Splashing around in theology.

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I read lots. I have a cat. I drink coffee. Therefore, I am.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Three Pillars

In my Introduction [previous, and first godpuddle posting] I referred briefly to what I called “The Three Pillars” and today I would just like to say a few words about what I mean by the use of that phrase.
But first I think it may be important to say a wee bit more about my own personal religious history. I do this mostly because I think it may really help with a reader or two who may come to the conclusion that I am a poor benighted soul who has not been correctly instructed in the higher realms of salvation-theory. [Soteriology, for those way in the loop!]
There may be another reader [or perhaps the same one] who feels that my other problem is that I only started thinking about theology the day before yesterday, or maybe as far back as Wednesday or Thursday of last week!
But neither of these things are the case, I can assure you, and I want to set your mind at ease on that score.
From a Christian perspective, there is nothing about being properly evangelized and/or “saved” that I not only know, but have also thoroughly experienced. Not only so, but in the course of my life, I have brought many others to similar points of life-changing “decisions to follow Christ.”
For now, suffice it to say that since mid 1984 I have been on a very conscious journey. As I have mentioned earlier, this is when I began to read and study the Bible, began first to pray and “seek” God, and attend church.
In short, to be a Christian.
[For more about my illustrious Christian life, see the Introduction, below].

There are many “types” of Christian…. really there are, I hope that we do not ever need to argue that point.
Someone: “We’re all the same, if we love Christ, brother.”
Me: “Sorry. I do not agree.”

What I mean is that you may come in the Christian door through Catholicism, or through Pentecostalism, or Presbyterianism, or even some of the more diverse types of “churches” such as Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Point being that all of these people are “loving Jesus” in their own way.
And that is just it. On finer points of theology, members of these various sects and groupings can have viewpoints as irreconcilably different as are tractors from peacocks!
The door I went in, was the door of Pentecostalism.
One way that I would define Pentecostalism [and there are many ways to categorize it, this just being one] is that God is a being who intervenes in the daily life of the believer. Very much so, in fact. Or perhaps it may be more correct to say that He can do this, according to Pentecostal theology… and furthermore, He ought to be doing this.
Why ought He to be doing this?
Well, because that’s what Pentecostalism is based on. The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit into the lives of believers, the initial evidence of which, is the fact that these believers speak in other [earthly] languages, as God, through the action of the Holy Spirit, grants them the supernatural power to do so.
Does that sound to you a little bit whacky?
Well, it sounds whacky because it is whacky.
But this is the door I opened, and the room into which I stepped.

Now, I say all of the above to get to the point where I can now tell you that the real cornerstone of my “faith” as I percieved it was that the Bible is the “literal” Word of God, and by that, I am saying that I took it to mean that every single story… yea, every single sentence in the Bible that was not CLEARLY understood as “metaphor” was “literal” or, to be understood in a literal sense.
By this I mean to say that if [just to choose one example] the Red Sea parted in the book of Exodus, if you were there that day with a camcorder, you could have got the whole thing down on videotape.
It not only really happened, but it really happened exactly as described in the Bible.
Similarly, if Genesis tells us that there was a point in history when there was only two human beings on the face of the earth, and they were named Adam and Eve, then that means that there was a time in history when there was only two human beings on the face of the earth, and [by golly] their names were Adam and Eve.
For me, this story was not telling us anything of “type” or “archetype.”
It was delineating literal historical truth.
As you can imagine, I could go on nearly forever with examples.
I believed in the thoroughgoing literal interpretation of Scripture as 100% surely as I would have believed that I am not an aardvark!
Some of you reading this will be, by now, snickering to yourself and simply saying that I had some sort of brain damage.
The thing is, there are seriously not only millions, but BILLIONS of people that have this exact same sort of brain damage, and they exist not only in Christianity, but in many other religions as well.

OK, fast-forward the tape to August of 2004.

