In the last few days, Christianity has been in the news a lot, for a variety of reasons. First, there’s the new pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI. I only know about him what I read in the papers, and what I read at first alarmed me—that he did not take very seriously the sexual abuse scandal that’s damaged the Church. (As I read on, it seemed that perhaps he had woken, after a while, to the reality of it.) I’m a Protestant, not a Catholic, but I recognize the great influence that the Catholic Church has on the world, for good or ill. The abuse scandal is an unfortunate defining moment in the Church’s history, and I can’t help but view this appointment through that lens. A church leader who fails to take action against the cancer that put protecting the organization above protecting children is no leader worthy of the title. So what will Pope Benedict XVI do? Will he shine a light into the dark corners of the Church, to bring healing? Or will he continue to deflect the matter as overblown and unimportant? At this point, we can only hope and pray.
The second thing that’s brought the church into the news is so appalling I hate to think about it. That’s the action that the radical right, here in the US, is planning to take in order to ram President Bush’s judicial nominees through the Senate ratification process. I was stunned to hear that Senator Frist, the Senate Majority Hatchet, is planning to appear at a rally before a Kentucky mega-church, calling on Christians (by which he means right-wing Christians) to lobby their senators to exercise the “nuclear option”—to throw out the Senate rules as they’ve been observed practically forever, change the rules to get Bush’s ill-qualified nominees into the courts, and advance the radical right-wing agenda. This action is so divisive, and I believe so unchristian, that it makes me ill. Here’s a good, very brief summary of it, from a faith perspective, at faithfulamerica.org.
So here’s my plug, as a Christian, to all of you to support organizations such as faithfulamerica.org or moveon.org or any of dozens more that are trying to bring a sane balance back to matters of faith and politics in the U.S.
I am quite open-mined about other rational possibilities. The Gospels may be
based on historic Jews named Jesus (Greek for Joshua) in Ancient Israel made
into a mythos.
However, there were two important Jewish Joshuas: a Joshua (Jesus) Ben
Joseph, the First High Priest of the Second Temple and the son of Joseph, who
negotiated with Cyrus King of Persia to release the Jews from Babylonian captivity.
The second was a Rabbi Joshua (Jesus) ben Hananyah with John ben Zacharias in
130 C.E. who changed Jewish laws and practices with a Rabbincal form of
Judaism–deeds of kindness and atonement for sins.
Rabbi Johua ben Hananyah means Jesus, son of merciful and compassionate God.
He was also known as Rabbi Joshua the Nazarite and called The Last Pharisee. He
died a natural death and is entombed outside the small village of Buqei’a very near
his school at Peki’in–an ancient village in the hills of western Galilee.
If you want to read from the source: http://www.thegospelwriters.com
Jeffrey A. Carver
Mm, I think this comment refers to an earlier blog entry, where there was discussion of faith versus atheism. If y’all could just mentally read it in that context, that would be good.
Right now, my mind is more on the truly dangerous things that the extreme Christian right is doing politically–among other things, trying to hijack the name “Christianity” to their own ends (not to mention stacking the court system and trying to tighten their monopoly-like grip on the U.S. political system).
I really quite agree with Jeff on his point of the questionable ethics of the “hijacking” of any religious faith for political purposes especially in the US of A with our secular US Constitution. It is really up to you to become activists, contact your representatives and senators with letters and calls and VOTE.
The more “extreme” Christian, Catholic, Jewish, or Islamic “right” convervative and orthodox groups want to return to the Holy Bible or Holy Qur’anic traditions. And that usually leads to persecutions, torture, intolerance, war, and terrorism.
Regarding the commentary about the Rabbi’s Joshua ben Joseph and Joshua ben Hananyah: it does not actually have any purpose regarding the “faith vs atheism” blog. I am only trying to use scientific methods, research, critical thinking skills, and exploring to improve my personal knowledge of Biblical times primarily using extra-Biblical materials and secondarily with Biblical text and references.
Therefore, as an Atheist (not an opinion (alot of research done since 1989)), although it would appear that I would be biased I do not except “stuff” based on faith [if defined as “confidence”, Yes. However, if defined as: “unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence; unquestioning belief in God; etc” No. My Atheism is not a faith of “unquestioning belief” as I am scientific minded: “state or fact of knowledge” utilizing the scientic method. Afterall, I am a full-time meteorologist trying to make as accurate as practical predictions (forecasts) of weather phenomeana from a chaotic and unstable system, everyday.]
So, I research biblical history wherever it takes me because I just want to know what was going on then, really! Someone writing an essay, article or book that has “unquestioning faith and belief in God/Jesus/Allah not requiring evidence or proof (of existence)”, well I can’t really consider them a reliable and unbiased objective source.
And, that is what I search for: reliable and unbiased objective sources.
Previous blog entry, obviously was mine. Sorry if you got confused.
Oops, sorry for the typo’s. Correcting:
“I use the scientific method, research, critical thinking skills, and exploration to improve personal knowledge of ..”
“My Atheism is not based on “unquestioning belief” and not “faith”. I am always questioning and use scientific reasoning: “state or fact of knowledge” based on the scientific method.”
I have found it to be interesting as well as unfortunate myself that those who profess to be the “most christian” seem to act in ways that are most unchristian. Mr. Carver I think the world would be a much better place if everyone could would approach their faith with the wisdom you seem to!