Taught Religious Quotes

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True Islam taught me that it takes all of the religious, political, economic, psychological, and racial ingredients, or characteristics, to make the Human Family and the Human Society complete.
Malcolm X
[Said during a debate when his opponent asserted that atheism and belief in evolution lead to Nazism:] Atheism by itself is, of course, not a moral position or a political one of any kind; it simply is the refusal to believe in a supernatural dimension. For you to say of Nazism that it was the implementation of the work of Charles Darwin is a filthy slander, undeserving of you and an insult to this audience. Darwin’s thought was not taught in Germany; Darwinism was so derided in Germany along with every other form of unbelief that all the great modern atheists, Darwin, Einstein and Freud were alike despised by the National Socialist regime. Now, just to take the most notorious of the 20th century totalitarianisms – the most finished example, the most perfected one, the most ruthless and refined one: that of National Socialism, the one that fortunately allowed the escape of all these great atheists, thinkers and many others, to the United States, a country of separation of church and state, that gave them welcome – if it’s an atheistic regime, then how come that in the first chapter of Mein Kampf, that Hitler says that he’s doing God’s work and executing God’s will in destroying the Jewish people? How come the fuhrer oath that every officer of the Party and the Army had to take, making Hitler into a minor god, begins, “I swear in the name of almighty God, my loyalty to the Fuhrer?” How come that on the belt buckle of every Nazi soldier it says Gott mit uns, God on our side? How come that the first treaty made by the Nationalist Socialist dictatorship, the very first is with the Vatican? It’s exchanging political control of Germany for Catholic control of German education. How come that the church has celebrated the birthday of the Fuhrer every year, on that day until democracy put an end to this filthy, quasi-religious, superstitious, barbarous, reactionary system? Again, this is not a difference of emphasis between us. To suggest that there’s something fascistic about me and about my beliefs is something I won't hear said and you shouldn't believe.
Christopher Hitchens
Of course we're Christian. The very name of the church declares that. The more people see us and come to know us, the more I believe they will come to realize that we are trying to exemplify in our lives and in our living the great ideals which (Jesus Christ) taught.
Gordon B. Hinckley
I Choose Love... No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves. I Choose Joy... I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God. I Choose Peace... I will live forgiven. I will forgive so I may live. I Choose Patience... I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do so, Rather complain that the wait is to long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clenching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage. I Choose Kindness... I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for that is how God has treated me. I Choose Goodness... I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I accuse. I choose goodness. I Choose Faithfulness... Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My friends will not question my word. And my family will not question my love. I Choose Gentleness... Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it only be in praise. If I clench my fist, may it only be in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself. I Choose Self-Control... I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then when this day is done I will place my head on my pillow and rest.
Max Lucado
Still, if history and science have taught us anything, it is that passion and desire are not the same as truth. The human mind evolved to believe in the gods. It did not evolve to believe in biology. Acceptance of the supernatural conveyed a great advantage throughout prehistory when the brain was evolving. Thus it is in sharp contrast to biology, which was developed as a product of the modern age and is not underwritten by genetic algorithms. The uncomfortable truth is that the two beliefs are not factually compatible. As a result those who hunger for both intellectual and religious truth will never acquire both in full measure.
Edward O. Wilson (Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge)
Your job then, should you choose to accept it, is to keep searching for the metaphors, rituals and teachers that will help you move ever closer to divinity. The Yogic scriptures say that God responds to the sacred prayers and efforts of human beings in any way whatsoever that mortals choose to worship—just so long as those prayers are sincere. I think you have every right to cherry-pick when it comes to moving your spirit and finding peace in God. I think you are free to search for any metaphor whatsoever which will take you across the worldly divide whenever you need to be transported or comforted. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. It's the history of mankind's search for holiness. If humanity never evolved in its exploration of the divine, a lot of us would still be worshipping golden Egyptian statues of cats. And this evolution of religious thinking does involve a fair bit of cherry-picking. You take whatever works from wherever you can find it, and you keep moving toward the light. The Hopi Indians thought that the world's religions each contained one spiritual thread, and that these threads are always seeking each other, wanting to join. When all the threads are finally woven together they will form a rope that will pull us out of this dark cycle of history and into the next realm. More contemporarily, the Dalai Lama has repeated the same idea, assuring his Western students repeatedly that they needn't become Tibetan Buddhists in order to be his pupils. He welcomes them to take whatever ideas they like out of Tibetan Buddhism and integrate these ideas into their own religious practices. Even in the most unlikely and conservative of places, you can find sometimes this glimmering idea that God might be bigger than our limited religious doctrines have taught us. In 1954, Pope Pius XI, of all people, sent some Vatican delegates on a trip to Libya with these written instructions: "Do NOT think that you are going among Infidels. Muslims attain salvation, too. The ways of Providence are infinite." But doesn't that make sense? That the infinite would be, indeed ... infinite? That even the most holy amongst us would only be able to see scattered pieces of the eternal picture at any given time? And that maybe if we could collect those pieces and compare them, a story about God would begin to emerge that resembles and includes everyone? And isn't our individual longing for transcendence all just part of this larger human search for divinity? Don't we each have the right to not stop seeking until we get as close to the source of wonder as possible? Even if it means coming to India and kissing trees in the moonlight for a while? That's me in the corner, in other words. That's me in the spotlight. Choosing my religion.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
I think one of the sweetest lessons taught by the Prophet, and yet one of the saddest, occurred close to the time of his death. He was required to leave his plan and vision of the Rocky Mountains and give himself up to face a court of supposed justice. These are his words: 'I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer's morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men' (D&C 135:4). That statement of the Prophet teaches us obedience to law and the importance of having a clear conscience toward God and toward our fellowmen. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught these principles--by example. There was to be one great final lesson before his mortal life ended. He was incarcerated in Carthage Jail with his brother Hyrum, with John Taylor, and with Willard Richards. The angry mob stormed the jail; they came up the stairway, blasphemous in their cursing, heavily armed, and began to fire at will. Hyrum was hit and died. John Taylor took several balls of fire within his bosom. The Prophet Joseph, with his pistol in hand, was attempting to defend his life and that of his brethren, and yet he could tell from the pounding on the door that this mob would storm that door and would kill John Taylor and Willard Richards in an attempt to kill him. And so his last great act here upon the earth was to leave the door and lead Willard Richards to safety, throw the gun on the floor, and go to the window, that they might see him, that the attention of this ruthless mob might be focused upon him rather than the others. Joseph Smith gave his life. Willard Richards was spared, and John Taylor recovered from his wounds. 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends' (John 15:13). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught us love--by example.
Thomas S. Monson
The orphanage taught their girls religious ritual to the Nth degree, and how to make their own clothes. Giti mended uniforms for the soldiers and even sold a few prayer rugs in the marketplace. Self-sufficiency they called it. Ha!
Michael Ben Zehabe (Persianality)
Even after centuries of human interacting, children still continue to rebel against their parents and siblings. Young marrieds look upon their in-laws and parents as obstacles to their independence and growth. Parents view their children as selfish ingrates. Husbands desert their wives and seek greener fields elsewhere. Wives form relationships with heroes of soap operas who vicariously bring excitement and romance into their empty lives. Workers often hate their bosses and co-workers and spend miserable hours with them, day after day. On a larger scale, management cannot relate with labour. Each accuses the other of unreasonable self-interests and narrow-mindedness. Religious groups often become entrapped, each in a provincial dogma resulting in hate and vindictiveness in the name of God. Nations battle blindly, under the shadow of the world annihilation, for the realization of their personal rights. Members of these groups blame rival groups for their continual sense of frustration, impotence, lack of progress and communication. We have obviously not learned much over the years. We have not paused long enough to consider the simple truth that we humans are not born with particular attitudinal sets regarding other persons, we are taught into them. We are the future generation's teachers. We are, therefore, the perpetrators of the confusion and alienation we abhor and which keeps us impotent in finding new alternatives. It is up to us to diligently discover new solutions and learn new patterns of relating, ways more conducive to growth, peace, hope and loving coexistence. Anything that is learned can be unlearned and relearned. In this process called change lies our real hope.
Leo F. Buscaglia (Loving Each Other: The Challenge of Human Relationships)
The instructor, Ms. Pease, also taught in the church's religious school, and she had a Sunday school manner at once saccharine and condemnatory.
Michael Chabon (Telegraph Avenue)
Kissing, said Lesley, ought really to be taught as a school subject, preferably instead of religious studies, which nobody needed.
Kerstin Gier
Nothing as singular or as important had happened since the day of his birth. She returned his gaze, struck by the sense of her own transformation, and overwhelmed by the beauty in a face which a lifetime's habit had taught her to ignore. She whispered his name with the deliberation of a child trying out the distinct sounds. When he replied with her name, it sounded like a new word - the syllables remained the same, the meaning was different. Finally he spoke the three simple words that no amount of bad art or bad faith can ever quite cheapen. She repeated them, with exactly the same emphasis on the second word, as if she had been the one to say them first. He had no religious belief, but it was impossible not to think of an invisible presence or witness in the room, and that these words spoken aloud were like signatures on an unseen contract
Ian McEwan (Atonement)
In a democracy scientific institutions, research programmes, and suggestions must therefore be subjected to public control, there must be a separation of state and science just as there is a separation between state and religious institutions, and science should be taught as one view among many and not as the one and only road to truth and reality.
Paul Karl Feyerabend (Against Method)
The danger of religious faith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy. Because each new generation of children is taught that religious propositions need not be justified in the way that all others must, civilization is still being besieged by the armies of the preposterous. We are, even now, killing ourselves over ancient literature. Who would have thought something so tragically absurd could be possible?
Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason)
When confronted with a problem involving the use of the reasoning faculties, individuals of strong intellect keep their poise, and seek to reach a solution by obtaining facts bearing upon the question. Those of immature mentality, on the other hand, when similarly confronted, are overwhelmed. While the former may be qualified to solve the riddle of their own destiny, the latter must be led like a flock of sheep and taught in simple language. They depend almost entirely upon the ministrations of the shepherd. The Apostle Paul said that these little ones must be fed with milk, but that meat is the food of strong men. Thoughtlessness is almost synonymous with childishness, while thoughtfulness is symbolic of maturity. There are, however, but few mature minds in the world; and thus it was that the philosophic-religious doctrines of the pagans were divided to meet the needs of these two fundamental groups of human intellect--one philosophic, the other incapable of appreciating the deeper mysteries of life. To the discerning few were revealed the esoteric, or spiritual, teachings, while the unqualified many received only the literal, or exoteric, interpretations. In order to make simple the great truths of Nature and the abstract principles of natural law, the vital forces of the universe were personified, becoming the gods and goddesses of the ancient mythologies. While the ignorant multitudes brought their offerings to the altars of Priapus and Pan (deities representing the procreative energies), the wise recognized in these marble statues only symbolic concretions of great abstract truths. In all cities of the ancient
Manly P. Hall (The Secret Teachings of All Ages)
I roll my eyes, since every Muslim understands the hypocrisy of right-wing xenophobes. They’re all terrified of a word they don’t understand, scared that religious law is going to infiltrate the land, but meanwhile they support the death penalty, are anti-choice, and think creationism should be taught in schools because of… wait for it… religion.
