Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fear vs. Hate: A Response

My friend and fellow blogger, Leslee Horner Recently posted a blog entitled Fear vs. Hope as I read this blog I felt compelled to reply but did not wish to do so on the blog so as not to appear I was putting her on the spot on her own blog, I have been there and that is a rather unpleasant feeling. So I decided to respond in email and with her permission I have posted that response here. I have linked her blog above so you can read it and get a feeling for what I am responding to. Below is My response, and I appreciate her being so kind as to allow me to put that response here, since my lazy ass has not blogged in quite some time...

After reading your blog I felt a definite need to respond.  I do not like responding on a blog of a friend if I have a differing view because I do not like being put on the spot on my blog...and a good discussion should be exactly that...without any tension or pressure.  Having said that I will get right into my reply.
consider the following:
(1) The motivation in religion of any kind
What is the purpose of religion?  Now you will find many different arguments for this and I am not going to take the time to present them all or go into details.  But just to mention a few, provide peace, provide direction, provide a means to worship God (whichever god it may be), provide a means of salvation.  These are just a few of the many reasons that are bandied about.  However, a logical and reasoned approach to the subject MIGHT provide some insight.
    a) Ancient religion-Ancient religions were far from kind.  Ancient Judaism provided for live sacrifices of animals with the CLEAR understanding that the lamb was a replacement for the person that brought it.  Violation of most laws was swift and brutal.  Sins such as adultery, homosexuality and "witchcraft" carried a penalty of death by stoning.  And Judaism was one of the kinder ones.  Many of the ancient religions provided for sacrifice...with no replacement other words you got to be sacrificed.   These religions range from the Mayans to the Assyrians....entire nations worshipped gods that required sacrifices...not of the guilty and the evil..but of the innocents.  Religion was a brutal thing in ancient cultures.  Failure to adhere to these religions resulted in death.  Heresy and questioning was not allowed.  It was a "damned if you do damned if you don't" scenario all the way around.
    b) Modern religion-Many may argue where "modern" Religion began.  One of the oldest religions around is Roman Catholicism and Muslim.   Mega giants that have been at war with each other for centuries.  It is Catholicism I find most intriguing, probably because it most closely afffects the world in which we live.  In the world I live in.  If you are a Catholic you would not agree with what I am about to say and that is fine...I am kind of getting used to that on my blog these days.  The originas of the Roman Catholic church has been argued...they of course claim their origin back to St. Peter.  History of course argues a different scenario.
    Faced with the decline of the mighty Roman Empire, Constantine came up with a brilliant plan.  He merged the pagan religions of Rome with the "Christian" religion emerging in his empire. The stroke was brilliant. He took a wavering and withering empire and reinvented it.  He understood a very important march an army on an armed city and the men that die are martyrs....rebellion is what makes them eternal, death is what immortalizes them and makes them heroes.    Control is not about death and life....Constantine understood this.  Control is what is beyond death, that is what every human mind and sub conscience is concerned about.  If you make a person fear what they do not understand...that eternal black hole nobody really knows or understands, then you have a control over them that is unlike the control of government.  Death may seem desirable to the martyr and the hero, but when you make the consequences go beyond death...that is true control.  So Constantine reinvented his empire....and while we study Babylon, Egypt, Persia and Greece from their ruins....Rome we can see still sitting on top of the seven hills...a citizenship in the millions, a Ruler that rules with a "Divine" hand, a budget to rival all nations an army of its own, a flag, a seal and an influence on almost every nation in the globe. 
    I would argue, as I am sure by now you have figured, that the very motive behind religion is control.  This being the case, it is fear, not hope that motivates control, and by logical deduction, religion.
(2) Is the fear and hate movement a fringe of religion? or is it Biblical and actually mainstream?
    As I read your post I would agree with you to an extent, but would argue that you did not go far enough.  The assumption is that these people that preach fear and hate are a fringe movement.  That they are "extremists" and not mainstream.  That "real" Christians teach hope and a God of Love.  But is that really the case?  Faith and religion has always preyed on fear rather than hope.  Any hope that is offered is always offered as an alternative to the damnation we are taught to fear.  It was at this juncture in my reasoning that I came to the conclusion that the Bible and Christianity and religion in general offer only a facade of free will.  It is like telling your child to do something and get an ice cream or not do it and get a butt whipping!   That is not a true choice...  God says I love you ... now you can love me...and offer me your complete obedience and trust...and I will take you to heaven to live with me...or you can decide you don't love me and don't trust which case I will send you to hell and you can suffer for eternity.  This is a perfect example of hope that is not hope in and of is hope as an alternative to fear...which is no hope at all.  At this juncture this facade of free will and this pretension of hope is manipulation....again...control.  I would argue that this is not a fringe movement but rather is the heart and soul of religion.
