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Old Sep 12, 2014, 10:59 AM   #901
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Are you disputing my claim the US base religious conservatism is trying to turn Christanity into the suedo-State Religion or are you saying that the spectrum of religious belief is not part of the same disease, a skin rash, that turns into skin cancer?
I'm being more existential about the threats different groups and governments pose. There has been, historically, different groups in the U.S. that tried to establish a state religion with greater or less (and mostly less, especially long-term) success. In the Middle East, that is the norm of existence, and as far as I can tell, that form of governing is popularly acclaimed. So sure, there are minorities whose views in the U.S. concern me, but to draw the moral equivalence line between them and, say, ISIS, is just bizarre.
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Old Sep 12, 2014, 11:33 AM   #902
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I'm being more existential about the threats different groups and governments pose. There has been, historically, different groups in the U.S. that tried to establish a state religion with greater or less (and mostly less, especially long-term) success. In the Middle East, that is the norm of existence, and as far as I can tell, that form of governing is popularly acclaimed. So sure, there are minorities whose views in the U.S. concern me, but to draw the moral equivalence line between them and, say, ISIS, is just bizarre.
If you can't discern between a rash and cancer, obviously, you've missed my point. And I did start by saying that methodology is the prime difference between fanatics in the East and conservatives in the West. The root of the issue is belief in God, and what you are willing to do for God. Trying to shove your religion down other people's throats is far less offensive than murder, but both of these motivations come from the same source, trying to please your imaginary friend. I do believe that the current terrorist flavor of the month (IS) are religious carpetbaggers, more interested in control and power, than pleasing Allah.

The ideal religion is live and let live. I'll suggest to you that for humans this is practically impossible to achieve as evidenced by current events around the globe.
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Old Sep 12, 2014, 11:53 AM   #903
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I'm being more existential about the threats different groups and governments pose. There has been, historically, different groups in the U.S. that tried to establish a state religion with greater or less (and mostly less, especially long-term) success. In the Middle East, that is the norm of existence, and as far as I can tell, that form of governing is popularly acclaimed. So sure, there are minorities whose views in the U.S. concern me, but to draw the moral equivalence line between them and, say, ISIS, is just bizarre.
Serious question, anyone aware if the Buddhists tried to politically establish themselves in the USA?
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Old Sep 16, 2014, 11:28 AM   #904
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1. How did you become aware of your God?
By awareness, do you mean knowledge or perception? I knew of God, like most people I guess, by hearing him talked about, and reading. My parents weren't religious while I was growing up (we didn't go to church) but we did have one or two Bible story books floating around, and I remember having some (not much) religious teaching in primary school. My perception of God, however, wasn't very strong until much later when I left home and the lady I rented from invited me to her church. There were times there, particularly during worship, that I experienced such a strong sense of his presence. It made me want more.

2. How did you become aware of your God's expectations and rules?
Ancient book. :-)

3. How did you decide that God is perfect?
Hmm… I suppose it just always made sense, that the creator wouldn't be subject to the same kinds of flaws we see in people. I mean, we see incredible good in people too—love, compassion, creativity. I'd expect those qualities to be amplified in someone with the ability to create and give life to such people in the first place. As I came to have actual experiences of God, there was always such a strong sense of love and peace. But I concede that whatever God's full character, I am probably not able to comprehend it all, so to accept that he is perfect requires quite a lot of faith.

4. How did you decide God is omnipotent?
Since my understanding of God is as creator of the entire Universe, again, it seems logical that he is not bound by the laws of that Universe. He may however, be limited by his own character or by logical constraints (i.e. not able to make a rock so big that he can't move it, and other nonsense like that.)

5. How did you decide you owe God your allegiance?
Hanging out with God always seems to bring me back to a knowledge of my need for him. Not sure how best to describe this, so I'll rely on a quote from Jesus: 'Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.' Inviting God into your life is like asking for a big spotlight to be turned on and focused on your heart and mind, which can be unpleasant, because we all have some stuff there we'd rather not be seen—especially not by someone you want to impress! So that's the paradox of the relationship… When you become aware of God, you want to make him proud, but the closer you get, the more exposed you feel and aware of stuff you're ashamed of. But that's where his grace comes in, and you realise he loves you anyway—love like a parent who would die to save their child. My most powerful spiritual experience (about 7 years ago) brought this home like nothing else. It's that love that fuels my allegiance.