Samira Ahmed (Internment)
We live in an extraordinary age. These are times of stunning changes in social organization, economic well-being, moral and ethical precepts, philosophical and religious perspectives, and human self-knowledge, as well as in our understanding of that vast universe in which we are imbedded like a grain of sand in a cosmic ocean. As long as there have been human beings, we have posed the deep and fundamental questions, which evoke wonder and stir us into at least a tentative and trembling awareness, questions on the origins of consciousness; life on our planet; the beginnings of the Earth; the formation of the Sun; the possibility of intelligent beings somewhere up there in the depths of the sky; as well as, the grandest inquiry of all - on the advent, nature and ultimate destiny of the universe. For all but the last instant of human history these issues have been the exclusive province of philosophers and poets, shamans and theologians. The diverse and mutually contradictory answers offered demonstrate that few of the proposed solutions have been correct. But today, as a result of knowledge painfully extracted from nature, through generations of careful thinking, observing, and experimenting, we are on the verge of glimpsing at least preliminary answers to many of these questions. ...If we do not destroy ourselves, most of us will be around for the answers. Had we been born fifty years earlier, we could have wondered, pondered, speculated about these issues, but we could have done nothing about them. Had we been born fifty years later, the answers would, I think, already have been in. Our children will have been taught the answers before most of them will have had the opportunity to even formulate the questions. By far the most exciting, satisfying and exhilarating time to be alive is the time in which we pass from ignorance to knowledge on these fundamental issues; the age where we begin in wonder and end in understanding. In all of the four-billion-year history of the human family, there is only one generation priveleged to live through that unique transitional moment: that generation is ours.
Carl Sagan
A poor man is not disposed to quick and high resentment when he is among the rich: he is apt to yield to others, for he knows others are above him: he is not stiff and self-willed; he is patient with hard fare; he expects no other than to be despised, and takes it patiently; he does not take it heinously that he overlooked and but little regarded; he is prepared to be in a lowly place; he readily honours his superiors; he takes reproofs quietly; he readily honours others as above him; he easily yields to be taught, and does not claim much to his understanding and judgment; he is not over nice or humoursome, and has his spirit subdued to hard things; he is not assuming, nor apt to take much upon him, but it is natural for him to be subject to others. Thus it is with the humble Christian.
Jonathan Edwards (The Religious Affections)
We know Jesus taught that if someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to the left. We know that Mohammed was sacked from his village and stoned at Ta'if, but he quietly left for Medina. If both of these men, beaten, and bloodied—the incarnations of their respective faiths—asked God to forgive their aggressors, then who were today's religious leaders to advocate holy war?
Eliza Griswold
My study of economics had taught me that the ideology of many conservatives was wrong; their almost religious belief in the power of markets—so great that we could largely simply rely on unfettered markets for running the economy—had no basis in theory or evidence.
Joseph E. Stiglitz (People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent)
important-becoming a religion dropout does not by itself make you more spiritual. Jesus taught that the secret was a change of heart, not a change of religious expression.
Bruxy Cavey (The End of Religion: Encountering the Subversive Spirituality of Jesus)
If evolutionism were to be rejected, the whole structure upon which the modern world is based would collapse and one would have to accept the incredible wisdom of the Creator in the creation of the multiplicity of life forms which we see on the surface of the earth and in the seas. This realization would also change the attitude that modern man has concerning the earlier periods of his own history, vis-a-vis other civilizations and also other forms of life. Consequently the theory of evolution continues to be taught in the West as a scientific fact rather than a theory and whoever opposes it is usually brushed off as religious obscurantist.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr (A Young Muslim's Guide to the Modern World)
MY DAD WAS A DEACON, and my mom taught Sunday school. I remember a stretch when I was young when we would go to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday evening. Still, we didn’t consider ourselves overly religious, just good people who believed in God and were involved in our church.
Chris Kyle (American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History)
No one's ever sat me down and taught me what empathy is or why it matters more than power or patriotism or religious faith. But I learn it right there in the hallway: I cannot do what's been done to me.
Zak Ebrahim (The Terrorist's Son: A Story of Choice (TED Books))
John Lewis said, "You have to be taught the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. In the religious sense, in the moral sense, you can say that in the bosom of every human being, there is a spark of the divine. So you don’t have a right as a human to abuse that spark of the divine in your fellow human being. From time to time, we would discuss that, if you have someone attacking you, beating you, spitting on you, you have to think of that person. Years ago that person was an innocent child, an innocent little baby. What happened? Did something go wrong? Did someone teach that person to hate, to abuse others? You try to appeal to the goodness of every human being and you don’t give up. You never give up on anyone.
Krista Tippett (Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living)
When every ethnic and religious group claims a right to approve or veto anything that is taught in public schools, cultural pluralism becomes ethnocentrism. An evident casualty is the old idea that whatever our ethnic base, we are all Americans together.
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society)
What I see among evangelicals—especially among some of the most prominent evangelical leaders—is an enthusiastic, uncritical, carte blanche support of Donald Trump that has more than a touch of religious aura to it. And this concerns me deeply. I’m profoundly uncomfortable when I see enthusiastic support for Donald Trump impinging upon allegiance to Jesus Christ and what he taught his followers.
Brian Zahnd (Postcards from Babylon: The Church In American Exile)
Scientific “facts” are taught at a very early age and in the very same manner in which religious “facts” were taught only a century ago.… But science is excepted from criticism. In society at large the judgment of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgment of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago.… science has now become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once to fight. (ibid., p. 182)
Stephen Arroyo (Person-to-Person Astrology: Energy Factors in Love, Sex and Compatibility)
If children were taught to question and think through their beliefs, instead of being taught the superior virtue of faith without question, it is a good bet that there would be no suicide bombers. Suicide bombers do what they do because they really believe what they were taught in their religious schools: that duty to God exceeds all other priorities, and that martyrdom in his service will be rewarded in the gardens of Paradise.
Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion)
When we look back, it becomes clear that the acts and accomplishments of human beings are the signatures of history. Human signatures have created an enormous chasm between the joyeous light of the age of the Renaissance to the dark shadow of September 11, 2001. Those of us living on that fateful day experienced the lower depths of mankind. As an author, avid reader, world traveler, and person of enormous curiosity, my life experiences have taught me that discord often erupts from a lack of knowledge and education. To discourage future dark moments, I believe we must nourish the minds of our young with learning that creates understanding between ethnic and religious groups. Perhaps understanding will lead to a marvelous day when we take a last fleeting look at violence so harmful to so many. I sincerely believe that nothing will further the cause of peace more than the education of our young. I would like for readers to know that a percentage of the profits from the sale of this book will be devoted to the cause of education. May all roads lead to peace.
Jean Sasson (Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World)
The ultimate triumph of Christianity was aided by the internal drive within Roman paganism toward some kind of monotheism. By 150 A.D., whatever vitality had once existed in ancient polytheism had mostly declined, and the gods played little or no role in individual lives. The state temples to the old gods became civic centers rather than religious entities. "But paganism went about reforming itself. It drew upon the Alexandrian mystical form of Platonism, taught by Plotinus -- what we call Neoplatonism -- to conjure an image of the deity as a single spiritual fountain of life that fructifies the world. "This Neoplatonic monotheism became popular in aristocratic circles in fourth-century Rome and gave such renewed vitality to paganism that the triumph of Christianity had to be bolstered by state proscription of this latter-day monotheistic paganism. By 390, Roman paganism was almost as close to monotheism as was Christianity.
Norman F. Cantor (Antiquity: The Civilization of the Ancient World)
We have been taught, in ways large and small, religious and secular, that life is based on hierarchies, and that those higher on these hierarchies dominate those lower, either by right or by might. We have been taught that there are myriad literal and metaphorical food chains where the one at the top is the king of the jungle.
Derrick Jensen (The Myth of Human Supremacy)
Humans love sex. Both men and women are wired to be sexually responsive. Sex is the social glue of the human species. It takes heavy-handed training or trauma to kill a human's sex drive. Religion has that power. Sexual training in guilt, shame, and fear begins virtually at birth by sexualizing nudity. The religious signal is that nudity is always sexual and the body must be covered for modesty. The Adam and Eve story is taught to young children even though they have no way to know what it means.
Darrel Ray (Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality)
They taught that the church of which Jesus is the Head, was a spiritual organization, composed not of those who came into it by hereditary descent, but of those who were born of the Spirit. But, there has been a departure from these principles; and organizations now exist, under the designation of Christian churches, which aim to unite the church and the world, and introduce the impious, and ungodly, and profane, into Christ's kingdom – thus reversing his declaration, that his "kingdom is not of this world." Against this innovation Baptists strenuous!y protest. We announce, then, as the Second Feature of the reform in which Baptists are engaged, THE RESTORATION OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM.
John Quincy Adams (Baptists, The Only Thorough Religious Reformers)
I can remember the days when people talked about the conflict between science and religion. But no more. The newest of all sciences—psychiatry—is teaching what Jesus taught. Why? Because psychiatrists realize that prayer and a strong religious faith will banish the worries, the anxieties, the strains and fears that cause more than half of all our ills. They know, as one of their leaders, Dr. A. A. Brill, said: “Anyone who is truly religious does not develop a neurosis.” If religion isn’t true, then life is meaningless. It is a tragic farce.
Dale Carnegie (How To Stop Worrying & Start Living)
Like Sharia law for Christians.” I roll my eyes, since every Muslim understands the hypocrisy of right-wing xenophobes. They’re all terrified of a word they don’t understand, scared that religious law is going to infiltrate the land, but meanwhile they support the death penalty, are anti-choice, and think creationism should be taught in schools because of… wait for it… religion.
Samira Ahmed (Internment)
Thus did I receive, through the singing of these various hymns and the moral education that accompanied them, not only a religious, but a political schooling of sorts. For though the intertwining of morality and politics does not necessarily make for a clear understanding of the cynicism that governs world affairs., it does engender impatience with and a rejection of this cynicism, and a real belief in a more perfect, less unjust world. And though I regret not having been taught more about the real world, I have never regretted being taught this kind of morality first.
