Easter Fun & Hunger Games

imagesY5JW5CIUWaking up early in the morning for an Easter feast used to be one of my favourite things about this holiday.

We weren’t allowed to go anywhere near the food until we had washed our cheeks with… one red egg for health, a white one for purity of heart, and a coin for a little wealth. Every spiritual endeavour will have its practical side I suppose.

Grandpa would’ve spent the night in church to bring back blessed treats, and these were without fail the first to be tasted after the “battle of the eggs” was done and dusted. No-No. Not the chocolate kind. These were the real thing, painted the previous day under grandma’s close supervision. We were allowed to pick patterns to add to the shell: usually a parsley leaf cottoned on to its side, or a candle wax design which left an imprint once the egg had its baptism in the die.

Red eggs, blue eggs, green and yellow, even brownish ones and some determinately drunk-burgundy ones made their way to the table: a fashion show of custom-made edible Fabergés. However, we did not discriminate on the basis of colour in choosing our “competitor.” Size matterred, as did the pointiness of the egg; no one wanted to be stuck with Humpty Dumpty types.

For those unfamiliar with it, the “battle of the eggs” is the Easter equivalent of conkers with no strings attached. The best eggs are hard-boiled and pointy. Each player takes turns hitting the point of the opponent’s egg with their own, and the egg that makes it to the end of the round un-cracked is declared victorious. Its owner may allow it to live another day (or at least until it is challenged to another battle).

I rather miss that. Trying to crack a chocolate egg is nowhere near as fun. With hindsight, the original game did not have quite the gladiatorial setup I attributed to it as a child, but then again… for all eggs involved, they were the real “hunger games.”

 

Daily Prompt: Saturday Night

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Russia’s Stance on Homosexuality

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

“Russia needs to get its act together. What the f**k? Is this the 19th century? This goes for the rest of the world, but they are the ones in vogue right now. In over half the countries in Africa, homosexuality is “illegal”. How can you make one’s sexuality illegal? Marching against Russia's Punitive Laws against HomosexualityThis is ludicrous. Some places even enforce the death penalty. Of course, this stems from religion – the plague of the world. Wake up! God is not listening to you. And if he is, he is a douche bag. Jesus is supposed to be about love. You a**hole.” Jonathon Saia

 

While I am very much in agreement with the spirit of Jonathon’s answer regarding the issue of homosexuality, being a promoter of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights myself, I think it is important to distinguish between our support for the gay community and our disagreement with the Christian position on homosexuality.

He is right to indicate that the Christian church ought to adjust its position on homosexuality, be open to change and rectify this instance of discrimination which results in appalling acts of violence and even in the death of gay people around the world by the hand of those who use religion to justify their heinous actions.

The Church could do a lot more to prevent this. But we should remember that not all Christians share the attitudes of the Church in this, as exemplified by the following: Why I Can’t Say “Love the Sinner / Hate the Sin” anymore. Many Christians are indeed as committed to equality and would want to see gay people’s rights and safety protected just as much as a non-believer would.

Furthermore, we ought also remember that many gay people are themselves Christians, and whilst it is a struggle due to the inherent contradictions that their faith engenders, it must be said that they are the ones who have the power and capacity to change things from within.

I am an atheist, so for me God is an idea created by Man in his own image – an
attempt to make sense of a world that can be unsafe, fragmented and uncertain. Since human beings are flawed, then all our creations are similarly so. In making God in his own image Man has also imbued this idea with his preconceptions, not to say prejudice.

But there is also another side to this idea, one that emphasises love, collaboration, solidarity and kindness. Many Christians, indeed many people that subscribe to other faiths too, tend to subscribe to this side of the coin, and do their best to curtail the first.

We shouldn’t make a habit of throwing them into the same basket with fanatics and fundamentalists that – had they not religion as an excuse – would have found another way to perpetrate harm on others.

Jonathon’s answer gave me a lot to think about, and I hope that my contribution will be of interest to him, as well as to the other participants.

Here are some snippets of the discussion that followed:  

navigator1965 says: Jonathan, Sorry, but your submission didn’t work for me. #6 I don’t see how your general disrespect for monotheistic religion and specific disrespect for Christianity materially differs from some other person’s general disrespect for homosexuals.

cineaste says: Because if God’s message is really saying, “I do not love homosexuals” as MANY Christians are vocal to say, than he is not worthy of respect.

