7 Comments

we need to talk…

Can we only see what we already believe? There is a debate (supposedly) in Congress right now about the funding of our Federal government. If you listen to Fox news, it’s the Democrats who are refusing to compromise. If you listen to MSNBC the Republicans are at fault for the government shutdown.  Each side is completely convinced that its opinion is on the side of right, not right as in the Left or the Right, but right versus wrong. Can either side even hear the arguments of the other?

There is also a debate in the world about the nature of our existence as people. There are those who believe in God. There are those who insist that God and all things referring to Him need to be expunged from the landscape, be it urban or otherwise. Each side is convinced of its beliefs, or the total absence of belief, in God.

I want so much to break through the divide and get the opposing sides talking to each other. Right now they are completely adept at talking at each other and forming their arguments in response to what they expect the other side is thinking while they are saying it.

In other words, is anyone out there listening?

I fear not, and it depresses me.

I fully admit that I have taken sides, at least in regards to the question about God. I totally believe in Him and in His plan for our salvation and that if we all accepted Him and lived by His example, the world would be so much of a better place. But I really still want to listen to those who think differently. I want to understand, maybe in hopes that they will do the same, or maybe so that I can better know their arguments so that I may refute them. I don’t honestly know my true motivation. I hope that it is love that spurs me on. I do acknowledge that my heart is on fire with what I believe is the greatest news in all the world, and I want to share it with everyone who will listen. I want everyone to see what I see, not because I want to force my vision on everyone else, but because it’s so wonderful, it’s so important, and it’s so available to anyone who chooses to accept it.

Maybe that’s the way the other side sees it too. I don’t know.

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7 comments on “we need to talk…

  1. No one is trying to expunge any mention of god from anything, they just don’t want people promoting it to their children against their will with their own tax dollars. If I picked your pocket to put up an anti-christian billboard and said “how dare you take that down or try to get your money back!” you’d be pretty annoyed too.

    But as always religious people equate minorities struggling for equal protection under the law as persecution of themselves. It reminds me of hitler talking about how he was “protecting himself” from the jews, and by doing so, doing the work of the lord.

    • I’m not aware of your, or my for that matter, tax dollars being used to pay for Christian billboards. I do know that our tax dollars are being used to pay for abortions, which is murder in my opinion. If you are referring to references to God in government documents, I suppose that must be annoying to you.
      In regard to your comments about Hitler saying he was. Doing the work of God, I’m not sure where you got your information. Hitler was hardly a Christian. I ask you to avoid such inflammatory language. Can we please.discuss our differences in polite conversation?
      Thank you for your comments.

      • “I’m not aware of your, or my for that matter, tax dollars being used to pay for Christian billboards.”

        I didn’t say anything about billboards, but all churches are tax exempt (which is the equivalent of a tax subsidy of billions of dollars) and on top of that religious organizations are given billions of dollars by the federal government every year. Not to mention many instances of religious displays being paid for with tax dollars on public property every year.

        “I do know that our tax dollars are being used to pay for abortions, which is murder in my opinion.”

        Two things are important to mention here – one is that that is a total non-sequiter and the other is that it’s generally not true. Occasionally a pregnancy is terminated to prevent the death of a mother who would die (and usually take the baby with her) as a complication from the pregnancy and it’s very rare. 9 out of 10 times conservative politicians and religious media claim a particular policy will fund abortions it’s simply not true, and at most all it ever does is pay medical bills in some rare cases of life-saving treatment. The hyde amendment is pretty much always attached to bills that might fund abortions to prevent the money from being used except in cases of documented incest or rape:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyde_Amendment

        “If you are referring to references to God in government documents, I suppose that must be annoying to you.”

        Such as what?

        “In regard to your comments about Hitler saying he was. Doing the work of God, I’m not sure where you got your information.”

        Mein Kampf, page 60:

        “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

        “Hitler was hardly a Christian. I ask you to avoid such inflammatory language. Can we please.discuss our differences in polite conversation?
        Thank you for your comments.”

        I did not mean to imply that you and hitler had a great deal in common, or that hitler was christian in every sense you might use the term, but he considered himself christian, as do modern members of the KKK (which is why they burn crosses on peoples’ lawns). The symbol of the klu klux clan is a cross with a drop of blood (symbolizing the blood shed by jesus on the cross). And while I am sure you are probably not a hateful or evil person and would consider these people pseudo-christians, I am sure they would say exactly the same thing about you.

