Saturday, February 23, 2013

Meeting with Jehovah's Witnesses: Second visit

They came back!

After two weeks wondering if I had simply scared them off, I received a knock on the door this morning.  One of the JWs was back, but with her husband this time.  She was sick, which explains the absence of 2 weeks.

We talked about some of my beliefs, and some of their beliefs.  We touched on the bible a bit, but not too much.  They recognized that without first having a trust that the bible is the word of God it wouldn't do much good to just tell me what it says.  We talked a little about the problem of evil, about epistemology and skepticism, about science and philosophy.  The Watchtower they gave me last time had an article on Plato, which I had to bring up.  I think we will get into evolution at some point.  The JWs are old earth creationists, but one of the things we talked about is how the bible is scientifically accurate.  Something there doesn't quite compute, so we'll see what develops.

I told them that I didn't want to waste their time, but I would be happy to keep meeting with them as long as they wanted to do it.  I hope that they enjoy our interactions as much as I am so far.  It doesn't appear they have any illusions about converting me, but we'll see how that goes.  They gave me a book called "The Bible - God's Word Or Man's?"  I don't think I will learn much from it (I studied that stuff for years), but I will read it throughout the week.  It will give us some things to discuss when we talk next time.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

When "Anti-Christian" means "We aren't getting our way"

My writing here shouldn't be construed as saying that all Christians are anything like the ones who composed this list, It is simply a critique of the ridiculous presented below. 

I came across this today:

Top Ten Anti-Christian Acts of 2012

There is so much wrong with it I am having trouble finding a place to start.

Lets do a quote:  “The trends that our top ten list reveals are very disturbing. No one can deny the all-out attempt to restrict our Christian liberties and censor our Christian values,” said Dr. Gary Cass from “There does not appear to be any sign that this struggle is waning, rather it seems to be intensifying. We will be here to fight for our Christian faith and values.”

I agree with him 100% that the trends on that list are disturbing.  If this list is in any way representative of "Christian faith and values" then the church is really in trouble.  

Firstly, notice that all but two of the items on the list have to do with the anti-gay positions taken by some Christians, and not Christianity itself (We'll get to those later).  Of the two remaining, NEITHER OF THEM HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH CHRISTIANITY!!!!

One of them is about an attack on some Obama-Care protesters.  I really like the built in assumptions in that one.  Obama-Care is part of the liberal agenda, the liberal agenda is anti-god.  Therefore the protesters must have been good Christians and the attacker was committing an anti-Christian act.  See here for more information, this article (which is from a very conservative / christian site, by the way) says nothing about the abortion mandate OR that the group was Christian (though I wouldn't doubt they were).  Though physical attacks are always a bad scene, there is just no evidence this one was religiously motivated.

The other one involves a teacher inviting a "Terrorist sympathizer" to give "pro- Islamic" lectures at a school.  Even if every word of this line item was true (which I seriously doubt) it STILL wouldn't constitute an anti-Christian act.  At worst it would be a terrible idea, and a pro- Islam act.  A pro- Islam act is NOT the same as an anti- Christian act, as if that really needed to be spelled out.  To be upset that children are being exposed to a religion other than yours is the height of hypocrisy, especially given some of the other items on this list.  If religious freedom means being able to share your views freely, this involves ALL religions, not just the dominant one.

As to the other eight, it just saddens me to think that restricting the human rights of same sex couples is so important as to almost entirely populate a list of "Anti-Christian" acts.  It reinforces the view that Fundamentalism is really about bigotry.  Many of these items don't have anything to do with Christianity either (see items 10, 9, 5, and 2) and it isn't even worth it to go through line by line.  Read the article if you want.

So the number one item is (drumroll please):
" 1. President Obama endorsed homosexual "marriage,” invoking Christ to try to justify his anti-Christ position. In his announcement, Obama said “...when [I] think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

A Christian, who also happens to be the leader of our country, speaking publicly about Jesus to millions of people.


Don't even get me started on the biblical assumptions underlying that statement.  Jesus never said a single word about homosexuality, don't ya know.

Officially, we live in a secular nation, not a Christian one.  Christians are the dominant religion here though, and exist in a position of privilege.  I don't see that position slipping any time soon, and yet still you find articles like this one, lamenting that the church is losing its power to oppress the disenfranchised.  How backwards is that from what Jesus came to do?  You have a religion that started with a man who came to love the oppressed and unlovables, and continued through terrible persecutions.  In some countries you can still be put in jail for your religious beliefs.  In Texas, salvation through Christ is being taught... in public schools!  Yet all of that is forgotten because some people think that all people have inherent dignity, regardless of who they love.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Meeting with Jehovah's Witnesses: Motives and Aspirations

On Saturday, two Jehovah's witnesses came knocking at our door.  They were wanting to talk to me about Satan.  It has probably been about four years since the last time we have had any JWs over, and I am always interested in talking about important subjects.

I invited them in, but they didn't stay too long.  They asked me what I though about Satan, and I told them I thought it was a construct made up and often employed for the purpose of control.  They shared a verse with me about what Jesus said about Satan in the book of John and gave me some pamphlets.  When they asked if they could come back next week, I said "Sure, same time is fine." After they left, Gabe asked me why they were here.  I explained that they believe something different than I do, but they care about us and want us to believe the same things they do.  "What things?" he asked.  "Well, they believe there is a magic person who tries to make people do bad things."  I explained that we all are responsible for our own actions and that there is no magic person who makes us do thing against our will.

Most people wouldn't even think about inviting them back for more study, so it is probably worth it to explain why I would do such a thing, and why I would want to write about it.  First, I find it hard to pass up a chance to talk to people about what's important.  Secondly, I am interested in what they have to say.  I don't expect either party will change their mind, but I can at least listen, share my difficulties, and see what they have to say.  I want to make it clear though that I am not trying to mock or take advantage of them.  I will tell them up front they are unlikely to change my mind, but that I am open to hearing what they have to say.  I care deeply about truth, as I hope they do, and conversing with people who disagree with you is often a good way to move towards the truth.

As far as for writing, the main reason is that I think people might be interested.  The JWs are pretty ubiquitous, and others might want to know what a study is like.  I want to both chronicle my experience and to show the arguments that they use.   Hopefully it will be both entertaining and informative.

Expect a post every week or so, they are coming on Saturday mornings.  I suspect they will want to bring everything back to a bible study, and that the first conversation might involve the alleged Hebrew Bible prophecies of Jesus.  This is just a guess though, judging from what info I have been able to glean from their website.

I guess we'll see.  It's going to be an adventure.