Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

The Sermon on the Mount: Examining the Psychological and Sociological Implications

93 Comments

I have noticed a trend from many liberal and moderate Christians, a handful of conservative Christians and some non-believers. They say that the Trump administration, many in the GOP, and hordes of conservative Christians, are giving Christianity a bad name. They will often reference the Sermon on the Mount to validate their claim. Here’s a comment that came across my Facebook feed this week after the publishing of a recent New York Times opinion piece stating that Pence had “sold his soul” for power:

“I have absolutely no sympathy for Pence. I believe him to be at the highest level of moral compromise. To invoke the name of God to protect his corrupt integrity gives Christianity a horrible name.

And this goes for every other so called “Christian” who supports Trump. As the Bible says,

“No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24

 

Yesterday I read a reply at Ark’s place from an ex-Christian, addressing a pro-Trump comment from an evangelical blogger:

“He is hardly the epitome of the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount.”

Peter was right in his assertion but I found a bit of irony in that reply. Are these biblical teachings deserving of the praise they often receive? Are they really indicative of a wise and all-knowing deity, or do they impose a certain set of behavioral tenets that encouraged apathy, a persecution complex, and discouraged people from thinking for themselves and questioning authority?

Let’s take a closer look at these scriptures purportedly spoken by Jesus. Matt Dillahunty has done an insightful analysis of the Sermon on the Mount. For those who are not familiar with Matt, he was raised Southern Baptist, and had plans to become a minister. However, his religious studies ultimately led to his deconversion from Christianity. Most ex-Christians can identify with that last sentence.

Let’s start with Matthew 5:1-6

1And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

 

The first four beatitudes are found in both Matthew and Luke with the possible exception of verse 3 where the author of Matthew says “poor in spirit”, while Luke simply says “poor”. Luke includes two additional verses that are noticeably absent from Matthew – Luke 6:24-25:

24But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
25Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.

 

These verses put a decidedly different spin on the beatitudes. When considered alongside other verses, they stress poverty as a virtue and wealth (and not simply the seeking of wealth) as a vice.

Regardless of which version (if any) is correct, the first four beatitudes address traits and conditions that are generally undesirable or, in the case of meekness, taken advantage of.

The speaker (who, for expediency will simply be referred to as Jesus, as orthodoxy attributes these words to him) is essentially saying, ‘Don’t despair, no matter how bad this life is, the next one will be better.’ These statements may provide comfort to believers, but they are, in fact, simply assertions without justification. In addition to comfort for believers who feel oppressed by the outside world, these verses serve to pacify those, like women and slaves, who are oppressed by fellow believers.

These verses set the tone for a common theme that runs through the sermon, and it is a theme that betrays the very mundane nature of the speaker. Instead of offering useful advice on how best to live this life, the one life we’re certain about, the speaker shrugs this life off as meaningless, focusing instead on the life to come. Even if we were to assume that an afterlife exists, there’s no reason not to live this life to the fullest as well.

Any being which possessed the wisdom and compassion that would qualify as divine and benevolent should realize this. Instead of pithy dismissals of this life, we should expect deep insight into the human condition and guidance on how to improve our time here in addition to promises of an afterlife.

What’s worse is that these verses essentially instruct people to accept their plight rather than seek to address the injustice and imbalance present in their given culture. Such a message would have almost certainly worked to the advantage of those currently in power who may have sought to keep the downtrodden docile. If taken seriously by the masses, correcting the issues that lead to one’s position of meekness and hunger would ultimately be deemed unnecessary and potentially harmful to one’s status in Jesus’ future kingdom.”

 

Continue reading (starting with Matthew 5:7)

 

 

 

Advertisements

Author: NeuroNotes

Victoria predominately blogs about religion, and the brain's role in religious type experiences.

