Updates from February, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • ivanildotrindade 9:40 am on February 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adolf Hitler, bad thingsGod's name, , hitler, hitler's religious ideas, Inquisition, , love your enemies, Mein Kampf, stupid things   

    God didn’t tell you to do that! 

    People have done bad things in the name of God. But that doesn’t mean that they were instructed by God to do such things. My God, for example, would not approve of the Crusades, the Inquisition, all the burning at the stakes, blowing up abortion clinics, protesting at the funerals of gay people, etc.

    So just because someone says he is acting in the Name of God, that doesn’t mean that his license to kill came from the Almighty. It may surprise you, but even Hitler thought he was acting in the service of God. His words about the importance of religious beliefs are famous:

    “This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief. The great masses of a nation are not composed of philosophers. For the masses of the people, especially faith is absolutely the only basis of a moral outlook on life. The various substitutes that have been offered have not shown any results that might warrant us in thinking that they might usefully replace the existing denominations. …There may be a few hundreds of thousands of superior men who can live wisely and intelligently without depending on the general standards that prevail in everyday life, but the millions of others cannot do so.”

    • Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 10

    This, however, does not mean that Hitler was a Christian, as many have claimed. His actions definitely didn’t illustrate the teachings of Christ. But if he was not a Christian, what was he? I think he was simply someone who used religion to advance his political causes. He was not deranged. He was very conscious of what he was doing. He was not crazy, he was crazy with power.

    And that is one way to test one’s religious claims, isn’t it? How do them stack against the teachings of the founder? Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. That means that anyone who hates anyone is not advancing God’s causes.

    Christ loved the last, the least, the lost of this world. He was a friend of the poor, the sick, the tax collectors and prostitutes. That means that anyone who hates the poor and is not reaching out to the destitute is not on God’s side. In fact, the book of Proverbs says, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” (Proverbs 14:31).

    Yes, Jesus said “go and sin no more” to the woman caught in adultery, but many Christians seem to say “sin no more, then go.” I think the order is important. Jesus didn’t expect perfection before he releases us into the world. That is a huge difference and one that probably assumes many bumps on the road. But I am glad that Jesus also lay down what the standard to live by.

    Maybe I should write about great things people have done in God’s name. The list is also endless. We will see what comes next.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 9:33 am on February 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    sorry everyone, don’t know what happened to the rest of my post from last night… i will try to go back to the deep recesses of my mind today. we will see…

  • ivanildotrindade 9:31 pm on February 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 72 virgins, haddiths, koran, marriage in heaven, sex in heaven   

    72 Virgins in Heaven?? 

    One of the most outrageous claims in any religion is the teaching that “martyrs” who die in the service of God will have 72 virgins awaiting for them in heaven. Some of us only heard about this after 9-11, but it is a tool that has been used for many years to recruit suicide bombers to blow themselves up in Israel.

    Let me be clear here: suicide is specifically forbidden in the Koran. But the Imams who recruit young people don’t think of them as “suicide bombers,” they use the word “martyrs” instead. And there is enough in the Koran to encourage someone to engage in the struggle for God (“jihad”) and die as a “martyr.”

    Also, another clarification: the Koran actually does not give a number of virgins. The number 72 shows up in a “hadith,” which collects the sayings and doings of the prophet Mohammed, as recorded by some of his followers. And the promise of 72 virgins is for all the faithful Muslims, male, of course, not only “martyrs.”

    When Jesus was asked about getting married in heaven, he said, “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” (Mark 12:25). The idea of a sensual heaven, is, therefore, foreign to the Christian Bible. Islam, however, if the translations we have are correct, unashamedly paints a picture of a paradise where sex served up in large doses and is designed to please the faithful, the male ones, of course.

    Okay, there is a part of me that wishes that the Bible said something about sex in heaven. No, don’t get me wrong. Christians have a reputation of believing that sex is a “dirty” thing. If there was reference to sex in heaven, even if it were between angels, it would clear up that misunderstanding once and for all.

