Nobody Trips

The thing I like most about Christianity is how refreshingly, phenomenally uncomplicated it is. If you’re a Christian, the entirety of the Christian narrative for you boils down to these successive points:

1. God created you.

2. God gave you autonomy.

3. God gave you free will (without which you cannot be autonomous).

4. An inevitable by-product of free will and autonomy are such things as selfishness, guilt, existential angst, self-doubt, loneliness, and an unceasing need for affirmation.

5. Selfishness, guilt, existential angst, self-doubt, loneliness, and an unceasing need for affirmation are profoundly unpleasant to experience, and make you do all kinds of crazy things that hurt yourself and others.

6. You’re just like everyone else.

7. People hurting themselves and others creates a tremendous amount of pain and suffering in the world.

8. God, loving people, hates to see them suffer.

9. God needed a way to relieve people of their suffering without violating their free-will.

10. Jesus was that way.

Jesus allows you to be relieved of your suffering: of your shame, your guilt, your grief, your angst, your fear. Relieving you of all that sort of thing –  allowing you to be right with God again, so that you can be happy again — is why Jesus came. Establishing that rinse-and-repeat cycle  for us all is what Jesus did.

The Christian belief system is fantastic. It works. The fact that it works is why there are so many Christians in the world.

Two billion people can’t all be wrong.

If exercising your free will has led you to not believe in the story of Jesus Christ, that’s certainly okay with me. I know lots of Christians care about who does or doesn’t believe in Jesus — or if those who do believe in him believe exactly what they’re supposed to, or whatever — but I’m not one of those Christians. Why would I be? What business is it of mine how you processes your pain, deal with your guilt, understand the larger context of your life? For all I care you can worship dental hygiene brochures, or beach balls. I don’t want you being mean to anyone. I don’t want you bullying anyone. I don’t want you talking to me about what I should believe. But beyond that? Have at it.

As anyone who’s ever really suffered knows, “Whatever gets you through the night” is more than just a platitude. It’s a reasonable prescription for a guiding principle.

Why in the world anyone would care what anyone else, in the privacy of their hearts, thinks about God, is so far beyond me that it might as well be on Venus. It’s just a realm of concern I can’t understand.

Oh, right.

Hell.

Christians are supposed to want non-Christians to become Christian — or to become the right kind of Christian — so that they won’t end up in hell.

Pffft. Yeah, because the concept of hell couldn’t possibly have anything to do with serving as a total green light for me to be just about as rude, intrusive, and overbearingly obnoxious to others as I’m ever in the mood to be.

Which, what with me being human and all, is quite often.

Evangelist or ego-driven meddler? You be the judge!

Well, you know: or not.

Anyway, concerning yourself with the relative orthodoxy of others is the surest way to find yourself skipping right down Crazy Christian Way. I hate the whole neighborhood around Crazy Christian Way.

I much prefer where I live, on the corner of Just Don’t Be a Dick Road and One Love Avenue, in the neighborhood of Nobody Trips.

I love Nobody Trips. It’s the best neighborhood ever. Jews live here. Muslims live here. Christians live here. Every kind of faith, denomination, and belief system in the world is represented by the people of Nobody Trips.

And you know what my favorite thing is about this neighborhood? It’s that every single day, day in and day out, more and more people are moving here.

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.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

    What a simple explanation.

    I happen to be like you. I don’t really get the concept of Christians wanting non-Christians to be just like them so they don’t end up in hell either. Maybe it is because of the attitudes that are so often displayed by Christians in their fervent quest to make more of “them.” especially when someone says “No thanks, that’s not for me.”

    I firmly believe there is a better way, like that Nobody Trips way. It really is a nice neighborhood.

  • tavdy79

    Two billion people can’t all be wrong.

