Does Faith Itself Have a Role in Sin?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Tiassa, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    On Faith and Sin

    So, imagine that you have an inside joke with some friends; it could be a valid thesis, but come on, we're talking post-graduate work, here.

    The idea seems simple enough, that in the public discourse people engage in ego defense projection; what we fear of others is actually a reflection of what we loathe or fear in ourselves. There are small, anecdotal examples all over the place.

    It's also the sort of thing that can really get to you if you let it. That is to say, at some point it simply becomes unsettling to listen to, say, the reduction of every family issue to the possibility of someone within the family's spheres of influence sexually abusing a child. It really is creepy, and after a while, every now and then you end up wanting to grab and shake the old man, shouting, "What the hell does this have to do with diddling children!"

    There is always the problem of awareness, sort of a psychological Heisenberg effect. I am quite certain there is some good literature with a more appropriate name for the phenomenon; I just haven't yet encountered it.

    Part of the nature of the neurotic is the mind's astounding ability to compound elements in exceptionally creative ways. That is to say, once you're aware of a psychological phenomenon, your perception of its nature and dimensions is subject to every other psychological process taking place in your mind.

    Which, in turn, often leaves issues unexplored. Or insufficiently explored. Or inappropriately trespassed upon. Or ... or ... er ... yeah.

    The Associated Press reported, yesterday:

    The lead singer of Grammy-nominated metal band As I Lay Dying pleaded guilty Tuesday to trying to hire someone to kill his estranged wife.

    Timothy Lambesis, 32, remains free on $2 million bond until he is sentenced May 2 on one count of solicitation of murder in Vista Superior Court, north of San Diego.

    Lambesis was recorded telling an undercover agent that he wanted his wife killed, according to prosecutors. The investigation began last April after Lambesis allegedly told a personal trainer at his gym that he wanted to get rid of his wife.

    The undercover agent, San Diego County Sheriff's Officer Howard Bradley, testified last year that Lambesis met him at an Oceanside bookstore in May and said he wanted his wife "gone."

    Bradley said he asked Lambesis directly if he wanted his wife killed, and the singer replied, "'Yes, I do.'" ....

    .... Bradley said Lambesis told him at the end of their meeting, "Just to clarify, just so you know, I do want her dead."

    We might set aside, for now, whatever jokes we want to make about "Christian metal". That is to say, sure, it's one of those hilariously awful ideas that comes about in life and proves itself even more hilariously awful than you could have imagined. And I always think of those preachers, advocates, and youth pastors who would try to convince teenagers that it's "cool" to do or not do whatever.

    Not that they have anything to do with it, but it is unclear just how Lambesis devolved to putting a contract on his wife. The whole idea of "Christian metal" is to try to make the Gospel "cool".

    But it looks like Metal won.

    I always wondered, back during the Metal Wars of the 1980s, just who the PMRC and church groups were talking about. I mean, S.O.D.'s "Speak English or Die" was commentary on attitudes, not advocacy of racism. Anthrax's "Misery Loves Company" is a musical homage to Stephen King; one must ignore the band's history of such tributes ("Among the Living", "Skeletons in the Closet", "I Am the Law", all on one album) in order to conclude, as censorship advocate Bob Larson once asserted, a call to young people to commit murder.

    So, yes, I wondered. And, yes, the answer has always seemed to have something to do with other people who believe what the censorship advocates are saying.

    So, then, how can we work pornography into this question?

    Wait, what?

    Take it away, Megan Gannon:

    Feel like you're addicted to porn? Your religion could have something to do with your answer.

    Compared with their less spiritual peers, people who identified as very religious were more likely to have a perceived Internet pornography addiction, no matter how much porn they actually consumed, according to a new study.

    "We were surprised that the amount of viewing did not impact the perception of addiction, but strong moral beliefs did," the study's lead author Joshua Grubbs, a doctoral student in psychology at Case Western Reserve University, said in a statement.

    The question of internet pornography addiction is controversial among psychologists, who can't seem to agree about questioons of etiology and psychopathology. Still, though—

    Regardless of whether porn addiction is "real," Grubbs and his co-authors note that perceived addiction has been linked to several real elements of psychological distress, such as depression, compulsive behavior and anxiety.

    —the question of what is actually going on persists.

