Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tell Me Your Thoughts On This

Lucky for you, I still feel like something found on the bottom of a hiker's shoe, because that means this post will likely be very Short.

First, I promised to tell you (briefly) about my left shoulder. I wrenched it dancing a bit over two months ago and then proceeded to rinse and repeat that horrible motion in a variety of creative ways. Two months later I finally saw an orthopedic doctor who assures me this pain is not all in my head and that I have very likely torn (to some degree) my rotator cuff and ripped away the tendon from the socket in the ball joint of the shoulder. Because of the pain of this, I pretty well stopped my using my left hand for *most everything* and that has resulted in a frozen shoulder. Yeah, turns out that not moving it didn't work out so well. Now I am going to have my first therapy appointment tomorrow and will continue with that for a month to see if it will solve the problem. If not, then I can look forward to an MRI with a probable side of surgery.

Second, I wanted to ask you some questions about Religion. More precisely Organized Religion. Our pastor put out three different white boards during the message last Sunday. One was asking us to list the qualities of Jesus. The second was to list the characteristics of our church - specifically. The third was to list the characteristics of the church universal. She encouraged us to talk to people who were and were not Christians for the last one in order to get a broader view. Since you don't go to my church, you can't help with the second one. But, I am interested in your ideas of the characteristics of Jesus and the church universal. So, please tell me what you think in the comments.

I challenge you (if you are a Christian) to do what you can to make the characteristics of your life - and ergo your church, if you attend - to shift to look more like those in the Jesus column. I think that disparity is the reason that people tend to not like organized religion. Organized religion is nothing more than the sum of its parts (the people) and so that means You. And Me. I remember saying once, as a teenager, "The thing working hardest against Christianity is the people out there preaching the message." I still believe that is true. I feel sorrowful that Christ relies so much upon us to spread the message and we are so fallible, and sometimes miserable, in our translation of the Word.

So, back to the original point: Describe the characteristics of Jesus and the characteristics of the Church Universal. (And think about the characteristics of your church.)


  1. Sorry about your shoulder! Hope it doesn't come to surgery.
    I believe religion comes from man and relationship comes from Jesus.
    Church universal often gets hung up on rituals and rules. Which it shouldn't. Outside of you must be saved, that's the only rule. (Baptism is next.) I'm fortunate that I attend a church that focuses solely on the Bible and what is written there. We're not perfect, but we're real. So was Jesus, so that's a good thing.

  2. I couldn't believe there were no comments here, and then realized I must have found your post about 15 minutes after it went live. I'm sorry to hear about your shoulder and all the complications!

    Sounds like your church is on the right track, trying to find out where the disconnect lies. My opinion comes as a born-again Christian, if you're keeping track of who is and who isn't. I think one of our biggest failings as Christians (as the church universal) is that we forget to love above all things. So many people see organized religion as judgmental and harsh, always accusing and full of self-righteous hypocrites. To a certain extent, I believe this is true, and it's a shame. If the "religion" is there, rather than the personal relationship with Christ, then love really doesn't enter into the picture because it's all about the rules and enforcing them. The problem occurs when people assume that loving them means approving of their behavior, no matter what—and conversely, that if we acknowledge they're doing something wrong, that we can't possibly love them as Christians. I have heard people accuse others with the old "and he/she calls herself a Christian but hates [fill in the blank]!" That's completely screwed up.

    I also take issue with those who call themselves Christian and yet act in ways that no real believer would act. The Westboro Baptist Church people come to mind. That is not showing the love Jesus commanded we show, and yet that's what people think of when they talk about "Christians" and religion. 1 Corintians 13 was (and is) right: if we don't have love, the rest of it is garbage.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment! Clearly I have an opinion here.

  3. I'm not sure what I can add to the two well done comments above me. You can list a million characteristics of Jesus, but there is one that tops them all- He stands between me and hell. And what He did to get into that position.

