And Yada, Yada, Yada … Glenn Beck’s a Christian

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I don’t watch TV. I mean, I watch stuff on my TV—but “only” DVD’s, since I don’t subscribe to any cable service. I would watch regular TV, but I have issues with commercials. So I don’t.

Ah, DVD’s. Right now I’m (back on) a Seinfeld phase. Last night I watched the “Yada, Yada” episode. Classic!

Another reason I don’t watch TV is because I’m afraid that if I do, I might accidentally watch Glenn Beck. And life’s too short for that.

I can’t tell you with what assiduousness I ignored this recent thing with Beck daring to screw with Martin Luther King’s legacy. But I’d have had better luck ignoring a tornado taking out half my house. It’s everywhere.

Ah, Glenn. What a swollen, festering pimple on America’s giant pink butt.

Anyway, I’ve gotten a few emails asking for my take on Beck’s “Restoring American’s Honor,” or, “Call to God,” or, “Hey, look, everybody: Sarah Palin! Finally, a hottie cheerleader’s talking to me!” big event last Saturday. So here that is:

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn.

An attention-crazed showman gets super-popular because he taps into the racism engendered by a half-black president. Lots of right-wingy types embrace him, and he becomes the wild-eyed public mouthpiece for whatever weird amalgam of conservative political philosophy and raw fear-mongering he can concentrate on long enough to start crying about.

He craves more power and attention, because that craving is all he knows. Having captured what he can of the political right, he starts eyeballing their longtime allies, the Christian right. But he understands that being a Mormon who was raised Roman Catholic might make him a hard sell with the evangelicals. But no worries, because he’s got what a lot of mega-church leaders desperately want, which is legions of devoted fans and major media access. So at the John F. Kennedy Center the night before his big “Restoring America’s Honor” rally, Beck holds an event modestly billed as “Glenn Beck’s Divine Destiny”; thousands of Christian leaders wanting part of Beck’s action attend (giving him, of course, a standing ovation); and voila: standing beside him on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial the next day are the likes of Rev. Richard Land, spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention (which boasts 16 million members and more than 42,000 churches), and Jim Garlow, lead pastor of Skyline Wesleyan, the mega-church in La Mesa, Calif.

Said Mr. Garlow in a statement, “Beck is being used by God—mightily.”

And the following morning, there’s Beck on “Fox News Sunday,” piously intoning, “There’s nothing we can do that will solve the problems that we have and keep the peace unless we solve it through God.”

God, Jesus, God, Jesus, God, Jesus, God, Jesus. Say them both enough times—and hey! You’re a Protestant evangelical!

On “Fox News Sunday” Beck also recanted his statement from last year that “Mr. Obama is a racist with a deep-seated hatred for white people.” He allowed as how he shouldn’t have said that.

Now, he explained, his problem with Obama is that he isn’t a true Christian.

“Obama is a guy who understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor-and-victim,” said the sagacious Beck. “People aren’t recognizing his version of Christianity. You see, it’s all about victims and victimhood; oppressors and the oppressed; reparations, not repentance [read:"Watch out, White America: he's comin' to get you!"]; collectivism, not individual salvation [read: "He's a socialist!]. I don’t know what that is, other than it’s not Muslim [dingdingdingding!], it’s not Christian. It’s a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it.”

And in one weekend, he wraps up what he can get of the Christian market. (Not of course, that he’s yet done with that crusade.)

Yaaaaaaaaaaaawn.

We have always had among us media-savvy megalomaniacs craving power and artfully appealing to the worst in people. We always will. When one of them starts getting real elected power, ala Hitler, then we’ve got a problem. But as long as they’re contained to posturing and braying on TV—which, in the end, is about nothing but selling cars and laundry detergent? Then I’ll keep happily tuning out, and thanking God for the likes of Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Carell. On DVD.

****

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Kara

    Concur, except that I'm a little bit too nervous to downplay the impact he's going to have. Tapping into the racism of scared white people generally works, from a political point of view. And he's gaining popularity. So even though we may see him as an uninteresting extremist, it's scary to me to note how many others don't see him that way.

    But yeah, I definitely agree with your characterization of him.

    • Ace

      It's been done for centuries.

      I read an interesting article a while ago about the deliberate creation and fostering of a unified "white" racial identity for various European groups (that formerly saw nothing particularly in common with one another) in the United States that never really existed in Europe, as a means of preventing the working poor from allying themselves with African slaves against the upper classes. This "white race identity" served to make the poor feel superior to a group they had a lot more in common with than with their rich oppressors, to drive a permanent wedge between the two. Combined with the natural human tendancy to shun anything different, it worked like a charm, and still is to this day.

      I wish I could find it again, it was quite interesting, and made a lot of sense. But the point is that people have been using tactics like this for gaining and holding on to power for donkey's ages.

      • Gina Powers

        Ace, if you find the article will you post the link? And could it have been a Mother Jones-type article? Thanky!

        Totally with you on this one, John, no arguments. No, really. No, REALLY. ;) (Ok, except for the "Yaaaaawwwnnn" part? I'd have inserted "BAAARRRRRFFF". No big…lol)

        • Ace

          I googled around for it but I can't find it! I read it a few years ago and lost the bookmark when an old hard drive bit the dust, sorry. :

          • Gina Powers

            S'ok Ace, no worries. ;) I can always get off my silly butt and Google it if need be…or use my Alma Mater's library stuff to track it down. Sounds like a great read, and if I find it, I'll post the linky-dink. ;)

          • Ace
          • rm8471

            Ouch! Thanks Ace. Now my brain is stuck with Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust" thanks to you, and I can't turn my brain off – again! SIGH! Ah, the complexities of being 53 going on 93! ;)
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNQRfBAzSzo

  • Liz

    Out of all the egregious things Glenn has done (and they might actually be literally countless), the one that makes me the most disgusted is when he got back at a rival by calling the rival's wife on the air, two days after her miscarriage, making fun of them & saying his rival "can't do anything right" – not even have a baby. (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/09/22/glenn_beck_two/index2.html) The guy has no moral compass. Or he has one, and it's set to Destroy Everyone.

    • Loren

      This was 30 years ago when the guy was in his 20's. Not excusing it, but this was back when even he has admitted he was a bad person. Definitely prior to his "conversion" whatever that may be

      • Diana A.

        And he's been a sweet little angel since then, hasn't he? And don't give me the old "but he was in his twenties, of course he was a moron" argument. How old does a person have to be before that person understands that cruelty is wrong?

        • Loren

          So Diana – when you were in your 20's did you ever do anything bad? Do you let that define who you are as a person today? You're not making anything close to a coherent argument. Really.

          • Diana A.

            Yes, I make mistakes. Did so in my twenties, too. But here’s the thing–I don’t see a major change in Glenn Beck’s character since his twenties. To borrow a metaphor from Stephen King’s “Carrie,” it isn’t that he’s stopped picking the wings off of flies, it’s just that he’s come up with better excuses for doing so. He was a cruel jerk then and he’s a cruel jerk now. What’s the difference?

    • DR

      Wow. I'm stunned.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

    Now, he explained, his problem with Obama is that he isn’t a true Christian.

    This is the part of the story that drives me crazy! Just that we and all the media discuss it implies quite clearly that there is a WRONG answer. We shouldn't give a rats-ass whether he is Christian, Muslim, Hindu or a non-believer (or anything else). Our Constitution states:

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    What is important is that he is a good policy maker for out secular government (I am not opening up conversation on Obama's policies). Based on the clear wording of our Constitution, he is being subjected to a religious test and it is characteristic of the endemic intolerance of the predominant religion (in this case Christianity). It is well argued that even caring about this issue is un-American.

    • Diana A.

      Yes. Unfortunately, this is definitely a minority viewpoint.

  • JAy.

    Thanks a lot, John. Until now, I had successfully ignored the Beck fiasco weekend! But, because I enjoy your writing so much, it now has infiltrated my brain. YUCK!

    As for fear regarding Beck's popularity, I fully expect this to be another Rush experience – loads of hype, lots of fans, then a giant implosion followed by years of blathering to a definite minority. Just give him enough time to do himself in, and he most likely will.

    Oh, and you headline is nefarious at best. My Christian leader has a five letter name. And in the English pronunciation, those five letters are all that is needed to identify him.

    • Ace

      "Oh, and you headline is nefarious at best. My Christian leader has a five letter name."

      I think John was being sarcastic with that title.

      • Diana A.

        Me too!

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          I changed it.

  • mm

    He is quoted as saying that he was reclaiming the civil rights movement. A white man from Utah is reclaiming the civil rights movement? And somehow this is OK because MLK's niece(for reference mlk's niece ~ ghandis' cousin, lol!) says so. Notice none of the immediate King family would touch that with a 10 foot pole.

    I am not saying that people off all races and creeds can't work for civil rights but it's in extremely poor taste to act as some sort of leader which you will never live up to being. I doubt the beckster would let himself be fire hosed or bitten by dogs, or beaten with nightsticks for anything he believes in, because the only thing he believes in is advancing his net worth. His audacity is without equal. He's gone as far as to indicate at the end of one's of socialist's are evil diatribes that he could be assassinated. As if anyone would be stupid enough to make your a martyr glen? Megalomaniac Indeed!

    • Mindy

      That's the part that drives me mad – he acts as if he leading his "flock" away from some vicious persecution. What kind of nonsense is that?!?!?! They haven't a clue what persecution is all about. He's more offensive than anyone I've heard/seen in a very, very long time.

  • Jeanine

    Yes, but we have a representative form of government – so as a voter, I want my choice of leader to 'represent' what I think is right. The question is not 'is he a Christian', but did he trick Christians into voting for him by lying to them about what he believed.

    It is no different than a candidate who says they will not raise taxes and then when he is elected, he does.

    If Christianity is not an important issue to a candidate and affect how he will make his decisions, then why act a part as if it is just to get elected?

    • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

      If Christianity is not an important issue to a candidate and affect how he will make his decisions, then why act a part as if it is just to get elected?

      It's a vicious Catch-22. If you want to serve and do good you have to get elected. If you don't pander to the Christian majority in this country…you have little chance of every achieving higher office. What did the Constitution say about no religious tests?!?!?!

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Jeanine: But (unless I missed something) Beck is running for any office at all. Oh, wait. Unless you're meaning to suggest that Obama tricked people into voting for him by pretending to be a Christian. Um. Well. I'm going to vote you weren't saying/meaning that.

      • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

        I theorize that he did EXACTLY that John. It's called 'being a pragmatist'.

        • Mindy

          You think Obama tricked people into believing he is Christian? Really? Why? And I understand the point – not that his faith matters, what matters is that he is honest about it. Why do you think he hasn't been? This one baffles me.

          • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

            I liken it to him saying he likes Steely Dan when he really likes MC Hammer. It really doesn't matter. (I don't think he was lying per-se…I think he is ostensibly Christian, but it does not seem to color his policy decisions.) The reality is that an intelligent, capable, eloquent, charismatic, pragmatic non-believer could not get elected to high office in the current religious climate without pandering the the Christian majority. That is a documented reality and characteristic of the intolerance that invariably comes with a majority religious sect.

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            So…all those years he and his family worshipped in a Christian church in Chicago…that was what? Just curious. Sounds like a nefarious scheme! /cue spooky music

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            I have a very dear friend who's been going to Obama's church for years. He's definitely a Christian.

          • Susan

            Obama attended a UCC – United Church of Christ – church. The UCC is a mainstream protestant denomination.
            http://www.ucc.org

          • http://none Don Rappe

            I find Obama's concern for the health of the poor to be very consistent with his Christianity.

          • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

            Anyone aspiring to public office realizes from early on that church attendance is important. Obama could very well be a committed, believing Christian, but it is not unrealistic to think a wanna-be politician would go to church from early on. Importantly; Obama's separation of his policy-making and is religion are clear…which should be expected since he is a Constitutional lawyer.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            What about his policies or way of acting has led you to this suspicion?

          • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

            @DR:

            Maybe I should qualify what I said. His policy positions, his reasoning and his arguments all nearly precisely aligned with what my thinking if I were an atheist running for office but trying to pander to the religious voting bloc.

            Some examples:

            Faith-based initiatives: It is political suicide to pull the plug on the program, but he said if you receive federal monies you need to a) be accountable, b) cannot use the monies for proselytizing, 3) cannot discriminate in hiring based on religion, 4) change the program to Faith-Based and Neighborhood Initiative. Such changes would (if ever implemented) would mitigate the pernicious discriminatory/proselytizing aspects of the program.

            Face facts that there is no common ground on abortion so shift the argument toward preventing unwanted pregnancies instead of ending them. This would be done through actual effective education and contraception instead of ignorant abstinence-only programs.

            Mentioning in his inaugural address that non-believers are as American as anyone else.

            I won't get into what he did or did not get accomplished (in fairness…he kinda has a full plate), but his rhetoric was pretty tightly aligned with the non-believer if they had to pretend they were believers.

            Maybe he is a committed Christian, but his positions make it irrelevant…which is as it should be.

          • DR

            @Mike Burns

            "Maybe he is a committed Christian, but his positions make it irrelevant…which is as it should be."

            Weird. I support all of what you've offered and I'm a Christian so I don't really understand where this is such a foregone conclusion. Though if we're speculating on peoples' faith, I wonder what God would think of a President executing someone who has the IQ of a 12-year old? President Bush did that, though he did put his hands on a little boy and prayed for his salvation so perhaps he's ok? You may have additional doubts regarding W, I suppose speculating on the validity of someone's interior state of salvation before the Living God is a fairly equal opportunity experience across both parties.

      • Jeanine

        Nope sorry, I was responding to

        @ Posted by Mike Burns on September 2, 2010 at 8:13 am

        Must have clicked it wrong.

        Mike is saying that we shouldn't care what religion he is – which is fine with me – but people are concerned that they were lied to about his beliefs during the election which is a whole different story. I think people have a right to be concerned about that.

        (Although, I really didn't think he looked much like a Christian during the election either).