    In three studies, Grubbs polled people about their strength of faith, religious practices, online porn-viewing habits and moral attitudes about porn. He also gave participants a survey to measure their perception of addiction, asking them to rate how much they agreed with statements like: "I believe I am addicted to Internet pornography;" and "I feel ashamed after viewing pornography online."

    One study involved 331 undergraduates at a public U.S. university, another focused on 97 students at a religiously affiliated university, and a third involved 208 adults gathered in an online poll. The majority of the participants in each survey were either Christian or Catholic, heterosexual and white. In each of the studies, 26-32 percent reported no religious affiliation. The studies excluded people who had not looked at porn at least once in the past six months.

    There was no connection between the religious devotion of the participants and how much porn they actually viewed, the studies showed. However, stronger religious faith was linked with more negative moral attitudes about pornography, which in turn was associated with greater perceived addiction, the study found.

    Grubbs and his co-authors speculate that feelings of addiction could be seen as "the religious individual's pathological interpretation of a behavior deemed a transgression or a desecration of sexual purity." The findings could help therapists understand that the perception of addiction might have more to do with religious beliefs than actual porn-watching habits, the researchers said.

    In other words, maybe the Devil makes them do it ... twenty-first century style.

    And that makes sense, in a way. A focus on sin inhernetly brings sin closer to the individual. Take Lambesis; maybe he's not simply evil. That is to say, because of the psychological structures shaping his outlook, one might argue that he simply got lost in the illusions and temptations of that strange nation we would call "Metallica" if the name wasn't already taken.

    Metalania? Doesn't have the same ring.

    Beneath those bottom-shelf jokes about naïveté and stupidity in religious faith is very possibly the answer: the Devil inside.

    Christian faith in America has some defining general traits. A basic dualism between good and evil is one relevant aspect; another is a belief in futility, that one requires specific dispensation from God—i.e., salvation—in order to triumph over evil and the basic corruption of being human.

    That is to say that some of these folks never stood a chance.
    ____________________

    Notes:

    Associated Press. "Timothy Lambesis Pleads Guilty: As I Lay Dying Singer Admits Hiring Hitman To Kill Wife". The Huffington Post. February 25, 2014. HuffingtonPost.com. February 26, 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/25/timothy-lambesis-pleads-guilty_n_4856253.html

    Gannon, Megan. "Religious People More Likely to Think They're Addicted to Porn". LiveScience. February 13, 2014. LiveScience.com. February 26, 2014. http://www.livescience.com/43362-religious-perceived-porn-addiction.html
     
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  3. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    Faith is the belief in things not seen. As such, you don't need faith to know killing is not good, since one can see the cause and effect results with the eyes. If anything causes pain or added expanse, one can see this is not the best path to take. This does not require faith but common sense.

    When President Obama sales pitched the Affordable Care Act, the conservatives did not use faith in failure, but they used common sense and logic to explain what would happen as it is has. The liberals depended on faith in something that was not at par with the promises. In this case, liberal faith encouraged the sins of lying and led to the sins of inefficiency and waste which will only get worse.

    One thing you need to understand, conservative principles are not new, but many have centuries of data. Faith is not needed when you have a lot of data. Most of the new liberal thinking, has little field testing and requires faith, since you can't properly infer where there is no data or precedent.

    For example, homosexual marriage has little precedent, in first world countries, compared to marriage between male and female. Traditional marriage has billions of data points, so there is no need for faith that this can work. All one needs is common sense. Homosexual marriage has so little data in comparison it needs faith to prop it up (that which is not seen).

    If you look at the ten commandments, these all have centuries of data support. This may have required faith, when it was new, since there was not enough data to prove it could help culture. If you look at officials in the Obama Administration answering question about their scandals, they all lie. To accept these lies as truth takes faith, since the hard data shows this is a lie. Faith will allow alternate reality and therefore sin to be called truth.
     
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  5. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    Well then clearly you are in favor of socialized medicince since there is clear and compelling evidence that countries with socalized medicine hold down costs better and have a higher quality of health care than countries that rely on the free market like the united states. No need to rely on faith when the evidence is there to study.
     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Nice retort!

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    Even in Italy, the benchmark for corrupt, incompetent European government, medical and surgical procedures typically cost 25%-50% less than in the USA, and the quality is comparable.
     
