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The left, the right, theism and the political debate (Ideology alive)

by Lily Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 06:14:08 PM EST

European Tribune invites « progressives » and presents an ideology as described in `About' and the FAQ.

Those who claim they don't have an ideology still live in this material world and will have some in the form of ideals, value systems, personal or absolute truths, beliefs, etc.

`Ideological' people will try to identify others as they belong or don't to their own ideology.

Sometimes it is difficult to accept ideological concepts and classification because someone doesn't clearly identify with one or the other because he/she has been inspired to develop a very different ideology that doesn't fit into the polarity of just two ideologies at hand - plus those situated between the two poles.

CASE IN POINT - myself


I

So, I step forward to offer the best example for such a case that I've at hand: myself. I'm not beyond ideology. I don't systematically question everything but I try to discern what I encounter as `good' or `bad', `real' or `fake', convincing or not.

What is my measure? I'm a Christian - not a Catholic and I think I've fallen out of the evangelical or simply protestant categories as well. I've grown up in a traditionally protestant family, joined evangelical youth in my youth. My religiousness was not about Church membership but real faith in a living God. I learnt about the Antichrist and sometimes he had the face of the Pope; sometimes his identity was still unknown. At any rate, the Catholic Church was to be avoided. My small home-town was predominantly protestant.

When I had finished school and left, I found myself sharing shower and kitchenette with another girl in our two-bedroom dormitory. She put up a cross in her room, and it became clear that she was a Catholic. We lived squeezed together in that small space for 2.25 years,  had many debates, shared meals and joys and tears and became best friends to this day. Back then, she joined a protestant Church choir; I couldn't identify with any group of believers.

Not much later, I met my future husband - who was a Catholic. It was amazing because we shared so many views and his vision of life was very much complementary to mine. We were busy debating our future, looking for jobs, and the Church debate was not crucial or divisive.

I had some more radical views than he did. It helps to think of Sarah Palin. ;) Evangelicals enjoy listening to their consciousness and taking every `Word of the Lord' very seriously, often literally, while Catholics praise Virgin Mary, let the Pope talk and then do what they consider appropriate in our times [simplification based on limited exposure to Catholics; no generalisation intended].
We had two colliding ideologies - one love.

We found compromises, got married young, had our first child soon. That child had to be baptised as a Catholic. I was too overwhelmed with everything new to resist my mother-in-law's pressure. Two children were born later and not baptised. We went to a Catholic Church where I felt lost and where my husband loved to meditate or just doze off. This was in the US. At some point, this wasn't `enough' for me anymore, and I went "Church shopping". I wrote to different protestant Churches, and received a dozen replies and picked the nicest three where we wanted to go. The first one was it - a charismatic protestant Church. I liked it a lot there, my husband didn't. He felt lost. So, eventually, we didn't go anymore. On a vacation we discovered the Amish, and Mennonites, who are close to the Amish. We got interested in Mennonites because they have a take on life that appeared quite un-American to us, were more open-minded than the Amish and rather close to the German character... - It so happened that the only Mennonite Church in our area was located in the Bronx/NY - an all black charismatic Mennonite Church. I was hesitating, and it was rather complicated to get there. My husband went and later took me along on Sundays. My husband was quite happy because he found both the Germanic narrative in Mennonites and bonded easily with the black community because of his personal narrative; he was born in Kenya and had travelled many times to Africa.

We moved a couple more times but never enjoyed real Church membership anymore and eventually gave up the struggle to find, too, especially now that we live in France and everything within reach is Catholic. I have thought of just ignoring doctrinal issues in order to be in communion with other believers but I just cannot get myself to pray to Virgin Mary or to tie myself in knots in order to share the communion according to the Catholic rite.

Whatever the appearance, I have always had faith in my heart and have had amazing experiences with God throughout my life. Today I know that Churches and Temples or Synagogues or Mosques - all serve this one purpose to help our faith. I have so much of it; I don't - technically speaking - need the building though sometimes the community with other believers.

II

And more, my faith has evolved. As time went by, I have learnt to treat people of other denominations with more respect than I originally had. I cannot judge what they believe in and what they have on their hearts. I only know what I have on mine and what I have found to be true. I live according to these convictions, and that is my ideology. I believe that there is an absolute Truth, and that Truth is in God, and that it will always reveal itself when we seek God. It doesn't take more of an effort. I also believe that this Truth sets us free.

I have had a friend who used to be Catholic and who tried out different ways to practise her faith. She calls herself a Hindu Christian or Christian Hindu, though she prefers to avoid the label. Her ideology is very strong and we had controversies that made her suffer because I couldn't embrace all of what she has found to be the Truth. One debate was an eye-opener, though.

I like to share it here. My friend believes in reincarnation. This is how she explained her view: There is a current among Christian believers who believe that the belief in reincarnation was part of the common world view of early Christians. There are very few (three to be exact) hints at this in the Bible. Reincarnation was banished from Church dogma through the V. Council of Constantinople (Pope Vigilius/ Emperor Justinian) in 553 A.C. From then on, reincarnation became a heresy. It has been said that more proof of reincarnation as part of the world view of the time disappeared or was destroyed, most of it contained in the library of Origines of Alexandria (destroyed by fire).

What appears rather insignificant when looking at it from a distance - conferred enormous power to the Catholic Church in that people depended more than they had before on receiving the Church's absolution in order to get to heaven and be saved from hell after this one life.  

The idea is fascinating. I believe it to be true.

The fascination lies in the fact that we aren't here by a hazard and we're not just going to nowhere. We're equipped with a soul. I almost feel like saying - hey, I HAVE the proof though I know that this cannot be scientifically proven.

This is not all. It also "explains" what believers often struggle with and what non-believers sometimes depict as proof for the non-existence of God. Why is there so much injustice? Why some are born healthy, others sick, hungry, rich or poor, why some have to suffer so much more than others? Whatever it is - our souls need to LEARN through these experiences and temptations. And all this is in harmony with biblical Christian `doctrine' and doesn't contradict it in any way.

However, it contradicts Catholic dogma...

III

And this is still not the end to it. Evangelicals, Adventists, the Christian Right - are all focused on the End of Times. According to scripture, there will be an End of Times, and signs accompany this period in Earth history. I live in the awareness of such prophecies but don't put any energy into deploring details of what isn't there, yet, and about a date that is simply not known to men. `My' end of times can happen anytime, and I'm aware that to know this is basically enough.

Still - I was wondering about the following: There is a biblical word that says that God has "shortened" time towards the end: "If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened." (Matthew 24, 22).

What does this mean? I understand it as a time when tribulations and hardships and sufferings will be enormous, and many will think there is no God and there is no rhyme and no reason. Believers will try to hold on to God but they'll have huge doubts and many will lose faith. So, this last time has been shortened so that not all would lose faith. We have witnessed an enormous acceleration of world history ever since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century and today is the fastest time mankind has ever experienced. It's simply hallucinating how news have become obsolete as soon as we learn of them, how the environmental and the energy and financial crises all topple each other.  

How did this happen? Large parts of the World - most of `Asia', `Africa' - believe in reincarnation, have a cyclical world view. We shouldn't only ask where and how life began but rather: Where did life accelerate first? - Answer: In the Christian-dominated West where the innate sense of coming from somewhere, going somewhere, life-cycles - had gotten lost. This is where people put more energy into exploiting time, achieving a maximum - to be found worthy of life in heaven after the test of this one and only life. This is where the first engines were built but this has also been the engine that accelerated speed towards the eventual dooming of Planet Earth.

IV

To speak of reincarnation smacks of an esoteric world view. My bottom line is that I have faith in that Christianity has it right but that there once was a wisdom shared by all mankind that has gotten lost - and for a reason.

With regards to other religions, I don't know enough of them but when I've made an effort in the past or when I learnt more about other faiths, I have regularly been amazed about how much we have in common. I like to believe that we are all speaking of the same one Truth; it is obscured to us that what seems to be contradictory or conflicting is just the same seen from different angles.

What I have found therein is peace - trust and confidence. There is no need to force `my' truth on anyone because I am sure that it will reveal itself.

There I am with a strong ideology. Now somebody tell me: Does this make me left-wing or does it make me right-wing?

When I don't present this sermon up-front, I will argue in favour of lawfulness and against abortion (without seeking to judge/punish); I'll defend conservative values and avoid `mauvaise foi', seek the truth of all matters, in all matters. I also believe that we are responsible for our acts and that we have a responsibility for our next, that we should be hard-working and exploit the time at our hands, protect our environment and not despair as we see this World's end coming closer...

I don't believe in man-made ideologies but in the living God. Does this make me ideology-free? No, it doesn't, and I also have opinions on a thousand earthly matters and more... don't live barefoot in the desert but have a real life, know materialism and envy, am not immune to whatever this life is challenging us with.

I have an ideology but I claim that it doesn't properly fit into the right-left-and-in-between scheme of things.

Ideology isn't dead. God IS but man-made ideologies have begun to lose some of their significance as our troubled and exhausted World calls for pragmatic solutions. Under these circumstances, what is "the left" going to be opposed to? And what agenda is the right going to try to push? We live in a "We must come together" and "Yes, we can"-World.

In the end, the dichotomy will be about who believed in God, and who didn't. I don't see any need to force anyone to share my belief or for anyone to feel threatened by it. I know that it is beyond my capacity to change any of anything anyone believes in and trusts in. God can change people's hearts, I can do nothing.

I know it's not politically correct to bring God into the ideological debate of a left-leaning blog, but then, I have been on a right-leaning blog, and there, others didn't want to hear about truth in its absolute nature, as it reveals itself, either. I was told "Who wants to know the truth? No one really wants to know that. Those who could go after it know that you can never know where that could lead you." -
Honestly, I don't need lies and manipulation and more lies. Who knows where the lies could lead us?

Interestingly, people on both sides of the spectrum seem to be less concerned about their respective ideologies than the greater Truth that alone is essentially beyond all ideology [- if it's real...] . None of us can claim that Truth for him/her self alone; when people claim exclusive rights, bad things happen. Through the ages, a lot of damage has been done in the name of God which does not prove that He is not.  

So, there. This is my ideology. It comes closest to not being an ideology but objective truth, which will never be revealed in this life. Hence, it is still an ideology.    

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European Tribune - THE LEFT, THE RIGHT, THEISM AND THE POLITICAL DEBATE (Ideology alive)

I have an ideology but I claim that it doesn't properly fit into the right-left-and-in-between scheme of things.

In my opinion it is very rare for anyones personal ideology to fit properly in that scheme. That scheme has no relation to the diversity of views on the world and moral ideas. It is instead configured to fit the 50+ % rule.

Political decisions are made needing 50+ % support in some parliament or other. The political center is where ever you need to be in order to scrape together the barest possible mayority as a coalition if you have one of the sides with you - not of the population but in the decisionmaking chambers.

Left and right denotes a division in different sides of the 50%-line (still in political chambers, not population). The meaning of left and right has differed a lot over the years (thus also changing the meaning of the center).

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 12:23:03 AM EST
The Left versus the Right is a concept of power. You explain that it helps to position anyone according to whose majority someone is going to help.

It reminds me of a breakfast conversation this morning: Mummy, do you prefer to have a cat or a dog? - Well, you know, it's neither nor. - Mummy, but if you HAVE to choose. - [Father's voice] Mummy wants both. - [Kids] I think a dog. I think a cat. I think a dog... - It has frozen outside. We put up some bird food...

The metaphor is a little far-fetched but still a debate where there are enlightened thinkers (as on this blog) on one side - and there are ruthless and power-hungry manipulators/ religiously righteous ones on the other side are not two extremes from which I like to choose. This doesn't make me a "centrist" either. Here, I like the honest debate, the effort to get down to the heart of matters but what is worrying in this is that this debate is too closed and doesn't have enough impact. I assume it is this that ValentinD criticises in his ideology-free debate, when he calls the Left "utopian".

How can we oppose a force in power when it is on a mission to threaten and crush us - e.g. in the form of the US neo-con movement trying to impact EU politics and that has presumably significantly influenced the Irish to vote NO. Obama is going to be a more efficient and effectual President than Bush but then, US interests in the world have not changed. The big difference for the rest of the World, compared to Bush - will be that Obama will be the better diplomat and use modern tools to win world-wide support. He isn't the elephant in the China shop but enters silently on soft feet by the back door and won't break any China but treat it with care - to eventually have all the support he needs to impose US interests on the free World and - face powerful China (something along these lines...).

What ValentinD calls utopian, as I understand it, is this sense of impact-less debating. - Here, the debate is nice and courteous. On right-wing blogs it isn't. It's rough and no way is low enough to make a point, push an opinion and libel others. It is difficult or impossible to argue about the finer details of an issue in great depth because there will always be others who will crush the debate, yet others will lead you to engage in absolutely silly debates. What will be left will be one opinion, spiced up by hypocritical controversies and confirmed and reconfirmed by people displaying `diversity'. Serious debaters leave such places. Trouble is that they are very powerful in generating opinion. And if they don't succeed, they'll try new ways. ...

I proclaim that if the Left is serious about wanting to impact hypocritical, xenophobic, etc. right-wing policies - it must watch out for these right-wing places, not run away from them but continue to expose the disingenuousness within debates, manipulation and lies.
How far have we gotten, when a simple question about 911 is treated as a sin equal to denying the Holocaust (where evidence is overly abundant). How long until the question that is already called denial and a sin will be illegal? Are we worthy of our freedom when we aren't ready to take risks, test our convictions (about immigration, gay rights, anything) on such ideological battle-fields? -

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:58:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - THE LEFT, THE RIGHT, THEISM AND THE POLITICAL DEBATE (Ideology alive)
Sometimes it is difficult to accept ideological concepts and classification because someone doesn't clearly identify with one or the other because he/she has been inspired to develop a very different ideology that doesn't fit into the polarity of just two ideologies at hand - plus those situated between the two poles.

hi lily, good diary, good questions...

i've met more delusion among socalled religious people than any other groups, and have known atheists fully as kind and human as any prompted by fear of hell or desire for heaven.

just as gay people don't have a real choice in being gay, either they feel that way or they don't, so i believe it to be with religion.

i felt god in a place no rational argument will convince me to be deluded, because what i experienced went so far beyond any other feelings i had had, and like you, those feelings gave me strength to face difficulties, and a more positive, peaceful attitude to negotiating them.

i found most churches suffocating, some too cloying, some just a place for a group hug when i was lonely.

i miss not having a church i'd really want to join, but the word of god is written in nature, as taoists and sufis believe, not just buildings.

i love to go into empty churches and sing my heart out, but the services and belief systems of christianity, especially catholicism leave me cold, and even angry sometimes, as i contrast the god of spring flowers and all that is renewed afresh with the doleful, lugubrious, sanctimonious miserable-sinner cant that is served up by today's 'messengers of jesus'.

i also am aware of how much the power of the papacy acts as a drag on italy's evolution, the whole edifice of catholicism, with its holy rings to kiss, ferragamo shoes, unctuous venality, ugh...

i find a masked shaman, gibbering under the effects of inhaling dmt, capering in a clearing, less ridiculous.

if jesus existed, (i believe he did, but of course could be wrong), that's one thing, the greatest story ever told some say, just another desert legend, say others.

but to me it doesn't matter.

the word 'god' has as many meanings as there are people to hear or read it.

some atheists make gods of their own, though they wouldn't admit it, probably.

i have even envied atheists during dark nights of the soul, but i wouldn't trade the grace i have felt that was numinous away to get rid of spiritual pain, that has its role in making me aspire to be better, and which rewards me in ways that make it infinitely worth it, not that i feel i have a choice, for even if i were crazy enough to try and defy god's will and act out some evil, i know that it would make life much more difficult to live...i am blessed to know that mu conscience is not only a puny little scrap, but it's connected to something which inspires faith in me that we are being helped, whether we know it or not.

most posters here are skeptics, but just because one feels no need personally for religion, it's still, as in wales so wisely said, a very very powerful agent in affecting history and politics, with blowback in the least expected places.

it's not going to get wished away, much as many might wish it were so. i understand their reasoning and even respect its logic, it just seems faithless to me, though of course that's just my perception, as we all have faith, conscious or unconscious in something, even as simple as 'it's worth getting out of bed in the morning, i have power to make the world a little better through what i do with my time and energy'.

plenty of people do it without it being harnessed to any ideology other than kindness, just like some are sexually satisfied and delighted by the opposite gender.

the arguments between the 'faithed' and the 'others' have been the most anguished and dare i say fruitless debates we have here at ET, but they come around regular as clockwork.

and i enjoy them, because i see faith trying to speak for itself through some, and the counter-arguments are anything but facile or shallow, in fact they are extremely on point, however much i might not share the latter, i feel my own relationship with god is deepened immeasurably more than if i just hung out with folks of like heart.

i guess what fascinates me most is the psychology of faith and the innateness of the religious impulse.

for some that's as interesting as watching paint dry...

tibetan buddhism goes deepest, imo, to addressing the fear of annihilation that lies at the root of all pathology, pathology that is steered by undue and inappropriate desire, that leads to a soul vacuum, into which pour all manner of half baked superstitions, charlatan exploitations etc, in reaction to which we have a host of intelligent people who throw the baby of belief out with the bathwater of useless mind-stuff.

their own inner void-undealt-with creates a need in them to trash what they do not understand, in other words embrace an absolutism that is as absurd as any fundy belief, simply because it forms a shell of prejudice, another defence mechanism against open-ended reality.

i sympathise, because, but for the grace of the spaghetti monster, i could easily have ended up on that road.

but now the good part is that the more grateful i am to god for having saved me from unbelief, the more the mystery of 'whole-ness' reveals its beautiful, nuanced complexity, making me more grateful, which adds to this glorious, harmonic virtuous cycle, where one can feel grateful to someone greater than oneself, who knows my best interests and can help me protect them from those who arrogantly would try to abrogate my right to worship in my own manner of choice.

i've lived in muslim, buddhist, christian, hindu and secular societies. all have major clues, but all miss the entire picture by themselves, imo.

all have let their own politics deviate them from their original founder's message, however the buddhists seem the most cheerful, tranquil, humble and humorous, and that's the dividend i pray my worship to yield, the personality i believe god is helping me reshape myself to become.

maybe some atheists don't need god to help them, they're strong enough to do it alone. i admire their strength and even the faith in reason it represents, thoroughly noble that they even cared to give the issue any serious thought.

i am not made of such stern stuff, alas.
to find spirituality i had to go further upriver than religion, and there's still so very far to go...

there are some incredibly inspiring people who are sharing this planet, whether they are religious or not should be as irrelevant as what colour socks they wear.

it's mostly a very private thing, pretty damn difficult to blog about.

A for effort, we'll see if people still want to give it another whirl, by the comments.

i look forward to seeing more of your writing here.

 

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 06:48:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for sharing your personal view here, too.

This is off-topic - but I wanted to tell you that I like your Chinese Proverb at the end a lot!

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 03:59:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting diary, Lily, thank you. I have no appreciation for organised religion, as it often is abusing it's power to indoctrinate people.

However, I do think that we are all believers - the theist as well as the atheist, as we do not really KNOW if there is a God or not. We all believe! I do not have a problem with either believe - what I have a problem with if either side declares that their believe is THE THRUTH! That's where I think the problems and the intolerance comes from. As long as we are aware of what we believe and are aware that it is a belief we can share and communicate about it and maybe even benefit from each others beliefs.

There has never been any 'scientific' prove (that I know of) that there is a God, nore that there is no God. I guess we only will really find out once we died, or not!

by Fran on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 02:07:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However, I do think that we are all believers - the theist as well as the atheist, as we do not really KNOW if there is a God or not. We all believe!

<sigh> No, unless you're talking about people who have a positive belief in the non-existence of gods, which is silly - you can't prove a negative like that. It's clearly logically possible that one or more "gods" - whatever that means - exist in the same way it's logically possible that unicorns exist and run through my back garden every time I look the other way. It doesn't mean that it's worth my while buying a bridle designed to accommodate a horn and go unicorn hunting.  

"I don't believe that gods exist" is not the same as "I believe that gods don't exist".

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 04:22:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This may be hairsplitting but say that one has found 'the Truth' through faith is still a statement that expresses a belief. What one person believes should ideally never threaten any other...
(i.e. except for cannibals ;) and the like)
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 04:29:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, cannibals! My favourite kind of people! :))

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 06:00:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
Serious debaters leave such places.

People make free choices.  Those who just want to jeer and insult will stay with the right wing blogs.  Those that are open to new ideas will move on.  Fortunately the internet has provided a new diversity, and the MSM is feeling threatened. The Obama campaign almost bypassed the traditional media/Party processes altogether and allowed people to organise alternative structures of power. Places like ET are just a small seed bed which may or may not grow into something bigger.  But we have choices.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 09:02:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
May I ?


Those who just want to jeer and insult will stay with the those right wing blogs.  

:)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 03:04:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank, this topic is well worth a separate diary. This place here seems to be perfect for an exchange of ideas, new inspiration and honest debate.

Right wing or rather hijacked blogs where an agenda is pushed have no interest in an honest debate but try to be efficient at getting a message across. If the rest of the world is going to ignore them, fine but I'd rather think that there is very much interest in manipulating thought. Would anyone put such energy into it, if it didn't have any impact?

So, these places don't invite for any corteous exchange. They still need to be exposed, their methods dismantled. We can do it right here but who will take note of it? - Not those who appreciate the easy access to these places. They don't care when they get debated on a left-wing forum - as long as they can target a maximum of persons who will buy into their propaganda.

I therefore believe that diversification of right wing blogs is necessary - although I admit to being tired of it, too.
BTW: I never jeered or insulted anybody. It wasn't necessary. It has been enough to show inconsistencies, unveil lies, trollish behaviour, etc.  

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 04:46:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps your next diary could be on your experiences on Timesonline.  I'm gone from there for almost a year now, so my views would be less relevant.  You seem to be arguing that people like us should stay on those blogs in order to influence the larger audiences there.  I couldn't be bothered because the agenda is set by the lead Journalist/moderator and I like to set my own agendas, or at least respond to slightly more interesting/challenging ones.  

Blogging is also about learning and I was finding that I wasn't learning anything new there.  When that happens its time to move on.  I hope to be moving on from here   soon too, but that's a different story.  We all have our separate life stories and projects to work on and mine seems to involve never staying in the same place too long.  Certainly, I couldn't see myself returning to Timesonline.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 07:30:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An interesting diary and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.  I find it fundamentally difficult to reply to some of the points your raise because your 'world view' is underpinned by your absolute faith in God and in there being Truth through God.

My 'world view' is underpinned by values that in no way bring God into the equation.  I just do not believe in God. So we stand in very different places in terms of how we frame everything about us.

You are right to bring God into the political ideology debate because it is very much present within politics anyway, whether I believe it should be or not.  Many voters in the US divided over whether candidates were  pro-life or not and voted according to those kind of values.  