While there are several other factors that lend themselves significantly to my overall RE-CONVERSION experience, I am going to focus upon one that proved to be truly cataclysmic.
While other things had been moving me forward (and I do believe it is forward, and not backward, as some may see it), this next thing sort of catapulted me forward, so to say. Launched me into new and invigorating realms of understanding.
I was at work when the phone rang, and a friend of mine told me that he had just heard Tom Harpur interviewed on a radio program.
“We should go out and get his new book, and read it together,” my friend suggested.
At first I was hesitant because I had already observed the book in the bookstore and I dismissed it as being scary, and/or too heretical, or [at the least] too New-Agey-ish for my tastes.
But curiosity prevailed, and I met my friend within the next hour, and together, we each bought Tom Harpur’s controversial new book, The Pagan Christ: Recovering The Lost Light.

I [we] read the thing.
I [we] have never been the same since.

The book revolutionized my thinking in so many ways that at many points in the reading, I wanted to set the thing down and weep for joy. The only reason I refrained from doing so was because I was wary of leaving one form of brain damage to possibly embrace another.
I did not want to become a Harpurite, or join any kind of thing ending in “ism”.
I have zero desire to be fanatical about religion, or lack of religion.
Neither am I [now or ever] angry at God or angry at religion. [Well, actually, I am angry at religion, when religion makes people do harmful things to other people.]
This may be a good place for me to say that I do not currently attend church of any kind, nor have any desire to do so.

I do not even fully endorse every single aspect of Harpur’s book, nor am I even recommending it here, to other readers.
What the book DID for me, however, is that it allowed me to see that there are other ways than the purely “literal” to approach and examine Scripture.
Revering the Bible as a sacred text does not necessarily have to mean that we treat it as the infallible WORD OF GOD.
And I guess that the first time I really grasped this concept was when I read The Pagan Christ.
Hence, I think of it as my [no disrespect intended]… my being born-again again!
I have, since that time, been on what I would call an exciting journey of reconciling faith with understanding. Harpur’s book set me on a course whereby I can still believe in God, but not necessarily the kind of God who values most our unwavering ability to believe things that do not make sense.
In other words, when things that are meant to be religiously believed, do not make a shred of actual sense, I am now free to acknowledge that.
And that is a tremendous, wonderfully liberating experience.
It is no exaggeration for me to say to you that since I have opened my brain pathways to the possibilities inherent in the non-literal interpretation of Scripture[s]… I feel as though I have been born-again again.

Since reading Harpur, and subsequently hearing him speak in person, I have read the writings of numerous other well-known and respected authors, and continue to find that there is an entire WORLD of scholarship out there that was not granted entrance into the narrow hallways of my former mind.
These would include the writings and ideas of people like Leon R. Kass, Bishop John Shelby Spong, Elaine Pagels, Marcus J. Borg, Karen Armstrong, Joseph Campbell, and many others.

In all of the various reading I have done since August, 2004, I have noticed a grouping of three central ideas, at turns covered one way or another by all of these authors. Combined with all of my own thinking upon the subject of God and our human spirituality, I have come to think of these three things as “The Three Pillars” or somewhat of a common denominator of a new and liberated approach to “the spiritual” side of life.
These Three Pillars constitute the three areas in which my own thinking has shifted the most, as a result of my study:

1) The thoroughgoing literal interpretation of Scripture. That’s got to go.

2) The exclusivity of Christianity, or for that matter, any one religion. That’s definitely got to go.

3) The ineffable nature of God. That’s got to displace the dual fallacy that we can know everything about who God is, and adequately define God in human language.

On this blogpage, I want to take each of these “pillars” and elaborate upon them, outline for you why I think they are such important areas to focus upon if we are ever to [personally] make sense out of what sectarian religion has made to look like so much utter nonsense.
It is not nonsense.
It only looks like nonsense.
God is not ever going to make sense in a collective sense. For that to happen, every human being on earth would have to be on the same spiritual journey, and because of differences of religion and ethnicity, not to mention history and a myriad of other factors, it is simply unrealistic for religious and/or spiritual harmony and accord to ever exist on this planet.
I believe that all true spiritual understanding is only experienced and understood by an individual.
In this realm, mine is not yours.
And yours is not mine.
Nor, when we get together and find that our experiences are quite similar, does that make them, in a collective sense, TWICE AS GOOD!
This latter perception is the very error of religion, from time immemorial.
The horror of Religion is that, by subscribing to it in one of its many forms, we deny God the very diversity He has seen fit to allow us.