6. How did you decide that God demands obedience and especially worship?
In my experience of modern churches, you tend to hear more about grace than obedience. So you could be forgiven for thinking obedience isn't important. But like I described above, you can't draw close to God and not become aware of stuff that he wants to change. And these days I invite that. I say bring it on. I want him to change me, to weed out old habits, and make me more giving, more compassionate, more loving. These are all good things! We only fight them because we think we know better, and our pride craves personal autonomy. As you come to trust that God knows better than you do—even knows you better than you know yourself—then you start to become a more willing partner in the process.

As for worship, it's one of the best experiences there is! I can understand why worship would sound like such a burdensome thing to most people—you know, bowing down and telling God how great he is, etc. But there's a two way expression of love that happens in worship, and when you're in that, it can be incredibly wonderful. Think of being in love with someone. Is it burdensome to tell them you love them? No, it feels like the most natural thing in the world.

6. How did you decide you don't have the right to question God?
I question God all the time! I think he wants us to ask questions and to be honest with him. I mean, I do it with respect, although not always as much as perhaps I should. Picture a father and child (in a healthy family). The child asks for a certain toy. The dad says no. The child is upset and wants to know why he can't have it. I know I'm not alone in doing this kind of thing with God! Child may even throw a tanty, but at the end of the day, things are resolved somehow, and even if child didn't get what they wanted, the love between father and child isn't in question.
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Old Sep 16, 2014, 07:47 PM   #905
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1. How did you become aware of your God?
By awareness, do you mean knowledge or perception? I knew of God, like most people I guess, by hearing him talked about, and reading. My parents weren't religious while I was growing up (we didn't go to church) but we did have one or two Bible story books floating around, and I remember having some (not much) religious teaching in primary school. My perception of God, however, wasn't very strong until much later when I left home and the lady I rented from invited me to her church. There were times there, particularly during worship, that I experienced such a strong sense of his presence. It made me want more.

2. How did you become aware of your God's expectations and rules?
Ancient book. :-)

3. How did you decide that God is perfect?
Hmm… I suppose it just always made sense, that the creator wouldn't be subject to the same kinds of flaws we see in people. I mean, we see incredible good in people too—love, compassion, creativity. I'd expect those qualities to be amplified in someone with the ability to create and give life to such people in the first place. As I came to have actual experiences of God, there was always such a strong sense of love and peace. But I concede that whatever God's full character, I am probably not able to comprehend it all, so to accept that he is perfect requires quite a lot of faith.

4. How did you decide God is omnipotent?
Since my understanding of God is as creator of the entire Universe, again, it seems logical that he is not bound by the laws of that Universe. He may however, be limited by his own character or by logical constraints (i.e. not able to make a rock so big that he can't move it, and other nonsense like that.)

5. How did you decide you owe God your allegiance?
Hanging out with God always seems to bring me back to a knowledge of my need for him. Not sure how best to describe this, so I'll rely on a quote from Jesus: 'Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.' Inviting God into your life is like asking for a big spotlight to be turned on and focused on your heart and mind, which can be unpleasant, because we all have some stuff there we'd rather not be seen—especially not by someone you want to impress! So that's the paradox of the relationship… When you become aware of God, you want to make him proud, but the closer you get, the more exposed you feel and aware of stuff you're ashamed of. But that's where his grace comes in, and you realise he loves you anyway—love like a parent who would die to save their child. My most powerful spiritual experience (about 7 years ago) brought this home like nothing else. It's that love that fuels my allegiance.

6. How did you decide that God demands obedience and especially worship?
In my experience of modern churches, you tend to hear more about grace than obedience. So you could be forgiven for thinking obedience isn't important. But like I described above, you can't draw close to God and not become aware of stuff that he wants to change. And these days I invite that. I say bring it on. I want him to change me, to weed out old habits, and make me more giving, more compassionate, more loving. These are all good things! We only fight them because we think we know better, and our pride craves personal autonomy. As you come to trust that God knows better than you do—even knows you better than you know yourself—then you start to become a more willing partner in the process.

As for worship, it's one of the best experiences there is! I can understand why worship would sound like such a burdensome thing to most people—you know, bowing down and telling God how great he is, etc. But there's a two way expression of love that happens in worship, and when you're in that, it can be incredibly wonderful. Think of being in love with someone. Is it burdensome to tell them you love them? No, it feels like the most natural thing in the world.

