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The Passion of Christ

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Old 04-15-2004, 10:37 PM   #31
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JoeRedskin ... peace to you as well. The person to whom my comments were directed originally had a signature that mentioned fighting terrorism, and it made me angry to see that sentiment contrasted with statements about following Jesus. The signature has since been changed so I can see why that didn't make any sense to you. If I came across as self-satisfied and superior, that was not my intention and that's not the way I feel about myself. I certainly was not condemning people who go to church or have spiritual beliefs ... I just wish people were generally less hypocritical. Our religions teach us, over and over, that violence is wrong and we nod our heads and turn around and fight ill-conceived wars and execute people and beat our wives and it just sickens me sometimes. Frankly your statement that Christ condoned and supported violence as a "last resort" -- and that he would have supported a pre-emptive strike against Hitler! -- made me laugh out loud. I think you are missing the point. For thousands of years we've known what we have to do to take the next step in our spiritual evolution, but we lack the collective will.

"In this world, hate never yet destroyed hate. Only love destroys hate. This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible. You too shall pass away ... knowing this, how can you quarrel?" The Buddha said that 2,500 years ago. In our hearts we know it's true ... it's basically the same thing Jesus was saying, the same thing other enlightened men and women have said throughout history. But the ends justify the means and we always make exceptions, excuses for using violence, as you have done in your essay. And this is part of the reason why we are a doomed species ... the violence that we continually spawn and attempt to justify will eventually snuff us out. Our efforts in Iraq will probably create a generation of people who feel that violence is wrong except when your country and your people are being attacked and suppressed, so these young people will take up arms against the U.S., we will attack them back, and the cycle keeps rolling on and escalating ... we have to stop making excuses or it will never end.

Jesus booted some merchants from the temple but that doesn't mean he supported violence. People always point to that story like it's some sort of legal loophole. Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek and love our enemy ... the message seems pretty clear ... he did not qualify it with, "But violence is OK in these situations: when there are WMDs, when a major part your economy is dedicated to the development and export of military technology, when someone takes my name in vain ..."

To me, and this is just my personal opinion, it seems that some people think it's fine to wink at Christ's message of nonviolence and unconditional love as long as they go to church somewhat regularly and believe that Jesus rose from the dead and is waiting for them up in heaven. I also think it's human nature to take the easy way out. Am I some sort of superior person with a unique take on all of this? Absolutely not. I'm flawed in countless ways, like everyone else. I'm just calling it like I see it on this issue and if I've offended anyone, I'm sorry. It's all in the spirit of debate, nothing personal.

Last edited by Ghost; 04-16-2004 at 01:33 AM.
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Old 04-16-2004, 12:57 AM   #32
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There's a movie called "Witness" starring Harrison Ford about an Amish child who witnesses a murder, and Ford plays a detective who winds up in hiding with the Amish. The little boy is caught playing with the detective's police revolver and the conversation that follows between the boy and his grandfather is one of the finest moments I've ever seen in a film. It's an argument that goes back a long time.

OLD MAN: "This gun of the hand is for the taking of human life. We believe it is wrong to take a life. That is only for God. Many times, wars have come and people have said to us: 'You must fight. You must kill. That is the only way to preserve the good.' But Samuel, there is never only one way. Remember that. Would you kill another man?"

BOY: "I would only kill the bad men."

OLD MAN: "Only the bad men, I see. And you know these bad men on sight? You are able to look into their hearts and see this badness?"

BOY: "I can see what they do. I have seen it."

OLD MAN: "And by seeing, you become one of them. Don't you understand? What you take into your hands, you take into your heart."
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Old 04-16-2004, 01:20 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by skinsfanthru&thru
The only time I laughed during that episode was when Eric and Stan were "throwing it down" over the phone. The rest of the episode was just a waste of time to watch and I love South Park. I still think one of the funniest episodes was the one with Osama bin Laden and another was the one making fun of Pokeman.
My favorite South Park is the Lord of the Rings spoof, Butters "My Precious"
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Old 04-16-2004, 02:05 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by smootsmack
My favorite South Park is the Lord of the Rings spoof, Butters "My Precious"
I can't beleive I forgot that one. That one had me laughing so hard I almost wet myself. and I also love the one making fun of striesand as a godzilla type monster.
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Old 04-16-2004, 08:04 AM   #35
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I haven't seen the movie yet but...I have read the BOOK.

