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Despite the homogeneous ways in which African Americans are portrayed in the media, there are many differences within our community, especially when it pertains to spirituality. What prompted me to begin this topic is that I recently had to terminate a long time friendship with someone over religion. Suddenly this person experiences a religious "awakening" and gains a passionate interest in "reconnecting with the lord." The problem is, this person, let's call him "Ignorantous" is now isolating himself from everyone that was once close to him simply because they are "non-believers. At what price should people pay to have a relationship with their god? Should it cost them lifetime friendships, family, work, and romatic relationships? Why do people allow their religion to turn them against the people that love them? Have you sacrificed relationships with others because of your religious following?
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quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Despite the homogeneous ways in which African Americans are portrayed in the media, there are many differences within our community, especially when it pertains to spirituality. What prompted me to begin this topic is that I recently had to terminate a long time friendship with someone over religion. Suddenly this person experiences a religious "awakening" and gains a passionate interest in "reconnecting with the lord." The problem is, this person, let's call him "Ignorantous" is now isolating himself from everyone that was once close to him simply because they are "non-believers. At what price should people pay to have a relationship with their god?

Wouldn't you agree, the answer is: "any price he/she is wiling to pay?"

Should it cost them lifetime friendships, family, work, and romantic relationships?

Only if he/she accept the price.

Why do people allow their religion to turn them against the people that love them?

Because he/she determines/accepts that such is necessary. Sometimes it can be the demand from those beginning "turned against" that is causing the separation.

Have you sacrificed relationships with others because of your religious following?


Not in any dramatic way, and it was many years ago.

"Irreconcilable religious differences" are usually challenges to the religion in some way. That's what religion does. One usually gives up some "way of life" to engage a new religion. Some religions require relinquishing the ways of those not of the belief.


PEACE

Jim Chester
Rowe,

On the other hand, it has proven to be indisputably divisive. Any strong opinion will be divisive, because there will be those with just as strong contrary opinions. Religious beliefs are no different in that regard. There are theological disagreements in every religion, and dividsions based on those disagreements. Some divisions are serious, some are not, but divisions they are.

In fact, Jesus said that believing in him would cause divisions, even in families. There are many Christian children in nonchristian families who have been persecuted in one way or another because of their faith. In America it usually takes that form of at first, ridicule, then puzzlement, then tolerance, but never acceptance. In other countries (India, Chad, Sudan) Christian wives have been beaten by nonchristian husbands.

So, yes, religion does cause divisions, but it's not always the religious ones' fault.

You may say that "spirituality is not divisive," while religion is, but the difference is not so easily described. One who is devout in his/her religion can be quite spiritual. In fact, I don' tknow of a person who has been spiritual without being also religious. We tend to create some kind of ritual and religion inot our spirituality.
A religion only becomes "divisive" when one group seeks to impose its religion on another. In any event, Christians, in particular, have a tendency to "isolate" themselves from others not because they disagree with another group's religion, but because they are taught to believe that their religion earns them the right to feel superior to others (non-Christians). They subscribe to a what I call an, "Us-Against-The World" mentality. What they fail to realize however is that from this mentality, outgrows sexism, racism, religious imperialism, and other "isms" that are responsible for unecessary resentment and turmoil in families.

[This message was edited by Rowe on March 16, 2004 at 05:48 AM.]
But as comparative religionist Diana Eck notes in her seminal text, Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras there is something about many religious that is absolutist, essentialist, and exceptionalist. For Christians, many take as justification for this stance texts such as John 14:6: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Added to a "great commission" to go and make disciples of all peoples, the experience expressed by the originator of this thread is not surprising.
Kresge,

Yes, except that the scene put by the originator of this thread did not set it fairly. His use of the name "ignorantus" betrays his bias here.

So someone becomes a Christian. That person is "ignorantus" in more ways than one, which is quite common in neophytes to anything. Would you trust a docotr who has just started medical school, or a mechanic who has opened his first hood? Neither would I. So why set before us a new Christian as a representative of all Christians? That's not fair. It's not even true.

Give ignorantus a little time, and he will learn what Jesus means when he says that to love God and to love our neighbor are the two great commands. He doesn't know that yet.

It's not fair to judge so harshly and so quickly as he did in his opening post.
Rowe,

No, that is not the only time that a religion becomes "divisive." Jesus was divisive, and he loved everybody. He did no one any harm, he did only good, yet there were those who hated him anyway and killed him as a troublemaker. Fears will do that.

Christ does make absolutist claims. I don't know of a religion that doesn't. Christtians don't really isolate themselves. They do want to flock together, but then doesn't everybody? WE humans like to be with those who understand us and especially with those who share our views. That's just the nature of this very social beast.

You don't like to be with Klan members, do you? Neither do I.

And the Christian attitude isn't so much "Us Against The World" as it is "The World Against Us," as seen by persecutions against Christians in many places in the world, and by the theme of this thread, which criticizes Christians, not for what they've done wrong, but for a perceived attitude. That sort of thinking causes racism and other "isms" in the world.
Rowe, when ever a man or woman discovers something new and begin to believe that thing strongly they will behave in an irrational way. As Melesi hinted at, give this person time, they are young in their faith and have yet to really understand the message of his or her new found faith thus his or her behavior can not be seen as a reflection of the faith itself but more of a reflection of the new believer lack of understanding, Secondly while I understand how you feel about this person and the friendship you have shared over the years you should also know that he or she cant claim to be a new person because of his or her new found faith and still surround his or herself with the same people and engage in the same activity.

When you see me writing about a revolution, in many cases I am not talking about getting guns and going out and hurting people, I am talking about over throwing the government of peoples mind, and installing a new government one of self discipline, self respect and love for self and kind. You have to see what your friend is going through as the same, the government of his or her mind has been over thrown and a new government has been installed, and if he or she is not harming anyone and his or her new found faith is actually improving his or her life then how can you be mad at that even if it means your friendship falls to the way side for a period of time. Yes, your friend may be what some would call brainwashed but has the washing he received improved his life and the life of those he or she interact with? If that is the case then how can you be mad at that? Give your friend a chance to mature in his or her new faith and do not get in spats with him or her and say things that will do more harm to the friendship than his or her new found faith could ever do. Believe me Rowe he or she will come around but right now their faith is more important than anything and I ask one more time, how can you be mad at that?
quote:
Originally posted by kresge:
But as comparative religionist Diana Eck notes in her seminal text, _Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras _there is something about many religious that is absolutist, essentialist, and exceptionalist.


No other religious group has colonized entire groups and civilizations like the Christian, particularly the European Christian. We don't see African Akan people for example going door-to-door or sending "Akan missionaries" around the world to make everyone convert to the African Akan religion.
quote:
Originally posted by Melesi:
Kresge,

Yes, except that the scene put by the originator of this thread did not set it fairly. His use of the name "ignorantus" betrays his bias here.




I am a woman and I described my former friend as "ignorantus" because he is ignorant. He believes that his association with the religion means that he is somehow "favored" and/or "blessed" by God while those that do not claim the religion are doomed for hell. And this is the belief that the religion promotes.
Melesi: No, that is not the only time that a religion becomes "divisive." Jesus was divisive, and he loved everybody. He did no one any harm, he did only good, yet there were those who hated him anyway and killed him as a troublemaker. Fears will do that.

Rowe: First of all Melesi, I know better than to listen to information provided by an individual who actually believes that a bunch of invading and plundering Arabs had something to do with the creation of the high-cultures in North Africa Egypt. THEY DIDN'T and NEVER DID. Secondly, "Jesus" never existed. And there is NO historical record available (nor will there ever will be) that can prove to the world that this person existed. The truth is that many of the stories in the Bible are interpretations and extractions from Egyptian Mythology. The bible is part history, part myth. Therefore, it should never be relied upon as a history book. Ancient people existed before the introduction of the Christian religion. Who did they worship? Who were their god or gods? How did they organize their civilizations before the arrival of the Hebrew Bible?

Melesi: Christ does make absolutist claims. I don't know of a religion that doesn't. Christtians don't really isolate themselves. They do want to flock together, but then doesn't everybody? WE humans like to be with those who understand us and especially with those who share our views. That's just the nature of this very social beast.

Rowe: I haven't made any arguments against people socializing. My argument is against persons that believe their religion gives them a right to impose their religion and in some cases, violently impose their religions on others.

Melesi: And the Christian attitude isn't so much "Us Against The World" as it is "The World Against Us."

Rowe: The "world" is not sending global missionaries. The "world" doesn't think their that it has the Creator's favor and no one else. The "world" did not try to justify chattel slavery with its religion. And the "world" doesn't destroy indigenous so-called "primitive" cultures and civilizations by forcing its "democratic" "Christian" beliefs and way of life onto others.
Faheem: Secondly while I understand how you feel about this person and the friendship you have shared over the years you should also know that he or she cant claim to be a new person because of his or her new found faith and still surround his or herself with the same people and engage in the same activity.

Rowe: And there lies the central problem with Christians. The religion forces them into spiritual limbo and stagnation. The very moment that they align themselves with the religion, they are oppressed by internal conflicts, internal battles. And interesting enough, the people that do not claim this religion seem to be more authentic, genuine, and morally grounded than the people that do not!, which only proves that one does not actually have to become a Christian in order to live righteously and treat people with respect.

Faheem: You have to see what your friend is going through as the same, the government of his or her mind has been over thrown and a new government has been installed, and if he or she is not harming anyone and his or her new found faith is actually improving his or her life then how can you be mad at that even if it means your friendship falls to the way side for a period of time.

Rowe: Understand that I do not disappprove of my former friend's interest in improving his behavior and lifestyle. I disappprove with what the religion represents and means to those external to the religion. What's worse, he is not interested in learning about the African origin of Christianity. He is not interested in learning about how the religion has been historically used by whites to enslave blacks. He is simply preoccupied with this unrealistic dream of being "perfect." A dream that his religion promises to fulfill. Like many other blacks, he has strayed from the African authenticity of spirituality and rather than bringing him closer to getting genuine spiritual satisfaction, the religion (as it is today) is only driving him away.

Faheem: Yes, your friend may be what some would call brainwashed but has the washing he received improved his life and the life of those he or she interact with? If that is the case then how can you be mad at that? Give your friend a chance to mature in his or her new faith and do not get in spats with him or her and say things that will do more harm to the friendship than his or her new found faith could ever do. Believe me Rowe he or she will come around but right now their faith is more important than anything and I ask one more time, how can you be mad at that?