    The first response, and I’ve Godwinised already:

    It has never mattered to me that thirty million people might think I’m wrong. The number of people who thought Hitler was right did not make him right

    — Frank Zappa

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

      Ah but Hitler was quickly proven wrong, so his supposed “rightness” was very short lived.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      So don’t be a Christian. (And are you sure that Frank Zappa was ever so arrogant that he seriously claimed thirty million people thought he was wrong about something? I’m sure he was only being hyperbolic. Whereas there actually ARE two billion Christians in the world. Not the same thing at all.)

    • DR

      I understand those of you who want to pick fights with the Christians who are trying to convert you, who are bad for the world. Why you do it group of people – including the blog owner – who are actually trying to *change* all of that so you don’t have to deal with it anymore is beyond me and it speaks far more about you than your actual points of view, whatever those happen to be.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

        I like imagining what it would be like if Christianity was less about recruitment, and more about simply living daily with the mindset of “God really really loves me. I find that mind-blowingly awesome. So much so, that I want to go out and do what I can to be nice to everyone today.”

        Yeah I do have an over-active imagination.

        • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

          You don’t (have an over-active imagination) nor are you alone, sdg. It is the way many, by many different names, see and understand God and choose to live their lives: full of overflowing and abundant compassion. You seem to be channeling John Lennon – some say that he was a dreamer, but he was not the only one. Neither are you nor I. We are here not necessarily known or great, but doing small things with great love which does matter and does make a difference….everyday.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

            yeah I get John Lennon’s song, I get the thought of peaceful co-existence and sure wish that we’d work more on trying to make it a reality today instead of taking the mindset of the old hymn “When we all get to Heaven”. I get the concept of loving one’s neighbor as oneself, and leaving the “instead of those guys” out of the mix.

            I can do what I can to try to live peacefully with others. I often suck at it, but it is worth the effort.

  • Dirk

    The logical conclusion to be drawn from Jesus’ words is that nobody goes to hell.

    A very vocal group of conservative Christians make life on earth as awful for people they hate as possible.

    A very large group, a vast majority of non-conservative Christians make life on earth as awful for people whom the conservative Christians hate as possible by refusing to intervene to aid those whom their conservative Christians brothers have so brutally mistreated.

    This, too, is exercise of free will.

    Frankly, the cost of 55 million dead over 12 years of horror was a bit more than ‘quickly proved wrong’.

    I grew up in the Christian church. I self-identify today as a ‘follower of Christ’ because the American Christian church has thrown gays, lesbians and the transgender to the wolves. Those Christians who insist that people who reject their faith simply don’t grasp the Truth, the Way, the Life are consciously ignoring the face Christianity presents to the world.

    It is not a face of love, grace and forgiveness. it is a face of hatred, intolerance, arrogance and willful harm to the elderly, the widowed, the oppressed and the orphans. It is a face of knee-jerk loyalty to a political party which has but two goals: The acquisition of worldly goods and power.

    This is why so many people cast all Christians into one boat – the good Christians have ceded the Christian message to the hateful conservative Christians.

    If I had to entrust my animals to the care of a stranger today, and the choice was a Wiccan or a Jew or a Christian, drawn at random with no knowledge of their religious beliefs, I’d choose the Christian dead last. The risk that my animals fall into the hate filled torture of a conservative Christian is too high.

    • Mindy

      I found it interesting that in a recent Gallup poll, atheists and Muslims were the most likely to reject violence. The least likely? Christians. A sobering read.

      • Dirk

        Yes, during the height of the shrub dictatorship, over 2/3 of conservative Christians responded to surveys on torture with ‘yes, please. More, please’.

        The hatred of conservative Christians makes it very hard, indeed, to get out any positive message about what Jesus said.

        And he – being a good, devout Jewish Rabbi (not to mention the Son of God) said nothing but good things.

        You’d never know it when you see what conservative Christians have on their agenda. Hate, exclusion, torture.

        • Diana A.

          There’s a saying I heard/read somewhere: “You may be the only Bible someone else ever reads.” It frightens me how many distorted Bibles are floating around out there, including me. Makes me question God’s judgment in putting The Church in human hands.

