Heathen & Germanic Studies Picnic – March 14

Heathen & Germanic Studies Picnic

Saturday, March 14 at 2:30 pm

National Botanical Gardens, 2 Cussonia Avenue, Pretoria.

Heimdall as Culture Bringer by Nils Asplund, 1907.

Entrance to the gardens; R16 for minors, R26 for adults. Event is free of charge.
We can meet at the entrance and find a spot to occupy together. BE THERE ON TIME!

Please bring:
– Sunblock, hat & shades,
– Camping chair & blanket (to sit on),
– Cooler-box with drinks & food,
– Small biodegradable food/drink offering, and
– * An inquiring mind.

General topics:
– Asatru / Forn Sed,
– Heathenry,
– Pre-Christian Germanic culture and interaction,
– Pre-Christian Germanic religion and belief, and
– Portrayals of Norse/Germanic culture in popular modern culture, i.e. Marvel’s Thor, History Channel Vikings etc.

More details on the topics to be covered will be posted closer to the event time.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

- As this is a social event, there will be time to socialise once the topics for discussion have been thoroughly discussed.
– Check your political ideology at the door, this event caters for all regardless of where they place themselves on the political spectrum.
– Keep the peace; troublemakers & rabble-rousers will not be tolerated.
– Stay on topic and to the point.

For more information visit: March Heathen & Germanic Studies Picnic – Pretoria
https://www.facebook.com/events/1595089244069911/

 

Nimue Brown Interviews witchcraft author David Salisbury

I first got to know David Salisbury through Facebook and his contributions to the Moon Books blog http://moon-books.net/blogs/moonbooks/ritual-animal-slaughter/ I find his passion and dedication tremendously inspiring. David is an American witch, I’m an English Druid so we have very different understandings of many things. I found, in talking to him, that his passion and integrity transcended all issues of path and practice for me.

Nimue: I know activism is a significant part of your life. How does that relate to your paganism?

David: Paganism is what began me on my journey as an activist. When I started training in Wicca in 1999, I started to look into what was happening to nature, animals, and oppressed communities. I soon discovered that the world is actually a very unjust place. As a magick-worker, I quickly realized that if I want change to occur in conformity with my will, I have to help change the environment I live in. I was taught early that paganism is “of the world”. In my paganism, I cannot ignore the troubles of the world because it is my responsibility as a nature-based faith member to help make the world a better place. Its the rent I pay to live on this planet. To me, a paganism without activism would feel hollow and disingenuous. Although I accept that not everyone will feel called to lead protests or lobby the government, I insist that we can all do something to contribute to justice and equality every day. Whether its learning about privilege, listening to oppressed communities, or volunteering. The Earth and her people demand that we do something. If nature-based faiths don’t respond, who else can we depend on?

Nimue: Is it your experience that Pagans step up well to these challenges, or are we largely swimming in the mainstream and not ‘paying our rent’? (I love that way of relating to it)

David: That’s sort of a mixed bag, really. Some of the most hardworking and inspiring activists I’ve ever met in my life are Pagans. Entire traditions within the pagan umbrella, like Reclaiming, were founded with a strong advocacy ethic attached to them. But on the other hand, I’ve seen our movement really struggle with the difference between being a strong individual and working to create change that affects everybody. I believe that we can be both, but not everyone agrees with that. Recent civil unrest in the United States spurred by our epidemic of police murders motivated by race have shown that we have a lot of work to do in this community. It has shown me that Pagans are just as capable of unchecked privilege and downright racism as anyone else. I think that we have a huge potential to be change-makers in the faith world if we’d only get out of our own heads, step out into the world, and listen to each other.

Nimue: Who inspires you?

David: That’s a tough one! I like to surround myself with inspiring people so I have quite a large pool to pick from. Right now I draw so much inspiration from Crystal Blanton, an author, priestess, and activist in the Bay Area of California. She runs a phenomenal blog called Daughters of Eve and has been such a powerful leader for Pagans in the U.S. working to create change. I’ve learned so much from her both about advocacy and the spirituality of change as a witch.

Nimue: If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

David: Wow, what a question! Would “complete and total equality for all people and animals” be too much to ask? ;)

Nimue: I’m very much a believer in thinking big, and while I’m not sure that counts as one thing, it’s too awesome to quibble over. Trees could use a good deal more care and respect as well. Are there any animals that you feel a particular affinity with, or affection for?