Jean Said Makdisi (Teta, Mother, and Me: Three Generations of Arab Women)
In the early twelfth century century the Virgin had been the supreme protectress of civilisation. She had taught a race of tough and ruthless barbarians the virtues of tenderness and compassion. The great cathedrals of the Middle Ages were her dwelling places upon earth. In the Renaissance, while remaining the Queen of Heaven, she became also the human mother in whom everyone could recognise qualities of warmth and love and approachability... The stabilising, comprehensive religions of the world, the religions which penetrate to every part of a man's being--in Egypt, India or China--gave the female principle of creation at least as much importance as the male, and wouldn't have taken seriously a philosophy that failed to include them both...It's a curious fact that the all-male religions have produced no religious imagery--in most cases have positively forbidden it. The great religious art of the world is deeply involved with the female principle.
Kenneth Clark (Civilisation)
The canon and civil law; church and state; priests and legislators; all political parties and religious denominations have alike taught that woman was made after man, of man, and for man, an inferior being, subject to man. Creeds, codes, Scriptures and statutes, are all based on this idea. The fashions, forms, ceremonies and customs of society, church ordinances and discipline all grow out of this idea.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (The Woman's Bible)
We often spend so much time reacting to religious traditions or a religious culture that we have little energy left to cultivate a proactive spiritual path. Even among "believing" people there is often more critique and conversation about "the church" or parochial issues than honest engagement with the ways of the master- how Jesus lived and what he taught. Perhaps we have been too easily pleased by our over educated ability to analyze and deconstruct. Rather than being skeptical why couldn't our collective sense of unrest about religion and spiritual community motivate us to be more curious and engaged
Mark Scandrette (Soul Graffiti: Making a Life in the Way of Jesus)
Consider the great Samuel Clemens. Huckleberry Finn is one of the few books that all American children are mandated to read: Jonathan Arac, in his brilliant new study of the teaching of Huck, is quite right to term it 'hyper-canonical.' And Twain is a figure in American history as well as in American letters. The only objectors to his presence in the schoolroom are mediocre or fanatical racial nationalists or 'inclusivists,' like Julius Lester or the Chicago-based Dr John Wallace, who object to Twain's use—in or out of 'context'—of the expression 'nigger.' An empty and formal 'debate' on this has dragged on for decades and flares up every now and again to bore us. But what if Twain were taught as a whole? He served briefly as a Confederate soldier, and wrote a hilarious and melancholy account, The Private History of a Campaign That Failed. He went on to make a fortune by publishing the memoirs of Ulysses Grant. He composed a caustic and brilliant report on the treatment of the Congolese by King Leopold of the Belgians. With William Dean Howells he led the Anti-Imperialist League, to oppose McKinley's and Roosevelt's pious and sanguinary war in the Philippines. Some of the pamphlets he wrote for the league can be set alongside those of Swift and Defoe for their sheer polemical artistry. In 1900 he had a public exchange with Winston Churchill in New York City, in which he attacked American support for the British war in South Africa and British support for the American war in Cuba. Does this count as history? Just try and find any reference to it, not just in textbooks but in more general histories and biographies. The Anti-Imperialist League has gone down the Orwellian memory hole, taking with it a great swirl of truly American passion and intellect, and the grand figure of Twain has become reduced—in part because he upended the vials of ridicule over the national tendency to religious and spiritual quackery, where he discerned what Tocqueville had missed and far anticipated Mencken—to that of a drawling, avuncular fabulist.
Christopher Hitchens (Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays)
Regardless of type, however, the mechanism of a religion works like this: children, from the time they can communicate, are taught to see reality in a certain way. They are indoctrinated with a pre-defined belief structure and value set. Naive, open to such teaching, given only the religious viewpoint and perhaps punished or ostracized if they don’t accept it, most ultimately absorb and mimic the religion outright.
Thomas Daniel Nehrer (Essence of Reality: A Clear Awareness of How Life Works)
Jesus taught that "the great and first commandment is to love God completely, totally, and unreservedly -- with all one's heart, with all one's soul, and with all one's mind (Matt. 22:37-38; Mark 12:28-34). The sum of all God's commandments and all religious service is love for God. It is the believer's first priority. It is the reason we were created. Nothing in life is more right, more fulfilling, and more rewarding than loving God our Creator and Savior.
Alexander Strauch (Love or Die: Christ's Wake-up Call to the Church)
Forget organized religions. Forget scriptures. Forget Gods, Fathers, Sons and Spirits. Forget all dogmas taught by the representatives of theoretical religion, and then only you shall be able to visualize the true core of religion.
Abhijit Naskar (Illusion of Religion: A Treatise on Religious Fundamentalism (Humanism Series))
Scientific "facts" are taught at a very early age and in the very same manner in which religious "facts" were taught only a century ago. There is no attempt to waken the critical abilities of the pupil so that he may be able to see things in perspective. At the universities the situation is even worse, for indoctrination is here carried out in a much more systematic manner. Criticism is not entirely absent. Society, for example, and its institutions, are criticised most severely and often most unfairly... But science is excepted from the criticism. In society at large the judgment of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgement of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago. The move towards "demythologization," for example, is largely motivated by the wish to avoid any clash between Christianity and scientific ideas. If such a clash occurs, then science is certainly right and Christianity wrong. Pursue this investigation further and you will see that science has now become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once to fight. Do not be misled by the fact that today hardly anyone gets killed for joining a scientific heresy. This has nothing to do with science. It has something to do with the general quality of our civilization. Heretics in science are still made to suffer from the most severe sanctions this relatively tolerant civilization has to offer
Paul Karl Feyerabend
Experience teaches,” said Gletkin, “that the masses must be given for all difficult and complicated processes a simple, easily grasped explanation. According to what I know of history, I see that mankind could never do without scapegoats. I believe it was at all times an indispensable institution; your friend Ivanov taught me that it was of religious origin. As far as I remember, he explained that the word itself came from a custom of the Hebrews, who once a year sacrificed to their god a goat, laden with all their sins.” Gletkin paused and shoved his cuffs into place. “Besides, there are also examples in history of voluntary scapegoats. At the age when you were given a watch, I was being taught by the village priest that Jesus Christ called himself a lamb, which had taken on itself all sin. I have never understood in what way it could help mankind if someone declares he is being sacrificed for its sake. But for two thousand years people have apparently found it quite natural.
Arthur Koestler (Darkness at Noon)
It was his belief, furthermore, that this religion, so elevated and simple, had repeatedly been corrupted and debased by man, and especially outraged by idolatry; wherefore a succession of prophets, each inspired by a revelation from the Most High, had been sent from time to time, and at distant periods, to restore it to its original purity. Such was Noah, such was Abraham, such was Moses, and such was Jesus Christ. By each of these, the true religion had been reinstated upon earth, but had again been vitiated by their followers. The faith, as taught and practiced by Abraham when he came out of the land of Chaldea, seems especially to have formed a religious standard in his mind, from his veneration for the patriarch as the father of Ishmael, the progenitor of his race.
Washington Irving (Life of Mohammed)
At our one local movie theater, blacks and whites had to sit apart—the blacks in the balcony. My mother and father urged my brother and me to bring home our black playmates, to consider them equals, and to respect the religious views of our friends, whatever they were. My brother’s best friend was black, and when they went to the movies, Neil sat with him in the balcony. My mother always taught us: “Treat thy neighbor as you would want your neighbor to treat you,” and “Judge everyone by how they act, not what they are.
Ronald Reagan (An American Life: The Autobiography)
The religious Jew is to study Torah for the sake of studying Torah. Torah lishmah. The ingenuity of the edict, I realized was that it relieved you of the obligation to be qualified. You studied because you had to study, and those who taught had to take you as a student.
Judith Shulevitz (The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time)
The religious mind is primed to accept lies. Presented with an extraordinary claim, it does not demand extraordinary evidence, but instead engages faith to overcome skepticism. Their religion has taught evangelicals to accept, rather than to question. Trump’s constant waterfall of outright lies landed on amenable minds. His support was greater among regular churchgoers than among lukewarm believers.20 The greater the faith, the more subordinate healthy skepticism becomes. So the biblical fetish for totalitarians may have helped America elect its first.
Andrew L. Seidel (The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American)
Whether in their policy of religious tolerance, devising a universal alphabet, maintaining relay stations, playing games, or printing almanacs, money, or astronomy charts, the rulers of the Mongol Empire displayed a persistent universalism. Because they had no system of their own to impose upon their subjects, they were willing to adopt and combine systems from everywhere. Without deep cultural preferences in these areas, the Mongols implemented pragmatic rather than ideological solutions. They searched for what worked best; and when they found it, they spread it to other countries. They did not have to worry whether their astronomy agreed with the precepts of the Bible, that their standards of writing followed the classical principles taught by the mandarins of China, or that Muslim imams disapproved of their printing and painting. The Mongols had the power, at least temporarily, to impose new international systems of technology, agriculture, and knowledge that superseded the predilections or prejudices of any single civilization; and in so doing, they broke the monopoly on thought exercised by local elites.
Jack Weatherford (Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World)
He [Franz Rosenzweig] came up with the "two covenant" theory, a way of affirming the religious validity of both Judaism and Christianity. Judaism and Christianity, he taught, needed each other, and God's plan for humanity needs them both. Christianity needs Judaism to remind it of what pure, uncompromised ethical monotheism looks like.........But Judaism needs Christianity to remind us that the Word of God is not meant to be kept for ourselves alone. We are called on not merely to live by God's ways, but to do it in such a manner that the world will be persuaded to turn to God.
Harold S. Kushner (To Life: A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking)
White children “who learn the prejudices of our society,” wrote the social scientists, were “being taught to gain personal status in an unrealistic and non-adaptive way.” They were “not required to evaluate themselves in terms of the more basic standards of actual personal ability and achievement.” What’s more, they “often develop patterns of guilt feelings, rationalizations and other mechanisms which they must use in an attempt to protect themselves from recognizing the essential injustice of their unrealistic fears and hatreds of minority groups.” The best research of the day concluded that “confusion, conflict, moral cynicism, and disrespect for authority may arise in [white] children as a consequence of being taught the moral, religious and democratic principles of justice and fair play by the same persons and institutions who seem to be acting in a prejudiced and discriminatory manner.