          • Mindy

            Ah, but see . . . there’s the thing. God didn’t create a church. If you are Christian, you believe He sent His only son – and that whosoever believeth in him shall have everlasting life. Spiritual life, yes? God proscribed a lifestyle, one of charity and humility and compassion, following the example of His son. He did not order us to organize and create hierarchies and power structures and rulebooks. We did that. Using our free will, and all.

            And I fear that we mucked it all up, in a big and scary way. The bigger and more powerful it has become, the further away from the message we have moved. All the messages – from all versions of God.

            Which is why when I “met” John Shore, I was first nonplussed, and then heartened, to find that someone was actually sharing God’s message of love in a way that echoed what His son taught in the first place. Christian or not, I relate. John’s words and the discussions that follow bring me hope that maybe we haven’t ruined everything, after all.

          • Don Rappe

            This reminds me if an apocryphal story I’ve read somewhere. After Jesus passed through the cloud from the mount of ascension he was greeted by the great archangels that stand before the throne of God. They asked him about the future of his kingdom, now that he had returned. He said “I have my disciples.” Just then there was a rift in the cloud revealing his disciples scattered in groups of two and three returning in a more or less rag tag manner. Michael asked Jesus “What is you plan if these fail?” Jesus answered him and said “I have no other plan!”

  • Suz

    Beautiful. As usual.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thanks!

  • Don Whitt

    I (a trained logician and mathematician) think our salvation lies in embracing the ambiguity of our situation and taking that leap of faith rather than thinking logically about it. If we were to make sense of this, it would be far too simple to be enjoyed and far too boring to live through.

    Just shout “WAFFLE!!”.

    • Don Whitt

      And, to be honest, I think it is very likely that free-will is an illusion.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Really? Decide, right now, to move your right arm. If you did then move your right arm, then … then that’s one heck of an illusion, right?

        • MJ

          John,

          I usually agree with the majority of your posts…but I don’t think its fair to characterize the issue of free will in this way. Its a lot more complicated than that!

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            What’s a lot more complicated than what? Are you referring to what I said in the post about free will, or to this little thing here with Don?

          • Don Whitt

            I understand your perspective John, but that’s the problem with (what may potentially be) an illusion.

            Explain to me why I sometimes dream of things that subsequently happen in the future? That truly perplexes me. How could that be?

            But I’m not abdicating any responsibility for my actions. The fear of hell, the desire for heaven or the feeling of being fated should not be what drive us to be good or bad people.

            To me, it’s a paradox and the ambiguity of our existence may be the closest thing to free-will we have. But that free-will may be an illusion.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            I’m not solidly rooted in free will either (anymore), but it may be a semantics thing, like with the necessity (or not) to ask for forgiveness in order to be forgiven. I’m not sure about that either. But those are layers of the onion I no longer find the need to peel. Seems to fall under the “concerning yourself with the relative orthodoxy of others.”

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            For instance: I’m quite sure a lot of people don’t set out to say things that are obtuse or lacking in insight which are hurtful to others. Nor do they intend to ignore the feelings of others when their statements are pointed out to be hurtful or uninformed, yet they continue to defend and deflect thier position rather than accepting responsibility for their actions. This is a byproduct of lack of awareness. Is this willfull? Or is it an uncontrollable symptom while in this state of unawareness? If we’ve never been taught to see except from our own vantage point, is it fair to say that one chooses not to see or does it more closely resemble that one has not yet learned how?

          • Don Whitt

            I realize how much my Presbyterian upbringing was influenced by that Church’s Calvinist leanings towards predestination. Mea culpa.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            No, no: I meant it when I said that’s one heck of an ILLUSION; I understand and certainly appreciate the credibility and defensibility of the idea that we’re ALL living inside the bubble of God’s will, that part of the Grand Illusion is that we think we’re wholly independent, with free will. That’s one of those coins that just keeps flipping, in the air.

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

            I’m going to listen to some Styx.