In the UK we've seen Cabinet Ministers make policy based on religious framing of issues.  On Opus Dei MP was in charge of the equalities portfolio, which is fundamentally in conflict with protecting gay rights.

You are right where you say a lot of damage has been done in the name of God, not just in the past but still now.  If God exists, I'm sure that wouldn't be His will, but you can't control how some people will choose to interpret their religion and implement that view.

I think that is one of the reasons why religion should play no part in politics, in the development of the values that underpin political choices and ideologies.

Some religions enforce values that oppress women, shame disability and kill gay people - it is a fundamental conflict with the human rights we are all born with.

I respect the fact that you can discuss your religion and not try to force your beliefs on others - I (and I'm not the only one here, I'm sure) have bitter experiences of people who have damaged me with their religious beliefs.  

I see nothing objective about an ideology based on religious Truth - because it means you cannot question and challenge in a way that is free from a strict framing of issues, or to take into account the nature of people as social beings who may not wish or be able to conform to whatever interpretation God's word is put to them.  

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:39:41 AM EST
Thanks for sharing your belief, too. You are right, there is nothing objective about an ideology based on religious Truth. It is naturally subjective and ideological.

OTOH I feel free to question and challenge everything. I believe that faith* doesn't begin with observing dogmatic requirements though upon 'finding God' some may want to change immediately and learn about whatever seems to be known to men about pleasing God, but this doesn't mean that he (or she) will want to or be able to change 100 % overnight, or there might be aspects that he simply cannot embrace deep down in his heart, not even on the third day of being a believer. So be it.

The core issue is that it doesn't really help for the adulterer to stop seeing other women when he keeps desiring them. He'll "conform" to God's word when his heart will have changed. As much as it is good to give rules to children when we raise them and to have something called law and order in a state what is more important for the individual is this change of heart that cannot be imposed, not even our own idea of what that change would have to look like. So, any dogma can be imposed but faith in God never.  

* For many 'faith' begins with going to a church, and any religious society will be governed by at least some or more elaborate rules, essential to the functioning of the group or crucial to religion itself.

---

"religion should play no part in politics, in the development of the values that underpin political choices and ideologies."

In the political landscape, many ideological currents are based on religious convictions, principles, ... - If religion played no part in politics at all, there would still be ideologies - but they would all have to be atheist ideologies. Now, can atheism be "objective"? You'll still end up having ideologies focusing on personal enrichment, favouring one over the other and reflecting all the virtues and vices mankind has been afflicted with since the beginning.

France is probably more atheistic than most other European countries. Religion doesn't officially play a role in politics, yet the country is permeated by its Christian tradition/Catholicism that are reflected in national politics.

I believe that it is unrealistic to ban religion from politics. The reason for this probably is that religion/faith is, more than any other abstract, rational ideology, very much identitarian, so much part of any believer's existence that it is inseparable from his human-ness and his role in society.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 06:22:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
I believe that it is unrealistic to ban religion from politics.

no, no, no...

religion and politics make a lousy combination, as history makes only too painfully clear.

cuz 90% of religion is bad religion, and people need a certain security in order to have a decent life.

that should take precedence over religion.

keep religion personal, not political, just don't try and exterminate it.... the blowback from that is as bad as bad religion was, or worse...

golden rule...unless there was a completely new religion, baggage free and symbiotic with modern times instead of trying to resurrect the middle ages, ala taliban.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 07:11:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't say that it is undesirable to ban religion from politics, but when I look at life, what I see is that it is there, everywhere...

It's not undesirable to seperate spirituality/faith and religion in its worldly manner from politics - but it has proven unrealistic.

Do you sincerely believe that this can be changed?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 07:18:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd distinguish between faith and religion (as an institution). Faith cannot and should not go out of politics: it is what will inspire your values and political beliefs, and make you act on them. Religion, as in organised religion, ie the institution of the church, is something else altogether. Religions deal in absolutes, and absolutes in politics bring you "the ends justify the means" policies, which can all too easily turn totalitarian.

Thus, religious people are not dangerous in politics, but organised religious beliefs are most dangerous - if you have God on your side, and are acting on his behalf, then nothing you can do is wrong, and that brings all sorts of nasty results.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 03:27:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I fully agree. I may not have been clear enough about this distinction. Religion - as an institution and exclusive owner of truth - and only access to heaven is or can be dangerous.

Faith is to be encouraged, even if it contains elements that a religious institution has once used or continues to use in an abusive way.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:11:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Faith is to be encouraged

Why encourage it? Tolerating it in the already afflicted is one thing, but encouraging it?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:30:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"it is what will inspire your values and political beliefs, and make you act on them." (Jerome)

----

Well, I'd also say that if you experience something very good it's nice to see others find or have it, too.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:41:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
St. Jerome? ;-)  !!!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 05:09:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
I didn't say that it is undesirable to ban religion

wow, three negative formulations in a row!

makes my brain hurt!

yup, i think pols using religion to get votes is sick politics, and while i want to know the candidates spiritual values, he/she should be able to make them abundantly clear without resorting to religion to make them for him/her.

because religions divide people in the worst way, which is spiritual abuse, btw.

politics should be about humanity.

i though obama played it perfect, he let voters know his belief system, then got on with the rest of his campaigning.

all religions have beauty, but they're like a drug, and cause people sometimes (often) to absolve themselves from responsibility under cover of religious groupthink.

any religion that doesn't encourage doubt and questioning one's own faith for over-simplification, or over-mystification, has jumped the tracks, imo.

because in this world of lies, our critical thinking and intuition are the biggest gifts from god we have to use to stay sane and share a good life with our neighbours.

people are so gullible, and unwilling to look at themselves deeply, so religion throws them a life raft. this can be helpful, but at the end of the day, any assumption that you have taken second hand from others and left unexamined will be useless.

my grandmother was one of thise catholics who went to mass every day, if we took her on holiday, we had to call ahead and find out if there was a catholic church nearby first, she lived till she was 102, with her half inch of gordon's gin every sundown, her bible and her young priest friends, who came to pray with her, and look into her serene blue eyes.

her faith, which had been such a crutch to her her whole life, abandoned her on her deathbed, the very moment she needed it most...

a wooden nickel!

i learned a lot from that.

my dad died an atheist, a miserable, terrified man, all his bullying, snide bravado crumbling when he finally realised there was no way out, and his old sidekick denial had left the building.

heartbreaking. it's been 9 years since he passed away.

i still feel his angry spirit wandering around...

three months before he died, he confessed to me he wished i'd never been born.

so i believe the religious impulse is in us, or some of us, and yet it is absolutely not a prerequisite for any attainment. it is an illusion of separation, from a buddhist perspective. there is no difference at root between a religious person and an atheist, life tests for character both subsets, and all souls are equal in light.

it's just another in the infinite disguises game we play here on earth, where being real is the rarest jewel, and life is precious.

abortion is the big one, when it comes to politics and religion, and that was the issue that caused me to understand how something could be right politically yet felt so wrong spiritually, and how in the end, unless we had a solution to give every unborn child a loving home, and the conditions to set the foundation for a decent life (which we are failing miserably to do with the children alive here already), we have no right to insist that others live by our moral lights.

when i see the vatican's attitude to contraception it's...painful.

thanks for acknowledging the chinese proverb.

here's another one not from china:

religion is for those afraid of hell, spirituality is for those who have been there.

have a good one, lily, good rappin' with ya!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 09:07:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
melo:

her faith, which had been such a crutch to her her whole life, abandoned her on her deathbed, the very moment she needed it most...

a wooden nickel!

i learned a lot from that.

my dad died an atheist, a miserable, terrified man, all his bullying, snide bravado crumbling when he finally realised there was no way out, and his old sidekick denial had left the building.

heartbreaking. it's been 9 years since he passed away.

i still feel his angry spirit wandering around...

three months before he died, he confessed to me he wished i'd never been born.

Incredibly sad - one seeking to embrace faith by the standard approved method, and losing it, and one denying love, and realising too late there is no alternative.  Perhaps he saw in you what he had denied all his life.  You proved him wrong by being there for him despite everything.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 09:13:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks, frank.

yes my 'family constellation' is quite the challenge.

my father saw me as his nemesis, for him sensitivity was the most unpardonable of human weaknesses.

my grannie was a kind person, but fell for the pablum.

she was very sane, and never proselytized, tried to live by example, without spiritual pretensions, just a few normal middle-class ones...

it's quite paradoxical, how sustaining her spiritual practice was for her during her long life, and how it vaporised the last year.

i think the wars took an incredible psychological toll on both generations, they were all ptsd, before the word was invented.

i had no axe to grind with dad, with regards to proving him wrong, my sorrow was far too strong. i tried to reach him through his sense of humour, which was excellent, but unfortunately usually twisted and cruel. in his jokes, someone always paid, you know?

overdog stuff.

tenacious mofo, though, gave the phrase 'dying with his boots on' new meaning.

at least i have that to model on, and the desire to make people laugh!

grannie was just plain decent, too bad she got sold a bill of goods.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 07:33:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
melo -

The story about your grandmother and your father are both heart-breaking, especially since they have left you with this feeling of deception, maybe grief for your grandmother and this late and extremely painful word of having been 'unwanted' by your own father. You wouldn't be here if you hadn't been wanted. ;) It would be interesting to know why your father harboured such bitter feelings; the reason was in him - not in you. I hope that you can find peace. He is no longer there, and - maybe - they'll both still have their chance to find God.

"we have no right to insist that others live by our moral lights." - I disagree though I believe that the killing of an unborn child is so painful to the mother that I'd be very reluctant to want to see her judged. When something feels spiritually wrong - it is wrong, and not just by our "moral lights". - I am in disbelief to see mothers sentenced who kill their newborn child, and may yet take the life of their unborn child. Both is wrong, and in both cases, the mothers need help, more than judgement, and it is a shame that these children are not welcomed into our societies.

----
I like this Chinese proverb a lot, too. ;)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 05:14:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like this Chinese proverb a lot, too. ;)

i said it wasn't chinese! afaik, anyway, but i guess it may as well be...

I'd be very reluctant to want to see her judged. When something feels spiritually wrong - it is wrong, and not just by our "moral lights".

yes well, there you have it in a nutshell.

first of all, it's her body, not anyone else's. this point cannot be emphasized too much.

and secondly 'our moral lights' are only universal if we declaim them to be, and since we are fallible, (last time i checked!), how can we ever be sure that our morals are good for everyone else?

that way lies madness...

of course the mothers need help, if they had that they probably wouldn't want to abort, in most cases.

but all this will come out if you do that diary on abortion you said you might.

It would be interesting to know why your father harboured such bitter feelings; the reason was in him - not in you. I hope that you can find peace. He is no longer there, and - maybe - they'll both still have their chance to find God.

yes it would be interesting, that has been the most time-consuming mental activity life has thrown my way. the side effect of studying it has given me a clue or two about 'anglo disease', so there's a silver lining. he was so totally unwilling to 'know himself' on any other level that material...

i have found a rough peace, but it is patched and tattered. he is very much still here, though his body ain't.

god is found when we surrender our pride, for some that's an option they do not entertain, for some reason unknown to my dim self.

how to welcome others into faith when they would rather live without it?

we can't control, but we can exemplify. i am quite willing to entertain the idea that my knowledge of god is simply singularities occurring in my neurochemistry, then things take a distinct turn towards more interesting, contemplating that fact.

step by step, science and spirituality are converging. i see absolutely no mutual threat to either.

much so-called religion, on the other hand, has a lot to lose...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 07:52:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i said it wasn't chinese!

:o - well, yes, it probably sounded so Chinese that I decided to ignore the not and took it for that. ;)

first of all, it's her body, not anyone else's. this point cannot be emphasized too much.

This is not a debate of one life against the other. The baby would never want to see his/her mother dead. 'Her body' holds life's largest miracle.

The topic has been so much over-argued that I wouldn't want to roll it all out again. There will always be opinion against opinion.
There is little room for discourse or compromise. One either wants to protect the life of the unborn child, or what will be considered the best (better) interest of the woman.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 08:12:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you certainly don't have to convince me that a world without abortion is the ultimate goal for all respecters of the Great Miracle that is the creation of a human being.

it's just that life ain't linear, and to enforce this belief on others, no matter how convinced one is about the justness of the act, is to pretend the woman is not the decider of her future responsibility.

women have it hard enough already, some get pregnant because they're basically too nice to say no, and the men don't have anything like the same set of consequences to face, so should definitely not be the arbiters.

subscribing to this belief is great, and acts as an affirmation that we will work this out eventually to the satisfaction of all, but using legislation to regulate morality can be taken far too far, far too soon.

it's the loons this attitude aligns one with is a pretty big clue... no offence...

it comes back to the nigh-insurmountable challenge of guaranteeing that child a future good enough that the mother would willingly make that choice, over her own maternal instincts to keep the child, or abort it to save it from a horrible life. at which point such legislation wouldn't be necessary...

i really see a fork in the road between humility and arrogance here, and i've puzzled long and hard about it, because if one could square that political circle, one could create a huge, good-hearted voting block, that is presently blindly clinging to the right, and would probably, without that fly in the jam, swell the ranks of the left considerably, thereby upping the chances of creating the very type of society that might, one day, see fit to accord the Great Miracle more respect, by not men legislating putting women in such a 'sophie's choice', especially when most of said men subscribe to wars at whim, and show no sign at all of legislating much to protect the rights of children already born.

that's the soulsucking cognitive dissonance at the kernel of this argument, imo.

if one is so moved by the rights of a foetus, let one go take care of all the hungry, roofless, abused children already members of the born, and by the time we sort that out, the new Golden Age will have snuck right up on us!

it sucks, i know... it's one of those 'lesser evil' deals, methinks...

all this worrying about CAPITAL, when the real waste is in every undernourished child, and each clueless, undereducated pregnant mother-to-be cramming junk food and alcohol into her benighted bloodstream needs a bailout... imagine what it would do for the future generations if those fabled billions used to flush the toxic debt down the crapper were invested in prenatal education and care, it'd the no-brainer BEST investment we could ever make in the future happiness of mankind.

sometimes it seems anti-abortion activists miss the forest for the trees, and even remind me of those hindus who walk slowly with a soft broom, sweeping the dust in front of them in case they step on some innocent life form...

noble, but disproportionate.

abortion is a terrible thing and should be limited to an absolute minimum, and especially kept away from the coathanger, back alley brigade, whose black market always immediately fills the vacuum created by such short-sighted legislation.

christ, people are people, and they have so much to learn, making legal criminals moralistically just rubs salt into an already painful wound.

believing in reincarnation helps me here, every child of god will have as many chances as it needs to come learn the lessons of living here, in the fullness of time... that's what eternity means, i submit...

thanks for an interesting discussion, lily. this is a very important issue, how to reconcile spiritual conscience with political consciousness, in fact i don't think it gets any more important...

plus anything that gets colman to gift us with one of those witty one-liners this kind of diary tends to evince from him, well they're priceless, the one in this thread about being afflicted with faith...LOL

there truly is something divine about this type of humour, i sometimes think it must be god's favourite, since i think (s)he likes a good laugh at hir own expense, that's one bank that'll never fail!

you go colman! you might be even funnier than even you think!

:)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 03:18:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IMO many religions (especially the four big ones) base on cultural, moral values rather than religious truth, a way of living your life, more than the faith in this or that saint or miracle.
And then they all share a faith in the very existence of a god - which we cannot call either way, practically or philosophically. This is where I wouldn't go too far in looking for an objective truth.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 02:43:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Buddhism and Hinduism are mostly about how to live ones life, about values - and not focused on one God = Truth. Islam and Christianity however... - both claim The Truth for themselves.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 03:21:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Islam and Christianity however... - both claim The Truth for themselves.

Well, they're pretty much the same religion, so that's not very surprising.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 03:22:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Buddhism and Hinduism are mostly about how to live ones life, about values - and not focused on one God = Truth.

Doesn't that really depend which thread of either religion you're talking about?

There seems to be a much wider range of beliefs within "Buddhism", ranging from folk religion focused on saints and gods to the far end of Zen-type stuff that barely seems like a religion at all, than in all the various bits of the Abrahamic faith. Hinduism is something I know less about, but there seems to be a pretty wide range of belief there as well.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 03:28:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The key differences also seem to be in the Authority structures within the major religions. All have key texts and mythical or real foundation figures.  But Buddhism - apart from the Dalai Lama in the Tibetan tradition doesn't seem to have any ongoing Authority figures other than the abbots of various Monasteries.  

Hindusim seems to have so many Gods you seem to be able to choose your own and do your own thing.  It is as much a cultural as a religious identity.

Judaism has the Prophets and a wide variety of ancient and more modern scriptures, but there are many different traditions of interpretation and Authority and thus for what constitutes a faithful life.

Islam has Mohammad, but after that you have various streams - Sunni, Shia, Sufi etc. - and various National Heads in some streams - Ayatollahs etc., but little in the way of centralised authority or universally accepted interpretation of scripture. Conversion has usually been by conquest or inter-marriage and there is very little concept of ongoing theological development.

Christianity seems to be a lot more historical than the others, with the claim that God became a Man and an actor in history and subsequently with the development of an organised authority structure (often both spiritual and secular) and a developmental process for theology as various controversies were adjudicated upon at various synods.  At one point the founding documents almost lost all relevance and were known only to a few scholars.  Theology/church policies became an adaptive process to the political/social realities facing the authorities of the day.

In reaction to this the Reformation sought to re-establish the primacy of the founding texts - and,in its more extreme forms - challenged almost all forms of religious hierarchy and authority.  There is a case to be made that this later inspired the adoption of democracy, universal suffrage, the abolition of slavery, and ultimately the development of the concept of human rights although almost all were fought tooth and nail by the Church establishments who, rightly, saw them as a threat to their authority.  

The flip side of this is that an insistence on the primacy of a "literal" modern day interpretation of ancient scripture seems to rule out any ongoing development/change in the understanding of Christianity, although strangely, this has not prevented fundamentalists from accepting widespread divorce, moving from antisemitism to rabid pro-Zionism, developing a militant homophobia, and creating new literalist doctrines of creationism and intelligent design to try an explain/obscure the yawning gap between Science and Fundamentalist Christianity.

This splintering of Authority has undermined the credibility of the whole tradition - how can you claim to be the one true religion when the Church down the road has a distinctly different take on things?  Thus we now see the ending of temporal authority within Christianity as well - but not the sense that Christianity is part of a historical process - whereas Buddhism often seems almost indifferent to what happens in this life.  There is always the next.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:34:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for filling in all the interesting details about history of religion and philosophy!

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 06:09:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure. There are many streams within the big religions. ... Buddhism (and Hinduism for some) is considered as complimentary by many Christians (including Catholics) whereas Judaism, Christianity and Islam are competing...
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 05:59:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"What is the Truth ?..." :)  

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 06:05:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have always thought that Pontius Pilate was never accorded due recognition as a philosopher.  After washing his hands of the affair of Jesus, he is reported to have asked: "Quid es veritum?" or "What is Truth?"

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 02:12:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...this has become a part of the holy book for ever.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 03:25:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lilly
Buddhism and Hinduism are mostly about how to live ones life, about values - and not focused on one God = Truth.
This is a very partial view and is no more true for Buddhism and Hinduism than it is for Catholicism or many other denominations of Christianity.  Some distinctions and some comparative religion are in order.  The views and opinions are my own.  As for beliefs, I was once asked if I believed in anything.  I responded that belief was an electro-chemical phenomena occurring in the brain, so I could accurately say that I believed in myself, but didn't understand what it meant to "believe in" any thing else.

I think that there is a very useful distinction to be made between believers and mystics.  Mystics are those who have, have had or claim to have had direct, personal experience of the Divine or of God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit, of the Virgin Mary, a Saint, or of the equivalents in other traditions or simply of the inner Self.  From what you have written above, I would call you a mystic.  It is a compliment from my point of view.

Paul said that faith is the evidence of things unseen.  This is a very confusing statement to those who have not had a mystical experience, speaking from personal experience.  Those who have had mystical experiences may be able to relate, as many, if not most mystical experiences are non visual, with the exception of some dreams, and hence are "unseen."  It would have been clearer to have said that faith derives from personal mystical experience, the Gift of The Holy Ghost, in Christian Terminology. But it would have been a lot less useful to an organized religion.

But, as the Upanishads say, it is not given for all to hear of the Self.  Perhaps this is not given even to the majority of the faithful!  Yet these benighted individuals may well still want to be members in good standing of their congregation.  So, in the Protestant Christan tradition, they profess to believe in Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior, hoping that saying it will make it true.  These are the ones to whom I propose that we refer as believers.  Absent direct personal experience and the inner guidance deriving therefrom, they can always fall back on the literal word of the Bible or upon observance of ritual and upon correct behavior.

The Catholic Church has, at least since the Council of Nicea, been very wary of mystics.  The Emperor Constantine offered the Christians the opportunity to become a recognized religion within the Roman Empire, but he wanted them to iron out differences and come up with a common set of beliefs for the entire Empire.  Jesus said: "render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasars."  For the Church Fathers this was an offer they couldn't refuse.  

A lot of early Christian traditions were suppressed along with a number of gospels.  Mystics lost big time.  They are impossible to control.  Can't have dogma changing every time some mystic has a new revelation. The theology was standardized and the dogma was adopted.  Christianity was packaged for mass consumption by the standards of the day. There were a lot of religions extant at the time and many of them made fantastic promises.  I suspect that the Church Fathers got caught up in a "promise race."  Do as we tell you and believe as we instruct you and we will grant you Life Eternal in the World to Come.  Much of this is a long way from anything Jesus could reasonably be believed to have said.  Surely Procrustes was the patron saint of the Council of Nicea!

Similar dynamics occurred in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions.  As interpreted by gurus sent to the west by, for instance, the Vedanta Society, the Vedic traditions are a sublime path of self discovery leading to an awareness of your inner Self, or Atman, and union, (yoga,) through meditation and study with the Divine, or Brahma.  They see a spark of the divine in all living beings--all of whom are united in some way with the Universal Self--a Being with billions of eyes peering out at the universe.  Hence all life is sacred. Those with great souls, (maha or great + atman or soul = Mahatma or great souled person, such as Ghandi), could unite with their own inner self and through that with all life and all creation.

On the level of the common believer there has always been a variety of Gods.  The sages see these as aspects of divinity.  Their godhead is also a trinity.  Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver and Shiva, the Destroyer, but they were different aspects of the same divinity.  Popular religion came to focus on specific Gods, such as Ganesha, Lakshmi, Agni, demons and human incarnations of divinity or atvars.  This is functionally analogous to the Christain Trinity, the Saints, and Jesus as an avatar.

