First off friend, please excuse my lack of tolerance and plain old grumpiness. I'm old and get that way at the end of my day and should have gone to bed instead of responding to your post when it came in. Looking at the fools who claim to be progressive but excuse their biases as if because they don't like a group etc.it is okay to be intolerant, I realize that they answer with the same prejudiced dismissal that biased people on the right use for those who are on the left. I consider myself smart enough to see the person rather than the group or othrer classification. I can only say that I was upset after hearing of the deaths of the three fire fighters and should have responded to you the next morning instead of when I was in such a mood. So if you would permit me, I would like to respond to your post anew.
I have read the bible and have studied religion. I have been a past member of Clergy and Laity Concerned, have studied Peace and Social Justice and non violence under the tutelage of a Benedictine Monk and Priest, have been asked by two different abbots to become part of their monasteries and take orders, marched with heart warming Quakers and delighted by the humor of faith and mindfulness of Tibetan monks and have been criticized for not being as peaceful as I thought I was back in the days by monks who knew better. Those were the days long ago and I've learned much since then. With all due respect, henry, I also believe and have faith... but what you and I believe, what those who scoff don't believe, what those who believe and those who scoff both agree upon or disagree upon and all the rest is all part of the world.
I rediscovered a deeper faith while arguing with fundamentalists who told people that faith in God meant that they had to believe in some political issue. You know the list. It struck me that they were being manipulated by the Pastors of Politics even to the point where they claimed having faith meant believing in war. These pastors of politics knew all the words from the bible which they used as weapons to beat down any who questioned what they were doing. Moreover these pastors of politics took their manipulation of the bible into many other everyday issues too. For example, they'd insist that helping the poor meant giving tax cuts to the rich in the trickle down con game. I call these the Pastors of Profits. Everywhere I looked I saw faith being used to manipulate and browbeat etc. I kept hearing these charlatans quoting the bible and wondered... did it really say what they claimed? Being a christian, I knew that Jesus had taught us many things that seemed to go agaiinst what these Pastors of Politics and Pastors of Profits were saying. I tried to say 'Feed the hungry and clothe the naked' but they could outquote me without even trying. They had memorized all the quotes that they were using.
So I decided to rearm my debate quoting skills and 'encounterd' a red letter bible where the words that Jesus spoke are in red and everything else is regular black print. I was going to give tit for tat and quote for quote! Meanwhile I reread His words and very quickly realized that there were many things that Jesus said that people NEVER hear quoted or discussed much. I had my "I didn't know that He said that!" moment. I tried to understand His words as if I were listening to Him say them to me back in those days. If I heard someone say these things what would they mean. I lost the blindfold on my faith and had eyes to see and ears to hear for myself.
It is from that experience that I found my way to a deeper faith. A faith where science is just facts not some other religion. In fact science (the truth after all - all creation is praising God and science just shows us how much we should praise him for) helped me come to faith. Some people demand a blind faith but I think Jesus wanted us to really have faith - an open eyed faith - not merely a fearful blind obedience based on not understanding and just simply obeying what some other men tell us how we should have faith (by agreeing with them of course).
It is from that red letter teaching that I spoke. I listened to Jesus's words not those who said they know what is the truth. You and many love to quote John of Patmos who wrote down his dream and says it is his dreams but not that he was a witness to Jesus at the time lived. He wrote more than a century after Jesus died and specifically says he was writing about dreams he had. From studying religion it is easy to see that Revelation is Gnostic in part. Why is it that a book from the second century is so important today? Ask those Pastors who glorify the end of days as if they were a good thing. Ask those who say that God is a god of punishment and we need punishing.
I read the red letters where He says to us >>> "God is love. Love God and each other." Where does that urge to punish the world come into play with those words? Where does that castigation of a sinful humanity become total destruction of all the good and decent? You ask me if I want to live in this world and I say yes I do because I see the good not just the bad. It isn't only about sin like some people constantly say but it is only about love. For God so loved the world... think about that? The destruction of the environment is satanic. Serving mammon is not serving God. Mammon (greed) is destroying the environment not God. Fight for God's creation if you serve God. Don't sit back and feel smug that all is lost because then you lose more than realize.. you lose which side you are on by that fatalistic complaceny.
It isn't the end of days (none shall know btw so how is it that so many dare to say that they do know?). If you throw garbage in your back yard and befoul your well then don't expect God to clean it up for you. You did it...you clean it up or suffer the consequences. Don't blame God for the choices you chose willingly. We dump our garbage into the environment and we poison the well so to speak and either we do what is necessary to clean things up or we will have to live with the misery we have created. We did it so we should clean it up. I believe that God is rooting for us and wants us to save His bountiful green Earth for future generations. I believe greed (mammon) is destroying it for the future. It isn't over... it isn't the end of days... it is the end of God's bountiful gift (our balanced environment) and the beginning of a future of famine and drought and misery if we choose to let that happen.
God is love
but he isn't our maid.
Have faith in a loving God
and help Him save all that is good by working through us in the world.
God bless and keep you.