Thursday, February 15, 2007

Quote of the day: 2/15/07


...6:5 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and at the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have received their reward.
6:6 But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you.
...
6:14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
6:15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
...
6:19 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal:
6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal:
6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
6:22 The light of the body is the eye: therefore, if your eye is sound, your whole body shall be full of light.
6:23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body shall be full of darkness. Therefore, if the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
6:25 Therefore I say to you, Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
6:26 Behold the birds of the air: they do not sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
6:27 Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to the span of his life?
6:28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not toil, nor do they spin:
6:29 And yet I say to you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
6:30 Therefore, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?
6:31 Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed?
6:32 After all these things the Gentiles seek: but your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.
6:33 But seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
6:34 Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow shall be anxious for itself. Sufficient for each day are the troubles of its own.

7:1 Judge not, that you may not be judged.
7:2 For in the manner you judge, you shall be judged: and with the measure you use, it shall be measured to you.
7:3 And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye?
7:4 Or how can you say to your brother, Let me pull the speck out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?
7:5 You hypocrite, first remove the beam from your own eye; and then you shall see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
7:6 Do not give that which is holy to dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
7:7 Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you:
7:8 For every one who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks it shall be opened.
7:9 Or what man is there among you, whom, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
7:10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?
7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?
7:12 Therefore, all things that you would have men do for you, do for them: for this is the law and the prophets.
7:13 Enter in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter in by it:
7:14 But small is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there are who find it.
7:15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
7:16 You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?
7:17 Even so, every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a bad tree brings forth bad fruit.
7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bring forth good fruit.
7:19 Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire.
7:20 Therefore, by their fruits you shall know them.
7:21 Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
7:22 Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name cast out devils? and in your name done many miracles?
7:23 And then I will declare to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you who work iniquity.
7:24 Therefore, whoever hears these words of mine, and does them, will be like a wise man, who built his house upon a rock:
7:25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it did not fall: for it was founded upon a rock.
7:26 And every one who hears these words of mine, and does not do them, is like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand:
7:27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.


--The Gospel According to Matthew, Revised King James Bible

30 comments:

little light said...

See, it's bits like this that almost make me want to be Christian.
I have to say, I'm a Jesus fan, and "Matthew" is most of why.

Deoridhe said...

Whenever I meet Christians who follow these verses, I feel myself blessed.

The funny thing is, I can't point to any single denomination that does this. It's all individuals WITHIN denomenations, where often the denomenations seem to work against these people.

It's so odd.

Daisy said...

Amen.

It's passages like that that make me wonder whether such self-proclaimed Christians have ever even seen a Bible.

Rootietoot said...

That bit in Matthew- that's precisely why I am a Christian. Forget denominations, or personalities...that's why. Right there.

It's so hard, sometimes, to seperate "religion" from "faith".

Bimbo said...

I'm changing my URL to Matt622_23, because that's what I've been saying all along. I'd prefer to be original, but it's no surprise I'm paraphrasing Jesus. I also hum little songs to myself that sound really catchy and familiar... because it's the Beatles.

antiprincess said...

not the axe, but love.

JackGoff said...

Yeah, that's definitely my favorite as well. Too bad too many people forget that whenever they find it convenient.

Trin said...

The thing that makes me sad is the way the fundies will (and those I knew did) twist even this:

BAD TREES BRING FORTH BAD FRUIT!!! DEPART FROM MEEEEEEEEE WORKERS OF INIQUITY!! I NEVER KNEW YOOUUUUUUUUU!

DON'T QUOTE THE "JUDGE NOT" TO ME UNLESS YOU READ THE WHOOOOOLE THIIIIINNNNNG! (and take what we say is the point to be the point)

going on and on without knowing what the hell he meant.

word ver: lhujug, whch for some reason makes me think of hugs and want to hug someone.

belledame222 said...

mememe! i could use a hug, today (i don't feeeeeel gooood).

and yeah of course, anyone can use the text any way they please, or at any rate, do.

it is amazing how really basic good ideas get so contorted and distorted by so many people, till even the name is a turnoff to a lot of people who might otherwise be on board with the original concept(s). *coughfeminismscough*

Bint Alshamsa said...

