Thursday

My brother - Dr Brett Tindall


(Photo includes wooden urn which held my brother's remains. Scattered at his favourite tree in a western NSW town. The statue of David was bought by him for my mother one Mother's Day. I was there when he bought it in the Sydney suburb of Campsie.)

From http://www.lawfoundation.net.au/ljf/app/&id=A9A2709F7FBEB3F9CA2571A90016578E

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Management of the HIV Infected Patient - Decication to Brett Tindall

Date: 01 July 1994

Author: The Hon Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG, President, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of NSW (1984 - 1996)

...

For some reason which I have never discovered, Brett Tindall has always been known to his friends as Badger. Mind you, I can see some similarities between that remarkable creature and the hero to whom this book is dedicated. The similarities derive from the fact that each traces their origins to the Northern Hemisphere. Each is a small but powerful animal. The habits of each are generally nocturnal. Above all, each retains its hold upon the object of its attention with a terrible tenacity.

Brett Tindall was born in Sydney in 1961. At the time of this publication he is therefore 33 years of age. But what an amazing life he has packed into those years. He took his first degree at the Cumberland College of Health Sciences. He spent four years as an undergraduate medical student at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales. He did not complete his primary medical degree. I suspect that it was because something more important came along. The AIDS epidemic. He worked for a time in various para-medical capacities - as a tutor in nursing studies at the Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education and as a speech pathologist in Sydney.

But by the mid-1980s, he was in the midst of the scientific response in Australia to the AIDS epidemic. He began as a research assistant in the Centre for Immunology at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney in 1985. In 1987 he was promoted to scientific officer. When the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research was established he was appointed a research assistant to Dr (now Professor) David Cooper. In due course he was appointed Senior Project Scientist and for a time acted as Manager of the Administration of the Centre. His busy life as a research scientist did not detract from his Badger-like activities in national and international programmes addressed to the scientific and community responses to HIV/AIDS. He served as a committee member of the AIDS Council of New South Wales. It was the high opinion in which he was held by his professorial colleagues, and his own outstanding contributions to national and international conferences, that caught the attention of the World Health Organisation in 1988. Dr Jonathan Mann, the charismatic Director of the Global Programme on AIDS utilised Brett Tindall repeatedly in WHO meetings concerned with the prevention of the transmission and the reduction of discrimination once transmission is established. Amongst the more important WHO appointments were those in 1991 and 1992 as consultant to various governments in the Western Pacific region to assist in the establishment of an effective HIV surveillance and policy. Brett Tindall did not just talk about Australia's relationship with its geographical region. He did something about it. According to those who know him best, a critical moment occurred in Brett Tindall's life when he discovered when he was himself infected with HIV. The usual, one might say human, response to that discovery would be rejection, denial and despair:

"Close up the casement, draw the blind, Shut out that stealing moon, She wears too much the guise she wore Before our lutes were strewn With years-deep dust, and names we read On a white stone were hewn."1

But this was not the response of a Badger. Brett Tindall's discovery coincided with the visit to Australia of Dr Robert Gallo, a famed scientist, now controversially associated with Luc Montagnier, in the identification of HIV. In a small workshop which Brett Tindall attended, Gallo was asked what he would do if he found that he was infected. One scientist who knew of Brett Tindall's late discovery of his own condition allowed his eyes to wander to the Badger as Gallo gave his answer. "I would spend the rest of my life trying to find a cure". Brett Tindall had his mission.

"'O where are you going?' said reader to rider 'That valley is fatal when furnaces burn, Yonder's the midden whose odours will madden, That gap is the grave where the tall return.' 'O what was that bird,' said horror to hearer, 'Did you see that shape in the twisted trees? Behind you swiftly the figure comes softly, The spot on your skin is a shocking disease.'"2

Brett Tindall has not discovered the cure for HIV/AIDS. Some sceptics say a cure will never be found. But he did concentrate his considerable intellect upon the task. His research, shown by his publication list, is phenomenal. And its central focus has been upon the process of sero-conversion and the body's responses to the entry of the AIDS virus into its midst. If the differential impact of the virus and of the available, rudimentary modes of treatment could be examined, out of the variations might spring ideas for the cure. They may not present a silver bullet cure. But they may point the way to the control of the infection and a scientific response to it which will save lives, reduce pain and prolong the quality of life of those living with HIV/AIDS.

I first met Brett Tindall at the IIIrd International Conference on AIDS in Washington in June 1987. He was, by then, two years into his mission. He was publishing furiously, usually with other heroes of the Australian scientific work on HIV/AIDS. Ron Penny. David Cooper. Basil Donovan et alios. The Australian contingent in Washington stole away from the rest. We took an early dinner in a sidewalk cafe in the summer light. Ita Buttrose, who was then (as she still is) communicating understanding to middle Australia presided at this feast. By chance I sat next to Brett Tindall. So began a friendship which endures. I recall how he talked of his work and how it was the sense of urgency that he projected that was infectious. If only that infection would overtake the other. My service on the WHO Global Commission on AIDS threw me into contact with Brett Tindall at the Stockholm IVth International Conference in June 1988 and at the Montreal Vth International Conference in June 1989. But then I drifted away from AIDS whilst Brett Tindall, true to his Badger instincts, continued to work at the burning furnaces. In recognition of his original scientific work, the Faculty of Medicine of the University of New South Wales admitted him to an MSc programme. The University awarded him that degree for a thesis on "Factors Associated with Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection and the Development of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome". In 1993 the same University conferred upon him its Doctorate of Philosophy. And still the co-authored papers were produced addressed to the detailed scientific data and targeted upon the process of sero-conversion. At the beginning of 1994 Brett Tindall went to Spain to attend the wedding of a friend. By chance again, I was there. But this time we did not meet. He returned to Sydney, struggling with illness. But he was ever determined and resourceful.

Brett Tindall's life has become a series of goals. He has not given up. He is an inspiration to friends and colleagues alike. And his work points the way to the ongoing struggle against HIV/AIDS. It is a copybook example of the lesson which one of his mentors, Dr June Osborn constantly taught. Good strategies - scientific and social - in response to HIV/AIDS must be based upon vigilantly observed and scrupulously recorded scientific data. Not out of myth and prejudice but out of truth will come the effective responses to this horrible and unexpected challenge to human health. When I think of Brett Tindall. I think of his fierce determination, his sense of urgency, his prodigious industry and his happy mixture of attention to the scientific and social features of HIV/AIDS. He is an example and a model for all of us. He teaches lessons about the indomitable human spirit. When HIV/AIDS is finally tamed, Brett Tindall will have an honoured place amongst the heroes.

"Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields See how those names are fêted by the waving grass, The names of those who in their lives fought for life, Who wore at their hearts the fire's centre Borne of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun And left the vivid air signed with their honour."3

MICHAEL KIRBY

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From my Brother Brett's letter read at his funeral.

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I am, I presume dead. I have died as a result of a disease that has brought a great deal of pain and suffering into my life, my friend's lives, and humanity in general. Although not at all welcome, my demise is at least a relief from the physical aspect of that pain.

Rest assured that I absolutely do not hold out for the hope of heaven; nor do I fear the reality of hell.

This is, unfortunately the end of a journey that has been filled with many adventures, great friends, fabulous shared times and not nearly enough french champagne. The best part of my life has been meeting all of you who have gathered here. I only wish I was here with you today to see you all collected en masse (what a group you must make!) My many joys in life have rarely been solitary - they have generally involved one or more of you. My special love to you all.

What else can I say? I know that bits of me will live on in each of you as part of your memories of our wonderful shared experiences. I shall miss you all deeply. Take care of each other in this period of pain.

~ When Buddha was approaching his death his disciples gathered around him begging for some inspired words of solace that would help them in coping with their upcoming loss. As my parting words, I offer you his reply: "Things Change".