93 thoughts on “The Sermon on the Mount: Examining the Psychological and Sociological Implications

  1. Yay! A Victoria post!! 🙂

    A great analysis as always. I would say, the most charitable thing we could say about the sermon on the mount is that these were words spoken by a man, and not by the divine. A man who saw great suffering, didn’t have any better answer in how to get out of it than they did, and we simply trying to bring comfort to people who he felt were helpless to escape the yoke of Roman oppression. Truly, if as Christians believe, this was the incarnation of God he would have more useful thing to help his created beings enjoy his created universe. There is nothing original in the wisdom presented here. It is equivalent to just saying “there there…everything will be alright”. Without any definitive evidence that it would be, or definitive advice on how to make it alright. It’s exceedingly shallow. And if Jesus was divine, it again points to somewhat torturous creator who wants his being to suffer through existence for their heavenly rewards.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey Swarn — thank you! 🙂

      It’s certainly possible that it was a man who saw great suffering, and didn’t have better answers. But, these teachings have been the source of much suffering and sacrifice, and believers tend to not acknowledge that. I speak from personal experience, and I’ve read many comments through the years from ex-Christians who have experienced the same.

      “And if Jesus was divine, it again points to somewhat torturous creator who wants his being to suffer through existence for their heavenly rewards.”

      Exactly!

      Here’s an excerpt from “The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God”
      by Carl Sagan

      “People who through no fault of their own have much less in the way of material goods or respect in a society are told in many religions, “It doesn’t matter in this life. Yeah, it looks like you’re getting a bad deal, but this is just the twinkling of an eye. What really matters is the next life, and there an implacable cosmic justice awaits you. All those who seem unjustly enriched by the rewards of this life will be punished greatly in the next, whereas you are the hewers and carriers, the humble people who are content with your lot in this life, will be raised to glory in the next. Maybe it’s true. But it’s not hard to see that such a doctrine would be very appealing to the ruling classes of society. It calms any revolutionary tendencies or even mild complaints and therefore has powerful utility. Many societies, for this reason alone, encourage the contentment with your lot that the religious promise of heaven affords.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • But, these teachings have been the source of much suffering and sacrifice, and believers tend to not acknowledge that. I speak from personal experience, and I’ve read many comments through the years from ex-Christians who have experienced the same.

        I agree with you. I was just saying that if we were to take the most charitable view of these words, to do so would be to interpret it in a much more secular light, with Jesus at best a historical figure, but a human one. Of course to deny the divinity of Christ would be the exact opposite of being Christian, so obviously Christians wouldn’t really do that. lol

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Victoria! Nice to see you posting again, I must say. I can’t get into all this religious toing and froing claptrap, so forgive me for not having anything constructive to say. It always amazes me that the U.S. remains so fixated upon these antediluvian ideas, that you have believers who actually believe. Here in England, most believers absolutely do not. Going to church and praying is more like a harmless bit of play acting, and besides, there are nice smells and the choirs are often very good. Wells Cathedral, which is local to me, even has a Buddhist meditation group. So that’s nice. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Basically, be a good little bitch and when you die you might see heaven.

    I have often said that Christians need to get a red letter edition Bible and really examine what their Jesus actually says. (Assuming he actually existed.)

    A full on personal study of Matthew chapters five, six and seven is incredibly disheartening. Jesus is actually more legalistic and more domineering than Moses. It is in this text that he even says that the Old Testament/law/teaching rebukes adultery. However, Jesus says to even want someone sexually is sin. He also acknowledges that it’s been said that murder is sin. Yet, Jesus says to have hate or any anger in your heart is sin. Jesus desires to hold our brains, bodies and sentiments hostage.

    It is no wonder that I have to constantly rake over my brain in therapy. By following commandments of loyalty, purity and “being glad” for decades, I often left my mind, body and emotions in chaos. All of that has also led me to make even more unhealthy decisions as a Christian and even a few after I left Christianity. Emotions are like pain, they let us know something is wrong. We are to find the source, work through them and then, we will be well, or at least much better.

    This Jesus, that even some atheists believe is good, is a blood thirsty vampire who wants every part of you, even the areas that you are still trying to understand yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I tend to agree, Charity. Unfortunately, most Christians appear to be spoon-fed by clergy and don’t actually do an in-depth study of their bible. While being raised a Catholic, we weren’t encouraged to read the bible. We were also told that priests, bishops and the pope had authority over interpretation. Funny how I never heard a single sermon (Mass) in English while growing up. That did change after Vatican II. But we had tons of rules noted in the Catholic Catechism. This indoctrination from childhood primed me for protestant evangelical / fundamentalist teachings.

