More of Momma Chief’s Religious Wisdom

I’ve mentioned before some interesting remarks my mom has made concerning religion, but recently she dropped this one while I was driving so it was extremely difficult to stay focused on the road afterwards.

All she does is find the passages that support what she thinks and repeats them. If it says that stuff in the Bible, I don’t believe it.

There’s so much in so few words there that I literally had to squirrel it away for later. Where do I begin? Christianity is all about cherry-picking (probably true of all religions which have so-called holy books, but Christianity is what I’m familiar with). Christians will defend that by calling it something like correct interpretation or even better, scholarship, but make no mistake, it’s cherry-picking. The Christian bible is full of nice little passages, and horrid passages, so horrid that they’d never make it onto tv unless it were HBO or something comparable. The Family Channel certainly wouldn’t touch it. Hell, repeating some of it is considered hate speech. So what do you do when your indulgence of choice has such bad elements? Why you simply jettison them, but of course you have to reconcile doing so with beliefs like that the book is the inerrant word of a god, so you have to be clever about it. That cleverness is formally known as apologetics. Informally, it’s “seeing the light” or “knowing in your heart what’s right”, or as we atheists refer to it, “cherry-picking”.

Another application of this is digging up the passages, no matter how obscure, which just happen to sound like they support whatever it is you want to do, or make others do. Well, I should say make others NOT do, since it seems that book gets mined more for prohibiting people from things than anything else, regardless of whether the passage mined conflicts with other passages or better, the excuses concocted to ignore the ones immediately before and after those passages. For instance, the OT can be ignored for various reasons, allowing for creature comforts like blended fabrics and shrimp cocktail, but gay sex? Oh, THAT can’t be. Anyway, cherry-picking has been used for everything from condoning slavery to, well, abolishing it. It’s all about finding the right passages, and of course those “correct” interpretations.

So Momma Chief has a problem with someone who likes quote mining the Christian bible to justify being bitchy and telling others what to do. On that, we’re on the same page, but naturally I don’t give that book any authority to justify any action, whereas my mother does, sorta. Essentially my mother cooks up her own beliefs, including what is and isn’t in her book, and that’s the end of it. I’m at a complete loss as to what she meant when she said if it was in her book, she wouldn’t believe it. Momma Chief has always been a pretty honest, straight talking person but the older she gets, the more things come out unfiltered. I think her response is the initial reaction of most Christians when they encounter some unsavory bit of their book and/or religion. From there, depending on one’s makeup, the process of justifying ignoring the unsavory begins. For some, it means finding other passages which appear to state the opposite, and naturally those passages have to be the correct ones and the other are the incorrect ones, because that’s “correct” interpretation, and of course you know that’s true because you can “feel it in your heart”. For others, it might mean turning to another authority, perhaps another church leader, book, or website, where pretty much that “correct” interpretting has already been done. For still others, like Momma Chief, it’s as simple as a wave of the hand and a “I don’t believe it.”

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14 Responses to “More of Momma Chief’s Religious Wisdom”

  1. Your momma, along with many other people who grew up in church communities, seems to believe the 5% of the Bible verses that are good represents the entire 100% of the Bible (or whatever the good percentage really is, probably higher for some of the books and lower for other books within the Bible). This is a case of biased stereotyping though. I hypothesize that the human mind has evolved the ability to reject bad things when they are heard and to pay attention to the good things that are heard, especially when the good things that are heard are cherry picked and then replayed ad infinitum each week while the bad 95% or so are neglected or downplayed by propagandist apologists who thereby earn their money via pulpit advertising.

  2. People used to be very good at blocking out the bad things about smoking as well, and would repeat the benefits such as the calming aspect as well as the heightened senses (I used to train with a guy who would take some drags from a cigar prior to a competition). Everyone, to some degree, bends their perceptions of reality to make themselves feel good. I, for instance, like to believe styling wax, if used correctly, can disguise thinning hair. ;)

  3. I use a baseball cap for that.

  4. My in-laws belonged to a Foursquare church (think Southern Baptist and then crank the dial to the right a few notches.) They said they believed that every word of the bible was the inerrant word of god; that not one word should be added nor one taken away.
    Once we got into a discussion of alcohol (at the time I was still a good Catholic girl.) I said I thought the story of the wedding at Cana showed that Jesus condoned drinking, as when the wine ran out, he made more so the party could continue. And he made good stuff ("Why did you save the best wine for last?") They were appalled, and said no, Jesus made NON-INTOXICATING wine. When I asked if they weren't "adding a word", they said the word was "understood". I said it was nonsense.
    We didn't have too many more scriptural discussions.

  5. I've heard the grape juice defense before. It's pretty funny. I don't recall which passage(s) they cite for prohibiting alcohol. Do you? Or is that one of those "understood" things? Momma Chief uses the ol' "everything in moderation" line, which basically translates to "as long as there's at least one person who does what I do more often than me, then I'm good." :)

  6. For still others, like Momma Chief, it’s as simple as a wave of the hand and a “I don’t believe it.”

    I've been waving my hand and saying "I don't believe it," ever since I was about five years old. You've been doing that for a long time, too. So perhaps, Momma Chief is well on the road to becoming a de facto atheist. If you could only get her to stop barbecuing chicken on the afternoon of a big game, she'd probably be just like you. God forbid.

  7. That was "I don't believe it", not "I'm not convinced."

  8. I love the word "apologetics". It is so perfect for describing what it is. Every time I see or hear it used in the context of a Christian rationalizing their beliefs, I think of them "apologizing" to the listener, hat in hand, eyes downward, for insulting my intelligence. I know they're not the same words, but it's the thought process that occurs in my mind.

  9. It happens in my head, too. I honestly don't know the origin of that word, but yes, it sure seems apropos. I also see it as apologizing for the awful shit, both in the book and perpetrated by believers.

  10. Is that really Momma Chief up there, or did she use a stunt double?

  11. Most of the verses I've been referred to deal with the evils of drunkenness, not alcohol as a whole, although Numbers 6:3 forbids not only wine, but also grapes and raisins.
    "he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. As long as he is a Nazirite, he must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins. " (So I guess stuffed grape leaves are out. And so is cream of tartar. Will God understand about Grape-Nuts?)

    Other parts seem to encourage drinking—Ecclesiastes 9:7 says "Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. "

    News flash: the bible is contradictory. And I'm going to hell for that raisin bagel this morning.

  12. Lidia makes a good stunt double

  13. I honestly don't know the origin of that word…

    I'll fix that for you:

    The term "apologetic" comes from the Greek word apologia (απολογία), which means in defense of. Therefore, a person involved in Christian apologetics is a defender of Christianity

  14. Thank you

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