(3) The Bible: A book of Fear or Hope?
This brings up the issue of, is it a matter of man taking the Bible and interpreting it in his own way? Or is it the Bible that promotes this atmosphere of fear and manipulation?  Well if you have never read the Bible from cover to cover, allow me a little of your time.  I will first say that I HAVE read the Bible from cover to cover, many times.  Growing up I was required to do so once every year.  I read 2 or 3 chapters of the Old Testament, 1 or 2 of the New Testament and 1 chapter of Proverbs every day.  As a result I read the bible every year and the Book of Proverbs 12 times a year (since it has 31 chapters).  At age 13 I started studying for the ministry...and at age 15 I was being asked to preach and teach.  So when I speak about the Bible, I am not speaking from "feeling" or "emotions" I am speaking from knowledge and experience.
The Old Testament is a violent and harsh book.  It provides the harshest of punishments for non violent crimes.  In it we are told that the fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom.  God is a vengeful God, one that judges with a swift and harsh hand.  The New Testament takes a different but still harsh and firm hand.  Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, the response was, (Matthew 22:37-38)"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment."  This presents some complicated questions.  First, can you actually COMMAND somebody to love you.  The heart is a fickled thing and it has been often said that you cannot make a heart love somebody.  And what is the consequence for not obeying this commandment?  Well the whole picture would have to be looked at in order to grasp the concept of the consequences.
John 3:16 is the verse most often used to describe God's love.  Lets look at it.  "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life."  A seemingly beautiful verse but one that simply proves my earlier point...manipulation is the ultimate control.  God loves, he gives his son to prove his point.  He sets up a plan and says follow it and you will have ever lasting life; don't follow it and suffer the consequences...perish.  This is not free will.  You cannot command somebody to love, you cannot command somebody to trust and above all you cannot command these impossible feats and have a consequences as severe as eternal damnation for not following the impractical command.  The Bible speaks of a lake of fire, in Revelations, a place of eternal torment for those whose names are not found in the Book of Life.  Here is the quote from the Bible, (Revelation 20:9-15) "And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."  So there you have it...if you are not on the list you don't get in and you go to hell.  How do you get listed in this book?  How do you go to heaven?  Well it is not dependent on how good we are.  It is dependent on accepting the plan of John 3:16.  As a matter of fact, Titus 3:5 says, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" So in essence the only way to escape hell and get to heaven is to obey an impractical command to love, trust and obey a supposed all powerful being.  It is His way or the hell.  This is not free will.  This is is the ultimate control.  You do it this way or you pay the consequences. 
So is this the truth?  Am I possibly wrong and making light of something that is truth and damning my soul to an eternal hell in the process.  Well first of all...that is a total possibility.  Sure it is possible that I am totally wrong, and I will wake up one day screaming in agony and pain. is the thing.  History shows that this is not the first religion that declares itself to be the only way with dire consequences for ignoring it.  The Bible is not the first religious book to declare itself as the truth with dire consequences for ignoring it.   And those other religions and religious texts have come and gone...and history simply shows that this will too...eventually.  History is a fair judge in these matters...and I will bet on history.
But ultimately the point comes down to this.  The Bible itself promotes this sentiment of fear as a means of control.  This is not men twisting the Bible to make it say what they want it to.  The Bible itself uses fear as a means of manipulation and control.  When people stand up and speak of hell fire and brimstone, they are not the fringe.  When Pat Robertson says that Haiti is paying for a pact with the devil, he is not some fringe crazy man spouting hate and fear. When Falwell says that "The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say: you helped this happen." He is not some rght wing nut job totally out of touch with the Bible.  He is preaching the same Bible that teaches a God that destroyed an entire city (Sodom and Gomorrah) for their sexual deviance.  He is preaching the same Bible that they use to prove that abortion is murder and that teaches that it is OK to kill for killing...blood for blood.  He is preaching from the same Bible that says, (Psalm 9:17) "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God."
(4) The effectiveness of fear...Why fear works (and why hope doesn't)
Lets face it, fear works.  Fear is what makes control work.  Sure we talk about positive reinforcement.   But the truth is that criminals "reform" because they don't want to go back to jail.  Negativity works.  The reason is simple...we all find different things that satisfy us.  Positive reinforcement is difficult because it is complex and varied.  Negative reinforcement is simple:  you touch the stove you get burnt, you put the fork in the outlet you get electrocuted, you kill somebody you die, you don't do what you told there are consequences.  Fear works.  That is why religion is and always will be based on fear...not hope.
Well, that was a verbose way to make my point...hope I didn't bore you.



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