        On Glenn Beck, I really have no comment. I don't really agree with him or disagree with him. I listen to him every now and then, but I approach him with caution; because he seems to be just trying to work out what he thinks on air – and it changes a lot.

        • DR

          Should have read the entire thread, you answered my question. Please disregard it.

        • Susan

          @ Jeanine, Obama didn't "look" like a Christian to you? Wow…. That's incredibly judgemental and, just… "wow" – I'm shocked that you wrote that.

          • Jeanine

            Woops, forgot where I was; should have kept that comment to myself….

          • Matthew Tweedell

            "forgot where I was…"

            which is… not in the heart of Dixie.
            :( ;)

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            So you were speculating he's a fake Christian! As far as saying that "here", if you are inferring that we are a bit more of a Liberal crowd so that was inappropriate, in the Conservative circles I travel within they find speculating about someone's actual faith in God to be as ignorant and spiritually negligent as I suspect most of us do here.

          • Jeanine

            Conservatives are hypocrates aligning themselves with Beck! When one of them starts getting real elected power, ala Hitler, then we’ve got a problem!

            Glenn Beck is a 'media-savvy megalomaniacs craving power and artfully appealing to the worst in people.'

            Yay John, great post, way to go, I'm with ya!!!!!

            But question if somebody is really a Christian who loves Jesus Christ and strives to be like Christ? Look out baby – that is over the top! No place for that here on the website of a Christian writer.

          • http://none Don Rappe

            If Glen Beck can question his faith, Why can't Jeanine? Maybe we expect her not to judge others gratuitously. I find Mr. Obama's record much easier to reconcile with "real" Christianity than that of his predecessor. But I've got too big a beam in my eye to really determine.

          • DR

            I'm so confused. Weren't you just speculating about President Obama's faith on this Christian writer's website as you offer yourself up as a faithful Christian? Is it me or is that hypocritical?

        • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

          I'm sorry…he didn't what? He didn't "look like much of a Christian?"

          What, pray tell me, does a "Christian" look like, exactly?

          • Susan

            @ Barnmaven – Perhaps she can send us a picture of herself so we can see if we resemble the "Christian image" closely enough to qualify for Christ's grace…

            Appalled…appalled…appalled…

          • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

            We wear special shoes. It's kind of like how you can spot illegal aliens.

          • Gina Powers

            And here I thought it was all in the walk….or the accent…;). (By “walk”, of course I mean physical walk…just so’s ya know…….ah, the perils of being a smartass……).

          • Jeanine

            1 Corinthians 12:3 NKJ

            Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

            If you are a leader; and you tell the public that you are not going to make decisions based on what Christ would have you to do; then Christ is not your Lord. If he is not your Lord, then why bother calling yourself a Christian?

          • Jeanine

            Call yourself a smart, intelligent guy, who thinks he has a lot of good ideas to help the nation, and who kind of likes some of the things that guy Jesus said once.

          • DR

            Would you please quote that? I'd like to see where he actually said this. Thanks.

          • Jeanine

            In that video, Obama laughs and says, "well people just aren't reading their Bible". What a joke!

            I think if he was reading his Bible he would understand that the Old Testament brought the law (which is meant to show man his sin and his need for a Savior) and the New Testament brings us a new and better covenant Jesus Christ who is that Savior and offers us repentance and redemption from our sin. There are lots of things in the old testament that Jesus 'cracks open' and sheds light on in the new testament – and stoning your children is one of them.

            You see, it is a book; and cover to cover it conveys a message; not in little snippets to suit his fancy or political agenda.

            With the shelfish example, I think if this were being debated as law, even an athiest could take the Bible, open to Matthew 15: 11 (What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean). and show that this is not something Jesus intends for us to be worried about now.

            (Personally, I think shell fish had some sort of negative health risk at the time and the Lord was just trying to protect his people). I am just guessing and really don't care to debate that.

            But abortion? That is an issue like slavery. To me, I am very hard pressed to see anywhere in the Bible that this is an acceptable practice. And, as a Christ follower, this is someplace that I think I need to stand for the truth. Obama on the other hand is an avid supporter of partial birth abortion – one of the most haneous practices I have ever heard of.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @Jeanine

            I’m not sure why you would say that he’s an avid supporter of partial-birth abortion. Can he not stop talking about how every woman should get one, how no other no other abortion is quite the same, and how it will save the planet…?

            As was Obama's point, the Bible can be and has been cited in support of just about anything; as you said, these things must be taken in the context of the whole—interpreted under guidance of the Holy Spirit. (Hence, as I say, prooftexting is not a valid way of proving much.)

          • Jeanine

            Well tell that to Jesus, who resisted the devil int he wilderness using scripture as his arguement.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I already have. Good attempt to use the Bible to prove using the Bible as proof. I’d enjoy hearing you try to explain some of your beliefs before the True Word on Judgment Day.

            Our Lord resisted temptation not through the incidental scripture—the Truth in which, you see, the devil was already aware of—but rather by th power of His will, built on the power of faith!

            Do you not know the purpose of faith?

            I have already told you that "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness". All of it, and such is the whole of its purpose, "so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

          • Jeanine

            No kidding, but he also uttered words – which although he was alone in a desert – have been gloriously recorded in the Bible thereby people throughout the ages could understand the nature of his will to resist the temptation and from whence his power came.

          • Jeanine

            @ Matthew – I’m not sure why you would say that he’s an avid supporter of partial-birth abortion.

            As an Illinois State Senator, Obama voted against the ban on partial-birth abortion (which by the way is delivering a late term baby half way through the birth canal, inserting scissors into their brain, and then sucking thier brains out with a vaccum).

            He continues to speak at Planned Parenthood events in support of keeping the current medical practice of partial-birth abortion.

            And, to top it off, Obama also opposed the "Born Alive Act' which provided medical care to any baby born alive during a botched abortion. He supports the idea of allowing the living, crying, breathing baby (which he calls a fetus) to die in a bio-waste bin.

            I don't care if you are a Christina or not – that is just sick!

            http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/20/us/politics/20c

            http://www.godvoter.org/abortion-is-murder.html

          • Jeanine

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2Kh-xzerjE

            And, most likely you will agree with what he said, and still say that he is a Christian; but I don’t agree.

            A Christ follower makes every effort to obey Christ’s commandments; not to compromise them with the world as Obama is suggesting. That is why he doesn’t sound like a Christ follower to me…

            And I’m not so sure that a Christ follower would mock and ridicule his Word like that. If you don’t understand the many hard things written in it, then I would think you would still reverence it enough to try to hash all of that out somehow in the realm of politics rather than mock it openly.

          • Diana A.

            So, Jeanine, are you saying a good Christian would seek to impose his understanding of what the Bible says on nonbelievers through political means? See, it’s this kind of attitude that causes nonbelievers and even some of us believers to be distrustful of having too pushy of a Christian in office.

            We don’t want a Christian version of the Taliban to be in charge. We are rightfully terrified by such a possibility. This is why when Obama speaks reasonably about the line between Church and State and the dangers of crossing that line, people listen and respect him–because they don’t want a Christian version (or any other version) of the Taliban to be in charge. We like our carefully secular nation. We like a nation wherein all religious people and nonreligious people are welcome. We don’t seek to change that.

            And I don’t perceive him as making fun of the Bible at all. He’s just pointing out the ridiculousness of basing our governmental policies on it–which is fair. Seriously, do you want to live in a nation in which you’re forbidden to eat shellfish? It’s one thing to decide on your own not to do so. It’s another thing entirely to have a War on Shellfish and a Shellfish Enforcement Administration and people getting sentenced to prison for trafficking in shellfish, and the like. See what I mean?

          • Jeanine

            @ Diana – ‘So, Jeanine, are you saying a good Christian would seek to impose his understanding of what the Bible says on nonbelievers through political means?’

            Is that what I said? No it is not! I said to ‘has that all out”

            Slavery was ended through political means: debates and wars. It was a moral issue and Willim Wilberforce and those like him used Biblical argument to debate it in the political arena. You can see in the words of Lincoln carved into the wall at the Lincoln memorial that both sides thought they were Biblically correct. In the end, Lincoln left it up to God to determine the truth in the outcome of the war. And so slavery was abolished in the US.

            Debate the Bible all you want – invoke it’s scriptures and talk about them openly all you want. Bring them into the public forum and make your case if you are a Christian.

            But mock the book and toss it aside – that is what an athiest does, not a Chrisitan.

          • Jeanine

            Sorry again, but it seems like I can say almost nothing and people ‘jump’ to conclusions about me. Whereas John and others can openly mock and ridicule people and they are applauded.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Jeanine, this said absolutely nothing of what you said he said. I listened to the entire thing. Why did you post this?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I didn't even notice that comment directed at me until just now. Thanks for covering it, DR.

          • Diana A.

            "If you are a leader; and you tell the public that you are not going to make decisions based on what Christ would have you to do; then Christ is not your Lord."

            Did he say that he was not going to make decisions based on what Christ would have him do? Or did he say that he was not going to make decisions based on what other Christians would have him do? There's a big difference between those two concepts.

            Also, there a lot of people who claim to be living as Christ would have them do, who in my opinion aren't.

          • Jeanine

            I really don't remember a time when he has invoked Christ at all.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            And this is a bad thing?

          • DR

            So if he doesn't do it publicly, that means he's not doing it?

          • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

            Have you considered looking for it?

            http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnstext/obama_bares_his_soul_at_easter_event/

            There are other examples. Many of them.

    • Elizabeth

      I want to add something original and helpful. I do. But all I can see through the miasma of shock and aversion clouding my brain is John's comment from a post about the Tea Partiers: "Oh, good. The sanity’s begun."

      The relish with which we second-guess and belittle others' relationships with their personal God is one of the most sickening aspects about current American society. And it's done so casually, so glibly, as if any old excuse could ever justify a question as profoundly intimate as this. For the life of me, I don't understand why we don't live by Matthew 6:5-6: people who advertise their faith unprompted are hypocrites, and our own beliefs are best kept between God and us in a closet with the door closed. Sacrificing our privacy with God in order to try (and usually fail) to live the Great Commission is paying way too high a price.

      • Ace

        I think you've stated this very well – the Pharisees are indeed alive and well and still with us today, in various forms.

      • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

        Very refreshing to read that, Elizabeth. Very astute.

      • Jeanine

        That scripture talks about praying in public and giving to the needy (as someone so kindly reminded me) not about spreading the gospel.

        • DR

          You're splitting hairs, dear.

          • Jeanine

            Jesus did not talk speak about the Great Commision at all during his sermon on the mount – he only spoke of it after his resurrection when he appeared to his desciples in his resurrected body.

            Luke 24:44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

            Mark 16: 15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

            Matthew 28: 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

            @ Elizabeth 'people who advertise their faith unprompted are hypocrites, and our own beliefs are best kept between God and us in a closet with the door closed'

            I disagree. As far as I can tell from these passages Jesus is instructing his desciples 'advertise their faith unprompted'.

          • Jeanine

            Sorry again about my spelling and typing. I keep seeing that it is awful…. :(

        • Jeanine

          I don’t think so. That text says nothing about the Great Commission at all. To add it in there for your convenience is putting words in Jesus’ mouth. Not too cool….

      • DR

        This is such a wonderful comment.

    • DR

      Why would it be suggested that Obama lied about being a Christian? Is there even any evidence to suggest that? Perhaps that's not what you meant. I hope not.

  • Jeanine

    So, you don't like the Constitution then?

    rep·re·sent – to stand or act in the place of, as a substitute, proxy, or agent does; to speak and act for by delegated authority.

    See the authority belongs to the citizen, and the leaders are just their agent, their proxy. My vote is just one vote – but it is MY vote. And I do not like being swindled out of it by a liar of any sort. If my vote happens to stack up with the majority, then great, I get what I want; but if not, then too bad for me.

    As an elected official, you are not 'serving' any voting citizen when you rob them of their right to make choices in the realm of government (with their vote) by your own trickery.

    • berkshire

      What trickery? I'm still not getting what you're referring to. . . .

      • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

        I think she's trying to tell us that she thinks Obama isn't really a Christian, but only pretended to be so he could get elected.

      • Jeanine

        The President has been interviewed several times in the past few weeks specifically about his religious beliefs, and these interviews were conducted by News organizations that usually report favorably on him. Apparently, the powers that be are out there doing poll after poll to find out why Americans are questioning his Christianity.

        This is what Glenn Beck was commenting on – and Mike Burns up there was trying to say that it is beside the point what religion he is. And I also think that Mike agrees (according to his follow up post) that he promoted himself as a concerned Christian just to get elected. Obama never really convinced me that he was a Christian at all, but I was really more worried about how he intended to govern.

        I am just saying – that as a voter, I just want to know the truth about how a politician intends to vote on issues. If the voters just put up with all of this lying during elections from anyone – then we really just live under tyranny – and citizens are a joke to the ones who are 'committed to serving them'.

        • Diana A.

          "Mike Burns up there was trying to say that it is beside the point what religion he is. " In a way, I agree with him. That is, I don't think people should have to claim Christianity as a religion to get voted into office.

          In fact, to me, this litmus test does encourage people to cynically claim a Christian viewpoint, when they may not be Christians at all, or more likely, are Christians in name only.

          Moreover, Christianity can be defined in so many ways that merely claiming a Christian viewpoint says nothing at all about a person's decency and character. John Spong claims Christianity. So does Pat Robertson. Who's the real Christian? Both? Neither? And is it even our place to judge?

          Meantime, other religions and non-religions produce people of decency and character as well. And in our country, we should not be discriminating against these other people just because they're not Christian.

          Unfortunately, we do, which is how we get candidates who cynically claim a Christian viewpoint, whether they buy into it in real life or not. Discrimination is what produces the lies. Get rid of the discrimination and there will be fewer lies.

          • Jeanine

            Two wrongs don't make a right though.

          • Diana A.

