Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

Watch it and that mark may end up on your forehead

The Pew Forum has done it again with their latest in a series of polls that show the dumbification of America.

Just when we think this country is full of Kumbaya singers, universal proselytizers and everyone reading the same page on religion, we discover that people of faith, in essence… can’t friggin’ read!

Or if they can, their rote memory skills need some serious prayer, as seen in USA Today by the great Cathy Lynn Grossman.

The new U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that although 86% of us believe in God or a higher power, we don’t know our own traditions or those of neighbors across the street or across the globe.

There lies the rub. The words “God” and “Christian” are about as homogenized as anything on the dairy shelves. Any schmo with a lick of scruples and an inkling of interest in you know, not burning in a liquid furnace of lava, hell flames and demonic drones, says they believe in God.

And that, by proxy, makes them a “Christian.” Unfortunately, it means nothing to more than half of the people with that card in their pockets. More about that in a moment. First, the key findings from the 3,412 dolts surveyed who know nothing about religion:

Doctrines don’t grab us. Only 55% of Catholic respondents knew the core teaching that the bread and wine in the Mass become the body and blood of Christ, and are not merely symbols. Just 19% of Protestants knew the basic tenet that salvation is through faith alone, not actions as well.

Basic Bible eludes us. Just 55% of all respondents knew the Golden Rule isn’t one of the 10 Commandments; 45% could name all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

World religions are a struggle. Fewer than half (47%) knew that the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist; 27% knew most people in Indonesia are Muslims.

This is a problem. You have to study for a drivers license, to pass a spelling test and to learn how to operate any one of your kids’ toys, but anyone can be a “Christian.”

There’s no connection to Christ, no relationship with the Lord and absolutely no personal zeal to tell people about why being a Christian is so important to them. And why? Because they aren’t one.

What would happen if God has a computerAnd that’s why them taking this test is stupid. Where’s the litmus test? Oh yeah, in the answers of this survey.

Moreover, it’s the who in the survey that’s more telling. It seems if you have an angst against this “God” guy everyone loves to follow like some hack on Twitter, you research the most about him to debate his sheep. Example A: Atheists and agnostics did the best on the survey with 20.9 correct.

There’s more than power in the blood of the Lamb, there’s a lot of ignorance too. Example B: Black Protestants only got 13.4 correct, second to last to… wait for it… Hispanic Catholics at 11.6 percent.

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.'” (Matthew 4:4 NLT)

Sure, it’s nice to go to church and see your friends then go to Luby’s. But there is a world dying out there while some of us are busy taking surveys. What happened to the passion of learning God’s Word? How far have we departed from the Bible and into the country club known as “Church Lite”?

I suppose as long as there are surveys, we will continue to find out. Unfortunately for those of us who mean it when we follow… um, what’s his name again?


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This is a story with the happiest ending of all.

Once upon a time there was a man named Jesus who came to this jacked-up place to sacrifice his life for mankind.

You see, his Daddy determined a perfect sacrifice is what was necessary to redeem the lives of the rest of us. So, there he was. Resting on the cross, burdened with the sins of every nasty person on earth, asked by the masses, “How much do you love us?”

And he opened his arms t…h…i…s much… and he died.

It was a gift to all of us, but like with any coupon, you have to redeem it in order to reap the rewards. You know, that implies a choice. As in, a choice all of us have to make in order to experience what happened those more than 2,000 years ago.

Fast forward to today and we meet a boy named Barack who completely lied through his grape Kool-Aid stained lips and pearly whites to every child of God he met in order to win their vote. He told them he would go to church for a vote. And that he would talk about Jesus for a vote.

But… not so much. Just ask him, like this chic did.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Seriously. Anyone catch that dazzling epiphany?

I am a Christian by choice,” Obama began, standing beneath a blazing sun, when asked why he is a Christian. “I came to my Christian faith later in life, and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead,” Obama said.

“Being my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. Treating others as they would treat me. And I think also understanding that, you know, that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility that we all have to have as human beings.”

Man, that’s deep. He may be calling on Jesus, but I call B.S.

Doesn’t he understand this didn’t fool a soul?! He is a Christian… wait for it… by choice. Oh. Oh. Wait. One other thing. He is also subject to… wait for it… by the forces of gravity.

Yes, sports fans. As much as Barack Obama is compared to the Messiah, he really can’t walk on water, doesn’t encounter stigmata or get offended when folk cuss using his name. Yet when confronted by a mild-mannered victims of his romancing swoons of deceit regarding his faith, he issues two half-baked verses and connected them to some universal thought that would make Carlton Pearson shout for joy.

“This is a country that is still predominantly Christian, but we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists” and others, he said, adding that “their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own, and that is part of what makes this country what it is.

