me.

    Since you haven’t followed Jesus’s teachings, and haven’t sold everything, I don’t think you can really even call yourself a “true Christian”. I would love to hear what a true christian has to say on the subject though; let me know if you find any.

    While this may be true to some of us, I also personally know at least 3 missionaries who have done this. It seems like the people who take this literally are missionaries who leave their home countries to serve God and establish churches elsewhere.

    I’ll bet you those missionaries are still wearing clothing, having houses to sleep in and food to eat. Maybe houses back home? Sounds like they haven’t sold everything, and I don’t recalled Jesus ever saying “sell a lot of stuff but keep what you really want”.
    Of course, in order to help people get to heaven, those people have to sell everything too. And not be gay, and not have had sex before they got married, and, if read the way the bible reads, should also be blinded at birth, and here’s why. One of the commandments is “do not commit adultery” and another is “do not covet thy neighbor’s goods”.

    5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

    .

    Which means, according to Jesus, if you have ever seen something your friends have had you liked, you have broken a commandment, and will be going to hell. And, according to other parts of the bible found in leviticus, a man merely looking at woman with lust has committed adultery. The punishment for which is death and eternal torture. That’s only for starters too; the list goes on for quite a while, full of contradictions and impossibilities. Do you know any “true christians” I can speak too on the subject?

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Mrnaglfar,

    I submit that, for starters, christians will not be true scotsmen until they sell everything they own and give all that money to poor. Jesus said that twice. This of course means I have never heard of any true christians.

    Or that they should love one another and hate their parents at the same time? What about that?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Damien,

    There may be things in the gospels which can reasonably be held against Christianity, but this is not one of them.

    The statement in question was directed to a rich young man who had obeyed the law of the Jews for his whole life in order to bee righteous before God. Jesus perceived that the man loved his riches more than God and to reveal the man’s true lack of righteousness, Jesus challenged him to give away his riches. The man went away sad and unwilling to comply, thus showing the falsehood of his righteousness.

    That is the meaning of the passage in question. It was not a blanket command given to all Christians. Jesus did not preach this “gospel of poverty” ubiquitously.

    My previous post to Mrnaglfar addresses this less explicitly. If one wades though the gospels, intent on taking things in the worst possible way, ignoring any subtlety, hyperbole, or giving thought to the meaning behind the words of Jesus, then it is likely that you will come up with a contradictory mish-mash.

    If one is thoughtful about the meaning behind the words and looks at the central message, one will see that there is no problem in this instance.

    If you are determined to see error, you will find it.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Moses

    Mrnaglfar,

    “That’s quality faith for ya.” I believe you’re talking about the Republican party when you’re talking about denying health care and the conflicts in the Middle East. Let’s not involve politicians into this =) Tax exempt churches not helping the poor – yes, it happens and it’s sad. But there are also churches out there who are actually doing things to help the poor, like the soup kitchen I volunteer at (Bethesda Presbyterian Church). You just don’t hear about them because they don’t want credit the origins of our society.for their deeds and honestly, the news rarely covers “good” events anyway unless its sports.

    “Normally, I don’t put Jealous and Just together when describing someone. One tends to interfere with the other.”
    Well let’s think about it this way. If there really was a perfect God of the universe, wouldn’t he be the only being in this world that deserves any worship? I mean, if I was him and I saw people worshiping pieces of wood and metal, I’d be pretty “jealous” and mad too. I would demand that such ridiculous people be “taken care of” so more people won’t be sucked into their trickery.

    “But if the old testament is the book of the jews, then it should not apply to christians at all, so I don’t much see the point in studying it.”
    Well, the point of studying it is the same reason why we study ancient Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman, and European history. It shows where we came from and

    “Likewise, you try and dance around the selling everything thing Jesus mentioned…”
    I’m sorry if that’s how you view my previous post. But like I said before, I believe that quote I provided has the best explanation for what that Jesus meant. As for the missionaries, they probably did this not only to help the poor in other countries, but also to promote their own ministry as they would need money to build churches and what not.

    As for contradictions and impossibilities, I understand why you see it that way. To start off, before I myself became a Christian, I viewed the Bible in the same way. But someone told me to ask the Holy Spirit to give me understanding of the Word, just like in Acts where Thomas prays for the Ethiopian man to understand the book of Isaiah. And after prayer and constant searching through the Bible for answers, with an open mind that there could be a possibility that this stuff could be real, instead of always looking for things that are wrong with it, the Holy Spirit intervened and I came to understand how God wants us to understand the Word – 1 Cor 2:15.