Dotta Raphels :  Hi there, it’s good to read your takes here. I think what this project has done is give me a birds eye view into what people want me to see of them (at the end of the day, it’s exactly what you let out that is seen or perceived as you) That said, I respect your opinions and applaud your support to fundamental rights especially in the sexual orientation department and all.
I think when attitudes of “I don’t give a damn” is thrown around too much, it really may be a sign of something deeper and frankly, being frank many times offends.
As a follower and believer in the words and doctrines of Christ, it pains me to hear you refer to “God” as a douche bag regardless of intent, The one thing this project has been is REAL and intensely discreet in respect to civility and maturity.

IMO everyone has managed to make their point without disrespecting others beliefs or opinions.
To disagree is an absolute welcome, but lets do it with class. I have enjoyed your take and I hope the project has also opened you up to new horizons in regards to diversities and humanity as a whole. Thanks for sharing.

cineaste says: I am not speaking of people of faith in general. Many people believe in God and also believe that gay people are worthy of respect and love. What I am referring to are the people who use God as an excuse to persecute LGBT people. Hopefully he is NOT listening to them because ostensibly, theoretically, God is about love. But if they are truly doing God’s bidding, if this is behavior that God truly wants, than he is an asshole.

Susan Irene Fox says: Jonathon, as someone who is as intelligent as you are (I’ve been to your blog, so I know of where I speak – btw, loved the Myra Breckenridge post), you must be able to differentiate between the characteristics God and the people who misuse His name. As you so aptly stated, “Jesus is supposed to be about love.” In this you are correct. I am proud to be Christian, to be a follower of Jesus, and we are not all like the Christians who blithely toss around hate or judgment.

I would respectfully request that you not lump us all together, and please don’t judge the God who created and loves us all by the actions of the vocal and fundamentalist extremists who presume to speak for Him or for the rest of us.

Thank you, and thanks for sharing your opinions. We all have so much to learn from one another, it would be terrific it we could be open enough to do it graciously.

 

What is your take on this issue?

You have the stage. Make your voice heard. All opinions welcome.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

God @TheTweetOfGod: Everyone makes mistakes.

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with  Sifting Reality

duty_calls“Atheism is a belief, and it is a worldview, but I understand that it isn’t a religion even if some Atheists hold to their atheism religiously.  Newly trending is the creation of churches of atheism — pun intended. […] The fact that Atheists discuss, promote, evangelize, congregate over, and erect monuments to atheism leaves little doubt that it is something, and it means very much to them.”

http://siftingreality.com/2013/11/11/atheists-flock-to-churches-of-atheism-because-atheism-is-not-a-religion/#comment-75702

Atheism is not a belief.

It is a position vis-à-vis Theism, and that position is not one of negation, but rather one of excepting oneself from the conversation, since one doesn’t accept the basis for that conversation and therefore – there being no common ground, no common sets of rules and norms – there can be no dialogue on the matter.

A/Theism: Where Theism is the belief that at least one deity exists, Atheism is the non-engagement with that belief.

I am an atheist. But I could just as well say I am secular. I adhere to secular humanitarian values.

To an atheist, to posit the question of God equates to posit the question of Harry Potter – please bear with me, no insult intended and I will explain – in so far as both subjects are to an atheist the invention/creation/work of human beings’ imagination. So they do have value, but only as human creations, nothing else.

Man created God to make sense of a world that can be at times difficult to understand, frightening to cope with, and permeated with uncertainty.

Man created God

Several questions, which I hope you will help clarify for me:

1. Are they actually called churches or are they community groups or public houses perhaps?

It seems strange to me that atheists would be “congregating” in “churches.” It is far more likely that they would be meeting in community centres, schools or academies, and the above vocabulary would be used by Christians to try and make sense of what it is that atheists do, and lacking the necessary secular jargon – or perhaps simply choosing not to use it – they call the meetings “congregations” and the meeting halls “churches.”

2. I understand that atheists are still very much a minority in the US (truth be told atheists that actually declare themselves as such are still a minority everywhere in the world).

I also understand that being “out” as an atheist can mean being excluded from many community projects, volunteering opportunities and other group activities which in America tend to be organised by church groups.

