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Author Topic: My Issues with THE DA VINCI CODE  (Read 9470 times)
CheezeFlixz
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« Reply #30 on: August 28, 2007, 09:47:15 AM »

Quote from: Derf
Cheeseflixz, there are answers (legitimate ones, even) to most if not all of your questions, but it's pretty obvious that your mind is set, and it is not my place to argue with you here or anywhere else.

Believe my friend I do not want to argue, it's never productive, I will listen attentively to anything you or anyone has to say and I will respect what you have to say regardless if I agree with you or not. I will not try to sway your ideologies, beliefs or faith in any way. It is not my place to do so.

I'd call myself more of a seeker than a 'follower' of any doctrine. I grew up around Baptist and went to a Methodist Church while attending a Catholic school, I joined the Marines and spent years in the Middle East around Judaism and Islam in the early 80's then I worked for companies where I spent most of my time and years in Asia around Hindus and Buddhist. Call it Religion overload.
My mind is never 'set' my thought are fluid and ever changing as I read and try to understand more about various religions around the world. I'll listen to anything anyone has to say as long as I'm not preached or witnessed to, I do find that slightly annoying and living in a notch of the Bible belt I get it quit often. I can talk about the philosophy of religion as long as one my want and remain civil. Because I will not judge you, and the irony in that is I find many Christians do just that.

I know so many Sunday Christians it's pathetic, and I'm not calling anyone here that as I do not know anyone here well enough to make that call. But you know that ones I speak of, they go to church for business reasons, or political reasons, or they're afraid of what the neighbors might say if they don't, many are not there for a message or to get closer to God, it's an social club. It's not for fellowship but for the exchange of business cards. I've seen it in so many Church's and I bet you have too.

In regards to not towing the line you must understand I'm in a very small rural community and not towing the line and asking questions, challenging dogma, well you just don't do that here it's political and business suicide. I mean they don't even sell alcohol here because of Religion, but start asking about the water to wine and the wine at the last supper, or God teaching Noah how to make wine and so on, well you just dig a hole to lay in it. Meanwhile I have a friend that own a liquor store and a neighboring community and sees most of them every week buying booze ... it's hypocrisy. We don't want booze in our community because it's bad, however we'll drive 20 miles down the road and buy it. And as soon as it's on the ballot there they are, on the radio and TV talking about the evils of drinking probably with a flask in their pocket.

So that's the kind of Christians I have around here, not all of them but many of them. Who's got the bigger better Church, who's got the most members, who's got the best denomination. Knowing how the area was, when I moved here from another local area I was asked 184 times (yes I actually counted) to come to this or that church, I went to a few but they just didn't do it for me.

Anyway thanks for your reply and feel free to answer any of the questions I raise or not. It's a free country.


   
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« Reply #31 on: August 28, 2007, 11:39:19 AM »

Cheeseflixz,

I will offer you my viewpoint on what I feel qualified to answer, which is probably not all that much. Indianasmith answered some of the historical questions about the gnostic gospels, to which I will only add my impressions: you interpret the Council of Nicea to have "dismissed what it could not control," while I see it as less of a control issue and more of a truth issue; the gnostic gospels were written well after those to whom they are attributed were dead. They were, for the most part, written to undermine Christian teachings. This makes them questionable at best. Why should the biblical canon include works specifically written to contradict works that were already accepted? You may have better knowledge than I do of those works; I freely admit to only reading about them rather than to having read them. But most scholars I've read agree that they were written to corrupt church teachings rather than to refine or even to question them. Certainly there were politics in even the early church, but I am willing to assume that there was a better balance of people who were more concerned with the truth of the matter than with any power to be gained. As with any movement, those closer to the idealistic source will usually remain idealistic; as time passes and that movement becomes further removed from its founders' vision, power players move in and corrupt things for their own gain. Read (if you haven't already) Animal Farm for a condensed version of this idea. It's not the greatest example, but it illustrates a good idea ("everyone is equal") corrupted by politics ("but some are more equal than others"). As to the "lost" books, many were lost well before the age of Christianity (and therefore were not "cut" by the Nicean Council). The apocryphal works that I have read were interesting, and several would have been included in the canon except for what I consider to be a pretty flimsy reason: the original Hebrew texts were lost and the only available texts were translations (Ecclesiasticus is a very good wisdom book, for example).

