Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts


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As I mentioned in my essay "Up from Despair"

http://wheelerdesignworks.netfirms.com/Obj...wtopic.php?t=10

my wife's ex-husband (who has had various compulsive and addictive behavior problems) became deeply and/or obnoxiously religious after she left him over 15 years ago. He used to send reams of religious material, much of it his own voluminous blatherings, attempting to convert us from our Godless atheism, but for several years now it has been blessedly quiet from his corner. Until now.

We have an issue regarding their younger daughter and her financial and college plans, which I need not go into here, except to note that Becky's ex was trying to "triangulate" and involve us in something that should be worked out between him and their daughter. Here is how his first email began (leaving out the financial and legal details):

I come in peace this wonderful holiday season, wishing you and yours much joy and happiness as you all are together for not one but two very special occasions!  Of course I am refering to both Christmas and the

wedding of one of Roger's little ones!  It is my hope and prayer for each  

of you that your hearts are filled with love as you gather in Tennessee for

the blessed moments of holy matrimony, and of course, this Christmas may you each find that the babe in the manger is more than a mere child's story! (But God in His wisdom has made salvation from sin and death so easy, even a mere child could understand it.) To that I simply offer one paragraph:   "Wise men Still Seek Him." And that the secret to my personal happiness here in Omaha was that day in absolute sorrow I turned to the heavens and was introduced to the Saviour.  He has been my steadfast friend these nearly 17 years. And if you are not aware of it, I have been shown that it was God who brought you and Roger together.  I bless God in more ways than one for that day. This is a powerful statement.  Please know then, that I hold no animosity in my heart, but rather can only offer my heart-felt blessings upon you both. Please receive it in the spirit in which it is intended, in Love!

Now, that smarmy stuff is typical of the "nicer" things he used to send us. Sounds like a gift, doesn't it! But note the rewriting of reality embedded in his "gift." Instead of our getting together through our own rational thinking and valuing and deliberate, chosen actions, our getting together was instead actually part of God's plan. Apparently is how Becky's ex, for self-esteem reasons, has to rationalize his having screwed up and losing his wife's love and their marriage. Like, it wasn't his fault. It was God's will that his marriage would end. It was part of a great Plan, to bring not only him, but also Becky and me, to the Lord Jesus Christ and eternal salvation. Yup.

Anyway, here is our fairly level-headed, non-judgmental response (biting our tongues!):

We received your email. It's too bad you can't make any more car payments for Marissa. You should be aware that her first semester does not end this month before Christmas. It continues well into January, so if she is to finish her semester, she cannot take on an extra job until late next month. (If she drops out of school at this point, she will receive all F's for the semester.)

 

We strongly feel that you should at least see her through the next two months -- December and January. Also, you should let ~her~ know well ahead of time, if you are truly unable to help her next semester, for the time to enroll is coming up very shortly.

 

It is your job to tell Marissa whether or not you can help her. It is not our responsibility to "steer" her in the way you want her to go. She is an adult now and can steer herself, and if you are wanting to make changes in how you help her, you need to speak directly to her.

Pretty civil stuff, right? Not trying to stir the pot or wave the red flag in any way. Except, it didn't seem to do much good. He wrote back (again omitting the financial and college items):

I will certainly avoid communicating with you again in the future about our daughter. Your response here is truly Ice Cold and without any feeling. I don't care to experience that again. >>> Life without God (Who IS Love) is really fascinating and cool isn't it.  Enjoy each other's company every day as the end of it all is closer than you think. But what I do not understand is how you both keep turning your back on a God Of Love who sent Jesus the lamb of sacrifice to die for your sinful disobedience brought to you by Adam and Eve at the garden;  and you just continue to disbelieve that HE can Save your lives from Death.........The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Truth.  For we who Believe it, it has become our possession too! God just wants to have a relationship of Love with each of you! Give Him a chance!     What will it take for Him to grab your attention?  Atheism is dead and full of errors and is a lie from the Pit of Hell! Have a wonderful joyous time at the wedding, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!   God Bless you! Marissa's Father.   Good Day!      And yes I did turn 58 today......thank you

Wow, talk about doing a 180! Being an atheist is "cool," because atheists get to be emotionally "cold" and unfeeling and uncaring. (Actually, he was pissed that we didn't offer to take over an obligation he had agreed to, despite our and his daughter's discouragement, several years ago.) We are living errors and lies, but we will be very sad if we don't repent, "because the end of it all is closer than you think."

