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« The Holiness of God | Main | Garry Wills & Abortion: If We Should Leave the Decision to Women, Then We've Already Decided »

November 02, 2007

Comments

Hi Amy, what could be a better incentive for poor folks to get rich then a "religion" in which "salvation" requires a six-figure expenditure? How can you be so glib and suppressive?

My Beloved wife and I are best friends with a Scientology couple...great people. I wish they were saved but I also wish more Christians at church acted like them.

Scientology is completely structured to change negative behavior/poor results with pragmatism. I do think they have tools that anybody could use to better their life...though I would never use or support their material.

The problem is with pragmatism itself, does a church use tools designed to extend "Babylon" to extend the church? Can godles Fruedian psychology help a married couple?

I'm in a men's "Bible Study" right now with my church and we're not going through the Bible for 6 weeks (and I'm STARVING!) so we can go through Willow Creek's "Becoming a Contageous Christian". It is a book that is about 90% pragmatism with a few scriptures stuck onto the teaching to be able to technically discern it from a Scientology book.

Is pragmatism good? I guess. We do have to produce fruit as some kind of proof of our faith. But mixing Babylon's pragmatism with the Bible's makes for strange bedfellows. Suddenly we're being influenced by cults like Scientology...and Willow Creek.

"Hi Amy, what could be a better incentive for poor folks to get rich then a "religion" in which "salvation" requires a six-figure expenditure? How can you be so glib and suppressive?"

Alan, shut up.

Hi Doug, beyond talking with your friends, how much do you actually know about Scientology?

Amy,

"why not stick with the Bible rather than draw people towards a belief system that fundamentally opposes the true and living God--the person who ought to be the main focus of everything we do and whose honor we ought to seek above all else?"

Well, as I see it, there are two possibilities. Kennedy, et al, could be incredibly foolish Christians. However, it is hard not to come to the second conclusion - "faith" is merely a means to an end, which would seem to imply there is no real commitment to the true and living God. Again, it seems to go back to God's holiness.

>>However, it is hard not to come to the second conclusion - "faith" is merely a means to an end, which would seem to imply there is no real commitment to the true and living God.

Originally, I was going to include something about that in the post, but I wanted to give the church the benefit of the doubt. I don't think we can judge them accurately based on that one article that could have been skewed by the author.

But you're right that it may well be the case, and that wouldn't be uncommon. That's precisely the problem I had with the new Gospel presentation from the previous post.

"Hi Doug, beyond talking with your friends, how much do you actually know about Scientology?"

I'm very familiar with it. I have friends who teach in the upper ranks, I've studied the expose websites on the cult and Xenu as well as undercover articles written by journalists here in Hollywood...and I watched that Southpark episode. I've also crossed paths with Hubbard's friends, Harryhausen and Ray Bradberry. So I consider myself pretty familiar with that religion.

Hey Doug, I'm friends with Forry Ackerman (91 years young, used to be Hubbard's agent) and Forry never bought into Scientology for a minute. He simply represented Hubbard's fiction writing. Forry is a secular humanist/atheist. As far as I know, Harryhausen and Bradbury only dealt with him as a sci-fi writer as well. Bradbury, when I met him in 1977, seemed almost a nominal Christian.

How unbelievable.

We all know that memorization and learning best comes through repetition. I've been a long time believer that we could increase scripture memorization by using the Book of Mormon instead of the Bible, since it uses the same phrases and expressions ad nauseum. "And it came to pass," can become the no-brainer fill-in whenever you can't remember the next line; and although we may suffer from literary finesse, and doctrinal standards, we will make it easier for the laity and congregation at large. Never say you are 'dumbing down' scripture because then it will never pass. Use words like 'practical strategies,' 'best memory now,' and 'scripture come easy' as euphimistic catch phrases, and it just might take off.

Hi Doug, by a curious turn of events in the 1960s, I came to know a couple of old timers in the local sci-fi, flying saucer, occult scene who also knew Hubbard pre-Scientology as well as a well known sci-fi writer who knew him - lost the notes from that interview long ago.

