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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Blessed are the Peacemakers?

"Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9
So says Jesus in the cherished Sermon on the Mount. "Blessed are the peacemakers" - a lovely sentiment that the conscientious among us can see must be true. In this spirit, our leaders have devised a noble reward - the Nobel Peace Prize, ironically created by a man made rich through producing explosives.

In the same manner, despite this scripture by its founder, Christianity's most pious proponents have frequently been anything but peaceful, evidenced by the past 2,000 years of making war on unbelievers. Instead, these fervent believers have apparently been following this blatantly contradictory statement of Jesus's:
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." Matthew 10:34
Indeed, anyone who has tangled with fundamentalists and fanatic Christians can attest that there is something inherent in this ideology that makes people distinctly unpleasant or, rather, vicious.

Over the years that I have had a presence on the internet, because I dare to critique the obvious flaws in religion, and dare to suggest that the Emperor may be naked - to wit, that the story of Jesus Christ is patently unbelievable and that he is more likely than not a mythical, not historical, character - I have been assailed with such tremendous ferocity that it can be truthfully stated that few fervent Christians consider peacemakers to be blessed. If the purported founder of Christianity is correct in that assessment - as would be sensible for any civilized person - then these Christians have been behaving in a most unblessed manner. But, the opposite of blessed includes "cursed," "damned" and "unholy." Thus, it could be said that, according to Jesus Christ, those who are not peacemakers are unholy.

One of my biggest beefs about Christianity and religion in general is precisely that, by dictating that they and they alone are "gospel truth," these ideologies create an unpleasant, bigoted, prejudiced and rotten mentality that spews forth at everyone around. The most fervent upholders of this mentality are in a league of their own when it comes to arrogance, egotism, conceit and nastiness. They sincerely believe that they are the representatives of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or whatever megalomaniacal entity they can muster, while everyone else is unworthy and less than.

Among the insults that have been tossed my way - of which many others no doubt have also been on the receiving end - are the following:
  • I am being duped and/or led by the Devil/Satan.
  • I am Satan's mouthpiece.
  • I am evil.
  • I am very bad.
  • I am a sinner.
  • I am ignorant.
  • I am a stupid, limited human who cannot understand the magnitude and ways of God.
And so on.

In my individual case, the vitriol includes that I am a "bully" and a "coward." Never mind that I am jousting with the cosmos's biggest bully and bogeyman, i.e., God/Jesus, who is designed to scare the bejesus out of ya and who will throw you into eternal hellfire for not falling down on your knees to worship Him! I am also a "fraud" and a "liar," as well as numerous other epithets clearly designed to punish me for daring to declare the emperor's obvious nakedness.

Ah yes, blessed are the peacemakers. I can see their heavenly rooms with a view being reserved right now...

To understand this behavior, it is necessary to look at the remarks of conservative Christian commentator Chuck Smith, who makes the following statements regarding Matthew 5:9:
"Peace is more than a passive existence; it's a very positive state of good. A peacemaker is more than one who stops quarrels; he brings good into other people's lives. A peacemaker might become involved in great conflicts As long as the forces of evil prevail, there is no way to have peace except by destroying them. Peacemakers deal with the corrupted issues so that there can be a true state of peace. Jesus was fighting against the corrupted religious system and for peace between man and God (John 2:14-16; Matthew 23:27). Real peace can never be found in a compromise with evil. There can never be a peaceful coexistence with sin (1 Corinthians 5:7; Isaiah 57:20, 48:22). Peacemakers bring others to God."
Herein lies the rub, which may explain a few things: Pathologically self-righteous fundamentalists justify their evidently gleeful and sadistic contempt for and mistreatment of other human beings by claiming that in order to have peace, we must make war on the unbelievers. In other words, no matter what you do - whether breaking bread with your neighbor or chopping his head off - so long as you believe, you are doing "good."

And they claim atheists have no moral compass!

Such a polemical definition of what is a peacemaker will not suffice to pacify all parties, so perhaps we should stick to the simple dictionary definition:

"peacemaker: someone who tries to bring peace"

And what is "peace?"

"Inner contentment; serenity: peace of mind."

Amen, Hallelujah, and Praise the Lord.

My sincerest wish for all people on Earth is that they may be able to attain to such a wondrous state of being.


Anonymous said...

Great stuff! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You have so eloquently discussed the use and misuse of the epithet "peacemaker". I'm kind of a restless spirit, hungry for the truth and inclined to tests things out ... raised a Christian and converted to Islam in teen years because the Christainity I knew was a disaapointment. Inevitably, the same followed when realization of how "submission to Allah" translates in practice. It's the same kind of "peacemaking" ... you get "peace" when you surrender... not exactly to Allah, but to those who arrogate to themselves the mantle of authority. Such are not content to wait for the judgment of Allah but glean from the Qur'an rationalization to "do God's work" in case the Creator is unwilling to act immediately to punish those perceived to have "stepped out of line". Just as the Enlightenment transformed the spiritual outlook of Europeans, the Muslim world needs to create its own Enlightenment if the sad state of affairs in those societies is ever to improve. If faith cannot be informed by truth, mercy, and justice, then it ought to be discarded once and for all by every human being who has both mind and heart!

Acharya S said...

