"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Fundamentalism Will Never Bring Peace

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fundamentalism Will Never Bring Peace

Happy Spring, readers. This site has had lots of competition lately: long walks with a puppy under blossom-heavy cherry trees, baseball practices on muddy diamonds, Jonathan Raban's new novel "Surveillance," teaching our daughter to jump rope, baking rhubarb pie, designing posters for a farmer's market. Yes, life is grand, even when problems arise. On one eventful day this week, I dropped my cell phone in water, learned that our old Toyota's "oil change" had morphed into new brakes and pads and rotors, and discovered my husband's identity had been stolen to charge items online (hence the need for a rhubarb pie, with its natural mellowing agents).

These were minor glitches, fixable, nothing to put a dent in my happiness. In fact, as I looked at the fogged screen on my cell phone, I wondered if setbacks make me feel less guilty for living a charmed life, ergo happier. By pure accident of birth, I have more than I need, and others not nearly enough. How does one make sense of that? How do you make sense of that?

Here is something to chew on, from Christian Ethics Today

The core belief of Fundamentalism is the conviction that we are right and everyone else is wrong. Because of this compulsion about truth, it becomes essential that everyone else share the same beliefs. It has been this religious conviction that has brought about the greatest bloodshed in human history. This is at the heart of the Catholic-Protestant war in Ireland and the Jewish-Arab wars in the Middle East. Perhaps the ugliest expression in recent years of this mentality is the Nazi Aryan Supremacy movement which resulted in the death of millions of Jews. Even today, it seems inconceivable that the nation that produced scores of theologians, musicians, artists, and scientist, could produce such an evil movement and evil man. And the underpinnings of these atrocities were religiously based! This is Fundamentalism at its worst.

Closer to home, this egocentricity, both in the political and religious venues, is tearing churches and nations apart as it has done for centuries. There will be no peace in our hearts or in the world until we have the grace to accept differences in others. It should be humbling to realize that we are American, Iraqi, Egyptian, African, Chinese, Christian, Muslim, Jew, by the accident of birth.

Fundamentalism is insidious in that, like alcoholism, it is wrapped in denial. Those who rigidly hold to their belief and want to impose them upon others, feel gratified that they are “uncompromising” and “true to the faith.” This rigidity of belief more often than not leads to irrationalism and inconsistency. People captured in this mental prison pick and choose their beliefs and then search high and low (and in the Bible) for justification to support their beliefs regardless of logic or consistency. For example, take the “Right To Life” movement. Think of the logic of killing abortion doctors in the name of the “Right To Life.” If the issue in abortion is the right to life, what about the right to life of women and children we burned alive in Vietnam and Korea. Or for that matter, what about the right to life of our enemies or convicted criminals. Strangely enough, many who feel so strongly about protecting the lives of fetuses are perfectly willing to kill our enemies and execute criminals. This is an example of how rigid beliefs force inconsistencies.

I knew a Baptist minister who canvassed several members of his church one Sunday morning when he discovered the supply of unleavened bread was gone. When someone suggested they use regular bread, he declined on the basis that it had to be unleavened in order for the Lord’s Supper to be authentic. However, he had no problem using grape juice for every Lord’s Supper. When questioned about this, his indignant reply was that “my Lord would never put alcohol to his lips.” (The limits of credibility were sorely stretched in a later discussion on the subject with this minister about Jesus’ turning water into wine and the parable about putting new wine into old wineskins).

Fundamentalism is dangerous because it will stop at nothing to get its way. How much difference is there in the Muslim who martyrs himself and kills others for Allah and the abortion protester who blows up a clinic killing medical and other people inside. Think about the logic in the term, “fighting for peace!”

In a world of warmongering, rebellion, and bloodshed, Jesus taught peace and asked that His church continue that mission. Instead, the Church today has lost its moral leadership in peace making because of its own divisions, rigid dogmas, and territorialism. Our creeds and covenants are exclusive and designed to foster an artificial unity. Pluralism and inclusiveness are ridiculed while inerrancy and baseless convictions are embraced in the name of orthodoxy and truth.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, Hawks, Doves and all others: WAKE UP! Life is about love and not hate. It is about acceptance and not rejection. It is about peace and not war. It is about unity and not division. If we can’t accept that, we are surely doomed to an Armageddon of our own making. The Prince of Peace gave us an alternative.

By C. Truett Baker


  1. OK, I'll take up the old rusty lance and jab the windmill a bit. How this author makes the leap from right to life (in terms of abortion) to killing of women and children in a war seems to be a real oranges and apples thing...

    So let me set the stage by observing that people seem to think that anyone who is pro-life is also a hawk when it comes to war as well as being for capital punishment. As most of the readers here know, I am uncompromisingly pro-life. I believe that if life ends when the heart stops beating, then it started when the heart started beating. I don't see how you can have one without the other.