David: Ah yes, let’s not forget the trees! Having worked at the largest animal rights organization in the world for a while, there are so many animals that are close to my heart. Chickens, being one of the most bullied animals in the world, are particularly important to me. Chickens are seen as stupid, dirty, and mean. Nothing could be further from the truth! Chickens are quite intelligent and establish strong familial and social bonds with each other. That’s why it’s such a shame that they’re so widely abused. The spirit medicine of chicken is compassionate, protective, and healing. Of all the animals who deserve more credit in the spiritual and physical realms, chickens take center stage.

Nimue: They’ve an uncomfortable history as a sacrificial creature, too…

David: They most certainly do, even today. It’s amazing, the creative ways people think up to be cruel.

Nimue: One of the big puzzles for me is how to reach out to people who seem to have no compassion and get them to think differently, without resorting to some kind of force or psychological violence. Is this something you have any ways of approaching?

David: I find that living your life making kind choices openly is the best way to encourage others to do the same. I’m also a big fan of always trying to have conversations and bringing compassionate choice to the table whenever possible (figuratively and literally). Beyond that, I’m not above bringing something to light quickly and directly if someone is doing something horrible. The other day I saw a friend post online about possibly buying a ticket to the circus! One video link showing how elephants are routines beaten and chained to the ground at circuses was enough to turn that decision around. I think most of the time people just don’t know what’s going on. I know I always appreciate it when someone enlightens me to an abusive system or condition.

Nimue: ‘The spirituality of change’ is a tantalising line… could you expand on what that means to you?

David: Since I believe that everything that exists in this world and beyond has a spirit-presence to it, then surely our movements for justice and change do as well. When I approach advocacy from a spiritually-rooted place, its easier to stay energized and healthy. Justice work is very draining and it’s so easy to burn out. Whenever I get to the point of burning out, I can always go to my gods and say “hey, I need help.” I believe that the gods want to see us succeed as a people.

David Salisbury http://www.moon-books.net/authors/david-salisbury is the author of ‘The Deep Heart of Witchcraft,’ http://www.moon-books.net/books/deep-heart-witchcraft published by Moon Books, and ‘Teen Spirit Wicca’, http://www.soulrocks-books.com/books/teen-spirit-wicca Published by Soul Rocks.

Nimue Brown is the author of a number of Druid and Pagan titles also published by Moon Books. http://www.moon-books.net/books.html

Goddess Calling by Rev. Dr. Karen Tate

John Hunt Publishing (Changemakers Books) announces the new title

Goddess Calling: Inspirational Messages & Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy

Rev. Dr. Karen Tate

Publication Date: March 2014

A strong, courageous book that will either set your teeth on edge or make you laugh with joy. Jean Houston, Ph.D – World-renowned American scholar, lecturer, author, and philosopher.

Goddess Calling: Inspirational Liberation Thealogy of the Sacred Feminine

In ever-increasing numbers, women and men are seeking spirituality beyond traditional religious institutions and more and more their new normal includes the deities, ideals and archetypes of the Sacred Feminine. They have a desire to get beyond the patriarchal dogma that often perpetuates sexism, homophobia and the domination of Gaia and all her inhabitants, including the body of Mother Earth. Goddess Calling is designed to give individuals or those desiring to serve their communities a springboard to offer “sermons from the pulpit” with ideas to create a format for a regular gathering or service.

Her meditations on the state of our world, past, present and future, are profoundly engaging. Barbara G. Walker, Beloved Foremother and Author

Easy to digest and sometimes gently following the seasons of the year and holidays already on most people’s calendars, these messages and meditations use Goddess archetypes, ideals and mythology to provide content for education, inspiration and contemplation for anyone seeking to incorporate a feminine face of God within their spirituality, no matter what their faith.

….a hearty “Brava!” to Karen Tate who has created such a powerfully lovely vehicle to help us invoke Her spirit and connect with Her wisdom and guidance as we struggle to create a world of peace, understanding and sustainability in Her name. Donna Henes, Urban Shaman, Author of The Queen of My Self.

Karen Tate is an independent scholar, speaker, radio show host, published author, and social justice activist. For almost three decades her work has been fueled by her intense interest and passion for travel, comparative religions, ancient cultures, and the resurging interest in the rise of the Feminine Consciousness. She lives in Venice, California.