            Perhaps not, but this wrong will continue happening until the wrong that spawned it is corrected. Personally, I'm not holding my breath waiting for this to happen.

          • Jeanine

            Anyways, the chances that a candidates views, if he is honest about them, are going to line up with mine exactly are slim.

            I may agree with 75% of what he intends to do and diagree with the rest. But then as a citizen, I have the opportunity to weigh what is most important to me, and then choose the things I care about the most. If people are being deceptive; they rob me of that opportunity.

            In a pure sense, just having a majority of the vote does not mean that you are right, but it does mean that you are representing the opinions of those who voted for you, unless of course you are a liar.

          • Elizabeth

            Yes! Disregard my earlier flailing about. This is the right way to navigate the Christian question in American politics. Thank you for your level-headedness and eloquence, Diana.

          • Diana A.

            Thanks Elizabeth!

          • Matthew Tweedell

            "Discrimination is what produces the lies. Get rid of the discrimination and there will be fewer lies."

            — This! Excellent point, Ms. A.!!!

          • Matthew Tweedell

            (That's not to say that it's relevant to the case of Obama, about whose salvation I have no doubt, while Glenn Beck on the other hand…)

          • Diana A.

            Thank you, Matthew.

        • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

          Even in a worst case scenario though…even if he just claimed Christianity during the campaign; he certainly had well stated positions on those policies that might be colored by religious beliefs…so it is not like he was hiding any of that. He publicly stated positions on gay marriage, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, et. al.. The moniker of 'Christian' was quite ancillary. He conducted his campaign just like I would.

          • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

            By his own admission, the previous Christian in the White House ordered the torture of prisoners. I'll give a nickle to anyone who can find Christ advocating that anywhere in the New Testament.

          • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

            Actually, it's mentioned in a couple places:

            The Gospel According to Ayn Rand, chapter 9, verse 11

            and it's alluded to in III Bigotry, chapter 6, verse 66

            I hope that that helps!

        • Jon

          You will never know if anyone, elected or not, is a true Christian. All you can really know is what they claim and whether they seem to approximate their claims in deed. So, why set yourself up to be duped by skillful impersonation? I would focus on the deeds and know that some 'deeds' in politics that have no obvious Christian bearing. For those, apply a your best reason, wisdom, patience. We'd all feel better if we could forfeit our responsibilities in tough times to someone we 'trust' so that we would not have to check there 'work'… but practically speaking, we wouldn't be 'better off'.

          • Diana A.

            "You will never know if anyone, elected or not, is a true Christian. All you can really know is what they claim and whether they seem to approximate their claims in deed."

            Love, love, love this! The whole comment actually, but especially the first two sentences. This is what I mean when I say that anyone can claim to be a Christian but that doesn't mean they really are. Thanks Jon!

        • berkshire

          Knowing that someone is a Christian doesn’t necessarily tell you how they’ll vote on issues. Especially, as Obama mentioned in the video linked to above, there are so many sects of Christianity in this country that one would be a fool to assume that they know what that word means to someone without any greater context or discussion surrounding the word.

          Personally, whatever religion my government officials adhere to (or not), I’m wary of any “decider” who claims to know exactly how they’ll vote on a given issue–to me, that just means they aren’t paying attention to all the information that arises in an ever-changing world. Sometimes what people call “flip-flopping” is actually more rightly called ‘critical thinking” and “revision” based on new information. I want leaders who are capable of that kind of rational assessment of the whole picture. Otherwise, we end up with people dragging the country into war, no matter what the intelligence community or other experts say; people who make economic decisions based on what people want in the short term, rather than what serves the greater good in the long-term, etc. We recently had a president who claimed he was a Christian, and probably really believes himself to be (I’m skeptical, but whatever), and who committed the aforementioned errors, among many others. I think dogmatic thinking is dangerous in the spiritual realm as well as the political realm. Just my 2 cents, maybe a little off topic. But the bit about wanting to know how someone will vote struck me as . . . I dunno. . . a little ‘off’.

          More on topic, I think it’s funny how the same people who wanted to highlight Obama’s association with a Christian pastor they perceived as radical now try to cast him as a Muslim. It’s so transparent–this isn’t about his religion. It’s about the highlighting of his “otherness” by white america. He’s not Christian, He’s Muslim, He’s from Kenya, blah blah blah. The message they really want to drive home is he’s *different* and he’s *not one of us* and most of all, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” What a load of B.S.

  • Gene

    GOD BLESS YOU, JOHN SHORE!!! This whole Glenn Beck phenomenon, and what it says about the political right and Christian right people who deify Glenn Beck, has really had me troubled. In your grand tradition of incredible wisdom, you put your finger right on the problem and made it clear that we can yawn about it.

    • vj

      "grand tradition of incredible wisdom"

      Yes!! What a cool way to describe John and his writing. :-)

  • Tim

    I would have to say that nothing we can do politically will solve the problems that we have and keep the peace unless we solve them through God.

    As far as political solutions go, I just keep voting for what I discern as being the lesser of two evils. All that really does is prevent our nation from straying off course farther and faster than I think necessary. In and of ourselves, we don't have the answers to lasting unity and peace because we will never unilaterally agree on any solutions.

    Weirdly, I have to agree somewhat with the Vienna Boy's Choir version of Joe Pyne. Without God we are sort of screwed. Not that we are to rally behind a political representation of godly fervor…but that we, individually, should seek to be transformed like the Scriptures talk about…from glory to glory (2Cor 3:18) Redemption is an ongoing process and unfortunately I don't think everyone will find it. But if we will humble ourselves and TRULY become others-centered at the moving of God's Spirit, while things in this world will fail to find perfection, a good deal more people may at least practice it.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      So Death is victorious—the Evil One too; the body of Christ is risen not.

      "All that really does is prevent our nation from straying off course farther and faster than I think necessary."

      Yes, for there once was a mystical moment of divine intersession when the hand of God did move to set our nation on a course from which it should inexorably stray, as we know that selfsame God does now refuse to offer any course adjustment!

      Anyway, "unilateral agreement" is an oxymoron.

      But I agree with your last two sentences!

      • Tim

        Not really sure what you were trying to communicate with your reply, but then I can be a bit thick sometimes. Actually I do believe God offers course adjustments. Just not so much at the corporate management level. I believe God is interested in personal adjustments because I believe Him to be a personal God…not the God of our nation, our people, our army, etc. He works out the macro through the micro, Imho.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Oh, I agree!

          It was just that you seem to say things are headed steadily off-course, while I don't really know how you think we were ever more on-course.

          • Tim

            Hi Matthew—

            I consider the course a sailor sets for a tiny island thousands of miles out to sea. While his course may be virtually spot on for a hundred mile run, being off course just a tiny fraction of a degree will result in missing the destination by 50 miles or more over the course of a couple thousand miles.

            My point is, that regardless of our current GPS capabilities, our nation's collective compass is without one true north. It's my considered opinion that we have been, and continue to be, off course. Any contentment we have about being on course, is because our destination changes. Man has his agendas. And with each change of administration, the course gets adjusted. Our destination changes from term to term. Admittedly, it's easy to think we're on course until we fail to reach a destination. And since that destination changes, we never have to really admit we are off course. I mean, which destination are we aiming for? Which true north are we oriented to? Does that answer your question better?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Yes, and well put, Tim. This is an interesting matter to consider. Of course, this is a matter extending through all history and all humanity then, of which our nation represents but an instance.

        • Cat

          Excellent, Tim.

          • Tim

            Thank you, Cat.

  • Gene

    What scares me is how many people seem to make Glenn Beck into a modern-day Messiah. I dared post something negative on Glenn Beck's blog once, and the responses seemed to say that I had blasphemed God himself. One woman said "I know that God watches over Glenn, just like Glenn watches over us." Someone else said "I pray that God will open your eyes and enable you to see the things that He has enabled us to see, with Glenn's help." How can people be so gullible as to be such putty in Glenn Beck's hand? What kind of a man is Glenn Beck that he accepts, and even encourages, such undeserved worship?

    • Ace

      I think the phenomenon is usually referred to as a "cult of personality" – usually utilized by dictators like Kim Jong-Il and the like.

      • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

        Spot on, Ace.

  • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

    I'd really like to say something, but the comments here have been so brilliant, that I don't see how I could improve the conversation.

    Yet, I feel compelled to say something.

    Dang, if I'd only gone to the grocery store today …

    Anyway … I have listened to Beck's radio show quite a bit, and I find him exceptionally scary. One of the most bizarre things is how eager Evangelical leaders are to excuse Beck's Mormonism, but have no patience for Obama's claim to Christianity.

    • Diana A.

      Yes. There are privileges that come with saying what other people want to hear. Mormons are A-ok as long as they toe the Fundamentalist Christian line on the important issues.

      • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

        Don'cha love hypocrisy?

        • Argy-bargy

          Or…you might just view it as "utilitarian morality." ;-)

          • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

            Nah, those words are too big for me.

            I'll just go with "lying."

          • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

            Remember that, in the case of Obama, he was forced to make public declarations of his faith. He wasn't campaigning based on what religious group he was a member of. He laid out his policy positions for all to see, but the ugly truth is that the religious public wanted to apply an [unconstitutional] religious test. The ugly truth is that he could not be elected if he did not say 'Christian'.

            …and this ugliness is OWNED by the religious majority.

          • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

            Wait a minute!! Shouldn't the Right be outing Beck as a Socialist?

            Mormonism, as practiced by those I know in the church, is one of the most Socialistic organizations on the planet. They lease you a house, a car, find you work, make work for you if they can't find a job for you elsewhere, find you a meal at a Mormon home if you're hungry on a Sunday night, create massive, common food stores "just in case". The LDS's list of socialist strategies and tactics is very long.

            So, I'm pretty certain Beck is a card-carrying Marxist!! And, if he DENIES that, then we KNOW he's lying!!!

            SPREAD THE WORD!!!!

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Yes, I remember many panel moderators that specifically asked about religious beliefs throughout the campaign as if the answer added anything to his platform. Certainly the audience wanted to know. And I agree: it is a very ugly truth that religious allegiance is deemed to to be a legitimate political question.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

    You live in Cali. You are so fortunate. I work in downtown DC. 8 blocks from the capital. 8 blocks from the Whitehouse. Canceling my cable would not help me avoid, um, stuff.

    I should get hazardous duty pay.

    • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

      You really should.

      Tell your boss that I said so. I'm sure that that'll cover it, right?

    • Susan

      I live in Texas, land o’ the big hair and big ol’ beckpalians, by george!

      • Karen

        LOL! I've been lurking, enjoying the comments immensly, and then Susan, your comment just cracked me up. Anyhow, so I am now typing instead of lurking, I might as well add my own two cents. There are some places in Cali that are just as scary as Susan's "land o' big ol' beckpalians." Up in the hills, north of Bakersfield, we have a vast contingent of beckpalians. The wide eyed, gleeful way they shout Beck's gospel gives me the eebyjeebies. I have learned that I am Not a Christian when I do not agree with my friends and coworkers who are followers of Beck. (Referring to wken's post – I guess I don't have the right shoes. :-( ) I have also learned that I am not a good American because I do not follow the ways of the Fox. I agree with Ric… #1 – you should get hazard pay and #2 – it's probably good to be aware of what's going on out there so you're prepared.

        • Susan

          Karen you lurker, you…

          So glad to have been able to offer comic relief, although what I stated is absolutetly true!

          Totally understand your two cents. Beckpalians abound, and while they may not intend to put off a superior vibe, it too often comes across that way, regardless the size of their hair ;-)

          Absolutely. Just like the boy scouts, we must be prepared!

  • Curt Russell

    He's a Christian? I thought he was a Mormon. Now granted by the definition of believing in Jesus Christ makes Mormons Christians but, there are some fundamental differences in what I understand as Christianity and Mormonism. Some of the crap I've heard come out of his mouth is not Christian

    • http://aprisonerofconscience.wordpress.com/ Xander

      Muslims believe in Jesus as well. So, Mormons are as much Christians as Muslims are.

      With that standard, no one should care if Obama is a Muslim, because even if he was, he would be as much of a Christian as Beck.

      • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

        Ouch!

      • Curt Russell

        Good point, at the least Muslims actually believe in Christ's divinity and the Mormons screwed up the whole thing (Jesus and Satan brothers? Really).

      • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

        Muslims believe Christ is a prophet, not God in human form.

        That makes Muslims Jehovah Witnesses, not Christians.

        • http://none Don Rappe

          Jehovah's Christian Witnesses, I think. A minor heresy about which honest people could differ. Aren't Mormons considered a cult by the mainstream? But when does a cult become a religion? Is it recognizable as Christianity, even tho many good people practice it?

          • Diana A.

            What Makes a Religious Group a Cult:

            The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.

            ‪ Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

            ‪ Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

            ‪ The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).

            ‪ The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

            ‪ The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.

            ‪ The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).

            ‪ The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).

            ‪ The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.

            ‪ Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.

            ‪ The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

            ‪ The group is preoccupied with making money.

            ‪ Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.

            ‪ Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

            ‪ The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

            I took this from: http://www.csj.org/infoserv_cult101/checklis.htm

          • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

            Eerie. Ummm…how about them Cubs!?! :-)

          • http://none Don Rappe

            How about them Cubs indeed? Thanks Diana. Yet Jesus was a leader and taken to be messiah so I do see some overlap between a cult and other spiritual groups. Clearly Christianity as such should no longer, if ever, be taken as a cult, but the book of Acts describes much that might fit this cult description.

          • Diana A.

            Yes, I see your point.

            My own personal guideline when it comes to religious arguments and arguments on other subjects, is "What method is this person using to try to persuade me?" When someone tries to persuade me by means of fear, I tend to become suspicious. When someone appeals to me by another means, I'm more likely to listen.

          • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

            Do you think that Jesus was the only purported messiah that performed miracles and had followers at the time?

      • Tim

        Wait wait wait a minute there pardner…just because someone believes in the existence of Jesus, doesn’t make them a gol-danged Christian. The Bible says the demons believe in the existence of God, and such knowledge causes them to tremble in fear. I believe that Siddhartha Buddha existed and founded Buddhism. That doesn’t make me a Buddhist, now, does it?

        • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

          Well…I keep asking, but nobody can define a set of minimum standards for being considered Christian. If you really talk with purported Christians; I find that a good many of them are really deists just using the name for societal convenience.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Well, first, being a Christian and being saved are two different things. But if one considers him- or herself a Christian (or the equivalent in a language known to them) and honestly believes him- or herself to be saved unto everlasting life, I would say he or she can be considered Christian. Being guided by the Spirit ought then to follow from this, evidencing the reality of these standards being met.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            I swear, MT, you like to add words that simply confound. Being guided by the Spirit ought then to follow from this, evidencing the reality of these standards being met.

            I have no clue what you actually mean with such a sentence so I’ll do my best to parse it.

            If ‘this’ means a sense of being ‘saved unto everlasting life’… whatever that means… then ‘this’ means ‘these standards’… in other words a belief that has at best a very fuzzy meaning of some next life that lasts forever. The very fuzzy meaning now becomes evidence for the ‘reality’ of the aforementioned standards, meaning that the belief itself gives evidence for the reality that belief supposedly represents. After all, if you can imagine a unicorn, then that unicorn must be real, right? And that proves the reality of the unicorn because, if you believe in it, it must be ‘evidencing the reality’ .

            Is it only my brain that hurts trying to make some sense out of this gobbledygook?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I really didn't understand how it follows that the belief gives evidence for the reality of the thing believed in.

            First, I clearly separated the state of being saved from the belief in one's own salvation. If however one does truly believing in the Life everlasting this ought to have consequences for how we act today. If I seriously believe I will die tomorrow, or if I believe I've only got 6 months to live, or if I believe I've got 5 to 10 years left and that's it—the end—or even if it's 5 to 10 decades, this is quite different—and we need to plan things quite differently—than if I were to be around for all time. Hence enters in the Spirit of the everlasting God. I was saying that our ability to discern spirits gives evidence of the truthfulness of one's profession of faith.

            So "this" does refer to the standards' being met, the point being that the standards being really met can give further evidence of themselves beyond a person's word, via the Spirit.

            What is so gobbledygookish exactly? It seems sensible to me (especially compared with some of the other things that no one appears to be challenging).

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            I think the apostle's creed might cover this, Mike.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I wish. I wish all Christians could agree on that (or even knew what exactly it says).

          • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

            Not hardly. I know plenty that call themselves 'Christian' but don't even believe Jesus was a deity. For me, the problem is, you can't challenge anything about Christianity without running into the No True Scotsman defense of "That is not MY brand of Christianity". I just wish there were some certification process….believe points A, B, C, & D and you are Christian. If you don't, your not a Christian.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            That's quite true, but I figured the 'christ' part was pretty central to 'christ'ianity and if not jesus then who? Glenn Beck?

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            this is a brilliant question.

          • Tim

            I'll give you the three standards I believe qualifies a Christian.

            1. A Christian believes that Jesus the Christ is the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father/redemption/everlasting life (John 14:6). No one comes to the Father except through Christ.

            2. A Christian believes that (because of standard #1)Jesus the Christ was born of the Father and is divine in essence and without spot, blemish or guilt (all trinitarian doctrine aside).

            3. A Christian believes that (because of stand #2) Jesus the Christ's crucifixion perfectly puts away (once and for all) the penalty of sin because of our own inability to triumph over sin. Therefore we trust Him as Lord/God and seek continued communion with Him through His word, thoughts, and deeds.

            But there are obviously many that would add or subtract from my three. The Jews, for instance, weren't satisfied with just 10 commandments. They decided to add 603 commands that made attainment of mitzva fitness even MORE exacting. As if the 10 weren't specific enough. Knowing that, maybe I should have stopped at one. But that doesn't explain the WHY of following the WAY as I see it.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I disagree.

            First, I beleive Christ was begotten of the Father before all ages but born of the Virgin Mother of God.

            Second, I do not believe in the crucifixion perfectly puts away the penalty of sin once and for all. First, universal salvation is unorthodox—only God can judge who is saved—so I cannot agree that it puts away this penalty for all. Second, I wouldn't say that it does this all at once, to perfection: In this life there are consequences for our actions, and the purpose of the laws on sin is to protect us against negative consequence; the same penalty as was always applicable, always will be.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            *do not believe THAT [instead of "in" (or else puts --> putting)]

          • http://none Don Rappe

            Love these doctrinal fine points. But let's not forget to approach the Kingdom as a little child.

          • Tim

            To me, begotten before all ages is an anthropomorphic quality we give God since we cannot comfortably identify with an eternally existent being with no beginning or end. I think John 1:1 speaks of our beginning, not God's. At the moment of our beginning, our cosmos, our universe, the Word already was. The Word already was with God. The Word already was God. Nothing that was made in our cosmos was made without the Him. So unless I didn't understand your phrasing, it would seem that you believe the Christ/Word was created by the Father before Christ was born of Mary (John 1:14). If that's correct, I'm interested in how you came to that conclusion. Maybe we'll just have to agree to disagree.

            On the point of universal salvation, I think we agree. Not all have salvation, true. But I do believe that salvation is universally offered. Obviously salvation is something that must be accepted individually. And to be clear I believe the penalty of sin is something completely aside from the consequence of sin. We suffer consequences of our sins and other people's sins in this world every day. The penalty I speak of is eternal separation from God at the Judgment.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Tim, the beginning is One.

            I said "begotten", not "made".

            God is self-initializing, and He is self-realized in all three Persons.

            If one stands in judgment, being present before God and at the last day, how could one then be separated from God eternally?

          • Tim

            Thread is running out. Must reply…

            OK. So begotten could mean self-initialized, I admit, but I still hold that God (Father, Son, and Spirit) are one and eternal. Without beginning or end.

            As for being separated from God's presence at the judgment, I don't know if I believe in a literal casting of unbelievers into the eternal fires of torment or not, but at least I do believe that a person receives their just reward at judgment. To the believer in Christ, they are judged in His righteousness and are declared not guilty. They enter heaven as good and faithful servants. The unbeliever stands in their own righteousness which I fully believe is insufficient to save them. They are denied entrance and are left outside the place of God's habitation. Any burning may be as subtle as what the two men felt traveling with the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus. When they were talking unbeknownst to the Messiah. Their hearts burned within themselves as the truth of Scripture was opened to their minds. Maybe that burning consumes the unbelievers who finally (post-judgment) understands, but are then eternally barred from heaven. I suppose how they are separated from God is up to God. The Bible imagery seems pretty clear on the whole casting the damned into the lake of fire. But I can't be sure what is literal and what is figurative or allegory. Even eternal heartburn is hell enough for me. I choose Jesus.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Yes, the beginning and the end are (or is) without beginning or end.

    • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

      I think the differences start with undergarments.

      • Rebecca

        ha ha!

  • Loren

    I'll part ways with you on this one John. I don't like Beck at all. But I agree with the premise behind the rally. I see nothing wrong with what was said and I don't think it had anything to do with racism. I think you're wrong here. But that's ok. Opinion is opinion.

    Things on which we can agree:

    1. “Last night I watched the “Yada, Yada” episode. Classic!” – Seinfeld is one of my favorite shows of all time…love that episode.

    2. I may not totally agree with this next one – but it was a funny line ““Hey, lo…ok, everybody: Sarah Palin! Finally, a hottie cheerleader’s talking to me!””

    3.“We have always had among us media-savvy megalomaniacs craving power and artfully appealing to the worst in people” – Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are the kings of this movement

    Things on which we don’t agree:

    1. ” Beck daring to screw with Martin Luther King’s legacy” – Not sure I understand your point here. MLK’s legacy comes down to people being judged by the content of their character. Restoring Honor deals with exactly that.

    2.“gets super-popular because he taps into the racism engendered by a half-black president” – Totally off base here. Beck’s popularity has nothing to do with Obama’s ethnicity. He was popular before Obama became president. Not everyone that doesn’t like Obama is a racist. And that is what you appear to be insinuating here.

    3.“he becomes the wild-eyed public mouthpiece for whatever weird amalgam of conservative political philosophy and raw fear-mongering he can concentrate on long enough to start crying about” – He’s a moron for the way he carries on, but his concern for the country moving quickly towards socialism is not about race/hate and more about being a Patriot and watching out for Constitutional principles.

    4.“piously intoning, “There’s nothing we can do that will solve the problems that we have and keep the peace unless we solve it through God.”” – What’s “pious” about this statement? It’s absolutely true.

    5.Liberation Theology is a defined, active movement among Black churches. It is Anti-establishment and anti-American in its focus and is one main reason that we are unable to close the racial divide in this country

    6.“When one of them starts getting real elected power, ala Hitler, then we’ve got a problem” – Obama doesn’t fit this category? He’s a megalomaniac of the nth degree

    • Loren

      Two things

      In #6 I'm not saying Obama is Hitler

      And I can't believe anyone can listen to the preaching that goes on at the church that Obama went to in Chicago can call that a Christian Church. Wow.

    • Loren

      John said

      "I have a very dear friend who’s been going to Obama’s church for years. He’s definitely a Christian."

      Your friend may be a Christian, and people in that church may be Christian…but the thoughts that come out of that Church are decidedly anti-Christian.

      • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

        I meant Obama's a Christian, not my friend. (Though she is too.) I mention a bit about her and O's church here:

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2008/04/03/trinity-churchs-u

      • Diana A.

        How are they anti-Christian? Please explain.

        • Loren

          Again, please read my words. I never said people were anti-Christian. I said that the thoughts communicated and perpetuated from the pulpit are anti-Christian. There is a difference.

          • Diana A.

            Loren: …but the thoughts that come out of that Church are decidedly anti-Christian.

            Diana: How are they anti-Christian? Please explain.

            Loren: Again, please read my words. I never said people were anti-Christian. I said that the thoughts communicated and perpetuated from the pulpit are anti-Christian. There is a difference.

            Diana: I used the word “they” in reference to the thoughts, not the people. And you are side-stepping the issue. I repeat, how are they (they thoughts, not the people) anti-Christian? Please do explain.

          • berkshire

            And while at it, please also explain how they’re anti American. They are Americans. They live here. They have also experienced, historically, a very different America than the majority white population, and many seek to change that. You may not like their ideas, and some of the ugly truths they sometimes reveal to us about “our” idealized America, but please spare us the notion that there is only one way to be American and to think American.

            And for the record, I’m an American. I hold socialist values, and don’t see this as incompatible with being American, where I’m free to believe in any ideology that makes sense to me, and to work toward its aims (which I do). I loved living in VT years ago, where we had the only openly socialist senator, elected by the *Americans* in that state. I also *wish* Obama was a socialist. I’d rather see the masses of Americans better off than the privileged 1%.

            Beck is a racist and a fool, and he’s no MLK.

    • Susan

      @Loren,

      [Liberation Theology is a defined, active movement among Black churches. It is Anti-establishment and anti-American in its focus and is one main reason that we are unable to close the racial divide in this country]

      Perhaps Beck is considered to be an arrogant self-aggrandizing jerk because on the anniversary of King’s noble speech, Beck audaciously used a true leader’s platform (literally – the steps on the monument) to denounce Martin Luther King Jr’s platform – civil rights. King was the personification of liberation theology and for people like Beck to defame the legacy of such liberation theology proponents as Mr. King, Mother Teresa, and do so in the name of God is rather, well… ungodly. Liberation theology is not about being an oppressed victim; it is about being Christ-like and looking at the world through the eyes’ of the oppressed.

      Please, before you make such comments, learn more about this issue. Don’t spread hate through lack of knowledge or perspective. Google it, think on it, and here’s an article if you are interested:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-james-martin-sj

      • Loren

        Beck audaciously used a true leader’s platform (literally – the steps on the monument) to denounce Martin Luther King Jr’s platform – civil rights

        How did Beck denounce civil rights? If we can't talk civily about what Beck did and did not say, then there's no use to have diaologue. Making outlandish claims such as this just makes it hard to have debate with you. I understand Beck is an idiot. Really, I do. But he did nothing to denounce civil rights. There's no way you can even put his words through a grinder and smash them back together to get that.

      • Loren

        Liberation theology is not about being an oppressed victim

        I never said it was. It is anti-establishment and anti-American. That's what I said. And I stand by it.

        Please don't pull the "I'm so much smarter than you" argument. I've read plenty. I know what I need to know about Liberation Theology.

        • Susan

          @Loren:

          My apologies for coming off self-righteous. I'm no brainiac, so you could easily be more intelligent than I am!

          What I meant was that Beck's remarks with regard to Liberation Theology (the quote was one of his) seems to be make a mockery of civil rights because liberation theology was a very real part of that movement. I'm white, my dad was white and he was very active in the civil rights movement b/c he believed in serving the poor and oppressed, of which he was neither. It was not only a matter of Christian principle, it was about human rights.

          He ran for governor twice and lost twice b/c he was considered a "N-lover." So, hearing Beck say that liberation theology was anti-government, etc., seems a slap in the face to those who viewed it one of the things it means to be a Christian. In the Bible, there are countless references made to being a servant and helping the poor.

          My dad died shortly after his second loss and at a very young age. Personally, I believe much had to do with the pressure, but who knows. Perhaps, this is a hot button issue for me and I reacted too harshly. For that, I do sincerely apologize.

        • berkshire

          I always love that “I know what I need to know” (non)argument.

          Puts me in mind of a hilarious, and spot-on, article in the Onion this week:

          http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-already-knows-everything-he-needs-to-know-abou,17990/

  • http://aprisonerofconscience.wordpress.com/ Xander

    Before Obama was elected, he stated that he was a Christian but he was not going to make decisions based upon Christian beliefs but rather what the will of the people was. He got elected, so what is the big deal? I know there were questions about the anti-Semitic messages that were coming out of his church, but no one cared then so why now? Things have not turned around for the country the way his followers hoped for and now they are looking for a why. If they would have paid attention going in, these things wouldn’t be a surprise to them. They rode the wave of emotion of having the first black president so oh well.

