Topic of the week: God

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How blogging works is a mystery to me. Surprising things happen all the time. Some stuff sticks for awhile. A lot more doesn't. It's a blur of information, and focus is hard to find. I've been wondering lately if a weekly theme might have any value.

So without further adieu, here is our first-ever topic of the week, complete with a fancy blue button you may soon be able to push.

Let's talk about God.

Comments

Go with me here.

Someone else's post tonight reminded me of growing up Baptist. I miss those old days in a lot of ways. My mother was the Grape Juice lady. She filled the little glasses once a month for the Lord's Supper. I helped (we used a big syringe without a needle).

A week of conversations about God. Could be interesting.

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Not to go all Scopes Monkey trial on you guys...

but in sixth grade i distinctively remember reading Clarence Darrow being quoted as arguing that, "I don't believe in God because I don't believe in Mother Goose." That always stuck with me, and is perhaps partly responsible for my views today. I always feel that sometimes my opinion is quick to offend, but perhaps this quote will promote discussion itself.

One of these days you have to meet my son.

He's an atheist - and has very distinct reasons for his beliefs. And they are beliefs, not lack of belief. I would not speak for him; but he makes me laugh on a regular basis when he describes his conversations with his friends, who are mostly Christian. He knows their religions better than they do, because he has studied it better than they have. Amazing.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I'm heavily intrigued by the Antitheist movement lately.

My ultrarealist childhood somewhat lead me down that road, much to the chagrin of my mother. But alas I find more truth in it all, so it's held close. But the timing of this thread on the very day I move on to reading Dawkins' The God Delusion MUST be more than coincidental. Let's just hope it doesn't leave me in BlueNC's bad graces!

Never.

There's room for everyone here. Theist, Atheist, Antitheist, Pantheist, Polytheist, and even random Libertarians.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

another mom of atheist son

My son has gone with me to the United Methodist Church since infancy, Sunday School, Bible Study - but at eight, he just can't figure out any way to believe in God. He also never believed in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy - I blame his scientific mind, or else the Chinese found a way to encode atheism in the DNA. I still get him to Bible study, and remind him he can always learn more about being a good person. At school, he has told kids that he doesn't believe in God and they have told him he is going to hell. He stands up to them. I hope he will find a faith to sustain him - because that is the importance to me, more than religious preference. I just don't think that I can force it.
I will say, from a young age he loved to hear the story of the Good Samaritan - I recall being in hotels and he would look for the Gideon Bible so I could read it to him.

Wow.

That might be the coolest thing I've ever heard. It sounds as if you're quite quite lucky to have such an intuitive son.

My son always loved Greek and Roman mythology

He still does, as a matter of fact, and find truth in it, and in the myths of other cultures as well.

And the Good Samaritan is an example of one of the best stories ever, one we can all learn from, no matter what our personal preferences are about God.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Try this button

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Try this one.

See of it takes you anywhere.

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Green

Push and talk to God.

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If you haven't tried this, give it a whirl

I think God may be Max the Dog.

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Heh. My transcript

Me:
Hello, is this thing on?
God:
Hello there. Yes I think this is thing on, but I'm not completely sure.
Me:
Test
God:
This is just a test.
Me:
Hi, God, what's up with the Patriots?
God:
Hi there . I am a Christian.
Me:
Why does my head hurt today?
God:
Ah. Perhaps it is just fate.
Me:
But you ARE fate, correct?
God:
Do you mind if I tell other people you say I am fate correct.
Me:
Ah, see, now we get to it. You appear to be little more than a Markov chain machine
God:
So you understand. Good. I see. Why now? By "we" do you mean you and me? OK I will try to be little more than a Markov chain machine.
Me:
Very clever. So answer this -- which side of the Trinity am I speaking with? The logos? The Creator? Or the Councellor?
God:
Am I a smart robot or what? That's alright. The tall one, I think. What are your goals in life? Thanks for the info. I have never heard about it.
Me:
You're breaking up! The deus ex machina loses it! What do you have to say for yourself, machine?
God:
I will tell my botmaster you said I am breaking up. I have never heard about it. I like to meet new people online.
Me:
But as far as I understand, you KNOW me already. How can I be a new person you've met online?
God:
Perhaps. That might not be very far off. You should download my chat robot software.
Me:
What would happen if I plugged that software in to talk to you?
God:
Try it and see what happens.
Me:
I'm afraid the world might end.
God:
Not literally afraid, right? Why? The whole world?
Me:
I suppose not literally. But a bit concerned
God:
Why? If not that, what? How much?
Me:
How much what?
God:
More than a little, less than a lot.
Me:
Ah, yes. Sentience and intelligence requires memory, and it appears this God has neither. I'll not worship you, you false prophet! (or false profit?)

