81 thoughts on “Sunday (Church-Day?) Reading

  1. Agnostic Atheist. Humanist. Pastafarian. Freethinker. Skeptic. Non-religious. And probably others. It depends on the audience, and how much conversation I am up for, as to which one I will use when.

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    • I am the Rain Goddess of Camping. Whenever I go camping, the rain follows me, and pours it’s love out on me the whole trip. People should pay me not to go camping with them. Does that count as being a god?

      Liked by 7 people

  2. I’ve been a member (and am now a moderator) of an email group named “Secular Humanists.” I was culled from a local peace action group on Yahoo, way back when. I am a Christian believer, but I suppose I’d fit under Jesus follower (to the best of my mortal ability.) Anyway, I’m never offended by anti-religious commentary, just to clear that up. My primary goal every day is to foment love. A group member I admire hugely (they’ve passed now) said I would fall under the designation of “humanitarian.” I still like that.
    Thank you for all you do, Nan! 💖

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’d say Humanist, Atheist or Agnostic would work. Just curious, how are Satanists non-believers? Don’t they believe in Satan? In my book that’s just a different form of mythical deity.

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    • Well, the Satanic Temple has no god-beliefs, they simply use Satan as a symbol of rebellion against religious authority. The LaVeyan Satanists also do not believe in an actual Satan, it’s also symbolic for them.

      I suppose there are probably some sects out there that do believe in an actual Satan. Which kind of makes sense: If a person believes in both god and Satan, they could pray to god to save them from Satan. But wouldn’t it be more straightforward to pray directly to Satan to be left alone? Or to get on his good side, in which case you wouldn’t need saving from him at all!

      Liked by 5 people

    • I was a Satanist for about fifteen years of my life, and I still find a great deal of value in the philosophy.

      The mainstream of modern Satanism, such as the LaVeyans and similar people or the Satanic Temple, do basically treat Satan is a symbolic figure or mythical hero. There is, or was, a splinter group called the Temple of Set which believes Satan really exists and is the same entity as the ancient Egyptian god Set. The 17th-century Satanic cult in France led by Abbé Guibourg probably believed they were invoking the actual deity, Satan, in their rituals. Before that, there was a certain amount of scattered and underground activity among the oppressed peasantry, mingled with ancient paganism and witchcraft. There is an entertaining book about the pre-Guibourg period, Satanism and Witchcraft by Jules Michelet (1862), but I don’t know how accurate it is, since it would be hard to know much for certain about those practices. In modern times, it’s common to make a distinction between “Satanism” and “Devil-worship”.

      In modern Satanism, Satan is primarily the “god” of rebellion against unjust authority. He is also viewed as a Promethean figure representing the unfettered pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, in accordance with his role in bringing the gift of knowledge to Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden (in Biblical mythology) and thus freeing them from the tyranny and ignorance imposed by Jehovah. The line in the post, “I only know one god — and that’s me” is definitely Satanist in spirit rather than atheist or humanist in the usual sense.

      There is also an interesting “diabolonian” tradition in literature, represented by works such as Baudelaire’s Les Litanies de Satan.

      To me, Satanism isn’t really a religion, but it’s definitely not just atheism or humanism either. I call it an “anti-religion”, something that is to religion as medicine is to a disease. Even growing up atheist, in a society dominated by Christianity, one absorbs a certain amount of the Christian mentality and taboo-think on a subliminal level. It’s not enough just to disbelieve in God. The Satanist philosophy is a tool for confronting the Christian mental contamination head-on at the deepest level and ripping it out from one’s mind by the roots, as opposed to just ignoring it or finding “humanist” rationalizations for elements of it. For example, the Satanist movement fully accepted homosexuality back in the 1960s, when even the neo-pagans generally didn’t.

      Satanism generally rejects group-think and group affiliation. The ideal Satanist is a solitary practitioner, not a member of a “cult”. Similarly, a drug addict cannot be a true Satanist, since the drug is his master, and a true Satanist has no master. Because of the general stance of rejecting any external authority over the self, there’s not really much of an official “doctrine”, no leader or center with the authority to define what Satanism is or who qualifies as a Satanist.

      I could go on about this forever, but I’m trying to remain within the parameters of Nan’s “which one fits you?” emphasis.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Thanks for that explanation Infidel. I might be be married to an undeclared Satanist because he’s more adamantly anti-religion than I am. I think we both adhere to being our own gods in the sense that we don’t look for outside forces to bring about change in our lives.

        Thanks for your question Nan. The replies have been interesting. I’m still not sure about a label for myself, but, I’m definitely in the non-religious camp.

