Tag Archives: Christianity

Thordaddy’s Claim that his concept of “white (S)upremacy” accords with Christian Doctrine

This post is part of a series of posts designed to address the common topics brought by a frequent commentator to my blog named Thordaddy. Please see this post for an introduction to this series.

Thordaddy claims that Christianity is a “(S)upremacist” religion, therefore any white Christian must be a “white (S)upremacist”. There are two problems with this claim. First, (as always) Thordaddy’s unique terminology is vaguely and confusingly defined. Second, there is no scriptural basis for this assertion.

(a) The reoccurring problem with definitions

Thordaddy uses two definitions for white supremacy: (1) the mundane definition, and (2) the absolute definition. The mundane definition of white supremacy is the common definition that most people share. That is, “the belief, theory or doctrine that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and therefore should dominate society.” By contrast, Thordaddy argues that he practices the “absolute” version of “white (S)upremacy” which he defines as a “white man who believes in and therefore strives towards perfection.” Thordaddy admits that these practices are not mutually exclusive. That is, a practitioner of absolute white (S)upremacy will often also be a practitioner of mundane white supremacy.

Now, Thordaddy often argues that the “dull masses” abhor the practice of absolute white (S)upremacy because they cannot see past the mundane version of white supremacy. This, I believe is incorrect. First, I do not think anyone would object to a white person striving for perfection unrelated to the mundane definition. I certainly cannot think of an example of this happening. Second, if the mundane and the absolute practices are often “intertwined” (as Thordaddy has said) then this is very likely the reason why the “dull masses” cannot see past the concept of mundane white supremacy. Moreover, Thordaddy is unwilling or unable to provide a clear definition regarding what he means by “striving towards perfection.” When asked for a definition or example the best he could offer was his “spreading his righteousness” to people he encounters. I assume this means him communicating his racist message in his unique communication style which again seems to only reflect the mundane definition.

In conclusion, if we are defining “supremacy” as trying to be the best you can be and a “white (S)upremacist” as someone trying to be the best they can be who also happens to be white, then I suppose Thordaddy could legitimately make the argument that Christianity is a “(S)upremacist religion”.  However, if the mundane definition is employed, then there can be no doubt that Christianity is not a supremacist religion because there is no scriptural support to support this contention. In fact, quite the opposite, as we will discuss in the next section.

(b) The lack of scriptural foundation

In the past, when confronted with the argument that his concept of “white (S)upremacy” accords with Christian doctrine has no scriptural basis, Thordaddy has never once countered with a scriptural passage supporting his position. This suggests to me that he is not at all familiar with scripture. Further, I suspect his lack of familiarity with scripture is on some level intentional, because if he was familiar with scripture, he would then have to explain the discrepancies between his arguments and the scripture. There are many obvious discrepancies. The following are a few of the most glaring examples.

(i) “Love thy Neighbor as Thyself”

In the past, Thordaddy has taken the novel position that the Second Greatest Commandment does not instruct a Christian to actually love his neighbor as a general proposition. Rather the commandment is to love his neighbor only to the extent that he loves himself. Accordingly, if a person does not love himself he is under no obligation to love his neighbor. He uses this as a license with the blessing of Christian dogma to hate his neighbor if he so chooses. I find this a novel interpretation of the commandment chiefly because, it has been my experience that (with the exception of Thordaddy alone) all Christians seem to agree that there is an underlying assumption embedded within the Second Greatest Commandment that a person would naturally love himself.

Moreover, Thordaddy’s interpretation of the Greatest Commandment is logically inconsistent with his unique interpretation of the second great commandment. His interpretation of the Greatest Commandment is to give all love to God such that there is no love remaining for the self and less still for the neighbor. In other words he sees love as a zero sum game in which there is a finite amount of love to go around and if all of a person’s love goes to God there is none left for anyone else. I would argue that the plain meaning of the Greatest Commandment speaks to the intensity of love and not to the percentage of love available. Furthermore, Thordaddy’s interpretation of the Greatest Commandment eliminates the need for the Second Greatest Commandment. That is, it would not make sense for Christ to specifically emphasize the Second Greatest Commandment in the gospels if the Greatest Commandment effectively rendered it moot.