      There are many teachings, as you and Matt have noted, that are psychologically harmful, and have a negative impact on society.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know when Violet has commented on your blog and elsewhere, I’m amazed at how similar fundamentalism is to the Catholic church. There is this mutual sentiment in keeping their followers ignorant. Then there’s the whole Word of Faith denomination. Preachers and teachers within that belief system are all about the grammar in scripture. They’ll note how there should be a comma, instead of a period. “OH, LOOK! SEE HOW THAT TOTALLY CHANGES THE MEANING OF THIS VERSE! HALLELUJAH, AIN’T THAT EXCITIN’?!”

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Bingo, a thousand times. There is more practical wisdom in Confucius’ ‘Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves’ than the enitire sermon on the mount.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Lol — a true classic, Jeff.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Was religion invented by a ruling class? Just like políticos today that pass laws that they don’t plan on living, and throw out future blessings? Glad to see you peek your head out Victoria.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know. I think organized religion tends to be a product of class societies. Based on observation of human behavior, it’s likely that more developed class societies shaped religion into a tool to bolster the ruling class ideology. Someone else might offer a better explanation.

      It’s great to see you, Jim. I hope you and your family are doing well. I think about you often, and I’m envious of the fact that you had the foresight to get the hell out of dodge. Lol

      Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t think religion was invented by the ruling classes, but the successful rulers have learnt to use religion for their benefit.

      Constantine was just one example in a long list, with Erdogan in Turkey being a current example.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I have witnessed much animosity towards Trump recently from evangelicals – many of whom voted for him. As I see it, the dynamics of this backlash are twofold: 1) that the Bible is wide open to conflicting interpretation, and 2) that the phenomenon of Trump has dragged Christianity into the uncomfortable position of political scrutiny. Sagan, by the way, was spot-on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You make some good points. I wished I was witnessing the animosity from evangelicals towards Trump. I’ve not seen it, especially where I live. I have heard about a few who regretted voting for Trump. I couldn’t find any current data, but a Pew research study conducted this past April found that three-quarters (77%) of white evangelical Protestants approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president. They also found that Trump’s support from evangelicals is strongest among those who attend church regularly.

      http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/26/among-white-evangelicals-regular-churchgoers-are-the-most-supportive-of-trump/

      I’m sure you are familiar with Frances FitzGerald, an American journalist and historian. She’s won several awards including a Pulitzer Prize. In her 700-page history of white evangelical Americans titled “The Evangelicals” which covers them from colonial times to the present, she states:

      “The president’s isolationist approach plays well among Americans who believe that the time has come to restore the capitalist order as God intended it to be: with native-born white Americans on top.

      In any case, ideology is not the sole bond between conservative evangelicals and Donald Trump. His dictator-like charisma is essential to his appeal. To the majority of Americans—those who did not vote for him—Trump has all the allure of the boorish boss who takes too many liberties at the staff Christmas party. But his authoritarian machismo is right in step with a long evangelical tradition of pastor-overlords who anoint themselves with the power to make their own rules—and, in the event of their own occasional moral lapses, assure their followers that God always forgives.”

      https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/05/a-match-made-in-heaven/521409/

      As I’m sure you read on Ark’s blog post, which I referenced in the OP, Colorstorm told Peter that Trump had guts and a spine.

      FitzGerald also said abortion played a role in their support of Trump, and it appears that it has little to do with the fetus and more to do with their fear of the destruction of the patriarchal family.

      FitzGerald: “Abortion had always been a Catholic issue, and evangelicals couldn’t stand the Catholics. Then they became more Catholic than the Catholics on this issue, because it connected with what they saw as part of the destruction of the patriarchal family, which they have been supporting all these years.”

      https://www.thenation.com/article/frances-fitzgerald-why-did-white-evangelicals-vote-for-our-immoral-president/

      This supports what cognitive and linguistics scientist George Lakoff found and wrote about it in his WP blog and his books (Moral Politics, Don’t Think of an Elephant, The Political Mind, and Whose Freedom) regarding the “strict father” and “moral hierarchy” models, where conservative / evangelicals believe men are above women (have the rule over them Genesis 3:16) and that men have the final say as to how many children to have.

      I’m not sure what it’s going to take to shake them out of their religious stupor. Nuclear war? Oh wait — they seemingly can’t wait for the world to end so Jesus will come back and cart them off to heaven. Pew found that over half of white evangelicals believe Jesus will return in their lifetime. Sigh.