    For Beck to have the audacity to claim someone is not a Christian when he isn't himself is amazing. What is worse are those lost and confused Christians who are riding the emotional wave of dissatisfaction lifting Beck up as their hero. It should be called out as a problem when ignorant people speak out before they understand that their new poster child for the evangelical movement is less of a Christian then what they claim Obama is.

    • Loren

      I know there were questions about the anti-Semitic messages that were coming out of his church, but no one cared then so why now

      Um. Because someone holding to those thoughts got elected president. Bloviating and spewing race from the pulpit and amening and dancing and clapping to it is one thing….electing someone president that holds to those dark divisive thoughts is another. apples and oranges

      • http://aprisonerofconscience.wordpress.com/ Xander

        Oh wait. I can sit through an anti-Semitic sermon and go back the next week, but once I get power I won't stand for it. No one saw this coming? Really?

        The country will survive. People will either be more vigilant next time or give him another chance. He is not going to be the last president though.

      • Loren

        If they would have paid attention going in, these things wouldn’t be a surprise to them. They rode the wave of emotion of having the first black president so oh well.

        yeah, ho-hum, oh-well…our country is being destroyed…no biggie. we’ll build another.

        • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

          Our country is being destroyed?

          Really? I'm curious … in what way?

        • http://none Don Rappe

          It seems to me our country is being rescued from the brink of destruction.

      • berkshire

        Oh please please please! Where and when did you hear Obama spouting anti-semitic rhetoric? Where? You are so far out of line with that, and it’s soooo revealing.

      • http://dianer.blogspot.com DR

        Loren,

        Would you provide a direct reference please? I would like to hear Obama spout the anti-semetic references firsthand. Thank you.

  • Shannon

    At the risk of being the unpopular one, which won't bother me all that much since I don't know any of you – what part of what Beck ever did would be considered "fear mongering" – if he were spreading falsehoods that would be one thing – but his research is meticulous – you think if his opponents could call him out in this respect to bring him down they wouldn't have done so already? The guy is pretty popular so, yeah, they would have.

    • DR

      Glenn Beck is not known for being meticulous. He is in the last year, recanted two things:

      1. Being a paid spokesperson for Goldline

      2. His statements about Obama being a racist.

      That from a 30 second Google search.

      • Susan

        DR –

        There are plenty of examples, but it should not be a surprise since his employer, Fox "News," won a law suit asserting the legality of falsifying news in 2003. (Google: Appellate Court Rules Media Can Legally Lie.)

        This is precisely why they see NO problem that the "money trail" (behind the Islamic Center) which they've endlessly declared to come from an unnamed Saudi evil-doer just happens to be Fox News' parent company's second largest shareholder (Oops, they forgot to mention that. See: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?stor

        So, as long as the "liberal talking heads" still call out the administration and/or democrats for misdeeds, they are, imo, far ahead of the uber-coiffed pundits who sit upon the Fox throne with one agenda: Un-right any good done by the Left. Hate, baby, hate.

        • Diana A.

          Okay, I'm appalled now.

          • Susan

            Diana A- Rupert Murdoch runs Fox and WSJ, so both media outlets have a conservative spin, and they can get away with a whole lotta spin b/c 1) they've been exonerated in court and 2) they have no competition to keep them honest.

            I get my news from many sources, but my conservative friends? Not so much. They are spoon fed shite-filled sound bites. Disconcerting. And scary.

          • Tim

            Well, your conservative friends are retarded buffoons. What thinking individual watch JUST one media source? If I did, it would be CNN. But instead, I watch FOX NEWS (not opinion makers like Hannity, Beck, O'Reilly or Gutfeld). I also watch ABC WORLD NEWS (more centrist) and NBC Nightly News (left leaning). I steer clear of all talking heads like Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Olbermann, Maddow, Matthews, etc. unless I want entertainment value. They're all a bunch of preening media whores.

            MSNBC, NBC, CBS, and ABC are certainly more pro-left than pro-right. So to say that FOX is over-the-limit for pro-right bias, I'm not buying it. even if you want to try and lump conservative talk radio in with the FAUX -NEWS "destroy all liberals" agenda, I think it still falls short because in my world, most people watch a butt-load more network television than listen to AM radio, or read far more LATimes, NYTimes, SFGate, and other metropolitan newspapers compared to one Murdoch-owned WSJ. At least that's my take.

        • Loren

          That NPR article is so poorly written I don’t even know where to start criticizing it.

          • Susan

            If you google the subject matter, you will see that the facts do not change, despite being poorly presented by NPR. It was a quick google and link I put up, but there are more links, no doubt.

            Jon Stewart of The Daily Show actually brought the facts out. If you go to that website, you can watch it. I believe it's entitle the Parent Company Trap.

            I watched the episode on Fox & Friends, then I googled the Kingdom Foundation to which they referred, got the name of the "evil doer" (who offered the Mayor Guliana money for the victims after 9/11 and is purportedly providing funds for the Islamic Center) – Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. The website (below) breaks down the investment portfolio, and shows its stake in News Corp, parent company of Fox News.

            http://www.kingdom.net/en/default.asp

            The issue is not of Fox News' ties, but that they denounced the company which, ultimately, helps pay their checks — and they did not disclose that fact whilst denouncing.

            Just seems…interesting.

            http://www.kingdom.net/en/CorpCocialRes_KF.asp

    • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

      Meticulous?

      Meticulous?

      You misspelled "ridiculous," just so you know.

      Let's start with his favorite historian, Dave Barton. The man can't get published anywhere anymore because legitimate historical journals got tired of printing the retractions associated with his articles.

      Barton and Beck routinely wash over the idea that the Founders were devout Christians … perhaps most dramatically, Thomas Jefferson. While noting that he signed some letters "in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ," they leave out the fact that those letters were required by treaty to be so signed. Jefferson, after all, is the guy who made "the holey Bible," the so-called Jefferson Bible with the parts he didn't like cut out of it.

      Beck has gone to refer to the import tax on slaves as a fee required of immigrants in the Constitution. Meticulous research probably should have spotted that.

      Spend some time looking into the author of "The 5000 Year Leap." The man was too paranoid for J. Edgar Hoover and too racist for the LDS Church in his day. But he's one of Beck's favorite authors.

      The examples go on and on … Glenn Beck is a showman, not a thinker. It is very scary and very sad that people are confusing the two.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      "The guy is pretty popular so, yeah, they would have."

      And they do… daily…. I'm not sure where you've been hiding… ;)

    • Soulmentor

      *********……if he were spreading falsehoods that would be one thing – but his research is meticulous – you think if his opponents could call him out in this respect to bring him down they wouldn’t have done so already?*********

      He IS being called on it and repeatedly. See my post above. I guess you either aren’t paying attention or you just dropped in from another planet. As for his “meticulous” research: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/#38944631 and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/#38964855.

      Just two glaring examples of dozens. Now go take off your blinders and engage your brain.

  • John Prater

    I don't know Beck very well but my son has read some stuff from him which makes him real mad. I'm a "believer" myself but I definitely stay away from such types. May God have mercy on their way of thinking.

  • DR

    “[Roman] Catholic righteousness by good works is vastly preferable to a Protestant righteousness by good doctrine. At least righteousness by good works benefits one’s neighbor, whereas righteousness by good doctrine only produces lovelessness and pride.”

    -Herman Bavinck, Certainty of Faith

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Nice quote!

    • Jeanine

      How about – works don't make one righteous and doctrine doesn't make one righteous?

      Christ alone is righteous; and the only righteousness that anyone has was given to them by Him through faith.

      That is why I call him Lord; because I want him to do whatever he needs to do in my heart to make me like Him; and I trust that he is able to perform it.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        So you concede that anyone with righteousness evinces faith in Christ Jesus, whether they know him as Lord, Dominus, Khristos, al-Masih, Logos, Reason, Sophia, Bhodisattva, Tao, or whatever else?

        • http://none Don Rappe

          I do.

      • Jeanine

        I don't know enough about those things to know what they mean by 'faith in'. If they are trusting that Jesus Christ, God incarnate, died on the cross as a propitiation for their sins, to make it possible for them to approach a holy God and so be saved – then I guess yes.

        But what are you asking? You obviously have a different point of view from mine somehow and I wish you would just come out and say it, so I can give it some thought instead of taunting around about it.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          I'm just trying to understand what you're claiming. Do you believe that all righteousness comes through faith in Christ or not? Do you see that righteousness is not something self-professed Christians have a monopoly on?

          I have indeed been elucidating my understanding of things. (I would have to go on for days though to put to you a complete lecture in it.) If you have specific questions, ask, as I do, and I will try to answer, whether you do or not.

    • Rebecca

      I'm a protestant saved by grace and not by works. Jesus told us, if we belong to him we will do his commandments which aren't difficult. He summed them up as two things. You are to love the Lord God with all your heart soul and mind, and you are to love your neighbor as yourself.

      I have long been jealous of the Roman Catholic brothers and sisters who have understood the context of these commandments through social activism within the church. Their feet to the pavement practice of the gospel is much to be desired. We should all be grateful for their many years of good example and stop resting on the laurels of our own ability to believe something without lifting a finger to prove we do.

  • John Prater

    Is America on a serious downtrend ? I think it is. America's peoples are so polarized and fractured it's so amazingly obvious. I'm just waiting to see if the midEast talks lead to a 7 year peace, then I know exactly where we're at.

  • http://allegro63.blogspot.com/ Sylvie Galloway

    I am so glad to see that I am not the only American that refuses to watch television, having discovered long ago to simply ignore narcissist minded people with public media access. Which is why I avoid talk shows of any kind, infomercials, televangelists, news opinion shows and reality tv. What is there left to watch besides stupid commercials? to quote John

    YAAWWWWWWN

    I knew of the Beck Affair only because what I did by pulling up a few news stories on line and only, of course because I get a lot of what is going on in the news from John Stewart who's thoughts prior to the "rally" were hilarious. Ok so I have The Daily Show's website bookmarked.

    Your post made me laugh John, out loud. Thanks for that.

  • http://youngadultsindayton.wordpress.com talia

    "Another reason I don’t watch TV is because I’m afraid that if I do, I might accidentally watch Glenn Beck. And life’s too short for that."

    Congratulations, Mr. Shore, you just made my Facebook quotes section. Drinks all 'round!

  • Soulmentor

    Beck is a lying, hypocritical, self-centered charlatan, a modern Elmer Gantry and his followers are tragically blind fools who cannot, because they WILL not see the distortions and lies he so blatantly presents to them. Examples abound but the most recent are from his DC rally. As an example 1of how mis or un imformed he so often is, he displayed his arrogant ignorance in his description of the Washington Monument, so erroneous that he must surely have invented it himself. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/#38944631

    An example of his self aggrandizing lies is his pronouncement that he got to hold in his hands the original inaugural address of President George Washington. He did not. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/#38964855 It seems that even a current President is not permitted that privilege let alone a self-aggrandizing little pissant like Beck.

    That he can attract so many thousands to that event is an embarrassing exposure of the intellectual dishonesty and shallowness of so many Americans and the failure of our educational system to train Americans in the art of critical thinking.

    • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

      I think criticizing what Beck promotes at every opportunity is much more effective than yawning. Those who turned out to listen to the blowhard should be embarrassed to be ideologically associated with him and his ilk.

      And I think you hit the nail on the head, Soulmentor, to comment that his popularity speaks to the failure of the education system – at least in part – to train more people in the use of critical thinking. It takes so little to quickly determine that he knows not of what he speaks. But then, nearly a third of students are now schooled outside of public education and not by professionals. This trend is only going to get worse and more divisive as more and more children are taught outside of public education in homogeneous little pockets.

      But so what? Who needs to know how to think critically when all we want is to feel good?

      One statistic I like to throw out there is that there are more Chinese students in the top 10% of their educational system than there are students in the US. Our ability to compete in curricula areas is being sacrificed on the alter of home and private schooling and often for all the wrong reasons.

      • http://none Don Rappe

        This statistic seems a very hopeful sign.

        • Loren

          A very hopeful sign of what? That our country is being destroyed? You want that Don? That explains a lot.

          • http://none Don Rappe

            It's a hopeful sign that so many Chinese children are being educated.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Don, this is not a trivial matter. You have a responsibility to create in some small but mature way the future for my child as I do for yours. You joke at their peril.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Yes, and there are more students in the top 10% of the U.S. educational system than there are in the entire nation of Belgium. Relevance?

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Which may explain, MT, why Belgium is not a significant economic competitor in R&D with the US. And if the US loses its prominent position in R&D and economic production, which is what I'm suggesting will happen with a second rate educational investment, then perhaps that may have some relevance to our children's future.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Why? The standard of living in Belgium is comparable to that of the United States, on the whole. And there are more students in the top 10% of Belgian educational system than there are in the entire country of Luxembourg PLUS all of Liechtenstein, and these have over two and THREE times, respectively, the per capita GDP of the US!

            But you can quit reading Wealth of Nations now. We're all in this together, and any R&D, wherever it occurs (though much of that is in cyberspace these days, and in any case, with modern transporation, one could go across the globe in less than a day at price easily accessible to the average American), can be to the benifit of us all.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            You either conveniently forget or fail to differentiate that the economic expansion of China serves not the rights and freedoms and dignity of personhood of common person but the ideology of a totalitarian state. The reason why there is a Belguim, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein, is because free people developed the technology necessary to take up arms and defeat the totalitarian state that had absorbed countries unable to do so. Again, it was a totalitarian ideology that was the true enemy of Enlightenment values, which was in need of defense so that "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." This battle continues to this day and we are all warriors in it whether we like it or not. The only difference is, are we as equal to this task as our fore-bearers or will we capitulate our primary allegiance to that which enables us to be free in exchange for some other promise?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Oh, come now, China's no pre-war Germany. It's no bastion of liberty, I'll grant you, but it's making progress. Already, in much of the country, it seems to me it's hardly much worse than Russia.