His unique interpretation of the Second Greatest Commandment is made more peculiar still by the fact that he is obsessed with the concept of the (presumably sinful) act of self-annihilation which he seems to take delight in accusing other people of committing. I asked him point blank if he loved himself and he repeatedly dodged this question which surprised me. I would think a person who feels so strongly that the act of self annihilation is so morally wrong would naturally love himself. I assume, however, that he does not want to admit to loving himself because by his own logic he would then be compelled by the Second Greatest Commandment to also love his neighbor. In this light, his reluctance to admit to loving himself seems to prove that even he is dubious of his unique interpretation.

(ii)  “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”

From its inception, Christianity has been a racially ecumenical religion. This is expressly stated in the Gospel of Mark:

Afterward [Jesus] appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:14-15)

Here we see Jesus himself commanding his disciples to preach the good news of his resurrection to “every creature” in “all the world.” He, by no means instructed them to limit their teachings to their own kind, let alone exclusively white people,

(iii) “The fruit of the spirit”

Racism is also at odds with St. Paul’s conception of the “Fruit of the Spirit” he writes about in his letter to the Galations:

[T]he desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh…  Now the works of the flesh are evident: … enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, … and things like these. (Gal 5:19-21)

Racism, seems very much in accord with what St. Paul describes as the “desires of the flesh” particularly including “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy”. By contrast, Saint Paul describes the fruit of the spirit:

[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… (Gal 5:22-23)

I must say that I do not see these qualities in any of Thordaddy’s comments. This is one of many reasons (beyond his incoherence and his illogical arguments) I hold his contempt and judgment of his fellow Christians suspect. Accordingly, if he intends to hold himself out as a righteous Christian, perhaps he should reconsider the spirit behind his message. And if the spirit behind his message cannot be reconciled with his message perhaps he should reconsider his message.

 

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Thordaddy’s Concept of White Supremacy

This post is part of a series of posts designed to address the common topics brought by a frequent commentator to my blog named Thordaddy. Please see this post for an introduction to this series.

(1) The Ambiguous Definition

Thordaddy has defined what he refers to as “white (S)upremacy” in the following manner:

White men who believe in and therefore strive towards objective (S)upremacy are white (S)upremacists. … [T]he definition of objective (S)upremacy is (P)erfection. What is (P)erfection? HE WHO WILLS ALL (R)IGHT.

This definition, however, does little to clarify what Thordaddy has in mind when using these terms. Declaring “objective (S)upremacy” means “(P)erfection” means “HE WHO WILLS ALL RIGHT” does not give me an understanding of what these terms mean or what a person would do to strive towards “objective (P)erfection”. I assume the “HE” Thordaddy refers to is Jesus or perhaps God the father. But if one were to imitate Jesus, it seems very unlikely that they would act as Thordaddy does particularly his hostility towards other races. Ultimately, a person trying to understand what he is attempting to articulate is left confused which he then claims is evidence of “radical autonomy” and “self-annihilation”.

(2) Thordaddy’s claim “white (S)upremacy” is distinct from “white supremacy”

On a general level, it seems to me that the “definition” above is an attempt by Thordaddy to distance his concept of “white (S)upremacy” from the commonly understood concept of white supremacy, which by its plain meaning promotes the idea that white people should be supreme over (and thus hostile to) other “nonwhite” races. Thordaddy, however, denies this by saying:

This is exactly what I AM NOT TRYING TO DO. The “commonly understood concept” of “white (s)upremacy” is the liberated concept whereas my articulation represents the absolute concept. … [T]he liberated concept has perversely illegitimated the absolute concept in the minds of the degenerately dull mass. And those who participate in this deception are almost certainly hell bound without repentance.

As we have established supra, the “absolute concept” of “white (S)upremacy” is white men who strive towards perfection. Although Thordaddy has consistently resisted defining what he means by perfection, or what one would do to achieve perfection, we can assume that he means something along the lines of “white men trying to be the best they can be morally and in other dimensions.”