    I am also vehemenently against the death penalty. While I think there are justifiable wars, I certainly am against the killing of non-combatants (regardless of age or sex, which I recognize as the emotional triggers used). (I doubt the worst hawks out there would ever say it was acceptable to kill women and children, and if there are a few that do, they are the idiot fringe.) So bottom line -- I am against all killing.

    Now let's contrast that with the rabid anti-war, anti-death penalty advocate who says it's ok to abort living fetuses.

    Which one of us is the killer?

  2. backtothefutruecc3/29/2007 03:24:00 PM

    I think the problem is the rigidity , the all or nothing type thinking. The inability to see anything but your view.The bombing of abortion clinics to save fetus's. Also I can assure you that most Republican anti abortion thinking voters, do not consider the child after birth. They always vote to cut taxes, cut medicaid, cut health care for poor mothers and children. They also are anti affirmative action so as to limit the minority from gaining an education. In Michigan a Republican govenor trashed our mental health system.These are the people having children that can't be taken care of. Don't mention adoption, no one wants black crack babies, babies born from incestuous relations, mentally ill street people with no prenatal care. In nursing school I had an 11 yo delivering a baby, her 22yr. old heroin addicted mother, could not be counted on to care for the infant at definate risk.

  3. I agree with the central tenet of the article and have often felt that moderation in all things is the best course to follow. This is so as it creates the basis of most happiness and in addition provides a chance for some sense of humor.

    The interesting thing to note is that fundamentalism is most often, in our popular discourse, used to point out perceived failures of the right of center political thinking. “Backtothefutruecc”’s view is one such example. Agree with me on abortion or you are a fundamentalist and ergo linked to the bombers and you obviously don’t care about children. I find this rhetoric to be extremely fundamentalistic and serves the useful purpose of dismissing an opposing view by association.

    “Be in favor of affirmative action” or you are an obvious racist and surely you want to keep minorities down. Never mind that affirmative action itself is definitionally racist.

    Of course, a “Republican governor” is trashing the mental health system and confining all the down and out to a life of misery. So what does one conclude... I am a Republican and I obviously step on my brethren. This type of fundamentalistic dialogue does nothing to further responsible debate.

    In my experience it is the self-proclaimed progressives that are stuck in 1960’s fundamentalism and demand that others conform to their government mandated solutions to all of our problems... or else be a member of the Cro-Magnon crowd. Sound familiar?

  4. cvow, maybe you've answered this before, but I can't remember your position. Do you approve of birth control to lower the abortion rate?

  5. Ilmarinen, I don't recall that I've ever made my position on birth control known here -- not because it's a secret, but just because it hadn't occurred to me to express it.

    I have no problems whatsoever with birth control (as long as it's not the "morning after" pill). I strongly support that not only as a responsible means of avoiding the need for abortion, but also as a means for responsible social behavior. I think that birth control is a far more responsible approach than the alternatives.

    Just to clarify something, backtothefuture, where exactly did you read in my post that I was in favor of bombing abortion clinics? And what about that "assure you that most Republican anti abortion thinking voters, do not consider the child after birth"? That sounds so Laestadian -- judging with emotion and no data!

    I have always voted for any proposal to support schools, social, or community programs. Go figure. I guess I should stop so I fit your model better.

  6. The author states that religion was at the base of Nazi ideology. This is a staggering falsehood and gives a glimpse into the psyche of moral relativists. Instead of standing up and pointing out what is clearly wrong, they are quick to point out similar injustices done by their kind (even if they are false). Though there were veins of truth in his essay, it rang of the intellect of an idealistic college freshmen.

  7. It seems to me that titles (whether it is political, social, religious, etc.) are used to hide behind. Just because the group a person belongs to, has ideals of one sort or another, doesn't necessarily mean the ideals are right before God. Many people use their association with a group to justify their behavior.

    In my opinion, all of these different titles are pointless before God. The only title we should live under is the title of being a "child of God".

  8. backtothefuturecc3/30/2007 05:22:00 AM

    You're right you can't leave your past totally, and I'm sure my views are a consequence of that too. I just watch the system and see that the things that should be done for poor people are always put last. I for one think health care for poor people, whether they are disabled, a product of chronic dysfunction, mentally ill, born unwanted, lost their jobs, should be this counties priority. Thats all- other wise I'm shutting up about this. And I am not enocuraging abortion, birth control should be made available to people who may not have access.

  9. I find this post to be a bit too strongly condemnatory on fundamentalism -- and I am in no sense a fundie of any sort or even a Christian (I'm a Jamesian pluralist, for goodness sake). I am not even certain Toots are fundies, exactly. But I will leave aside those matters. What I wish to comment on is the brand of fundamentalism, if fundyism it can be called, that I have found in Toot churches. There are some fundamentalists (adhering to many different religions and metaphysical systems) who do not seem to care a hoot whether "outsiders" agree with them or not. Not all fundamentalists seek the agreement of all or even a majority of humankind with their views. In fact, many fundamentalist groups deeply cherish their "otherness", their status as relatively small groups standing as the "saved" in stark but obvious contrast to the "damned." (For many shall be called but few chosen, and narrow is the gate, too -- etc.) My experience with Tootdom and some of my reading on Toots have at times caused me to ponder how Toots often appear to have little need to get anyone outside the "cult" to agree with them. They appear to just keep plugging along, happy that their cult has plenty of members to thrive (which touches on the importance of child-bearing in the cult), but not much concerned with garnering support across any wider pluralist society. I offer these comments just to give you some ideas to further your reflections on the peculiar brand of fundamentalism espoused by Toot churches.

