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Thread: Please educate me about Evangelical Christianity

  1. Top | #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bronzeage View Post
    As with every self identification label, there is a very wide spectrum of those who choose the label.

    Your basic Christian evangelist is one who feels a need to tell others about Christianity, with the hope others will come to believe Jesus is their Savior. Generally, a lot of cultural baggage will come along with this. Evangelical religions are a contrast to those where one is born into the belief system, and later conversion is a fairly rare thing.

    Back in the 90s, I had many friends who were in a small evangelical church. The land they owned was too small to build a conventional church, so they held worship services in the chapel of a nearby Episcopal School. They turned their land into a vegetable garden which gave all the produce to a local food bank. Their evangelism was very low key. Members were active in prison ministries, where they conducted religious services for inmates and scheduled visits with inmates who did not get visits from friends or family. This was not taken lightly. The drive to the state prison is 3 hours, one way. Their other projects were sponsoring refugees from Sudan and helping them settle in the area. I can honestly say, I've never met so many kind hearted and generous people in any church.

    The church itself was supported mostly by a small group of well off parishioners whose monthly tithes covered the expenses, mainly the salary for the minister and a small staff. Since there was no actual church building, a youth program was not really practical and even the Sudanese families preferred churches which offered Sunday school classes. Eventually those supporting the church went to their reward, whatever it might have been and the church was no longer financially viable.
    Reminded me of this Onion article..

    Local Church Full Of Brainwashed Idiots Feeds Town’s Poor Every Week

  2. Top | #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Floof View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    Never judge a human by his or her label.
    Bingo!
    I judge them by whether they worship that label or value it above human well being, as most strains of Christianity do.
    It sounds like a bit of a contradiction to me between I judge them and if they don't value human well being. If you're adamant about human well-being, shouldn't others be universally approached with understanding, rather than judgement?

  3. Top | #23
    Intergalactic Villainess Angry Floof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Floof View Post

    I judge them by whether they worship that label or value it above human well being, as most strains of Christianity do.
    It sounds like a bit of a contradiction to me between I judge them and if they don't value human well being. If you're adamant about human well-being, shouldn't others be universally approached with understanding, rather than judgement?
    For fuck's sake. Everyone judges. If you have a human brain, you judge in some way. But do you judge people by superficial or inhumane standards? Do you judge them by their behavior or character or effect of their actions or intellectual honesty?

    I judge inhumane ideology as inhumane. I judge zealotry as zealotry. I judge people by their behavior, including their willingness to consider whether their world view is humane. I judge people by whether or not they are willing to look past the ends of their noses at what their choices and beliefs contribute to the world we all have to live in.

    Valuing the magical group identity above the well being of others will always be a source of suffering and atrocity in our world. It will always contribute war, conflict, prejudice, hate mongering, and us vs. them animal brain fear aggression.

    You can use your human ability to judge mindlessly and reflexively or you can do it realistically and intelligently. You can base your judgements in knee-jerk, pop culture derived or religion derived superficial standards or you can rub some brain cells together and consider actual character, behavior, and harm to others. Why is this rocket science?
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  4. Top | #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Floof View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Floof View Post

    I judge them by whether they worship that label or value it above human well being, as most strains of Christianity do.
    It sounds like a bit of a contradiction to me between I judge them and if they don't value human well being. If you're adamant about human well-being, shouldn't others be universally approached with understanding, rather than judgement?
    For fuck's sake. Everyone judges. If you have a human brain, you judge in some way. But do you judge people by superficial or inhumane standards? Do you judge them by their behavior or character or effect of their actions or intellectual honesty?

    I judge inhumane ideology as inhumane. I judge zealotry as zealotry. I judge people by their behavior, including their willingness to consider whether their world view is humane. I judge people by whether or not they are willing to look past the ends of their noses at what their choices and beliefs contribute to the world we all have to live in.

    Valuing the magical group identity above the well being of others will always be a source of suffering and atrocity in our world. It will always contribute war, conflict, prejudice, hate mongering, and us vs. them animal brain fear aggression.