This begs the question as to how “absolute white (S)upremacy” has been “perversely illegitimated” by the commonly understood form of white supremacy? For example, I don’t think anyone equates the 2019 white supremacist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand with other white men trying to act morally in other contexts. The two have nothing to do with each other as far as I can tell. But Thordaddy seems to believe the two are connected and that liberals have somehow conspired to make them connected.

(3) Thordaddy’s claim “white (S)upremacy” has nothing to do with other races.

Thordaddy has at times argued that “white (S)upremacy” has nothing to do with other races and that “striving towards objective (P)erfection” is something akin to white people trying to be the best they can be on their own, and not related or in comparison to other races. He becomes very dodgy when asked what “perfection” means in this context nor does he seem to be able to provide concrete examples of what a white man would do whilst in the act of striving towards perfection. For example, he stated the following in the comment section to this blog post:

If I offer every individual who crosses my path my righteousness then I have expressed a desire for (P)erfection. It need not be anymore complicated than this.

If a group of white men share this desire, the horde of orcs call it “white (s)upremacy” (or racist a [sic] Christianity).

In the quoted passage above we see Thordaddy give an example of his “striving towards perfection” as him “offer[ing his] righteousness”. I assume the literally hundreds of comments he has posted on my blog is an example of him “offering” me “his righteousness”. If that is the case, then I am unclear as to what is “perfect” about this. On the contrary, it seems obsessive and maladapted. Moreover, if he really wanted to offer his “righteousness” perfectly, I would think he would be able to communicate it in a manner that could be understood.

Further, I am unsure why he believes his acts of “offering his righteousness” to be unrelated to other races when his “righteousness” is replete with racial epitaphs. His own logic seems to betray him on this point as well as is evidenced in the following quote:

So when I say that my offering of righteousness to whomever crosses my path has nothing to do with other races, this is no different than saying that my offering of righteousness is not contingent upon the existence of other races.

I think what he is saying here is that when he offers his righteousness (i.e., insults other races, or labels those who question this behavior “radically autonomous” or a “self-annihilator”) it has nothing to do with other races because he, himself is white. He seems to believe his “white (S)upremacy” and his hostility to other races are unrelated and coincidental. But I think any reasonable person would find this argument dubious at best. The dubiousness of this argument is further reinforced by the following comment he posted:

I need only point to the single instance of the entire socio-political “spectrum” being against [a] white man desiring “supremacy.” IOW, the dulled, mass desire for “equality” JUST IS animus for white men desiring (P)erfection. [The] “Equality” dogma JUST IS the reaction to white man’s desire for objective (S)upremacy.

Why is desire for (P)erfection racial?

Because desire for “equality” is anti-racial.

Here we see Thordaddy explicitly contradict his own claim that his concept of “white (S)upremacy” is unrelated to other races. He says quite clearly that the “desire for (P)erfection” (i.e., his concept of “white (S)upremacy”) is racial. And that “equality” (i.e., the opposite of a “desire for (P)erfection”) is “anti-racial”. One marvels at the mental gymnastics he must put himself through to make sense of all this.

Ultimately, it is obvious that Thordaddy is racist according to the common understanding of this term but is unwilling to fully own his racism as is evidenced by his attempts to philosophically or “intellectually” justify it. Moreover, the fact that he is incapable of clearly defining what he means by “striving towards (P)erfection” or what one can do to accomplish this state (besides trolling my blog with hundreds of comments) is also telling.

(4) Thordaddy’s Queer Assertion – “Your Race is Your Father”

Thordaddy often makes the claim that a person’s race is his father and that a line of fathers extends back to God the Father. The implication to this assertion is that a white person’s line of fathers is different from a non-white person’s line of fathers. Therefore, because the lines of fathers are different between races, there is no requirement to love a person of a different race. In fact, to love a person of another race is an act of self-annihilation according to Thordaddy. Of course one glaring problem with this theory is that “race” is not so easily defined and certainly blurs around the edges when examined closely. Moreover, a recent study has shown that every living person on Earth today shares a common male ancestor. Accordingly, every living person shares the same, ultimate line of fathers.

What also makes this claim strange is that Thordaddy apparently does not believe women to be a part of a person’s race. He asserts this even though women are required to procreate just as much as men are. This is yet another example of Thordaddy taking an obvious concept, claiming the opposite is true and then justifying it with a line of complicated mumbo jumbo.

