An Arkansas interfaith model: 11-4-09
World to end yet again: 11-6-09

An ode to freedom: 11-05-09

As 1989 drew to a close, I gave my daughters (then 17 and 14) some uncirculated American coins bearing that date and told them to hang on to them as a reminder that they had just lived through what surely would be understood as a watershed year -- not unlike, say, 1968 (no, not because that was the year I married their mother), and 1945 (no, not because that was the year I was born).

And I want to use the upcoming (Nov. 9) 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall as an opportunity to take note of the paradoxical messages of freedom and slavery that religion sometimes offers. In the Christian tradition that is my home, these messages may be paradoxical, but they are not inconsistent and not in conflict when properly understood.

Just to remind ourselves: Under the direction of East German leader Walter Ulbricht, construction on the Berlin Wall began suddenly on Aug. 13, 1961. It soon blocked East Germans from escaping their Communist-led, dour country by slipping in to West Berlin.

It took a long time, but in the late 1980s, East German people began protesting the continued presence of the wall. Finally, an East German official remarked almost in passing that of course citizens could travel freely to the West. At that point, citizens attacked the wall and brought it down -- causing a domino effect across Communist eastern Europe that eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Union itself.

It was one of freedom's finest hours.

So what is the corresponding message of freedom that religion offers? Well, it varies at least a little, of course, from faith to faith, but many traditions suggest that we can be free only if we submit to God. Indeed the very name Islam means such submission. Even in Buddhism, which is a non-theistic path, people are encouraged to let go of their personal desires as a way of being free from suffering.

As I say, in my Christian tradition, we are fond of quoting Jesus in John 8:32 as saying that "you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." This is often used in secular society almost as an ode to freedom of the press, but when put in its original context, it is paired with the idea that Jesus himself is the truth. So in Christianity, knowing the truth means becoming a disciple of Jesus (sometimes called -- as in I Corinthians 7:22 -- "Christ's slave." It's why Christians say that in Baptism we die to our old selves.)

The message of the great religions is pretty consistent. If you live by your own standards and not by divine standards, you will ensnare yourself in destructive sin, whereas if you submit to the life God calls you to live, you will ultimately be free of such destruction.

So freedom in a religious context does not mean licentiousness. Rather, it means finding your true self by becoming part of a story that is larger than your personal desires. The anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, as I say, offers us a good chance to think about the various meanings of freedom.

(The photo here today of the breaching of the Berlin Wall is from

* * *


Pope Benedict XVI has invited various world political leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden and former British PM Tony Blair to come to the Vatican to talk about the role of the church in politics. I'd love to be a fly on the wall at that gathering. I hope someone makes the point that politics is woven through ever aspect of life and that the role of the church is to be in the world but not of it -- in the world, meaning to call politicians and the people who vote for them to act with honor, honesty and integrity.


Will Graham

KCF was trying to claim yesterday afternoon that rarely do you see young people involved in interfaith work.

He obviously did not bother to look around.


Bill wrote>>>>>>The message of the great religions is pretty consistent. If you live by your own standards and not by divine standards, you will ensnare yourself in destructive sin, whereas if you submit to the life God calls you to live, you will ultimately be free of such destruction.

"You too, Brutus?".

Mr. Tammeus, "Tear down this stupidity".

"Read my lips" - At what point this irrationality of your faith becomes irrationality you are willing to spread to the rest of the world.

I don't mind much your personal irrationality, Bill, but when it comes to spreading "concepts" of sin and such on others, I hope you understand there is a difference between "sin" and "concept" of sin, "god" and "concept" of god, "truth" and "concept of truth."

However, with irrationality, there is only one - "irrationality".

Aren't you a bit too old to spread it around?

Just Thinking

That's right, Bill, there is a tremendous difference in the divergent paths of asking, "What is the right thing to do?" vs. "What can I do to please myself and to get my way." One path leads to God and ultimate freedom ... the freedom to do the right thing. The other leads to death, destruction and enslavement.

