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Jack of Spades

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Everything posted by Jack of Spades

  1. Jack of Spades

    Presidential Poll

    If a news channel reports that an earthquake killed 1000 people, when in fact, only 800 died, does that mean that everyone was, in fact, safe and nothing bad happened? The pro-Trump case is always based on this distortion of reality, the claim that if someone exarrogates Trumps negatives, it somehow means that the said negatives don't exist at all. The thing is, someone abroad doesn't need to have any particular news channels perspective on Trump to be bitterly opposed to him. All one has to do is to watch live coverage of his rallies and read his twitter feed and talk to his supporters and that will do it. During the election, I listened to Trumps own words, I read his twitter feed, I talked to his supporters and in few months that convinced me (based on my 20 years amateur interest in history and some knowledge of cults) that this is a very dangerous man, who, if left unchecked would damage the American republic beyond repair. To this day I have seen nothing that would prove my initial conclusion incorrect. Edit: Food for thought: During the rise of Putin, before he was a dictator, I talked to some Russians about politics and expressed alarm about Putin's dictatorial tendencies (again, based on my amateur interest of history). Their position was always the same "It's the Western media" The Western media says Putin is a bad guy. That's just the Western media. Western media is to blame. Today Putin is a dictator. Probably the "Western media" got something right.
  2. Jack of Spades

    Am I a biblical fundamentalist?

    Yeah. There is a strong biblical case to be made that the "inerrant word of God" view on the Bible is not very biblical. Paul in the NT reads the OT (the only Bible of his world) rather creatively and allegorically. For example in Galatians 4 Paul goes all-in with allegoric reading of an OT story to make a point. I think historically fundamentalism can be seen as a counter-reaction to two different phenomenons; first as a protestant counter-movement against the authority of the Catholic church and then again few centuries later as a counter-movement against the authority of science. In Christian lingo, one could say that trying to live in the world of 1800's or 1950's is not any less worldly than living by the spirit of the times of 2018. It's just worldly life from another era.
  3. It could be that labeling him a secular humanist is not accurate. My personal spiritual experience is so strongly theistic that I guess I lost interest in trying to understand Sponge in depth at the point when I had become convinced that he's not a theist. I watched some interviews and I think he had insightful criticism of Christianity, but I didn't really share the direction where he was going. If I dig deeper into what Sponge and his kind exactly means in nuances, that would be for educational purposes only, but not something I'm personally out to embrace. I'm personally going into the opposite direction.
  4. Jack of Spades

    Am I a biblical fundamentalist?

    Anti-abortion stance is not new to the culture of the ancient world: The Hippocratic Oath which originates centuries before the first Christians, specifically prohibits abortion. "I swear by Apollo the Healer.... I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion." That ancient Greek text, unlike any book in the Bible, is perfectly clear on the matter. But it's important to recognize that the existence of such a ban doesn't mean that the motive for it would be what we are inclined to think. It could be that it's considered a murder, or it could be that it's considered sexual impurity, or it could be that it's considered an unsafe practice, or something else. But, we are getting off-topic here. The topic is fundamentalism, so I don't think it's relevant what the church did after the Bible was put together. From the point of view of fundamentalism, the church might just as well been unbiblical, and the only thing that matters is what the Bible says, not what the early Christians did. I rest my case. I recommend everyone who's interested in the topic and somewhat new to the ideas, to read the Wikipedia page "Abortion and Christianity".
  5. Jack of Spades

    Am I a biblical fundamentalist?

    You'll find more educated opinion than mine on the topic of how to exactly interpret the verse by simply googling it. I'm just mentioning that it exists. The fact that the interpretation of single verse in the Mosaic law would be crucial here only highlights the fact that the Bible doesn't provide a good case against abortion. Edit: The Mosaic law is very detailed and spends lots of ink addressing far more trivial things. If the law wanted to make it clear, there would simply be a command something along the lines of "Whoever shall kill a pregnant woman, has taken two lives and the punishment shall be...". It's the absence of that kind of command that speaks the most to me.
  6. Jack of Spades

    Am I a biblical fundamentalist?