          • http://none Don Rappe

            Tildeb, you may need to meet more Chinese people.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Don, you mistakenly assume I have something against the Chinese people. I don't. But I have a significant problem with the ideology of the Chinese government because it is a threat to you, your freedoms, and your personal dignity.

          • Rebecca

            lol

    • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

      Holding a teabagger rally on the 47th anniversary of MLK's "I have a dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial was a complete, "In your face, nigger" statement directed at Obama and anyone who supports him. The 'baggers can pretend it was all about freedom of speech and honoring MLK and "restoring our country" (a creepier phrase has never come out of Palin's mouth), but that is complete hogwash and we all know it. I don't care what political stripe you are: If that intent wasn't plain as day, you're an idiot and should be under constant supervision so you don't kill someone with a grocery cart or a hair dryer. If you're intelligent and still insist it was all innocent freedom of speech on parade, you're a liar.

      • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

        Yeah, but tell us how you feel, Don.

        • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

          Don't make me come down there!!!

          • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

            :-)

        • berkshire

          Lol!

          I like the grocery cart/hair dryer thing. Picturing that. Greatness.

      • DR

        Preach!

  • EL

    Typical liberal psychobabble. No argument-just baseless accusations.

    "he’s got what a lot of mega-church leaders desperately want, which is legions of devoted fans and major media access. "

    You're right about mega-church preachers, maybe the only thing I agree with you on. But I also see that in John Shore.

    "And the following morning, there’s Beck on “Fox News Sunday,” piously intoning, “There’s nothing we can do that will solve the problems that we have and keep the peace unless we solve it through God.”

    So you, someone who claims to be a Christian, don't agree with this? Have you not read "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).

    "Now, he explained, his problem with Obama is that he isn’t a true Christian."

    I've never seen ANYTHING to support the idea that BO is a Christian. Real Christians, of any race, don't listen to hate filled frauds like Jeremiah Wright for 20 years.

    When one of them starts getting real elected power, ala Hitler, then we’ve got a problem.

    Just for the record, Hitler was a Godless pagan.

    Since you mentioned him, it should be pointed out that MLK was not a Christian either. He denied the deity of Jesus Christ , the virgin birth and the resurrection. He also was bad about using funds intended for the civil rights movement to pay for white prostitutes. (One of King's closest friends, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, wrote a book in 1989 in which he talked about King's obsession with white prostitutes. King would often use church donations to have drunken sex parties, where he would hire two to three white prostitutes, occasionally beating them brutally. This has also been reported by the FBI agents who monitored King." The FBI actually caught him on tape stating "I'm f—— for the Lord tonight" while with one of these women.

    King's writings make it clear that he was a fan of humanistic "Christianity." He USED "Christianity" as a springboard for his social gospel. The "promised land" for King was not heaven, it was social equality. Can anyone point out to me any of MLK's speeches and/or writings, including his doctoral dissertation, which he plagiarized just like his 'I have a dream Speech', where he proclaimed the gospel? No, you can't, even though he claimed to be a minister of the gospel.. (In a 1991 article THE JOURNAL OF AMERICAN HISTORY said that "plagiarism was a general pattern evident in nearly all of his academic writings." While working on his dissertation for his doctoral degree at Boston University, he heavily plagiarized from another author who had done research on a subject similar to King's. As academic committee later found that over half of King's work was plagiarized , yet would not revoke his degree. King was dead by this time, and the committee ruled that revoking the title would serve no purpose. It was also discovered that King's famous I HAVE A DREAM speech was also not his own. He stole it from a speech by Archibald Carey, a popular black preacher in the 1950's who spoke at the Republican convention in 1952.

    And I'm denying that he did great and necessary things, just pointing out that he was not a Christian. The fact that most of you will label me a racist for writing this shows that you have no argument and is proof that you're not interested in the truth.

    And, why do I have a feeling that some of you will defend MLK's behavior-perhaps even blaming it on the white man.

    Finally, I enjoy Beck's radio and television shows and like him personally BUT he is not a Christian either. He is a Mormon, and almost all of the Mormons I've met seem to be good conservative people, but Mormonism is not Christianity. It's only a cult that claims to be Christian in order to strengthen its credibility.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Speak softly, EL; in the cyber world you cannot rely on just carrying a big stick… though I'm sure mine's bigger anyway.

      You won't last long here.

    • Don Whitt

      @EL, et al,

      I know all my brethren and cisterns here are going to laugh for me responding to you, but I'm an impulsive sort.

      MLK studied theology at Crozer Theological Seminary after graduating from Morehouse where his father also attended college. His particular brand of Christianity was focused on a non-violent approach to gaining justice. He was a minister in the truest sense and most certainly a Christian. MLK stood for non-violence and inclusiveness. The fact that the Neo-conservatives and Teabaggers are going after him now is very telling.

      This thing of labeling people as "not Christian" is fascinating to me. At some level, we all fail that scrutiny in our faith and practice. Pecking at the various denominations is exactly that – pecking – sort of a territorial imperative and provincialism humans endlessly display. It is a way to elevate one's self by tearing-down others. To seek self-satisfaction by pointing-out others' frailties. A form of vanity, perhaps.

      Christianity, like most forms of faith, is a religion of great breadth and variety. There is no real litmus test to determine one's participation in Christianity.

      E.g., you may go to church every Sunday, but be a completely loathsome asshole. You may never go, but shine the light from your soul on others so brightly that you change their lives for the better everyday. So church attendance seems a poor measure.

      You may know chapter and verse of the Bible, but use that knowledge to reinforce your screwed-up way of thinking, figuratively smacking people over the head with the good book. You may dedicate your life to the service of others, but be a loud-mouthed judgmental creep that turns people away from Christianity – the scorched-earth missionary position, so to speak. So service and bible study are not reliable tests either.

      The only test is God. God knows. That's it. You don't.

      The one church that I believe we can all agree is NOT Christian is The Church of Hate. Unfortunately, there are A LOT of attendees at that church these days. Hate has become a badge of honor for a certain subset of Americans – the same folks who equate "restore our nation" with, "let's get that nigger outta the white house and drive all these homos back into the closet". You know the type.

      Happy Sunday.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        I hear Glenn Beck doesn't really like the Church of Hate (he just courts it to improve his popularity)—actually, he prefers the Church of Jesus H. Christ of Latter Day Hate.

        [Disclaimer: This is not a stab at Mormons---just Glenn Beck.]

      • Susan

        @ Don Whitt, I love not only that you commented, but also the message of your comment. Bravo and thank you.

      • Diana A.

        I love this, Don. Thanks!

      • Cat

        Excellent reply, well thought-out. Wish I could respond as well…..

    • Rebecca

      Just for the record, Hitler quoted the bible and used it to convince the masses he was called by god to complete his mission for the sake of the country.

      • Diana A.

        Yes, even the devil quoted scripture: (Matthew 4, Luke 4.) So, as you said when you were talking about the James passage and as someone else quoted (albeit, someone with a somewhat different viewpoint) "By their fruit you will recognize them…." (Matthew 7:16, NIV)

  • Susan

    With regard to MLK, some truths/untruths/half truths according to Snopes.com, for whatever it's worth:
    http://www.snopes.com/history/american/mlking.asp

  • EL

    I didn't see anything there that disputed, conclusively anyway, what I wrote. Here is where I first learned about the real MLK. It was written by a black woman who is very thankful for what MLK did but has come to realize that he was not a Christian and was not exactly a virtuous man. http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/king.htm

    • Susan

      Ahhhh yes.

      This website that an un-named/un-pictured black woman "runs."

      Are you her? Do you operate http://www.jesus-is-lord.com, which has the "Anti-Christ Slideshow" starring all of the popes of rome and that great 'whore of revelations named the Catholic Religion'? The site that has so many love-filled, sane nuggets like – the Catholic Mary is the devil and it can be proven by the Bible?

      Or are you a follower that took heed and copied all the the wisdom onto CDs because, the "website will not be here forever. The incarnation of the Beast is coming."

      • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

        Hey, I like that I'm a heretic according to that site. My wife works and I'm a stay-at-home dad.

        Then again, my father teaches at a public school. Whoo-hooooooo!

    • Jon

      mmmmmm ….ok…..That site has all the cred's of a cialis advert, since we are speaking of baseless argumentation…. take for instance this statement: [Speaking of MLK of course...] "In his paper he went on to question, practically deny, each of these tenets of the Christian faith. How can you be a Christian and deny…" …ok, so how exactly does one jump instantly from 'practically deny' to actually deny?…. with non sequitur, that's how…. rubbish…. MLK was a nobel thinker and truly accomplished spirit, and characters with those attributes gain them by questioning….. you really should stop chasing the unreachable: knowing if someone is really a Christian or not. It can really only serve in distracting you from your course.

      as a side note…. this is truly an impressive thread…….isn't it?

      • http://none Don Rappe

        Thanks Cat.

  • RD

    Are you insinuating that Beck is not a Christian? I hope not because back in January 2009 you wrote the following:

    "If you’re a Christian who has ever declared that someone who says they’re a Christian isn’t, please stop doing that. It makes all us Christians seem just a little more stupid. You have no idea who is and isn’t a Christian, okay? Worry about your own soul. Let God worry about everyone else’s."

    You were wrong about that. Like almost everything else you write it has no basis in scripture.

    Matt 7:16-20 “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” NIV

    • Jon

      Your cited passage clearly refers to recognizing the fruits of good and nobel acts…. you can't sit on a street corner and pick out those qualities in people pass by… this takes wisdom…. also please revisit and recognize that the passages purpose was not to find people to condem …it seems to me that it was rather to help you find close relations that would be good to have around you….

      • Susan

        Jon,

        RD and EL are one and the same – so, debating with the proponent of the site that has, as you stated "as much cred as a Cialis advert" is probably not going to get a sane response. I do, however appreciate your insight and humor!

        • Jon

          I C…. Thank you, Susan…. for the information and the kind words…. your's are the sanest words in this interchange….. a vow to 'help' others sometimes proffers to the intended recipient little more than a conceit …. but at least I I'm left with the aspiration. :)

      • asinner

        This passage is one of many used to aid us in avoiding being misled by false teachers.

        John Wesley Commentary: A short, plain, easy rule, whereby to know true from false prophets: and one that may be applied by people of the weakest capacity, who are not accustomed to deep reasoning. True prophets convert sinners to God, or at least confirm and strengthen those that are converted. False prophets do not. They also are false prophets, who though speaking the very truth, yet are not sent by the Spirit of God, but come in their own name, to declare it: their grand mark is, Not turning men from the power of Satan to God. Luke 6:43,44.

        Matthew Henry Commentary: Nothing so much prevents men from entering the strait gate, and becoming true followers of Christ, as the carnal, soothing, flattering doctrines of those who oppose the truth. They may be known by the drift and effects of their doctrines. Some part of their temper and conduct is contrary to the mind of Christ. Those opinions come not from God that lead to sin.

        • Jon

          thanks asinner…. Interesting

          The idea of 'spiritual friends' includes teachers but is not limited to them.

  • Rebecca

    I'm scared. I'm very very scared.

    It has taken me half a century to get over the scary and negative impacts of brainwashing that include comments such as; "if you love Jesus you'll do this, and if you are a God-fearer you'll do that." I think those comments were usually followed up with, "if you hate God you'll disagree with us and belong over there." And here's a nice glass of kool-aid to wash it all down with.

    Does anyone recognize the mind control, or mindless control tactics going on here. People have to be seriously deprogrammed with trained counselors after sitting under teaching like this.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Good point. That's a serious problem. And it is blasphemy against the good Name of the Man and God who saved my eternal life to say such things, when the one saying them can't possibly have any better understanding of God's mind than anyone else might have—including you, and including me.

      Even if many of the people at first who fall under such a spell do so willingly (being already agreeable to what they're saying from the outset), they indoctrinate subsequent generations who never even seem to have a choice then, and they sometimes pressure family (even abusively—emotionally, psychologically, and/or physically) to join them. It's different teaching your children what you believe from teaching them what God supposedly demands that they do, that they think, that they feel, especially when it comes to matters that are personal or political, not religious.

      Your fear is understandable, in light of your prior experience, and thank you for sharing a bit of your experience and thus a bit of your fear with the rest of us here, Rebecca, since it is indeed valid and should give us all pause.

      Does anyone have any ideas as to what we should do about such things?

      • Susan

        I understand Rebecca's concern. It is that kind of mentality that drives non-Christians and many Christians crazy and away from the whole point of Christianity.

        Did you see the site that was mentioned above to denounce MLK's Christianity? Even tho some of the commenter's points were somewhat validated at SNOPES.com (not about the man's faith…)

        The site is crazy, scary, yet I believe there would be participants of John Shore's blog that would buy into that. A part of my own background, for a second, popped out and read some of the less scary items and thought "what if…" then sanity returned. People who are indoctrinated with fear can easily and bit, by bit, buy into more fear-mongering. Hell, that site tapped into mine, until I kept reading.

        I don't know what can be done, because if we did, we'd know how to stop the Taliban. It is the same concept by a different name.

        Initially, I thought all we can do is keep calling it out, but how do you do that without dividing people more and without causing more hate? How do you keep ego out of it? How far can you go until ultimately being the opposite of them is actually being just like them? Does this make any sense?

        Hate begets hate and God knows there's arleady enought of that in this world.

        • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

          You raise may very astute points, Susan. But is there a solution?

          I think the eventual solution has to do with one's primary allegiance: if it is to god and whatever rendition of religious authority one accepts as 'true' then we are in deep trouble and ongoing conflict. If is to the Enlightenment values of rights and freedoms and the dignity of personhood for the Other, then I think we're on the right track.