I appreciate the vote of confidence. But consider what sort of person or personality it would take to be a president. In the first place, you must have some incredible sense of mission - or an awesome superiority complex - to want to lead the "free world." (Such as it and its leadership really are.) Secondly, how do these people ever sleep? I'm amazed they don't drop dead - what an awesome responsibility and amount of stress!

Anonymous said...

Being raised a good little christian girl, I too had that better than attitude. Children learn what they live. Then someone told me that I was a practicing Pagan. I said No. I was ignorant to the truth. We don't know what we don't know until we are taught. Studing the Ancient Spiritual text, they all speak Love in different languages. The lessons of the Christ, I do believe he lived, died, and rose again. Look at the symbolism in the teaching. Forgiving others for not being as perfect as I am, Not! That unconditional love and acceptance for the energy that is a part of the whole. We only come together in Love during a tragedy, Brother ya better start loving cause Revelations is playing out as predicted. Predictions of Premonitions are dependant upon the information at the time of interperation. We do have a chance to change the future. That is by speaking your truth, with love. FEAR is organized Religions way of Controling people, that is why that are the richest institutions in the World. The Earth is cleansing and the corrupt are and will be revealed. Forgive them for not practicing the 3 Fold Law. One pointed out Three pointed back. What ya put out ya get back. I wish them Well! ; )

Love and light, Lisa
Paranormal is my normal...

Anonymous said...

There is an old sufi saying which says;
" One must unlearn what he/she have learned, to obtain freedom of self "
This is true wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Acharya, remember this: the maniacs that attack you aren't Christians in the sense that they follow the teachings + example of the Jesus of the Gospels. I'm not a fan of organized religion, but *that* Jesus would've thought you really rocked.

The God the fundamentalists revere, if anything, could only be descibed as Satanic. He's cruel, violent, egotistical, bigoted, greedy, etc.
In other words, demonic.

If these folks liked you, holy cr*p!! Wear their vituperations as a badge of honor.

Dr. W. Sumner Davis said...

This one of the most mistranslated passages in the Bible. The actual Greek reads "Blessed are the Cheesemakers, for they shall pasturize (or make clean) the world"

I am so tired of pointing this out.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have agreed more if I tried.
My parents brought me up a neutral, which is not to say that my grandmother hasn't tried to influence me and my brother.
My Step-family is also neutral. As far as we figure, There's no real way to prove or disprove a religion. Any proof or theories that an event was a mere coincidence (or never even occured) is automatically discredited by non-believers as god(s) can work 'within the bounds of nature' or put out with a simple 'proof denies faith, therefore god wouldn't have left any'. And for anyone who has seen HOUSE, god doesn't seem to work in miracles flashy enough to prove anything. Though the probability can be slim, rare events always occur sooner or later.
I have been called pretty much the same things by my own GRANDMOTHER every time I try to show her your works. It doesn't really help that she's not that fluent in English when I try to argue my case.
As far as I am concerned it is pointless to waste your life proving yourself to another person, for both believers and critics. That's why I like what Acharya does, answering questions and stating her opinion straight on for anyone who will listen.

Anonymous said...

There are so many misstatements in Acharya's piece, it's hard to know where to start. The simplest one to expose is in her misrepresentation of what Chuck Smith said. Smith said peacemakers must “destroy” the “forces of evil” and that peacemakers can not “compromise with evil” or “coexist with sin.” Acharya conclusion to Smith’s opinion? “Pathologically self-righteous fundamentalists justify their evidently gleeful and sadistic contempt for and mistreatment of other human beings by claiming that in order to have peace, we must make war on the unbelievers.” Evidently gleeful? Where is the evidence of that in Smith’s statement? And Christians must make war on unbelievers? When did Smith say that? He said we must fight against forces of evil – not unbelievers. The “forces of evil” could reasonably constitute things like human greed, ignorance, pettiness and multitude of other sins – none of which is a “gleeful mistreatment of other human beings.” Acharya might have run into some nasty Christians, which certainly sucks. And she is entitled to her opinions of those folks. But she is not entitled to attribute attitudes and thoughts to people like Chuck Smith when her claims do not stand up to simple scrutiny. You may criticize the man for what he rightly believes. But you are disingenuous to criticize him for what you falsely attribute as his belief. Perhaps it is her own bias and prejudices which cloud her ability to understand the simple meaning of Smith’s writings.

Acharya S said...

I'm sorry, but anyone who knows my work also knows that I am hardly prone to making "so many misstatements." That remark in itself is a "mistatement." It is quite clear what Pastor Smith meant - Christians have the "right way" and those who do not follow Christianity are "sinners" who need to be brought to God. Well, to presume that there IS such a god is a dishonest place to start. To follow up that error with presuming that you are God's representative is piling on error on another. It is evident that almost anyone who puts on a collar believes he or she is God's representative on Earth and that his or her duty is to "bring others to God." What is further evident is that "bringing others to God" is a dishonest proposition, since the existence of such a god as Christians invision is by no means a proved fact that should be compelled upon others. Hence, compelling this god upon others is an act of aggression, not peace. I stand by what I said. I am not necessarily applying the "pathological" part to Smith himself, although for the reasons outlined above, the megalomania and arrogance associated with being a member of the clergy may be applicable.

Louis said...

"i have not come to bring peace but a sword"..the only true thing "jesus" says!