Deoridhe,

That's why I stopped identifying myself as associated with any particular denomination. Besides, there is no biblical basis for all of these labels. Now, when I do attend religious services, I go to a very welcoming non-denominational church.
---------------------
I've also come to the point where I'm not really comfortable calling myself a Christian for several reasons. Many people--definitely not all--use the term "Christian" as a way of establishing a hierarchy; There's the Christians at the top of God's good list and the people in other religions are all underneath them and in need of being "saved". Then there are the folks who use the label "Christian" as a political identity that's basically synonymous with the Republican party in America. But to me Christian still retains its original meaning: "Christ-like". Now, according to that definition, I think that calling myself a Christian would mean that I'm basically claiming that my actions are like Jesus' and that sounds just a mite presumptious and arrogant.

Personally, I'd rather other people look at my actions and judge whether they are in alignment with the way Jesus treated people. They can decide to consider/call me a Christian based on that. Otherwise, I'm just striving to be a better person.

By the way, I really appreciate that passage in Matthew. Down here in the south, people LOVE praying in public. It's downright embarrassing to hear some of these bombastic pseudo-pious declarations to "our lord and savior Jesus Christ who rules with almighty Jehovah the god of all things who created heaven and earth and all mankind and provides us with this christian fellowship....blah blah blah".

One of my father's cousins has a rather popular church here and all of the family weddings are performed by him. I brought my middle-school aged daughter and her best buddy to the last one and they were scared out of their wits when the preacher started with this thunderous and very animated prayer on behalf of the couple. Poor babies!! LOL

belledame222 said...

you (and others) talk about the "Christian" label in sort of the same way that a lot of people are talking about the "feminist" label. like: yes, those people keep using that word, and i don't think it means what they think it means; but at what point do you just throw up your hands and say, "right, fuck it, keep the label, you stupid bastards, if that's what you've made of it"?

i dunno. i've never been a Christian, and i think i'm still as feminist as i always was. just musing out loud here.

BBC said...

The bible

Bah

Burn it and move on

belledame222 said...

welcome, bbc. don't be shy, tell us how you really feel...

yeah, i dunno. we all need our narratives. and we all have 'em, even if they're not codified into a millenia-old collation of writings. as with personal "scripts" and myths, they all come from some genuine need; also as with personal scripts and stories, sometimes they may no longer serve us.

right now, i think: if it works for you, then it works for you. what i -don't- like is anyone else trying to insist that there is only one story; and that, furthermore, there is no room for multiple interpretation, the story is not at all metaphorical or multilayered or of its time (i.e. myth in the true sense) but rather, well? Gospel. Literal truth.

there's a lot of that about, and not just from the Bible-thumpers.

that said, the people who -are- like that and wield Bibles as their weapon of choice have been packing a particularly heavy hand in this country, especially over the last x years or so; it gets tiresome.

belledame222 said...

also, what deoridhe said.

belledame222 said...

I would like to hear more about "beer church," though...

Fidelbogen said...

Beautiful words. And almost literally cynic words. In the pristine sense, I mean...

More sentimental appeal than a Buddhist sutra, I'll grant you, but the psychology isn't nearly so penetrating.

Too bad Iesous ho Christos never existed outside the "heavenly" Jerusalem, eh?

Clampett said...

Is this house built on rock worth a damn to the homeless? Comparisons to birds to the starving?

STILL,

We silly gentiles go to sleep while floating on Matt's silken pillow of lies; high in the clouds dreaming of a world without suffering, without oppression and without the material....


Here we phillistines don't truly notice the denial of suffering and the denial of lack, the denial of inequity within a most dastardly pacification of the Oppressed masses' will to resist and overcome their oppression.

Go ahead matt, Tangle the oppressed in a cruel and self sustaining trope whereby they never fight, but only cry to the good lord.

Fuck that!!!

I say draw the sword raid the granery and eat bread.

Or, we can slobber over the greatness of Matt's utopian impulse...and to the oppressed,... "Let them eat cake",love their neighbors and listen to Jesus....if they get uppity about starving they should just read their bibles.

JackGoff said...

clampett, I agree with you in the sense that I agree that religion is the opiate of the masses, and telling people that their focus should not be on earthly life, but on the hereafter is just ludicrous is an open invitation to oppression. It's utopian and it's downright naive, the philosophy of someone with an overly simplistic view of the world. And I'm going to say it. Jesus was a simpleton. He didn't understand evil and didn't understand the ways humans can bring each other into the bonds of slavery. He was compassionate and made that compassion a major part of his philosophy, which in turn, sunk deeper into the minds of the oppressed and became a stick by which the oppressors could further oppress.