    Fundamentalist is a pretty strong word. It means believing that every word in the Bible is there because God has commanded it to be there, and it's infallible. I often hear the label "classic Christian" used to describe a faith that is softer than fundamentalism, but takes the supernatural parts of the Bible seriously. I think 11 out of those 12 are biblical beliefs, if the Bible is interpreted literally. The 1 that isn't is the abortion part. That is at best, debatable. The closest one we get in the Bible is a piece of Mosaic law, Exodus 21:22-25, that treats causing a miscarriage for a woman as a physical assault, and the punishment is a fine. If it was considered a murder or manslaughter, there would be a death penalty. Literally interpreted that would mean that in God's law, abortion (or it's iron age closest equivalent) was not a murder. To make the case for anti-abortion from the Bible, one has to quote a few poetic expressions such as psalms, and those are vague at best. It's actually funny that the one moral issue that is the most closest associated with fundamentalist Christian morals in the US is actually not based on the Bible, but rather on later philosophies. It's as if someone got political at some point down the line.
  7. Well first of all there seems to be no universal definition for PC so it's impossible to comment on it as a whole, but if we are talking about Sponge's version of PC, personally my core beliefs include theism and active supernatural so I can't really identify with a movement that considers theism and supernatural to be outdated concepts. To me Sponge's etc. religion is just secular humanism wrapped in Christian rhetoric. Not saying it's bad, there are far worse ideologies, but not my cup of tea.
  8. I was agreeing with what Skye said. Enough of the stuff in the Bible resonates with my spiritual experience to think that I could at least imagine accepting the idea of considering the Bible to be the best available authority on matters of faith. I think if you read the sentence again, you'll find the answer. I used in the same sentence two expressions suggesting otherwise "such as" and "etc." I feel trapped by the question. This is a progressive-Christian friendly forum, so it would be disrespectful of me to post my list of anti-PC thesis here.
  9. Jack of Spades

    Deleting 'god'

    Having read some of these Christian mystics, incl. Eckhart myself, I think it's a huge leap to assume that they mean "abandoning God" in sense of becoming an atheist. When you put together everything Eckhart has said, and interpret this particular sentence in the light of everything else he says (as opposed to, being biased to see atheism in it) it's quite unlikely that this sentence speaks of desire to reject theism. The most likely interpretation, in my opinion, is that it's a rhetorical device for trying to point to a distinction between the kind of worship that is born of the holy spirit, and the kind of worship that is a product of unholy human mind. This is a common theme in all Christian traditions and it's not limited to medieval mysticism. In modern days protestantism, the same idea is put in statements such as "reject your religion and start following Jesus" or "I lay down all my religion and follow God" etc. I think we all know that the people who utter phrases like that, are not talking about becoming an atheist and very likely, the same applies to the likes of Eckhart.
  10. This is the view on Christian scripture that would make the most sense to me, if I chose to commit to Christianity again. I would be a "practical fundamentalist", I would rely on the Bible, not because I believe it to be infallible, but because it's the option that makes the most pragmatic sense. By now, I have seen what the alternative is, in practice the alternative is leaving a vacuum in place and that vacuum then gets filled by something else, such as secular humanism, scientific world view, eastern religious philosophy etc. In theory, being open-minded and leaving things open is great but in reality, especially in communities (any setting where there are more than 1 person sharing the belief system), such vacuums have a tendency of getting filled pretty quickly.
  11. 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.
  12. Jack of Spades

    Freethinkers

    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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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).
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. A spin-off from the Theism-thread. Let's make this a thread of it's own for more input on the topic: I would be more welcoming for the idea of re-inventing Christianity, if I saw it work in practice the way it's supposed to work. The reality in practice for kicking God out of the church doesn't seem to live up to the promise. The State Church in my country has pretty much done this, embraced the liberal, moralism-focused, humanistic, downtuned-in-supernatural - version of Christianity, and has done a lot to distance itself from more "judgy" branches of Christianity and yet that has done nothing to help the decline in numbers, the decline has continued steady. Also, a necessary note, we are here talking about a phenomenon that is massive in scale, one that is a (maybe even "the") defining phenomenon of our time in the West, so trying to summarize it to be a result of any one factor risks being a grotesque oversimplification. Historically speaking, social and cultural changes of this scale are always very complex in detail, and tend to have many overlapping dimensions going on simultaneously within them. Personally, I have been interested in the phenomenon and studied it a bit and it seems to me that the standard reaction from Christians, when it's brought up, is the blame game. "It's the other team who's ruining this thing". I think such hijacking of the phenomenon for a propaganda weapon against some other versions of Christianity is not a particularly good approach. The statistical reality seems to be that to much of my dislike - may I add - it actually seems to be the more fundamentalist - leaning branches of Christianity that have survived the process better than the more liberal ones. Historically, The United States decline of Christianity, that seemingly begun in 90's, is a curious phenomenon. In Europe, the churches used to be part of the old order, they were the trusted allies of the monarchies who ruled the continent for centuries, and when Europeans finally kicked the kings down from their thrones, their allies, the churches (perhaps deservedly) got their status damaged in the process too and apparently have never really recovered from the blow. On the other hand, Christianity in the United States never had this problem, due to it's historical lack of state religion, and for a long time it seemed to make an exception in the western world. But, that too is now changing, for reasons which remain a bit of a mystery to me. I have some theories, but they're little more than guesses.
  25. 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.
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