 

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Thordaddian Stock Response Repository

This series of post can probably be ignored by most of my readers unless they are Thordaddy or have been following his voluminous comments and my responses thereto in the comment sections to other blog posts. For just one example of his obsessive comments, please see the comment section of my previous post. You can also review the comments to this blog post as well. You will notice that all his comments revolve around his personal philosophy of white supremacy. In fact, he has a history of transforming the comment section for any blog post I make into a conversation on white supremacy regardless of the original topic.

For a long time, I indulged him primarily because his voluminous comments tended to increase the overall traffic to my blog. I indulged him secondarily because trying to understand and then countering his theories and arguments presented an intellectual challenge. However, this interaction has gone on too long and has become tiresome. The same subjects, arguments and counter arguments have been made ad nauseam (to the fullest extent of that term).

Therefore, I have created this series of posts for two main reasons. First, I want to save some time and effort by putting all of my stock answers to his arguments and accusations in one area which can then be referred to when the subject arises again without having to redundantly re-argue the same topic over and over. Second, because his obsessive commenting tends to turn every comment section of every post on my blog into a “debate” on the subject of white supremacy, I want to confine this business to one area of my blog. This will allow future posts unrelated to white supremacy to remain unpolluted by this dialog. I suspect some training will be required in that I will have to delete his comments to future posts and direct him back to this series. So be it.

Here are the subjects addressed thus far:

Thordaddy’s Use of Private Jargon / Secret Language

Thordaddy’s Twin Concepts of “Radical Autonomy” and “Self-Annihilation”

Thordaddy’s Concept of White Supremacy

Thordaddy’s Claim that White Supremacy Accords With Christian Doctrine

Note: I reserve the right to edit any post in this series to address any new arguments that happen to arise.

 

 

 

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An Analysis of “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill: Part II, Chapter Two – Desire

Wishing will not bring riches. But desiring riches with a state of mind that becomes an obsession, then planning definite ways and means to acquire riches, and backing those plans with persistence which does not recognize failure, will bring riches.

Napoleon Hill states with authority in Chapter Two of “Think and Grow Rich” that desiring riches obsessively is a necessary component to acquiring riches. This can be a difficult obstacle to overcome for some people who have been conditioned to think that desiring riches obsessively is an unhealthy or sinful psychology to adopt. The phrases “money can’t buy happiness” and “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (MT. 19:24) come to mind. Even the the Buddhist Four Noble Truths teach that the cause of suffering is desire or craving. Accordingly, if one wishes to adopt Hill’s philosophy and he or she is a practicing Christian or Buddhist (or an adherent to a similar philosophy or theology) he or she must then either ignore these moral teachings or come up with a way to explain the conflict. Either solution puts the person at a disadvantage regarding successfully implementing Hill’s strategy relative to a person who does not possess these moral hang ups regarding desire.

At the same time, Hill infers himself to be a practicing Christian in this very chapter, where he says:

Christianity is the greatest potential power in the world today, because its founder was an intense dreamer who had the vision and the imagination to see realities in their mental and spiritual form before they had been transmuted into physical form.

Hill does not specifically address the seeming conflict between his thought that Jesus actually put the principles outlined in “Think and Grow Rich” to work and that Jesus seemed also to preach against pursuing wealth as an obsessive desire. One must assume that Hill had some sort of justification for his philosophy in order to make it align with Christianity. Or perhaps he just ignored the discrepancy.

At any rate, in this chapter Hill articulates a six point plan to acquire riches in this manner:

First. Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire. It is not sufficient merely to say “I want plenty of money.” Be definite as to the amount. (There is a psychological reason for definite-ness which will be described in a subsequent chapter).

Second. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire. (There is no such reality as “something for nothing.”)

Third. Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire.

Fourth. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.

Fifth. Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for its acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.

Sixth. Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning. AS YOU READ, SEE AND FEEL AND BELIEVE YOURSELF ALREADY IN POSSESSION OF THE MONEY.