Brett

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My brother Brett LOVED French Champaigne. He would never let me order from the wine list whenever we went out. He knew I had no proper taste for such things. I do not believe that my brother is burning in Hell by our "loving God" as we speak because he didn't invite Jesus into his heart. He did much to help so many people in his short life.

Wednesday

Somewhere over the rainbow pigs might fly


Somewhere over the rainbow, pigs might fly. If pigs fly over the rainbow, why then oh why can't I? Some day I'll wish upon a sty and wake up where the pigs fly far behind me. Where doubts go melt like piglet drops way upon the carrot tops. That's where you'll find me.

Were it all so bloody simple!


This is why I invented Mark 17: 1-3 "All things are probable. Try to believe. Really! Try to believe even if it's bloody stupid and irrational. Why? Because I said so, that's why! Don't ask questions. Just believe." .... my personal addition to Mark's gospel following the tradition of making up an ending to it. It is therefore from the MT Version. ;-)

You have a mind to use. Use it. Using it means that you MUST question.


"The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates (Apology 38a)

Saturday

Former Christian musician / Christian School Principal Deconverts Part 5

My deconversion from Christianity centres on a total rejection of the notion that Jesus is God.

A dead Jewish peasant cannot be God.

It is impossible. I realised that many years before my deconversion.

Whenever the infinite reduces itself to the finite it annihilates itself. Mathematical Proof: If you take the largest cardinal number that you can think of (besides infinity) and divide it by infinity then the answer is always zero.

The infinite One God Father / Yahweh / Al-Lah is:
- everywhere (omnipresent)
- all knowing (omniscient)
- all powerful (omnipotent)
- Spirit
- eternal, self-existent
- invisible
- immutable (unchangeable)
- has no father
- does not urinate, defecate or pass wind.
- does not get tired or sleep.
- does not die.
- sends but is not sent
- rules but is not ruled over
- commands but is not commanded
- anoints the human Messiah / Christ

BUT

The finite historic time / space human Jesus of Nazareth is:
- confined / restricted to his human body
- doesn't know when the end will come
- heals a man in stages with spittle and dust
- cannot do miracles because of people's unbelief
- human flesh with a spirit
- began as a fetus inside Mary
- totally visible from his birth till his death
- changed in the normal physical and psychological stages of all humans /aged
- has a father
- urinated, defecated and passed wind
- got tired and slept
- died by Roman execution
- was sent and did not send
- is ruled over
- is commanded
- is anointed by God

Jesus stated in his greatest commandment in Mark 12:29 - The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." (NIV).

This references Yahweh alone ( and not Jesus) in the Jewish Shema in Deuteronomy 6: 4 "Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Eḥad - Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One"

WHO is this Yahweh who alone is ONE God?

"I the LORD (YAHWEH) am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt,the house of bondage: You shall have NO OTHER GODS BESIDE ME (YAHWEH)." -Exodus 20:1-6 (JPS Tanakh)

"I the LORD (YAHWEH) am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt,the house of bondage: You shall have NO OTHER GODS BESIDE ME (YAHWEH)." -Deuteronomy 5:6-7 (JPS Tanakh)

The historic time / space Jesus of Nazareth did NOT bring the people of Israel "out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage".

THEREFORE

Jesus is NOT the infinite One God Yahweh and "You will have no gods other than me (the infinite One God Yahweh)".

Chrisianity is built upon the lie that Jesus is God. Jesus NEVER claimed to be God.

BOOKS & JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY & ISLAM


A way to test the vaidity of a religion. What would happen if their valued texts had never been written? Suppose the Torah, New Testament and Koran were not in existence. How would these religions know about their God?


If the Torah had never been written one would never know about Moses. One could however know God / Yahweh without the Torah in the same manner that Abraham knew God without any text or book.


If the Koran had never been written one would never know about Mohammed. One could however know God / Al-Lah from his creation in a similar way to Abraham.


If the New Testament had never been written one would never know about Jesus. As Christians worship Jesus as God then one could never get to know this God. You can't know Jesus as God without a New Testament.

It each of the above religions the texts point to God. In each of the religions fundamentalists have interpreted the texts wrongly and made their intepretation of the texts absolutes.

Tuesday

CRITIQUE - Allah: A Christian Response by Miroslav Volf


Do Christians who worship Yahweh alone as God (as directed by Jesus) really worship Al-Lah? Yes.


Do Christians who worship Jesus as God really worship Al-lah? The answer is plainly no. My comments in *[ ...]


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-192707-2 Allah: A Christian Response Miroslav Volf, HarperOne, $25.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-192707-2


... is the God of the Qur'an the same as the God of the Bible? *[ Only Yahweh and not Jesus] ... the object of worship for both religions is the same (or at least the objects are "sufficiently similar"). *[ Incorrect. Many Christians worship Jesus as God. Jesus is a human and Al-Lah is not a human.] ... the comparison of the Christian Trinity to Allah. *[ Al-Lah like Yahweh is ONE God and not three gods.]


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From the Koran 2:61 Believers, Jews, Christians, and Sabaens - whoever belives in Allah *[YAHWEH NOT JESUS] and the last day and does what is right - shall be rewarded by their Lord; they have nothing to fear.


For most Christians to worship Al-Lah one would have to prove that Jesus is really Al-Lah. Moselms would disagree as they do not view Jesus as God but as a prophet of Al-lah. Moslems do not believe in a trinity.


"Oh People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion, nor say of God anything but the truth. Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, was (no more than) a messenger of God, and His Word which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him. So believe in God and His messengers. Say not, 'Trinity.' Desist! It will be better for you, for God is One God, Glory be to Him! (Far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is God as a Disposer of affairs" (4:171).


"The Jews call 'Uzair a son of God, and the Christians call Christ the son of God. That is but a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. God's curse be on them; how they are deluded away from the Truth! They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of God, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary. Yet they were commanded to worship but One God: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him! (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him)" (9:30-31).


Former Christian musician / Christian School Principal Deconverts Part 4


Christian hatred drove me from Christianity but so did Christian addictions and the utter brain-numbing boredom of church and boring sermons.

The best sermon times I had were with my kids in the park playing on the swings and walking. I remember these times fondly. Outside with my kids while my wife listened to the sermon. My kids were bored with the sermon. So was I. I remember so few sermons from my 39 years of bondage in Christianity. They were all dumbed down simplistic nonsense. Pastors say that they spend 10 to 20 hours preparing the rubbish. It took me less than 2 minutes to prepare half hour talks as a teacher. Pastors are wasting their time and your money if it really takes them 10 to 20 hours to prepare a sermon. This is the type of "Lord's work" that your tithes, offerings and love gifts support.

The worst thing I ever did as a Christian was place my kids in a Christian school. The best thing I ever did for their education was to take them out and place them in a Public School a year later. Another best thing was that I eventually told them that they didn't have to attend church if they didn't want to. My kids didn't need to share my addiction to church. However church addiction is not the primary addictions of Christianity.

Christians are addicted to the bible.

Christians are addicted to Jesus.

The bible and Jesus are Christianity's two most important addictions.

I use the term addicted in the dictionary sense: "the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming ... to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.... the condition of being abnormally dependent on some habit." (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/addiction)

The Christian addiction is in that order. The bible is far more important to Christians than Jesus as I will explain.

1. CHRISTIANS ARE ADDICTED TO THE BIBLE

Christians read and quote the bible more than any other activity. Most of the time in their "Christian walk" is devoted to this activity. They spend more time on it than prayer. They spend more time on it than having sex. The bible is the Christian idol. They believe it to be "God's Word" and a "life manual" written by God. They find out God's will by reading it. It is a really handy way to find out what you should do. There are so many contradictions in the bible by multiple authors, editors and forgers that all you have to do is think about what you really want to do, go the bible and find a verse that suits you. Bingo! You can do whatever you want to do. You have a bible verse and that's all that matters.