[Here is a disclaimer that I only want to mention this one time. I use the pronoun “He” in reference to God, not because I think “He” has a penis, nor even because I think “God” is otherwise more male than female, but simply because using “It” seems sort of wrong in some way, and using “She” is no better nor worse than using “He” in my opinion. God, given that one believes “He/She” exists at all, surely transcends all gender, and gender, when all is said and done, is merely a terrestrial condition that exists in the first place because of the need for procreation…. and because someone, after all, needs to do the dishes!]

Just wanted to end with some humor there….


Blogger Cold Molasses said...

Wow...I look forward to each of the pillars. I have not read The Pagan Christ yet. Alas, maybe I need to do so in order to continue this dialogue with any justice. But I love the concept of how you are laying this out...that is, laying out your beliefs and rationale...fits perfectly with my VERY logical brain!

Interesting though (and no doubt a result of my upbringing to date), when I read your 3 pillars, I don't have a terribly tough time getting my head around where you are likely going for #1 and #3. When I think about my own beliefs, I'm not sure they are inconsistent, even with my own conservative views.

My biggest initial struggle with #1 is how to decide (or choose) what should be considered literal versus not. It initially strikes me as too easy just to pick and choose, but then, I'm not sure we don't do that anyway...nor am I sure that the compilers of the Bible didn't do the same.

I'm most curious about pillar #2 thought. Primarily because it is so opposed to everything I was brought up on. That's not to say I am dismissing it...not at all. But it is the one I am most skeptical of to start...and as a result, the one I am most anxious to discuss.

Alas, I have nothing to add to the preamble of this puddle other than an encouragement. Keep going...I think I see a book in the making...early retirement for you afterall Cip!

3/13/2006 6:55 PM  
Blogger cipriano said...

Dear cold molasses:
I really appreciate your reading the blog, and your anticipation about further stuff here on this page.
I too, am really excited about the thing.
I am the writer of it, and even I do not know where it will go, because I am on a journey.
I have not arrived anywhere and honestly, I do not even know where the intended destination is.

You said your biggest struggle with point #1 is in wondering what should be taken literally or not.
I am just having some fun here [just got home from work] and so, take this with a grain of salt-of-the-earth, OK?
But, immediately, I think of a very brief verse, in Matthew ch.10, verse 30.
It says, "And even the very hairs of your head are numbered."

Again, I am just being a bit whimsical here.... but seriously, you and I both know that this verse is preached, and fairly regularly, as meaning that God is intimately concerned with how many hairs you have on your head, at any given moment. I remember once even hearing in a sermon, that when you are in the shower, and you wash a number of hairs down the drain after shampooing.... that loss has been celestially recorded, by God.
This is the kind of "literal-minded" thinking that leads to severe problematic inconsistency.
What do I mean?
Well... tomorrow afternoon I could be diagnosed with having cancer of the brain, or an aneurism or something.
Let's say it's the latter thing.
I don't know exactly what time of the day it will be when I receive that diagnosis, but I can tell you this much. It would definitely be the EXACT time when I would like for God to quit counting the hairs on my head, and perhaps maybe do something about the aneurism inside that head.
But here is the thing...
He is probably NOT going to do anything beneficial for me, regarding that aneurism.
I will die from the thing.

What good does it do me, in the meantime, having LITERALLY believed that God was aware of EVERY SINGLE HAIR ON MY HEAD, as well as all of the many hairs that washed down into the sewer system this morning, and yet He does not seem to have nary a clue as to the problem I am now having with my brain?

