Repost from the old site.
I don’t like to discuss religion here since so many of my readers seem to be atheists or agnostics, and I don’t want to antagonize the highly militant atheist faction on the Internet.
Some of my friends and relatives are religious. A couple are Muslim, a few are Jewish, and some are Christians. I myself am a Christian, but I am a funny kind of Christian. The New Testament is fine, but let us limit it to only those words that the Jewish rabbi Jesus himself said. In that way, I can be a “Jesusist”, in the manner of the early Jewish Christian sects such as the Essenes.
We may pick and choose from the words of the apostles, who after all, were just fallible men. So some of the things they said are correct and others may not be.
We can toss the Old Testament, although it reportedly did contain a number of revelations that came true with Jesus’ coming. For the rest of the OT, let us call it myth or history. We can also posit a Replacement Theology, whereby the Jews and the Old Testament were replaced with the coming of Jesus and the NT. Jesus came and said that we were no longer required to live by the Law.
The new Law, and the new Israel, was the Church. The Jews were no longer the Chosen People – that baton passed to the Christians. Sure, the Jews hate Replacement Theology and call it anti-Semitic, but too many Jews have a tendency to hallucinate anti-Semitism where it does not exist.
For those who doubt the Resurrection, one can always just be a Christian by “following Jesus and his example”. There are many ways to be a Christian, and many Christians, especially Catholic males in Europe and Latin America, are rather lax in what they really believe deep down inside. What’s wrong with following the Christian doctrine of “walking in Jesus’ shoes?”
This is where practical Christianity collides with the fundamentalists. The fundamentalists actually believe that what you feel in your heart is most important. One’s deeds? Well, we are all sinners, you know, so men will sin and that is that. But the practical Christian believes in good works – that is, how one lives one’s life, not necessarily the depth of spiritual intensity in one’s heart, is the most important part of being a Christian.
Walking in Jesus’ shoes, living life the way Jesus would have lived his…who can argue that this is such a terrible thing? Do the atheists wish to argue that this is some sort of insanity? Why?
What of the Resurrection? Does it not invalidate science? Sure it does. But if one is in touch with God Himself, as Jesus may have been, perhaps that power can be used to transcend the laws of science? If anyone can transcend such things, cannot the Spirit do so?
At the same time, paradoxical as it may seem, we may posit a God that isn’t doing much of anything these days, since that is clear. Was he doing anything back in Jesus’ time? Possibly we may argue that Jesus had some sort of a line in with the spiritual world.
A famous Hindu yogi argues that men like Jesus, Buddha, etc, are messengers from the spiritual world who float down from the spiritual world somehow from time to time to stay here and give us lessons. That’s not completely beyond the realm of science -it’s simply unknowable one way or another.
Looking around the world today, the only rational conclusion regarding God is that no one is in charge. Otherwise, we must argue senselessly that God does bad things to punish us, or to test us, or for some obscure, unfathomable reason. Either that or we must take the irreligious view that God must be a wicked practical joker, or a bad person, or perhaps he suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder.
This needn’t be the Deism of our founding fathers – the God who created the universe, then sat back on his haunches and hasn’t done a damn thing since. In a conversation with linguist and anthropologist Sylvia Broadbent, the author of a grammar of Central Sierra Miwok (old pic here [on right], newer pic here [blond hair, wheelchair and cane], homepage here), we discussed the spiritual beliefs of the local California Indians.
Most are fundamentalist Christians of some type or another now, so they vociferously argue that they have always believed in some sort of an omnipotent God. But searching through early anthropological texts and the conversation with Broadbent revealed something different.
Broadbent felt that the Indians here believed in what she called the concept of Deus Obtusa, or a Lazy God. If you think about it, the Lazy God is a form of Deism. It’s not that He hasn’t done a thing since creation, it’s that He doesn’t do much of anything now.
And I think a Lazy God is perfectly in accord with a “Jesusist” or replacement theology version of Christianity, and a total belief in science, including of course evolution and modern biology.
So call me a hypocrite who wants it both ways – as independent free agents, we humans may fashion our heterodox spiritual beliefs the same way we style our lives and wardrobes. There are no rules here; we may make it up as we go along.
Repost from the old site.