(To Main Page)

 

TRIP AROUND THE SUN

 

41 of 52 – Calvary Chapel

 

Thoughts:

 

The following came through the Atheist’s talk-site.

 

Matt writes:
Xian memes are indoctrinated/taught to obey &to (dare) question any man of
gawd is tantamount to questioning gawd himself! What a crock!


Matt - I like this - I'm going to edit it a little so that others I may send it to can interpret. I’ll leave your format in also.

"Christians are often indoctrinated to obey and not dare to question a 'man of God,' as that is tantamount to questioning God himself."

Absolutely!

Besides, if one believed in a god - what would be wrong with questioning the god directly? Nothing! If God were so small that he could not survive questioning, He ought to quit the god job anyway and take on something easier and less challenging.

If God had asked me to kill my son to prove I loved Him, I would answer, "If you are evil enough to kill my innocent son, I cannot stop the all-powerful, but I will not do this evil thing myself. I also would never ask my son to kill my grandson to prove he loves his daddy. Go sit on a tack." Other words come to mind. I could add $#@!^%#$@.

- Chuck

 

If a country has only one religion, it will be totalitarian; if there are two religions, they are going to cut each other’s heads off; but if there are many religions, it will be peaceful.
                      Voltaire.

 

Sept. 4 - Three more Muslim suicide bombers killed themselves and
unsuspecting Jews in a
Jerusalem pedestrian mall.

A “what” mall? Is there any other kind of mall? Ones you drive your car in? I
don't understand the name.

 

This is similar to an old poem:

 

The Purist
by Ogden Nash

 

I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist,
Trustees exclaimed, "He never bungles!"
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
"You mean," he said, "a crocodile."

 

This exaggerated attention to a trivial issue when contained within a very important issue is something religions do a great deal of.

 

“Baptism must be done by immersion! It cannot be done by sprinkling!”

“Only we can do it; no one else has the authority – God has given this only to us.”

“Anyone at all can perform a baptism.”

“God has a body of flesh and bone.”

“God is a spirit - and only a spirit!”

“God is a man.”

“God is a woman.”

“God is the whole universe.”

“God is a concept – not a reality.”

On and on.

 

They tend to measure one another by measuring the adherence of the person to all this trivia. “Do you accept Jesus?” “Do you know that Joseph was and is a prophet of God?”

 

Who should care? If one serving and good person looks at all the data and concludes that Joseph talked with God – and another looks at the data and concludes there is no God at all – one that Jesus is the Messiah – another that he is not - What difference does it make?

 

If two others who don’t care at all about their fellows – and live selfish lives – had the same two positions – what difference does it make?

 

There are good Atheists - good Christians - good Buddhists, etc.

 

There are bad Atheists - bad Christians - bad Buddhists, etc.

 

The trivial issue? Whether the person believes or does not believe in a deity.

 

The important issue? How the person lives with and among his fellows.

 

I have met quite a few on this trip who absolutely reverse this – with gusto. Believing is all that counts – Doing is fine – but does not count. Surely you know what I want to say when I say “poppycock!” These are the so-called “fundamentalists.”

 

Atheists who also have become in addition anti-theists are in the same boat. They are also “fundamentalists.” The important thing to these people is that one “not believe” in the unproven. Many atheists are not like this at all; they are not anti-theists – and they have a good sense of priority.

 

If we feel to measure, we ought to do it with regard to the goodness of the person, regardless of his religion or the absence of religion. And goodness should be measured by what people do with their abilities – individually.

 

Most of what we must believe to continue existing – is unproven. But the results of actions are seen – and the value. A person needs no scientific understanding of the role of oxygen – to know that when he breathes, it feels good and supports him.

 

One with a religion has this kind of data – the system works to help him raise his family – whether he understands how it works or why it works, is trivial in most cases.

 

My most important measure of the success of one’s religion – is to observe how happy the person has become – and how the happiness of others has been affected by him.

 

I would measure the value of atheism exactly the same way. I know many happy ones – and have of late met some unhappy ones – angry ones – more so than the people of any of the religions I have visited – including even those I think very poor religions.

 

Perhaps I too - am looking at trivial issues within these religions I don’t like – If they are happy and if they add to the happiness of others – maybe their belief that all the others are going to burn in Hell is just another trivial belief. So long as I believe it to be untrue, what should I care that someone believes it? They can’t act on that belief. Beliefs that may be acted upon – those are the ones to fear. “Homosexuals are evil – I should do harm to them,” is an example.

 

(This thought is a little awakening to me. I’m not sure I like it. I don’t like losing arguments with myself.) The bottom line is that if someone believes I am going to burn in Hell – loves me – and wants to fix it – of what am I to worry? But if they believe they themselves have been called to punish me – then that’s a whole different story.

