Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My religion post.

I have a confession to make (although folks who are regulars to this blog probably already know this) I am what Bill O-lie-ly calls a "secular progressive". I don't particularly like religion, and I have never been able to figure out what all the fuss was about.

It just bothers me that people who get up and go to church every Sunday morning to sing, pray, and give ten percent of their pay check to the offering plate, would have a heart attack if their son or daughter brought a mate home from a different race. In spite of what the Constitution says, A-merry-cans have always used their religion to try and regulate the behavior of others, and not for their own personal salvation. I have some fundamental issues with that.

I have, for instance, never been able to figure out how we want to put someone to death for raping a little girl. Yet we treat the leader of a church that turns a blind eye while its priests molests little boys like a fucking rock star. I still can't figure out why some people who claim to be really religious love their guns so much. I guess it's all a part of that eye for an eye thing. Still, it seems a little oxymoronic no? And why is it that the most fucked up neighborhoods here in my hometown has a church on every corner? Is it another case of what came first, the chicken or the egg? I am not so sure. And how can a bunch of wackos fly airplanes into buildings, and kill thousands of innocent people, all because they think that when it's over they can have their pick of virgins in paradise? Now if that's not some twisted shit I don't know what is. But hey, that's religion for you, it can be so complicated.

I say that,---it's complicated, because some good things can come from religion as well. If it wasn't for religion, for instance, we probably wouldn't have had a civil rights movement in this country. Some of our great leaders came out of the church. The church can build character and self confidence. It can be an incubator for really wonderful human beings. Some of our great musicians came out of the church, and some of the great modern philosophers and political scientist based their philosophy on religious principles. In a way I am like an ungrateful child, because if it wasn't for the church my family would not have enjoyed some of the comforts that we did.

So all this leaves me angry and frustrated. Angry because I see all the potentially good things that those who are supposed to be selling us religion are throwing away. Religion is not doing what it is supposed to. In fact, in many cases it is having an opposite effect. And I am frustrated because I have never been able to come to grips with just what the hell makes us tick. What is this religion thing all about? When we die, where will we go?

But at the end of the day all I ask for is tolerance. I am willing to make a pact with the religious among us. I will be tolerant of your beliefs no matter what they are, if you will promise to be tolerant of my non-beliefs; at least until I can figure this thing out.

I just hope it won't be too late :)


ac said...

Yes, your post really resonates with me. I too am confused by religion. I was raised with it, by brother still gets up and goes to church every Sunday. Yet, I can't reconcile all the ish enough to re-embrace it.

I tried explaining it to my brother: it's like I see the failings of "man-made" or organized religion - the intolerance, the judgement, the exclusion, the self-righteousness. I see these faults and, intellectually, I can't square them with the gospel, with the message.

So for now I risk enternal damnation and hold back from particpating in organized religion and stick to what I am 100% sure of: the Golden rule. That seems simple and immutable - treat others how I would want to be treated. Remember that what goes around, comes around, so try to put only positive energy out into the universe.

Here's hoping we get partial credit, Field. Thanks for the post - you made me think. I try to do it at least once a day. lol.

field negro said...

Thanks ac, those were some thoughtful comments. I hope your brother prays for both of us :)

SingaporeSwim said...

i'm with you field. the way that religion is bandied about these days is farcical. there's no spirituality attached to it but judgment abounds. as bill maher often says, as religion is delivered and practiced it renders us illogical and rigid and is a no-man's land of obfuscations. personally, i consider myself a nondenominational christian, bound to the almighty and not a religion.

Christopher Chambers said...

Field, I posted a welcome to Pope Benedict on my blog. I think you'll like it. Symbolic. Speaking of Popes, I assume since you are a Yardie you are Anglican. We wouldn't have our church were not for Henry VIII of England getting his swerve on, so that should tell you something about organized religion.

Religion should be personal. You don't need a Pope or smiling fool who preaches on TV that Jesus, a poor man, want you to be "successful" or a mullah or a rabbi or a witch doctor or a clown in driving an Escalade pimping a choir and sound system rivaling most clubs to find the spirit. I have no problem reconciling Darwin and the Big Bang with Jesus. It's all part of the same matter and energy.

SingaporeSwim said...

i think the golden rule is one of those "rules to live by" that pretty much captures the essence of the good book's teachings about love, faith, charity and goodwill.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry so much Field. God is waaaay more understanding and loving towards us than we are towards each other and how religion portrays God's attitude towards us. From a Christian perspective: He said he'd never wipe us out again after the Ark event and great flood. Then he sent us Jesus. And Jesus' life was not about his death but his example to us was how to live life in the now. It's not about hoarding all our religious bonus points for a heaven payout later. Heaven is here on earth right now. That doesn't mean it's utopia because as we see people kill and harm each other in every conceivable way. I think the Dalai Lama said it best: We must have inner peace in order to have world peace. We have to utilize a moral compass not a list of do's and don'ts because following a list then becomes the entire focus instead of having a spiritual connection. We're expected to love God above anything else and love our neighbors. I wouldn't say it's supposed to be one specific religion one specific way either. We can have a ritual for worship and devotion and meet in fellowship with others who support our journey. We can talk to God and listen for God's conversations with us. And be positive. And trust wherever that path leads you. And forgive people. I think that's it, but I may add something later.

Anonymous said...

In the early 90s I have the privilege of spending off and on, weeks at a time with Carrie and Mary Dann, 2 Western Shoshone sisters, both her were on the Western Shoshone National Council. Their land is in what the government calls Nevada, but they call Newe Segobia. I was there to act as support and witness as they fended off the US government from coming and taking their cattle and horses, their livylihood.. all because they refuse to pay grazing permits on what they say is Western Shoshone Land.... a place where Western Shoshones have been for far more years than the US Gov has existed. Anyway, over the course of the time that I spent with them, they told me stories of how the government, using churches, took their children away, made their religion illegal to practice, their language illegal to speak, and has tried to seperate them from their land since the first white man showed up. But mostly, how religious institutions were the ones that called these people... people who had me pray to mother earth as the sun rose, pray before I picked pine nuts, pray before I drank water... people who see all living things as sacred... the church people call them heathens! It was during that experience that I was firmly cured of ever taking solace in a faith that could do those things, especially cause so many of those things are STILL being done to native peoples today.

Anonymous said...