Is it possible that what atheists are attempting to do, is to get together and set up alternatives, where they can still do the things they want to do, without being prevented from contributing to society because they happen to be non-believers. Again, I’m using stories that I have been told by American atheists over the years, many of whom have felt ostracised once “out”.

And you are quite right. There is something that means a lot to us atheists: humanity.

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danielwalldammit says:  “It is entirely possible that the ‘something’ which makes atheism meaningful is not an object or even a lack thereof in the belief so much as the social significance of the stance taken amidst so many who opt for its opposite.”

zqtx says: “I think the organizers are illustrating the point that you don’t have to be a faith-based group to do good deeds or inspire others to do good deeds in the community.”

John Barron says: I don’t know if this one calls itself a church, but there are ones, in England at least, that do. But your definition of atheism is not the definition that has been used for centuries.  Yours is rather new and seems to be for the purpose of not having to defend your belief that no gods exist.

Dear John,
I beg to differ. The burden of proof lies with religion. Why would one be required to defend their lack of belief?

I don’t feel the need to defend myself, because I am not under attack. If someone tried to burn me at the stake for being a witch because I’m an infidel or a non-believer – then I’d get worried and build up a defence.

My definition is not new. It is simply a crispier repackaging of what Atheism stands for.

In any case, I did not say that God does not exist, only that to me God is an idea not an entity, and whilst I understand why others believe, for all intents and purposes I’m not part of that flock. I have my own set of truths, norms and values that I shape my life around.

Do Christians believe in a white dude with a beard that sits up in the skies?

I’d say not. If accepted as valid however, then yes, atheists don’t believe that the white guy in the sky with a big beard exists.

Regarding the “white guy with a beard in the sky” – as far as I’m concerned, it is not a Christian belief, but a caricature of it. Unfortunately this is also the case for atheism: what gets most press coverage are caricatures.

For the sake of mutual respect, it would be nice if the equivalent simplistic definitions of atheism would also be disposed of, alongside simplistic definitions of Christian beliefs.

Personally I trust that human beings are intelligent enough, and given the chance, articulate enough, to go beyond two-a-penny caricatures of their beliefs, thoughts, etc. and actually engage in mutually beneficial discussions about the meaning of life and death – because ultimately, each in our own way, those are the answers we are searching for.

Best regards,
-Vic

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

PROJECT R: Relationship Interrupted on Religion

I’m a philosopher-in-training. To question and to doubt comes easily to me. Certainty was once mine, but I love the fluidity of reality and the relativity of truth. They sparkle alive and enlivening, with humour and love.  

Name: vicbriggs / Website: www.shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/ Twitter: @shardsofsilence / Email: viki.briggs@gmail.com

          1. On Failure. What does love mean to you? Did you ever think of yourself as a failure because a relationship came to an end?

For some time I thought of it as a failed relationship: my relationship with God that is. It took me many years to come to terms with my loss of faith. I entered adulthood, however, entirely at peace.

On the subject of love, I am tempted to say that I feel very much the same way now as I did back when. “Love your neighbour as you love thyself,” is something that I still strive towards, even if the endeavour has lost its religious imprint.

As for feeling like a
failure because it ended… No. Like any worthwhile relationship, it was one that I’ve learnt from, and when there was nothing more to learn, for me at least, I chose to move on.

          2. On Being Flawed. Are you more comfortable on your own or in a relationship?

To be human is to be flawed. Our flaws are also a part of what makes us unique, beautiful. I’ve heard mortality referred to as a human flaw. I’m not sure I agree with that. Our mortality is a limitation that is very difficult to accept, yes, but a flaw? Once acknowledged, it can be empowering; it can drive us to great things, or simply ordinary things that are great in their simplicity and persistence. There is Art in leading an ordinary life.

I am more comfortable being without God, than I ever was being with. Faith is a very straightforward affair: you either have it, or you don’t. There’s little else to it.

          3. On Eros. Do you require a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled?

There is something very powerful about the magic number of TWO. Adam and Eve: one famous couple amongst many others. Perhaps unconsciously we are forever trying to recreate it. But then… Aphrodite was only ONE, and she did rather well for herself.

          4. On Soul-mates. Do you believe that there is a soul-mate for everyone out there? Do you ever feel that you are only half of the equation, and will be ‘lacking’ something until you find someone to share your everyday life with?

Working from within the paradigm… I always struggled with the idea of Eve being fashioned out of Adam’s rib. He lacks a rib, and she is one? Of course, the metaphor is not lost on me, but still.