Rowe: I will tell you why. I have failed to perhaps include some critical information. This friend is still sexually active and solicits sex from single women. He is a single man and expectedly, as the week gets closer to Sunday, , he suddenly becomes "holy" once again and talks endlessly about how "God blesses him." He also remembers to tell me, "I am going to church on Sunday and you should too." This is the charceristically superficial element in the religion. The religion permits rhetoric and superifical behavior. It is sterile and inorganic. That is why Christian followers often have to look outside the religion (Astrology, Witchcraft, etc.) to acquire the genuine spirituality that is lacking in its religion.

[This message was edited by Rowe on March 19, 2004 at 02:40 PM.]
People should only sever previous ties if the other person is a baaaaaaaaaaad influence. Like that kid we all knew in High School that smoked pot, cut class, and committed petty crimes of vandalism and minor theft.

If they can keep the person from negatively affecting them, there is no reason to sever ties. However if they have a weakness that needs overcoming that might be one reason why they'd sever the ties--they don't want to be tempted to go back into their previous situation.
Rowe,

You are being selective with yoru facts. To take them in reverse order:

No, the "world" does not send missionaries. It only kills Christians (from Rome to France to Sudan to China). No, the world doesn't think that it alone has the Creator's favor. That's why people who never go to church or read the Bible invoke Him in their defense. That's why secular people deride, snub, and blacklist Christians (they say things like Gene Shallit--"His parking space in hell has already been reserved," speaking of Mel Gibson on the release of "The Passion of the Christ." That['s why no major Hollywood company would produce Gibson's movie, that's why people have heard some Hollywood executives swear that they will never hire him for anything again. Yes, the world is so much kinder and nicer and more reasonable than those Christians. The world did not try to justify chattel slavery with its relgion. That's why Rome had so much of it in its pre-Christian centuries. That's why it was the nations where Chrisitianity was strongest that it was abolished first. And of course the world doesn't destroy indiginous civilizations, That's why all those Stone-Age civilzations are still around. That's why no language has every become extinct through assimilation. That's why Egypt never mounted an offensive war in all its history. That's why Cemetary 117 was full of men, women, and children brutally killed about 11,000 years ago. No, the world doesn't do those kinds of things at all. It never imposes on Christians or others. Ask the Hutus and the Tutsis. Ask Julius Nerere, attacked by Idi Amin for no reason. Ask those Christians imprisoned or beaten or killed for their faith by those with a militantly secularist belief system.

One of your troubles is that you see missions work as "Imposing" a beleif system. It is not. It merely offers. I know some missionaries. I know what they do, and they do not impose. And those who violently imposed a religion were violent and not religious, using religion as a means for a political end. That's not the work of Chrisitianity.

Oh, and there is a historical record available that shows that Jesus existed. It's called the Bible. It's actually more reliable than Caesar's "Gallic Wars" or Custer's Memoirs. Just becasue you choose not to believe it doesn't mean it's not true.
Reply to Melesi:


Melesi: You are being selective with yoru facts. To take them in reverse order. No, the "world" does not send missionaries. It only kills Christians (from Rome to France to Sudan to China).

Rowe: Traditionally, indigenous people living in remote areas are characteristically seclusive. They live in isolated regions and to put it abruptly, "they mind their own business." They have absolutely no interest in providing the world with a religion NOR do they behave as if its their responsibility to provide the world with a religion. In fact, just on the vast continent of Africa, there are 6,000 Different religions and one group does not impose and/or "offer" its religion to another.

Melesi: One of your troubles is that you see missions work as "Imposing" a beleif system. It is not. It merely offers. I know some missionaries. I know what they do, and they do not impose. And those who violently imposed a religion were violent and not religious, using religion as a means for a political end. That's not the work of Chrisitianity.

Rowe: It has been the work of Christianity and has been for some time. If "winning souls for Christ" isn't the "work" of Christianity, then please tell us what is! The pattern of behavior with Christians, particularly white christians acting out white supremacy is to first "evangelize" (assimiliate) their victims into the culture by convincing them that anything associated with white culture is superior. European Christianity and all of the white images of christ that goes along with it are merely manifestations of white supremacy. It is an attempt to dominate and monopolize World Religions so that whenever someone even thinks about spiritual phenomena, the first thing that pops into their head is a white Jesus.

Melesi: Oh, and there is a historical record available that shows that Jesus existed. It's called the Bible.

Rowe: If you want to accept that Jesus existed, I won't take up issue with this because the Hebrew characters Mary, Joseph, and their immaculately conceived son "Jesus," dates back to the North African Egyptian Isis, Osiris, and their immaculately conceived son Horus, a well known sacred union that predates the Bible by thousands of years.
Rowe,

You're about a century behind the times. What you say was true at one time but hasn't been for a very long time. It wasn't even always true even back then.

Read about Francis Xavier, William Carey, and Hudson Taylor, who brought the news of Christ to different cultures but did not impose a culture on those they went to.

There were those who did, but they did so because they had been indoctrinated by those western cultures that had already assimilated the Church in their lands for political reasons. For the power that being close to the throne brought, many in those churches were quite willing to be assimilated. Hence their confusion between the work of the Church and the work of the state. It was wrong of them to do.

But it isn't done any longer, nor has it been for rather a long time. It was noticed and spoken against by many people, not least Rudyard Kipling in his famous poem, "The White Man's Burden," a phillipic against just the attitude that you perceive. Soon after that, the melding of culture and missions stopped. As I say, you're about a century behind.

And indigenous peoples have never had a problem with being expansionist or imperialistic. They loved to do it. There are evidences of groups wandering and growing and taking over other people's lands in Africa just like everywhere else. I mentioned Cemetary 117, a Stone Age mass grave between Egypt and Sudan in which 55 men, women, and children were buried about 11,000 years ago. Many of the bodies had multiple arrow-points in them, including the children, one of whom had 20 arrow-points in him. And of course, Cush and Egypt tended to expand, sometimes against each other. Yes, our indigenous ancestors always minded their own business.

Teh reason that one group today does not offer its religion to another group is because of the nature of the religions, which tend to be animistic and limited to the village or to the people. Different villages have different ancestors and therefore different "gods." They are not universal religions.

So? That doesn't make them better, nor does it make the people better. Only less of an annoyance, which is your point, it would seem. The fact that Christians ofer their religion to others should not be of any concern to you, that is, it shouldn't be of any interest to you, but it is. That's not a logical matter, it's an emotional one. You speak as though you do not wish to be bothered. But to be human is to be in community which is to be bothered by someone who is idfferent. One of the marks of respect for others is that you understand and tolerate their differences. I would guess that Christians do not routinely pressure you to become a Christian ("Become a Christian or else"). That means that you are free to reject their offer. OK. You've done what you wish. So why are you incensed at Christians for believing as they do? Let them do so and tell them to leave you alone and leave it at that. I'll bet that you are not so irritated at Girl Scouts for "imposing" the requirement that you buy their cookies. That's because they don't. They offfer them to you. Christians do the same.

"Winning souls for Christ" is a poetic image. Don't be frustrated by the language of mere enthusiasm. Sure that is their work, but again, so what? Say no to them and they'll go somewhere else. It's not a matter of supremacy. It's a matter of having a religion that has brought them joy and they wish to share it with others so that they, too may have the joy that they themselves have found. But except for soem strongly legalistic fundamentalists, no cultural requirements come with the religion. Paul, in Romans 14 and 15 points that out. You may think of Jesus any color you wish. I know of no one who imposes a white one.

But Osiris and Company were "long ago and far away" types. Mary and Joseph were around the block third house on the right types. When the Bible was being written there were still amny around who had known the family. How many Egyptian priests had had dinner with Isis and traded jokes with Horus? There's quite a difference between the two occurances.
Repl to Melesi:


Melesi: Read about Francis Xavier, William Carey, and Hudson Taylor, who brought the news of Christ to different cultures but did not impose a culture on those they went to.

Rowe: From the onset, "religion" is culture and has everything to do with culture. A group's "religion" is simply a group's cultural belief system and world-view. Therefore, if you are "offering" your religion to someone (or a group), what you are offering to them is your culture. And it doesn't make any sense for someone to do this, especially when the people that you're interested in "converting" already have a culture, complete with religions, traditions, and experiences. When European imperialists invaded Africa, they arrogantly assumed that because the natives did not worship in the ways thta they worship and believed in the things that they believed, that African people had no culture, no religion, no morals, or god. Yet there are many groups in Africa that worship one "god" and they do not have to call their creator "God" or "Jesus" in order for their religious construct to be legitimate.

Melesi: There are evidences of groups wandering and growing and taking over other people's lands in Africa.

Melesi: The key words here are IN AFRICA. Domestic dispustes and internal conflicts are expected in every cultural group so why would it be any different on the continent of Africa? With Africa being the largest continent on the planet, one should expect some cultural exhanges and communication to take place. However, Africans have never imposed their religions and/or cultures on others to the extent that Europeans have. African people have never "indoctrinated" and/or converted a bunch of American Natives for example into the Dogon religion, etc.

Melesi: Different villages have different ancestors and therefore different "gods." They are not universal religions.

Rowe: Yes, I have already mentioned that there are at least 6,000 different religions on the continent of Africa. Furthermore, a "universal religion" does not exist. In fact, it is against nature for everyone to think the same, believe the same, appear the same, or have the same religion. Therefore, why does everyone on the planet have to be Christian? Why is it that you all cannot respect people's right to have their own distinct religion? What are your motives? What is the objective?

Melesi: You speak as though you do not wish to be bothered. But to be human is to be in community which is to be bothered by someone who is idfferent. One of the marks of respect for others is that you understand and tolerate their differences.

Rowe: Precisely! Repeat that to yourself and all your fellow Christians. This discussion has nothing to do with not wanting to be "bothered." It has to do with respecting and appreciating other people's space, world-views, belief systems, and simply, thier right to exist in the ways they want to exist. And rather than "offering" your religion/culture to people, why not learn from them? Why not take lessons from each people with whom you come into contact? Like the old adage says, "It is better to be a student than a teacher." And doesn't your bible say be slow to speak and quick to listen? CHRISTIANS ARE NOT THE ONLY PEOPLE THAN CAN IMPART THE WISDOM OF THE CREATOR! You do not have the light and no one else. And that is the only message that I have been trying to get across to you in this debate. Asians, Africans, American Natives, etc. have JUST AS MUCH RIGHT to "offer" their understanding of spirituality as the Christian!