6. How did you decide you don't have the right to question God?
I question God all the time! I think he wants us to ask questions and to be honest with him. I mean, I do it with respect, although not always as much as perhaps I should. Picture a father and child (in a healthy family). The child asks for a certain toy. The dad says no. The child is upset and wants to know why he can't have it. I know I'm not alone in doing this kind of thing with God! Child may even throw a tanty, but at the end of the day, things are resolved somehow, and even if child didn't get what they wanted, the love between father and child isn't in question.
Thanks for sharing!
My reply is not meant to be sarcastic or judgmental.

You became aware of God as an adult. I'd say the majority of theists were indoctrinated at a young age. There is no judgement associated with the validity of the choice as an adult. If indoctrinated as a child, I have to wonder how much independent thinking is going on. Many people latch onto a religious precept and stop thinking. They just accept.

You felt a presence in church. You assumed these good vibes were God? I frequently have good vibes that I don't know what to attribute to, but I don't assume this is God. However it could be bleed over from the spiritual world.

Rules and regs- ancient book. How can you trust this book? Faith is the only answer as it's stories are dated, factually erroneous (my opinion), and out of touch with modern life. There are so many issues with the Bible, it becomes very hard to attribute it to the the perfection of God. More like a flawed 2000 year old human stab at it.

Perfection and Imnipotence- requires much faith to accept this premise. The problem is with something, far greater than ourselves we can no longer judge it's limits? Why should it be assumed that God exists for eternity? Why can't its energy fade over millennium? Might as well strike all the limitations. Accuracy of such judgements are unknown.

Alliegence- interesting reasoning. Why do you suppose God created us with flaws especially if we are created in his image?

Worship- I don't feel like worship is part of a healthy relationship, especially when God is viewed as a good deity. Compare it to a family. Should children worship their parents? . If it is presumed to be a good deity, I'll propose it is good simply because that is its nature Do you revere and admire a grey hound for being fast? It is what it is. However this does not preclude a relationship built on love.

Questioning God- there are conservative theists who believe that the message of the Bible whatever they take from it, shall not be questioned.
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Old Sep 16, 2014, 11:43 PM   #906
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Thanks for sharing!
You're welcome!

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You became aware of God as an adult.
Yes, my perception/experience of him was much stronger as an adult, but I already believed in God before that. There was a big part of my knowledge/faith story that I realise I glossed over in my first comment. I was given a mini-Bible (mostly New Testament) in high school from visiting Gideons people, and I remember reading that (particularly Jesus' teaching in the book of Matthew) and believing. So I did have a faith already. And my mum had a 'born again' experience sometime later in my teens. She was very excited about it, and talking to her would have had some influence on me. So sorry, I probably should have included all that to give a more complete picture. I was rushing my answers a bit.

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I'd say the majority of theists were indoctrinated at a young age. There is no judgement associated with the validity of the choice as an adult. If indoctrinated as a child, I have to wonder how much independent thinking is going on. Many people latch onto a religious precept and stop thinking. They just accept.
Yes, true. But plenty of others reject their childhood religious teaching, say if they went to a strict religious school where dogma, rather than love, was the order of the day, and those people can have very closed minds IMO. Yes, for good or bad we are shaped profoundly by our childhood experiences.

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You felt a presence in church. You assumed these good vibes were God? I frequently have good vibes that I don't know what to attribute to, but I don't assume this is God. However it could be bleed over from the spiritual world.
Yes I assumed they were from God. I've never been a drug user, but it may be that some drugs can give you similar feelings of peace and love. I don't claim to understand the link between physical and spiritual, but I have experienced (and heard others share of their experiences) enough to be convinced that the experiences are genuine. We could debate the very nature of sensory perception and certainty (with plenty of Matrix references), but I'll keep my time back in PRSI shorter I think. ;-)

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Rules and regs- ancient book. How can you trust this book? Faith is the only answer as it's stories are dated, factually erroneous (my opinion), and out of touch with modern life. There are so many issues with the Bible, it becomes very hard to attribute it to the the perfection of God. More like a flawed 2000 year old human stab at it.
Yep, I can see why you think that. There are some things I question and struggle with in parts of the Bible too, even today, though I'm convinced that Jesus is the Christ foretold in ancient prophecies, and the saviour of mankind.

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Perfection and Imnipotence- requires much faith to accept this premise. The problem is with something, far greater than ourselves we can no longer judge it's limits? Why should it be assumed that God exists for eternity? Why can't its energy fade over millennium? Might as well strike all the limitations. Accuracy of such judgements are unknown.
Sure. We're stuck here in four dimensional spacetime, and presumably, God is outside that, operating in some ultimate dimension that he himself defines. How can we possibly fathom that? We can only know what he chooses to make known to us. If he tells us something about himself (by whatever means) that we can't verify, we can only take it or reject it as a matter of faith. It's not entirely blind faith though, in that we may have reason to believe God speaks to people, say if we have witnessed prophecy come true.

