What if Your Spouse Says, “I Can’t Believe Anymore”?

There was a nice article on ChristianPost.com recently by two women who’s husbands don’t believe. The women are Christians.

I’ve been surprised at how often we see this in Freethinkers.  Usually it’s the husbands who do not believe, but not always.

I don’t know if marriage between an unbeliever and believer is any more difficult than that between, say, a Catholic and Protestant.  I’ve not experience either directly.  Either one surely must require adjustments by both partners.

One thing the two women said in a presentation is not to make converting your spouse a “project”.  That makes sense.

I have an atheist friend who has been married to an evangelical wife for many years.  Once I asked him how they handle the topic of religion.  He said, “We just don’t talk about it.”

A surprise to me is how often couples who were practicing Christians decide at about the same time to become unbelievers.  I suppose couples who share the same experiences come to reason out things in somewhat the same way.  I’m sure there are couples who take up religion at the same time as well, I just don’t happen to know any.

One would have to guess a big issue between couples anytime their religious views are miles apart is expressed as, “But, I won’t get to spend eternity in heaven with you.”

Maybe that helps couples realize they need to enjoy each other’s company all the more today.  I hope they do.

President Romney, The Trinity and Mormon Underwear.

It takes some effort to differentiate what Mormons believe from what various other branches of the Christian faith believe.  One difference is Mormons do not believe in the Trinity.

The Trinity, of course, is God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost all rolled into one.  Mormons make the case this concept did not exist in original Christianity  but was added many years later.  In that way, Mormons can claim their’s, not the other branches, reflect the true faith.

Even during my decades as a practicing Christian, I could never understand the Trinity concept.  When Jesus returns, will it be all three, or just Jesus?  If the Trinity arrives on earth as the Holy Ghost and is an invisible ghost, how will we know it has returned?

Questions like these must have occurred to the founders of the Mormon faith.  They might have thought if they could not understand something, they would have difficulty explaining it to their followers.

In terms of the religious implications, a Romney Presidency is fun to contemplate.  It would be interesting for him to be asked by the press why Mormons do not believe in the Trinity.

If he had a nice logical answer, it seems like it millions of Trinity fans would be uneasy.  Because the Trinity is such an odd concept, any discussion of it would take its toll on believers.

Is it possible the Trinity may come to seem as odd as Mormon underwear?

Humans Love Blood.

“Wine turns to blood when the Father lifts it up high.”

I heard this on a Catholic radio station recently. I don’t remember the first time it occurred to me the Christian communion ritual is a bit bizarre.

A book about ancient beliefs I’m reading tells of the human fascination with blood.  Before humans understood the relationship between sex and pregnancy, the female menstruation blood was thought to be the source of her fertility.  It was believed to have magical qualities.

Because of the belief that women created babies by themselves, the pairing off of couples (marriage between one man and one woman) was not a normal practice. There were many casual relationships.  Names of offspring were based on the mother’s name because there was no known connection to men.

Missionaries during the last century found tribes that based linage on women instead of men. They taught the “correct way”, linage based on men.

In time, the concept of life from blood was transferred to men.  Leaders would wound themselves to let life-giving blood pass over their followers.  A few years ago visiting pyramids in Central America I heard the pyramid’s shape was to make flowing blood visible to the crowd below.  Now, we have “the blood of Christ”.

I don’t want to imply there is anything wrong with metaphoical blood rituals.  I recall a pastor saying communion services are so powerful they can make lucid for brief moments people in nursing homes who otherwise are not able to communicate.

People like their blood.

 

 

Apocalypse Right Now.

For as long as anyone can remember, people have been making a pilgrimage to Bugarach Mountain, France.  Bugarach, in the Corbieres Mountains, is upside down.  It blew up in its early life and landed with its peak in the ground.