 

The Visit:

 

Calvary Chapel – 1765 Seven Oakes Road, Escondido

 

This basically fundamentalist church was very similar in most respects to others I’ve visited, so I won’t include a long treatise on the basics. There were a couple interesting things, however – and I can report on those. I’ve been pretty busy this week with the atheists – they love to communicate. I like that about them. The atheists I’ve known as a scientist were generally pretty quiet about such things – and about all other things they don’t believe – they were very busy with things they did believe – and were dedicated to those.

 

The program for this meeting had a very beautiful picture of the Savior with a staff and a little lamb nuzzled up to his leg. On a rocky hill perhaps thirty feet away were two waiting wolves. (They look a lot like some of the dogs I’ve had.)

 

I circled the wolves with my ballpoint pen – and put a line to some words I wrote.

 

“Does He also love these? What would He have them eat? Are there ‘other’ lambs provided for these wolves that the Savior is not caring for?”

 

I took it to one of the ministers and asked the question – showing him the picture.

 

This was a bit of a stumper. We decided together that these particular wolves must have stood for evil men – not wolves. Analogies are never perfect, of course, but I have never liked this sheep and wolf one. (Did anyone see “Born Free?”) We gain sympathy for the lion who does not know how to make a kill. Suddenly, the lion becomes the victim of the world’s circumstances. We cheer in our hearts when the lion’s first kill is made. Now it can be set free – to live as it was meant to live.

 

There was a statement in the program – I think also on the wall – it said:

 

“God Is the God of All Gods.”

 

I asked, “Who are these other gods – over whom God is?

 

Again - this came to him as a hard question at first. We decided together that it must refer only to false gods - like money, etc. But then I wanted to know if the One and Only God then was a God over money? Why would He want to be a God over false gods?

 

For that matter – why would He want to be a King of Kings? When asked if He was a king, he said, “Thou sayest,” and spoke of a “kingdom” not of this world. Do we think He meant He would be a King in that other world - or was “kingdom” just a way of speaking their language? A king is a dictator - it doesn’t matter how good they are – agency is gone. The D&C makes it clear that no one who wants such power - can retain the priesthood. He said He did not want Glory - why do we shower Him with it? He’s our brother - give him a hug - that’s what He would like - don’t bow down – He wouldn’t like that. Wash his feet – and he’ll wash yours to make the point.

 

Lots of music at the first – electrified, as usual for these groups.

 

Oh – I almost forgot the best part.

The Sacrament. Now on this trip I’ve seen the sacrament taken several ways. It may appear trivial to some – but there really are some psychological differences that appear significant to me.

 

Way 1: Mormons:

First a song is sung by the congregation. Then a Priest (usually a 16-18 year old boy) says a fixed-word prayer word for word – if he gets it wrong – even one word – he is asked to say it again. It’s a blessing on the bread. Then deacons (usually 12-13 year old boys) pass the bread to all in the congregation. Only members are supposed to partake. Once in a while a member will not partake – if feeling badly about him or herself at the time. This is very visible – sometimes having to gesture a “no” to the one passing it to him or her. Each person eats it when he or she gets it. Very quiet – no music – no talking.

 

Then another Priest says another fixed-word prayer, a blessing on the water. Then they pass the cups of water the same way – each drinking and replacing the empty cup in the holder – all quiet – no music – no talking at all. When finished, the deacons move in a very organized fashion back to their seats – and sit in unison. A couple seconds of silence – and then they are complimented for their reverence and excused to “Sit with their families.”

 

Way 2: Seen several times:

First the minister gives a short talk on what the “Eucharist” is about – then Row by row, the congregation comes to the front and is given the bread (or cracker piece) and the grape juice. They eat and drink it there at the front and then return to their seats as the next row is approaching. Usually, there is music playing throughout the time.

 

Way 3:

Something different is added. I messed up on this a couple of times. They go to the front as above – but they take the emblems – the bread and the wine – back to their seats. Then while all are holding their emblems – the minister or someone else gives the talk – and then everyone takes the bread and grape juice together. Almost always (also in way 2) someone announces that all may partake – one does not have to be a member of this church. Again – music is playing the whole time – even during the talk. At a couple of churches, wine was used – though there was also one tray of grape juice for minors.

 

Way 4:

This is the one I saw this week – first time. There is music. We went up row by row to get the little piece of cracker and cup of grape juice. We returned to our seats holding the piece and the cup. Then there were talks along with music and pictures. There were no gory pictures – positive pictures of the Savior’s life. I was watching to make sure I knew when to partake. Then I saw one person partake. Then another over here – and another over there. Each person takes it when he or she feels like it. It was really very effective and sweet. Again – all were invited to participate – no membership required.

 

I do believe there are things to be learned here. Some of our stilted ways do not come from scripture – but from stilted people.

 

41 of 52 – Calvary Chapel

 

 

(America has 2,630 religions and counting. At one visit per week, this is going to take me 50 years! A friend, Gary Perigo, wrote and pointed this out.)

 

(To Main Page)