Updating the Bible

I saw this nice little inspirational (?) quote this morning.

 

quote

 

It reminded me of an image I saw a few weeks ago and saved for later.

 

updated bible

I was once told that the worst thing that could happen to a religion was for it to be written down. As long as religions are oral traditions prejudice can be ironed out and updated with time. As soon as it is written down though all of that prejudice, discrimination, and animosity are set in stone.

The “Spirit” maybe moving God’s people toward openness, welcome, inclusion, acceptance, and affirmation, but if you are the sort of person who would rather follow the Bible and not the Spirit, well you are stuck with all of the prejudice and animosity from 2,000 years ago.  Which reminds me of another image I recently saw.

 

road

 

The Bible isn’t doing Christianity any favors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Stuff and Misdirected Anger

If you haven’t realized by now, most of my posts are about dumb (in my humble opinion) things I find on my Facebook page. Today’s topic is about a video of Dinesh D’Souza using an analogy to describe the problem of often discussed “free stuff” presented in this campaign cycle. You can watch the full video by following the link below, or if you would prefer not to give them the click I will recap the relevant section below (I click so you don’t have to).

http://www.proudcons.com/the-best-analogy-about-free-stuff-you-will-ever-hear/

First off I love edited videos like this that are intentionally manipulative. This was filmed supposedly in a debate setting with Bill Ayers. Presumably there was a rebuttal. If this analogy was so fantastic, why not include the rebuttal? “Proud Cons” are actually setting up their readers for failure. Some poor conservative keyboard warrior is going to present this analogy to some smart ass Bernie Sanders supporter like me and get ripped to shreds. The least Proud Cons could do is give them a chance to prepare a counter rebuttal.

Dinesh converts “Free Healthcare” into a grocery store experience. Which is smart, not everybody can relate to the necessity of a life saving medical intervention, but we’ve all stood in line to buy some cocoa puffs. In Dinesh’s scenario everyone now has the opportunity to go to a grocery store, fill up their cart with whatever they want and when they get to the cash register “somebody else will pay.”

The first thing Dinesh claims will happen is everyone will then fill up their cart with things they don’t need, “12 cartons of milk and 45 cartons of bologna” to be specific. This isn’t the main point I want to make, but let’s pause here for a second. Not only is this an extremely cynical view of humanity, but simply doesn’t transfer back to the healthcare field. No one goes to the doctor for the fun of going to the doctor. Even if nothing is wrong, people go to the doctor because they think something is wrong. The two concerns Dinesh might possibly have about people “filling up their carts with things they don’t need” are Hypochondriacs and drug seekers, both of whom might finally be able to afford treatment under Bernie’s medicare for all plan.

The second thing Dinesh claims is the grocery store  will realize that they can charge whatever they want because the person receiving the benefit is not the person paying. He concludes that the benefit receiver and the grocery store are conspiring together to rip off the taxpayer (never mind that the benefit receiver is a tax payer). I concede this might be possible in Dinesh’s hypothetical grocery store, but it is exceedingly unlikely that benefit receivers will load up with 45 cartons of the hospital’s equivalent of bologna. And we know that with better access to health care people spend less money on healthcare because they receive the preventative care they need to avoid expensive health issues down the road. So it is the hospitals jacking up their prices that are left holding the proverbial  “screwing the american taxpayer” bag.

We see the same thing play out in terms of minimum wage, or a living wage. Workers demand a higher minimum wage, congress raises the minimum wage (after raising their own salaries first, of course) and then the corporations jack up prices to maintain profits, to maintain CEO salaries, to maintain executive bonus. And people, in all of their wisdom, direct their anger at the people who only want to live above the poverty line if they are working a full time job, or to work a full time job instead of being cut off at 39 hours. Newsflash, if a corporation can’t afford to pay its employees a decent wage, it hasn’t earned that profit.

If higher prices are the concern the anger should be directed at the people responsible, that is, the hospitals who are more concerned about profit than patients. The anger should not be directed at those who want to use the healthcare system without filing for bankruptcy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certainty and Salvation

A few weeks ago was the National Prayer breakfast where President Obama indicated that Muslims and Christians worship the same god. For some reason Christians are vehemently opposed to this idea despite world history, not to mention their own theology, supporting the fact that Christians and Muslims worship the same god. Given my circle of family and friends it was unsurprising when Ken Ham appeared on my Facebook feed to condemn the President’s statements. That reminded me of an incident in late 2015 where Franklin Graham did the same thing in response to a Wheaton College professor. You can catch up on that issue here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/09/us/larycia-hawkins-wheaton-college.html?_r=0

Here is what Franklin Graham had to say

Capture

I want to key in on one phrase: “The God of the Bible sent His Son to earth to die in our place and save us from our sins. The god of Islam requires you to die for him to be sure you are going to heaven. That’s a huge difference—and there are many more examples!”