Sin always promises fulfillment, but it never delivers. There is fun in sin for a season, but the satisfaction is fleeting as it takes more and more to find less and less thrill. It is too easy to wake up and find that the sin now controls and ensnares you. Pleasure seeking can turn a casual drinker into an alcoholic/drunk. Pleasure seeking can turn comfort eating into gluttony. Pleasure seeking can turn sex into an addiction, crippling a person's ability to share in a deep commitment to ONE person. It can turn a quest for money into an insatiable desire for wealth that destroys your life. It can turn anger into addictive hateful oppression, denigration, and malignment of others. These things poison the soul.

The freedom found in Christ is the freedom to once again choose to do what is right. It is the freedom to let go of alcohol, etc. It is the freedom to choose to follow God. And it starts with faith. Belief in the higher power of God, repentance and the desire to do what is right, and the faith to act on these beliefs in pursuit of God. Jesus came to set the captives free, just as the Jews were freed from the bondage of slavery to Pharoah, who stood between them and God.

It can be rough after escaping Egypt and moving into the dry desert. Persist and let God feed you, and you'll enter the promised land where you work for God.

Bill wrote.
“The message of the great religions is pretty consistent. If you live by your own standards and not by divine standards, you will ensnare yourself in destructive sin, whereas if you submit to the life God calls you to live, you will ultimately be free of such destruction.”

If I don’t live by my own standards? What does this mean? We are on our own. Some people just to understand that. We pull together when necessary but most of the time we are alone with yourself.

…to the life god calls you to live?

God has never spoken to me. Others pretend he has spoken to them, but can’t verify this anymore than the bible characters can verify god’s presence. Why is that? Because god is not there. Time to grow, I think, and promote what is real, SCIENCE!

Everything that becomes of great issue in America, except religion, always wins. When will we learn this and stop pouring money and time into fighting equal rights?

I would say when religion stops messing with a secular society.

Some people talk about god’s grace. I have seen god’s grace before. It’s called nature. You know, like in the NATURAL world. In the supernatural world you have creations like unicorns, fairies, magical frogs, rain gods, cloud gods, wind gods, thunder gods and oh, yes, “THE” GOD, that some pretend to know the mind of…You know, the one that is so kind and loving…the ONE that gives us diseases, wind storms and earth explosions!

Out of 34 civilized and advanced countries America is number 33 who least believe in evolution. Something is wrong here. As soon as religion morphs to something kinder this will change. And it will change. Interfaith groups and we nonreligious will see to that. Bye Bye to the old…and HELLO to the new. You cannot stop change. It’s in our genes. Its our evolution!

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole


Just Thinking wrote>>>>>Persist and let God feed you, and you'll enter the promised land where you work for God.


How "exactly" is god going to "feed me?" You are talking in metaphors. God doesn't feed anyone from what we know.

I think you need to use "more accurate and "factual to your faith" language - through some unknown, undetectable, unverifiable and unproven supernatural mechanism god will "impart" his/her/its/theirs love and knowledge onto you to make you a follower of him. In short - BELEIF IN BELIEF, WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE AND PROOF AND IF YOU DON'T, YOU'LL GO TO HELL.

Is god going to have a soup kitchen open with his name on it?

Or is he going to spread "manna" on the ground for just me and everyone else?

Or is she going to be breastfeeding us?

I'd like to "persist" on this.



About your concept of "sin" and "mandate" of your faith to "fight" it...

I found this comments on a thread about "Internet Porn" - According to a survey, a shocking 50 percent of Christian men and 20 percent of Christian women are addicted to pornography. But you won't hear much about it from the pulpit. Pornography and sexual addictions are the "secret sin" nobody wants to talk about, but we need to face the facts that this is a problem that is not going away.

And here comes the comment...

"you idiot , we christians are the only people who are left in that crapy world who can still protect the world . and you will not tear the church to shreds because you simply can't you ignorant stupid jew. porn is made by jews just to corrupt the world and make it a dirty place."

