Religious Matters

Religious Matters
What Moral Matters Matter to America
by
Paul Johnson

The latest US budget designed and approved by almost every single Republican in the House of Representatives takes food right out of the mouths of the starving and gives it to the millionaires and billionaires.

This action has horrified America enough that we are beginning to realize that we are voting for the party that is as opposite our religious and moral values as possible.

How could we have voted for this immoral party? How could we have been made into such suckers that we have voted against all that we know to be right and voted for those intent on giving our country away to the greedy and the rich?

If we don’t stop and figure out how we got here, we’ll never be able to avoid it in the future.

What went so wrong that we got the party of the greedy running our government?

I can’t speak for everyone who has accidentally voted for the party of the greedy, but I can speak for those I know and I can be pretty sure that this is the same mistake made by almost all of those voting for the Republicans.

Wedge Issues

The easiest way to get people to vote against their own best interests and against the best interests of the country is to get them to vote primarily on wedge issues. A wedge issue is an issue that can be used to drive as a wedge between political parties. The Republicans can’t run on providing for the poor, because it would be a a lie, so they need to find something that will get people riled up enough to go and vote for a lousy candidate if he would just address the wedge issue.

The Republican voter is typically a single issue voter. This means that they are the most susceptible to being used as tools in wedge issues.

Effective Marketing

The Republican party has become experts at marketing destructive policies to the American people. Why else would you have a Tea Party out there chanting for more rights and lower taxes on the multinational corporations and billionaires? The Tea Party was created with money from the billionaires and is sponsored by billionaire dollars and marketed with billionaire money all for the purpose of getting Tea Party candidates elected who vote against the interests of Americans and all for the corporations.

Few people even realize that the original Tea Party was a revolution against multinational corporate power and now they’re out there chanting for more power and more money for the multinational corporations. You can’t tell me that’s not pretty darned impressive marketing.

Lies and Deceipt

The percentage of people who are foolish enough to be Tea Baggers is low enough that the Republican party needs more. Hence, the need to lie about what they are and what they plan to do for the billionaires.

This is not a problem limited to the Republican party. There are a few Democrats who run on Progressive principles and then vote straight ticket with the Republicans.

But, this isn’t really all about how bad the Republicans are. This essay is about how some unethical politicians and greedy billionaires can corrupt our political system. It’s not all about Republicans or Democrats. It happens to be the Republican party they have infected, but it could have just as well been the Democratic party. In fact, they’re spending billions of dollars right now, trying to corrupt that party as well.

Taking Back our Country

How on Earth are we ever going to fix this mess with so much money lines up against the American voters? How will we wrestle the media away from big money? How can we change the campaign finance laws when the Supreme Court is so obviously pro-billionaire?

This almost looks like a perfect storm. It may be too late for us to take back the country peacefully, but hopefully we will at least try before it’s too late.

The Real Issues

As I’ve pointed out, political parties don’t run on real moral issues, they run on wedge issues. This means that we voters are stuck without real issues upon which to vote.

What are the most important moral issue to you? Think about it before reading further. What is really important to you morally? Do these moral issue matter enough to affect your voting? In other words, do your morals affect your “real” life or are they just something to talk about at church?

For the vast majority of Americans, moral issues affect their daily lives. Most people try to keep morals in their lives.

Here is a short list of my moral issues. I have a much longer list but it’s not important what mine are, what matters is what your moral list looks like.

  1. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, curing the sick. You know, those things Jesus says need to be part of our lives.
  2. Turn the other cheek. This includes reducing the steel heel of oppressive laws in America and reducing the oppressive governments of other lands. This means no wars. Fix the system where the vast majority of those in our prisons are minorities and poor. You know, the things Jesus said we should keep in our lives.
  3. Discouraging greed. Wow! There’s no end to where this could go. It’s time to get the money changers out of our religions and out of our politics.

There are plenty more, but this is a good start for discussion. Do yourself a favor and come up with your own personal list of important moral issues.

Now ask yourself, how many of those issues on your list are things you actually vote on? How can there be such a great disconnect between what you think is moral and how you vote?

Now, here is a list of wedge issues that are important but are not anywhere near the top of my list and I bet they’re not at the top of yours either:

  1. Abortion. This is not a moral issue. Nowhere in the Bible does it say we need to vote on abortion. Abortions are horrible but if they’re at the top of your morals list, you might want to stop and take a second look at your morals.
  2. Hate the Gay. How many times does your religious book refer to defending the downtrodden compared to the number of times it says we need to disenfranchise gays? This is a big wedge issue but is also a big moral issue as well. Should we be taking rights away from gays? What would your common sense tell you?
  3. Religion in schools and in government. This wedge issue really as no place in a Christian’s political view. Christianity is opposed to the combination of politics and religion. So are our country’s founding documents. So, why would you vote based on this issue? Don’t get me wrong. There are some religions that think that politics and religions should be the same. But most Americans opposed to Muslim laws regarding this.

What are your most important wedge issues and is it wise to vote based on them while excluding the most important moral issues on your list?

Happy Easter!

The Nature of Miracles

What Makes Miracles

by
Paul Johnson

It’s Easter season again and it’s time to think about the nature of our religions, and in particular, the nature of miracles. Easter is full of stories of miracles. In fact, the entire Bible, as most religious texts, is full of miracles. But what, exactly, is a miracle?

This is something that all elementary schools and every church should teach, but unfortunately it is neglected.

Back 3,000 years ago (or 6,000 according to some), when the Bible begins, there were things that we humans saw that had no explanation other than being the hand of God. Today, we would see most of those miracles and realize they come from the laws of physics or the laws of nature. A simple example is the miracle of an eclipse.

So we must ask ourselves, which of those miracles that we’ve heard about thousands of years ago were really miracles and which were easily explained with the knowledge available today?

A Miracle History

Imagine that you were to see a miracle today. It’s your imagination, so imagine what you want. I’ll imagine a neighbor who has such great skill at hypnosis that he can help people regrow amputated limbs.

Over time, two things could happen.

  1. Others, standing on the shoulders of giants, would find ways to do this same service, in which case it would no longer be a miracle, or
  2. No one can repeat the miracle in which case it remains a miracle.

If the case was situation #1 above, then the only way that it would remain a miracle is if a group of followers demanded that this miracle worker did things differently or better than everyone else following. That burning bush was a miracle, that sunset was a miracle, that eclipse was a miracle. This would require a very dedicated following with very rigid books of examples of how their miracle worker was different.

If the case was #2 above, then after enough time the miracle would just fade away into folklore. Even books and literature reminding us of the miracle would eventually become suspect as there will eventually be no evidence of the miracle.

To summarize, history will eventually fade all miracles into obscurity. Eventually even the translated books of the translated books of the translated books of the miracle will become suspect. This is a problem that all modern day miracle-based religious books suffer with and put considerable time into trying to address.

The Miracle Impostors

As we’ve discussed above, there will often be groups who want to memorialize the miracle even if it’s proven to be less a miracle than a law of nature. How many times do you hear people explaining how “their God” did this or did that? It’s quite common.

That’s not to say that these are bad or evil people. They are trying to save the life of a religion that they believe is the only true one. They are trying to convince themselves by trying to convince others of the validity of the miracle that they can no longer prove.

God’s Solution to Forgetfulness

So, how does God go about performing miracles and keeping them around so He doesn’t have to keep proving His magical powers?

If I can start a cult with a counterfeit book of miracles and have a following that will keep the lies alive for centuries, then who will know it’s any different than the real book of miracles which no longer has evidence? No one can tell for certain that one is the real one the other is not.

It is obvious that the only solution to this forgetfulness is the constant display of miracles.

This assumes that the miracles are a fundamental part of the religion!

Let that sink in. That is the point of the entire essay. If the miracles cannot be proven then either God will recreate the miracles to keep people believing or he will put more emphasis on the other aspects of the religion.

God Knows Everything

Or, at least God knows everything there is to know about mankind.  So, why does he hide his miracles from us?

God knows that we’ll forget the miracles over time. He knows we’ll question the miracles. He knows that well-meaning cults will rise up that have their own false miracles.

He lets us forget the miracles because they are not a fundamental part of the religion.

Say What?!!! You’re saying the miracles of Lent, Good Friday, Easter are not a fundamental part of Christianity?

Yes. That’s the whole point. And, that’s why we aren’t presented with reruns of the miracles regularly.

It’s not the miracles that are the important part of Christianity, it is the underlying principles.

Now, stop, take a breath, and ask yourself, what are the fundamental underlying important principles of your religion? Is it because of the miracle that God gave his life to save you from your sins or is the important principle of your religion rules on how to live your life?

The Need for Repetition

In order for the new generations to continue to believe the miracles, they can either believe blindly or they can be privileged enough to see miracles for themselves.

Why would God let his miracles fade to the same level of validity as any hoax or cult? Because it’s not the miracle that’s important.

Who Do You Believe?

You and I live in a day when we don’t see miracles. Many people around us will try to attribute common sense things to the miracle of God but we all know they are just laws of nature. I hear the term, the miracle of a new born or the miracle of a beautiful sunset or this miracle or that, but we are expected to believe in a God that no longer shows himself to us.

Are we left trying to decide which of the countless different histories of miracles to believe and hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to choose the right one, or risk living eternity in punishment? No, that’s not the actions of any God I can imagine.

Hopefully by now you’re beginning to see that it’s not the miracle or the history of the miracle (Bible) that matters but what matters is how we decide to live our lives, without the miracles. Do we choose the path of “Greed is Good” (the Republican way and the Ayn Rand way) or do we choose the path of helping ourselves, our neighbors, and our world? These are the decisions we must make, and quit paying attention to the stories of miracles.

Stop with the miracles. Use the opportunity of Easter to celebrate the teachings of Jesus. Help thy neighbor, heal the sick, feed the hungry, and vote out the money changers.