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February 15, 2007

'If You Don't Believe In Christ, You're Going To Hell"

This statement, uttered by Christians, bothers a lot of people. I'm bothered that they're bothered.

It's a fairly common claim in religions. It's as if atheists want to be credited as being "just as good Christians as anyone else." Well, see, they're not, because, like, they don't believe in Christ. That's sort of, um, central.

I know there are Christian churches that are, let us say, de-emphasizing this whole controversial "Christ" business. "No man enters Heaven but through me" is being rewritten into the more inclusive, "Hey, man, you want to believe in me? That's cool. But I'm just one of many ways, dude. Take your pick. I'm easy, brother."

I don't want to denigrate their religion just as I don't want to denigrate more, um, textually-faithful versions of Christianity. I will say though that I think there's an inherent amount of exclusionary rhetoric in all religions, and if you stop trying to be exclusionary, you're really not providing much of an incentive for folks to come to your churches. If the Episcopaleans now believe (I don't know this) that Christ is just one of a large number of possible ways to get into Heaven, well, then I guess I can just blow off religion entirely and hope I make it through in one of those less-demanding alternative-admissions programs.

My SAT's were really high. Maybe that'll do the trick.

But, getting back to that whole excusionary Jesus Saves thing: We seem to have an awful lot of people who don't believe in Hell, and think Christianity is bunkum for the retarded, but who are neverthelss going apeshit crazy that people they think are deluded believe they're going to a place they don't believe exists.

Makes sense to you? Not to me.

According to Christians (and Muslims, and kinda-sorta Jews, though they're super sketchy about the afterflife, like they're hiding something), I'm going to Hell myself.

I am not bothered by this, because I accept their right to define their religion, and I accept that most religions promise rewards for the believers and punishment for the nonbelievers. I'm a nonbeliever, so, as Puddy might say, "I know where I'm goin'."

So why are legions of Jews demanding that Christians redefine Christianity to allow not just believers in Christ into Heaven, but anyone who's a "good person"? Why are atheists demanding entry into a place they think is a fairy tale construct?

If you don't believe in Hell -- why the hell do you care about Hell?

I think people really ought to grow up. It's like no one's ego can admit they're inferior to anyone in any area whatsoever. Even people who are dedicated atheists, or even expressly denounce Christ, tend to self-righteously demand that they be acknowleged as "just as religious" as someone who is, in fact, religious.

Well, you're/we're not. I'm not a "good astronaut" and I don't need Buzz Aldrin to tell me I can go to the stars, too, even though I haven't satisfied the prerequisiites. And I'm not going to insist that Christians acknowlege me as a good Christian, either.

The claim is made that this sort of thinking promotes intolerance and hatred. Well, so what? Let me offer the Taxi Driver analogy: It is doubtless the case that an ultraviolent, morally ambiguous, superficially murder-endorsing piece of great art (as Taxi Driver was) might impel some insane people to commit insane acts. We know Taxi Driver inspired on famous attempted assassination; doubtless, when you add up all the books and films which might have a tendency to encourage violence (or even rape: See High Plains Drifter), somewhere along the line some psychopath has found moral encouragement in such art.

So: Do we ban it? Do we attempt to prevent all "bad ideas" from creeping into people's heads by insisting that henceforth all art will be as inoffensive as Barney the Dinosaur?

No, we roll with it. We behave as grown-ups, and accept that there are some films and books that unstable or hateful won't be able to handle -- and that this will in fact cause, or contribute to, human death and suffering -- but that it would intolerable to attempt to scrub any and all questionable material out of entertainment.

So, are there Christians who think that, because Jews and other nonbelievers are going to Hell, they're lesser people, and deserve to be treated as Hellbound in this word as well? Of course there are.

But what is being proposed here, exactly? That Christianity be forcibly rewritten into All Dogs Go To Heaven? Are people offended by this saying that Christianity should be censored in a way they would never countenance were we talking about Taxi Driver?