      Thanks for popping in, Robert.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lots to chew on there, and I agree. I was just referring to my own personal experience with the religious folk here in Washington state. Maybe it’s because they aren’t so rabidly conservative compared with the South, for instance. My evangelical neighbor actually thinks Trump is the antichrist, and many of her female Christian friends are Democrats, not Republicans.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I always find it ironic that the same groups who pilloried Bill Clinton for his sexual improprieties could then support Donald Trump.

      Actually it always puzzled me why so many Christians are rabid capitalists when the book of Acts says the early church was very much socialist in its practices. The irony may be that the conservative Christians are probably further away from the biblical teachings than the liberal Christians that they look upon with disdain.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Peter, hypocrisy needs no rationale when moral indignation is expressed for convenience. Also, the inconsistency of Christians stems in part from the Bible’s conflicting interpretations as well as from religion straying into the political arena where more pragmatic conflicts abound.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think Peter, “certain” individuals/groups condemn Clinton’s improprieties and overlook tRump’s because of their political affiliation. IOW, if you’re red (mostly Christians), you can do no wrong, but if you’re blue, you’re nothing but a snake in the grass and can’t be trusted. It really has little to nothing to do with the actual actions.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Nan my current point of exasperation is the polarisation of political debate everywhere. It seems there is an every decreasing middle ground and those on the extremes are the loudest and refuse to accept that their opponents have any valid arguments.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Good to see you writing again.
    How are you doing?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. And didn’t the Jesus Seminar reckon that only around 5% of the Sayings of Jesus (sic) can actually be attributed to him?

    Which is a bit like saying the only words of the Epistles we can truly attribute to Paul are: ” Dear Mum, Staying with Uncle Marcion. Settling in fine. Rent’s cheap, only two Shekels a month. Will write soon. Love Saul. x

    ”Blessed are the Greek.”
    ”Did anyone get his name?”
    ”Oooh … it’s blessed are the meek! Well, that’s nice, ‘cos they’ve had a helluva time.”
    ”See … if you hadn’t been talking we would’ve head that, Big Nose!”

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Victoria I admit it will take me years for me to get over my Christian indoctrination as through many decades it imprinted itself on my brain and how I see the world.

    In regard to our friend Trump, I had in mind verses like:
    – 5:3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. – Trump’s attitude and arrogance is the opposite of this;

    – 5:5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth’. – Trump would be as far away from being meek as any person on this earth;

    – 5:6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.’ – Trump shows no desire for righteousness;

    – 5:7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy’ – Trump’s judgmental attitude and complete lack of empathy and his vindictiveness shows him to be unmerciful;

    – 5:8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.’ – I don’t think any person would see Trump as being pure in heart;

    – 5:22 ‘And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.’ – Trump insults everyone;

    – 5:25 ‘Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way,’ – Trump is a serial litigator;

    – 5:27,28 ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – I don’t need to elaborate on this one;

    – 5:32 ‘ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery’ – how many marriages?

    – 5:39-42 ‘If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.’ – Trump is notorious for taking advantage of others in his business and using bankruptcy laws in an abusive manner.

    -5:44 ’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’, – Trump even persecutes his friends!

    – 5:48 ’ Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ – got me on this one as according to Trump he is perfect.

    I will spare you an examination of chapters 6 & 7. I am not seeking to defend the Bible at all, rather I am harking back to me comment on Ark’s blog that the great mystery to me is how any committed Christian could support such a candidate who is clearly playing them for a fool.

    As to my own views I don’t see the Bible teaching as either wholly good or wholly bad. There are some good aspects to it and some bad. My criticism is not whether or not it is helpful, but rather is it true, that is did it come from the creator of the universe? On that front I conclude the evidence would suggest not.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Peter, I appreciate your feedback. Based on your comment, it doesn’t appear you read Matt’s analysis. I came up with the same conclusion about the Sermon on the Mount while going through deconversion. When you peel the layers back, the message is not as wholesome and wise as Christians like to think. They are missing the collective message.

      – 5:22 ‘And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.’ –

      Nice guy, eh?

      In reply to Robert, I explained some of the reasons why conservative Christians voted for Trump. With regard to your last sentence, when the brain fog clears from indoctrination, it becomes apparent that the god of the bible was tribal, and not a very nice fellow. If he exists than we (unbelievers, and non-Christians) will be tossed into the lake of fire.