As for the idea of three Gods versus one, I see nowhere in the Bible where three Gods are even hinted at. Paul's writings (used as a representation of early church beliefs) are very clear that there is one God, with three aspects: The Father, the Son, and the Spirit. These are roles more than separate entities. For example, I am a father, a son, a husband, a teacher, etc., but I am still only one being. The Jews horded the role that they were given as God's chosen people. Instead of being a light to all mankind, they grew into a very cliqish society, so God needed to give humanity a drastic new view: Jesus. Jesus fulfilled His role in the Resurrection, and we needed the direct communication promised in the Gospels: the Holy Spirit, the communicatory aspect of God. One God, three major roles based on the readiness of mankind to understand.

One last question you raised that I have a fairly strong viewpoint on is the one concerning the quote from the gnostic Gospel of Thomas. Peter (ironically, the man who was supposedly the first pope) makes it very clear that all believers are in effect priests, and that we have no need for anyone to stand between us and God (in case you can't tell, I'm not Catholic. I understand that the Catholic priests may have been a necessary measure when few people could read, but they were never needed to play the same role as the Jewish priests were). Yes, again, politics creeps in and people (Christians are just people, after all) corrupt good things and turn them into ways to gain power over others. Many have lost sight of the fact that churches are about a fellowship of believers, not an organization to rule over others. Some organization is necessary to take care of day-to-day activities of any group; as far as I can see, that is the extent of church organizing in the Bible, and that's not really a bad thing. Like you, I, too, am from a small, rural community, and I know the kinds of churches you are talking about in your last post. For whatever reason, people seem to like having power over others (not my bag, personally; I don't like that kind of responsibility). Does this mean that all organized religion is bad? Not really; there are those individuals who understand the idea of mutual support and encouragement, and they are often quite active in local churches. Churches are full of superstitious and/or political people, just like the rest of humanity, and it is always people who corrupt good ideas. That doesn't mean that the ideas are not worth pursuing, and a strong local church is a good starting place for a Christian to pursue those ideas.

I guess a decent summary of all this is simply that people are people; claiming adherence to any religion (or any ideal, religious or not) doesn't automatically free them from all imperfections: We are all hypocrites in some way, and so we are all in the same metaphorical boat. I have found that Christianity offers a more comprehensive plan to dealing with reality than any other religion/philosophy (in my opinion), but that doesn't make me the be-all and end-all of humanity, and I certainly don't claim to have all the answers or to be the final authority on anything, so take all of this as my viewpoint. I like to think it is well thought out (though this post seems to ramble a lot), but it is ultimately my assessment.
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CheezeFlixz
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« Reply #32 on: August 28, 2007, 12:46:01 PM »

Derf thanks for your answer and I don't disagree with much of what you have said, I'd really like to reply in quality, but alas I'm swamped today.

Just one note to ponder I do not see the relevance of when something was written as the the Gnostic text, we really don't know when they were written, we only know the approximate age of the copies on hand. They could be copies of copies, we just don't know. To dismiss them simply based on an assumed time frame would be akin to saying any non-fictional history written today or in the past is false and should be dismissed because it was written well after the event. So the works of Herodotus, Bede, Edward Gibbon, David Hume et al. should all be dismissed because much of there writing were of events long before they lived. Not to ramble on but I think you understand my illustration.

ok back to the grind ...   
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« Reply #33 on: August 28, 2007, 02:59:16 PM »

One last quick note from me:

Here is a Wikipedia article concerning the gnostic gospels that does a much better job explaining the dating than I can. A big problem I have with the accuracy of the gnostic gospels is their claim of "secret knowledge." With the Bible, everything is laid out for anyone to read. True, God often seems to fulfill His promises listed there in ways no one thought of, but as far as I can tell, there is no such thing as "secret knowledge"; it is simply a ploy to claim to have something that no one else has, thereby gaining a kind of power over them.
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« Reply #34 on: August 28, 2007, 05:43:12 PM »

One last quick note from me:

Here is a Wikipedia article concerning the gnostic gospels that does a much better job explaining the dating than I can. A big problem I have with the accuracy of the gnostic gospels is their claim of "secret knowledge." With the Bible, everything is laid out for anyone to read. True, God often seems to fulfill His promises listed there in ways no one thought of, but as far as I can tell, there is no such thing as "secret knowledge"; it is simply a ploy to claim to have something that no one else has, thereby gaining a kind of power over them.