The verse is meant to merely say (and mean) something like God cares about us.
It is not meant to convey any sort of literal truth about our hair.
The key thing to realize is that God is not to blame for this interpretation.
We are.
Hundreds and hundreds of things that we CLAIM about God, have very little to do with how God truly relates to us.
The incongruency can MOST OFTEN be traced to a literalizing of something that was meant to be read as metaphor, or as example.
Much less the hairs of our head... we can look at every single tragedy that happens in the real world, and then look at this "hair" verse in the Bible and conclude that it has the exact same "literal" relevance as any line in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

Many people would say, "Oh Cipriano... look at the context, in the preceding verse it is saying that no sparrow falls to the ground but that the Lord is aware of the bird's plight. What the whole passage is saying is that when terrible things happen to us, God is still in control, and very aware of our misfortunes."

I agree.
I agree that He knows.
But you and I both know that this is not how the "hair" verse is always conveyed.
And the error is in the over-literalizing of it.
And I'm still going to die of that aneurism. If not right now, a bit later on.
It is a weak example, admittedly. Be patient, I will get better at trying to explain these things that are keeping me awake at night.

Your other query... your ponderation upon Point #2... my idea that the "exclusivity of Christianity" has got to go by the wayside.

Let me illustrate what it is that I am meaning here, in a very simple illustrative question.

"Is Mahatma Gandhi in hell tonight?"

For that matter, is every "previously unsaved" person that perished in the 9/11 tragedy of the Twin Towers, are they in hell tonight, along with Gandhi?

The fundamentalist [which is really the shorter form of saying "person who interprets all of Biblical Scripture in a literal sense"]... the fundamentalist Christian is quite literally FORCED to answer an unequivocal "Yes" to BOTH of those questions.
[By the way, it is their literal interpretation of Acts 4:12 and similar Scriptures that is forcing them to do this]...

And they DO!

How do I know that?
I have ASKED these very questions, of them.
Staring me right in the face, the fundamentalist Christian says that Gandhi is in hell tonight, because he did not accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior prior to being suddenly shot to death.

Have you ever watched Everybody Loves Raymond, cold molasses friend?
Ever see when Deborah gives that look to Ray and says "Idiot"?

That is the only appropriate response that I have for the person who KNOWS that Gandhi is roasting in some sort of hellfire right now this evening of March 13th, 2006.
A man who was more "Christlike" than any Christian who has lived a MILLENIUM on either side of Gandhi's date of birth!

I have had people look me directly in the eyes and [with a sort of "glee" to be honest] tell me that "Yes. Gandhi went to hell."

"Idiot" is much too bland of a word for such ABYSMAL ignorance!
THAT is the thing I am saying has GOT TO GO!
The goal of the "church" ought to be, first and foremost, a hunt for a garbage-can big enough to cram that thing into.
Nail the lid down tight.
And bury it deeper than the hole it came out of.

3/13/2006 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Cleo said...

I like what you are attempting to put forth here and will be interested in the progression. My own religious upbringing was schizophrenic-Jewish grandfather, Southern Baptist grandmother, Christian Scientist father, Lutheran stepfather and mother-I’ve been exposed to the gamut. Perhaps that is one reason why I have always believed strongly in your Pillar #2. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading the Nag Hammadi, the current version(s) of the Bible, and have studied Hinduism, Taoism, Islam, and Buddhism and marvel at how similar the foundational precepts are. I simply cannot reconcile any belief in a God who cares at all, with one that would send a “godly” person to an eternity in “hell” over a matter of semantics. Gandhi in hell indeed…I think not. And Pillar #1-I was actually asked to leave an adult Sunday school class at a modern “Christian” church over this. I tried to pose the idea that all works of literature, whether “divine” or “inspired” or secular, are written and interpreted through the lenses of the societal structures in which they are written. I then said I felt that God could have come down in living color and given the answers to every question in the world to a female and it never would have been included in the version of the Bible we know because of the highly patriarchal social structure of the time. They did not agree and it was suggested that perhaps I would be happier at a different church. This was ten years ago and was the end of my attendance at church of any domination.

3/14/2006 1:13 AM  
Blogger cipriano said...

