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Old May 24 2013, 12:25 AM   #46
Re: Pope: Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed

I agree that God as the agent of ultimate redemption is stupid and leads of course to simple power problems. Humans can pretend to wield part of that great power, e.g. confession in Catholicism, and that power gets abused in one way or another.

I wouldn't hesitate any moment to claim that overall you find more crap than useful stuff in religious texts. But then again I also think that the nasty stuff in them as well as organized religion is obvious so it is more interesting to find the not-so-bad and not-so-obvious ideas.

Let's stay e.g with tge "Christ died for our sins" notion. It also has some nice implications that do not involve any metaphysical power figure. It does after all not mean that we messed up, now the slate is clean and now we can mess up again. It rather means, time-travel paradox style, that this act created the very possibility of redemption. This can make people more forgiving and my personal experiences with Christian is that this is indeed the case (but then again my personal experiences are hardly representative as I do not personally know any Christian right-wingers who obviously prefer revenge to forgiveness).

About the point of monotheistic religions, of course they are as you rightly pointed out a way to structure society and wield power. But I also think that they are a progress from pagan religions where gods stood for natural processes which have not been understood yet. Yahwe on the other hand stands for the law, for abstract stuff (hence the forbidding of making a picture of God in Judaism) which is some kind of progress. And in the Jesus story God even dies so it is a stepping stone towards atheism, more progress.

I admit that my reading of the text is basically a left-wing one, Jesus wants to create a community of equals beyond tribal bounds (if anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even their own life, such a person cannot be my disciple) and his notion of God equals this very community (for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them) so when Jesus the man dies all that is left is this emancipatory group.
I don't think that this reading is entirely correct but I also think that it is a closer and more truthful reading than the Christian orthodox or fundamentalist interpretation. Or wouldn't you say that a Martin Luther King or Oscar Romero have more to do with the Jesus story than a stupid Pope?
Of course I gotta admit my motivation is also partly strategical, bashing a right-winger with his own holy book is potentially more powerful (and fun) than bashing him with secularism.
The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer. - former US Secretary of State and unconvicted war criminal Henry Kissinger

Last edited by horatio83; May 24 2013 at 12:35 AM.
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Old May 24 2013, 09:31 AM   #47
Tora Ziyal
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Re: Pope: Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
Tora Ziyal wrote: View Post
iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
Things are broken. Not people.
Then suggest a better word for what I was describing.
The problem is that that kind of language (broken, fallen, evil, sinners, etc) shifts the blame from what we do to what we are. It takes away personal responsibility. "Good" and "evil" are just labels for promoting or censoring behaviours that are beneficial or harmful: they are not states of being.
iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
horatio83 wrote: View Post
Sinning is obviously a choice.
Yeah but since the idea is that we are sinners, what choice do we have? We must sin, that's our nature. Sure, we can avoid sin for a while, but we can't avoid it forever. As sinners, sin is what defines us.
Well, it's one thing that defines us. If you let it become the whole (or even the major part of the) definition, then, yes, that's a big problem.

I've never thought of it as taking away personal responsibility, just as being realistic that, try as we might to choose the good/right/beneficial things to do, we don't always succeed. Ultimately, everyone's imperfect, to use word Lt. Uhura-Brown suggested. But I do see where you're coming from.

I'm clearly not a Calvinist. No room for predestination in my world view.

It's 4:30 a.m., and I've been up most of the night with insomnia, so if this isn't totally coherent, I'm sorry.
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