And, as good as Taxi Driver was -- I'm sorry, it's simply not terribly important when compared to Christianity. It's hardly as central to millons of people as Christianity is.

Hell, Taxi Driver didn't even win Best Picture, for crying out loud. If we were talking Out of Africa, then maybe we'd have something.

One of the biggest annoyances for me during the whole Passion of the Christ controversy were the various secular post-Christians, as well as some Jews, who were coming perilously close to stating that Christianity was, inherently, evil and anti-semeitic and that it should be all but extirpated in society, lest we suffer any of that horrible judgmentalism.

Really? An entire religion is now longer fit to practice? People are, um, comfortable urging this proposition?

Let's all grow up. I accept that I am not one of the "Chosen People" of the Torah. I make no demands on my Jewish friends that they acknowlege me as being a Son of Abraham. I'm not. If it's that important to me to join the Chosen People, I can always convert.

And it's similarly silly for atheists, Jews, and secular post-Christians to continue insisting that a relgion they don't believe in -- in fact, often scorn, sometimes in the most repellent of terms -- embrace them and allow them that all-important entry in that place they don't believe in.

Most religions have a dogma. If you believe in it, you're part of the religion. If you don't, you're not. So let's have an end to this childish insistence that Christians re-write their religion, removing the very Christ from Christianity, just so some people don't have to feel bad about going to a Christian Hell they're quite certain is a dark fairy tale told to imbeclies.

But It's Impolite To Say! No, what's impolite is cross-examining people until they say so.

Most Christians who get heat for this don't offer the statement "You're going to Hell" of their own volition. What usually happens is that non-believers begin badgering them -- "You can't possibly believe I'm going to Hell!" -- which Christians initially attempt to deflect away. Because they do in fact wish to be polite, and don't want to hurt someone's feelings.

But if you keep badgering a committed Christian this way, your are forcing him to choose between 1) Being polite and 2) Expressly repudiating his religion.

At some point the deflections stop working and this becomes a very easy call.

I knew a fundamentalist Christian in high school, and he was always troubled by the compromises he had to make as he navigated the world among nonbelievers. On one hand, he didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings and wanted to fit in, as anyone does. On the other hand, he belived the Bible compelled him to "witness" and "testify" as much as possible; he was always troubled that he was choosing the easy, non-Christly way of keeping his beliefs hidden.

Most practicing Christians are similarly conflicted. They don't want to hurt feelings or cause conflict or even just make themselves look "weird" among nonbelievers; but however they navigate their way through these rocky shoals, there's one thing they can't do: Deny the divinity of Christ.

And if you keep badgering them, they will, at some point, tell you those hateful words: "Yes, since you don't believe in Christ, you're going to Hell. Christ said he was the only way into Heaven, and I'm inclined to believe him."

So why doesn't everyone who's so terribly bothered by this stop badering these people? Stop asking. I can tell what they'll say; in fact, I just did.

There's your answer: Yes, you're going to the Hell you don't believe exists.

Satisfied? Good. So you don't have to ask anymore, jaw hanging in disbelief, eyes welling up with angry tears.

Now let's move on.

Let's Move On To A Sex Show: William & Mary college, which now deems it offensive to have a cross in a chapel (following Jefferson's famous words about the "separation of church and church," it seems), has no problems hosting a "Sex Workers' show.

Sex show draws crowd

By Sharon Schiff
The Virginia Gazette

February 14 2007

WILLIAMSBURG — Topless women weren't the only thing keeping students at the College of William & Mary focused Monday night at the Sex Workers Art Show.

Sparkling nipple adornments, feather boas, bare bottoms, erotic dances, striptease music and sex toys entertained a crowd of more than 400 who were packed into the auditorium of the University Center. Another 300 were turned away. The show attempted to empower the actors by portraying the realities of their careers.