      I’ll tell you what I told that commenter on FB: People need to stop sugar-coating Christianity. Trump exhibits many of the behaviors of the Judeo-Christian god. To not see this exemplifies the power of indoctrination.

      —————————————————————————————————————————–

      “This sermon is a collection of some generic good advice, a couple of really nice ideas and a bunch of horrible advice that demonstrates a level of ignorance that isn’t the work of any divine being. Instead of providing brilliant instruction on how best to live life, it dismisses life in favor of promises of a life to come.

      Instead of providing advice on how to cooperate and live together, it establishes divisive doctrines. Instead of offering insight onto the human condition and providing advice on how to have a healthy, thriving existence, it instead builds up an expectation of misery and persecution. It not only sets people up to accept their role as victim, it provides instructions on how best to take advantage of these willing victims.” ~Matt Dillahunty

      Liked by 3 people

      • Liking this a thousand times. We’ve got to get over this romantic notion of Jesus. It’s not true. It’s not even based upon the Bible. In scripture he’s so arrogant that he refuses to answer questions. He basically calls a Samaritan woman a dog and smarts off at his mother when she’s truly looking out for him. He tells us to hate every one in our lives to pursue him. He is not love, he is an attention whore who wants things from us that we aren’t even capable of giving to him. “The Good Shepherd” pulls the wool over his little sheep’s eyes.

        Liked by 2 people

        • “I do understand what love is, and that is one of the reasons I can never again be a Christian. Love is not self denial. Love is not blood and suffering. Love is not murdering your son to appease your own vanity. Love is not hatred or wrath, consigning billions of people to eternal torture because they have offended your ego or disobeyed your rules. Love is not obedience, conformity, or submission. It is a counterfeit love that is contingent upon authority, punishment, or reward. True love is respect and admiration, compassion and kindness, freely given by a healthy, unafraid human being.”

          — Dan Barker

          Liked by 3 people

          • Ugh! My apologies everyone, I think I’m referencing Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman, not Samaritan. I’m really sorry about that. At the same time too, I’m glad I’m getting hazy on some of those scriptures. That’s progress for me.

            Like

            • Well I knew who you were referring to.

              I argued in my sermon that Jesus had taken his disciples off for a bit of R&R after the exertions of the feeding of the 5,000. We can rationalise anything if we try hard enough.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Thanks for understanding, Peter. I knew something was off, I just didn’t know what initially. Forgetting scripture shows me that my brain is successfully being rewired through my EMDR therapy. I studied the Bible so intensely for so long because I thought I was rebellious and weak in my faith. I was constantly trying to trust god and understand his “love letters”. I could tell anyone the specifics of chapters and verses, even up through a few years post deconversion. It’s going on five and a half years now. The longer I’ve been out of Christianity, the more it helps me heal as well. I don’t even care to Google what I’ve forgotten anymore. That didn’t happen until some time this year. Be well, my friend. I’ve missed you. Either I’ve been off line or you have and you’ve been missed. Take care.

                Liked by 1 person

        • Charity I preached a sermon once on the Samaritan woman encounter and thought it one of my finest moments (at the time) as I managed to show how Jesus was good and loving in the encounter.

          The good. gentle and loving Jesus is no doubt the product of decades of indoctrination in my mind. It is hard to shake off. Also the Christianity I was exposed to was not toxic, it was just not true. So I have a more sympathetic view of Christianity and I find that on many issues I feel closer to Christians in how I see the world than I do to some non Christians (especially those who fail to see Islam as a threat to western civilisation).

          Liked by 2 people

          • I understand, Peter. However, Jesus was honestly the last straw for me in leaving Christianity. After muddling through prayers, suffering, fasting, worship and incredibly in depth Bible study, I found Jesus to not be trustworthy at all. I know that I had a toxic faith through some horrific people and sick brainwashing since birth. However, that caused me to cling to Jesus and desire him even more, not less. So, your theory isn’t true for me. I was saved at three and began to have serious doubts at 18 or 19. My doubts began at a Full Gospel Bible school while obtaining my theology degree, not at a secular college. I didn’t even leave my former faith until half a year before my 40th Birthday. That’s an intense twenty year deconversion process. I was well aware that I have awful parents, and had cruel teachers and spiritual leaders in the Christian faith. I chose to stay a Christian as long as I did because I didn’t want to punish god/Jesus/Holy Spirit by abandoning them because of the cruelty of people who said that they were Christians. In fact, I was constantly looking for what Jesus was trying to teach me through their words and actions. They were all toxic to me because Jesus is toxic.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Hi Peter, I’ve been thinking a lot about this comment you wrote:

            “The good. gentle and loving Jesus is no doubt the product of decades of indoctrination in my mind. It is hard to shake off. Also the Christianity I was exposed to was not toxic, it was just not true.”

