Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – When you aren’t getting all of the story

twain-convictionsI’ve been thinking about how people often don’t get the whole story. They can do this by willfully ignoring information, trusting unwisely, or by simple laziness.   This election is full of all of these, perhaps most blatantly shown in the idiocy of people here in PA buying more and more guns, because, you of course remember when Obama took all of the ones we had….not.

When you don’t get the whole story and then find it out yourself, your world can suffer a heck of paradigm shift, depending on the discovered information. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, I was drafted into the school choir. I just wanted to be left alone to read, so I was not happy about the whole thing (especially since the music teacher didn’t allow kids who wanted to be part of the choir in). I found myself reading the song book, and one of the songs was “This land is your land, this land is my land” by Woody Guthrie. It’s a simple tune so it was something you can teach kids.   But they don’t teach all of it. And there I discovered that a patriotic song can have some less than flattering lyrics in it. This was back in the 70s so I was vaguely aware of some people disagreeing with the government but to find it in a song that was always presented as perky jingoism, it was a game changer.

Religion often does this same thing, presenting things one way and really hoping no one does any research to discover what is claimed is wrong. Over the years, I’ve had a fair amount of push back from some Christians who get indignant when I point out that their religion is a cherry picked mess and this is largely from them blindly trusting their leaders, who depend on them being ignorant. I’ve been told that no one would do such a thing, to leave out the uncomfortable parts.

I’ve been toying with writing a post about this but was waiting until I could find a good example. I stumbled upon a blog by a pastor in England, Dave, who attracted my attention by writing some posts about atheism and things I knew weren’t true about Christianity. We discussed various topics on his blog (here and here for a couple) and then he shut down the comments section (although he was kind enough to leave up my comments). He may have had other reasons but the most obvious is that he didn’t want to answer questions and allow his congregation to see the interaction. I kept my follow on his blog anyway, and I was interested when he did a short series of posts on how to teach/preach about Revelation.

That book is weird at best and other than to get their jollies imagining getting their final reward, most Christians haven’t much of a clue what it has in it. And it would seem that Dave would like to keep it that way although it can a bit hard even for pastors since, if you mention the final rebellion against this god after an aeon of rule by JC, it is a little strange if you don’t mention the cause.

There is the statement that the sermon would entail requesting the congregants to read the book, but there is also the caveat that one should not look overly much at the details in the book, that they would distract from what the pastor would declare as the overarching themes. And if those verses don’t fit the themes that were presupposed before the reading, they will be ignored, as Dave skipped over the problematic death and destruction, and his god working with Satan, in his review of the chapters.

I got my example of expurgation of the inconvenient, and Dave also did a great job in showing that Christians don’t agree much on what the book means, or how to interpret it or even who wrote it. For all of the claims of how there is some universal truth to be found in the bible, that baseless claim is thrown into sharp relief in Revelation.

(Dave, if you do read this, I am most curious on how the sermons went, if you do indeed mention that God works with Satan.)

13 thoughts on “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – When you aren’t getting all of the story

  1. Thanks for posting the link as well Club so people can check for themselves what I have and haven’t said. No the aim is not to hide away from the detail -as the wider posts will show. It’s about approaching different types of genre differently. Might be helpful to know. 1. Yes we really do encourage people to go and read and discuss. 2. It’s not about people sitting and listening to what the pastor dictates. By the way, it won’t be just “the pastor” preaching we have a team of preachers. Take care.


    1. …oh and I’ll try and post the sermons I do preach on so you’ll be able to see how I handle specifics. Don’t know which ones I’ll get yet.


      1. It varies on the service and how people in the congregation/group prefer to interact. So our Sunday morning congregations are less likely to interrupt with a question but our Saturday evening Spanish speaking congregation will quite readily interrupt if there’s a question/challenge – they often then have opportunity for q&a at the end. Sunday night’s are set up much more for discussion, questions etc through a mixture of small groups round tables and then back to the larger group.


      2. that’s a nice way to do it. Do you offer the chance of anonymous questions? I know that can be a problem, remembering that I had absolutely no one to ask questions of when I was a believer.


      1. That’s a really good idea – about anonymous questions. We’ve done that at specific times when planned in around a specific subject. For example we had the title “What Stops me” last year and slips of paper where you could jot down a comment, question, challenge. However, I think it would be a good idea to have that option all the time. Thanks


  2. when Dave said that there would be a team of pastors, I had an interesting thought. We need a group of pastors/priests from each sect and then assign them to write a sermon about one of the more peculiar parts of the bible. Then we would have them give the sermons one right after another. I suspect the cognitive dissonance would be impressive. Any of the parts of Revelation would be good, but we could also do the parable of the ten minas in Luke, Numbers where believers commit genocide, the flood, or even when Jesus cures the blindness of a man who was made blind for this god to show off.


    1. Oh … and just to let you and your US compatriots know that we are thinking, praying (I know you’ll disagree with the word but hope you appreciate the sentiment), looking on with concerned interest, wishing you all well today. A tough day ahead for the US with far reaching consequences. Take care


      1. Although I know you mean well, Dave, I cannot appreciate the sentiment. There is nothing to show that prayer does anything, especially make a difference in an election. Indeed, if prayer does anything, I’d much prefer it to feed the hungry, save a soldier from an IED, keep a child safe from predators, etc. It’s impotent on all counts. I do understand the desire to pray. I prayed a lot when I was a Christian, sure that it was making a difference. Then I stopped. Nothing changed.

        Indeed, for all of the claims of prayer doing things, in the bible and from believers, there is no evidence it does any more than make a believer feel like they’ve done something when they haven’t. One would also wonder about the efficacy of prayer since we have had so many politicians, mostly conservative, make the claim that their god told them they’d win and one can be quite sure that they are praying quite hard to make it so.

        I am curious: what are/were you praying for?


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