Through the repetition of this practice (asserts Hill with authority) a person will acquire riches. Yes, there is a degree of agency involved on the part of the practitioner. He must formulate a goal, formulate a plan to reach that goal and begin to act on that plan. But there is also the inference that the power of the universe will super-naturally assist the person who embarks on this course of action. Perhaps it is merely the case that acting on a specific plan of action is enough for most people to succeed without super-natural aid. But perhaps the thought of super-natural aid somehow works to aid in the motivation behind executing this plan. Or perhaps there is truth to the super-natural assistance which compliments the natural efforts of the practitioner. It seems that Hill made no attempt to explore this question. This resonates with the theme discussed in the previous post that thinking too much about this process will somehow rob it of its efficacy. As such, it is better not over analyze the strategy if one wants to successfully employ it to achieve the desired goal.

Instead he focuses on the mysterious aspects of the universe which he sees guided by Infinite Intelligence. It is not clear whether this “Infinite Intelligence” is the same thing as the Christian God. Perhaps Hill just wanted this book to appeal to Christians and non-Christians alike.

Strange and varied are the ways of life, and stranger still are the ways of Infinite Intelligence, through which men are sometimes forced to undergo all sorts of punishment before discovering their own brains, and their own capacity to create useful ideas through imagination.

By contrast, I suppose men possess finite intelligence. But this finite intelligence seems to be connected to or has its origin in the Infinite Intelligence which is both a resource and an independent actor which helps the people who meet it half way.

Strange and imponderable is the power of the human mind! We do not understand the method by which it uses every circumstance, every individual, every physical thing within its reach, as a means of transmuting DESIRE into its physical counterpart. Perhaps science will uncover this secret.

According to Hill, the human mind has a power that the person possessing the mind generally is not aware of. This is a strange thought because it is not entirely clear how a person can be separate from his or her mind. This is why the whole endeavor of willing a desire into being is a mysterious process. It may also be a clue as to why desire and riches are thought to cause suffering and to create an obstacle on one’s way to heaven.

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Is it Freedom or Ego that is the Problem?

There has been much discussion on various anti-liberal blogs that freedom (i.e., the idea behind liberalism) is the cause of all society’s ills. There is the notion that if only liberalism could be abolished then something better would take its place and all the social problems of modernity would be solved. I suppose the thinking is that anything is better than liberalism therefore there is no need to come up with a replacement for it. Or perhaps the reluctance to come up with a replacement reflects the subconscious knowledge that liberalism really is not the problem and that the same issues will come to exist under any type of regime.

One theory I see over and over again is that liberalism leads to evil and specifically mass murder because it is “incoherent.” The theory that liberalism is “incoherent” is based upon the premise that a government action is by its nature restrictive. Even if a government acts to promote the rights of one person or group of people it will necessarily restrict the rights of another person or group of people. Therefore, it is “incoherent” to say that a priority of government should be to protect the freedom of its citizens (as Western governments typically do) because in actuality a government cannot protect the freedom of one group of people without assaulting the freedom of another group of people. For example (the argument goes) if the government protects the right of one group to speak freely it will necessarily assault the right of another group to not have to listen to what the first group has to say.

Let us assume this analysis actually proves the incoherence of liberalism (and not the balancing of competing priorities). Does this incoherence really lead to mass murder as is claimed by the anti-liberals? The anti-liberal’s “go to” example of modern day mass murder is abortion. They argue that because liberalism is incoherent it can be used to justify abortion just as it was used (they argue) to justify the killing of Jews by the Nazis in World War II, the nuking of Hiroshima and the execution of opponents to Communist reform in the Soviet Union under Stalin. This justification arises under the “principle of explosion” apparently because under a contradictory logical construct such as is (supposedly) liberalism anything can be logically inferred to be true.

There are a few problems with this line of thinking. First of all, understanding the “principle of explosion” requires more than a bit of formal logic theory under one’s belt. It is not a theory that is readily grasped by the general public without this education. Therefore, to say that this principle is somehow used by liberals to justify their actions seems to be a bit of a stretch on its face. However, the argument might be that although expressing the principle of explosion in formal logic requires an education in logic that most people do not have, the principle itself is sound because most people on some intuitive level appreciate it to be true and use it to justify their beliefs psychologically. This too I think is a stretch because the intuitive level is governed more by emotion and ego than obscure rules of formal logic. But let us also assume this to be correct.