  10. Many Trails Home3/30/2007 12:42:00 PM

    Welcome back, Stylux.
    I rather liked the article overall but also did get hung up on the Nazi comment - what did that have to do with religion? Although why fundamentalists have to be religious, exactly, I don't know.
    Have to respond to cvow's joust: "life" may begin with conception and end with rigor mortis but "personhood" does not. I personally believe that the persons kept alive through modern technology are (frequently) not actually persons but rather just bodies - nobody home, soul gone. And I am also sure that the soul does not enter the infant until birth. The fetus is still life, and valuable, but not personhood. I am not in a position to "prove" this, of course, but cvow, if what I say is true, how would that change your attitude? Or would it?
    I have personally "seen" the soul leave the body of a young woman, who was comatose by the next day, and nobody could figure out why.
    There is more to life and existence than our feeble intellects can grasp and we keep losing sight of the essentials: love one another. That was the message of the "Prince of Peace." MTH

  11. backtothefuturecc3/30/2007 01:19:00 PM

    Ben you are right.None of this would even be discussed in my family. They were non subjects. Politics outside of the church was left for the unbelievers. It was pretty much understood how you believed, you absolutely did not have to convince anyone outside of church. Maybe that is why there always seemed to be so such conflict between believers who essentially all believed the same thing- they needed someone to convince of minute differences in doctrine? So I guess they were not fundamentalists in the way I hear it described in the media. Hmm I'm back rambling again- I have way too much time on my hands being home with a fractured wrist. Sorry. I can be way to opinionated...." I need to learn to be less-- all or nothing"

  12. I thought that post might tweak a few elephant ears. But for the life of me, I don't see how it is morally relativistic to say that religion was at the root of Nazism. It hardly makes Nazism less evil. Rather it compels us to (1) learn from history, and (2) be wary of the uses of religion to consolidate power (3) be wary of the Church's inertia in fighting evil.

    Hitler claimed publicly that Christ was his savior. He was a self-described Catholic who admired Martin Luther (whose antisemitic rants you can read via google),

    Do you remember "Operation Christrose"? Well, that was what Hitler called his offensive. We know it as the Battle of the Bulge. (My great aunt lost her beloved brother in that battle, only 18 years old, a Harvard prodigy whose Matisse-quality still life hangs in our dining room.)

    Hitler was no more a follower of Christ than Pol Pot. But he used religion to vault to power, while a passive and sometimes complicit Churchstood by. Hence the "confessions of guilt" after the war, confessions that continue today.

  13. Don't they teach history anymore? The whole Nazi concept was sold as religion, not christianity, but that of a "Pure Blooded" people that decended from Nordic yad yada yada....

    This person sums it up much better then I care to.

    "Himmler formed the SS as part of his Aryen Race project, to put forward again the religious ideal of a "pure blood" that ran common to the German people. Hitler and his henchmen brought forth a new telling of Nordic and Germanic mythology coupled with extravagant pageantry, in an attempt to both unite the people of Germany under a new faith and to replace the peaceful social conventions of Christianity. This new Nazi faith was indoctrinated into both men and women at a very young age, delineating separate rolls for each as the progenitors of this master race."

    From http://samuraisam1.blogspot.com/2005/12/philosophy-friday-nazi-religion.html

  14. So we were taught, Mr. Smith. but history is always being rewritten. I understand that the current academic thinking is that Aryan neopaganism's influence on the Nazis is more a product of Christian apologists' imagination than fact. One can't blame the Church for trying to minimize its role, but both the Catholic and Lutheran church in Germany were certainly complicit in the rise of the Nazis. One of the foremost Lutheran scholars of Judaism was a sympathizer, reasoning that while Jesus was indeed a Jew, the race had changed. Or something like that. Luther has been called "Hitler's Spiritual Ancestor."

  15. Was not trying to be snippy. But not "new" theory. The article expressly compares Nazism to religious fundamentalism, not christianity or Judaism. Then people jump in with "there was no religion involved" comments.

    Being a history minor, and pursuing a second major in Sociology (For the fun of it!) I get tired of when people will say to me in a discussion we are having (and I am using actual facts) "I don't feel this to be true" or "I don't believe this to be true". I deal in facts and logic, your feelings and beliefs hold little water in a scientific or real world argument.