Melesi: It's a matter of having a religion that has brought them joy and they wish to share it with others so that they, too may have the joy that they themselves have found.

Rowe: Melesi, what makes you think that the people with whom missionaries come into contact are not already filled with joy and are thoroughly content and happily satisfied with their culture's religion? What makes Christians capable of providing the world with "joy?" Do you actually think that the world lived in total darkness, sadness, and gloom until the "Christian" came along and provided us all with "joy." Get over yourselves already!!! You all are so pathetically arrogant that its nauseting.

Melesi: There's quite a difference between the two occurances.

Rowe: The truth of matter is that all of the religious concepts, mythology, and philosophy that is presented to us in the Hebrew bible was clearly borrowed from the ancient Africans who (before anyone has ever heard of a "European")created, studied, and believed in these conceptions thousands of years before the arrival of a christian. Period.

[This message was edited by Rowe on March 25, 2004 at 12:47 PM.]
Rowe,

No, religon is not culture. The religion of Christianity was quite foreign to the Roman Empire and to the peoples in it, and not because it was Jewish. The Jews found it foreign, too. The Romans persecuted Christians simply because it was so different they sometimes thought it a danger to the cohesiveness of the Empire. If it were part of the culture, or if it were merely a vehicle of the culture, then either Rome or Jerusalem would have accepted it, but neither did.

That's because it is quite different and separate from culture.

In fact, the problems that you seem to have with religion is because of your perspective, your belief of this supposed identity of religion and culture. It's only when Christianity becomes entangled with a culture that these problems that you say you see arise. When the first missionaries traveled to other culutres, they didn't set out ot change the culture, nor did thye take a culture with them. It didn't matter what else the people did as long as they worshipped and followed Christ. But that's not the same as giving to them a foreign culture. Will this new belief change their culture? Yes, but all cultures change anyway. No culture has ever been static. And the changes that this religion makes in a culture are good ones.

What do you want to see happen, women given an equal place with men, or do you want an equitorial African culture that says, oh, that women cannot play musical instruments nor do other things that men can? The culture of Europe oppressed women just as much as many other cultures did and do, but it was the Christian cultures that had to freedom to change because they believed in men and women being equal in God's sight, as it says in Genesis 1 and shows Paul's letters where he addresses some women as leaders and just as important as the men. That was a bit radical in the Empire, too.

The message of Christ confronts every culture and it is not bound by any. Therefore the message of Christ is not culture.

What you see as errors on the part of the religion was really an error on the part of those who allowed a culutre to become bigger than their religion, and therefore they were not good Christians as they did that. In other ways, perhaps they were, but not there.

It doesn't matter that 'the key word is "IN AFRICA." ' To a real extent there is no "Africa." There is a collection of peoples that European geopolitical taxonomy calls "Africa," but that is an arbitrary grouping that nobody there did until outsiders came to do it. When Africans attacked each other, you can bet that teh ones attacked did not say to each other, "It's ok--they're Africans." Nope. They were Watusis or Zulus or Masais, Swahilis, Nubians, or Aksum and they had no concept of "Africa." These disputes were not "internal." They were different peoples with different languages and different cultures and different histories. And those they conquered they imposed their religion onto. Not all movements were conquering movements, of course, but there were many, and conquerors bring with them their cultures. They saw each other as outsiders, not as "Africans."

Why does everyone have to be a Christian? That depends on what you mean by "have to." Do I think that being a Christian is the right way to believe and live? Yes. Will I try to somehow force you to become one? No.

There can be no more than one right fact in a conflict of two facts. Either I ate the banana or I didn't. Either Egypt was black or it wasn't. Either Christ is right or he isn't. If he is right, then it is best that everyone become a Christian because he said that it was necessary in the long run. That there are many different religions does not mean--in fact it is logically impossible--that they are all right, nor are they good even for those who practice them, for they would be false, and it is never good to follow a false concept.

Why cannot I "respect other people's right to have their own religion"? You misunderstand. It is not a "right." It is, however, a freedom, and I do respect it. That's why I do not pressure anyone to change their religion. But since we're asking about respect, why cannot you respect my freedom to practice my religion, which includes telling other people about Christ? I allow others the freedom to make up their own minds about it, but I find that there's a great deal of false information out there about being a Christian. All I do is to correct the false information. YOu decide what to do with that.

That seems to me to be a lot more respectful than demanding that someone else not say anything about his religion if it irritates me. That's a rather self-centered view of others.

Now, I respect and appreciate other people and their differences. I am willing to seriously and respectfully engage in a discussion about those differences. But respect does not mean aggreement. You would no doubt say that you respect my freedom to say what I do (even though that is doubtful since you are requiring me to stop saying that Christ is the only way), but yo udo not agree with me. Therefore you know that there is a difference between respect and agreement.

You are free to say what you do. You are free to disagre with me. You are free to make up your own mind. We are free to discuss and to let the other go his or her own way.

We are not free to demand that the other fit one view of courtesy, which serves to make that one feel comfortable.

Yes, the book of James does say to be quick to hear and slow to listen. But it doesn't say to be silent, and it certainly doesn't say that all religions are equal. They are not, and I would rather follow the truth even if it's hard than a lie even if it's comfortable.

Yes, others have just as much freedom to "offer" their religion as I do. I never said that they do not. Have I ever said, "Listen only to me and to no one else"? I don't think so. What I have said is that this is truth. You are the one telling me not to say that. It would seem to me then that you are the one not following your own advice.

Therefore it still seems that you are reacting because of a perceived attitude that bothers you, not because of any facts involved.

"Pathetically nauseating." That is a personal reaction, and it's proof of what I said in an earlier post, that your reason is a personal feeling. Not a very good reason for asking that someone change his religion.

"Clearly boworrwed." Not quite. I have said many times here that much of the moral teachings in the Old Testament are not original to the OT, but then, they were never claimed to be. They were only claimed to be right. The Bible in a few places hints that much of God's truth can be found in other cultures because they are made manifest in the world at large. Paul repeats this in Romans, in fact. So it is no surprise that there would be some overlap and similarity between the Bible and other statements of the way the world works.

The Bible simply says that these things are right.

And I find it odd that you would denigrate the Bible for agreeing with what you say is right and was so before the Bible was written.
quote:
Originally posted by Melesi:
Rowe,

No, religon is not culture. The religion of Christianity was quite foreign to the Roman Empire and to the peoples in it, and not because it was Jewish. The Jews found it foreign, too. The Romans persecuted Christians simply because it was so different they sometimes thought it a danger to the cohesiveness of the Empire. If it were part of the culture, or if it were merely a vehicle of the culture, then either Rome or Jerusalem would have accepted it, but neither did.

That's because it is quite different and separate from culture.

In fact, the problems that you seem to have with religion is because of your perspective, your belief of this supposed identity of religion and culture. It's only when Christianity becomes entangled with a culture that these problems that you say you see arise. When the first missionaries traveled to other culutres, they didn't set out ot change the culture, nor did thye take a culture with them. It didn't matter what else the people did as long as they worshipped and followed Christ. But that's not the same as giving to them a foreign culture. Will this new belief change their culture? Yes, but all cultures change anyway. No culture has ever been static. And the changes that this religion makes in a culture are good ones.


Actually, all religion is very much an aspect of culture. There is simply no way historically, sociologically, and philosophically to escape this reality. Any good introductory history text on Christianity will make the point that the movement was part of the milieu of 1st Century C.E. Judaism along with the Essenes at Qumran, the Pharisees, the Sadducee's, etc. In fact, sharp lines of demarcation between Christians and Jews do not arise until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.

With respect to the Roman Empire, for a good while, they did not know what to think of the new sect. For the most part, Romans had a rather practical view of religion. Peoples where free to observe their native traditions. Christianity was kind of a gray area, however. Was it new or not? While there were sporadic almost random persecutions earlier, the serious stuff did not occur until the second century. Many historians feel that a good bit of this was due to Christians meeting secretly as well as Christianity still being associated with Judaism. The second century marked, after all, the last major Jewish resistance to the Empire in Palestine.

When Christianity is "adopted" by Constantine in the 4th Century C.E. it is very much co-opted by the Roman culture; e.g., former pagan holiday's become Christian holidays (Christmas, Easter), and the church adopts structures and hierarchies consistent with the state.

Other cultural influences abound in early Christianity. In addition to Jewish influences, there are other Near Eastern contributions associated with Mithra ism, Zoroastrianism, and Gnosticism. The writings of the Apostle Paul are suffused with Neo-Platonic categories. Indeed, Christian apologists from Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, up to Augustine employ Greek philosophy in their theology.

Finally, to the extent that religion is experienced and expressed in language, it is tied to culture. A noncultural religion is a nonentity.
Kresge,

Not quite. Religion and culture affect each other. We cannot say that religion is an aspect of culture, for even though that is true sometimes, it is not true at all times, for religion has changed the culture in which it arose.

Christianity was known to be different from Judaism of the first century by the Jews who lived in the first century. That's why Paul was stoned and left for dead. That's why Jesus was nearly dragged to and thrown off a cliff. That's why Paul and Barnabus were mobbed by angry Ephesians. This belief system was very different from all of the cultures around it. If it was part and parcel of the already-existing systems, no one would have had a problem with it, but everyone did except those whose minds were changed by it. Nobody tried to kill off the Essenes except perhaps the Romans, but certainly no Jewish efforts were made to eradicate them. That's because, as mystical and as ascetic as they were, they were still Jewish, still part of the expected and accepted culture of the day. They held to the Sabbath rigorously, for example, and didn't have Jesus' apparently cavalier attitude toward it. While they didn't sacrifice animals themselves, they sent gifts of money to the temple instead, and the priesthood accepted that in the place of animals. They were accepted as part of Israel, which Jesus was not.

Any good introductory history text on Christianity will not say that it came from the cultural milieu of the first century. That is a claim of cause that it cannot make. People in it were sometimes affected by that culture, that is true, but sometimes they were not, too. They also affected that culture and changed it.

Of course the Roman Empire did not know what to make of teh new sect. It looked to them for a time--already surrounded by a multitude of gods and religions as they were--like just one more of many. But they soon learned better. The Jews disavowed any connection with it since it was so different.