  8. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    1. Thanks Fraggle Rocker, it does seem pretty obvious that single payer is the way to go.
    2. Wellwisher drives me a bit crazy, the way seems to be able to bring in entropy or evil liberals into just about any thread.
    3. Tiassa, sorry for the off-topic posts. I don't really want to derail the thread it is an interesting question.
     
  9. scifes heckle the snobs Valued Senior Member

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    Wait, what?
    You were going sweet as cake till then, how the heck did you go from religiousness inciting guilt in individuals even though the "crime" they commit is the same, to people doing "crimes" because they're forbidden?
    two VERY distinct concepts, explain the jump from one to the second.
    love the study btw, very interesting,
    there goes those born before 1950

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  10. scifes heckle the snobs Valued Senior Member

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    oops?

    now that I look again, the study says;
    But then you say:
    :bugeye:

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  11. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    The first lesson of the bible was prohibition creates temptation. As soon as God tells Eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, this tree was brought to her attention and she was curious. All it took was a con artist to get her to eat. There is a neural basis for law/prohibition and temptation. Knowledge of good and evil, or law is a binary form of memory. To fully know any law, you not only have to know the good actions of the law, but also the evil actions, so one is better able to avoid these. For example, with the PC word taboo (thou shall not make certain noises) you are taught the bad words and the good words, with the bad and the good words each having a different emotional valance. The bad words will have an attachment of fear, pain, anger, while the good words have a love, peace, community feeling attachment.

    When memory is created in the brain, aspects of the limbic system will add an emotional tag. Because law memory is binary, there are two tags added to each law, one for the good and one for the evil side of the law. The result is law memories are stored in two places, based on the emotional valence, even though a law is one thing. The tradition of heaven and hell, symbolizes all the good (sides of law) in one place, and all the evil sides of law in another place, based on the emotional valence of law. In hell there is fear, pain, suffering which are the threats if you break the law. In heaven we have love, peace and security. This was a projection of the neural grid of binary storage.

    What tends to happen, is a righteous person by a particular law, whether the law be manmade or divine, will try to consciously focus on the good side of the law and do the right thing. But since law is a binary, the bad side data, still exists in memory and becomes part of the unconscious mind. Picutre a coin, with heads and tails. You may choose heads all the time, but tails is always there too, but out of sight.

    Since all the goods sides and all the bad sides of law, respectively, have the same emotional valence (heaven and hell) the unconscious reaction does not always have to be a direct reflection of a specific law. It can borrow memory from the dark side of other laws in the grid. It is quite common for the righteous by the law to inflict evils on the violators, worse than the violation of the law itself; witch burning. Witch burning was based on the dark side of "thou shall not kill",unconsciously being defined as good, since it helps to eliminate the evil of being a witch. The mob is not fully conscious of the tail side of the coin, but is acting on unconscious impulse to defend the law.

    The marijuana prohibition, as secular example, allowed the self righteous to harass, beat, arrest, place in prison, social condemn, and steal the assets of those who disobeyed the law, with the evil of the self righteous worse than the evil of smoking. This is hard to admit. Since the average brain will sense worse evil trying to eradicate lessor evil (witch), the lessor evil becomes relative as good, compared to the worse evil of the self righteous. This creates social temptation, since most people are good and will choose the path of good and/or relative good over relative evil. But the self righteous also think they are doing good by a particular law, so the social potential increases.

    The bible says the righteous are not under law, but are under faith. Those who are under law are the children of the bondwoman (slaves to unconscious impulses created by law). The children of the free women are under faith and therefore free from the compulsion of law. Faith removes the polarizing memories from the grid, so one is not a slave to sin via unconscious compulsions.

    For example, I don't take PC laws seriously, since I don't see a need to add more memory to the binary grid of law. The self righteous would be willing to torture me if I make the wrong noise/sound defined by their law. Weigh the relative evil of making a noise versus the self righteous attack due to unconscious compulsion to enforce a specific noise. If I said the N-word, and someone shot me, this would seem balanced to some, due to the dark side grid and compulsion.