  16. Let's see...multiple choice:

    1. Mr. Truett Baker is a very shallow man.

    2. Mr. Truett Baker is a very wise man - NOT!

    3. Mr. Truett Baker likes just about any idea/theory/revision that discredits Christianity or anyone, past and present, who claims/claimed to be a Christian.

    4. All of the above.

    hmmmm. I pick...number.....4!

    Yup, that's my answer.


  17. Yah, multiple choice:

    1. That was a shallow response to Mr. Truett Baker.

    2. That was a wise response to Mr. Truett Baker - NOT!

    3. Norah likes just about any idea/theory/revision that discredits religious tolerance or anyone, past and present, who criticizes Christian fundamentalism.

    4. All of the above?

  18. My yardstick is God's Word. If what Mr. Baker says is not Biblical then it is wrong and will not stand for all eternity. This makes me a Biblical Christian and I'm not real concerned about what labels others attach to me.

    Of course Jesus is exclusive, He said I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father but by Me. There would be alot more to respnd with here, but I will leave it at that and say: Heed the Lord who purchased the world with His blood on the cross at Calvary, who arose and is alive today, seated at the right hand of the creator of this world and creator of the world to come. Blessings!

  19. Many Trails Home3/31/2007 12:53:00 PM

    You asked for it, Norah. Why you would make the blanket statement that Mr. Baker wants to discredit Christianity and all Christians says a lot about your own narrowness of vision (and that is not wisdom!) Be careful, dear. You appear to be slip-sliding back into an OALC-style mind set. Is that what you want? Is that what Jesus taught? Intolerance? Intolerance of self-righteousness, perhaps. We all need to stay in humility and open-mindedness, in my opinion, asking for divine guidance as we stumble along. The "narrow way" is not the "narrow-minded way." Love is expansive and all-encompassing, and Jesus, The Prince of Peace, did indeed come to teach love "uber alles." Many blessings. MTH

  20. Okay, I will cite one portion of his column. My premise is that this statement is as dogmatic as anything a fundamentalist would espouse:

    "Think of the logic of killing abortion doctors in the name of the “Right To Life.” If the issue in abortion is the right to life, what about the right to life of women and children we burned alive in Vietnam and Korea. Or for that matter, what about the right to life of our enemies or convicted criminals. Strangely enough, many who feel so strongly about protecting the lives of fetuses are perfectly willing to kill our enemies and execute criminals. This is an example of how rigid beliefs force inconsistencies."

    The irony, to me, is that while he warns against the dangers of fundamentalism he is at the same time perfectly capable of delicately choosing examples to support his own preconceived beliefs. Which is what we should all be wary of, especially because of our own history.

    As they say on the witness stand.."put your hand on the Bible and tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God". Don't leave out the unpleasant truths that don't fit revisionist history, that have an agenda which needs to be fed, nurtured and supported against all other beliefs. It's the narrowest kind of reasoning I can think of, and the cure is to KNOW history. Go to the source materials, don't just rely on other people's interpretations and have them spoon feed history to you. This is a very big problem, and I think everyone here is capable of much more than that.

    Other than that I do believe that writing of his type is a waste of time. It's just mucking about, looking for a way to justify anti-Christian beliefs, all the while supposedly in support of 'what Christ said". It's foolishness and I won't waste a minute more time on that kind of thinking. Time is better spent in getting oneself truly informed. THAT'S what we need to wake up, and do!

    That's my 2 cents and I don't really care if anyone agrees with me or not, or if you want to attack me or whatever. It needs to be said!

    Bless your day, all!

  21. Norah, I'm confused . . . please help me to understand why you consider a question of Baker's a dogmatic statement.

    We can't be reading the same words!

    How does his suggestion that there is a logical inconsistency in being both pro- and anti-life make him dogmatic?

    If there IS no logical inconsistency, please provide the rationale.

    If there IS logical inconsistency but you don't mind, please tell us that, too.

    You urge us to know history. What history are you recommending, specifically? What source materials?

    Why do you accuse Mr. Baker (a Christian) of trying to "justify anti-Christian beliefs" by sharing his views?

    Your terms (spoonfed, mucking, foolishness, attack) seem to betray real insecurity on this issue. I hope you'll consider these questions and respond to them, as I truly would like to understand your reaction.

  22. The argument/statement that you highlighted is also known as the "Seamless Garment" theory. The Catholic church is a proponent of this, the last Pope gave many addresses about this. Say what you want about Catholics, but Pope John Paul II was a peaceful man if nothing else. We actually studied this in my Christian ethics course the university I have recently been attending makes you take (I need 9 semester hours of religion courses to qualify for a BA from this institution, regardless of prior degrees etc...)

    See this link for more.

  23. Thank you Mr. Smith, for sharing that article. Pope John Paul II was an inspiration to me as I studied, prayed over, and finally joined the Roman Catholic church. This gentle and loving man, who never veered from his firm beliefs, did more for people of all faiths around the world than anyone else in my memory. He was in a small group of visionaries and true Christian leaders -- a group that includes Pope John XXIII, and leaders of other faiths such as Reverend Billy Graham -- leaders who by their example and by their message have brought the love and peace and hope of Jesus Christ into the hearts of many.