There is the veiled threat that always comes out when he's pissed. If we don't become Christians, we will burn in hell. Have a nice afterlife, you goddamned sinners. hahahahahahaha. I've saved, and if you don't listen to me, you won't be, and you'll rot eternally. Yup.

What this is all leading to is a few final comments on the issue of mortality (since Rich and my wife's ex both brought it up).

Yes, we're getting older and closer to the day we will die. But so what? If you do not believe there is an afterlife or a God, what difference does that make? No one wants to die. But focusing on death robs life of all the joy and value it should have. The meaning and purpose of life is to pursue values and be happy. That requires that you focus on life and on what values you want to attain and how to be happy. Focusing instead on death only gets in the way of your enjoying your life to its fullest.

If you're a Christian, this life is but a miniscule sliver of eternity, so it can't have much value or importance compared to the afterlife -- except for the purpose of converting others to Christianity so they too can share the afterlife. It is only to atheists that this life can have value and importance for itself and the happiness it can bring, not for some supposed future but non-existent afterlife. That is why, if you are really serious about this life being all that there is, you should focus on life and happiness and turn a deaf ear to all the religious fanatics who try to get you to short-circuit your mind with faith.

In closing, I want to mention a perfect example of the love of life-orientation. I recently read a biography of George Washington, and I was amazed to find that on his deathbed, the last thing he did was to take his pulse! Not to thrash around frantically, sobbing that he didn't want to die, or that he was afraid of death, but that he wanted to go out with his boots on so to speak. He was seeking values to the very end--more particularly, knowledge about reality, about his physical condition. Some people say "I want to be just like him when I grow up." I modify this and say, "I want to be just like George Washington when I die." With my boots on. Seeking values. Seeking knowledge. Loving life.

REB

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Whew.

To tell you the truth, I feel bad for him, Roger. I have seen this kind of thing many times before. It is a sadness. I am not a Christian, but I can tell when someone is missing some key points and spending too much time wallowing around in rapture. Loving Jesus doesn't give you carte blanche to rationalize everything, turn into a very odd sort of determinst, and generally be an ass-pain because you aren't taking care of business.

The truth is probably there is some real religious sentiment underneath there, but the thing is, you have to walk the talk.

I have a way of translating that kind of Christian speak and it is a fine line between good, earnest ol' time religion and just blathering. This is blathering. I don't know what church he goes to, but I can make a pretty good guess what KIND of church it is. There are a lot of them that really play on disadvantage and thin places in life. And then, if something good happens to come out of it, of course it's God's Will<tm> Yay, proof positive!

Being of the UU church, there's one thing we are really into- action, and that's here on earth. That includes not being a victim. A good, rational (yeah yeah) deist knows that God doesn't like slackers.

Sheesh... it's a burden. I could go on and on.

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::cringe:: :shock:

Roger, I remember reading a book many years ago called "Snapping." I think it's out of print, and I don't have it any longer. Have you ever read it? It was a study of how people with one kind of problem (criminal types, addicitive types, psychotic types) reject everything and fully embrace religion. The subject still fascinates me to this day, how religion can become the new drug of choice for some people.

I should try to find that book again...

I forgot to say hi!

(and, oh crap, there's no spell checker here!)

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Teresa,

Hi - welcome aboard.

Here is what I wrote on the Tech support thread.

This software does not come with a spell checker.  

I have found an easy solution. Go to Google and install the Google toolbar (you have to download and install it - but the instructions are extremely easy).  