Yes I'm familiar with the dates, and while some books of the Bible date from the same period such as 2 Peter (circa 160CE) and Titus (circa 150CE) they are included in the canonized text while some (actual many) non-canonized gospels per date very books like the Fayyum Fragment (70CE), Sophia of Jesus Christ (50CE), Gospel of the Nazoreans (100CE) just to name a few non canonized early Christian text. there is a bunch, and some are in question and hotly debated by scholars as the who, what, when, where and why? Like the    Passion Narrative (30CE), Didache (50-100CE) and    Lost Sayings Gospel Q (40-80CE)
I will say and I think you know that Wiki is not the best source for information, it'll do in a pinch.

As far as secret text goes, early Christianity was laced in secrecy most people were illiterate and only knew what they were told, unable to read to book if given it. So early leaders kept many in the dark ... (hmm maybe that's why it was called the dark ages?) anyway you know early Christian power was abused (still is by some) and masses were kept ignorant, because knowledge is power and those with the knowledge had the power. You're a bright guy I don't need to tell you the history of Christianity and the 'believe it or die' method of that prevailed for many 100's of years. And just like the radical Islamics today, Christianity was spread at the tip of a sword.

Anyway I'm getting off track because I'm trying to do to many things at once and nothing good ever comes of that.
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« Reply #35 on: August 28, 2007, 09:36:17 PM »

I linked to the Wikipedia article mostly because it corresponded pretty well to what I had recalled reading in other places.

Could I ask where you got the dates for 2 Peter and Titus? My sources place Peter around 66 CE and Titus around 65 CE.

I am unfamiliar with the other writings you mention, so I'll refrain from commenting. But I'll try to look into them at some point.

As far as early church secrecy goes, I think we are talking about two different kinds of "secret knowledge." Christians made knowledge of salvation freely known in order to grow the church. What I meant by the term is more the mysticism practised by the gnostics, the "I know the really deep truths about God that He hasn't revealed to the plebes" kind of knowledge that usually involved numerology or some other secret codes or rituals. The early church had very few if any rites other than baptism because there were too many cultures coming together. Yes, after Constantine, the church leaders began to be more and more political and less and less spiritual, and they began to abuse their literacy and turn it into a power trip. It all culminated in the Crusades, which had little to do with Christianity and much to do with politics. After the ninth Crusade, Rome began to lose its political might, and then we move into the Renaissance, where the Catholic Church's influence fell even more, resulting in its return to more spiritual emphases. The Crusaders were "christian" in the same way that everyone in Western Civilization is "christian" (i.e., culturally, not actual adherents to the tenets of the religion). This of course excepts the Muslim mercenaries fighting for Rome. Religion at that time was simply a tool, much like it is today (God bless America! We are fighting for the right and God is on our side!) With the advent of better schools, literacy, often taught by reading the Bible, pretty much erased the type of secrecy you brought up (or should have; literacy doesn't always bring understanding). Mysticism, however, is still going strong. I recall as an example the recent trend in celebrity religion of Kabbalah (or however it is spelled), which claims secret knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures. People love conspiracies, which is basically what mysticism offers (the "inside scoop" on God), but there really is none of that in the Bible; it is much more concerned with helping people to understand how to treat each other and how to relate to God.
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« Reply #36 on: August 28, 2007, 09:55:27 PM »

Hey guys, I haven't meant to bail on this thread that I have created, but I came home late Monday after a 15 hour day and found that the upstairs AC window unit - that's the part of the house where my wife and I as well as our two daughters sleep, and where our computer alcove is - had died.  It was 91 up here last night and is 88 as I type this tonight.  Needless to say we've been sleeping downstairs.

Cheeze, your comments about smalltown religion remind me of a Texas joke - "What's the difference between a Methodist and a Baptist? - A Methodist will say hello to you in the liquor store."