    Trails, I knew as I sharpened my lance that I would have to answer to you -- who I have come to regard as my balance, and I was really happy to see you respond! I understand your position, and know that we have to agree to disagree on the beginning of life. That's OK, and someday we'll understand the reason for our disagreement, as I am sure it is to serve some good we don't understand now. You ask if I would change my mind if I knew that life began at birth rather than conception -- and my answer is of course I would. However I don't believe I will know the answer to the question in this life, and hence I will rest on Pascal's Wager (rewritten) in that I would rather take the chance of erring while holding to my position, than take the same chance holding to yours.

    Peace be with all of you, especially now as we approach Easter, the commemoration of all that we believe, the holiest of days. I so look forward to this coming week, and will spend a lot of time in church remembering and praying. Starting tomorrow with Palm Sunday, through the interim days until recalling the sorrow and solemnity of Good Friday, and finally the celebration of the great victory at the Easter vigil all serve to keep me focused on Jesus, the Christ and Redeemer.

    Let's all remember each other in our prayers. We are doing good things here.

  24. Free, was the paragraph I quoted a question? I see it as a statement. I'll post it again:

    "Think of the logic of killing abortion doctors in the name of the “Right To Life.” If the issue in abortion is the right to life, what about the right to life of women and children we burned alive in Vietnam and Korea. Or for that matter, what about the right to life of our enemies or convicted criminals. Strangely enough, many who feel so strongly about protecting the lives of fetuses are perfectly willing to kill our enemies and execute criminals. This is an example of how rigid beliefs force inconsistencies."

    His own inconsistency occurs when he implies that there is a single mindset that allows the death penalty, war between countries, and war which kills innocent civilians, but paradoxically supports the right to life of infants. What I'm saying is that there is no single mindset, that there is great complexity here. How do we know that those who drop bombs are pro-life? Are we speaking of individuals here, or are we speaking of government policy? If it's government policy, then I would say there is no inconsistency in the US, because although we go to war, innocent civilians are killed, and the death penalty is legal in many states, killing abortion doctors is illegal and killing unwanted unborn children is legal. So if there is not an inconsistency in our national policy, then where does he seem to be implying that the inconsistency exists?

    I submit that he is saying the inconsistency exists within the prolife movement, which he stereotypes as warlike in nearly every other area of life. And the prolife movement is most likely composed of religious people who most likely are Christians. Therefore people who call themselves Christian have no conscience when it comes to war and killing those who do not agree with them along with innocent people who just happen to live in a country with whom we are at war. Do you see where I'm going with this?

    What I'm saying is that he, and others like him, though he may call himself a Christian may very well not have faith in Christian doctrine at all. It is not uncommon for Christian theologians to lack faith in that by which they are named - that is - the Christian faith. Calling oneself a Christian seems too intolerant so they devise ways to level the playing field, so to speak, to accept other faith traditions as equal to their own. If Christianity is so hypocritical, false and inconsistent, then why would he call himself a Christian instead of following another faith which is more "for him".

    What would I recommend reading? Everything. Read pro and con, left and right. Realize that every writer has a world view, and expose yourself to world views which are different from your own. Read someone who understands the complexities of the problems which have always plagued humanity. That we are all capable of good and bad. That there are no easy answers. That when laws are passed to protect one person or group of people, someone else is going to be penalized, and often it's a matter of doing the least harm for the most common good.

    The terms I use do not betray insecurity any more than calling me insecure (or intolerant and narrow-minded as MTH did) That does seem insecure, does it not? Mr. Baker and others like him are plentiful and always have been, while those who have original thoughts are very rare.

  25. Whoa, Norah. Thank you for explaining your views, but you CANNOT put words in Baker's mouth. He definitely did not say "people who call themselves Christian have no conscience when it comes to war and killing" or anything remotely like that. He was targeting fundamentalism, not Christianity.

    The prophets were critics, all. We will always need those voices.

    The abortion issue, as you point out, is about a lot of things. Smith focused on one of them and said "many" (not all) who are pro-life are also pro-death penalty, etc. He didn't make this stat up; read the polls.

    But of course there are exceptions, like the Seamless Garment folks (whose mission statement is signed, interestingly, by Wendell Berry and the Dalai Lama). I think it would be hard to charactize those folks as fundamentalists. They don't seek to outlaw abortion but to make it unnecessary. Who could not support that goal? (Em, you'd be surprised.)

    Norah, where you see Baker bashing Christianity, I see him reclaiming it from the fundies. You wonder why he doesn't leave his faith?

    Why should he?

    Jesus didn't like Judaism as it was being practiced. But he didn't leave it. He challenged it.