And be humble. And not expect good times, fair treatment and prosperity as our birthright. Just know that we can rely on God to try to get through it. We are all interconnected. And MLK said injustice in one place is injustice in all places so we have to take responsibility for that and each other.

SingaporeSwim said...

i can agree w/that. the creation-evolution controversy has never taken hold with me. they're not mutually exclusive imo as man clearly evolved from primordial and spiritual realms which are intertwined as we all are.

Anonymous said...

I have been told that I am a bedroom Baptist. I believe, but I don't attend church.

SingaporeSwim said...

you are not alone. many peeps are frustrated by religion b/c they were "led" to the altar on blind faith and hushed non-questioning tongues. this only heightened curiosity, discomfort and doubt about the sanctity of religion for many. not to mention, religiosity and christianity were often deceptively bound together.

Anonymous said...

That case with the black man on death row for rape. He is a miserable human being, he should be locked in jail forever. With that said, his case is exhibit A why the death penality in the US is a joke and should be abolished. Which white gets the needle for that shit without killing the girl, or anyone with any money. The only people who get the death penalty in America are blacks and poor whites, it's askew lynching justice used by prosecutors for political reasons.

Anonymous said...

I'm cool with God, but to hell with the church at this point. Martin Luther King's letter for the Birmingham jail where he talks about the church becoming an irrelevant social club has come to pass, esp. the black church. I have no use for it at this point in my life.

Anonymous said...

My relationship with God is great. It's (some) of His stupid followers that make me watch the NFL and NASCAR on Sunday mornings rather than attend services.

Oh, and the dirty looks I used to get for dating the white women in the congregation. That pissed off more than a few people.

ZACK said...

This is your best post yet. I completely agree with you on just about everything you wrote.

My feeling is that it's not about religion, or this cute new word that scamming televangelists call "relationship". It's about reading and doing. We can't just read the word of God; we've got to be doers of the word of God.

We "do" the word by practicing what we preach. If someone is in trouble, instead of talking about them, we should help them.

But that's for whole 'nother post.

Great post, once again!

Blinders Off said...

Religion is like politics, it brings out the worse in people.

I can relate to what you are saying Field and AC mentioned how I live my life and I like to believe the majority live their life this way.

That seems simple and immutable - treat others how I would want to be treated. Remember that what goes around, comes around, so try to put only positive energy out into the universe.

Doc L said...

Been reading you for a few months and just showin' up. A whole lotta folk should read this one. But they would probably be to judgmental of you to see the truth in what you say.

The problem is religion. I don't think it a far stretch to say that every instance of war, terrorism, genocide, slavery or any other inhumane act has been done in the name of religion--which seems totally anti-thetical to what all the founders/leaders/icons of the world major religions taught. Every specific hypocrisy you mentioned and a whole lot more could qualify as examples of that contradiction.

Until we get a clue that it ain't about organization and rules and regulations but relationship to a Higher Being, and how that is reflected in how we treat one another--we're all going to hell.

Miriam said...

This is such a religious post! lol

Though I am religious (a better word is needed), i'm not the one to promote it on others. I think decent behavior is enough.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I am a believer, and a follower of Jesus, to paraphrase the great Howard Thurman. However, I also think that ANY path that leads to God is good. So many believe their way is the only way, but let's face it....all of us are going on faith. Like the old folks used to sing, we'll understand it better by and by.

kid said...

Hey Field,

I think the Newshounds beat them to it about O'Liely and Faux Noise.

Unknown said...

This post is so awesome and I can relate so well. I grew up thinking I was going to hell, because I "questioned" God about why homosexuals are going to hell, or why we go to war, and why is there all this suffering in the world. The answers I got from church left me dumbfounded.

I am now agnostic and married to an atheist. I don't understand religion, I don't understand people's interpretations, and why are people so quick to throw the all mighty Bible out there to justify prejudice, death, and everything else under the sun.

Black Diaspora said...


I have never been able to come to grips with just what the hell makes us tick. What is this religion thing all about? When we die, where will we go?

Field, I'm going to try to answer some of your questions.

I'll try to do it briefly, but this is a large subject, and really requires reams and reams of blog space to do it.

I have no perfect answers and much of what I'm going to say is more subjective than objective.

That's because we're subjective beings.

Let's start with religion:

Religion is our attempt to understand God and our relationship to Him.

That would be great, but for the church, that institution set aside to facilitate that process and codify our understanding.

Think of the church not so much as a structure or an institution, but the society in which we live.

Our society is our church.

As that society is made up of the good and the bad, so the church.

The church will do no more and no less than the society in which it exists.

The church will be no more and no less than the society in which it exists.

The men and women in the church will be no more holy, pious, or ethical than the society from which these men and women are drawn.

To call them hypocrites, is to call ourselves in society hypocrites.

You see: We go to church everyday.

What makes us tick?

I know the answer, but it would take too long to explain it here.

Let me take a short cut, and risk the label of "elitist" and the pungent smell of rotten eggs that's certain to be thrown my way by some of your readers.

Let me build a base first.

Much is being said about the "Moses Code" these days. There are some attempts to debunk it. Yes, by those who're staunch supporters of religion.

I have no problem with that; debunkers were around before Jesus was born, and, yes, they sought to debunk him after he was born.

I'm not trying to sell you or anyone else on the Moses Code, but on the name of God as given to Moses, that can be found in Exodus 3:14:


The name has been stated in several ways. Also as:


In the Bible, names have meanings and represent the nature of a person.

Adam: Earth or Red Clay. Eve: Life or the Mother of the Living.

We have always been told that the Kingdom of God is within us. That God dwells within us.

God tells Moses that I AM (God) is THAT (I AM) the I AM of you. Now, that You that says "I AM" is God in You.

What is 'I AM'--your awareness of being, your divine nature.


I can see some poised now to throw eggs at me.

But I'm going to continue.

So a partial answer to the question of "what makes us tick?" is "freewill," and the power to create as God creates.

Hence, we have the God-given power to create both good or evil-- anything our little imaginations can conjure.

When we die, where will we go?

You will go to the place from whence you came, where you have always existed in the forever.

Now, I'm going to do what others say is impossible to do.

I'm going to prove to you that you live forever.

It will be subjective proof, but proof nevertheless. You may deny the proof, but that's OK.

Let me preface it this way. Not too long ago I found myself, accidentally, on an atheist site.