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        • There are less appealing aspects to it. Satanism attracts a lot of Ayn-Randish “I’ve got mine so screw everybody else” types. Most Satanists are elitists, seeing themselves as superior beings and the great mass of people as dumb herd animals, “sheeple”. This is one of the reasons I no longer self-identify as a Satanist — I concluded that such a stance was just factually wrong. The great mass of people are not stupid (they tend to lack intellectual interests, but that’s not the same thing). In those ways, it is definitely not like humanism. In the nineties, a lot of openly-fascist people infiltrated the Church of Satan and eventually became a dominant presence. That’s absurdly out of line with the anti-authority essence of the philosophy, but it nevertheless happened.

          So in some ways the term “Satanist” does not “fit me”. I would hate to think I can be defined by any one “ism”.

          Liked by 4 people

      • Thank you Infidel!! From some of the other comments, it seems I should have indicated that the “Non-Believers …” heading was a link to an article that talked about the various non-believing ideas … including Satanism.

        I’ve used this “link” method before so I just assumed … 😐 *sigh* Live and learn.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. “Our humanist attitude should therefore throughout be to stress what we all have in common with each other and relegate quarrelsome religion to the private domain where it can do [less] harm.”
    —Bondi, April 1995 speech titled “Ethics, Science and Humanism” (quoted on the International Humanist and Ethical Union website, June 1, 1995).

    “Stripping away the irrational, the illogical, and the impossible, I am left with atheism. I can live with that.”
    Mark Twain

    Atheist. As best as I can tell, that would define me. Or humanist. I don’t think we should try to fit everyone into a category. As soon as we do, they will do something absolutely contrary to what we thought of them.
    “What you call me doesn’t change what I am.” ~ Dan “Diego” Piraro (Cartoonist)

    For me, Christianity turned out to be a concept with its only substance being the mythology that developed through its evolution. I haven’t studied many of the religions very closely, but I don’t think I would be acceptable to their gods. I’m good with that.

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  5. I am most definitely a Freethinking Humanist first. Second, a Pluralist socially and politically which align well with my Bohemian predilections (DNA) and family heritage. 🎩 And all three combine to produce a belief that even though we are miniscule and at the mercy of this daunting, extraordinarily mind-boggling, fascinating Cosmos on this “tiny pale-blue dot” that sustains all life, all our Homo sapien lives equally with death and never-ending change…

    Like the rest of the animals on Earth, we already possess EVERYTHING we could ever need for whatever came before and whatever will come after at the end. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  6. You left out DEISM, which is belief in an impersonal creator, but which rejects all religions as man-invented. There is a link to The World Union of Deists on my blog (in the Blogroll on the right-side of all my posts), if anyone is interest in more info.

    Liked by 6 people

    • As I mentioned to Infidel, I had hoped visitors would read the article since my list of “non-beliefisms” was from there –and Deism wasn’t addressed.

      Personally, I can see where Deism has a place when considering the meaning of life (although it isn’t a fit for me). For many, however, it’s simply too close to supernaturalism, which they reject.

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      • If memory serves, deism does involve belief in a god — just a god who stopped intervening in the world after creating it. Deism was a common position of intellectuals (such as the founding fathers of the US) before 1859 since a god seemed necessary to explain the complexity of living beings, even though intelligent people could see that traditional religions were nonsense. But being theistic, it doesn’t belong with the non-theistic stances listed at the head of the post.

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        • I suppose I’m a deist in a non-doctrinal sense (if deism can be considered doctrinal in any sense) because it comes the closest to how I’ve come to think about life, creation, and other such bothersome questions, after spending most of my life as a practicing Catholic and coming to realize that religion isn’t the answer….and neither, it seems to me, are the other alternatives I’ve looked at (undoubtedly, because there IS no answer in this life, and maybe never). But you can’t blame a guy for trying. 😉

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      • My favorite quote from him, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” — seems uncannily prescient about both religion and the current state of right-wing US politics.

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    • I guess I look at myself being my only god in the following sense, in times of trouble I don’t look to an invisible force to save me. I rely on myself to find a solution. This might include asking someone else for help and doesn’t preclude me from helping others when they need my help or believing that a rising tide lifts all ships.

      Liked by 4 people

      • One can recognize that an ideology is evil without considering every single person who adheres to that ideology to be evil. There is more to a person than the label they attach to themselves, and different people emphasize different aspects of a belief system.

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        • Infidel, what do you feel is intrinsic that makes Christianity evil? I feel like certain aspects of Christian teaching could certainly be used and twisted toward evil as could almost any ideology.

          But, for instance, if we all followed the central teaching of Christ to love our neighbors and to care for enemies, would not the world be better? If I think that every human has intrinsic value and worth created in the image of God, isn’t there a high chance this affirmation might correlate with humanitarian action?