That said, it is a beautiful philosophy, one that I wish we could implement someday, where people are allowed to live as they wish to, and each incurs no injury from each, and each respects and gives affirmation to each. I also think socialism would work if we'd get our heads out of our asses. I'm an idealist at heart. Though I'm not naive.

belledame222 said...

Ohh. And I'm not even a Christian, but I'd strongly disagree with that. or, well: depends whose Jesus you're talking about.

actually I have a book called "The Power Politics of Jesus Christ" or something along those lines.

I dunno. D'you think MLK was a simpleton?

JackGoff said...

D'you think MLK was a simpleton?

Heh, no. King was a singular case, since he put Jesus' philosophy out on the table and cried "J'accuse!"

Jesus tells people not to judge and to look to one's own sins first. A good start in building an egalitarian society, but what to do in a society where the log in your eye doesn't actually compare to the forest in the eye looking back at you? As much as I personally like to think "Judge not, lest ye be judged" will work in a larger society, wasn't Rosa Parks judging that bus driver for doing his civic duty? Render unto Caesar, after all.

I think the problem is what you say, whose Jesus are we talking about? Is what Jesus says in the Bible his true words, or does it have the taint of two millennia on it? I'm uncertain, but Jesus really didn't help convince a lot of the people who follow him, and I wonder why.

JackGoff said...

So yeah, I take it back, in a way. Though, something is rotten in the state of Christendom...

Clampett said...

Jackgoff,

"clampett, I agree with you in the sense that I agree that religion is the opiate of the masses, and telling people that their focus should not be on earthly life, but on the hereafter is just ludicrous is an open invitation to oppression. It's utopian and it's downright naive, the philosophy of someone with an overly simplistic view of the world."

Well, I agree inasmuch as it's not just that religion is the opiate of the masses or that it's being misapplied as a mace over somebody's head (as in the spanish inquisition) but that the christian religion is inherently flawed at the points where it pacifies resistance to injusitce/ approves inequality as natural, godgiven and moral.


"And I'm going to say it. Jesus was a simpleton. He didn't understand evil and didn't understand the ways humans can bring each other into the bonds of slavery. He was compassionate and made that compassion a major part of his philosophy, which in turn, sunk deeper into the minds of the oppressed and became a stick by which the oppressors could further oppress.....That said, it is a beautiful philosophy, one that I wish we could implement someday, where people are allowed to live as they wish to, and each incurs no injury from each, and each respects and gives affirmation to each."

Yes, It's beautiful like a siren's song. And it would be nice if there were no pain or death. but
Jesus is a legend, an invention of some author(s). The torah, bible, koran etc are forgeries. (okfine, logically only one *isn't* a forgery...tops...leaving the possibility that religion isn't based on forged documents)

But on top of that, I'm kinda w/belledame222 here, for the caracter Jesus has an advanced understanding of evil for his time and place..driving the usuers out of the temple and showing contempt towards the unjust leadership of the pharisees. (showing the audience that they aren't worthy of obedience b/c they are corrupt and evil) But at the same time being pacifist towards the real power at be; the romans...going so far as to idealize suffering at their hands as a chance for marytrdom (i.e barabus, the crucifiction, the garden of gessemenie (sp), etc)

"I also think socialism would work if we'd get our heads out of our asses.

what?...I don't follow. (also I'm not a socialist)

" I'm an idealist at heart. Though I'm not naive."

Good for you.

belledame222 said...

As much as I personally like to think "Judge not, lest ye be judged" will work in a larger society, wasn't Rosa Parks judging that bus driver for doing his civic duty? Render unto Caesar, after all.

But you need to look at the whole character as portrayed through the Gospels; "by their fruits you will know them." D'you not see overturning money-changers' tables and taking on as a precursor to "I ain't moving?" Or the salt march?

and he sits down and breaks bread with the outcasts of the time; he isn't being patronizing, he's acting out of a genuine love for humanity, and showing up the hypocrisy of the caste system of the time.

I mean, you can look at that message in a number of ways. The simplistic one--well, one of them--is, "be nice no matter what." If you take "blessed are the meek" at face value, say. It can and has been used to further a sort of quietism.

