Saturday, March 28, 2009

The 'thing' is...

The thing that I detest about the Bible is how it is used by the wealthy by the church to maintain their wealth.

Whether there is a 'baby' to 'throw out with the bathwater', as far as 'the spiritual' is concerned has NOTHING to do with the wealthy and the church 'scratching each other's back'.

The Bible tells two stories. The first is about how the status quo came to be and ought to be maintained by religion.

The Jews trace their heritage, their ownership of their land back to the beginning of time through their God, who is the ultimate owner of everything. HE had, and still has the right to give and take away. HE gave the Hebrews, the Israelites, the Jews that land and only HE can take it away.

This is the Conservative Christian rant. Thoughout history, monarchs have been saying that God gave THEM their kingdoms for them to do with as they pleased.(with HIS guidance, of course.)

But EVERY Conservative Christian has 'the right' to THAT rant, everyone has the right to stand tall and say solemnly, that God gave him/her everything that they own and that only God has the right to take it away.

The Old Testament is that story of God's Chosen People and their trials and tribulations to aquire and sometimes lose the land that God gave them.

The 'thing' is, that it is just not true. I'm not denying the fact that Israelites owned that land for a period of time. I'm not denying that their stories are based on historical truth, as they remember it, when it comes to owning and losing control of that land.

What I AM denying is all the magical thinking that interweaves the stories, justifying genocide of the other inhabitants of that land and justifying their never ending ownership of it, whether they control it now or not.

Here, it is obvious to me that Christians adopted this magical thinking attitude towards any lands and wealth that they have owned, own now, and any that they may own in the future.

"God gave us this land!" (implying that as God ordained land owners they ought to 'call the shots' for everyone ON that land.)

It automatically excludes all non-believers from calling the land, or any part of the land 'theirs', obviously because if God gives and takes away land then unbelievers have no rights to it!

As the New Testament story 'testifies', the Jews God-given land is under the iron grip of the Roman Empire and the believers in Yahweh have not been able to control their God-given land for hundreds of years, the Jews have to have gotten something wrong if God is not willing to send a Messiah to cleanse their HOLY land (which God gave them) of these hideous unbelievers.

The thing is that reasonable people, kings(politicians) and priests alike can see that the only thing they can do is allow the invincible Roman Empire to rule through THEM, trying to keep their culture alive.

The priests might preach a coming Messiah because religious hope(magical thinking) is 'undying' by nature, but that Messiah BETTER ACTUALLY have GODLY powers, not just powers of persuasion which might get the Jewish nation 'put to the sword'.

Still, the priests could not stop itinerant preachers from convincing some of the population that they had magical powers, in fact 'THE POWER OF GOD'!

The New Testament is the story of one such iterinant preacher who had thought it throigh that owning a piece of land could not be the magical-thinking reason for the religion since, while they were still religious, while they sitll had God's promise, they hadn't actually owned the land for hundreds of years. Jesus made the 'move' from God's promise being an actual piece of land to a promise of a spiritual kingdom that could NEVER be taken away.

This is what makes religion palatable to the masses. The poorest of the poor can believe that they have God's kingdom in their hearts.

The wealthy can, with the masses appeased, and the collusion of the church, believe that they have rightful authority over God's land, their land, given to them since the beginning of time to do with as they wish.


Harvey said...

The real issue here again boils down to the difference between "belief" and "religion". Invariably, religion corrupts whatever may have been good about a belief. You are, of course, correct about the Pharisees' and Herod's "use" of Judaism (as it was being practised at the time) to maintain a tolerable (to them)status quo while under the heel of the latest in a long line of conquerers. It seems to me that history tells us this has always been the case. Since the JudeoChristian version of God is a paternalistic deity who "rules", demands "sacrifice" and/or homage, and "punishes" if you don't abide by his laws, it certainly follows that this would also tend to support the "rights" of the ruling class, whether by "divine right" of kings or by right of wealth and power. Control of land and property rights, along with taxation, is among the more obvious manifestations of this system. Obviously, no one can actually "claim" land that originally belonged to anyone else at some time in the distant past. The Jews and the Christians who are descended from them by direct lineage or by eventual conversion simply find it convenient to base their claims on the Bible, since it is, after all, the only "confirmation" they have for any of their beliefs.

pboyfloyd said...

"...the Pharisees' and Herod's "use" of Judaism (as it was being practised at the time) to maintain a tolerable (to them)status quo.."

I think that it was reasonable for the politicians and the priests to try to maintain their culture AND in a 'spiritual' way it was reasonable for the Pharisees to do their 'thing'.

There was nothing 'intrinsically' wrong with either of their POVs.

The Jews, being a nation AND a religion, from their ancient writings, reality being that the Romans had the power and the magical thinking that God had the power made history tragic for the Jews.

They did the right thing by having Jesus executed, but another 'Messiah' came along making 'hard core' Jews terrorists in Roman eyes.

The 'real' miracle, the real 'testament' is to the Jews for sticking to their 'guns' through all those 'deicide' years.

Just goes to show how stubborn the religious can be.

Anonymous said...