Heather McGhee (The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together)
I was amazed, shocked, and sickened by what I heard throughout the day, over and over, by many victims' stories. I can think of no one with whom I didn't recognize a common thread. These monsters, these evil priests, used the same words and methods on all of us. With each session, I would find something that sent a cold chill down my spine. It amazed and frightened me that the actual words used on me, to rape me, to rape me, were the same as the words used on so many others from all over the United States. You would think that all these priests either were educated in how to concur and rape us, or they met privately with each other to compare notes and develop their plan of attack on us. The pattern was so much the same, with the same words, that you would swear it was scripted and disbursed to these priests. Do they secretly have closed-door meetings on how to abuse us? A chilling thought. Neary's routine of saying the “Our Father” during the rape and making me say it with him, repeating the “thy will be done” over and over, the absolution given me after he “finished,” the threats of having God take my parents away, the lectures about offering my suffering up to God, etc., etc., etc. My experience was identical, word-for-word, to that of many others. The exact words during the abuse were not just close, but exactly the same, as if it were some kind of abuse ritual. Ritual abuse is not limited to the religious definition and can include compulsive, abusive behavior performed in an exact series of steps with little variation. How could these similarities occur without the priests taking the same “abuse seminar” together some place, somehow? Was it taught in the seminary? In some dark corner? It goes beyond coincidence—the similarities in deeds and verbiage that these predators use on us. It truly chilled me to the very marrow of my bones.
Charles L. Bailey Jr. (In the Shadow of the Cross: The True Account of My Childhood Sexual and Ritual Abuse at the Hands of a Roman Catholic Priest)
I am a cuddly atheist... I am against creationism being taught in schools because there is empirical evidence that it is a silly notion... I am passionately concerned about the rise in pseudo-science; in beliefs in alternative medicine; in creationism. The idea that somehow it is based on logic, on rational arguments, but it's not. It doesn't stand up to empirical evidence. In the same way in medicine, alternative medicines like homeopathy or new age therapies – reiki healing – a lot of people buy into it and it grates against my rationalist view of the world. There is no evidence for it. It is deceitful. It is insidious. I feel passionately about living in a society with a rationalist view of the world. I will be vocal on issues where religion impacts on people's lives in a way that I don't agree with – if, for instance, in faith schools some of the teaching of religion suggests the children might have homophobic views or views that are intolerant towards other belief systems... I am totally against, for example, bishops in the House of Lords. Why should someone of a particular religious faith have some preferential treatment over anyone else? This notion that the Church of England is the official religion of the country is utterly outmoded now.
Jim Al-Khalili
My parents constantly drummed into me the importance of judging people as individuals. There was no more grievous sin at our household than a racial slur or other evidence of religious or racial intolerance. A lot of it, I think, was because my dad had learned what discrimination was like firsthand. He’d grown up in an era when some stores still had signs at their door saying, NO DOGS OR IRISHMEN ALLOWED. When my brother and I were growing up, there were still ugly tumors of racial bigotry in much of America, including the corner of Illinois where we lived. At our one local movie theater, blacks and whites had to sit apart—the blacks in the balcony. My mother and father urged my brother and me to bring home our black playmates, to consider them equals, and to respect the religious views of our friends, whatever they were. My brother’s best friend was black, and when they went to the movies, Neil sat with him in the balcony. My mother always taught us: “Treat thy neighbor as you would want your neighbor to treat you,” and “Judge everyone by how they act, not what they are.” Once my father checked into a hotel during a shoe-selling trip and a clerk told him: “You’ll like it here, Mr. Reagan, we don’t permit a Jew in the place.” My father, who told us the story later, said he looked at the clerk angrily and picked up his suitcase and left. “I’m a Catholic,” he said. “If it’s come to the point where you won’t take Jews, then some day you won’t take me either.” Because it was the only hotel in town, he spent the night in his car during a winter blizzard and I think it may have led to his first heart attack.
Ronald Reagan (An American Life: The Autobiography)
Dragons and Afterlife .. I don't see any difference between both of them, we didn't see neither the dragons nor afterlife, we just heard about them and both of them are superstitions with no scientific or logical evidence .. But the only reason you believe in afterlife unlike dragons is that you've been taught to believe in it from your birthday. now if they taught you to believe in dragons and if it were mentioned in your Bible or your holy book you would have believed in it .. herein lies the danger of religions, you can believe something exists without any evidence .. and that's why you should only follow science and let go of your religious teachings
Sherif Gaber
When Lebanese Muslims and Palestinians declared jihad on Christians in 1975, we didn’t even know what that word meant. We had taken the Palestinians in, giving them refuge in our country, allowing them to study side by side with us in our schools and universities. We gave them jobs and shared our way of life with them. What started as political war spiraled very fast into a religious war between Muslims and Christians, with Lebanese Muslims joining the PLO fighting the Christians. We didn’t realize the depth of their hatred and resentment toward us as infidels. The more that Christians refused to get involved in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and to allow the Palestinians to use Lebanon as a launching pad from which to attack Israel, the more the Palestinians looked at us as the enemy. Muslims started making statements such as “First comes Saturday, then comes Sunday,” meaning first we fight the Jews, then we come for the Christians. Christian presence, influence, and democracy became an obstacle in the Palestinians' fight against Israel. Koranic verses such as sura 5:51—"Believers, take not Jews and Christians for your friends. They are but friends and protectors to each other"—became the driving force in recruiting Muslim youth. Many Christians barely knew the Bible, let alone the Koran and what it taught about us, the infidels. We should have seen the long-simmering tension between Muslims and Christians beginning to erupt, but we refused to believe that such hatred and such animosity existed. America also failed to recognize this hatred throughout all the attacks launched against it, beginning with the marine barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983 all the way up to September 11, 2001. It was that horrible day that made Americans finally ask, What is jihad? And why do they hate us? I have a very simple answer for them: because you are “infidels.
Brigitte Gabriel (Because They Hate)
The most sensitive period of their developmental age, when the kids are supposed to be taught to question everything and nourish their reasoning skills, they are taught that God created the world in seven days – that the human race did not evolve from apes through millions of years, rather it came from the amorous congress between two God-made humans, named Adam and Eve. And if you ask why? The answers of the uneducated primordial teachers would be that the scriptures say so. And now if you ask, can’t the scriptures be wrong – do I have to take these stories literally? They would lash out with rage and shout at you – how dare you question the scriptures! Every single word in it is true. There is no greater truth than the truth of these sacred texts.
Abhijit Naskar (The Education Decree)
The Musalman, remaining faithful to his religion, has not progressed; he has remained stationary in a world of swiftly moving modern forces. It is, indeed, one of the salient features of Islam that it immobilizes in their native barbarism, the races whom it enslaves. It is fixed in a crystallization, inert and impenetrable. It is unchangeable; and political, social or economic changes have no repercussion upon it. " Having been taught that outside Islam there can be no safety; outside its law no truth and outside its spiritual message there is no happiness, the Muslim has become incapable of conceiving any other condition than his own, any other mode of thought than the Islamic thought. He firmly believes that he has arrived at an unequalled pitch of perfection; that he is the sole possessor of true faith, of the true doctrine, the true wisdom ; that he alone is in possession of the truth—no relative truth subject to revision, but absolute truth. " The religious law of the Muslims has had the effect of imparting to the very diverse individuals of whom the world is composed, a unity of thought, of feeling, of ideas, of judgement.
B.R. Ambedkar (Pakistan or the Partition of India)
Baptists have always strenuously contended for the acknowledgment of this principle, and have labored to propagate it. Nowhere, on the page of history, can an instance be found of Baptists depriving others of their religious liberties, or aiming to do so; but, wherever they ave found, even in tlie darkest ages of intolerance and persecution, they appear to be far in advance of those who surround them, on this important subject. This is simply owing to their adherence to the Gospel of Christ in its purity. Here religious liberty is taught in its fullest extent; and it was only when the Christian church departed from God's Word, that she sought to crush the rights of conscience; and only when she fully returns to it again, will she cease to cherish a desire to do so.
John Quincy Adams (Baptists, The Only Thorough Religious Reformers)
And evolution gets bumped down even further when it comes to deciding not whether it’s true, but whether it should be taught in the public schools. Nearly two-thirds of Americans feel that if evolution is taught in the science classroom, creationism should be as well. Only 12 percent—one in eight people—think that evolution should be taught without mentioning a creationist alternative. Perhaps the “teach all sides” argument appeals to the American sense of fair play, but to an educator it’s truly disheartening. Why teach a discredited, religiously based theory, even one widely believed, alongside a theory so obviously true? It’s like asking that shamanism be taught in medical school alongside Western medicine, or astrology be presented in psychology class as an alternative theory of human behavior.
Jerry A. Coyne (Why Evolution Is True)
Trump's dictatorial tendencies and mendacity, negative attributes for many voters, poised him perfectly to manipulate the evangelical mind. Like the biblical god evangelicals worship, Trump is a thin-skinned authoritarian with totalitarian tendencies. He craves love and punishes any disloyalty or slight. Evangelicals have been taught to worship and adore that type of being above all others. This strain of religion cultivates a veneration for extreme authority. Studies bear this out: religious fundamentalism and a tendency to submit to authoritarianism are highly correlated. Trump acted like the character evangelicals worship and benefited from their ingrained adulation. Evangelicals were simply seeing in Trump a character they'd been taught to revere. As if to prove the point, Ann Coulter called Trump her "Emperor God".
Andrew L. Seidel (The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American)
The Washington regime’s leading internal thesis-which has not changed since 1933-is that Americans must be “tolerant” of the alien elements (which now number roughly 50% of the population), since, after all, these aliens are “brothers.” “Brotherhood” is glorified on all public occasions, by all public officials, is taught in the schools and preached in the churches, which have been coordinated into the master-plan of the Culturally-alien Washington regime. Newspapers, books, magazines, radio, television, films-all vomit forth the same “Brotherhood.” The “Brotherhood” propaganda is a ghastly caricature of the Christian idea of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, but there is no religious intent to the propaganda. Its sole purpose is to destroy whatever exclusiveness, national feelings, or racial instincts may still remain in the American population after twenty years of national leprosy. The result of the “tolerance” and “brotherhood” campaign is that the alien enjoys a superior position in America-he can demand to be “tolerated.” The American can demand nothing. The tragic fact is that the attenuation of the national instincts has proceeded so far that one cannot envisage how a Nationalist Revolution would be even possible in America.
Francis Parker Yockey
If children were taught to question and think through their beliefs instead of being taught the superior virtue of faith without question, it is a good bet that there would be no suicide bombers. Suicide bombers do what they do because they really believe what they were taught in their religious schools: that duty to God exceeds all other priorities, and that martyrdom in his service will be rewarded in the gardens of Paradise.
Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion)
Though slavery officially ended after the Civil War, the Christianity that blessed white supremacy did not go away. It doubled down on the Lost Cause, endorsed racial terrorism during the Redemption era, blessed the leaders of Jim Crow, and continues to endorse racist policies as traditional values under the guise of a "religious right." As a Christian minister myself, I understand why, for my entire ministry, the number of people who choose not to affiliate with any religious tradition has doubled each decade. An increasingly diverse America is tired of the old slaveholder religion. But this is why the freedom church that David George joined in the late 1760s is so important. We who speak out in public life to insist that God cares about love, justice, and mercy and to call people of faith to stand with the poor, the uninsured, the undocumented, and the incarcerated are often accused of preaching something new. But those who claim "traditional values" to defend unjust policies do not represent the tradition of David George, George Liele, and Brother Palmer. They do not represent the Black, white, and Tuscaroran people of Free Union, North Carolina, who taught my people for generations that there is no way to worship Jesus without being concerned about justice in the world.
William J. Barber II (Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019)
When things happen that are unexpected, unwelcome, challenging, disorienting, or traumatic, we survive, but the storyline we were following is shattered. Untold stories don’t go away; they morph into volatile emotions, into flashbacks and anxiety, into behaviors we don’t understand in ourselves, things we wish we didn’t do — lash out, hide, avoid, get depressed, become lethargic, unable to go on. Untold stories cause ruptures in relationships, ill health, and spiritual or religious crisis, and contribute to a growing sense that our lives are disintegrating into chaos. People full of untold stories — people like you and me — are the ones whom author Sandra Marinella has taught and mentored as she fashioned this helpful book. The Story You Need to Tell is full of tools to fully restory your life; and even more, it is full of Sandra’s understanding, compassion, and guidance.
Sandra Marinella (The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss)
He drank straight from the bottle now, ignoring his goblet. How stupid that his father had forbidden such pleasures in Limeros all those years, citing religious reasons. Valoria had taught that to keep a clear mind was to keep a pure heart, and her people had obeyed. Magnus had always subscribed to this credo, believing that he truly preferred a clear mind to this . . . this . . . Yes. This was better. Drunk was much better than sober. He
Morgan Rhodes (Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms, #3))
In modern street-English, we use “hell” as a catchall term to describe the bad place (usually red hot) where sinful people are condemned to punishment and torment after they die. This simplistic, selective, and horrifying perception of hell is due in large part to nearly 400 years of the King James Version’s monopoly in English-speaking congregations (not to mention centuries of imaginative religious art). Rather than acknowledge the variety of terms, images, and concepts that the Bible uses for divine judgment, the KJV translators opted to combine them all under the single term “hell.” In truth, the array of biblical pictures and meanings that this one word is expected to convey is so vast that they appear contradictory. For example, is hell a lake of fire or a place of utter darkness? Is it a purifying forge or a torture chamber? Is it exclusion from God’s presence or the consuming fire of God’s glory? While modern scholarship acknowledges the mis- or over-translation of Sheol, Hades, and Gehenna as “hell” - especially if by “hell” we refer automatically to the eternal punishment of the wicked in conscious torment in a lake of fire - the thoroughly discussed limitations of hell language and imagery have been slow to permeate the theology of pulpits and pews in much of the church. Why the reluctance? Do we resist out of ignorance? Or are we afraid that abandoning infernalism implies abandoning faithfulness to Scripture and sound doctrine? After all, for so long we were taught that to be a Christian - especially an evangelical - is to be an infernalist. And yet, not a few of my friends have confessed that they have given up on being “good Christians” because they can no longer assent to the kind of God that creates and sends people to hell as they imagine it.
Bradley Jersak (Her Gates Will Never Be Shut: Hell, Hope, and the New Jerusalem)
We’re sleepwalkers. All religious teachers have recognized that we human beings do not naturally see; we have to be taught how to see. That’s what religion is for. That’s why the Buddha and Jesus say with one voice, “Be awake.” Jesus talks about “staying watchful” (Matt. 25:13; Luke 12:37; Mark 13:33–37), and “Buddha” means “I am awake” in Sanskrit. Jesus says further, “If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light” (Luke 11:34). Thus,
Richard Rohr (What the Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self)
At Liberty, I’ve met hundreds of people whose lives have been made better and more virtuous by their faith. But I’ve also seen a process whereby some reasonable, humble believers are taught to put their religious goals above everything else. This is how you get gentle Christian kids condemning strangers to hell in Daytona Beach, and it’s how you end up with a group of Liberty students sitting around a prayer room talking about the ideological crops that can be reaped from a national tragedy.
Kevin Roose (The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University)
The danger of religious faith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy. Because each new generation of children is taught that religious propositions need not be justified in the way that all others must, civilization is still besieged by the armies of the preposterous. We are, even now, killing ourselves over ancient literature. Who would have thought something so tragically absurd could be possible? By contrast, why would anyone go to war for the sake of an absence of belief?
Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion: 10th Anniversary Edition)
Yet, emotionally I could not bring myself to accept either his presence, or his reality. My problem was not a religious problem. God could certainly create as many variations of intelligent humans as he wanted. Presumably God put humans here on this earth, and all non-humans on some other far-away planet orbiting some other far-away star. My problem was a scientific problem. For the Tall White guard to be standing there in the hot sun, for real, would mean that everything I had been taught about Einstein and the Theory of Relativity was simply incorrect.
Charles James Hall (Millennial Hospitality IV: After Hours)
Western society has in the past few decades taken a great step forward, which gives its members a perhaps unparalleled opportunity. This has been due to the final recognition of the way in which people can be (and are) conditioned to believe virtually anything. Although this knowledge existed earlier, it was confined to a few, and was taught to relatively small groups, because it was considered subversive. Once, however, the paradox of change of 'faith' began to disturb Western scientists in the Korean war, they were not long in explaining - even in replicating - the phenomenon. As with so many other discoveries, this one had to wait for its acceptance until there was no other explanation. Hence, work which Western scientists could have done a century or more earlier was delayed. Still, better late than never. What remains to be done is that the general public should absorb the facts of mind-manipulation. Failure to do so has resulted in an almost free field for the cults which are a bane of Western existence. In both East and West, the slowness of absorption of these facts has allowed narrow, political, religious and faddish fanaticism to arise, to grow and to spread without the necessary 'immunization'. In illiberal societies it is forbidden to teach these facts. In liberal ones, few people are interested: but only because mind-manipulation is assumed to be something that happens to someone else, and people are selfish in many ways, though charitable in others. Yet the reality is that most people are touched by one or other of an immense range of conditioned beliefs, fixations, even which take the place of truth and are even respected because 'so-and-so is at least sincere.' Naturally such mental sets are not to be opposed. Indeed they thrive on opposition. They have to be explained and contained. The foregoing remarks will not 'become the property' of the individual or the group on a single reading. An unfamiliar and previously untaught lesson, especially when it claims careful attention and remembering, will always take time to sink in. This presentation, therefore, forms a part of materials which need to be reviewed at intervals. Doing this should enable one to add a little ability and to receive a minute quality of understanding each time.
Idries Shah (Knowing How to Know : A Practical Philosophy in the Sufi Tradition)
In this respect, Obama is fairly typical of progressives more generally. The evidence for this claim is in Arthur Brooks’s study, Who Really Cares. Brooks bases his conclusions on data drawn from a wide range of sources that keep track of philanthropy. Brooks divides America into four groups: religious conservatives, religious liberals, secular conservatives, and secular liberals. He finds that religious conservatives are the most generous people in America, and secular liberals are the least generous. (Secular conservatives and religious liberals fall in the middle.)
Dinesh D'Souza (Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me about Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party)
Biological racists are segregationists. Biological racism rests on two ideas: that the races are meaningfully different in their biology and that these differences create a hierarchy of value. I grew up believing the first idea of biological racial difference. I grew up disbelieving the second idea of biological racial hierarchy, which conflicted with the biblical creation story I’d learned through religious study, in which all humans descend from Adam and Eve. It also conflicted with the secular creed I’d been taught, the American creation story that “all men are created equal.
Ibram X. Kendi (How to Be an Antiracist)
All their religious conceptions are outward and material. They say that God is of a bodily nature, and has a body in form like that of a man. Material, too, is their conception of eternal life. Ask to what place they are departing, or what hope they have, and they answer — “To another land better than this.” Divine men of old told of a happy life for happy souls, to be passed in the “isles of the blest,” or in the Elysian plains of which Homer speaks. Plato taught that the soul was immortal, and expressly calls the place where it is sent “earth." …They expect to see God with the bodily eye, to hear His voice with their ears, and to touch Him with sensible hands…If a race so craven and carnal can understand anything, let them give ear. Give up your outward vision and look upwards with your mind ; turn aside from the eye of the flesh and raise the eye of the soul : only so will you see God. And if you seek a guide, you must shun vagabonds and jugglers who recommend their phantoms ; you must not blaspheme as idols those who prove themselves to be gods, while you worship one who is not even an idol, but truly a dead man, and seek out a father like unto Him.
Celsus (The Fragments of Celsus)
It seems obvious that throughout history, as one of the few professions open to women, midwifery must have attracted women of unusual intelligence, competence, and self-respect§. While acknowledging that many remedies used by the witches were “purely magical” and worked, if at all, by suggestion, Ehrenreich and English point out an important distinction between the witch-healer and the medical man of the late Middle Ages: . . . the witch was an empiricist; She relied on her senses rather than on faith or doctrine, she believed in trial and error, cause and effect. Her attitude was not religiously passive, but actively inquiring. She trusted her ability to find ways to deal with disease, pregnancy and childbirth—whether through medication or charms. In short, her magic was the science of her time. By contrast: There was nothing in late mediaeval medical training that conflicted with church doctrine, and little that we would recognize as “science”. Medical students . . . spent years studying Plato, Aristotle and Christian theology. . . . While a student, a doctor rarely saw any patients at all, and no experimentation of any kind was taught. . . . Confronted with a sick person, the university-trained physician had little to go on but superstition. . . . Such was the state of medical “science” at the time when witch-healers were persecuted for being practitioners of “magic”.15 Since asepsis and the transmission of disease through bacteria and unwashed hands was utterly unknown until the latter part of the nineteenth century, dirt was a presence in any medical situation—real dirt, not the misogynistic dirt associated by males with the female body. The midwife, who attended only women in labor, carried fewer disease bacteria with her than the physician.