    But indeed the Bible doesn’t say that, which does not make sex necessarily a bad thing, only an earthly thing. And I can think of many earthly things that are incredibly good but don’t rise to the level of earning a trip to heaven, like Brazilian barbecue, for example. Oh wait, maybe we will NOT be vegetarians in heaven. Didn’t Jesus eat fish AFTER the resurrection?

    But I don’t have a good “spiritual” reason why the idea of sex in heaven is stupid. The main reason I can think of why this idea is so wrong is because it is so demeaning to women. Besides being married to his current wives, traditions says, when a Muslim man gets to paradise, he is met by 72 virgins. The women are there to serve the man, not the other way around. This appears to me more like an earthly brothel than a heavenly co-habitation. And that’s why I think the idea is stupid.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    P.S. For an interesting article on this, go here.

  • ivanildotrindade 6:53 pm on February 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Anti-defamation League, bishop eddie long, , embarrassing God, rabbi ralph messer, stupidity, Torah, torah ceremony   

    Stupid "Torah Boring" 

    So today I start a short series on the stupid things people do in the name of God. Short not for lack of material. The list is long so I will have to be selective. From “Christians” who protest at the funeral of soldiers killed in the Iraq War to pastors who promote a Koran-burning ceremony to bombing abortion clinics to starting the Crusades to wrapping someone in a scroll purported to be the Torah and proclaiming him “king,” there is no end to this!

    This last week was just too much. Bishop Eddie Long, at one time pastor of a 25,000 member congregation, got himself wrapped in a lot more than the Torah when he decided to be part of a bizarre ritual declaring him “king.” Read the story here and watch the CNN video.

    Now, mind you, this is a man who should be quietly ruminating on the implications of the recent developments in his life and ministry. Four young men accused him of sexual coercion and before the case went to trial, he settled out of court. Why did he settle? We have the right to ask. His wife asked and apparently didn’t get satisfaction. She filed for divorce last year.

    So why would you subject yourself to a ridiculous pageant which was bound to evoke strong reactions from everyone with even a bit of common sense about their head? Maybe because the man is dying to cut the slate clean. He wants to turn the clock back and once again be the man of power and reputation that he once was. He wants to get all the little pieces of the broken vase, glue them together, and by a stroke of magic make the vase whole again. But is this how God sees him?

    The “Rabbi” who did the shameful did seems to think so. This man is born again, he proclaimed. He is a king. But the king in the Old Testament was supposed to be a servant to the people. Sure, God warned the people of Israel that the king would place demands upon them, but God’s king was supposed to be humble. And Jesus’ model of piousness was to put the interests of others before your own. And the Bible is full of injunctions about how even though God forgives sins, there are always adverse consequences to rebellion.

    “Bishop” Long is wrong and he ought to be ashamed of himself. He apologized to the Anti-Defamation League and the apology was accepted. I am glad for that, but if I take his apology seriously, it means that either  he is stupid or he thinks all the rest of us are.

    I still wonder: how can these self-proclaimed “servants of God” live with themselves? I wish they would know how much they are embarrassing God and how much people like me and others have to come after them and try to clean up the mess they have left behind.

    Here is a possible contribution Bishop Long and his favorite “Rabbi” made last week: because of their stupidity, several people may have turned away from the God of the Bible. Shame on you both!

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    • ivanildotrindade 7:00 pm on February 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      do u have your own list of stupid stuff people do in God’s name? send it to me. i normally don’t do that, but will make an exception: i will hoard stupid.

  • ivanildotrindade 8:01 pm on February 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , discovering poverty, fooling your mom, giving gifts, invisible friends, stealing from your mom   

    Stealing from your mom 

    I grew up in a family of 9 children. From time to time my mother brought other kids to live in our home. At times we had little to eat and we were always wearing stuff that other people gave to us.