The bible is also essential for addiction to Jesus. Abraham could know God without a bible and Paul says in Romans 1 that one can know God by looking at the universe but no Christian can know Jesus without a bible. You can't know Jesus any other way than by reading a bible. This is how Jesus talks to you and how you have a "personal relationship" with Jesus. The bible is therefore the primary addiction as without it you cannot be addicted to Jesus. Addiction to the bible leads to addiction to Jesus.

2. CHRISTIANS ARE ADDICTED TO JESUS

Jesus is more important to Christians than Father God (Yahweh) mentioned in Jesus' greatest commandment. Jesus is supposed to be God's son however the Holy Spirit is supposed to have been the one who impregnated Mary so strictly speaking Jesus is really son of the Holy Spirit. However Jesus may well be his own father as 1 god Yahweh+ 1 god Jesus + 1 god Holy Spirit = 1 god. If you have seen Jesus you have seen the father. Don't think about the maths or the logic too much. Especially don't think about how a finite dead Jewish peasant can really be the infinite One God. Both Judaism and Islam rightly say that it is nonsense.

Christians mentioned Jesus far more times than Father God (Yahweh) and the Holy Spirit gets very little mention except in pentecostal churches. One can go to a church service and only hear talk about Jesus. One also hears the term "the lord" a lot. I have never been able to tell whether it meant the LORD God (Yahweh) or the lord / boss Jesus. It think it is puposely used because of that confusion.

You are supposed to ask Jesus into your heart. How is this possible for a dead Jewish peasant? Won't he block up your arteries? Of course not! Christianese phrases that make no sense in the real world abound in Christianity. It means that Jesus should be the core of your life. You have to be totally addicted to Jesus and never question.

In your addiction to Jesus you constantly ask "What Would Jesus Do?" and the answer to the question gives you the correct Christian action. Would Jesus choose the blue or geen shirt? Would Jesus put balsamic dressing or thousand island's dressing on his salad? Would Jesus use the doggy or missionary position? The options are endless.

That's it. Be addicted to the bible and Jesus and you will nicely fit into any Christian church.

Dare question anything about the bible or Jesus and you will be crucified. That was my experience - repeatedly. Christians love to crucify those who ask questions. It's their hobby. Everyone has to have a hobby.

Monday

Former Christian musician / Christian School Principal Deconverts Part 3


Rowland Croucher's only contact with me since the thread. It is interesting that every mention of "fuck"has been censored on the thread. One cannot tell intolerant fundamentalist Christians to go fuck themselves. It must be censored. The word "fuck" is apparently more offensive than the abuse that intolerant fundamentalist Christians use to bully people.

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.... But please get some help
I've admired your quest for rationality: but there's an irrational streak in your current behaviour.
Are you currently seeing a psychiatrist - a good one?
You're in my prayers (whatever they're worth :-)

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MY REPLY

There is absolutely no irrationality in my decision to finally deconvert from Christianity. It is extremely well thought through over a period of years. I am not finished with God but I am definitely finished with Christianity and the church.

My psychiatrist's fellow psychiatrist (and friend) is an ex-Christian who has been through the same living hell as I have been through in church and with fundamentalist Christians. My psychiatrist appludes my stance as an Exiled Believer. Ironic (not irenic) how my PSTD was partially caused by Christians. I will be mentioning that in my deconversion blog.

Post some material about how a Christian for 39 years finally deconverted because of repeated abuse by intolerant hate-filled fundamentalist Christians on your thread about "loving words". I dare you. Do an exit interview with me and post it in full (uncensored) on your blog on why I left Christianity. I dare you. I will certainly be doing so.

I am not the perpetrator, I am the victim of this repeated abuse. You would realise this if you had bothered to read all the posts. I asked you for help and you gave none. I am greatly disappointed that you feel fit to re-crucify the victim. This is a nauseous trait I find repeatedly in pastors. How very Christian of you!

I don't need your prayers because they don't work. What I needed as a PTSD sufferer was loving action against repeated abuse but you never gave it.

On Judgement Day my conscience will be clear. I gave Christianity a good shot. No love was forthcoming from Christians. The worship of a human as the infinite One God Yahweh is absolutely repulsive to me. No-one could negate what I had to say regarding Jesus' greatest commandment only referencing Yahweh as in the Shema. The worship of a finite human Jewish peasant - Jesus - is pure idol worship. You can only do it by performing a series of mental gymnastics to make a finite Jesus into the infinite One God Yahweh. I am not prepared to believe such obvious myths. Christians don't even know who they should worship and refuse to follow Jesus' two greatest commandments! I am living proof of that.

I will not defriend you (yet). I am open to all views and opinions unlike the "loving" rabid intolerant ignorant fundamentalists in the threads on your post about "loving words". How ironic! (Irenic was never there with my opponents.)

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Will Rowland Croucher do an exit interview uncensored and post it on his blog? Of course not! My testimony is far too damaging to Christianity.

DEFINITIVELY ANSWERING Philip Yancey "Church: Why Bother?"


All references from Philip Yancey "Church: Why Bother?" (Zondervan:1998)

"A religion of externals is easy to cast aside." p.19 Christianity is such a religion so I easily cast it aside. You are fed lies continually and have to do all sorts of mental gymnastics in order to remain within the fold.

"They talked about Grace but lived the law: they spoke of love but showed signs of hate." p.19 There are a handful of decent people in Christianity but they are very few and the vast majority live the law and exhibit hatred. The biggest form of hatred is towards other Christians who they deem "not true Christians" and "heretics". They are the Christians working for change within Christianity to reform it. (I think it is a lost cause to do so.) The next biggest form of hatred is towards homosexuals and Moslems. Without those three groups they wouldn't have anything else to gossip about at "fellowship" after church.

"Christianity kept me from church."p. 19 Christians drove me from Christianity.

"Far fewer people attend church on Sunday that claim to follow Christ: some of them have stories similar to mine: they feel burned or even betrayed by a former church experience. Others simply 'get nothing out of church''." p. 20 I was held own and assaulted by a pastor and elder as a church member thug repeatedly punched me in the face. My crime? I dared to ask for an apology because they had stated that AIDS was made by the World Health Organisation and my brother was Australia's W.H.O. representative, a world-famous AIDS researcher and dying from AIDS at the time. What Christian love! I have been the victim of repeated fundamentalist abusive speech since I joined Christianity in 1972 beginning with being told, as a rock musician, that rock music was of the Devil and that I was demon possessed because I liked it. I haven't had one week without abuse by a fundamentalist Christian since that date. My treatment at the hands of Christians is a contributing factor to my Post Traumatic Stress disorder. Selah - pause and think about it. After my first brush with death in 1980 I began to get less and less interested in church. Church is extremely boring. You sing "Jesus is my boyfriend" Jesus jingles, get lectured to in a sermoan and pay for the privilege. What a fun way to spend a Sunday!

"The longer you stay away from church the stranger it seems." p. 22 Amen! "If we missed a Sunday, we felt a void." p. 23 It's called "detox". You can tell when you are addicted to church because you need your weekly fix otherwise you get the jitters. Take the test. Skip church for a month and see what happens.

"Annie Dillard once described her church this way: ... the lagging emptiness and dilution of the liturgy, the horrifying vacuity of the sermon, and ... the fog of dreary senseless pervading the whole."p. 22 That sums it up nicely! Remember that you are also paying tithes (10% of your gross income) as well as offering and "love gifts" for this torture in the name of Jesus.

