The Philosophy of Religion

When I decided I wanted to study the philosophy of religion I had no idea what I had bitten off! I now know that it is one of the major branches of Philosophy. I knew Socrates had things to say about it 400 years before Jesus, but I never dreamed how far it went from there. Since almost every culture that has existed has either taken on an established religion on invented one of their own that fact shouldn’t have surprised me.

Where to begin was the question that temporarily overwhelmed me. Of course, the first thing I did was Google it and then I went to Wikipedia for a little more nuanced answer. After reviews about a dozen books on the subject, I chose the one showing in the header above. After reading a few pages I was convinced that I needed to keep it simple. But, since that is a life mantra for me it was not a hard decision.

So, going forward for as long as might take, I will be pulling quotes from this book for further thought and discussions here. Before I do that I want to get some personal background straight with you. If this is your first time here you probably have no idea of where I stand on this subject but the title of this website should give you a clue or two. If you want to know more about me click on the “About” button at the top of this page. If you don’t have time to do that I will give you a very short version here.

I don’t pretend to be a philosopher or theologian. I don’t really pretend, at least not anymore, to be very religious. I have been through a couple different versions of Christianity but am not aligned with either of them.

What I do believe is that Jesus of Nazareth was as close to God as anyone who has walked this earth. The lessons he was teaching are meant for the ages, yes even two thousand years later.

I want to forewarn you on a couple of different things before we get started. I am a simple guy who likes to get to the heart of the issue without a lot of blah, blah, blah, so I don’t hold back what is on my mind. You may find that threatening or just maybe refreshing, depending on your baggage on this topic. I am studying this topic because I think Jesus’ words can stand up to any scrutiny or criticism some would throw at them.

To maintain a level of diversity, I want to let you know I will be interweaving a secondary topic as well as occasional snippets on Progressive Christianity. The secondary topic will look at current denominations, and sub-denominations to try to find those who base their beliefs primarily on the red letters. That part of this series will start with the Jesuits in the Roman Catholic church. Where it goes from there, I don’t really know yet. Of course, the current pope is the first of that order to hold that rank so quite a bit of attention will likely be paid to him.

I think this will be an interesting series, so I invite you to stick around and give me your thoughts on what I have discovered.

Moving Forward on RLL

I have been struggling lately with how I will approach my study of the Red Letters on this site. One of the primary causes for putting it into a four-year hiatus was that I was just tired of lamenting how so many versions of Christianity strayed, sometimes very severely, from the path of Jesus’ words and teachings. Starting it up again I seemed to be heading down that same route and that is not where I wanted to go. It is time for CHANGE.

Yes, there are around 40,000 different versions of Christianity, but focusing on that fact is not very productive in my mind. So, I have decided to take a different path going forward at least for the time being. Instead of lamenting what Jesus’ church has become, I will focus on what I think are some the best examples of those who live by his teachings. For me, the first example of that is the Jesuits in the Roman Catholic Church. This series might widen to include the Franciscan order because right now I don’t understand the significant difference between the two.

What instigated this new direction was Pope Francis. When I study his words and particularly his actions I began to see how closely my spiritual beliefs aligned with his. He is the first Jesuit Pope and that has brought out some strong opposition especially among some here in the US. I just read in Sojourners Magazine (March 2019) issue how US right-wing billionaires are attempting a takeover of the US Catholic Church primarily because of Pope Francis’ emphasis on Jesus’ words. They believe he is just too hostile to our version of capitalism and that is very threatening to them.

For this series, I will be posting about what I am learning about the Jesuit order and their teachings.

The second prong of my new approach for this site is to look at those who have serious concerns about religion in general.

When I spent a couple of decades in an Evangelical church I was strenuously told to just believe on faith what they told me to believe. Don’t ask questions. Of course, questioning everything is a core part of my nature so there were several conflicts over the years. The last one resulted in the clergyman telling me I was no longer welcomed. They just couldn’t handle my questions, so as not to pollute the other members with doubt I was told to I need to leave.

I think that the words of Jesus can stand up to any questions brought up about them. So, as well as studying Jesuits, I will also be looking at the philosophy of religion. It will be an interesting series I think.

I hope anyone who comes by here in the next few months might want to learn along with me. I will be open to your thoughts as long as they conform to my “Code of Conduct” as shown in the header above.

Where we will be heading at the completion of this series, I have no idea. I suspect what we find in this series will naturally grow into something else. But who knows?