And the serious persecutions began before the end of the first century. Domitian (AD 81-96) persecuted Christians, as Nero (d. AD 69) had done. And Claudius before him was not averse to persecuting them, either, though he apparently did so because he thought they were Jewish, and Claudius didn't like Jews. Nero knew that they were not Jewish, however, and killed them with some satisfaction. Domitian did so with anger, for they would not burn incense to his image.

The fact that the Empire "co-opted" Christianity shows that it is different from the culture of Rome and that Romne had to co-opt it to try to make it so. Yes, the Empire did make some Christianity part of their culture (don't forget the Church in the East which was never part of the Roman culture, and the Church in the south wasn't, either), but it was not always a happy marriage, for members of this family have kept breaking out of the roles assigned to them. That's because Christianity really is not part of any culture. It is not satisfied with that state because it is a life of its own. Anything else is caused by people in it wishing to not having to leave what everybody else does or has, but that is something that Jesus warns us about--"If you do what everybody else does, what reward will you have?"

Neoplatonism in Paul? That accusation has been leveled against him before, but always for no good reason. One has to quite deliberately misinterpret his writings to see that. He's much more Jewish than Greek, but he's less and less Jewish as his writings progress, for he's in a different culture, the Christian one.

The use of "Greek categories" in logic do not mean that those who use them are Greeks or partakers of a Greek culture. Some things that the Greeks said are right and universal. We should use them. Some things that Africans have said are right and we should use them, too. That doesn't make us either Greek or African.

"A noncultural religion is a nonentity." To a large extent that is true. But it is also true that Christianity has changed cultures, not into any one monolithic culture, but into something else. There are still a myriad of cultures that are also Christian. Chinese Christians are not Romans or English. African Christians are not Americans. They are Africans. They still have their own culture. African Christians still dance and sing songs of welcome to visitors entering their villages. They still wear that African orange color in their clothing. Their culture has not been "destroyed," they are still Africans. That's because Christianity is not cultural. It is truth.
quote:
Originally posted by Melesi:
Any good introductory history text on Christianity will not say that it came from the cultural milieu of the first century. That is a claim of cause that it cannot make. People in it were sometimes affected by that culture, that is true, but sometimes they were not, too. They also affected that culture and changed it.

The following introductory texts (both seminary and undergraduate level) do hold this position:
1. Introduction to the New Testament: History and Literature of Early Christianity
by Helmut Koester
2. Reading the New Testament by Pheme Perkins
3. Fortress Introduction to the New Testamentby Gerd Theissen
4. The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul by Wayne A. Meeks


quote:

Neoplatonism in Paul? That accusation has been leveled against him before, but always for no good reason. One has to quite deliberately misinterpret his writings to see that. He's much more Jewish than Greek, but he's less and less Jewish as his writings progress, for he's in a different culture, the Christian one.


Actually, there is significant Greek influence in Jewish culture of the time. Paul is just a part of that. You can see it throughout Jewish literature of the time. Again, see the text mentioned above as well as works by my old New Testament Prof. Robin Scroggs such as Paul for a New Day

quote:

The use of "Greek categories" in logic do not mean that those who use them are Greeks or partakers of a Greek culture. Some things that the Greeks said are right and universal. We should use them. Some things that Africans have said are right and we should use them, too. That doesn't make us either Greek or African.


Well you are part right. But it does have an impact on the culture. I already mentioned the term logos and how it was used by Justin Martyr to make a case that the Greeks were nascient Christians. And don't even get me started with the adoption of language such as omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, homoousias vs. homoiousias.

quote:
"That's because Christianity is not cultural. It is truth.


All expressions of Christianity are culturally and temporally proscribed. As to "it is truth" - that is a confessional or faith claim. That is not really a matter of social or cultural influences.
Kresge,

You misunderstand. I did not say that texts do not say that. I, too, have read history texts that say that. The emphasis in my sentence was on the word "good." A good history text will keep the speculating to a minimum if not cut it out completely. But to speculate is human because we dearly like our reasons, even if they're wrong. That's why historians argue so much. To say that Christianity is part of a European culture is to speculate, to find cause where we really cannot. The culture tried and in some cases was successful in subsuming it, taming it to its own uses, but teh religion has always had a way of breaking out of the limits set for it. That's because it is not bound to any culture. We can speak of historical development, but we cannot say that this culture, any culture, is Christianity's progenitor and mentor.

You did not point out just how Paul can be said to be neoplatonist. Adducing others' influence does not address Paul. Yes, Greek influence was pervasive throughout the empire, but that influence was not uniform.

As you know, the arguments over "logos" are many and of very long standing. Yes, Justin Martyr did say that, but whether he was right or not is not settled, if it ever will be. I'm not altogether certain that they were wrong when they said at the time that when the Messiah came he fulfilled other cultures' prophecies as well as the Hebrew ones. Paul did say in Romans 1 that God revealed enough of himself in nature so that all can know that he exists. John said that God loved the entire world enough to send his son. The Hebrew prophets spoke of a God of the whole earth. Jesus called "all" to come to him, healed and touched nonJews, and said that his message is for all people. So it would be quite understandable that the revelation of God's truth would be given to all and understood in some way by all, at least to a greater or lesser degree. I think that Justin went a little far in calling the Greeks "nascent" Christians, but I see his point as well as his goal. It can be said of many people in many cultures. Justin just didn't speak to the Chinese or the Indians.

As well, the use of words is not always clear-cut. John's use of "logos," for example: we assume that he meant it in a Greek way only because it's a Greek word. But what other Greek word would translate the Hebrew "debar"? The concepts are very different, and John doesn't say why he used the word. To say that we know, and then to launch into a long disquisition on the meaning of "logos" can be quite misleading. It's a speculation.

"Proscribed"? I'm not sure that you meant that all expressions of Christianity are culturally condemned. I would agree that they are influenced by the cultures in which they take root, but that simply means that Rowe was wrong when she said that Christianity has a culture and expresses a culture. It does not. Those practitioners of it who have not thought much about being a Christian will pass on a culture with their Christianity, but that Christianity will change in its expression as it grows in that culture, for Christianity is not bound to a single culture. It does not have a single culture, and that has been my point all along. It changes cultures because it is different from all human cultures.

Sure, the claim that it is "truth" is a faith claim. I am a Christian and I will make that claim. But just because it is a faith claim doesn't mean that it is wrong. To say so is a logical fallacy. Also, to say that that doesn't make it right, either, is to miss the point. I didn't say that my believing it makes it right or wrong. But the change that it makes in people's lives all over the world and in every culture would seem to be an important fact pointing to its truth.
quote:
Originally posted by Melesi:
Kresge,

You misunderstand. I did not say that texts do not say that. I, too, have read history texts that say that. The emphasis in my sentence was on the word "good." A good history text will keep the speculating to a minimum if not cut it out completely. But to speculate is human because we dearly like our reasons, even if they're wrong. That's why historians argue so much. To say that Christianity is part of a European culture is to speculate, to find cause where we really cannot. The culture tried and in some cases was successful in subsuming it, taming it to its own uses, but teh religion has always had a way of breaking out of the limits set for it. That's because it is not bound to any culture. We can speak of historical development, but we cannot say that this culture, any culture, is Christianity's progenitor and mentor.

Melesi,
Because one disagrees with scholarship or because it does not fit within ones assumptions about the Christianity hardly makes it speculative.

I stand by my claim that these and others are "good" text produced by committed scholars who have spent years of research in the field. Many of them teach at elite institutions of higher education, their texts are standards in schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, their research has appears in refereed journals, they are active participants in the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, ....

Moreover, there is a substantial amount of evidence: textual, rhetorical, documentary, sociological that makes the case that early Christianity is part of the religious milieu of 1st century Palestine associated with Judaism. There are texts from Qumran in which it is incredibly difficult to say whether it is Christian or Jewish. The themes like the Son of Man, come straight out of Pseudepigraphic texts such as 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, and the Apocryphon of Ezekiel, etc. This is not speculation, this is sound scholarship.
quote:

You did not point out just how Paul can be said to be neoplatonist. Adducing others' influence does not address Paul. Yes, Greek influence was pervasive throughout the empire, but that influence was not uniform.

I was on the way to class, so this is why I simply pointed to a text that might be helpful. Its been about 12 years since seminary, but as I recall, Platonic influences in Paul are often pointed out in his dualisms of spirit/soul and body/flesh (sarks). This is not seen in classic Judaism, but does begin to be seen among Hellenized Jews, which Paul is. It is also clear that he has training in the Greek classics (again form, rhetorical, and source criticism are helpful here). Paul's epistles follow the Greek conventions. His "house tables", the hierarchies within the home, can be found in Aristotle's Nichomedean Ethics for example. There is also the really odd passage where Paul is talking about knowing a man who was taken up into different levels of heaven. This sounds alot like the Pleroma.
quote:
Sure, the claim that it is "truth" is a faith claim. I am a Christian and I will make that claim. But just because it is a faith claim doesn't mean that it is wrong. To say so is a logical fallacy. Also, to say that that doesn't make it right, either, is to miss the point. I didn't say that my believing it makes it right or wrong. But the change that it makes in people's lives all over the world and in every culture would seem to be an important fact pointing to its truth.

I mentioned that it was a confessional or faith statement that Christianity was true, by which it was not subject to certain forms of critique. As you will see, I did not say that it is a right or wrong belief. I would also agree that people all over the world have found it to be true for them.

Yet, getting back to the original topic of the thread, is it possible for one to believe that Christianity is true for them, but that others have found Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism, or Humanism true. I am not saying that I have an answer to this. What I will say is that I have reached a point where I am willing to respect the existential and experiential claims of others.
Reply to Melesi:

Melesi: The Romans persecuted Christians simply because it was so different they sometimes thought it a danger to the cohesiveness of the Empire.

Rowe: What you are not accepting Melesi is that every cultural group has a spiritual identity, a belief system, a set of world-views, a spiritual existence that is ultimately responsible for directing and organizing the people that create it and follow it. Beliefs, customs, traditions, ideologies, moral and ethical standards of living, etc. are all established inside a cultural construct. The arguments that you have provided, against this reality, defies all common sense and logic. Its almost as if you are simply creating defensive arguments for the sake of arguing and you are not at all concerned about whether or not your arguments make any sense.

Melesi: If it were part of the culture, or if it were merely a vehicle of the culture, then either Rome or Jerusalem would have accepted it, but neither did.

