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Letters to the Editor

Christianity core

December 15, 2007

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To the editor:

I feel I must reply to the Dec. 10 letter of Bruce S. Springsteen. He issues a blanket condemnation of all religion. Any fair-minded person with knowledge of the subject will recognize that religions are not all alike.

I know that violence has been committed in the name of Christianity, but in the beginning it was totally pacifist. Jesus taught ONLY love of enemies, forgiveness, simple living and care and compassion for the sick and needy. It's not his fault that so many of those who bear his name have ignored his teachings.

Please understand that I am only referring to the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It's no use trotting out violent passages from the Old Testament. Christians understand that the teachings of Jesus supersede anything that went before.

And many, many Christians over the centuries have put these teachings into practice, founding hospitals, charitable organizations of every kind, caring for the needy and promoting peace. There is a strong pacifist element within Christianity. Christianity, when practiced as Jesus taught, influences people to be unselfish, to think of others, to be kind to all and to help the suffering.

Mr. Springsteen refers to the "lunatic implications" of religions who claim to have a revelation "from the eternal source." But those who have a true revelation from God all say the same thing: "Love your neighbor, love your enemy, treat others as you want to be treated."

Dianne Hofmann,

Lawrence

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

"Christians understand that the teachings of Jesus supersede anything that went before."

"There is a strong pacifist element within Christianity. Christianity, when practiced as Jesus taught, influences people to be unselfish, to think of others, to be kind to all and to help the suffering."

Quite obviously, most American "Christians" strongly disagree with your interpretations of Jesus's teachings.

Ragingbear 7 years, 1 month ago

~~Jesus taught ONLY love of enemies, forgiveness, simple living and care and compassion for the sick and needy.~~

Try reading parts of the bible other than the select passages quoted by your preacher sometime. You might be surprised to see what type of intolerance, bigotry, and double-standards Jesus taught in the Bible.

storm 7 years, 1 month ago

Ms Hofman, I just re-read his letter. He is talking about fundamentalism, no matter the religion. He does make a good observation with this sentence, "Nothing makes sensible, articulate people spout nonsense more flowingly than does religious faith, as Leonard Pitts unwittingly demonstrates in his column of Dec. 6."

toefungus 7 years, 1 month ago

With so many denominations, how can you tell what the real core is?

BigPrune 7 years, 1 month ago

The Boss ain't on earth, He's upstairs.

But I've always enjoyed "Born to Run" and "Jungleland" is kinda funny but the part that says,"but they wind up wounded, not even dead," sounds stupid. "Born in the USA," told me you were a sell out and went corporate because it's too Top 40 sounding.

Too bad you got too old like so many rockers and your creativity dried up.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 1 month ago

I think there are Old testament Christians and New Testament Christians. The extreme of the Old Testament Christians are people like Fred Phelps and his family. New Testament Christians tend to be more loving and caring, and follow the teachings of Jesus. Whenever I hear someone going on about something in the Old Testament, like an eye for eye, I always say: Then along came Jesus and changed all that.

blackwalnut 7 years, 1 month ago

Buddhism is the only religion that, IN PRACTICE, makes its practitioners into better human beings. No god. No desires. Only a striving to treat all other people and all creatures with love and respect. At least that's what I've observed in my lifetime.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 1 month ago

Buddhist also are not full of themselves. If you want to practice another religion, while at the same time observing Buddhism, they don't call you an evil devil worshipping heretic. There have never been wars to subject people do convert to Buddhism, as far as I know, and I'm pretty well read in history.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 1 month ago

Many of the passages of the new testament attributed to Jesus are indeed inspirational and serve as good guiding principles for one's life. Words to live by.

Modern xtianity and most xtians are not even close.

Indeed, like all religions, modern xtianity is a powerful excuse for violence, discrimination, repression, intolerance, and persecution.

On top of that, this "faith" so touted by the religious is simply a mindless attempt to wish the world were a different way. Faith is corrosive to the mind and to the soul, and is a danger to civilization.

I believe Mark Twain wrote "Faith is believing what you know ain't so."

Indeed.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 1 month ago

In a basic philosophy class we discussed how all religions are based on faith, rather than real empirical proof. We concluded that since all religions are based on faith, then all religions are equal, no one religion is more correct than others. That would really gall fundamentalists.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 1 month ago

"There have never been wars to subject people do convert to Buddhism, as far as I know, and I'm pretty well read in history."

In modern times, the Khmer Rouge were Buddhist, and Imperial Japan also had Buddhism at it's core. The Sri Lankan majority are Buddhist, trying to wipe out the Hindu Tamils.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 1 month ago

In ancient times, the Ashoka, for example spread across the asia and europe spreading Buddhism and proselytizing and converting.

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years, 1 month ago

Bruce Springsteen: the king of tolerance and diversity.

lounger 7 years, 1 month ago

True christians are VERY hard to find indeed. When they are found then its a beautiful thing. On the opposite side of the spectrum the christian imposters are some of the most frightening people on earth!!

jonas 7 years, 1 month ago

Nightmare: In imperial japan Buddhism had been largely super-ceded by Neo-Confucianism and Shinto, mostly Shinto as the ruling powers of the Meiji were trying to revive the more purely Japanese traditions.