          And this challenge and choice comes down to the individual. In one's personal life, allegiance can be to god first but in any dealings with the world, it must take second place. To do otherwise is to ensure that organizations like the Taliban and repressive governments can find popular support among the religious to justify the imposition of all kinds of infringements of personal autonomy under the banner of 'respecting' some kind of religious belief that some segment of the population approves of over and above human rights. This allegiance that puts people's rights second will never result in an improvement of human well-being and will continue to be the primary sponsor for institutionalized abuse.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            No, especially in dealings with the world, no authority should be allowed to trump God's. And human rights have their very origin in Him.

            Yet a religion is not the same as its god(s). Religious authority over secular affairs does not follow from God's authority in all things.

            Belief does not then override right. (Indeed, the act of believing is itself the exercise of a right.)

            Let's not forget that almost every leading Enlightenment figure admitted of some notion of God in contradiction to whom naught could prevail.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            And if god wasn't so good at hiding his omnipotent presences and show a marked difficulty enunciating clear intentions, you might have a point, MT. But because we seem to have to rely on our ability to interpret god's intentions (as you yourself do repeatedly), then I'm afraid we're stuck with all the various religions and all the various competing interpretations as they are. And it is to that state of affairs that I address my 'solution' rather than a philosophically sophisticated theology to which few uphold.

          • DR

            I think we as Christians of all approaches would all agree is the essential goal of Christ being tildeb's quote"

            "the Enlightenment values of rights and freedoms and the dignity of personhood for the Other".

            As I read the rest of his (or her) comment, what it seems to be challenging is our need as Christians to believe that our current theology reflects that. And if not, are we willing to in fact, turn our backs to the Christian church to ultimately pursue what in fact. Jesus came to die for? I happen to believe that is exactly where we are and why as scripture says, we are in a season where "Good is bad and bad is called Good."

          • Rebecca

            So true!

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Yes, DR, it is my challenge – and I think you are right to turn your back on a church that fails to try to live up to the best of Jesus' message – but I am content that even if it is not met in whole, it be kept strictly in the private domain (meaning it isn't extended into action in public policies and procedures and laws). The public is owed allegiance to these secular values if the religious wish to maintain freedom of religion.

            And, btw, I wish to hold everyone (of any religion) to this challenge.

            I also think it would go a very long way for all citizens to have to take an oath of allegiance to these secular values for full citizenship so that actions opposed to them can have a direct legal recourse that is now shrouded and protected by religious and cultural sensitivities. Theologies at the very least I think need to live UP to these values rather than attempt to subvert them in various ways in the name of being pious to god.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Tildeb,

            As one who isn't part of the church it seems pretty reasonable to approach leaving it or being a part of it as a very black or white issue. If you're in, you're supporting 100% of it. But you are offering your perspective as an outside observer. And you should to some degree, as long as we continue to impose our values and beliefs on citizens of the US who are not Christian (gay marriage being one example). You're going to have to constantly be vigilant against those within the Christian tent that believe this country is for God's children, and you are not part of God. Therefore, the god card trumps all and you're just on the wrong side of the morality tracks.

            There is however, something important about being a part of a Church that's akin to being family. One can't choose their family. The same is true for Christians. We can't choose our family, but it doesn't mean we abandon them or cut them out of our lives entirely. We strike the balance we can live with. We don't like it when our alcoholic dad at Thanksgiving as he has a glass of wine – it's hard to know what enabling him looks like. Do we leave? Do we not go to dinner? What kind of statement do we make? Do we leave our mom at the table? How about missing the part of gathering together that we personally need? Do we let him rob that from us?

            So this is all quite easy from the observer's perspective – dare I say someone who for them, Christianity is a threat to human freedoms. You're right to speak up, I'm right there with you. Though there is an entirely other element to being a participant that the black and white of "be in or out" that I suspect, the observer won't understand.

            valid to offer your thoughts as one who is impacted by a religious community that refuses to keep to ourselves and wants

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com DR

            Ugh. IPad fail. Ignore those last few sentences.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Sorry, DR. I did not mean to suggest that leaving the church was in an way, shape, or form, an easy matter. I suspect for many it can be harder than leaving a spouse. But sometimes it's the right thing to do and can actually lead to something much better. Nothing matters more to a church than parishioners who vote their displeasure with their feet.

          • Diana A.

            "Nothing matters more to a church than parishioners who vote their displeasure with their feet." Perhaps not, but what purpose is served by walking away from a congregation which is actually trying to do what they see as the will of God, especially if it is a liberal congregation that sees supporting the rights of gays, women and other human beings as doing the will of God? This is one of those things that I find bothersome about your attitude toward faith and the Christian community and so forth–that any support of any church automatically makes one a tool of the Glenn Becks of this world. Glenn Beck has spoken out against the form of Christianity that is practiced by my church–namely Liberation Theology, and has specifically spoken out against Jim Wallis and his organization Sojourners–of whom and which my senior pastor is an avid fan. So, am I to punish a church that's trying to do the right thing by walking away? No, I don't think so. I think I continue going and continue supporting to the best of my ability as an encouragement to keep going in that direction. I think I speak out within the church if I see it going backwards and if it continues to go in a backwards trend, then I consider leaving–but not until and unless that happens.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @tildeb

            You act like religious institutions are industries when they are communities, commercial interests when they communal. Not all are so organized either as the Roman Catholics, for example, are; these days there are plenty of non-denominational churches, independent Baptists churches, and so on.

            You say nothing matters more to a church than parishioners leaving, but the parishioners ARE the church. The church is neither edifice nor establishment, really, but the body of believers, and their shared faith makes it what it is.

            Even when members fall away, the body core sticks by its beliefs to the bitter end. There are plenty of examples of this. The soul of this body doesn't much care if what it believes to be the right way to proselytize is the worst sort of marketing imaginable — counter-productive. Even if we have but a few families sharing a particular common faith—if the body cannot annex new member it will procreate them—they’ll see to it their families are large ones; so any problem it might present to society at large isn't going away.

            Yet it is as members stick together in spite of differing beliefs on various points that they together shape the future of the faith, revitalizing and transforming it in accordance with the spirit of the times.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Diana, assuming that walking away is the right thing to do (because the church has moved away from acting as you think jesus asks you to act for reasons that jesus has condemned), then voting with one's feet is exactly the most powerful statement an individual can make. I don't think we are in disagreement here; I think you assume I have taken positions I have not taken.

          • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike Burns

            I understand that complexity of leaving a church because of bad behavior. To many (and by the evolutionary construct of the religious meme), many consider their congregation/church to be family on a par with their biological family. It takes some pretty reprehensible behavior to simply abandon one's own family…in many cases it is a threshold that many never reach. I remember seeing interviews of the parents of mass murderers that were still defending them.

            I think it is one of the more pernicious aspects of the religious meme that promotes this level of attachment to the group (consistent with the standard construct of any cult). A very good friend attends Catholic service because his wife is Catholic. He claims that he is looking to "reform from within"…which is delusional bullshit as far as I am concerned (and he know that). The family often leaves services angry after listening to some sexist, homophobic crap…yet they still attend.

            Using the low hanging fruit of the Catholic Church (the very, very low hanging fruit). How many hospitals does it take to make up for decades endemic, unspeakable abuse of thousands of children. How much comfort from the papacy makes up for the pope having his signature on documents protecting the church before he protects a disabled and abused child. What the f**k can make up for primitive and dangerous s**t that comes from the Vatican saying "condoms make the AIDS epidemic worse"?

            I understand people not leaving the church, but I don't blame the person…I blame religious brainwashing.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            tildeb, you didn't suggest it. I thought I'd use your comment to simply highlight the complexity.

            You're right in that churches depend on butts in seats (and those butts to cut checks), and that the loss of money and participation is at times the best motivator there is for anyone. The tension of continuing to participate in a system that is doing so is substantiative for a lot of us.

            But this experience of opening myself up to the realities of what the Church is and does in terms of limiting and abusing the freedoms of citizens – and even in some cases harming the vulnerable elsewhere – has also convinced me of the complexities of emotional maturity. Perhaps even with that, spiritual maturity – that like people, the church gets to be a number of different things at the same time.

            For example, one can be in a relationship with someone who is deceptive, but who is also gentle and loving and earnest and hospitable. S/he can actually be all of these things with some level of authenticity. I'm realizing that while the deception can render all of those other good qualities suspicious? Cast them in a fairly dim light? Perhaps even be the reason to leave the relationship? All of the other qualities existed in full. They get to be true. Protecting myself (and if essential, others) from the deceptive quality is essential, that's my duty. But to dismiss all the other would not be acknowledging the complexity of *being* as we evolve.

            For me, the Church is like that relationship. Others may look at it and say "Look at how gross and deceptive it is – why in the world would you even acknowledge its good in light of all the pain it causes?" and that's valid. But there is a thousand true stories found within just one relationship – I suspect that same analogy holds true on a much larger scale with the Church.

          • Diana A.

            This is brilliant! Thanks DR!

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            I understand what you're saying, DR. These are very difficult decisions with tremendous personal ramifications and I appreciate that they must be made within the context of each individual.

            It reminds me of the complex relationships many husbands and wives have with spouses who abuse them. At what point does the abuse equal or exceed or mitigate the benefits from all the other parts of the relationship? How can anyone outside the relationship know enough to even dare venture an opinion? Well, there are basic laws in place that do define when an act becomes criminal.

            It reminds me of people under a caste system and the complex relationships people have with the culture and nationality that imposes it. At what point can the system as a whole be held in judgment by an individual who face the luxurious yet frightening choice about staying or leaving? Well, there are certain values that can justify that determination

            It reminds me of some who work in social agencies who must make decisions about living arrangements for children under threat. At what point does 'in-the-children's-best-interests' outweigh the emotional attachment and promises of parents and guardians to change? Well, there are clear guidelines for determining which takes precedence.

            For me, the misogyny hidden within sophisticated theology reveals the true nature of the catholic church: because catholic theology will always outweigh human rights and dignity, the church will always be a force for its own self-interest first regardless of who is in charge. Its history bears this out. Although I appreciate the grandeur of its cathedrals and can understand the emotional draw of its traditions and sense of community, give praqise to the wonderful charity work around the world carried out under its name, to me – along with all abrahamic religions – it represents what is inimical to the core Enlightenment values that ground democracy, human rights, and the dignity of personhood, and it does so under the banner of piousness and righteousness. That is enough for me but not for many.

            I received an email earlier this week from a very old friend who is also a long-time practicing catholic who announced that he had reached the point where he refused to practice until a new pope was elected. For him, this was a terribly difficult decision with real world consequences but he felt recent events demanded action from him and this was his response. I think the church could do with a lot more of this kind of response than announce another evangelical mission to go after secularism and graduate another 250 exorcists.

          • Don Whitt

            DR – that's a really great analogy.

          • http://aprisonerofconscience.wordpress.com/ Xander

            @tildeb

            I am curious if you are able to see that the humanism / human rights movement is starting to mirror the workings of religious organizations?

            Personally, it seems like it is a religion of sorts without a defined god. I understand the people's desires to do good among all people, but the movement is still imposing what it deems to be right and wrong on others. Isn't that your complaint with religion?

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Great comment, Xander.

            Yes, I can see how it might look that way but it trivializes the reasons that inform it. By that, I mean it shares a similarity in that all are ideologies, but then diverts significantly from religion by its comparative epistemology (meaning what justifies the method of how can we know anything).

            Because the epistemology of what you call humanism is rationally defensible in its ontology (meaning how can we justify what we can know, in terms of methodological naturalism), we have values that are rationally defensible. Because we can establish what these values are and what they look like in practice, there is no need for any other authority to defend them (no gods necessary). Responsibility for its practice (moral behaviour) lies squarely with each human being (the devil made me do it is no longer a valid reason because belief in evil spirits is not a valid conclusion without evidence we can know). No central authority is needed (nor a weekly meeting place to remind ourselves what the central authority thinks) so there is no need for any kind of interpretation of definitive scripture (rule book). Most importantly, there is no need for worship, only respect based on reciprocity (known as the Golden Rule for many christians). It is not a divisive value system that separates people into Us and Them because there is only Us (no matter how many of Us there may be).

            The forces arrayed against the self-promulgating value system of the humanist are those that deny the sound reasons that inform the epistemology – usually because the ontology threatens the authority of those in power – and these forces do not have better reasons nor any other reliable and practical epistemology to substitute in its place.

            As for determining right and wrong, I think that enhancing human well-being is a more legitimate rubric for defining our various moral landscapes than, say, personal revelation from a supernatural but hidden agency or a calculating economic rubric to best profit a smaller group of people. Certainly the discussions will be more accessible to all when one cannot be taken seriously by claiming to know god's will to settle the local disputes.

            My complaint against religion is the same as it is against any kind of woo: is the epistemology sound? Is belief through revelation a sound way to know anything about anything or build any kind of moral system of sound values? I don't think so.

          • http://aprisonerofconscience.wordpress.com/ Xander

            There is always a Us vs Them mentality when you get a group of people trying to agree on anything.

            Child labor in third world countries for example. Do you support the side that calls for boycotting those who employ children to make their products as a way stand up against what they consider is wrong or do you say it is wrong but continue to buy the products anyway because those children still need money in order to survive?

            The use of pornography. Do you stand with those who say that porn objectifies women as sex objects to be used or due you support the women who says it empowers them and allows them to make money using their bodies, which happens to be their right. Is it not the right of those to feel like the actions of others limits their own rights?

            Both have a valid argument so neither can be wrong. Now you have multiple camps under the human rights umbrella saying the other is wrong. Sounds like a bunch of Christians to me.

            “Is belief through revelation a sound way to know anything about anything or build any kind of moral system of sound values? I don’t think so. “

            So what is the proper way to define the “moral system of sound values”? What if the moral system conflicts with cultures that are already in place? I think it is Uganda that was passing the “anti-homosexuality” bill. I have seen this protested as to deny human rights, but who has the authority to decide if men who have been convicted of a crime and have HIV has same sex relations with boys under the age of 18? Clearly, this would not occur in the U.S., but is it wrong for Uganda to impose this moral system even if it violates what others determine to be someone's human rights? Rational thinking says that the death penalty will help stem the rise in the spread of HIV among the population. Now rational thinking has replaced divine revelation in this case in which people still see human rights as being revoked.