    You can use your human ability to judge mindlessly and reflexively or you can do it realistically and intelligently. You can base your judgements in knee-jerk, pop culture derived or religion derived superficial standards or you can rub some brain cells together and consider actual character, behavior, and harm to others. Why is this rocket science?
    The problem from my perspective is that if the conditions of others people's lives were different they could be you, and not who they are. If they had the right education, intellect, background etc they might not think the way they do, but because of a combination of background and biology they are who they are.

    If we can, on one hand, make statements like 'people are unfortunate and a product of their circumstances' so we should grant them economic freedom, but then say 'they aren't unfortunate, and not a product of their circumstances' when it comes to them doing things we don't like, there's a contradiction there.

    But in either case my point is largely that I don't know if anyone benefits by coming from a place of judgement rather than understanding. Shaming someone who doesn't think how you want them to think will likely be counter-productive.

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    I try not to judge people because I don't think we have free will, or at least not much free will. We are all influenced by genetics, how we were raised and other environmental influences. One of my sisters is still a Christian, but I'm not sure if she identifies as an evangelical. She gets upset when I try to discuss religion with her, and I think she still worries that I'm going to hell. Ya know what? That's her burden, not mine. She suffers from anxiety and has had bouts of depression. She was constantly bullied by our father, so it would be wrong for me to judge her. Sometimes she drives me nuts, but I still love her and usually enjoy our conversations.

    And, I know some really good Christians who don't judge me for being an atheist. Or course, I won't judge you for how you feel either Floof. We have all had different experiences and interactions that lead us to feel a certain way. Besides, I was a nurse for 42 years and the my number one rule for caring for people was never to judge them, and treat them all equally. Sometimes that's hard. I wish all nurses and doctors would remember that rule. I also wish that all Christians would remember my favorite Bible verse. To paraphrase, don't judge other people or you too will be judged. I know some Christians have weird interpretations for that simple rule, but it's pretty clear to me. Besides, we all interpret fiction or poetry in different ways.

    Even the 92 year old woman who thinks we atheists have been inspired by Satan is a decent person. She's just been brainwashed her entire life and doesn't know any better. Not everyone is able to discard those crazy things that they've been taught to believe.

    If your religion can't be used in a positive, loving way, then it's better to discard it.

  6. Top | #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Floof View Post

    For fuck's sake. Everyone judges. If you have a human brain, you judge in some way. But do you judge people by superficial or inhumane standards? Do you judge them by their behavior or character or effect of their actions or intellectual honesty?

    I judge inhumane ideology as inhumane. I judge zealotry as zealotry. I judge people by their behavior, including their willingness to consider whether their world view is humane. I judge people by whether or not they are willing to look past the ends of their noses at what their choices and beliefs contribute to the world we all have to live in.

    Valuing the magical group identity above the well being of others will always be a source of suffering and atrocity in our world. It will always contribute war, conflict, prejudice, hate mongering, and us vs. them animal brain fear aggression.

    You can use your human ability to judge mindlessly and reflexively or you can do it realistically and intelligently. You can base your judgements in knee-jerk, pop culture derived or religion derived superficial standards or you can rub some brain cells together and consider actual character, behavior, and harm to others. Why is this rocket science?
    The problem from my perspective is that if the conditions of others people's lives were different they could be you, and not who they are. If they had the right education, intellect, background etc they might not think the way they do, but because of a combination of background and biology they are who they are.

    If we can, on one hand, make statements like 'people are unfortunate and a product of their circumstances' so we should grant them economic freedom, but then say 'they aren't unfortunate, and not a product of their circumstances' when it comes to them doing things we don't like, there's a contradiction there.

    But in either case my point is largely that I don't know if anyone benefits by coming from a place of judgement rather than understanding. Shaming someone who doesn't think how you want them to think will likely be counter-productive.
    I disagree. Shaming is a powerful force. I do agree that often it's used badly and hurts people for no reason, but shaming absolutely does influence people to think about what they are contributing to in the world and especially those whose world view values shaming outgroups for the most stupid and inhumane reasons.

