"The Anti-Christ gave me eyes!"

-James Murrow Only Begotten Daughter

I love Fundamentalists. I do. I adore them is a strange kind of... you couldn't call it agape...kind of way. They keep me on my toes. They provide for hours of entertainment. I'm glad they're around because life would get pretty dull without them.

I went to Catholic school--Christ the King on Preston and Colgate across the street from Highland Park and University Park--so I had my religious argument skills honed at a pretty young age. I learned how to read the bible and study up on papers by Thomas Aquinas, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and the like. After high school, I was so fed up with other people's version of the truth I decided to study on my own and started looking at the Gnostics and Templars. I even tried learning ancient Hebrew and Greek, hoping to read the original texts and do my own translations. I read the Bhagvat Gita, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Talmud, and an English interpretation of the Koran (you can't have a true translation of the word of Allah). I was digging around, looking for the truth. The truth is a hard thing to see; lies have golden faces; the truth hides in the dark.

But this isn't about my spiritual soul-searching. I've found something I'm happy with and I'm comfortable and firm in what I believe--I don't have to witness anyone to get more Brownie points for heaven. I don't think souls and faith should be bartered around like Girl-scout cookies for the big camp-out in the sky. This isn't about that. This is about a friend of ours and the New Fundamentalists he's been hanging with.

The other night, the husband and I were taking in caffeine at our favorite little coffee-joint when our friend Medic came in. Medic's a chill guy and he's starting up a sort of "Haven" affair in an old boarding house. It's a great space to do it--20 rooms and all at $800 a month--and the conditions are simple enough: have a job, be actively seeking one, or help out around the house and you can stay there. It's a place for people to get back on their feet and I agree with it wholeheartedly. (Phil and I are planning something similar for kids whose home-life is too complicated; something to prevent teens from becoming statistics.)

It was good that Medic showed up because we were planning to see him anyway. We had the wagon loaded with various goodies--a couple old TV's, some clothes, some books--things that we were contributing to the cause. We've even offered to help with the reconstruction and fixing up of the boarding house; I have carpentry, painting, and electrical experience and Phil's done enough sheet-rock and plumbing in his time. We transferred the stuff from our wagon to Medic's and went inside for coffee and smokes.

Medic's friends showed up. This is about the time the problem started.

Someone asked for a definition of a jihad and I gave an answer that sounded a little too Muslim to someone's liking and things went downhill from there. I've had these arguments before time and time again. I love 'em. I get a kick out of them.

Round One: Homosexuality or Sex Acts Against God

"Why is homosexuality a sin? How is that against the word of God?" I like starting off with questions like this because they get heated right away. Why start with piddely shit when we can get straight to the point? I had this argument once with someone at a Denny's. My opponent was a young blonde kid with sparkling blue eyes and looking like something of the cover of Aryan Nation.

"Because in the bible it says that for a man to lie with another man is an abomination." He almost read the passage to me... it's Leviticus chapter 18, verse 22. There's also a list in Corinthians 1, chapter 6, verses 9 and 10 "... neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." It says the effeminate and "abusers of themselves with mankind" but a lot of this passage goes against the promise of undying and unconditional love. I don't put much faith in anything St. Paul wrote; he never hung out with J.C. and it seems to me he was the first corrupter of the Word--but that's my opinion. In Timothy chapter 1, verse 10 "them that defile themselves with mankind" are mentioned again; but this is also in the same chapter where it mentions "that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient" (same chapter, verse 9).

"Okay, so the Old Testament is to be taken word for word, leaving nothing. In Leviticus, isn't there something about dietary laws?" (It's most of chapter 11 of Leviticus. This is where animals that are clean and unclean are discussed and if you take this chapter literally, it's a sin to have a pet reptile or hermit crab.) This, of course, is being asked of someone chowing down on a juicy bacon cheeseburger--a meal which violates verse 7 ( the bacon), chapter 17 verse 10 (the blood) and Deuteronomy chapter 14 verse 21 (the cheese in conjunction with meat) . This is just the burger we're talking about; we haven't even gone into sin offerings, Saturday, steps leading up to a church, and the Leviticus Family Medical Guide to Discharges. (A woman on her period shouldn't be allowed out of her house and she shouldn't be walking around without a hat anyway.)

He interrupted at this point to inform me that that's why Jesus came to Earth, to revoke the old laws.

"So that includes everything against homosexuality?"

No, that's still a sin, according to St. Paul.

"So when did Jesus say that homosexuality was a one way ticket to hell? I thought He only had one commandment, 'love one another' and that anything else was subjective to that law."

Well, yes, Jesus did say "love one another...."

"But where does Jesus say homosexuality is wrong?"

"In Saint Paul to the....."

"Where does Jesus say it? Not St. Paul--forget St. Paul. Where in the gospels, the Acts, or Revelation does it ever say homosexuality is wrong?"