The Buddha emphasized the personal quest for enlightenment, which could be found in union with the divine.  In at least one tradition he was an athiest, come to free men's minds from demons which had possessed them by binding the demons, best accomplished by increased understanding and insight, sort of like psychoanalysis.  The Buddha was an athiest to a polytheistic religious society.  He struggled to teach his followers, through study and meditation, to see through the anthropomorphic projections that men made onto gods.  This is the same struggle that was expressed through Moses in the Commandment to make no graven images of God.  Islam takes this much more seriously than does Christianity.

For those who are more knowledgeable about any of the religious traditions I have discussed, this is the best I can do in the available time.  I consider myself something of a mystic but ever far from enlightenment.  

 

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 01:35:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]

They see a spark of the divine in all living beings--all of whom are united in some way with the Universal Self--a Being with billions of eyes peering out at the universe.  Hence all life is sacred.

This perfectly fits Christianism too.


could unite with their own inner self and through that with all life and all creation.

Isn't this said much like that somewhere in the bible too?
Amazing. There was a book making a comparative history of religions, by one Mircea Eliade, if I'm not mistaken. I think I'll look it up again.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 03:14:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find your explanations very intriguing, and interesting.
And, thank you for calling me a mystic. I take it as a compliment; I guess it's a good excuse for my avoiding quote boxes and other formatting tools...

"belief was an electro-chemical phenomena occurring in the brain" - You must be more than a mystic...  

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 05:32:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
avoiding quote boxes and other formatting tools...

If you use Firefox (rather than internet explorer) and install the tribex extension click here - see new user guide - then quote boxes and embedded links to the stuff you are quoting is just a right mouse click away.  

It takes time to get used to embedding links, videos and the like - pity we don't have a slightly more user friendly interface, but the techies are working on it.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 07:45:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you use Firefox (rather than internet explorer) and install the tribex extension click here - see new user guide - then quote boxes and embedded links to the stuff you are quoting is just a right mouse click away.

Heh, look at that pretty quote box! ;) I'll try to figure it all out the hard way with Internet Explorer. If it gets too annoying, I'll switch to Firefox. - Thanks for pointing it out.

(You should put the hint into the New User guide! Is it already there?)  

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 05:23:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"This is the same struggle that was expressed through Moses in the Commandment to make no graven images of God.  Islam takes this much more seriously than does Christianity."

How do YOU think about this? (as a mystic)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 05:35:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
>How do YOU think about this?

I believe that the theistic deities in the popular conceptions of almost all religions, to the extent they are anthropomorphic in nature, are Gods created in man's image by man.  I am an atheist in that I do not believe in theistic deities.  From my experiences I believe that there is some way to directly perceive the nature of reality, to perceive aspects of our own beings and, at times, to perceive things occurring with others with whom we have a connection despite the barriers of space and time.  For me this has sometimes occurred in vivid and numinous dreams and I have found the content of these dreams to be profoundly integrative.

But mind is an electro-chemical phenomena that occurs within the brain.  Perhaps it has a sub-section that, crudely put can function like a transceiver via some aspect of reality which we do not yet understand.  But our minds develop from conception to death in a social context.  Basic aspects are laid down before we can even speak, one of the most basic being the nutritive relation of dependency between child and parents.  I believe that this basic brain pattern and subsequent, more elaborate brain patterns based on family structure and social structure are used by people as the filter through which they perceive information from the depths of their being.  This is especially true when they are taught from an early age that this is how they should understand God.

But my father was an agnostic.  His mother was the daughter of a Free Will Baptist Preacher and farmer who had homesteaded a plot of land in the Boston Mountains of Arkansas after the Civil War.  His father had been orphaned at the age of 10 in 1860, on the eve of the civil war, in the boot heel of Missouri and grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas.  I strongly suspect he was ill used and abused as a child.  My father was a strong willed individual and came to see the frequent physical discipline he received from his father, for such things as using words he heard his father and other adults use, etc. as sadism justified by passages from the Bible.  In short, he had his butt beat too many times in the name of God and Jesus and came to see religion as a justification for anything those in control wanted to do.  As he put it, he went to church until he was too big for them to make him go. (His father was 40 years old when he took my 18 year old grandmother as his second wife and was 60 years old when my father was born.)

My mother was the next to youngest child of a well to do businessman and merchant in north central Oklahoma, a "Sooner" who had been in the Indian Territories since at least 1892.  As a young man, my maternal grandfather  had participated in cattle drives from the Rio Grande to the rail head at Wichita, Kansas with Charlie Goodnight.  He paid the salary of the minister at the First Christian Church in Wann Oklahoma until 1929 and my mother grew up in that church.  The moral and ethical teaching of Christianity were more important to her than the dogma, so when she was being courted by my father in the late 30s she could accept his agnosticism.  The result was that religion was not pushed onto me at an early age.

My parents were married in January, 1942 and I was born in December.  My father was drafted into the army at age 32.  They had a saying in the army: "The bader you are, the further you go."  He ended the war in Kunming or Kunching China, having traveled in the first convoy over the Lido Road.  He arrived home weighing 140 lbs, about 50 lbs lighter than his basketball playing or fighting weight when he left for the army. I was almost three years old when he returned and had been raised almost entirely by women. Things did not go well and I had a troubled relation with my father until he died at age 45 in an auto accident.

From the third grade on I read constantly.  My father prized intellect and was at least pleased that I was smart, if not athletic.  My mother sent me to Sunday School from about age 8.  My father didn't object.  When I was nine I was reading Genesis and asked my father where Adam and Eve's wives came from.  He said: "They don't say much about that, do they?"  So I might be going to Sunday School and Church every Sunday, but I had permission to be critical, and knew that not every one believed the same way.  

I became a major challenge for the Minister's wife, who was often the Sunday School teacher for what ever class I was in.  Damage control, I suspect.  But the Minister and his wife were in Divinity School and gave me a good grounding in the Bible and in Church History, for which I remain grateful.  I absorbed the moral and ethical teachings of Jesus, but never really bought the theology.  I scandalized the minister's wife by telling her that, while there may be a Heaven, I couldn't believe there was a Hell.

As I became a teen, the Sunday School Story became more and more unbelievable.  When, at the urging of my mother, in the year after my father's death, I joined the Church and was baptized, I felt very bizarre confessing my faith in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.  I wasn't at all convinced of this.  I did it for my mother, but it has always been a thorn in my side.  I did not have any experience like those described in the Bible and I wasn't going to just accept that it was because I was a bad person.  When our minister got his Doctor of Divinity and went to a much larger church in Tulsa, he was replaced by a more fundamentalist preacher.  I stopped going to church.

When I was about 25 and living in L.A. I came into contact with some people who were into Vedanta.  From them I got a recommendation to read The Autobiography of a Yoga by Yogananda.  It was a revelation.  Yogananda lucidly described the teachings of Jesus as being about human consciousness.  With his explanation, much of what I had been taught now made sense. From that point of view, the fundamental teaching had been valid, and Jesus could affect men's lives, but the message had been mangled by the institutionalization of Christianity.  I think you would also find Yogananda interesting.  Hope this answers your question. :-)

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 11:45:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for your ample reply, for sharing your story with me, us.

I understand that "graven images of God" are meaningless to you - since you describe yourself as an atheist.
I also believe that images of God are deceiving, lead away from the truth, not towards it.  

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 05:13:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand that "graven images of God" are meaningless to you...
I would not say that the Mosaic prohibition against graven images was meaningless at all.  It was a way to embody in everyday practice the necessity for abstraction away from the normal and automatic way for people to conceive of divinity.  The ineffability of the name of God in the Pentateuch is another.  It was intended to ward people away from the the theism trap, which is precisely that, i.e. conceiving of God as a heavenly father with characteristics remarkably like those of a semitic paterfamilius circa 1000 B.C.  Perhaps Moses was, in my sense, also an atheist.

The version of Christian theism commonly presented in Sunday School and taught in the home via Bible books for children presents an omniscient, omnibeneficent, omnipotent, immanent deity who knows the innermost thoughts of each of us.  Small children are taught to pray to God every night as well as to fear his wrath.  It is this conception of a personal God, combined with the assertion of the Bible as the literal truth and the infallible Word of God, combined with the actual contents of the Bible and the world as it is that I found unbelievable as a 9 year old child.

It is that formulation of theism that I reject and find monstrous.  Any plausible conception of divinity must be impersonal and non-anthropomorphic for me to find it worthy of consideration.  The fundamentalist view I find intellectually and ethically stultifying and largely responsible for the inability of the polity in the USA to function on a more effective level.  We have a form of government that has come to be a representative democracy, but it is constituted of a citizenry of which more than half have a theistic world view which sees the world in monarchical, hierarchical  absolute terms.  These views do not match our type of  government.  Going back to a form of government which fits the structure of the views doesn't seem likely to help.  Our choice remains either to limp along as best we can as we are doing or to try to encourage more functional views of the nature of religion.  This is our greatest challenge.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 11:02:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
pray to God every night as well as to fear his wrath.  It is this conception of a personal God, combined with the assertion of the Bible as the literal truth and the infallible Word of God, combined with the actual contents of the Bible and the world as it is that I found unbelievable as a 9 year old child.

It is that formulation of theism that I reject and find monstrous.

What comes to mind is neither a theological nor a spiritual, rather the psychological reply of looking for explanations in our respective childhoods, since I could believe the above without any effort. My father was very present and caring, and to know of this God-father was most comforting to me. I believe that I rejected the idea of having to fear his wrath.  

The fundamentalist view I find intellectually and ethically stultifying and largely responsible for the inability of the polity in the USA to function on a more effective level.

Yes but it is not really the idea of a powerful God-father but the patronizing and the arrogance that some Christians have falsely deducted from it.
Radical views are not at fault; I rather see the problem in a dramatic and damaging perversion of Christian values that is due to the institutionalised power of 'Christians'. I fully agree with you on that. It is what happens when form wins over content, arrogance and pride over humbleness.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 03:06:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - THE LEFT, THE RIGHT, THEISM AND THE POLITICAL DEBATE (Ideology alive)
This is my ideology. It comes closest to not being an ideology but objective truth

I must say I find this a rather remarkable assertion.

If I understand you correctly you are asserting the all-but-absolute correctness of your world view on the basis of your spirituality - which is perhaps the most subjective human perception imaginable.

I have no wish denigrate your spirituality, or anyone else's; we each of us find meaning where we may. But by declaring your own (and by implication the values that derive therefrom) to be as close to objective truth as is possible for a human to attain, you are in effect denying the validity of my spirituality (or in my personal case, the right to deny my personal spirituality where it conflicts with rationality).

It would seem to me that your elevation or your spirituality to objective truth implicitly invalidates the views and opinions of all those who don't share that spirituality.

And that doesn't leave much room for discourse.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 05:37:47 AM EST
;)

Despite this assertion, I sincerely respect anyone who comes to different conclusions and finds a different truth.

I am not the Truth, I am not God. When we stand on the Moon and find ourselves on a side of the moon so that we'll have an unobstructed view of Planet Earth, we might see Australia and New Zealand very clearly. We may proclaim: We have seen Planet Earth. This is The Truth.

But there may be another person, standing on the other side of the Moon, marvelling at all the stars around, or someone might have seen Planet Earth, clearly identifying the shape of a boot. ... None will be "wrong" or "better" than the other.

I don't deny anyone the right to not see or to see differently, but since I have seen, I'm confident that I've seen some of that Truth, not all of it, and it doesn't entitle me to anything and it doesn't invalidate anything anybody else sees or doesn't see.

I was speaking of "objective truth" - which will never be proven or disproven in its objectivity in this life, and it's always just one aspect of it, too... I tried to express both my subjective conviction and also my own humbleness in view of the fact that I'm talking about personal faith, not scientific fact.

Maybe you are standing on the other side of the Moon (no judgement implied!!). If I then talk about what I have seen and you insist that you don't share that view, well, then I could come over to your side and agree that there is nothing, or I could invite you over to my side and show you... - And if we do nothing, the stars and the Moon and the Earth may also work together and offer a different outlook to both of us. You might say: Ah, it's there! - And I might say: I had been so sure it was there; now, where has it gone?

No two pairs of eyes will ever see the same, even when they look at the exact same thing in the exact same moment. ...

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 06:49:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess I have a problem with your use of the word "objective", as it runs counter the generally accepted meaning:

WordNet Search - 3.0

S: (adj) objective, nonsubjective (undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomena) "an objective appraisal"; "objective evidence"

To describe an "objective truth" as one "which will never be proven or disproven" is thus a contradiction.

Again, it is not my intention to judge or even comment upon your spirituality, which is your subjective truth. But qualifying it as "objective" carries an implication which I am not sure you intend, namely that your subjective spiritual truth is valid for all of us.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 09:21:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for challenging me.

"objective... based on observable phenomena" - Well, yes, I do believe that there will be observable phenomena delivering evidence to the truth that I'm convinced of (though probably not in this life). If it wasn't that way, I wouldn't be convinced but in doubt.

I believe that we have been conditioned to fear anything that others will call absolute. When it is absolute, it must be valid for everyone - and it will eventually entitle others to impose it on everyone else, too, or everyone else will sense that if objective and absolute truth is somewhere out there, it is where everyone MUST inevitably go. Well, no.

I don't OWN the truth. If it's intriguing to you that I'm bold enough to speak not only of my but the truth and you vaguely sense that there might be something of interest in there, it is up to you to be curious about it or bothered with it or to ignore it altogether.
No one will ever be judged according to what I have found to be true.

The reason I have written this diary has been for one that I needed to get it out of my system and put it down in writing. I also wanted my views to be challenged, and introduce myself because I'm more at home in spiritual matters than in the right-left-paradigm which will inevitably occasionally shine through in my comments.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 10:31:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome to ET Lily, and thanks for such a reflective and and bravely personal diary.  Many people would shrink from being so personal on a public forum, and it implies a lot of trust in, and respect for, the level of debate here that you felt free and empowered to do so.

You will find many here who will disagree vehemently with you that there is anything of much value to be found in religion.  They will point to the often horrendous history of religious wars and persecutions as justification for this view, and some may also have experienced a form of religious persecution, indoctrination or manipulation in their own lives.  For them religion is, at best, a relic from a much darker pre-scientific age to be replaced by a more enlightened, humanistic, scientific rationality.

Others will be very open to discussion of the spiritual or the numinous, without necessarily ever having found an institutional or ideological home for such a view.  They reject the exclusive rationalism of much scientific inquiry, and point to the limits of science itself in formulating a comprehensible or meaningful explanation for all human experience. (Religious people often also like to remark that those who reject traditional religion often end up believing in all sorts of pantheistic, "alternative", or even occult beliefs which have even less grounding in tradition, science or popular religious experience).

But the largest group of people are probably those who who are more or less indifferent religion per se but who object to what they see as its baleful influence on political discourse.  They promote a secular  democratic society with the classic liberal separation of Church and State because many Churches have themselves not embraced the values of democracy, equality and respect for human rights.  Whilst prepared to concede the right to religious freedom in the private sphere, they reject the claim to superior legitimacy that the religious often claim in the public sphere.

This is a sad reflection on Christianity itself.  For all the positive elements of Liberation and Black theology in the promotion of freedom, equality, and democracy, they are far too overshadowed by the authoritarianism and dogmatic absolutism of the religious right.  There is a thin line between those who oppose (say) abortion on religious grounds, and those who go on to oppose publicly funded abortions, or even want those who work in the area subjected to criminal sanction.

To an extent this is a battle not between Left and Right, but between two mutually exclusive paradigms or world views based on Theistic and Scientific narratives both of which fray a little at the edges which provide a number of niche habitats for assorted pragmatists, moderates and liberals who see no necessary opposition between the two.  I have previously argued here that there are valid historical and experiential reasons why both can be seen as perfectly reasonable attempts to make sense of the realities we all experience.  

In purely sociological terms there has never been a society which had absolutely no beliefs in some sort of supernatural, magic, or transcendent reality, so there appears to be some sort of anthropological imperative to frame belief systems that create a sense of shared meaning and community by reference to a greater Reality.  Whether this is simply a case of a diminishing God filling the gaps still left unexplained by science is of course open to argument.  An alternative view is simply that Science is one of the tools that God gives people to understand Him and His Reality better.   If so God is subverting the pre-scientific institutions which grew up to codify that understanding in times past.

If science leads to a nuclear Armageddon the argument as to whether it was Religion or Science which ultimately proved more harmful to the human race may yet become moot.  Genghis Khan, Stalin and Hitler proved that religion doesn't have a monopoly on creating human suffering, and who is to say that history wouldn't have been even more bloody without it?

I am one of those annoying people who refuses to pin his colours to any mast and am open to new ideas and experiences whilst being profoundly sceptical of all attempts to enlighten or save me by reference to any ideology or religion.  I admire those who are also open to the search for new insights on life's journey.  I hope you enjoy your time on ET.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 10:35:31 AM EST
Hi Frank, thank you. It hasn't been difficult to be so personal on this forum. I am touched by the fact that there are always people here who will read such lengthy pieces of thought, treat them with respect - and produce the same. Disagreement and indifference are reactions that I expected to find.

You speak of many churches' baleful influence on political discourse. This is also a point I tried to make: Let's look at Christianity as a fact of history and at how reincarnation seen as heresy provided unlimited power to the Church over people. Today many people feel like melo and experience God in nature and that there is much more that we share with others than what divides us.

To rediscover reincarnation and what its loss has done to the course of history is fascinating and sheds a new light on the past and Christianity, particularly with regards to its end time prophecy. I'll leave it at that.

Again, it is not annoying when others don't share my views, as I don't share everybody else's views, either.

I think, however, that frankly it would be really progressive if people of all sorts of backgrounds would at some point be able to leave bitter feelings behind and stop blaming God for evil done by men or the Church in the name of God.

I agree with you that religion and science are complimentary - which is also something very fascinating to explore.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 01:56:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't worry, atheists don't blame "God" for anything. That would be very, very silly.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 03:31:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL. Yeah, that would be very silly, indeed - or a revelation? ;)

I didn't know that all progressive people were atheists - since I had only referred to them.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:04:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 "if people of all sorts of backgrounds"?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:09:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
= atheists and half-believers, "strugglers", ...

I'm knew here but assume that there is more than one kind of a progressive - is there?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:15:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
not knew but NEW ;)
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:15:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know any. There's loads who claim to be progressive but none who can agree what progressive actually means.  It's sort of a compromise between a US Liberal, a European Socialist, a commutarian anarchist (I made that one up) and various "alternative types" who define themselves in contradistinction to the dominant narrative.  (And BTW, no one will agree with the above definition either).

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:26:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which one do claim to have made up? Social anarchism (aka communtarian anarchism), Collectivist anarchism (also known as anarcho-collectivism or communtarian anarchism) or perhaps Libertarian socialism (which is the term wikipedia redirects a search for communtarian anarchism to)?

Ah, now i see you are talking about commutarian anarchist, not communtarian anarchist. Ah well, that is a whole other cup of tea.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 06:16:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It sounded about right and I was too lazy to look it up or even spell check it.  You seem to be giving it some post hoc rationalization!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 06:56:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That your stab in the dark hit at least three (different?) ideologies was an excellent illustration of the diversity of ideologies. To excellent to pass...

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 07:23:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
er, are we meaning 'complementary', rather than compl_i_mentary?

Frank Schnittger:

It's sort of a compromise between a US Liberal, a European Socialist, a commutarian anarchist (I made that one up) and various "alternative types"

sonds like clean green fucking hyppies to this maroon!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 03:50:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oups! You are right, I hadn't been talking about "progressives" but "progressive people" (playing with words and forgot about it...). - Sorry. I had meant to aim "progressives" - and also really anyone who will point to men to justify the non-existence of God.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:22:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An alternative view is simply that Science is one of the tools that God gives people to understand Him and His Reality better.  

Her Frank, Her!  Or "its"....or call the seat of all being The Tao or God, The Great Underpinning Rising Up!

For those who have seen Spongebob Squarepants The Movie, which I thoroughly recommend...

King Neptune: This crown does more than cover a slightly receding hairline. It entitles the wearer to rule the sea. One day, you will wear this crown.
Mindy: I'm going to be bald?
King Neptune: Thinning!

Hers!

Heh....great film.

Lily, a while back a friend said to me, "What Islam gave is a rule book."

And he also said, "What we need is a new rule book."

I like this idea: a new rule book.

"I will not kill"

might be at the start, and all who subscribed would do no worse than shoot you in the knee, or maybe in the neck if paramedics were near.

The fact that we (the major powers) are happy to drop bombs proves that our leaders are capable of breaking that first rule.

I too have had a numinous experience, and it has coloured my life ever since.  Falling deep, or digging deep, or falling off an unexpected edge....if you find the air below bouyant....how can you explain that experience to the person left on the edge, the person that hasn't fallen?  And what of those who fall and find no support?

Ah! The charlatans rub their hands.

For all of us, once again, I offer:

(Hope you can see youtubes!)

Joseph W. Kittinger parachutes from 102,800 feet

Give it 25 seconds....as he leaps.



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 08:31:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rg:

Lily, a while back a friend said to me, "What Islam gave is a rule book."

And he also said, "What we need is a new rule book."

I like this idea: a new rule book.

"I will not kill"

might be at the start, and all who subscribed would do no worse than shoot you in the knee, or maybe in the neck if paramedics were near.

It did indeed, but these were Rules from the seventh century, in the context of a harsh desert existence, albeit in accordance with the same values which underpin all religions. I don't think that "Seventh Century Desert Islam" can be the answer to 21st Century global problems, although the eternal values that underpin 7th century Islam remain the same in the 21st century

As an aside, I recently spent an hour in Qom, Iran, talking to the Iranian cleric who is their top authority on matters financial. We discussed -in the context of Islamic finance -the partnership-based solutions I have been developing and he was of the view that the Islamic soundness or "Sharia'h compliance" of these solutions is self evident.

The implication is that there is no need for the scholarly Sharia'h sophistry (the purchase of "indulgences" updated) necessary to put lipstick on the pig of conventional finance.

The cleric also invited me to his home for a meal and further discussion, but we had to be on our way to Esfahan. My colleague and translator told me on the way that the cleric felt he had a "convert" in me: to which my response was to ask how he knew I was not converted already, the question being to what form of Islam?

But I digress.

For me, an approach to life must be based upon such Values, not some rules or codes written in, and appropriate, for a snapshot in time.

My source of inspiration has not been the Bible, the Koran, (although I have found some inspiration there) or writings related to Buddhism etc which I find, no matter what, to be on a level of abstraction which is beyond me. My inspiration has been the writings of Robert Pirsig, and his Metaphysics of Quality, plus other fragments and discussion I have picked up along the way.

I have come to the view that I do believe in God, but not a God. To me, God is the One: all there is; our primary Reality. Not something distinct from me, but what I am in, and what is in me, or indeed is whatever I am.