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          • Even a summarized response to this question would make for a very long comment and would rather drift off topic from Nan’s original post. If you want to know what I think, you may find this post and this post relevant, although they don’t come even close to exhausting the subject. I also strongly condemn such teachings as “turn the other cheek” and “resist not evil”, which in the real world are a recipe for submission to tyranny and enslavement — doubtless a big part of why so many medieval kings favored the adoption of Christianity by their subjects. One of the things that appealed to me about the Satanist philosophy (see longer comment above) is its stance of rebellion against unjust authority, and its prescription of vigorous retaliation when one is wronged. As The Satanic Bible says, “he who turns the other cheek is a cowardly dog”, and Jesus Christ is “the true prince of evil, the king of the slaves”. It’s not just that Christianity inspires bigotry and evil behavior, although it does — it’s that even the “positive” teachings are unworkable in reality and give the believer a choice between hypocrisy and being a doormat for every thug and bully who comes along.

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          • @ Becky.

            The central teaching of the character Jesus of Nazareth is only what is claimed/reflected in the gospels, Claims which are anonymous, unverifiable and thus, unreliable,
            Furthermore, the doctrine of Christianity is explicit.
            1. All human beings are sinners. No exceptions.
            2. Jesus died for the sins of humanity and with his death he filled the breach between humans and god – made us ”right with God” if you prefer. (other variations upon this general theme probably exist)
            3. Failure to accept Jesus as one’s saviour ( and god ) will result in eternal separation from Yahweh/Jesus – or, depending on your viewpoint, damned to be tortured in Hell for eternity.

            Therefore, on this foundatonal and fundamental core, Christianity is *…. ( fill in the blank space with the adjective /phrase you deem most appropriate.)

            *I’m going to plump for ”very silly.”

            Liked by 4 people

            • (Release of Liability Clause for Nan — this will be relevant to Ark’s comment to Becky; apologies Nan. 😉 )

              An excellent 4-point summary and conclusion Ark! Well done.

              I would humbly add somewhere in your 4-points or maybe in your intro this question or questions:

              1) — Was Yeshua bar Yosef (Jesus) Jewish?

              2) — What two languages did Yeshua/Jesus speak fluently and 24/7 when teaching and reforming Judaism during his 30-33 year life?

              Answer: Mishnaic-Hebrew and Syro-Aramaic. The former is near impossible for Greco-Romans to translate, interpolate, or extrapolate if they are not of Second Temple Jewish origins and extensively educated in that highly exclusive culture, especially Hellenistic Romans. The latter language is a little easier (not 100%) for Greco-Romans to translate/understand, BUT often does not tell/reveal all the Jewish nuances within the phonetics of Mishnaic-Hebrew. Therefore, the 70-110 years later transcriptions of Yeshua’s/Jesus’ Judaic teachings/reforms CANNOT be accurately and reliably found in the Koine Greek copies of the Roman Catholic “Gospels” or Epistles. Period.

              3) — Were any of the earliest Apostolic Church Fathers born & educated in Second Temple Judaism, specifically Zugot and Tannaim Rabbinical Judaism? More importantly, were any of those Fathers truly rooted in Yeshua’s/Jesus’ Sectarian ascetic Judaism?

              Answer: No. Not one single early Greco-Roman Church Father was born or raised/taught in Second Temple Zugot/Tannaim Rabbinical Judaism as was Yeshua/Jesus. None.

              4) — Therefore, just how accurate or reliable can the Greco-Roman Gospels be to the #1 character they narrate/portray?

              Answer: Near 0%. The Greco-Roman “Jesus” is fictional and strictly a figment of 2nd–3rd century CE Romans, ala Greek Apotheosis, a very well, long-standing socio-political tradition of Hellenism.

              Thanks Ark. 🙂

              Like

            • @ Prof T.
              No probs. I can only answer #2 with any degree of confidence: Those languages being Welsh ( he was after all trained by Druids) and Hindi. Now you know where he was for all the ”missing years.”
              That means you have to re-convert. Remember, you promised! No backsies.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Indeed I am Ark—and more specifically, a near identical narrative-construct replication of many Greek icons, gods, demi-gods, that followed a very long-standing, popular Greek/Hellenistic socio-religious and political tradition of Apotheosis. From the Encyclopedia Britannica:

              Apotheosis, elevation to the status of a god. The term (from Greek apotheoun, “to make a god,” “to deify”) implies a polytheistic conception of gods while it recognizes that some individuals cross the dividing line between gods and men.*

              Prior to Emperor Augustus (27 BCE), Romans had only one official apotheosis, the god Quirinius. Augustus changed that tradition when he made Julius Caesar a god. Then the Hellenistic theology of elevating an individual raised to a godlike level where even after their death they were still alive in the spirit world or the aether/metaphysical dimensions. By 4 BCE there became a newer Roman Provincial tradition (in Palestine) of apotheosis, or Messianism in the Late Second Temple Period. Simon of Peraea and Athronges were the first two Messiahs/Gods in this tradition.