"Christianity is not a purely intellectual, internal faith. It can only be lived in community."p. 23 That is utter bullshit and religious propaganda without any foundation! It is trotted out by pious pastors time and time again because without people filling their pews there is no reason for them as pastors. Pastor is an interesting word. It is a leader of sheep. Make your own conclusion. Christianity can most definitely only be a personal faith with privately held beliefs without ever stepping foot ion a church. Jesus only gave two commandments that are central to Christianity - love God and your fellow human. neither requires your participation in a church. Abraham had no church. Abraham still knew God, loved God and loved his fellow humans. Nothing has changed. The two greatest commandments of Jesus are also about orthopraxy (right action) and not orthodoxy (right belief). There is no right belief. Thousands of denominations prove that. God is love and if you follow God then you love in action. Applies to all religions without fail.

"Some people - those who live in small towns, for instance - have few options of churches to attend." p.24 Change that top MOST people in Australia where there are few major cities, sparsely populated. Living in rural Australia means that you ONLY have fundamentalist churches to choose from if you are a Protestant.

"I used to approach church with the spirit of a discriminating consumer." p.24. You're paying your tithes, offerings and love gifts so why wouldn't you want to be a discriminating consumer. That is only logical and rational.

"the talent deficit I encounter in various churches."p. 25 My local area has 9% of people with a degree or higher. (Sydney has 27%) That means I'm in that 9%. The more educated you are the less likely you are to be a church member. That means that the churches in my area have less than 9% of people with degrees or higher. That means that the sermon is always dumbed down even more than usually.

"Church exists primarily ... to worship God; if it fails in that, it fails."p. 25 Church indeed fails in that basic requirement. You can go through a whole service and never hear God (Yahweh ) mentioned. All you hear is about a dead Jewish peasant called Jesus that they somehow think is the infinite One God without any proof. you also hear "the Lord"spoke about. You never know which Lord this is: LORD God (Yahweh) who Jesus commanded us to worship in the greatest commandment, God the Father (Yahweh) or Lord Satan. Since Christians don't know who to worship then church fails in worshipping God. For years as a Christian ( even as a Christian musician) I never sang hymns and choruses that were addressed to Jesus. How can a dead Jew do anything for you? Impossible.

"homeless people ... sometimes these visitors would stretch themselves out on th pews and snore loudly through the morning service."p. 29 "senior citizens who are liable to drift off to sleep if the preacher drones on too long. "p. 31 I wish I had had the guts to do it. Sound a much more productive way of being in church.

"Welcome to the Body of Christ" p. 39. Not so much a body but a monster of Frankenstein. Distorted grotesque features, blind in one eye, deaf, farting, facial ticks, balding, reeking body odour, beer belly, amputated arm, limping, missing teeth, bad breath. One leg kicking the other leg. Mouth biting the stump of an arm. That's church.

"The church, as Eugene Peterson has observed, is composed of equal parts mystery and mess."p. 45 Eugene Peterson got it wrong. It's a mystery why the church is in such a mess. It's composed of equal parts of bullshit and horseshit. Or one could say composed entirely of shit.

"Mr Ponce. provided for me a comforting male presence. "p. 54 I'm tempted to laugh out loud and comment on the name but .....

"I like to think of church as one of those Emergi-Centres"p. 55 ... long waits, bored to death, room full of contagious infected people, rude staff, utterly ignored - unless you complain about your treatment. Then you're kicked out.

"When I think about the history of the Christian church ...: the Inquisition, Crusades, racial pogroms, abuse of wealth." pp. 56-57. Just add abuse of members to the list and the same thing still goes on. "racial pogroms' are just called "concern over the Islamic take-over of our nation".

"a loving community like a church"p. 57 In 39 years as a Christian I have never visited one church completely full of loving people. There is always at least one hate-filled fundamentalist somewhere in the mob waiting to grill you to see if you are a "true Christian" or not.

"The church is a place where we can bring our pain" p. 59. Correction - church is a place that causes pain to many people. That may be because many church members are pains in the arse.

"churches that are run more like a business than a family." 63. Churches are run more like dysfunctional families.

"The church is God's neighbourhood bar".p. 67 If Jesus were alive he would be found at the bar and not in church.

Those were the only worthwhile passages in the whole book of 100 pages. Probably cost you $30 or more in your local Christian bookstore. Not worth a cent. Not worth your while reading. It is typical of most dumbed-down paperbacks available in Christian bookstores. This one is just a long advertisement to get you to return to church. It won't work on me.

Former Christian musician / Christian School Principal Deconverts Part 2


These are my last posts as a Christian on Rowland Croucher's thread.

Rowland Croucher wrote: Don't forget there are many 'lurkers' here who find these exchanges objectionable. Mark T: you're the main offender, I'm afraid. ... My suggestion: take a full transcript of one of these threads *[Impossible to do on this thread as Rowland CENSORED it like all fundamentalists do] and show it to a rational friend/psychiatrist/whoever-you-trust and see what they say... *[ How utterly condescending!]

Instead I am taking it to the world. Throughout the thread I asked for people to remain on topic and criticise my arguments and not attack me personally. That never happened.

I asked one Christian poster who was particularly objectionable and only wanted to verbally abuse me whether I should quote all his off topic posts about myself. He answered "yes" so I did. There were 25 off topic posts only centred on me by this one poster.

The thread began

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Rowland Croucher: The most hate-filled clergy conference I've ever visited was Anglican: but they'd used the word 'charity' several times in their liturgies.

Sometimes we vilify others for their lack of love and do not realize that the 'put-downs' we employ are unloving, etc.

How can we encourage one another to be more loving in our speech?

Referenced http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/26612.htm?sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4d8596de1a282dfd%2C0

Curses Left and Right: Hate Speech and Biblical Tradition” by Brian M. Britt

The abstract reads: ”Hate speech has been defined as ‘words that wound,’ but legal arguments to restrict such words have been unable to show how language *in itself* can have power. Such power is inconsistent with secularist ideas of language that consider words to be mere tools of human communication and expression. Instead, current debates over hate speech reflect biblical traditions of cursing and powerful words. Yet arguments against the use of racist and sexist speech depend mainly on modern, secular notions of language, equality, and justice. Meanwhile, in defiance of secular law and theories of language, some religious groups have used inflammatory words to provoke public outrage and advance their agendas. The curse of the pulsa denura (Israel) and the execrations of the Westboro Baptist Church (United States) exploit a ‘curse loophole’ in law and society that doubts the power of words. An approach to language and tradition that avoids the simplistic dichotomy of ‘religion’ and ‘secularity’ can lead to a Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 78:3 – 2010, pp633-661. Journal of the American Academy of Religion,

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My posts follow with ">" for other people and *[..] for my comments now.]

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I have been the victim of both physical violence by Christians as well as repeated personal verbal attacks through words. There are number of obnoxious traits of modern Christians which are the reasons I will never join a church again:

- not... allowing others to have an opinion or to interpret scripture differently than their own tradition and labelling such people as "not true Christians" or "heretics"

- thinking that another's belief invalidates the content of what the other has to say

- fear of the new and the unknown and the Other

- preference for niceness over honesty

- preference for bible verses over rational argument

- attacking the person rather than the argument

- loathing of any criticism even if it is valid

*[ This proved utterly prophetic. It is exactly as all the Christians behaved on the thread.]

I taught retail. I know the following .

A satisfied customer may tell 3 – 5 people about their experience.

A dissatisfied customer may tell 8 – 10 people about their experience.

The average business never hears from 96% of its unhappy customers.

For every complaint received the average company in fact has 26 customers with similar complaints, 6 of which are serious problems. Of the customers who register a complaint as many as 70% will do business again with your business if the complaint is effectively resolved. That figure goes up to a staggering 95% if the customer feels that their complaint was resolved quickly.

