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Thanks to dhlawrence for the idea.


My recent experience interacting with a biblical apologist left me somewhat unsettled, and I haven't been able to think about much else for a couple of days. The thing that unsettled me the most was that despite my best intentions, I felt myself being dragged into the fray.

Additional research on the internet has led me to a plethora of websites of every possible permutation.

Atheists vs. Apologists
Evangelicals vs. non-orthodox Christians
Muslims vs. Jews
Muslims vs. Christians
Jews vs. Gentiles
Secular humanists vs. Believers
Mormons vs. Atheists
Evangelicals vs. Mormons
Bible-believing Christians vs. Jehovah's Witnesses
Scientologists vs. Everybody
7th-Day-Adventists vs. ...

You get the picture. Choose one from column A, and one from Column B, and you'll be able to find it out there.

Incredible amounts of time, effort, indignation, anger and outright hatred are being spent in attempts to prove, by logic, or reason, or scripture, or exegesis, or tradition, that which is virtually unprovable - hence the cartoon above, which I created more for my own benefit than anyone else's. And it all comes down to the most basic of human addictions, the addiction to being right.

Of course, none of this is new. It's only that the internet era gives us fingertip access to the full spectrum of human maladjustment and brings it into clearer focus. People have been killing each other for their differences, religious and otherwise, since the dawn of time - and since the same epoch, there have been those who have risen up against the madness.

I remember back in the late 60's and early 70's when Vietnam was in full swing, a popular bumper sticker read, "What if they gave a war and nobody came?", and that led me to an odd thought. My own faith holds out that before Christ comes again, the earth has to be made ready for his coming. Part of this involves preaching the Gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, which is why almost everywhere you go, you see our young missionaries out spreading the word.

That's well and good, but what's the ultimate point of that Gospel? Imagine with me that the earth was divided into only two nations.

The first consisted of three billion people. 99% of those belonged to the "correct" religion, whatever that happened to look like. Other than that, things were pretty much the same way they are now.

The second also consisted of three billion people, of all different persuasions, religious and secular - and it was not uncommon to find a mosque and a synagogue built next to each other, right across the street from a Hindu temple and an Anglican chapel.
While not everyone was rich, there were no poor, because everyone believed in a society where everyone wins.
People didn't covet one another's goods.
People didn't lie, or steal, or rob, or murder, or slander or persecute one another.
People lived simply, so that everyone could simply live.
People respected their environment, and did all they could to be good stewards of the only planet they had to live on.
People were kind, and loving, and charitable.
Lawyers and judges were out of work, because nobody wanted to sue anyone else.

If you were God, which nation would you want to walk with? "Wait, wait, God loves everyone, he's not a respecter of persons!" Well, you're right but you get my point, which is:

"In the end analysis, God cares less about which Church you belong to, or don't, than how you're treating your fellow man."

This, then, is the Ecumenism that I support. It has nothing to do with the various faiths trying to become like one another. It has nothing to do with everyone joining the "First Church of Blah Unsalted Farina". It has to do with each one of us, regardless of our walk in life, reaching out to every member of humanity and doing our best to create an entire planet where everyone wins, and helping every other member of our species to make it across the finish line.

Utopia won't come cheap. Given human nature, there will always be poor folk, there will always be those who don't obey the rules, there will always be illness, natural disasters and everything else that makes our world a challenge to live in. But what if we were to make it halfway to that glorious goal? Wouldn't that be better than doing nothing at all?

The more time goes on, the more I become committed to bringing people to Christ (which is my particular walk) by raising the human condition, rather than worrying about what they wear, which scriptures they read or which direction they face to pray - or if they even pray at all. I may be the only book of holy writ that some people ever read.

Just saying that could get me heaved out of my own faith by certain people.

I'll take my chances.

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Comments

dhlawrence
Mar. 21st, 2009 11:42 pm (UTC)
I think there must be a Rule 35 to go along with the infamous Rule 34 of the Internet: "If you believe it, someone hates you."