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Old 04-16-2004, 03:17 PM   #36
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Ghost: Again, peace be with you and to your spirit.

Your response provides fair criticisms and hard questions. Please bear with me, just as I may have misunderstood your original intent, perhaps you misunderstand mine. Based on your response, I think we have some basic disagreements but that they are the type that reasonable, spiritual people have been having for thousands of years - part of "the long, hard journey filled with spirituality and wisdom" towards greater personal and (hopefully) corporate enlightenment. I think we may agree on more than we disagree but that we have a fairly large, central disagreement.

First of all let me say this, hypocrisy exists and is a problem for all of us both individually and corporately. However, sometimes what one person believes is hypocrisy is really another individual's honest attempt to carry through on beliefs which fundamentally differ from the first person's value system. While I do not agree with all of Backrow's statements, based on what he has written, I do not believe he is a hypocrite. He firmly believes that his statements are correct and are based on principles which he believes to be supported by his understanding of Christianity. An understanding which not only he but many other good, reasonable people accept. Clearly, their understanding of these principles differs significantly from yours. You and they may reasonably debate the underlying principles but this doesn't make them hypocrites. In my opinion, what you believe to be obvious, inherent truths have subtleties and complexities which you are refusing to acknowledge but which form the basis of the alleged "hypocrisy" of those who believe as Backrow does.

With that said, undoubtedly, hypocrisy exists. Many people who attend church, take part in peace rallies, or join in any number of other functions where corporate beliefs are being expressed, have either ulterior motives for attending, may be personally at odds with the corporate goal, or may not have taken the time to try and understand what is really being said and done. Of these, it appears you are most frustrated at the last. A fair and common feeling. With all due respect, please be sure that your frustration is directed at those who really are just "wink[ing] at Christ's message of nonviolence and unconditional love" and not those whose philosophical understanding of Christ's teachings and the factual conclusions to which they are being applied differ significantly from yours.

As to the main point I wish to address, your right - Jesus, Buddha and other enlightened individuals have always said "do unto other as you would have them do unto you" and "turn the other cheek". I may have been a bit flippant in the way I addressed the non-violence of Christ but, I stand by the assertion that Christ (and probably other "enlightened" people) understood the need to respond to evil in a manner appropriate to the evil presented which, at times, may include the need for violent measures.

I believe that, in fact, when discussing the appropriate use of violence, the discussion revolves around a much more basic and fundamental conflict: Good v. Evil. What is good? What is evil? We could debate that one for thousands of years. But let me start with these very brief summary of my understanding: Both good and evil exist as concepts and the concepts are put into effect by the actions of humanity; "Good" means living (both individually and corporately) in accord with creation and, in general, nurturing and promoting life; "Evil" means promoting selfish goals (both individually and corporately) and, in general, being either destructive or negligent towards to life. Further, as concepts, good is diametrically opposite and opposed to evil and vice versa. Also, the two concepts are not codependent: without evil, there would still be good; without good, evil would still exist.

So how does violence fit in to this conflict? First let me be clear on how I define violence. Although most often used to accomplish evil ends, violence is not in and of itself "evil". Rather, violence is a term used to describe the use of power in a particular manner. Specifically, violence is the use of sudden, disruptive, and coercive force by one individual or corporate entity to change or stop the actions of another individual or corporate entity. Obviously, violence is easily adapted to the expression of hate, destruction and selfishness. Not so obvious is the use of violence to promote and nurture life.