I have also known a number of folks in the CoS. At the time the whole Sea Org thing kind of creeped me out - Hubbard was an old man by this time and he's sailing around the world with a crew of kids meting out rewards and punishments?

I did know folks who spent tens of thousands of dollars; my impression, over time, was that all the benefits were acquired in the first grand or so.

Folks are free to spend as they wish, of course, but I knew a few who spent money they didn't have in the belief that doing the upper levels would give them the ability to make that and way more back.

Just a question though, apropos of Reformation Day: If, back in the day, indulgences were problematic, why were you offended at my having a problem with a religion that requires the expenditure of large sums of money for their version of salvation?

Anyone who makes it through divinity school and can't put together the lessons of their religion in a form that is accessible to their flock probably needs to look for a new line of work.

Oh Doug, off topic (sorry), but there has been akk sorts of stuff on Originalism on the legal blogs lately:

http://leiterlegalphilosophy.typepad.com/leiter/2007/10/justifying-orig.html

http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/
(scroll down)

http://pandora.nla.gov.au/nph-arch/2000/Z2000-Oct-26/http://law.anu.edu.au/publications/flr/vol25no1/golds.htm

"If, back in the day, indulgences were problematic, why were you offended at my having a problem with a religion that requires the expenditure of large sums of money for their version of salvation?"

Alan,
We both have a problem with indulgences, but I disagree that anything close to monetary indulgences are practiced anywhere in the modern church. Even Scientology doesn't offer "salvation" for the money, it's run more like a weirdo college tuition system.

I tend to rip on CHristians who bark at Scientology because it's has become a cliche. Scientology isn't a threat anyways, they are a tiny cult and no threat at all compared to PostModernism in the church.

It also gets my hackels up when people point their finger at finances as the great evil in the world...it's done in the name of Marx, not CHrist. Christ's warnings against money were predominately against Materialism. That there is more to life than the gold in our pockets and the comfort it buys. So it's weird when a Materialist paradigm like Marxism makes its way into the church in the name of claiming all of our troubles are economic.

So indulgences were a problem some 500 years ago, but today, we have BIblically illiterate pastors and congregations trading in the Gospel for Gospel-lite Socialism...or Scientology.

"It's clear that Scientology's 21 Precepts were influenced by the Bible, so why not stick with the Bible..."

And why have systematic theology texts? All those doctrines are already in the Bible anyway...

Hi Doug, I was specifically referring to the CoS, not any other church. That was the reason I asked about your knowledge of the CoS. You might ask your friends at what point they believe they will be at cause over their future existences, As I recall it will be at a rather high level, at least OT VII or VIII and the SHSBC; that is very expensive (well into six figures).

I am surprised at those pastors; if Scientology is true, Christianity is false.

Well, this has also been a trip in the way-back machine. There is a back story to most things and this one is a sometimes walk on the wild side. Inquiring minds may want to google "Jack Parsons", "Agape Lodge" (right here in Playa Del Rey!), and "OTO".

(I intend no offense by those references. History fascinates me and I am somewhat detached by nature. More sensitive souls should probably use caution.)

I don't know where your information on marxism comes from but it's clearly not Marx. Among the problematic aspects of marxism were the labor theory of value and the curious notion that there was a direction to history. Historical materialism taken by itself actually explains quite a bit.

Anyway a couple of interesting links on Marx that I find interesting:

http://delong.typepad.com/delong_economics_only/2007/01/keynes_marx_tro.html

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2007/09/marx-rostow-kuz.html

http://colinfarrelly.blogspot.com/2006/05/marx-and-human-history.html

Hi Perry, I came across a reference to Forest :

"The literary agent Forrest J Ackerman, who included L. Ron Hubbard among the many authors he represented, knew Parsons in the 1940s from their mutual membership in the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society. Ackerman described Parsons to us as "a Howard Hughes type, tall, slender, dark, good-looking."

I really can't give the link on this blog but the story is way cool. Anyway you are lucky to know your friend - ask him about Parsons.