As far as your comments on the Gnostic Gospels, I have read a good many of them.  Many of the ones you refer to actually only exist in fragmentary form, and a couple of the Epistles you mention no longer exist at all.  I do think that your dates on Titus and II Peter reflect some outmoded thinking - although in all fairness, many scholars do think that someone other than Peter wrote it.  Still, it resembles the undoubtedly authentic I Peter more than any of the other forgeries attributed to Peter in the Second and Third Century, such as the Apocalypse of Peter and the Gospel of Peter.  In the end, Gnosticism was a cult that grew out of Christianity, but it was NOT Christian.  It denied many key attributes of Christian doctrine, such as the Incarnation and Resurrection.  The Gnostics were notorious forgers.  Other early Christian works, such as the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, and I and II Clement, were not censored at all - they were treasured and preserved as solid doctrinal works and profitable reading, but not counted as Scripture because they were not authored or sponsored by the Apostles of Jesus.  The early church set the bar for canonical status very high because there were a lot of spurious works out there.  But every book included in the New Testament was written or directly associated either with the 12 apostles, Paul, or one of Jesus' brothers.  None of the Gnostic works could make that claim - or, more accurately, could make that claim and have it stand independent examination.  Also, to be honest, most of the Gnostic stuff is rambling, inconsistent, mystical, and much more farfetched than the simple accounts contained in the Gospels.
   I agree with many of your comments about organized religion, even though I am a minister.  The problem with America's Christians is too much church and not enough Christianity.  If you enjoy reading, I highly recommend Lee Strobel's wonderful books, The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith.  However, whatever you choose to believe and however you choose to live, you have my respect!


Now I only have four pages of unread posts to catch up on, and 30 minutes till bedtime!
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« Reply #37 on: August 28, 2007, 10:18:23 PM »

Indianasmith - side note - not sure about Texas, but the day after Labor Day builders stores (Lowe's Home Depot) put AC units on clearance ... that's the secret knowledge of a contractor ... j/k

Yes I know that joke and there is more truth than joke there.

Derf - I got my dates from an old book  I've got, but for an online list of dates and links to the writings both canonized and non canonized I use http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

Like I've said I have no problem with Christianity and all I intend to do is to seek out all information possible and draw my own conclusion not just the information sanctioned by the church. Am I a Christian by classical definition, I don't know do I believe in a great power, Yes I do.

Guys, I'd really like to talk more on this and give you a decent reply to your comments and I will try to, but I have got to get these books done before months end or the IRS will taketh away.

 
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« Reply #38 on: August 29, 2007, 07:37:13 AM »

Cheesflixz,

Understood. It has been a good discussion; you have challenged me and taught me a few things as well. If we get to continue, great. If not, I appreciate your candidness and your willingness to genuinely discuss things.

Indianasmith,

I realize that we blatantly hijacked your thread (when was the last mention of Brown's book anyway?  TongueOut), but I appreciate your comments as well. I would love to talk more with you sometime about this topic; there is still much I have to learn, and you seem to have a firm grasp on this particular subject.
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« Reply #39 on: August 29, 2007, 07:42:03 PM »

Thanks Derf!! (he types, sitting in the glorious coolness of a brand new $599 air conditioning unit).  This is something that I teach on a regular basis, so I try to stay up on it.

Cheeze,  one comment I will add to your post:  the older works on the New Testament (pre-1960 or so) generally tend to date all of the books later than more recent scholarship.  Of course, there are some scholars who still try to put the books as late as possible, but much of the reasoning behind that is due to preconceved notions about the origins of Christianity, not what the actual evidence indicates.