So then, we are now assuming it is correct that the belief in incoherent doctrines can lead to mass murder. It seems to me that from the perspective of the orthodox Christians who believe this this theory there is an obvious flaw they are ignoring. That is, the belief that incoherent doctrines lead to mass murder not only condemns liberalism (assuming liberalism is actually incoherent) but it would also condemn Christianity itself. There are many tenets in Christianity that are incoherent on their face (arguably). For example, the doctrine of the Trinity is logically incoherent. The belief that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man is logically incoherent. The belief that the Eucharist is actually transformed into the body and blood of Christ during the Roman Catholic mass is logically incoherent. The theodicy question suggests an incoherence to Christianity as well. These are but a few examples of arguments that could be made to demonstrate the incoherence of Christianity that are far more convincing (in my mind) than the argument that supposedly demonstrates the incoherence of liberalism.

All that being said, I do not consider either liberalism or Christianity to be incoherent. Nor do I believe that an incoherence of a doctrine logically leads to mass murder. So then the question arises what does give rise to these incidences of mass murder than take place in modern times? I think a far more logical explanation for the existence of mass murder in modern times is the modern technology that makes it possible.

The anti-liberals will argue that these acts of mass murder have only occurred under liberal regimes. But the fact that these events have (arguably) occurred only under liberal regimes does not prove that only liberal regimes are capable of committing acts of mass murder. Indeed the same people who argue only liberal regimes can commit mass murder are the same people who argue there are only liberal regimes in modern times. I think it is clear that this line of thinking easily becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy because if there are only liberal regimes in the world then any crime committed in the world can be blamed on liberalism. Moreover, examples of illiberal regimes committing acts of mass murder (albeit on a smaller scale) can be pointed to in the Inquisition and the Crusades. It is easy to conceive that these acts of cruelty could have been much more extensive had the perpetrators had access to modern technology.

I use these examples not to attack Christianity. I am a Christian. I use them to demonstrate that any political philosophy or belief system is capable of mass murder given the right circumstances and therefore to believe that the supposed incoherence of liberalism is responsible for these acts is a fallacy.

But modern technology is not the whole explanation. So what then is the discriminating authority that causes one person or group of people to commit an act of violence on another person or group of people? Might I suggest that it is ego. It is the voice within the self that says I am right and he is wrong. It is the voice within the self that says I am different than him (or her). It is the voice in the self that says I am better than him or her. It is the voice within the self that says if you disagree with me you must lack the capacity to understand me. It is the voice in the self that says you are my enemy. In my mind (and I would think most reasonable people would agree) this is the real problem.

 

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The Fruit of the Spirit

I have been reading articles on the Orthosphere and Zippy Catholic‘s blog for a few months now. Both of these websites represent a brand of Christian conservatism (or perhaps more accurately Christian anti-liberalism) that would be considered a bit extreme by most people. Their contributors and commentators in large measure seem to think that freedom and equal rights are actually misguided pursuits for governments to concern themselves with and that these pursuits are in fact responsible for all the evil manifested in modernity from political correctness all the way to Nazi death camps.I must say that in certain small  instances they make compelling or at least logically consistent arguments to support their eccentric points of view. I cannot say that I am totally convinced by most of their arguments but they do make some points worth considering.

However, more than their position there is something about these blogs that disturbs me which for some time I have been having trouble putting my finger on. More and more, however, I can see that it is the underlying spirit of negativity, judgment and arrogance behind the content that is the cause of this feeling.

Recently, a contributor named JMSmith wrote a piece on the Orthosphere entitled “The Israel Fetish” which I think illustrates the point I am trying to make. Mr. Smith works in higher education and from what I have read is not all together satisfied with his professional experience. This seems to be a common thread among the contributors to these blogs by the way. Many work in academia and are unhappy with the present state of the world for which they blame liberalism. In his article JMSmith fixated upon a promotional message he recently received for a student trip to Israel. He quoted some of the language:

A trip to Israel is in essence a rite of passage for every Christian—a pilgrimage in the truest sense. The origins of both ancient Biblical faith and of a modern-day miracle intersect here. The land and the people of Israel have a story to tell. By coming to Israel this summer, you make Israel’s story part of your own story.”