    (Which is why I support those brave Laestadians who are working within their tradition for positive change. It is a tough path, and I couldn't do it, but you go!).

    Norah, I don't know Baker, but I've read that as president of the Arizona Baptist Children’s Services, he spent his life helping unwanted children get off the streets. Not a theologian, he was a worker in the trenches, and no doubt his experiences there formed his broad, empathetic and inclusive Christianity.

    Would he mind that you don't consider him a Christian? Probably not. But you should, Norah.

  26. backtothefuturecc4/01/2007 06:17:00 AM

    You can read all you want, but working and really living with these issues opens up and broadens your thinking. Happy Easter with peace and love to all of you.

  27. "He was targeting fundamentalism, not Christianity."

    "where you see Baker bashing Christianity, I see him reclaiming it from the fundies."

    Free, it still seems to me that he is arguing that religion and politics are intertwined. And that doesn't seem to be a problem to him even though others are called to task for attempting the same thing.

    some interesting definitions...

    Some synonymns for fundamentalism:
    traditionalism, conservatism, conformity, orthodoxy. Antonym: progressivism.

    Synomyms for progressivism:
    liberal, broad-minded, open-minded, reformist, enlightened, advanced, tolerant, radical. Antonymn: reactionary

    (from MSN Encarta online)

    Backtothefuturecc, it's good to be informed and I agree with you that living and experiencing life does open your mind. 21st century life provides us with choices, information and options unheard of in earlier times. But I think that taking the time to learn about issues helps us to process all of this information..

    Happy Palm Sunday to all!

  28. backtothefuture,

    Aren't you the poster who said in an earlier post that All Republicans who are anti-abortion don't care about children, or health care for the poor, and are against affirmative action?

    Can you quote your sources for this information.
    If you truly believe these things to be true, you really do have a lot of READING to do!

  29. Many Trails Home4/02/2007 04:38:00 AM

    Hey Norah, we really stirred up some good conversation here. Your comment about "Christian" vs "Christian doctrine" got my attention. I love Jesus the Christ with my whole being but do not consider myself a "Christian" at all, as I refuse to have anything to do with "orthodoxy" in particular (Roman Catholic or otherwise) or "Christian doctrine" of practically any stripe. SO what do you think of that, Norah? I have seen the term "Christine" used to followers of the Christ without all the trappings (human, in my opinion) of the last 2000 years, starting with Paul. In fact, when I read the Bible, I only read the "red parts." And I love anything I can get my hands on that relates to what things may REALLY have been like at the time he walked the earth. We've made an enormous amount up in the name of "doctrine" and for me, well, I'd rather be more "original" (to quote you!), go right to the source. I'm sure this is the sort of thing that rankles you and that you consider "foolishness." Well, if Baker spent his life ministering to the abandoned on the streets, I don't think there are zillions like him. I'd be happy to follow in his footsteps. He sounds like a saint to me. Many blessings. MTH

  30. MTH, I don't have a problem with anythng you said here at all, can you believe it?? I would have more accurate in making my point if I would have used "the doctrine of Christ", rather than "Christian doctrine". And if you are reading the "red parts" and perhaps calling yourself "Christine", then I am in no position to judge what that means to you, what it reveals to you, what God shows you through that...and I may actually agree with you on that as well! As far as having nothing to do with orthodoxy..irony of ironies.. that just might be a very Laestadian concept, do you see where that could be the case? Finding out what things were REALLY like instead of taking someone else's word for it - absolutely! What really rankles me is when I detect an agenda which stereotypes and divides people. Mr Baker may be a fine person, but he appears to have such an agenda.. whereas Mother Theresa, as an example, made the "poorest of the poor" her agenda.

    Free may be on to something when she speaks of the Dalai Lama - his agenda is not to change people's minds, but he quietly sets the example by his own life and that may be the most mind-changing of all.

    I think it is good to stir things up and it does make good discussion. It's not always pleasant but opposing viewpoints help us dig into these issues further.

    Blessings to you also, MTH

  31. backtothefuturecc4/02/2007 10:16:00 AM

    4 eyes, I think it is fairly obvious over the past 6 years how our republican dominated congress , both nationally and here in the state of Michigan has voted. You can check if you would like. Medicare, medicaid, social security have been dramatically cut and/or put on a back burner. This may not be important to you now, but should you become disabled, or perhaps your age earning spouse or child, or may be you or your spouse will die at a wage earning age, or maybe you will grow old and have not health insurance from your retirement, or maybe you will lose your job and your unemployment runs out and you lose your health insurance, the voting will then be meaningful to you. Also look at statitics related to the returning high crime rates in our inner cities, less assistance for human services, education ,housing ,mental health care- all of these have been turned over to our states who are struggling related to changing economies.Where oh where are those billions of dollars going? I read about it every day ,I hear about it every day to the point I don't want to know any more or I will lose all faith in our system and wonder what is God going to do about all of these problems. I do think our country is reacting and trying to make changes now ,however late, dmonstrated by the past election results.My comment about not reading was related more to the thought that often when one is confronted by a real life situation he often can have a chage of heart, a more openness when he is experiencing a real life tragedy, rather that just reading statistics about issues. Extreme example- your child is raped and impregnated by a long term sex offender. Also I am not writing these views to convince you or argue with you ,rather as a means of telling you that escaping from FALC we can have alternate views with out being judged as a stupid person, an unchristian person. Is this not true.