Publicist: maria.barry@o-books.net Review copies available on request.
Distributors:
Orca Marston in Europe tradeorders@orcabookservices.co.uk
NBN in US customercare@nbnbooks.com
changemakers-books.com 978-1-78279-442-4 Paperback (210PP) $16.95 | £9.99 March 2014
978-1-78279-441-7 (eBook) £6.99 $9.99

Goddess Calling Foreword

In ever-increasing numbers women and men are seeking spirituality beyond traditional religious institutions and more and more their new normal includes the deities, ideals and archetypes of the Sacred Feminine.  They have a desire to get beyond the patriarchal dogma that often perpetuates sexism, homophobia and the domination of Gaia and all her inhabitants, including the body of Mother Earth.  Women in particular are hearing and heeding their calling, stepping forth to take on their mantle of leadership as rabbis, ministers, priestesses, Nuns on the Bus and Womanpriests.  They are exercising their spiritual authority in circles at their kitchen tables, in their living rooms and classrooms, in brick and mortar churches and temples, in political arenas and groves.  They are flexing their spiritual wings and allowing themselves to be guided by their intuition, innate female wisdom and inner-knowing and they encourage their congregations to know and feel the essence of Goddess and understand what that new knowledge might mean for themselves personally and the world.

Often their shared message is one of female empowerment, social justice and environmental responsibility sometimes referred to as eco-feminist spirituality.  The liturgy may contain social, cultural and political messages of liberation thealogy using Goddess mythology, archetypes and metaphors as benchmarks and templates for a more just and sustainable future.   Gone altogether or tempered is the message of the strict authoritarian Father whose mythology gives license for a male-dominated society with women in a subordinate role.  Nothing less than peace, partnership, justice, equality and care for the planet are at the heart of this Sacred Feminine wisdom.

In answer to this collective call to restore and  re-write our values and find a new spiritual path women and men are blazing a trail using their pink handled machetes to find their way.  It might manifest in progressive churches using gender neutral names for God in prayer and song.  Others include liturgy embracing the Divine Mother in equal partnership alongside the Father.  Altars might not be dominated only by male images.  Still others give themselves permission to conduct women-only services and exhibit only female images of deity at their gatherings.  Congregants worship together in circles rather than in hierarchal configurations with a male intermediary between them and deity.  In fact, these groups and gatherings might be leaderless, egalitarian or organizers might share leadership. In case it’s not obvious,  there is no one way and no absolute right way to facilitate these gatherings or to worship or interpret deity.  These are just some of the new guidelines being tried across the globe as spiritual people come forward to see what works for themselves or their communities.

Yes, there has been a plethora of academic writings restoring knowledge of Goddess and women’s history that has been swept beneath the rug.  Some, myself included, have used this knowledge to occasionally re-construct or adapt ancient rituals for a modern context.  We have gleaned inspiration from inscriptions and ancient knowledge and turned it into the seasonal ritual. Psychologists have explored the significance of Goddess archetypes. Theologians have examined why Goddess disappeared and patriarchy began to dominate.  Some statistics show that when all earth-based or goddess-oriented groups are combined, Pagan, or non-Abrahamic religions is one of the fastest growing groups in the country and books have come out in equal measure to support that growing interest.

What has been missing, however, is an abundance of inspirational writings that pulls all of these aforementioned areas of focus together between two covers and puts it into an easy-to-understand and user-friendly book of sacred feminine liberation thealogy.  Yes, thealogy, not theology.  The meaning of Goddess, as deity, archetype and ideal and her relationship to humanity, the planet and its species.  Going beyond the wheel of the year, examining Goddess mythology and ideals of the Sacred Feminine that would reshape values, society and culture, from cradle to grave, and in pre-school to the voting booth.  Goddess ideals actually do provide a template for a more just and sustainable future and with this book, I hope I’ve managed to directly connect the dots between the Great She and liberation from the oppression of our patriarchal world.