      • I appreciate your detailed comments. There are always going to be evil people in every possible group of individuals who come together because of common beliefs. To suggest that Hitler behaved in the manner of a Christian is the same argument that Stalin was a reasonable example of an atheist, and because he perpetrated such acts of atrocity, all atheists must be like him. I don’t believe that, and I imagine you don’t either. The KKK may call itself a Christian organization, but it does not behave in any way according to the example of Jesus Christ. Calling oneself a Christian does not make one a good Christian.
        I agree that there has been entirely too much harm by misguided and evil members of religions. But that does not mean that any of them correctly represented true believers; they represented themselves and stained those who really do try to follow the gospel of Jesus. I am just as offended and angry about those who bomb abortion clinics as you are, possibly even more so, because on top of the violence they perpetrate, they also paint other pro-lifers with their brush of evil.

        Federal tax money goes to Planned Parenthood which subsides abortions for those who qualify. Yes, churches do receive tax breaks, but they do the work of social service organizations in the broader community. Catholic Social Services is one of, if not THE largest of the social service agencies in the United States. It does not discriminate to whom it helps. It helps all who ask.

        I’m probably not going to convince you of my beliefs, and you’re not going to convince me of yours. You can make arguments against religious fanatics and those who act wrongly and blame it on their faith, but none of the arguments proves anything against the existence of God. It just proves that there is evil in the world.There are bad people who claim to act in the name of their religion. There are good people who don’t believe in the existence of God. Neither group represents all of its members.

        I do appreciate that we can discuss this matter without yelling and profanity. It is in listening to each other respectfully that we learn more about ourselves and about what we believe. I see proof of God all around me, and it fills me with awe and amazement at the scope and breadth of His love. I just want all people to share in that Joy that is available to all who choose to accept it. God not only loves all, He IS love, and I’m tremendously humbled to be included among those who know it.

      • “I appreciate your detailed comments. There are always going to be evil people in every possible group of individuals who come together because of common beliefs. To suggest that Hitler behaved in the manner of a Christian is the same argument that Stalin was a reasonable example of an atheist, and because he perpetrated such acts of atrocity, all atheists must be like him. I don’t believe that, and I imagine you don’t either. The KKK may call itself a Christian organization, but it does not behave in any way according to the example of Jesus Christ.”

        You’re arguing against something I am not trying to say, I don’t think hitler was christian in any positive sense of the term, just in the loose, demographic sense. There are two general meanings of the term christian, one is a follower of the teachings of jesus, and the other is the umbrella term for the various sects of one subset of judaism. No one would deny that osama bin laden was muslim in the broad sense (though I am sure many would say he was a bad example of one who did not share their philosophy of islam). So too hitler was in some sense a christian, though I am sure he did not embody what you mean when you use the term in a positive way. But so too he would’ve thought you were a horrible example of christianity, that you had bought into the jewish lie that weakened jesus’ legacy and blah blah blah. Catholics are routinely attacked as not being christian, while at the same time maintaining that they are the only real christians. Everybody thinks they’re the only real christians. And from an outsider’s perspective I think everyone picks and chooses and stresses some teachings and de-emphasises others.

        “Calling oneself a Christian does not make one a good Christian.”

        Yeah but you treat the word as though it does. As though “christian” is synonymous with “good person”. But there are all kinds of sects with all kinds of ideas about what makes one a good person. The people in the KKK honestly think they’re where they ought to be, doing what they ought to be doing. It’s important to think about I think. Again though, I am not trying to paint you and them with the same brush, just pointing out that the “you’re not a true christian” thing can be applied in any direction (and is).

        Oh and as for stalin he never once said he didn’t believe in god, and actually studied to join the clergy. He also re-opened tens of thousands of christian churches that had been shut down by his predecessor.

        “I agree that there has been entirely too much harm by misguided and evil members of religions. But that does not mean that any of them correctly represented true believers; they represented themselves and stained those who really do try to follow the gospel of Jesus.”