  32. Backtothefuture,
    I too do not want to argue with you or anyone here. My reason for my post was to question why you would judge all republicans as being against all social programs. I am against abortion, but I believe in
    medicare and Medicaid, and I believe we need a Health care plan to cover all Americans, and I want to protect the environment also.

    Just because some of us are against abortion, and are conservative politically, does not mean we are uncaring, mean spirited bigots, and I resent the implication!

    Having said that, I respect your opinions and hope we can have discussions without argument.

    Many blessings to you and all on this Holy Easter week.

  33. Many Trails Home4/02/2007 03:48:00 PM

    So what do you know, Norah, we're not so far apart after all - no surprise, really. We are all at our core Children of the One God, so how different in essence could we be?
    I especially like your Dalai Lama comment. A quiet example is worth tons more than noisy verbiage, in my opinion.
    Hope to meet you in person one day (if Free ever has an "ex" party!) MTH

  34. Many Trails Home4/02/2007 03:48:00 PM

    So what do you know, Norah, we're not so far apart after all - no surprise, really. We are all at our core Children of the One God, so how different in essence could we be?
    I especially like your Dalai Lama comment. A quiet example is worth tons more than noisy verbiage, in my opinion.
    Hope to meet you in person one day (if Free ever has an "ex" party!) MTH

  35. Many Trails Home4/02/2007 03:56:00 PM

    PS: to cvow: I hate to be picky, but I never said, "Life begins at birth." It clearly does not. But I do think that this argument is a reflection of our identification with our bodies. We are not our bodies. We are spirit "made in God's image." So just because a body is there does not mean that "we" are there. . . . either at the beginning or the end of life. I am quite convinced that we become "ensouled" at birth, and that is when "personhood" begins.
    A corollary of this is that I, of course, think it preposterous that many Christians believe that they will be bodily resurrected and taken up to heaven on the "last day." It's as if we were going to dig up our worn bathrobes and drag them off to heaven with us. What need have we of that? Having mammalian bodies serves us here on earth, to evolve, learn, do God's will, serve, love. That's all.
    Does this position make any sense to you, cvow? MTH

  36. MTH, thank you for your kindness - your post made me smile :-).

    A couple of articles by Fr Richard Rohr came to mind as I reread this thread.. Back in 2002 he wrote a three-part Lenten series on "Liminal Space".. I can only find the second and third installments, but they are here http://www.natcath.com/NCR_Online/archives/020802/020802h.htm and here: http://www.natcath.com/NCR_Online/archives/021502/021502k.htm if you are interested.

    I think both articles are sheer poetry, but here's a goody (in my opinion):
    "This one issue is so crucial that it takes Paul all of Galatians and Romans and central parts of Philippians to address it, but often his style is so complex, his emotion so strong, that we still have been able to miss his point. For Paul, the greatest danger to being “en Cristo” is ironically a self-sufficient life of dedication and observance. His word for this is, of course, “the Law.” A highly moral life allows you to get the what down, get the how down, and even the why. “I am doing it all for God!” one says. It makes you feel strong, good, identified, with boundaries, clear headed, even a bit superior. It really works. There is only one problem. It is pagan and Promethean and has almost nothing to do with the mystery of vulnerability that was revealed in the crucified Jesus. This is God’s great secret revealed in one powerless life called Christ. And only the powerless understand."

    This "life", this "faith" is something that requires us to 'leave it all behind', and yet (as Rohr writes) how few of us do that, and he goes on to explain what it takes in order for that to happen. I'd be interested in your opinion of the articles, MTH!

    yes, I also hope that we can meet someday, if/when Free has her party :-)

    Bless you!

  37. Trails, I understand what you believe about when a person is "ensouled" (good new word, BTW, which I actaully thought you had inventigated but it turned out to be in my Webster's so thanks for the addition to my vocabulary!)...but I don't agree.

    If we look in the Old Testament, we find Jeremiah 1:v4-5, where it says "The word of the LORD came to me thus: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you." To my old farmer way of thinking, that might could even mean the soul is present before conception...hmmmm.....for who would the Lord know besides the soul? Well, maybe that's too abstract. My head hurts from trying to get around that one.

    So move to the New Testament, where Luke tells us in 1:v40-46 "....and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord”."

    Now we can make all sorts of arguments for the leaping of a baby in the womb, I suppose, but this to me is a message that there was a presence there before birth -- call it ensoulment if you wish. Perhaps I am too simplistic or too fundamentalist or too who knows what, but these passages grip me.