Another question of physiology that has similarly troubled me in this respect is that of “the navel”. Did the original couple have navels or not. If yes, what purpose did they serve? If not, how did the rest of humanity get landed with one?

          5. On Self-Love. Do you think that to be loved by others you have to love yourself? What does self-love mean to you? To love, can it sometimes mean letting go?

To be at ease in your own skin, I suppose, is very much what self-love is all about. It makes it easier when you interact with others. It makes it easier not to see endings as catastrophes. They usually aren’t; in life very few things are.

“Because I love you so

I have to let you go.”

Thinking back at my childhood and its Christian setting, the most important type of love was loving one’s deity, which equalled loving one’s parents. Of course, one would always have to be careful not to covet the neighbour’s wife. There are some types of love which are socially as well as theologically unacceptable. Even now, I avoid getting too friendly with my neighbour’s wife. I suppose some norms will linger, try as I might to renounce them.

          6. On Fulfilment. Can we only find fulfilment in others, or is it possible to be happy and find contentment in our other accomplishments, whatever our relationship status?

It’s Babel out there. We all speak, perhaps more today with social media at our fingertips than ever before. We speak more than we listen. Oftentimes, we think we understand, but the form doesn’t always fit the content. I still believe that relationships bring us the greatest fulfilment (all relationships, of which the romantic ones are only a small part).

          7. On Interpersonal Skills. Are people in relationships simply better at ‘people skills’ than those who are not?

The communitarian aspect of religion promotes interaction. This however does not mean that if you go to church you are somehow automatically better at people skills than if you don’t. As with every group, there will always be those who mingle more, and those who will keep themselves to themselves.

          8. On Project R. In what way, if at all, did this project help you think through the question of “relationships”?

If someone told my child-self that at the age of thirteen I would no longer be a believer, I would’ve laughed in their face. If someone told me now that there may come a time when I would be a believer again, I’d still chuckle (internally). Oh, irony might find its arrow’s mark.

I am ready to accept that the agnostic position is a wiser, more mature one to take. Nonetheless, I am not an agnostic. I can argue along the accepted lines and defend my position if challenged, but I have the certainty of the atheist that: with death comes the end and there is nothing after.  The only ground that I can give on this, to both Christians and agnostics alike, is Larkin’s verse:

“Our almost-instinct almost true:

What will survive of us is love.”

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This is PROJECT R: Relationship Interrupted.

Photographers, writers, artists, poets: Let’s talk Relationships!

Why? A friend needs my help to get over a tough breakup. And I need you.

How? Just follow the link below and answer eight questions about relationships or lack thereof, love and fulfilment, failure and success, flaws and accomplishments, and soul-mates.

https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/project-r-i-think-best-when-i-think-with-others/

Please send your contribution for PROJECT R to:  viki.briggs@gmail.com.

To be screened on vicbriggs’s blog from the 14th to the 31st of October

The deadline for submissions is Sunday, the 13th of October.

All for a good cause.

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Acknowledgments

I did not plan on writing this post, until I came across AOpinionatedMan’s latest musings on religion, and decided to reconsider a subject that is usually only of intermittent importance for me nowadays. So, thank you OM, for inspiring this. There are two related OM articles on religion and the definition of shame:  http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/10/11/the-definition-of-shame/ http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/10/10/om-on-religion-part-4-christian-shame/

And here is a link to my original reblog and definition of the same:  https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/the-definition-of-shame/

The Definition of Shame

Icarus

Shame… One word, so many possibilities. It’s been a long while since I’ve taken the time to reflect on the meaning(s) of this term.

“You should be ashamed of yourself.”

We’ve all heard it, addressed to us or others at least once. Ashamed of what?

In the Christian context shame mingles with sin.

I was six years old (or thereabouts) when I went to my first confession.

There was a long queue, and I was somewhere in the middle of it. For most people it took a couple of minutes. I had not been told that the customary approach was to go under the priest’s robe (no chuckles here please, it wasn’t under the full garment, just a little over extension with which he covered your head) and say “Forgive me, father, for I have sinned,” then add a couple of minor misdemeanours to be forgiven.