Thanks pboy, that is a good point. You made my brain stretch and it became happy. As a westerner I don't think in those terms so much. But they are a significant part of European and American history.

It reminds me of Augustinian/Aristotelian value on being versus the Humian value.

Throughout the history of the West as we know it, we had Primary Causes as naturalistic explanations, which of course were in harmony with the biblical text. In this, 'value' and 'being' are completely correlated. Augustine's 'Great Chain of Being'
goes from a rock to God, each being having existence and increasing value as you make your way toward God. For Hume, value was in the perception of the being and not the being itself (obviously more modern). But I digress.

The king would not only have "divine right" to whatever lands, but the pagans were lower down on the Aristotelian influenced 'Great Chain of Being.' Philosophy and Religion ruling the masses. Plato and the Pharisees would've been proud.

pboyfloyd said...

So, oneblood, praising God IS putting yourself above others!

It's ACTUALLY praising yourself as above rocks then animals then 'pagans'?

A complete simpleton who is willing to say, "Praise the LOrd!" every now and then is somehow 'better' than any scientist, who is helping create this technologically marvelous world that we live in.

Well, that's fuckin' PERFECT! Isn't it?

Stacy said...

Pardon me for being optimistic for a moment...

I think we're in a struggle for a "flag" of sorts right now, and I believe another "enlightenment" era is about ready to unfold.

(You all saw, of course, "the drop in the religious" graph?)

At least in the US...
Late to wars - late to reason - but eventually we show up. :-)

Anonymous said...

The idea was "perfected" in Christianity, but extant hundreds of years before that. Pagans like Sew Krates and Plateau would've thought the same thing just from their perspective about somebody else.

I actually agree with a 'Great Chain of Being' and all humans being equal and above say a dog. But there are humans who disagree.

Per Stacy's comment, there can be no full age of enlightenment without man valuing himself to the degree that he reserves judgment of others as a practice.

Religious practice going down could be indicative of cultural effect only. But if it is as you hope, it's because man is seeing and realizing more of his potential. To me religion is liberated where agnosticism is confessed. I am a theist so I see religion not so much as a construct (though it is) but a human endeavor.

mac said...

I have often wondered about the godly fate of the previous owners of these god-given lands.

Not just Isreal, but here as well. I wonder what the Indians must have done to piss-off god so much trhat he gave white folks their land. Manifest destiny was great for white people, not so graet for the ones who previously possessed the land.
Much the same with the Jews and Palestianians today, I wonder if those Arabs realize god loves the Jew, but not them?

pboyfloyd said...

Yea, mac,

it's amazing that they can blithely abuse their own religion in the name of the Almighty Dollar.

(That MUST be God-given, because it says, "In God We Trust" right on it, right?

It's almost as if they think that they have a choice:-

Follow Jesus and become part of God's spiritual Kingdom OR "Naw, we like the old-style, "God-given land deal in the Old Testament better!"

Seems that they 'rightly divide' the wealth of the land AS WELL AS 'the Word of God'.

mac said...

The Almighty Dollar....Americas true religion !

GearHedEd said...

Religion is and always has been "The Emperor's New Clothes". It's all a sham, designed to perpetuate the ruling class status quo. Christianity is no different.

Asylum Seeker said...

I think that the support of the status quo was accidental. A lot of religions just happened to function as something like inspirational speaking mixed with the random supernatural things we know and love. The inspirational aspect was meant to make people feel like the worth something as they were, which, while "giving meaning" as many a theist will claim, it can also create complacence and a willingness to accept things as they currently are as "fate" or whatever else they like to call it. Personally, I have nothing wrong with that mentality; accepting things as they are and being happy with what you have. That's really the best way to be happy. But, unfortunately, we also need people who do strive for more, and who do want things to change, because otherwise we would have stagnation. Otherwise the status quo is forever upheld.

So, really, I don't think that religion was something meant to act as a lubricant for the ruling class's power: I think it was opiate for the masses, from the masses. Just ask any opiate user...that's the best way to get it.

Stacy said...

I disagree mac - Football is America's true religion ;-)

Seeker - I can think of more pleasing opiates.

Harry C Pharisee said...

You're just angry because I cut you out of the papal decree business.

It's no use pboy, the Pharisee family has gone on without you. We even leave saints behind if we have to.

Judge you!

-blessed holy socks, the non-perishable-zealot said...

FACT: Obama’s getting cozy with Hamas/Hezbollah; soon, they can and will nuke us; soon, our artificial ‘Prez’ can and will pass posse comitatus; soon, the chip will follow; soon, you’ll be asked whether you want Heaven or Hell… Don’t become so involved in this finite world you lose thy immortal soul

the future’s uncertain
and the end is always near…
-the Doors

Ya willing to step-on-through to Eternal Life? If you desire it, I will be as far as the east is from the west; that way you won’t have to even see this sinful mortal. Just step through regardless.

In these End Times,
The Liar is conforming U.S.
as well as the jihad;
no God-fearing-muslim
would ever want to see the
destruction of little children
through suicide bombers,
yet, the Liar hates humanity
and he knows his time is running-out.
So, there’s thy answer.