    I know you will never agree with my point of view of the Bible, but as ridiculous as this may sounds, I challenge you to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding. Maybe you tried this already (I had to try it a couple times) and it didn’t work. But, if you sincerely seek understanding, I promise you’ll get it (James 1), and your life will truly full of eternal joy words cannot describe. And hey, what’s there to lose in trying this? Just try it brother.

    God bless.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    “Normally, I don’t put Jealous and Just together when describing someone. One tends to interfere with the other.”
    Well let’s think about it this way. If there really was a perfect God of the universe, wouldn’t he be the only being in this world that deserves any worship? I mean, if I was him and I saw people worshiping pieces of wood and metal, I’d be pretty “jealous” and mad too. I would demand that such ridiculous people be “taken care of” so more people won’t be sucked into their trickery.

    Hm. Interesting theory. However, a just, merciful and thoughtful God would think of a better solution than demanding that such people be “taken care of” (ominous phrase). Any thoughtful and considerate being would, rather than using force, gently inform the idol worshippers of the true God of the universe. And since this is God Himself doing it, presumably supplying a little evidence that this is the true God of the universe would be no trouble at all.

    And after prayer and constant searching through the Bible for answers, with an open mind that there could be a possibility that this stuff could be real, instead of always looking for things that are wrong with it, the Holy Spirit intervened and I came to understand how God wants us to understand the Word – 1 Cor 2:15.

    I know you will never agree with my point of view of the Bible, but as ridiculous as this may sounds, I challenge you to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding.

    It sounds to me like you suspended your critical thinking. Yes, that would work, and no, I’m not going to do it. Sorry. :-)

  • Moses

    “However, a just, merciful and thoughtful God would think of a better solution than demanding that such people be “taken care of” (ominous phrase).”
    Sorry I should probably elaborate more on that. What I mean is, this applies to the Jews because God chose Israel to be His special people. So if a Jew were to falsely lead other Jews away from the true God, this is the sort of justice God wanted and expected of his people.
    HOWEVER, Jesus came down and established a NEW covenant for EVERYONE, not just the Jews, of love and peace where we are encouraged to demonstrate Christ’s love to others through our righteousness. Again, this is where James talks about how test and see if your faith is true by your good deeds, not meaning that good deeds will get us into heaven but to see if we really believe in Jesus because if we did, we would love to do good deeds.

    “It sounds to me like you suspended your critical thinking. Yes, that would work, and no, I’m not going to do it.”
    Hehe, well to you it may seem that way, but to me, I believe my knowledge of the world has truly increased. I’ve searched everywhere for this sort of joy and peace (even aethiesm for a period of my life) and only Jesus was able to give it to me.
    Doesn’t hurt to try Lynet. =)

    God bless.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Doesn’t hurt to try Lynet. =)

    With respect, it does. The truth matters; lack of critical thinking can lead to great harm.

  • Moses

    If you try it and nothing happens, you have gained or lost nothing. But if you try and something does happen, then let me know if you still think the way you do now. I can say that because I was once in your shoes. How can you call the desire to love the whole world wholeheartedly with loving intentions to bring hope and joy into people’s lives “great harm?” If I could do it any other way (other than Christ), I would, but I can’t because after I tried this prayer, I realized how powerful God really is. I stepped out of my comfort zone to come back to websites like these to share with you what I’ve experienced and my thoughts on this sort of stuff, how come you can’t do the same for me? I’m really not asking much here. But whatever, this will be my last post on this topic so I wish you the best. Have a nice Thanksgiving Day!

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Ah, well. I feel like you’ve missed my point entirely (It’s the critical thinking that counts — I can pray, sure, but I won’t stop expecting evidence and sense and lack of large contradictions and such, and that suspension of critical thinking seems to be part of what you have asked for. It’s not just a big thing you’re asking, there, it’s a gross violation of what I would consider to be a cardinal virtue). However, it would not surprise me if you also think that I have missed your point entirely, so I shall simply return your good wishes.

    I do appreciate your stepping out of your comfort zone — the courage it can take to interact in an open way with views that are opposed to your own is truly a noble thing.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Matt,

    My previous post to Mrnaglfar addresses this less explicitly. If one wades though the gospels, intent on taking things in the worst possible way, ignoring any subtlety, hyperbole, or giving thought to the meaning behind the words of Jesus, then it is likely that you will come up with a contradictory mish-mash.