Country? Yes. Kingdom of God… you know, heaven? No way.

Someone needs to get a memo to our betrothed president and let him know that Jesus Christ is not a politician. In fact, he could care less. So while Barack Obama is wailing on and on about how folk in this country are singing Kumbaya, he still isn’t any closer to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ unless he stops farting around and gets real.

Choose that… then you’re a Christian. And not one second sooner. That’s no story, Mr. President. That’s real life. Brother.

Well, be warned about wasting $10 to see this film.

Man, my fraternal juices were flowing when I saw this movie and knew this post was coming (shout out to my Ice Cold brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.).

Why? Because I get to harangue a Q-Dog. No, no, not the “Atomic Dog” brothers but rather Quetzalcoatl – the triune man, dog and lizard of the Mayans who is supposed to return to earth and create his “Age of Transition” on December 21, 2012. Yawn.

Apparently, director Roland Emmerich has decided this calendar snafu was yet another excuse to destroy the world.

You see, I’ve seen most of his post-apocalyptic flicks and whether his tool for global carnage has been a radioactive iguana (“Godzilla“), global warming gone terribly awry (“The Day After Tomorrow“) or hacked-off aliens (“Independence Day“), the scripts usually blow about as bad as a drunk in a breathalyzer test.

This – fancy effects and a cacophony of explosions aside – was no exception at all.

You would think with the star power this movie had, a decent script could have been in order. Danny Glover was the president, John Cusack was our hero and Woody Harrelson even makes a cameo as a radio host with the Mayan calendar on his studio wall.

But, not so much as seen by the one obvious sci-fi nerd who left the movie early in a flurry of disgust and cussing in Klingon, or something like that.

I had to stick it out. This 2.5 hour movie feels more like 6.5, and a brother had to pee. Can I say that?

So why the commitment? I heard the kerfuffle about Emmerich deciding to destroy every Christian faith-based artifact in the world and wanted to see that for myself. St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro were the first to go. Even a gaggle of priests gets smothered.

Poor St. Peter’s Basilica. First, the anti-matter bomb in “Angels & Demons” and now this disaster. Why do producers find Christians such an easy tag for their angst? And then it dawned on me… there’s nothing of Judaic, Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim relic being obliterated here. Why not?

(Spoiler alert) Even that cute Buddhist monk survives the flood over the Himalayas, but a priest can’t get any love!

Then I discovered why the protection over other relics, specifically Muslim. Fear.

“Well, I wanted to do that, I have to admit,” Emmerich says. “But my co-writer Harald said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie. And he was right. … We have to all … in the Western world … think about this. You can actually … let … Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with [an] Arab symbol, you would have … a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is. So it’s just something which I kind of didn’t [think] was [an] important element, anyway, in the film, so I kind of left it out.”

What the fatwa? Seriously? Muslims scare him so the Kaaba was off-limits but Christians are pansies so the Vatican was so getting crushed.

This is a man who makes no apologies for not being the biggest fan of organized religion; yet somehow Imams freak this dude out. Nice.

You would think an espoused atheist would show equality and express his vitriol for every religion, but no, once again it’s Christianity that gets the pass on etiquette. It’s okay to thrash what we love because there’s no fear of revolt. We just don’t do that.

Sure, it could be the whole “love thy neighbor” message, but I think it smacks more of apathy. It takes a lot to get Christians to unite under one banner. Call it abortion, politics or… well, that’s about it.

Do Christians as a whole picket abortion clinics? No, but the world thinks we do. Do Christians as a whole burn Harry Potter books like a scene from “Footloose”? No, but again we are lumped into that simpleton mentality as well. Many people claim to do these things in the name of Christianity, but really, it’s just their personal issues under the guise of their beliefs. And we all get blamed for it. Sigh.

I’m not calling for Christian extremism (there’s already enough of that). I’m just saying we need to learn what is worth begin disgusted about, and let God sort out the rest. So, allow this movie to be Hollywood existentialism and some sort of catharsis for Emmerich who needs to slay his own inner demons about Jesus.

As for me and my house, I would have rather put that $10 in the offering bucket where it will do some good than in this ballyhooed movie. I suggest you do the same. Bor. Ing.

 

I once heard a sage pastor, who was a bit of a chauvinistic dinosaur, say when “edifying” the ladies on dating:

I have a prophecy – if the barn needs paint, break out a coat and get busy!

While the gasping and swooning was inaudible, many men were sitting in their seats and biting their lip until blood came out their nose. Ah, church. Ain’t it grand?

Look Ma, no swine. (Courtesy: AFP)

Look Ma, no swine. (Courtesy: AFP)

I was reminded of that rotund pearl of wisdom when I read this atypical story on Yahoo! about “religiously correct” make-up and a possible spiritual conversion.

