The 30% Solution

In the United States, you’re supposed to be religious. But you’re not allowed to be fundamentalist – i.e., truly believing every tenet of your religion. You’re only supposed to follow a portion of the beliefs of your faith. But then, if you don’t fully embrace it, can you really call it your faith? The 30% Solution

9 thoughts on “The 30% Solution

  1. Do you think, Ted, that if the norm was lowered to, say, 25 instead of 30 %, people in the US would refuse to allow their (?) government to lead them into military adventures abroad (I’m thinking, of course, as so-called «patriotism» as a form of (very) organised religion) ? In that case, I’m all in favour of watering down religious practice a further few degrees….

    Henri

  2. funny and insightful.

    It is remarkable how obsessed we are as a culture about “professing” and “beliefs”. These boil down to pontifications of the format “I believe that is ” (i.e. age of the Earth = 6000 years) and “I support . Or, tellingly, “We need to support “. The latter is also used in “political” not just “religious” “discussions” where x may equal {Ukraine, the troops, the president, the Bolivarian Revolution …}.

    In his Napoleon’s Egypt Juan Cole tells the rather amusing story of Napoleon printing pamphlets after his invasion proclaiming to the population that he, Napoleon, is like them, a (small m) muslim. You see, as a deistic Frenchman, he does not believe in trinity, saints, personal god, etc., supposedly making him for all intents and purposes a muslim. Except that for the people he invaded being a muslim meant providing support to those in need, praying and fasting, visiting Mecca once in a while, the works – not the pontifications. This really happened, apparently Bonaparte was even cockier than the Bushies.

    This is where the confusion begins – when people make pronouncements, they get more and more interested in other people’s behavior, rather than being inspired by the example of spiritual persons and trying to put this into daily practice. Such practice can be quite “extreme” – i.e. giving away all one’s money to the poor, taking in homeless people in one’s house, all of which sounds a tad more radical than putting on a bumper sticker. While we reserve the right to ridicule another persons practices as confused spirituality and/or bad science, I hereby proclaim: obsession with truth value statements of predicate logic IS where the insanity begins.

    • I believe that [X], I support [X] in the first paragraph
      by convention angle brackets, but those are filtered out as html tags. maybe this works:

  3. Well, it’s downright impossible to follow 100% of Christianity’s edicts. ex: Over & over in the old Testament we are told to stone adulteresses to death, yet Jesus said don’t do that. Can’t have it both ways.

    Evidently, Jehovah/Yahweh/Allah changed His mind on that one. So, I’m curious: if you die on Tuesday, then J/Y/A changes his mind on Wednesday, and your appointment for Judgement is on the following Thursday, are you Judged by the old rules or the new ones?

    • CrazyH, you are conflating the bible with a religion. In an organized religion (like say Roman Catholicism), they spell out explicitly which rules you are supposed to follow and how you are supposed to interpret the scriptures. Catholics codify their rules into their catechism. Orthodox Jews have their Shulchan Aruch. Muslims have Sharia. Et cetera. Within these religions once could easily quantify exactly what percentage of the rules a person kept.

      It’s true that some protestant communities claim to only follow the Bible. But within these communities there are unwritten rules of interpretation that function much the same way as other systems of religious law. It might be harder to quantify, but you could count the teachings put forth by the mainstream of fundamentalist preachers and count what percentage a person is following.

      • The operative word being “interpret”

        Usually, this is a lot of hand waving to explain how a given verse means something other than what it says. e.g. “Onanism.” Onan wasn’t masturbating and in fact the bible doesn’t specifically mention the subject anywhere. Yet many a sermon has been written on precisely that topic. OTOH, Allah gave Muhammad instruction on how to do himself a favor.

        The Laws of God are eternal, immutable, open to interpretation and subject to change without notice. But if you screw up, you burn in hell forever and ever.

      • Now that is massive interpretation! Nowhere are any of those things explicitly stated in the ancient text. Proving once again that atheist literalists are far worse than fundamentalist ones.

      • You’ve lost me there Joseph. The story of Onan is related in Genesis 38:8-10

        8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

        9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

        10 And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also.

        He’s quite obviously being punished for *not* impregnating his sister-in-law. Preachers take “he spilled it on the ground” and interpret it to mean masturbation. If you know of a bible verse that *specifically* mentions masturbation, please list it here.

        And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. – Lev 20:10

        So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. John 8:7

        No interpretation there – in the old testament you are explicitly commanded to put adulteresses to death (as well as adulterers in the verse I cited) Yet Jesus said no to that practice. How do you decide which to follow? Does the bible state anywhere that Leviticus is optional? If the old testament is merely allegory, then why do Christians make a BFD about the ten commandments? (which they usually get wrong)

        You can’t you simply choose to ignore the old testament. Without it, Jesus is just an itinerant rabbi. He had some good things to say, but without Jewish prophecy, he ain’t no messiah. Without the god of the old testament to knock up Mary, he has no divinity.

  4. Of most importance is that we conform to our perceived expectations of others and run with the herd.

    If Johnny jumps off the bridge, does that mean you have to too?

    Well, if enough people are jumping off the bridge, yes. It probably means you’re in basic training for war.

    Mass man is mass murder says William Gass.

    And what kind of mental illness posses one who opposes war?

Leave a Reply