I believe that you say that you're an agnostic.

Well these atheists are a religious cult unto themselves, and a very sad bunch.

I have no problem with their existence, nor their atheism, but I found them so bound by their beliefs that they would do the religious here proud.

Atheists distrust just about everything except science, and scientific proof.

And we know the occasional fallibility of science.

I bring them up because they deny not only their experiences, but their thoughts as well.

They distrust their thoughts, their imagination, their feelings, and anything subjective.

At least that's what they told me.

Now back to the proof. Field, can you imagine a time when you haven't been aware, when you didn't know yourself as yourself?

I don't mean your name, but that you existed.

With that out of the way, let me ask: Can you imagine a time when you will cease to exist, not be?

I know you have accepted that you will die, that your body will someday cease to be.

But that's not the question: Can you imagine a time when you, that You in your awareness, will cease to be?

If you're like most, you will answer both questions with a NO.

You know why? The answer is simple: like God, you have always been and you will always be.

I know this at an experiential level, but that won't help you to know.

Here comes that elitist thing I was alluding to earlier.

I was born with certain extrasensory abilities, just as a person is born with the talent to play the piano, or chess at an early age with the skills of a master.

I won't expound on it here, but I can tell you with a certainty that you're not your body, that you will survive this life, that you will have an eternal existence, and that that awareness within you (that wonderful "I AM" presence) is God within you.

I'll leave you with a mystery--not even the church knows this, and neither does religion:

God is more an 'existence' than a 'being'.

By the way, the "Golden Rule" is Golden, despite those who say "Those with the Gold rule".

It's the only religion you really need, if by religion you mean a standard of Godly conduct.

Don't take this final statement as gushing, but as an observation.

I find that you, albeit an agnostic, possess more Godly qualities--compassion, and human decency--than many who call themselves holy.

We need more agnostics like you.

And the uplifted life you live, and exemplify on this blog, a sermon for the ages.

You folks can let those eggs fly now. Please hold the really rancid ones aside until the very end.

Christopher said...

I think and I believe that humans created religion in response to the fear of death.

Death, the end of life, of all that we are, think, smell, taste, breath, and loved, is a staggering and terrifying concept. So creative beings that we are, created a belief system that basically says, if we're good little boys and girls here on earth, our reward is an afterlife sitting beside this uber-daddy in a place called heaven for eternity.

Sure beats the idea of the lights going out forever, right?

But the reality is, throughout history, more harm has been done to one another in the name of religion than anything else. Religion is a very destructive force and usually separates and divides us.

David Sullivan said...

Religion + Politics = Theocracy (Iran, Saudi Arabia, The Vatican, Israel)

Inclusion + Representation = Democracy

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing I can't understand about Christianity... Christians are taught that they are to follow Christ. That he was sent to save them, and they are to pick up the cross and follow in his footsteps. He came to teach them how to live. BUT, they are also taught that Christ was gods only son and they are imperfect as humans and so cannot be perfect like Christ.

Now, I am not sayin I am "god" but I am a parent. And I could NEVER imagine telling my children:

Here is how I want you to live your life. Try real hard honey, but sorry, you can never be successful, cause my only REAL child is the only one that could pull it off and hey, you killed him, but keep tryin. And, if you dont I'm gonna condemn you to eternal pain and suffering! good luck!

A "parent" that laid out that kind of model would be considered a pretty piss poor parent.

microbrother said...

Say brother, first of all, thanks for the shout out. Yes, I was inspired to use the expression “O man” in my blog by you….it’s catchy.

As you may know, I’m a preacher’s kid and, even a preacher’s brother. I struggle with some of the same issues you have. I just can’t figure out, sometimes, how the most religiously devout among us can be the most maniacal?

This dilemma forced me to step back from the church and examine what’s going on and I have learned, obviously, that religious leaders are human. Therein is the problem. The axiom by John Acton states it quite accurately, “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. People, generally, need to belong to or identify with some group for emotional and familial support. They may join alumnae, street gangs, unions, political parties and yes, religions.

The need to identifying with a group is a powerful force, perhaps as powerful as the need for food, water and sex. I believe that those in leadership understand this phenomenon and exploit it for good or bad. I’m a member of groups and I’m sure, as a lawyer, you are, too. I think what we must do is examine our leadership critically and expose those characteristics about them that makes them counter to our principles and/or the groups’ mission in light of improving the human condition.

Anonymous said...

Howdy folks,

I hate the concept of original sin, and am rather glad that Judaism doesn't have it (not that my religion wasn't misogynistic enough without that tenent).

As for the afterlife, believe it or not -- not all faiths rely on such things. Mine has about twenty different beliefs (including reincarnation), that get in a wrestling match every Sunday.

I believe in a God that like questions, that likes doubts. He gave us a mind for a reason.

As for why religion? People like things to be bigger than they are, and people make a better force for good when they're in a group.

May doubt be the handmaiden of truth.

May we make the miracles we seek.

Anonymous said...

[verbose mode off]


tamara s brown said...

When I graduated High School, moved away from home, I quit going to church; I quit being religious, if you will. I am spiritual, but not religious.

I had the misfortune of getting caught up into church politics at a young age.

Scenario 1: COGIC (Church of God in Christ) used to be incredibly strict. You could liken it to the Pentacostal faith where women can't cut their hair, wear makeup, wear pants, etc. Our community was small; our church even smaller. We were already viewed as oddities with the womenfolk not being able to sport pants when say, playing sports, or working in a factory (many of which did), or whenever it would be ‘practical’ to actually wear pants.

The school decided to have a marching band; it hadn't done so in years. Music wasn't against our code (albeit we weren't supposed to listen to secular music), so all the kids were able to sign up. But what do they wear in bands? Uniforms, i.e. pants. So the children were allowed to join up for one year until it became a freaking debate in the church.

My Pastor, whose daughter during her high school days ran track and later went on to University running track and making it all the way to State, decided that if we had to wear pants to be in the band, we shouldn't be in the band. He ‘prayed’ long and hard about it. So parents in the church had to decide what to do and most went along with the pastor and all the kids were pulled from the band.

Talk about a waste of f*cking talent all because it is deemed/written that a woman cannot wear that which pertains unto a man (Deut. 22:5). Someone else’s interpretation of the text. I looked around seeing the rest of the world with womenfolk who wore pants wondering, “Will they burn in Hell because of something so simple as wearing pants”? The answer…MOST LIKELY NO. But it took me getting out and away and getting to college before I finally said screw it, I’m wearing pants. I refuse to get on a treadmill in a long ass skirt….it just didn’t make any sense!