This comment is surely off the cuff, but it seems to me that the "religious illusions" of "truth" that you described, Bill, this morning fall in line with this one.

Sorry to be tough on you, I am sure you are getting it from the fellow Xians all the time - it's the price you pay for being a "transitional fossil" ;o)

Dolores Lear

"An ode to freedom." - " So in Christianity, knowing the truth means becoming a disciple of Jesus (sometimes called -- as in I Corinthians 7:22 -- "Christ's slave."

Christian Humans fold their Hands in Prayer on Sunday Morning, the most Segregated Hour of the Week. Why? Some Religions use Friday, Saturday, etc., for their Holy Day.

These different Man-Made Religions are about our Human Physical High Tech Ancestors God/Us from Space, not Spirit Beings.

Humans also accept that Life Evolved on Earth, without a God in our Image. Humans cannot Accept the Supernatural Gods, used High Tech Colonization, 'in the beginning'. Why?

Humans today, do Know How To Colonize a Planet and Reproduce Humans and Clone Animals in a High Tech Lab. Even some Humans may have been Cloned in the late 1900s, but not Officially.

Genesis 1, records High Tech Science Creation of Life on Earth. Religion, Myth, and Fairy Tales were handed down through Generation Birth, Death, and Rebirth, by Humans who lost their High Tech Science Knowledge.

Know the Truth of High Tech Male and Female Clone Humans, and 'The Truth' will set you free from the Human Sin of Body Birth Unequal Reproduction and Disease, and Physical Death.

Genesis does record High Tech Born Purebred Human Clones, the God/Us Humans. They Do have Eternal Physical Life After Birth, on Planets, and in Spaceships.

Eternal Life is for Living Perfect Humans on Planets and in Spaceships. Our High Tech today can Prove this.

Dolores Lear

"Jesus in John 8:32 as saying that "you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. - If you live by your own standards and not by divine standards, you will ensnare yourself in destructive sin,"

What are Divine Standards? Agape Equal Love? What is Destructive Sin? Killing Each Other, All Species, our Eco System and Ozone Canopy?

How much more Destructive can Humans Become? A Nuclear Arm'ageddon War, and Earth will be like Mars with No Atmosphere?

The Only difference between God Humans, in our Human Image, and Humans on Earth, is High Tech Purebred Reproduction, and Body Birth Genetic and Physical MIsbred Reproduction.

Genesis records God Created Male and Female Human Clones, in their Human Image. Humans without High Tech Science, translated this High Tech Information as Supernatural, and handed it down by Generation Birth, Death, and Rebirth.

Humans recorded God/Us in Genesis, Supernaturally made the Male, and then the Female from the male Rib. Without High Tech Cloning Knowledge, this Does Sound Impossible to Humans.

Is Creating Human Males, and Females from the Male Rib, Fairy Tales and Myth? Or Literal High Tech Science Reproduction?

Eternal Physical Life is for Living Purebred Humans, not the Dead Misbred Humans whose Elements Return to GODs Living Elements.

Know the Truth of Pure Bred High Tech Humans 'in the beginning', and The Truth will set you Free from Human Body Birth Sin, Misbred Humans Killing Each Other and our Eco System, and Physical Death.

High Tech Born Purebred Human Clones, Do Live by Divine Standards, and Do Have Eternal Physical Life After Birth, on Planets and in Spaceships.


Will Graham wrote>>>>>>>
KCF was trying to claim yesterday afternoon that rarely do you see young people involved in interfaith work. He obviously did not bother to look around.

Please, read and reread my post from yesterday - it dealt with not just "young" people but "young people of no belief" and "young people of belief" working together.

Do you see the difference? Let's go by letters for simplicity sake and assign "young people invovled in interfaith work" letter "A" - ("general" young people".

"young people of faith" - letter "B" "young people of no faith" - letter "C"

I said you never see "B" and "C" working together. You say I have not bothered to look for "A". Since I was not talking about "A" but about "B/C" group, your argument is compeltely out of wack and I don't even know what to say? I am speechless...