Jo Weldon shared her story of how a stripper job helped pay her way through college and graduate school. She regaled the audience by doing a skit that revealed the questions strippers commonly face. She used a male student to ask the questions.

"Are they real?" he asked.

"Real expensive," she answered.

Other performances were more risque.

A woman named Dirty Martini did a striptease. Weighing in at well over 200 pounds, she finished her routine wearing only a G-string and pasties.

Cono Snatch Zubobinskaya, clad initially in military fatigues, gave a theatrical performance that included a dildo shaped like a gun. Her anti-war message was that sexual favors would be given if "doing so can end the war. Just don't force me."

"It's just so out there and expressive," said Josh Campbell, a member of Lamba Alliance, one of six student groups to sponsor the event. "It's hip, it's in your face, and it's exciting."

In addition to curiosity, the show also aroused some opposition.

Ken Petzinger, a physics professor, was outraged to learn that the college had permitted such an event. He found out about it last Friday, too late to stop it.

"I think it's a totally inappropriate use of student funds," Petzinger said. "It's in conflict with other values the college has."

President Gene Nichol issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, perhaps hoping to preempt inevitable criticism tied to the Wren cross.

"I don't like this kind of show and I don't like having it here," he said. "But it's not the practice and province of universities to censor or cancel performances because they are controversial."

Most of the money for the event, which cost about $1,800, comes out of student fees.

Cono Snatch Zubobinskaya. Well, I guess if you give your daughter a name like that, you've pretty much mapped out her career trajectory for her.*

I guess I'd have a little more sympathy for the anti-Christians were they not so busy gleefully forcing their religion down everyone's throat-- using compulsory student dues, no less.

Can everyone be cool? I guess not. The left preaches tolerance, but seems to practice little else but thumb-in-the-eye politics -- politics calculated to offend, to impose their worldview on others. It would take so little for them to actually practice tolerance. Yes, they could have their sex shows -- but not using money compelled from the pockets of people who are offended by such things.

But no. They've got the power, and they're going to use it.

Thanks to Peter, who asks I link to this website dedicated to restoring the cross to Wren Chapel.

* I know it's rather unlikely she has the given middle name "Snatch." This is one of those things I have to write so that leftwingers, so stupidly missing the joke and dispossed of any sense of irony, won't call me stupid.

What Brought This On? Well, two things. This has been a bugaboo of mine for a while, but last week I came across a video of a British newsman raking a Muslim administrator of a Saudi-funded school for using "teaching materials" that stated Jews were pigs and Christians were monkeys. Or the other way around. He was great, and he didn't let her dodge the point with her shabby evasions. I'd link it, but it's been yanked (of course).

But one thing that bothered me in his withering cross-examination was that he kept badgering her about the Muslim books saying all other religions were "worthless" and nonbelievers would be consumed in "Hellfire."

I didn't think that was fair -- Muslims have the right to believe that nonbelievers will go to Hell same as Christians do. Or same as Buddhists do (don't the Chinese have like six hundred hells?).

Or same as Jews do. (Although, seriously, I've never been able to get a straight answer from a Jew about the afterlife. It's always this vague, "Well, yeah, we kind of believe in it, but, sort of, it's different." Like I say -- shifty. Hiding something.)

I just thought it was unfair to scold a Muslim for believing in something pretty common.

So I meant to write this last week but didn't.

But the instant reason for this is that Loudry brought it up in the Tim Hardaway thread, below. He noted that the basketball players I was talking about (one of them was Charlie Ward; I forget the other one) didn't just say that only Christians go to Heaven, but that Jews and other nonbelievers would go to Hell. I actually thought that's what was said, but couldn't say so since I couldn't recall it very well, so I was just vague on the whole matter.

Anyway, Loudry was complaining about that, and I responded there, but figured I might as well do a little editing on this and make it a post, which I'd meant to do for a while anyhow.

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posted by Ace at 05:09 PM

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