For Muslim women who feel they are violating Islam’s teachings by using skin creams with alcohol and pig residues, Layla Mandi [pictured] has the answer: religiously-correct “halal” cosmetics. The Canadian makeup artist who converted to Islam is marketing cosmetics called OnePure, which she says have the luxury feel of international brands minus the elements banned under Islamic law.

For those not in the know, Kosher is to Jewish what Halal is to Muslim. It’s more than preference; it’s dogmatic law.

That said, why for, Mandi? (By the way, is it just me, or does this Muslim adherent look like some hottie outside of any beach town in the states?)

“Muslims don’t want to go around and pray five times a day having pork residues on their body,” said Mandi, in her early thirties and swathed in a slim black abaya, or cloak, with wisps of blond hair sticking from under her head scarf. “I came to the Middle East to learn more about people’s needs. Most were pretty shocked when I told them there were pork products in their skin care items so they were very interested.”

I realize it seems like she is saying there are Muslim women bathing in pickled pig’s feet, but to them, it’s the same as some Quranic women who just feel the need to douse a little foundation underneath her Hijab.

Suffice to say, this is big news in the world of marketing to Muslims, and considering the economy, good times for make-up manufacturers and the aforementioned direct sales syndicates. Again, what took so long?

I have been cooking with Morton’s Kosher salt for years, but I don’t think My Fair Lady smells bacon when she dabs on a little lipstick.

Moreover, how long is it going to take all those home-schooling mamas at church peddling Mary Kay and Avon on the side to start adding “We’re little piggy free” to all their make-up baskets?

And then there is the issue of yet another ridiculous, and soon-to-be-waaaaaay-overused PC term. Anyone catch that diabolical moniker? “Religiously Correct.” Oh. God. Help. Me. Please.

You know, let’s not stop there. In the spirit of dare not offending any religious follower, adherent or believer, how about:

  • Bovine-absent hamburgers for your favorite Buddhist. Sure, they call those vegans but let’s not worry about that right now.
  • Tantric-lite sleeping aides for that slumbering Hindu in your family. Let him or her get that Yoga on and feel refreshed once euphoria is reached. Namaste.
  • Something all of us could enjoy for a week or two, the acclaimed demon-free days. That’s right, just live without the temptation to visit ne’er-do-well Web site or charge the emergency credit card into a third-world credit rating.
  • For your friendly neighborhood Rastafarian, try the latest in marijuana-free brownies. Because when you need to cram for the next exam, why just have hippie lettuce rolled up in a fatty when you can tap into your inner Betty Crocker and get your baking on?

And for those of you needing something a little closer to the vest, wait… there’s more:

  • Condemnationally correct Baptists
  • Alcohol-correct Catholics
  • Musically included Church-of-Christs (real word?)
  • Follically and hairstyling correct Pentecostals
  • Financially correct Evangelicals (with a special emphasis on megachurch pastors and televangelists)
  • And for a bonus, just in time for Christmas, Universalism… with limits! Go figure?!
Yeah. It's been awhile since they walked with God.

Yeah. It's been awhile since they walked with God.

Recently, WOW News’ The Pew Forum released a gripping study entitled “Faith in Flux” that is certain to make you scratch your head and wonder just what people have been doing while “walking with God.”

And don’t worry, this is equal-opportunity sequestering. So, first, I would like to get all those who consider themselves “Catholic” to huddle up close to the warmth of your monitor as you see what has been uncovered of your ilk.

Of those surveyed raised Catholic and are now unaffiliated, why?

  • 71% just “gradually drifted away”. Hrm. If only all that Latin and liturgy was more entertaining. It’s not a movie people, it’s God!
  • 56% were not happy with the church’s abortion teachings. Liberalism in the church? Anyone? So the news and Hollywood has more sway than God. Nice.
  • 43% said their spiritual needs were not met. Yeah, that happens when the youth group goes suddenly vacant. (Giggle).
  • 27% advised it was the clergy sexual abuse scandal. And who could blame them?!

What about those Catholics who decided to flip and go Protestant?

  • 70% found a “religion” they liked more. Well, unless they went to Buddha or Mohammed, they didn’t find a religion people. It was more like a denomination shift change during study hall. Oy! Oh, there’s another one!
  • 32% were dissatisfied with the atmosphere at worship services. Um, were you expecting the Pope to break out with the “Top 10 Feng Shui tips to attract more parishioners”?
  • 21% were unhappy with the rule that priests couldn’t marry. Yeah, 100 percent of those results were from priests.

Protestants. Yeah, I’m talking to you, heathens. So, why are you now unaffiliated with the Church?

