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Monday, November 19, 2007

The Fifth Lie: 7 Great Lies of Organized Religion - Part 5

The Seven Great Lies of Organized Religion

~~~

Lie #5:

'There is no single truth.  Everyone needs to explore and find
a truth that works for them.'

~~~

John,

  This one's a real hot potato.  And it's not something you hear
so much from ancient religious institutions... rather, it's simply
the 'politically correct' way to talk about spirituality these days.

  It tends to be expressed something like this: 'You've got your
truth, and I've got my truth.  You find a faith that works for
you, and I'll find a faith that works for me.'

  Well here's my question:

  How many conflicting versions of the truth can actually be true?

  I'm not going to use this space to promote an agenda today -- or
to push any specific claim of Ultimate Truth.  I'm just going to
highlight a very simple, logical reality that each of us, in our search
for Truth, must recognize.  Pardon me if I offend you, but I'm
going to put it bluntly.

  It's impossible for all religions to be true.

  In other words, if Islam is essentially true, then Buddhism,
Hinduism and Christianity are not.  If Buddhism is essentially true,
then Islam, Christianity and Hinduism are not.  And so on.

  How can I say such a thing?  Because if you *really* study these
religions, it will become clear that each makes bold, fundamental
assertions about reality that are not compatible with the others.

  For example, Hinduism states that divinity is present in everything.
Christianity, Judaism and Islam all assert that God is distinctly
separate from what he has created.  The implications of these different
views run very deep, and they are fundamentally incompatible.  It's
logically impossible for both views to be true.

  So why bring this up, anyway?

  Well first I have to make a confession.  I would *like* to believe
that all religions could be true.  I would personally *like* to believe
that all paths lead to God.  It feels good.  It's a kinder view of
the world.  It puts everyone on equal footing.

  But it just doesn't make sense.

  Truth is, by nature, exclusive.  There are always more wrong
ways to do just about anything than right ways.  There are always
more wrong answers to any given question than right ones.

  True?

  And you know what?  This really raises the stakes.  It puts a
real sense of urgency in our search for truth, because it shows
that if we're not careful, we can fall for a half-truth.

  On the other hand, if you diligently search, seek
out the facts, and your spiritual journey brings you to
a place where the pieces fit in place - if everything makes
logical sense and it feels right in your heart - then you
should not hesitate to share your joy with others.

  OK... now let's stop right now and make something very clear:

  If we possess the truth, it doesn't give us the right to
be unkind to those who disagree.  It didn't give Bin Laden the
right to declare Jihad, hijack airplanes and fly them into the
World Trade Center.  It didn't give so-called 'Christians' the
right to kill people in the Crusades.  It doesn't give us the
right to be disrespectful or violent.

  What it does give us is the right - and the confidence -
to go out into the marketplace of ideas and *see* if our Truth
stands up to hard scrutiny.

  C.S. Lewis was talking about this very thing when he said,
'You don't need to defend a Lion.  You just need to let him
out of his cage.'

  If you really do have the truth, then you have nothing to fear.
You don't need to burn books or censor speech.  Truth is its
own best defense.

  In our modern, sophisticated culture, spirituality gets
locked up in a cage.  It's a taboo subject.  Discussions about
religion are not considered 'polite conversation.'  So nobody
talks about it.

  The result?  People don't talk to each other.  They live in
fear and isolation.

  Some folks harbor ideas and notions that make absolutely no
sense, but because those ideas are never brought out into the
light of day, they're never questioned.

  Others have great wisdom, but they're afraid to share it with
others!

  How sad.

  In your search for the truth, then, know that you're not just
looking for something that sounds good.  As with any other kind
of truth, it may *not* feel good all the time.  Know that you're
looking for something definite, something that will by nature
make some pretty bold claims.

  Also, please understand that if someone tells you they
possess the truth, they're not being arrogant.  Fact is, they're
either sadly deceived or else they're right.  You can't put
someone down for being deceived, and you can't fault someone
for being right!

  The real challenge is to discern the difference.

  Tomorrow I'm going to cover Lie #6:

'The Bible is out of date, inaccurate and over-rated.  People
in the 21st century are way too smart for that.'

  Thanks for sticking with me.

  Respectfully Submitted,

  Perry Marshall

--
Cheers,
John

The Fourth lie: 7 Great Lies of Organized Religion - Part 4


The Seven Great Lies of Organized Religion

~~~

Lie #4

'Women are spiritually inferior and must bow to the
authority of men.'

~~~

John,

 In the religious bureaucracy of the ancient world, women
were basically property.  If she burned his toast, he could
divorce her and send her away destitute.  If she saw a crime
in progress and reported it to the police, her testimony in
court would be thrown out--simply because she was female.
Women weren't considered smart enough to recount what really
happened.

 Isn't that special?