        • Don Whitt

          Got it. And, yes, if it is, it really is.

        • Don Rappe

          Yes, this is what the expression “free will” should mean. Even if it is predetermined in nature for you to think and do these things, it is not an illusion. The word illusion has a different meaning. On the other hand, if you think you may have changed any of the basic laws of nature to move your hand, that is an illusion. God has created nature with its laws. Before you were formed in the womb, he knew you.

          • Dirk

            I have read online of a student in a freshman philosophy course. Confronted with the task of ‘proving’ existence in a classroom exercise in which he was paired with a graduate student in philosophy, he failed at several attempts to prove his existence.

            Finally grasping that the whole point of the exercise was to make freshmen students feel stupid (the whole point of undergraduate philosophy courses), he bit the grad student.

            Who promptly yelped.

            The freshman mocked him, “Why are you screaming about an illusion?”

            Such sound application of logic would not be possible in America today, of course. I imagine the story is either made up or very old.

            I fail to see any means of discussing free will using the English language which do not, ultimately, attempt to prove a negative or end in post hoc ergo propter hoc rationalizations.

            The language is simple not made for such analysis.

          • Don Whitt

            I took an epistemology class in college taught by the head of the college of philosophy. It was such a difficult class to teach, he’d often just stop talking. For minutes. The students would frequently leave class in a worse state than we’d entered. All I really know is that I’m glad I’m here and, if I’m not, I’m glad I’m not, too.

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Mary @Barnmaven.com

    Yes, Nobody Trips is starting to get downright crowded in a completely fantastic Aren’t-I-lucky-to-have-such-amazing-neighbors kind of way.

    I still think that many of the people who are stuck on trying to convert just haven’t gotten through the cognitive dissonance of trying to accept the dogma their church is trying to force them into believing. Trying to convince other’s that their path is the correct one is their coping method of convincing themselves to believe the dogma.

  • Susan in NY

    Oh I just love this post! I want to live at the corner of Don’t Be A Dick Road and Love Avenue.

    Instead, I live on Johnson Street.

    A big hug to you, John for this reminder of what is important. Thanks.

    Susan

    • Don Whitt

      Me, too. I live on a cul-de-suck.

      • A’isha

        The good thing about this. We can all live on the corner of Just Don’t Be a Dick Road and One Love Avenue. We can all be neighbors, even if we live thousands of miles apart.

  • A’isha

    It really is as simple as the 10 points John makes here. That’s what’s so amazing about Christ. It really boils down to just a few sentences, statements, whatever. The rest is all gravy. People that over-complicate the Gospel eliminate the possibility for God to truly interact with them in a meaningful way. There’s a reason why it says in the Bible that the “Word is living.” Because it truly is, it’s living in each of us, moving us in ways that amaze me daily.

    Thanks, John, for writing this beautiful post.

  • David J Martin

    The problem with Christianity is that the continuation of Christ’s ministry had to be intrusted to human beings and as such, ambitious persons who felt the need to add to the very simple, sublime missive to “love one another as I have loved you”. Enter the institutional “Church” with her Canon laws, marginalisations, judgements, condemnations of “sinners”, questioners, “heretics” and undesirables. as a gay man – married 38 years, father of five and devout catholic (though not in agreement with man made dictates), I wrestled spiritually to integrate my God gifted sexuality with a Church which did no embrace me with compassion, love, and understanding. It was only after my spiritual guide – a wonderful priest, a shepherd – reminded me of Acts in which the early Church (Apostles/Disciples) states quite clearly/directly that we (the Church leaders) must take their lead in administering the Church from the PEOPLE – for it is only within their hearts that the Holy Spirit lives, instructs and guides. So, too, is this true of individuals. We are nurtured and spiritually lead by the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts. “To thine own heart be true”.