Thank you for your insightful comments, and yes, several parts of the Bible are so patriarchally-based that it is not even hilarious.
Even in the Ten Commandments... "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife..." etc., [Exodus 20:17].
Of course, since it is impossible for a woman to covet her neighbor's husband, it was not even necessary to mention the contingency.....
Oy vay!

3/14/2006 6:37 AM  
Blogger Isabella said...

Am curious how/why it is you accepted the Bible's literalism in the first place — an accident of circumstance (the way you were raised?) (why Pentacostalism and not some other door?)? some kind of hard-wiring in your brain that has since been altered?

I don't mean to pry or to give you the third degree, but rather I question why literalism is embraced by anyone at all. Personally (raised RC, strong Polish tradition, regular church, etc), it never occurred to me to do so. I can't ever remember a time that I believed in God, let alone that the Bible was literal — I remember always doubting, even as a 4-year-old. (Am still toying with the possibility that I want to believe.) So basically I'm wondering: am I (are we — you and me; and we — all the adherents of religion worldwide) wired differently and which is the "normal" state.

Your Gandhi example reminds me of an interview I read with Mel Gibson, who firmly believes his wife is going to burn in hell. (How can they sleep in the same bed at night?)

The comment about picking and choosing what's literal makes me wonder how different, or not, is reading the Bible like reading literature — you accept the author's world as self-consistent, take plot points at face value, etc, but you know some descriptions have been exaggerated for effect, made pretty, hint at the metaphor of some deeper meaning. You just know. But how do you know?

(Sorry if I'm rambling and off-topic — just responding, thinking out loud. This blog seems off to a very thoughtful start. Will follow along from time to time, because I'm interested even while ignorant.)

3/14/2006 8:29 AM  
Blogger Cold Molasses said...

Wow...see this is getting good and we're only on blog entry #2. Cip, we need to talk about that book deal...I'll only take a moderate cut!

Seriously though, I completely understand your "hairs on my head" analogy and agree that these types of passages are often misquoted as literal...I won't even try to defend that. My curiousity about Pillar #1 is more the assumption (perceived by my brain at this point anyway) that this seems to insinuate that there are no absolutes (maybe this is true???) and it is completely at our discretion to decide what is "right" (poor choice of words I know but nothing better is coming to mind)...that is, there is no ultimate standard that God would hold us to...it's all up to us. I don't know how to reconcile that in my mind so my trepidation is merely around how I see this newfound "discretion" being manipulated for no good (sort of the same way the literal example you gave is misused come to think of it!). At some point I think we need to come to grips with this concept and part of the challenge will be deciding if the Bible (as an example) or any other book is or should be seen as "coming" (either directly or indirectly) from some higher authority. If there is no such source, what baseline to we use...or is there one? And if there is no such baseline...uh oh, I'm getting a headache now! Anyway, I don't have the answer, but that's my first reaction.

P.S. Picked up The Pagan Christ and have started to read it...it's now in soft cover so I didn't feel as bad funding that kind of blasphemy (just kidding...sort of!).

3/14/2006 4:35 PM  
Blogger cipriano said...


You ask some very good questions. I think that the reason I sort of adopted a real literal approach to Scripture when I first came into Christianity was simply because I came in through the Pentecostal tradition, which is one that tends to be very much based on a "God said it; I believe it; That settles it!" interpretive framework.
It's what I would today call... "lazy" interpretation.

[I was not really raised to be much of a church-goer kid. My parents were of the Greek Orthodox religious background, but we were not very churchified at all].
My religious conversion was a very personal matter, as in individual, and occurred when I was 20 years old.

That Mel Gibson line sounds pretty wild.
Are you serious?

I believe (as you also mentioned) that rather than the Bible [and for that matter, any other sacred text] being understood as the ONE BOOK WRITTEN BY GOD, it [and others] should be read as a great piece of literature, and by that I mean, with more attention given to the human authorship than is often given.
The amount of human error, and worldwide tragedy that has resulted from the forementioned misconception ["OUR BOOK IS GOD'S BOOK!"]is really incalculable.
And it continues...