See how my ‘view’ of religion was thwarted thusly? Continue reading…

Scenario 2: Associate Minister doesn't agree with the Pastor, so the Associate Minister LEAVES, taking his family and other prominent church members with him to form a 'new' church. My family got caught in the crossfire because my mom was distant cousins with the Pastor, so there was a certain allegiance to him and she actually agreed with his point of view.

Bottom line, we stayed; they left and things were weird. In addition to trying to hold down our church according to scripture (i.e. the whole pants, makeup, devil’s music thing) we had to adhere to the hierarchy invoked in our church’s structure. Our church, other churches were all apart of Districts, Districts then formed into Regions and Regions into State and so on and so forth. Much like high school basketball or NBA or NCAA tiers, we were a part of the ‘organization’. We had to report annually, bi-annually, tri-annually, multi-annually with DUES.

Here we are, a small church in a rural community, everyone’s broke as a joke, but my pastor would always say, PAY YOUR TITHES, PAY YOUR DISTRICT FEES…and the Lord will bless you. So not only was it the ‘keeping up with your old time religion’ it was also ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, depositing money into the accounts of figureheads who represented you and your faith: Bishops, Assoc. Bishops, etc.

And mind you, I’m absorbing all of this at a young age; I was much too young to be privy to this. Both me and the others kiddos, but there we were, being freaking indoctrinated into the code of giving to an organization that held variants of discrepancy in terms of teaching. (Example: The women at “State” wore pants……TO CHURCH)

See? So now…I don’t go to church. I don’t know that I ever will again. I don’t know that I’m ready to be assimilated and forced back into the ‘matrix’, especially with so much hypocrisy going on. Thanks for letting me rant.

damien said...

Yeah Field. The church and religion is a very complicated thing. I grew up Baptist so it is ingrained in me... yet i get so turned off by so called "saved" people and their prejudice or judgement of others and the more I look at it the more I see that these people, from my experience, don't practice what Jesus taught.. so I just try to be the best person i can be and if that's not good enough for GOD then I guess I'll just have to burn in hell with the rest of us.
Although the GOD I was taught about is a loving GOD and I refuse to believe that I'm going to hell because I chose to be neutral in this religion war we got going on on this planet.

Anonymous said...

Hi Field:

I think that is a very interesting post about the religion, particularly with African-Americans who may hold the same feelings as you or me. I grew up in the Baptist church and never felt a complete connection other than seeing the importance of unitifying the black community, but has not done a very good job of that.

I struggle with the significance of the church in today's society and read a book by John Shelby Spong entitled "Why Christianity Must Change or Die", Dr. Spong happened to be the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, NJ who suggested that there should be a rethinking about Christian belief, away from theism and from the afterlife as a reward or punishmnet for human behavior. Of course, some Christians find his interpretations of Christian belief unacceptable, but I thought it was a clergyperson's job to get his or her congretation to think. Silly me.

Religion has that opposite affect, people do not think and question. Yet, we should religion is not the be all that ends all either. We should questions our motives for wanting to be a good person. Are we being good because we expect a reward, or be good because it's the right thing to do for yourself and others? I was watching the American Experience other night about Walt Whitman and his belief that his poetry "The Leaves of Grass" could change America. He publishes not seek financial gain because he does not, but merely to contribute something to the world he believed would have a profound effect. However, Walt Whitman was decent human being as he did whatever he could for the wounded and dying soldiers both confederate and union during the Civil War with small acts of kindness through giving them candy or just merely sit with the soldiers.

Perhaps, it's not about religion, but more about our lives and what kind of human beings we want to become.

Kellybelle said...

That was a very thoughtful, spiritual post. Something about you suggests you're closer to God than you might care to admit ;-)

Anonymous said...

Very nice article, Field. I am a devout Atheist and so, yes, very nice. I was a christian until I read the book. The god described in the Old Testament is a petty, incompetent monster who could not possibly have created this magnificent universe. Everything that follows is therefore baseless. Good people who are religious have done a lot of wonderful things but I think that is because they are good people and not because they are religious.
It has puzzled me for a long time how any female, Black, Native American, LGBT, etc., could possibly be a Christian, could possibly participate in a religion that has condoned the mistreat of so many people for hundreds of years.
But the music is good.

vdubjb said...

I am awaiting an explanation for alien life, dinosaurs and hauntings/possessions . I dont know how they can all exist.

field negro said...

Beforethemayflower,you will get no eggs from me. That was heavy,thanks! I mean that. And that goes for everyone who posted on this subject.You all are some deep as people.I honestly can say that I am so proud to host this site....ah shit you all are going to have me tearing up in court.

Most of you seem to be cool with god but you are fed up with the church.I can understand that sentiment. And I didn't know I had so many atheist here.(I should have known I would attract you all, I am such a cynical bastard :)

Microbrother, you are welcome, us PKS have to stick together. Yes Kellybelle,I am a preacher's kid, and maybe that's what you sensed.
I have always been conflicted when it comes to religion.

Vdubjb,keep reading,maybe one of these smart folks will have an answer for you. I know I don't

grown said...

Normally I hate religious posts cause people get all up in their feelings...but everyone who has commented so far has been extremely well behaved. Brava!

I consider myself spiritual (meaning I believe in God and his teachings) but not religious (meaning I don't take my ass to church).

Where do you go when you die? You go where ever you want to go when you die...but I do believe in the power of death and I don't think we should necessarily know what happens to you when you die. Some things should be left a mystery.

Doc L said...

I agree with Grown. the comments have been great. It shows how much understanding we can gain from one another when we listen and engage one another, regardless of our differences. And religion is certainly an area where we have trouble disagreeing.

I grew up in a fundamentalist denomination(might be the same one you did Field, based on some of the names you dropped a few months back), but as I matured, I have been bothered by the "better than thou" attitude that seems to prevail. I have been guilty also, but like to think I've been "converted" from that, and still working at it.