It costs 6 times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing customer.

1 complaining customer & 26 other dissatisfied customers = 27 unhappy customers

27 complaining customers will each tell up to 20 others = 540 people may have heard complaints about your company.

(Source: Aussie Host)

Think about customers = church attenders / potential church attenders and business = church. Exactly the same thing applies. I have told far more than 10 people about my extremely unhappy experience with Christians. The chuch takes no notice of its unhappy customers and continues stumbling into the dark.

Those who spoke out against the white slave traders used nasty words as well as reason. Those who advocated slavery used bible verses as the bible advocates slavery in both the Old and New Testament. If we only followed what the churches in the South of the USA stated and followed bible verses then slavery would still be with us.

Likewise, in modern times, Martin Luther King had many nasty things to say about the government and Christians who used bible verses to promote racism as well was words of love. If we had listened to the bible quoting preachers from Southern Churches then racism would still be here today and no equality for Negroes.

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I have seen more "Christian love" demonstrated by atheist philosophers in a philosophy discussion than anything I have ever experienced in a Christian discussion. Atheist philsophers at least stick to the topic, have read what they are talking about or criticising, discuss the ideas and not attack the person for their particular stance. Reason, reason and reason again. It seems to trump "Christian love" every time in its actual demonstration of love toward another.

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There is PLENTY to be unsatisfied with church but those in church put their hands over their ears chanting "La la la. I'm not listening". I have literally met HUNDREDS who have left church because they are dissatisfied with your "ministry / service / help". Think about it. Some have left Chritianity completely - all because of how they were treated in churches like those you attend.

The unhappy customers with church is why the numbers in your pews are falling rapidly. Haven't you noticed? Look around and see the empty pews. That's the dissatisfied customers who do not see your "Good News" as anything good whatsoever but totally bad news. There are no "exit interviews" when Christians leave church. They just leave and no-one bats an eyelid.

Your churches could learn from proper customer service techniques.

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Many of those leaving your churches are NOT leaving JESUS or GOD.... They are leaving CHURCH. Your church is not Jesus or God. Jesus and God are not church. They are saying "You're church sux!" Those in retail would stand up in astonishment and think why they aren't attracting customers but customers are regularly leaving. If the exodus keeps going on the business fails The church is failing in the West. Quoting a bible verse to explain the bleeding of the church with thousands leaving the church yearly isn't going to help your situtation. You are doing something wrong. That's why you are having people leave. You are not listening to WHY they are leaving.

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Jesus repeatedly said that God the Father (Yahweh) should be the focus. That is the meaning of Jesus' greatest commandment.

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Ministry is helping other humans. If you are not helping other humans then you have no ministry whatsoever even if you have a title that uses the word. I have been speaking about churches over the entire West not your particular singular church - though I am also sure that your numbers have dropped over the past 20 years.

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WHICH "Lord"????? It is such an all-encompassing word that is quite vague.

LORD God the Father (Yahweh) ????

lord (boss) Jesus the human messiah anointed BY God the Father (Yahweh)????

Lord Satan????

I'm beginning to think, based soley upon the fruit demonstrated by Christians, that it might be Lord Satan.

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All I see are churches addicted to the human Jesus who was anointed BY God for a task. I can go to a church service and NEVER hear one word regarding God the Father (Yahweh) but only Jesus. Then there is the use of catch-phrase "the Lord" which can mean either Jesus or God the father (Yahweh). You are never sure which is being spoken of. These are just a few of the many complaints that I have also heard other church leavers complain about.

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A POST DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE TOPIC - SEE THE LOVE AND LOVING WORDS!!!!

> I know you dont accept nor believe on the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Father's begotten and annointed Son.

A lie! I believe totally that Jesus is lord / boss / master as the GREEK word means ....

Lord does not automatically mean God.

Lord means master / boss.

1) property owners are called Lord (Matt. 20:8, kurios is "owner" - NIV)

2) heads of households were called Lord (Mk 13:35, owner=kurios).

3) slave owners were called Lord (Matt. 10:24, master=kurios).

4) husbands were called Lord (1 Pet. 3:6, master=kurios).

5) a son called his father Lord (Matt. 21:30, sir=kurios).

6) the Roman Emperor was called Lord (Acts 25:26, His Majesty=kurios).

7) Roman authorities were called Lord (Matt. 27:63, sir=kurios).


> On this account you cannot be a Christian despite your protests. ... You may find better fellowship with atheists, agnostics, skeptics, Moslems, or the vast majority of Jews

This is directly related to what I have previously stated - There are number of obnoxious traits of modern Christians .... labelling such people as "not true Christians" or "heretics"

Your words are not loving.

> vent your spleen here continually.

This is directly related to what I have previously stated - There are number of obnoxious traits of modern Christians ....- not allowing others to have an opinion or to interpret scripture differently than their own tradition

Your words are not loving.

You are a great example of why I will never attend church again.

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Think about why there are HUNDREDS of denominations. Each thinks the others are "not true Christians" and "heretics".... If they didn't then there would only be one church with no other interpretation. Each also claims the the Holy Spirit has led them, exclusively, into all truth and that's why the others are "not true Christians" and "heretics". Why hasn't the Holy Spirit done his work? Why are there hundreds of denominations that all exclude each other?

This is symptomatic of all Christian discussion I have been in. Some person thinks that they have exclusive truth because they follow their denomination's man-made dogma and excludes anyone else from an opinion. It's not just that they believe the other person is wrong - they don't wish that person to have any say whatsoever and end up attacking the person with insults and unloving words such as "not a true Christian"or "heretic" rather than discussing their ideas. This particularly happens with those addicted to the bible who argue by quoting bible verses and who do not find rational discourse easy.

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*[ In relation to being repeatedly interrogated about what I believed ]

A POST DIRECTLY RELATED TO LOVING WORDS ... OR THE LACK OF THEM.

Bible quoting types regularly come back to the belief of the person and not their ideas. They think that if a person doesn't believe 100% the same as them then their opponent's ideas are automatically inavilidated because they are "not a true Christian"or a "heretic".

That is definitely not the case. An idea stands alone by itself to be critiqued against truth rather than compared to a bible verse. A person's belief system does not invalidate their ideas.

When I answer I will be told "You're not a true Christian" and / or "You're a heretic" because my ideas are not 100% like those of bible quoters.

I follow Jesus' greatest commandment EXACTLY and ONLY worship Yahweh - Father God. I have no idea why bible quoters think I am "not a true Christian" when I follow what Jesus plainly stated. Jesus' greatest commandment references the following ....

"I the LORD (YAHWEH) am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage: You shall have NO OTHER GODS BESIDE ME (YAHWEH)." - Exodus 20:1-6 (JPS Tanakh)

"I the LORD (YAHWEH) am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage: You shall have NO OTHER GODS BESIDE ME (YAHWEH)." - Deuteronomy 5:6-7 (JPS Tanakh)

The historic time / space Jesus of Nazareth did NOT bring the people of Israel "out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage".

THEREFORE

Jesus is NOT the infinite One God Yahweh and "You will have no gods other than me (the infinite One God Yahweh)".

Now PROVE that the finite human historic time / space Jesus of Nazareth brought the people of Israel "out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage".

Quote proof with Jesus' name in it.'

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> His character is to welcome the outcast, offer grace to those who do not deserve it and love to all. How hard can it be to do that in the church????

Apparently VERY difficult. That is what I am hearing daily from those who have left the church.

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> 3) I do see my responsibility to contend for the faith and to refute error and heretics and those that seek to divide the church.

BINGO!

Who is to say that YOU are not the "heretic" and "not a true Christian"????? I could m...ake a very good rational case for that based soley upon Jesus' greatest commandment and the Shema that Jesus quoted. I could give logical reasons why you are an idol worshipper of a human Jewish peasant and not a worshipper of the One God Yahweh. But I don't do such things - I look at your arguments and questions.