    And yeah, it's true that everyone does the best they can in their circumstances, and so sometimes someone like me pointing out the inhumane nature of the culture they mindlessly propagate ends up landing squarely within their circumstances.

    I know there's a common belief that arguing with people over their beliefs doesn't do any good, but that's false. It's completely false. An individual feeling on the spot at having their treasured ideological identity challenged might dig in deeper temporarily, but seeds are still planted, and in the age of social media, any exchange that challenges people's assumptions and indoctrination is potentially seen by a great many people who are not personally involved in the discussion and so have an emotional distance, which means they are in a position to be more open to changing their minds or at least being curious about something they never questioned before.

    The world needs gadflies and dissenters.
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  7. Top | #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    I try not to judge people because I don't think we have free will, or at least not much free will. We are all influenced by genetics, how we were raised and other environmental influences. One of my sisters is still a Christian, but I'm not sure if she identifies as an evangelical. She gets upset when I try to discuss religion with her, and I think she still worries that I'm going to hell. Ya know what? That's her burden, not mine. She suffers from anxiety and has had bouts of depression. She was constantly bullied by our father, so it would be wrong for me to judge her. Sometimes she drives me nuts, but I still love her and usually enjoy our conversations.

    And, I know some really good Christians who don't judge me for being an atheist. Or course, I won't judge you for how you feel either Floof. We have all had different experiences and interactions that lead us to feel a certain way. Besides, I was a nurse for 42 years and the my number one rule for caring for people was never to judge them, and treat them all equally. Sometimes that's hard. I wish all nurses and doctors would remember that rule. I also wish that all Christians would remember my favorite Bible verse. To paraphrase, don't judge other people or you too will be judged. I know some Christians have weird interpretations for that simple rule, but it's pretty clear to me. Besides, we all interpret fiction or poetry in different ways.

    Even the 92 year old woman who thinks we atheists have been inspired by Satan is a decent person. She's just been brainwashed her entire life and doesn't know any better. Not everyone is able to discard those crazy things that they've been taught to believe.

    If your religion can't be used in a positive, loving way, then it's better to discard it.
    I agree with all of that. Every Trump supporter, within their personal bubble of existence, is a decent person, a good neighbor, etc., believing they are on the side of right. And if they have no free will over their choice to follow blindly instead of questioning, then I have no free will over my choice to expose them to the reality of what their ideology gives rise to in the world beyond their noses. If you're gonna say "there's no free will" to excuse one behavior, then you can excuse anything and you might as well turn off your frontal lobes.

    And honestly, I don't care if you judge me for what I believe. I'm ok with what I believe. It's keeping people on the topic of judging ideas that is annoying, and that's not personal.
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  8. Top | #28
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    There is a big difference between the kindly and inoffensive Christians who do good works and feed the poor and the toxic and stupid Christians who support offensive political candidates and religious con men/pastors and minsters. We have far too many of these sorts of toxic cultural warriors, filling too many heads with bad religious ideas.
    Cheerful Charlie

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheerful Charlie View Post
    There is a big difference between the kindly and inoffensive Christians who do good works and feed the poor and the toxic and stupid Christians who support offensive political candidates and religious con men/pastors and minsters. We have far too many of these sorts of toxic cultural warriors, filling too many heads with bad religious ideas.
    I think the source of offensive Christianity lies in not just the more abused and distorted teachings, but the combination of horrible ideas plus the human sociology and psychology of group identity. Those benign, good hearted Christians contribute to the wider tribe of Christianity.

    And they often quickly become not-so-benign or goodhearted when you ask them if the well being of their tribe of seven billion should be more important to them than that tribal label, if their humanness - because it's real and we all share it - should be valued more than religious ideology.

    Religious people worship and identify with their ideological labels, not God. Test it out if you don't believe me. Ask them to throw away a label, which is decidedly NOT a god, right? and ask them to do so because the label has been poisoned against humanity and by continuing to carry it, they contribute to that poisonous tribalism. I mean, God is not a label, right? Wouldn't that be blasphemy or something to assert such a thing? Yet, the label is what they cling to and will consider questioning that label as meaningless to be no less than an attack on them personally and their God.