I went to a fundamentalist Baptist school (after getting bullied out of the public system), and it wasn't until around Grade 9 that the rot really started to appear--the snobbery, the hatred, the sense of moral superiority, the bigotry (I'll never forget the teacher who used the word 'coloured' in a sentence, and it wasn't art class). I think they could tell that my goose-step was out of line with everyone else's--I have a little trouble believing that people who worship the same God aren't all headed in the right direction just because of the name of the building they spend part of their weekend in.

And thanks for the props, but I can't take the credit. DC Simpson said it first :P
ccdesan
Mar. 21st, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC)
Yah, but I heard it from you.
torakiyoshi
Mar. 21st, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
You heretic! Don't you know that it's Blah Salted Farina! For such abominable mistatement, I declare holy war against you and all your ilk...

Ya, whatever. ;)

-=Kiyoshi
ccdesan
Mar. 21st, 2009 11:57 pm (UTC)
torakiyoshi
Mar. 22nd, 2009 12:09 am (UTC)
Besides, a feline declaring holy war against a canine? That's redundant... ;)

-=Kiyoshi
dhlawrence
Mar. 22nd, 2009 01:17 am (UTC)
Yeah! We're at a constant state of war, but cats just have better things to do ;)
torakiyoshi
Mar. 22nd, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)
*Giggles* I guess Old Wolf should have known this group of yayhoos couldn't take this conversation too seriously for too long.

-=Kiyoshi

Edited at 2009-03-22 01:32 am (UTC)
ccdesan
Mar. 22nd, 2009 02:49 am (UTC)
I wouldn't expect a Sirius word out of a cat...
r_caton
Mar. 21st, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC)
Farina? 'Twould be a flour of speech indeed.
Bible-believing Christians vs Jehovahs Witnesses?
JWs believe the Bible, it must be true, it's published and edited by the same folks who publish the Watchtower and Awake!....
I confess that working with a devout Witness has left me just a little hateful towards them.....

Lead us not into temptation, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us to which I would add "trespasses REAL and IMAGINED".

Forgiveness is possibly the hardest thing.
ccdesan
Mar. 22nd, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
I think we've all been damned to Tophet by some group or individual. It's looking down the binoculars the wrong way that shows me all these differences are insignificant.

Real and imagined is right: Resentment is any negative emotional reaction to what we think has been said or done...

And yes, forgiveness can be the hardest thing of all.
fearciuil
Mar. 22nd, 2009 12:43 am (UTC)
Reminds me a bit of a quote from Sherlock Holmes (specifically, "The Valley of Fear"):
"Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius."

(Hey, the comparison makes sense to me!)
ccdesan
Mar. 22nd, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)
I had never heard that quote - it's awesome. I'm going to save it...

Thanks! (Love the avatar...)
fearciuil
Mar. 22nd, 2009 03:32 am (UTC)
Glad to be of service!
sleepyjohn00
Mar. 22nd, 2009 05:18 am (UTC)
There's a story I learned years ago about a man who is passing through a small town and sits down on a bridge to rest. Another man comes by, and sits down, and they start talking. One mentions that he happens to be a member of the Congregation of the Chosen Select Brethren (I'm making up the name and all subsequent details).

"You are? I am too!"

"That's wonderful! Are you Orthodox or Reformed?"

"Orthodox, of course!"

"Amazing, so am I! Is your pastor from the Minnesota seminary or the Ohio one?"

"Oh, the Minnesota one."

"That's just wonderful! Did your church use the 1892 or the 1897 prayer book?"

"We used the 1892 book."

The traveller pushes the other man into the river and screams "HERETIC!"




There are two kinds of people: the kind that thinks you can divide everyone into two kinds of people, and the other kind.

I grew up Lutrin in a 95% Catholic town, which gave me an allergic reaction to pious people and authoritarian religionists. Having worked in, or been thrown out of, a series of churches has shown me that they all think they have personalized Keys to Heaven, and no one else is really as righteous as they are. Pfui.