As George M. Marsden correctly points out "A Fundamentalist is an evangelical who is angry about something ... fundamentalists are a subtype of evangelicals and militancy is crucial to their outlook."- George M Marsden "Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism" (William B Eerdmans : 1991) p.1

It is these types that are regularly complained about as lacking love by all others - Christian and non-Christian. Fundamentalism is the major problem within church regarding lack of love and lack of loving words. They erroneously think they are doing God's will by attacking others. In this they are no different to the Islamic fundamentalists that they hate so much.

Read Karen Armstrong "The Battle For God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. (HarperCollins:200)

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> Thomas said to Jesus ... "My Lord and my God"

Why does it always boil down to argument by a Bible Verse Vomit????

From the SAME BOOK - John 20:17 - "I [Jesus] am ascending to MY FATHER AND YOUR FATHER, MY GOD AND YOUR GOD"

...

I'm sorry that your human god has a God above him. My God (Yahweh) has no God that he goes to and no father.

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As I view John's gospel as a forgery it isn't much evidence to me. I again go on Jesus' greatest commandment which I see NO-ONE has refuted. It ONLY refers to Yahweh. The problem is then proving that a finite human Jewish peasant from the first century is really the infinite One God Yahweh who brought the people of Israel out of Egypt. I see no proof of that anywhere. You have to perform a series of mental gymnastics to believe it.

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> There are times when the refutation of error and condemnation of heretics causes Christians to act in ways that seem quite at odds with what they profess.

John: Well, everything that you've been saying implies that [Fundame...ntalism] is a manifestation of a fairly low level of mental health, doesn't it? For a start, Fundamentalists call for a literal interpretation of scripture, and as we saw when we were discussing secular values, focusing in on the letter of the law is a characteristic of the less healthy. In addition, wise people tend not to exhibit literal mindedness, so it seems singularly inappropriate to assume that this is the vein in which great spiritual teachers are speaking. Then again, whether we're talking about Christianity, Islam, Judaism or Hinduism, the values of Fundamentalists seem aimed at making themselves feel better by placing all negative and destructive emotions in people with different beliefs, and enjoying the golden glow of self-justification that results. ... You know that simile: 'As rare as a Fundamentalist who loves his enemy.' ... the Inquisition did largely miss the point of 'Love Thy Neighbour', didn't they? Wasn't burning heretics 'worse' than being tolerant towards them? ...

- Robin Skinner & John Cleese "LIFE ...and how to survive it" (Methuen; London:1993) p. 287

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> John's Gospel ... a forgery ... you would not have many Christians who agree with you.

Think again. The Jesus Seminar says that most of the words are inauthentic. Geza Vermes does not use it in his "The Authentic Goepsl of Jesus"( Penguin: 2004)

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> the Word of the Lord requires.

Again, the bible NEVER calls itself "the Word of God". Not ONE verse!!!!

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>Rowland Croucher: Interesting discussion: and I appreciate Mark's exhortations to stick to the topic (though I note even he got waylaid by others' theological comments about this'n that... and veered off it :-)

*[ Notice his contradictory words later. ]

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ANOTHER POST DIRECTLY ON LOVING WORDS ... OR THE LACK OF THEM

> Why bother debating someone who holds nothing but contempt for all Churches and most Christians and virtually denies the existence of the New Covenant?

1. Why not?

2. You give a good example of what I wrote about earlier ...- There are number of obnoxious traits of modern Christians .... labelling such people as "not true Christians" or "heretics"

3. You have given a very good example of a subjective value judgement and excluded someone from debate based SOLEY on the their belief not being 100% the same as yours and NOT upon their IDEAS that they are discussing.

4. Bible quoting fundamentalist types ALWAYS want to exclude anyone who is not a bible quoting fundamentalist.

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> the Jesus Seminar is not a credible authority.

You haven't even read the original source!!!!!

1. It is NOT ON TOPIC.

2. I have introduced it to counteract your repeated "Argument By Bible Verse Quoting". The very verses you quote are held in dispute as inauthentic to the historical Jesus by contemporary biblical scholars. It therefore invalidates your argument unless you can PROVE that Jesus actually said the words in time / space history. Proof does not mean quoting other bible verses or appealing to ancient creeds and dogmas. Proof means giving logical valid argument without attacking the person.

3. It is invalid to critique a book that you have never read. Always go to the source material and read it.

4. The following Fellowes of the Jesus Seminar who worked on "The Five Gospels" also have PhDs or ThDs specifically from Harvard:

- Harold W Attridge

- Ron Cameron

- Arthur J Dewey

- Julian V Hills

- Roy W Hoover

- J Ramsey Michaels

- Phillip Sellew

- Dennis Smith

- Robert F Stoops, Jr

How does your link from one person from Harvard invalidate their work when they are on equal footing from the same university? It doesn't! 9 against 1.

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> In Corinthians Paul speaks of Christians as being Ambassadors of Reconcilliation.

I have spoken of Christians being the exact opposite.

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> our faith is not founded on "rational discourse"

In his greatest commandment Jesus said to love Father God (Yahweh) with ALL our mind. What part of that don't you understand?

Bible quoting Christians often demonise the messenger rather than listen to the message.

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>So why you keep appealing to a minority group as though it were representative of "contemporary biblical scholarship" is beyond me.

1. It is STILL OFF TOPIC.

2. Contemporary biblical scholars within the Jesus Seminar ARE representatives of contemporary biblical scholarship by logical dictionary definition. That they do not agree with your scholars does not invalidate them as scholars. Was Luther inavlidated because he disagreed with the entire Catholic Church? You have a similar new reformation happening today right under your nose.

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>>"STILL OFF TOPIC" > Er, a topic you introduced, ...

1. STILL OFF TOPIC

2. People are still more interested in me and my personal belief about the bible than my rational arguments.

3. No, it is a topic Robert Graves introduced - the discussion of the Jesus Seminar in reply to my quoting it in answer to Peter Johnson when he proceded with an invalid "Argument By Quoting Bible Verses": My Lord and my God" ....From the SAME BOOK - John 20:17 - "I [Jesus] am ascending to MY FATHER AND YOUR FATHER, MY GOD AND YOUR GOD"

My point was, of course, that quoting bible verses proves nothing whatsoever. Above is a contradiction from the same book. God does not have a God or father that he goes to.

Even IF we assume all the presuppositions that the bible is "God's Word" inspired and accurate because of a supposed member of three gods, all the writers are exactly as they state, all the words are translated properly from the copies of the copies of the copies of the copies that we have in existence etc THEN we still have a MAJOR problem that is demonstrated in the two verses above. The bible contradicts itself in many places.

I therefore face a large problem.

IF I believe that God is soley responsible for the bible THEN I MUST logically assume that he is obviously demented (multiple contradictions within the bible text) , not good at history (can't harmonise Kings & Chronicles) or remembering things (several attempts at ending Mark's gospel) , immoral and unethical (advocating genocide in Joshua, calling Lot a righteous man in the NT for offering his daughters to a bunch of angel rapers and advocationg slavery). My only choice would have to be to utterly ignore this "god" as completely unworthy of my attention.

OR

I could believe that the bible is a work of multiple authors, editors and forgers over a wide range of time who disagreed with each other, made human errors within the text - and not blame God for the absolute illogical irrational ahistorical mess that is the bible as we now know it. This includes the possibility that many of the texts of Jesus' words are inauthentic or forgeries or misquotes or bad translations or maybe somewhere hidden amongst the crap actually said by him.

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Tell you what, let's stick to the TOPIC.