Do you let the weeds grow to choke out your garden or do you use sudden, disruptive and coercive force to remove the weeds? If your child is being approached by a man with a knife who appears to have evil intent towards your child, will you stand by and wait till he stabs the child or will you use sudden, disruptive and coercive action to prevent the attack once it becomes clear your child is about to be stabbed? Do you think Christ (or Confucius or Buddha for that matter) would ask that you stand by and let the child be stabbed? Certainly, Christ would not approve of the use of excessive violence to stop the attack i.e. killing the attacker after he has been disarmed and subdued. I have no problem believing from his teachings and life, however, that Christ would expect me to protect the life of an innocent from the evil use of violence. In doing so, I believe Christ would expect, and even command, that I use violent measures if needed to protect the innocent. Such protection should extend, if necessary, even to the sacrifice of my life. Simply put, on an individual level, we are confronted with many situations where appropriate violent responses may be necessary to nurture and protect life.

On a corporate level, the appropriate use violence is much, much more difficult to ascertain. I believe this is so for two reasons. First, the corporate use of violence in response to a corporate evil almost always involves causing injury to those not part of the corporate evil presented. Secondly, if you review my previous paragraph, it is filled with qualifiers: "appears to have evil intent", "excessive violence to stop the attack", "the evil use of violence", "appropriate violent responses", "may be necessary to nurture and protect life". These qualifiers are the crux a corporate entity's debate to as when to use violent means to accomplish good ends whether it be by act of war, sending in police to quell a riot, or applying the death penalty.

As an example of such corporate use of violence, I stand by my earlier statement that, although deeply saddened by the incredible suffering that innocents would have had to bear, Christ would have supported a pre-emptive war against Hitler to remove the evil he represented prior to Hitler's infliction on others of death, disease and destruction on an unprecedented scale. Hitler is easy because he presents such a stark target. To me, the only question for debate is when such a strike would have been "appropriate" to prevent the incredible evil he unleashed. I have no doubt, however, based on his abhorrence of evil and his ability to perceive events and people as they really were, that Christ would have recognized the evil presented by Hitler and advocated that the world use appropriate force to end threat he presented. If my position in this matter still makes you "laugh out loud", then I suggest your reaction ignores the true subtlety and complexity of Christ's existence and teachings.

As I stated in my previous post, the scourging of the temple provides an excellent lesson into when Christ found violence acceptable and what "appropriate" violence may be. Confronted with what he perceived to be evil, the desecration of the temple, Christ adopted appropriately violent methods to protect the temple's integrity so it could truly act as a place of worship to God. Christ did not grab a sword and start slaughtering the merchants. Rather, he simply drove them from the temple with tree branch whip. In doing so, Christ used what he felt was an appropriate level of violent force to protect and nurture the worship of God (which he saw as essential to the nurturing of life in general). This does not mean violence is always acceptable. Nor does it mean excessive violence is ever acceptable. Rather this "legal loophole", as you describe it, reflects the lack of simple "bright line" rules in the application of Christ's underlying principles of love and self sacrifice.

Violence is merely a tool which we humans can use to destroy or protect life. It is a dangerous tool with many facets and is often difficult to use correctly. Those factors, however, do not negate the fact that it is we who ultimately decide whether it use will be for good or for evil.

Your rejection of my reliance on Christ's actions against the temple priests fails to address the underlying example set forth in the episode and is simply your own way of "using a means to justify and end". Rather than analyze the story, review its context and discuss how I have mistakenly relied upon it, you simply dismiss the episode as being inappropriately used by others and, thus, find that it poses no barrier to your conclusion that violence is never justified.

Quote: Jesus booted some merchants from the temple but that doesn't mean he supported violence. People always point to that story like it's some sort of legal loophole.

As is true with so many verses of the Bible, Koran, and other holy texts taken out of context, some people will use them as a means to justify the ends. I am not, however, relying on this as a "legal loophole". Rather, and as noted above, I use it as an example of the appropriate use of violence. Regardless of its misuse by others, your own dismissal of this episode without some comparative analysis as to its context and symbolism simply ignores the passage's relevant teachings so that it poses no conflict to your ultimate conclusions.

Then, after simply dismissing the temple episode, you then do exactly what you accuse the "loophole" finders of doing by taking Christ's "turn the other cheek" quotation out of context.