There are many aspects to this One: Quality; Value; Truth; Beauty; God. None of these are Absolutes - they are all relative: as J A Wheeler said; "Reality is defined by the questions you put to it".

I had what I might call a moment of "acceptance" perhaps 8 years ago: also the moment of crisis and collapse of my life at the time. Since then, I have been rebuilding my life and building a new world view and self view from the ground up - a process I did not even realise I was engaged in until Pirsig's books gave me the tools to do so.

I worship no God: but I try to live my life according to a couple of very simple principles.

Firstly: I try not to do to others what I wouldn't want them to do to me - as a rabbi is quoted as saying in relation to the Commandments, if you follow that principle, "....all else is commentary".

But it is not enough not to do something. I believe I am here for a purpose, although I am not sure what that is. Perhaps it is this - from the book "Secret Pilgrim" - where George Smiley looks back on a life in Cold War espionage:

The purpose of my life was to end the time I lived in

Whatever my purpose, my second principle - possibly my form of prayer - is simply the pursuit of Excellence; of the Optimal solution; the "right" way; which is invariably the simple and "beautiful" way if you ever find it.

And my motivation?

To quote Naoto Fukasawa

My motivation is to find the simple answer that everybody knows but which doesn't yet exist

To some, I guess that Naoto's "answer" is what they call God: but maybe they are responding to a different question to mine.....

Thanks, Lily, for reopening a discussion in a way that appears to have headed off the guerilla warfare that has accompanied previous attempts on ET to address these issues.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 05:55:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Chris for defining exactly  my position also ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 06:14:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For me, an approach to life must be based upon such Values, not some rules or codes written in, and appropriate, for a snapshot in time.

In this world of religions, with the mass of people--of which I am part--labouring under social systems designed and run by elites (of which I am very much not a part--my pay slip is my proof!), I did wonder a while back if we couldn't all have a go at writing a small list of "Rules for the 21st Century", which could be revised as soon as necessary, but a list of rules that would not be measured by courts--but only by one's deeds, so for example:

One human can not earn, in a day, more than 100 times what the poorest human in their [family/tribe/country/region/solar system] earns in one day.

The only test of that rule would be to see in any specific group if there was a more than 100x economic imbalance.

I wonder if 6x wouldn't be better--if half the world lives on a dollar a day (weighted against the price of a standard item such as bread, so we could use a comparable figure elsewhere)--that would make the max you could make in a day either $100 (or equivalent) or $6...

We'd have to divest ourselves of the rest somehow, and maybe the half of the world earning just that one dollar might thank us for it--it would be so much cash, we could probably afford to plumb the planet properly and build proper renewable energy structures, proper transport structures....ah ah....fantasies....

Another rule might be: "I will not harm you if you do not attack me." which GWB and Tony Blair failed--but at an individual level it is what keeps the streets safe--I won't attack you if you don't attack me is a gesture of friendliness but not a sign of weakness...

So I am tempted by a rule book, only it wouldn't be religious, it would have nothing to say about where we've come from, why we're here, and where if anywhere we're going...

....just a short set of rules for people to abide by, I used to think 12 would do it, then I thought 20...I dunno!

But something that can set a code of behaviour independent of one's spiritual affiliation, something Colman and Lily and Fran and you and I could all follow without impacting in any way on our ideas/sensations/thoughts/fantasies about Out There &/or In Here.

Another rule I would have would be about the hoarding of wealth, that you can only personally own (100? 6?) times what the poorest person (in your family/tribe/region/solar system) owns on any particular day.

So it would be clear that the Super Rich by definition do not follow the rules...unless and until M or Mme Richperson has divested him or herself of his or her acquisitions to such a point that they come under the imbalance level....

I mean, if a person has excess property, he or she could simply rent out the property while not there, send the money to a local charity--issa not complicated!

And if it is, pay people lots of money to work out how to do it--of course, paying all those people is a start!

I can see a simple set of rules creating solidarity between various collectivities.  But of course I'd probably find that if we wrote a decent rule book that encompassed ALL humans and not just the rich ones (I am very rich, considering the global situation), then I'd maybe have to start reconfiguring parts of my life as information came to me....

which sounds okay!

Sorta sounds like what you are saying...you show me the most efficient course to general enlightenment so I can get there more quickly.

Buckminster Fuller said--I paraphrase because I can't find the quote:

"People use a bridge because it's there and it works, not because they like the architect."

Well, maybe that's a misquote.  But hey, I just discovered he also said this, which Chris, you might like:

God is a verb, not a noun proper or improper.

And he also said or wrote:

We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.

Argh ach!  But yes, we are one and each consciousness is a centre of gravity sucking in its surroundings....heavy ego, lightening enlightenement....no attachment means freedom of movement....I rambleth--so unlike me!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 07:09:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great comments frank! god may be obsolete or even dead, but the concept itself, like light from a faded star, calls forth statements that come from deeper inside than most other subjects of discussion, hinting once more that what we think we know is dwarfed by what we're sure we don't.

Frank Schnittger:

If so God is subverting the pre-scientific institutions which grew up to codify that understanding in times past.

heh, yes because our concepts of god are notional, (as opposed to knowtional!)

as we evolve, so does our capacity to embrace a wider, more colourful notion.

i find meditating on the concept of eternity to be curiously refreshing.

equally, the contemplation of infinity...

a pure source of energy which often appears to recede upon approach, but from which issues the pure water of joy and peace to nourish those on the timeless quest.

there's such a beautiful sustainability in that, as cosmic propositions go...

as for buddhists and their indifference, i guess it's culturally relative, i don't find their unattachment a rejection of life, so much as a way to keep their mental drains clean of obstructions.

 birth and death are not easy transitions, and if we over-identify too much with this world, we will not slip its coils smoothly into the next...and the next...

 checking in, checking out... it can be lovely (or hellish) ride while it lasts, but it's not the only game in town, just the one 'undergoing the formality of occurring' right now.

2 centavos from the heart o' the night. 3.40am and still cogitating...time flies when you're having fun...  

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 09:41:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The argument about subjective and objective truth is to be found in Philosophy as well - Heidegger, Husserl, even Sartre?  The argument about religion's rightful place in the private faith and public political space is also a perennial within religious and political discourse.  But the argument that reincarnation is a fundamental part of Christianity only declared a heresy  at the Council of Constantinople (Pope Vigilius/ Emperor Justinian) in 553 A.D. is new to me.

At a trivial level this makes some kind of sense.  DNA is obviously passed from one generation to the next.  There is some evidence that the structure of what is passed on is influenced by environmental and learned factors as well.

Beyond the biological level we also speak of people's influence (for good or ill) being passed on by folk lore, writing, political and social movements, and traditions of all kinds.  A form of cultural DNA transmission if you like.

In that sense people don't die - much of what they were and became is passed on to future generations.  But the claim that the same individual, or consciousness is passed on from one lifetime/incarnation to another seems to me to be qualitatively different.

We can speak of this as having some very good functional value - teaching respect for all life forms, and for nature in general - something the "Christian" West could badly use more of.  The more fundamentalist Christian (and free market ideologues?) often seem to glory in the destruction of nature as if this would in some way hasten Armageddon and the Second Coming.

But would it not be better to understand the ancient doctrines of reincarnation/karma as early forms of understanding of the processes of biological and cultural DNA transmission mentioned above - rather than as a literalist understanding of the reincorporation of the same consciousness/DNA in a new body/life form?

I know it is difficult to accept our own mortality.  We are genetically encoded to seek to propagate our genes as a means of species/biological survival.  But do we really have to posit the incredible notion that the absolutely identical individual consciousnesses or soul is recreated in another form?  The laws of physics and statistical chance seem to be dead against it.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 05:07:45 PM EST
Frank Schnittger:
 But do we really have to posit the incredible notion that the absolutely identical individual consciousnesses or soul is recreated in another form?

no, not identical, just carrying forward the attributes and talents so they can keep maturing.

i find it equally or more incredible to suggest a system that gives us one shot at...whatever you want to call it!

you dress up as a cop one day, a tranny the next, you're going to feel different, though the real you is still under the drag.

infinite disguises again, keeps the plots thick and thickening...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 09:47:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since you asked, I shall answer in part ...

Thus judgement is an interindividual phenomenon. I do not need to judge: I see. I judge only for the other. Judgement is an indicative gesture to the other, both objective and subjective but for the othe (that is to say in-itself and for-itself). But I live reciprocally in the Mitsein and I see only to indicate to the other. Or rather, often I see  only by indicating. Thus man sees for the other, or sees the already seen. Thus is consolidated the new dimension of the In-itself that came out of the night revealed by an absolute subject, and whose unveiling in turn exists for another absolute-subject, and whos unveiling in turn exists for another absolute-subject that grasps it first as In-itself, the recovers it. This is what we call Truth. It is the In-itself as it has appeared to a for-itself when its appearance, as subjective, unveils itself to another for-itself as in-itself. And in turn, for me as absolute subject who was the first to unveil, my unveiling, which was purely lived, is given back to me as absolute-object by the other if first of all I give it to him. ....Thus the total truth is a concrete reality because it is the development of the manifestation across all human history and the manifestation is manifestation of everything. Yet the ideal of Truth is not the recovery of the entire object by subjectivity coonceived as totality.  ... The ideal of Truth is only that all of Being be illuminated and that it remain so. ... Thus, to say to say that I do not know originally, is to say that the truth is my possibility awaiting me and I am the being through whom the truth will come from within into the world. ...Thus ignorance does not derive from a denial of the world which supposedly is hiding its secrets from me. Quite the contrary, all of Being is present to me from the moment of my surging up, and the child's first encounter is not with abstract sensation but with the world. My ignorance derives from the fact that I can grasp what is present to me only by temporalizing myself in behaviors that aim at the future. Human-reality can receive nothing passively: it must always conquer, not by virtue of some curse but by virtue of its manner of being. It is because the child does nothing that it knows nothing and it learns insofar as it does. The unveiling of truth has stopped for certain societies or people because they perpetually move in the same circle of tradition.

~~ Truth and Existence

... as the commentator formerly-known-as-lasthorseman may be watching.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 02:57:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The more fundamentalist Christian (and free market ideologues?) often seem to glory in the destruction of nature as if this would in some way hasten Armageddon and the Second Coming."

- any fundamentalist Christian SHOULD know that this attitude a very sad misinterpretation of what the revelation of a Second Coming would mean. The moment is not known; every day should be like the first, not the last...

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 05:52:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ciao Lily,

Intriguing diary. It's hard to know where to begin.

That your beliefs (you call it ideology) do not fit into a left-right paradigm should not surprise anybody. A lot of harm has been done by people buying their opinions as a package solution. Why do you have to be opposed to nuclear power just because you are on the left? Why do you have to be in favour of strict drug laws just because you are on the right (and presumably in favour of individual freedom)? Maybe the most damaging example today is the denial of human-caused global warming, just because it's "left-wing". In terms of religion, there is an added paradox in that traditional christians are normally right wing, despite the fact that many of the teachings of Jesus are close to the socialist ideals.

You talk about ideology. Ideology has become a dirty word, associated with inflexible opinions held dogmatically no matter what the evidence shows. In that sense, it connects dogmatic religion with dogmatic political beliefs both on the right (the market is always right) and the left (dogmatic communism as practiced in the Soviet Union). The thing that unites them is the belief in a revealed truth, something that cannot be doubted.

On the other hand, we all (including atheists like myself) have a set of things that we believe to be right. Right as in moral imperatives. You could say that this is an ideology: do what is right! Is this what you mean by "faith"?

The trouble about moral ideologies (or faiths) is that even here you have to be ready to reconsider your ideas or your faith as new data come in. 100 years ago the conventional wisdom in Europe was that women were unsuited for higher education and therefore it was wrong to promote it. Now we know that it's not true and therefore it would be deeply unfair to deny girls access to university. In this light, how is your ideology?

You describe yourself as a theist and in other places as a christian. One of my main gripes with religious people is their unwillingness to change. The bible today is the same as 2000 years ago, only sometimes in a new translation. It combines bits of timeless moral wisdom with a lot of stuff that we nowadays know is just plain wrong (the earth is NOT 6000 years old, and was NOT created before the sun, just to take the first few chapters). I'm no fan of Microsoft, but at least they don't insist that the latest manual for Windows Vista should also include the entire manual for MS-DOS version 1.0. Yet, this is pretty much how the christian (and jewish and muslim) holy books look like. This may be faith, but the inability to say "no, sorry, we were wrong" is part of why both  religion and political ideologies impede progress.

So what is your view? Do you base your faith on the holy texts with their good and absurd bits, or on something purely internal?

Real capricorns don't believe in astrology.

by tomhuld (thomas punkt huld at jrc punkt it) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 07:15:35 PM EST
I'm going to send an UPDATE later and reply...
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 08:32:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tom,

I have tried to explain some more in my update below (I didn't manage to attach it to the main text.)

"you have to be ready to reconsider your ideas or your faith as new data come in." -
This sounds like a threat! :o
I listen to all incoming data though I prefer to reconsider ideas through spiritual experience rather than due to rationally argued fact.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 06:23:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean I support rationally argued fact!! But it belongs more to science and politics than to spirituality.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 06:33:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And a really difficult topic.

I believe that a central part of the Christian and Western tradition is the view that truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

Implicit in that view is that

(1) truth exists

(2) no one has privileged access to or a monopoly on truth

(3) no one has an absolute or complete grasp of truth

(4) truth emerges, is discovered, in a communal effort that involves cooperation, creativity and competition in society.

Thus, there is an inherent tension, even a paradox, that comes with Christian faith, and perhaps other religious faiths, which is:  How do I reconcile my subjective sense of absolute certainty in my personal faith and convictions with the principle that my understanding of this truth is only partial and imperfect?

I am not sure, but I think part of it is to never lose faith that even if one cannot square one's own faith, convictions, beliefs, suppositions and so on with reality, it does not mean that reality is completely meaningless, or that one's worldview has been utterly wrong, but simply that an adjustment has to be made.

Another part is to remember that as mammals, we are fundamentally social, communal beings, and language is at once a quintessentially human and quintessentially social/communal phenomenon.  So, we can help others, through language (and otherwise, but significantly through language), move closer to the truth, as they can help us in our own approach to truth.

I think Obama in an interview two years ago made a point that obliquely touches on this way of looking at things:

Barack Obama: ... Religious people are far more tolerant than I think the popular culture gives them credit for.

Conversely, "secularists" are far more interested in morality and ethics than the right wing would portray them.

Charlie Rose: Where you make this point in the book, that the things your mother taught you, when you started going to religious places --

Barack Obama: Sunday school stuff.  Honesty, kindness...

Charlie Rose: ... they would say all the things your mother had been teaching you as long as you were her son.

Barack Obama: Absolutely.  And so I felt completely comfortable taking those values and applying them to this form of religious worship.

But how this applies politically, I think, here's the opportunity:  It's not for suddenly Democrats to get out there and try to talk biblical all the time. You know, as I point out, people sense inauthenticity when it comes to religious practice.  If you're not really a believer, don't pretend to be a believer.  Speak in your own ethical terms.

Charlie Rose: And if you're a believer, don't be embarrassed.

Barack Obama: But if you're a believer, don't be embarrassed about talking about that.

The only thing that I think is required is an understanding, number one, that separation of Church and State was initiated not to protect just the State; it was there to protect the Church.  So we've got to have separation of Church and State as a principle -- we can argue at the margins about what that means.  And I suggest that sometimes those of us who are seeking to police that line don't have to be absolutist about it; not every mention of God in a public place somehow, I think, oppresses folks.

The flip-side is, I think those who are religious have to translate their religious motivated agenda into universal terms that are amenable to reason.  It is not sufficient, if you are against gay marriage or against abortion, to simply say, 'God told me so,' and then expect other people to feel, 'Well, okay, you know, if God's talking to you, then I guess we gotta go along.'

Charlie Rose: Or, 'If you don't believe in my God, then you will never have --'

Barack Obama: Absolutely.  And, I mean at some point there's got to be a recognition that the realm of faith, by definition, is not amenable to proof.  And so, on the other hand, politics -- like science -- has to be amenable to proof.  It's got to be something that all of us can see, touch, feel, understand.

I think if we do those two things, and then maybe apply a sense of proportion to it, that faith can actually be a powerful engine for many of the progressive aims and values that we seem to promote.

Charlie Rose - An hour with Barack Obama (33:41-36:36)



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 08:50:14 AM EST
That child had to be baptised as a Catholic. I was too overwhelmed with everything new to resist my mother-in-law's pressure.

i hear ya.  my poor atheist, Jewish brother-in-law submitted bravely to my Catholic mother's passive-aggressive insistence that her granddaughter be baptized, and to my shock and amusement, he actually participated in the ceremony.  jewish mothers have nothing on catholic mothers.

It so happened that the only Mennonite Church in our area was located in the Bronx/NY - an all black charismatic Mennonite Church. ... My husband was quite happy because he found both the Germanic narrative in Mennonites and bonded easily with the black community because of his personal narrative...

Interesting.  I supposed he had felt "lost" in the "charismatic protestant Church" that  you liked because of its "charismaticism".  But in this black Mennonite church this apparently did not bother him.  Or was it not the "charismatic" aspect of the first church that he did felt uncomfortable with?

I just cannot get myself to pray to Virgin Mary or to tie myself in knots in order to share the communion according to the Catholic rite.

What do you mean by "tie myself in knots in order to share the communion"?  Are you talking about going through all the requirements to qualify for receiving communion in the first place?  Or is it that the very act of participating in this rite "ties you up in knots"?  If so, how does it?

There are very few (three to be exact) hints at this in the Bible. Reincarnation was banished from Church dogma through the V. Council of Constantinople (Pope Vigilius/ Emperor Justinian) in 553 A.C. From then on, reincarnation became a heresy. It has been said that more proof of reincarnation as part of the world view of the time disappeared or was destroyed, most of it contained in the library of Origines of Alexandria (destroyed by fire).

Did not know this.  Too bad it all burned away!

How did this happen? Large parts of the World - most of `Asia', `Africa' - believe in reincarnation, have a cyclical world view. We shouldn't only ask where and how life began but rather: Where did life accelerate first? - Answer: In the Christian-dominated West where the innate sense of coming from somewhere, going somewhere, life-cycles - had gotten lost. This is where people put more energy into exploiting time, achieving a maximum - to be found worthy of life in heaven after the test of this one and only life. This is where the first engines were built but this has also been the engine that accelerated speed towards the eventual dooming of Planet Earth.

Provocative and thought-provoking thesis.  I will have to read through the other comments to see how others have responded to it.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 09:10:19 AM EST
The charismatic white Church was his first place to try out worship outside the mainstream Catholic or Protestant Churches. Intrigues among Church leaders put him off.

The holy communion: According to Catholic dogma the bread IS the body of Jesus, the wine IS Jesus' blood. Protestants consider the holy communion a symbolic act of communion of believers. My husband, coming from Catholic tradition, takes it as an offence when a Protestant participates in the communion at a Catholic Church. I don't believe that either Catholics or Protestants really feel any different on average when they share bread and wine. - The core issue here is that Catholics don't want to share their only Holy Communion with apostates.  

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 06:53:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily: The core issue here is that Catholics don't want to share their only Holy Communion with apostates.

Not this Catholic.  Then again, I'm an apostate myself.

But seriously, I think that depends on the parish.  I may be remembering my own childhood church with rose-tinted glasses, but I don't think anyone really paid much attention to whether you were a true believer or not.  I know the few times my heathen father attended mass, he made no bones about participating in communion.  On the contrary, not to have done so would have been impolite!  (Come to think of it, I will have to ask my mother how she felt about my father's brazen eucharistic transgressions beneath her quiet indulgence.)

Having said that, I remember when I was invited to a black, I guess "charismatic" church, when it came to communion time, I refrained from taking part, since I had not been properly baptized in their church.  I remember how touched and grateful I felt when everyone around me dismissed my reservations as silly hogwash, and that of course I was more than welcome to take part.  From this point of view, yes, I think I know what you mean:  that "I am not worthy" reserve of mine almost certainly came from my Catholic education.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 07:24:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dear Lily did write ;)

Catholics praise Virgin Mary, let the Pope talk and then do what they consider appropriate in our times [simplification based on limited exposure to Catholics; no generalisation intended].

Amen.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 08:38:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True, true.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 08:48:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
marco:
Answer: In the Christian-dominated West where the innate sense of coming from somewhere, going somewhere, life-cycles - had gotten lost. This is where people put more energy into exploiting time, achieving a maximum - to be found worthy of life in heaven after the test of this one and only life. This is where the first engines were built but this has also been the engine that accelerated speed towards the eventual dooming of Planet Earth.

that rings mighty true, anglo disease in a nutshell, a foreshortened sense of time that gobbles it like a starving man, fear-based, get-it-while-you-can, all-or-nothing, go for broke..etc.. boil the pleasure and fun out of simple things, then sell you the freezedried cadavers as geegaw merch, baby...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 03:45:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you to everyone for also sharing your honest views - that range from rational to spiritual, from not having met God, to belief in some divinity, gods, to one God, the One, the Truth...

I think that I may not have said enough about my personal truth, i.e. how God (the One, the Truth) has reflected on me personally: It is the recollection of my journey with God, including having found answers in and to prayer, and hope and a sense and strength during difficult times. There is this personal side - and I could provide plenty of anecdotes, share experiences but I also believe that it may be too intimate and inappropriate on this forum.

But there is also a rational side to it that can be considered DOGMAtic:

We all want to be in charge of our lives, don't want to be enslaved by Church dogma, live under dictatorship or be subdued as women... -
I believe, however, that faith requires that we don't act out of fear but trust with the naivety of a child.

Our life is limited in space and time, reduced to only a couple of decades. Someone, something must be behind all the mysteries that surround us and that we ourselves are. When I was a child, God was a protective father to me who held His hands open and all of us in them, watching over us from above and being with each of us (me especially ;), knowing each of us (me especially). I have readjusted this image over time... but still believe that only in such light can we experience God.

What is considered Christian truth, based on Scripture - not Church dogma - has always been something that I have been reluctant to question in its existence. Do I understand the Bible figuratively - or take it literally? My Bible experience is threefold: First, it is a historical account of God's journey with men. Second, I take it to be God's word and read it to learn from it - not all the time but often. Third, I have experienced God speak to me through these words.

Then there are these words that have been scientifically disproven. And there are those that I don't understand or that don't seem to fit into the message as a whole.

In the first case, I listen to science but it doesn't really invalidate Scripture. I understand that the essence in the story of God's creation e.g. does not lie in its scientific accuracy but in its spiritual truth. I believe that this account made perfect sense to people 2000 years ago. Today it seems childish; the facts are wrong... - So? There are these biblical passages that describe the end of times - and I believe that we are fully capable of understanding those and see our times reflected in them. But, these words - did they mean anything to the people 2000 years ago?

