Saturday, May 17, 2008

Are we, Americans, the Only People Receiving God’s Grace?

One could come to the conclusion that we are considering what our brothers and sisters around the world have to face each and every day. Senseless starvation. Horrifying tribal/ethnic violence. Unrelenting genocide. Unnecessary death and destruction from war. And, most recently catastrophic natural disasters. I am still trying to wrap my mind around: Over a 100,000 people being killed as a result of a cyclone (Myanmar). I just cannot get a grip on that one. A hundred thousand people is a small city. A town. Basically, this means if the cyclone would have struck land in Cambridge, MA back in the year 2000 all the residents would have been killed. Can you imagine that? I can’t! Also, the recent devastating earthquake in China that is expected to be the reason for more than 22,000 deaths is another reminder of the United States illusionary blessings.

God is Good in the minds of most Americans. We are told that He shields us from all types of harm – but wasn’t He unable to show His caring omnipresence down in the Gulf Coast a few years ago? Didn’t you expect Him to show-up at that depressing dome and un-Godly convention center? I did! Perhaps, I should not ask this question because He is always good and present according to Christians. Can’t you hear them: “God is Good. All the Time”. When I heard this the other day while at work I began to think about the earthquake video footage I saw of a Chinese little girl reaching for a soldier as he tried with all his strength to pull the girl from under layers and layers of broken cement. Her legs were trapped. She could only move her upper body – but the soldier abruptly had to halt the rescue effort because of aftershocks. Once - what some Christians say is the work of God, an earthquake, ceased no more could the precious girl be seen. She succumbed to the heavy rubble. Another person gone. Added to the 22,000 either dead or buried alive.

A good friend of mine who happens to be a devout Believer and Saint told me the other day (below) after I asked, “Why do Christians walk around saying, ‘God is Good’ as if He is only working on their behalf? I pressed more and asked, “I wonder if God is considered good to the people of Myanmar and China as we speak?”

Her response:

“First of all, China is a country that is well known for not believing in God and worshipping false idols. Christians that live in China have to go under ground in order to worship Christ. We wonder why things happen the way they happen. The false gods that they worship were where they were at during the time of this destruction. The God that I serve just allowed them to be taken over by the sin that they worship.”

Of course my theological radar went up! I was actually surprised that a “saved” person would basically say that God allowed for the natural disaster to occur because the Chinese are doing something that is supposedly against God: Worship of a False Idols. This also means that the point I made in my book was validated by this knowledgeable Christian. At least by this particular Christian’s belief system it was. I have always said and believed since I completed divinity school that God has been responsible and/or sanctioned death and destruction. Just read the uninspired man written bible from front to back, and you will discover His wrath. While I have said this time and time again – commentary after commentary (please don’t get bored w/ my beliefs) it is apparent that my understanding of the bible and God is in line with my Christian friend. Well, on this subject. Not much more! However, I hope she understands that what is
written in that bible has been in question for centuries. But, in her mind the bible is true. In my mind her belief is based on an inaccurate understanding of biblical scripture. If it is all true this means God slaughtered a group of First Born. Wow!

With this disagreement we still have an issue with theology: God’s punishment of the false idol worshiping Chinese is the reason the northwest area of the Sichuan province is under rubble. Seriously?

Rubble is what our minds have become if we honestly believe God favors the United States, and not other countries. We have bits and pieces of useless particles in our heads if we believe God is some maniac orchestrating and directing cyclones to strike land. This type of thinking causes several negative and misinformed thoughts/beliefs – but what it has done and continues to do is religiously elevate the United States as the Powerful Christian Nation while issuing condemnation to deeply spiritual places like Burma, Haiti, and other hard-hit countries.

North America’s ‘blessing of protection’ unfortunately encourages those Christians to believe:

Christianity is the only and righteous way.

That, my friend, is so ignorant.

Inspired my friend, the Christian. Here is what she told me when she had no where else to intellectually turn:

Whatever!!!!! Clearly, you are destined for HELL!!!!

Typical, but what should we expect from people who believe a man walked on water and rose after being killed? Jesus, the Whodini.

Written by Muata.


Muata said...