No. I was not aware of that, and having been frightened into believing that I’d make a good pot roast for Satan unless I confessed all, I came fully prepared (even then I had a penchant for research), long list in hand with every little thing I had ever done that may have displeased God… or St Peter, since I understood him to hold the keys to heaven, and was keen not to fall into the trap – often stated – of being eaten by the saints before I made it into the antechamber of the Almighty.

I wish I still had that list. My aunt laughed for weeks after reading it, but alas! it got lost in the annals of time.

Here are a few I can recall:

1. I didn’t say my prayer every evening. Some evenings I was tired and fell asleep half way though “thank you for the bread…”

2. I didn’t always share. There was a tasty melon in grandpa’s garden which my brother and I had stolen and eaten, only including one of our cousins in the fruit-adventure to the exclusion of three others.

3. We often stole cherries from the nearby orchard, but on this one I hoped God would be on my side, since he made all fruit and trees for everyone to enjoy, and I protested against the cooperative for wanting to keep it all for the Soviets.

4. I felt I should say sorry on behalf of Eve. I mean, apples are good for you, how was she supposed to know that God was serious about the whole ban on the tree thing. I mean, if he really didn’t want anyone to eat the apples, surely he wouldn’t have planted the tree in the first place.

5. I didn’t always treat my elders with respect. I knew I should, but there is this lady who is constantly drunk, and falls asleep in ditches … It makes it a little tough on the respect your elders side of things.

6. I kill Mosquitos. I’m not sure if God really minds this, but he did say not to kill. Is it ok to kill them only after they’ve sucked your blood or are pre-emptive strikes also acceptable?

7. There are these Jehovah witness kids who have some strange ideas about Jesus and baptism. Are they ok to play with or is it a sin? If so, could I please be forgiven for playing with them in the past.

8. I am not sure where to stand on the whole kissing the icon thing. I mean… On the one hand God says do not make false idols, on the other, Orthodox churches are all full of them. Also, is it wrong that I feel kinda gross kissing an icon after someone else slobbered all over it? Where does God stand on hygiene?

9. Forgot to fast. I’m not very good at not eating in the morning before coming to church for the sacred bread. A couple of times I’d eaten and still came after and ate the bread dunked in wine. Could God please forgive me, and also, maybe loosen up on the whole not eating thing and let me do maybe a good deed instead, like helping an old lady bring her cow back from pasture, or feed the chickens for grandma.

10. Women troubles. I am told that when I grow up, there will be a time of the month when God would consider me unclean and I would not be allowed to come to church because it’s shameful. Since God made us all in his image, could He please make a do-over to change that. I’m apologising in advance if this upsets him, but since he is all-powerful it seems silly to allow boys free reign and get girls stuck in the naughty corner, through no fault of their own.

Well… These are the ones I remember.

I was with the priest for nearly an hour, going over each point, explaining with examples and negotiating my forgiveness.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that faith deserted me when I exited my pre-teens. I was too analytical about it. I questioned too much. And perhaps that is the wrong way to go about it.

I used to know guilt and shame back then to an extent and of a depth that has never quite translated into my adult life.

Shame is a powerful blocker. It stultified, it curtailed action. “For shame!”

In its secular incarnation, the most powerfully felt has been a shame of being weak.

Once I acknowledged that there is strength in admitting it, shame deserted me.

This old friend, I am sure, will revisit again sometime. But it has taken a leave of absence at present, and I am grateful for it.

The nightmares that persisted in my childhood years, all related to a shame of somehow having failed to please the Almighty and subsequently being dragged screaming into the fires of the fallen Angel, stopped the moment I no longer believed.

If nothing else, at least now I can get a good night’s sleep. Unashamed.

God @TheTweetOfGod Sigh… maybe Nietzsche was right.

 Humour will save us all in the end…

Dear lensgirl53,

Thank you for your considered reply to my comment. I will attempt to engage in what follows with the main points you make. Of course, if you feel that there are additional ones in need of consideration, just let me know, and I will happily oblige.

lensgirl53: I know this is controversial

Not at all, I assure you, if by controversial you meant your own contribution to the debate of course. The issue at hand is indeed a controversial one.

lensgirl53: but I can’t just let this slip by because of some people’s casual toss of the word and understanding of “prejudices”…

Nor should you let it ‘slip’, as you say. I am glad that you didn’t. As I’ve said many a time in the past: You have a voice too. Use it.

Do correct me if I’m wrong, but I assume that in this particular case by ‘people’ who casually ‘toss the word … “prejudices”’ around you meant me?

