Wowza – please watch this video clip. Bill O’Reilly says Christianity is a philosophy not a religion. O’Reilly actually argues that Christianity, being a philosophy is exempt from rules governing freedom of religion. O’Reilly’s point of view sat me on my ass; those of Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist – name any faith – follow a religion, while Christians believe in a philosophy.
Pondering this Fox News bombshell leads to several questions. I would love to ask O’Reilly if and when this “philosophy” will start paying taxes. If indeed a philosophy, why did he call David Silverman of American Atheists “insane” for then responding that Atheism was a philosophy. If a philosophy, how can it be the only true philosophy, and not be a religion. When did it become a philosophy – certainly not when the church burned philosophers at the stake.
Bill O’Reilly tends to blurt out ridiculous justification for his points of view; I know that and avoid his venomous propaganda. The problem is – millions of Fox viewers take his word as the gospel. For every person who scoffs at O’Reilly, there are two more taking it hook, line and sinker.
I need help understanding why some are incapable of exchanging points of view without making a personal attack. Why do so many lack the ability to debate without hate? Why are some of us born with open minds while others simply switch off at suggestions of different points of view? How is it that some people repeat only what they hear, never stopping to ponder logic or offer opinions of their own? What triggers the closing of minds – ignites suspicion, fear, bigotry and exclusion? Help me understand.
Strong opinions from politics, religion, environment to my silly dog; I make myself abundantly clear – writing from the heart without mincing words. No intention, other than matching word to thought.. What you see is what you get; this is who I am. Along the way I’ve met people with vastly different viewpoints – people who present their side of an issue thoughtfully, concisely and without malice. People I respect and consider friends, people willing to “agree to disagree”. This I understand.
I encounter closed minds – those wishing myself or family harm; people full of hatred. These are the people quoting opinionated broadcasters verbatim, people choosing to spew unsubstantiated rhetoric, people without an original thought or perspective to cloud their venom. Help me understand.
If I didn’t possess a fundamental belief in humanity, my ability to function without despair would have collapsed years ago. I shake my head, scrape my jaw off the ground and carry on. That said – at times the weight of closed minds becomes unbearable. Help me understand – what would it take to strip the blinders from millions of scared, angry people?
We only crossed paths for a short while, always at work, and only for the blink of an eye. You were there one day, gone the next. Inquiries as to your where-a-bouts met vague explanations; dealing with health issues, needing some personal time, taking care of family matters. Not my place to press the issue – I backed off, yet you never left my mind.
I doubt you understand how gracious and beautiful you are. I say this because even though I know nothing about your life, I was able to read your eyes like an open book. I had those same eyes many years ago; eyes that gave away any attempt to feel “normal”, eyes pleading for something they couldn’t define. I recognized your pain, stoic attempts to pretend life was under control.
I don’t know why you’re so sad, but know you where damaged along the way. For what it’s worth – damaged people are the most interesting people I know. People who are able to show compassion, view the world slightly off centre, and accept unconventional points of view. Without even knowing it, you demonstrated these things over and over again.
Wherever you are; know that it’s OK to be damaged, let down and disillusioned. Understand you are not defined by the past, and deserve a future. Whatever sorrow holds you down, also makes you shine. I doubt you comprehend the impact you have on those around you. Your spirit, kindness, empathy, and compassion rise above bottled bruises. I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but it’s my way of telling you how special you are.
Polls and statistics are tricky. Without knowing how many were polled, how questions were phrased, or exact details of who paid for the results; findings are at the mercy of interpretation. With that in mind I’ll proceed with my ponder.
I stumbled upon details of a study taken by the Barna Group in 2013. A little outdated, but my guess is, not much has changed. They wanted to know how many Americans believed in Heaven and Hell. Having spent my life under the impression that God was an all or nothing deal; the results were fascinating.
Over 80% of Americans believe in an afterlife, 79% of them believed in a soul that would last forever. ( With or without God’s presence ) Now it starts to get wonky – 76% believe in heaven, 71% say there is no hell. Excuse my ignorance; but isn’t that like asking to have your cake and eat it too? Granted, burning for all eternity would suck. Almost half of those who believed in heaven stated it was an actual place. A third of those who thought there was a hell assumed it came with an address, for the rest hell is a world without God.
I understand why heaven is a clear winner. Harder to comprehend is where these people believe homosexuals will burn. Pardon me for thinking hell was an equal opportunity proposition. Seems I missed the memo that hell is only present when standing on your soap box.