I wrote Goddess Calling, Inspirational Messages & Meditations to Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy  to give individuals or those desiring to serve their communities a springboard to offer what I remember were called “sermons from the pulpit” in my early days as a Catholic, with ideas to create a format for a regular gathering or service.  Easy to digest and sometimes gently following the seasons of the year and holidays already on most people’s calendars, these messages and meditations use Goddess archetypes, ideals and mythology to provide content for education,  inspiration and contemplation for anyone seeking to incorporate a feminine face of god within their spirituality, no matter their faith – and the messages and meditations have been field-tested!

Following in one of the messages within this book, Trust in the Journey, these collective words of inspiration and guidance accumulated over time as I was called on as an ordained minister to speak about the Sacred Feminine. Yes, these messages and meditations have already been successfully shared and embraced by congregations where I have been invited to present papers, guest minister or lead salons or services for conferences, festivals, Goddess temples, Unitarian Universalist congregations, the American Academy of Religion or at Sacred Sundays, the latter being inter-faith services offered in the Los Angeles community for several years.  Those experiences have provided the framework for this book and the suggestions herein for readers to find personal inspiration or ready-made material to facilitate your community circles.

As you go forward and find your sacred roar,
May Goddess Embrace You in Her Golden Wings,

Dr. Rev. Karen Tate

Bio of Rev. Dr. Karen Tate

Rev. Dr. Karen Tate

Four-times published author, social justice activist, speaker, sacred tour leader and radio show host,  Rev. Dr. Karen Tate has been named one of the 13 Most Influential Women in Goddess Spirituality and a Wisdom Keeper of the Women’s Spirituality Movement.  Her long-running radio show, Voices of the Sacred Feminine, on Blog Talk Radio,  is considered a treasure of trove of wisdom for our time.  Karen can be seen in the internationally known documentary, Femme: Women Healing the World, produced by actress Sharon Stone and Emmanuel Itier of Wonderland Entertainment.  Her work combines comparative religions, mythology, ancient cultures and women’s studies aimed toward creating a more sustainable future of equality, balance, justice and peace.  Titles of Dr. Tate’s books include Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations, Walking An Ancient Path: Rebirthing Goddess on Planet Earth, Goddess Calling: Inspirational Messages and Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy and she’s edited the anthology, Voices of the Sacred Feminine:  Conversations to ReShape Our World.  For more information see www.karentate.com

Charlie Hebdo: When freedom of speech and expression are shot down

Controversial cover of Charlie Hebdo, cartoon depicts the Prophet Mohammed making out with a Charlie Hebdo artist. 8 Nov 2011

by Rev. Kess

On 7 January 2015 in the city of Paris, France, two gunmen entered the offices of a magazine and killed 12 people. Charlie Hebdo, a satire magazine known for sometimes taking their exercise of free expression to extremes, became another statistic in the “war on terrorism” that has been waging since long before 9/11.

Many have made this tragic shooting into a discussion of religion (which it may well be), others have tried to claim that the shooters’ religious beliefs had nothing to do with their actions. Vox.com and others are making an attempt to say that the tragedy had nothing to do with the cartoons and other satire published by Charlie Hebdo.

All over the interwebs, especially on social media, I have seen numerous postings by average people regarding this incident. Everything from outcries against Jihadists to victim blaming, from confused and terrified people to bored and I-don’t-give-a-damns (though if they are posting about it they obviously do care, or are trolls).

What I see the most is people saying this tragic shooting of 12 people (including two police officers, one of which is said to have been Muslim, Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility) was an attack on the freedom of speech and freedom of expression that so many of us in Western culture hold as sacred.

I would tend to agree with that. Here in the United States we have a constitutional right to the freedom of speech, expression, and the freedom of the press. Not to mention the freedom to worship as we choose. Granted, each of the freedoms goes only as far as they can without encroaching on the rights and freedoms of others in our country. That is, we can worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster if we want, but we can’t sacrifice children in the name of Marduk. We can expect that our journalists, even our “news commentators”, to say pretty much whatever, as long as they remain within the facts and do not make false statements against another – even op-ed pieces need to be as accurate as possible. We can tell a police officer, “In my opinion,” and flip them the middle finger without it being a crime, but we must be prepared for the consequences of that and other actions. We must always be aware of the possible consequences of our words and our actions. Journalists are not immune to being sued for libel and slander, artists’ work can (and have been) banned for the images or content of their art, authors’ books have been banned from public institutions for content, and a flipped off police officer is most probably going to look askance at you for your hand gesture.

Let me make something clear right here. I am not pro-censorship. Not by any stretch. I just realize that some of what I create as an author and as a commentator may be construed as unfit for general consumption. Does that stop me from creating it or saying it? No. Though I do mind my language when on community radio. My words can have an adverse effect on the station, not just on me. That said….


New Age instrumentalist Sajjad’s Defiant.

“Our hearts go out to our friends, family and all impacted by the horrific events in Paris. This feels seismic. Solidarity with all who value freedom of speech and expression. Nous sommes tous Charlie.” – Frenchy and the Punk, Samantha Stephenson and Scott Helland

On the same day a small incendiary device went off outside of the NAACP office in Colorado Springs. It wasn’t clear at the time if the office was the intended target. Thankfully no one was harmed in the incident. It did smack of similar incidents from past decades of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

At least one newspaper, in Germany, that republished some of the most controversial cartoons from Charlie Hebdo has also been targeted. The offices off Hamburger Morgenpost were fire bombed after going to print. Again, no one was hurt. A fire bomb was tossed into a back window of the newspaper, setting their archive rooms on fire. Al Qaeda has taken credit for these attacks on the cartoon publishers, both in France and Germany.

Over the course of the last week many things have happened, both on the ground and on the internet, in response to the attack at Charlie Hebdo and the bombing of the NAACP office in Colorado Springs, Co. One thing that has been repeatedly brought up on social media is the Boko Haram slaying of over 1,000 civilians and how it seems that mainstream U.S. media coverage of that terrible event has been ignored and all the focus put on Charlie Hebdo. (My heart breaks to hear about all those innocents lost.) It should be noted that Boko Haram is closely tied to  Al Qaeda, even though Al Qaeda has said in the past that Boko Haram is sometimes too extreme for even them.

I think why the U.S. media is not giving as much air time and print to the Boko Haram slayings is that everyone is up in arms over the apparent disregard for something that we in the United States do hold sacred: Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression (not that we do not hold human lives sacred). Much of “Western Civilization” adheres to these ideals – much of Europe, North America, Australia. It has even been creeping into the minds and lives of people in the East. What we tend to forget is that a good portion of this planet does not hold to the same ideals as the United States and countries influenced by us and Europe. It wasn’t until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union that our friends in Eastern Europe were able to openly embrace these ideas. China, the Middle East, much of Africa, and parts of South America do not have the luxury of being able to rest on their laurels when it comes to these freedoms. And not all of these countries are controlled by those who claim Islam.

The attack by Al Qaeda on Charlie Hebdo was not just an attack on a magazine. It was not just a retaliation against those who had maligned the image of the Prophet. It was a calculated attack on the Western ideals of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. I know that is a strong statement to make. But I feel it to be true. As do many others. Indeed, Al Qaeda has threatened that the worst is yet to come.

When a terrorist organization takes the life of anyone it is a tragedy. When they attempt to silence the speech or the expression of an individual or a group it is doubly so. When those two gunmen entered the offices of Charlie Hebdo they didn’t just take aim at 10 individuals in the offices (and later two police officers), they took aim at the idea of being able to freely express ourselves. Yes, their Prophet was insulted by the satirical cartoons that had been published. Yes, they felt that they needed to retaliate in some way. No, they did not have the right to kill as a means to retaliate. No, they did not have the right to kill to avenge their Prophet.

As activists, as writers, as artists many who read this site fight for the right and exercise the right to freely express themselves.  As activists writing on this site we exercise and fight for the right to freely express ourselves. Not everyone has that right, as I pointed out above. But all journalists, all artists, all writers, all of those who – if only in the minds – are free thinkers are hurt whenever someone or a group of someones take actions to silence that expression, to silence that speech.

The Free Speech Movement at UCLA-Berkeley in the 1960’s faced less violent attempts to silence them, but faced strong opposition nonetheless. The late Margot Adler wrote extensively on the FSM in her memoir A Heretic’s Heart. She and others involved in FSM were threatened, bullied by school administration, arrested, and jailed. Some even suffered physical violence at the hands of their oppressors. It was only after much debate and civil unrest on the campus that many of the faculty and staff at Berkeley stood in strained solidarity with the FSM that the freedom to demonstrate, hold peaceful gatherings, and host information tables on ideas and politics that differed from the main was not only allowable on campus but a right of the students. Adler was no stranger to political thoughts and actions that went against the main, her family’s involvement with the Communist Party and their connection to free thinkers in both the Soviet Union and East Germany brought her up in a sub-culture that was at odds with the mainstream way of thinking in the United States in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

On a more personal note, I have experienced the oppression of expression and speech in my own life. While attending a public high school in Lincoln, NE in the mid-90’s I was subjected to the authority of close-minded teachers and staff. My physical education teacher took umbrage to my proudly displaying pro-gay buttons on my jacket. She said at one point “I have a 12-year-old, I’m not ready to deal with that.” To which I wanted to say, but did not feel that I could, “you have a 12-year-old, you better be ready to deal with it.” My science teacher that same year was a Catholic teaching biology. He started the semester out with a conversation about pseudo-sciences and freely lumped psychology, sociology, and other “soft sciences” in with the “crackpots” who would still believe the world to be flat and the Earth at the center of the universe. By this time I was already on my Pagan journey and took offense to such words, but again felt that I could not safely speak up. The result of those and other experiences, seemingly sanctioned by the authorities of the school, I did not feel that I could express myself freely in school. My time at that school ended with homophobic actions being taken against the personal property of fellow students and friends who had been seen driving me to and from school – vandalism of their car with hateful anti-gay slogans painted across the smashed doors. Lucky for me I had called out sick from school the day that happened. I left that school, indeed I dropped out of high school at that point for fear of my own life.

Original piece by Mike Edholm.
(c) Mike Edholm 2015
http://www.mikedholm.com

Hosts at the community radio station I volunteer at have taken such a stance, two of them opening up an invitation to Nebraska authors, poets, etc to submit their own works on these freedoms. In this evening’s episode (Thursday 15 January 2015) of The Platte River Sampler three Nebraska based cartoonists are interviewed about how the tragic “assassinations” (to use the hosts’ word) of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and staff have impacted them. You can tune in live to that program at the KZUM website at 6pm Central US.

Some Other Articles Related to Charlie Hebdo

Not Born Sinners

I used to watch Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort try evangelizing techniques in the street on Christian channels. He would say that you needed to bypass the persons reason and approach them on an emotional level. He did this by making people feel guilty and reminding them that they are sinners. He reminded them that all have sinned after having them admit they have lied, or had impure thoughts about a neighbours wife, or had stolen something. All are apparently guilty and headed to hell. Then he brings the sales pitch that they need Jesus to escape hell.

I used to watch Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort try evangelization techniques in the street on Christian channels. He would say that you needed to bypass the persons reason and approach them on an emotional level. He did this by making people feel guilty and reminding them that they are sinners. He reminded them that all have sinned after having them admit they have lied, or had impure thoughts about a neighbours wife or had stolen something. All are apparently guilty and headed to hell. Then he brings the sales pitch that they need Jesus to escape hell.</p>
<p>I never quite understood how people fell for this so easily and some ended up praying with Kirk or Ray the conversion prayer. </p>
<p>There is certainly right and wrong and all societies have always condemned murder and theft. It is simply logical and a part of evolution as hominids that at some point we had to work together to survive - If you simply kill everyone and destroy your environment, you would not survive. A degree of morality is inbuilt and even still developing. </p>
<p>Why do such things as crimes need to have a spiritual effect? If you are caught you are tried by secular laws and you are punished. Methods of catching criminals are continuously improved upon. But to believe in sin implies that you first have to accept on blind faith that mankind has some kind of spiritual evil or are in a fallen state. You have to accept on faith that there is some kind of "fall". </p>
<p>Apparently the rift between "god" (at least a Canaanite one in this case) and man could only be repaired through a bloody sacrifice of a perfectly innocent man on behalf of the crimes of others (imagine courts allowing that, would it be just?). Now Christians make a huge emotional fuss over "God so loved the world...only begotten son". </p>
<p>We all would instantly call someone who sacrifices theselves to save others a true hero - but the threat needs to be credible and tangible - a fireman running into a burning building - Basically, Jesus died to save us from a magical type of evil we first have to believe in first - err thanks. If I hear Jesus died for my sins it is absolutely meaningless to me.</p>
<p>Furthermore, sin in the Bible is also frequently not a moral question. Sin is frequently displeasing a jealous god, having other gods, not keeping a sabbath, abusing a name NOT moral issues that makes you better or worse at all and these are the major points. Considering that despite popular current consensus the world does NOT revolve around the Middle East, Israel and old Canaanite cultures (Greek, Rome, Sumeria, Egypt achieved far, far more than ancient Judea) and people have had diverse and complex religious systems through the ages - the whole "one true, living god™ idea makes little sense anyway.</p>
<p>Then this all knowing god, basically told his first two created humans about the forbidden trees in the MIDDLE of the garden (he might as well have put up signs with big arrows and flashing lights). Since "god" set up this scenario, why play it all out with the incarnation and atonement which MUST be in blood (is god also limited and bound by certain rules, therefore inferior to some other?)</p>
<p>Interestingly enough Judaism and the Old Testament has nothing on a messiah who needs to atone for sins and reconcile man to god. Sin can be punished and sin can be repented - no notion of poor pathetic humanity born bad, always bad and saved only by a bloody sacrifice (perhaps the scapegoat idea). The Bible is also quite contradictory when it comes to whether there is punishment for "sins of the fathers" or everyone's sin being their own. </p>
<p>Now most Christians don't even believe in a literal Adam and Eve anymore - but it seems Paul and Jesus did accept this notion of an "original sin".</p>
<p>Illogical Christianity and the notion of "Born Bad" has certainly left the world a very bizarre guilt trip as a legacy. Even early Christians did not all agree on the notion, but Augustine accepted it. The emotional ties to Jesus "dying for our sins" makes absolutely no sense either way.

I never quite understood how people fell for this so easily and some ended up praying the conversion prayer with Kirk or Ray.

There is certainly right and wrong and all societies have always condemned murder and theft. It is simply logical and a part of evolution as hominids that at some point we had to work together to survive. If you simply kill everyone and destroy your environment you would not survive. A degree of morality is inbuilt and even still developing.

Why do such things as crimes need to have a spiritual effect? If you are caught you are tried by secular laws and you are punished. Methods of catching criminals are continuously improved upon. But to believe in sin implies that you first have to accept, on blind faith, that mankind has some kind of spiritual evil or exist in a fallen state. You have to accept on faith that there is some kind of “fall”.

Apparently the rift between god (at least a Canaanite one in this case) and man could only be repaired through a bloody sacrifice of a perfectly innocent man on behalf of the crimes of others; imagine courts allowing that, would it be just?. Now Christians make a huge emotional fuss over “God so loved the world…only begotten son”.

We all would instantly call someone who sacrifices themselves to save others a true hero, but the threat needs to be credible and tangible; a fireman running into a burning building. Basically, Jesus died to save us from a magical type of evil we first have to believe in… err, thanks. If I hear Jesus died for my sins it is absolutely meaningless to me.

Furthermore, sin in the Bible is also frequently not a moral question. Sin is frequently displeasing a jealous god, having other gods, not keeping a sabbath, abusing a name; not moral issues that make you better or worse at all, and these are the major points. Considering that despite popular current consensus the world does not revolve around the Middle East, Israel and old Canaanite cultures. Greek, Rome, Sumeria, Egypt achieved far, far more than ancient Judea and people have had diverse and complex religious systems through the ages. The whole “one true, living god” idea makes little sense anyway.

This all-knowing god told his first two created humans about the forbidden trees in the middle of the garden. He might as well have put up signs with big arrows and flashing lights. Since “god” set up this scenario, why play it all out with the incarnation and atonement which must be in blood? Is god also limited and bound by certain rules, and therefore inferior to some other?

Interestingly enough, Judaism and the Old Testament has nothing on a messiah who needs to atone for sins and reconcile man to god. Sin can be punished and sin can be repented, but no notion of poor pathetic humanity born bad, always bad and saved only by a bloody sacrifice. The Bible is also quite contradictory when it comes to whether there is punishment for “sins of the fathers” or everyone’s sin being their own. Most Christians don’t even believe in a literal Adam and Eve anymore but it seems Paul and Jesus did accept this notion of an “original sin”.

Illogical Christianity and the notion of ‘born bad’ has certainly left the world a very bizarre guilt trip as a legacy. Even early Christians did not all agree on the notion, but Augustine accepted it. The emotional ties to Jesus “dying for our sins” makes absolutely no sense either way.