I don't know what to say besides "you must be not praying enough for your god to straighten you out. Maybe you and Just Thinking need to get together and figure out.

A, B, C - these are different letter. They are also different concepts.

Just Thinking

President Ronald Reagan was instrumental helping to bring down the Berlin wall. Most people had no idea how well-orchestrated his remarks were to Gorbachev at the time. When President Reagan said, "If you are serious about human rights, then, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall."

So many people thought it was just a crazy remark that Ronald Reagan was making, but it wasn't. It was carefully crafted, approved and modified by CIA intelligence. And it was motivated in faith. Ronald Regan had the faith to know that the mere presence of that wall was evil.

Freedom is something that any Christian cherishes: the freedom to do what is right, including the freedom of religious belief, and the freedom of worship. Ronald Reagan had the faith to know that God wanted the same things and, in shining a light on Russia's activity, he exposed the lies and the hypocrisy of that Evil Empire. Any empire which systematically forbids freedom of religion and freedom of worship is an Evil Empire. No question about it. And Ronald Reagan had the faith to declare it so.

President Reagan was one man of faith whose faith made a difference. That wall came down, just as he said it should. No violence. No force. Russia was shamed into tearing down that wall. Shamed because they knew what they were doing was wrong. Just as the Pharoah knew that denying the Jews the right to worship was wrong. But the Pharoah was so set against relinquishing control and allowing people to worship God that he was dealt with *very* harshly.

Red Biddy

Bill's subject of freedom to-day reminds me of an old Church of England prayer intoned at Evensong most nights....went something like this "May the peace of God, that passeth all understanding be with you whose service is perfect freedom."

I never understood then, and I certainly don't understand now, how one can consider oneself truly free while - electing to be "Christ's slave".

Letting go of earthly desires in order to avoid suffering (Buddhism) is not at all the same thing as "service is perfect freedom" idea but then Eastern mysticism is very different from the mysticism of the more materialist West.

I would question seriously what Bill means by "divine" standards when there are so many different standards laid before us. Are we allowed to choose or are our standards already chosen for us ?

JT said's the freedom to let go of alcohol. Really ??? Who says alcohol has to be let go of ? God ? Is this one of the divine standards Bill's talking about ? I seem to remember St.Paul saying we should "drink a little wine for our stomach's sake. Maybe we shouldn't overdo it....but "freedom to let go" ??? I don't get it !

Freedom to submit to another's will be it divine or human is nothing but slavery.I thought we were supposed to have free will !

Red Biddy

It was a great day when the Berlin Wall came down. I once spent a miserable couple of hours in East Berlin airport waiting for a plane back to Britain. I was later to have a couple of really fun filled trips to the West so was able to compare both sides.

Strange place Berlin in those days, the difference between East and West was night and day. The West was all new plate glass windows steel buildings, shopping mall walk-ways, bright lights etc..while looking over the wall into the East all you could see were bombed out buildings - the East Germans didn't bother to rebuild anything after the WWII Blitz - no civic pride I guess ! Bill's description of the East being "dour" is an understatement !


Bill, that was quite a year when the Wall and the whole Iron Curtain came crumbling down. Then I heard that for quite some time, with no centralized government, many people were worse off and hungrier than they had been under Communism. I still hear of horrors like child prostitution, which seem to run rampant in anyplace where there isn't adequate government.

Evil people from countries where ill-treatment of children is illegal, such as ours, swarm to un-governed countries like bees to a honey pot (similar to how drug dealing and prostitution wind up in neighborhoods like mine, I guess because we don't support the police as well as the folks in Johnson County do). With this in mind, it's not really accurate to say Communism self-destructed, at least not singlehandedly -- since the destruction was helped by evil, greedy folks from the free world who swarmed in like vultures to devour whatever they could.

