Saturday, March 29, 2014

Parable of the Sower -- Revisited

ARE RELIGIONS really fair to individual differences in spiritual aptitude between people? This thought struck me while recently reading the Parable of the Sower. After telling the parable in public, Jesus gives a private explanation to his disciples, which struck me as rather unfair.  The parable itself is fine:        
       As the sower goes to his field, some grain spills and falls on different types of terrain such as rocks, fallow land and fertile land. Only those grains that fell on fertile land take root and yield fruit. 
     Jesus is pointing out that only those who are ready will be able to take advantage of his teaching. As for the unfortunate majority, Jesus says,
                   “Though seeing, they do not see;
                     though hearing, they do not hear or understand".
Here's the theological problem: Is Jesus accepting the listener’s weakness, or is He is shifting the responsibility to his listener? Is the average mans Mainstream Christianity, however, has used this parable to put the burden on the flock. “You don’t listen because you are a sinner and will be burnt like chaff during harvesting.” The fearful followers chant “Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea maxima culpa” and try to force themselves into the supposed path that might lead them to heaven. But they continue to suffer spiritually.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Parable of Talents -- Retold

JESUS SAID TO HIS SELECT DISCIPLES:  A certain rich man had a vision of the ultimate wealth. Before embarking on his quest, he divided all his money among his three servants -- ten, five and one talents according their capacity and asked each to use his share wisely.

After years of travels the rich man found ultimate wealth and joyfully returned home with it. Upon nearing his village he saw people living in unprecedented poverty and squalor. For there had been a terrible famine there.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Perils of Questioning Everything

LAST MONTH I became one of the moderators of a bustling Internet community, Philosophy of Religion. With nearly 19,000 members worldwide, we keep getting a lot of new topics for discussion, mostly from believers in different religions. Many are dogmatic quotes from holy books, inviting the readers to accept them as such.
That gives us a problem --- because the motto of our community is "QUESTION EVERYTHING." This  is seldom noticed by contributors who seem to equate religion with philosophy of religion. In fact they are diametrically different. While religion needs dogma and belief, philosophy thrives on the opposite –- free thinking, reasoning, encouraging healthy skepticism. Anything unfalsifiable and not amenable to reason and logic is unsuitable as a philosophical topic.