Posts Tagged ‘gandhi’

Better than "Bruce Almighty" for the Christian Soul: An Atheist Defending ReligionThere used to be a time when I never thought I could have learned anything from a Catholic.

Perhaps due to the fact that the sample of “Christianity” I had witnessed in my hometown Catholic church drove me into atheism by the age of 10.

But then (quite a few years after having discovered the real Jesus), I came across the writings of the Franciscan Richard Rohr, and found out that God seems to have made exceptions to every rule, and that you can even learn something from a Catholic.

Likewise, I was not expecting any mind-blowing experiences to come out of the atheist camp since my latest experiences with countless comments of the defenders of disbelief on our Youtube channels, or having read what some of their supposedly brightest lights like Richard Dawkins or the Zeitgeist people have to say.

But then again, you never know when God knocks on your door with a surprise, ready to push over all your carefully construed clichés and mental drawers we keep our fellow humans in.

I have found an atheist who is probably a better Christian than I.

And very much unlike most of his fellow unbelievers, he comes forward as a defender of those from the other side or camp of the opposition and writes a book called, “An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity is Better Off with Religion Than Without It.”

If I ever would have had and lost anything like it, I would have said “Bruce Sheiman has restored my faith in humanity.” But since I have long ago decided to place my trust in Someone more trustworthy than my own kind, at least I can say, Bruce, thanks for making my day! – And for reminding me of how a real Christian is supposed to act, seeing the good in the folks on the “other side” and coming forward to put in a good word for them, which is probably a closer version of “loving your enemies” than what the majority of Christendom is coming up with nowadays.

In his book, Bruce Sheiman reminds his readers that while Christianity may not have a snow-white record (as we’re constantly being reminded by those who would love to blast Christianity to hell for its crusades and other crimes of history both past and present), there are nonetheless a lot of decent Christian (or otherwise religious) folks who are doing a lot of good to make this world a better place (and if you ever tried your hand at it, you may know just how tough that attempt can be, especially in the light of the fact that most folks will never give you the credit for it, no matter what you do – just because you’re a believer).

Regardless of those culprits and fakes who have abused religion as a cloak for their less than noble purposes (including in very recent history, such as the previous US administration – without saying the present is any better), as a sum, the impact of (true) religion on the world was a good one, even if many folks may not realize it.

“Historians cannot identify any other cultural force as robust as religion that could have carried civilization along.”

Mostly, though, he points out something that strikes me as purely divine genius, namely that in our drive to discover what he terms “lowercase truth”–facts and knowledge–we have sacrificed “uppercase truth”–meaning and purpose.

In other words, figuring out all the scientific little details about how the universe works may be all fine and good, but not really replace our need for a higher purpose in life than your usual “survival of the fittest” scheme that’s slowly turning our carefully analyzed and dissected planet into living hell for more and more people each day.

He observes that our minds are called to something more than a relative truth…and if moral imperatives do not depend on God then they are not absolute and remain relative. – In other words, we’re not really good at kidding ourselves into accepting any counterfeit, fake “goodness” or standard we’re supposed to live by or strive for. The human souls is desperate to find, and unready to settle for anything less than the Real Thing in the long run.

Pointing out some of the moral advantages of those Christians and believers who actually did get the point of what their religion’s founder had intended, including their quality to respect humans as created in the image of God instead of just another hoard of highly mutated two-legged mammals who must constantly prove to each other who is the strongest, he contends that the world is actually not any worse off because of religion.

One might argue in favor of atheists as civilized and courteous as Mr. Sheiman, that in the light of Jesus’ recommendation to judge a tree by its fruits, the criteria by which He would truly consider a person to be following in His footsteps and worthy of His commendation, regardless of which camp they may profess to belong to (since we live in a world of pretenders, after all), and one way to find out who truly is a “Christian” or a “good person,” we would simply have to look at the way they treat their fellowmen.

And in this aspect, Bruce Sheiman has proven himself worthy of a higher commendation than I would be able to presently grant the majority of my fellow believers, and awakens in me the desire that there were more folks like him around, regardless of whether they share my belief or not.

Atheists who don’t persecute me for my faith make for a truly refreshing change, including from those fellow-believers who persecute me for the differences between my belief system and theirs.

Folks capable of seeing the good in people, even in those from the opposing camp, and even capable of defending them before the world, in my opinion are a greater sample of the kind of love Christ intended for us to live and practice than the attempt to press every- or anyone into our same molds.