Cold Molasses:

The issue you raise, about there being the possibility of "no absolutes" if one cannot be certain of the literalness of any given text... this is a very relevant issue.
It begs for the definition of some terms.
By that I mean, to address the issue, one has to really be sure of what is being sought for, in other words what are the "absolutes" in question?
What are "absolutes"?
How do they differ from presuppositions, etc.

This is a road that ought to be walked down, at some point here. Probably not to really arrive at an answer that works for everyone, but at least to acknowledge a few ruts in the road, and whatnot. And get a wee bit further along.

I think, cold molasses, that you have hit the nail on the head when you ask about whether the Bible is to be viewed as "God telling us" or "man telling God."
As you put it.... is it "coming from a higher authority?"
Crucial question.
If we focus upon rules, standards of conduct, and/or ETHICS... ie., if our raison d'etre is to be sure we are DOING what God wants us to do, we will tend to read the Bible [intepret it] in a more literal sense.
This is because we are looking for those rules.
The thing I have noticed, however, is that most often, the places where there is the greatest gulf between a literal interpretation and a "metaphorical" one (per se), these places do not necessarily swing upon any sort of "ethical" hinge.
[For instance, the "hairs of your head" example of yesterday].
They swing on a "rational" hinge.
Interpreting the Bible metaphorically does not ever grant freedom or license to be profligate or sinful or evil where a literal interpretation would have kept these things in check.
And the proof of this is in the simple observation that those who interpret the Bible the MOST literally, are oftentimes the most unloving and/or judgmental, and/or otherwise unforgiving, strict, nasty, yes.... [I am waxing eloquent here now].... evil, AND SINFUL people that you could ever meet.
The very people that Jesus described as "whitened sepulchres, full of dead men's bones, and everything unclean" [Matt.23:27] were those in his midst THAT INTERPRETED SCRIPTURE IN THE MOST LITERAL SENSE POSSIBLE!
Jesus said that their literal interpretations were doing them no ethical good!

Even in my own life, [and I may be a poor example, admittedly] I once was a genuine literalist, biblically speaking. So I KNOW what this is.
But I also know that it did next-to-absolutely NOTHING for me, in an ethical sense.
In other words, I am NOT more "evil" or "sinful" today [now that I'm a Metaphor-Man] than I was back then.

In fact, contrariwise, if anything, I feel that I am a much more loving, non-judgmental Christianish-y person NOW, than before, when the thunder [literally] roared from Mount Zion!
I would cringe and be embarassed to listen to tapes of my own preaching behind a pulpit in the days of my LITERALISM.
For two reasons, I would cringe.
1) For my judgmental know-it-allness.
2) For the lack of rationale, and rationality.

Someone could say "Ahh but Cipriano my friend. If you preached today, in your post-literal state... people would listen and they would all feel as though God loves them or something... the common heathens would feel like they could run right into the arms of God without even worrying about what is right or wrong in their life!"

Hmmm... isn't that sort of what Jesus made "the common heathen" feel like?
Ask the Woman Taken In Adultery! [John 8:1-11]

These are avenues that ought to be explored, and they are things brought to the surface because of asking the good questions.
Good on you.

Harpur is a wild man!
Tell me how you are enjoying and/or not-enjoying the book.
I know you just read The Da Vinci Code too, and I would love to know if you recommend it to me. I have not read it. [Imagine that!]

The best to you all.

3/14/2006 11:30 PM  
Blogger RantandRoar said...

First, let me say that there will be no argument that there are many types of Christians. In fact, there are many sects in most world religions, each with their own nuances, quirks and idiosyncrasies.

There is no doubt that your reference to Pentecostalism, as Christ intervening in our daily lives is true, but many of the different types of Christian faiths believe this also, including other faiths such as Islam. So, I am not sure how accurate this statement is in singling out this particular faith you are referring to. I believe that this is more a marker of fundamentalists (referring specifically to the belief that one's religious texts are infallible and historically accurate, despite possible contradiction of these claims by modern scholarship) who believe that their god intervenes in their lives (hopefully positive) and those of their enemies (hopefully negative).