Before the Mayflower noted that "freewill" makes us tick. I'd like to add selfishness and the "Drum Major Instinct" that Dr. King talked about. Religion, too often is about promoting yourself--as better, wiser, holier, healthier than the next person.
Seems to me that true religion should have opposite effect. If you are a Christian, you are supposed to be a servant, humble, and not thinking yourself better than anyone else. As such, it seems laughable that this country would dare to call itself Christian. How can American lives inherently be more valuable than Iraqi, Saudi, Sudanese lives, just because we're America. What arrogance! But I digress...

"where do we go when we die?" I know what I've been taught, and in all honesty that's okay with me. There is something better, an afterlife. Problem is, I don't know anyone who been there and come back to tell me. So, like so much in life, I just take some things on faith. And as much as we may not like it, some things should be left a mystery.

And don't worry about being too late Field. The fact that you even mention it suggests that you're just fine. And the work you're doing on this blog, and I'm sure in the Philly courts is confirmation of that.

Yeah, we're all yearnin' and learnin'. And you help us succeed.

Thanks, brother.

DebC said...


You scare me man! After a very late night - Singaporeswim!!! :-), I got up, made coffee and switched on CNN just in time to see the two stories you mentioned here - the pope's visit and the death penalty for the rape of a child. I switched the TV off, drank my coffee and sat down to post on my own "crisis of faith," but decided to click through my blogroll first and here you go!!! That's just some eerie if not spiritual shit!!

I feel exactly as you and several commenters here about the anger, frustration and the complexity of relgion. And I have for quite awhile now. As I have muddled through my "crisis" over the past few years, I demanded tolerance from myself and asked for it from others.

As the years passed, an evolution of thought began to happen in my head and my heart and the word tolerance kept elbowing me because it suggested a mere "putting up with." More and more, I began to demand of myself, and ask of others, an acceptance of another's right to their differences with an aim toward at least trying to understand those differences, through dialogue and direct contact instead. Still a work in progress, but I think I'm on the right track - for me. This blog has been great for my process! Thanks man. I'm with doc here Field, you're going to be just fine.

I'm going to go on "home" now and finish my post. I'm going to link to this post in the body because I was led here for a reason.

Keep up the great work Field. You inspire and challenge me.

Kim said...

Great post Field. I've always had similar thoughts about religion in my head but never said them out loud because I didn't want to be "lovingly criticized" by the more religious members of my family. I'll admit that I haven't read the entire Bible. But what I have read is confusing, contradictory and just plain funny. For example Judas' death is portrayed two different ways in the New Testament. Matthew says he hanged himself after feeling remorse for betraying Jesus and trying to return the money he received from the priests(Matthew 27). But in the the Book of Acts, Peter says he took the money he received for betraying Jesus and bought land where he "fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out" (Acts 1:15).

So I'm like are there two Judas' who betrayed Jesus? How could he die twice? I actually asked my Pastor (I'm Episcopalian) and he admitted that the Books of the Bible we written by different people at different times. So every preacher who tells you the Bible is the true word of God, is not exactly telling the truth. MAN wrote the Bible. Flawed Man, prejudicial man, man with agendas, wrote the Bible. Not God himself. I'd like to believe that if God wrote his autobiography, he'd be a little more clear on his rules, maybe update a few things to reflect the times. I mean I like pork, am I going to hell cause I like chitterlings? Frankly, the Bible needs a little updating and a good editor.

It just seems to me that certain aspects of the Bible teachings we are told the follow, but other things are ignored. How can you cherry pick the alleged Word of God? It seems to me that the whole problem with organized religion is that people don't really read the bible so they don't know to question things. And for those who do read choose to ignore the misogyny, the inconsistencies, and just plain questionable content within the Bible, because they are afraid to question. When you believe in something so deeply, the possibility that something's not right or that it just plain wrong, is too much for people to bear. In some ways Barack Obama is right about people (not just the white working class) needing to cling to religion.

I believe in God and I believe in Christ. I don't consider myself a Christian. People have done horrible things to one another under that label. I consider myself a believer in God and a FLAWED follower of Christ. Or at least what the writers of the Gospel describe as Christ. As you can see, this faith thing is an ongoing personal struggle.

Kim said...

Oh and has anyone really read "Song of Songs" (or Solomon). That book gives Zane a run for her money!!! My mouth dropped wide open when I read it. I'm like how come we don't talk about this in Bible Study???

Anonymous said...


The way I see it, the problem is that the church is made up of imperfect people, and I am one of them. But the thing is, it's because I'm imperfect that I need Jesus so much. On my own, I screw up all the time, and I do things that I regret later, and even things I know I shouldn't do to begin with. But because of who Jesus is and what he has done for us, I am perfect in His eyes, and he has forgiven me. So, I continue, each day to do my best to spread the good news to others, so that they can be forgiven too.

Black Diaspora said...

I'd like to believe that if God wrote his autobiography, he'd be a little more clear on his rules, maybe update a few things to reflect the times. I mean I like pork, am I going to hell cause I like chitterlings? Frankly, the Bible needs a little updating and a good editor.

Why Kim, he's done just that. The book is called Conversations with God, an Uncommon Dialogue (Book One) by Neale Donald Walsch.

I don't like to promote books, but then again, you asked.

You don't have to believe all that it says, but the wisdom it imparts for modern-day man and woman will leave you breathless.

Further, it will answer most of the questions you have ever had about God, and man--why you're here, why things are the way they are, and your relationship to Him.

And to top it off, He does it with occasional humor.

Who could ask for anything more?

Chris said...

I'm an atheist. Be gentle.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Perhaps religion is doing exactly what it's "supposed to do."

? said...

Christianity is the white man's religion and I say that as a white man. I don't buy into it either, the most prejudiced folks you meet are often the most religious.

Liz Dwyer said...

Very interesting post, Field. It is hard to see so much injustice in our world perpetrated by those who claim to believe in God. Yet our society's choices and actions reflect a belief in money more than religion. It's a misuse of the good inherent in us all.

I think we're a culture that lies to ourselves about where our true allegiances rest. Would we have such extremes of wealth and poverty if we didn't have such a materialistic, money-worshiping culture? Would we have ever had slavery if there hadn't been pure greed on the part of those who fled Europe due to religious persecution? Would there be an Iraq war if not for pursuit of money (oil)?

I'm a Baha'i, not a Christian, but having read a whole lot about various world religions, no faith teaches that we should hate people, murder, cheat, be a racist, tolerate sexual abuse or turn a blind eye to the extremes of wealth and poverty found in our world. Unfortunately, folks can twist anything to justify what they selfishly want (Henry VIII is a good example). I just think humanity needs to collectively check ourselves and get back in touch with our true spiritual natures.

