NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!

Lezlie



Sunday, February 1, 2009

Essay: WHY I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN

by Bertrand Russell

Read this essay here.

Well. A person could really get up on a soapbox and start a firestorm if she felt so inclined, couldn't she? :-) That's not at all what I want to do. I'll merely tell you my personal thoughts.

Russell begins his essay by defining "Christian", which is a great place to start being as, as he points out, the definition has become quite vague in the minds of many. By a more strict definition, I would not be a Christian either. I believe in God because I consciously choose to in the face of my own personal doubts. I don't believe in hell. As Russell states in his essay, "I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment." I also have trouble with the belief that anyone who is not "Christian" is barred from heaven or whatever eternal life a person believes in. I have that issue with that belief in any organized religion. And, quite frankly, I'm not sold on the eternal life thing in general. I loved Lee Strobel's book The Case for Christ and Greg Boyd's Letters from a Skeptic. I've even gone to Greg Boyd's church and listened to his sermons a number of times. He's wonderful! And I was quite moved. But I can't honestly say I really believe.

I'm a bit envious of those who have strong spiritual beliefs. It seems so comforting to have that conviction, and the ones who truly try to live by what we think of, or what I think of, as Christian beliefs, I have the utmost respect for. But I am sad to say that most of the people I know personally who profess to be staunch Christians, well, I think Gandhi said it best: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Oh, boy. This essay dredged up so many feelings that I could go on at length about, but I'm probably already losing subscribers in droves right now. I think I'll shut up and let people read the essay themselves if they choose to do so, and please share your beliefs, thoughts and questions!

Related Post:

Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman



18 comments:

Nymeth said...

You did not lose this subscriber!

Thanks for the link to the essay. I'll read it for sure. I like reading about all different sorts of beliefs from different angles.

joanna said...

I must read that! I think my thinking is similar to yours so you definitely won't lose me! :-) I love the Ghandhi quote, I didn't realise it was his.

Literary Feline said...

How dare you?! Just kidding. :-) This really can be a sensitive topic, can't it? You and I seem to be in the same place on this issue, more or less.

I skimmed the essay and will go back and read it more thoroughly soon. Like Joanna, I love that Ghandi quote. Unfortunately, I think it is more true than most people would like to admit.

I love studying religions and their histories. I find it all so fascinating, how they came into be, what their believes are based in and the direction the different faiths have taken over the years.

Lezlie said...

Before I answer any of the comments, I would just like to note that when I clicked over to my blog to do so, the visitor counter read "15666". Creepy. Weird and creepy. Anyway. . .

Nymeth ~ Thanks for sticking with me! :-) I like to think myself respectful of other people's beliefs also. I believe what believe, but that doesn't mean I never question it or that I'm right. I also like learning about other religions and spiritual lifestyles. Or why someone doesn't have one.

Joanna ~ I'm glad! And I think you'll like the essay. I underlined a ton of stuff to revisit later. Gandhi has so many beautiful quotes. I need to read a biography on him.

Literary Feline ~ Very, very sensitive. I almost didn't write about it. But I'm open minded and I hope my readers are, too. I love religion as a concept. I love reading and learning about it. Faith in all its forms has so much to offer, but so many people have and do misuse it. And I just hate the whole "We're right, everyone else is bad" attitude. Think how many fewer wars and horrible slaughters the world would have had without that!

Lezlie

Lightheaded said...

--> I'm a bit envious of those who have strong spiritual beliefs. It seems so comforting to have that conviction, and the ones who truly try to live by what we think of, or what I think of, as Christian beliefs, I have the utmost respect for. But I am sad to say that most of the people I know personally who profess to be staunch Christians, well, I think Gandhi said it best: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Well said and something I strongly feel as well! I'll go read Russell's essay now. Gee, more than a decade after discussing Russell in class I can't believe I'd go back to read another essay of his. LOL!

And no, you didn't lose me as a reader either.

Literary Feline said...

Lezlie - I couldn't agree with you more. Many people throughout history have used religion as a tool to control, condemn and oppress. It's sad that it still goes on today.

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I'm still here Lezlie! And I think you'd be surprised how many of us understand your comments above (I know I do!).

Your Ghandi quote reminded me of a bumper sticker I saw years ago (and now wish I could find): "It's not God that is the problem. It's his followers." Many times this has been true.

Lezlie said...

Lightheaded ~ My readers rock!! :-) And thank you! Russell has a few of other essays I had forgotten about that I may be digging out later. This one was much easier to take in that his book on philosophy that I read a couple years ago!

Literary Feline ~ That is one of the points he makes very strongly in this essay. The quote I underlined in that section was, "You find this curious fact, that the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with all its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion." And like you said, it's still going on today.

Michele ~ Yay! I know i'm not alone in these thoughts, but it's really scary to me to stick them out there in writing for the whole world to comment on. :-) I love that bumbersticker! If I can find it anywhere, I'll let you know!

Lezlie

bermudaonion said...

I'm still here, too. I think you expressed yourself very well.

Lezlie said...

Bermudaonion ~ Thanks! Believe it or not, I actually picked up a couple of subscribers! :-)

Lezlie

Lisa said...

I don't think anyone should ever take offense to someone else's personal beliefs. I think the biggest problem I have with some professing Christians is the fact that they are so judgmental and dogmatic. I rarely see the love that Christ preached. I'm of the "live and let live" philosophy. I don't pretend to have it all figured out enough to tell everybody else how to live.

Lezlie said...

Lisa ~ That's a problem I have with them, too. I think you have the perfect attitude!

Lezlie

Teddy Rose said...

I'm still a dedicated fan of your blog and friend Lezlie!

I was raised Jewish but that doesn't fit for me either. I don't follow any organized religion in fact some of it really scares me. So many wars and control is done in the name of religion. I just can't believe that is what was intended. I think religion is often used as an excuse, a weapon.

Note, to people reading this, this is a big generalization on my part and not aimed at any one person or group. I try really hard to be respectful of peoples beliefs, as long as they are not hurting anyone!

I do have personal beliefs and think it is important to do good in the world. I try to "Pay it forward" as much as I can.

Lezlie said...

Teddy Rose ~ I so glad! :-) I think you would like that essay. It's a little harsh, but I can't say I disagree with much of it. I like the "Pay it forward" idea, too!

Lezlie

Amy said...

I'm a Christian. And yes, I cringed at everyone's comments. The pressure is tremendous to not fit the stereotype!

It's hard to live in the tension of believing in Jesus (and trying to believe He is who said He was), feel free to express that that is my belief, and respect that not everyone is going to believe the same way. For all the bad that has come from religion, I believe faith has brought a lot of good into the world as well.

Anyway, it would be silly to lose subscribers over expressing your personally held beliefs.

Lezlie said...

Amy ~ Thanks, Amy! And I agree. A lot of wonderful things *have* come from religion. It's just sad that, like so many other things that have so much potential for good, the wrong people have used it for bad purposes. They give the whole lot a bad name. It's got to make it hard for the rest. It's not just Christians either. Look at what is being done to the Islamic faith. I don't believe that every Muslim is a terrorist and hates Western civilization. Not for an instant do I believe that. Fundamentalism of all kinds seems to be where I have my biggest beefs.

Lezlie

Andi said...

Wonderfully written! And I can't wait to read the essay!!! :D

Lezlie said...

Thanks, Andi! I'd love to hear your thoughts once you finish it!

Lezlie