So, some of what is in there isn't fully understood. I don't understand or always agree with everything. I classify these passages "for later" and have always been busy understanding, digesting, struggling with, enjoying or living all other aspects of truth that I have found.

My approach has been pragmatic in a sense of, "if there's no simple way to understand it, then it's useless; I don't need it." There are trillions of people living on this Planet right now who all want to have answers. Christian faith is plain, simple and conclusive when men-made decorum is left away.

I believe that a God, the God, our God who has created Heaven and Earth, who is beyond time and space, who is with every one of us simultaneously (has been and will be) or not if we don't want him to - cannot be judged by human measure. We cannot look at Him and say: `Hey, why did you do that? You weirdo, you have screwed it all up!' as if He were just another human. Nothing wrong with asking, though... - Or someone will say: `Hey, look at all this. There simply is no God at all. There may be cosmic intelligence but God in the sense of a personal God-father, Creator and Saviour etc.? - No.' - This is the choice that we have.

Science has many answers and is fascinating but it is also limited. This blog got me interested when Gaianne posted a diary on Metaphysics.

Thanks to science much has been unveiled but so much more is still unknown. It's nice to be able to get to the Moon and find out about space and planets and stars but what about understanding the limitless limits of the expanding universe or what it's composed of altogether? A friend who is a physicist states that only 5 % of the universe's substance is known. 95 % is unidentified matter...

This is simply not enough to satisfy my curiosity or still my desire to know and to get into the depths of this life's mysteries. ...

As I said before, I can only talk for myself and all that I say here doesn't imply any judgement on other people, other religions or other revelations. I enjoy finding God in Chinese proverbs and find truth in Gandhi. But I believe that there is only one caring and loving God who holds "our" World in His hands...

I have had my own struggles with this "WHY does God allow this or that? WHY was he so, ehm different B.C.?" etc. I won't get behind all the mysteries, and I don't need to but all things bad in this life can quite easily be explained by the spiritual warfare between Good and Evil here on Earth - and evil is neither limited to one religion nor to any skin colour, nation or any other classification. It's challenging every one of us each day in this life. We can grow with it and closer to God or we don't. These powers are real, and Christian faith in its fundamental and pure essence is the best `weapon' that I have found to deal with it.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 04:23:42 PM EST
Someone, something must be behind all the mysteries that surround us and that we ourselves are.

I'll just flag the first unnecessary assumption you make.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 05:29:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why unnecessary?

Instead of "behind", I could have said "through" and "within"...

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 06:04:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the problem is with the "must".

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 06:14:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, okay. It is not a "must" like in "You must do your homework", rather like in - "How can it be possible all want Obama for President? - There m-u-s-t be a reason. We'll find out!" -

The must implied curiosity - no binding obligation for everyone.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 06:59:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the problem Coleman is addressing is the assumption that our existence cannot be explained without the assumption of a divinity of some sort.  The areas to which that assumption clearly could apply have been shrinking for at least half a millennium.  By today's standards views five hundred years ago of what could only be explained as "acts of God" seem grotesquely overly broad.

Half a century ago the semanticist Korzybski noted that advancements in understand typically occurred in resolving and understanding ever more subtle aspects of the world.  "Subtler than the subtleist is the Self" as the Upanishads say.  The formation of the Universe and the evolution of life can be explained without recourse to a guiding conscious divinity.  But some of us find certain things difficult to explain in terms of what we currently know and perhaps better explained by assumptions arising from inner experiences that we know we cannot prove.  But perhaps our lives can be made more meaningful by making such assumptions as we find  meaningful.  It is for each to decide.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 01:25:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think my fundamental difference with you is in the assumption of a Duality.

I see Reality/God/Value/Quality as Non-Dual.

I cannot agree with a God that is "Other" - as is implicit in your assumption

Lily:

I believe that a God, the God, our God who has created Heaven and Earth,

and in any language about "with" God, or "growing closer to" God.

God/ Reality/ Quality is all there is, as I see it.

One: not Two.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 05:48:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think that 'growing closer to God' means anything else than that God transpiring through us more intensely.

Words shouldn't separate what speaks of the same.

I believe that we have the free will to decide in favour of God or against God - within us. I believe that we struggle against evil - much of the time, the more, the less we let God speak through us. The light of God takes away the darkness of evil.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 06:00:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Duality: Do you also feel one with the universe, the stars, and all creation, the earth, wind, animals, the past, present and future? --

(The question may sound provocative but I don't intend to provoke.)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 06:14:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A friend of mine who is an ordained Deacon in the Catholic Church and a graduate of a theological seminary program provided for prospective Deacons by the Arch Diocese of Los Angeles has described his belief as Pan-in-Theism, as distinct from Pantheism.  He said that that belief had never been declared a heresy by the Church.  He would never accept that I was truly an atheist.  I suppose it is a matter of definitions.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 01:34:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We should also bring angels into the equation.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 03:15:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
most definitely...and the pinheads they dance in on!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 03:53:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Christian faith is plain, simple and conclusive when men-made decorum is left away.

Here is an idea: the more intensely varied the environment around you, the more potential gods you will have to deal with.  So jungle tribes typically have lots and lots of gods, every animal has maybe a god, with regional gods, the god of this valley, the god of that  tree.  The UK being historically forested and filled with various creatures, and also being wet and cloudy, will obviously (in this theory) have lots of different gods.

But the romans came and imposed their gods, only during the time of the roman empire the eastern christians had risen to become politically important so--was it Constantine who declared christianity to henceforth be the state--the empire--religion?

Meanwhile, on the north african coast, I hear that the gods used to be lined up along the avenues, the africans arriving from below the sahara bought their gods with them, each god given its pedestal on the avenue into...which town it was, where the living was easy.

Christianity has always been political (=complex power relationships between competing elites or would-be elites), from the day Paul converted and before.  

The pagans (the platonists, the various folk religions, the wide range of beliefs of people outside the centres of power) were done away with (hat tip to MarketTrustee), their belief systems were trashed, then removed, on it went, there was just the one god, but now he was three-in-one and as soon as that idea blossomed it threw out a thousand variant strains....some of those desert tribes kept their old gods, their old ways....

Meanwhile, in the east six hundred years previous an entirely different kind of book was written.  But being in the West and cut off, how would the westerners have known?

All religions, as I see it, are more or less successful attempts to codify and explicate an innate sense of the numinous (the kind of of "Woah! Now that is definitely something powerful"' you'd get if you were in a storm on a hill and a lightning bolt exploded into a tree thirty feet away, maybe)...such that the members of the society inside this religious view find benefit and meaning for their daily lives.

I would guess that nomadic people have gods of a different kind to farmers (Cain was a farmer); and the descriptions are entirely and absolutely environmentally bound.  As you say about the creation narrative (or the two creation narratives), they could not know...God works in mysterious ways but only inside the possible world view a culture can develop in and to its surrounding environment.

Christian faith must be a belief that Jesus was Christ, so it is already accepting a pre-christian desert-tribe narrative.

This tribe carried the idea that God chooses one group over another, and that it is God's will that their tribe has been chosen.  The vanquished tribes are not in god's favour and are slaughtered or scattered accordingly.  This attitude is not common to all gods, though I presume it is common that the god(s) of one tribe support that tribe and not another...

Six hundred years previous there were universal beliefs about the nature of the world and the role of humans in it, but they got washed away with the roman victories over Greece (whatever happened to the etruscans?), only for some works to be remembered by the arabs who translated them and stored them for many centuries, the release being the start of what would become four centuries hence the final collapse of the church's philosophical underpinnings.

(Sez me!)

But if I say, The very concept of The Christ is not simple, it is a jewish figure:

Christ is the English term for the Greek Χριστός (Khristós) meaning "the anointed".[1] In the 3rd- to 1st-centuries BCE, the Tanakh (what Christians would in later centuries come to call the Old Testament) was translated into a Greek version called the Septuagint, in which Khristós was used to translate the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Mašíaḥ,) (Messiah), meaning "[one who is] anointed."[2] Many modern Christians[who?] explicitly describe Christ as both fully human and fully God, while the Jewish tradition understands the Messiah as a human being without any overtone of deity or divinity.[3]

Followers of Jesus became known as Christians because they believed that Jesus is the Messiah, or Christ. The majority of Jews reject this claim and are still waiting for the messiah to come (see Jewish Messiah).

This is not to say that a person cannot read the books of the bible that claim to know the words of Jesus - read those words and find what he or she can, for good or ill (my favourite is the one about the eye of the needle - apparently, or did I just invent this?, some rich chap once built a huge huge needle, then sat on his camel and road through the huge needle's eye...voila!)...

Heh....

I think the idea of Jesus Christ is as simple as the idea of the ninety nine names of Allah, or the idea of the Tao as described in the 81 chapters of The Tao Te Ching, or the principles of Shinto, or the edits of the zoroastrians...

For me the big difference is the desert-tibe "we are the chosen ones" narrative, very different to the more all-encompassing narratives of other religious traditions.

If you find the sudden connection to the numinous--it all makes sense!

But then, the accretions are the cultural limits that religion is based upon.  The mystic traditions maybe attempt to step up and out of the cultural limits, but the very idea of Christ is a cultural limit, maybe the sense of balance in the Tao is a cultural limit, an assumption from observation, but in this case the observations include nature, and as nature does nature's work across the planet in similar ways, seeds, stems, flowers, dark, light, seasons, etc. it seems to me it can have a wider resonance to an observer from another culture.

If a person has particular and specifically spiritual sensations, the first thing I would ask him or her to be very aware of is that their focus (what they think it might mean) is environmentally determined (e.g. Jesus becomes blacker the closer you get to Africa.)

As you say, your beliefs are yours, hard won and you hold them strongly.  The fact that one holds christian beliefs as opposed to, say, islamic beliefs, buddhist beliefs, hindu beliefs, and within each strain the particular variation on the theme is, I think, entirely a matter of where and to whom one is born.  (An image of christian missionaries bringing the message of the three-gods-in-one to the world, concommitant with slaughter and plunder....that God prefers my tribe...and your tribe will pay tribute and your gods are to be forsaken...from the desert to the Amazon!  Conversion is, it seems to me, undertaken when the weapon is pointed at one's brow or one's old way of life has been so scattered that the old god's no longer have any useful function.)

I think this is because any belief system is hermetic and yet porous; it explains itself (the bible is the inerrant word of God; this is what the bible says about itself) and yet no philosophy is equal to the task of dealing with all the complexities and confusions that bombard humans as they move through life.

I suggest that if you attempted to explain your understanding of the Trinity (for example) you would find other christians strongly disagreeing--it's a concept that falls into itself.  It is true because it is (if you believe it.)

...the old gods vanish, the new ones take their place, oh man, or they morph through time, as Jesus has, but here's a pre-Jesus god.

Zeus, poetically referred to by the vocative Zeu pater ("O, father Zeus"), is a continuation of *Di̯ēus, the Proto-Indo-European god of the daytime sky, also called *Dyeus ph2tēr ("Sky Father").[2] The god is known under this name in Sanskrit (cf. Dyaus/Dyaus Pita), Latin (cf. Jupiter, from Iuppiter, deriving from the PIE vocative *dyeu-ph2tēr[3]), deriving from the basic form *dyeu- ("to shine", and in its many derivatives, "sky, heaven, god").[2] And in Germanic and Norse mythology (cf. *Tīwaz > OHG Ziu, ON Týr), together with Latin deus, dīvus and Dis(a variation of dīves[4]), from the related noun *deiwos.[4] To the Greeks and Romans, the god of the sky was also the supreme god, whereas this function was filled out by Odin among the Germanic tribes. Accordingly, they did not identify Zeus/Jupiter with either Tyr or Odin, but with Thor (Þórr). Zeus is the only deity in the Olympic pantheon whose name has such a transparent Indo-European etymology.[5]

All the way from the Indus valley to Norway!

But we don't believe in Zeus any more.  The Zeus people lost the battle, but I'm sure there were Zeus mystics, Zeus factions, that Zeus was political and never simple.

Heh....I just wanted to add a non-christian tone!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 08:10:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very interesting account, Leopold -

But then, the accretions are the cultural limits that religion is based upon.  The mystic traditions maybe attempt to step up and out of the cultural limits, but the very idea of Christ is a cultural limit, maybe the sense of balance in the Tao is a cultural limit, an assumption from observation, but in this case the observations include nature, and as nature does nature's work across the planet in similar ways, seeds, stems, flowers, dark, light, seasons, etc. it seems to me it can have a wider resonance to an observer from another culture.

If a person has particular and specifically spiritual sensations, the first thing I would ask him or her to be very aware of is that their focus (what they think it might mean) is environmentally determined (e.g. Jesus becomes blacker the closer you get to Africa.)

that the old god's no longer have any useful function.)

Beliefs like love of anything or anyone will always be limiting; there is always what I'd call a responsibility - towards god/s, towards the person, animal, tree loved. All this gives us limits within our own limited existence. Christ does not disconnect us from the truths of the Tao IMO; he rather completes, may I say crowns, these truths. It has been the Church, missionaries' mistake to not appreciate what people had already understood and seen when they tried to impose their truth on them.

I see a shift from this original disrespect of other cultures when Westerners look for answers in Eastern philosophies and either turn away from the rational and dogmatic approach predominant in the West or seek additional answers in other philosophies.

Further I believe that the gods speak more of the complex spiritual world surrounding us and in us. Deities can be seen as a way to express the perception of a spiritual reality in creation, though I wouldn't choose to talk of gods but this is more about choice of words. Not really, not only in that these are gods that are worshipped - not compatible with Monotheism but the shift from multiple gods to one God doesn't imply that there is no spiritual reality in nature anymore, simply that you don't worship this and that anymore. It is not the denial of what is essential to e.g. indigenous people.
Monotheism does convey the idea of a "plan" (dirty word, malheureusement) that other religions lack. Will the cycle of rebirth ever end? Where are we headed?  - question to which there is no answer in Eastern philosophies though such truths may be revealed there, too.

As to Jesus becoming blacker the closer you get to Africa. This reminds me of something I've read about Obama. He was compared to a human Rorschach test : Everyone sees in him what he wants; to some he looks white, to others black... - The same with his views; a wide range of people feel that he speaks specifically for them.

I suggest that if you attempted to explain your understanding of the Trinity (for example) you would find other christians strongly disagreeing--it's a concept that falls into itself.  It is true because it is (if you believe it.)

There is a spiritual reality that is bigger than us (though within us - but we didn't figure it out). The concept like the Trinity serves to help understand what cannot really be fathomed or rationally explained. It gives us notions that allow us to have access to the unseen. Since the spiritual world is a reality that is more important than the material one in other parts of the World, the idea of being able to break the cycles of reincarnation and be with God eternally are the big deal, not to fancy `Trinity'.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 03:56:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Christ does not disconnect us from the truths of the Tao IMO; he rather completes, may I say crowns, these truths.

Heh.  Do you know the first line of the Tao Te Ching?

Here's Chapter 41:

41. Qualities of the Taoist
When the highest type of men hear the Tao (truth),
   they try hard to live in accordance with it.
When the mediocre type hear the Tao,
   they seem to be aware and yet unaware of it.
When the lowest type hear the Tao,
   They break into loud laughter -
   If it were not laughed at, it would not be Tao.

Therefore there is the established saying:
   "Who understands Tao seems dull of comprehension;
   Who is advance in Tao seems to slip backwards;
   Who moves on the even Tao (Path) seems to go up and down."

Superior character appears like a hollow (valley);
Sheer white appears like tarnished;
Great character appears like infirm;
Pure worth appears like contaminated.
   Great space has no corners;
   Great talent takes long to mature;
   Great music is faintly heard;
   Great form has no contour;
   And Tao is hidden without a name.
It is this Tao that is adept at lending (its power)
   and bringing fulfillment.

I don't think the Tao and christianity have much in common...

Monotheism does convey the idea of a "plan" (dirty word, malheureusement) that other religions lack.

Yin and yang, opposites disolve one in the other--being leads to non-being; non-being leads to being.  All plans and paths are maya--illusions chaining you to the wheel of being....only in detatchment can you catch what is there--and then the observer and the observed are one--there is no observer, there is no observed...

Satori!  Or maybe it's just kensho...

Will the cycle of rebirth ever end? Where are we headed?

Ask a buddhist or a hindu or a taoist or a zoroastrian (a sufi muslim, a tibetan lama...ya know) you will find there are plenty of and varied answers to such questions.

Ask a baptist, a catholic, a mormon, a rastafarian, a hassidic jew where we're headed.

Ask a coptic christian, a russian orthodox, a greek orthodox, a baptist, episcopalian, evangelical, anglican, ask an english anglican, a nigerian anglican, a bostonian anglican....

Now, you believe that the Christ has come.  You believe therefore that jewish eschatology has ended back in 4BC (or so) with the birth of Jesus.  Therefore you believe in jewish eschatology.  

Here's what some jews think about their eschatology (according to wikipedia):

In Jewish messianic tradition and eschatology, the term came to refer to a future Jewish King from the Davidic line, who will be "anointed" with holy anointing oil and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age. In Standard Hebrew, The Messiah is often referred to as מלך המשיח, Méleḫ ha-Mašíaḥ (in the Tiberian vocalization pronounced Méleḵ hamMāšîªḥ), literally meaning "the Anointed King."

Today, the various Jewish denominations have sharp disagreements about the nature of the Messiah and the Messianic Age, with some groups holding that the Messiah will be a person and other groups holding that the Messiah is a representation of the Messianic Age itself.

Traditional thought and current Orthodox thought has mainly held that the Messiah will be an anointed one (messiah), descended from his father through the Davidic line of King David, who will gather the Jews back into the Land of Israel and usher in an era of peace.

Other denominations, such as Reform Judaism, perceive a Messianic Age when the world will be at peace, but do not agree that there will be a Messiah as the leader of this era.

I think you think it is simple and obvious--the existence of the Christ.  It's in the bible!  And Jesus as the Christ: it's either true or it isn't.  You believe in Jesus (as the Messiah) or you don't.

Whereas I think the very concept of "the Christ" is as obvious as the concept of "Kawumbala: slayer of Matuna and returner of the soil to the Aunai"--you know, the first question:

Why choose the eschatology of this group over any other group?

Why not the eschatology of the philistines, or the persians (choose one of them!); why not the eschatology of...I dunno...the pythagoreans (if they had one)?

One answer: the jews are God's chosen.  He has a plan  

My suggestion: the Roman Empire and its political machinations.  

(Side topic about how it was John the Baptist who planned the whole thing.  His idea was to unite the various groups being beat down by the romans--but the groups were divided religiously: jews and gentiles.  So he invented this idea, this figure--annointing Jesus--etc....

But God works through the church, not crazy theories!)

Yes, the roman empire, power politics, the end of the reign of the Sun God and the start of the reign of the Son of God, and hey, Jesus was born on the last day of Saturnalia: who'd a thunk it?

~%7)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 08:03:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why choose the eschatology of this group over any other group?

I just happened to be there, committed to what I found and experienced "truth".

I don't think the Tao and christianity have much in common...

The TAO and Christianity are not the same, right. The TAO is ancient wisdom about the spiritual world that permeates all existence. And I like and appreciate it for that.

When I feel guilty and ashamed about something I have done, when I seek forgiveness or when I suffer and am angry, I want to be personally loved and understood, not judged. I don't want to go into suffering and seek peace in nature that may divert my attention from the pain but won't take away from me what is weighing on me. I want to go through the pain and find healing, answers, peace. And give thanks and sing praises, too.

Sure, I can meditate and enjoy nature, music, the light of a candle. I have read the TAO, and it has been nice reading but I'm terribly missing God's personal, caring, protecting, forgiving, understanding - reality in there. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are part of this reality. This has been mystified but it is through the Holy Spirit that we can have this unity with our personal God - who is good and love everlasting but who also knows "the other side", the battle-field we're in.

I know for sure that it has been here that I have found. If people in other religions will tell that they have found the same in their faith, okay. It's a bit like there's one woman who says she has found the perfect husband, and he's Australian; well, when I tell her, that mine is an Inuit, and also simply the best, should I dispute that hers is the best or let go of mine and venture out to Australia and shop around there? ;)

Luckily, we're less limited in our belief in that there tends to be more, as we share it. ;)

BTW: What is the meaning of ~%7)  ?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 09:40:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a bit like there's one woman who says she has found the perfect husband, and he's Australian; well, when I tell her, that mine is an Inuit, and also simply the best, should I dispute that hers is the best or let go of mine and venture out to Australia and shop around there? ;)

Heh!

When I feel guilty and ashamed about something I have done, when I seek forgiveness or when I suffer and am angry, I want to be personally loved and understood, not judged.

I suppose this is where believers in a personal God (or Gods) differ from those who don't.  For a non-believer there is no personal love from a non-existent being, only some form of internal psychological process that somehow may manifest, maybe, as a sense of another personality....or somesuch.  Reminds me of the difference between taking drugs and talking about them: to the extent there is a real experience, the experience is the primary data, the talking only secondary.  Whereas for those who haven't taken the drug (or have taken the drug but felt no effect...)

Certainly other traditions can't give you this deep personal unjudging love as they don't believe it exists either in a Godhead or in some aspect of the godhead.  

Mind you, number two on your list of Religions You Like should be hinduism--lots of personal business there, reincarnation, all kinds of mystical traditions, there may be dry abstractions but they're not necessary.

Personally, I try and keep away from such things as the forgiveness of God.  If I honestly think I have wronged a person, then it's up to me to go apologise to the wronged person.  If I feel I've been wronged, it's up to me to confront the person & etc.  God's forgiveness is predicated on a view of human nature (that we are fallen) that is another of those jewish concepts that I can't get my head around--God is the all loving father, Eve is tempted by the snake--henceforth she will have pain in childbirth, they will know coldness and hardship...it's symbolic, sure, but I don't recognise anything in there except Father Is Right paternalism writ into the heavens....but that's me!

Oh!  Did I mention the lack of female gods?  That christianity--the abrahamic religions, all of 'em--wiped out the female gods--gave us "My godliness is bigger than your godliness"--and maybe Jesus would have wept;

The catholics have Maria, but it's not the same.

And you...have experiences of Jesus as a personal entity dealing with you most personally, it is definitely Jesus, not another character, and...how do you know it is Jesus you are being personal with and not some other entity that pretends to be Jesus?

~%7)

To view it, tilt your head a bit to the left!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 10:27:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally, I try and keep away from such things as the forgiveness of God.  If I honestly think I have wronged a person, then it's up to me to go apologise to the wronged person.

That's fine and enough most of the time... What will you tell the murderer who cannot ask the victim's forgiveness? What about a bitterness that doesn't go away by itself? What if you forgive and the other doesn't accept your forgiveness? What about an anger you may feel because a nasty boy has hit your daughter or worse? What about a person picking on you and he won't stop? - I could go on...