You have a good heart and I think it's so critical that you are asking these questions. More people should independently investigate the truth and ask themselves what it is they truly believe.

vanishing point said...

A favorite quote from Luis Bunel:
"Thank God I'm an Atheist."

Great post, Field.

Anonymous said...

los angelista, Are you suggesting that only europeans practiced slavery? I mean, they are still doing that in Africa right now, and genocide too.

Francis Holland said...

Field, when people ask me if I believe in God, I have to tell them, 'If prefer NOT to believe in God, because if I believe there's a God then I will spend all my time mad at him.'

And this is coming from a guy who once sang in three church choirs at the AME Church. Thing is, while I was singing about the wonders that God has done for me, I was actually so desperately lonely and empty inside that I wanted to commit suicide. I often imagined hanging myself from the balcony during the church service! (I was a hurting unit!)

Well, God didn't save me from that in the church, in spite of my many requests for Him to do so. So, either He couldn't care less about me (and the people being hacked to death in Darfur) or He simply doesn't exist at all.

I'm beginning to side with the empiricists on this: There's no reason to believe in something if all available evidence says that "something" isn't true.

Now, I know that religion and church have gotten Black people through a lot of crap in the United States, as well as being one of white people's many excuses for the crap that they heaped upon us.

Finally, I'm an agnostic. God is what he IS or ISN'T and nothing I say or do is going to change that, so I just leave it alone.

Meanwhile, I'm really disgusted with white liberals who think it's alright to call Obama "boy". It's at times like this that you learn who your friends are, and who would throw you overboard to make room for two more sacks of white flour.

Black Diaspora said...

Francis L. Holland Blog said...
God didn't save me from that in the church, in spite of my many requests for Him to do so.

Francis, with absolute respect for what you went through, I'd like to ask you a question.

And I hope you will answer.

I'm not asking it to be facetious or to be morbidly curious.

But what did save you?

Anonymous said...

@ before the mayflower...

...man, with your comment about atheism being a religion itself, I wish you would have been hanging around my blog toward the end of March. I posted with a similar thought and got ripped to shreds. Nobody had my back on that one. ;-)

@ Field:

Ain't a thing I can add to what anyone's said here. I have a lot of faith in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Bible...but precious little for much of organized religion.

Liz Dwyer said...

No, that's not what I said. I think I was pretty clear with what I said, and what I said is exactly what I meant.

field negro said...

"I assume since you are a Yardie you are Anglican." Nope, that would be SDA. Which is probably the second most popular religion on the rock.

What a nice mix of atheist, agnostics, and people of faith we have commenting on this post. And inspite of the mix, the information and dialogue has been very enlightening and positive.

Anonymous said...

A couple thoughts. It's about faith and not religion. It's upsetting that you have aligned a belief system soley with church attendance. I'll let you know I believe it is one part of the puzzle, though. However, you can identify a true Christian by the fruit of their life not their church attendance.

Second judge the book (the bible) and not its flawed adherants. The book is inerrant and unbelievalbly fair when studied. Are those of you that don't believe perfect? Probably not, so you can't expect the same from Christians.

I believe God is the voice in the pit of your stomach that whispers the right path to heed. Maybe one day you will give it a shot. Until then, consider your confusion respected by this Christian.

Further, understand that this Christian understands the book and seeks to live her life by its mandates. Inportant among them, "Judge lest ye be judged".

Black Diaspora said...

@Deacon Blue:
...man, with your comment about atheism being a religion itself, I wish you would have been hanging around my blog toward the end of March.

I checked out your blog entry on science as religion.

As you have learned, or soon will learn, there's making no headway with that group.

Here's why: you're about a world that's wholly metaphysical. Their's, on the other hand, is purely physical.

They can't see that the metaphysical one has brought the physical one into existence.

Science, itself, is getting closer and closer to that conclusion. It will shake their tree one day and force them to accept the other, unseen world.

But knowing that group they'll insist that it's an extension of the seen, rather than the other way around.

Deacon Blue, that puts you at a disadvantage at the outset. You're fighting on their turf, and they know it, and they come well armed to take no prisoners.

Just as it's impossible (at least for them) to reconcile evolution with "intelligent design" you will never enjoy a meeting of the minds in the most hardcore areas of discussion.

You show more patience with that lot than I have been able to show.

Since science does not posit the existence of a soul, it will continue to come up short in its conclusions about God and life.

Find comfort in the knowledge that you will have the last laugh.

Rootie said...

Hi all,
(sorry -- after previewing this, I see that it reads like an advertisement from some sort of philosophical infomercial -- I guess it is in a way)

Lacking fangs, claws, or complex instincts, man makes his way in this world by using his brain, by thinking and acting long term to store food for the winter, to collect seeds to plant the following years, to build or find shelter, to trade wisely with others, etc.

This rational nature of man's existence forms part of the foundation for an entire system of philosophy.

Many people say that only religion provides morality. Very few people have heard of Objectivism, and even fewer understand it. I am definitely still learning about it.

For those of you looking for an alternative to "morality-free" atheism, I would encourage you to investigate Ayn Rand's philosophy. Objectivism has epistemology, morality, politics, economics, and even art all tightly integrated into a framework, providing, not just a moral basis for living, but for flourishing.

ps. If you'd like to learn more, http://www.aynrand.org is a great place to start. (I am not associated with ARI, not yet anyway :)

Black Diaspora said...

Rootie said...

Very few people have heard of Objectivism, and even fewer understand it.

I admit my understanding of it has dropped over the years, but I still recall some tenets of "objectivism," perhaps not as well as I once did.

Ayn Rand was an atheist. I don't fault her for that, nor do I attack her because of that.

It matters not to me, because it matters not to God.

I bring it up merely to say that her philosophical position, for me, is too exclusively man-centered, without a shred of divinity, if by divinity we mean God.

Because of that, her positions, regarding morality, hold only half the truth.

Would I say that her approach to life is wrong. No.

Her way is just another way. Not the only way.

For me there are no "right" or "wrong" only what works, or don't work, given what it is we say we want.

Although the letter of her beliefs is seductive, it lacks the substance of spirit that says that We Are All One, and what we do for or against Another We Do for or against the Self.