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Why do you suppose God created us with flaws especially if we are created in his image?
I don't know. What I do know, is that beauty can be revealed even through flawed creatures, and it seems God takes pleasure in doing that. It would seem he created us for relationship with him, but not as equals—with us needing to rely on him. That leaves him quite open to accusations of codependency I guess! But I don't imagine he's too worried about it.

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Worship- I don't feel like worship is part of a healthy relationship, especially when God is viewed as a good deity. Compare it to a family. Should children worship their parents? . If it is presumed to be a good deity, I'll propose it is good simply because that is its nature Do you revere and admire a grey hound for being fast? It is what it is. However this does not preclude a relationship built on love.
Yes, the adulation part of worship is quite a foreign concept to most people. But worship is, like I described, more of a two way expression of love. I've heard some people say things like, worship is not about us, it's all about God. I disagree. I imagine that I probably get more out of worship than God does!

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Questioning God- there are conservative theists who believe that the message of the Bible whatever they take from it, shall not be questioned.
Sure. People cease to question things out of fear—fear of the unknown, fear of judgement, fear of being proved wrong, embarrassed, hurt, etc. Jesus however spoke about seeking, asking, and about knowing the truth that sets us free. So sometimes I feel more affinity with truth-seeking science types than with my own brethren. ;-) Sometimes! There are, however, plenty of head-in-the-sand atheists too.
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Old Sep 16, 2014, 11:58 PM   #907
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Sure. People cease to question things out of fear—fear of the unknown, fear of judgement, fear of being proved wrong, embarrassed, hurt, etc. Jesus however spoke about seeking, asking, and about knowing the truth that sets us free. So sometimes I feel more affinity with truth-seeking science types than with my own brethren. ;-) Sometimes! There are, however, plenty of head-in-the-sand atheists too.
Jesus and his teachings, the concept of loving your fellow human beings, taking care of the poor and giving of yourself are details which many conservative Christians have forgotten, at least in the U.S. The biggest single problem I have with organized religion are the scam artists who get rich preaching, and interpreting the word of God for the flock, all for their personal financial benefit. I realize maybe most churches are not like this, but the big mega-churches are guilty. Those organization can rake in $300k in a weekend, all in the name of Jesus. I'm sure if Jesus was a real person, he'd disapprove of what passes for Christianity today in my neck of the woods.

You may have read some of my feelings directed at Atheists.
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Old Sep 17, 2014, 09:14 AM   #908
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Jesus and his teachings, the concept of loving your fellow human beings, taking care of the poor and giving of yourself are details which many conservative Christians have forgotten, at least in the U.S. The biggest single problem I have with organized religion are the scam artists who get rich preaching, and interpreting the word of God for the flock, all for their personal financial benefit. I realize maybe most churches are not like this, but the big mega-churches are guilty. Those organization can rake in $300k in a weekend, all in the name of Jesus. I'm sure if Jesus was a real person, he'd disapprove of what passes for Christianity today in my neck of the woods.
Amen brother! I also, at times, feel more affinity with liberals than conservatives, typically regarding social justice issues. And you don't have to imagine that Jesus would be tough on religious hypocrisy… You only have to read the gospel accounts to see that he was tough on religious hypocrisy! Who do you think organised to have him killed?
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Old Oct 4, 2014, 11:50 AM   #909
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Amen brother! I also, at times, feel more affinity with liberals than conservatives, typically regarding social justice issues. And you don't have to imagine that Jesus would be tough on religious hypocrisy… You only have to read the gospel accounts to see that he was tough on religious hypocrisy! Who do you think organised to have him killed?
The religious establishment.

