Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pushing the Envelope of Christianity

Nothing like getting back into a little controversy, or big controversy, after the holiday buzz wears off. I am sure that this is going to probably piss-off a few people, but when I read stuff like this it makes my blood boil. I do not see why groups constantly feel that they have to impress their ideals upon others. Why they can not just say, "Hey, we're here if you need us." Why do they have to go to such great lengths to alienate others while getting their message out.

The two articles
I read were at Mother Jones News. Now, I am aware that the military is made up of many, many different kinds of people with many differing religious backgrounds. If I respect that, then why do others have such a hard time? Why do they seem to want to make this a crusading military of 100% christian combatants? According to Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force JAG and White House attorney for Ronald Reagan, the Officers Christian Fellowship has their mission statement that reads,"....a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit." So, my first question is, who makes us the deliverers of Christ? Who are we that we think we must represent Christ to all the world? Why does that have to be the center of our military program? Sounds like the beginning to a Holy War to me.

This summer Mr. Weinstein found out about a plan to send packages , by the Pentagon, to soldiers in Iraq. They were nicknamed "Freedom Packages". They were to contain Bibles, proselytizing materials in both English and Arabic and Left Behind:Eternal Forces, a video game inspired by the Left Behind post-Rapture books in which "soldiers for Christ" hunt enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers. Partly due to Weinstein's efforts the packages were never sent. Weinstein cautions," Whenever you have a virulent form of any faith engaged in the machinery of the state, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, we have ended up with tidal waves of blood."

Weinstein says that he has fielded more than 6,000 complaints from soldiers who claim to have been persecuted by Christian Evangelicals, 95 percent of the complaints have come from mainstream Christians. Tipsters have helped him catch uniformed military officers publicly endorsing an evangelical group and ferret out an anti-Semitic Bible study guide on an army base web site. In September, he shunted many of the complaints into a massive lawsuit against the Department of Defense. His lead plaintiff, U.S. Army Specialist Jeremy Hall, alleges that a major at Iraq's Speicher base threatened to block his reenlistment in the Army in retaliation for organizing a meeting of atheists. If they want to meet why should it be a problem for anyone? If everyone else has a group and a meeting why can this group not have their own time? What's good for the goose should also be good for the gander, don't you think? Fair is fair.

A then Democrat and now Republican, Weinstein represented Regan during the Iran-Contra affair, criticizes the former president of creating the opening that lead to Evangelicals in the military, but says that George W. Bush dropped the floodgates. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation group counts among its supporters; refugees of the Bush years such as David Iglesias ( one of the U.S. Attorneys that was dismissed this year), Ambassador Joe Wilson (husband of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame) .

In 2002 General Jerry Boykin told a congregation of Baptists, in Oklahoma, that "America's enemies will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus." These are the kind of people that really frighten me. These are the remarks that give other countries the notion that we ARE on a religious crusade. There is nothing wrong with soldiers having their faith, going to their particular services, but when it becomes fanatical, like anything else, is when it becomes scary.


The Drew said...

What part of 'Thy Shalt Not Kill' do these morons not understand.Killing in the name of Christ!?!As a Christian,I find literature like the 'Left Behind' nonesense very offensive.Who are these 'fools' to tell me how to believe?
These anti-Christians(ie anti-Christs)use Christ to try and trick and deceive.All the while they are being tricked and decieved themselves.I truely pray for them.May Christ have mercy on their souls.

That being said,Christians have a right and a duty to preach the word.We are already in a Holy War.What else could you call Sunni fighting Shiites but a holy war?

The Muslims fight eye for eye-tooth for tooth.Christians are suppose to love our enemies.If someone takes our overcoat we are supposed to give them our jacket as well.Bush & crew are not preaching that.The fact that as the leader of our country they should not be reaching at all is lost to them

Dharma said...

I disagree with you when you say,"Christians have a right and a duty to preach the word."

Why can they not just lead by example? If that is good enough others will inquire. What "right" do they have? What makes the christian way the right way? Doesn't that sound a little pompus? Who says that it is the right way? What makes christians think that others want to even hear their material?

The Drew said...

Christianity,democracy...what right do we have to preach either way?What right do we have to preach freedom?What right do we have in protesting the war?What right do we have in voting?What right do we have to try to get rid of Bush?What right do we have in choosing Coke over Pepsi?What right do we have in loving someone?What right is there in having a choice on anything?Some people say it is all fate anyway.Some say if you don't stand for something that you will fall for anything.

I am all for leading by example.That is how I try to lead my life...but that is a form of preaching too.