One way to avoid homosexuality is masturbation; it'll also help that whole coveting problem. Masturbation has been called the sin of Onan, who "spilled his seed on the ground". Sure, Onan had been told by God to impregnate his brother's widow and he pulled out at the last minute, but masturbation is still something that will blind you and send you to hell, right? I mean, Onan's real sin was using the with-drawl method of birth control, not spanking his monkey. There's even a section in Leviticus on what to do if you get cum on your hands (it's in chapter 15, verse 17 if you're interested).

Round Two: Catholics Are or Are Not Christians or Everyone Else is Going to Hell

This is a disturbing trend I've seen recently with New Fundamentalists. They mention that they're Christian and I ask "What kind of Christian?"

"Christian. Just Christian." This time it was a girl in line for concert tickets.

"Yeah, but I mean, what sect? You guys have a church you go to, so the church is organized. Who started it?"

"Jesus Christ."

"So you're Catholic? Or Greek Orthodox?"

"Catholics aren't Christians."

"They're not? What are they?"

"They're papists and idolaters. They believe that the Pope can become Jesus and they worship statues of Mary."

At this point we had to back up the soul train while Mila gave a little Catholicism 101 to people who had never read anything about Catholics but what they read in Chick tracts. Mary isn't worshiped as a god, she's just an intercessor and we ask she carry our prayers to God. I disagree with the whole "God is too busy so here's His temp" ideology seen in Catholicism. But that's not the point. The point was this chickie-chick was saying Catholics weren't Christians.

We started into a huge discussion about the Christians during the Crusades and yes, those were Christians marching in on the Muslims at the time--but suddenly those Christians stopped being Christians when Catholics were mentioned. "The Catholic Church sent many Christians to their deaths." And when asked how many Catholics were among those Christians I was informed that while the Christians were busy dying for the Holy Land, the Catholics were staying all snug in their beds starting the Inquisition, thus revealing that the Crusades were in fact a giant plot by the Catholic Church to weed out the true Christians. It was the craziest thing I'd ever heard. Not only was the chick's history was screwed up......

And then she launched into a huge thing about how the IHS on the Eucharist stood for Isis, Horus, and Set--the gods of Egypt, because the Eucharist was an Egyptian invention and I asked when the Egyptians starting writing in the Latin alphabet. Oh, but it's not the Latin alphabet, it's the Greek, from when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. I mean, this was a one time kook, but it was amazing! Not all New Fundamentalists are like this, just this chick. She looked strung out.

Muslims follow many of the dietary laws of the old testament (which were put in place to prevent things like trichinosis, ptomaine poisoning and other nasty things involved in eating offal-eaters). Muslims are going to hell too, in case you didn't know. So are Jews, because they didn't accept Jesus as the Messiah and nailed him to a cross. This is pretty wild reasoning when you consider that it was the Romans who crucified Jesus for his anti-Roman-empire teaching, not the Hebrews. Jews are also matrilineal and matriarchal--proven by the practice of circumcision (which has nothing to do with cleanliness according to one guy).

My favorite thing about dealing with any of these types of arguments is most New Fundamentalists use the New Living Bible, the New International Version, he New American Version, the Revised Standard Bible, or the Young Literal Translation. Very rarely have I seen one using the King James version (there might be Fundamentalists using the King James, but they don't hang out in my neck of the woods). I asked a girl once why they didn't use the King James, and she told me that that was a Catholic bible (oh, vile papists!) and her version was closer to the original text. I quoted her some Greek and Hebrew and she didn't know what I was talking about, because she'd never studied Greek or Hebrew (and my knowledge is limited, but I can get the information). I asked if she had read the original texts and when she said no, I asked how she new her version was "closer to the original text" if she had never compared them. I use the King James because I grew up on it and because it was the first translation of the bible into a language I can speak and read easily. I know that there were some interesting translations due to political climate, and that the translators were working with texts that had already been translated incorrectly once before, but I'm a stuck-up purist who likes the language in the King James.

Quick reading suggestion: if you have a King James, see if it has the dedication at the front. The translators dedicated the book to the king, and it makes for some pretty reading.

Round Three: Sill waiting, ladies and gentlemen....

 I'm pretty willing to take anybody up on a religious argument; I enjoy it. Come down to Dan's some night and we'll talk. Just make sure the drunk lawyer isn't there (who believes that all religion is stupid and puerile and the bastard won't let you get a word in edge-wise). I listen, or at least try to, so let me know when I'm not.

The only condition is you listen in turn.

I had one guy tell me I was the anti-Christ because I was trying to "lead the flock astray". Anyone who eschews outside information like that is defending ignorance. You don't have to agree with me--if you did right away I'd wonder what was wrong with you--but please don't go into a rant about how demonic I am or anything like that. That happened at Dan's once and it draws such a crowd it's embarrassing. Anyway, discouraging anything your religion isn't personally responsible for smacks of cult culture. That's dangerous.

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