In the US on Sirius radio, they've bee advertising the new Joel Olstein channel with the punch line "God says you are all ready blessed!" Anytime you have a self appointed spokesman for God, you have a con artist, in this case a very successful, wealthy individual amassing a fortune selling a deity and the associated good feelings. God gets a 20% cut.
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Old Oct 4, 2014, 01:22 PM   #910
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I'm sure if Jesus was a real person, he'd disapprove of what passes for Christianity today in my neck of the woods.
If you don't believe Jesus was a real person or the son of god then you can't call yourself a christian.
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Old Oct 5, 2014, 08:26 AM   #911
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If you don't believe Jesus was a real person or the son of god then you can't call yourself a christian.
Seems self evident.
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Old Oct 5, 2014, 08:50 AM   #912
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If you don't believe Jesus was a real person or the son of god then you can't call yourself a christian.
All kinds of people call themselves Christian. You are a Christian if you follow what you believe are Jesus' teachings. You don't have to believe Keynes is the Son of God to be a Keynesian.
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Old Oct 5, 2014, 09:05 AM   #913
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All kinds of people call themselves Christian. You are a Christian if you follow what you believe are Jesus' teachings. You don't have to believe Keynes is the Son of God to be a Keynesian.
I disagree. The attraction to Jesus is the God link. People can help the poor with no need to call themselves Christians just because someone named Jesus preached on the subject 2000 years ago.
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Old Oct 5, 2014, 09:12 AM   #914
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I disagree. The attraction to Jesus is the God link. People can help the poor with no need to call themselves Christians just because someone named Jesus preached on the subject 2000 years ago.
There are of course others who taught many, if not all, of the same things as Jesus did, but if you generally accept his package of teachings, you can call yourself a Christian. The same applies with political affiliation.
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Old Oct 5, 2014, 09:31 AM   #915
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There are of course others who taught many, if not all, of the same things as Jesus did, but if you generally accept his package of teachings, you can call yourself a Christian. The same applies with political affiliation.
I believe the only reason this individual is held up and teachings followed are specifically because the followers believe he is the son of God. His message is regarded as not just a good message, but a direct conduit to God. There is a distinction is there not between being a good person and being the Son of God standing with the authority of God backing him?
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Old Oct 5, 2014, 10:14 AM   #916
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I believe the only reason this individual is held up and teachings followed are specifically because the followers believe he is the son of God. His message is regarded as not just a good message, but a direct conduit to God. There is a distinction is there not between being a good person and being the Son of God standing with the authority of God backing him?
You don't think that a person could simply choose a Christian way of life because they agreed with it?
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Old Oct 5, 2014, 10:53 AM   #917
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All kinds of people call themselves Christian. You are a Christian if you follow what you believe are Jesus' teachings. You don't have to believe Keynes is the Son of God to be a Keynesian.
I guess you could. But it really all comes down to John 3:16. Otherwise you just playin.
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Old Oct 6, 2014, 12:08 AM   #918
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You don't think that a person could simply choose a Christian way of life because they agreed with it?
Not really. The Christian label usually means the whole enchilada, not just good teachings you agree with, but this is an opinion.
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Old Oct 6, 2014, 07:53 AM   #919
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Not really. The Christian label usually means the whole enchilada, not just good teachings you agree with, but this is an opinion.
Depends who's doing the labelling.
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Old Nov 1, 2014, 09:26 PM   #920
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The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows

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As a result of their efforts to wipe out "pagan" holidays, such as Samhain, the Christians succeeded in effecting major transformations in it. In 601 A.D. Pope Gregory the First issued a now famous edict to his missionaries concerning the native beliefs and customs of the peoples he hoped to convert. Rather than try to obliterate native peoples' customs and beliefs, the pope instructed his missionaries to use them: if a group of people worshipped a tree, rather than cut it down, he advised them to consecrate it to Christ and allow its continued worship.

In terms of spreading Christianity, this was a brilliant concept and it became a basic approach used in Catholic missionary work. Church holy days were purposely set to coincide with native holy days. Christmas, for instance, was assigned the arbitrary date of December 25th because it corresponded with the mid-winter celebration of many peoples. Likewise, St. John's Day was set on the summer solstice.
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Old Nov 1, 2014, 09:51 PM   #921
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What kind of dark, twisted people celebrate the end of summer?
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Old Nov 1, 2014, 10:30 PM   #922
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What kind of dark, twisted people celebrate the end of summer?
Another successful harvest, start of the new year, a celebration of the eternal cycle of life.
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Old Nov 1, 2014, 10:55 PM   #923
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Another successful harvest, start of the new year, a celebration of the eternal cycle of life.
I'd much rather be celebrating "Spring Break!"
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Old Nov 1, 2014, 10:59 PM   #924
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What kind of dark, twisted people celebrate the end of summer?
Amen!
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Old Nov 2, 2014, 06:38 PM   #925
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What kind of dark, twisted people celebrate the end of summer?
People with no air-conditioning?
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