            You are still left with a bunch of people who are assigning right and wrong to thoughts based on their own opinions and feelings. The only difference is it now comes from a natural and instinctual side within all people instead of some divine power or revelation. The only way I can see it as being better is it is easy to argue against since you are not having to debate with the unseen god.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            You have take more care in the terms you use to provide clarity. For example, are you using the term 'wrong' in a consistent way to define an action that goes against a person's well-being directly? Do you mean it in a moral sense, that it breaks some arbitrary cultural code? Do you mean it a legal sense, that it goes against the law?

            I am not pretending that we will not face moral conundrums; I am merely basing the discussion itself on what can be known. I think we can agree that morality has something fundamental to do with human well-being. How we define what it looks like can be quite different (hence the 'landscape of idea with peaks and valleys) yet maintain the same rubric much like elevation can be a successful rubric to measure and gauge various heights from an agreed upon (yet random) starting point (sea level, which itself varies). But I don't hear people arguing that we cannot possibly use elevation from sea level because some uncertainties are inherent in it; I hear people use elevation because it works as a successful way to differentiate heights. Just because we might argue about which of two things is higher in no way undermines the rubric of elevation itself in the same way that arguing about which of two things is more moral in no way undermines the rubric of human well-being. But we can surely differentiate on the basis of human well-being whether mutilating a female's genitals in the name of culture really is a morally good act, or forcing girls with uncovered heads back into a burning building in the name of modesty is a morally good act. If we simply agree to allow any act to be moral under the guise of being so because either is religiously or culturally sanctioned, then we simply have no moral basis whatsoever.

            I think we do, and I think we can agree what the common rubric should be. As I already wrote, the moral notion of reciprocity is an excellent starting point because it already exists and is accepted in every major religion and every major culture. Why not build on that common value rather than assume such commonality is philosophically impossible?

          • http://aprisonerofconscience.wordpress.com/ Xander

            @tildeb

            “If we simply agree to allow any act to be moral under the guise of being so because either is religiously or culturally sanctioned, then we simply have no moral basis whatsoever. “

            That is the standard for morality though. What ever is considered acceptable to that culture or group of people is morally correct. Whatever conflicts with the whole is amoral. It doesn’t matter if the people got the idea from an unknown deity or they reasoned it out, this is the way it works.

            “As I already wrote, the moral notion of reciprocity is an excellent starting point because it already exists and is accepted in every major religion and every major culture. “

            It is accepted but it doesn’t work. All societies can not even agree if murder is wrong, so where will this common starting point come from? I think it is a great idea, but it violates the very nature of the human to put someone's existence or rights above their own.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            All societies can not even agree if murder is wrong

            Xander, murder by definition means unlawful death with malice aforethought so we really can all agree that murder is wrong… otherwise we will use a different word.

            Imagine if we agreed that chemistry could mean whatever was acceptable to any group of people. Yet we don't. How can this be? Why can't the same principle be used in morality?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @Xander

            Tildeb is right: what is moral right is greater than the common beliefs of any given cultural group! If it were not, there would be no social progress.

            "… it violates the very nature of the human to put someone’s existence or rights above their own."

            No, I do believe it does not, not at all.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            You are either mistaken or have some alternative understanding what these things mean when you claim the epistemology of what Xander calls Humanism is rationally defensible ontologically!

            Anyway, perfect synthesis of Rationalism and Humanism is in Christianity; the synthesis of Perfect Rationality and Perfect Humanity is in Christ.

            You don't seem to care much if there *is* evidence we can know about some things. You prefer, it seems, to dismiss as useless and meaningless concepts you’ve never really grasped. (And I understand that—many do the same with natural selection, for example.)

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Correction—Re: “perfect synthesis of Rationalism and Humanism”—not entirely true when you take into account the misguided, unjust, and misappropriated church authority that is in actuality defining of Christianity!

          • DR

            Tildeb:

            Your entire comment is exactly the struggle in which I find myself. There has to be some appealing standard, some universal by which we all agree that something ceases to be good and turns to bad. Misogyny within the Church would seem to be an obvious deal breaker, for many calling it "bad". I wouldn't disagree, it certainly has been for me.

            But here's what I'm left with. What do we do with those of us who are are both good and bad? What happens to the actual misogynist? The alcoholic? The liar? The racist? If I were honest, I'm a good deal of both, and that's while I strive to be good, to be more loving and less fearful, less self-absorbed, less hostile. But I'm not nearly there yet, and as I look around there is neurosis all around me that proves only one thing. That this duality is simply everywhere.

            What do we do with those of us who are both? Who collect and gather in churches? When do we decide that the bad has outweighed the good? Who does that? Do we separate us all up into camps? If we're all struggling with this duality, which organizations get to be good? Which are exempt from corruption? Which ones are bad?

            I don't have any answers, but simply leaving the Church for another community in which to place myself doesn't seem to provide any better of a solution.

        • Rebecca

          Another fear, is to come full circle and become like those I fear. I think that is why it is so important to judge fruit but not people. The best of intentions can bear the worst of fruit. But like naked emperors everywhere, it only takes one person to call out the nakedness before others are willing to admit the silliness of what is paraded as truth.

    • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

      I think what you fear fear is not trivial and is based on far too many people being taught to respect – to give weight and yield to – theological authority… usually taught from a very young age by loving parents when we are at our most vulnerable. This urge to automatically give in to any arguments that rely on this authority can last a lifetime and continues to make us susceptible to the emotional trigger of pleasing our parents when we do so even if we are far along into adulthood and the parents have long since passed away.

      The good news is that at least in a secular country you don't get stoned to death for being in the 'wrong' camp.

      The bad news is that there is a concerted attack to vilify secularism for its power to thwart the imposition of theological authority and protect individual rights and freedoms by the power of the state.

      The life lessons to remember here are twofold. The first is that when push comes to shove and one is asked to take a stand on a controversial issue that has a significant religious authority component, always support the secular because that is where your rights and freedoms and personal dignity are recognized and protected. In this ongoing battle, all of us including religious moderates are being forced to choose camps. Although it seems to go against the bone of personally supporting a favoured religious allegiance, one must be strong enough to side wholly with the secular where, ironically, religious freedom is actually protected.

      The second life lesson is that it would help the cause significantly – and many more people just like you – if more religiously moderate parents would raise their children free from the indoctrination to automatically grant respect to religious authority.

      • Diana A.

        "The first is that when push comes to shove and one is asked to take a stand on a controversial issue that has a significant religious authority component, always support the secular because that is where your rights and freedoms and personal dignity are recognized and protected. In this ongoing battle, all of us including religious moderates are being forced to choose camps. Although it seems to go against the bone of personally supporting a favoured religious allegiance, one must be strong enough to side wholly with the secular where, ironically, religious freedom is actually protected."

        So, instead of blindly following a religious perspective, one should blindly follow a nonreligious perspective, correct?

        Gee, whatever happened to thinking for one's self?

        • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

          Diana, I was not talking about following; I was talking about allegiance when secularism is under attack. I tried (although I seemed to have failed to pass my message to you) to explain why especially the religious need to ally one's self with the secular when the two camps are at odds. It is exactly the right of "thinking for one's self" that is ensured under secularism. (And you accuse me of being argumentative!)

          • vj

            And how exactly is/was the right of "thinking for one's self" ensured under the secular governments of places like China, Cuba, the Soviet Union et al?

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            VJ, you are right to insist that secularism alone does not guarantee human freedoms. I was referring to the attack in western liberal democracies by several allied religions against the secular foundations of our constitutional freedoms including freedom of religion and 'thinking for one's self'.

            But let's not forget that the flip side of your point is just as important: religions imposed by governments are neither the cause nor the defenders of such freedoms where they do exist.

          • Rebecca

            Jeepers creepers. How about in our country where we are guaranteed religious freedom under secular laws, are we allowed to think for ourselves.

            I seem to understand what tildeb, is saying here. But then it might be because I already agree with the persuasion that faith often flourishes when there is freedom to do so at one's own desires.

            Force-fed faith tends to shut down spiritual growth and enlightenment and is replaced for mindless following of ever-changing or unchanging values which can just as easily shut the voice of the people down. Iran?

      • Rebecca

        I posted my general reply below.

        If God wants us to love him with all our hearts, souls and minds, the best things our parents can do for us, is teach us how to think not what to think. God never asked for mindless obedience. Man does. Scary scary scary.

    • Susan

      Yeah. I see it and it's scary.

      I'm sorry for what you had to endure, Rebecca, truly.

      If I can see it, so can many others, so you are not alone.

  • Susan

    John Shore – or anybody – what does liberation theology mean to you?

    • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

      To me it means using religion as a platform to promote liberation from various kinds of injustices.

      • Don Whitt

        It's the belief in the separation of Church and Hate :-)

        Sorry – feeling very punny today…

    • Rebecca

      What was the intent of the gospel but to liberate!

      Which should tell us something I guess.

    • http://none Don Rappe

      To me it implies faith in Christ the Liberator. There was a recent pretty good blog post about this by a Jesuit priest. It may be referenced somewhere in this mass of comment, but I'm too old and slow to find it.

  • Rebecca

    I had to determine how to ascertain the voice of a "false" prophet if I was going to be able to continue on with a faith in Christ. That meant rebuilding a healthy foundation. I could have just walked away from all of it, but I was able to see good fruit in some Christians and knew something out there divided those Christians who I wanted to be like, and those whom I didn't.

    I started in the book of James chapter 3: Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.

    Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

    But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all PURE ; then PEACE-LOVING, CONSIDERATE, SUBMISSIVE, FULL OF MERCY and GOOD FRUIT, IMPARTIAL and SINCERE.

    There are any number of verses that concur with this last one, but as far as I'm concerned, Glenn Beck's level of rancor and his disdain for all whom he disagrees with is earthly wisdom and will bear rotten fruit long term.

    • http://none Don Rappe

      I too love the letter of James. Disrespect for it was one of Martin Luther's more serious mistakes.

  • EB

    MLK's theology has been profusely documented in The Christian News Encyclopedia.

    He repudiated the doctrine of the deity of Jesus, and he rejected the concept that the Lord was raised bodily from the dead. King disdained the New Testament affirmation of Christ’s virgin birth, asserting that the early Christians devised a mythological story to account for the moral uniqueness of Jesus of Nazareth.

    MLK believed that doctrine of Jesus’ deity developed due to Greek philosophical influence and because the early church saw him as the highest and the best.

    MLK believed that the “virgin birth” was unscientific and untenable; like divine Sonship, this doctrine developed as a way for the early church to indicate how highly they valued the uniqueness of Jesus.

    MLK believed that the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus was an attempt by the pre-scientific early church to symbolize the experience that they had with Jesus.

    In addition to the denial of the doctrines of divine Sonship, the virgin birth, and the resurrection, MLK points out that there is also a denial of Scriptural inerrancy and the doctrine of the fall.

    MLK seems not to believe in the direct creation of the world by God, man as being in the image of God, the historical account of Adam and Eve, the person of the Devil, the Fall, hell, the Trinity, the substitutionary atonement, and the Second Coming.

    In an interview with Time Magazine, MLK seems to indicate that it was at Crozer Theological Seminary (the setting for the term papers quoted above) that he saw that the ministry was A framework by which he could express his philosophy of social protest.

    Christiany is about saving and changing people-not society. Look at the example of Christ, who lived under the oppression of Rome, and you'll see what his priorities were and that they were not the same as MLK's.

    • Susan

      Will hi there EL aka RD aka EB aka fan and potential webmaster of http://www.jesus-is-lord.com...

      • http://none Don Rappe

        Nice going Susan. This is really weird isn't it?

        • Susan

          Why, thank you Don.

          I've actually cited this incorrectly as EB's source for the above comment is: http://www.jesus-is-savior.com. It is remarkably similar to http://www.jesus-is-lord.com. in its hate and fear-mongering tactics, and of course the lack of ties to a real person or organization.

          End of the word is upon us, Catholicism =satanism….

          The only relevancy it has here is its "yada, yada, yada" quotient.

    • Rebecca

      I think you will find similar theologies as you are attributing to MLK, with some of the framers of our constitution. Yet Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin will have us believe if we return to the intent these same forefathers had, when they declared the need to live moral lives based on God's laws and virtues, we will somehow return our nation to greatness.

      I wish Beck, Palin, or anyone out there spouting this rhetoric, would define greatness and any point in history that seemed to mirror a righteous nation. I also wish that Beck or any Christina who supports him would enlighten me as to how these early framers walked out their faith in a way that would be approved by the religious right today. Certainly they would have no more credibility than you are offering MLK.

      I'm sure our economic ills are being used to call our nation to repentance and a return to our early faith. More likely in my opinion, they are being used to usher in a political agenda. After all it is easier to blame a spiritual cause then take personal responsibility for our lives.

      Interesting to note how many of our early revivals were linked to earthquakes, (New England 1727 and 1906 Isuzu Street, California to name several.)

      I will offer that Jesus himself would not pass the politically correct litmus test for today's Glenn Beckers. Jesus was and is just too far left.

      I

      • http://none Don Rappe

        Amen.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      The evidence does not support the conclusions.

      MLK's beliefs concerning the origin and interpretation of doctrines indicate nothing in regards to his belief in their truth. Anyway, his opinions you presented appear quite rational, and thus respectable.

      By the way, several of the other doctrines you claim he denied are not essential to orthodoxy of the universal Christian faith.

  • Lee Walker

    Love it! Thank you for saying what I think

  • Stephanie

    When Glenn Beck was first on CNN I was so confused. What was he doing on CNN? His politics, his theology… it didn’t add up and he kept getting kookier and kookier. When he left and went to Fox life turned back on the predictable axis I was use too. Glenn Beck and Fox News, oh ya… life is as I thought it was. I haven’t lost it.


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