Democrats vs Republicans, Prots vs Catholics, Stanford vs Cal, whatever. I don't CARE anymore why people choose to divide themselves, I just grieve for the opportunities lost thereby.
ccdesan
Mar. 22nd, 2009 06:20 am (UTC)
1) Wonderful story!

2) From Rule Golden by Damon Knight: "Delegates to a World Synod of Christian Churches began arriving at a tent city near Smith Center, Kansas, late Saturday night. Trouble developed almost immediately between the Brethren Church of God (Reformed Dunkers) and the Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists--later spreading to a schism which led to the establishment of two rump synods, one at Lebanon and the other at Athol."

3) >I just grieve for the opportunities lost thereby We can surmise that the practice of cutting one's nose off to spite one's face dates at least from 1378 AD. The Egyptian Arab historian al-Maqrīzī, writing in the fifteenth century, attributes the loss [of the Great Sphinx's nose] to iconoclasm by Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim fanatic from the khanqah of Sa'id al-Su'ada. On that date, upon finding the Egyptian peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest, Sa'im al-Dahr was so outraged that he destroyed the nose, and was hanged for vandalism.

4) A last story: A skydiver found himself in peril of his life when both his chutes failed to open. In extremis, he offered up what he felt must surely be the last prayer of his life, "Blessed St. Francis, save me!" Suddenly a giant hand appeared from the clouds and grabbed the falling man by the shirt. A resonating voice asked, "St. Francis of Assisi, or St. Francis Xavier?" Swallowing hard, the man whispered, "Assisi?"
....
"AAAAAAaaa...!"
deckardcanine
Mar. 22nd, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC)
Those aren't even the only two St. Francises. Or St. Frances (fran-SEEZ), whichever.
deckardcanine
Mar. 22nd, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC)
Is the fight in the illustration what they call the Noodle Incident?
ccdesan
Mar. 22nd, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
Yes! Yes! That must have been it!
fairportfan
Mar. 22nd, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
In his book "Pluribus", Mike Kurland mentions the Second Reformed Evangelical Agnostic Church. (Or something like that.)

When someone says "I thought agnostics can't decide if they believe in God or not," the answer is "Oh - they believe in God; they're just not sure *He* believes in *them*.

"They come up to you on street corners with tracts, and ask 'Brother, has He found you?'

"You ought to see some of their services - they roll around on the floor and listen in tongues..."
ccdesan
Mar. 22nd, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
Gotta have me a look at that book...
fairportfan
Mar. 22nd, 2009 10:47 pm (UTC)
Good luck. It's been out of print for years.

And, like almost everything Kurland ever wrote, it's obviously the first book in an interesting-sounding series that he never got around to writing the rest of.

(Well, except for "The Unicorn Girl", a story about how he and his friends Chester Anderson and Tom Waters saved the multiverse from an invasion by seven-foot green dinosaurs, which was a sequel to Anderson's "The Butterfly Kid", in which Chester, with help from Mike, saves the world from an invasion by six foot pacifist blue lobsters ... and followed by Tom Waters' "The Probability Pad" in which Waters, with help from Chester and Mike saves the world from giant amoebas...)

Another line from another Kurlans book that might have some relevance to the original discussion is (approximately):

"He did not believe that there were Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, but had long since come to the conclusion that there were Things Man Was Too Dumb To Figure Out."
secoh
Mar. 22nd, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
ccdesan
Mar. 22nd, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
Haha! I love TPBF... the dude is totally insane. Or of course, Gulliver's "big-endians" and "little-endians"

Obviously many people are aware of the folly... the problem is, most of them are the secular humanists who roll their eyes with pity at the poor deluded believers. If we could only get the churches to understand that "angels fly because they take themselves lightly", we'd be making some good progress!
alaskawolf
Mar. 24th, 2009 11:07 am (UTC)
maybe ill just go worship Zeus :P

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