I’ve said before that maybe Gandhi, being a Hindu, proved himself a better Christian by His actions than probably most Christians during his life-time. Perhaps Mr. Sheiman, being an atheist (though allegedly considering himself an “aspiring theist”), by his gesture, is putting forth a better Christian example than many of those who claim that label for themselves.

We’ve all heard the line “With friends like that, who needs enemies?” Well, with “enemies” like him, we would all soon have a lot more friends.

I have certainly learned something from him, and have been reminded of the fact that the One I look up to as my personal Guide and Master also stood out by bridging the gap between enemy camps (such as Jews and Romans), and it makes me long for that quality that His early followers stood out for, which ultimately enabled them to conquer the Roman empire with meekness and love.

I’m only afraid that Bruce might encounter the same type of rejection from the hardliners of his own camp that Jesus had to face from the religious hardliners of His day for showing sympathy to the Romans and preaching “Love your enemies.”

Perhaps the statement “Blessed are they who are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake” can also apply to atheists. The truth is the truth, no matter who preaches it. And in this case, the truth award of the day goes to Bruce…

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May 14, ‘07

I’m coming to the conclusion – not without the usual, probably considered highly heretical input from above – that another monumental change is happening in our era, similar to when Christ walked on earth 2000 years ago in order to establish a new covenant between God and men.

The old covenant (testament) had been between Him and the physical descendants of one man, Abraham, more specifically, the branch of the descendants of his son Isaac, also called the Jews. That covenant also roughly lasted 2000 years, until that race proved to be unworthy of the right to the title “the people of God,” or His exclusive representatives.
After Christ died – simultaneously with the passover lambs that were being prepared by every pious Jew around the world, and embodying the very symbolism of each one of them, yet without most of them recognizing this fact, and the temple veil was supernatural rent in two to reveal to the world that the arc of the covenant wasn’t there anymore (by the way, you can stop looking for it; the Bible tells us where it is in Rev.), the old covenant was dead. In order to become a child of God from henceforth, all one had to do was not just have the luck to be born of a special, chosen race, but to accept the sacrifice God made in offering up Jesus, His “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev.13:8).

So, for 2000 years, the people of God had a new name. They called themselves Christians. I’m coming to the point, though, where I see that the new people of God, the Christians, are erring just as much from the true basis of their faith, and are straying just as much from God, no matter how vehemently they claim to be God’s people nominally, as their ancient predecessors did, and God must be looking around for anybody, from any faith or religion, to do the job the Christians refuse to do, and be living samples of the truth the Christians refuse – to either accept, or to live and obey. One of those men of God, for instance was the Hindu Mahatma Gandhi, who probably lived a better and truer sample of what a Christian was supposed to be like than each and every other Christian on earth during his life-time, put together.

That doesn’t mean I’m promoting Hinduism. It just means that God can use anyone, even a Hindu, to promote the true meaning and essence of Christianity, if He can’t get any of the Christians to do it. I’m coming to the conclusion that Christ is exclusively for the Christians no more than He was exclusively for the Jews.

Of course, most Christians will probably want to stone me now, just as the Jews stoned Stephen, one of the early Christians – from the time when a Christian was still a follower of Christ, not Mammon – who proved that the rug of God’s anointing had been pulled out from under Jewish feet and given to true believers in Christ.

Back then, it cost something to be a believer in Christ: you had to pay the price of persecution for it, of being an outcast. A Christian was a member of a minority group, a small, persecuted and highly controversial sect. Those Christians have long since moved from the arenas of the Roman colosseums into the grandstands. They’re no longer martyrs, but they make martyrs of others: fellow Christians, Muslims, Hindus, whoever stands in their way.

No wonder most honest people in the world are disgusted by the term “Christian.” It has become a term that stands for anything but what Christ stood for: exploitation and supression of the poor, domination of anybody too weak to defend themselves by the “Christian,” Western “civilization.”

Those dear Christian brethren simply haven’t realized that they’ve been infiltrated and taken over by the other side, and the spiritual stench of their house has become so bad that God had to move out, run and hide elsewhere, anywhere He would find shelter among humans, in the hearts of the humble, whether Christan or not, the true People of God.
The People of God are the People of Love (see John
13:35). If they don’t happen to call themselves Christians, I won’t blame them. Can you?

God’s mind on the matter:

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