    Yeah, if I do ignore all the inconsistencies , contradictions, and various different meanings people come up with every passage in the bible, ignoring all the stuff that doesn’t make sense seems to make it make more sense. And even if, within the bible, there were no contradictions and everything was made perfectly clear, it still wouldn’t change the fact that there is no evidence for it. If there is no evidence, then it’s just another fantasy novel. People can take whatever they want from a fantasy novel, but subtle or not, it’s still fantasy.

    Since the argument I frequently get is “it’s metaphorical, and you have to interpret it” that raises a few problems (ones that I must be determinded to see). First, if god truly is perfect, you’d think he’d be clearer to understand, at the very least. Personally, if someone is going to tell me I’m going to hell for not following the rules, and they don’t even know what their own rules are from person to person, then I’m going to take that claim with a grain of salt (And before anyone says “God knows what the rules are” I’ll remind you that your God has never talked to me personally and told me – people have). And sure, you can find some good ideas in the bible, not that it’s good stuff particular to the bible, but good stuff none the less. But it also contains more than it’s fair share of hatred, torture, and killing, metaphorical or not.

    I’m still not convinced; suspending critical thinking and evidence, and trying to read the bible as it’s suggested I read it is going to give me what that I don’t already have exactly?

  • Mrnaglfar

    Moses,

    But there are also churches out there who are actually doing things to help the poor, like the soup kitchen I volunteer at

    That very admirable, but I remember hearing something about feeding a man vs. teaching him to fish. While I think it’s great that the church can help up from time to time in matters like that, there are more effeicent ways of doing the job if approached with the proper public plan.

    I mean, if I was him and I saw people worshiping pieces of wood and metal, I’d be pretty “jealous” and mad too. I would demand that such ridiculous people be “taken care of” so more people won’t be sucked into their trickery.

    If you were truly perfect and as all present as god is made out to be, what should it care to you that people aren’t worshipping you directly. If you’re god, and made everything, it only means people are worshipping your work, which is indirectly worshipping you. Why god needs to be continuous worshipped by people anyway is kind of puzzling, but I won’t address that right now. It’s like offerings made to god; supposedly he created everything and has power over everything so it’s already his stuff. You can’t offer him his own stuff; he would already own it.

    But an interesting point, why would you call people ridiculous for worshipping a piece of wood? I would really like to know what makes that any less ridiculous then worshipping the god of the bible.

    Likewise, why would you feel the need to have them “taken care of”, and what do you mean by that? Is that code for “kill them and send them to hell forver” (as the bible suggests we do).

    I believe that quote I provided has the best explanation for what that Jesus meant

    Even if it doesn’t mean what it says it means for the next few minutes, even if it’s just a decree against materialism (because it distracts from praising god I would assume), surely you at least have a lot of stuff you don’t really NEED. Sure, those items make life a little more comfortable, but you could do without them, and other people who need the money for more pressing concerns would be happy to take it off your hands. Maybe you could make due in a smaller house, with fewer clothes, fewer electronics, and fewer almost everything. Yet I still don’t see people lining up to make those sacrifices to help the poor, and if the point of the story really is to love jesus more than your stuff, then most christians still aren’t doing it. And, as the moral of the story would lead me to believe, it’s because they aren’t true christians, and their righteousness is just for show.

    I challenge you to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding. Maybe you tried this already (I had to try it a couple times) and it didn’t work. But, if you sincerely seek understanding, I promise you’ll get it (James 1), and your life will truly full of eternal joy words cannot describe. And hey, what’s there to lose in trying this? Just try it brother.

    Pascal’s wager? Really? First of all, what lynet said. Second of all, why choose the bible, out of all the religions out there. If they all stand a realitvely equal chance of being right (since they have no evidence), why not the torah, or Qu’ran? OR maybe even step outside the big three into buddhaism, or rastafarianism, or any of the other 10,000 out there.