The Jesus Seminar is a good example.  A group of far-left Biblical scholars who are much better at controversy than they are at research, they have rejected over 80% of the material in the four Gospels as being spurious.  They rate the Gospel of Thomas more highly than they do any of the canonical gospels.  But when you look at their reasons for doing so, their whole rationale falls apart.  They basically reject any account that has Jesus claiming to be the Son of God, or performing  miracles, as purely legendary.  Their reason for doing this is because they believe Jesus was nothing more than a popular rabbi who had a legend of deity built up around him after his death.  Since the Gospel of Thomas contains only sayings of Jesus, no miracles, and few claims of divinity, they accept some 70% of it, even though it was composed 110 years after the Crucifixion!  In short, they accept or reject Gospel material based on whether or not it fits their preconceived, naturalistic view of Jesus, not according to its early origin or historic merit.  If their view of Jesus is incorrect - if he really did work miracles or claim to be the Son of God - then all their conclusions are screwed as a result!  And all the very early evidence we have, both in the New Testament and outside it, is that Jesus saw Himself as divine, and was known even in the Jewish Talmud as a "wonder-worker".
  Another example of date revision is the date ascribed to the Gospel of John.  From the 1840's on it was thought that this Gospel was written in the mid to late Second Century (AD 140 - 180) because of its "advanced Christology").  But late twentieth century archeology has demonstrated that the author was intimately familiar with the geography and social mores of Judea in the EARLY part of the First Century, and then the Rylands Papyrus Fragment, a small piece of parchment with part of John Ch. 18 on it, was firmly dated between 110 and 125 AD a few years back.  The fragment was found in the remote Egyptian hinterland.  For the Gospel to have been copied and circulated that far would have taken probably a minimum of 20 years from the date of composition . . . pushing John's gospel to around 95 AD, which is when the Church and the earliest Christian writings said it was composed all along!
  While the creation/evolution debate continues to give many Christians headaches, the fact is that archeology has again and again confirmed the details of the Gospel accounts and pushed the dates for their composition right back into the lifetime of the eyewitnesses, which is where we said they originated all along!
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« Reply #40 on: August 30, 2007, 12:10:56 AM »

I'll look into those books, a few years ago I read Evidence That Demands a Verdict which you may know. It seems to be written by fundamentalist Christian to hard sell Christianity to the fence sitters, but it lost me when it made the claim that Christianity is the best religion because it's objective. IMHO an objective religion would not make that claim. The title was interesting since much "evidence" was suppressed, namely the Apocrypha. It was very much cherry picking the information and making it's case based on culled information. One of my pet peeves is cherry pickers of faith. Take it all or leave it, it's not a spiritual buffet.
I'm not an Gnostic I find the gnostic writing and all religious writing interesting. I don't believe Gnostic had secret knowledge as in 'ssshhh this is a secret' but I feel they thought they had more of an higher understanding or an more abstract concept of the higher powers. Many Gnostic writing only exist in fraction do the systematic destruction of them waged by early Christians.
I'm not sure I'd call Gnosticism a cult, I feel that is a label placed upon them by Christians as term 'cult' carries so many negative connotations and tends to make many people fell better about there belief all while discrediting other beliefs. I've heard many Christians call anything from Buddhism and Islam to Judaism and Taoism a cult. Many Protestants call Catholics, idolaters and disallow the 5 extra books in the their Bible. I'm not saying you are doing any of these things, just that it seems to me to be a Christian "habit". Sort of a my God's better than your God even when in many cases it's the same God.

My knowledge is somewhat rusty on all this stuff as I have not read any of these writings in quite some time, but I need to again. I'm getting to old to remember everything in great detail.

Anyway my motto is try to do right, try to be fair, treat folks how you want to be treated, and be honest.

But you know that doesn't matter, as I know folks that would rather be ripped off by a guy with a "Jesus Fish" than dare do business with a guy with a "Darwin Fish" so 99% of the time I just keep my thoughts to myself around here, it's good for business. LOL.

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« Reply #41 on: August 30, 2007, 12:05:23 PM »

Yes, there are negative connotations to the word cult, but in my experience, the word is used much like the term "goy" is used by Jews. If you're not a Jew, you're a goy. Sometimes it is negative, sometimes simply descriptive (yes, there is always an element of superiority involved, though often to a lesser degree than one might assume). To Christians, anything not Christian is a cult, though typically the term is used to describe religions more or less similar to Christianity but that do not adhere to the Apostle's Creed. Islam, Hinduism, etc., are other religions rather than cults, though in its most general sense, "cult" fits. I may be overgeneralizing, but that is my basic understanding of "cults." In regard to the "my God's better than your God," I don't personally find that to be applicable. If, for example, I take Jesus's words seriously that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that there is no other way to God but through Him, how can I at the same time validate the claims of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., which propose contrary paths? If I'm going to base my life on a religion (or any philosophy or any belief whatsoever), there will inherently be an element of "I'm right and everyone else is wrong." And that will undoubtedly be construed as that sense of superiority by someone else. When I choose a life path, I automatically unchoose other paths, putting my faith in my chosen path being the right one.