Rowe: There could have been a number of reasons why Rome or Jerusalem did not want to accept someone else's culture and beliefs.

Melesi: When the first missionaries traveled to other culutres, they didn't set out ot change the culture, nor did thye take a culture with them. It didn't matter what else the people did as long as they worshipped and followed Christ.

Rowe: African people are notoriously religious. Religion is so much apart of the culture that there isn't really an African word for "religion." Because every act, thought, and traditional decision is religious. Therefore, if someone comes to them with the suggestion to worship and follow a "jesus christ" rather than the traditional African gods that they have been worshipping for hundreds of years, then what you are asking them to do is completely disrupt and deconstruct their culture, lives, and belief system. A belief system and culture that has been in existence long before your arrival. Essentially, you are asking them to abandon their god(s), for yours. And my question to you is WHY IS IT OK FOR YOU TO ASK OTHERS TO TURN THEIR BACKS ON THEIR GODS AND TRADITIONS, BUT ITS NOT OK FOR SOMEONE ASK YOU TO DO THE SAME! The problem with Christians, and Americans in general, is that their understanding of religion and spirituality is quite inorganic and superficial. Americans think of religion as something that is apart from an individual's lifestyle and should be treated as such, whereas indigenous people's (Africans, American Natives, Asians, etc.) understanding of religion and its role in our lives is the total opposite. We think that religion should be at the forefront of our lives and so integrated in our lives that one cannot possibly tell the difference between our "religion" and our "culture." That is why you are not able to successfuly grasp the concept of religion and culture being one of the same. Your cultural and societal grooming won't allow it.

Melesi: Will this new belief change their culture? Yes, but all cultures change anyway. No culture has ever been static.

Rowe: And what qualifies you to be the agents of change? The problem is Europeans are incredibly altruistic. They feel that its their responsibility to police societies looking for "changes" that they think should be made. And if they find any, they feel as if THEY, and them alone, should be the ones to take credit for having made the changes. Even if someone's religion did need to be "changed" (which is a white person's code word for, destroyed and wiped out), why should your religion take precedence?

Melesi: And the changes that this religion makes in a culture are good ones.

Rowe: Again, what makes you think that the cultures and religions created by African people for African people are not already "good." What qualifies you to tell me or anyone else in the international world that our religions and cultures need changing because they are "bad?" Who are you to tell us that!

Melesi: What do you want to see happen, women given an equal place with men, or do you want an equitorial African culture that says, oh, that women cannot play musical instruments nor do other things that men can?

Rowe: Even if these statements were accurate, it is still not your responsibility to tell people how to organize their lives. You cannot police the entire world. People have to think and live for themselves according to what is best for them. You will find in every culture, certain customs and traditions that are different from yours. That should not cause you to become an intolerant and self-righteous snob. Your arrogant thinking is precisely the reason why everyone hates Americans and whites. You all simply cannot have relationships with people and respect people for who and what they are. You always have to try and make someone over until the whole world thinks, appears, talks, and live out their lives in the exact same ways that you do. And its unrealistic for you to think that you can accomplish this.

Melesi: The culture of Europe oppressed women just as much as many other cultures did and do, but it was the Christian cultures that had to freedom to change because they believed in men and women being equal.

Rowe: That is incorrect. Of all the women in the global community, European women were assigned the least amont of respect from European men and were denied some of the most basic human rights compared to the rest of the world's population of women. That is the reason why white women had to eventually drudge up the "Feminist Movement" in the first place. What's worse, Christianity, after white men got a hold of it, became THE MOST chauvinistic and male-centered religion on the planet. All one has to do is read Genesis to learn about the position and role of women (according to Christianity). In Genesis, the first sin which is a precursor to the so-called "fall of man" is conveniently blamed on a woman. And Adam is given "dominion over the earth" while Eve is assigned the job of being "Adam's helper." Please. Subsequently, all througoht the bible a woman is either a slut, a man's downfall (Samson and Delilah), or treated as if she's an irrelevant and unimportant waste of human flesh. Hence, its quite clear what a Christian woman is to a Christian man: a suitable helper that should defer to the decisions and choices made by the Christian man.

Melesi: In God's sight, as it says in Genesis 1 and shows Paul's letters where he addresses some women as leaders and just as important as the men. That was a bit radical in the Empire, too.

Rowe: Women are also not allowed to preach and/or take up ministry in this religion. Women are in fact instructed to be silent in the presence of men. Now when I was a Christian, I distinctly remember seeing and reading that in the Bible. That doesn't sound like leadership to me. That sounds like domestication. On the other hand, African women were not only allowed to speak, but allowed to take charge of wars and govern military alliances. Many of them fought consecutive battles against European invaders who persistently sought to occupy Africa and monopolize its precisious and rare resources. Furthermore, no prince can become a King until his lineage is tied to and approved by a woman, who is traditionally the matriarch of the Royal Family. What people are unfortunately doing is rather than researching information themselves, they cheat! They cheat by listening to and accepting half-truths and sometimes outright bogus lies provided to them about Africa, often times from an European perspective. Excision, which is female circumcision, is believed by Americans, to be an indication that African women are being treated poorly. That is simply not true. Both African boys and girls are circumcised. Traditionally at the age of fifteen to mark their passage from childhood to adulthood. It is not done to make young women more submissive to men or turn them into prostitutes like people have been saying. Too often, the people that spread these lies are the least qualified to speak about Africa and its customs in the first place.

Melesi: The message of Christ confronts every culture and it is not bound by any. Therefore the message of Christ is not culture.

Rowe: Every religion starts out as a form of beliefs and where exactly do you suppose the Christian's form of beliefs came from Melesi? The sky? What are the religion's origins, who were the first groups to identify with it? You simply must be more analytical and inquistive about culture Melesi and what it entails.

Melesi: What you see as errors on the part of the religion was really an error on the part of those who allowed a culutre to become bigger than their religion, and therefore they were not good Christians as they did that.

Rowe: Again, we find the passing the buck among Christians. When you all want to take the credit for having made a positive difference in the world, you want to stand united. But when someone assigns characteristics to you that are not so favorable, you want to say, That's "those Christians" over there, and not us. Whether you identify with them or not, they belong to your sect and their behaviour is representive of the arrogance that you have expressed thus far. Have you ever heard the old saying, "Birds of a feather flock together???"

Melesi: It doesn't matter that the key word is "IN AFRICA." To a real extent there is no "Africa." There is a collection of peoples that European geopolitical taxonomy calls "Africa." but that is an arbitrary grouping that nobody there did until outsiders came to do it.

Rowe: You are absolutely correct. Europeans assigned the name "Africa" to the continent when they arrived. No one really knows, but some historians claim that the natives called the continent by another name, they apparently called it Alkebu-lan, according to the research done by Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan, an authority on African History.

Melesi: When Africans attacked each other, you can bet that teh ones attacked did not say to each other, "It's ok--they're Africans."

Rowe: Again, internal conflicts refer to those conflicts that had taken place on the continent. In any case, my contention is that it is not customary for an African native belonging to one remote tribe to impose her or his religion on a neighboring tribe. Because African religion carries the tribe's traditions, experiences, and personal beliefs. Therefore, one cannot be "converted" into a traditional African religion like one can be converted into a Western religion.

Melesi: Do I think that being a Christian is the right way to believe and live? Yes. Will I try to somehow force you to become one? No.

Rowe: Good. Welcome to humanity and human decency.

Melesi: That there are many different religions does not mean--in fact it is logically impossible--that they are all right, nor are they good even for those who practice them, for they would be false, and it is never good to follow a false concept.

Rowe: Why does a religion have to be "right?" I say again, who are you and the people you represent to tell someone that their religion is "not right?" Or that your religion is "good" and mine is "bad." Our religions are acceptable to us and that's all that matters. You are not us and we have to lead our own lives. You cannot do it for us. I don't subscribe to dichotomies like these anyway, nor does the rest of the non-white world. You really need to grow up and mature in your reasoning. Realize how you sound. You sound like a selfish and bossy child that has developed into a religious bigot lacking an ounce of tolerance for someone that different from you. Grow up.

Melesi: But since we're asking about respect, why cannot you respect my freedom to practice my religion, which includes telling other people about Christ?

Rowe: I don't have any problem with Christians, or any other cultural group, UNTIL they approach me with this self-righteous attitude that I had better become one of them, or else, UNTIL they express this mentality that thier religion is superior and mine is inferior. The problem is you can't understand that a person's (a African person's) religion is intimately tied to our identity. Its everthing and all that we stand for. Its everything to us. Its who we are. You cannot simply come on our continent, tell us to abandon everything that defines us and expect us to not to at least question your nerve and audacity. You all are so fake and phony when it comes to religion. You just "attend to" your religion on "Sundays" and "Holidays" inside your "churches" and "mosques." For us Africans, Spirituality is EVERYWHERE. Spirituality is in the food, in the air, in the trees, in the water, in our children, in the very breath that we breathe.

Melesi: And it certainly doesn't say that all religions are equal. They are not, and I would rather follow the truth even if it's hard than a lie even if it's comfortable.

Rowe: All religions are not meant to be equal Melesi. No wonder you are a bigot. Someone has been filling your head with a load of bull about your religion being superior to others, when it simply is not. It is not better. It is just different. That is all. Repeat this to yourself daily: MY RELIGION IS NOT BETTER, IT IS DIFFERENT. Again, the only thing that makes one religion more superiot to another are the people that believe it.*

Melesi: What I have said is that this is truth.

Rowe: TRUTH is subjective. Truth is not universal. Someone once told me that "truth" is 95% perspective and 5% fact. Everyone's idea of truth is different. Most importantly, this world belongs to all of us. Each of us has a mind to think, reflect, and judge clearly for ourselves. We learn from each other, not one person (or one group) do all the teaching while the rest of us do all the listening and obeying. It simply does not work that way. The purpose of a debate is to share perspectives and thoughts, not tell people what to think. The same goes with culture and religion. It is better to learn from others than to teach them.
quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:

[QUOTE]
Melesi: The Romans persecuted Christians simply because it was so different they sometimes thought it a danger to the cohesiveness of the Empire.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
What you are not accepting Melesi is that every cultural group has a spiritual identity, a belief system, a set of world-views, a spiritual existence that is ultimately responsible for directing and organizing the people that create it and follow it. Beliefs, customs, traditions, ideologies, moral and ethical standards of living, etc. are all established inside a cultural construct. The arguments that you have provided, against this reality, defies all common sense and logic. Its almost as if you are simply creating defensive arguments for the sake of arguing and you are not at all concerned about whether or not your arguments make any sense.


