He Said What?

Over the weekend I went to a chapel communion service and I did this voluntarily. I was away at the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre and while there one of the members of staff was going to deliver the chapel service. I went to the chapel service to support her and be a part of her experience. There is also the very slight possibility that one of these services might persuade me a little to partake in religion. It’s not happened yet and perhaps I secretly want this. I am, very slightly, jealous of those who have such faith, such comforting thoughts about the world.

As it turned out my friend couldn’t deliver the service because there are rules about who can touch certain parts of church paraphernalia and I guess you have to be a certain rank within the church before you are allowed to commit certain acts. I find it all rather confusing and very amusing. I think that every church has these man-made rules to govern who can do what within their made up system of belief. Everyone seems to take this very seriously.

I was once at Amport House and someone mentioned that although gay priests are allowed your vicar licence has to be approved by the local bishop and if that bishop is homophobic then you lose your licence to priest if you come out to the church. That seems utterly ridiculous that your ability to church is dependent on what your human boss thinks. But then again, the idea that a committee of humans can overturn the common ideals of a religion within a committee and change a religion’s view on a particular issue amuses me greatly.

The sermon on Sunday was interesting. The padre [I honestly don’t understand the terms for vicar/priest etc] spoke about Valentine’s Day and the love that we receive from partners on that day. He then linked this into the love that Jesus gave to us and also the love that God gives us. There was general chatter about two holy men who gave their lives for strangers. One of them was at Auschwitz and he sacrificed his life for another man. The other man went on to live to an old age and had many children. The other priest was a man who got entangled in another soldiers parachute on D-Day. The priest cut himself free to fall to his death and the other soldier went on to do his job. These stories were interesting and not ones I had heard before. While they showed a love for the stranger I do think they missed the point that they occurred within a time when there was great evil on the Earth and millions were dying in concentration camps and in battle. But religious people gloss over the problem of evil.

Within the sermon the padre talked about a passage from John. He mentioned words that Jesus said:

[side point: Jesus didn’t say these things. This was written about thirty years after Jesus died. Go back and think about any conversation, important or not, from thirty years ago and try to be convinced about how accurate you are. It amuses me just how much study is made from the EXACT words in the bible when it’s all translations and copying errors]

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Hey, it’s only my way or no way. You must do as I say or you won’t get to heaven. Do as I say you muthafuckers because I will damn you if you don’t follow my exact words.

“But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

This part was read out and the message was meant to be that if you love Jesus you will get to heaven. My problem is the bit IN THEIR OWN BOOK which clearly shows signs of an abusive relationship. This part wasn’t talked about in the sermon and it’s interesting the bits of their own book they are willing to gloss over. You see that little bit in there which is along the lines of:

Follow my rules or else. Follow my rules and I will love you. Don’t follow my rules and you are damned to everlasting hell.

Do as I say or you will be burnt and suffer in indescribable pain forever. This section of the reading was glossed over in the sermon but it screamed in my head and really bothered me. If christians take this book so seriously and believe it is the word of god then why don’t they see these parts. The parts that require complete submission or else. They don’t see them because they are either glossed over or they think it is a good thing. That passage has really bothered me for a few days now.

Follow my rules or get fucked.

It’s not like following the laws of the road or those at work. This is referring to eternal damnation and the only path to heaven is through following the rules of Jesus. Well, screw that. This book has been used to justify hatred and murder for the last two thousand years and probably will be used for another millennia. I do hope that one day we grow out of following a book written by men about two thousand years ago which is demonstrably wrong about so much.

You don’t need Jesus to understand that being nice to people is the best way to go. You don’t need Jesus to believe that treating people as you would wish to be treated is a good maxim for life. These things are self evident and don’t require a god or his naughty boy. It’s easy to use the principle of BE NICE to inform all your choices and decisions. If only more people realised you don’t need god [or the threat of hell] to be good.