    They need that label, that group identity, that cultural (tribal) narrative. That's what is actually at play in the social and psychological dynamics of at least mainstream denominations of Christianity, if not all forms bearing that name.

    As I said, test it out. Ask your Christian friends if they worship the label, the ordinary human tendency to tribalism, and not actually God. Ask them if the label equates to God, etc. You won't find a single one that will value humankind above that ordinary human (not at all divine) behavior of carrying group identity labels.
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  10. Top | #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Floof View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Floof View Post

    For fuck's sake. Everyone judges. If you have a human brain, you judge in some way. But do you judge people by superficial or inhumane standards? Do you judge them by their behavior or character or effect of their actions or intellectual honesty?

    I judge inhumane ideology as inhumane. I judge zealotry as zealotry. I judge people by their behavior, including their willingness to consider whether their world view is humane. I judge people by whether or not they are willing to look past the ends of their noses at what their choices and beliefs contribute to the world we all have to live in.

    Valuing the magical group identity above the well being of others will always be a source of suffering and atrocity in our world. It will always contribute war, conflict, prejudice, hate mongering, and us vs. them animal brain fear aggression.

    You can use your human ability to judge mindlessly and reflexively or you can do it realistically and intelligently. You can base your judgements in knee-jerk, pop culture derived or religion derived superficial standards or you can rub some brain cells together and consider actual character, behavior, and harm to others. Why is this rocket science?
    The problem from my perspective is that if the conditions of others people's lives were different they could be you, and not who they are. If they had the right education, intellect, background etc they might not think the way they do, but because of a combination of background and biology they are who they are.

    If we can, on one hand, make statements like 'people are unfortunate and a product of their circumstances' so we should grant them economic freedom, but then say 'they aren't unfortunate, and not a product of their circumstances' when it comes to them doing things we don't like, there's a contradiction there.

    But in either case my point is largely that I don't know if anyone benefits by coming from a place of judgement rather than understanding. Shaming someone who doesn't think how you want them to think will likely be counter-productive.
    I disagree. Shaming is a powerful force. I do agree that often it's used badly and hurts people for no reason, but shaming absolutely does influence people to think about what they are contributing to in the world and especially those whose world view values shaming outgroups for the most stupid and inhumane reasons.
    This isn't borne out by my experience and observation. To me it seems like most politically active people consistently shame the opposition, and all it does is lead to division and polarity. The left is constantly trying to 'fix' the right by being understood, while not seeking to understand the right themselves. Where the right is doing the same and trying to fix the left by being understood, while not seeking to understand them either. To me that's the power of seeking to understand. If this shaming worked in changing the world-view of those who are diametrically opposed to us, all of our ails would have been solved by now, because everybody is doing it.

    What I see shaming do more often is force group-think, and for in-group members to fall in line and not question authority. Most ideologies are fairly persistent and consistent for the very fact that if people question them they're met with hostility because the new viewpoint is obviously wrong. This can be pernicious because those who believe they're in the right might not be seeing the complete picture themselves.

    And yeah, it's true that everyone does the best they can in their circumstances, and so sometimes someone like me pointing out the inhumane nature of the culture they mindlessly propagate ends up landing squarely within their circumstances.

    I know there's a common belief that arguing with people over their beliefs doesn't do any good, but that's false. It's completely false. An individual feeling on the spot at having their treasured ideological identity challenged might dig in deeper temporarily, but seeds are still planted, and in the age of social media, any exchange that challenges people's assumptions and indoctrination is potentially seen by a great many people who are not personally involved in the discussion and so have an emotional distance, which means they are in a position to be more open to changing their minds or at least being curious about something they never questioned before.

    The world needs gadflies and dissenters.
    I agree that this is false, but if your goal is planting seeds I think you're going to be much more effective by appealing to someone's self-interest, than treating them negatively. I've been there, done it - corrected people and humiliated them publicly (albeit unknowingly) and it accomplished nothing but severing the relationship, and any further chance of influence I once had.

    People tend to listen and open up to you if you make them feel good and comfortable, which is again why I believe seeking to understand others before criticizing them is so important.

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