I initially wanted to expose the dishonesty of his statement. But that led to a more academic study of the differences between salvation in Christianity and salvation in Islam, and now it has been a few weeks since the prayer breakfast…

To start, I want to point out what Franklin is comparing isn’t actually comparable (hence the dishonesty). The first statement is the Christian god’s chosen salvation mechanism, while the second statement is one pathway to salvation in Islam.  If we want to see any differences we have to compare like with like. For instance we could compare and contrast the Christian god’s and the Islamic god’s salvation mechanisms, we could look at how the Christian god requires a blood sacrifice, first with animals in the old testament and then with his son made flesh in the new testament in order to save anyone, and compare that to how the Islamic god just saves those worthy, no blood sacrifice needed. There is quite a difference there.

What Franklin is actually trying to accomplish here is to comment on the difference of certainty in salvation between Christianity and Islam.  Franklin’s implication is Christians can be assured of their salvation because Jesus died for their sins, while Muslims can only be sure of their salvation if they die a martyr. Which leads me to ask, “is there evidence of this in scripture?”

I am considerably less familiar with the Islamic faith than I am with Christianity, being raised in one and not the other, but after reading several Islamic apologists on salvation in Islam, and reading what several Christian apologists had to say about salvation in Islam there seems to be a consensus of four things required for salvation in Islam. (if you are more familiar with Islam, and I have missed something, please let me know.I should also caveat this entire post with the acknowledgement that there is a wide range of internal disagreements about interpretations in both Christianity and Islam so any “they believe” statements made by me or anyone else should duly be taken with a grain of salt)

1)Faith

2)Repentance

3)Good Works

4) A certain amount of Predestination

The concept of predestination in both Islam and Christianity could fill several blog posts. That being said, at least on a surface level, Islamic interpretations of predestination (or as they would prefer to define it “divine decree”) are very similar to how Christians approach what to do about an omniscient, omnipotent god, with humanity’s free will. If you think predestination doesn’t play a part in Christian salvation check out Revelations. If your name is not found in the book of life you are thrown into hell. When were the names written down in the book of life? That’s right, before the foundation of the world.

Revelation 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 13:8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

For other verses specifically mentioning predestination check out Romans 8 28-30, Acts 4: 27-29, and Ephesians 1: 4-12

Faith and repentance seem pretty standard, it is the “good works” where Christian apologists, and presumably Franklin Graham seem to fault Islam.  They seem hung up on the Islamic concept that on the day of judgement all of their “good works,” their faith, repentance, how well they upheld the five pillars, their attitude, and intentions… would be balanced on a set of scales. Those who balance heavy (with good works) will receive an accounting of their deeds in their right hand and enter paradise. Those with light scales will receive an accounting of their deeds in their left hand and will be cast into a blazing fire, wishing they had never known the outcome of their accounting. If good works are required to enter paradise, how can you ever be sure you have done enough to tip the scales in your favor? Hence the uncertainty of salvation that Franklin indicates. But do Christians really have any more assurance they will enter Heaven?

Christians like to cite Ephesians 2: 8-9, which reads  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

So all you have to do is believe that Jesus will save you, and he does! How convenient. This is why all of those evangelical Christians voting for Trump claim you can’t know his heart so it isn’t fair to judge him because of his three marriages, casinos and strip clubs. But is that really the case? If only Christians knew a guy who had seen a vision of the future judgment day and wrote it all down, but we are in luck because someone did!

Revelation 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

So in this vision of the future describing the actual process of salvation and damnation the hordes of dead are judged and enter into hell, or conversely heaven, based not on their faith in a guy named Jesus, but “according to what they have done.” Oddly enough this sounds eerily familiar to the Islamic judgement day.

Now I’m confused Ephesians says Christians are saved completely through faith, but Revelations says Christians will be held accountable for what they have done. Are these mutually exclusive? Mutually inclusive? For help I turned to Franklin’s father, Billy. Okay, actually I googled “How can Christians be sure they are saved” and BillyGraham.org popped up with this article by Steven Lawson http://billygraham.org/story/how-to-be-sure-of-your-salvation/

Well that sounded very reassuring to Christians right up until Pillar 3 (presumably Steven knows about the 5 pillars of Islam, then again maybe not, but perhaps in the future he might want to vary his analogy). In Pillar 3 Steven states that True Believers are bestowed with the Holy Spirit. Well shit… How does a Christian know if he/she is a “true believer” compared to all of the false (?) believers out there?  So it is back to the Bible.

Matthew 7:15-20 states that you will recognize false prophets by their fruits. And those with bad fruits will be cast into the fire.

So we can recognize bad Christians from good Christians based on the kinds of “fruits” their life produces. Essentially the things that they do. To add more ambiguousness to Christian salvation, lets keep reading

Mathew 7:21-23 goes on to say that not everyone who calls out “Lord, Lord” will enter heaven. Jesus will say “I never knew you.”

