Thursday, 14 March 2013

Discussing religion: Context is everything.

I've become quite tired of discussing religion, because most conversations these days use modern teachings (or 'talking points') that themselves often contradict the very scripture they are supposedly based upon. If one wants to discuss religion effectively, he or she must understand the origin and purpose of that religion, or forever be stuck in an endless tail-chasing argument of lawyerly manipulation around unprovable claims. Without fact, the only conclusive end to any religious discussion can only be a declaration of the religion 'does' for an arguer: one might as well discuss the positive and negative effects of different drugs, or promote the positive effects of 'your' drug (with someone else who has never taken it - mission impossible!).

Not only is modern christianity corrupt beyond recognition, it purposely avoids discussing its origins, because comparing modern teachings to these (especially through scripture) would be a danger to the very religion itself. Rather than go into a pages-long rant, I've just made a list of facts, in chronological order, that never seem to make it into most Christian religious discussions. Here goes...

1) Jesus was a Jew, and died a Jew without any thought to creating a new religion. He was (one of many) claiming to be the messiah prophesized in the Jewish teachings of the time (the Torah).
2) Judaism was still evolving in Jesus' time. The Talmud (Jewish laws) had not yet been written, and it was still uncertain whether Judaism would be exclusive to the 'sons of Israel', or open to the Gentiles as well.
3) Judaism was the (apparently) only monotheist religion at the time: the rest of the world was into their own localised multi-god paganism. The choice of 'one god to group them all' must have been enticing to many then.
4) The 'lingua franca' of the time was Greek, and even Jewish teachings of the time were translated into this language for the benefit of those not familiar with Hebrew.
5) The apostle Paul (who never knew Jesus, for those who don't know already) was of the greek-speaking faction that a) believed that Jesus was indeed the messiah and b) wanted to open Judaism to everyone. In spite of his difference of opinion, Paul was still a Jew. yet it was Paul who began the divergence between the teachings of Judaism and what was to become Christianity, in creating his own brand of Judaism which he intended to spread to the entire world. It is for this that most of the new testament is concocted from Paul's 'epistles' (or his correspondence with the 'new' religious communities he created). Christianity's definite origin can probably be placed at Paul's orders to his following to reject the teachings of anyone who did not accept Christ as the true messiah.

That is where the corruption began.

6) The only thing really known about Jesus in the time of Paul was his trip between his hometown and Jerusalem to his crucifixion. Everything in the bible outside of that (birth, miracles, etc) was written well after his lifetime.
7) Hell, marriage, and celibacy were inventions that appeared well after the origins of Christianism. All of these were creations to serve political or propagandist ends: Celibacy in particular, a rule inexistent before until the 13th century, was imposed on Christian teachers only to remove the 'threat' certain communities felt by evangelist missionaries (most of them single males) moving into their midst. Confession and marriage were invented as a means to better integrate and control communities. The saints, statues and the richness of many supposedly Christian institutions exist in direct defiance of scripture.

I could go on and on about wanton Christian destruction of 'other religion' temples (and replacement with their own), the effacement of pagan holidays (solstice, harvest, etc) by Christian ones (Christmas, All-Saints day), the Crusades and the inquisition, but the only real fact to retain in all this is that none of these later additions to Christianity appear in scripture. Protestantism can be credited with trying to remedy the situation through the 16th-century reformation, but only a few of its branches remain true to the original Christian form.

In short, the Christianity we see today is long, many-layered conclusion to a highly profitable institution designed to draw the fearful illiterate and ignorant, and such institutions should have no power, or even place, in our supposedly literate and well-informed society.