Adrienne Rich (Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution)
This is a world where human races battle endlessly, where people of one faith still slaughter people of another. Religious wars rage from Sri Lanka to Bosnia, from Jerusalem to American cities and towns where Christians still, in the name of Jesus Christ, bring death in his name to their enemies, to their own, even to little children. Tribe, race, clan, family. Deep within us all are the seeds of hate for what is different. We do not have to be taught these things. We have to be taught not to give in to them! They are in our blood, but on our minds is the charity and the love to overcome them.
Anne Rice (Taltos (Lives of the Mayfair Witches, #3))
The true meaning of money yet remains to be popularly explained and comprehended. When each individual realises for himself that this thing primarily stands for and should only be accepted as a moral due - that it should be paid out as honestly stored energy, and not as a usurped privilege - many of our social, religious, and political troubles will have permanently passed. As for Carrie, her understanding of the moral significance of money was the popular understanding, nothing more. The old definition: 'Money: something everybody else has and I must get,' would have expressed her understanding of it thoroughly. Some of it she now held in her hand - two soft, green ten-dollar bills - and she felt that she was immensely better off for the having of them. It was something that was power in itself. One of her order of mind would have been content to be cast away upon a desert island with a bundle of money, and only the long strain of starvation would have taught her that in some cases it could have no value. Even then she would have had no conception of the relative value of the thing; her one thought would, undoubtedly, have concerned the pity of having so much power and the inability to use it.
Theodore Dreiser
Humility cannot be taught by propaganda, though slavery can. Shouting for humility is a form of arrogance. One of my most abiding recollections is of a priest at a religious occasion once roaring, in the most threatening way imaginable: ‘O our Lord God, we most humbly pray…!’ Real humility is not always the same as apparent humility. Remember that fighting against self-conceit is still fighting: and that it will tend to suppress it temporarily. It does not cure anything. Remember, too, that humility itself does not bring an automatic reward: it is a means to an end. It enables a person to operate in a certain manner.
Idries Shah, Reflections
In prosecuting the anti-slavery enterprise, we have been asked to spare the church, to spare the ministry; but how, we ask, could such a thing be done? We are met on the threshold of our efforts for the redemption of the slave, by the church and ministry of the country, in battle arrayed against us; and we are compelled to fight or flee. From what quarter, I beg to know, has proceeded a fire so deadly upon our ranks, during the last two years, as from the Northern pulpit? As the champions of oppressors, the chosen men of American theology have appeared-men, honored for their so-called piety, and their real learning. The LORDS of Buffalo, the SPRINGS of New York, the LATHROPS of Auburn, the COXES and SPENCERS of Brooklyn, the GANNETS and SHARPS of Boston, the DEWEYS of Washington, and other great religious lights of the land, have, in utter denial of the authority of Him, by whom they professed to be called to the ministry, deliberately taught us, against the example or the Hebrews and against the remonstrance of the Apostles they teach, "that we ought to obey man’s law before the law of God." My spirit wearies of such blasphemy; and how such men can be supported, as the "standing types and representatives of Jesus Christ," is a mystery which I leave others to penetrate.
Frederick Douglass (What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?)
Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument. Teaching children that unquestioned faith is a virtue primes them - given certain other ingredients that are no hard to come by - to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads or crusades. Immunized against fear by the promise of a martyr's paradise, the authentic faith-head deserves a high place in the history of armaments, alongside the longbow, the warhorse, the tank and the cluster bomb. If children were taught to question and think through their beliefs, instead of being taught the superior virtue of faith without question, it is a good bet that there would be no suicide bombers. Suicide bombers do what they do because they really believe what they were taught in their religious schools: that duty to God exceeds all other priorities, and that martyrdom in his service will be rewarded in the gardens of Paradise. And they were taught that lesson not necessarily by extremist fanatics but by decent, gentle, mainstream religious instructors, who lined them up in their madrasa, sitting in rows, rhythmically nodding their innocent little head up and down while they learned every words of the holy book like demented parrots. Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.
Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion)
The doctrine of justification by faith—a Biblical truth, and a blessed relief from sterile legalism and unavailing self-effort—has in our time fallen into evil company and been interpreted by many in such manner as actually to bar men from the knowledge of God. The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be "received" without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is "saved," but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little.
A.W. Tozer (The Pursuit of God)
Ottoman provinces were re-formed and cobbled together into states. The region was carved up with little regard to ethnic, religious, or territorial concerns. The flawed and cavalier treaties of World War I explain to a large degree why the Middle East remains unstable and angry today. Every Muslim schoolchild is taught this arc of history and resents it: Islam’s golden era of the Arab caliphate, the Crusades, the Mongol devastation, the rise of the Ottomans, World War I, the carving up of the Middle East by Europe, and the poverty, weakness, and wars in the Muslim world of the last century. This is the basic and sad narrative taught at every mosque, and it has the benefit of being broadly accurate.
Richard Engel (And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middle East)
Christians in Brazil tend to be way less involved in politics. We are not a society that has two parties with clear stances like the US does. Things here are much more nuanced, and voting for a given party relates very little to your religious affiliation. I see American Christians naively associating their country with the kingdom of God; here believers are less prone to such things. We are less enthusiastic about our country’s history, military achievements, anthem singing,5 and all of that. It’s not a lack of patriotism; it’s just a greater separation between a citizenship in heaven and one on earth. There would never be a flag ceremony or singing of the national anthem during a church service here.
Chad Gibbs (Jesus without Borders: What Planes, Trains, and Rickshaws Taught Me about Jesus)
We had dinner with the high school friend once. Maddie invited her over for pizza and wine and the conversation wound its way to a point where our guest felt comfortable asking whether I agreed religion stymies intellectual curiosity. On the contrary, I said. I consider seeking knowledge a religious obligation. After all, the first word received in the Quran is: Read! And the third line is: Read, because your Lord has taught you the pen; he taught mankind what mankind did not yet know. But religion, our guest insisted with impressive confidence, allows you to ask only so many questions before you get to: Just because. You have to have faith. Well, I said. Your problem with religion is virtually every faithless person’s problem with religion: that it offers irreducible answers. But some questions in the end simply aren’t empirically verifiable. Find me the empirical evidence as to whether you should derail the train and kill all three hundred passengers if it would mean saving the life of the one person tied to the tracks. Or: Is it true because I see it, or do I see it because it’s true? The whole point of faith is that irreducible answers don’t bother the faithful. The faithful take comfort and even pride in the knowledge that they have the strength to make the irreducible answers sincerely their own, as difficult as that is to do. Everyone—irreligious people included—relies on irreducible answers every day. All religion really does is to be honest about this, by giving the reliance a specific name: faith.
Lisa Halliday (Asymmetry)
It is their usual reaction; they employ not words and reasoned conversation or discourse to resolve problems, but the truncheon, the jackbooted foot, or the gun. Sophistication requires more competence and skill than mere thuggery. It is a harder, loftier charge to be civilised than to let the beast in man devour man. The enlightened mind knows that all is challengeable, questions all, and thus, learns and grows. The weak, narrow mind makes its beliefs – whatever form they take – sacrosanct, defending them with violence if necessary. Political extremists, much like religious zealots, are the latter. They destroy what they cannot convert. They annihilate those they cannot control or make conform. They have found no peace in life, no love, and so promote war and division, as emotional cripples – inflicting their own pain and misery and malignant stupidity on the world. Their language binds people together, but only by stirring the darkest excesses of the soul; language of hate, and intolerance, fear and conspiracy, and the need for vengeance. In war-scarred Europe, these cripples direct mass-psychology, and would make the world in their own likeness; mutilated by violence and tribalism and hate. They use language in its most evil, twisted form. They appeal to the lowest form of understanding, on a level I hesitate to allow for the term ‘human intelligence’ to be associated. Children, fertile minds ripe for molestation. Now they will be taught what to think, not how to think. Language, that twisted poison. It scars purity.
Daniel S. Fletcher (Jackboot Britain)
[M]ost Americans are still drawing some water from the Christian well. But a growing number are inventing their own versions of what Christianity means, abandoning the nuances of traditional theology in favor of religions that stroke their egos and indulge or even celebrate their worst impulses. . . . Both doubters and believers stand to lose if religion in the age of heresy turns out to be complicit in our fragmented communities, our collapsing families, our political polarization, and our weakened social ties. Both doubters and believers will inevitably suffer from a religious culture that supplies more moral license than moral correction, more self-satisfaction than self-examination, more comfort than chastisement. . . . Many of the overlapping crises in American life . . . can be traced to the impulse to emphasize one particular element of traditional Christianity—one insight, one doctrine, one teaching or tradition—at the expense of all the others. The goal is always progress: a belief system that’s simpler or more reasonable, more authentic or more up-to-date. Yet the results often vindicate the older Christian synthesis. Heresy sets out to be simpler and more appealing and more rational, but it often ends up being more extreme. . . . The boast of Christian orthodoxy . . . has always been its fidelity to the whole of Jesus. Its dogmas and definitions seek to encompass the seeming contradictions in the gospel narratives rather than evading them. . . . These [heretical] simplifications have usually required telling a somewhat different story about Jesus than the one told across the books of the New Testament. Sometimes this retelling has involved thinning out the Christian canon, eliminating tensions by subtracting them. . . . More often, though, it’s been achieved by straightforwardly rewriting or even inventing crucial portions of the New Testament account. . . . “Religious man was born to be saved,” [Philip Rieff] wrote, but “psychological man is born to be pleased.” . . . In 2005, . . . . Smith and Denton found no evidence of real secularization among their subjects: 97 percent of teenagers professed some sort of belief in the divine, 71 percent reported feeling either “very” or “somewhat” close to God, and the vast majority self-identified as Christian. There was no sign of deep alienation from their parents’ churches, no evidence that the teenagers in the survey were poised to convert outright to Buddhism or Islam, and no sign that real atheism was making deep inroads among the young. But neither was there any evidence of a recognizably orthodox Christian faith. “American Christianity,” Smith and Denton suggested, is “either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself,” or else is “actively being colonized and displaced by a quite different religious faith.” They continued: “Most religious teenagers either do not really comprehend what their own religious traditions say they are supposed to believe, or they do understand it and simply do not care to believe it.” . . . An ego that’s never wounded, never trammeled or traduced—and that’s taught to regard its deepest impulses as the promptings of the divine spirit—can easily turn out to be an ego that never learns sympathy, compassion, or real wisdom. And when contentment becomes an end unto itself, the way that human contents express themselves can look an awful lot like vanity and decadence. . . . For all their claims to ancient wisdom, there’s nothing remotely countercultural about the Tolles and Winfreys and Chopras. They’re telling an affluent, appetitive society exactly what it wants to hear: that all of its deepest desires are really God’s desires, and that He wouldn’t dream of judging. This message encourages us to justify our sins by spiritualizing them. . . . Our vaunted religiosity is real enough, but our ostensible Christian piety doesn’t have the consequences a casual observer might expect. . . . We nod to God, and then we do as we please.