There have, however, been a number of Buddhist "led" drives to eradicate enemies and competitive religions, in both historical China and Japan. I'm sure, though, that for at least a few of those the Buddhist aspect was just a pretty cloth to drape a traditional power struggle in, like most of the other "religious" wars probably were.

gogoplata 7 years, 1 month ago

Christianity is more than a religion. Christianity is truth. The absolute truth about the creator we owe our existence to. The God-Man born of a virgin who died on the cross and rose from the dead.

Dr_B 7 years, 1 month ago

Hmmm. Jesus preached nothing but love? Not so fast.

Matthew 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

To put terrors of this kind into the world certainly is strange for a man who preaced that we must love our enemies and forgive without end. And the price of being unforgiven? We are told Jesus held this view,

Mt 13: 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The fires of the Christian Inquisition were a result of the teachings attributed to Jesus. If God is going to burn them anyway, forever, why not start now?

If we must take the Gospels whole, and not pick and choose on the basis of our human (and hopefully humane) preconceptions about goodness, we are left with a schizophrenic vision that embraced both extreme forbearance, kindness and forgiveness as well as furious anger and the most vicious, unending torture imaginable.

This schizophrenia is what has made Christianity compatible with almost any society, no matter how cruel and self-loathing.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 1 month ago

"Christianity is more than a religion. Christianity is truth. The absolute truth about the creator we owe our existence to. The God-Man born of a virgin who died on the cross and rose from the dead."

roflmao.

Maybe if xtians focused more on Jesus's teachings and less on the supernatural power trip of xtianity, the world might actually be a better place because of xtianity.

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years, 1 month ago

Wow. Many of these comments prove that Kansas really is as bigoted as you think.

jonas 7 years, 1 month ago

I smell a distinct whiff of satire in Gogoplata's post, so you can probably stop shrieking about it.

Still sounding out Finding-Uranus though.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 1 month ago

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Sigmund 7 years, 1 month ago

The benefit of religion to societies can be seen as separate from the truth of their dogmas. Societies operate most efficiently when a common set of beliefs are understood and voluntarily adhered. Cooperation between members is necessary for the society to survive. In societies where religion, or religions, provides a shared common morality minimal resources are needed to sanction behaviours inconsistent with those shared beliefs.

This cooperation between individuals benefits all members and maximizes outcomes of the society. However, those individuals who violate the common values, or commit "immoral acts," will be able to maximize their individual outcomes at the expense of others. Religion, to the extent it sets common values and constrains aberrant behavior, benefits society almost regardless of the individual religious tenets.

Philosophical opposites Ayn Rand and Karl Marx would both eliminate the opiate of the masses in their respective Utopian worlds. While it might appear that cohesive benefits of faith and belief could easily be replaced with more empirical scientific, secular, or economic principles, those societies that attempted to do so have met with varying degrees of failure. The question for anyone that wants to eliminate religion is, what do you purpose to replace it with?

jonas 7 years, 1 month ago

hmm, now I kind of wanted to know what nightmare just said. . . .

Speakout 7 years, 1 month ago

You guys are all arguing about a book written by four men who didn't live in Jesus' time and who postulated a religion. Who ever Jesus is, it is clear that he isn't a god as the Bible calls him the Son of Man, but Jesus never said he is God's son. His mother was Mary, and he had no father. All God has to do to create is say "be" and it is. Look at Adam, he had no mother or father, but we don't call him the son of God. Because the Bible was written by men (M,M, L & J) how can we call this book God's word? It was M,M,L & J's words of what they believed to be Jesus' life and what God taught Jesus, but, because they were not contempories of Jesus, how do they know for sure what Jesus said and did? They only think they know through word of mouth from one person to another who actually knew Jesus, or saw what he did. We don't use that kind of evidence in court today or in hearings because it is not reliable evidence, but millions of people have based their life after death on this book. Perhaps we should follow what Moses revealed of God's word: "I am thy Lord, thy God, take no other gods before me." (The Ten Commandments) This is what Jews believe and Muslims believe that "There is no god worthy of worship except God." God has no partner, no equal, So there is no trinity or three parts of God, just one and He is IT. Jesus was God's apostle, not His son, why does He need a son? After all, He is God!

sdinges 7 years, 1 month ago

Does it really matter if the author of the letter is one hundred percent correct about what Jesus said word for word in the bible?

If a Christian believes that Jesus taught kindness, forgiveness and love, and they live their life according to his teachings, then they will live kindness, forgiveness and love. Do you -really- want to change their mind? What purpose do you have in arguing the point, other than that you are a cynic about religion or feel the need to justify your own anti-religious values?

You may say that they are "delusional" - Does it matter, if their 'delusion' makes them better people?

Jesus lived some 2000 years ago. He didn't walk around with a secretary to copy down his speeches word for word. The bible was written by many different people who didn't know him personally. It has been added to, subtracted from and revised hundreds of times. Arguments over how to interpret it have inspired dozens of forms of Christianity. Are you sure -you- have it right?

It is up to each individual to determine their own faith and belief. Why would you attack someone who has based theirs on love?

Dr_B 7 years, 1 month ago

"One thing worse than a fundy xian is a fundy anti-xian."

That's silly, None2. Yes, it is a fact that Christianity is consistent with most any society. How is that anti-Xian? If it's the fact, then the fact, not the messenger, is what is "Anti-xian". But really: Sounds like good marketing strategy, and it has been for 2000 years. Yes, Christianity as found in the Gospels is ethically schizophrenic. Well, it is--another fact--and that's a key to its endurance. Again, well done, xity.

Quite a brand you got there.

In support of anti-xian's, which are rare enough--don't know any personally--most of them are not in possession of, and possessed by, texts that advocate vicious eternal torture. Most of them are, in their writings, nice people. That's a plus. Right? So why are they worse, again?

And I don't know anyone who thinks the Gospels were written recently. Do you? You seem to think it's a common delusion. Hard to tell why.

Jesus preaching of Thermodynamics, Quantum mechanics? How is this relevant to his reported ethical doctrines, which appear to have been understood far too well. Noticed you left out the torture by fire.

So yes, you're picking and choosing based on your human preconceptions about what is goodness. Glad they are humane, but admit it; it isn't the Bible that guides you, but you who guide the Bible. You're just a user. Period. Convenient, welcome enough in your case, but hardly devout.

See, I don't think many people mind the existence of Christianity. I think people fear what would happen if it gained truly significant political power in our society. Those "fires" are a terrible temptation for Christians when they do gain truly significant power. And the sort they would light this time around is terrible to imagine.

alicenevada 7 years, 1 month ago

I can only shake my head when I read these letters, because it is so true. So many Christians have turned into really judgemental hateful clean-cut bigots. And they use scripture to back it up. I can only say what Billy Graham recently said when commenting on all his knowledge of God and all his experience as a preacher: I have come to understand that God is just a great loving mystery.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 1 month ago

The religious, fundamentalist xtians in particular, always like to bring up the Soviet Union and other marxist-based societies of examples of "godlessness", as if this is the only other alternative.

It is true that Bolshevism was officially atheistic. However, the Russian Orthodox church survived and is going gangbusters now. They cooperated with the Bolsheviks to save their skins.

The other point is that the Bolsheviks were still driven by an "-ism", a faith in a political and economic system that ignored reality and human nature and was bound to fail.

The atrocities committed by these "atheistic" societies was because of their faith in their flawed system.

Faith is corrosive, whether it is faith in a supernatural god or faith in an atheistic political philosophy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

"Do you really think someone who grew up in this country can be so vain to say that their ethical/moral beliefs didn't get influenced by Christianity?"

Nearly every core moral precept which in the west is considered "Christian" exists in every human culture, Christian or otherwise.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 1 month ago

"You almost got it right. Except you don't seem to be able to admit that human nature includes the need to have faith in something larger than one's self."

I fail to see how you conclude that I don't seem to able to admit that faith is part of human nature. I do not disagree that part of human nature is a desire to explain the unexplained by having faith. However, there are lot's of things in human nature that would be detrimental to civilization if they were not tempered. Extreme self-interest, violence, reckless depletion of available resources, etc. All are parts of human nature. Like faith, they need to be checked by other parts of human nature such as empathy, reason, evidence-based decision-making, kindness, and forgiveness

Sean Livingstone 7 years, 1 month ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says:

"All religions are alike in that they all require the suspense of critical thought and reason in order to become a follower of a given religion"

Not true. Some religions are less "obvious" than the others. Some practices but never preach, and hope that others will follow. Others seem like they're not religion at all. Your "interpretation" is based on Judaism, Islam and Christianity, which have roots in Judaism by the way. There are other religions that are very dissimiliar to these three faiths.

Dr_B 7 years, 1 month ago

None2, not a lot here that isn't missing the point. You say don't submit to the entirety of the strange teachings of your text (the four canonical Gospels), but you take your name, "Christian", from it. That not just picking and choosing, though picking and choosing what you want, and what you don't, is how you do it. It's theft. If unrecognized as such, it's self-deceit, too.

Christianity isn't only what you say it is, by saying it, it is the Christian Text first, the Teaching of Christ recorded there first, your beliefs and conduct as consequences, or failures, last. Or why recognize "Christianity" as the Teaching of Christ? Now we can interpret all we wish but we don't get to simply dismiss, and call ourselves a Christian. Not without an argument that the dismissed text is infected with purely human, counterfeits of the Divine teaching.

Of course, once you admit that God has not protected the text, it isn't many more inferences to the conclusion that God never had a hand in it at all. A glorious, miserable fake, from cover to cover. This is a point the evangelicals are fond of making, and while I am not fond of the bigotry and oppression they represent in many of their forays into our secular politics, I am willing to admit they are right about this.

So you see,

"If you want to call what I follow, picking and choosing, that is fine. Realize that life is about picking and choosing."

Isn't just beside the point. It is unChristian.

You've confused life with a Christian life.

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