This episode looks into the question of if life really goes better for good or religious people.
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Podcast Transcript here
Good morning. I was out this morning very, very early walking through a gray rain. It was pleasant to be out of course, streets are empty, enjoying the silence, listening to the rain. Put on some music. I wanted something peaceful. It’s hard to think of what to pick from genres you’re not familiar with. I searched through various options and I came across a channel called, I’m going to pronounce this inaccurately, Voces de Fe. It’s in Portuguese I really don’t know the pronunciation. It was a Christian station. I put it on. I just wanted some peace and pleasantness, nothing harsh. From the many genres I listen to, a lot of them can get pretty rowdy. But I didn’t know this at all, what it was going to be. It’s Portuguese Christian music. Here’s a little of it.
Remember, this is Christian music, not plain old old popular music. Here’s another one.
This beautiful music. I happen to know enough from the Latin languages Portuguese and Spanish so that I can make out what they’re saying. And also kind of happily know not enough of the language so that I don’t have to be drowned in meaning. Usually message music is rather awkward. It doesn’t sing as well as just the explosion of the heart. Plus, there are languages that are far more beautiful than English, especially Romance languages, French and Spanish, Portuguese. If you listen to this music it is perfectly produced. The music is beautiful indeed.
One of the interesting things to me, as I listened, is that it is utterly indistinguishable from secular music. It mimics or participates in an excellent genre of maybe light pop or contemporary vocal pop. or something. The only thing that makes it Christian at all is that 100% of the players very likely are strong, believing Christians who love Jesus, love their Christian life, and love the faith they serve. There’s a long tradition of music coming out of the churches, a long, incredible tradition. Tons of American music came out of the churches originally and then moved into the world. A lot of it held its own, but a lot of it degenerated sadly once it came out of the churches.
So here you have this remarkably refined, perfectly executed, truly beautiful music that’s indistinguishable from the music of guy in the next car next to you, listening to the exact same thing, which could be about any theme at all, usually some basically physically driven, bodily driven, probably morally compromised thing that sounds absolutely exactly like these people singing of their love of God and of Jesus.
Here are the thoughts that came out of this walk and this music and. It’s this: I thought, probably anybody who’s made it onto this Amazon station Voces de Fe, Voices of Faith who are able to get music out there in such perfect form. They’re probably enormously successful, probably a great many are far more wealthy than me, live better, have finer cars, finer houses. Yes they have the troubles of life, and they genuinely serve their faith communities, but they’re highly successful. Their music sings about the types of concepts, with God, anything is possible, trust God. And I thought, the Christian message in fact probably all religious messages basically tell us that if we follow this path of faith, we will have the all powerful God with us and behind us, and things will go well. But the fact of the matter is that being a Christian, or being a member of any faith, literally any faith, does not mean that things will go well. In fact, every human life, regardless of whatever Association, you identify, for yourself for ourselves, you can be a Ku Klux Klan member, one of the you know, the old fashioned Southern Democrats or you could be a BLM member, a contemporary, racist organization, or you could be a Methodist or an Episcopalian or Hindu, regardless of whatever your commitments whether you try to do good and try to bring about good or whether you live entirely selfishly. The fact of the matter is that I think that probably in every community, there is an exact amount of fortune, exact amount of misfortune, an exact amount of successful people and exact amount of unsuccessful people. I think that life itself, and how things go for members of communities match each other so that the decisions we make do not affect our fortune, and do not affect the range of the community. There are Christians who are fabulously wealthy, there are bad people who are fabulously wealthy. There are good people that are utterly broken, out on the street and utterly broken.
And there are bad people out on the street and broken. There are good people who have enormous misfortune in their lives, for no seeming reason, strong Christians with whose lives are going magnificently. And suddenly, great misfortune befalls him. Wonderful athletes and suddenly great misfortune suddenly befalls them. And there are nasty athletes that continue to do well and to succeed in their careers and make lots of money and fame and fortune, and opportunity.
So listen to this beautiful music and the singing of the promises of a brighter life in Jesus. And the sheer beauty of the music, the sincerity of the singers. I thought to myself, that’s actually part of the problem of religion. Why it has such a hard time. It always has a hard time. It is that its message is actually inaccurate. The promise of being a Christian or a Hindu or a Muslim is it can’t possibly fulfill the promise, namely that once we make this decision and choose to live this way, things go better for us. Or that if you look at Muslims, you will find that none of them are poor, none of them are broken. None of them are out on the street. And you find that if you look at Hindus you find that all of them are honest. This is just utterly not the case. And so the religious message gets trampled under the accusation of being either a lie, it’s a promise things will go better and things didn’t go better. And then there’s disappointment, or promise that people are good, and then you find people are not good. And this is a disappointment. And so I think that the religious message needs to indicate that there’s something else that is a benefit of making that decision. That’s the key. That’s honestly the key. And then you come to an extremely challenging point about the message. And that is whether or not God is all powerful.
Now, if God were all powerful, he would be able to make the lives of good people good, have no troubles, and he’d be able to make the lives of bad people have all sorts of troubles, or at least prevent them from being able to spread the horrible things they do. They’re really good at just corrupting entire societies and nations. If so, then the omnipotence of God comes into question. If we take an honest look at the fact that the breakdown of life goes for people is unrelated to both one’s goodness and one’s religious commitments, there must be something else that has to do with that decision, either to be good or to be religious or to be spiritual or to be self disciplined, there must be something else that goes with that promise that is rewarding. And there must be something else about the nature of God and God’s omnipotence that must be identified.
Once these two things are accurately embraced and accurately taken into account, then I believe the religious message can start to really have traction and start to be faithful to its message. My message until now has gone long enough. I introduced the issues. And with that, I’ll stop. I’ll definitely do a second part in which I’ll recommend what I think would be a more accurate and more powerful way of presenting what would be attractive about choosing to be good or choosing to be a Christian or choosing to be a new age believer or whatever type of spirituality, what really is the promise there. I think that’s an important thing for those who want to use their lives in a constructive way.
So I definitely will get back to what I think might be a good alternative to how religions and the appeal to moral life and patriotic life have been presented today. Thanks for listening.