This comes with a spell checker that works wonderfully so long as you are online - and you can use it for e-mails, other forums and any text you write practically anywhere.

I hope that is helpful. I even use that spell checker for RoR instead of the one that is provided, since it provides alternatives.

(Roger and Rich - Thanks. Comments coming tomorrow. Today was a long day.)

Michael

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Hi, Teresa, my good friend -- I'm glad you're here! Here is where you belong! :-)

You asked about a book called Snapping. I've never heard of it, but it sounds like something I'd like to read.

I've certainly witnessed the phenomenon that the people in the 12-Step programs call "addiction switching." Some switch from narcotics to cigarettes and coffee (!). Others become workaholics, or rage-aholics, or sex addicts, or religious addicts or compulsive gamblers or compulsive shoppers. You name it. I've seen and dealt with way too many people of this type. I'd say it's the "human condition," but there still are a few non-compulsive, non-obsessive people left in the world. :-)

REB

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Michael, I was half kidding about the spell checker... And I never knew the Google tool bar came with a spell checker! I've had it installed for several months. Thanks for the tip!

Roger, I read "Snapping" in my late teens, around 1977, I think. I'll be looking for it today. I wish I could remember the author's name! Damn it.

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Hi, again, Teresa!

The book you mentioned was published first in 1979, and it's out in a newer edition published about 1995 or so. It looks really interesting. In light of the fact that various critics, from within and without the Objectivist movement, have claimed that some Objectivists have displayed cult-like behavior, the book should be of some value to us in understanding the general psychological principles involved in this kind of addiction/obsession/whatever. I don't know if these authors have the fundamental explanation or not, but it's one place to start, since they've done a lot of spade work on the subject.

In my own experience, I recall a campus Objectivist group in Iowa in the late 60s that was very controlling (or tried to be) of its members, pressing them to take a stand on the Split and/or to break with "irrational" parents, etc. Sounded a lot like the Moonies. Back then, these pressures were done on a more private, isolated basis; the movement was not nearly so connected around the country as it is now.

More recently, the confrontations often happen in a very public, in your face way on the Internet. In particular, there has been the raging controversy on SOLO (now RoR) over Valliant's book about the Brandens, as well as the whole phenomenon of the Split and just how immoral the Brandens still are after all these years (are they still lying, etc.). It's a very steep, slippery slope out there, and difficult to keep your footing. Michael Kelly has been one of the more adroit debaters, as have Robert Campbell and Robert Bidinotto, but Valliant and Fahy (on SOLO) and Diana Hsieh and others (on Noodle Food) have been very negative against the Brandens, basically devaluing everything they have done since the Split.

So, in a way, the stakes are higher than in the old days, with people of great rhetorical skills (or nasty verbal habits, if you will) going at each other, sometimes making multiple posts in a fairly short time, trying to score points for ARI vs. TOC or Rand vs. Branden, etc. It's all very public and people's moral and psychological character is broadcast for all to see.

There have been pressures behind the scenes on individual people to "switch sides," but whether this amounted to cultish behavior (moral brow-beating and threats of withholding moral sanction) or just normal competition (offering monetary and scholarly incentives, similar to "corporate raiding") is unclear. More on this some other time, perhaps.

In case anyone is interested in following up on the Snapping book, here is some information from the Amazon.com web site's entry for the book.

Best 2 all,

REB

============================================

Snapping: America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change (Paperback)

by Flo Conway, Jim Siegelman

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this expanded edition of the 1978 original, Conway and Siegelman continue their study of the altering of the American psyche, which has led to the rise of religious cults, super Christian sects, private citizen militias, and other phenomena that dominate today's headlines. Probably more timely now than when first published, this is an important title for academic and public libraries.

Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Library Journal

Classic returns....More timely now than when first published....An important title for academic and public libraries.

Bookviews

Explores the way cults and other factors are causing people to give themselves over to those like David Koresh of Waco infamy, or becoming walking time bombs like Timothy McVeigh, the alleged perpetrator of the Oklahoma bombing...a powerful look at a social phenomenon that is making headlines.