    I am against liberalism, because it adds to law at the fastest rate of all time, to assure self righteous evil within culture. If you don't like Gays, this can justify the self righteous to distort a reputation and business; dark side. Why do you think liberalism likes to lie and cheat (borrowed from the dark side grid), because the ends justifies the means. Jesus would say forgive them, they don't know what they do, which is connected to the unconsciousness due to the dark side memory grid they compound.

    Liberalism is feminized (Eve), so one would expect greater affinity to law, than a masculine culture; religion, which has a much smaller law grid by orders of magnitude; free society of faith like the founding fathers saw.
     
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    (Insert Title Here)

    The jump is yours. Consider this point from your subsequent post:

    It's the next sentence in the article that you need to consider:

    There was no connection between the religious devotion of the participants and how much porn they actually viewed, the studies showed. However, stronger religious faith was linked with more negative moral attitudes about pornography, which in turn was associated with greater perceived addiction, the study found.

    Consider the basic idea of looking at some dirty pictures or videos, and seeking some sexual self-gratification.

    The idea is that the sense of transgression is greater for the religious. And that can be seen in the basic rhetoric; for the Christian, it is a question of sin. For many non-religious people, it's simply a question of whether and why one might want (or not) to discuss their fancies with others. In my circles, for instance, there is a tacit standing belief that everybody's got a kink or three, and we don't really need to know what it's about unless circumstance deems it necessary. The inward impacts of these outlooks are considerably different.

    It might be a matter of embarrassment in such circles, to reveal the details of what gets one aroused. To wit, I still don't the whole pigtails-and-panties thing when the model looks like either a roadworn forty or a methamphetamine twenty-five and you can't tell whether that's razor burn or a social disease. And it's true, I don't get the whole thing about men wearing women's underwear, but largely because it's visually ugly; if one crams his fat ass into nylons and satin lingerie, he should at least have the decency to shave his legs—and for frackity-frack sake, don't get a cut that leaves the luggage hanging out on either side of the fabric.

    In other words, big effin' deal; we now know something about Bob that we didn't know before, probably don't need to know now, and is a natural setup for years worth of punch lines. And in terms of our "Bob", it's always hilarious, because he turns red with the requisite embarrassment and then offers a half-assed, hilarious excuse. Like the story about his twenty-first, when he disappeared from the bar and was found doing a forty-something prostitute in the back of somebody else's pickup truck. Haven't razzed him about that in over a decade, but it was always funny to see his face glow, and hear him say, dismissively, "She wasn't that old ...."

    But at no point is anybody measuring that sort of thing against their immortal soul. The contexts of ego defense are worlds apart.

    If one believes in the immortal soul and the need for salvation, the magnitude of ego defense increases greatly. It can, by this comparison from my own circles, come down to the difference between ego defenses against the occasional embarrassing joke and "going to hell", "dying the final death", or however the individual's redemption thesis works.

    Furthermore, the very idea of a cosmic-scale competition, that divine forces are pulling at the soul, adds a layer of justification; "I'm an addict", in this case, works much similar to saying, "The Devil made me do it." In excusing oneself from self-indictment, one abdicates responsibility for their actions. It can be a way of justifying one's sin by placing responsibility outside the individual.

    The key here is not self-gratification or internet pornography as sexual stimulation; rather, it is how the "addict" regards the viewing of internet pornography and self-gratification.
     
  13. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    According to bible wisdom, sin is not imputed when there is no law. Once humans define something as evil, then sin appears. For example, it was not a sin not to have health insurance in America. Now there is a law that says, "thou shall buy health insurance whether you need it or not". Now it is a sin not to have it that will be enforced by punishment and gnashing of IRS teeth. If the law was repealed the sin goes away since it is not imputed without a law.

    Faith is not about law, but about following your inner voice as it cycles (moderation) through the range of human experiences. The bible says, all things are lawful (to those of faith), but not all things edify. All things are lawful, but I will not be mastered by anything. This saying reflects the free will of faith, aware not all things are healthy or positive, but nevertheless if used in moderation will help one gain experiences that can develop objectivity, instead of blind group dogma. Jesus and his buddies were way ahead of the curve. Even today, 2000 years later, the people still want the yoke of slavery to sin, by adding law after law to increase sin. PC defines, noises one can utter, as sins, with these sin never existing before the law.