  • kimberly

    *sigh* yes. exactly. i think love lives there…

  • Mindy

    I’m torn between Nobody Trips and Shorelandia. Tough call – -

    The more I contemplate this stuff, the harder it is to reconcile what the U.S. has become with the conservative Christians’ insistence that we are a Christian nation.

    How, really, can we be a nation in which the rights of the individual trump all, and simultaneously a Christian nation, which should, by definition, be focused sharply on caring for all who cannot care for themselves, feeding the poor, housing the homeless – SHARING?

    I read what Jesus taught (although I am admittedly NOT a Biblical scholar) and see generosity, compassion, social justice and a call to all to TRY OUR BEST to live a life of love – giving up worldly possessions to help those in need, etc. etc.

    But this is diametrically opposed to what I see in the lives of so many conservative Christians. They want as much stuff as they can accumulate, and they absolutely do not believe in helping others. They believe in an “every man for himself” country, resplendent with weaponry and sameness. Anything else is “an abomination.” Where do they get this? They take a few Bible verses that were quite likely manipulated through translation and embellished upon over the centuries and wave them like terrible towels at a Steelers’ game. And if you get too close with your “otherness,” they’re more likely to snap you with their favorite verses, leaving a painful sting, rather than showing you the love they believe God has shown them. Religion has completely gotten in the way of loving.

    If they all moved to Nobody Trips, I fear they’d either shoot it up or drop dead from the shock.

    • cat rennolds

      Our Christian forebears, Puritans, et al, were far more concerned with their freedom to worship as they saw fit – and paradoxically the freedom to impose it on others. Charity was a duty, yes, but generosity smacked too much of the liberal ways of the English church. Unless you’re considering our French and Spanish Catholic forebears, who were mostly concerned with conquering, converting, and looting from the savage natives. Oh, and the nominally Christian convicts and indentured servants escaping prison or death sentences in the Old World.

      The big thing was, you don’t come to a dangerous frontier, and then take it away from the people who are already there, because you are primarily gentle, meek, loving and concerned with the welfare of others. Unless you get dragged into it by your spouse, that is. With the possible exception of certain Protestant groups – NOT the Puritans – who were just running away from the deadly persecution of the Catholics in their countries of origin.

      IOW, “Christian” was just a word they used to mean Us, not Them, and claim God was on their side, to justify doing what they were going to do anyway. Why does that sound familiar?

      • DomainDiva

        Same song different century.

      • Mindy

        You are so right, Cat. I’m just in the forehead-smacking place of not having realized this before. And it’s really, really bugging me.

        Your historical context is spot on, yet that is what the fundies fall back on when they seem to want to return to the time of the writing of the Constitution. I realize I am muddling religion and politics here, but since that seems to be what always happens in the land of church and state being separated, why the heck shouldn’t I?!

        • Diana A.

          “I realize I am muddling religion and politics here, but since that seems to be what always happens in the land of church and state being separated, why the heck shouldn’t I?!” You and everyone else (including me!) Welcome to the club, Mindy! It brings to my mind the parable of Jesus about the wheat and the weeds (see Matthew 13:24-30 of your favorite version of the Bible.)

          • Don Whitt

            I’m pretty sure Jesus was a socialist.

        • cat rennolds

          This is EXACTLY what the fundies MEAN when they say they want to return to a Christian nation. Them on top, enforcing a rigid set of rules without referent to the needs or wants of anyone else. Rights? There wouldn’t be any. At least the Puritans, unlike a lot of fundamentalists, followed the rules they imposed!

          My first European-American ancestor, by the way, rode over with the Puritans (he was a sailor) but settled OUTSIDE the Puritan colony of New Bedford. He was a single man. He didn’t belong to the church or the community. There is no record of his marriage. But there are several children with his name in his will. And the land that he left them had previously belonged to the Wappinger Indian confederation. (sniff. It apparently belongs to Martha Stewart now. How the mighty have fallen.)