            I guess I’m trying to figure out exactly what you meant by this (“not toxic”) considering that you’ve shared several times on various blogs that you dealt with significant fear of hell while going through your deconversion, and still do from time to time.

            Also, I think you bring up a very good point that a good, gentle and loving Jesus has been the product of decades of indoctrination. It is far easier to embrace that he was good, gentle and loving than to embrace the god he said we must be loyal to, Yahweh. As you know, the book of Revelation shows another side of Jesus — one who is just like Yahweh. It is no wonder that pastors rarely recommended reading the Old Testament or the book of Revelation to new converts. Both expose a vengeful, violent god.

            Liked by 2 people

            • This is my point exactly. Jesus is the problem, not the answer. After each leg dropped out from under my table of salvation, the table top was losing balance on the last remaining leg, Jesus. When there was nothing else left, I kept going back to Jesus. Suddenly, it was all so clear. The Jesus of the Bible guilted me into salvation due to his suffering for my present day sins 2,000 years ago. Jesus is his heavenly father and even said “when you see me, you see my heavenly father”. Jesus studied the old laws faithfully in the temple and reassured all that he came to fulfill them, not condemn them. Jesus said he’d come back to the generation who witnessed his ascension into heaven. He didn’t and hasn’t all of these many centuries later. (We are not living in a “new earth”.) And I just could not get over his lying, especially about us doing mightier things than what he had while on earth because he’s left the Holy Spirit with us. I gave often of my time, tears, money, prayer and efforts for the sick and hurting for many years. And guess what….people did not get healed or delivered from their horrible life circumstances. That last leg came down and my table top of salvation crashed to the floor. It’s okay because now I don’t feel guilty for seeing doctors and a therapist. I finally understand the need for self care and self love. The added bonus is taking care of myself helps me to be a better parent. I prefer taking care of my children over shoving the son of god down their throats. Besides, to wait for that one person to bring goodwill and peace on earth is severely flawed thinking. It makes us complacent, lazy and irresponsible. It is the downfall of humanity. As humans, we are to be kind and giving. It is our job to bring peace to this world.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Charity, I was having a discussion with Swarn tonight. We were discussing how people, who see Jesus as a positive role model, seem to have their own version of who Jesus is. I know I did before I started studying the bible.

                Like I told Swarn, I wanted to get to know god, so I believed the best way was to read his instruction manual. “If you abide in me and my word abides in you….” — “Study to show thyself approved…”, you know the scriptures. In-depth study takes time — takes years.

                Bart Ehrman shared his experience as a professor of religious studies. Each semester he would ask his students if they had read a certain popular book, and he said just about every hand went up. Then he asked them if they had read the bible, and there was only a few scattered hands. So, he said to them: “If god wrote a book, wouldn’t you want to know what he had to say?”

                Well, Charity, we wanted to know what he had to say. It was a rude awakening. The difficult part was getting past the cognitive dissonance. Next was the betrayal of trust, and then the realization that I had wasted so much of my life on a lie. I believe most clergy eventually come to know it’s a lie but are in it too deep. This is why I respect Peter so much in this regard. As a minister, he didn’t want to mislead people once he started doubting the validity of the bible.

                As Carl Sagan said, if god wanted to send us a message, and ancient writings were the only way he could think of doing it, he could have done a better job. The reason people sugarcoat Christianity is because the very foundation of the religion (the bible) is toxic. Most people don’t swallow. Those who do get sick. Some die.

                Liked by 2 people

          • This here Peter: “Also the Christianity I was exposed to was not toxic, it was just not true.”

            I’d have to say this is the way I looked at my Christianity up and until I realized that being exposed to “not true” is toxic.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Seems the block quote for Peter’s quote didn’t work.