As to the literalist interpretation of holy scriptures, it seems clear to me that;

1. Those believing literally, of all of the different holy scriptures that espouse different ways, only one can be right at a maximum if they are to interpreted literal, so at a minimum, there are a lot of people totally screwing themselves over.
2. All of these scriptures were written by men at different times in male dominated societies and then usually brought together by a bunch of other men (in a latter time) in male dominated societies who decided what would make up their holy scriptures.
3. At best, most of these holy scriptures are metaphorical, historically inaccurate or exaggerated and are derived from similar ideas (strikingly similar to precursor ancient religions).

Wow, Harpur! Like you, this was one of the first books that started me thinking about what I had for some time, conjured through my mind, but had never been able to put into concrete ideas. While I too did not understand, agree or believe everything Harpur wrote, it was intriguing and eye opening. His arguements, along with other authors, like you have mentioned and others, made me realize that what I had long believed in, did not make sense to anyone who could form a logical thought. (Logical thought and religion - an argument for another day)

As for your Three Pillars, a few quick comments:

1. The literalization of scripture. First of all, I am at the point where I can not bring myself to say that any holy scripture is brought to us by god. In fact, I believe that to go much further with your blog, you need to step back in this path of discovery of yours and define what god is (or can you?). And did this god, creator or whatever you would call him/her/it, actually inspire men to write down words that we would live by. And if these are inspired, why are they so contradictory, metaphorical, and many times all out ludicrous? Does god really even exist or is religion mans way of dealing with The Knowing (if you know what I mean - another blog).
2. The exclusivity of religions. As I stated earlier, if religion is to be exclusive then there are a lot of people going to some sort of hell. The question to be asked would then be two-fold; if there is a god, why and how could this loving god curse all other humans created because of a belief in one particular religious belief system (not others) and secondly, why would a god pick one group of people on the earth over another to be the lucky people for the right or only way?
3. The ineffable nature of god. Douglas Adams once wrote "We shall grapple with the ineffable, and see if we may not eff it after all." You know, the very idea of a god, a supreme being, a creator is both unimaginable and imaginable all at the same time. Religions have pegged god into little forms and holes so that they can grasp the reality of a deity. Something they can depend on, go to in time of trouble, see a future after the mortality of their death. Even to put the patriarchal term he on god is to limit the possibilities of what a creator could be.

Well, I guess I should stop here. Hope I made some sense of where my mind is at right now, and I must say I am looking forward to stomping in your godpuddle (got me rubber boots on!).


3/15/2006 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beg pardon, but Christians with illustrious careers -as Christians- are not Christians in the truest sense, period. Does not the Gospel itself teach that "Who humbles himself shall be exalted, who exalts himself shall be humbled"? This warning is not some abstract metaphor, to de digested in the context of how decadent, how indolent and how flagrant you would like to be - it is a call to -be humble-, that is, not to be proud of your accomplishments, the fruits of your labors, or your station in life, nor even of your faith, but to put off all pride and appearances of pride. (In fact, Christians with illustrious careers elsewhere may be in trouble, because as I recall, a poor widow can give her last ingot of copper and have given much, while a wealthy man who has given much from his greater wealth may have given little. See camels, needles.)

As I hear a wise man once said, blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (It's not meek to say that you're a righteous judge of the law, by the way, to pray on street corners, or to make your phylacteries wide and your tassels long. It's also -not righteous-, and it's behavior which Our Lord and Savior saw fit to criticize in the strongest possible terms.)

In studying other religions, I came upon the same concept, only phrased in a different way, in the Bhagavad-Gita. In the Gita, the believer is encouraged to act because such action is needed - not out of desire for the fruits of that action, but because you know that the action you are taking is the one right and proper action to take. A more Christian sentiment, I find, than is available from most supposed "Christians," and one which the world would be better off taking to heart before it is much too late to do so. (Not even in expectation of the Rapture, which again is an expectation of reward for doing what should be done because it is right to do it, but for the sake of, as Christ teaches, "doing for the least of these" - our fellow man, that is - what we would do for Him.)

9/21/2006 11:06 AM  

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