Ross Douthat (Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics)
Among the most virulent of all such cultural parasite-equivalents is the religion-based denial of organic evolution. About one-half of Americans (46 percent in 2013, up from 44 percent in 1980), most of whom are evangelical Christians, together with a comparable fraction of Muslims worldwide, believe that no such process has ever occurred. As Creationists, they insist that God created humankind and the rest of life in one to several magical mega-strokes. Their minds are closed to the overwhelming mass of factual demonstrations of evolution, which is increasingly interlocked across every level of biological organization from molecules to ecosystem and the geography of biodiversity. They ignore, or more precisely they call it virtue to remain ignorant of, ongoing evolution observed in the field and even traced to the genes involved. Also looked past are new species created in the laboratory. To Creationists, evolution is at best just an unproven theory. To a few, it is an idea invented by Satan and transmitted through Darwin and later scientists in order to mislead humanity. When I was a small boy attending an evangelical church in Florida, I was taught that the secular agents of Satan are extremely bright and determined, but liars all, man and woman, and so no matter what I heard I must stick my fingers in my ears and hold fast to the true faith. We are all free in a democracy to believe whatever we wish, so why call any opinion such as Creationism a virulent cultural parasite-equivalent? Because it represents a triumph of blind religious faith over carefully tested fact. It is not a conception of reality forged by evidence and logical judgment. Instead, it is part of the price of admission to a religious tribe. Faith is the evidence given of a person’s submission to a particular god, and even then not to the deity directly but to other humans who claim to represent the god. The cost to society as a whole of the bowed head has been enormous. Evolution is a fundamental process of the Universe, not just in living organisms but everywhere, at every level. Its analysis is vital to biology, including medicine, microbiology, and agronomy. Furthermore psychology, anthropology, and even the history of religion itself make no sense without evolution as the key component followed through the passage of time. The explicit denial of evolution presented as a part of a “creation science” is an outright falsehood, the adult equivalent of plugging one’s ears, and a deficit to any society that chooses to acquiesce in this manner to a fundamentalist faith.
Edward O. Wilson (The Meaning of Human Existence)
Religious creeds are a great obstacle to any full sympathy between the outlook of the scientist and the outlook which religion is so often supposed to require ... The spirit of seeking which animates us refuses to regard any kind of creed as its goal. It would be a shock to come across a university where it was the practice of the students to recite adherence to Newton's laws of motion, to Maxwell's equations and to the electromagnetic theory of light. We should not deplore it the less if our own pet theory happened to be included, or if the list were brought up to date every few years. We should say that the students cannot possibly realise the intention of scientific training if they are taught to look on these results as things to be recited and subscribed to. Science may fall short of its ideal, and although the peril scarcely takes this extreme form, it is not always easy, particularly in popular science, to maintain our stand against creed and dogma.
Arthur Stanley Eddington
I have again been asked to explain how one can "become a Daoists..." with all of the sad things happening in our world today, Laozi and Zhuangzi give words of advice, tho not necessarily to become a Daoist priest or priestess... " So many foreigners who want to become “Religious Daoists” 道教的道师 (道士) do not realize that they must not only receive a transmission of a Lu 籙 register which identifies their Daoist school, and learn as well how to sing the ritual melodies, play the flute, stringed instruments, drums, and sacred dance steps, required to be an ordained and functioning Daoist priest or priestess. This process usually takes 10 years or more of daily discipleship and practice, to accomplish. There are 86 schools and genre of Daoist rituals listed in the Baiyun Guan Gazeteer, 白雲觀志, which was edited by Oyanagi Sensei, in Tokyo, 1928, and again in 1934, and re-published by Baiyun Guan in Beijing, available in their book shop to purchase. Some of the schools, such as the Quanzhen Longmen 全真龙门orders, allow their rituals and Lu registers to be learned by a number of worthy disciples or monks; others, such as the Zhengyi, Qingwei, Pole Star, and Shangqing 正一,清微,北极,上请 registers may only be taught in their fullness to one son and/or one disciple, each generation. Each of the schools also have an identifying poem, from 20 or 40 character in length, or in the case of monastic orders (who pass on the registers to many disciples), longer poems up to 100 characters, which identify the generation of transmission from master to disciple. The Daoist who receives a Lu register (給籙元科, pronounced "Ji Lu Yuanke"), must use the character from the poem given to him by his or her master, when composing biao 表 memorials, shuwen 梳文 rescripts, and other documents, sent to the spirits of the 3 realms (heaven, earth, water /underworld). The rituals and documents are ineffective unless the correct characters and talismanic signature are used. The registers are not given to those who simply practice martial artists, Chinese medicine, and especially never shown to scholars. The punishment for revealing them to the unworthy is quite severe, for those who take payment for Lu transmission, or teaching how to perform the Jinlu Jiao and Huanglu Zhai 金籙醮,黃籙齋 科儀 keyi rituals, music, drum, sacred dance steps. Tang dynasty Tangwen 唐文 pronunciation must also be used when addressing the highest Daoist spirits, i.e., the 3 Pure Ones and 5 Emperors 三请五帝. In order to learn the rituals and receive a Lu transmission, it requires at least 10 years of daily practice with a master, by taking part in the Jiao and Zhai rituals, as an acolyte, cantor, or procession leader. Note that a proper use of Daoist ritual also includes learning Inner Alchemy, ie inner contemplative Daoist meditation, the visualization of spirits, where to implant them in the body, and how to summon them forth during ritual. The woman Daoist master Wei Huacun’s Huangting Neijing, 黃庭內經 to learn the esoteric names of the internalized Daoist spirits. Readers must be warned never to go to Longhu Shan, where a huge sum is charged to foreigners ($5000 to $9000) to receive a falsified document, called a "license" to be a Daoist! The first steps to true Daoist practice, Daoist Master Zhuang insisted to his disciples, is to read and follow the Laozi Daode Jing and the Zhuangzi Neipian, on a daily basis. Laozi Ch 66, "the ocean is the greatest of all creatures because it is the lowest", and Ch 67, "my 3 most precious things: compassion for all, frugal living for myself, respect all others and never put anyone down" are the basis for all Daoist practice. The words of Zhuangzi, Ch 7, are also deeply meaningful: "Yin and Yang were 2 little children who loved to play inside Hundun (ie Taiji, gestating Dao). They felt sorry because Hundun did not have eyes, or eats, or other senses. So everyday they drilled one hole, ie 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils, one mouth; and on the 7th day, Hundun died.
Michael Saso
(1) The church-state issue. If parents could use their vouchers to pay tuition at parochial schools, would that violate the First Amendment? Whether it does or not, is it desirable to adopt a policy that might strengthen the role of religious institutions in schooling? The Supreme Court has generally ruled against state laws providing assistance to parents who send their children to parochial schools, although it has never had occasion to rule on a full-fledged voucher plan covering both public and nonpublic schools. However it might rule on such a plan, it seems clear that the Court would accept a plan that excluded church-connected schools but applied to all other private and public schools. Such a restricted plan would be far superior to the present system, and might not be much inferior to a wholly unrestricted plan. Schools now connected with churches could qualify by subdividing themselves into two parts: a secular part reorganized as an independent school eligible for vouchers, and a religious part reorganized as an after-school or Sunday activity paid for directly by parents or church funds. The constitutional issue will have to be settled by the courts. But it is worth emphasizing that vouchers would go to parents, not to schools. Under the GI bills, veterans have been free to attend Catholic or other colleges and, so far as we know, no First Amendment issue has ever been raised. Recipients of Social Security and welfare payments are free to buy food at church bazaars and even to contribute to the collection plate from their government subsidies, with no First Amendment question being asked. Indeed, we believe that the penalty that is now imposed on parents who do not send their children to public schools violates the spirit of the First Amendment, whatever lawyers and judges may decide about the letter. Public schools teach religion, too—not a formal, theistic religion, but a set of values and beliefs that constitute a religion in all but name. The present arrangements abridge the religious freedom of parents who do not accept the religion taught by the public schools yet are forced to pay to have their children indoctrinated with it, and to pay still more to have their children escape indoctrination.
Milton Friedman (Free to Choose: A Personal Statement)
The former South African archbishop Desmond Tutu used to famously say, “We are prisoners of hope.” Such a statement might be taken as merely rhetorical or even eccentric if you hadn’t seen Bishop Tutu stare down the notorious South African Security Police when they broke into the Cathedral of St. George’s during his sermon at an ecumenical service. I was there and have preached about the dramatic story of his response more times than I can count. The incident taught me more about the power of hope than any other moment of my life. Desmond Tutu stopped preaching and just looked at the intruders as they lined the walls of his cathedral, wielding writing pads and tape recorders to record whatever he said and thereby threatening him with consequences for any bold prophetic utterances. They had already arrested Tutu and other church leaders just a few weeks before and kept them in jail for several days to make both a statement and a point: Religious leaders who take on leadership roles in the struggle against apartheid will be treated like any other opponents of the Pretoria regime. After meeting their eyes with his in a steely gaze, the church leader acknowledged their power (“You are powerful, very powerful”) but reminded them that he served a higher power greater than their political authority (“But I serve a God who cannot be mocked!”). Then, in the most extraordinary challenge to political tyranny I have ever witnessed, Archbishop Desmond Tutu told the representatives of South African apartheid, “Since you have already lost, I invite you today to come and join the winning side!” He said it with a smile on his face and enticing warmth in his invitation, but with a clarity and a boldness that took everyone’s breath away. The congregation’s response was electric. The crowd was literally transformed by the bishop’s challenge to power. From a cowering fear of the heavily armed security forces that surrounded the cathedral and greatly outnumbered the band of worshipers, we literally leaped to our feet, shouted the praises of God and began…dancing. (What is it about dancing that enacts and embodies the spirit of hope?) We danced out of the cathedral to meet the awaiting police and military forces of apartheid who hardly expected a confrontation with dancing worshipers. Not knowing what else to do, they backed up to provide the space for the people of faith to dance for freedom in the streets of South Africa.
