This "From the Mailbox" is a little different than what I usually receive, as you'll soon see. I won't use any names, except my own, and the spelling and grammar comes directly from the messages received. There were three in total, staring with this rather innocent and short one:
"Hi Martin Did anyone ever tell you that Jesus loves YOU!"
At first I thought this was a joke from one of my atheist readers, as sometimes we all get a little rowdy, however I shortly after received this second message:
"Hi Martin me again Just to answer your question re what is Christian morality. it is based on the teaching of Jesus Christ who in God in human form. He lives today in the lives ofo Christians who realise that He is the only way to true fulfullment in life and understanding what we are here for. Jesus set us the supreme example that we should serve others even to the point of laying down our lives for them as he did..
Martin pray that God will reveal himself to you and he will."
And then this:
"Re 'attempting to make sense." Martin we can only make sense of this world and all the confusion by knowing God through Jesus. I dare you to start reading the Gospel of John in a modern translation of the Bible. If you're too embarassed to walk into a Christian bookshop just order one over the net., possibly the CEV(Contemporary English Version).
Martin just keep rembering that Jesus loves YOU and that each day I am praying for you, Until next time."
Now I'm not posting these messages to ridicule the sender, as they seem to actually be quite sincere, and nobody should be faulted for sincerity. The reason I'm posting them is to illustrate the kind of thinking that leads a person to be blinded by religion. In this case, apparently I can only make sense of the confusion of the world by knowing God and Jesus, and this somehow, by knowing that Jesus and God apparently love me, it will make all the hardships of this life more bearable. Well this is not an answer I am satisfied with.
Firstly, my mantra of "Attempting to make sense" does not refer to being lost, hopeless or confused. Far from it, I feel quite balanced and hopeful, and the world makes perfect sense to me the way it is. Interactions between people, and the ills of the world (disease, poverty, hunger, wars, overpopulation) I can come to terms with quite easily. Natural disasters are caused by our planet and its inner and outer workings, and wars by people who have a sense of entitlement over others. Disease and poverty can be caused by many things from an imbalance in a person's body, to physical displacement by those same people with the feeling of entitlement. I have no problem making sense of these things, and I realise that this description is far too simplified to show the true breadth of influences that can cause these injustices. But just because these things make sense to me, does not mean I have to like them.
What I'm "attempting to make sense" of is the actions of other people, especially those who are heavily indoctrinated into any specific group including religion, nationalism, politic or business affiliation. What I am trying to make sense of is "how can we move forward in society given that these influences are so strong".
The one thing I don't understand is this immense sense of entitlement that goes along with religious beliefs. You, the author of the above passages, say that we "should serve others even to the point of laying down our lives for them as he did.."
but I ask you, is this because you feel you have an entitlement to an afterlife? If you apease Jesus, will you go to heaven as the Bible promises? What makes anyone want so selfishly to have an afterlife, when in actuality all we get is right here? I maintain that we only get once chance at this, we get one life each, so we'd better make the best of it, or squander it looking for the non-apparent afterlife. How does it make sense that we are cursed by our creator in such a way that we each have to prove our worth to him, or face the consequences of his
I do applaud you for the sentiment of "good will to all", but of course you do it for a pay-off. Isn't it enough to simply do good to others without the expectation of some kind of reward? You see, this is what I am truly trying to make sense of. The people of religion always lay claim that religion is altruistic, that it feeds the poor, clothes the naked and shelters the homeless, but each of these scenarios either ends up with a price being paid ("Come to Jesus and I will give you shelter") or a reward ("Be like Jesus and I will grant you eternity.") THIS is what doesn't make sense.
I won't take up your dare of reading the gospels of John, because I know what it contains. I have read enough of the bible to know more than most Christians about it and it's contents, I have read enough about its history and the way it was written to know what it is intended for, and I know enough about the way it is used today as to find it an interesting story, but of no value to me. Besides, I rarely do anything on a dare, I have more confidence in myself than feeling the need to do that.
In closing, rather than make any more of this than I should (which I definitely could), I will say thank you, writer, for your thoughts, because I know you think you are doing right. I also thank you for your sincerity, but fortunately I have no need of being saved from... well... whatever it is you think I don't get.