    I don’t believe I have told this story here. This is about the day I felt the saddest for my older sister. Every year we were sternly reminded not to participate in any “invisible friend” gift exchange games at school, but this activity was so prevalent, especially at the end of the year as part of the Christmas festivities, it was hard to pass it up.

    My parents couldn’t buy gifts to all our friends, invisible or not. But we were kids, we didn’t get it. And we loved playing the game of trying to guess who your friend was as we wrote notes to each other leading up to gift exchange day. The temptation to throw your name in the hopper was just too great.

    But therein lies the problem. If you went against your parents’ advice, you were on your own. For months now you schemed about how you were going to get a gift to your “invisible friend.” We had no allowances, we didn’t get any small change for cleaning our neighbors’ yards and just about anyone we knew was as poor as us so there was chance we could rob them!

    We thought about faking illness, but there was a good chance we might be dragged to the public hospital and have to wait hours on end to see a doctor or a nurse. My mom didn’t fool around with illnesses. Worse yet, she could come up with one of her home-made concoctions, usually involving bitter herbs, tree barks and maybe even some dog poop…

    No, we had to come up with something that was not as painful and we had to fool our mom, an impossible task. So my sister came with a perfect plan: Since our house was built with enough space between the ground and the floor boards (I remember playing underneath our house when I was a little boy, usually doing something I was not supposed to do), my sister carefully wrapped the gift and hid it under the house.

    She put on her school uniform, got out of the house, and started walking the street down the hill toward the school. She walked long enough to make someone lose interest and then quickly she did a u-turn, got under the house, retrieved the gift, hid it under her school stuff, and headed down the street again.

    But the sentry had not left her post! From the vantage point of her bedroom window, my mother watched her children walk down the street, up toward the big water tank until she could n0 longer see them. My sister didn’t time her walk right. No sooner had she hit the street a second time, she heard a thundering voice saying, “Celeste, turn around and come back here!”

    Time to run. That’s what I would do, but my sister was smarter than me. She turned around and sheepishly showed my mom the beautiful package she had wrapped — a stolen cup and saucer from my mom’s kitchen. A lecture ensued. My sister put her head down, said nothing, and was forced to walk to school empty-handed — and her “invisible” friend had an invisible gift!

    My heart sank deeply. I was ashamed to be poor, I was mad at our predicament and vowed I would get out of that situation some day. To this day I think of my sister on that sad day and wonder what kind of impact this may have had on her. But as I’ve talked to her about this, it seems like this event impacted me more than it did her. She laughs about it today and we both agree that it was a good thing to have such a vigilant mother — even when she forced us to discover the full extent of our perilous existence.

    It is still hard for me to laugh at that incident.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 2:22 pm on February 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: proverbs about the poor, rising above poverty, ticket out of poverty   

    Rising Above Poverty 

    There are sayings and proverbs that were tailor-made for the poor. One that I remember since I was a child growing up in Brazil is “the poor man’s bread always falls with the butter facing down.” This points to the belief that when you are down on your luck, chance doesn’t help. It almost resembles Jesus’ saying that “the one who has it, more will be added to him but the one who hasn’t, even what he has will be taken away from him.”  I never quite understood that but I guess it has to do with being good administrators of the goods entrusted to you.

    But when you live meal to meal, there is not a whole lot to administrate.

    I remember High School in Macapá, northern Brazil. I didn’t particularly like recess. I would usually stay in the classroom, quietly reading a book or just talking to a class mate. Since I was on the second floor of the building, I could look down and glance at the kids who had money to pay for snacks. Those were the kids whose parents had enough money to pay for private transportation to and from school. They wore the nice clothes and they had their own clique. They were white and looked sophisticated. Some of them had spent summers in Paris or New York. My world couldn’t be more remotely removed from theirs.

