I love the bible more than before – 9

The conversation is engaging: OPEN LETTER TO A BLOGGING CHUM which is yesterday’s post – 8   And a slight change of plan from that intended

Because as part of the back and forth, Ark made the comment so Susan:  “So, no proselytizing? You attend church?”  (Definition of proselytize: to recruit or convert especially to a new faith, institution, or cause).

Ark has used the term many times.  So I joined the thread to illustrate that “proselytizing” (as taught) was a choice not an obligation:  “I am leaving for a car park in a moment. A small number of us go there each week with hot and cold drinks and packets of biscuits. This has been happening for 13 years (long before my time). It used to be supported by the local churches who have since withdrawn their support. “  And went on to say that: “I have been going there for three years. I have been asked once about “Jesus” and who “he was”. The only answer I had was that he was my best friend. The response was a curious “oh”. That is the only time I have mentioned “God stuff”. Because we are all committed to one thing: not “proselytizing” and not “making disciples”. “

Ark’s response was: “Perhaps it would have been more truthful had you responded: ”Jesus is my bestist, invisible 2000 year old smelly little make believe friend in the whole wide world and I talk to him. Even while I am on the toilet .. An’ he listens…. honest. And answers prayers. But he doesn’t look while I pee. He can be your best friend too, if you just confess you are dirty rotten sinner and say he made the entire universe and was crucified for all our sins, including yours too. And then I’ll give you one of these Jammie Dodgers and a can of coke. How about it? Are you really ready to confess to Jesus?”


Tildeb had joined a slightly different thread earlier in the same conversation and I asked him about love: “The closest to verbalising that, for me, is unconditional love (which I see as being a common currency most people don’t even realise they already have available to them). And which may be the biggest reason for my wishing to influence those of religion (and cultural Christianity/faith) which is (a term) so apt for so many.”

Tildeb: “Now, perhaps it’s because of my study of childhood psychology that makes me more aware of why and how we are attuned to picking up even the slightest hint of deception, so I can’t help but think behaving virtuously for reasons other than desiring to be virtuous in our treatment of others casts a shadow when we attribute something as vital as love to someone and something beyond ourselves acting THROUGH us. That makes us puppets, doesn’t it?”

Paulfg: “This “more than” does not make me an agent. It makes me “as one”. So I am not seeking approval from “more than” – I am living in balance with me and who I am (and am becoming). Much like driving on the right (the wrong side) or the left (the right side of the road) – the journey and destination could well be identical. And for some it is therapy, for others the gym, for each “something” that connects with the better self “I want to be” (or think I should – and that is another story). But what confuses me here is the “why”. Why my “more than” which is me, is flawed compared to your “I am” which sounds suitably biblical (and a phrase I often use).”

All the quotes above are my choice of extracts from a very much longer conversation – if you have the time and curiosity it is a conversation worth reading.

I found something I had not expected yesterday.

Using a period of 13 years to illustrate the absence of “proseltyzing” (as taught) is meaningless because of one occasion I didn’t think (in that moment) to give an atheist’s take on the bible (as taught).

And splitting the motivation for love much as the atom is split.  Which doesn’t change the “atom” – but arrives at a conclusion that my “application” of my atom is bad.

I am finding more and more … we ALL live by our personal application of belief (by any definition) that changes as we are changed by our living – that our “beliefs” change with that living.  Because if they don’t … are we living to our fullest – or our safest?

And that – I think – is a really good thing to learn.  Because then – maybe – we have an opportunity to begin to accept the fact AND fiction of our motivation for application of beliefs as living choices.  And that might just help understanding each other better – to treat each other with more kindness  – and (maybe) find that we CAN change “today” together AND make a better “tomorrow” (for everyone) TOGETHER.

Because isn’t that what this whole “right or wrong” … this “religion stuff” … this faith stuff … this sacred text stuff … is all about?

How we apply what we believe?  With real people.  Like me, Ark, Susan and Tildeb.

Or being asked by one young adult, surrounded by her giggling friends: “Who is Jesus?”

What courage – to ask aloud in a public place – surrounded by her friends – who all live publicly by a different teaching: “The bible is boring – fuddy duddys read the bible and go to church – you can’t be one of us if you are one of them.” 