  • Mrnaglfar

    One addition; I thought about this on my way back today:

    First off, Deuteronomy is the law of the Jews. I can see that many people here like to quote the Old Testament to prove their point, but don’t forget, Jesus came to establish a NEW covenant with the world

    Not sure how I let this point slip by: When it comes to people of faith, that means they get to choose which rules they live by. Here’s what I mean; there is no such thing as a “jewish child” or a “christian child” or a “muslim child” (again, just sticking to the big three). There are children born to parents who may claim to be a member of that faith, but the child isn’t born a believer or member. They have a choice to accept or reject that religion (in some cases, rejection carries too many social consequences to do outright), but if god says there are different rules for different members of different religions and we aren’t born into our religion, that in essence says people are allowed to pick which set of rules god wants them to follow. This gets back to the “no true scotsman” point; What exactly are the requirements for being a true christian or a true jew? If it’s a circumstance of birth, no matter what faith you proclaim or don’t proclaim in the future should have little baring on what rules the bible says you should follow. If it isn’t a circumstance of birth, then you basically get to pick which set of god’s rules you want to follow, if you choose to be a member of religion.

    My main point here being that christians, jews, muslims, etc. are not different races or groups of people, which in essence means that god hasn’t picked people, they picked themselves to be god’s chosen people.

  • James Bradbury

    Moses,

    Thanks for your patient responses, I’m sorry I wasn’t quick enough to get back to you before you left.

    But, if you sincerely seek understanding, I promise you’ll get it

    And if we don’t get it, then we obviously weren’t sincere enough? Thus placing the onus and guilt back on the (dis)believers (which leads us neatly back to the topic of failed prayers).

    Perhaps if honestly seeking understanding can do no harm you would be willing to study critical thinking and examine your own beliefs from a critical perspective? Surely no true belief can suffer from honest questioning?

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Mrnaglfar,

    This is classic. You bring up one issue, then when I explain it reasonably and rationally, you completely change topic so that you don’t have to adress my answer. You brought up the story of Jesus telling the rich ruler to give up everything. When I explained that, you shot off on a tangent about well nigh all your problems with the Bible.

    Let me make something infinitely clear. I agree that the Bible has it’s problems, I don’t have a problem with that. I do have a problem with what I perceive as deliberately creating problems which are not there.

    Also, I actually do not have any “beef” with you personally. I get pretty fired up pretty easily when I perceive certain things. I recognize that you may not have been intentionally misrepresenting the Bible. If so, then there is no problem.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Mrnaglfar

    Matt,

    Perhaps I should give it another go then.

    The statement in question was directed to a rich young man who had obeyed the law of the Jews for his whole life in order to bee righteous before God. Jesus perceived that the man loved his riches more than God and to reveal the man’s true lack of righteousness, Jesus challenged him to give away his riches. The man went away sad and unwilling to comply, thus showing the falsehood of his righteousness.

    That is the meaning of the passage in question. It was not a blanket command given to all Christians. Jesus did not preach this “gospel of poverty” ubiquitously.

    I suppose it depends, again, on who is citing the passage and what they’re trying to say with it. I don’t recall jesus drawing any particular lines in the bible as to what constitutes rich or not. I’ll work off this premise; the moral of the story is that people should love god over there things and give to those less fortunate then themselves. If that doesn’t work, let me know what you’re trying to get at.

    Knowing nothing else about you, I know you’re on the computer and have some leisure time for discussions. Using just that, I can tell you are more than likely not in a lower economic class, and at the very least, have some time you could be redirecting towards helping the poor. With that assumption, again, correct me where I’m wrong, I can safely assume you have in your possession many things you really don’t need (being generous of course with the idea of ‘need’), and likewise, will continue to acquire more items in the future you could just as easily do without. If the moral of the story is more subtle, like the one I mentioned above, even then does it not imply you should at least sell some of what you have, maybe live a simpler life so others can benefit in a greater way? Maybe instead of buying new things, whatever money you don’t need to pay for the essentials (housing, food, transportation to wherever you earn your money) could go towards helping the others. After all, rich is a relative term – A middleclass person in the Uk or America is likely rich compared with many from other, less fortunate, parts of the world. If taking care of the hungry, sick, and underprivliaged is really the moral of that story, is it not your duty to do so, even if it means inconvience to you? If you truly love god more than your things, it should be a no-brainer right?

    Of couse, the whole concept is economically flawed (I guess jesus never passed that class) and here’s why; In order for a rich man to sell everything, or even some things, there has to be a buyer for it, and that buyer isn’t going to be the poor. Likewise, the things the rich man has to sell (or even just give away to the poor) are not truly what the poor need; I’m sure they would rather have rent security over an ipod. So ultimately, in order to help the poor the rich either need to
    a) Redistribute their wealth to other greedy people in exchange for money with which to give to the poor.
    b) Give their things directly to the poor (even though fancy toys are not what the poor really need)

    Not mentioning of course if those truly wealthy men in charge of banks and major coperations sold everything and gave away to the poor, a lot of people would lose their jobs and the world would be a lot worse off overall. Of course, their alternative is burning in hell forever.