    If law creates sin and sin is connected to evil, that those who feel the need to make the most laws, have the most internal evil. In their own mind they compound the law=sin before it is finalized in the system. They project a paranoia and self righteousness from within, and feel the need to impose/appease this inner evil. They see through the lens of their own unconscious motivations, from the dark side, created by their compounding of laws. The person of faith does not make many laws, since they lose this unconscious division stemming from law, by using the assumption faith is not under law.
     
  14. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    In New Testament tradition, Jesus hung around with the sinners, instead of hanging with those who were righteous, by the law. Jesus was called a drunkard and glutton, who ate and drank with the sinners, by the self righteous who expected he avoid this. There was a practical reason for Jesus's choice of friends; internal energy balance.

    Since law will create an internal polarization of good and evil, due to the binary memory nature of law, even if one tries to consciously do good, there is sin ingrained within the memory that comes from the knowledge of the law. Sin is imputed only when there is a law.

    By hanging with the sinners, the unconscious internal darkness stemming from the law, was externalized. Jesus, internally depotentiated the dark side of law, by allowing it an expression via projection; friendship and exposure allows empathy. He could see the person, under actions of sin, by walking with then, allowing him to not become self righteous to their sins. He could polarize into good without much in the way of a shadow side.

    I remember, as a child doing something very similar. I guess it was based on the template of Jesus. I liked to hang with the fast crowd and had full access to the underground of sin. Although I was accepted among the dark side, I would be quite moderate in terms of doing things. This allowed me to empathize with the sinners, without any feeling of self righteousness, since I chose to be among them. There was an internal balance via projection. From that position of acceptance and balance, I could have an influence but in Mr Spock way, without judgmental emotions.

    St Paul said, I became all things to all men, so I could save some.
     
  15. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

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    Damn, Tiassa.
    Are you growing up?

    *Disclaimer - I'm too drunk too read any further than the thread title.
     
  16. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Why is this thread in 'Science and Society'?

    Traits that make American Christianity different than all other? I don't think so.

    The ideas of good and evil are fundamental to most ethical thinking. We are supposed to be good and avoid evil. It certainly isn't unique to Christianity. Oftentimes atheists are wound up more tightly about it than Christians. It's bread-and-butter to political activists.

    Aren't human beings supposed to be created in God's image? Isn't God supposed to have cared about his humans so much that he came down here and incarnated as one of us? Haven't Christians traditionally taught that reason is sort of a divine quality in all of us, something that we share (literally, according to the Christian Platonists) with God?

    Christianity does teach that human beings are sinners. They aren't perfect, they fall short of God. But that isn't all that human beings are. Humans are the beings in the middle, beings that can move either way. That idea's found in many different traditions.

    Most religions seem to teach that there's something that human beings need to be doing, some inner volitional motion that they need to be making.

    In fact Christianity seems to be particularly relaxed in that regard, teaching that human beings are already forgiven, if they will only grasp onto what Christ offers them.

    Maybe the idea that God forgives sinners contributes to some Christians rationalizing their own going off the rails. But I don't sense that going off the rails is any more frequent among Christians than it is among those of us that aren't Christians.
     
  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Matters of Perception

    Perhaps you could help me understand the question: Why should consideration of a psychological view of behaviors affecting our society not be in S&S? Or, maybe it would simply be better to ask: Where would you suggest this thread be filed?

    There are the behavioral implications; there is the fact that this is psychology, and not something a little more exact; there are societal impacts to consider.

    Then again, there is also a range of political arguments to be made—

    —so perhaps that explains your question.

    Calvinism is not nearly so influential in Europe, and its divisive nature is reliable; one of the last great legacies of European Calvinism was its contribution to South African apartheid.

    But look at Americans. Christ Himself might say what He will about rich men, camels, and the needle's eye (Mt. 19.24; Mk. 10.25), but our latest American twist on predestination is prosperity theology:

    Prosperity Gospel

    An aberrant theology that teaches God rewards faith—and hefty tithing—with financial blessings, the prosperity gospel was closely associated with prominent 1980s televangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Bakker, and is part and parcel of many of today’s charismatic movements in the Global South. Orthodox Christians wary of prosperity doctrine found a friend in Senator Chuck Grassley, who in 2008 began a thorough vetting of the tax-exempt status of six prominent “health and wealth” leaders, including Kenneth Copeland, Bishop Eddie Long, and Paula White.