Altruism for her would be as horrid as collectivism.

Although I stand firmly behind her on some things: the integrity of an individual's creative energies, for example, I would balk at the notion that self, (the little self) if more important than the big Self that embraces all of humankind.

Serve the Self? Sure. Seek what brings joy and happiness to the Self? Sure.

But the Self that I serve extends beyond my boundaries, since I believe in Only One Self, and One Self Only.

Let me sum up my position this way: There's Only One Of Us Here.

Anonymous said...

Well, what can I say.... you have been BEGGING for the ministers to come and comment, huh? *LOL*

Okay...here I am!!

First, let me say that Christianity is NOT a religion...and many well-meaning believers would love to turn it into one.

Second, let me say that most people who say that they grew up in the church have STILL never read the Bible in its entirety so please do not think that their views reflect what is in the Bible if they haven't read the book.

Third, there are countless organizations that CLAIM to be "Christian" and that does not mean that they are. In America, anyone can buy a building and put the name "Church" in front of their building. It doesn't mean that they are embracing Christianity.

Fourth, being in church every Sunday doesn't make anyone a devoted Christian. There are plenty of attendees of churches who don't truly study the Bible. (Ditto for many ministers in many pulpits! Very sad to say that but it's the truth....)

Lastly, I would not encourage ANYONE to look at Christians as the reference point for Christ because Christians are human beings and subject to error, deep-seated issues and erroneous interpretations of the Bible. If you want to know about Christ, read and research for yourself. Do not rely on what I say in the pulpit as your sole source for knowledge. Be responsible about seeking answers for yourself.

Okay...I'm climbing down off of my soapbox now.

Thanks for letting me blow my trumpet!!



Anonymous said...

@ Lisa (anonymous):

READ the Bible? Are you nuts? I have a big stack of Stephen King, Terry McMillan and Jim Butcher to catch up on.

j/k...and to everyone else: I'm just going to speak from personal experience here that when I finally DID read the Bible, front to back, with an open mind AND heart (and a few prayers to God to help me understand the trickier parts)...plus it being a study Bible with nice detailed footnotes...that was when I truly hit the road toward embracing Jesus. Because that is when I could finally see what God had been working toward and why...and why we needed salvation to begin with.

So, I know this is a big request to make of folks who aren't Christian (and for lukewarm or "dead" Christians for that matter), but if you're wondering what God, Jesus and the Spirit are all about, you really need to read the whole Bible and do so with a desire to understand.

Too many folks, both within and outside the faith, just pick and choose things and take them out of context. And that's easier to do when you pick and choose your reading of the Bible without having done it cover to cover.

? said...

"Since science does not posit the existence of a soul",

It is not the place of science to do this, science is here to TEST and make a hypothesis, run experiments, weather or not people have a soul is not testable.

Anonymous said...

Great post Field ...... I also am a dissapointed christian.... grew up in the Methodist Church though my mother was an atheist.

Lately have been struggling to get closer to " God", cannot find the way through any Church that I have been to.
Try to use prayer and my moral compass to guide me through.
In West Africa, where I am from, organized religion has just become a business for greedy pastors.
These pastors have enriched themselves at the expense of the poverty stricken populace.

Was it Karl Marx who said " religion is the opiate of the masses'?
It's a bit like that over here.

Anyway, I'm still searching for the right path to God.

Anonymous said...

classical one said...
"Since science does not posit the existence of a soul",

It is not the place of science to do this, science is here to TEST and make a hypothesis, run experiments, weather or not people have a soul is not testable

Never said it should be its place. Merely pointed out its limited scope, and the result of that.

But tell me this: how do you know if it's testable or not? Thanks for the science lesson.

Constructive Feedback said...



Which POPE "ignored the child molestation" charges in the church of North America?

You sound like Bill Maher in your generalizations. The fact is that it was an ORGANIZATIONAL FAILURE. Various week spined individuals COVERED UP the crimes that were taking place under their watch. THESE MEN in leadership positions should be condemned.

How is it, however that you attempt to attack and condemn the ENTIRE ORGANIZATION known as the Catholic Church?

Here is what kills me about you Libs......When it comes to crime, punishment and discipline for regular, unattached individuals you all seek to "EXPAND THE POLICE TAPE" bringing in all sorts of societal forces far beyond the "crime scene" as relevant factors to why the assailant acted.

You all also are into "second chances" and redemption.

For some reason, HOWEVER, when it comes to an ORGANIZATION that has these same INDIVIDUALS operating within and who have violated all of the known standards of the organization you all seem to come to life and respond in a way that seems like you are working to accomplish a greater goal of ATTACKING THE ORGANIZATION rather than focusing on the mal-actors.

FIELD-NEGRO - maybe we should recruit all THUGS IN PHILLY to be a part of some organization. Then when they KILL SOME BROTHERS in Philly, when they do - we will attack the ORGANIZATION for allowing them to do so rather than focus on their individual actions.


What about "The Hill Top Clergymen" as the name for the Overbrook thugs?

field negro said...

"FIELD-NEGRO - maybe we should recruit all THUGS IN PHILLY to be a part of some organization."

I think the catholic church already did that, they are called priests :)

Anonymous said...

@ constructive feedback:

All well and good to let the folks at the top of the church hierarchy off the hook, but it IS the pope's fault and the fault of his cardinals. The bishops and others who let the abusive priests escape criminal justice and continue to serve, often still around children, did NOT, technically speaking, "cover up" the crimes, AFAIK. Yes, the covered them up to the general public and parishioners, but NOT to their superiors.

Thus, it ultimately comes back to the pope. And frankly, if there's a country the pope needs to keep close tabs on, it's the U.S., given that it's probably the nation where the Catholics are most at odds with the doctrine of the Catholic church. So, for the popes not to notice the glossing over of child abuse among the priests here is grossly negligent.

? said...

But tell me this: how do you know if it's testable or not? Thanks for the science lesson.

Becuase it's called faith, something that requires no proof. If you can figure out how to test for the existense of a soul, go for it, you'll probably win the Nobel.

Anonymous said...

classical one said... Becuase it's called faith, something that requires no proof. If you can figure out how to test for the existense of a soul, go for it, you'll probably win the Nobel.

For me the existence of the soul is a priori, why should I invest my time and energy to prove, a posteriori, the existence of that which will satisfy science, or you.