I notice that you are introducing a new element of comparative religion into the discussion ("in many cases it's the same God."). I'd be perfectly willing to discuss that issue in a one-on-one or small group setting, but not so much on a public forum; it is simply too inflammatory no matter how understanding one tries to be. Maybe someone else will take up that discussion, but I am not willing to in this setting. I'm not trying to be difficult, and it is a subject I do have definite opinions on, but this is not the place for it, in my opinion. I hope you understand.

You quoted a statement of mine. My meaning behind it was that it is an empty statement; there is no "God" to it because it is simply a political rather than spiritual statement, just as the Crusades used the facade of religion to achieve purely political ends.
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« Reply #42 on: August 30, 2007, 12:45:59 PM »


 One of my pet peeves is cherry pickers of faith. Take it all or leave it, it's not a spiritual buffet.


I've been reading the discussion with interest.  I like a good 'back-n-forth' without acidity and mutual respect.  Good job guys.   Cheers

I agree with the point above.  There is quite a bit in the Bible in general and the teachings of Jesus in particular that is 'uncomfortable.'  But, we cannot throw these bits away for that reason.

One good example of this is the attention Jesus gave to judmentalism of one person toward another.  In my opinion, there are far too many Christians 'passing judgement' on this or that group as being 'unworthy.'  The easy, comfortable way is to say "WE are the in-group, the acceptable ones" and then use such inclusivity to exclude others.  I do not believe this is what Jesus had in mind.

Having a spiritual life is difficult.  Making that committment is difficult and it takes a lot of work.  If there is something I am "supposed to do," I cannot ignore that just because it is difficult or not what *I* want.

One other point on topic to several of the points raised by others.  A lot of what you guys mentioned that was "wrong" with the Catholic Church in the Dark Ages was what The Reformation was intended to address.  Luther, for example, abhorred the notion that Priests should stand between men and God, and sought to put the Bible into the hands of families directly - that Biblical scholarship begins in the home.

Just some rambling thoughts on thie Thursday afternoon.....
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« Reply #43 on: August 30, 2007, 05:05:47 PM »

Derf - I certainly hope you were not offended or put off by anything I have said. I assure you it was not intended it so. I respect you choice to opt out of any discussion you are not comfortable with, or feel they are to personal to discuss. I fully understand. It has been an interesting conversation thus far. 

Quote from: Derf
You quoted a statement of mine. My meaning behind it was that it is an empty statement; there is no "God" to it because it is simply a political rather than spiritual statement, just as the Crusades used the facade of religion to achieve purely political ends.

Sorry if I misinterpreted your statement.

Quote from: ulthar
I've been reading the discussion with interest.  I like a good 'back-n-forth' without acidity and mutual respect.  Good job guys.

I thank you, I find an exchange of beliefs, ideas, concepts or whatever get a lot further if you show respect for the other viewpoint regardless of personal conviction.

I think if this was practiced on a global political scale the world would be a much happier place. I have friends in nearly every faith and belief and some with none at all and we all get along great.

 Cheers to all ... life to short, enjoy it while you can.

 
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« Reply #44 on: August 31, 2007, 07:41:14 AM »

Cheeseflixz,

No worries; I wasn't offended by anything you said and didn't mean to come across that way. I was in a bit of a hurry with that last post and wanted to get the thoughts in. I know that anything I say about Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism or any faith other than my own could easily be misconstrued, and so I choose not to go there on a public forum. Also, I know less about the origins/tenets of those faiths and recognize that some of what I've read did not come from the best of sources. I have looked into them to some degree and would choose Christianity over any of them based on my readings. I respect anyone's right to choose any faith (or no faith) he/she desires. However, I reserve the right for myself to believe that my choice is the correct one; as I said, it is inherent in the choice itself. They are welcome to think I am wrong; it is inherent in their choice. It's just one of those things we as humans deal with since not everyone can see things as clearly as I do  TeddyR.
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"They tap dance not, neither do they fart." --Greensleeves, on the Fig Men of the Imagination, in "Twice Upon a Time."
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