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‎>On topic: Q: How do you loving tell someone on this list that they have probably lost any credibility for engaging in a faith-based and rational discussion given their demonstrated inability to support even the most basic of Christian tenets and that their nonsensical arguments are bringing division among the fellowship of believers of which they do not stand?

On topic: Q: How do you loving tell someone on this list that they have no credibility for engaging in a rational logical discussion anywhere in the world given that they are obsessed with the faulty notion that one's theological belief invalidates one's rational logical arguments, they are involved in a hate-filled intolerant personal Crusade / Inquisition / Witch Hunt against anyone who does not believe 100% the same as themselves, they believe in irrational, illogical anti-intellectual "Argument By Quoting Bible Verses", they engage in passive-aggressive posts, they don't listen to what people world wide are saying about the obnoxiousness of similar such bible quoting fundamentalist types, and they prefer personal attacks to critiquing any argument? I guess one just answers their Bible Verse Vomits with fact after fact, refuting their obnoxious behaviour and hatred and faulty arguments even if the person is bored with external quotes.

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Criticism of Christians

Negative attitudes in the United States

David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Institute, and Gabe Lyons of the Fermi Project published a study of attitudes of 16-29 year old Americans towards Christianity. They found ...that about 38% of all those who were not regular churchgoers had negative impressions of Christianity, and especially evangelical Christianity, associating it with conservative political activism, hypocrisy, anti-homosexuality, and judgmentalism. About 17% had "very bad" perceptions of Christianity.

Hypocrisy

Secular and religious critics have accused many Christians of being hypocritical. For instance, although marital fidelity and family values are arguably central to Christian morality, a study by the Barna Research Group has shown that divorce rates among Evangelical Christians were higher than for other faith groups, and also trended higher than the rate of divorce among atheists and agnostics. Tom Whiteman, a Philadelphia psychologist found that the primary reasons for Christian divorce include adultery, abuse (including substance, physical and verbal abuse), and abandonment whereas the number one reason cited for divorce in the general population was incompatibility.

Conservative Christians are often accused of being intolerant by secular humanists and liberal Christians, claiming that they oppose science that seems to contradict scripture , liberal democracy (separation of church and state), and progressive social policies (rights of people of other races and religions, of women, and of people with different sexual orientations).

Persecution by Christians

Individuals and groups throughout history have been persecuted by certain Christians (and Christian groups) based upon sex, sexual orientation, race, and religion (even within the bounds of Christianity itself). Many of the persecutors attempted to justify their actions with particular scriptural interpretations.

Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Christiansity

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> I understand you regard yourself as a Christian,

1. I refer to myself as an Exiled Believer.

2. Christians may critique Christianity contrary to what Peter Johnson demands.

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1. STILL OFF TOPIC!!!!!

...

2. You have NO idea what I am talking about!!!!!

The term "Exiled Believer" comes from John Shelby Spong in "Why Christianity Must Change Or Die" (Harper San Francisco 1998) p. 20 entitled "On Saying the Christian Creed With Honesty" & "The Meaning Of The Exile And How We Got There" ... and which describes me accurately ....

So while claiming to be a believer (* i.e. a Christian) and still asserting my deeply held commitment to Jesus as Lord and Christ, I also recognize that I live in a state of exile from the presuppositions of my own religious past. I am exiled from the literal understandings that shaped the creed at its creation. I am exiled from the worldview in which the creed was formed.

The only thing I know to do in this moment of Christian history is to enter this exile, to feel its anxiety and discomfort, but to continue to be a believer. This is now my self-definition. I am a believer who increasingly lives in exile from the traditional way in which Christianity has heretofore been proclaimed. "A believer in exile" is a new status in religious circles, but I am convinced that countless numbers of people who either still inhabit religious institutions or who once did will resonate with that designation.

I see in this moment of Christian history a new vocation for me as a religious leader and a new vocation for the Christian church in all of its manifestations. That vocation is to legitimize the questions, the probings, and, in whatever form, the faith of the exiled believer. I believe that a conversation and a dialogue must be opened with those who cannot any longer give their assent to the premodern theological concepts that continue to mark the life of our increasingly irrelevant ecclesiastical institutions. I think the time has come for the Church to invite its people into a frightening journey into the mystery of God and to stop proclaiming that somehow the truth of God is still bound by either our literal scriptures or our literal creeds.

Exile is never a voluntary experience. It is always something forced upon a person or a people by things or circumstances over which the affected ones have no control. Exile is an enforced dislocation into which one enters without any verifiable hope of either a return to the past or an arrival at some future desired place. The Christian faith came into existence in a world radically different from the one it now seeks to inhabit. The biblical view of the universe was slowly and quietly discarded. People began to grasp the fact that God did not sit on a throne beyond the sky looking down. Divine intervention became a problematic concept. As the knowledge of the universe grew, the religious community tried to adjust. Christianity began to shift God's dwelling place form "up there" to "out there", as if somehow that new spatial image made God more believable. Finally distances overwhelmed even this concept of God's dwelling place. Our embrace of the vastness of space had the effect, finally, of removing God from the sky and then increasingly even from our human consciousness. Those biblical accounts were so obviously shaped by the ancient three-tiered worldview, whose shape Copernicus and Galileo and countless other had delinated, began to awaken to the fact that they could no longer use any of the traditional language about God and a heaven "out there" that so deeply filled our ancient faith system. That language had lost its meaning.

After a while even the members of those congregations who continue to gather during a drought to pray for rain did not trust their work sufficiently to bring raincoats and umbrellas. Truth can never be deterred just because it is inconvenient. We like the Jews of old, had been forcibly removed from all that had previously given life meaning. No way out of this exile is either visible or guaranteed.

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@Mark Tindall ... you really must acknowledge your sources, otherwise I will have no choice but to belive that you are a plagiarist and a willing one at that.

1. STILL OFF TOPIC!!!!

2. Get an education and LEARN TO READ!!!

- Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Christianity-

- from John Shelby Spong in "Why Christianity Must Change Or Die" (Harper San Francisco 1998)p. 20

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TOPIC: How can we encourage one another to be more loving in our speech?

Apparenttly by attacking personalities and their theological beliefs and not the topic.

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> Yes, let's do have a DISCUSSION on the topic

Wonderful! How can we encourage one another to be more loving in our speech?

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Might it be that some Christians are leaving church because of how they are treated in church with "unloving words"?

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How can we encourage one another to be more loving in our speech?

It appears that you CANNOT get some people such as intolerant fundamentalist to be more loving in their speech. They don't understand what loving is. They are obnoxious by nature. They seem to think it is moral and ethical and loving to repeatedly attack a person rather than discuss their arguments. They wish to censor all debate by anyone who doesn't agree with them 100%. This thread is a clear example of how you will be treated at church if you dare have an opinion that the intolerant fundamentalists don't like.

LOVE INCLUDES TOLERANCE.

I don't attempt to chase anyone away. I welcome discussion ON TOPIC by anyone. I am not telling anyone what they have to believe in order to be a "true Christian". I am extremely annoyed by the repeated personal attacks by a few intolerant fundamentalists who think my personal theological belief and my style somehow invalidates what I say.

PERSONAL ATTACKS AND ABUSE DRIVE PEOPLE AWAY FROM THE CHURCH AND CHRISTIANITY.

THESE TYPES OF PERSONAL ATTACKS ARE WHAT DROVE ME AWAY FROM CHURCH AND ARE NOW DRIVING ME AWAY FROM CHRISTIANITY.

DESIST!!!

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> Rowland Croucher: .... Don't forget there are many 'lurkers' here who find... these exchanges objectionable. ... Mark T: you're the main offender, I'm afraid.

*[Notice the contradiction to his previous comment.]