Quote: Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek and love our enemy ... the message seems pretty clear ... he did not qualify it with, "But violence is OK in these situations: when there are WMDs, when a major part your economy is dedicated to the development and export of military technology, when someone takes my name in vain ..."

The "turn the other cheek, love your enemy" passage is one of the Bible's most misused verses. It was NOT a generic condemnation of violence. Rather, it is from Christ's sermon on the mount in which he addresses the inappropriateness of using violence to acheive vengeance. The entire passage sets forth Christ's rejection of the Hammurabbic Code which called for "an eye for an eye" (by the way, the Hammurabbic Code was also a limitation on vengeance in its own right. Prior to Hammurabi it was "two arms, a couple of legs, your sister and your kids for an eye"). Again, in his sermon, Christ provides guidance as to when violence is appropriate. This time by showing us when it is NOT appropriate. Very simply violence is never justified in order to simply take vengeance. Further, we should seek reconciliation with our enemies and when wronged we should seek a peaceful resolution. To extrapolate from these reasonable precepts the conclusion that violence is NEVER appropriate or that Christ would never approve of violence is simply leap of logic not justified by the actual statement or its context. As you accurately highlighted in erroneously dismissing the temple episode, biblical passages cannot be taken out context if you wish to find the true wisdom contained in them.

Further, I do not share your dim view of humanity's future violent end. I agree, violence generally begets violence, but this need not mean it will generate an escalation of the violence. After WWII, the allies, mostly the USA, poured treasure into the defeated powers to help them rebuild and, in Japan's case, create democracies. Although not done for purely selfless reasons, Americans responded to this challenge with a large portion of truly good will which, literally, helped build a better safer more stable Germany and Japan. I have no doubt that the war itself generated much hatred towards the allies. I also have no doubt that our subsequent actions created more friends than enemies both in the short and long term.

Also, an evolution towards the ideal of peace and harmony can be seen throughout history. As I stated earlier, the Hammurabic Code recognized a need to limit the extent of vengeance. Subsequently, the Mosaic Code provided a set of rules to guide people in how to avoid actions which would take them out of accord with the "Is" of the universe. More recently, Christ provided an example, on a very personal level, as to how we could live our lives and actively work toward being one with the ultimate "Being".

Finally, I simply disagree with the conclusion from the "Witness" quote. While the entire passage contains much wisdom, I think the conclusory line is just flat out wrong. Christ's life shows us that it is not necessarily true that "What you take into your hands, you take into your heart". Rather, Christ demonstrates that what is in your heart dictates what you do with your hands and what is in them. Those things we hold in our hands are tools, no more, no less. Based on what is in our hearts and minds, we then decide how to use the tools given us. It is for that reason that the Church routinely prays that God's laws will be written on our hearts.

While we are undoubtedly creating enemies in Iraq, it is my sincere hope and prayer that we are creating more friends both in the short term and in the long term by helping to create a stable, democratic state. While we are undoubtedly creating individuals who hate us, let us hope we cultivate more who will be our friends and create a corporate entity that recognizes the sacrifices we, as a country, have made for them and that seeks reconciliation with us, as we seek reconciliation with them.

To me, this, really, is the crux of your various posts. Not that violence is never appropriate but that it was not appropriate in Iraq and will absolutely have nothing but negative consequences for us in the short and long term future. While I have mixed feelings on the first assertion and disagree with the second, I think your classification of the facts accepts as absolute truth some propositions which are highly debatable and which go to the heart of whether or not the pre-emptive use of violence was appropriate.

With all due respect, I find that your analysis is seriously flawed both in your analysis of the principles which you apply (Christ would never condone violence) and in your application of those principles to the facts (by assuming that your characterizations of the facts are THE correct factual conclusions). Given your factual conclusions that the Iraqi war is "racist" and the result of Bush's "greed and foolishness", no amount of argument about Christian principles could (or should) persuade you to a different conclusion in this matter. If your very debatable conclusions are accepted as an accurate statement of the facts, Christ would most certainly condemn the war, as would I.

Last edited by JoeRedskin; 04-20-2004 at 02:07 PM.
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