Reader Response:

Well Brian I agree with you. If you read the Bible from cover to cover especially the old testament AND if you believe that every word written in the Bible is the LITERAL word of God then you might come to the conclusion that God sanctions death and destruction. However just like you said the book is MAN WRITTEN and thank GOD we were also blessed with intelligence, spiritual connection to the almighty , and discernment. Using those attributes in my reading of the Bible I saw it not as the literal word of God but as a group of separately written books that were published kind of as an anthology of the Hebrew people and that includes:

a) the somewhat exaggerated history of the Hebrews,
b) some books of poetry (Ecclesiates, Song of Solomon),
c) various character education stories (JOB, Esther),
d) various versions of Jesus' biography, and
e) some letters a preacher named Paul decided to write.

Now bound all together like they are they make quite a good guide for how to live. Not to say that you should do everything written there-in, or that what appears on those pages is the end all and be all of God's word. Just a handy guidebook. Problem is most people let somebody else read and interpret this guide for them. Not only that but they learn about this book they claim to revere in pieces, verse by verse. Now if you tried to do a book report on a book after only reading a few select sentences (which is what verses are) and having someone tell you what the rest of the book not only said but what the writers actually meant would that be logical? Nope but ask most Christians and they'll tell you "well I tried to read it but I couldn't get past all those begats and begots in Genesis so I just study specific chapters or verses."

"All I know is a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing."


Muata said...

Muata Responds to MTP:

I like your comment. Especially, how you described the books in the bible. More of us need to view them in this way. Too many Christians take the bible literally. That to me is ridiculous when in fact most of these Christians do not view other critical matters and/or publications in a LITERAL way. They use reason. Why not use reason when it pertains to ALL biblical scripture? Why forget/ignore the scripture that puts their Lord in a negative or compromising light?


Muata said...

Reader Responds:

Wow! It's people like your friend that need soul searching.

I must give you an AMEN for this!

Peace my brother!


Muata said...

Reader has a question:

Quick question, what does theology school teach you that
life is all about?


Muata said...

Muata responds to RM:

Apply this with other elements, and life becomes a quest for TRUTH. We need
to seek answers to why we exist. I enjoy it.


Muata said...

Reader Response:

Brian raises the questions that I have been raising since I was old enough to logically reason. I notice that some of the responses have been predictably emotional. That is to be expected when one questions anybody's core belief system. Religion and politics - tough to discuss rationally.

At the risk of offending good people, is it not true that the majority of the world is non-Christian? To them, the Bible is just a book. Each sect has its own concept of deity and who is to say which is right or "confused". It seems that the one thing that all religious sects have in common - an inability to provide concrete proof of the legitimacy and accuracy of the dogma.

A follower of the Bible must operate on sheer faith that the words within the Bible are, indeed, the God-inspired words. How do you prove or disprove that?

What evidence is there, outside of the text of the Bible, that all words, phrases and thoughts within the Bible are truly those of God? Who is capable of reaching inside the mind of another man to determine whether that inspiration truly resulted in what he put to paper? How many iterations, translations, versions from the original Hebrew Old through the new testament have been influenced by men with a particular agenda, or perhaps revised, adjusted, perhaps even misinterpreted or mistranslated? We can all agree that it was mere imperfect men who drafted the text, whatever the source of their inspiration.

The analogy with the Maryland Code fails logically. These are the laws devised by man to govern a society. There is no claim that the words are divinely inspired. The laws are ever changing and evolving to reflect changing times, mores and societal conditions. Laws that become obsolete get rescinded and revised. The fact that the intent of the creators of the laws is well documented, assists with subsequent interpretations of the laws. That is why arguments that use man's laws as their foundation are easily made and countered.

The Bible does not similarly change and we may only speculate as to the intent of the drafters for the reasons I stated above. The Bible's interpretations and interpreters vary dramatically. "Christian Klansmen" used it as their authority to legitimize separating the races. The religious right use it to condemn homosexuality. Gee Dub, supported by his core group of fundamentalist religious right wingers, used it to get re-elected, to assault gay marriage and to spread Christianity (democracy) throughout the "non-believing" world, i.e., the American imperialism that has us where we are today, paying $4.00 and more for a gallon of gas and having lost over 8,000 Americans (and counting) between the 9/11 disaster and Iraq/Afghanistan.

The death and the resurrection, the immaculate conception, the Red Sea parting, the great flood and Noah's Ark - assembling two of every living creature, are all aspects of Biblical lore that strain logical bounds. The lone source of confirmation is the text of the Bible, which must be believed though faith. It would seem to me that if the credibility of any of the words of any text are be called into question, the entire text should be called into question.

That's my $.02.