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Ten Commandments Controversy - America Founded on Judaic-Christian Priniciples

From: Gloria M.
To: edwardtbabinski.us
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003
Subject: Hello


In researching a question that has come up in my mind, your website came up and I have found it very interesting.


The following is the question and the background leading up to said question and hope that you may have some insight.


The other night, after our couple's bridge night, the conversation turned to Alabama's Ten Commandments controversy. My only comment was that I wonder what would have happened if the judge had been Muslim and put a rock in the courthouse with verses from the Koran. One gal glared at me and said that is not even a question, because "this is a Christian nation! This nation was/is based on Judaic/Christian principles". Now this is not the first time this argument has been raised, but it is the first time I have seriously considered this argument - and my question to you is---- can you tell me what Judaic/Christian principles people are referring to? I have gone to the internet for help, and everyone talks about 'these principles' but I can't find anyone that spells out specifically what they are. Do you know what they are talking about?


I am also a graduate of 'Christian Religion' - You know, that is what a real religion should be about - encouraging people to graduate and encourage them to continue their education. Alas, that is the last thing that the institutional church encourages.
Below is a short biography of my evolution, which I just sent recently to a high school friend who had asked about my religious background:


When I was very small (4 or 5) I remember attending Sunday School and told about all the cool things God did back in the 'old' days, like parting the sea and sending bread raining down for people to eat. I liked this and at this time my view was that God was sort of a grandfatherly type who would help you out if you weren't doing something too bad. I was told he loved everybody and I thought that was good, too.


Then in my teenage years, this view began to change and by the time I was 20, my view of God was a little more selective and exclusive. I had come to believe that God did, indeed, love, but only specific people. I came to learn about other religions, but was taught and believed that God only loved a specific people called Christians, contrasted with all those other people who were known by the names , Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims etc. etc.. (Luckily I was in the good, acceptable Christian group) - but, wait, not just any old Christian. There were two big groups of Christians at that time called Protestants and Catholics, with the orthodox (Greek & Russian) coming in a slow third. We (my group) all knew that Protestants were the group favored by God and that Catholics had it all wrong. (Luckily, I was in the right group) Now, when I say Protestant, I am not referring to all the many groups (Hundreds) that call themselves Protestants, but to my group, who called themselves Lutherans. We all knew that they were the most favored by God. (luckily I was one of them) but, wait, before you begin to argue. We did not just belong to any old Lutheran group, of which there were many - but I belonged to the LCA (Lutheran Church in American- translated as the 'best') in contradistinction to those Missouri Synod and American Lutheran folk. God liked LCA's the best. (and luckily I was one of them) Now in Roanoke at that time, there were quite a few LCA congregations - but I belonged to Christ Lutheran, the best of that group--(do you remember that one on the corner of Grandin and Brandon?) . Our church architecture was classic-- stone, with the only red front doors in town. We had the most beautiful stained glass window of all the other LCA churches and our choir director (head of the Music Dept at Hollins) led the best choir in town. We even had velvet covered kneelers, not found in any other LCA church! There was no doubt in my mind, that when God decided where to attend church on Sundays, he definitely selected my church.


Now you say this was a pretty egocentric view of God?- certainly it was, but it sure made me feel good about who I was. Why would I ever want to question this view? ----


Well, now that is the question. Why would anyone question such a comforting , even though myopic, view? What on earth would make one get off that direct Bus to Heaven? For the life of me, I don't know why I began to question when all my other friends were perfectly satisfied with their beliefs and faith. Perhaps, it was when I looked out the window of that bus and saw so many people left behind.


But for some reason I did begin to question especially what the ramifications of my belief meant--- that mainly of all the millions and millions of people who have ever lived on the planet, only a very tiny minority are loved, accepted, and welcomed by this God--the rest being consigned to a place called Hell in which there will never be pardon or parole for eternity. This is when I began to question the concept of God is Love. Is this really the way the God=Love I was suppose to worship behaved? I began to question the exclusive and discriminatory love of this God. I questioned the narrow, judgmental, non-acceptance of the God of my religion. If this philosophy really reflects the Love of God, it left me feeling strangely uneasy. This is when I began my quest - Shopping for God - or Comparison Shopping for the Truth. And my shopping spree began: Reading any book I could get my hands on, engaging anyone who claimed to know God or to know which Book God wrote -----"Tell me about your God" "Tell me what you believe" "Tell me how you see the Truth" "Tell me your view of the world". So for over 30 years this has been my search. It is also what has given my life wonder, meaning, depth, focus and much joy.


I see that that you are a fellow Carolinian, although different compass designations. I live in Asheboro, NC (which is, by the way, a very Fundamentalist town - we can't even buy a bottle of wine here!) - It has been a challenge since we moved here 25 years ago from Charlotte, but I guess there is probably a larger reason - perhaps just to be an irritant (with my letters- to- the- editor) to all those folks who 'know' and have the 'truth'. I'll look forward to your response to my question. Thanks, Gloria M.




From: "ed babinski"
To: gloria m.
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Subject: Re: Hello


Thanks for your email Gloria. My comments appear below.
Ed


From: Gloria
To: edwardtbabinski.us
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003
Subject: Hello


GLORIA:
In researching a question that has come up in my mind, your website came up and I have found it very interesting.
The following is the question and the background leading up to said question and hope that you may have some insight.


The other night, after our couple's bridge night, the conversation turned to Alabama's Ten Commandments controversy. My only comment was that I wonder what would have happened if the judge had been Muslim and put a rock in the courthouse with verses from the Koran. One gal glared at me and said that is not even a question, because "this is a Christian nation! This nation was/is based on Judaic/Christian principles". Now this is not the first time this argument has been raised, but it is the first time I have seriously considered this argument - and my question to you is---- can you tell me what Judaic/Christian principles people are referring to? I have gone to the internet for help, and everyone talks about 'these principles' but I can't find anyone that spells out specifically what they are. Do you know what they are talking about?


ED: I guess "do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not commit adultery." Of course, "having no other gods before me" isn't what American was founded on, it was founded on "freedom of religion." The First Amendment overrides the First Commandment. Also, most of the commandments featured harsh punishments, including stoning, for those who disobeyed them. Again, our nation wasn't founding on the principle of stoning so many people to death for say, not keeping Sunday Holy or for committing adultery. As for the vile sin of "coveting" (wanting something that belongs to another)! "Do not covet they neighbor's wife, nor his ass, nor anything that belongs to thy neighbor," is coveting a sin? Quick, somebody tell Hollywood, MTV, Madison Avenue, and every breast enlargement clinic, because last I looked, coveting was definitely "in" in America. But then, we live in an age of mass production so coveting is O.K. for us, because whatever our neighbor has, it's probably on the shelf somewhere in some store and we just have to save up to buy one for ourselves. *smile*


GLORIA: I am also a graduate of 'Christian Religion' - You know, that is what a real religion should be about - encouraging people to graduate and encourage them to continue their education. Alas, that is the last thing that the institutional church encourages. Below is a short biography of my evolution, which I just sent recently to a high school friend who had asked about my religious background:


When I was very small (4 or 5) I remember attending Sunday School and told about all the cool things God did back in the 'old' days, like parting the sea and sending bread raining down for people to eat. I liked this and at this time my view was that God was sort of a grandfatherly type who would help you out if you weren't doing something too bad. I was told he loved everybody and I thought that was good, too.


Then in my teenage years, this view began to change and by the time I was 20, my view of God was a little more selective and exclusive. I had come to believe that God did, indeed, love, but only specific people. I came to learn about other religions, but was taught and believed that God only loved a specific people called Christians, contrasted with all those other people who were known by the names , Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims etc. etc.. (Luckily I was in the good, acceptable Christian group) - but, wait, not just any old Christian. There were two big groups of Christians at that time called Protestants and Catholics, with the orthodox (Greek & Russian) coming in a slow third. We (my group) all knew that Protestants were the group favored by God and that Catholics had it all wrong. (Luckily, I was in the right group) Now, when I say Protestant, I am not referring to all the many groups (Hundreds) that call themselves Protestants, but to my group, who called themselves Lutherans. We all knew that they were the most favored by God. (luckily I was one of them) but, wait, before you begin to argue.


We did not just belong to any old Lutheran group, of which there were many - but I belonged to the LCA (Lutheran Church in American- translated as the 'best') in contradistinction to those Missouri Synod and American Lutheran folk. God liked LCA's the best. (and luckily I was one of them) Now in Roanoke at that time, there were quite a few LCA congregations - but I belonged to Christ Lutheran, the best of that group--(do you remember that one on the corner of Grandin and Brandon?)


Our church architecture was classic-- stone, with the only red front doors in town. We had the most beautiful stained glass window of all the other LCA churches and our choir director (head of the Music Dept at Hollins) led the best choir in town. We even had velvet covered kneelers, not found in any other LCA church! There was no doubt in my mind, that when God decided where to attend church on Sundays, he definitely selected my church.


Now you say this was a pretty egocentric view of God?- certainly it was, but it sure made me feel good about who I was. Why would I ever want to question this view? ----


Well, now that is the question. Why would anyone question such a comforting , even though myopic, view? What on earth would make one get off that direct Bus to Heaven? For the life of me, I don't know why I began to question when all my other friends were perfectly satisfied with their beliefs and faith. Perhaps, it was when I looked out the window of that bus and saw so many people left behind.


ED: There's a series of novels called LEFT BEHIND by Tim LaHaye that is doing very well. Apparently evangelicals don't really enjoy the idea of heaven unless there's someone else out there they can deny it to. Heck, their hymns are filled with "Me, me, me" talk, Jesus died for me, Jesus loves me, me me, or "I believe," I am saved," "I have seen the light." Full of self congratulation that they are the chosen "He chose me," and what hell everybody else is gonna pay come judgment day. It's like the whole religion is built on the basis of original sin (ego promotion). You even join your ego with God and are encouraged to believe that your views are God's views.


GLORIA: But for some reason I did begin to question especially what the ramifications of my belief meant--- that mainly of all the millions and millions of people who have ever lived on the planet, only a very tiny minority are loved, accepted, and welcomed by this God--the rest being consigned to a place called Hell in which there will never be pardon or parole for eternity. This is when I began to question the concept of God is Love. Is this really the way the God=Love I was suppose to worship behaved? I began to question the exclusive and discriminatory love of this God. I questioned the narrow, judgmental, non-acceptance of the God of my religion. If this philosophy really reflects the Love of God, it left me feeling strangely uneasy. This is when I began my quest - Shopping for God - or Comparison Shopping for the Truth. And my shopping spree began: Reading any book I could get my hands on, engaging anyone who claimed to know God or to know which Book God wrote -----"Tell me about your God" "Tell me what you believe" "Tell me how you see the Truth" "Tell me your view of the world". So for over 30 years this has been my search. It is also what has given my life wonder, meaning, depth, focus and much joy.


ED: There's a new book out promoting universalism, written by two preachers who became Universalist Quakers, it's called IF GRACE IS TRUE. There's also a favorite of mine, a little book I read two decades ago, SALVATION AND DAMNATION by a Jesuit priest who appeared to be a universalist, his last name being "Dalton." I think that when people admit universalistic thoughts into their lives even a little bit, they can think more clearly,less defensively, and they have a lot less anger and divisiveness. There was a movement in Anglicanism about a hundred years ago that suggested that eveybody already was loved by God and had the light of Christ in their hearts, and the church's job was merely to fan that light, not necessarily to make converts and certainly not to threaten people with eternal damnation.


I think that Universalists make Biblical arguments for universalism the same way that abolitionists made anti-slavery arguments from the Bible. Not that the Bible necessarily says everyone will be saved, or that slavery is a sin. It says neither. But there are hints of a broader more loving perspective that can be stretched out, contemplated. I mean, any God who tells human beings to forgive 70 X 70 times, and who invented the prodigal son story, has got to have an inkling of universalism in his veins. Any God who forgives the people while they are crucifying him, and who says to the theif next to him on the cross, "This day you shall be with me in paradise." (Notice that the theif did not call Jesus "god" or even "son of God," instead the theif called Jesus "a man," "This man has done nothing wrong." Yet that thief was going to paradise, while today your kindly grandmother, if she disagrees with any orthodox Evangelical Christian doctrines concerning Jesus, that kindly grandmother who loved many people in her life and showed it with her actions, is going to "hell?"


GLORIA: I see that that you are a fellow Carolinian, although different compass designations. I live in Asheboro, NC (which is, by the way, a very Fundamentalist town - we can't even buy a bottle of wine here!) - It has been a challenge since we moved here 25 years ago from Charlotte, but I guess there is probably a larger reason - perhaps just to be an irritant (with my letters- to- the- editor) to all those folks who 'know' and have the 'truth'. I'll look forward to your response to my question.
Thanks, Gloria M.


ED: It takes a bit of irritation inside an oyster, it takes a speck of irritating sand, to produce the pearl. Maybe the irritations you have experienced from others can energize you to help grow some pearls in your commity there? Or at least inspire you to fling some pearls of wisdom before the swine you sometimes encounter there? I know it's difficult, but try to keep in mind when replying to others that "Humor is one of the most valuable things in the human brain. It is the torch of the mind - it sheds light. Humor is the readiest test of truth - of the natural, of the sensible. Ministers have always said you will have no respect for our ideas unless you are solemn. Solemnity is a condition precedent to believing anything without evidence." (Robert Ingersoll)


"One horse laugh is worth a thousand syllogisms." (H. L. Mencken)


"Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand," "Irreverence is the champion of liberty," "The funniest things are the forbidden." (Mark Twain)


"He deserves paradise who can make his companions laugh." (The Koran)


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