But that isn't the point, I don't think. He is, matter of fact, an early socialist-anarchist, more or less. What sends Him over the edge is: hypocrisy, especially in the name of religion, as a means of shoring up power; and people being gratuitously awful to each other.

They don't nail you up for being -nice,- you know. It's a thoroughly radical message that Jesus was spreading. It was a real threat. I mean, however literally you want to believe in the portrayal of the person through the carefully chosen and translated and handed-down, much less interpreted, ancient books that were written after the historical figure would've existed, no matter how you slice it.

and of course i am here putting aside the mythic aspects of the whole thing; the martyrdom is conflated with the ancient pagan dying-and-resurrected God, which/who is related to nature cycles, among other things. and then, it gets funnelled into the One True business that was started with monotheism and dualism; and then of course gets co-opted by eight kazillion peoples' own personal agendas, along with fanfic of a zillion cultures and a million hilarious mistranslations and the "telephone game" and yet more and more careful rearrangings and...well, here we are, a couple of milennia later, and does -anything- currently going as "Christianity" resemble what was preached by that kind of complex dude in the sandals? I am thinking: not much.

belledame222 said...

taking on the "scribes and pharisees" of the day, that was meant to say. the middle managers of the day, in other words: the -actual- quietists who were content with their mess o' pottage bit of power whilst preaching holiness, while meanwhile turning a blind eye to hunger and injustice and casual cruelty, all because they could hide behind the language of virtuousness.

belledame222 said...

But at the same time being pacifist towards the real power at be; the romans...going so far as to idealize suffering at their hands as a chance for marytrdom (i.e barabus, the crucifiction, the garden of gessemenie (sp), etc)

It's not idealizing suffering; or well, that's what it's been turned into, yes, but I don't see the actions of the figure of Jesus as doing that, at all, if taken at face value from what we have. It's realpolitik. The whole frigging point is that the self-sacrifice was in service of a bigger principle; this is how nonviolent resistance has worked in the past century as well.

MLK knew his number was up as well, before he was shot. I don't think it means he -wanted- to be shot. He could just read the writing on the wall; and he accepted his fate, Because he had work to do, and it was more important to him than trying to save his own hide (which probably would've been a futile gesture at that point anyway).

As for the "render unto Caesar" business; it's partly a way of cocking a snoot at the clever-clevers who were trying to trip him with a double-bind, partly , i would say, a way of saying, "pick your battles." And also: once again, because this is a -spiritual- humanism, stop being so damn literal about everything. Stop grasping onto coins. He wants taxes? Pay the damn taxes, then. This is not the important thing. Look:

JackGoff said...

Yeah, I agree on the whole with what you say. I find myself becoming jaded with it all, though. Christ as a philosopher/radical is getting flushed down the toilet and usurped by a white-washed Republican Jesus. I'm not really certain why I was being so angsty about it last night...this would make for a good discussion later on.

Off-topic, but: this has got me dumbfounded and really, really sick.

belledame222 said...

not so off topic at all, actually.

fuck.

i...yeah, fuck. i'll read it later. i need to get my shit together a bit more before i can really take all that in, you know?

anyway: yes, this would make a good separate discussion, and one i've been meaning to host for a while now actually. maybe later. faith and/or spirituality and the left, maybe Christianity in particular since it's the vehicle that's most used, and abused, in the U.S.

i was toying with trying to do a book on the subject for a while, actually. it's certainly worth one. actually there are a few books out on the "religious left" out recently--whosis from Sojourners, Michael you-know from, ah, Jewish Renewal, my mind's pottage this morning. Lerner, i think. it's worth talking about, that angle alone...

...but, i keep meaning to explore it from the POV of someone who was raised completely secular, am quite familiar with the let's call it disenchantment with organized religion as well as anything smacking of mm "superstitition," the irrational, some call it the "scientistic" worldview; and of course there's plenty of good reason for being hardcore about all that; there really are scary creepy would-be theocrats out in full force, they really do favor dogmatic authority over science or empiricism...

