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Jack of Spades

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Jack of Spades last won the day on December 20 2017

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About Jack of Spades

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  1. Very often in the Bible, any given topic gets addressed from two (at least seemingly) conflicting points of view. That is very characterical for the Bible, and the topic of "unity vs separate" is not an exception. If we put together the entire picture in both Jesus's life and his teachings, there is plenty of unity-talk, but also an unmistakable element of separation from God. f.e. In pretty much every single prayer Jesus utters, he talks to God the Father as a separate person who has a will independent from his will. What I'm trying to say is, in my point of view, what you say is indeed part of the message of the Bible, but not the whole story. If one chooses only the unity - element, the picture becomes recognizably different from the picture that the life and teachings of Jesus paint. I think both of these versions about God are lacking, if we use the Gospels as the measuring stick: 1) Picking all the separation - verses and painting a church-art style picture of God, a human-like figure sitting on a cloud, separate and distant from mankind. 2) Cherrypicking only the unity - parts and ending up painting a picture about impersonal life flow of the universe that connects everything but is really nobody in it's own right. I don't find either one of those pictures to be in harmony with the Gosples, or the New Testament. There has to be more dimensions to the story to make it fit to the entirety of the message of the Gospels. To make sense of that conflict, I find harmony in some "layer" - like thinking, which I'm not too great at articulating but it's somewhere in the direction of being both in unity with God and separate being from him. I guess I think that the unity and separateness are in different "layers" or something.
  2. Jack of Spades


    Does "freethinkers" refer generally to people who think freely in some undefined sense, or the freethinker movement? I think historically freethinkers are a counter-movement against state churches in Europe, thus the "free" in the name refers practically to freedom from the state churches. If the movement has a US version, I have no idea what they do. In Finland, where I live, freethinkers are practically militant atheists and are actively (and arguably successfully) campaigning against the institution of the state church. The past chairman of the freethinkers organization, who resigned from it, called the group "The worst nutjob sect I have known" suggesting that the freethinkers (at least in Finland) tend to attract the most militant, most tribalist type of atheists. From the little I have personally met them, they are not particularly nice people. They are mostly Dawkins - type militant atheists.
  3. I think the post is a perfect demonstration of the overlapping ideas of Christianity and New Age / Buddhism - type of spirituality. I'm generally speaking sympathetic of the kind of spirituality you talk about but what I don't sign into is the rejection of theism, or at least, blurring of the concept. I think "Christ in me" is not a separate concept from personal level interactions with a personal, external God. Rather "Christ in me" is a channel for those interactions. I don't see "Christ in me" as an alternative concept for the classic "relationship with a personal God" - concept.
  4. Jack of Spades

    USA liberal / conservative - divide

    It annoys me when people treat their churches being overtaken by nationalism and racism as a mere image management problem. One could as well treat it as a case of "By their fruit you know them." I think there has to be something profoundly wrong with the movement to begin with, if it so easily falls into such destructive ideologies. Maybe the Evangelical movement was shallow and empty to begin with and the nationalism just filled the vacuum? On a personal level, I consider such public failures welcome warning signs to stay away from such religious movements (The Catholic Church and Evangelicalism being the prime examples). In my experience and knowledge, religious movements going wrong like that is almost never a case of "good people lapsing" but rather such failures are cases of deeply rooted spiritual and moral corruption being revealed by the public failure. Bad fruits come from a bad tree.
  5. Jack of Spades

    USA liberal / conservative - divide

    Sure, the US religion has been exported globally, in fact I grew up in a family that was member in a revival movement with traceable roots to the US evangelicalism (called Viidesläisyys or literally "the fifth" - that family history probably explains some part of my interest in the US culture). What I meant was, the US Evangelicalism seems to have become so political and so filled with political "Americanism" that it's not probably the kind of a thing too many people abroad would be very welcoming of. It's practically the same situation as with the Russian Orthodox church. Why would someone in say, Germany, want to convert to a religion that's filled with Russian nationalism? If not as a political pro-Russia statement
  6. Jack of Spades

    USA liberal / conservative - divide

    I wonder if the US Evangelical movement should be even considered part of global mainstream Christianity at all, but rather a some kind of a sect. The European versions of the churches that come from a similar theological tradition are far less political. The US Evangelical Church stands out as an outlier.
  7. Jack of Spades