              Like

            • There’s always that, Zoe. 🙂
              But the way I understand Peter’s quote is that perhaps his version of Christianity – the one enacted by his ‘branch’ – was not of the ‘hell fire and brimstone’ variety. Much like the version to which I was exposed. The emphasis was on being the best person you could be as opposed to resorting to threats, implied punishment, that sort of thing. I do get your point, though.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Carmen, I get where you’re coming from. The more liberal and moderate churches tend to be like that. Peter attended an evangelical church for a while. Not sure how long, but it was long enough for him to be indoctrinated about hell, which impacted his psyche significantly. But, I think that Peter may still be in denial a wee bit. Churches don’t have to preach hell fire and brimstone to be toxic. Their congregants only need to believe that Jesus died for them. Many simply don’t face this sick message. For the most part, I had a positive experience with regard to the community it provided.

                Many of us who attended church on a regular basis, and also were studious, didn’t feel the full effect of this toxicity until we started deconverting. It hits you like a ton of bricks. These teachings that impacted me as an adult were not hell fire and brimstone. Liberal and moderate churches are in denial about the actual message. They sugarcoat it. Why the need for Jesus in the first place? For some of us, we did think about this. We did take it seriously. This is a quote from Peter Mosely who has a blog on Patheos:

                “I used to sit, silently, in deep meditation, every communion, in deep gratitude for what I thought Jesus did for me. Although I didn’t admit it at the time, it was humiliating to have that gratitude. The trauma of realizing how Jesus suffered crippled my psychology, I think. I don’t think it does this to everyone — but if you really feel, deep inside, what Jesus did for you, profoundly and sincerely…I think your sense of gratitude would also be perpetual and overwhelming. And with every smile and laugh in relief, you’re reminded that the fact you need grace is your fault.

                It’s like being accused of murder, and then getting pardoned for it. You’re grateful for the pardon, but every week you go to a building and thank the one who pardoned you. You also hear constantly about how terrible what you did was, and how incredibly nice it was to be pardoned. This makes you cry in gratitude. It changes your life and the way you see yourself on a fundamental level.”

                Liked by 1 person

            • Hey Zoe, nice to see you. See my comment to Carmen where I quote Peter Mosely. Christianity, by its very nature, is toxic whether or not we come to realize it’s not true. But I agree, it’s a double whammy when we realize we were bamboozled. For many of us who took the message to heart, it takes a while to undo the psychological impact.

              Liked by 1 person

    • “Victoria I admit it will take me years for me to get over my Christian indoctrination as through many decades it imprinted itself on my brain and how I see the world.”

      Peter, I’m not sure we ever really get over it — those of us who were once quite devout. It is the ultimate betrayal of trust.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Btw, I’m digging your “into the gray” reference in your header.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great to see you posting again, Victoria. You’ve been missed!!

    I can relate to Peter’s line, ““The good. gentle and loving Jesus is no doubt the product of decades of indoctrination in my mind. It is hard to shake off. Also the Christianity I was exposed to was not toxic, it was just not true.” Since I didn’t consider myself a true Christian – in the sense that I didn’t feel moved ‘by the spirit’, I don’t think I experienced the letdown that the truly indoctrinated did upon deconversion. I just finally realized that none of it was true. That is the one basic element that I keep coming back to. It’s just a story, a fable, one man’s (Paul’s) ‘tale’ writ large. As much as I still feel warm toward the individuals in my former church, and the minister (a great fellow, by the way) is not into ‘scaring’ people into behaving or believing, I still attend sporadically (social obligations) and think it’s all make-believe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Carmen.

      Like I told Charity, some people don’t swallow. You didn’t. I suspect your minister knows it’s a story, a fable, too.

      “One of the most amazing and perplexing features of mainstream Christianity is that seminarians who learn the historical-critical method in their Bible classes appear to forget all about it when it comes time for them to be pastors. They are taught critical approaches to Scripture, they learn about the discrepancies and contradictions, they discover all sorts of historical errors and mistakes, they come to realize that it is difficult to know whether Moses existed or what Jesus actually said and did. They learn all of this, and yet when they enter church ministry they appear to put it back on the shelf.”

      –Bart Ehrman

      Liked by 2 people

  13. ” What’s worse is that these verses essentially instruct people to accept their plight rather than seek to address the injustice and imbalance present in their given culture. ” Yes indeed! And “… the poor, you will always have with you.” Matt 26:11 That’s the natural order.