    This is a good discussion. I wait with bated breath...:-)

  38. backtothefuture4/03/2007 06:40:00 AM

    4 eyes, I apologize for saying anything to offend you , but I think my point is a person can have very strong feelings about being pro life or pro choice and this includes some religions that are described as "fundamentalists", but what happens is politians who are not fundamentalists or even religious, jump on that bandwagon to include their own agendas and then whether you are more pro life or pro choice you must proscribe to those issues by choosing your president, (your supreme court) and your congress. Thus they all become connected and that is why it is difficult to be conservative on some issues and more liberal on others.I guess thats why people can get labelled so harshly in either direction and it may not even describe your viewpoint accurately.So anyway peace to you also !

  39. Many Trails Home4/03/2007 05:19:00 PM

    Well cvow, the answer to your first predicament is so very obvious to us believers in reincarnation(which I believe the peoples living in Old Testament times were as well, otherwise why would Jesus say, "Who do people say I am?") Of course the Lord knows us before he sends us to the "womb" as we are there in spirit with him before we decide to take another crack at making it down here. It is all so very consistent; requires no "faith," "trust," "just believe."
    And as for the "leaping in the womb:" of course there is a "presence" there; it's called a fetus and it is alive (as any fetal mammal is alive), but that does not require a soul present. No, I do not call that "ensoulment."
    I had another thought about our obsession with our bodies: we carry on (in this country anyway) as if the body is sacrosanct, while we think little of mistreating - in an endless variety of ways - the being, person, spirit, soul residing in that body, any body. We sure have our values and priorities screwed up. "Love one another." That is virtually ALL that counts. MTH

  40. Well Trails, I cannot go with you down the reincarnation path. I also think tying the "Who do people say I am?" question to reincarnation is a tenuous thread at best. Had you asked those people if the world was flat, they likely would have thought that too, but that doesn't make it so. However, you know I support your right to believe however you wish!

  41. In Orthodox Christianity the soul is not the person, the body and the soul together constitute the person. Also the body is an integral part of the person, not just a soul transportation vehicle. This becomes visible in many ways, not the least in the Eucharist, in which we receive the body and blood of Christ, which are taken up by our bodies.

  42. Many Trails Home4/04/2007 05:24:00 PM

    cvow, your use of logic is shaky - what we are talking about exactly is what the OT people BELIEVED (I never said just because they believed it, it was so). How did Jesus answer that Q? MTH

  43. Trails, I'm afraid you've lost me, so you're going to have to explain your train of thought.

    In both Mark's and Luke's accounts of that question, Jesus pressed the disciples after hearing them say that some thought he might be John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the prophets with the follow on question of "Who do you think I am?" In both of these accounts as well as Matthew, it 's recorded that Peter's answer was "the Messiah".

    Only in Matthew is a little more detail is given in that Jesus said in part "Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father."

    I find nothing here to support the concept of reincarnation, so what am I missing?

  44. Many Trails Home4/05/2007 12:58:00 PM

    Well, if people thought he was "Elijah or one of the prophets," clearly he would have had to have "come again." Since they clearly were people who lived previously, how else could he be one of the (former) prophets? MTH

  45. Many Trails Home4/05/2007 01:04:00 PM

    Theo, I totally disagree with your Orthodox beliefs. I believe the body is exactly a "soul transportation vehicle." I suspect this hybrid description of a person was the result of yet another committee ie council. Sounds like a committee decision to me.
    I also, incidentally, disagree with the funeral mantra, "Dust thou art and to dust thou will return." How terribly wrong. WE are not dust, we are spirit, the great I AM. Only the body is from dust and returns to dust, and stays dust (until it recycles through earthworms, etc.) I am not my body and will be quite satisfied to leave it behind as I would a set of worn-out clothes. We are SO MUCH MORE than that. MTH

  46. Trails, I don't see how you can say that "they clearly were people who lived previously" from that passage. Just because they may have thought that a prophet could return, it is a real stretch to read that as them having lived previously, with knowledge of that fact. These were in many ways primitive times. These people were not far removed from those that worshipped a golden calf, tried to build towers to heaven, and thought lots of other silly things. Just because they believed those things, did that make them so?

    On the other topic, I'm firmly with Theo. I think the body and soul are mystically linked in this life. After we die, the body surely will return to dust, but that doesn't imply in any way that the spirit is to do the same. I think we are splitting hairs here on definitions. Is the body a "soul transporter" in this life? I wouldn't call it that, as I'd give God's creation better shrift than that. As far as the form of the resurrection of the body and soul, I admit I don't understand that well, and need to study that aspect more. That's one of those details that I kind of figured didn't matter that much. What does matter is that I do believe in the resurrection, and if God decides to repair this old wreck of a vehicle and give it to me in some refurbished form, so be it -- I like driving classics. If it's gonna look different, which I suspect, that's fine too. I'll ride around in whatever the Lord deems to give me, praising his name forever.