    USA liberal / conservative - divide

    As the thread name suggests, I was talking particularly about the political-religious scene of the US. In the US, very many people appear to identify strongly with either one of the major political parties. A fair point, that's possible as well. I'm going to demonstrate the phenomenon with a more historical example, just to highlight it: The best historical example would be the Christian support for democracy and the concept of freedom of religion. In it's historical roots, democracy was a pagan invention, promoted by deists, atheists etc. while good Christians supported monarchy. Nowadays, the Western Christians more or less universally consider "god-given freedoms" in a democracy to be something of a Christian value to uphold and protect. Do you believe that Christians, during the recent centuries just independently ended up supporting freedom of religion over state religion and democracy over monarchy as a result of a Bible study done in a monastery? I think it's obvious that the political landscape changed, and the religion followed. In the present day US, I have heard many times Evangelicals talk along very anti-environmentalist lines claiming things like "People who worry about the environment do so because they don't believe that God is in control" expressing that environmentalism is a result of lack of faith etc. The idea quite transparently originates to right-wing anti-regulatory, pro "let the market decide" - type of political philosophy, but it has somewhere along the line mutated into something of a religious belief (which imo, has started as a religious excuse, then went on and turned into a belief). Please note that such a belief is by no means a coherent principle, which would be applied across the broad to all issues, just selectively to environmentalism. f.e. the Christians who worry about terrorism are, according to the same people, perfectly fine believers. Maybe because that fear is compatible with the right-wing political agenda... However, in more short periods of time, media and politics tend to drive emphasis, rather than changing core beliefs. But that's how it starts.
  8. Jack of Spades

    USA liberal / conservative - divide

    That's plausible, but is there something to support the idea that the change of heart happens in that order (the religion changes first, then the political views) and not the other way around (politics comes first, then the religion follows)? The reason why I suspect the "politics first" to be the case, is the heavy emphasis on political thought and the correlation between the political and religious topics people are interested in talking about. If I watch the American political media, and then follow religious people on social media, the correlation is obvious. The people seem to get their talking points from the political media and then shoehorn them into their religion. For example, the liberals tend to word their Christian message in a fashion that mimics the Democratic party line, like f.e. "The message of Jesus is to accept everyone regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation." or the conservatives saying stuff like "Christians are not called to live in the political correctness of the world." - again mimicing the rhetoric of the conservative political pundits. Sidenote 1: To be clear, I'm not trying to address the technical substance of either one of those statements, but rather I'm trying to highlight the fact that the connection to political thought is very obvious and most likely both of the statements simply come from the talking points of the political media. It's highly unlikely that the ideas originate to some kind of a Bible study that somehow independently just happened to end up to an overlapping conclusion with a political message. Sidenote 2: Both of those are just examples, not attempts at capturing the whole story. Sidenote 3: I do realize that nothing is that simple and complex cultural phenomenons have multiple simultaneous dimensions but this is a phenomenon that's really hard to miss.
  9. I wonder if the divide to progressive/liberal Christians and conservative Christians is actually all that religious in nature? The reason why I'm asking is this observation: If I talk to a conservative Christian, I can much better predict what they think by being familiar with the party positions and the rhetoric of the Republican party and the conservative political media, than by being familiar with any particular theological tradition. The same with liberal / progressive Christians and the Democratic party and the liberal media. The impression one gets is that the root of the division is actually political in nature, rather than religious or theological. For the record I'm not an American myself, I am a North European with years of interest in everything America. I used to plan to move there etc.
  10. Jack of Spades

    what is a progressive Christian, really?

    I think there is an inbuilt tendency into Lutheranism to pick up fights over the doctrine of justification by faith. Deep inside, every theologically educated Lutheran is secretly looking for a pope to fight with. Lutheranism is so defined by Luther's personal conflict against the Catholic Church of his time, that the whole concept of Lutheranism misses a key element of it's spirit if there is not some pope to fight against. What is "modern trends" of our culture, is somewhat arguable. If you live in an academic culture and go babbling about how God speaks to you directly, usually you lose your credibility and get labeled gullible or delusional. Rejecting the concept of supernatural as a practical element of ones every day life is culturally kind of a safe bet, especially for intellectuals and academics.
  11. Jack of Spades

    Christianity is not a religion.

