Fundamentalism in religion is primarily the result of a literal interpretation of a sacred text. This is where it starts. This is how it is fueled. It is an approach where compromise is unacceptable, where the whole text has dominance over any individual passage. Consequently, in the fundamentalist’s mind, everything in their sacred text is pure, right, and infallible.
The Christian Bible, the Muslim Koran, the Jewish Torah or Old Testament, are the three primary sacred texts that are often taken by their individual groups of believers as literally true in every word. Hindus have the Bhagavad Gita but they do not worship it in the sense these other religions do their Books. Buddhists have no holy text but instead are guided by sutras or the sayings and teachings of Buddha. Rarely do you see fundamentalists among Hindus or Buddhists.
Mom recently told me she read a letter to the editor in her local newspaper about yoga being the work of the devil. At almost 94 mom is not really surprised by much but she seemed quite surprised to learn some people believe yoga is related to Satan. Really? And who are the people who believe yoga is related to the Devil and why do they believe it? I’m curious because I’ve been doing yoga for over fifteen years and not once have I even had a bad thought much less become possessed by Satan. To learn more I’m joined by yoga expert Barbara Simon.
Our mind has an opinion about everything but that does not mean our mind’s opinions or even the beliefs we hold are true.
It’s responsible to think about why we think what we do and to challenge why we think others must believe what we do.
I feel certain Jesus would question the motivation behind using fear to teach in his name.
As Christians, or people who admire Jesus without the religious label, we are to do our best to love one another with the integrity of Christ. However, this is a challenge, because not all Christians or people who say we love Jesus are equally devoted to living from integrity to discern right and wrong, truth from fiction, trustworthiness from conspiracy, and justice from injustice.
Without the discernment of integrity we cannot identify the dishonest from the honest and the accountable from the irresponsible. Without the values of integrity to guide our reasoning we do not acknowledge and condemn propaganda, fake news, or conspiracy theories. Without integrity we do not have the ability to accurately evaluate a person’s character. Without a shared devotion to walk in the footsteps of integrity as Jesus did, we do not have a willingness or the compassion to put ourselves in the position of others.
Sure we have lots to work on to fix what is broken within Christianity, politics, and society. And, you and I may ultimately agree on the topics we must address. But you and I, or anyone in a conflicting situation, cannot begin to find common ground to develop real solutions if there is no common devotion to respect, honesty, compassion, and justice.
To find common ground we must jointly acknowledge the clear danger of defending, as simply having a different view, tabloid media, white supremacists, racial bigots, those prejudiced against people with handicaps, gays, women, the poor, blacks, immigrants, Muslims etc.
Jesus would remind us there are awful outcomes that arise from defending biased agendas and judgmental hearts. It is extremely dangerous to give a voice or power to people who do not care to hold themselves accountable for the damage hate speech and unjust policies do. Therefore, hesitation on any Christian’s part to clearly identify and vilify purveyors of persecution, division, injustice, and lies, results in a real danger to our society and to our relationships.
A refusal to stand up to tyranny as Jesus would certainly endangers the relationship we have with God. And, Christ.
My Lasagna is to die for! Hey, after 45 years it should be.
Honestly and with all modesty I can say my lasagna is to die for. I don’t mean my lasagna will literally kill you. Heavens NO! The expression “it’s to die for” means something is fantastic, incredible, magnificent, and in the case of food over the top delicious. And my lasagna should be first-rate, an award-winning stack of deliciousness because I’ve spent the past 45 years mastering the recipe.
We don’t get good at anything – cooking, relationships, a job, patience – without practice.
If we want to be really good at something we must get really good at practicing that something.
Practice will make us proficient, not perfect. Takes a lot of stress off, doesn’t it?
There is a calling in life that is spiritual but not religious. It comes from deep within us and from influences outside of us.
It comes from losses and longings, from lessons not yet learned, from lost loves, from emotional hurts we felt but never healed. It comes from thinking we failed our parents, from missing obvious life messages, from disappointing ourselves. It comes from sorry parenting, from unrealistic expectations we accepted, from betrayals received and given. It comes from faulty theology, from the wrong ideas about God, from fears that we are born bad and stay bad. It comes from kids or teens or adults who bullied us, from sexual abuse, from relationship battering, from being belittled in some wounding way or ways.