    ” Such a message would have almost certainly worked to the advantage of those currently in power who may have sought to keep the downtrodden docile. ” It still serves the powerful beautifully. Submit to authority. Obey without question.

    I’ve lost count of how many times a person of faith ( any faith) has told me god will punish the wicked and reward the righteous in the NEXT life. This one’s just a dress rehearsal of some kind.

    The Sermon on the Mount just reinforces the status quo. It’s hateful.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Kathy, one word sums up your comment.

      BOOM.

      It just goes to show you how conditioned people have become to authoritarianism. Also, the mention of this being a dress rehearsal of some kind is spot on. Few people are willing to embrace the fact that the character of Jesus tended to be narcissistic.

      The definition of NPD from the Mayo Clinic:

      “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others.”

      I’ll quote the full verse of Matthew 26:11: ” The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

      Thanks so much for commenting, and welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow! Thanks for pointing out the narcissism in ” but you will not always have me”, Victoria. I’d never considered that angle before. I got stuck on why Christians thought that some how cancelled out ” The poor you will always have with you.”

        Thanks for the welcome, too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  14. testing testing

    Like

  15. testing again!

    Like

  16. Thanks for checking for me in the spam, Victoria. I suspect this comment will post because you manually removed me from your spam folder. Akismet assures me I’m NOT being blocked by their spam filters, but that doesn’t make sense when I’m blocked everywhere on WP except for the two blogs who have manually removed me from spam. If I go to a blog I’ve never commented on (so they couldn’t have flagged me for spam) and try to leave a comment, it just disappears. Ugh.

    Anyway, I love this blog post and the comments, and will post more later when my hands hurt less. Many hugs, and thanks for your help!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Weird. I’m glad you let me know that you had tried to post because I rarely check my spam folder. Hariod had a similar problem several months back. What a pain in the arse. Hope WP gets this worked out soon. I look forward to your comment when you feel up to it.

      Gentle hug. x

      Liked by 1 person

    • Violet perhaps if one person spams you it affects all the other blogs?

      But who would want to spam you? Well I suppose folk like CS and his ilk.

      Then again it could just be a technical glitch, automatic intelligence can be pretty dumb at times.

      Liked by 1 person

      • If people don’t like what you have to say and mark you as spam (instead of “blocking” you from their personal blog), your WP account gets suspended. A couple weeks ago I ran into a blogger who said RA was the result of bad lifestyle choices, like eating junk food and laying on the couch all the time. I might have made a comment that’s she’s irresponsible and ignorant…I also might have used the word FUCK a few times. 🙂

        This is my theory of what’s happened, after having many confusing conversations with tech support. Akismet (WP’s spam blocker) is AI that learns *over time*. So someone throws you into spam and you get blocked…then you must contact Akismet to get taken out of the spam blocker. Surprisingly that does NOT fix your problem. You then have to have bloggers pull you out of spam until the system relearns that you’re a legit commenter. I’ve had skirty, mak, and victoria pull me out of spam, but it’s still not enough and I can’t comment on anyone else’s blog yet. I don’t know how many people will have to pull me out for the system to relearn, but it must be a lot.

        Damn aggravating!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Violet, perhaps you could expedite Akismet’s learning process by commenting on as many blogs (regulars) as possible, and sending an email to them to check their spam and approve your comment. I know it’s a pain, but maybe that might help. It could also be some sort of glitch, as I know people who have had this happen to them and they are not involved in controversial/confrontational type blogs.

          Like

          • That’s what I’m doing at this point…commenting and then contacting blog owners to pull me out of spam. This is a laborious process when you have disabled hands though.

            You’re correct that it could also be some other kind of glitch. Other than the spam issue, WP tech support has no idea what the problem is and have said they can’t help me anymore. It might possibly be problems with my chromebook browser, but again, with disabled hands these things are slow and painful to troubleshoot.

            At least the blogs I read the most I can comment on now, so that’s good. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  17. That’s about what I figured, Violet. If that’s the case, then I’m sure to be ‘spammed’. Zeus knows I’ve insulted a few of ’em. . . 🙂 You gotta wonder how our pal Ark stays out of the spam pen, though. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s