"I don't know where your information on marxism comes from but it's clearly not Marx."

I read it from...Marx.

My friend in Scientology is OT 7...pretty high up and yes, they've spent well over six figures. I've spent more in my tithe over the years. Many doctors spend more on med school to socialist universities. Money isn't the crux. Values are the crux.

"It also gets my hackels up when people point their finger at finances as the great evil in the world...it's done in the name of Marx, not CHrist. Christ's warnings against money were predominately against Materialism. That there is more to life than the gold in our pockets and the comfort it buys. So it's weird when a Materialist paradigm like Marxism makes its way into the church in the name of claiming all of our troubles are economic.

So indulgences were a problem some 500 years ago, but today, we have BIblically illiterate pastors and congregations trading in the Gospel for Gospel-lite Socialism...or Scientology."

Begging your pardon, but you are making a slight mistake here. You are equating socialism to Marxism. Socialism doesn't need Marx as has been shown by socialists that have abandoned him. You are making another little error, capitalism is fundamentally materialistic just as is socialism. But then, they are both divorced from God. So, I don't know what kind of point you are trying to make. If you were born with a socialist temperament, you are likely not to be too happy in a capitalist state and if you are born with a capitalist temperament, you are not likely to be too happy in a socialist state. I much prefer to be a citizen of heaven as it is better than either of them.

Hi Doug, their choice, of course, and if they have made the right choice, I guess both of us are in trouble. However, you may have missed my point. Your tithe is based on your income and isn't based on a fixed amount, Your eternal fate isn't based, in part, on your ability to pay. I just find that notion troubling.

Do you believe that any consideration of economic factors is automatically Marxist? What is wrong with giving a heavy weighting to techno-economic and techno-environmental factors when analyzing human culture?

Hi Louis, while Marxism is atheistic, there is nothing inherently atheistic about either socialism or capitalism. Both don't work in their pure ideological forms and that is why all of the developed world is governed by social democratic formats to some extent.

I hope at some point that folks' common sense overrules individual temperaments and ideology and just considers facts.

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BTW, folks having trouble with Firefox 2.0.0.9 can go to Netscape 9.0; the interface is about the same and so far works fine, for me at least.

"We do have to produce fruit as some kind of proof of our faith."

I found this statement amusing, not a very good attitude to have concerning the relationship between faith and works I think.

Louis wrote,
"You are making another little error, capitalism is fundamentally materialistic just as is socialism."

Then Alan wrote,
"What is wrong with giving a heavy weighting to techno-economic and techno-environmental factors when analyzing human culture?"

Marx was a Materialist. He believed in only the materials as being real...though he floated in and out of Deism at some points.

Socialism and COmmunism always go back to materialism because if one denies the force of the supernatural one will only have to contend with the man-animal's desires. They find that virtue, transcendence and meaning cannot exist because they are immaterial things. They don't appeal to man's soul for personal responsibility, rather, they blame everything on "the materials".

Marx's cornerstone quote is:

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. ”

That's from chapter 1 of the Manifesto and he largely argues for the rest of his life based on this premise. Society has no morals, no free will for that matter, just class struggle. Today's Leftists (and Democrats) are Marxist in flavah simply because they blame everything on class struggle. Are inner city kids joining gangs? It's not because daddy left the house, it's because they were poor. Let's take money from the old white guys to relieve this class struggle.

Alan, I don't have a problem with giving some weight to economics, but usually when people bring up economics in the church it's in a Marxist sense, not a Christ sense. The Bible brings up money more than any other topic and it's never in the name of class struggle and redistribution of wealth. It's in the name of fighting materialism (the Capitalist form of putting econimics above God).

But Capitalism has one major premise that keeps it from spiraling into Materialism the way Communism and Socialism does...and it ends up being the hinge that allows for freedom, equality and one nation under God. It's that the things I own are actually mine. Even when being selfish I am exercising freedom from the tyranny of centralized power. The government can't have power in a system that gives REAL power to individuals.