New York Times Book Review

Their book is judicious, sensible, well-researched and very frightening.

New York Post

It is a book of investigative reporting at its best.

Cleveland Jewish News

In a prophetic vein again...."Snapping" is not only fascinating and frightening reading, it is also extremely well-written....The escalating pattern of cult fanaticism and religious-political terror that the authors call a "death spiral" seems to be widening. If we do nothing to understand and ultimately reverse that pattern, it will pull more and more innocent people into its vortex.

Edward T. Hall, author of "The Silent Language"

Conway and Siegelman are onto something important..."Snapping" is a fascinating book with frightening implications.

Kurt Vonnegut

"Snapping" is an exciting and responsible and original piece of research which has taught this old poop amazing new ways to think about the human mind.

The Examined Life: A Psychology Newsletter

Conway and Siegelman deliver a powerful book and an amazing yet responsible look at the inner workings of the human mind.

Midwest Book Review

What are the social links between cultists, born-again converts, and political extremists? There are closer connections than one might think, and this labels the alteration of personality which has become an American norm, examining how mind-altering practices change the brain's information processing system. Intriguing examples of cult extremes accompany the authors' contentions.

United Press International

What Woodward and Bernstein were to Watergate, Conway and Siegelman may well be to the cults.

cults, personality change, and information disease, June 30, 2000

Reviewer: Prometheus "zosimos" (EVROPA.)

This book provides an analysis of the techniques used by cults and certain "self help" agencies to alter the personality of the client. It presents a model, using catastrophe theory, in which the person is driven to a snapping point. After this snap, the personality is drastically changed, and often it requires another snap to rectify the situation. The theory presented here is very interesting. The cases discussed include those annoying cults and "self help" groups which roam college campuses (and its good to see that the authors do not bend to political correctness and include some of the more popular groups). In addition, the effects of stress are discussed in industrial settings. And, the governments royal botch-job at Waco is examined. Personally, I consider some of the "cult deprogrammers" as heroes who have tried to uphold a person's fundamental right to freedom of thought, against the sway of politicians. The only problem I have with this book is that there never is made a distinction between genuine religious conversion and cult conversion (snapping). I do not know how such a distinction could be made, but perhaps it would be an interesting area for further research.

Great insight into cultic phenomena, August 19, 2005

Reviewer: Jacqueline S. Mitchell "objectivist birdwatcher" (Grand Junction,Michigan, United States) -

Those who don't understand why people go into cults should definitely read this book. Cult leaders take advantage of basic human instincts that are present in everyone, and find people who are at vulnerable life stages who can be manipulated using this knowledge of personality. This book explains how a person can seemingly change overnight into a new personality, often with a new cult-assigned name and completely new beliefs and behavior. Since I have a loved one in a cult, I found this book especially useful.

The section on terrorists is particularly interesting, given Islam's current push to brainwash their youth into eliminating all infidels. I was disappointed, however, that the authors did not mention the proven McVeigh/Nichols-Islamic terrorists link (a matter of public record which came out in McVeigh's trial)in their section on the Oklahoma City bombing. Nichols went to the Philippines to learn bomb-making techniques from Al-Quaeda operatives and met with Muslim terrorists such as Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Conway and Siegelman only connect McVeigh and Nichols to Christian groups, thus furthering the Left's agenda of always pointing out Oklahoma City to show how dangerous Christian white men are.

An Imperfect but Important Work, January 27, 2005

Reviewer: Gordon Neufeld (Calgary, Alberta) -

This book looks at a phenomenon that many people are reluctant to admit even happens: sudden transformations in individuals' characters precipitated specifically by the intentional manipulations of others. This book also looks beyond the manipulations of cults and considers other ways in which modern society, by the very nature of the rapid changes it is undergoing, can precipitate "snapping" or sudden personality change. I think the book tries to extrapolate its central thesis too broadly. At time the authors seem to be merely shopping around for ways to make their ideas sound even bigger and more general in their application. I would have preferred if they had maintained a more narrow focus upon cult members only and upon the ways cult members endure "snapping" and thus can sometimes also be "snapped out" of their programming. As a former member of the Unification Church (the "Moonies") I myself endured this kind of sudden transformation. It certainly needs to be taken seriously and not denied. Nevertheless, former cult members will likely find that Steven Hassan's book, "Combatting Cult Mind Control," is more useful than this book in assisting their own personal recovery.

Nazi Cultists Can Deprogram Themselves With This Book, December 17, 2001

Reviewer: "mimereader" (San Francisco, California USA)

Use This book and This Free Deprogramming technique: Those who suspect that they may have fallen into the isolating well of Nazi cultism, and are having difficulty climbing out to rejoin their family members and the rest of the community, are advised to consider the Pioneer Little Europe exercises for recovering the tormented among us.

The polarized beliefs many Whites have about Hitler are not, contrary to what is constantly said by the Zionist media and modern day nazi cultists, solely attributable to the propaganda of one side or the other.

While it is true that the godlike image of Hitler was especially well sharpened by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, through the vivid impression creating influences of radio and film, Hitler's opponents actually contribute much more to fuel the modern cult image.

The leading element of today's propaganda is a description of the devil incarnate, not a person with human strengths and weaknesses who was once easily overlooked in a crowd. The new image is attributable to opponents at least swallowing part of what Goebbels offered, or not fighting the superman impression, then adding a dark spin.

And picking up the same propaganda tool as Joseph Goebbels, which was usually a highly selective criteria for which images and messages would be shown or held back, Hitler's opponents inadvertently managed to promote a dysfunctional cultism.

Hitler cultism in that form, however, became so sinister that it was separated from its original purposes, which was to unite, inspire, and lead people into actions intended to benefit them. It was not to create a cult separated from any normality.

Today's Hitler cultism is a mixed creation offered by two separate camps that are separated from the White community, the Zionists and pro-Hitler cultists who converted - or snapped - from Zionist propaganda. Shaking off the cultism, however, is not an easy matter, as it's been fueled by both sides since the beginning.

Those who suspect that they have been conditioned into cultism, a feeling which arises when we find our actions out of step with the people important to us, are advised to use this method for gaining their freedom.

Those who read and think more extensively than other people tend to be the most deeply conditioned, and will commit themselves to cultism without seeing any progress for incredibly long periods of time. If you even suspect you are in this category, try the following more cerebral exercises for straightening yourself out:

1) Begin with a study of conditioned reflexes, which began as a more formal science under Ivan Pavlov, but chose a more modern and popular exposition to grasp the subject quickly. Among the recommended books are "Battle for the Mind" by William Sargant & "Snapping" by Flo Conway & Jim Siegelman, or the film Ticket to Heaven.

2) Examine also any books or films available on how people such as Roosevelt, Hitler, Churchill, and Stalin used the media to promote their images. Pay particular attention to how the public reacted to radio, and read about the Orson Welles radio program that caused many Americans to believe that they were being attacked from Mars

3) Obtain the little pamphlet "The True Believer" by Eric Hoffer the San Francisco longshoreman. Hoffer took cult criticism to such an extreme that he actually neglected to acknowledge how cultism, in a more sublimated, controlled, and moderate level, is commonplace in society. This left wing book was selling at the George Lincoln Rockwell book shop in 1970, shortly before the NSWPP lost most of its leaders, and it had a lot to do with key people reassessing themselves

4) Sir Oswald Mosley was one of the few major figures of national socialism and fascism to survive WW2, and it is extremely important to note that his autobiography includes a postwar assessment of "the movement." Find our why Mosley said fascism is obsolete, or why he felt Hitler had failed, as his perspective is leaps and bounds ahead of those further down the ranks. And read Diana Mosley's books, as no one ever said she abandoned the cause, and find out what she thought of Hitler and Mosley.