    As for the Church, I think the biggest problem right now is we're so wrapped up in political battles and internicene fighting, we are lost on what we should be doing. We need to divorce ourselves from the world a lot more and get back to the Big Picture.

  4. Alex ~ Religion vs Relationship. Too many Christians have religion without relationship. That makes me very sad because without relationship there is no meaning.

    Lynda ~ Wow. Great comment. Judgmental, harsh, hypocritical. Yes, I think many people see the church universal in those terms. Love is a complicated thing. Ask any parent. They always love their child (unless they are psycho... ) but do not approve of everything that they do and sometimes feel the need to reprimand. I suppose that the church is about as successful worldwide as people are at parenting. That is a disconcerting thought...

    CW ~ Sacrifice. Savior. Another way to state the problem... we are supposed to be in this world, but not of it. Sometimes the church forgets that. Good points!

  5. I think the problem with most, if not all churches, is that they are run by men (people, not necessarily the gender, although I suspect that most churches are male-dominated).

    I was raised Catholic, and still identify myself as such, even though of late I have frequented a non-denominational church.

    In both organizations, I see the human behavior that one sees in any organization-not necessarily from the clergy, but the people.

    At times, people in the congregation display all of the faults all human beings demonstrate: pride, arrogance, indifference, lobbying for position, you name it.

    Why do we show these traits? We're human!

    A lot of conflict in this world stems from religion....conflict between people, between organizations and between countries.

    People are fond of those "WWJD" bumper stickers....but we are often far too slow to take a moment and consider the slogan before we act.

    So what was the question?


  6. Sometimes it amazes me how much I keep getting shown how I will end up in the right place with the right people no matter how hard I keep trying to busy myself with all kinds of tedious junk... Anyway, tonight I am back after a long absence and here you are showing me that some things certainly matter more than others.
    I must confess that having grown up in the unchurched northwest and having had some confusing exposures to religion, I am by no means any kind of expert. Still, let me offer this: when I was very young I had no trouble being able to love people just as they were- gangbangers, alcoholics, other questionable characters. Nothing really got to me or scared me. They were just people with different traits and I could love them all as long as they posed me no real threat. As I got older I seem to have slowly lost that 'unconditional' love and ability to just live in the moment and be grateful for whatever was offered without judgement. Maybe that's the difference Jesus doesn't change his love and acceptance for us even when he knows everything about us. People are fallible- Jesus is not.
    BTW, thanks for being a deep person who brings out the better side of humanity. I need to get it together and call you...

  7. Okay, first, the shoulder. My sister had frozen shoulder. Cortisone shots were key. She's had it in both shoulders and with those shots and some PT, she now swims, lifts weights and occasionally plays tennis.

    As for the religion question...I usually keep my opinions to myself in this regard. But here's my quick version. Jesus/religion is love. The church is politics created by man.

  8. I'm very sorry to hear about your shoulder.

    Our church is non-denominational and I'm so glad. I used to go to a Unite Methodist church way back when, and now I realize how much they focused on structure and committees and procedure - and so little on Jesus. There wasn't a lot of joy. It's not about being somber, it's about joyous praise. Jesus is all about love and wants a loving relationship with us.

  9. Oh sorry you hurt your shoulder (period) and doubly sorry you hurt it dancing with an inexperienced partner. Way too many gentlemen hold the ladies hand too tightly on an underarm turn. His hand should barely touch but just guide the lady or she is fighting for her balance, which throws her off and pulls at her shoulder. I have felt as if my arm was being pulled out of the socket and I know how those injuries can happen. I hope you find good therapy.
    I can't offer an opinion about religion as I don't do dogma.

  10. I sure hope PT works and as for religion/Jesus/church, I think religion serves to separate us more than bring us together which is exactly what Jesus wouldn't want.

  11. Best wishes on the therapy. Shoulder issues are a challenge. I think the most important part of being a Christian is living the part and not just saying the words. Too often those involved in organized religion seem to only be Christians on Sunday. Some people who seldom attend church walk the walk better than those who go every week.