    To put it another way: "Christianity should be about mysticism, rather than about ritualism or moralism." My peeve with the phrase is that mysticism is seen as opposite of "religion", whereas imo, it is one building block of religion(s).
  12. Jack of Spades

    Christianity is not a religion.

    I can see why claims like "Christianity is not a religion" are so controversial, but on the other hand, I kinda like this particular one. But I think it's too simplified to take at it's face value, and here's why: Let's for arguments sake say that this was true, that Christianity is based on supernatural connection between man and God. Even if that was the case, I think that the claim would still be oversimplified. Even if it was entirely possible to practice Christianity as a living, organic, inborn spiritual life, void of man-made sets of rules etc., it would still also be possible to practice the same religion as a man-made version. For example, I am confident that one could teach a smart monkey to cite the credos, the prayers and follow the crowd in worship and so on. It's infinitely easier to teach a human (especially a young human) to do the same, to practice a religion as a matter of social programming, no supernatural elements involved. A surface level copy of the original. By "surface" I don't mean it to lack intellectual, or philosophical depth, but rather to lack the supernatural element. Also, a pure supernatural religion and a pure man-made copy of the supernatural religion would be just the extremes, likely in practice there would also be various mixtures of both. And because of the hopelessly biased human nature, everyone practicing the socially powered version of the religion would be absolutely confident that their version of the religion is the actual supernatural version of it, it would be impossibility to tell the two apart in a meaningful way. Even if this unique, organic, supernatural faith is there, it would always be intermingled with this man-made, socially and psychologically programmed version of the same religion. In some cases more so than in others. And also, both of them would claim to be the non-religious religion.
  13. Jack of Spades

    Decline of Christianity in the West

    As an ex-Charismatic Christian, I admit having a bias against theologians. My formative years were spent in an environment where the accepted view on theologians was that of the bad shepherds who wanted to extinguish the fires of revival, the nitpickers who wanted to force everyone to use meaningless, theologically correct phrases instead of speaking from the heart about the life-changing works of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the lazy club of elitists who had little interest in actually spreading the Word, and the vain worldly intellectuals, protecting jealously their worldly academic reputation from anything that would be inappropriate for their prestige in their universities, instead of daringly embracing the cross of Jesus and being mocked for it. Nowadays I of course realize that such view on theologians is hopelessly simplistic, and was as much a product of the revival movements arrogant self-perception as the true original form of Christianity, as it was a product of actual reality of how theologians are like in real life. Theologians are as diverse group of people as any. But yet, even so, I can't help feeling a little bit like such propagandistic stereotypes might occasionally have a dose of truth to them.
  14. Jack of Spades

    Decline of Christianity in the West

    What you say is true, but if this explanation moves too far from the common sense meanings of the stuff in the Bible, there comes a situation where the theologians and the grassroot people who read the Bible by themselves, get disconnected from each others. The result will be a "theological peasant revolution" - and my sympathies will largely be with the "peasants". They would rightfully feel that the theologians are twisting the Bible, not explaining it.
  15. Jack of Spades

    Decline of Christianity in the West

    In my early adulthood I got involved with a Charismatic Christian revival movement, and got a fine taste of what it looks like when a Christian movement is capable of beating the odds, expanding fast, getting new converts and activating the layman. It was a hands-on, all-in, very practical version of Christianity, and the feeling was that of involvement. They didn't re-invent the religion, just practiced it with a lot more intensity than usually is the case. It was Charismatic Christianity 101, like tongues, falling, laughing, lots of prayer etc. and of course attracted a lot of controversy. I still smile when I think about it, even though it was 15 years ago for me, it's my personal "Those were the days" - thing. In my opinion, that revival movement was a lot more at odds with the mainstream culture than any run-of-the-mill church was, but it was the one thriving. I am personally skeptical about being in step with the modern world being the magic trick for success. When you try to tune a complex machine, you might end up breaking it beyond repair. Sometimes diving deeper, and perfecting the original machines capabilities is the most workable option there is available. Or alternatively, burn it all down and start from the scratch, if too big of a redo is needed for it to be impractical to use the old model. I haven't yet personally figured out which one of those I would prefer. Part of me wants to go all-in with somewhat classic version of Christian religion, and the other part wants to forget about it and start over. I am still undecided, I gotta figure some personal beliefs out first, before I can figure out the tradition I want to practice, I guess...