          Same story more or less with my next European ancestor to arrive, only Louisiana and the Appalachee Indians among the Catholics. We’ve been loving our neighbors and avoiding Christian hegemony for a loooooong time:)

          Religion and politics are very, very difficult to separate, both being primarily methods of controlling the behavior patterns of large groups of people, pretty much ever since Man has been Man. Religion uses politics and politics uses religion. Most people don’t realize, for example, that the Emperors Theodosius, Justinian and Constantine IMPOSED Christianity on Europe by force of arms. It didn’t just spread gently across the continent via wandering preachers. It officially erased all the previous native religions at the point of a sword.

          If you are a powermonger, there’s something very useful about a religion that teaches its followers to be meek and loving, give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and not be concerned about your own poverty and suffering in this world because you are going to Heaven afterwards.

          Some days I think Jesus must be pulling his hair out.

  • Allen

    WORD SON!!!

  • cat rennolds

    I live at the 3-way stop on Love Avenue at Narrow Way and Many Names:)

    • cat rennolds

      PS. They all lead back to The Garden.

  • ChasRip

    Thanks for posting this message. John, I am not Christian, yet I a friend sent me here quite a while ago and I’ve been following your site for some months now. I find your messages to be truly positive, heartfelt gifts to mankind. It is enough for me to respect and admire the teachings of Jesus. But, as I mentioned, I’m not a believer and I won’t be. It’s just not for me. I find most Christians to be awful, exclusionary and off-putting people. It’s so refreshing to see a Christian that stands for the values I believe in — compassion, care, fairness and the alleviation of suffering. I thought that I might try to talk about why this message appeals to me, even though I’m not a believer.

    What I found very compelling about your posting is that you spent 9 of the 10 bullets talking about suffering. The last bullet is essentially one word – Jesus. I probably would have spent more time on that last point. I would have talked more specifically about the values that Jesus stood for. Please forgive me from oversimplifying–I mean no disrespect–but in saying that one word, Jesus, I think you’re essentially shorthanding a value system that includes compassion, love, kindness, forgiveness and the other teachings of Jesus that make Christianity the great source of strength that it is for so many people (2 billion?). That got me to realize that there is not so much that separates compassionate Christians from compassionate people from all walks of life. (Many billions more.)

    Yes, there is religious dogma, which will differentiate belief, ritual and messaging. But at the end of the day, compassion for mankind is compassion, whatever religious or secular rubric if falls under. Your words have given me new respect for the teachings of Jesus. So, thank you for that. I’ll try to remember that the next time I hear some arch-conservative self-proclaimed Christian talk some garbage about the meaning of marriage, the role of government in our society or…what really gets my blood boiling–that America is a Christian nation.

    The beauty of America is that we can hear true Christians, like yourself, who would be burned at the stake in the intolerant and unforgiving world of the far Right ideologues.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I appreciate this, Chas. Thank you.

    • Don Rappe

      I believe America is a free country.

      • Annie

        America is a secular nation that happened to be founded by men who happened to be Christian. In their infinate wisdom, knowing that everyone else who came after them might not be Christians, they built a very sturdy wall between Church and State. Religious Freedom. This wall is being assailed y the Christian Right. They claim this is a Christian nation, there is even a movement afoot to declare this a Christian nation officially, and revert to “Biblical Law” whatever they may interpret that to be. And these are the self-same peeps who squack about Sharia Law as if that is really an issue here (it’s not). Check it out, they are called the Wallbuilders: here is their site: http://www.wallbuilders.com/ They have buckets of money to carry out thier mission, too, thanks to the Koch Bros. If this does not scare the pants off you, I don’t know what will.