My uncle’s car broke down on a sparsely populated stretch of two-lane highway. This happened long before cell phones, and he was stuck in the middle of nowhere. He had to depend on the off chance that someone would happen along.
After a while he heard a soft buzzing that sounded like a swarm of bees heading in his direction. As the noise grew louder, he watched the horizon. Soon a group of motorcycle riders crested the hill.
Even though my uncle had not personally encountered bikers before, he was terrified at the sight of them. He had formed a critical conclusion of motorcycle riders from others’ opinions and harbored a preconceived idea that they were all dangerous. He feared they would rob and possibly harm him. With nowhere to hide, he felt completely helpless as he watched them approach.
I’ve known several tattooed biker guys with scraggly beards, do-rags, and wallets on chains, and I realize how they might seem ominous. Yet, I know from experience that we cannot accurately measure the true character of any person or group of people based on a stereotype.
Most of the motorcycle group waved as they passed by my uncle. Two riders stopped and politely asked if they could be of help.
Let’s face it; racism in this country is a reality and a hideous evil.
There is a great line from John Merrick, the Elephant Man, in the movie by the same title. Physically distorted, emotionally tormented because of his glaring differences, he tries to justify the cruelty of others by saying to a physician, “People are frightened by what they don’t understand.”
I can’t stand pain. To the point I almost passed out the first time I got my ear pierced. While on a college trip to Scotland I just decided to go for it. A woman in the back of a hair salon used what looked like a gun.
As the needle, bolt, rivet, whatever, shot through my ear lobe the room began to spin. I rushed to the bathroom, embarrassed, but relieved it was over.
When I returned home my parents generously offered to buy me diamond stud earrings if I got the other ear pierced. I declined. The pain remained too fresh in my memory. I couldn’t bring myself to undergo any more discomfort. No matter how temporary, and minor, it still hurt.
It seems silly to have made such a big deal over such a small thing. At the time it was a big deal. Until one day, years later, when having my other ear done I realized, no matter how it hurt to get my ear pierced, the pain was nothing compared to what Jesus endured during his life.
The beatings, crown of thorns, and being nailed to a cross to hang until dead. Not to mention the ridicule, denial, slander, and betrayal he endured.
I don’t think any one of us can imagine such emotional and physical suffering. I honestly don’t believe any Christian, or decent human being, would want anyone to undergo the misery Christ did.
Yet we witness too many people, who say they love Jesus, causing anguish to others. Often in the name of God.
The contradiction between Jesus, who was inclusive love in action, and the exclusive religion that bears his name raises the question, which Jesus would consider worse.
The agony he suffered in life and while dying on the cross?
Or the pain of being betrayed by people who disrespect his life and sacrifice by judging, abusing, and excluding others in his name?
My vote is for the latter.
No matter if we are gay, straight, black, white, female, male, rich or poor, limitless numbers of people experience religious persecution. I know of a woman who was asked to leave a congregation because she wore a red dress to church. A family I know disowned their son for marrying a woman they considered a non-believer. My aunt was not allowed to wed the love of her life because the man was Jewish. A friend was told by the minister of a church she had to grow her hair long in order to be accepted by God and the congregation.
These examples, and countless others, are a result of a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of Christ’s Church as an inclusive community of love and kindness, and as a guide on how to live with the integrity of Jesus. The egocentric hutzpah to persecute, exclude, and attempt to dominate in God or Jesus’ name, while prevalent, is certainly not action aligned with Christs’ heart. Yet, it is behavior witnessed with disappointing pervasiveness in the Church and therefore sadly within society in general.
I believe the most important labor of love Christians perform is honestly looking at the personal relationship they have with Jesus. Which includes candidly challenging why the religion created in the name of Christ is too often elitist and cruel, when Jesus was a messenger of inclusive compassion.
There is a coarsening of our senses and our spirits these days. Much of it comes from the influence of Washington, D.C. The political landscape there is now dreary like a scorched desert. Nothing exists in most of politics but roaming predators stalking their prey viciously waiting to attack.
The scene is so bizarre now that nobodies from nowhere who are inexperienced, inept, discourteous, and amateurish, have taken the spotlight and never stop standing in it. And worse, they have been given just enough power from the media, and from muddleheaded voters, that they perceive themselves to be important.