    (Christianity Today)

    † † †​

    The "prosperity gospel," an insipid heresy whose popularity among American Christians has boomed in recent years, teaches that God blesses those God favors most with material wealth.

    The ministries of three televangelists commonly viewed as founders of the prosperity gospel movement - Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland and Frederick K.C. Price - took hold in the 1970s and 1980s. One of the oldest and best-known proponents of prosperity theology, Oral Roberts - the television faith-healer who in 1987 told his flock that God would call him home if he didn't raise $8 million in a matter of weeks - died at 91 last week.

    But the past decade has seen this pernicious doctrine proliferate in more mainstream circles. Joel Osteen, the 46-year-old head of Lakewood Church in Houston, has a TV ministry that reaches more than 7 million viewers, and his 2004 book "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential," has sold millions of copies. "God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us," Osteen wrote in a 2005 letter to his flock.

    As crass as that may sound, Osteen's version of the prosperity gospel is more gentle (and decidedly less sweaty) than those preached by such co-religionists as Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes and the appropriately named Creflo Dollar.

    Few theological ideas ring more dissonant with the harmony of orthodox Christianity than a focus on storing up treasures on Earth as a primary goal of faithful living. The gospel of prosperity turns Christianity into a vapid bless-me club, with a doctrine that amounts to little more than spiritual magical thinking: If you pray the right way, God will make you rich.

    But if you're not rich, then what? Are the poor cursed by God because of their unfaithfulness? And if God were so concerned about 401(k)s and Mercedes, why would God's son have been born into poverty?

    Nowhere has the prosperity gospel flourished more than among the poor and the working class. Told that wealth is a sign of God's grace and favor, followers strive for trappings of luxury they can little afford in an effort to prove that they are blessed spiritually. Some critics have gone so far as to place part of the blame for the past decade's spending binge and foreclosure crisis at the foot of the prosperity gospel's altar.


    (Falsani)

    This is a powerful influence, and it requires a separate set of object relations in defining its theology. Belief in a real Devil incarnate is much higher in the United States than most European countries; this, too, is of considerable influence, and occurring at a rate sufficient to affect societal outlooks.

    In Europe, you see similar numbers for belief in God in Ireland, the Six Counties, and Poland; places where there is a state religion and, perhaps not coincidentally, a heavy Catholic presence. Which in itself ought to stand out as a contrast; compared to the Catholic Church itself, American Catholics are, on the spectra of faith and politics, very nearly a godsend to those of us who are sick of hearing about faith in politics. No, really; they vote against the Church more often than not, and in addition to the tendency to not be as disruptive to the public discourse as their evangelical Protestant neighbors, tend to be quite entertaining, at the very least—e.g., Bill Donohue.

    The Poles aren't nearly so inclined to believe in the Devil, nor the Irish Republic; it persists at rates similar to Americans in the Counties, though. (Robinson)

    Furthermore, the rest of the Christian world has no equivalent to Curtis Lee Laws, through whom our fundamentalist tradition evolved. Martin Riesbrodt's Pious Passion is an excellent, albeit dry, examination of "The Emergence of Modern Fundamentalism in the United States and Iran". Much of the fundamentalist Christianity around the world in the twenty-first century is an American export, and nobody need thank us for that.

    The social laboratory Max Weber examined in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism persists, and perhaps uniquely, in the United States. Prosperity theology, for instance, is a direct descendant.

    Certes, American Christianity shares much in common with the worldwide corpus Christi, but it also reseves some significant differences.

    You are exactly correct on the first count. The second is a bit more subtle; in this case, it's a question of how one defines going off the rails.

    For instance, consider Bob Example and Joe Average. Both look at pornography, and attend certain needs as they do. Maybe Joe even does it more often than Bob. But Bob perceives a greater sense of moral wrongness about his actions despite his continuing attendnace. Temptation, moral weakness, pernicious influences; the worldly explanation is addiction.

    Joe just calls it wanking.

    One of these people is about to spend a bunch of money on a futile endeavor seeking counseling that will help suppress the behavior.

    One perceives his own life as coming off the rails, regardless of whether looking at dirty pictures and masturbating justly constitutes behavior off the rails.

    Therein lies the key.
    ____________________

    Notes:

    Christianity Today. "Prosperity Gospel". (n.d.) ChristianityToday.com. March 7, 2014. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/topics/p/prosperity-gospel/

    Falsani, Cathleen. "The prosperity gospel". The Worst Ideas of the Decade. (n.d.) WashingtonPost.com. March 7, 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/opinions/outlook/worst-ideas/prosperity-gospel.html

    Robinson, B. A. "Comparing U.S. religious beliefs with those in other mainly Christian countries". Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 1999-2010. ReligiousTolerance.org. March 7, 2014. http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_comp.htm

    Riesebrodt, Martin. Pious Passion: The Emergence of Modern Fundamentalism in the United States and Iran. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Books.Google.com. March 7, 2014. http://books.google.com/books/about/Pious_Passion.html?id=YPX9_545orkC

    Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. 1905. Marxists.org. March 7, 2014. http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/weber/protestant-ethic/
     
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Interesting. Nonetheless, the last poll results I saw (2-3 years ago) said that a large majority (something like 80%) of American Christians believe in Heaven, but only a small minority (something like 25%) believe in Hell.

    This is probably the moment at which to remind ourselves that the two most common and recognizable symbols of Christianity in the USA are Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Apparently even the devout don't take this shit all that seriously except on Sunday morning.

    And also that the modern Heaven and Hell, as destinations for the good and the evil among us, are recent accretions to Christianity. Apparently a couple of centuries ago Christians had a view similar to the Jews: when you die, your body just lies there. Then sometime in the very distant future (billions of years is not an exaggeration--perhaps 5 billion when the planet will be swallowed up by the Sun as it becomes a red giant) God will finally sort us out and reanimate the corpses, sending each one to its earned reward.

    This is why Orthodox Jews don't allow organ donation, embalming, autopsy, cremation, etc. Who wants to wake up with a missing heart, capillaries full of chemicals, exploratory holes everywhere, or simply a pile of ashes? (The fact that worms will have recycled the tissue is conveniently overlooked. As is the fact that a guy as powerful as God could surely replace all the missing bits and pieces--after all, won't I wake up with 20-20 vision and a whole knee?)
     
  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    34,668
    (thpbpbpbpbpbt!)

    Oh come, now, Marquis. You know me better than that; I'll never grow up.
     
  20. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    34,668
    An Infamous Contradiction

    The latter observation also happens to be the kernel of inspriation that gave rise to the Church of Satan. The Satanic Bible started out as a response to a particularly virulent version of Sunday hypocrisy. So goes the story, Anton LaVey left home in his teens, traveling with a circus. And it was seeing the same people buying sin on Friday and Saturday night lining up for the revival on Sunday morning.

    Probably more legend than truth, but that's the story and they're stickin' with it.

    Horror movies, our obsession with APD for mystery and action antagonists, dark video games. It's not that these things are bad influences, but let's face it, the Devil incarnate you and even I would have heard spoken of among our childhood cohorts has nothing on the evil with which we merely entertain ourselves in the twenty-first century.

    The Christians of generations I've known have never really dealt well with the idea of a Devil or Satan. Compare what they teach about the Book of Job to what it actually says; there's a striking difference.

    Certes, there is the obvious bit about faith. That is to say, I cannot speak for you, but if the sky one day decided to come down and chew me a fire exit according to Job's experience, well, you know ... I'm not sure the question of abstract faith could reasonably override the pascalian counterpoint. Let's see ... did I drop a tab recently? Or gobble some mushrooms? No? Okay ... is there a checkist for this one?

    But the more subtle point—insofar as people really don't seem to like to think about it—is that Satan is an instrument of God.

    There appears to be a strong phenomenal presence among many faithful in the United States of historical ignorance about faith itself. In this case, the current generations of Christians in the United States have a very unstable view of what evil is and how it works. One of the results is that the Devil is an abstract caricature according to whatever context one considers it. What the Devil represents—temptation, extraneity, isolation, sin—remains intact regardless; it is a mythological representation of a human phenomenon.

    This, at least, would suggest one pathway into a frame of mind whereby what the Devil represents becomes the excuse as such; it is one's answer to a question they ask of themselves. The power of that temptation is addiction.

    The easier solution, of course, would be to just get comfortable with masturbation and other sexual issues. Unfortunately, that does not seem something we can expect in the near future.
     

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