Well while it is certainly a "Reality" that different cultures usually have different religions (exceptions abound; for instance other-country conversions to Islam, Buddhism, Christianity or Judaism), I'd like to point out that while a person may grow UP in a culture and a certain religion, THAT PERSON IS BY NO MEANS BOUND TO IT FOR ETERNITY IF THEY CHOOSE ANOTHER PATH. An East Indian need not be a Hindu or Sikh; A white person need not be atheist humanist or Christian; a person from an indigenous society need not worship the gods or ancestors associated with their heritage. A person converting from one faith to another will NOT cause the universe to cave in. Some people make TOO BIG A DEAL of the attempt to persuade others to broaden their minds and accept different teachings. If a person is WILLING to be convinced, then he will be convinced, if a person is NOT willing to be convinced then nothing can change that. In the meantime, no harm done. (This is in a context WITHOUT the threat of force).

Rowe you're totally ignoring the reality that at the beginning there was only ONE "religion", ONE culture, ONE "ethnic group" (for lack of a better description) and it all branched out into what we see today. Assume for arguments sake that this ONE 'religion' is the one that lead to Judaism/Christianity. Then that means that EVERYONE'S natural ancestral religion is the one with the True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And since we're all about getting back to our ROOTS here, WHY NOT GO BACK ALLLLLLLLLL THE FRIGGIN' WAY?!

quote:
Melesi: If it were part of the culture, or if it were merely a vehicle of the culture, then either Rome or Jerusalem would have accepted it, but neither did.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: There could have been a number of reasons why Rome or Jerusalem did not want to accept someone else's culture and beliefs.


Rome had a conflict of interest any time the Emperor had delusions of self-divinity. Roman religion was just as intolerant as the Spanish Inquisition, if not more so. Loyalty to Emperor and Country meant worshiping the Emperor as a Living god. Failure to do so meant you really weren't a Roman. Certainly Emperors of such a mindset as to declare themselves divine were more often than not a few fries short of a Happy Meal (like Domitian, Nero, and others) and it went beyond mere intolerance against other religions. They took it personally and exercised their wrath against what they saw as treachery and disloyalty.

Jerusalem was a bit of a different story. No Pharisee or High Priest claimed to be God. In fact, the Jews who didn't believe in Christ at the time tried to STONE him for blasphemy--because he CLAIMED to be God (which was when he said "Before Abraham was, I AM")! The Jews of the day weren't looking for a spiritual savior to erase their sins; they wanted a political leader to help them ditch Roman Rule. When Jesus didn't measure up to their expectations they said forget him. Jesus took the Pharisees to task over ADDITIONS to the Word of God and commandments, and they in their powerhungryness got mad and decided to kill him because he threatened their power over the people--the power to FREE them of the Pharisees' hypocrisy and unnecessary dictates.

quote:
Melesi: When the first missionaries traveled to other culutres, they didn't set out ot change the culture, nor did thye take a culture with them. It didn't matter what else the people did as long as they worshipped and followed Christ.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: African people are notoriously religious.

Yeah, I don't suppose you'd find too many ATHEISTS among them...shamanic parlor tricks seem to keep lots of people convinced...(not just Africans but people all over the world)

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Religion is so much apart of the culture that there isn't really an African word for "religion." Because every act, thought, and traditional decision is religious.


Does this mean you have to ask some spirits' permission before you take a $#**? Wink :P

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Therefore, if someone comes to them with the suggestion to worship and follow a "jesus christ" rather than the traditional African gods that they have been worshipping for hundreds of years, then what you are asking them to do is completely disrupt and deconstruct their culture, lives, and belief system.


That depends. If a person's whole life is in thrall to some spirits that tell them loads of $#** to keep them compliant (via the local Shaman, who really isn't any better than the POPE--because you get the same problem with ONE person interpreting a "spirit" and their wishes as you did back in the middle ages when priests and the popes were the only ones who could read the Bible and thus tell the people what God wants. And as the priests of the Middle Ages could get away with telling the people absolute BULL$#**, so can a select few among the people (the shamans/spirit-contactors whatever the traditional term for them are) have the opportunity to fill some gullible people's minds FULL OF HORSE $#** and the people would have NO way of knowing whether the shaman was full of $#** or not.

The problem with traditional animistic and spiritistic religions is that usually only a select few have the "power." I'd feel a lot better about it if the spirits talked to EVERYONE on an equal basis instead of hiding behind potentially corrupt shamans.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
A belief system and culture that has been in existence long before your arrival.


I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you, but whatever system and culture, no matter where, of EVERY religion except Judaeo-Christianity, CAME LONG AFTER Man talked freely with God as one person talks to another person. So in effect, the Roots of Christianity far predate your precious tribal religions. If you wanna go back to your ROOTS, man, the TRUE BEGINNING, you have to go THAT FAR back. Not just a few measly centuries or millenia. ALL THE WAY BACK. And stop with this argumentum ad antiquitatem fallacy you're using (the logical fallacy that something is good because it is old: Fallacy Name:
Appeal to Age

Alternative Names:
argumentum ad antiquitatem

Category:
Appeals to Emotion and Desire



Explanation:
The Appeal to Age fallacy goes in the opposite direction, by arguing that the when something is old, then this somehow impacts the value or truth of the proposition in question. The most common form of this is:

6. It is old or long-used, so it must better than this new-fangled stuff.

There are quite a few people out there who are under the mistaken impression that the age of an item, and that alone, is indicative of its value and usefulness. Such an attitude is not entirely without warrant. Just as it is true that a new product can provide new benefits, it is also true that something old may have value because it has worked for a long time.

However, it simply isn't true that we can assume, without further question, that an old object or practice is valuable simply because it is old. Perhaps it has been used a lot because no one has ever known or tried any better. Perhaps new and better replacements are absent simply because people have accepted the fallacious Appeal to Age. )

and the Argumentum ad Misercordiam (Appeal to emotion: The argument generally has this form:

1. Unfortunate or lamentable situation S is described. Therefore, conclusion C should be accepted.

By appealing to people's ability to pity others, a powerful emotive force can be created. Unfortunately, however serious another person's problems are, that does not automatically make their claims any more true. My sympathy for that situation does not create a reasonable basis for believing their claims.).

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Essentially, you are asking them to abandon their god(s), for yours.


Yeah, but what have they done for them LATELY?

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
And my question to you is WHY IS IT OK FOR YOU TO ASK OTHERS TO TURN THEIR BACKS ON THEIR GODS AND TRADITIONS, BUT ITS NOT OK FOR SOMEONE ASK YOU TO DO THE SAME!


Oh it's OK, you are welcome to TRY. Nobody ever said nobody could ask us to do that...they'd just have to give a GOOD ENOUGH reason...

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
The problem with Christians, and Americans in general, is that their understanding of religion and spirituality is quite inorganic and superficial. Americans think of religion as something that is apart from an individual's lifestyle and should be treated as such,

Can't argue with you there. A lot of people who call themselves Christian think that way. I don't, however.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
whereas indigenous people's (Africans, American Natives, Asians, etc.) understanding of religion and its role in our lives is the total opposite. We think that religion should be at the forefront of our lives and so integrated in our lives that one cannot possibly tell the difference between our "religion" and our "culture."


Actually you may not realize it but THAT'S the way Christianity is SUPPOSED TO BE.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
That is why you are not able to successfuly grasp the concept of religion and culture being one of the same. Your cultural and societal grooming won't allow it.


While a great many people might think that way, it does not necessarily mean EVERY Christian thinks that way. Evangelical Christians and Fundamentalists certainly don't. (Why else would you hear people complain about the "Religious Right" 'trying to impose their morality on everyone'? It's PRECISELY BECAUSE real Christians DO NOT BELIEVE that culture and religion should be separate, at least in THEIR lives and in the country at large.

quote:

Melesi: Will this new belief change their culture? Yes, but all cultures change anyway. No culture has ever been static.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: And what qualifies you to be the agents of change? The problem is Europeans are incredibly altruistic. They feel that its their responsibility to police societies looking for "changes" that they think should be made. And if they find any, they feel as if THEY, and them alone, should be the ones to take credit for having made the changes. Even if someone's religion did need to be "changed" (which is a white person's code word for, destroyed and wiped out), why should your religion take precedence?


Well leaving out the "force" factor and leaving it up to individual choice, our religion should take precedence prolly cuz it's TRUE.

IT is true that many religions have taboos that prevent people from exploring their world in scientific ways. There's a cave on Vancouver Island here that the native Indians would not go into because the cold air rushing out of it (due to temperature difference, easily explained by SCIENCE) was strange to them and they thought EVIL SPIRITS dwelled within. Many indigenous cultures believed that the birth of twins was an evil omen; that one was real and the other was a demon. This led these people (some of which belonged to AFRICAN tribes! This also occurred in the Americas) to either kill one of the babies--the one they thought was the demon or evil child--or at least leave it out for the wild animals. Animism teaches there are spirits in everything, including the inanimate rocks, and water. Scientific studies would be awkward if not outright taboo for fear of offending the spirits. The First Nations Indians believe that a body that is tampered with after death causes the spirit of that body to wander the earth in torment instead of finding peace. This has resulted in DNA testing AND Autopsies being STRONGLY opposed by First Nations who actually still believe the old teachings, and it makes murder investigations that much more difficult. And, it has hampered the scientific study of the 9,000 year-old Kennewick Man skull, which researchers believe is Caucasoid and not Indian at all. (And the Indians, in addition to the teachings about bodies, are scared STIFF that Kennewick Man is evidence of "White" (or Caucasoid of a darker color, no one can tell) people being in America BEFORE THEM.)

quote:

Melesi: And the changes that this religion makes in a culture are good ones.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: Again, what makes you think that the cultures and religions created by African people for African people are not already "good." What qualifies you to tell me or anyone else in the international world that our religions and cultures need changing because they are "bad?"


Let's see: as to the BENEFITS of religion-change...no traditional African culture developed cars, refrigerators, flush toilets, vaccines, antibiotics, air conditioners, or water treatment implements. No African Religion ADEQUATELY addresses the topic of Evil; most are happy to live in a state of that RIVER IN EGYPT, you know, DE NILE (denial). African religions are no different from standard not-hardly-Christians who believe all they need to do is be a good boy and try their hardest and nothing bad will happen to them in the afterlife.