If I may be so bold as to protest.

In my line of work, tossing words around is not current practice. My choice of words in general is measured, and my use of this word in particular, particularly so, given the issue under discussion.    

Perhaps we ought to return to the context in which I appealed to the term. I said, and I quote: “As far as I am concerned, Man created God in his own image – and somehow seems to have managed to imbue his invention with his own prejudices in the process.”

Notice that I do not claim this statement to be a truth universally acknowledged. The above shows clearly that I do nothing other than simply put forth my position regarding the idea of God. It was important to elucidate this point, since my reply was to someone with a religious background, who had expressed a view coloured by that background, regarding a political and social matter of some import.

It would be helpful perhaps for me to clarify at this point why I felt it necessary to take issue with Mandy saying, and I quote, “…even though I don’t agree with homosexuality.”

She did not say that homosexuality is morally reprehensible. Had she done so, I would have rebutted in quite a different manner. I would have also taken a less genteel line in such a rebuttal.

What Mandy said was that she did not agree with homosexuality. Does not agree… on what?

Homosexuality is not a person, a political group with a manifesto, or an institution with a set of policies that one could disagree with.

Is it same-sex coitus that Mandy disagrees with? This would be an insultingly reductive view of homosexuality. I persist in the hope that this was not Mandy’s position.

Is it that Mandy disagrees with the existence of homosexuality as a counterpart to heterosexuality? Does she believe that heterosexuality is a ‘natural’ occurrence, whilst homosexuality is a lifestyle choice? If so, then this would suggest that, when she says she disagrees with homosexuality, what she means is that she disagrees with homosexuality as a valid lifestyle choice. I leaned towards this interpretation of her statement, and my comment on her article makes this plain.

Allow me to repeat that part of my reply which illustrates the above point:

“I struggle to understand what there can be to ‘agree’ or disagree with about homosexuality. Homosexuality is not a matter of opinion. You can’t disagree with homosexuality as if it’s equivalent to coffee-drinking, governmental policy on education, or… whatever-have-you: whaling! for example. Homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice.” (vicbriggs)

So far, so good. Now that you understand my reasons for engaging with Mandy on this issue, I will return to my later statement which incited your reply:

“As far as I am concerned, Man created God in his own image – and somehow seems to have managed to imbue his invention with his own prejudices in the process.”

As I have already indicated above, this statement is nothing other than a clarification of my position regarding the idea of God.

I am willing to acknowledge that since for me God is an idea, rather than an entity, and since I was writing a reply for someone for whom the opposite is the case, I ought to have taken pains to make the distinction clearer perhaps.

As for Man imbuing the idea of God with his own “prejudices”? I stand by this. I’m afraid that if you want to disagree with me on this, you’ll have to do it from within the framework of my argument rather than the Christian one, since my point is a philosophical rather than a religious one.

Suffice to say that all human beings are incapable of leaving their preconceptions fully off the table, and since this is the case, anything they create will necessarily be “imbued” with those preconceptions. Since for me God is Man’s creation, it follows that this idea is necessarily contaminated by humanity’s own shortcomings.

My statement was not intended to challenge anyone else’s faith. Everyone is entitled to make sense of life and death, themselves and the world in the manner of their own choosing. Religion does not do it for me, but I know it does work for others, and I’m not some militant atheist who requires for religion to be obliterated or else.

That being said, I am militant about maintaining a clear separation between public and private. Religion belongs to the latter and has no business dictating policy in the former.

I do take issue with those who use their faith to discriminate against others.

 

lensgirl53: Therein lies the difficulty of explaining our position on such delicate subjects as homosexuality that the Bible says is a sin…along with lying, murder, stealing, etc.

Actually, the Bible may say that homosexuality is a sin, but it does not say that it is a sin along with those others you mention. The sins you enumerate, as you well know, come from the Old Testament’s Ten Commandments. Commandment nr.9, lying: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” Commandment nr.6, murder:Thou shalt not kill.” Commandment nr.8, stealing: “Thou shalt not steal.”

Notice again, how I’m being pernickety about the choice/use of language and the context that language implies?

I do this because in choosing to enumerate homosexuality as a sin in the context of ten commandment sins, you are implicitly creating an image of homosexuality as a sin so great that it would be worthy of an eleventh commandment. If that was not your intention, then perhaps you ought to have referred to other sins that are not mentioned in the Ten Commandments, but appear in the Bible elsewhere. Consistency and parity of position would be appreciated in this context.        