I was quite happy to have my say, before you broke in with your need to challenge the scientific validity of my remarks.

Rather than dismiss the soul out of hand, perhaps science should use its scientific method to prove it with the same eagerness as it does "string theory."

The energy-scale at which the stringlike properties would become evident is so high that it is currently unclear how any of the forms of the theory could be tested.

Hmm, can't be tested but still hypothesized. A lot of "faith" going on here.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]All well and good to let the folks at the top of the church hierarchy off the hook, but it IS the pope's fault and the fault of his cardinals. The bishops and others who let the abusive priests escape criminal justice and continue to serve, often still around children, did NOT, technically speaking, "cover up" the crimes, AFAIK. Yes, the covered them up to the general public and parishioners, but NOT to their superiors.[/quote]

Deacon Blue:

For the record - I am no defender of the Catholic Church. Growing up in West Philly and at times having to walk through communities where WHITE BOYS from (man I need to remember the names of their schools) West Catholic(?), St. Colistas(?) fought with us or threw rocks at us as we walked through their neighborhoods (which are now all Black today by the way) there was no spiritual guidance from the POPE bonding their actions.

INDEED this was an organizational failure. Due criticism should be hoisted upon the church. Many children's lives were destroyed in the process. Few people went to jail over their crimes.

BUT GUESS WHAT? I say the same thing about this church as I have said about the Mega Churches who's pastors profit greatly: THE CHURCH BODY NEEDS TO STEP UP AND INSURE MORE TRANSPARENCY IS IN PLACE. If there ever was a time to SPEAK TO AUTHORITY.....the time is NOW. Certain people like POWER but not ACCOUNTABILITY. (Congressional Black Caucus prior to the Intramural fight over Obama Clinton for example). People in leadership positions were GIVEN this privilege. It can never be seen as a monarchy where they can do what they want to do, rolling over the people. The institution will suffer if they are allowed to do so.

Here is what I don't understand about some of you. Your normal liberal tolerance (and this is a generic 'your' as I don't know you) when it comes to infractions by an INDIVIDUAL gets tossed away when there is an ORGANIZATION with power that you are inclined to be skeptical against. You call for the MAXIMUM PENALTY for the organization. "They need to be taught a lesson". 180 degree different than with the individual.

What if these various bishops and fathers who covered up the crimes of the priests were BEING CHARITABLE TO THE MOLESTING PRIESTS and giving them a "second chance"? How is the CHURCH any different from the CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM that gives second chances to THUGS? The repeat offenders are the PRIESTS and the THUGS only the church gets attacked. The criminal justice system is said to be PUNISHING TOO MANY people.

Why are you inclined to ASK OF these men in authority but DON'T SEEM TO HAVE ANY EXPECTATIONS OF THE THUGS? They often LIVE DOWN to your expectations of them.

Field-Negro - If we were to measure which group does more harm in Philly - the Catholic Church or the Thugs in the street - how is it that you are so clear on your condemnations of the church but don't seem to have any particular plan to address the THUGS?

Aside from their murder count tally on your the "Field Negro Propaganda Frame" to the right of your blog I don't get the feel that the "Philly Thug" is more reprehensible to you than Alphonso Jackson - a Black conservative - is to you.

Anonymous said...

@ constructive feedback:

Well, if we're looking at the second chance/redemption/etc. angle, organizations don't qualify. From a religious standpoint, they don't have souls.

And sure, they may have been trying to give their priests a chance at redemption, but they were doing so by ignoring criminal justice. They hid the men from the laws that should have applied to them, and that is wrong. The Bible repeatedly calls on us not to flout the law under which we live in temporal governments.

And I'm also not saying the organization should be thrown out any more than an individual should be discarded. But there has to be accountability for mistakes. That's the nature of Christianity...accountability for one's errors. Redemption, sure, but that doesn't preclude that some corrective measures may also be needed here on Earth.

Sadly, accountability is all too lacking in the U.S. (and the world) in general, and it's not just about religion...it's about CEOs who get bonuses for screwing up. It's about an educational system that lifts up America's accomplishments but covers up almost all of its warts.

I realize that I'm not hitting all of your points directly, but I'm got a bunch of competing priorities today and this is sort of stream-of-consciousness here.

Anonymous said...

Okay, religious zealots, what do you say about the Texas fundamentalist church with the 416 abused children, some of women are pregnant?

Anonymous said...

Ok, so Constructive Feedback is on the Christians and other who slam the Catholic Church as an organization for letting child sexual abuse go unaddressed...and AgentX is now suggesting that we have religious zealots in this commentary who are tacitly approving of the Texas situation?

Wow, that's a 180-degree range, ain't it? Or am I missing something?

Well, not being a "zealot" in any normally used sense of the word, I guess I shouldn't comment, but I will anyway.

So, AgentX, here goes:

They broke the law, and biblical teaching is clear that we don't flout the law of the land. There are cases when laws are in direct conflict with foundational religious matters and with basic human morality, but that doesn't apply here. The Bible doesn't condone abuse of anyone in your family, and certainly not sexual abuse of anyone, children included.

Nothing about that community, from what I've seen, suggests that it was healthy for anyone spiritually or otherwise. But we can go back to Jim Jones, and farther back than that by millenia, to find people who used religion to justify their personal atrocities and agendas.

? said...

Ever check out the book "The Blank Slate?" It goes a way in talking about why the idea od a soul does not make sense, along with the idea that we are all born pure, with a blank slate.

Anonymous said...

classical one said...It goes a way in talking about why the idea od a soul does not make sense...

And you accept that statement with no proof, only someone's feeble attempt to make a case for the impossiblity of the soul.

I have my own experiences which I feel are superior to someone's unsupported conclusions.

Here's my partial take on the subject:

This body that you believe is alive (although it's been dying since birth) is being kept alive by the soul.

For me that's a fact; for you fiction, and poppycock.

My point: I know more about the soul, the body, and how it interacts than your scientists, or the author of the book, "The Blank Slate."

I agree: souls that enter the world do not arrive with a "blank slate."

They bring with them the rich experiences of many lifetimes, and inherit some of the propensities of their parents, especially their mothers, who embrace them physicially and mentally during gestation.

Science got a lot of catching up to do!

Because we approach the subject from two experientially diverse positions, I'm afraid that the only meeting of the minds we're ever going to have on this subject is a "knocking of the heads."