Introduction

I don't believe in “God”. I don't believe in “Not God”. I don't believe in “It can be known”. I don't believe in “it can't be known”. With the question, “God”, I simply don't engage. Why? Because for the building of a World That Works For Everyone, all possible answers, responses, or questions inside that conversation are at best useless; usually counterproductive; sometimes deadly.

“Religions are divisive and quarrelsome. They are a form of one-upmanship because they depend upon separating the 'saved' from the 'damned,' the true believers from the heretics, the in-group from the out-group. Even religious liberals play the game of 'we're-more-tolerant-than-you.'” - The Book, (Alan Watts) p. 10.
“Every belief you have about something kills it. Have a belief about the kind of house you want, BANG! No house. Have a belief about God, Bang! No God.” - The Book of Est, p. 24.
“Religion: It's given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.” Jon Stewart
“Scientists are actual prophets; they can predict the future. It's the religious people who are false prophets.” - Ruben Rodriguez (cha0s)

Discovering inauthenticities

What is inauthentic about church?

Asceticism

FIXME

Kingdom-building

The pretense of building “God's” kingdom, where the reality is what is being built is many little kingdoms of man.

Authority

Pretending that the authority of a church is divine; it actually comes from the consent of its membership, just like all other organizations.

Gossip is a sub-set of this inauthenticity. Gossip is speaking a complaint such that nothing can be done about it.

Judgment

A persistent complaint that something should not be the way it is. The structure of Judgment is thus: {to do}

Judgments frequently rest on faulty assumptions; a view of the world that is inaccurate.

Anything having to do with the idea of “sin” is almost certainly a judgment. (Grandpa Sterling told me there's no sin except for judgment. Chew on that for a while, lemme know what you come up with.)

Guilt

Sanctity

The early-warning sign of judgment is losing your sense of humor. Most churches have a set of things you're not allowed to laugh about. They call them “sacred,” and they become slaves of the sacred.

Personally, I hold that nothing is more sacred than anything else; everything is sacred, and everything is profane. Every part of human experience is sacred, the pleasurable, the miserable, the mediocre. And every part of human experience is profane, ridiculous, silly and worth being laughed at. Everything is sacred, and nothing is sacred.

:?: I wrote this and now I'm questioning it. Is genocide sacred? Is it not sacred? Is it worth being serious about? Is it worth joking about? We are slaves to that about which we can't laugh… but I've gotta think about this some more.

Right and Wrong, with an emergent quality

Society Is Falling Apart

There has never been a time that religious authorities didn't decry the current condition of society and assert that things are getting worse, not better. It's a dishonest and manipulative way of getting people to repent and join the flock; once they've joined, they can share in the judgment of people outside and society at large, which helps keep them from wandering away.

With people who are intellectually honest and/or progressive in their thinking, this tactic doesn't work because they look around and see how much better things are now than in the past, and that the main reasons things seem worse are:

  • things are different, and the pious will always be judgmental of change;
  • the truly unfair judgments, like racism, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism, etc., are being dismantled, and those who believe those attitudes to be correct are threatened, and think the world is therefore deteriorating;
  • our measurements of the conditions of the world have improved.

As the world progresses, and people have their needs met, societies turn away from religion, church, and belief in general, in part because this attitude doesn't ring true to them at all anymore.

Structural Dishonesty: What Church Is Made Of

A church exists in two parts: Judgment, and Justification for Judgment.

Judgment / Justification Within Yourself

Guilt

If your faith tradition believes in salvation by works, you probably live in a balance between things you do wrong or fail to do right, and what you do right or at least keep yourself from doing wrong. You hope that, when you stand before God, you will come out justified.

If your faith tradition believes in salvation by grace, you probably live in a balance between the fact that we're all born sinners, and accepting Jesus as your personal savior and being saved.

Relief

So, on the one hand, you judge yourself a sinner, and if that bothers you at all, you justify it with either the possibility of good works saving you, or the possibility of Jesus saving you because you accepted him into your heart.

Consider a church that didn't offer the possibility of salvation. How long would that church last? On the other hand, consider one that only offered the possibility of being automatically saved. Can you even think of any? I can! :-) (I refer, of course, to C Street.)

A church will cease to exist if it doesn't offer people a potential escape from judgment, while at the same time keeping people from escaping.

Justification for inflicting that on people

At the same time all this is going on, there are those rare people in churches who believe the basic tenets of their faith and somehow manage to not live in judgment of themselves. (Expand.)

Judgment of Others / Justification

Something's Wrong With You

You're Doing It Wrong

Priority Inversions

Of course, for a church to be a church it has to have some rules, guidelines, cultural expectations and taboos, and if you violate any of these, you're sure to be judged by at least some of the members of the church. If I had a dollar for every time someone's told me it's the people, not the church, or it's the culture, not the beliefs, I'd be a rich man. Well I've got news for you: it IS the church. It is the nature of a church to cause that kind of judgment among its adherents.

The justification, of course, is that it's not “supposed” to be that way, and hey look, there are people here in this church who aren't judgmental. Go make friends with them. Or, come sit with us. We'll be friends with you even if other people are judgmental.

But Some People Don't Judge!

Yes, and you keep them around to justify the presence of those who do. These are held up as “proof” of “it's the people, not the church, who are the problem.”