 Get this.  Jesus gets crucified.  His body is taken down and
put in a guarded tomb.

  Three days later, some of his female friends come to the tomb,
the door is wide open, and nobody's inside.  They're shocked.  But
they're even more shocked when Jesus shows up.  He talks to them.
These women are the first people to see this astonishing event and
report it.  The men don't believe it until they see for themselves.

  Well here's the kicker:  Had somebody invented this resurrection
story out of thin air, they would *never* have said that women found
the empty tomb--because women in that culture were considered
inferior and unreliable anyway.

  So what this demonstrates is:

1) It's highly unlikely this story is made up, because no person who
invents such a hoax would ever put women in this role.  The fact
that women are the first witnesses to this event strongly suggests
that Jesus DID actually rise from the dead.  A conclusion that
has staggering implications.

2) This also shows that Christianity considers women to be equal
to men.  Jesus had many women in his inner circle, and there were
female leaders and prophetesses in the early church.

  When religion runs amok, it's always in the interest of one of
three things:

  -Money-
  -Sex-
  -Power-

  Don't you agree?

  And what could be more convenient than for selfish men to shove
women around and say it's the will of God?

  You know, the thing about genuine spirituality is that it
isn't used as a weapon to control people.  Yes, Jesus gave
some pretty stern warnings and he talked about some heavy
subjects.  But how often do you see him bossing his followers
around?

  He didn't do that.  Instead, he took off their shoes and washed
their dirty feet to show them how they should serve each other.  His
life and death are the deep irony of God engaged in the
humble service of mankind.

  Tomorrow I'm going to attack Lie #5.  This one may surprise you:

'There is no single truth.  Everyone needs to explore and find a truth
that works for them.'

  Respectfully Submitted,

  Perry Marshall


--
Cheers,
John

The Third Lie: 7 Great Lies of Organized Religion - Part 3




The Seven Great Lies of Organized Religion

~~~

Lie #3:

'You are not smart enough or good enough to think for
yourself.  We will do your thinking for you.'

~~~

John,

 Do you know what the most important invention in the
history of the world was?

 It wasn't the computer.  And it sure wasn't the light bulb
or the telephone.  (Or even the electronic voting machine.)

 It was the printing press.

 In 1445, Johannes Gutenberg invented the world's first movable
type printing press.  He didn't know it, but he was unleashing a
revolution that continues to this day.  Even the mighty Internet
in the 21st century is just an extension of Gutenberg's original,
revolutionary machine.

 The first book he printed was the Bible.  And that led
to controversy, too, because Luther translated it into
German, the people's language, instead of Latin, the
lingo of the religious elite.

  Suddenly, ordinary folks could not only afford a copy,
but they could read it for themselves instead of getting
some guy's self-serving interpretation.  Soon the cat was
out of the bag--there were copies scattered all over Europe.

  When people started to read it, they were alarmed at what
they saw, because between the covers of this book was an
amazing story that had seemingly little to do with the politics
and shell games they saw in some corners the church.

  Luther wrote a list of 95 accusations against the church --
priests taking bribes and granting 'indulgences', an
institution setting itself up as a 'middleman' between
man and God.

  He argued that God didn't need a middleman, or a
distributor, or an agent, or a bureaucracy.  People
could go direct to the source.

  This little 'schism' in Worms Germany unleashed a
firestorm of protest and permanently changed the way people
approached education.  No longer was a big, faceless institution
responsible for your spiritual progress -- YOU were.  Now that
you had the knowledge in your hands, you were accountable
before God to do something about it.

  I'm not trying to attack the Catholic church, by the
way.  The problem is not institutions per se; it's just
that it's always easier for us to mindlessly follow someone
else than to listen to God and use the minds He gave us.

  It's no coincidence that the scientific enlightenment and
industrial revolution began in earnest within 50 years of this.
Not that it wasn't already underway (it had already gathered
considerable momentum) but now that ordinary folks had access
to knowledge and the freedom to pursue it, the possiblities
were limitless.

 The printing press took the handcuffs off of knowledge and
spirituality, and the world has never been the same.  Equal
access to knowledge empowered people everywhere, and it
was only natural that the Rennaisance, and in time, democracy
too would follow.

  What's troubling now is that most people still don't do anything
with the knowledge that's available to them.  Why would you accept
a 'canned' answer or empty platitude when you can open the book
and read about it for yourself?

 People have debates about Jesus, but most have never read the
real story--they just believe what they're told.  How sad.

  If you want a 'Just the facts ma'am' version of what really
happened, grab a Bible (please -- a modern English version that's
easy to read, not something from the 1600's) and read the book of
Luke.  A truly fascinating story will unfold.

  I dare you to read for one hour and then stop!

  And you know what?  Nobody will need to tell you what it means.
You'll be quite able to figure it out for yourself.

--
Cheers,
John
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