"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Friday, February 4, 2011

Three Things

Yesterday I was catching up on posts from Staring at the View and one of them was "What I Believe" where the blog owner answered this question often posed to him by others.  (If you are interested in this recently-turned Lutheran's reply, I recommend his post.)  In the comments I read an agnostic's summary of what he believed. Actually it was a quote by Marcus Aurelius that I decided to share on Facebook.    That lead to a rather interesting thread.  What do you think of this quote?  Does it go along with your theological position pretty well?  Or not?

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by.

If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them.

If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."

Later in the day I was reading a short article on the story of the tax collector and Pharisee and the author used this partial quote from C.S. Lewis'  Mere Christianity.

"The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins.  All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing...the pleasures of power, of hatred. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute."

Here is the short parable in case you are interested. I even love the introductory statement!

 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
   13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
   14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 

Lastly, one question from my latest book. The author provided this in the discussion section.

In what ways does the Old Testament appear misogynistic (woman hating)?  Does Israel's patriarchal society prove this point? Why or why not?

Thanks to everyone who has taken time to answer some or all of the questions thus far or involved in the discussion by adding your thoughts!  I have greatly enjoyed reading what you had to say!

Have a great weekend!


Amber said...

I actually like that quote. It sort of reminds me of Pascal's Wager, but not quite. Anyway.

It makes a certain sort of sense: there is no way to prove, beyond all question or doubt that God exists. Religion cannot offer that level of certainty. Quite often people like to think that it does, but it doesn't. There is always an element of faith, which means that there is something you cannot prove by evidence. In the absence of both the faith in and the absolute knowledge of a divine being, just or unjust, or an after life, what would be the most important thing in life? To make oneself immortal by being remembered.

Susanne said...

Yes, I liked it too! I thought it was really pretty even if I disagree with it theologically. Still I can appreciate the rationale which appeals to me.

Enjoyed your comment!

sanil said...

I do think the OT looks misogynistic in some places. On the one hand, some of the texts give women some marginal power (like property ownership after a father's death, or Deborah being a judge). But I would say the stories of women being sacrificed (Jephthah's nameless daughter), sold (Sarah to Pharaoh), sent off to die (Hagar), raped (Dinah), raped to death and cut into pieces (Judges 19), etc overshadow those a bit. Regardless of whether they're meant to have actually happened or are allegorical, it's pretty messed up.

However, all cultures have their not-shining moments. Things have gotten better and continue to get better. What's important isn't the bad that's happened, but how people deal move on from the horrible things in their past. I don't think I've heard even from the most extreme in either Judaism or Christianity that the events in those passages should be held up and repeated. It's a record that shows Israel was imperfect, just like everybody else.

sanil said...

Oops. Somehow the first part of that comment got deleted. So just adding that I liked the quote and the discussion it triggered on Facebook. :) Thanks for sharing!

Suroor said...

I really like the quote!

Susanne said...

Sanil, did I ever tell you that I liked your comments? :) Loved what you shared and I really love that you don't just say all the negatives and leave it at that. You kindly pointed out that we don't say we are supposed to do such things as offering up our children and so forth. Some of the OT stuff is downright creepy!

Thanks much!

Suroor, thought so!

Suroor said...

I really enjoy reading Staring at the View and it offers me food for thought but I wasn't satisfied with this particular post - I mean if you have to say "I don't know, but I believe ... " then you are believing without knowing *why.* So why condemn Muslims? Why say that Muslims should "consider the possibility that Muhammad was not a Prophet of God and the Quran not a book from God"? If they are doing something without understanding it so are you. I wouldn't condemn the beliefs of others if I didn't know why I believe what I believe!

Other than that, he makes me think on a lot subjects.

Susanne said...

You should have told him that! Maybe he would then find out why he believes. :)

I actually like the follow-up question someone asked him and I was hoping he would reply, but so far he has not. I could reply to her according to MY view (it's a question you've asked me), but she asked him, so I refrained.

Suroor said...

I would but I don't like the tone or the logic of some of the commenters there :P

Susanne said...

Well, form a question and I can ask for you if you want.:)

Suroor said...

Haha! You are fearless :)

He is a sweet man. I liked his story about dolphins (or was it whales?). He believes in God and loves him and that is most important. I wouldn't want to question his beliefs if I don't want him to question the beliefs of others.

Susanne said...

I just skimmed his article again and I think this is the place where he talks about beliefs that he doesn't know, right?

Or were there other parts?

"Why can't God just forgive sins? Why did he require the blood of a human sacrifice? I don't know, but I believe there was a necessary link between the death of Jesus and the pardon of my trespasses."

Becky said...

Sorry for being late to the conversation here (although I didn't miss the one on FB).

I really like this quote, especially because it emphasizes what we all have in common. Lead a good life, pay attention to your values and how you treat others.

Also, I'm going to have to quote my favourite by Paulo Coelho (again again, I'll drive y'all crazy): "In other to believe in your own choice, you don't need to prove other people's choices wrong".

Susanne said...

Broken record, broken record! ;-P

Thanks for your comment as always!

Wafa' said...

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by.

If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them.

If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."

Just love that :)