  12. LC ~ I think of the passage in the Bible when Jesus said to Peter, "I will build my church upon this rock." And because it was Jesus' church and Jesus' rock it was perfect. But then Jesus died and all that was left was his memory and a rock. And the people left to run the rock were imperfect and thus the church is imperfect. And the further we get from the days when he was alive the more imperfect it gets. And that is why churches split over things like who makes the decision over the color of the hymnals. "If you insist on the blue over the red, I am out of here. My money will not be spent in that manner!" Just like in our own lives, we allow ourselves to get worked up over the little stuff. Humanity. The thing that makes us wonderful and crushes us all at the same time.

    Jasmine ~ One of the things that I wrote on the Jesus board before I left last Sunday was "met people where they are." What a short statement for such a huge concept. Yes, you are correct in that children are actually much better at this than adults... at least before they hit middle school. And then not so much. But Jesus went out of his way to love the socially unacceptable and that makes most people very uncomfortable.

    Liza ~ I hope that therapy works for me. I will keep you posted. Love vs Politics.

    Diane ~ I think many people associate the church universal with rules and regulations. Or a nice little hole that you must fit into or you just don't belong here. That doesn't leave much room for that joy that is Jesus, does it?

    Manzi ~ Yeah, that is the downside of dancing with guys who are just learning. No one means to hurt anyone, but it can happen *snap* just like that. It reminded me of why I liked line dancing so much back in the 90s and was pretty darn good at it. It was me responsible for me and no chances of anyone pulling my shoulder (or anything else) in a direction it wasn't meant to go. Ah... but I miss dancing. My shoulder hurts too darn much to continue right now. Ironically, you did answer the question regarding the church universal: dogma. Thanks!

    Marcy ~ It is not a coincidence that Jesus did all of his teaching outside and NEVER delivered a message in the temple.

    Susan ~ Christians only on Sunday. Excellent. Well, not excellent. But you know what I mean... thank you for succinctly giving me something for that Church Universal board.

  13. I hope that therapy helps your shoulder! It sounds painful!

    As for the religion question, I'm going to stay away from that completely. I usually duck and cover when religion comes up in conversation.

  14. I am not sure anyone will want my input, and I apologize for the long post, but as your friend, I will comply and everyone can take their best shot, while I turn the other cheek.

    I have spent many years teaching and studying philosophy from the time of the Western pre-Socratics to 2014, and a great deal of time studying Eastern philosophy as well. I believe I have heard just about every argument surrounding religious beliefs that man can generate in his weak mind. Early in my career and my life, I considered all the questions raised in this post and subsequent responses. After a lifetime of exploration, I still call myself a Christian and a follower of the philosophy of Jesus, but the reasons have nothing at all to do with any church, organized religion, or the Bible.

    Archetypal literary criticism is one of my fields of specialty, and I happen to be human, so I tend to understand things better in literary terms, rather than mystical concepts many people don’t understand so they simply call their beliefs faith. In literature, no single summary can adequately address every pattern, myth, or archetype of human experience. However, we are all on a journey through life. During our journeys, we are born, we live our lives, and we die. The details of our journeys differ, because we do not all live the same life. In literature, the details are subject to the perspectives of authors, but it works the same way in real life, and in religious doctrine.

    Throughout the ages, many stories are told and retold in similar fashion. Some become classics, and some do not. Some are geared for adults, and some for children. Yet, there are threads that connect these stories that endure time. Religious beliefs carry those same threads.

    Prior to the 20th century, the word “myth” did not mean falsity. It meant “belief.” A group of related beliefs was called a “mythology.” Religious beliefs are mythologies. That does not mean someone’s religious tenets are false, but only that they are related beliefs. In Christianity, those beliefs are based on the teaching of Jesus. The fact that some people believe the words of the Bible literally while others do not means nothing to me. The fact that some people need organized religion means nothing to me. The fact that some people are atheists means nothing to me. I focus on the qualities that the historical Jesus possessed, whether or not they form the basis of one’s religious beliefs.