  • 71% just drifted away from religion. Anyone seeing a trend here? More on that in a minute.
  • 50% stopped believing in the religion’s teachings. And I’ll bet 100% of my rent that it was because of WHO was doing the teaching.
  • 25% were dissatisfied with the clergy over the congregation. So, I guess the other half were asked the question within hearing range of their former pastor. Just a thought.

What about the reasons you joined another faith within the Protestant Reformation… er, another church?

  • 85% enjoy the newer services and style of worship. Anyone still going to argue with Joel, Bill, Ed and the boys? Bueller?
  • 50% were called by God. Hrm. Wonder what happened with the other 50% who didn’t answer the phone?
  • 36% were attracted by a particular minister. See above at 85%.

Now time for the rant:

1. What is with all this “just drifting away”? Do you mean to tell me Jesus went to the cross for people to wake up one day and tell the Lord, “We can just be friends”?! Um, not so much. Regardless if I am one of those once-saved, always-saved folk (and I am… NOTE: John 3:15-18, John 10:28-30 and Jude 24), but I question whether those drifters were ever serious about their relationship with God in the first place.

Scrub your heavenly flubs. Amen.

Scrub your heavenly flubs. Amen.

If you personally discover what it means to be saved, to be redeemed, why on earth would you try something else? Are chill bumps that addictive? Does God really bless you in the club? Wherever they find themselves, the most miserable person in the world is a truly backslidden Christian.

Drifted. That’s a load. The only thing these wayfaring, lukewarm toadstools drifted from is the regimen of being a Christian. Yes, Jesus welcomes you just as you are. But it’s his house now.

Brother… Sister… you gonna’ take a bath to wash off that muck and mire before you step foot in his crib. (NOTE: The slick advertisement in the picture). Think you won’t? Well, um, there’s another place that is a bit more balmy where you can get your ashy feet anywhere you want. But don’t say you weren’t warned.

2. Who are we walking with anyway? Last I checked the noted poem in small churches across the country, “Footprints in the Sand,” the only time we aren’t walking with God is when he is carrying us! Jesus isn’t that interested in people who can’t commit. With all that “spew you out of my mouth” stuff, I figure massaging his tonsils is not where I would be crazy about hanging. Perhaps these knobby-kneed folk didn’t get that far in their personal journey through the Bible?

Whatever the case, if you want to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, look up… not down. Keep your eyes on the ground and you could bump into something that will slam your face hard. You know, like an Episcopal church that says it embraces everyone, only to discover that embrace is a skosh more intense among same-sex groups. Now, now, Jesus loves all people. And there is nothing wrong with a person who says he or she is swinging that way… except for the way you are heading if no one has the temerity to tell you what is really up.

Aside from the analogy, if you are walking with the King of Kings, ask a brother for his sandals. If your feet are hurting that bad and you don’t feel like walking any more, maybe you just need to walk a mile in his shoes.

3. There’s something afoot among Protestants. Now, this is purely subjective because I am one, but what up with those statistics. It’s almost trendy to shop for churches like clothes. “Well, that preacher just doesn’t fit what I need.” Or, “The youth group wasn’t as exciting as an arcade. Let’s go to Dave N’ Busters.” How about, “How come everyone is in these fancy suits? I like my jeans. I’m out.” And then there’s, “Gurl. Look at that heifer in the choir. You know they just keep her in the middle to make the choir look bigger.”

Where are the people? The A/C was too cold.

Where are the people? The A/C was too cold.

Whatever the case, people are transient with their theology more and more every day. Whatever happened with all the biblical analogies comparing us as trees?! If you are going to make a difference in any church, you must set your roots deep. Because lets be honest, churches would be perfect if it weren’t for all those people who walk in there and set down their blessed assurance wherever they feel.

Stay awhile. You will get offended. And if you do… so what? Who are you there to worship? God Almighty or some huckster in a fancy suit?

Listen, here’s where all this walking leads us:

God doesn’t tempt us to sin (James 1:13). He doesn’t even lead us into temptation (Matthew 6:9-13). He leads us through love and grace. If you end up somewhere you shouldn’t be, guess whose brillance you have to blame?

Your apathy brought you there. Your discontent kept you there. Your billigerence prevents you from being welcomed anywhere else.

All that is outside of God. Remember him? Your walking buddy?

Deuteronomy 8:6 tells us to “observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and revering him.”

People can observe. You know, if it’s from the cheap seats. They can even walk, providing they are permitting potty breaks every 10 minutes. But the “reverence” thing. Tsk. Folk have issues with that. Why? We let them.

So I’ll end not with a verse but with a maxim:

Walking with a friend in the dark is far better than walking alone in the light. ~Helen Keller

I… well… you know, I got nothing. That says it all. Happy walking, Church.