Win a copy of Svelte and Sapper in Action this week in the JavaScript forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
programming forums Java Mobile Certification Databases Caching Books Engineering Micro Controllers OS Languages Paradigms IDEs Build Tools Frameworks Application Servers Open Source This Site Careers Other all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
Marshals:
  • Campbell Ritchie
  • Ron McLeod
  • Paul Clapham
  • Bear Bibeault
  • Junilu Lacar
Sheriffs:
  • Jeanne Boyarsky
  • Tim Cooke
  • Henry Wong
Saloon Keepers:
  • Tim Moores
  • Stephan van Hulst
  • Tim Holloway
  • salvin francis
  • Frits Walraven
Bartenders:
  • Scott Selikoff
  • Piet Souris
  • Carey Brown

The Bible Belt

 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 2937
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just moved to Charlotte, NC. First day in town, and I couldn't help but notice that there is a church on every street corner. So, I thought, what the hell, let my first day in town also be the first time ever I drop by a church, to experience the South in its totality, so to speak.

It happened to be a catholic church, and the first thing that occured to me was that the bench seats were very uncomfortable. At that very moment, the priest said, presumably quoting from the Bible, "For God likes simplicity, and he is the simplest of all". I guess the Bible does contain all the answers. The priest went on, "For there are two categories of people out there, the sheep and the goats, and God protects the sheep and punishes the goat". This reference missed me completely, until I looked the terms in my dictionary. Apparently, the sheep is "A person regarded as timid, weak, or submissive", and the goat is "A lecherous man". So there.

Everything went down hill from there. Some strangers began soliciting for money in a pretty unconcealed manner, and after the collection was over, the priest himself took the basket, examined its contents, and put in nearby. If that was not enough, they started collecting again in 10 minutes. This time I heard the coins thrown in there -- apparently my fellow Southerners around me were short on cash.

I was rather disappointed with the priest -- he was kind of lethargic and didn't enunciate well. I've always admired how certain clergy men can speak in a remarkably clear English (what's the name of that cardinal in New York City?). But this one sounded like white noise.

Overall, I'll give 2.5 stars (out of 5) to the church-going experience.

The Pros: You can observe the shapes of the young female Christians in front of you without the fear of being suspected.

The Cons: You can become Christian.

Finally, I have a suggestion: The hymns performed were of high musical quality, but I found them all full of grief and sorrow. It's as though the congregation was celebrating the state of unhappiness during the service. I found that very un-American and my recommendation is to channel the constitutional right to a pursuit of happiness to the religious domain.
 
Sheriff
Posts: 9099
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
At that very moment, the priest said, presumably quoting from the Bible, "For God likes simplicity, and he is the simplest of all".

I could be wrong, but I think that is not a quote from the Bible.

The priest went on, "For there are two categories of people out there, the sheep and the goats, and God protects the sheep and punishes the goat".

The sheep are Christians and the goats are not.
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 637
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by John Smith:

Overall, I'll give 2.5 stars (out of 5) to the church-going experience.

The Pros: You can observe the shapes of the young female Christians in front of you without the fear of being suspected.

The Cons: You can become Christian.




I like the pros
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1241
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by John Smith:
Everything went down hill from there. Some strangers began soliciting for money in a pretty unconcealed manner, and after the collection was over, the priest himself took the basket, examined its contents, and put in nearby. If that was not enough, they started collecting again in 10 minutes. This time I heard the coins thrown in there -- apparently my fellow Southerners around me were short on cash.

I guess that some churches require donations in order to keep the place running and maintain the church. However, I think Bono had a bit of a point when he said: "Well the God I believe in isn't short of cash, mister". Two sides to the issue I guess.

So, I thought, what the hell, let my first day in town also be the first time ever I drop by a church, to experience the South in its totality, so to speak.

Recently I went to a christening which happened to be a part of a regular service. It was the first proper service I'd been too since I was about 12, so I was interested to see what happened.

It started off quite nicely with some choral music. While I agree that its a bit depressing, it was beautiful. Religions may be controversial, but there's no doubt that they've inspired the most incredible music on the planet!

We then went into the service. Much of it was ok, some nice moral stories (and unlike the story above, the seats were comfortable!), but then we got into slightly more contentious territory. The preachers began to talk about how non-theists were in big trouble and how the theists were generally a nice and privileged bunch. Hmmm, OK, so as the one non-theist in the building this was a little odd! I've got no objection to the nice parables, but someone coming along and saying that I'm doomed to spending eternity in somewhere that sounds a bit like Slough in a heat wave is rather irritating.