5) Contact the person who straightened you out and find out how you can help others.

6) Admit to your family that you were a cultist. Some will start telling you how Hitler and National Socialism actually had many positive points, but put your emphasis on building your own community with them.

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Maybe it's because I came late to the Objectivist party, but I never really cared about the Rand/Branden split issue. I look at it like this:

Rand got pissed off and wrote Branden out of her life. Period. End of story.

I understand that Branden was a huge moving force early in the movement, I understand that he had a large following in his own right, and still does to this day. I understand that Branden wasn't perfect. I understand Rand's heartbreak at feeling betrayed (she was betrayed, but I don't think Branden betrayed the movement as a whole by betraying Rand, not in the current context that he simply didn't wish to continue a sexual relationship with her. Big deal, I say.)

I have about zero interest in the constant rehash of the past, including Vallient's book (even thought it's come highly recommended by others off of these forums).

Some of the "Branden was evil" theories border on outright bazaar to me. If they're to be believed, those theories are going to have to be grounded with far more universal language than what they are now. Lamenting Rand's heartbreak in various forms isn't going to cut it for people like me.

People who've discovered Rand after her death, or shortly before, aren't going to care about it either, unless there's some way we can relate to the drama in terms of Objectivist principles. After Branden's gone, what will there be to argue about regarding this? Who will care? Why will they care?

To me, the only thing that matters is what's going to last in the long haul, what will endure? Are my great-grandchildren going to argue whether Branden was "evil?" Probably not. Will they gain anything valuable from either Rand or Branden as writers for which to spark debate? Without a doubt.

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A little off the topic, but there is one phrase that comes to mind whenever someone decides to throw the Bible in my face and tell me (or anyone, really) that they are damned:

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

I'm not entirely sure if that actually has anything to do with Christianity or the Bible, but I think I can safely assume that they don't know either. It sounds holy enough to scare them off, at any rate. :roll:

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Roger,

I get along fine with religious goofballs these days. I didn't used to.

I have a small host of tricks from the Bible to amuse myself with them. For instance Proverbs 31:6-7. (It's Biblical to get drunk!)

Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

Or the Thumb and Big Toe Lop-Off Festival - Judges 1:6-7.

But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.

And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.

Or to give them something to chew on, Matthew 13:44. (Most born-again Christians do not pay much attention to this one to the extent of not even knowing it exists - but it is my favorite of the parables and has haunted me for years.)

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

(What if you think about the "kingdom of heaven" as being your own self-esteem?)

Just tell you wife's ex, "It's not time. Let God do His work in His own time. Things will all work out. Put your trust in Him. Look what He did with Paul in His own good time."

There's not too much he will be able to say to that. (And why argue with the stubborn faithful anyway? Better to get away from them as soon as is polite and move on.)

Now money's another kettle of men's souls, er... fish...

Michael

Edit - I included the Biblical texts. It was too late last night to look them up.

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Inky, I just love Steven Wright's humor! I think he's one of the cleverist

comics out there. "I went to the dentist yesterday, but before I did, I ate an Oreo cookie." LOL

Anyway, the "Jugde not, lest ye be judged," is from the bible. It's a quote, specifically from Jesus, (who I think is a fiction, but some of your friends will freak out if you tell them that!), and comes from a story in the gosple where Jesus saved the life of a women who was about to be stoned to death for a typical biblical offense.

"Let one among you who is without sin cast the first stone."

Jesus was speaking of hypocracy, you see.

Objectivism is different in that it encourages rational "judgement" as a means to live and survive.

It also encourages a "live and let live" type of politics. Disagreements will happen, but they don't necessarily mean someone is committing a moral breach, because values and their degree of imporance vary from individual to individual.

My take on it. :)

Teresa

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Inky, I just love Steven Wright's humor!  I think he's one of the cleverist  

comics out there. "I went to the dentist yesterday, but before I did, I ate an Oreo cookie."  LOL

Haha, yeah. I have a collection of Steven Wright quotes, but I could only put two short ones in my signature, or else it would have been too long.