That's why the left attacks, redistributes and denies personal power of ownership, from the inheritance tax to claiming land for the California Gnat-Catcher, to eminent domain.

Nobody in their right mind would ever be a democrat. It literally is so nonsensical that it can only stay in power by redistributing wealth, propagandizing through every arm of media and reversing tax-cuts.

"I found this statement amusing, not a very good attitude to have concerning the relationship between faith and works I think."

Steve, I stole that relationship between faith and works from Paul when he writes in Acts 26:20;

"I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds."

What isn't good about my attitude? It's not close enough to yours'?

"The Bible brings up money more than any other topic and it's never in the name of class struggle and redistribution of wealth. It's in the name of fighting materialism (the Capitalist form of putting econimics above God)."

What better way is there to get rid of materialism than to level the playing field by removing wealth altogether. Then we can focus on the important things in life instead of the constant pursuit of materialism. We have enough obstacles in the way of realizing our need for God as it is...materialism is just another one that should be removed.

Louis wrote,
"We have enough obstacles in the way of realizing our need for God as it is...materialism is just another one that should be removed."

Louis, "realizing our need for God" and "materialism" is a proper difference, but "Realizing our need for God" and "capitalism" is a false dichotomy. Read Ephesians 4:28 with me:

"He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need."

To not work for your own food is stealing, and our generosity that allows us to contribute to others should be done by OUR OWN hard work...not by governments forcing people to be more generous.

God made the materials and He knows that there is a portion of the Christian economy that has to do with work, pay and even prosperity. It was GOD who rewarded his followers in the OT with material gains. They can't be so easily dismissed as unnecessary or even as a big block against God. It's the LOVE of materials that is the root of all kinds of evil for we cannot serve both God and mammon. God is jealous, and won't share his throne with the created.

"Louis wrote,
"We have enough obstacles in the way of realizing our need for God as it is...materialism is just another one that should be removed."

Louis, "realizing our need for God" and "materialism" is a proper difference, but "Realizing our need for God" and "capitalism" is a false dichotomy. Read Ephesians 4:28 with me:

"He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.""""


I agree with this verse. The problem is that materialistic capitalism does not agree with it. It has other less altruistic reasons for work. It seems to me that this verse goes more along with socialism than capitalism.

The way you said it makes it sound like you do good works grudgingly, because you "have to" do them to show your faith. I thought the idea was that good works came naturally or automatically because of your faith in Jesus Christ. Right?

Louis said,
"I agree with this verse. The problem is that materialistic capitalism does not agree with it. It has other less altruistic reasons for work. It seems to me that this verse goes more along with socialism than capitalism."

Everyone agrees that Capitalism has fallen motives...it acknowledges a truth so it has explanatory power. It has bad motives but secondarily good results that force personal freedom and decentralizes power. While Communism and Socialism have purer ideals but always produce worse results.

Nobody said Capitalism was God's way, it's a terrible system, until you compare it to the history of other systems. It's also why those who believe in COmmunism and Socialism aren't pragmatists, THEY are practicing religion-as-government and all of these liberal Christian organizations are just practicing what they accuse Conservatives of doing. But we Conservatives are only championing Captialism as the best system for CAESAR to employ...not the Kingdom of God. It keeps CAESAR from killing us, it doesn't attempt to make the Government practice grace.

Steve said,
"The way you said it makes it sound like you do good works grudgingly, because you "have to" do them to show your faith. I thought the idea was that good works came naturally or automatically because of your faith in Jesus Christ. Right?"

Well, if you're saved, fruits will come. A salt water fount can't produce fresh water. But when Paul has to make a case for his salvation he's ALL OVER THE PLACE...he'll point to works, he'll point to Christ, he'll use secular philosopher's arguments, he'll appeal to secular governments. I don't think Paul is saying any one is the correct path, but that all may be used. So I used one of his arguments and it stands up just fine.

"Nobody said Capitalism was God's way, it's a terrible system, until you compare it to the history of other systems. It's also why those who believe in COmmunism and Socialism aren't pragmatists,"

Capitalism works because of the social democratic tweaks from the center left side of the political spectrum (Progresive era, New Deal, etc.). Pure capitalism works no better than other ideological constructs.