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THEN DEFRIEND ME. I'M NOT THE MAIN OFFENDER BUT THE VICTIM. CHRISTIANS AGAIN SHOOT THEIR WOUNDED. THANK GOD I'LL NEVER SET FOOT IN A CHURCH AGAIN AND WILL PROBABLY LEAVE CHRISTIANITY FOREVER ALL BECAUSE OF HATE FILLED INTOLERANT CHRISTIANS. I'LL BE A GREAT WITNESS FOR THE OTHER SIDE WITH MY TESTIMONY OF WHAT I HAD TO ENDURE. SO MUCH FOR "LOVING WORDS". IT'S ALL BULLSHIT!!!!!!

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I HAVE NOW OFFICIALLY LEFT CHRISTIANITY FOR GOOD. I WILL TAKE MY STORY OF REPEATED ABUSE BY CHRISTIANS (PHYSICAL AND VERBAL CAUSING PTSD) TO THE WORLD. I AM YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE CONCERNING PUBLIC RELATIONS. CHRISTIANS SHOOT THEIR WOUNDED. CHRISTIANS RECRUCIFY THE VICTIM OVER AND OVER AGAIN. ROWLAN TAKE ALL MY MATERIAL OFF YOUR SITE WITHOUT EXCEPTION. I WILL BEGIN A BLOG ABOUT MY DECONVERSION AS A RESULT OF REPEATED CHRISTIAN ABUSE.

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Tell me again how these posts are "objectionable" and how I am the "main offender". Absolute bullshit!

WHY? (Made In Japan)


"Why? (Made In Japan)" is my newest song inspired by the Japanese tsunami. Listen and download as free mp3 at http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=10413914 It is a question that Christians cannot answer.


LYRICS:
It's an idea, it's a word
It's a question asked again
It's without a proper answer
It's an endless loud refrain

CH
Why?
Answer
Answer me

You hear it and you know
But you never stop to think
You never get the message
Or find the missing link

It chills and it brings the dread
It echoes in your mind
It challenges and seeks
A resting place to find

There is pain in this song. There is unanswered questions of why thousands, including babies and children, should die in such a tragedy. This is serious business.

Epicurus' problem is very much alive and currently debated in philosophy. It is very relevant to the Japanese tsunami though many Christians refuse to even think about it. Some fundamentalist Christians have criticised me for even raising the problem - but it will not go away.

"Is god willing to prevent evil but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god?" - Epicurus (341-270 BCE)

Some Christians believe every word in the bible is "God's Word" and and that they have the holy spirit who leads him into all truth and they also have the mind of Christ. Why is it then that these same Christians have no answer for the problem posed by Epicurus? If your religion has no answer to this problem that has been around for over 2000 years then what use is it? What is the answer to Epicurus for those CURRENTLY suffering NOW? The traditional Christian answer is it will all be better WHEN YOU'RE DEAD (FUTURE ... maybe) because that's when Jesus will fix everything because Jesus is a human sacrifice to appease himself (!?) from killing and / or torturing you. That's a very unsatisfactory answer for those CURRENTLY suffering NOW.

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If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.

If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.

If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.

If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.

Evil exists.

If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn't have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn't know when evil exists, or doesn't have the desire to eliminate all evil.

Therefore, God doesn't exist.

That this argument is valid is perhaps most easily seen by a reductio argument, in which one assumes that the conclusion — (7) — is false, and then shows that the denial of (7), along with premises (1) through (6), leads to a contradiction. Thus if, contrary to (7), God exists, it follows from (1) that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect. This, together with (2), (3), and (4) then entails that God has the power to eliminate all evil, that God knows when evil exists, and that God has the desire to eliminate all evil. But when (5) is conjoined with the reductio assumption that God exists, it then follows via modus ponens from (6) that either God doesn't have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn't know when evil exists, or doesn't have the desire to eliminate all evil. Thus we have a contradiction, and so premises (1) through (6) do validly imply (7).

Whether the argument is sound is, of course, a further question, for it may be that one of more of the premises is false. *[I believe the premise of God's omnipotence is false.] The point here, however, is simply that when one conceives of God as unlimited with respect to power, knowledge, and moral goodness, the existence of evil quickly gives rise to potentially serious arguments against the existence of God. - http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/

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Richard Dawkins from "The God Delusion" (Bantam:2006) p. 109

- 'Theodicy' (the vindication of divine providence in the face of the existence of evil) keeps theologians awake at night. The authoritative Oxford Companion to Philosophy gives the problem of evil as 'the most powerful objection to traditional theism'. But it is an argument only against the existence of a good God. Goodness is no part of the definition of the God Hypothesis, merely a desirable add-on.

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The Oxford Companion To Philosophy (2nd edition, Oxford:2005) p. 295

- evil, the problem of.

In Christianity and other Western'religions, God is supposed to be omnipotent (i.e. able to do anything logically possible), omniscient (i.e. to know everything logically possible to know), and perfectly good; yet manifestly there is evil (e.g. pain and other suffering) in the world. Atheists have argued that since an omnipotent being could prevent evil if he chose, an omniscient being would know how to do so and a perfectly good being would always choose to do so, there is no *God of the kind supposed. The problem of evil has always been the most powerful objection to traditional theism. The usual response of theists to this ‘problem’ is to deny that a perfectly good being will always choose to prevent evil, claiming that allowing some evils may make possible greater goods. If God is to allow evil to occur, it must not be logically possible to bring about the greater goods by any better route. Some theists have held that, being only human, we cannot be expected to know for which greater goods the evils of our world are needed. But it seems unreasonable to believe that there are any such goods without some demonstration as to what they are, i.e. without a *‘theodicy’. Central to most theodicies is the ‘freewill defence’. This claims that the greater good of humans having a free choice between good and evil involves no one, not even God, preventing them from bringing about evil. Theodicy needs one or more further defences to explain why God allows evil of kinds for which humans are not responsible, such as the pain of currently unpreventable disease. The ‘higher-order goods defence’ claims that such evils give humans opportunities to perform, in response to them, heroic actions of showing courage, patience, and sympathy, opportunities which they would not otherwise have. This does still leave the problem of what justifies God in allowing some (e.g. battered babies) to suffer for the benefit of others (e.g. parents, social workers, etc. having free choices). The theist may argue in reply that God who gives us life has the right to allow some to suffer for a limited time, that it is a privilege to be used by God for a useful purpose, and that there is always the possibility of compensation in an afterlife. The crux of the problem is whether such defences are adequate for dealing with the kinds and amount of evil we find around us. r.g.s.

Former Christian musician / Christian School Principal Deconverts Part 1

I HAVE OFFICIALLY LEFT CHRISTIANITY FOR GOOD.I HAVE BEEN TEETERING ON THE EDGE FOR A WHILE BUT THE RECENT REPEATED HATE-FILLED INTOLERANT ABUSIVE POSTS BY SOME BRAIN-DEAD CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISTS AND THE RE-CRUCIFYING OF MYSELF AS VICTIM BY A FB FRIEND / PASTOR OF 14 YEARS FINALLY CONVINCED ME THAT CHRISTIANITY AS IT IS CURRENTLY PRACTISED IS ALL BULLSHIT. THERE IS NO LOVE IN IT - ONLY INTOLERANCE OF OTHER VIEWPOINTS. CHURCH IS COMPLETELY TOXIC.

I WILL BE STARTING TALKING ON THIS BLOG ABOUT MY DECONVERSION. I WILL BE ALSO TALKING ABOUT MY DECONVERSION ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE (I'M THE LION). I HAVE BEEN REPEATEDLY ABUSED BY CHRISTIANS AND PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED BY THEM.

I HAVE FOUND FAR MORE LOVE BY ATHEISTS, AGNOSTICS, JEWS, MOSLEMS, HINDUS, BUDDHISTS AND OTHER PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL THAN CHRISTIANS.