    One of my classmates was the son of a wealthy military officer. He would come to class high on whatever it was he was consuming, cuss at the teachers and sleep off his hangover right through the lectures and exams. When he was awake, though, the girls swarmed him like bees. There was a rumor that he had killed someone in the town they lived in previously so their family had to relocate to our town. He didn’t look like the killer type to me but just to be sure I sat as far away from him as I possibly could.

    Years later, I saw that guy at a church meeting in the Capital City, Brasilia. By then, he had probably littered other alleys with more corpses and maybe he had been close to dying himself. He had aged and looked tired, but he was singing praises to Jesus. He had found religion, after wasting most of his teens with sex, drugs, and other futilities. I think of him many times and wonder whether his wealth was the main reason he erred. Or was it simply parental neglect, who knows?

    So back to the perpetual pessimism of the poor. I never wore new clothes, all the way through my teens. I bought my first new pair of jeans when I was in college — with my own money! I wore rubber shoes that in the heat of summer made my feet feel like a volcano and smell like dead mice. At times, we didn’t have toothpaste growing up. I remember my dad telling us to brush with soap a time or two. We would squeeze every “drop” of the paste from the tube, usually cutting opening the tube and swabbing it with the toothbrush to use the paste to the fullest, thus maximizing the resource. I was an environmentalist back then and didn’t know it.

    To this day, when I make soup or prepare a mix from an envelope, I put the open envelope under the faucet, let water run inside and rinse it to get the last scoop of the content so nothing goes to waste. That’s why my hot chocolate tastes so good! I also try to eat everything I put on my plate even if it doesn’t taste that good. I don’t believe in wasting food.

    Back in those days I couldn’t escape the trappings of poverty. I smelled like dust from walking everywhere. My clothes advertised need. My shoes melted in my feet. My teeth got pulled and not filled. Just about the only thing that didn’t immediately give me away as being among the poor was my mind. Early on I knew that people could choose to laugh at me for the way I looked. They could refuse to invite me to eat their lunch. They could shout names at me from their car. But they couldn’t stop me from developing my mind, from cultivating my intelligence, from dreaming about a better future.

    And finally, when the time was right, it was my ability to think, my thirst for learning, my willingness to apply myself to the rigors of academia, that served as my ticket to the kind of life I enjoy today, with God’s help.

    So the bottom line is, even if culture and language is filled with images of self-doubt about a poor person ever making it in life, as long as you refuse to believe the pessimism, you will have a chance to rise above all the predictions about yourself.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    • Harold & Sylvia Stoltzfus 8:47 pm on February 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Ivanildo: There should be a disconnect between your childhood and your life now. But Jesus is the bridge. Your point about thinking intellectually sounds like Ravi Zacharach!! On another level I live on the lower shelves and to this day Sylvia feels an annoying disconnect between our friends–often Christians–on higher shelves and ourselves economically. Sylvia insists that we easily can meet them on the same shelf mentally (or above), even though we feel their cold draft peering down upon us through their glasses that are perchased on the end of their noses.
      Nonetheless, we are very rich depending upon whom we visit. It is a good thing that God doesn’t have a quantative and material requirement to enter the pearly gates.

    • ivanildotrindade 1:57 am on February 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      “do not be proud, be willing to associate with those of a low position.” isn’t that in the book somewhere? and what do we take from this world anyway? thanks for sharing your heart, harold.

    • beth 9:02 pm on February 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      This story reminds me of one the librarian at Mt. Hope told me when he went to Haiti. He is Amish and went on a trip to building a school there several years ago. He said the people there had no shoes, so they would make them from rubber tires. He saw a man that had no shirt one day and it was raining. So he took the shirt off his back and gave it to him. That so much reminds of Jesus command to give someone your coat if you have 2. It is hard to imagine, there is such differences in our worlds. But there shouldn’t be.

      • ivanildotrindade 7:57 am on February 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        thanks for commenting, beth. one of my goals here is to help people know that there are such differences in the world. and we can all do something to help.

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