Dharma said...

I don't think that it is our responsibility to preach democracy to the rest of the world either.

We can protest, we can vote etc., but when you begin to talk about religion it should be as personal as a vote. I don't agree with people who feel the need, or that they MUST, preach the gospel of their choice, to everyone elser. I believe that people should find their spirituality on their own. I despise it when people either come to my door or want to pass out hand bills etc. If I am looking for it I will find it and not everyone is looking.

If people want to stand for something, fine. I think we all do anyway. We all have beliefs etc. But if people want to find a higher something than the choice to seek it out should be totally theirs and not forced on them by anyone else.

Leading by example is not any form of preaching. If you are just living your life in your normal way, then if someone notices that is fine, but if they don't pick up on it and ask about your beliefs, then let sleeping dogs lie.

The Drew said...

To each their own and every man for themselves has it's nice aspects.I am pretty much a private person.I dislike people that feel that they have to push their personality onto other people.Yet,that type of personality pretty much runs the world.

Living your life quietly is a passive form of preaching.At least that is what i get from people talking to me.I seldom mention God or and very loud at work,so people assume I am a nice keep your nose clean family man.I don't annouce it.I don't preach it.But there it is.

You seldom preach God-perhaps more of the opposite,reaaly-but your words speak the Judean-Christian philosophy on life.It doesn't shout Muslim that is for sure.But that of mercy,kindness and personal responsibility.

So there you go.Preaching the gospel according to Dharma.I'm not only listening.You are making a believer out of me.

Dharma said...

It is funny, maybe it is just the difference of a few words. I do not see "personality" or think of it as anything about religion or Christianity. Your personality can be gregarious, quiet, etc., but pushing religion is something apart from personality. Just because you might be a quiet guy,at work, How can people make the assumption that you are a God fearing, keep your nose clean, family man? Can't you just be an anti-social, quiet person? It is two separate things.

The things I rerad, and talk about seem to come to your point of view as Judeo-Christian because that is the point of view from which you live your life, but for other folks such as philosophy majors, it has a different slant. So, to each his own.

I do not doubt that there is something greater than us, but I do not like the pushing of dogma and putting people into categories such as believers and followers and those who are not. Just because people do not ascribe to the Bible or a God in long flowing robes and a beard does not mean that they are not anchored in something.

The Drew said...

It's called hedging your bet,or,perhaps ,not finding what you're looking for.Pushing for no dogma is the same as pushing for it.No dogma is a dogma.You appear to be for live and let live as long as they live the way you want them to.

Dharma said...

No, just don't push it. Do good works, be kind etc., but not expect people to convert to something and no prosteyltyzing. Let people find what they want in their own time and that which they like.

The Drew said...

You're preaching to the choir(and I love you for it)...but doesn't that prove that there is a point to preaching?

Dharma said...

No, because there are 2 different choirs talking here. :-) Don't you belong to the group of churches that believe that when you go out and do your good works that you should expect people to convert and "become" Christian or join your church? Isn't that what your mission trips are all about? My point is, why not do the good works and expect absolutely nothing in return? Say good-bye and speak nothing of the Bible etc.

I'm not "preaching" to the choir here because I don't think that a good deed should have to have a price,i.e. conversion or baptism or whatever.

The Drew said...

Ummmm,no,in fact,I do not belong to a church that 'expects' someone to join or convert.Talking about God 'may' happen,but you pre-judge wrong about my church.

Did some Christian church bitch slap you or something?Did God let you down and you are pouting?


In my humble opinion,Christ is not about condemning,but rather salvation.Have you even read The Bible?The New Testament?Or are you just following man?

The Drew said...

...On the other hand.You are my friend...a very good friend.Would I be doing either of us a favor by puttting doctrine in front of our friendship?Is not the true meaning of Christ to love?I love discussing/arguing with you Dharma...but in our friendship,you come first.I will not intentionally abuse our friendship.Does this mean that I will always bow to you in an arguement so as not to hurt your feelings..probably not.But will I disolve our friendship over something we both have a right to have an opinion on?No.Probaly not.

I may not see things the way you do.But I fight for your right to express your own convictions{no matter how I think of them}

I like that you have your own thoughts and opinions-allot-nuff said.

Dharma said...

I have read the Bible, but do not take it as gospel. There are many stories left out for political reasons of the times, and it was written in a long ago time in parables just so the people could understand. I also read many, many other books. I prefer to have an open mind and just not allow one style of teaching dominate my life.

You are right...'nuff said.

The Drew said...

'Read the Bible-it is not the gospel'Now,that's funny