As to what was bad, see above; I beleive I already addressed that.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Who are you to tell us that!


Well you seem comfortable with telling US how wrong you think WE are, so what the hell is the big deal?

quote:

Melesi: What do you want to see happen, women given an equal place with men, or do you want an equitorial African culture that says, oh, that women cannot play musical instruments nor do other things that men can?


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: Even if these statements were accurate, it is still not your responsibility to tell people how to organize their lives.


Well we are entitled to make some FRIGGIN' SUGGESTIONS...free speech man.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
You cannot police the entire world. People have to think and live for themselves according to what is best for them.

What is BEST for them, man, is NOT being LOST for all eternity in the netherworld.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
You will find in every culture, certain customs and traditions that are different from yours.
That's not a big deal.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
That should not cause you to become an intolerant and self-righteous snob. Your arrogant thinking is precisely the reason why everyone hates Americans and whites.


Well arrogance is the trait of many a human, be they black, white or brown, American, Canadian, Polack, Indian, etc. BTW, if this is your reasoning why "everyone" hates Americans and Whites, why does "everyone" hate black people?

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
You all simply cannot have relationships with people and respect people for who and what they are. You always have to try and make someone over until the whole world thinks, appears, talks, and live out their lives in the exact same ways that you do.


I dunno about "you all"...would you PLEASE stop trying to stereotype all whites & americans, it makes you just as bad as people who wrongly stereotype ALL BLACK PEOPLE.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
And its unrealistic for you to think that you can accomplish this.


That's a fact...

quote:

Melesi: The culture of Europe oppressed women just as much as many other cultures did and do, but it was the Christian cultures that had to freedom to change because they believed in men and women being equal.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: That is incorrect. Of all the women in the global community, European women were assigned the least amont of respect from European men and were denied some of the most basic human rights compared to the rest of the world's population of women.


Incorrect. Australian Aborigines' treatment of women at least ranks right up there with that, if not beyond--the SACRED DIGERIDOO instrument (u know, that thing shaped like a blowgun that goes "waow-waow-waow-waow") IS NOT TO BE TOUCHED BY WOMEN BECAUSE THEY ARE UNHOLY AND THEIR TOUCH WILL DEFILE IT. Madonna really got in trouble when she touched a digeridoo that had been presented to her by someone who didn't know, or give a $#**, about the traditional taboo of the Digeridoo against WOMEN.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
That is the reason why white women had to eventually drudge up the "Feminist Movement" in the first place. What's worse, Christianity, after white men got a hold of it, became THE MOST chauvinistic and male-centered religion on the planet.


Actually, there's room for debate there. We've got a couple contenders here, including radical Islam and traditional Aborigine religion...

The difference being, Christian women would not be killed for their feminism (at least not usually) while feminist aborigine women would be an oxymoron without Christian influence (because the shamanic parlor tricks of their religion keep them in line) and radical muslim men would just kill any heretics including feminists as par for the course. Or at least torture the F*** out of them...

Incidentally, it was a Black guy who became a Knight (and was Christian), who came up with the idea of CHIVALRY. St. Morris, I believe the guy's name was.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
All one has to do is read Genesis to learn about the position and role of women (according to Christianity).


Yeah, because she was not to be trusted to run $#** HERSELF because of her gullibility. Her husband was to keep her stupid ideas in check (while her smart ideas would be affirmed, in an ideal world). However in Israelite times, there was a Female Judge (Deborah), and women weren't always into the hard knock life people imagine they were. Proverbs speaks of the good wise wife, "She considers a field, and BUYS it." Looks like not much has changed in 3000 years--wife with the hands on her husband's bank account... Wink

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
In Genesis, the first sin which is a precursor to the so-called "fall of man"


"Man" as used here is GENERIC and means humankind in general, NOT merely the male sex of humans. It wasn't a precursor, it WAS the fall of "man"! It began when Eve started adding crap to what God said. God never said they could not TOUCH the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, just not to eat of its fruit. Eve was pretty much pwned the minute she added "nor may we even TOUCH it..."

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
is conveniently blamed on a woman.


MAYBE because it WAS HER FAULT?! Doesn't anyone recognize responsibility for actions anymore?

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
And Adam is given "dominion over the earth" while Eve is assigned the job of being "Adam's helper." Please. Subsequently, all througoht the bible a woman is either a slut, a man's downfall (Samson and Delilah), or treated as if she's an irrelevant and unimportant waste of human flesh.


That's bull$#** and you know it. Mary, mother of JESUS, for crissakes! She was NOT treated like ANY of that in the Bible! Elizabeth, her cousin, mother of St. John the Baptist, same deal! Deborah the Judge! Ruth! Esther! Mary and Martha, Jesus' buddies! Dorcas (in Acts)! I could go on...

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Hence, its quite clear what a Christian woman is to a Christian man: a suitable helper that should defer to the decisions and choices made by the Christian man.


A smart Christian man will listen and agree if his wife is making a good point. However you can't have anarchy in a relationship. Husbands are commanded to love their wives and treat them as if they were his own body.

But more than that, these teachings are a TEST. Godly women will pass this test, a test to see if they trust God.

quote:

Melesi: In God's sight, as it says in Genesis 1 and shows Paul's letters where he addresses some women as leaders and just as important as the men. That was a bit radical in the Empire, too.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: Women are also not allowed to preach and/or take up ministry in this religion.


They are not allowed to be ordained preachers. This means they are not to have any religious authority over man. This however does NOT mean they cannot share their faith privately with a man in a non-authority situation.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Women are in fact instructed to be silent in the presence of men.


BEWARE! DO NOT TWIST THE TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE!!!!!! It says they were to be silent IN THE CHURCH. NOT "in the presence of men"!!!! Ladies were prolly TOO BUSY GOSSIPING TO EACH OTHER AND NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO THE SERVICE.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Now when I was a Christian, I distinctly remember seeing and reading that in the Bible.

Either you got a BAD translation or you remember it WRONG. IT DOES NOT say that women are to be silent in the presence of men.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
That doesn't sound like leadership to me. That sounds like domestication.


That's in the CHURCH, not regular life. There's a difference.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
On the other hand, African women were not only allowed to speak, but allowed to take charge of wars and govern military alliances.


Women generally suck at multitasking military decisions. I should know, I am one.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Many of them fought consecutive battles against European invaders who persistently sought to occupy Africa and monopolize its precisious and rare resources. Furthermore, no prince can become a King until his lineage is tied to and approved by a woman, who is traditionally the matriarch of the Royal Family. What people are unfortunately doing is rather than researching information themselves, they cheat! They cheat by listening to and accepting half-truths and sometimes outright bogus lies provided to them about Africa, often times from an European perspective.


I hate to break this to you, but the pre-christian Pagan CELTS of what is now Britain had a similar setup to what you are describing. They had women leaders, women shamans, women in the military. And look where it got them... Wink (Yeah, the Romans beat them back...and later they got Christianized!)

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Excision, which is female circumcision, is believed by Americans, to be an indication that African women are being treated poorly. That is simply not true. Both African boys and girls are circumcised. Traditionally at the age of fifteen to mark their passage from childhood to adulthood. It is not done to make young women more submissive to men or turn them into prostitutes like people have been saying. Too often, the people that spread these lies are the least qualified to speak about Africa and its customs in the first place.


And yet here YOU are, LYING about Christianity, not understanding that which you criticize, and you are among the LEAST qualified to discuss the subject with any honesty.
(BTW, we know it's the muslims that once they got ahold of excision, turned it into the brutality that Americans hear about in regards to "female circumcision.")

quote:

Melesi: The message of Christ confronts every culture and it is not bound by any. Therefore the message of Christ is not culture.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: Every religion starts out as a form of beliefs and where exactly do you suppose the Christian's form of beliefs came from Melesi? The sky? What are the religion's origins, who were the first groups to identify with it? You simply must be more analytical and inquistive about culture Melesi and what it entails.


Christian form of beliefs originally began with Adam and Eve chatting it up with God in the Pre-Fallen state. THE FALL is what led to the diversity of religions and cultures as a result of rebellion and rejection of the TRUE God. Christians merely want to reintroduce the True God as He is revealed, which was lost so long ago to many civilizations.

quote:

Melesi: What you see as errors on the part of the religion was really an error on the part of those who allowed a culutre to become bigger than their religion, and therefore they were not good Christians as they did that.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: Again, we find the passing the buck among Christians. When you all want to take the credit for having made a positive difference in the world, you want to stand united. But when someone assigns characteristics to you that are not so favorable, you want to say, That's "those Christians" over there, and not us. Whether you identify with them or not, they belong to your sect and their behaviour is representive of the arrogance that you have expressed thus far. Have you ever heard the old saying, "Birds of a feather flock together???"


Dude, you're a racist idiot and ignorant at that. Christianity has MANY sects; it in and of itself is not a "sect." Christians stand with all TRUE Christians; those who are false and using religion for their own power rather than to glorify God are NOT Christians at all; they are the wolves in sheeps clothing we were warned about. What have I or Melesi taken credit for on other people's/religions backs? Didn't happen. Nuff said. Quit putting words in our mouths. Most people who argue like you are the ones that don't try to listen. They are just mad.

Your generalization makes about as much sense as if someone were to say to YOU, that when some black people do something realllly wonderful, you all want to stand together, but if some black people do something bad, "Oh no, that's them black people over there" and the other person saying to you "But they're of your continental ethnic group. Their behavior is representative of something...and by the way, birds of a feather flock together."

Which is to say, it makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever.

quote:

Melesi: It doesn't matter that the key word is "IN AFRICA." To a real extent there is no "Africa." There is a collection of peoples that European geopolitical taxonomy calls "Africa." but that is an arbitrary grouping that nobody there did until outsiders came to do it.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: You are absolutely correct. Europeans assigned the name "Africa" to the continent when they arrived. No one really knows, but some historians claim that the natives called the continent by another name, they apparently called it Alkebu-lan, according to the research done by Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan, an authority on African History.


no comment needed...

quote:

Melesi: When Africans attacked each other, you can bet that teh ones attacked did not say to each other, "It's ok--they're Africans."