Anyway, on to some collecting of cash and then some strange shaking of hands and exchanging of ritualistic comments before moving on to having some wine and a bread (I didn't do this bit though). It was all very weird. I can see how it would be pleasant for the theists - they got a nice morning out to meet up with each other and hear some comforting stories, but to a non-theist... well the orchestrated chanting and bizarre ceremonies seemed very odd indeed. I felt a bit like someone who has walked into the wrong room and accidentally attended a meeting of a secret society with rituals, code words and sayings which don't make much sense if you're not a part of the group.

Still, it was a very interesting morning.

[ November 22, 2005: Message edited by: Dave Lenton ]
[ November 22, 2005: Message edited by: Dave Lenton ]
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 783
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
First I would like to say that I am impressed with the open mindedness of Dave and John to go check out a church.

Being a northern Lutheran, I can't speak for southerners or Catholics. But I am familiar with the parable of the sheep and goats from the book of Matthew. While I can see how you came to your conclusion, I hate to say it, but you missed the point of the parable completely.

The parable does say that Jesus "will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left." This wasn't to imply any timid ness or lechery, but more to put the idea of separating the people out into an imagery that was familiar to the Jewish population at the time of Christ (They were predominately a shepherding society). The rest of the passage goes on to explain why some were chosen as sheep and why some were chosen as goats.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'"


My church has always taught that this had little to do with separating out Christians and non Christians, but more to do with separating out people based on their actions toward their fellow man. The Bible is very clear about God's concern for the poor and oppressed, and about the responsibility of his people to care for them.

While I don't expect this parable to convert any non-theists into bible thumping Christians, I just wanted to put the story into its proper context. And I highly recommend that if you want to get a real feel for "Southern Christians" you try out several of the churches. Look at it as a social experiment. The differences between a southern Baptist church and a conservative catholic church will probably blow your mind...

And if all else fails, you can always observe the shapes of the young female Christians in front of you without the fear of being suspected. (Definitely a pro!)
 
Paul Bourdeaux
Ranch Hand
Posts: 783
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

The preachers began to talk about how non-theists were in big trouble and how the theists were generally a nice and privileged bunch.



Not a very evangelical point of view is it? Actually, my belief is that non-theists who are generally good people are in no worse trouble than theists who are the same. I remember one Christian writer (please don't ask for a link, I can't even remember his name) who used to call non-theists with strong moral values and generaly good practices the "Christain unaware".
 
Bartender
Posts: 1197
22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by John Smith:

The Pros: You can observe the shapes of the young female Christians in front of you without the fear of being suspected.



You goat.
 
author
Posts: 4223
33
jQuery Eclipse IDE Java
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Dave Lenton:
While I agree that its a bit depressing, it was beautiful. Religions may be controversial, but there's no doubt that they've inspired the most incredible music on the planet!



Are you trying to say Britney Spears music isn't Godley???
 
(instanceof Sidekick)
Posts: 8791
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

The hymns performed were of high musical quality, but I found them all full of grief and sorrow.



Wait 'till Lent. Then they get really sad. And beautiful.
 
John Smith
Ranch Hand
Posts: 2937
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
PB: My church has always taught that this had little to do with separating out Christians and non Christians, but more to do with separating out people based on their actions toward their fellow man.

Thanks for that clarification, Paul. So, are you saying that the reference to sheep and goats has no metaphorical meaning as it's defined in the dictionary? Might as well be cows and horses?

Incidentally, I now recall another passage from the same service when the priest said something to the extent that "God will judge not by whether you are Christian or not, and not even if you have faith or not, but by what's in your heart". That echoes with your church stand, I suppose, although it sounds pretty reformist (if not secular) to me, given that it took place in a Catholic establishment.
 
Stan James
(instanceof Sidekick)
Posts: 8791
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you're really in the Bible Belt, say Tulsa, check into the non-affiliated churches, like The Church Of Bob or whatever on the corner. They have no rules or accountability beyond themselves and can get into some very exciting territory. I don't want to sound (totally) sarcastict there. I've seen a few with huge congregations that really do some great things. I've also seen a pastor get busted for dealing drugs in another state to make some money to cover up what was mysteriously missing from the offering plates.
 