Do some research on how regular folks lives went during the early Industrial Revolution. Unionization, regulation, and the creation of a social safety net saved capitalism in all the liberal democracies.

"The way you said it makes it sound like you do good works grudgingly, because you "have to" do them to show your faith. I thought the idea was that good works came naturally or automatically because of your faith in Jesus Christ. Right?"

No Steve it is not an issue of doing things grudgingly. Rather, what system paves a road that leads the lost to God.

Alan said,
"Do some research on how regular folks lives went during the early Industrial Revolution. Unionization, regulation, and the creation of a social safety net saved capitalism in all the liberal democracies."

I will gladly compare this ancient, low point in a worst case scenario of Capitalism if you directly compare it with the recent, low point in a worst case scenario of Socialism, Communism or your other ideological constructs. You've got nothing, Alan. But do keep using trivial exceptions to argue against the vast clearly proven rule.

Or we could compare it with the recent experiences with capitalist China. The nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are ancient?

This was also the standard conservative argument on Apartheid. Didn't folks elsewhere in Africa have it worse?

Fortunately for all of us, liberals like FDR saw better possibilities in life than choosing between poverty and squalor on one hand and totalitarian oppression on the other.

Thank you Doug, you provide us with yet another reason not to be a conservative.

While it is true that the slaughter of the North American Indian population cannot be laid at the door of Christianity, it certainly can be at the door of Capitalism. It has been said that Atheism has been responsible for a great many atrocities that murdered millions and that is a verifiable fact, however to simply bypass the issue by claiming that the American government did not murder its own citizens, by excluding Indians as citizens doesn't make the wholesale slaughter any more palatable, nor does it excuse the opportunistic Capitalistic land-grab that was behind the killings.
To say that this was not in recent past, doesn't excuse it either. Just where was the church when this was all going on? I don't recall there being any underground railroad for the Indians...although, they sure were railroaded. In spite of this glaring historical example, everyone continues to insist that capitalism is blameless when compared to other systems. Why is that?
Am I missing something?


Scientology is a dangerous cult with a para-military wing and an intelligence network. It is not a social club. It is a mind control organization. By the time you’ve been conditioned you won’t know what’s wrong, nor will you have any trouble believing that your hearing the voices of dead alien. They can induce paranoid schizophrenia.

These people tried to kill me in 2005 and again in 2006 because I witnessed someone at their celebrity centre in 1999 being held captive by four of their security guards, one named Cassidy. The man was only trying to get away. He was suffering from sleep derprevation and defending himself with a brick.

In 2004 I started to talk about this. I discovered that I’d been under surveillance for a decade and subjected to various unwitting bevaiour experiements and complicated forms of harassment.

When scientologists declare you to be a suppressive person you become “fair game” which means according to their rules ( which supercede u.s. law) you can be tortured , lied , framed etc.

I was never one of them, but because I was surrounded by them and I was subjected to non consensual behavioural experimentation and am now filing for dis-aability as a result of what I’ve been through.

I live right behind a church whose pastor and congregations (ther’ve been about 20 I think) act exactly like the scientologists who drove me out of Los Angeles after a performance at a well known comedy club.

They have murdered hundreds of thousands of people around the world. They can easily drive anyone to suicide. They can destroy your life without you ever being able to explain what happened in a way that sounds rational, because what they do is not rational.

They may smile and talk about niacin, but don’t assume their good people. They are self deceived and self deluded. They have no concept of what has been done to them or what they are.

Scientology is a threat to American security. They are more malicious than the mafia. Scientology must be stopped. The celebrities who endorse scientology are programmed differently than the peons with bad skin. Celebrities are “admiration bombed” and controlled in different ways. Scientology is a very complicated and very serious threat. Scientology is a criminal organization. Scientology is worse than the kkk.

Scientology must be stopped.

Do your own research.

You can find my writings on the blog archive for sharon weinbergers washingpost cover story "mindgames."

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