Mr. Smith took issue with this advertisement on several levels. Primarily he rejected its incorrect use of the terms “pilgrimage” and “rite of passage.” He explains,

The traditional Christian understanding of pilgrimage is that it is (a) an act of penance, and (b) a symbolic expression of the belief that we are pilgrims (literally foreigners) on earth…

Certainly a strong argument can be made that the author of the advertisement did not use the term pilgrimage correctly. But one gets the sense that this improper use of the term is representative of some deeper and more general corruption of society as well as his fellow Christians. He continues:

I well understand that Christian “pilgrims” have often been very silly people, and that Christian “pilgrimages” have often been larks, junkets and sight-seeing excursions…  But this does not make a sight-seeing excursion into “a pilgrimage in the truest sense,” even when the destination is, indeed, holy.  Rather, I submit that such an excursion is a pilgrimage in the stupidest sense.

Mr. Smith then articulates his problem with the improper use of “rite of passage” in the article:

Nor, I think, should one call [the advertised trip to Israel] a “rite of passage.”  … A rite of passage is a scripted ceremony in which select members of a society pass from one social status to another… A rite of passage ceremony publicizes the change of status to the relevant community, and this change in status entails real changes in a person’s rights and responsibilities… When the phrase “rite of passage” is used to denote nothing more than a “life-altering experience” at the personal and psychological level, it is being used in the stupidest sense.

Clearly this advertisement touched a nerve with Mr. Smith. This advertisement which incorrectly employed the terms pilgrimage and rite of passage both “in the stupidest sense” touched upon his disappointment with Christians in general which he described in the following language:

My real complaint is that we Christians are such everlasting saps and suckers and simpletons.  My real complaint is that we are the Rubes of the Universe, the easiest marks ever to shamble down the street, ready to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

Okay. Clearly Mr. Smith has a problem with the present state of Christianity which I assume he believes to be corrupted by liberalism. This corruption has turned his fellow Christians into the “Rubes of the Universe” who are taken in by the incorrect usage of the terms “pilgrimage” and “rite of passage.”Now it must be said that I do not have a problem with the general premise of Mr. Smith’s argument. The spirit of pilgrimage and rite of passage have been largely lost in our modern culture and this loss hurts us all.However, I do have a problem with the snarky, arrogant, snobbish and judgmental attitude in which the argument is made. It seems to me that this is not in line with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul writes in his letter to the Galations:

[T]he desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh…  Now the works of the flesh are evident: … enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, … and things like these. Gal 5:19-21

It seems to me that this sort of judgmental commentary is conveyed in a way that is contrary to the Holy Spirit. In other words the energy behind this commentary is working according to the desires of the flesh.By contrast Saint Paul describes the fruit of the spirit:

[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… Gal 5:22-23

I must say that I do not see these qualities in any of the posts or comments on the Orthosphere or Zippy Catholic. And that really is my problem with the Orthosphere and its daughter blog sites. Although they may raise legitimate points about how the current state of modern society is contrary to Christian principles they do so in a manner that is contrary to the Holy Spirit. For this reason I hold their contempt and judgment of their fellow Christians suspect. Accordingly, if they intend to hold themselves out to be the last bastions of true Christianity perhaps they should reconsider the spirit behind their message. And if the spirit behind their message cannot be reconciled with their message perhaps they should reconsider their message.

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The Requirement of Beliefs Part II