Dave Lenton
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1241
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Paul Bourdeaux:
non-theists with strong moral values and generaly good practices

Its a shame more people don't think like this. It seems to be a fairly common view through out much of the world that non-theists not only don't have strong morals, but often can't. Its also nice that there's a growing acceptance between the theist and non-theist groups out there, and that there's people who don't think that we're all evil/lazy/immoral/communist/lecherous/lying/hedonistic or any of the other labels that were often applied to non-theists by theistic organisations.

Hopefully we're moving towards a situation were religion can become a background private issue, and not something which causes people to make unfounded judgements or create political problems. We've just about managed it with race and disabilities, so hopefully religion will become the next big previously problematic social separator to become a non-issue (I don't mean that its no longer important, but that it no longer separates people through prejudice).

Maybe there should be an exchange system - Muslims making trips to watch Christian ceremonies, Hindus attending a discussion of atheist theory, strong-agnostics talking with Buddhist preachers and so on. Although as a non-theist I'm broadly against encouraging theism, I think it would help if people from different beliefs understood each other better and came to realise that we're not all that different after all - we just disagree on some of the minor details
 
Dave Lenton
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1241
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Scott Selikoff:
Are you trying to say Britney Spears music isn't Godley???

I'd struggle to say that it even counts as music let alone Godly music
 
Paul Bourdeaux
Ranch Hand
Posts: 783
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So, are you saying that the reference to sheep and goats has no metaphorical meaning as it's defined in the dictionary?

Yes and No. In this particular passage, I think the selection of sheep and goats had more to do with the imagery and less to do with metaphor, but thats not to say that metaphor doesn't come into play at all. Often in the Bible, particularily the New Testament, sheep (Christians) are described as following the lead of the shepherd (Jesus), where as the goats please themselves. This is reflective of the behaviour of the animals themselves.
 
Paul Bourdeaux
Ranch Hand
Posts: 783
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by John Smith:
Incidentally, I now recall another passage from the same service when the priest said something to the extent that "God will judge not by whether you are Christian or not, and not even if you have faith or not, but by what's in your heart". That echoes with your church stand, I suppose, although it sounds pretty reformist (if not secular) to me, given that it took place in a Catholic establishment.



Yep. The Bible is actually abundant with passages that follow this line of thought, and it is one of the corner stones of my beliefs. One that I can think of off hand is from Romans 2. It is quoted below (but edited for brevity).

"(God) will repay everyone according to his works... There is no partiality with God.".
 
Dave Lenton
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1241
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Paul Bourdeaux:
The Bible is actually abundant with passages that follow this line of thought,
...
"(God) will repay everyone according to his works... There is no partiality with God.".


Its quite a nice sentiment, but there is something about it which confuses me. I'm not that familiar with the Bible, so I may be on the wrong track here, but I thought there was a comment along the lines of "You can only get to heaven through me" or something like that. I thought that this means that if you don't believe then you don't get to go to heaven. Wouldn't this cancel out the statement you quoted? It appears to me that this means a non-believer cannot be rewarded in the after-life no matter how good they are. Unless the quote refers to rewards during life only?

Sometimes I wonder if the authors of the Ancient Holy Books deliberately made them confusing so that there would always be a demand for Ancient Holy Book Consultants (priests)!
 
author
Posts: 3892
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Dave Lenton:

Its quite a nice sentiment, but there is something about it which confuses me. I'm not that familiar with the Bible, so I may be on the wrong track here, but I thought there was a comment along the lines of "You can only get to heaven through me" or something like that. I thought that this means that if you don't believe then you don't get to go to heaven. Wouldn't this cancel out the statement you quoted? It appears to me that this means a non-believer cannot be rewarded in the after-life no matter how good they are. Unless the quote refers to rewards during life only?

Sometimes I wonder if the authors of the Ancient Holy Books deliberately made them confusing so that there would always be a demand for Ancient Holy Book Consultants (priests)!



You are (I believe) referring to John 14:6 "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

I believe also that the approach to which John is referring is called
Universalism. And you are correct, it is not widely accepted within Christian theological circles.
 
Dave Lenton
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1241
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Kyle Brown:
I believe also that the approach to which John is referring is called
Universalism. And you are correct, it is not widely accepted within Christian theological circles.

Goes to show how its hard to generalise when talking about these issues. Too often people look at followers of religion X or Y and say "Them Xians are loopy for thinking this, and Ylims believe something even more odd".

Seeing as no-one walks around with an in-depth essay setting out their beliefs stapled to their forehead, I guess it makes it a bit hard to understand what someone thinks and believes in, especially if simple categorisations like "Xian" or "Ylim" are popularly used to classify people.

Wow, humans are weird.
 
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic