christian people, what does this mean

@MichaelDMcGrath#15772 thanks, this is helpful! I get the holy ghost thing a lot better now, as I wrote a game (indivisible) that had about 10 different people's ideas in them, sometimes contradictory, and I had to put them all into one work that made sense, so sometimes a character had to be a lot of things at once and just kinda… let that happen.

@treefroggy I don't think that's all the billboard means, because if it did it'd just be like "accept jesus into your heart" as other billboards say. this has implications I might be trying to get to god in some way other than jesus, or... something else. unless they did an even worse job than I already thought at conveying their message.

But I think I mostly get it now!

I saw a mostly-destroyed (and partially refurbished) zoroastrian temple from a bus in esfahan - it was far away but cool to see! the fire temple, I guess it was.

This is closer to what I actually saw, minus the water of course because they were in a 12 year drought. probably a 14 year drought by now.

@treefroggy#15816 are you thinking of augustine and manicheasim?

As a non religious person, I do appreciate theology and all this religious discussion is very fascinating.

I think @treefroggy has it right, here, about the billboard in particular.

While I'm not reglious these days, I did grow up going to christian church. I stopped going shortly after I graduated high school, started wondering about agnosticism before adopting atheism and now I worship random chaos energy and sonic the hedgehog (with a little bit of mindfulness buddhism mixed in).

Anyway one of the main reasons I stopped going to church was because of the way the church really hammered the point home that we are all horrible sinners who deserve hellfire unless we accept jesus into our hearts. I guess it's because I grew up in a sort of abusive household, but I just got over people telling me I'm worthless, religious or otherwise. And it went a bit further than that...

For instance... The very first band I played guitar in was the church youth band. We were a christian rock outfit and we had a blast together. I wanted to give us a name (nothing crazy, maybe something biblical) but the youth pastor wouldn't let us because giving us a name was a form of idolatry and took away from the message of jesus. Okay, fair enough. Whenever I would get a little crazy on the guitar the youth pastor would tell me to tone it down a bit. He felt I was showing off and taking the message away from jesus. Okaaaay, fine.

It got to the point where my close friends and girlfriend at the time (who were also very religious) were telling me I had to rethink or dump certain aspects of my life because those things weren't "for jesus". I got fed up. After my girlfriend broke up with me I had a serious rethink about religion and decided it wasn't for me.

My point here being that, according to the billboard, jesus really is the ONLY way to God. Not playing guitar in a youth band, not holding hands with your girlfriend, not buying transformer toys with the last of your paycheck... Jesus is the only way, so forget all that other stuff and read your darn bible... According to these guys.

@milo#15828 Well that sounds real rough. I'm sorry you had to go through that, but glad you were able to get out of that situation.


Haha thanks! While I did grow disillusioned of the whole thing, during my time in th church there was a lot of love and I spent time around some wonderful people.

It did really change the way I view church altogether, and religion vs. spirituality. I believe the most important part of a connection with your deity is the _personal_ connection. That's "spirituality" while congregation and youth groups and stuff like that is "religion", at least to me. And I believe the spirituality part trumps all aspects of the religion part. There's a Bible verse where jesus talks about the hypocrites who pray on the street corner for all to see "for they know what they are doing and have received their reward in full". He says to go into your closet and pray to God in secret and "He will reward you in full".

So, back to the billboard... The person that paid to put that up, in my opinion, is going against one of jesus' main tenets, which is to keep your spirituality between you and God.

@milo#15830 I think of that verse every time I see a street preacher haha.

I feel really lucky to have grown up with all religions presented as various ways people think the world came to be - my parents read me creation stories as bedtime stuff but I got like… the greek gods, the islands came from the spear of yahweh (didn‘t get the penis analogy and I’m not sure my parents did either), it's all a giant turtle, all in the same breath as the jesus stuff so for me it was just like huh, look at all these stories people thought up, that is fun! I think my parents did this because they were both raised religious - my dad has NEVER talked about it, and my mom has talked about it in terms of liking spirituality but not the doctrines. I think they wanted me to be able to figure out what I thought for myself, which as it turns out is not something most parents did in my age group.

So as I got older I started to get exposed to the ways everyone else interacted with religion, and it was basically exclusively stories like Milo told, or active physical/mental/sexual abuse, or people who didn't believe in their own religion's theoretical core values being like "well obviously The Gays are going to hell because jesus."

I never even HEARD about the loving aspect of any of this stuff until much later because I didn't grow up being told there was love involved, I heard the stories alongside like clifford the big friendly dog, and then met a bunch of hateful, spiteful, frightened people who believed those stories meant they needed to be awful to others (I know that's not what it's meant to be about, but this was me as a kid meeting [mostly] christians who saw an unbeliever child who was ignorant of their ways, and you can imagine how that goes). I guess I did hear preachers saying "god is love" and then spewing hate right after that on tv, but that just read as straight hypocrisy and I never saw the like... church picnic aspect.

As a kid the only religions that seemed okay were buddhism and judaism because they were all nice and weren't telling me I was terrible for just existing (and, on paper, I'm the kind of person christians think is good! I'm a straight white male, their very tip top favorite kind of human. so what hope does anybody else have?). at least judaism wasn't doing that in a language I could understand lol.

Anyway for my whole life I have existed outside of religion, in as much as that's possible in america, so these discussions are useful for me. I have been working hard on not a) pitying and b) being dismissive of religious folk, but it has been a challenge because from the outside all I've seen is the wars and genocide it causes, the abuse of people just trying to be kids (as with milo), the hatred of any "out group," etc.

I remember when I was in college and was an usher for the theaters we had there - a disgraced pastor rented one of our big 2k person+ auditoriums for his superchurch, and there were all these ladies who clearly did not have money or were experiencing actual coming to this thing, and always telling me how great he was, how his message was all about love, and maintaining relationships, and the importance of marriage, and etc etc.

MEANWHILE dude was saying, directly, "jesus wants you to dig deep tonight" while asking for money, and he had two bentleys, literally two bentleys parked behind the place, and with his message of the importance of marriage he had last year "lost a few of his followers" because he was cheating on his wife with one of the members of his church, and also he couldn't have a set physical location anymore because he had been indicted with tax fraud, etc etc. and he was still raking it in from these people who were clearly in poverty and it was just like... this is not ambiguous!

So yeah, my whole life experience has really soured me on the whole thing! I have individual religious friends and I respect them as human beings but I do not respect religion, but I try to understand that they like it and it's nice for them, and that's basically as far as I've been able to get. Hearing stories like Milo's just make me so pissed off that I have to like go cool off somewhere because it's all made up!! it's all made up pretty recently to oppress people! there was love in there back in the day, and a few people are trying to bring the love stuff back, but like... dang. I have friends who got sent to conversion or scared straight camps and there's no love in there.

I guess I diverged from the point but I guess this is a long explanation for why I don't understand the billboards I see around town lol


These last few years have really made me analyze religion and spirituality in a way I never have before. Mainly, watching all these evangelicals flocking to Trump like... what??? If I wasn't convinced it was all a charade before, that sealed the deal.

The big thing that I landed on is that modern day Christians are, for the most part, more interested in telling other people how they're living their lives wrong instead of trying to figure out living their own lives right. But then, part of their religion tells them they are doing God's work by telling people they are living wrong. They just take it a bit too far sometimes. I had a friend in high school who came out to all of us as gay and my most religious friend called me in tears saying that she was torn because she couldn't be friends with him anymore, but also loved him and wanted to "save him" so he wouldn't go to hell and I'm just like... why does it matter so much to you?? If he's happy and you love him, that should be good enough.

It's really a shame how selfish people have become about religion and spirituality. I believe it has the potential for love and compassion and mass good, but people tend to be self centered creatures who erect walls and push others away, and religion has become the excuse for that.

@exodus#15834 It‘s real rough for sure. As a Christian, Christianity has been one of the central aspects of my life for a long time and has provided community, purpose, and a spiritual outlet I’m not sure anything else could in the same way. As a gay man Christianity has also been one of the central barriers to happiness in my life for a long time and while thankfully I did not experience a church like milo‘s that made me feel sinful for wanting to play the guitar, I have had my fair share of Christians call me a faggot and tell me I’m going to Hell.

I'd like to say "Not All Christians" but obviously that's hollow and glib bordering on evil. For every Oscar Romero or Dietrich Bonhoeffer there's a jerk with two Bentleys stealing money from people. For every one Quaker fighting against slavery there's 3 crusades, 5 witchhunts, and and 700 burnings at the stake.

What I will say is that a spiritual practice, no matter the source or form, can provide solace and purpose to people who need it that is hard to replicate without psychedelics. I don't know what would need to change for people to stop hating queer people and women, but I don't think the abolition of religion would cut it. The UK's current love affair with transphobia has had a lot of support from the same people who were fighting against religion in the early 2000s: Richard Dawkins, Ricky Gervais, etc. and I know a lot of people who have found comfort in the same Bibles that were weaponized against them, myself among them.

I think the best antidote is the approach your parents took, expose people to as many religious traditions as possible as early as possible and let them figure stuff out for themselves. I don't know how that could be done at wide scale, and I worry about what would happen if every teacher was required to talk about the Quran given the level of Islamophobia in the world right now, but the current system that lets kids grow up in these siloed religious communities with horrifying social mores also scares me and makes me furious.

I don't quite know where I'm going with this at this point, but fuck billboards.

Yeah, I do think theoretically the compassion and love stuff could be there, based on talking to my religious friends about it. But I think it‘s also like how we could theoretically have a left-wing government in america that supported the people. of course it’s possible but it‘s not in the interest of enough of the right kinds of people to make that happen. which sucks! it’d be nice if people wanted to be nice to each other.

Just wanna say, @MichaelDMcGrath, I really appreciate your posts in this thread. I was raised atheist, and didn't actually know anyone who was christian when I was in high school, and I just thought of them as people who smiled too much and sometimes tried to have very funny arguments with other high school kids about Creation.

Over the last few years, I have been trying to do a lot more research into christianity, mostly because i love old literature and its referenced constantly all the time. The thing that tipped me over the edge was reading about theological debates in Gibbon's _Decline and Fall_, and thinking, "Well, if this is stuff that has had major affects on history, I should know about it." My version of research started with reading the whole bible, and boy howdy it was not what I expected! I knew some neutered versions of stories, and "pop-culture Jesus," but it was very interesting to see the roots.

That being said, this experience did not prepare me _at all_ for when I stepped back out of my ancient readings into the real life world, thinking "I know Christianity now!" only to be overwhelmed by thousands of years of theological progression making modern-day Christianity almost unrecognizable. So I very much appreciate your posts, tying some things together, and helping certain incongruities * click * for me in a big way.


Dude, I grew up going to church with them constantly saying stuff like “Jesus is the way”. It doesn‘t make sense literally, but setting aside all pedantry a billboard that says “JESUS the ONLY way to god” is pretty clear to me where they’re coming from. Drive through texas or the bible belt and you'll see tons of crazier christian stuff on billboards…. Just slap some vaguely “team jesus” words on a billboard and call it a day.

But you know what.... I see what you mean, you see some islamophobic/ anti-any other religion implications to it..... and you'd be right! It's very sad, that's all there is to it!
I may even recall being somewhat surprised seeing a billboard like that driving through the SF bay, because it seems like something you'd see in texas or the bible belt.
That's a dope temple. Zoroastians believe that when there is fire, God is present. Not that God = Fire, but that God is there when something is ablaze. Also their religious burial practice was to put the bodies on top of temples to be taken away by birds, nowadays I think that has been mostly restricted and now cremation is the main method.

Also! Still @ sheffield, that's cool you had parents that let you make your own choices, my biological father took me to many churches and stuff, showed me to "judge a tree by the fruit it bares" and basically take the good stuff from any religion. On the west coast there are some pretty progressive and epic churches, but just as many if not more conservative ones that wanna rope you into the cult.

@yeso#15826 nope!
@MichaelDMcGrath#15823 with all due respect, I come here to discuss video games not spirituality or religion. I put myself in this position though oops. I'm cutting it off here!

My spirituality is very personal and private thing and I'm gonna be the last one to share any of the specifics/sources of it here and I'm gonna dip out of the convo now. Just know I have a deep love and sympathy for everyone! :p **unless you like different video games than me then you can go to hell! >:3**

This has reminded me of this sign, which I used to pass every day in Boston, which still strikes me as the least effective bit of prosthelytism I've ever seen.


@treefroggy#15850 sorry if me asking for a source was curt or seemed antagonistic. I was asking because I would legitimately love to read more about that reading of Paul as Zoroastrian. It would make sense of some things like his references to the principalities and powers, and like you said atonement theory makes a hell of a lot more sense with a Zoroastrian cosmology, but it's hard to square with the accepted timeframe. Not sure I agree but I find it very interesting!

@MichaelDMcGrath#15846 I hear that, and I think one of the things that really gets to me is religion always seems to have an ulterior motive. Like yes there are folks whose mission is to help the unhoused or care for folks in disasters but it‘s always got this transactional element to it, like you should convert after I give you food, or I’m doing this because it gives me Heaven Points, etc. That stuff really burns me up! And it‘s hard not to see it as transactional for me, because of how rare it is for a religious group to do something nice without laying a judgement-laden prayer on top of it. (or maybe I’m just not seeing it)

The fact folks think missionary work is inherently good is super damaging to me because like... you can't just let people BE, you've gotta make them more like you. I was doing research on small sustainable islands and found this place:

Their story is really interesting! the island is less than 2 square miles, and they can support almost exactly 1200 people through agriculture, which they learned through trial and error across the ages. too many people ruins everything, introducing pigs ruins everything, etc etc. They've got to balance it just right. So missionaries went out there and were like check out these heathens, they've got it rough cause they don't know about god! so they managed to convert them, really doing the work across 100 years, and they introduce shame related to birth control - and now they have to make people leave the island because they can't control their population as they had for centuries. wild stuff!

To me it's interesting that a lot of folks think a spiritual element is a necessary part of life - for me it is not. I like thinking about space aliens and star trek and stuff but I don't need to solve the puzzle of the universe, I am not a scientist and it's beyond my purview. I prefer to try and solve the puzzles we've created for ourselves I guess.

I think that therapy and exercise can do a lot of what spiritual practice can do, and maybe better since it's targeted to individual people rather than to large groups? But maybe that's just how my brain works.

I feel like I'm getting A BIT NEGATIVE, I apologize for that, it's just a big mystery world to me and I wish people were nicer to each other.

P.S. I also really appreciate your posts in here! Super educational to me in a field that I feel is pretty walled off (as far as purely learning about it without "engaging' with it) unless you've been in it for ages.

P.P.S. that sign is interesting and gets at the core confusion I always had with the stuff, because you've got on the one hand grace and hope, and on the other hand a big sign telling me to feel bad lol. I guess the idea is - yeah, you should feel bad, but we'll offer up the grace and the hope to get you through the bad way we made you feel!

@exodus#15859 Missionary work boils my blood like almost nothing else. I don‘t think it’s ever been done in a way I would possibly get on board with. The churches that I like are the ones fighting for prison abolition and affordable housing rather than poverty tourism and prosthelytism. They're few and far between, but they are out there.

the meek shall inherit the earth yall

I spent a lot of my youth going to an Episcopalian church, which gave me a very different impression of what Christianity was from most of the US. That church was pretty much “Please be nice to people” as doctrine. As far as I know, missionary work or focus on conversion weren‘t really present. We made a point to be inclusive to all walks of life. Groups shunned by other sects were welcomed (I’m pretty sure no one there viewed being gay as a sin, for example). The weekly sermons mostly served as a useful reminder that you should be mindful of your actions and their consequences and re-orient yourself around being kind. There was a monk who made a point to make a small prayer for those who died in homelessness every week. The community aspects were nice too, since you knew the other people at the post-service coffee and donuts were basically on the same page. It made it very easy to meet new people!

This is perhaps why I'm especially frustrated with most American Christianity. It's so, so harmful and it just doesn't need to be! I've seen friends who've left the American Christian kind of sects because of how awful they were. Christianity and billboards just don't really mix in my mind I guess. I don't think I've ever seen a Christian billboard that made me want to attend a church.


was gonna write about an experience I had in a food tent line at the beach last month being talked to by christians who just don‘t get it trying to convert me… but there’s too much to say about all this stuff. I think the anecdote works better spoken than written, too. Chalk it allllll up to “Life”.

@treefroggy#15850 didnt mean to alex trebek you, sorry - just interested in the notion as it’s similar to my understanding

@MichaelDMcGrath#15865 yeah liberation theology, catholic workers, Simone weil throwing grenades at fascists = "the good stuff"