pxA few posts ago I explored the topic that some religions require belief in order to receive or achieve salvation. The word “salvation” can take on different forms depending on the religion. For this reason, I am using the term loosely in the present context. Having personally been brought up in the Roman Catholic form of Christianity I approach this topic from that perspective but really my question as to why this belief is required is not strictly limited to Christian dogma. In the blog post I specifically referenced chapter 3 verse 26 in The Book of John which reads, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” To properly explore this topic it is first necessary to examine what a belief is.
Beliefs are essentially ideas or thoughts in the mind. Accordingly, the question behind the exploration has to do with why would the gatekeeper of salvation care whether its adherents experienced these thoughts called beliefs? If the gatekeeper of salvation is divine and not dependent upon any external factors for its existence why would it be so interested in this one particular external factor? I suppose one answer to the question is that the belief is for the benefit of the person trying to achieve salvation and not for the benefit of the divine dispenser of salvation. But John 3:36 expressly states that not believing brings about the “wrath of God” which implies that God has some stake in this thought called a belief existing in the mind of that person seeking salvation. This could be metaphorical language but that is not at all certain. As such the question remains unanswered.
It must be understood that I am not questioning whether these beliefs are valid. I am simply questioning why these beliefs are required. If the comment section of Part I is any indication, this distinction seems to be difficult to understand for some people. Interestingly, the personality type represented in the comment section seems to be very threatened by any exploration of this topic. A perusal of the comment section of Part I of this blog will provide examples of this. For questioning this requirement of belief I was accused of hating God. My question was rephrased as an argument on my part that hating God should carry no consequences and that the actual consequence for making this argument (that I did not make) was my own annihilation. These counterarguments (made against an argument I never made) were written in sporadic ALL CAPS which gave the impression that this commenter’s emotions were raised and that his emotion guided his rhetoric. Also notice that the emphasis on the counterargument was not the merits of the requirement of belief itself but rather on how I was wrong as a person for even asking the question. Another interesting point is that this accuser denied John 3:36 even expresses a requirement for belief in the first place. I think any reasonable person would read this passage to require belief in the Son in order to have eternal life. Moreover, the passage also clearly expresses that if this requirement is not met then a punishment will be meted out. But the commenter seemed to argue that interpreting this passage as expressing a requirement was somehow in error although he did not clearly articulate a logical foundation for this point.
Mind you, I do not want to engage in another pointless debate with this person because I have been down this road so many times on this blog and it is indeed pointless. Accordingly any comment he posts will be deleted. The only reason I brought him up was to provide an example of the egoic push back this question receives. This quality of being threatened when beliefs are questioned seems to be emblematic of the ego. The fact that the ego seems so invested in belief makes the requirement of belief for salvation questionable in my mind. Let me be clear. I am NOT questioning the validity of beliefs or really whether the reason for the requirement is sound. I simply do not understand the reason why this requirement exists and am exploring this lack of understanding by articulating the thoughts that come to mind as I explore it. (I have no illusion this distinction will be meaningful to everyone who reads it).
I think it can be argued that questioning beliefs or faith can lead to a deepening of beliefs. An unquestioned belief has a shaky foundation because it has not tested itself against the facts that may disprove it. As such, the unquestioned belief has no defenses to these facts. However, a belief that has been tested against facts that might disprove it has been inoculated against those facts. But really, this argument is just intellectual play. It is the reinforcing of beliefs (which are thoughts) with other beliefs and thoughts. It becomes circular after a while and brings a person who engages in this sort of thing only so close  to the truth. So again I arrive at the question, why is there the requirement of belief and why are there those who are so egoically invested in keeping this requirement unquestioned?
There are examples of Saints who have questioned their beliefs. Saint Mother Teresa wrote on numerous occasions about how she questioned her beliefs. Saint Thomas the apostle of Jesus also questioned belief without direct proof. Jesus castigated him for this when he said “…Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29). Again we see this emphasis on belief and from the same gospel to boot. Interestingly, in the Gnostic tradition, Thomas is revered for his questioning attitude. Equally interesting is the fact that Gnosticism was declared a heresy by orthodox Christianity.
So the question exists. Why is there a requirement of belief for salvation? Moreover, there also exists a force which is interested in blocking this question. Why this dynamic exists I do not know. But I think there can be no sin in asking a question. I think this is true because logically, no amount of questioning can undermine the truth for the reason that the answers to these questions (if truthful) should only serve to reinforce the truth. I suppose one could counter argue that by asking questions and receiving false answers one could be misled to a dangerous place. But if that is the case, then these unquestioned beliefs are robotic and lack authentism. If God requires belief then I have to think that He would want a whole hearted belief that has been tested and found to be true as opposed to a belief that was adopted for no reason or because the believer was socially pressured into believing.

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