 

lensgirl53: Now, I could start quoting scripture here but what would be the point? If a person does not believe in God or a Bible then those words will have no meaning. But if you are inclined to look it up…try the book of Romans and read it in its entirety.

The western secular world is in many ways also a post-Christian world, so you are mistaken in your assumption that the values and norms of Christianity as presented in its key texts have no meaning for those who do not believe. Meaning however does not equate faith. I am able to understand you and your beliefs and simultaneously adhere to my own worldview, my own set of “truths”.

Thank you for your suggested further reading. I was brought up as a Christian and have read the Bible and many other religious texts extensively as a result. In fact, at my last count, I had read the Old Testament (in its entirety) six times and the new one, almost as many.

I was a believer as a child, and then I grew up.

lensgirl53: As far as the desire of homosexual behavior….they may be inclined to a certain sexual orientation but the real sin is the act of immoral sex (hetero..and homo) The Christian perspective is that we should exert self-control in all things and when we fail, as we will do….then we are forgiven through our faith in Christ. Simple as that…a gift from a loving Father.

Interesting. Your explanation is insufficiently developed I’m afraid. I am still in the dark as to what, in your opinion, constitutes immoral sex. Care to elucidate?

My guess is that you make in the above a distinction between sex within marriage as moral, and church un-ratified sex as immoral, irrespective of whether it is a heterosexual or same-sex relationship? If so, where does that leave civil marriages, where the couple chose not to have a religious wedding?  

lensgirl53: And quit judging Christians, while saying that they “judge” others…it just isn’t so.

Quit judging Christians? I would ‘quit’ if I had been judging Christians in the first place. I’m afraid you have projected onto me and mine your own preconceptions of what un-believers ought to be like, what an atheist or agnostic may be expected to think or “believe,” and how they are likely to act around believers.

Please reread my comment to Mandy. Perhaps on second inspection you will be able to see that I do not judge her, and by extension, I do not judge Christians: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/be-happy-be-gay/

I have no interest in judging anyone. I am a thinker, a philosopher-in-training. What I try to do is engage with people at the level of ideas, which I find to be a fruitful and enriching experience.

Nor do I ever once say that Christians judge others.

Again, you appear to take it as a given that if a non-believer challenges a believer on any point, they are necessarily judging them, making some sort of personal attack. I can’t change your perception of this. Only you have the power to make that change. I can only refer you back to the above.

I have copy-pasted your comment before writing my reply in order to ensure that I do not attribute to you any words or opinions that you have not expressed in writing. Please be so kind as to return the courtesy and only claim that I say something when I do in fact say it, rather than when you believe it to be implied in what I say.

There is a distinction. And it is an important one: When I write/say something: that is my opinion expressed. When you write that I say something: that is your interpretation of my opinion, which may or may not correspond to my actual position.

lensgirl53: I would rather live as if there is a God to die and find out I am right, than to live as if there is no God to die and find out I am wrong!!

Therein lieth the crux of the matter: You believe that there is something to find out after death. I do not.

 

Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to read my reply. Additions and corrections to the debate are of course very welcome. Until then, I bid you farewell.

*

Writing this article was made possible by Project O. To read my original contribution, please follow the following link: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/project-o/

For Mandy’s contribution to Project O, please follow this link: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/20/project-o-article-80-mandy-uk-scheduled-for-9-20-1800/comment-page-1/#comment-63799

To read other contributors’ Project O pieces, and find out more about the project’s inception and aims, follow the link below: http://aopinionatedman.com/category/project-o/

There is also an interview with vicbriggs and OpinionatedMan coming up in October. Will link it up to my blog as soon as it is published. Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter for updates: @shardsofsilence

Apples and Religion. Go figure…

God and I have parted ways over our differing views on apples.

Love them.

He seems determined to take an unhealthy attitude towards  fruit.

You can’t expect me to take him seriously after that. I mean… What did apples ever do to him?

Next he’ll be telling me that as a woman I am the source of all sin!

Fruity confessions

Like apples? Check out CupidGoesFishing’s contribution to Project O: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/20/project-o-article-79-vicbriggs-uk-scheduled-for-9-20-1200/comment-page-1/#comment-63809