...in a way this goes with my interest in "cults" or cultlike thinking, though: again, i don't think it's the -content- of the beliefs; it's something else.

but also: there is something else, else, that people like MLK and Bayard Rustin have tapped into, that is there to be tapped into, that can be tapped into using a number of routes, some not overtly "religious" or anything smacking of that sort of language at all;

but, at minimum, it helps to not be knee-jerk suspicious of -any- of that.

but, it -is- deeply personal, that aspect of it at least, and very very difficult to talk about, least of all in this sort of context, online political boards for heaven's sake.

so, i keep fumbling.

the notion of "faith," at least, i am big on that. it doesn't mean what a lot of people think it means, i don't think.

maybe "love" is more appropriate, after all.

but, talk is cheap, isn't it.

belledame222 said...

but anyway what i was also going to say, and what i really don't think is talked about nearly enough, is: JG, i can totally understand why you'd be angsty about it; you were -raised- with this shit, and in a way you clearly found completely toxic, not to say irrelevant to what you find important now. so were quite a lot of people. I think that this is something that a lot of sort of happily middle-of-the-road religious people , particularly those who don't hang around lefty/academic/what you will circles much, don't always really get. Sort of in the same way, perhaps, that I don't really -get- why some people have such a violently allergic reaction to porn , or other sexual-related things.

Because that stuff was not an instrument of my abuse. I mean, wrt the religion thing at least, in an ambient way, perhaps; fuck knows i -really- resent having my queer life hijacked for someone else's "principles;" but, i still think it's not the same as if i'd been -raised- in it, much less ever believed it myself.

The term "spiritual abuse" is a useful one, although i think currently it's mostly used within Christian circles.

belledame222 said...

...and of course, my even saying that is probably going to get some knees to jerk rather violently, sort of in the same way that talking about sexual abuse viz a viz sociopolitical beliefs about porn and so on gets knees to jerk;

because it is seen as a prelude to, oh well clearly you just had a bad experience, here, let me fix you and THEN you'll see the light, you poor thing; your POV is not legitimate.

and often this sort of thing -is- used that way, alas;

but, that's not what i mean, and i still think it's important to talk about it.

i mean, of course it's legitimate to be atheist or agnostic, regardless of how one arrived at that conclusion.

what i'm trying to say is, the...let's call it allergic reaction (which not everybody has, by any means), that's something i'd like to take a closer look at.

Clampett said...

Hey Belledame,


"It's not idealizing suffering; or well, that's what it's been turned into, yes, but I don't see the actions of the figure of Jesus as doing that, at all, if taken at face value from what we have. It's realpolitik.

All the apostles except John were marytered via persecution.

It is idealizing suffering via nonresistance b/c at that time nonresisitance wasn't effective, Rome's colleseum crowd didn't seem to mind tormenting rebels and other insubordinates.

So the doctrine of pacifism against unjust power as seen here is in reality a doctrine of violence against the practitioners of Christianity, for JC and the apostles knew how ruthlessly the Romans handled insubordination.

It was they who neeldessly sacrificed themsleves so that the Christian Church & doctrine could gain power as to challenge the Pagan Roman empire and as we seen in history, later overtake it's governmental superstructure well into the 15th century (sans the west unless we count the 'holy roman empire'..& the east was called byzantium at that point)
when the ottomans defeated them at constantinople in 1453.

"The whole frigging point is that the self-sacrifice was in service of a bigger principle; this is how nonviolent resistance has worked in the past century as well."

The 'bigger principal' here is the illusion of an afterlife predicated on obedience to a secular authority.

It is a worthless distraction to the fact the early xian church accumulated the secular power it eventually used to take over the roman empire by intentionally throwing themselves into the meat grinders of roman imperial oppression.

This Religion is designed to idealize suffering, perhaps that's why it tends to produce the self-immolation of 'nonviolent resistance' to violent oppression.

Not to mention, we know nobody's going into the colleseum to be devoured b/c of their faith unless they think they are doing it in exchange for a reward in the afterlife. (the illusion was calculated for that purpose by the demagouges who wrote the books of the new testament refering to heaven)

So that's why i find the pacifism revolting.

However, as you point out nonresistance can be effective when the conditions are right.


















MLK knew his number was up as well, before he was shot. I don't think it means he -wanted- to be shot. He could just read the writing on the wall; and he accepted his fate, Because he had work to do, and it was more important to him than trying to save his own hide (which probably would've been a futile gesture at that point anyway).

As for the "render unto Caesar" business; it's partly a way of cocking a snoot at the clever-clevers who were trying to trip him with a double-bind, partly , i would say, a way of saying, "pick your battles." And also: once again, because this is a -spiritual- humanism, stop being so damn literal about everything. Stop grasping onto coins. He wants taxes? Pay the damn taxes, then. This is not the important thing. Look: