Where Religion Went Wrong in America
#1

According to this review in the New Oxford Review (ha, say that two times real fast) -- anyway, this book talks about what the author sees as the four new heresies of the 20th c.


Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. 
By Ross Douthat. Free Press/Simon & Schuster. 337 pages

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From Review Wrote:The first heresy is the “New Quest” for the “historical Jesus,” which destabilized Christianity by bringing about a “choose-your-own Jesus mentality.” Scholars in the Jesus Seminar offered simplistic versions of Jesus as Gnostic mystic, proto-feminist, or apocalyptic prophet. Then other scholars, inspired by the 1945 discovery of alternative Gnostic gospels from the third and fourth centuries, started debunking “the orthodox story of Christian origins” as a myth invented by the winners. This was disingenuous, to say the least, since they well knew that orthodox Christianity had a far greater antiquity than the Gnostic texts. Douthat points out that virtually all biblical scholars agree that St. Paul’s letters are “the oldest extant Christian documents,” and that his earliest letters date from the 50s A.D. Mark’s Gospel is generally dated to the 60s, Matthew’s and Luke’s to the 70s, and John’s to the 90s, while the Gnostic gospels came much later, in the mid-second century at the earliest. Further, St. Paul’s Christianity closely resembles that expressed in the Nicene Creed of A.D. 325. Those on the New Quest showed their bias in 2006 in the hoopla over the Gospel of Judas, an ancient Gnostic text. It was soon discovered that the text had been mistranslated to make Judas a hero.

The second heresy Douthat examines is “Prosperity Theology,” which has roots in E.W. Kenyon’s “New Thought,” the source of Kenneth Hagin’s and Joel Osteen’s pray-and-grow-rich theology. This heresy solves the problem of suffering by “recasting it as a simple failure of piety and willpower.” At its worst, it tends to skip to Easter without “lingering” at the cross on Good Friday, forgetting that strength is found in weakness, defeat, poverty, and renunciation. Douthat tempers such criticism, however, by observing that evangelical Christians as a whole are “the most generous major religious group” in the U.S.: For every dollar they spend on political action, they lavish twelve “on foreign missions and international relief efforts.”

The third heresy is “God Within,” a “mysticism” that gives you the excuse “for doing what you feel like doing anyway, and calling it obedience to a Higher Power or Supreme Self.” This heresy regards evil and suffering as illusory, and repentance, prayer, and charity as unnecessary. Its goal is interior harmony, freedom, and choice, but it leads to solipsism and narcissism. Oprah Winfrey has helped spread this heresy, and so has Elizabeth Gilbert with her bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love (2006), in which she tells how she divorced her devoted husband, went on a spiritual quest in Indonesia and India, and discovered that the “supreme Self is our true identity, universal and divine.”

The fourth heresy is American nationalism, which has two sides, messianic and apocalyptic. The messianic side turns democracy into a religion capable of doing the “redemptive work that orthodoxy reserves for Christ and his Church,” while the apocalyptic side envisions our national history as a “downhill slide.” Today these two sides are “bipartisan afflictions.” Each takes its turn in the driver’s seat — the messianic when a favored political party is in power, the apocalyptic when it is out of power — with the result that they go through cycles of “utopian hopes and millennial angst.” Moreover, the two parties are “theological worlds unto themselves,” creating a Manichean landscape of good versus evil where a Christian is pressured to conform his “theology to ideology.”

Sound about right to you?


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#2
Those are important, sure.  Maybe even the most important of our times.  But then, when was religion right in America?  When were we not a nation of heretics?

Of course, when Catholic churchmen 'threw open the windows' to this kind of thing, that made it a thousand times worse.
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#3
I've read this book, it's pretty infromative, the author makes a good case, that it isn't open secularism and atheism that we need to look out for, but shoddy spiritualism, of the Joel Olsteen and  "spiritual-but-not-religious" variety
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#4
(09-06-2013, 08:25 PM)JuniorCouncilor Wrote: Those are important, sure.  Maybe even the most important of our times.  But then, when was religion right in America?  When were we not a nation of heretics?

Of course, when Catholic churchmen 'threw open the windows' to this kind of thing, that made it a thousand times worse.

Nothing's been right in the West since the Reformation, the U.S. included.  I think we had things a lot better in Yankee-Land when the people at least acknowledged the Creator, the Decalogue, etc., and generally agreed on the importance of virtue. If (a BIG "if!") the world has to be secular, then the US used to be the best of that sort of existence. It was doomed by its nature, of course, but for a while, it was relatively good.  And I realize I say that in spite of some egregiously bad problems, like the existence of slavery and the institutionalized racism that followed, laws based on the Protestant view of women which infantilized them and were, thankfully, challenged by the early (and almost overwhelmingly pro-life) feminists who differ greatly from the secular-minded, radical gender feminists of today. There came to be a pretty stifling culture that squelched individual differences and wouldn't allow certain struggles to even be mentioned (for ex., homosexuality) -- that stifling leading to a lot of problems in itself. As an example, the Puritanical view of sex, coupled with the aforementioned Prot view of women, pretty much guaranteed the sexual revolution that's destroyed countless lives.

The point:  I know a lot of things were bad. Real bad. But, for a secular world, it was relatively decent -- MUCH more sane than what we've got going on now (man, even the problem of the squelching of individual differences was less severe than it is now in its own way. Political correctness has our brains in "iron maidens," for crying out loud. *** And now, any and all differences are "celebrated" unless one is "different" by being a Christian, white, or of the masculine sex.)

But as better as it was than what we've got now, it was, like I said, doomed because the religious impulse that kept things in check, that allowed for a relatively free people to prosper, was generally based on each man and woman being his own "pope," and it's obvious where that leads. Throw in the whole "American exceptionalism" idea that set us up to be the world's cop and teacher-with-a-ruler-in-hand, the commitment to egalitarianism, the wishy-washy sort of Christianity that replaced the Gospel with being nice (which is not to knock niceness, mind you!), and we didn't have a chance.

The only hope is the Catholic confessional State and a restoration of the principle of subsidiarity, eradicating fiat currency and usury and fractional reserve banking. And the only way to get there is for trads -- the only ones who know about ALL of these things put together -- to get BUSY and evangelize. 


*** The iron maiden -- that eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil torture device of the even more eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil medieeeeeeeeeval ages -- was actually a 19th c. invention, if I remember correctly.

Juanthetuba Wrote:I've read this book, it's pretty infromative, the author makes a good case, that it isn't open secularism and atheism that we need to look out for, but shoddy spiritualism, of the Joel Olsteen and  "spiritual-but-not-religious" variety

I can't quite agree with that. I mean, first, we've got to clean house, because our house, to kill a metaphor, is the only place on the block where sanity reins, and if it's not in order, there's no place to go.

But on the other hand, the secular and atheist forces are enemies that run "the institutions." They've got our universities, our public schools, the media, and, through the use of usury, fiat money, fractional reserve banking, etc., have the means (i.e., money) to buy our politicians.  In some places, they're making it so we can't even home-school our kids (see this ongoing thread). I guess what I'm saying is that even if we clean house, we've still got a hardcore battle to fight in order for there to be a restoration of any semblance of sanity.We've GOT to reclaim our institutions! We can't just clean house and call it good; nor can we just eliminate the horseplay going on with our political systems and how our institutions are run. We've got to do both. Yesterday.

P.S. I gotta ask about your name! "Juanthetuba" -- 'splain it to me, Lucy!


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#5
(09-06-2013, 06:35 PM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: Sound about right to you? [edited by Vox to remove extraneous quoting]

I don't have a problem with the "God Within" but one runs into trouble when they think they can rewrite God's laws. Yes, God dwells in us through the Holy Spirit as we are His temple BUT it is us that listens to Him, not the other way around. This is the part people have a problem with. God is you but you are not God! You depend on Him, He does not depend on you! That is the natural order and when one violates that natural order all sorts of sin manifests.
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#6
I should've worded that better, I think the author(who's Catholic himself) would agree that atheism and secularism are dangerous foes that are a big problem too, but the shallow spiritualism is something that needs serious addressing too, we can't reclaim "the institutions"  if our laity  is filled with silly ideas about God and the faith. Sorta like fighting a battle,  what use are your soldiers if they have cheap plastic weapons? We need to equip our solders with good gear before we can take on "the enemy"

Haha, Nothing much to my username, my name is Juan, and I used to play the Tuba. But "Juanthetubaplayer" didnt sound very nice lol
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#7
(09-06-2013, 10:45 PM)Juanthetuba Wrote: I've read this book, it's pretty infromative, the author makes a good case, that it isn't open secularism and atheism that we need to look out for, but shoddy spiritualism, of the Joel Olsteen and   "spiritual-but-not-religious" variety

I have not read the book, but I would somewhat agree if that's the author's thesis.  This is one reason I don't understand the obsession with atheism by some unnamed Catholics.

However, I still think that secularism plays a role, in the way that it is so interwoven and inseparable from religion these days, including, it seems, from Catholicism.

Shoddy spiritualism, yes, I agree with that.  Most often that appears as "harmless" syncretism, which isn't harmless whatsoever.
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#8
I think another problem is MANY Catholics think as long as you help the poor all the other stuff is negotiable. I know a priest or two that certainly operates under those premises. This attitude is an emotional response to look good in the eyes of others but still "get what you want." Some believe the abortion / contraception teachings can be transgressed as long as you care about the poor in a soup kitchen or abroad. The deed looks good to win the praise of others but the Bible certainly talks about how such acts are not genuine.
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#9
It's probably true that atheism isn't the major culprit.  Generally speaking, atheists seem to be too unmotivated to have a major effect upon societies.  That's likely why there's no record of a major atheist civilization.  Without the long-term outlook of a religious mindset it's hard for people to adopt anything besides a living-life-to-the-fullest mentality.
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