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Mr. Muskrat (4572)

Mr. Muskrat
  reversethis-{moc ... ta} {tarksum.rm}

I'm married with 2 girls. I work as a full time Perl programmer for a Land Mobile Radio company in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

I am enrolled at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online working towards a Bachelor of Science in photography.

My other blog []

Journal of Mr. Muskrat (4572)

Wednesday May 12, 2004
06:39 PM

My late homework assignment

[ #18724 ]

A couple of weeks ago my Sunday school teacher gave an assignment and I totally forgot about it. Today, I was reminded of it so I'm doing it now.
The assignment was a simple one. Ask people the following question:

What does it mean to be a Christian?

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  • Are you looking for answers from only those who identify as
    Christians, or from the general public?
    • Both. I expect to get different answers from everyone.
      • I see. OK, here I go then:

        Any faith-based belief system is the triumph of wishful thinking
        over rational consideration of reality.
        • Hiya mary.poppins.

          That's a popular opinion held by many intellectuals (as I did for 15 years). Keep in mind though, that fine peeps such as Donald Knuth and our very own Larry Wall hold strongly to such "wishful thinking".

          It's sad that the anti-evolution flat-earth Scopes and Gallileo Trials type stuff gets all the attention. There's no shortage of rational, thinking, extremely intelligent men and women for whom faith is a major part of their lives.
          • I am aware that wishful thinking can be very appealing to
            even very intelligent people. Just because one is able to
            think, does not imply that one wants to think.

            Here's definition #2 from the American Heritage Dictionary,
            of faith:

                  Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material

            It's that definition of faith that I was referring to in my
            comment about "faith-based belief systems".

            When supernatural beings start showing up in verifiable
            ways, then I'll
            • Are you asserting that Wall and Knuth, for example, don't want to think?   That could easily be seen as pretentious and vain, eh.

              And what college philosophy professor taught you to think like him?   Er, I mean "think for yourself"?   ;^)

              On the other hand, phat props to ya for the respectful way you asked about Muskrat's intended audience before sharing your thoughts.

              • > Are you asserting that Wall and Knuth, for example, don't
                > want to think?

                Apparently, they don't want to think about everything.

                > That could easily be seen as pretentious and vain, eh.

                Appeals to authority *really* don't have any effect on me.

                > And what college philosophy professor taught you to think
                > like him? Er, I mean "think for yourself"? ;^)

                Yeah, whatever, I didn't take any philosophy in college.
                I've been a rationalist type for as long as I can remember.
                You know, asking the paren
                • Hmmm... not sure what authority it sounded like I was appealing to, but I assure you none was intended.

                  And I offer my apologies for (incorrectly) assuming the bit about a college philosophy course.   My bad.   Although I do share your rationalist mindset.

                  In your readings on history, do you recall any mention of impetus from numerous Christians in:

                  • bringing about the abolition of slavery in the US
                  • working for widespread literacy in the west, when such was unheard of
                  • racial equality in
            • You missed a few definitions of faith.
              1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
              2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief. See Synonyms at trust.
              3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
              4. often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
              5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim

              • > I did that because I have all of the material evidence and
                > logical proof that I need.

                Evidently, you do not need very much. In fact, so little
                that I think you are not being honest with yourself about
                meaning #2.

                > Looking around at the earth or the stars in the heavens, I
                > have all of the material evidence that I need. It's
                > absolutely stunning! It's totally beautiful! So I have my
                > material proof, all of the earth and it's inhabitants.

                Hm. You find the world beautiful. This proves t
                • Look, I am not trying to win you over to Christ. This is too impersonal a medium for that. I am trying to show you a glimpse of how I, a christian, see things. I am not saying that you must read this or that you must believe what I am trying to say. I doubt that you will even understand it but I am not going to let that stop me from saying it though.

                  If you read the paragraphs about material evidence together it makes more sense than seperately, but whatever. Read it however you like.

                  If you listen to

  • of another assignment, but better suited to people who have a real training in history of religions: write a concise answer to this same question, written by a more-or-less well-known figure of the history of christianism. (St Augustine, Luther, Erasmus, Giordano Bruno -- who was burnt by the papal inquisition, mostly for having defended an heliocentric view of the world --, St Francesco Javier -- cofounder of Jesuits, first missionary in Japan --, Jansenius -- who influenced Blaise Pascal --, Pius IX -- au
  • It means whatever people have been taught to believe that it means.
    • Or what an individual has explored and researched for h(er|im)self, dude. As with any other group, some Christians are rational, logical thinkers.
    • I almost forgot to ask, brother in perl TorgoX, what were *you* taught to believe that it means?
      • Television taught me that Christianity means that anyone can talk to God at any time -- thru a special one-eight-hundred number! []
        • Yep, there are plenty of schuysters out there ready to take your money under false pretenses. Some happen to use religion as their bait.

          But I'm glad to see that you choose a reliable and trustworthy source like TV for informing your opinions and worldview. ;^D
  • Speaking for no-one but myself...

    Being a Christian means (to me) to follow and obey our namesake Jesus Christ. When there are apparant conflicts between teachings of Jesus and that of Moses, Paul, etc to always go with what Jesus is recorded as saying.

    Being a Christian means (to me) to treat everyone I encounter with respect, as a fellow human being, whether they be an underpayed waitress or an online community member who disses me. It means loving others even when they don't act lovable.

    Being a Chr

  • Christianity is a collection of religions in the Judeo-Christian lineage. They vary widely in outline and detail. Membership in any one of them is understood differently by different members. There is some disagreement about which religions deserve the label. Most of them agree on their primary religious text (the Bible). Attitudes towards the Bible vary widely. (Is it literally true, a historical document, to be interpreted by everyone, interpreted by a special priesthood, how are specific items to b
    • There's substantial debate over who split from whom - Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. And for divergence in practice, Eastern Orthodoxy (and others, such as Coptic) seems to have retained much more of the earlie(r|est) practices and style, whereas Roman Catholicism has added and changed both practices and doctrine substantially over the centuries/millenia. Fwiw, I don't subscribe exclusively to either of these two branches of Christianity.

      Islam isn't arbitrarily not considered Christian, by either Mu
    • Somewhat arbitrarily, Muslims are not considered to be Christians, even though they mostly accept the Bible and believe in Jesus Christ. They claim that Jesus is merely a great prophet, and not the son of God. As for "mostly" accept the Bible, they believe that the Bible describes true events fairly accurately. However they believe that the way that the Bible was written (recollections written down after the fact) introduced distortions.

      Now there is something I'd like to see explained. (Why Muslims are no
      • I do not know enough about about the Muslim faith to comment on it.

        If you want to get technical, a Christian is literally a follower of Christ. Since the Jewish people have never recognized Christ as the Messiah, they cannot be called Christians. By that I mean collectively, the Jewish people, not individual Jews. Why? Because many Jews between the time of Christ and now have believed in Christ and made Him their personal Savior.

      • Now that'uns easy to answer.

        Adherants of Islam aren't considered Christian (by either Muslims or Christians) because Islam does not subscribe to the foundational Christian belief that Jesus of Nazereth is/was the Jewish Messiah. Islamic stature of Mohammed and the Quran are additional points of differentientation, of course. But the over-riding primary commonality amongst all flavors of Christianity is pretty much the recognition of Jesus as Messiah, the Christ.

        Likewise for Judaism, excluding Messianic