Jim Wallis (God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It)
Jonathan Trumbull, as Governor of Connecticut, in official proclamation: 'The examples of holy men teach us that we should seek Him with fasting and prayer, with penitent confession of our sins, and hope in His mercy through Jesus Christ the Great Redeemer.” Proclamation for a Day of Fasting and Prayer, March 9, 1774' Samuel Chase, while Chief Justice of Maryland,1799 (Runkel v Winemiller) wrote: 'By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion...' The Pennsylvania Supreme court held (Updegraph v The Commonwealth), 1824: 'Christianity, general Christianity, is and always has been a part of the common law...not Christianity founded on any particular religious tenets; not Christianity with an established church, but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men...' In Massachusetts, the Constitution reads: 'Any every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law: and no subordination of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.' Samuel Adams, as Governor of Massachusetts in a Proclamation for a Day of Fasting and Prayer, 1793: 'we may with one heart and voice humbly implore His gracious and free pardon through Jesus Christ, supplicating His Divine aid . . . [and] above all to cause the religion of Jesus Christ, in its true spirit, to spread far and wide till the whole earth shall be filled with His glory.' Judge Nathaniel Freeman, 1802. Instructed Massachusetts Grand Juries as follows: "The laws of the Christian system, as embraced by the Bible, must be respected as of high authority in all our courts... . [Our government] originating in the voluntary compact of a people who in that very instrument profess the Christian religion, it may be considered, not as republic Rome was, a Pagan, but a Christian republic." Josiah Bartlett, Governor of New Hampshire, in an official proclamation, urged: 'to confess before God their aggravated transgressions and to implore His pardon and forgiveness through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ . . . [t]hat the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be made known to all nations, pure and undefiled religion universally prevail, and the earth be fill with the glory of the Lord.' Chief Justice James Kent of New York, held in 1811 (People v Ruggles): '...whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government... We are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity... Christianity in its enlarged sense, as a religion revealed and taught in the Bible, is part and parcel of the law of the land...
Samuel Adams
What’d you think?” Dan asked as we buckled into the Acclaim after another Sunday under the big top. “I wonder if they realize their worship songs include both amillennial and premillennial theology,” I said with a sigh. “Also, what’s this business from the preacher about Moses writing Numbers? I mean, everyone knows Moses didn’t actually write the book of Numbers. It originated from a combination of written and oral tradition and was assembled and edited by Jewish priests sometime during the postexilic period as an exercise in national self-definition. You can look that up on Wikipedia. And, while we’re at it, a bit more Christology applied to the Old Testament text would be nice.” “Um, Rach, the sermon today was about humility.” Lord, have mercy. See, I’ve got this coping mechanism thing where, when I’m feeling frightened or vulnerable or over my head, I intellectualize the situation to try and regain a sense of control. . . . In some religious traditions, this particular coping mechanism is known as pride. I confess I preened it. I scoffed at the idea of being taught or led. Deconstructing was so much safer than trusting, so much easier than letting people in. I knew exactly what type of Christian I didn’t want to be, but I was too frightened, or too rebellious, or too wounded, to imagine what might be next. Like a garish conch shell, my cynicism protected me from disappointment, or so I believed, so I expected the worst and smirked when I found it. So many of our sins begin with fear . . .
Rachel Held Evans
Being raised evangelical in the Midwest gave me a personal experience of the phenomenon called “religious fundamentalism.” A story illustrates. When I was a boy in high school, I was interested in a girl from our church. It was an evangelical church, although some might have called it a bit fundamentalist—taking a hard line on cultural issues. But I took a chance and invited her to a movie, which was certainly frowned upon back then in our church culture (though my own parents snuck us out to Walt Disney movies at the drive-in, where we were unlikely to be spotted). I chose The Sound of Music, thinking it was “safe.” Who could object to Julie Andrews, I confidently thought? I was wrong. As we left the house, my girlfriend’s father stood in the doorway, blocking our exit, and said to his daughter, “If you go to this film, you’ll be trampling on everything that we’ve taught you to believe.” She fled downstairs to her bedroom in tears. We missed the movie, and the evening was a disaster. A year later, the fundamentalist father watched The Sound of Music on his television—and liked it. Fundamentalism is essentially a revolt against modernity. It is a reaction usually based on profound fear and defensiveness against “losing the faith.” My girlfriend’s father instinctively knew that his religion should make him different than the world. That is a fair religious point, and to be honest, there is much about modernity that deserves some revolting against. But I wish he had chosen to break with America at the point of its materialism, racism, poverty, or violence. Instead, he chose Julie Andrews.
Jim Wallis (God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It)
While I was intent on improving my language, I met with an English grammar (I think it was Greenwood's), at the end of which there were two little sketches of the arts of rhetoric and logic, the latter finishing with a specimen of a dispute in the Socratic method; and soon after I procur'd Xenophon's Memorable Things of Socrates, wherein there are many instances of the same method. I was charm'd with it, adopted it, dropt my abrupt contradiction and positive argumentation, and put on the humble inquirer and doubter. And being then, from reading Shaftesbury and Collins, become a real doubter in many points of our religious doctrine, I found this method safest for myself and very embarrassing to those against whom I used it; therefore I took a delight in it, practis'd it continually, and grew very artful and expert in drawing people, even of superior knowledge, into concessions, the consequences of which they did not foresee, entangling them in difficulties out of which they could not extricate themselves, and so obtaining victories that neither myself nor my cause always deserved. I continu'd this method some few years, but gradually left it, retaining only the habit of expressing myself in terms of modest diffidence; never using, when I advanced any thing that may possibly be disputed, the words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather say, I conceive or apprehend a thing to be so and so; it appears to me, or I should think it so or so, for such and such reasons; or I imagine it to be so; or it is so, if I am not mistaken. This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me when I have had occasion to inculcate my opinions, and persuade men into measures that I have been from time to time engag'd in promoting; and, as the chief ends of conversation are to inform or to be informed, to please or to persuade, I wish well-meaning, sensible men would not lessen their power of doing good by a positive, assuming manner, that seldom fails to disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat every one of those purposes for which speech was given to us, to wit, giving or receiving information or pleasure. For, if you would inform, a positive and dogmatical manner in advancing your sentiments may provoke contradiction and prevent a candid attention. If you wish information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet at the same time express yourself as firmly fix'd in your present opinions, modest, sensible men, who do not love disputation, will probably leave you undisturbed in the possession of your error. And by such a manner, you can seldom hope to recommend yourself in pleasing your hearers, or to persuade those whose concurrence you desire. Pope says, judiciously:           "Men should be taught as if you taught them not,           And things unknown propos'd as things forgot;" farther recommending to us "To speak, tho' sure, with seeming diffidence." And he might have coupled with this line that which he has coupled with another, I think, less properly, "For want of modesty is want of sense." If you ask, Why less properly? I must repeat the lines,           "Immodest words admit of no defense,           For want of modesty is want of sense." Now, is not want of sense (where a man is so unfortunate as to want it) some apology for his want of modesty? and would not the lines stand more justly thus?           "Immodest words admit but this defense,           That want of modesty is want of sense." This, however, I should submit to better judgments.
Benjamin Franklin (The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin)
There is a way of living life, a mode of being religious that causes destruction wherever it appears. It is the misinterpretation of the concept of holiness. It was certainly an issue in Jesus’ day. The variety of the ‘Judaisms’ of Jesus’ day, the various schools or parties, the rabbinic schools of Hillel and Shammai . . . the Essenes . . . apocalyptic sects, mainstream elite like the Sadducees and marginalized Samaritans alike all held to some kind of holiness code, that behavior which made the people right before God. The Temple itself reflected gradations or strata of holiness, from the outer Court of the Gentiles to the Holy of Holies. This meta-map of the Temple was overlaid on Jewish society as well. Just as there were degrees of holy space in the Temple, so also in society various persons had various degrees of holiness . . . It was a hierarchical model, lived out by every group or party except one, that of Jesus. Yet, oddly enough we do not find this holiness language in Jesus’ teaching. Unlike the constant refrain of holiness in the Dead Sea Scrolls or the later Mishnah, Jesus has another set of lyrics using the same melody. Instead of “Be holy as I am holy” Jesus taught “Be merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Mercy was for Jesus what holiness was to many of his contemporaries. Notice the same form is used but the substance has changed. Why is this? Because for Jesus, holiness was not a solution but a problem. Holiness caused ostracizing and exclusion; mercy brought reconciliation and re-socialization. Holiness depended on gradation and hierarchy; mercy broke through all barriers. Holiness differentiated persons based upon honor, wealth, family tree, religious affiliation; mercy recognized that God honors all, loves all and blesses all.
Michael Hardin (The Jesus Driven Life: Reconnecting Humanity with Jesus)
All those statistics - the ones about decline - point toward massive theological discontent. People still believe in God. They just do not believe in the God proclaimed and worshipped by conventional religious organizations. Some of the discontented - and there are many of them - do not know what to call themselves. So they check the “unaffiliated” box on religion surveys. They have become secular humanists, agnostics, posttheists, and atheists and have rejected the conventional God. Others say they are spiritual but not religious. They still believe in God but have abandoned conventional forms of congregating. Still others declare themselves “done” with religion. They slink away from religious communities, traditions that once gave them life, and go hiking on Sunday morning. Some still go to church, but are hanging on for dear life, hoping against hope that something in their churches will change. They pray prayers about heaven that no longer make sense and sing hymns about an eternal life they do not believe in. They want to be in the world, because they know they are made of the same stuff as the world and that the world is what really matters, but some nonsense someone taught them once about the world being bad or warning of hell still echoes in their heads. They are afraid to say what they really think or feel for fear that no one will listen or care or even understand. They think they might be crazy. All these people are turning toward the world because they intuit that is where they will find meaning and awe, that which those who are still theists call God. They are not crazy. They are part of this spiritual revolution - people discovering God in the world and a world that is holy, a reality that enfolds what we used to call heaven and earth into one. These people are not secular, even though their main concern is the world; they are not particularly religious (in the old-fashioned understanding of the term), even though they are deeply aware of God. They are fashioning a way of faith between conventional theism and any kind of secularism devoid of the divine. In our time, people are turning toward the numinous presence that animates the world, what theologian Rudolf Otto called “the Holy.” They are those who are discovering a deeply worldly faith. Decades ago Catholic theologian Karl Rahner made a prediction about devout people of the future. He said they would either be “mystics,” those who have “experienced something ,” or “cease to be anything at all”; and if they are mystical believers, they will be those whose faith “is profoundly present and committed to the world.” The future of faith would be an earthy spirituality , a brilliant awareness of the spirit that vivifies the world.
Diana Butler Bass (Grounded: Finding God in the World-A Spiritual Revolution)