About living by our own standards, versus God's standards: I think some Atheists, like Daniel Dennett, have experiences of transcendence that they carry within themselves. I think some people, whether religious or Atheist, keep themselves locked into a narrow and static worldview -- but others, whether religious or Atheist, excitedly move into a bigger view of the world, and live a life of complete reverence for people, for love, and for all life including our whole ecosystem.

The former group, the "narrow-minded" folks, think they know the mind of God, and therefore they live and would like for everyone else to live according to their narrow standards (of course, the narrow-minded people who are Atheists don't think they are reading God's mind -- they're more likely to just think they have good logic and common sense).

And the latter "big-minded" group, whether religious or Atheist, go through life in awe of how lives intersect, and how one person's choices affect others. And they live according to the law of love.

Red Biddy

I wanted to thank Will G for the link to Michael Ruse's piece in the U.K. guardian. I hope that Cole and Iggy might read it so here it is again:-
Ruse, says "There are several reasons why we atheists are squabbling "
1) He doesn't think all religion is evil and corrupting
2) As a professional philosopher he's really mad at Dawkins for "running around like a first year graduate asking "What caused God ?"
(I've always loved Voltaire's comment to that subject:" If God didn't exist it would be necessary to invent him.":)!
3) He doesn't think he's wrong (about his own atheism) but is calling for a little humility on the part of the so called New Atheists to acknowledge that there are religious philosophers of worth and integrity, who should be respected.
4) He wants evolution taught in schools but thinks there is "no way better designed to make that impossible, than to spout on about religion from ignorance and contempt." In other words (my words !)spouting anti religious invective is putting people off !!

I'm rather in sympathy with all of the above particularly in view of Iggy's remark calling Bill irrational this morning "Aren't you too old to spread it around." 7.02a.m. That was very rude, untrue, ignorant and unecessary. How about some respect ?

adam harrison

Red Biddy, your 4:09 post was very insightful.

Only thing I disagree with is about Iggy; frankly, I like him just the way he is!!!

He is doing a great job for us!


Biddy wrote>>>>>>>>He wants evolution taught in schools but thinks there is "no way better designed to make that impossible, than to spout on about religion from ignorance and contempt." In other words (my words !) spouting anti religious invective is putting people off

Biddy, my goal on this particular blog has been to "change people's behavior/actions" - i.e. "make" them stop posting irrational BS to the extend that they "self select" not to.

I am happy with this outcome - has their thinking changed? - don't know, I have not recieved any e-mails or personal contacts from people who say that it has changed.

I will take "change in exterior behavior" - this blog - any time.

I've been on this blog for 2 years and if you have followed it for this long (I think you showed up about 6 months ago or so) you'd see that there is a "huge" difference between the posts 2 years ago and today.

Today, out of "irrational theists" only Just Thinking, adamh/Will Graham/Goldstein are the ones who are posting. There have been many more "fire and brimstone" theists over the past two years.

As for "liberals" it appears that the same trend is with them as well - Susan is the only one who has toughed it out, others have fallen off the past two years.

I "respect" every person on this blog - I do not disrespect anyone. I afford them the same treatment I'd like to be afforded - I am treating my neighbors the same way I'd like to be treated. Hence, I am congruent with my actions.

Rude, untrue, ignorant, uncessasary? - I appreciate you being a blog monitor and all (especially, as a freethinkers/ atheist :) but I have to point out again to you that the goal is not to be disrespectful (you can be as disrepectful to me as you want, doesn't bother me one bit, I don't get offended) but TO CHANGE BEHAVIORAL PATTERNS.

I believe this has been accomplished to the best I could have hoped and then some.

Just Thinking

Ah, a very good question: How does God feed someone? Here are the clues for you to put together for yourself.

CLUE #1 - Jesus is the bread of life
John - Jesus said,
"I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever."

CLUE #2 - Bread is not the only food.
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

CLUE #3 - Jesus is the Word
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

CLUE #4 - The Word produces Faith
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

CLUE #5 - You are saved by Grace through Faith
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—-not by works, so that no one can boast.

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