Because of its odd appearance and a history of displaying tremendous energy, word is aliens have chosen to live in or under the mountain for thousands of years.  The aliens have access to special energy needed after December 21, 2012.  That’s when the end of the world occurs according to the Mayan calendar.  Mount Bugarach is “..one of the major chakras (center of spiritual power) of the earth, a place dedicated to welcome the energies of tomorrow,” an advocate told the New York Times.

The village located there expects thousands of campers will arrive soon and tax the local infrastructure.  The Mayor is worried.

As always, there are doubters.  Jesus told his followers there would be doubters about him as well.

I think we would all do ourselves a favor to read about people who believe such things.  They provide as insight into ourselves.

That there exist invisible beings who are able to help us through mythical catastrophes must be as old as human kind.  Certainly, the myths about Bugarach Mountain seem as real to the folks gathering there as the myths of Bible seem real to other millions.

One woman is celebrating the Spring, not by observing Easter, but by planning a post-apocalypse community based on love energy from  Bugarach Mountain.  Go girl.

 

 

 

What is a “Positive Message”?

This past weekend unbelievers staged a Rally for Reason in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate there large numbers.  The Rally has been widely criticized by believers.  Critics say the message was negative.

It is true there were speakers who said gods do not exist and faith is based on myths.  From the atheists point of view the message was positive, an effort to help believers see the light.

A Christian version of a positive message would include items like: “If your god is different than mine, you go to hell.”  “My god is real, your god is in your mind only.”  “My god is the God. Your god is an impostor.”  “You have a choice, my god or eternity in hell.”  “We will be victorious, you will be vanquished and our god will be pleased.” “You are a sinner, babies are born sinners. Only my god can correct that.”

The Christian, like the atheist, sees these messages as positive because he sees them as the truth, as helpful.  Providing others with the truth is always seen as a positive message by those delivering it.

There is one difference between the positive messages of unbelievers and that of the religious.  That is consistency.

I’ve had the experience of meeting and corresponding with unbelievers in several countries.  There view is always the same, there is no god.  Religious people’s message varies depending on their god.

Which is the more positive message, believer of unbeliever,  is all in the eyes of the beholder.

 

 

Can the Unthinkable Become Commonplace?

I recall well a day in 1984.  It was the day before I released as the Mayor of the largest city in North Dakota the first ever proclamaion declaring a Gay and Lesbian Awareness Week.

I was nervous.  I didn’t know what people would say or think about this.

Today, there are at least a couple gay candidates running for office in the Fargo area.  There are gay people in Congress and at least one gay Governor.

Far behind is acceptance by the public of those who are not religious.  But, efforts for change are underway.

This past weekend the first Rally for Reason was held in Washington, D. C.  At least a couple members of our local Red River Freethinkers were there.  I wish I could have attended.

Military bases are now hosting secular rallies for men and women in the armed services.  The myth that being placed in harm’s way automatically brings one into the family of believers has been promoted for many decades. It is only now being dispelled.

Unbelief billboards are going up all across the U. S. and ads will be appearing soon on the CBS news.  One would suppose this will create the feeling for people who do not believe in the faith there are like-minded folks around  them.

Surely all would agree these are positive events. It is better if everyone is able to let others know who they are, gay or straight, and what they think, belief or not.

Going to Church is Mostly a Social, Not a Religious Thing.

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest U. S. Protestant denomination.  That makes it an important one to watch.  It’s also the most entertaining.

Let’s look at its “Start a Church Sunday” effort.  This 1991 initiative said local churches are to help start and fund new churches in their areas.

Now, 21 years later, membership is in a steady decline and the home office is laying off employees.  Only one in twenty churches is active in starting a new church.

In the South, there is one SBC church for every 1,375 people.  In New York State, it is one for every 76,000 people and in Canada, it is 121,000 people.  If the U. S. South is a place where the market is church saturated, the U. S. North and Canada are market opportunities.  But, neither the Protestant nor Catholic branches of the faith are growing, except for a small growth among Catholics because of  immigration.

A Southern Baptist Convention spokesman explained why new churches are needed.  He said churches are formed around ethnic, demographic and economic social circles.  Each church is unique in its social makeup and as society becomes more diverse, more diverse churches are needed.

This cultural variable the SBC agrees is present causes groups to interpret a denomination’s theology and the Bible itself differently.  As fast as a denomination starts new churches, current ones split off or close.

If churches were able to agree on a unified dogma, every church would be full.  Evidence of what the faith is and where it came from is too vague for that to happen.

Religion in the Military.

Recently at Fort Mead, Maryland, a soldier applied for lay status as an atheist.   In this designated capacity, he will conduct meetings and work with military Chaplains   to help soldiers.  Indications are the request will be granted.

Not everyone likes this.  One Chaplain said it “will weaken” the chaplain concept and suggested  military personnel who are not believers and seek out psychologists provided by the military.

If we want a good military, recognition of and providing services to unbelievers seems a good idea.  It is especially important if young people are becoming less likely to identify with traditional branches of the faith community.

On U. S. military bases now, there are gatherings for many faiths, including the various branches of Christianity, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist.  Many Chaplains are trained to conduct services in a variety of faiths.  It does not seem like much of a stretch to support meetings like those of our Freethinker group where discussions take place about current events and books people have read.

In addition to serving a significant population of military personnel, providing even a minimum of chaplaincy services to unbelievers would have a positive effect on commissioned and non commissioned officers.  There have been many complaints about overenthusiastic religious officers letting their preferences be known.

From the Mi Lai Massacre in Vietnam to the recent soldier who killed many in Afghanistan, we can see traditional chaplaincy does not solve every problem.  It couldn’t hurt to try new things.

 

The New Book, “Coming Apart”.

This book by Charles Murry is a much discussed critique of class structure in the U. S.  He gives evidence the lower 30 percent of income earners is growing less interested in church and civic behavior compared to the upper 20 percent. This is about class, not race or ethnicity.

I have not read the book, but he reportedly looked at “honesty, sobriety, family commitment and industriousness.”  Church membership is dropping more rapidly in the lower 30 percent as well.

A commentator today wrote the cause of church decline is the lack of clear moral preaching.  If preachers were delivering sermons of maintenance of moral standards instead of pandering to the wishes of congregations, he wrote, people would return to church and all this would change.

To the extent this deterioration to behavior is actually happening, certainly is it cause for concern.  It could not have anything to do with preachers or the church.  That preachers are skirting around moral condemnation and church membership is dropping is the result of this decline, not the cause of it.

I think most people view the growing divide between rich and poor as something benign, something that is only harmful to those on the lower end.  But what seems to be happening is that a larger proportion of our country’s citizens do not think of themselves as having ownership in it.

It seems inevitable all classes will eventually feel the effect of this. One thing I’ve noticed is in countries with very unequal distributions of income, homes have bars on their windows.

Tim T-Bone, the Praying Football Quarterback.

Q.  Thank you, Tim, for talking with us.  What is you reaction to being traded when you have been such a Christian celebrity playing for the Denver Broncos?

TT.  The team management is going to pay millions more for a new, but aging, quarterback.  I know what is happening here.

Q. The team’s management, I understand, thought you often were not prepared for the upcoming series of plays during the game–and–that was why you failed so often.

TT.  Not prepared, that’s impossible.  I wonder who said that.  I spent my time praying when the defense was on the field.  That way, when it was time for the offense to take to the field, I was full of God’s grace.  That’s being prepared.

Q.  Well, that just it.  The management wanted you to be wearing headphones while the defence was on the field.  That way, the coaches up in the  booth could compare what they saw the other team’s defenses doing with what you saw.  They wanted to discuss with you  ideas for the next series–get your reaction.  But you were unavailable, on your knee praying.  Don’t you think they have a point?

TT.  Absolutely not.  How could the coaches know better than God what to expect the defenses to do during the next series?

Q.  The team management wonders if you are more interested  in God than in football?

TT. Jesus said we Christians would be persecuted.  Anyone can see that’s what this trade is all about.