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: Again, internal conflicts refer to those conflicts that had taken place on the continent. In any case, my contention is that it is not customary for an African native belonging to one remote tribe to impose her or his religion on a neighboring tribe. Because African religion carries the tribe's traditions, experiences, and personal beliefs. Therefore, one cannot be "converted" into a traditional African religion like one can be converted into a Western religion.


Dude conflict is conflict; regardless if it's over religion, ethnic group status, or a chunk of property.

I would disagree about one not being able to be "converted" to an African religion, as it is an absurd notion to the extreme, especially in the context of the peoples of the continent are all derived from a common ancestor, and thus AT SOME POINT, their collective ancestors ALL shared ONE tradition/culture/religion. Besides, why should some poor modern soul be beholden to what some guy MADE UP 4000 years ago?

quote:

Melesi: Do I think that being a Christian is the right way to believe and live? Yes. Will I try to somehow force you to become one? No.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: Good. Welcome to humanity and human decency.

Whaddaya mean "welcome", she was there the WHOLE time!

quote:

Melesi: That there are many different religions does not mean--in fact it is logically impossible--that they are all right, nor are they good even for those who practice them, for they would be false, and it is never good to follow a false concept.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: Why does a religion have to be "right?" I say again, who are you and the people you represent to tell someone that their religion is "not right?" Or that your religion is "good" and mine is "bad." Our religions are acceptable to us and that's all that matters. You are not us and we have to lead our own lives. You cannot do it for us. I don't subscribe to dichotomies like these anyway, nor does the rest of the non-white world. You really need to grow up and mature in your reasoning. Realize how you sound. You sound like a selfish and bossy child that has developed into a religious bigot lacking an ounce of tolerance for someone that different from you. Grow up.


When you say "we", could you please list the names of the people you are speaking for? Because, this is your issue. YOUR OWN MIND. Do you realize this?

IN THEORY, your religion most likely does not have a solid background. (Oral traditions are VERY subject to BS changes.) Why would you even consider those "gods" as bringing any sort of benefit when there are no recorded anything about them, primarily we have documentation (The Bible), you do not. I would at least expect some sort of documentation and not this traditional pagan sort of worship which is well-documented in the Bible as being WRONG. So where do you stand?

quote:

Melesi: But since we're asking about respect, why cannot you respect my freedom to practice my religion, which includes telling other people about Christ?


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: I don't have any problem with Christians, or any other cultural group, UNTIL they approach me with this self-righteous attitude that I had better become one of them, or else, UNTIL they express this mentality that thier religion is superior and mine is inferior.


NOT "Superior / Inferior"! RIGHT AND WRONG!

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
The problem is you can't understand that a person's (a African person's) religion is intimately tied to our identity. Its everthing and all that we stand for. Its everything to us. Its who we are. You cannot simply come on our continent, tell us to abandon everything that defines us and expect us to not to at least question your nerve and audacity.


Are you claiming that it is IMPOSSIBLE for an "African" to retain their identity and convert to ANOTHER religion? What a steaming pile of horse crap.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
You all are so fake and phony when it comes to religion. You just "attend to" your religion on "Sundays" and "Holidays" inside your "churches"


Well people who ain't living it day to day are hypocrites, that's for damn sure...

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
and "mosques."


You keep the muslims out of this. this aint about them.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
For us Africans, Spirituality is EVERYWHERE. Spirituality is in the food, in the air, in the trees, in the water, in our children, in the very breath that we breathe.


DUDE I know what Animism is all about. You believe there's spirits in the f***ing ROCKS for crying out loud. There's no spirits that are inherently tied to rocks! It's a demon who is PRETENDING that's how things are! You call it spirituality, I call it unnecessary beholden-ness to Principalities that DO NOT GIVE A $#** whether a person burns in hell or not. You call it spirituality, I call it letting "spirits" (demons) RUN YOUR F***ING LIVES. YOU ARE LISTENING TO LIARS (the spirits, whose King is the FATHER OF LIES) AND THEY ARE TELLING YOU LIES (via their agents, the shamans) and here you are regurgitating exclusionary bullcrap that REQUIRES people to remain in bondage to highly treacherous (smile in your face as they stab you in the back) "spirits" in order to maintain an "identity"! It's all a ruse so these spirits can drag as many souls DOWN WITH THEM as they POSSIBLY can! They like nothing better than to maintain division within Humanity. That's where you get garbage about religion being tied to identity. They want to KEEP you enslaved TO THEM! The slaves' bodies may have been freed from temporal slavery, but a whole pile of them CONSENTED to ETERNAL slavery at the beck and call of the siren song of the demon spirits that trick humans, masquerading as the spirit of that rock over there, or of the spirit of dear old aunt Martha, who has come to tell the shaman that you CAN'T be an African without African Religion. Roll Eyes

NOW IF IT WORKS FOR YOU GUYS WHY THE HELL DOESN'T IT WORK THAT WAY FOR US??? That seems illogical.

Spirits/Spirituality in everything = Pagan worship again. Needless to say, if someone starts something, someone has to continue it. Certainly GOD would not let it become overly prolific. Otherwise, we just might have lawlessness because we know "Africans" and your religion were not fortunate.

You probably are an atheist or someone who makes this up in attempt to form a tangible argument because you don't need to explain your religion which would be too easy to hack, since traditional tribal religions more often than not hide behind "secrecy". You have no argument, just admit it. We just know that you are making a fool of yourself by arguing with us.

quote:

Melesi: And it certainly doesn't say that all religions are equal. They are not, and I would rather follow the truth even if it's hard than a lie even if it's comfortable.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: All religions are not meant to be equal Melesi. No wonder you are a bigot.


It's got NOTHING to do with "bigotry"! How can one be "bigoted" against LIES? Are we not to cast lies aside, after all they are HARMFUL and DESTRUCTIVE?!

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Someone has been filling your head with a load of bull about your religion being superior to others, when it simply is not.


Truth is truth, superiority need not enter the equation.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
It is not better. It is just different. That is all. Repeat this to yourself daily: MY RELIGION IS NOT BETTER, IT IS DIFFERENT. Again, the only thing that makes one religion more superiot to another are the people that believe it.*


Let's see you say that again when you're standing before the Lord God of Hosts on Judgment Day and see if He buys that nonsense. His chances of buying it are slim to none and slim went home.

quote:

Melesi: What I have said is that this is truth.


quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Rowe: TRUTH is subjective. Truth is not universal.


TRUTH is "Subjective"? If I say the banana is yellow, and the banana is IN FACT yellow, is it EQUALLY TRUE to say the banana is blue? NO. Am I being intolerant by telling you that the banana is not blue, and you'll have to take those stupid vision-distorting sunglasses off in order so you can SEE that it's yellow? HELL NO!

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Someone once told me that "truth" is 95% perspective and 5% fact.


They are wrong.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Everyone's idea of truth is different.


Dude subjectivity ONLY belongs in the taste category. I can say I don't like bananas and that would be correct. Another person could say they love bananas and they'd be correct. But religion is not taste-testing fruit. Religious truth is not a case of a banana tasting good. It is a case of a banana being a certain shape, color, size, diameter, etc. THESE are OBJECTIVE truths that NOBODY can HONESTLY deny.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
Most importantly, this world belongs to all of us. Each of us has a mind to think, reflect, and judge clearly for ourselves. We learn from each other, not one person (or one group) do all the teaching while the rest of us do all the listening and obeying. It simply does not work that way. The purpose of a debate is to share perspectives and thoughts, not tell people what to think.


WE have the right and ability, but we have the ability to choose WRONGLY as well as choosing the right things. Our feelings cannot tell us what is right; they can ONLY tell us what we FEEL we are comfortable with.

quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
The same goes with culture and religion.
It is better to learn from others than to teach them.


IN the case of culture, might be OK. Case of religion, not necessarily. If YOU REAAAAALLY think it's better to learn than to teach, then WHY THE F*** AREN'T YOU LEARNING FROM CHRISTIANITY??? Hypocrite.

Personally I believe one should learn all they can about other religions, so they can HACK them ACCURATELY. But it is NOT better to learn than to TEACH. Learning about other religions gets a Christian NOWHERE (in terms of salvation or eternal life). Learning about Christianity gives a person an opportunity to gain eternal life that they wouldn't have otherwise.

However, there is a gap between learning, and ACCEPTING. One isn't the other (though one can lead to the other).
quote:
Originally posted by sinead kachroo:
this is not what religion does to man; religion connects people together and invokes a sense of brotherhood and love thy neighbour kind of feeling.


This is valid, primarily if a particular group of people is of the same religion. Yet when one adds other religions to the scene, then for the most part, brotherhood and all that love thy neighbor jazz, goes out the window.

History illustrates this well...
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I am a woman and I described my former friend as "ignorantus" because he is ignorant. He believes that his association with the religion means that he is somehow "favored" and/or "blessed" by God while those that do not claim the religion are doomed for hell. And this is the belief that the religion promotes.


I am going to ask you a simple, but very real question Rowe. How do you know he is not 'favored' and 'blessed'? The answer to that question illuminates the assumptions that you have about his form of religion which may or may not be true.
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Actually, all religion is very much an aspect of culture. - Kresge


I agree and disagree. I believe in the concept of mutual causality, and the influence of concept on culture, and culture on concept. Religion may initiate as a concept of an individual, spread as a concept to a group, and revolutionize a culture through its redescription of the world. This is what Christianity did. Once it ceased to be revolutionary and normative within cultural, other descriptions influenced (based upon location and time) influenced the original concept and yes, like Rowe said, there were offshoots the were conceptually influenced by cultural desires for imperialistic activity.

Rowe - I am hesitant to blame Christianity for all European Colonialism and Imperialism. I think it is reductionistic and to simplistic a view of history. The best analogy I can give is Christianity and the American Slave Trade. You had 'brands' of Christianity on all sides of the subject. The most dogmatic was quakers against slavery. You also had deist, atheist, etc. who were all on one side or the other for various unique reasons. How Rowe, do you reconcile the dichotomy that those who sought both to perpetuate slavery and resist it both claimed the same religion? Doesn't this weaken you universalist christianity ='s imperialism concept?
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Originally posted by shebakoby:
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Originally posted by Rowe:
It is not better. It is just different. That is all. Repeat this to yourself daily: MY RELIGION IS NOT BETTER, IT IS DIFFERENT. Again, the only thing that makes one religion more superiot to another are the people that believe it.*


Let's see you say that again when you're standing before the Lord God of Hosts on Judgment Day and see if He buys that nonsense.

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