        Someone can be a true believer and be wrong at the same time. People who fly airplanes into buildings and blow up buildings reeeeeeeally believe what they’re doing is right. They are extremely devout. They’re also, in most peoples’ opinions, wrong. Doing a bad thing doesn’t imply someone has less belief or faith or conviction or even that they are less driven to follow their conscience – their conscience just points them in a very different direction.

        “I am just as offended and angry about those who bomb abortion clinics as you are, possibly even more so, because on top of the violence they perpetrate, they also paint other pro-lifers with their brush of evil.”

        So it’s evil to mass-murder babies and it’s evil to take violent action against mass-murderers? So if someone blew up hitler they would be evil? This is part of why I think the “abortion is murder” rhetoric is hyperbole – if people really believed that they’d all be out pipe bombing abortion clinics.

        “Federal tax money goes to Planned Parenthood which subsides abortions for those who qualify.”

        Yes but the bills that fund them have the hyde amendment attached, the funding is specifically for things like contraception, sex ed and other non-abortion related medical procedures like mammograms and pre-natal care. Most of what planned parenthood does is not related to abortion, and something like 97% of the medical procedures performed by them are not abortions. A year or two ago a republican congressman said that over 90% of the procedures performed by planned parenthood are abortions and when he was called out on it his staff released a message which said his remark “was not intended to be a factual statement”, which got him much ridicule by the press.

        “Yes, churches do receive tax breaks, but they do the work of social service organizations in the broader community. Catholic Social Services is one of, if not THE largest of the social service agencies in the United States. It does not discriminate to whom it helps. It helps all who ask.”

        And most of it’s funding comes from the federal government.

        http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=14419

        Ironically part of the reason it doesn’t discriminate may be because by accepting the money legally it isn’t allowed to.

        “I’m probably not going to convince you of my beliefs, and you’re not going to convince me of yours.”

        I wasn’t trying to do that, I just made a few comments. I can have a discussion without trying to evangelize.

        “You can make arguments against religious fanatics and those who act wrongly and blame it on their faith, but none of the arguments proves anything against the existence of God.”

        I completely agree. Which is why I didn’t suggest that it did.

        “It just proves that there is evil in the world.There are bad people who claim to act in the name of their religion. There are good people who don’t believe in the existence of God. Neither group represents all of its members.”

        The difference though is that you’re not saying there are good religious people and bad religious people, you are saying there are good religious people and bad people who only pretend to be religious. This is like if I said there are two kinds of atheists, those that are good and kind and virtuous and nice and smart and handsome and the other kind are ugly, mean, evil, terrible people who aren’t really atheists.

        “I do appreciate that we can discuss this matter without yelling and profanity. It is in listening to each other respectfully that we learn more about ourselves and about what we believe.”

        Only way to have a discussion.

        “I see proof of God all around me, and it fills me with awe and amazement at the scope and breadth of His love. I just want all people to share in that Joy that is available to all who choose to accept it. God not only loves all, He IS love, and I’m tremendously humbled to be included among those who know it.”

        If you see a beautiful thing and, assuming god made it, think “wow, god is great, this is beautiful” that does not stop an atheist who does not make any assumptions about nature from seeing the same beautiful thing. They just do not assume the same things about it. Listen to any atheist talk about nature and you will feel stirred by their passion for it’s beauty and complexity. If you search “greatest sermon ever” on youtube the number one search result (which has been the top result for years) is an atheist astrophysicist talking about the universe and the profound spiritual feelings thinking about it produces in him. Again, he doesn’t assume those feelings come from god or that there is a god. Please do not think that the idea of a god or that god wrote a particular book is required to see the beauty in life or love others or want to do positive things.

      • You misunderstand me. I don’t think only perfect people are true Christians. A Christian, in the words of Pope Francis speaking about himself, “is a sinner who has been looked upon by the Lord.”

        I am not suggesting only Christians are good people. I am not suggesting that only Christians can see beauty in the world. I am not suggesting that only Christians are spiritual people.

        Atheists think that they can refute the existence of a God whom they think can be constrained by mere human characteristics.

        I don’t expect you to get that. It takes faith.

      • Atheists don’t refute the existence of any possible god, they simply don’t think any version of a god has been substantiated. Almost all atheists are agnostic, they don’t think it’s knowable whether or not there is a god. Though they often think the picture of a god people believe in is absurd and self-contradictory.

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