That was the bravest thing I have seen by a young person in all my time there. That takes much more guts (and trust) than me sitting here writing about it.

So why on earth (or in heaven) would I want to make her choose?  All I wanted in that moment of my living and hers was to help her to keep asking questions.  I chose an answer I hoped would NOT make her choose.  And I hope that fleeting moment might, in some way, encourage her to keep asking her questions as she lives her life.

Because isn’t that what we all want?



13 thoughts on “I love the bible more than before – 9

  1. It isn’t brave at all. It merely demonstrates how we are so easily inculcated, and children especially , who have been brought up to beleive there is an element of veracity in the crap espoused by those who wish to promote religion.

    The true courage could have been shown by you in front of your /em> friends by telling her that the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth is simply a narrative construct – a work of fiction, ir the relevant terminology to help her understand that Christianity as is all religion utter nonsense.

    But, no. You chose the cowardly way out by responding …”Jesus is my best friend”, the most gag-awful reply you could have possibly offered, and thus demonstrating your hypocrisy as I have pointed out time and again, and also reinforcing some sort of tenuous belief in the supernatural crap you still cling to like a frakking four year old who won’t let go of his bunny rabbit embroidered safety blanket.

    As an adult you should actually be ashamed of your reply, as it may have been just the catalyst that caused that kid to reaffirm some sort of Jesus belief and all the crap that goes with it.

    And if you were a full-on Jesus believer at that point then the right thing to do now, is at least refute that statement for the delusion that it is.


    • Ark, good morning. The more you tell me how to think, the more I am glad I don’t think your way in this. Which confuses me because because you have an eye for beauty in so much around you. The “rant” above might be considered entirely your subjective take on something subjective.

      NB: Please watch your style. Your frustration (?) is veering towards moderation again. I am getting to the point – again – of not wanting to be your dumping ground for your not-baggage.

      Have a great public holiday weekend! 🙂


      • And a good Good-Friday morning to you too Paul!

        That you seem to celebrate informong this young woman that Jesus is your best friend is a clear indicator of your position and vindicates my point regarding indoctrination of kids.

        For some reason,you still seem intent on assuming there is some sort of baggage in my past re: religion. Why do religious believers , and especially Christians do this, I wonder? They usually chirp in wondering why I ”…. hate God?”
        Honestly, it verges on pathetic.
        I suspect an element of projection on your part, Paul, but stand under correction.
        However, if it makes you feel better then, please , go ahead and assume whatever you like.

        The … abused by the clergy assumption seems a popular one.



  2. If you substitute an invisible 6 foot white rabbit named Harvey in place of what seems to be an equivalent ‘Jesus’ and then look at Ark’s reply again, I think you’ll begin to understand his frustration with those who seem bent on deceiving others by presenting ‘Jesus’ as anything more than an equally invisible 6 foot white rabbit. If asked, “Who is Harvey?”, is it really a case of courage and honesty to say, “He’s my best friend?”


    • Tildeb the courage was of the young adult.

      Given a number of things – all of which were real right then in that moment – my actions can be picked apart at length. Please do that if you think it helps.

      But it will not bring back that moment. It will not change that moment. That moment, if done next week in exactly the same way (which is improbable), might result in an entirely different moment.

      And the learning? Ark is right. Ark is correct in using language that demeans and despises. Because his application of his belief justifies the means and the end. That simply says those who believe in “Harvey” are usually much more gracious.


  3. Paul, you write,

    …we ALL live by our personal “application of belief” (by any definition) that changes as we are changed by our living – that our “beliefs” change with that living. (snip) And that – I think – is a really good thing to learn. Because then – maybe – we have an opportunity to begin to accept the fact AND fiction of our motivation for application of beliefs as living choices. And that might just help understanding each other better – to treat each other with more kindness – and (maybe) find that we CAN change “today” together AND make a better “tomorrow” (for everyone) TOGETHER.

    Yes, we might have a better willingness to accept the conflation of fact and fiction and that may help understand others better but consider the effect. We get this false equivalency between what differentiates fact and fiction, differentiates the truth value between evidence-adduced and faith-based beliefs. And this cumulative effect is to confuse the two… in the name of ‘respecting’ people beliefs over and above the truth value of those beliefs.

    Now let’s face a significant problem ‘together’ using this false equivalency to respect beliefs – say, human caused climate change – and we get what we have: policies and procedures that favours neither the climate change activists nor the climate change deniers, which has the cumulative effect of… doing nothing, of not addressing the root problem but offers pablum and a bit of hand waving towards each ‘side’ when we think of it as a belief issue.

    Reality is not a belief. There are not billions and billions of realities; we share one. And we can know stuff about how this one shared reality actually operates… and operates independent of our beliefs about it. That’s why your cell phone and my cell phone work… no matter what you may believe or I may believe about the forces and invisible agencies behind this marvelous technology. Our beliefs do not create reality; our beliefs do guide how we act within it. So beliefs do matter and what informs them matters even more when it comes to acting together to address real issues in real life, real issues that have a defining role on how we act, why we act, and the responsibility each of us has for the consequences of our collective action.

    By pretending there is an equivalency between beliefs informed by allowing and respecting reality enough to define itself and beliefs informed by allowing and respecting beliefs that have been granted the power to define reality is not reasonable. It is not rational. It is a deeply self-destructive. And this false equivalency deceptively sold under the banner of tolerating differences threatens our common survival and the health of our biosphere to sustain life. Tolerating differences of contrary and conflicting belief about reality by tolerating without criticism the actions based on them in the name of ‘tolerance and respect’ for others is a rationalization that harms us all.

    So there’s something deeply wrong with your position that produces and helps to maintain this false equivalency. There is something deeply wrong with proposing that everyone should go along with the belief in a Harvey and the actions that result based on this belief because it helps us “to understand each other better.” That pernicious cost – one that today threatens the survival of our species – is too high a price to pay for such muddled kumbaya rationalizations.


    • How is climate change a matter of “faith” v “science”? There is an old saying: “what do you want the numbers to say?”

      Tildeb, somewhere in these words there is common ground. But using different scientific interpretations of the same numbers as reason for the demise of anything spiritual (and I differentiate between religion and “Harvey” or “Oompah Oompah” or “more than”) – now that blows my brain for much more familiar reasons.

      Can we talk love now?


      • Sure. But too often, spiritualism is simply a cover word for obfuscating what is being talked about. The term ‘love’ for example can mean lots of different things. But it becomes even worse when it is used under the banner of a ‘spiritual experience’ to mean an experience from somewhere out there, caused by something out there, as if the experience itself transcends and denies the ‘only’ explanation.

        When we get our imported beliefs out of the way (which the scientific method tries always to do with varying degrees of success) and honestly examine what is, which necessarily involves stuff we can examine and manipulate and test, we now have an opportunity to learn what constitutes the ‘only’. Rarely is this process not sufficient to fully explore, explain, and make available useful knowledge about that which we are examining.

        Just because we use obscuring terms like ‘love’ or ‘spirituality’ doesn’t mean that these are ‘things’ that exist with properties independent of ourselves. These terms, when parsed into knowable things with properties, have always turned out to be what constitutes the ‘only’. Your feelings of love, for example, are from you, created and expressed by you in very materialistic ways and means, in ways that you will find meaningful. These feelings that we then label with such terms as ‘love’ or ‘spirituality’ can be understood to be terms we use to label our feelings. These turn out to be chemical and neurological secretions and exchanges that can be altered and manipulated in the same way: by chemical and neurological additions, subtractions, and other ways and means (like impairment and damage). The applications, therapies, and technologies that can be based on furthering this understanding are very efficacious.

        Altering the examining process to be a ‘spiritual’ journey unguided by disciplined process and independent testing doesn’t lay down the path necessary for gaining knowledge – and with it, understanding that can then be applied – but diverts us into a realm of unknowable woo often populated with transcendental causal agencies from which we can extract… nothing but empty conjecture.

        All this being said, if you want to experience love, then allow your biology to experience what this means. It is profound. And profoundly meaningful. That’s what constitutes the ‘only’. But don’t allow this quest for and discovery of meaning fully proscribed within the ‘only’ to be falsely equivalent to wanting to know about the causes for the biological process we call ‘love’; allow biology and neurology to guide you. Don’t make shit up because you find the experience meaningful and then pretend this grants you a reasonable substitute for applicable knowledge.


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