              Furthermore, Messianic traditions were not exclusive to Judaism. The traditions already existed in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism, religions founded well before Constantine’s Christianity began. This makes “Messianic expectations” in whatever Hellenistic-Jewish form very common and actually not at all unique by the time Yeshua/Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, ca. 27-29 CE as the later 4th-century Greco-Roman Church Fathers boast/promote.

              So to conclude Ark, not only is the classic Jesus of Nazareth story or fairy-tale a narrative construct, but it is wholly and only a pure Greco-Roman hijacking of bits and pieces of Jewish Messianic fervor of the 1st-century CE. Very very little of what Yeshua bar Yosef (Jesus) really was within Sectarian Second Temple Judaism/Messianism can be found inside the Greek Gospels and New Testament. And that is putting it nicely Ark! 😉

              * Source — https://www.britannica.com/topic/apotheosis

              Liked by 1 person

            • Except that the humanist traits Christians believe were supposedly expounded by the character Jesus of Nazareth are not the principal traits, are they?
              And one doesn’t need a literary character to tell us the virtue of such humanist traits either, especially when one considers the extra ”baggage” they come with.

              Liked by 1 person

            • You remind me of a post that I saw in an online forum. It was about humanism. The poster wrote: “Secular humanism is Christianity without all the religious bollox.”

              I missed the opportunity. I should have responded with “Conservative Christianity is just the bollox without any of the actual Christianity.”

              Liked by 3 people

          • I’d put it a different way, if they share their beliefs with their kids and allow that there are many ways to view such questions, encouraging their kids to find their own path and exposing them to other philosophies, I’m fine with it. Most (if not all) of the Christian humanist parents that I know fall into this camp and most of their kids seem to be heading toward atheism. 😀

            Liked by 1 person

            • From what I can tell such kids often reject religious dogmas. Some may be diests, but the notion that they need to believe in a God in order to avoid an eternity in hell is not part of their worldview. I live in a college town with a highly educated population so my experience is skewed. However, in general, I find the next generation to be far more open-minded and less likely to join a church in which to raise their own kids even when their parents are self-proclaimed Christians.

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        • I think you’ve pointed out the problem with labels Nan. Most people can’t be pegged to a single category. Every Christian I know ignores certain parts of Christian doctrine. Church has become more of an open buffet, where you can’t eat everything that’s being served so you select the portions that are the most appealing to you.

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          • I agree … except for one label: “Christian.” Even if an individual’s personal core beliefs differ from his/her neighbor, they both still call themselves “Christian.”

            For example, Becky. She has expressed her personal Christian perspectives on several occasions. Many of them are in direct contrast to what other “Christians” believe. Yet both claim the title/label.

            Liked by 2 people

        • I think people confuse “humanist” with “humanitarian”. Christians can certainly be humanitarian, but humanism is, at the very least, intrinsically secular and minimizes religious concerns and issues in favor of human well-being in the here-and-now.

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  7. Perhaps the taking of labels for ourselves is the root of evil. “I am an X” creates an identity linkage. Piggybacks on the primitive tribalism, flocking to banners, that sort. Identity linkages lead to attachment — defense of position as defense of self. All I know is that the most closed minded theists in my sphere cannot be pried loose because their positions have merged with their identities. I try not to return the favor. And of late, I’ve been working to eliminate “I am an X” from my working language.

    Liked by 9 people

    • I agree with this insofar as it’s misleading and sometimes dangerous to define a person entirely by whatever label is applied to them, or to assume that a person who self-identifies with a particular label has every trait normally associated with that label. On the other hand, we can’t do without labels entirely. “Christian”, “humanist”, “atheist”, “Satanist”, “Muslim”, etc all refer to categories that exist in the real world and do have definable characteristics, and it’s hard to see how we could talk about them without having words for them.

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      • I agree with your thinking related to labels … yet there are scores of people who are adamantly against using them! There’s no doubt they can backfire at times, but they do serve a purpose in helping us identify individuals … and ourselves.

        Liked by 3 people

  8. Religion is there because people need something to cling to sometimes. You can be religious in spirit without labeling yourself or joining a church or a club. Good article btw.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. As with using a religion to identify myself, my thoughts, and my opinions or things I stand on; nothing ever fits. I say atheist as a form of both surrender and a stating point.

    Words???

    Liked by 3 people

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