It sure sounds like the people in Matthew 7:21 had faith that Jesus would save them, if they are not sure, how can anyone be sure? Jesus saves (haha, see what I did there) the day later in Matthew 25 by actually describing who gets into heaven and who doesn’t.

In Mathew 25: 31-46 we see Jesus separating the righteous from the unrighteous (sheep and goats) for eternity in heaven or hell based on the things they had done, or not done as the case may be.

We should probably trust Jesus on this since Jesus declared himself to be “the way, and the truth, and the life.” And that, “no one comes to the father except through me” in John 14:6. Dude should know what he is talking about.

Most damning of all is James 2:14-17 ”What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

Followed of course by James 2:19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

All of this categorically flies in the face of Ephesians 2:8’s concept of being saved through faith alone (so what, even the demons believe). Obviously those without faith will not be saved, but just as obviously those without works will also not be saved, it takes both. Presumably the sheep and the goats in Matthew, and those judged in Revelations have all done both good and bad things, strange how the bible doesn’t provide any certainty on where that line is exactly to give assurances to its flock of good and faithful servants.

In light of all this I am going to go help Franklin fix his statement. “Christians can be sure that God has the power to save people because of a blood magic ritual he completed with his son, and Christians can be sure that they will in fact be saved provided their names were written in a book that was written before the world was created (this of course is all perfectly sane and reasonable). Muslims believe similar things only without the blood magic, but in Islam dying a martyr is the only way to be sure you will enter paradise. And that is just ridiculous.”

Oh, before I leave I have one last parting verse.

Mathew 10: 39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Seems like the only guarantee that your name is in the book of life is to die a martyr in Christianity too. I guess it is only ridiculous when it is someone else’s religion.

 

 

Balancing the Nuetrality Scale

Valentine’s Day is a day set aside for couples to acknowledge the feelings they have for one another. Many companies run Valentine’s Day themed ads, one such company was Adidas, who used the holiday as an opportunity to recognize that not all relationships are heterosexual relationships with this simple image posted to Instagram.

adidas

I think we are well past the need to congratulate Adidas for acknowledging that LGBT community exists and some of them might enjoy sports and sports equipment, and it doesn’t appear Adidas lost much in anything by way of customers as most of the comments were positive in response to the ad. However there are always those individuals who think that different is bad. Apologies for the language ahead.

adidas response

While there is a lot to unpack here, for instance, perhaps someone should inform Leepapi that the image is most likely of two women. Howevery,I want to focus on the idea that Alxgreco posted. I saw similar responses following the Campbell’s commercial featuring two dads, or the infamous Coke Super Bowl commercial a couple years back. Companies shouldn’t take sides in social issues, or companies should remain neutral.

If we accept alzgreco’s premise, that companies shouldn’t take sides (and ignore the fact that if the company in question was Chik-Fil-a or Hobby Lobby he would probably be singing a different tune) what does remaining neutral in the business and marketing world actually look like? To answer this we should look at what being neutral looks like in other contexts

To swing into the political arena Donald Trump, cause a bit of a stir the other day when he indicated he planned on remaining neutral in the Israel/Palestine conflict. So what would that look like? Simply, If America gave large amounts of aid to Israel, but not Palestine, America would not be neutral. Likewise if America gave a large amount of aid to Palestine and not, Israel America would not be neutral. To be neutral America has two options. It can give equal amounts of aid to both Israel and Palestine or no aid at all to either country.

The same can be said if I am a talk show host. If I want to remain neutral, but only give air time to Bernie Sanders and not Hillary Clinton, I’m not neutral. If I only give airtime to the Democratic nominee and not to the Republican nominee I am not being neutral. Neutrality insists on equal representation or no representation at all.

Back to Adidas, most of their ads appear to be asexual which would amount to no representation at all, in which case their acknowledgement of the existence of any sort of sexuality could very well be choosing a side. However a quick search of their website http://www.adidas.com/us produced these two images:

Admittedly the first image is not the best example. But the second image oozes heterosexuality. And there was no images of a homosexual couple to be found. If every time Adidas diverged from its typical asexual policy with an image of a heterosexual couple, as it appears Adidas is willing to occasionally do, Adidas would not be neutral on this topics. The same can be said for Campbell’s, if every family they portrayed was a two parent, heterosexual, nuclear family it could not be said that Campbell’s was neutral on that social topic. For some reason I doubt Axlgreco has ever complained about the lack of neutrality in the presentation of a heterosexual family (but I don’t know his life, maybe he does, but probably not).

This Valentine’s Day Adidas just tipped the scale a little bit back towards neutral.

*Editors note: I was first introduced to this Adidas aid by the Newnownext blog by Dan Avery. You can find his post here: http://www.newnownext.com/adidas-valentine-gay-instagram/02/2016/