...It's a quote, specifically from Jesus, (who I think is a fiction, but some of your friends will freak out if you tell them that!)...

Well, I think there was sufficient proof that there was an actual person named Jesus who started a philosophical movement and was later crucified, but obviously he didn't do all the things that the Bible claims.

"Let one among you who is without sin cast the first stone."

I think I'm going to start using that one as well. :D

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"Well, I think there was sufficient proof that there was an actual person named Jesus who started a philosophical movement and was later crucified, but obviously he didn't do all the things that the Bible claims. "

Wow, I'd love to hear about the "sufficient proof" if it comes from somewhere other than the bible! Can you give me information as to where to find any corroborating evidence to Jesus's existence? I'm afraid the bible alone isn't sufficient.

There are several books out that claim to have proven that Jesus never existed at all. The best one is probably G.A. Wells "The Jesus Myth."

I'm wondering why you think he was a real person. Just curious.

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I don't exactly remember where I had heard it, but I doubt that if he was a person made up completely by Christians he would have a place in other religions. For example, in Islam he was a prophet, and the Jewish pretty much agree that he had existed; whether or not he was the messiah is the question. Several history teachers of mine have also said that it is highly probable that he existed, although I don't know how credible that is, because I don't know what their religious standings were.

However, there is a lot of dispute on this, and since all the evidence is too old and such, we probably never will have an answer.

Mostly, I think he was just a controversial person who was later immortalized and turned into a legend.

PS: It was a large assumption that I had made a few posts ago, and I apologize. It's quite possible that I'm wrong, but this is one of those subjects which we may never see the end of.

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Tina,

Check this site out.

The Jesus Puzzle

http://pages.ca.inter.net/~oblio/home.htm

A good deal of the information is dry, but I find it fascinating.

You admit to making a large assumption? You apologize for it? Dayaamm! How on earth are you ever going to become a Randroid? I'm going to have to talk to your mother...

Michael

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Teresa, it was a pleasure to read your post: "Why don't I care about this?" I am in total agreement with you. I am bored silly by the whole controversy, and I can't understand why everyone else isn't, also. It never ceases to amaze me that people who weren't even born at the time of Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden's break, are heatedly taking sides and hurling moral condemnations about an issue and people they know nothing about. Thanks for your sanity.

Barbara

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People die.

People cease to associate.

People do a lot of things.

Yada, yada, yada.....

But, the produce of their minds remains.

There is a lot to be farmed from the AR/NB relationship. Their feud will harvest little, but their minds are fertile ground and that is where the the bounty lay! And so is Barbara Branden's and MSK's and Kat's and My punk friend Jody's :wink: and ....... Yada, yada, yada.....

I'm here to learn!

gw

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Haven't had a chance to read all the posts yet, but this...

Atheism is dead
made me laugh.

On a side note, I have managed to convince at least one Christian that atheism is not amoral and pure evil. And it was on an internet forum no less! One down, too many to go.

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Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

I interpret that the same way as the mustard seed parable. Where the fundies miss things is that when "the kingdom of heaven" is referred to, there's a lot of us who believe it means the here and now. Instead of looking for a palacial afterlife, or giant honking miracles, we can see the miraculous nature of life in the smallest things. The mustard seed parable is very koan-like, it is a great contemplative tool.

"Judging quotes"....this is my favorite one:

"Your measure will be made by the measure by which you measure, and more shall be added to you."

Personally, I find some of the best stuff in the censored porno Bible stuff, namely the Gnostic texts. You can get all of those online, btw. It's a little clunky learning the translator marks, but it's worth it. If you're like me, it's a very attractive proposition to look at the stuff that they didn't want in the Bible.

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Favorite saying ascribed to a guy named Jesus (from the Gospel of Thomas):

"If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you.  Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and you are poverty."

I love that last line (you know, very KASS)! LOL

(I'm sorry, I'm sorry--I know I'm going to Objectivist hell for that.)

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