    Jesus was loyal, accepting, honest, and empowering. He did not reject Buddhism, he studied it. He did not avoid confrontation, but learned from it. He spoke the truth, even when it hurt or was unpopular. He devoted his life to empowering others, not selfish goals.

    Some people need organized religion for guidance. Some do not. Some people believe Charlton Heston carved the Ten Commandments out of a mountainside using lightning provided by the spiritual God. Some believe Heaven is reserved for those who tithe. None of these concepts are of paramount significance to me. I call myself Christian because after years of studying philosophy and religion, what makes the most sense to me is the life Jesus lead, not the interpretations of scribes and religious leaders. I accept and respect everyone’s beliefs. But I do believe that if human beings followed The Golden Rule, there would be a lot of priests, ministers, and rabbis out of work.

  15. Dianne ~ Thanks for the well wishes. I understand not commenting on the question, though this may be the ONE TIME (ha!) that there really was no "wrong" answer. It was all about the perception of Jesus and the perception of the church.

    JJ ~ Thank you for the thought you put into this comment. As always, you lend a unique perspective to any discussion. Since what I was looking for was Perceptions on Jesus and perceptions on the church, I am going to take away from this that you describe Jesus as loyal, accepting, honest, empowering, learned, brave, selfless.

    1. You are quite correct. I didn't mean to bloviate, but religion is such a sore subject to people. I hate rules and guidelines and the interpretations of religious leaders. I prefer to emulate the characteristics of the man, which I think was the point of Jesus' life and philosophy.

  16. I'm sorry about your shoulder, Robin. That sounds horribly painful. I'm sending healing thoughts and support.

    As far as your question, I'm Jewish. Jesus was too, and our religions intersect at the core: it's about peace, good will, and lovingkindness. That's what we all, in theory, strive for.

  17. I think church is a place to go and be with others who want to learn more about the word. It's also about fellowship and working together with like-minded people to try and do good for others (we have a lot of charity at our church). So the characteristics of church in general for me are informative, kind, safe, and loving. I think those go in the Jesus column too.

  18. And I hope your therapy goes well and you're all healed up soon!

  19. I'm also sorry about your shoulder. I hope the therapy helps, and you don't have to have surgery. Remember to also do your exercises at home when the PT recommends it. It seems like you've gotten some excellent answers to your questions. I think the main thing that all religions stress is to be a good person, and you've certainly got that covered, Robin.


  20. I hope your shoulder is better soon. Maybe you will get lucky and the therapy will work. I get frustrated with people who say they are representing Christianity and then act ugly. I am mindful that I am representing Christ on earth...though many times my humanity strikes, but I do try to remember and get back on track.

  21. When I've been going to the doctor about new pains that concern me, they've been telling me that mine are just part of growing out and to basically just deal with it. Not saying that's the case for you, but that's been my experience.

    Books have been and will be written about the qualities and person of Jesus Christ so I won't make an attempt to leave a massive comment with my thoughts. Essentially he exemplifies love and reaching out to others with the message of what God needs us to do for him while we are on this Earth.

    The Church is the body of believers. It is also the physical structure where those believers can socialize and study scripture together. Jesus taught in the temple and synagogues so from his example we should not stay away from the church bodies. Religion is man's structuring of the basic belief system derived from scripture therefore religion becomes infused with men's personal beliefs and opinions--that's where things go astray.

    I go to church in order to structure my personal life in faith and have a forum with others who believe like I do. Our church is rooted in the Bible and tries to avoid too much conformity to worldly things, though sometimes that can be difficult. If I would ever start feeling uncomfortable with anything our church is teaching or promoting then I would move on if I could not contribute anything to getting the body back on the right track. For now things are good.

    Tossing It Out


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