|Syntactic Confectionery Delight|
Posts like this anonymous one (above) make me sad. I would ignore it, but I see that at least seven registered monks spent votes supporting it, so I guess I should probably speak up, if only in the interests of having a more balanced discussion.
I've been a Christian for more than thirty years, and have studied the Bible for much of that time, although I am not a student of Greek or Hebrew. I come to a very different conclusion than our Anonymous and somewhat long-winded friend.
There is no question that the Old (and to a lesser degree, the New) Testaments of the Bible record some pretty ugly things. I will observe, however, that it is one thing to record an event and another to approve or endorse it. That said, there are plenty of quotable instances where God did directly instruct people to do some pretty violent things, which I will not attempt to explain or rationalize. On the other hand, it seems rather short-sighted to judge a system of beliefs only on its past. I assure you, I've been a Christian for many years now and have yet to engage in slavery, rape or genocide. I'm pretty sure none of the leaders in the churches I have attended have encouraged me in the pursuit of these crimes, either.
Jesus said, when standing before Pontius Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
Many modern Christians understand the New Covenant (which is largely explained in the New Testament) to have its primary emphasis on the spiritual, rather than material plane. Such Christians will often subordinate their desires for personal wealth and power and will even non-violently sacrifice their lives in favor of longer-term spiritual goals. This kind of Christianity is at odds with the negative caricature that you paint.
The New Testament writer Paul sums it up in his famous "love chapter", I Corinthians 13, which (as it happens), I read yesterday: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Any real Christian will subscribe to the fundamental precept of love for others -- there just isn't any way to please God and still be hateful to the people He created. There have certainly been those who call themselves Christians and have perverted the message of Christ; and it seems that you have rather naively lumped us all in together. Truth is often rather more complicated. :)
You have apparently engaged in at least a cursory study of the Bible, and you seem very hostile to Christianity, for which I'm sorry -- someone may have really disappointed or betrayed you, to cause you to throw the baby out with the bath water in this manner. Hopefully you can get to know some genuine Christians and discover that there is a lot of hope and joy and love in Christianity.
I don't really expect to convince you of anything in particular, except perhaps that it is mean to bash someone else's religion in a public forum. I understand that you were responding to some negative remarks about Islam -- perhaps it would be enough for you to make some positive comments about that religion (if that's the system of beliefs to which you subscribe) rather than poking at Christianity. Monks (even anonymous ones) ought to be able to conduct a discussion in a more kindly and respectful manner.
No good deed goes unpunished. -- (attributed to) Oscar Wilde