Abuse by Authorities / Justification

Churches with rigid hierarchies sometimes abuse their parishioners. The abuse arises from the judgment we already mentioned, that you shouldn't be the way you are, or do the things you do…

The justification is that there are, in fact, church leaders in every long-lasting church. These leaders are held up as examples of why the church is really a good thing; it's not all bad; and you shouldn't “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

It's all bathwater. (Expand.)

Abusive and Judgmental Churches / Loving and Accepting Churches

Justification: For the church in question, X. Within other churches, justification is Y.

Abusive and Judgmental Ideologies / Loving and Accepting Ideologies

In different parts of the Bible, God says both “thou shalt not kill,” and “thou shalt utterly destroy.” These cater to different ideologies people have; different ways of viewing holy writ, so as to fit their own personalities.

On the one hand, damnation, and on the other, mercy. The only reason that mercy exists is to justify the existence of damnation.

At this point in the inquiry I realized that this is not a linear thing I've just gone through; it's an infinite cycle. For those two forces, damnation and mercy, are the same two forces working within yourself. And they're not even real!

If you've made it this far and are not convinced that churches are just made of judgment and its justification, consider this: what if all religion in the world preached nothing but damnation, that we're all doomed, and there's no mercy? Would you approve of such a church? Would anyone want to be part of such a church? Of course not! You have to add mercy to the equation to justify the damnation. And then something crazy happens: you get a group of people whose behavior is justified: they have somehow obtained God's mercy, and you haven't, and now there's a new kind of judgment, and it's automatically justified by their belief.

OK, you ask, what if we have a church with *just* mercy? Well, that's fine, but what would be the point? Why go to church–why even have a church–if there isn't something to save you from? To make you a better person? Except church doesn't make you a better person:

  • The only tool church has for “improving” you is guilt, which is, of course, just you passing judgment on yourself.
  • The people who discover life without guilt don't discover it from church: they discover it outside of church, and usually have to get a lot of distance from church before living without guilt.
  • Atheists, agnostics and unaffiliated are “better people” in every measurable way than their religious counterparts.

The only reason churches do good things is to justify the terrible things they do, and always have done, and always will do. They exist to enable very bad people to continue If the churches stopped doing good, we wouldn't allow them to exist, and if they stopped doing bad, they would cease to exist.

The Ultimate Inauthenticity of Churches

Judgments frequently rest on faulty underlying assumptions. Each of these judgments rests on something that isn't so. FIXME Elaborate.

That you can KNOW things that you can not know. (Testing reality via emotions, rather than by evidence; misplaced trust; mind-viruses; keep expanding.)

How To Not Solve The Problem

Don't resist church, don't fight church, don't attack church, don't try to take it down. And don't kill anybody!

In a few decades, religion will be entirely irrelevant in the first world and mostly irrelevant in the rest of the world.

A New Church

Music

Music - GOOD music - singing together - the importance of singing together

I can't prove this - in fact, I don't know if it can be proven - but I think that probably the most important reason western European civilization took off in the way that no other civilizations did is because of the kind of polyphonic experimentation that happened there and no place else.

If you think about it, no other culture in the world developed a tradition of so many people doing so many different things which are, by themselves, so small and uninteresting, and together make such an interesting and useful whole. (Next time you're at a political rally, try listening to just one instrument's part in whatever John Phillips Sousa march they have playing.)

Sharing stories

Every religion out there has a strong tradition of telling stories. The place where it's most visible is around the kids. No one who grew up in a Christian church didn't hear stories of Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, and Jesus and the Disciples (among others) told often.

People being able to tell their stories and hear each other's stories is really valuable. I think that an organization that facilitates a specific kind of sharing will have a dramatic and powerful effect on its members: I think that by cultivating people's stories of their personal transformations and the process they go through will leave people more in tune with who they want to be than they were before they heard it.

Transformation

Repentance / transformation / recovery / self-improvement / whatever you want to call it.

Much work has been done over the last few thousand years to improve the process by which people are brought to repentance. {Historical innovation}

The normal, every-day methods of repentance focus on changing behavior, which is as effective as it is. Transformation, rather than dealing with what you do, and the science of doing, deals with who you are, and the science of being. What it means for a human being to be a human being has been inquired into, figured out, solved. That game is over and humans won. You now have an opportunity to transform yourself within that context, as much or as little as you like. Rather than focusing on making different choices, you focus on being someone who makes the choice you wish you would make.

Given the rapid pace of human development, the levels of literacy around us, the massive amounts of information surrounding us, and the new technologies that are enhancing how we communicate, I think it would be a worthwhile endeavor to examine all of these traditions and design one to be maximally effective and completely value-driven. We don't need to guilt people into repentance anymore, in fact, I request of people that they repent of their guilt itself. (Guilt is, really, just passing judgment on yourself – it's being right about being wrong.)

(Aside: the Simple Church formula is Values, Activities and Outcomes. Values are defined as those thing the church community agree to hold; I'm thinking that some clever and meta definition of service should be at the center of this. Activities include what I've already speculated about: singing together, telling stories, and the process of transformation. Outcomes remain to be defined.)

transformation/church.txt · Last modified: 2014/03/19 16:57 by naptastic
 
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