    Secondly, the idea is economically flawed because, as was mentioned before, economics is not a zero-sum game. If everyone continues to work hard to produce more in ever more efficent ways, everyone can be better off. However, that’ll never happen without greedy people who want more than they have, and ultimately, want more than they need. A much more practical suggestion would be for the rich man to create a system that’s profitable which he can then use the profits from to continually benefit the poor, and possibly provide them with jobs at the same time.

    Not to mention the implications would extent towards government policy. Anyone in government who considers themselves a christian (of which I’m sure there are many) should not oppose the following using that moral:
    1) Welfare
    2) Increased taxation on the rich
    3) Universal Health care

    Likewise, they should be taxing religious institutions in order to help the poor, since it’s pretty obvious we can’t rely on the good will and honesty of those in charge of religion to give back to the poor proportionally to how much they take in (as was mentioned in a previous post).

    Let me make something infinitely clear. I agree that the Bible has it’s problems, I don’t have a problem with that. I do have a problem with what I perceive as deliberately creating problems which are not there.

    First of all, if the bible has it’s problems, why do you even need the bible? If your sense of morality and logic is better than the bibles, why not use your own?
    Also, as this rather lenghty post mentions, I don’t feel I’m creating problems; I feel the bible has no clue what it’s saying, and neither do people (not with any sort of consistency anyway).

    Also, I actually do not have any “beef” with you personally. I get pretty fired up pretty easily when I perceive certain things. I recognize that you may not have been intentionally misrepresenting the Bible. If so, then there is no problem.

    And I have no problem with you either; we’re discussing on more or less, neutral ground (not personally about each other, about ideas). You’re more than fun to talk to about things like this.

  • OMGF

    Mrnaglfar,
    I think the point Matt is trying to make is that the moral of the story isn’t that one should take care of the poor, but rather that one should not be materialistic and love one’s things more than god.

    Personally, I find this whole passage problematic. One the one hand, Jesus is admonishing the rich man to give up his possessions in order to serve god. Then, he states that it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, which seems to go towards your point that all should give up their possessions and not strive to be rich. In return for this, however, Jesus promises wealth in heaven, which seems to contradict the idea he is preaching. Lastly, we don’t see any mention of helping the poor. The rich are simply to give away their possessions, but not necessarily to any charitable end.

  • Mrnaglfar

    OMGF,

    I think the point Matt is trying to make is that the moral of the story isn’t that one should take care of the poor, but rather that one should not be materialistic and love one’s things more than god.

    Looking at passage again, I found something else that stood out, but Ill get to the poor point in a minute.

    17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    18″Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.

    Isn’t that kind of an odd quote? Jesus says no one is good outside god when that man is referring directly to jesus (who should be god according the the bible, right?. I guess jesus forgot who he was for a minute). Anyway, moving on.

    You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[d]”

    20″Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

    21Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    It kind of says it right there. But I’ll answer it again, even removing that context too below.

    26The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

    27Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

    28Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”

    29″I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

    Jesus seemed to be big on saying “I tell you the truth”, so I think I’m going to steal that trick.

    I tell you the truth, even in the passage does not mean what it says, and there is that subtle meaning of not being materialistic (even if it involves no help to poor whatsoever), then many christians still aren’t following it, since they spend lots of time working towards achieving material things they ultimate don’t need, when instead they could be doing whatever it is they’re supposed to be doing; hating the world they describe as fallen, and repenting for an original sin they have absolutely no hand in creating (unless the creation story is just figurative too – it actually means that god didn’t create the universe and it exists in natural order without him). For instance, take these computers we’re talking on. I tell you the truth, we could do without them if we needed to, and surely they only distract from life’s true purpose, which is to sit around forever telling god how great he is while obeying the ten commandments (like not killing people unless god tells you to otherwise – which is likely because god isn’t actually telling people to kill other people, what he really means is that violence is acceptable behavior, I tell you the truth).

    Another example:

    Matthew 6:24

    No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Money.

    Maybe I’m missing the subtly there, but it sounds like people should give up those things they don’t really need (or at the very least don’t try to get anymore. So from now on, anything outside of food, rent, and clothing, if all your current stuff falls apart is out of the question. Who you’ll buy them from, if everyone else doesn’t feel like working for earthly things, is a whole different questions, but I’ll pass on it for now).

    In case my point needs more bibical support (the best kind!):
    Hebrews 13:5

    Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

    If you don’t love money, I see no reason to fret in giving it away, or to not work towards having more than you need to survive.

    Acts 2:44-45

    All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

    Sure, you can claim that all of these passages are figurative, and don’t mean what they actually say, and I’m sure christians can rationalize away being materialistic by re-interpreting all parts of the bible that warn against it. But to do that would miss the orginial point. The only reason to try and justify being materialistic when your religion states otherwise is because those people love their things more than their religion, the very thing the moral teaches against.

    I guess that would sum it up.

  • http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com Cuttlefish

    When God said it’s a sin to take your Saviour’s Name in vain
    That applied to silly selfishness like public prayers for rain.
    If mortal I can see through this, then God can ascertain
    The inherent self-aggrandizing political campaign.
    When the pastors, priests, and politicians joined in one refrain
    Asking God to drop some water on this bit of his domain
    (Having checked the weather channel–they’re not totally insane–
    To determine if their gamble had a decent chance at gain)
    Then the Governor emoted–see his face contort and strain,
    Till the casual observer might suspect he’d popped a vein
    In a deep, important crevice in some structure in his brain;
    And then one by one the ministers would join the daisy-chain,
    With their practised voices, sonorous, impeccable sustain,
    The sort of voice that speaking from a pulpit can attain,
    And spoke until each had his turn, and no one did remain
    Then waited for Almightly God their pleas to entertain.

    Their aim was true, but God’s was not–I really should explain–
    A quarter inch in Georgia, but there’s flooding up in Maine.

  • OMGF

    21Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    It kind of says it right there. But I’ll answer it again, even removing that context too below.

    You are right, I missed that.

    And, BTW, I’m only trying to ferret out Matt’s point.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Mrnaglfar,

    You made alot of good points and I agree with you about the “give everything away” concept is not practically or economically feasible.

    My take, and I recognize I could be wrong, is that the central message of Jesus dealt with the Man’s relationship to God more than the man’s relationship to other humans or to possessions.

    The man was trying to impress God with his good behavior, by looking good on the outside. Jesus showed him that he was not as good as he thought he was.

    The command of giving everything away was just a vehicle to make the point “you aren’t as good as you think”.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Mrnaglfar

    Matt,

    The man was trying to impress God with his good behavior, by looking good on the outside. Jesus showed him that he was not as good as he thought he was.

    But isn’t that just saying good behavior isn’t enough? That even if a christian spent their entire life behaving well towards others, and loving people and trying to make them happy, and believing in god, if he’s not willing to lay down everything he has, and in many cases in the bible that includes their own life, or as you mentioned that one cannot be jesus’s disciple without hating his family and life (which goes against the commandment to honor your parents, but whatever), that it just isn’t enough? I know it’s a silly question because jesus is quoted there as saying “No one is good but god” (which includes himself for some reason from the way it’s written, as I mentioned above). Personally, I think that idea is too hateful to be coming from a god who supposedly loves us enough to be born into human form and suffer and die for us. Does god hate his own creations, since he seems to advocate that people shouldn’t care about the world, this glorious creation he supposedly made for us, and instead throw away any enjoyment of the world in favor of blindly worshipping a god who can’t even seem to make his existence clear to people, let alone his will? If god’s will is seperate from person to person as to what they need to do, then unless god has physically appeared to you and told you exactly what it is you need to do, how can you take what the bible says to hold any kind of truth, be it figurative or literal, as to what constitutes a good person? Similiarly, why would jesus only target the rich in that little speech, if what he really ment was everyone being less materialistic? Also, in the story of job, after god is done declaring how much better than job he is (which seems to go on forever) even after admitting he had no reason to kill job’s whole family:
    10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver [a] and a gold ring.

    12 The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

    God goes on to make him extremely wealthy. If god is against being materialistic, why would he grant job earthly riches? Seems like he just stopped job from getting into heaven.

    It seems christians are big on preaching sacrifice, and loving god more than their stuff, but is it something they actually practice in their own lives, or is this just another case of “No True Scotsman”(REAL christians wouldn’t mind giving up what they had if it brought them closer to god in some way)?

    All of which brings us full circle back to my question to you about admitting the bible is full of errors; if the bible has it’s problems, why do you even need the bible?

  • http://nesoo.wordpress.com/ Nes

    Isn’t that kind of an odd quote? Jesus says no one is good outside god when that man is referring directly to jesus (who should be god according the the bible, right?. I guess jesus forgot who he was for a minute).

    As soon as I found out about the verse I’m about to mention, I wondered how anyone could believe the concept of the trinity. I thought that Jesus’ last words on the cross (according to Matthew 27:46, anyway) pretty much made it explicit: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    I mean, what, is he asking himself why he abandoned himself?

    Ebon has an article on it as well.

  • http://neoprogrammics.com JayTan

    Ness said: “who should be god according the the bible, right”

    Well, not exactly.

    Jesus never said HE was god!

    When asked about the hour when he would return:

    Mark 13:4
    Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?

    Mark 13:32
    But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

    Apparently, he makes it clear he doesn’t know. His father is god, not him, and he ain’t talking!

    God knows everything. Would god lie ?

    Of course not!

    Hebrews 6:18
    It was impossible for God to lie.

    But, then again, I’m not so sure:

    vis:

    Ezekiel 14:9
    And if a prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet.

    or

    Ezekiel 14:9
    And if a prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet.

    But I thought it was IMPOSSIBLE for him to lie! The bible tells me so!

    And as we all know, the penalty for a false prophesy is DEATH! No wonder they make prophesies far into the future, beyond their lifetimes. It’s a survival strategy! Otherwise their lifetimes would be very short indeed!

    Exodus 33:11
    And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.

    But the bible, that NEVER contradicts itself also says:

    Exodus 33:20-23
    Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

    John 1:18
    No man hath seen God at any time.

    I Timothy 6:16
    Whom no man hath seen nor can see.

    I John 4:12
    No man hath seen God at any time.

    Blind faith is the blindfold that many wear while crossing the minefield of life.

    By the time they realise their mistake, if ever, it’s too late!

    People who think the bible is infallible and non-contradictory, haven’t a peg leg to stand on!

    Amen, bwudda

  • Damien

    As soon as I found out about the verse I’m about to mention, I wondered how anyone could believe the concept of the trinity. I thought that Jesus’ last words on the cross (according to Matthew 27:46, anyway) pretty much made it explicit: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    I mean, what, is he asking himself why he abandoned himself?

    Nes, I believe the usual apologist answer to this is that Jesus was simply quoting Psalm 22, presumably to fulfill some prophecy or other.

  • Prazzie

    I’ve been rather entertained by the comments on this thread, but stopped reading when the posts became longer (and tedious, what with all the Biblical hooha).

    So forgive me if this has been mentioned before, but is this guy (Gov. Sonny Perdue) claiming to be a Christian? And the several hundred people who gathered in the crowd to watch him pray – were they just staring in shock and horror, or were they Christians praying along?

    I only ask because even I am aware of the Sermon on the Mount, and in particular Matthew 6:6, which teaches Christians not to pray in public like the hypocrites, but to enter into their closets and pray in secret.

    Words for God’s humble servants to live by, I feel.

  • http://www.rogermwilcox.name tracer

    Exactly, Prazzie.

    Saying a prayer in public is the Christian equivalent of exhibitionism.

  • Joffan

    I guess the people of Georgia can feel a little less ridiculous today since the Archbishop of Cyrpus, Chrysostomos II, has started on a similar course, only directing all his priests to give it their best pray for rain on December 2.

  • Steve

    Let me start by saying I don’t believe there is a God (out of any of the hundreds of gods available for me to choose from). I see no need for a ‘creator’. It’s a cop-out in my opinion that historically has been used to fill gaps in peoples’ knowledge. And I am soooo happy. My only sadness is that people get so hung up on this superstitious none-sense. I am happy to debate it – it fills me with joy….

  • mark

    2007 ended not being the dryest year on record (raining the last 4 days of the year)and NOW 95% of all lakes are back to normal levels. God hears and answers.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    I sincerely hope Mark’s comment was intended as sarcasm. If not, it shows the ridiculous lengths to which believers will go to take credit for random fluctuations in natural events. So, a month and a half after this farcical prayer ceremony, some rain was finally received, and three months later, conditions have finally returned to normal? This is intended to be convincing evidence of the efficacy of prayer?

  • Marty

    God, of course, invented the concept of ‘regression to the mean’. Why shouldn’t he get the credit? ;)

    Governor Purdue, no doubt, will add this to his list of accomplishments in his re-election campaign.


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