 

I don't recognise anything in there except Father Is Right paternalism writ into the heavens....but that's me!

but that's me! - This has nothing to do with my faith, or what I consider Truth.
I may mention the same thing further up when I'm going to reply to ARGreezer. I perceive this paternalism much less threatening than you do. My father was old-fashioned, traditional and inflexible - but I remember him more as a caring and loving father, protective, too. He taught me a lot (until age 10 I'd say) and there was a complicity between us. There certainly is a psycho-dynamic component that has conditioned me in a way that I can embrace a paternalistic God and separate this image of God from what the US Christian right has made of it...

As for female gods, well, I believe that Jesus' female side was well developed. Just have a look at his hair! (:)) - Seriously, some things are and may remain a mystery (to me), especially with regards to the judging, angry God of the Old Testament, devoted to His tribe alone - and then, the "new" God of the New Testament. The New Testament is the fulfilment of the Old Testament, okay, but why? - It's coded. Another aspect of this paternalism is that underlying it is the concept of the man being father who would represent the family, be its head, and the woman who would become mother, i.e. bear children - and need his protection. I don't believe that the original idea is that the women were subdued, and that all that counted would be rationalism and rules. The Old Testament evokes brutalities but not men beating their wives. Church hierarchy brought this authoritarian rule into the world. It's not biblical IMO. Well, Paul has an issue there, too, that's true, but I prefer to focus on Jesus and his own complicity with women.

The catholics have Maria, but it's not the same.

No, it's not the same, which - and I say this again - is why there is this general trend in the West to seek inspiration in Eastern philosophies.

And you...have experiences of Jesus as a personal entity dealing with you most personally, it is definitely Jesus, not another character, and...how do you know it is Jesus you are being personal with and not some other entity that pretends to be Jesus?

[SIGH!!] May I use my lifeline? ??

Well, I WANT it to be HIM. And no other. Do you think HE or some other entity would be playing tricks on us? You ask for scientific proof. I don't have it. That's the nature of faith, to trust without knowing.

How about this: "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill." (John 6, 26) -

~%7)

To view it, tilt your head a bit to the left!

So. I see there's one curl up in the air, two round eyes, one nose and a smile, or: is the curly hair a wrinkle on your front, expressing that your pensive or are you worried?
 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 12:58:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[SIGH!!] May I use my lifeline? ??

Heh!  Okay, it's my upbringing in a christian world and the journeys I have made to get beyond it--this "christian world"--that gives me an urge to dismantle christianity.

The fact that they placed Jesus's birthday on the last day of Saturnalia....that's political.

Have you read any Krishnamurti?

I'd like to draw a distinction:

What you believe has happened to you, and what helps and advances your good senses--is all to the good.

I want to endlessly deconstruct our belief systems because...the world is built on them and it's in no great shape.

I think any person who finds the numinous...finds a ready audience in me...but...

I will ask questions, try and find some connection that doesn't fall at the hurdles created by what we have learned thus far.

So: you father was a good role model.  He never forced you out of Eden.  For me, therefore, the story of Eden is not the story of the paternal god, but an explanation of why things were as they were those thousands of years ago.  There had been a falling away...for these people.  They were lower than they were.  The bible story explains this fall in terms of an essential fact about women and men.

Imagine if your father had said, "If you go to University, I will disown you."

And you went, and he disowned you.

That, for me, is the story of the expulsion from Eden.

I don't find paternalism threating.  As a pater, I find that the old models of the pater are fundamentally based on fantasies of what a pater might be.  I see all the hooks I could have hung myself upon, creating discord between my daughter and myself, and...well...I followed a simple rule.

"Do unto your children more or less the opposite of what was done to you."

By parents, schools, society generally, the media, how you are supposed to be.

In christian practice (as I understand it) one is supposed to be a sinner.  Whether by Original Sin or by one's acts.

(I suddenly think of one of my favourite films: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring.)

What we can possibly believe is limited by our culture.  An individual's culture is the fundamental limit.  Humans live at the bottom of the atmosphere--we are like crustraceans....crawling along the bottom, incapable of swimming...but we build areoplanes!  

I would like that people expressed their truths--as you have done!--as these show the limits of the truths, so they are honest, and out of honesty we find bedrock and connections....

Well, I WANT it to be HIM.

Who else could it be?  If you had grown up in an islamic country you would still want X to be X.  My silly point about the alien entity....the universe is so vast, we live in such a small sliver of oxygen and nitrogen at the bottom of the small sliver that is our atmosphere....three major eruptions and we're gone, along with all life beyond the bacteria...which have been here so long!

My idea was that...supposing superior beings....if a person wishes to call that being Jesus, well, the being might adjust to that nomenclature....not as a trick, more as a...."Well, that's how they can view it, so okay!"

I mean, for any christian alive his or her idea of Jesus is a fantasy woven from words and pictures.  There is no Jesus here that can say, "Like this, not like that."

So we have a belief system built on words.  "The Christ".

I like belief systems that are built on observation.  For those things or those verbs that we cannot observe, all ideas are great, may they lead to great things!

But always always, "My ideas are limited to my environment--I cannot think outside it because to do so is to live within another environment, in which the same rule applies."

I see christianity as an import.  The god(s), the theories, all an import from the middle east.  Why do we have them--because of the roman empire.  Without the roman empire, maybe europe would be full of platonists and pythagoreans, zoroastrians, who knows....so religion acts in history, but the fantasies loom large when faced with the meager facts of history.  The few words of Jesus spawn a thousand sects!

(Did I mention Krishnamurti?)

I see there's one curl up in the air, two round eyes, one nose and a smile

That's the one!

%~)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 06:56:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that they placed Jesus's birthday on the last day of Saturnalia....that's political.

Yes, that's the same as with Sunday replacing the Sabbath.

I will ask questions, try and find some connection that doesn't fall at the hurdles created by what we have learned thus far.

You're welcome.

"Do unto your children more or less the opposite of what was done to you."

Weird. It's the same logic but ad absurdum as applied by your parents.
Would you rejoice with your daughter if she decided to become a Catholic nun?

....the universe is so vast, we live in such a small sliver of oxygen and nitrogen at the bottom of the small sliver that is our atmosphere....three major eruptions and we're gone, along with all life beyond the bacteria...which have been here so long!

I like belief systems that are built on observation.

If you look for answers in the material world, you will find provable, material answers. Where's the "belief" in belief systems that are built on observation? You prefer to rely on facts, nitrogen, oxygen... those are real to you. You don't see that there's a different reality.

There is no Jesus here that can say, "Like this, not like that."

Sure? ;)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Nov 26th, 2008 at 05:56:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, a simple question: is the spiritual Jesus you commune with the same spiritual Jesus that all other christians commune with?  I mean, is there only ONE spiritual Jesus and everyone who is in contact with him is in contact with the same person?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Nov 26th, 2008 at 07:04:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"in contact with the same person?"

Yes. I don't understand it as some "It's one guy communicating with us all." -

In the light of God

If our eyes weren't held,
We would see the power of angels
and columns of fire
would illuminate our nights.

If our hearts weren't held
we would sing praises
that would resonate
from the ends of the Earth.

If our hands were not held
we would do the deeds of disciples
we would bring in our sheaves
after seeds of tears.

If we had faith like a mustard seed
we would overcome.
In the Light of God
we would find ourselves.

Lindolfo Weingärtner

BTW: I only seek coherent replies to your questions. I hope this doesn't justify any troll rating. :o

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Nov 26th, 2008 at 07:54:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My second question: Does Jesus speak to you in specific words in your head?  Do you actually hear a voice?

(I once--just the once so far--heard a specific voice in my head...I won't explain the circumstances just yet, but it was a definite 'voice in my head', I would say it was male but it certainly sounded different to my normal thinking mind--and it said very specific words.)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Nov 26th, 2008 at 08:36:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
heh...you don't have to answer if you dont' want to!  My questions go on and on.

I think it would be easier for me to understand your frame of reference if you could express what you mean by "spiritual".

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Nov 26th, 2008 at 08:43:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I will - later.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Nov 26th, 2008 at 06:26:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What do I mean by "spiritual"?

First, there is the obvious :) : - It's the unseen world that we live in.

In order to be able to frame it, I need to describe it, and that begins by getting access to it.

(This "how to" presentation helped me to streamline my thoughts; it's not meant as an order!)

1st step: Decide that you want to trust there is a God. You'll lose nothing from nothing, when he can't be found.

2nd step: Look for His word (you may choose from different Holy Books and decide which narrative seems the most plausible to you or the one closest to the Truth that you'd hope you would find...).

3rd step: Now you have a decision and Scripture. To be honest, this still doesn't help you to believe in God. Tell God you cannot believe in Him. This is also from God.

4th step: Think of reasons to praise God, if there were a personal God. Say something like: God, if you are there, let me know. If you are there, I should tell you that I really like oak trees and the ocean in summer and the sun on my skin... Thank you for this. [sigh] I still cannot believe you're real and that there is a spiritual world.

5th step: Read Scripture. From my Christian perspective: Start with the New Testament - anywhere. Do the words mean anything to you? When you struggle, try to read a Psalm. (Plenty of struggles in there...). "Discuss" your thoughts with God - which can look like you're talking into the void.

6th step: Assume there is a God - tell Him your worries, share with him your joys and ask him for help in your decisions. Ask for `signs'. - When He'll answer you'll know because by asking, you don't seek yourself but His presence. Beware! Signs can be surprising and come unsuspected: through other people, the internet, dreams, a word in an ad that catches your attention ... - and they may lead you in a direction you would never have thought of... ;)

7th step: Don't limit search of God to special times of prayer etc. during the day but try to share it ALL with Him. Raise your consciousness as to understand that to your Creator all things you think and do and hope for are already known, nothing is hidden.

8th step: Take notes of what you experience... read back from time to time and see whether something has changed, whether you believe there is a God, or whatever else you may  observe or not.

9th step: How will you know what divine entity you're dealing with?

As a matter of fact, it's no big deal for me whether I pray to Jesus or God. They are the same. The big deal in there lies in the fact (`fact' for the believer) that this God is all, Creator, God, Master of the Universe, of space and time... and that He has been through all of this (life on Earth) like one of us, too - and died himself through his son for us... It's a bit abstract, well, yes.
What tells me that it is "Him" is that I follow Scripture that praises Him and no other. I think that I'm sure because I remain within the realm of these words.

10th step: Apply the above in any order you want - and report back in four weeks. ;)

God bless you!

PS: Since I love surprises I like to open the Bible at random and see whether there's an `answer' there. Last night I thought of how I would frame `spiritual', and when I opened, my eyes were caught by this: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away."* ... not very helpful in describing "spiritual". I put it here anyhow.

* It isn't an old, used Bible but a like new one, i.e. it is NOT that every other time that I look, I find just this. ;)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 27th, 2008 at 08:46:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1st step: Decide that you want to trust there is a God. You'll lose nothing from nothing, when he can't be found.

Are you quite sure of that?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 27th, 2008 at 08:57:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could lose the last spark of hope (if you had wanted to hope there were a God), or, right, sure, you could also be confirmed in another worldview. Would it be a loss?

any other ideas?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 27th, 2008 at 10:17:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW: The way I approach spirituality is in no way absolute or equal to Truth. Other people are helped by rituals or ... - There are probably as many ways as people on Earth.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 27th, 2008 at 10:37:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
There are probably as many ways as people on Earth.

now that's rock solid!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 04:14:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I maybe mistakenly get from what you've written is that you must first have belief before you can contact the spiritual realms.  If a person doesn't believe in a specific spiritual reality they can't access it.  My main thought in regard to such an approach is that it renders the belief unverifiable except by personal experience.  As such, all beliefs are equal, equally valid to the believer--and as such I hope they do good to the believer and no harm to others.

I don't hold religious texts in high esteem.  I like some texts, but as a method for streamlining one's belief, well, I offer Exodus 21 as an example of the environmental boundings of a belief.  And once a person realises that his or her belief system is environmentally bounded (I mean, they realise that if they had grown up in another environment, they would have believed--just as strongly--in something different) it all...for me....becomes a circular process.  Something like, I believe because I believe.

I was thinking of the spiritual more in a "how does it interface with the material?" sense.  What I get from what you've written is that it interfaces via belief, and as there are a hundred thousand beliefs, there must be a hundred thousand spiritual realities--each one either "out there" reacting with the thoughts of the believer, or "in here" inside the thoughts of the believer.

A sense of something other doesn't, to me, signify anything particular.  Experiments in isolation tanks show that in moments of sensory deprivation our brains are quick to throw images, voices, sensations "out there".  With our current body of knowledge about the brain, e.g. hypnosis, we know that our belief systems can create internal realities that feel absolute and true while being self imposed (e.g. Freud's experiment where the woman who couldn't walk was hypnotised, walked, was woken, and couldn't walk...there's a vast literature about this--and caveat emptor, as always.)

Talking of texts, this one, by Robert Anton Wilson, is in agreement with my thoughts about belief:

I DO NOT BELIEVE ANYTHING

This remark was made, in these very words, by John Gribbin, physics editor of New Scientist magazine, in a BBC-TV debate with Malcolm Muggeridge, and it provoked incredulity on the part of most viewers. It seems to be a hangover of the medieval Catholic era that causes most people, even the educated, to think that everybody must "believe" something or other, that if one is not a theist, one must be a dogmatic atheist, and if one does not think Capitalism is perfect, one must believe fervently in Socialism, and if one does not have blind faith in X, one must alternatively have blind faith in not-X or the reverse of X.

My own opinion is that belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence. The more certitude one assumes, the less there is left to think about, and a person sure of everything would never have any need to think about anything and might be considered clinically dead under current medical standards, where absence of brain activity is taken to mean that life has ended.

My attitude is identical to that of Dr. Gribbin and the majority of physicists today, and is known in physics as "the Copenhagen Interpretation," because it was formulated in Copenhagen by Dr. Niels Bohr and his co-workers c. 1926-28. The Copenhagen Interpretation is sometimes called "model agnosticism" and holds that any grid we use to organize our experience of the world is a model of the world and should not be confused with the world itself. Alfred Korzybski, the semanticist, tried to popularize this outside physics with the slogan, "The map is not the territory." Alan Watts, a talented exegete of Oriental philosophy, restated it more vividly as "The menu is not the meal."

http://www.rawilson.com/trigger1.shtml



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Nov 27th, 2008 at 07:53:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except that RAW very much did believe certain things. He believed that Reich was a martyr, that the world is fundamentally weird, albeit in an interesting way, that Jack Sarfatti is a respectable physicist, and that the Copenhagen Interpretation said something that it didn't. (Although you can forgive him that last one because it's not even clear if the people who invented the Copenhagen Interpretation were sure exactly what they meant.)

He believed yoga, tantra and magic were more interesting than chartered accountancy, that drugs were more enlightening than a generic office job, that most people are stupid and damaged... and so on.

He pretended to chaotic non-belief, but in fact he was quite the moralist - albeit a traditional mainstream hedonistic Californian libertarian moralist rather than a traditional mainstream patriarchal and Abrahamic one.

It's not possible to believe nothing, because belief extends beyond John Gribbin's scientific world view, beyond ideas about metaphysics, and nails itself deep into ethics and core morality.

And it's not possible to be agnostic about morality. Everyone has an idea of how the world should be, how people should behave - whether rationally justifiable or not - and what ideal relationships look like.

Even 'live and let live', which sounds like moral agnosticism, is a very defined moral position - even though it can never have clean limits in practice, because as soon as you get two humans in the same spot, competition and cooperation dynamics come into play and it stops being possible to be abstract without compromise.

All spirituality does is provides PR for people's ethical beliefs - which are a combination of indoctrination and pre-existing behavioural biases. (And those almost certainly have a genetic element.)

What drives spirituality is a set of moral assumptions about ethical behaviour - which may be honest and conscious, or may be completely dishonest, selfish and unconscious, but are usually somewhere between the two - which are then dressed up in whatever moral totem and tradition that happens to be available and fits best.

You don't even need god forms for this. Secular moralities like economics are just as persuasive. If anything they're even more compelling because atheists who would scoff condescendingly at Christians seem more than happy to believe in 'work', 'jobs', 'growth' and 'markets'.

Anyone who seriously wants to 'believe nothing' would have to become completely and deliberately amoral to the point where they could switch moral frames at will.

Not many people are willing to do that, and I don't personally believe (sic) that's a bad thing. Or even that it's humanly possible to switch from angelic and boundless compassion to psychotic detachment and hatred without breaking something.

For people who don't want to go there - morality is whatever you feel it is. Of course it seems universal to you, and of course the world would be a better place if everyone felt the same.

Unfortunately they never will. And what happens then?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 27th, 2008 at 08:44:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What drives spirituality is a set of moral assumptions about ethical behaviour - which may be honest and conscious, or may be completely dishonest, selfish and unconscious, but are usually somewhere between the two - which are then dressed up in whatever moral totem and tradition that happens to be available and fits best.

It is religion, not spirituality, that will start out with moral assumptions... that are then dressed up in... whatever moral totem and tradition.

Spirituality in contrast rather describes an IMO innate desire to connect to the unseen (spiritual) world that we suspect is there as we see it reflected in our lives and that we also address to find answers to unanswerable questions such as, "Where do we come from? Where are we going? Why are we here?" -    

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 03:20:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, spirituality deals with what happens when our innate tendency to spot patterns and assign causes works outside its realm of useful application?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 03:27:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL!!!
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 03:36:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or, more to the point, spirituality is what happens when ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 03:37:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If rationality is the innate tendency to spot patterns and assign causes, then spirituality is the other side of the same coin; i.e. the same impulse using different applications here and there...
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 03:41:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope. Rationality is a way of controlling that tendency. Spirituality lets it run wild.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 03:44:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope. Spirituality only lets it run wild when it stops the thinking (unless someone cannot think to begin with - due to accident, disease, etc.). We're not called upon to stop the thinking. As humans, we are intelligent and rational (at varying degrees), and if we have a longing to go back to "the source", we must also acknowledge that at the source, we were created the way we are - superior and thinking.

I insist: rationality and spirituality = two sides of the same coin. -

When thinking humans are denied what makes them humans (intelligence!) in order to be able to be spiritual, then something must be wrong.

I would never accept it. ;)

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 04:35:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're confusing ethics and morals.

I deliberately never mentioned morals, and morals certainly aren't what I'm talking about here.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 05:24:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry - that was a stupid early morning comment.

I should have distinguished ethics and morals more clearly in my original and not used the M word at all.

Morals are more likely to be overt and socially sanctioned explicitly - like the ten commandments.

Ethics are what people actually value in practice, and what they spend their free time doing and thinking - which may be very different.

Most moral positions are simplistic and absolutist - 'Gay marriage is bad' - because most ethical positions are entirely subjective and pre-rational. ('What is about gays that bothers me?')

People often feel they know what their morals should be, but it's quite rare for them to have insight into what their ethics are based on.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 05:44:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree on what you say about morals and ethics.

Ethics would be of the received wisdom kind, morals the underlying concepts and rules that were never questioned and of which there was no or little awareness.

That is what the Catholic Church looked like in 1300,  and if I understand it well, it also is what rg is talking about when he cites RAW and the loss of intelligence through belief.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 06:40:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry for having interfered. I had gotten lost in the thread. The two of you (TBG + rg) were discussing morals/ethics. Feel free to ignore my words. ;
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 06:59:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're confusing "belief" with "working assumption" or something like that. The difference between something one knows for certain is true and something that you know subject to refutation.

I don't know anything for certain: I don't believe anything in the first sense. There are many things I think are true, but I could be wrong in any case. Now, I'm a perfectly imperfect human, so there are no doubt working assumptions that I would defend beyond rational limits even if confronted by overwhelming evidence and so would take on the emotional nature of beliefs, but that's a bug, not a feature.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 03:37:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe there should be different "knows" like in French - "savoir" and "connaître", ...

I know that 2 + 2 = 4. But that's when I base my calculation on 10. With a base 3, it's 2 + 2 = 8 ...

I know that it will be very cold tomorrow, and that we'll have snow. I heard it in the weather forecast. If it will be cold tomorrow, and there will be snow, then what I was told by the weather forecast will have been a working assumption at hindsight.

I know that ... well, there are plenty of examples,

that will ultimately prove that I know nothing.

I know nothing. What I know and what we know will always be very limited attempts at describing what is already there. We'll find words, play with numbers and play with things, invent new things out of what is there, reinvent old things - but cannot rationally grasp the mystery, i.e. we know nothing.

When I say I know, in the context of trusting words that are presumed to speak of that mystery and in the context of personal experience, I don't refer to factual certainty - but to spiritual "certainty" that provides peace, rest, etc. and that also involves struggles and doubts.

It is different from the factual certainty that you'll get when you're offered scientific proof (though even that should always leave room for doubt, as it does for you).

   

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 04:09:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, come on TBG.  You got it in for RAW, for me, or what?  I was trying to get a construction from Lily of what "spirituality" might be--I think it is worth analysing as I think it deconstructs in particular ways -- I don't mean deconstruction in the dismissive, more in the thesis (constuction) antithesis (deconstruction) synthesis (aim of exercise) way...

What I understand from Lily's position is "It's the real place that functions for you only when you believe in it."  I don't want to ponder ethics as well, I don't think spirituality is about ethics--in fact I think it is about curiosity, strange experiences, and hurt (looking for healing)--from what I've understood so far.  There's some ethics attached to the hurt/healing aspect sa a sense of being wronged or judged or having wronged or judged comes in, but to centralise ethics at this point--

'Tis a whole nother aspect, another diary needed for that I think.

Did you read the rest of RAW's article?  The very next paragraph sets his context for what he's thinking of when he writes "belief":

Belief in the traditional sense, or certitude, or dogma, amounts to the grandiose delusion, "My current model" -- or grid, or map, or reality-tunnel -- "contains the whole universe and will never need to be revised."

I'm sure RAW had working assumptions, but he was always interested in pushing them and tweaking them.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 04:13:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have it in for either of you, and a deconstruction was exactly what I wrote. I realise it's not canon for you, and you're much more used to taking RAW at face value, but bear with me here.

rg:

 I don't want to ponder ethics as well, I don't think spirituality is about ethics--in fact I think it is about curiosity, strange experiences, and hurt (looking for healing)--from what I've understood so far.

That's exactly what I'm saying - all of that is about ethics. Ethical positions define what people think is important and what they should and shouldn't spend their time thinking, doing and concentrating on.

It's not just about Christian morality or (not) being nice to each other.

A skeptic's ethics are based on the view that strange experiences are foolishness and delusion and people shouldn't waste their time on them.

That's ethics too.

And I'm not suggesting either is right or wrong - because that would be ethics as well.

rg:

I'm sure RAW had working assumptions, but he was always interested in pushing them and tweaking them.

But he was only interested in pushing and tweaking them in certain directions. There were certain things he would never have done because - truthfully - he considered them absolutely wrong.

As I said - he was always as severe a moralist as any puritan. People get confused by this because they think sex and drugs and magic and general hedonistic naughtiness can't possibly be a rigid morality - but of course it is. It's just a consciously transgressive one rather than a consciously conformist one. (Although it's also much less transgressive than it seems to be - only a minority of authoritarian types have any real issues with it.)

RAW gets a win because his interests were - somewhat - unusual for his time. But any pretence that he was absolutely dedicated to being absolutely open-minded is impossible to support.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 05:19:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it's a diary subject -  but I am thinking about spirituality prior to any notions of good conduct and the right life.  Is this one possible definition of spirituality: you can't describe it without bringing in ethics?

Maybe, but that's not clear to me.

I am thinking about spirituality as though a person told me there were a secret grove in the centre of the woods, or a special platform 9 1/2 which would take me to magicians' school, or a world I could get to through a wardrobe--some other place.  You know...

Curiosity leads some to say, Okay, let's take a look!  Other people claim to have fallen into the rabbit hole by accident and try and explain and express what happened to them.  And yet others go searching for the grove, the grail, becuase they are hurt (or have hurt) and have been told that the grove is a magical place where wounds are healed, forgiveness is offered, etc...

Even that last, I don't think is about ethics - except if "trying to heal oneself" is an ethical position...

As for RAW being a moralist, okay, he was a moralist if you like, but I was quoting him about belief specifically in terms of how beliefs can or can't be questioned and tested, not about his ethical actions and stances.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 08:59:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay - I'll try this again. So you want a secret grove in the woods.

Why? Why do you feel exploring secret groves is a good thing?

A lot of people will feel just as strongly that secret groves are silly, irrelevant, delusional or dangerous.

Why do they feel exploring secret groves is a bad thing?

Once you get past the rationalisations, you're left with 'I just feel it.'

It's no different to Lily's insistence on a personal relationship with her god. She just feels it.

And that's how these things always work. Things that make perfect sense to you look questionable or irrelevant to other people.

The reason is that you have an unconscious ethical framework which sees them a certain way, and they have an unconscious ethical framework which sees them a different way.

The ethical framework isn't up for debate because you can't debate something you're not consciously aware of and 'feel' is right.

So - people debate tangential things and give them names which supposedly stand in for them. But in practice these labels don't tell you anything useful about the unconscious felt motivations that drive some people to seek out groves, others to start businesses (you think there's no such thing as 'spiritual business'? - it's all over the New Age, if not elsewhere), others to open fire on strangers. ('I know god is on our side.')

There's no consistency here. Everyone assumes their take on spirituality is definitive, but there are so many different views used to justify so many different kinds of actions - never mind 'good' or 'bad' - that the only commonality is the experience of feeling something is 'right.'

But when so many completely different and contradictory things 'feel right' to so many people, 'feels right' is difficult to take as any kind of useful moral guide.

As for RAW - of course he was only going to test beliefs in a very limited way, and that's all he ever did.

The proof that he was as conventional as anyone in practice is that towards the end he was trapped in the same old Christian heaven-on-earth narrative, convinced that if people did certain things, not only would they be permanently happy, but that imminently they'd be able to live for ever.

Doesn't that sound familiar?

If he was really going to test his felt beliefs he could have joined the army and become an aggressive anti-communist, given up drugs and sex for ten years, or joined the board of an investment bank, and acted as if he took all of those just as seriously as his consciousness exploration.

But none of those options would have been consistent with his felt beliefs, so he didn't do them. And the baseline for ethics and for practical spirituality isn't what you think and feel, it's what you do and devote your time to.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 11:03:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the baseline for ethics and for practical spirituality isn't what you think and feel, it's what you do and devote your time to.

What you think and "feel" is what will determine what you'll eventually do.

If you "do" first, you may feel good about what you're doing but what will motivate you to do what you do?

To some it feels good to blow up a city.

Your deeds will feel good because you don't violate the law, you receive a smile and or good salary as recognition. Someone will say 'thank you'. You'll be rewarded.

And another person will hope to be rewarded for blowing up a city.

There is a baseline that will determine what we'll do and devote our time to. It's good to be aware of it.

In the 3rd Reich, people were rewarded for deeds they wouldn't be rewarded for doing today, and some even felt good about their deeds.  

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 11:47:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay - I'll try this again. So you want a secret grove in the woods.

Not quite.  I want to find out about a secret grove in the woods that someone--maybe a good friend--has told me he discovered last week.  Let's say he told me that in the secret grove there is a pomegranate tree that has the mosty tasty pomegranates.  He has given me a map.

I look at it.  It's blank.

"Hey, it's blank!" I say.

"Ah yes," he says.  "You can only see the map if you believe it's there."

Ho!

But let us not stop there.  Let us say (for on occasions) there is a map, albeit roughly drawn and more indicative than exact.  My friend's represenation skills are poor, but now...

imagine I go searching and--voila!  I find a grove, but no pomegranates.  Or maybe I find a grove with pomegranates, but ah!  They're the same as other pomegranates (still, I like pomegranates!.)  Or maybe there's a fruit that looks like a pomegranate, but it's a new species.  And maybe the grove isn't actually a secret grove, it's just that my friend--for some reason or other--thought it was supposed to be hidden when in fact it's well known in the next village as "Pomegranate Grove."

Ethically, I could do other than go search for the grove in the first place, and you can say that I want to go a-hunting.  But really, what I want in this case is to satisfy my curiosity.

I'm not sure how you can say RAW didn't test out beliefs.  The first part of Prometheus Rising is specifically about belief--I think you're not doing his argument justice, but that's for another time--if you're okay with that.  I'll write a diary about it if you think it's worth pursuing.

Talking ethics

Why should you do this and not that?

Should I breathe out now?  Why?  What good would it do?  Maybe I shouldn't be alive.  There are a lot of people around.  Would it be better if I didn't?  To breathe or not to breathe, ah!  I want to breathe out.  Yes!  But should I breathe out?  

I understand ethics as being more restricted - it applies to say, "Should you go to the secret grove" in the sense that there is some moral question specifically associated with such a journey (e.g. the secret grove belongs to another person who doesn't want you to visit it; you would have to travel for years to get there and you have a small sick child at home)

I'd like to clarify that I'm not treating "searching for a grove" as an example of a spiritual practice, I'm using it as an example of investigating something new--and mysterious--that I don't have direct knowledge of at present--a research project, that kind of thing--I'm at the data collection stage.  One of my questions has been, "How do I go about getting some direct knowledge?"  The answer "First you have to believe" sorta throws the whole project in the air.  I mean, "you can only see the grove if you believe in it" scuppers my investigation.

If you and I can agree that no great ethical negative will happen if we ask each other more...speculative (maybe inconsequential) questions (tomorrow the grove might be "chemistry" and my questions will change accordingly.  And I'd still prefer a map that is a map--"You can't see chemistry if you don't believe in it"--does that make sense?  If you DON'T believe in a thing, by definition it can't be there.  I'm looking for that place where hypotheses can be generated.  "Let us say there is this thing called X"...and go from there.)

You know I can see that following one line of enquiry rather than another can be brought into an ethical framework (The Society of the Spectacle - our attention is drawn to the inconsequential, history is erased by the week- etc... etc...), but I think we're talking across each other slightly, or I'm so dim I just cannae see it and you'll have to spell it out again!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 12:32:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you DON'T believe in a thing, by definition it can't be there

I should have added "for you" at the end.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 12:40:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Ah yes," he says.  "You can only see the map if you believe it's there."

Walk on, and the map will unfold under your feet. ;)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 12:43:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In which direction, eh?

If I get to choose, then I'm making a map (at least a mental one), not following one.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 12:56:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a saying (there really is!),

God doesn't give us a map. He gives us his hand.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 01:21:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well then, I won't have a map unfolding under my feet, will I?  I mean, if God doesn't give us one.  Instead I'll have a hand that I can only experience if I believe in it...and we're back where we started.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 05:20:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh!  I mean I think our analogies have confused themselves by now!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 06:45:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The answer "First you have to believe" sorta throws the whole project in the air.

I also said you should look at Scripture, compare, use all your intelligence and examine what appears plausible to you and what doesn't.

I don't know whether it would be of much help to read, say, the Bible from A to Z. Maybe it would be interesting for you to get your hands on some document, book, link that explains history through the lens of a Christian.

You then may decide or not, that this may be worth trying, or you rationally decide against it.

Before engaging in anything you could further read literature by more rationally minded authors than myself (:)), examine their testimony critically.

At some point, though (but I was a bit quick, jumped right there), you will have to "go there".

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 01:16:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A spiritual realm must be immanent, no?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 06:44:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kindly scroll to the end; I'll reply there.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 06:55:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah!  You offer me The Bible, so in return I offer you the forty third chapter of the Tao Te Ching.

I enjoy the moment "when our innate tendency to spot patterns and assign causes works outside its realm of useful application", as Colman put it, it's like a leap into nothingness, all engines firing, creating on the fly, saying, "Woah, this isn't a realm of useful application!" like when two bervous geeks sit down and one of them has been thinking about this project, and he'd never mention it but he suddenly blurts out, "You know, we could, like, build a thing where people could go searching all the pages out there, a kind of directory", and he thinks, "No!  No!"  And there's a pause, then the other geek says, "You know, that's not a bad idea!  Hey we could..."

...and they're off!  Maybe only for the night, but not ever life moment should be monumental, I don't think.

For you, Lily, I opened my Bible and woah!  

"I loathe my life;
I will give free utterance to my complaint;
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
I will say to God, Do not condemn me;
let me know why thou dost contend against me.
Does it seem good to thee to oppress
and favour the designs of the wicked?
Hast thou eyes of flesh?
Dost thou see as man sees?
Are thy days as the days of man,
or thy years as man's years,
that thou dost seek out my iniquity
and search for my sin,
although thou knowests that I am
not guilty,
and there is none to deliver out of
thy hand?
Thy hands fashioned and made
me;
and now thou dost turn about and
destroy me.
Remember that thou hast made me
of clay;
and wilt thou return me to dust
again?
Didst thou not pour me out like milk
and curdle me like cheese?
Thou didst clothe me with skin and
flesh,
and knit me together with bones
and sinews,
Thou hast granted me life and stead-
fast love;
and thy care has preserved my
spirit.
Yet these things thou didst hide in
thy heart;
I know that this was thy purpose.
If I sin, thou dost mark me,
and dost not acquit me of my
iniquity.
If I am wicked, woe to me!
If I am righteous, I cannot lift up
my head,
for I am filled with disgrace
and look upon my affliction.
And if I lift myself up, thou dost
hunt me like a lion,
and again work wonders against
me;
thou dost renew thy witnesses against
me,
and increase thy vexation toward
me;
thou dost bring fresh hosts against
me."

How many people across the planet who believe in God resonate with that elegant statement, of which I only quote part?  -- and check out God's reply!

"Gird up your loins like a man;
I will question you, and you de-
clare me.
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you
may be justified?
Have you an arm like God,
and can you thunder with a voice
like his?

"Deck yourself with majesty and
dignity;
clothe yourself with glory and
splendour.
Pour forth the overflowings of your anger,
and look on every one that is proud,
and bring him low;
and tread down the wicked where
they stand.
Hide them all in the dust together;
bind their faces in the world below.
Then will I also acknowledge to you,
that your own right hand can give
you victory."

The Tao Te Ching and The Bible, two very different approaches to life, but if there is THE Truth, as you say Lily, then THE Truth is either contained in one and not the other (=sects) or it is contained in both, but in different ways, maybe...different KINDS of truths, where THE Truth is one kind of truth only, it says it is THE Truth--and that is how that kind of truth proposes itself: as unique and ultimate.  "Who are you to question me?", says God.

While the Tao says...ach...it's written in chinese characters; I can't read 'em, I have to rely on translations...when surely the immanent is...immanent.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 08:24:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
VOLUME II - 28
This world which is around us sounds continually; the word re-echoes in all things. Only man must be aware of his privilege, of this underlying oneness of all life. The whole treasure of the universe is in the understanding of the mystical idea. This lack of religion of today, this increasing materialism - what is its cause? It is caused by the lack of knowledge of religion; it is the spirit of religion that is lost.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 11:08:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:

Why? Why do you feel exploring secret groves is a good thing?

how dare you enjoy something i don't understand, and which might distract you from my agenda? ed

 A lot of people will feel just as strongly that secret groves are silly, irrelevant, delusional or dangerous.

(and they will take their axes and cut down those groves, not because they think they're ugly, but simply because others draw strength from, them, and that is the most infuriatingly insulting thing to a petty false pride... ed)

Why do they feel exploring secret groves is a bad thing?

(because it threatens their cherished illusions that these things have no magic, because the lardy crust on their own pig-ignorant souls stops them from perceiving it, therefore these people who like them ARE delusional, and therefore it's FOR THEIR OWN GOOD that we cut down these great spirits because they inspire and ennoble people, give them ideas above their station, fuck it really never changes, does it? ed)

Same Old Shit, warmed up different... bon appetit!

the eternal revenge on beauty of petty minds, welcome to the _politics of paradox, the great levelling of anything 'interesting' in case it scares the horses, that are dropping dead or going kinky in the meantime in the sterile ennui of the sanitised safe level little bacteria-free wasteland, ed_



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 04:40:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Come on, melo, this is as close to flaming as we need to get. Does Lily's thread deserve it?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 05:29:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry if i sullied something, it just tweaks me something 'orrible, how the sacred groves were cut down for political reasons.

venting me spleen, innit!

sorry lily, if i spilt something on the pretty tablecloth, i meant nothing personal, flaming yes, but not directed to anyone on this thread.

thanks for reminding me of 'le bon ton', afew.

mea culpa

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 11:22:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't worry! Since I'm no native speaker, I don't always get the offence when it's there (quite useful sometimes:)). Besides, there's no need to adapt to whatever tone I express myself in...  
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat Nov 29th, 2008 at 03:44:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well, lily, it's a real pleasure to compliment you on your gracious piloting of the ET ship through some tricky straits.

your tone never drifted from exemplary, your courtesy impeccable, your capacity to continue showing up and patiently explain your arguments to all posters a lovely, high-level example of blogging as it should be.

being of hot blood and hasty disposition myself, it is a welcome feeling, tuning into your calm, yet lively replies.

you tell a good story, and play a strong net game.

hope to see you comment more here with us, perhaps on other subjects than religion, if you so choose.

this diary and its replies have popped up in my thoughts frequently while offline these last few days, and i had a nice flash that was born of those thoughts, which i'll share...

god is everywhere, in every thing and every not-thing, however s-he delights in playing peek-aboo, hiding and revealing, laying low and emerging, diving and surfacing. sublime lurking in the banal, leaping out in moments of heartstopping reminding.

substitute 'art' for 'god' and it works on another level also, including those allergic to the idea of the latter.

i lay a wildflower i picked today on a tablecloth chosen at random a few days ago. suddenly something clicks and i realise there is art in their juxtaposition, the colours with the textures with the light and shadow, the forms and patterns' music suddenly striking a new chord for the senses to hear.

i race for my camera before the light changes...

as might any atheist artist! i personally love having someONE to thank, because that's my, (and i think your) way i want my 'supreme being' to be, and so it works really well. the great spirit as shapeshifter extraordinaire...

some don't need to feel that there's a need or a joy in that kind of gratitude, or feel it's delusional, or an affliction even, lol.

 it's how you're made, like being bi or gay,  atheists make life more interesting, at least when they have deigned to give the subject at hand a little due diligence and possible respect, if that's not too much to ask! i know it's hard, but need it be?

god is a word, inspiration is a feeling, words often divide when they intend to unite.

the word 'god' has possibly the most divisive baggage in the whole world's vocabulary.

so i salute you for holding up a banner in a very stiff wind, and doing it with a light, self-deprecating hand, all too rare in these adolescent years of this 'ere blogosphere!

here's another gift aphorism for ya, since you seem to enjoy them. this one's mine...

Gratitude is short for Great Attitude

thanks for laying out such a nice, serene spiritual picnic potluck for us all to share wonder with you at.

i am so grateful.

ciao!

 

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Nov 29th, 2008 at 09:32:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, melo, for these very nice words.

I'm touched to see that others actually read! my diary and were curious about it. Words on blogs are always fleeting; I find it particularly rewarding at ET that people here actually LISTEN to one another and many invest a lot of time doing so.

I'll come up with other diaries on other topics, from time to time, and also like to read others, comment on their diaries. So sometimes there is silent reading, sometimes there will be comments, and occasionally a diary, as time permits.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat Nov 29th, 2008 at 01:00:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you are very, very welcome. you have a beautiful, deep and thoughtful mental architecture that is filled with light, a joy to read and respond to.

long may you linger bei uns, buona domenica, faithful one!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Nov 30th, 2008 at 09:12:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great comment, tbg...

meanwhile, back at the ranch:

God=shortcode for Greatest Of Drivers.

s'how's i sees it, shore nuff, lawdy lawd!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 04:20:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rg -

My own opinion is that belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence. The more certitude one assumes, the less there is left to think about, and a person sure of everything would never have any need to think about anything and might be considered clinically dead under current medical standards, where absence of brain activity is taken to mean that life has ended. (R. A. Wilson)

[emphasis by me]

Believe offers explanations for life's mysteries. It does not suppress what can be rationally understood or what's scientifically proved.

As a matter of fact, I appreciate your reflections very much; I really do.

It is only through intelligence that we can assess what we can explain with our brains, and what is there that we cannot explain.

Believe still leaves PLENTY of room for thinking, for our intelligence to unfold and more, the mind may be able to think even better about and within the world before our eyes when it has found rest, as it has seen* and accepted the ultimate reason for our existence.

* through faith

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 03:05:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Believe offers explanations for life's mysteries.

Did you read the whole article?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 04:14:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I did, - and I decided what I wanted to reply to.

You are caught in your rationalism, if I may... - We live in this limited world in our limited existence. We must deal with it like people through the ages had to.

We'll use words, try to frame what we believe in and what we want to rely on. We use our intelligence in many different ways. And it's up to each individual to decide whether he wants to choose from different possible reflections of reality, belief systems, etc. -or not. It's our free will.

You can always find words in words and about words to rationally deconstruct what I call spirituality.

I cannot prove I'm right; you cannot prove you're right or either that the other is wrong.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 04:53:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we're talking past each other now.  I don't want you to prove you are right.  I want you to express to me what it is you are right about, give me some map of this spiritual dimension (or dimensions) -- you are saying (well, I'm saying you are saying) that you cannot experience a spiritual dimension (or be affected by it?) unless you believe in it, right?  Well, then I ask - what are beliefs, how are they formed?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 09:02:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm.

Yes, I have the feeling that we're turning in a circle.

- What am I right about?

I don't think that I expressed it that way. If I say I am right, it seems to imply that everyone else is wrong.

Having found "Truth" is different.

The bottom line is that we go around on this planet, caught in time and space and we lack answers to the mysteries mentioned further up this thread.

The motivation to ask about life's mysteries is also and significantly nurtured by fear, essentially fear of death.

This is the reason why many people seek answers through faith, i.e. a belief in a God, gods, spirits, Gurus, etc. - It is not the same as belief in morals, tradition, family or a baseball team.
This quest for Truth in many different forms and expressions is part of human history.

- What are beliefs?

Well, that's what they are... In our quest for Truth, we encounter possible answers describing the nature of that Truth. Once we suspect to be close to the answer or we feel "touched", personally addressed, have a moment of "enlightenment" (?) - we will naturally tear consequences - from wanting to know more, questioning more to committing and staying on that "path".

I am sure that it is possible to measure brain activity during meditation and prayer, etc. and it will differ from brain activity while watching the news. And it is possible to dissect biochemical processes etc. - all this because we are humans, not robots, not fish.  

- How are they formed?

I described the drivers for engaging in beliefs above.

Now, let's detach and look at it in an even more abstract way:

We come into this world, learn and use our senses. We grow and develop our intelligence as we learn. At some point, we (not everyone...) become aware that despite conquering the world with our existence, we only move within limits. We may panic and/or become curious.

What's next? We seek answers based on who we are, involving plenty of environmental factors (family, culture, tradition, sex, stars, health, social standing...). Within the limits of our existence, we venture out to find what we're looking for.

Now, some will have little choice but will follow the tradition they are born into and adopt it. Others will question this received wisdom to the point of preferring not to believe in anything or something different. Others.... -
How these beliefs are formed differs greatly, and how they will reflect in different people's lives will also vary greatly.

The common denominator of these different expressions could be God-The One-etc. -  were there only ONE Truth, ONE wisdom, ONE you-name-it. It is possible to see the common ground - mysteriously forming these beliefs, beyond environmental influences, social conditioning, etc. - when you have a close look and with an open mind.

I wouldn't be surprised if this could also be proved scientifically - through comparison of brain chemistry of believers versus non-believers. :o

   

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 10:48:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The common denominator of these different expressions could be God-The One-etc. -  were there only ONE Truth, ONE wisdom, ONE you-name-it.

Do you agree that the variety of human beliefs about truth, wisdom, and you-name-it, can range from:

zero--there is no ultimate truth, wisdom, you-name-it
one--there is one ultimate truth, etc. (your position)
two--there are two truths, etc.
three--there are three truths, etc.
...to infinity--there are infinite truths, widsoms, you-name-its

--not all in the same belief system, though ;)

I don't think it is obvious that there is a common denominator to the answer(s), though there may be a common denominator (self consciousness?) for why we ask certain questions.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 11:35:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you agree that the variety of human beliefs about truth, wisdom, and you-name-it, can range from:

It is obvious that it does range from... to... - I agree.

BTW: I believe that we have to deal with conflicting forces that are either good or evil. This adds to the variety of expression of 'believers'.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 12:09:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What you personally believe is moot at this point, I think, as it is clear from the discussion that NO untestable belief can prove itself superior to any other untestable belief.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 12:46:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, removing the potential harshness, I mean:

Before we discuss your, my, or any other person's belief system, I think we need to establish how a belief system interacts with the material world--how does it demonstrate itself such that it is amenable to analysis.  So before you posit good and evil beings, I think it's better to continue to ponder how the for you spiritual realm(s) interact with the material.  As I've understood it, you think that you must first believe.  Therefore, if I don't believe in your good and bad beings they can't have effects on me, right?  If you think you are possessed by one and attack me, I only know that YOU are attacking me; your claim that you are possessed might be true for you--

--in your reality tunnel!  

We'd need some way, though, to bring the concept of demonic (or angelic!) possession into a place where we could understand it by its effects in the world.

You know, a volcanic eruption is pretty much there whether you believe in the volcano god or not, and what needs to be done is clear--

The believer thinks we need to immediately find thirty six pigs and kill them in size order to placate the god!

The scientist says, "You will be dead under two metres of ash before you've slaughtered the seventeenth pig."

Gah!  I think this diary is broked by now--I saw a comment, was reading it, in turned into single line poetry...I could hardly make it out, turns out it was by me!

Anyways--just to say I didn't intend a harsh tone with the above, just to....hmmm...equalise our positions: you get your belief as long as everyone else is allowed theirs, no matter how strange, as long as its untestable!

Or something!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 12:53:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So before you posit good and evil beings

Not good and evil beings! Good and evil forces, both present in everyone, some more devoted to one, others to the other - either by choice or without being aware of it.

Yes, this debate cannot continue like this! ;)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 01:27:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What you personally believe is moot at this point, I think, as it is clear from the discussion that NO untestable belief can prove itself superior to any other untestable belief.

rg: You asked whether I thought or agreed that others could find a different truth and I replied that they did, obviously.

I'd like to clarify that judgement is not mine, and I know very little about what is true to others or why they believe that way, but I'm sure that when I talk about Truth, I mean THE Truth. There is an absolute quality to it, but I cannot prove it. I believe that it does reveal itself to the believer and that it will reveal itself to everyone.

That's my worldview, Weltanschauung, ...

I don't intend to offend anyone by it, and I guess that I have really said enough about it at this point.

I don't want to "run away" :) from the debate; I'm sure we'll get back to this topic in a different diary.
I'm about to drop out of the diary box anyway...

BTW: If you look for facts, and maybe explore history as I had suggested, focus on Israel, Jewish history, God's way with His people and then, how and whether history as we have known it for 2000 years matches Old Testament prophecy, or not. The original interface between God and our world were His people, the Jews.  

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 05:56:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The original interface between God and our world were His people, the Jews.  

Is that THE Truth?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 07:15:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I have learnt and understood in this life: yes.

For me there is no contradiction when a Hindu will describe the interface between us and the spiritual world differently. The spiritual world is vast, but I have found no more convincing narrative that both describes and explains human history, giving a reason for our existence.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat Nov 29th, 2008 at 03:53:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This has been mystified but it is through the Holy Spirit that we can have this unity with our personal God - who is good and love everlasting but who also knows "the other side", the battle-field we're in.
On one level this is equivalent to the bliss of samadhi for a Buddhist or yoga, or to union with the divine, for a student of the Vedas.  Having the manifestation of Divinity represented in human form as Jesus in Christianity or as Khrishna in the Hindu tradition allows us to visualize how an incarnation would deal with the problems of life.  But this should be an aid to us in our efforts to experience life more fully and to grow, not as an end in itself.  To know how Jesus or Khrishna spoke and acted is different from knowing how Jesus or Khrishna thought and perceived the world.  To focus on the avatar is to remain bound within an anthropomorphic framework and to see divinity expressed, necessary and valuable in and of itself, rather than experiencing that expression directly.

From the Katha Upanishad*:

Know that the Self is the rider, and the body the chariot; that the intellect is the charioteer, and the mind the reins.
The senses, say the wise, are the horses; the roads they travel are the mazes of desire.  The wise call the Self the enjoyer when he is united with the body, the senses and the mind.
In Hindu psychology, the mind is the organ of perception.  The goal is that we have control of desire by the intellect through the mind and not be led wherever our senses take us.  They would see the avatar as another of the veils of Maya, or illusion; giving truth, but only within a certain context.
when I suffer and am angry, I want to be personally loved and understood, not judged.
This is a classic example of a desire.  While understandable and natural, it still needs to be transcended through detachment--if you are to continue to grow.

*Translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Fredrick Manchester.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 09:38:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The goal is that we have control of desire by the intellect through the mind and not be led wherever our senses take us.

What is wrong with "our senses"?

Why should we not trust but control our senses?

To control our response to our senses is something different, and wise IMO.

giving truth, but only within a certain context.

Could there be a wrong context for truth?

What would that be?

... classic example of a desire.  While understandable and natural, it still needs to be transcended through detachment--if you are to continue to grow.

I have heard this before.

In my experience this "rule of" detachment is applied when one person, group of persons, etc. know they are at fault and have caused suffering. Instead of admitting to it, apologising and bear the consequences, they will detach from their responsibility that would in return cause them suffering.

And they will advise the person/s offended, the victim to do the same: detach.

It's an attitude that Sartre called "mauvaise foi".

Its an advice that scares me VERY much.

-----

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (resistance, WWII) said,

"It is my firm conviction that no one can live in the reality of this present-day and find strength for the work and the challenges that lie ahead who does not have faith in the Creator and Redeemer."

In this spirit, I hope that I will continue to grow. Amen.
 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Nov 26th, 2008 at 06:37:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is wrong with "our senses"?
You answered this question yourself.  Many times immediate sensual gratification must be deferred or denied in view of long term consequences.  Many marriages fail over this problem.
Could there be a wrong context for truth?
Truth tends to be partial and particular to the situation and we tend to over generalize whatever truths we discover.  In my experience, a valuable truth in one situation can be disasterously inappropriate if applied in an inappropriate situation.
In my experience this "rule of" detachment ...
That is the inevitable consequence of detaching ones self from compassion.  The goal is to retain the compassion for others but detach from your own personal desires.  Reason can be the whore of desire.  The more one can detach their intellect from their personal desires, the better they can discriminate between what is and what they want things to be.  This is the reason for the rule in English Law that: "No man can be an impartial judge in matters pertaining to himself."  

I understand the concept of impartiality and can even sometimes apply it in my own life. :-/

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Nov 26th, 2008 at 10:53:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for clarifying these points.

I think I had taken your words wrongly.

On senses:

When you speak of control of our senses, I call it the reaction to our senses. But our senses, i.e. how we perceive truth or how we feel about something - don't betray us. They themselves don't need to be controlled - only how we react on them.

I think we agree on this.

On truth:

I like to distinguish between

  1. "the" Truth (= God, the One) and
  2. truths that can have different meanings as to how an individual will perceive it ("The truth is, the protection of animals is our responsibility; we should do everything to do more in this area." - "The truth is, something must be done to control climate change." - "The truth is...)  
  3. We need to find the truth: Who robbed the bank?

In the first case, there is only one Truth (IMO) but we all see it differently.
In the second case, there are different possible truths.
In the third case, there is only one objective truth that can be found.

a valuable truth in one situation can be disasterously inappropriate if applied in an inappropriate situation.

It is important to know what kind of truth you are referring to...

The first kind of truth shouldn't do anyone any harm, though it could be dangerous in various parts of the world and in certain situations to be too outspoken about "the Truth".

The second kind is more or less a matter of taste but it CAN be inappropriate, inconsiderate or impolite to articulate ones truth, like when the carnivore is invited over to the vegetarian and will says: "The truth is: I need a steak. Boy, do I hate your soy!" -

In the third case, there may be interests involved, namely from wanting to find out to not wanting for it to be found out at all costs.
This is where we talk about truth versus untruth - and some partial truth between the two.

In the first two cases to speak truth can be wrong, either because it's 'dangerous' with no worthy cause to take risks or otherwise inappropriate.
In the third case, there is a truth that can be found; it's a fact. For the robber, the adulterer, the liar, etc. no context will be the right one for the truth to be told. I believe every context is good for this truth to be revealed because it leads back to number one; God's light shines into the obscurity, the lies, etc. - Every context is the right one.

IF the context is "wrong", all that will happen will be that people won't believe the truth told or proved.

On detachment:

The goal is to retain the compassion for others but detach from your own personal desires.

You hadn't explicitly mentioned this before. When you put it this way, I can also agree with you on this. As a matter of fact, detachment is expressed in the words "just drop it!". - And I applied this, too, in my own life, when all else failed to provide comfort.

I don't think this concept is found anywhere in the Bible, only by implication in that we let go of everything, and live towards God, pray for those who inflict pain on us (because most of the time, those who hurt us, are not at peace with themselves, either). I remember that this "drop it" helped enormously - but it CAN be abused of in the way I described above.

----

Now, I'm not sure whether you agree with that we agree on these core issues - ?

   

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Nov 26th, 2008 at 05:41:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The kind of truth to which I refer is those Truths which we believe to come from the source.  The problem is both the filters through which we perceive those Truths and the influence that our own desire may have on those truths.  Many pitfalls lie along this path.

Jim Jones, David Koresh, Tony Alamo,...the list is long for those who were genuinely in contact with some inner source and who inspired followers to go over the cliff with them.  I suspect that they allowed their own desire to cloud their interpretation of what they perceived from their own inner source.  I believe that this is a problem for us all.

I am not trained as a philosopher, except, perhaps by my wife! :-)  But the nature of truth is a branch of philosophy, epistemology.  It is studied by philosophers, theologians and scientists.  Philosophy, science and theology are all social endeavors and the body of knowledge in each are social constructs.  In order for personal insight and personally perceived Truth to be meaningful, it must be amenable to sharing between individuals.  This means we must find ways to think about and, hopefully, resolve difference in how we perceive and interpret both truth and Truth.  This is a very non-trivial task.

On a personal note, I will be occupied with family matters for the next few days.  Keep that in mind if I do not respond in a timely manner.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Nov 27th, 2008 at 12:55:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is both the filters through which we perceive those Truths and the influence that our own desire may have on those truths.

I fully agree.

the list is long for those who were genuinely in contact with some inner source and who inspired followers to go over the cliff with them.

This is the reason why we need Scripture IMO. If we accept rules given like the Ten Commandments and as its summary and extension the "Love thy neighbour as yourself and God above all else," and what else has been revealed in Scripture (that may have suffered from human desire ; i.e. been altered - but it's still all we have...)), we have a frame that we may well question but we will be kept save when we remain within its boundaries.

The suggestion to take ones life, has no room therein; neither have reincarnations of Jesus and his disciples, no matter the impressiveness of the words they may say or miracles they will do. ...

Like all spiritual truth, when we remain within God and His word, we will "know" by the spirit...

(and I will try to "frame" the 'spirit thing' for rg, later still...)  

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 27th, 2008 at 04:26:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the reason why we need Scripture
This is an evasion of the problem.  All of those I cited had Scripture and, with great sincerity, (mis)used it in furtherance of their (mis)deeds.  Scripture, even if it can be read in the language in which it was composed, has to be interpreted.  A translation is an interpretation in and of itself, not least because it is not only the language that must be translated but also the cultural context.

In her seminal work The Chalice and the Blade Riane Eisler cites a story from Genesis 19:8.  Two Angles of the Lord have been invited by Lot to spend the night in his house.  A mob gathers outside demanding to see and threatening the two guests.  Lot is bound by the custom of hospitality to protect his guests, so Lot offers  as a distraction his two  virgin daughters to the crowd to be gang raped and killed. Fortunately for the daughters the crowd instead rushed the door. In the end the angels smite the crowd with blindness and order Lot to leave with his family.  Only this upright man is saved when Sodom is destroyed.  Such a morality tale!

Eisler makes this story comprehensible, if not palatable, by placing it into the context of a rigidly male dominated society in which wives and daughters were seen as property and as disposable economic assets.  Those who approvingly put this story in Genesis were embedded in that culture and Lot's offer seemed perfectly reasonable.  From their account it would appear that God and his Angles concurred, as they saved Lot and his family alone from the destruction of the cities of the plain.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 06:04:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope you had a good Thanksgiving!

It is not that Scripture = Scripture. First, it is true that all Scripture has been altered by translations and the maybe not always honest process of copying original texts. Second, some texts need explanation and interpretation to be understood.

This gets done and doesn't render Scripture invalid. It is still all we have. With regards to the Bible, the Old Testament contains historic facts, and the story of God with His chosen people; it is the story of God before IMO prophecies of the coming Messiah were fulfilled. Text, beginning with Jesus' birth is much more accessible, addresses the simple mind, i.e. everyone in God's new, extended covenant with all people. There are, however, different interpretations, e.g. with regards to the role of women in society. There are arguments among Christians about certain interpretations. In these cases I consider the Holy Spirit to serve us as a user(-friendly) guide.

But it's no guarantee against abuse.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 06:24:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lilly
I hope you had a good Thanksgiving!
Thank you for your kind wishes.  We did have a good Thanksgiving.  Had an early dinner with our neighbors, their eldest son, his wife and beautiful 16 year old daughter.  We left about 2:00 PM.

I had spent most of my time since Sunday buying materials and building a ramp for a motorized cart and a platform for an E-Z chair in preparation for the arrival of my wife's identical twin, who has MS and now suffers also from lung cancer.  (She never smoked but did have environmental exposure for a couple of years in one job.) She and her traveling companion arrived at 1:00 AM by train from Tacoma Washington at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, down in the delta.  

I met them with my SUV and a tilt trailer in which we could transport her mobility cart, we spent the night at a motel in Pocahantas, 15 miles north of Walnut Ridge and drove back to Mountain Home the next morning.  It is only about 130 miles, but, over winding two lane Ozark roads, it takes about three hours.  Last night I got 8 hrs sleep for the first time in days and the wife's twin seemed to recover well from the rigors of the trip by this morning.

I enjoy both my sister-in-law and her traveling companion and friend and my wife and her twin are never so happy as when together, so it has been a very good Thanksgiving.  Company will remain for another week and we intend to visit Branson, Missouri, which has lots of entertainment, and may get down to Hot Springs, AR, which was the first area protected, (1832,) as part of what eventually became the National Park Service.  Lots of history there.

But there is another subject with a long history with  which I have more familiarity.  It is sometimes called "higher criticism of the Bible," and an early example was The Jefferson Bible.  My wife was once involved in a home study program that included much of the reading material from a first year Jesuit seminary program.  The Jesuits were keen to expose seminary students to higher criticism at the beginning of their studies. That is where we acquired much of our biblical library, including a Concordance, a Bible dictionary and several works of biblical criticism.  I naturally used or read many of these books also. They complemented and provided a contrast to much of what I had learned in my grad school history  studies.  

Throughout the 80s and 90s there was an ongoing project, The Jesus Seminar Fourm, amongst academic and church based theologians who were attempting to achieve consensus on which of the saying attributed to Jesus were likely genuine and which might have been words put in his mouth by copyists, etc.  (Leading candidate in the latter category: "A little wine for thy stomach's sake.") While this forum included a broad range of views, those who view the Bible as the inerrant Word of God naturally self selected out of the project.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Nov 29th, 2008 at 02:12:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you. I, we here have fond memories of celebrating Thanksgiving in the US - with a huge turkey that hardly fit into our huge oven. We tried to import it (not the turkey!) but the project failed, and we now have the European-size turkey for Christmas.

On the on-topic: I am familiar with 'higher criticism', used and still use concordance and Bible dictionary. As a matter of fact, I have never actually met anyone who didn't apply critical thinking when reading/studying the Bible*, and that ranged from comparing different translations to debating interpretations. If theologians hadn't worked on the Bible, we wouldn't have any readable version today.

While I don't put too much energy into comparing and analysing biblical texts, I'm still sometimes surprised at how much tone and meaning sometimes vary between modern languages (English, French, German in my case). I think of a verse, look it up in German and then look at the English translation and it doesn't say what I had been looking for.

Such observation has actually been one of the reasons that motivated me to write this diary: Theologians have found that there had been (more) references in the Bible describing a worldview including the concept/reality of reincarnation. It has been suggested that most of these passages had been systematically deleted from Scripture.

Thanks also for the links to the Jefferson Bible (I'm not aware of having heard of it) and The Jesus Seminar Forum.

* Maybe Europeans are generally more critical and sceptical while there is still room in the US for this more naïve access to Scripture and faith.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat Nov 29th, 2008 at 05:54:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ad 3)

I realised that what I mentioned under #3 can bring us into very dangerous situations because there will always be a strong force trying to hide truth. It would be silly to ignore real risk but it is (almost?) always worth taking it.

Examples:

  • The terminally ill cancer patient: I have seen that doctors wanted to be "nice" and withheld truth, when according to their rational assessment there was no hope left... They would rather administer radiation and chemotherapy until very late - instead of confronting the patient with the truth.

    Does he do this to "help" the patient, or is it more in order to protect himself from being accused later for not having tried everything and even more so from having to deal with the patient and his family who may have a hard time accepting this truth?

  • The missing person... - It must be incredibly painful when a person is missing, abducted... but there is always hope left, hope that can be cruel in that maybe the person is alive but HOW?, maybe the person will be found dead and then all hope will be lost. Maybe the person is never found.

  • Abortion - Women's rights are put forward so strongly because no woman who has an abortion is ever shown the 'something' that is removed from her womb. It is too painful to know this truth; it's hidden and it must remain hidden. Nothing helps better to keep the truth obscured than to fight for women's rights for abortion. - Maybe that is one reason why the abortion rate is lower in states where legislation is more liberal. The procedure is less secretive and truth not as distant as where abortion is illegal. (this only as an aside)

  • Crimes of any sort like lies - usually cause more crime, more lies...

We always live in bondage, cannot be free when truth is obscured. It is impossible to detach.

There is no wrong context for this kind of truth.

At the source of this truth - is God, the One, the Truth...

The truth will cause pain but it's more the kind of pain that will ultimately bring an end to the suffering. It's this suffering, the grief and the tears that come after the revelation from which we can and may detach. We will be able to "drop it", or "give it into God's hands".

But it is truth hat will set us free, never the obscurity that we find ourselves in when truth is hidden.

There is a saying:

"It is when people become honest that God becomes the Lord." (Bodelschwingh)

and there's also this (by Bonhoeffer):

"In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the World."

It may sometimes appear more appropriate in our human eyes to withhold a truth but do we only seek ourselves in doing so or rely on God-The One, trust Him on that?

   

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 27th, 2008 at 04:08:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
It gives us notions that allow us to have access to the unseen.

yup, like my tarot cards, i ching and crystal ball...

and musical instruments! notions that help us beyond the merely cognitive to the unseen, as you so well name it.

the tao calls it 'the uncarved block', iirc.

:)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 04:03:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
melo -

While I appreciate your appreciative words further up, it also irks me that my fundamentally different view of the spiritual world has eluded you.

To me, this is a bit as if I had stated, "The sun is yellow," - and you had applauded enthusiastically, saying, "I couldn't agree more. I can also see that purple sun up in the sky!"

We both agree there is a sun, but my sun won't turn purple by your telling so.

Let's agree to differ.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 30th, 2008 at 05:23:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, melo, I think I'm not clear and unnecessarily confrontational. What I meant to say is this: I wouldn't solicit crystal balls or Tarot cards, though they, too, give access to the unseen.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 30th, 2008 at 05:35:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rg:
For me the big difference is the desert-tibe "we are the chosen ones" narrative, very different to the more all-encompassing narratives of other religious traditions.

Well they are chosen by their own god, and that they have in common with lots of religions. Athens was the city of Athena and so on. What differentiates the desert-tribe tradition is possibly the degree of contempt for other gods, though not there are militant polytheistic believers too.

I think the tradition of seeing the christian faith not as the commitment to only one god, but the belief in the existence of only one god is of a pretty late date in history. The power of the other gods has not been considered insignificant in the religious border regions, but Jehova is mightier. As other cults wane in influence their gods are demoted to the secondary role as demons and devils, and worshipping them is demoted to witchcraft. Still they are considered to have power though, witchcraft was not only wrong but damaging through the power the witches receive from their fallen gods.

If christianty dominates completedly the narrative of the independent Lucifer becomes tricky - for what is he but a competing godlike entity? Without external competition you get the problem of evil and similar trickiness.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 01:26:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is obvious that Moses gave credence to "other Gods" from the Commandment "Thou shall have no other Gods before me.  What could this mean unless Moses granted the existence of other Gods.  Yahweh was the war god of the ancient Israelites.  In those days he was not the only god, only the strongest god, in the eyes of the Jews.  This is the origin of religious triumphalism in our culture.  A large number of US citizens remain convinced that "God is on our side" in our wars.  Other, more humble observers have suggested that the question should be: "Are we on God's side?"

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 01:49:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We have just had synchronic thoughts - talking about humility/humbleness - you here and I further up in my reply to you. ;)
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 03:11:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In case there is more to add, here's a 'new page'!
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 01:33:45 PM EST
A spiritual realm must be immanent, no?

What do you mean by "must"?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 06:57:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean that as I understand it, immanence is part of the meaning of "spiritual"--it is an aspect of the definition.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 28th, 2008 at 07:23:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat Nov 29th, 2008 at 03:54:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
melo, rg:

First, rg, you quoted from the Old Testament... - which is very much contrary to what you'll find in Eastern Philosophies...

Eastern Philosophies speak mostly of the spirit as it manifests itself in nature, in us, etc. Spiritual matters are much more important there than in our Western culture. This is good.

But they lack this ultimate something that enlightens on the Why - and also where the world is headed which has become the Christian Right's hobby-horse, unfortunately.

It's this ultimate something that I couldn't get by without.

I don't understand why God was so different in The Old Testament... it's a mystery but the story's larger picture is coherent.

[I'll be away most of the day.]

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat Nov 29th, 2008 at 04:14:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"I don't understand why God was so different in The Old Testament... it's a mystery but the story's larger picture is coherent."

That was a god of the antiquity, much like the Greek, or the Egyptian gods, more like a human being, with his  good and bad sides, rancours, caprices, subjectivity.
The god of Jesus or Mohamed seems to have gone through some thinking and evolved into a more mature, more fair, more peaceful person. Maybe God too changes with age...

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sat Nov 29th, 2008 at 06:41:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe God too changes with age...

Age? Isn't God beyond time, eternal? ;)

We lack at least one dimension to fathom this.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat Nov 29th, 2008 at 01:29:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
God is supposed to be a person, and a god, in time, and outside time.
The mystery of the trinity is a bit similar: three in one, and yet distinct.
Or this:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

If we only use logic, we'll never get out of the woods ;)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sat Nov 29th, 2008 at 04:18:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am reminded of this book.

God: A Biography - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

God: A Biography is a nonfiction book by Jack Miles. The book recounts the tale of existence of the Judeo-Christian deity as a protagonist of the Hebrew Tanak or Christian Bible Old Testament. The book's conceit treats the Bible as a literary narrative, and God as a character within the narrative. The Tanak and the Old Testament contain the same books, however, the order of the books is different. Miles uses the ordering found in the Tanak as the narrative on which his analysis is based. The accounts of God's actions in the various books are then used to deduce information as to the nature, character, and motivations of God. The book won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize.

I liked the book, especially for its numerous references to other perspectives. In particular I liked how it highlights how the image of Jehova changes and can be seen as successive merges of images of other gods (Creator-god, local god, god of the ancestors, war god, and so on).

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Nov 30th, 2008 at 05:06:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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