  • Linda B

    Ok John I really need some help here to understand the Jesus thing. I like the points made above in the first part of the article. BUT if having failing/ shortcomming brought on by our free will choices and emotions ect… are what separates us from GOD are those things sin? In the Christian tradition sin in what ever form separtaes us from GOD, But so much of the time our failings come from how we are wired and what we know at the time and our level of self awaresness and upbringing and defense mechanisims ect… So how can it all be sin and if the sin issues is really not as big as we have all been led to believe why is someone elses blood on a cross two thousand years ago going to make a difference? Why does GOD need to be appeased any way? Isn’t that sort of a pre-post modern take on what the Incas and Aztec and so many other cultures did. How does one man’s blood make a difference if it was all in the origonal design of things in the first place?? Not trying to start and argument I really do need some answers cause I want to come back to GOD and Jesus if he is some sort of devine solace for my pain and short commings but I just can’t get to that point with out understanding all this.

  • David J Martin

    About Linda’s Post On Sunday, 08/07/11, “Appeasement of God”….Scripture is evolving in our understanding…interpretation…for how can an imperfect mode—language convey the mind of an infinitely knowing/perfect Creator. Christ is the fulfillment of all Scripture…He is the physical/spiritual final revelation of the Father. Our understanding of God will continue to evolve just as the it always has. Scripture is true…but our interpretation…past, present, future…will continue to grow and head towards full understanding culminates with union with God. A newer view of the Cross has been put forth by a Theologian, Anthony Bartlett in “Virtual Christianity How Christ Changes Human Meaning and Makes Creation New”. I had him as a Professor of Theology while in training to become a Catholic deacon. In summary, Christ is both victim and victor – the hatred and vitriol of humankind focused on Him much like a gang or group selects a scapegoat upon which all their problems are blamed. He is persecuted and destroyed just as a bully pummels his target. There is a catharsis, for in releasing this pent up aggression, unjust condemnation, the crowd is sated and leaves – to find themselves the real cause for their desperation. God the Father, in His unconditional love for His Son and us – and in His mercy – absorbs this negative energy – call it sin – once and for all – defeating the powers of evil by absorbing its energy – in the end the Father, through His Son conquers death – the final threat of Evil held over Humankind – by the Resurrection. The Cross is thus symbol of expiation and victory. The Cross signifies what humankind has done to the Creation of God at the same time it symbolizes our reconciliation. If we can not add to the glory of God, neither can we detract from it. God is not the wrathful God conceived by the ancient Hebrews – He desires our Love and worship but if we fail in this, He is not lessened – He does not NEED appeasement – He desires us to be united with Him. This is so much more meaningful and satisfying than thinking that Christ died to appease His Father for us. For me, at least, it has deepened my Faith and strengthened my resolve to try to lead a more Christlike life.

    • Linda B

      To David M.

      Thank you for your post, I will read up on Anthony Barlett and see if it does not give me some clearity. I also wonder if we can have a moral compas wiht out haveing someone or thing to be accountable to in the end. Don’t know, just was pondering that today. Thanks again for your help.

  • Michael Watson

    Delusional much? Get with it Zen brother and stop playing Elmer Gantry.

    • DR

      What does this even mean?

      • Michael Watson

        The Christian religion didn’t take with me, despite trying and trying, I’m more naturally a Zen guy. Zen is a religion or philosophy that doesn’t supply a lot of answers, so I get jealous sometimes of those who are lucky enough to feel such certitude of belief. Zen teaches not to believe anything, which makes it kind of a sucky thing at times, but very liberating at others. I’ve been reading this gay christian stuff with interest lately, but I’m going to quit it now because from a Zen perspective it’s just dreaming.

  • Laura

    I love this!! Thank you for sharing your talent! You put into words all the compacted issues of faith and life that Ive always thought. I’ve had my teenagers read several of your articles, kind of help me express what I’ve really been saying for years. Thank you!

  • RayC

    So Christianity is more a self-help technique than anything else?

    This is an interesting post. I do have one question, however: Christianity didn’t get 2 million adherents by not preaching “the good news.” So this hands-off approach seems counter-productive if you really believe that Christianity is great and can help/save a human in pain. Also, I would say that simply by having a blog about Christianity is preaching about Christianity…of course, a much less intrusive way of preaching than other means, like door-to-door preaching, which I engaged in for God knows too long.


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