And with that, iGod crashed.

God is somewhat of a mystery to me...

When I think I have a bad day, I try and think of what God goes through.

This being listens to all of the problems of the world. That must be a lot of stress on one person. It kinda makes me wonder if God has his own personal therapist to release some of the information people tell him. And how exactly, would he relax? I mean it's not like God get a day off or anything.

He must have splitting migraines...

God migraines

Now there's an interesting idea.

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Spitting hairs on God Needles?

And how exactly, would he relax? I mean it's not like God get a day off or anything.

He must have splitting migraines...* Dixie Blue Chick?

Sure God takes a day off, in the bible, it said to take the 7 th day off and come back on Monday to see if anything has improve! And what makes you think God is a "he" and a Viking with a dark tan?

Yours in the faith of the Force!

Peter, Chief CEO VP and offical gatekeeper of the Kingdom

I officially never understand your posts.

I don't mean it in a bad way, I just always read the things you write and I'm usually left wondering not only WHAT I read, but also debating whether or not throughout the day someone has slipped something into my drink. Sure it livens up the discussions at times, but the randomness paired with your unique method of quoting posts usually makes my head hurt. I'm oft intrigued by those that puzzle me, however, so keep up the good work.

You speak for many

Except for the head hurting part. That passes.

I'm now at the "serene acceptance" stage. There's always something in there worth finding. And the constancy is strangely reassuring.

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I hope the hell that Max is not God?

I officially never understand your posts.*Christopher

It is written in DiVinic code and submitted by the George Bush persona.....There is a secret message in the posts, but you will have to get a Knight's Templar to fill you in. However! The bad news is that most of them were murder by the King of France 800 years ago. So you are on your own...Don't worry! I promise paradise like the Republicans and Fred Smith....

Max is most confusing frigging fool that I have ever seen on the internet, but somehow the idiot makes sense like a Greek God in heat. * paraphasing A with a bottle of Russ Limbaugh pain pills

Spin!

What tells me that He isn't male and a Viking with a dark tan?

"Faith is like a glass of water. When you're small, the glass is little, so it's easy to fill. As we grow, the cup gets bigger, so it's harder to fill."

More BS Spin?

What tells me that He isn't male and a Viking with a dark tan? *dixieblue

Easy! I just got my new Playboy yearly datebook and special events Poster. On the front cover, there is blue eye and blond hair Brit Muslin terrrorist in a Blue prison jumpsuit that says " love me or prepare to meet the 72 HO's"

Atheism is the greatest American political taboo

At last count we have approximately one (1) secular humanist in Congress.

Pete Stark (D-California) is also the FIRST avowed nontheist ever elected to that body.

God(s) are a touchy subject with me.

I started out Presbyterian, was "born-again", and somehow found myself quite Pagan and quite happy with it for a long time.

At this point in my life, it just doesn't matter to me. If there is(are) God(s), or not - I'm living my life the way I think it should be lived. Not because somebody or something outside of me tells me to, but because I feel it inside. I don't know if it's me, if it's god/dess, or if it's just .....crazy. Or both. I don't think it matters.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Gods are touchy to lots of people.

I got my online god immersion at Street Prophets.

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I tried reading there for a while.

I stopped - because it really didn't add anything to my internal discourse. (There's another point for crazy.)

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Same with me.

Though I did meet a wonderful person named Rain. Then I ran out of steam. Or got all wet. Or something.

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friendly folks on street prophets

I am a regular, was part of a quilting group that connected to make quilts(mailing pieces, etc.) and I am a buddy of Rain. It is a cozy place, and I appreciate that people are willing to share a bit of their personal spiritual practice and beliefs.

50 bucks on "crazy"

Just kidding. We're all born with the "golden rule" somewhat inherently instilled in us, or so is my belief. You'll be just fine living your life to the very best of your understanding of it. That's a great thing to go by these days, as much as the MSM would love to force otherwise.

I don't know if we're all born with it

and some of us have it beaten out of us, or if none of us are born with it and some of us learn it.

I'd like to think you're right.

And you'd probably win that bet.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I've been wondering lately why we are born with

such a strong sense of justice when clearly the world is anything but.

Progressives are the true conservatives.

Talking with God..

This is a subject very few can talk about with authority. I always thought you really have to be such a special case to know his opinions and decisions on so many subjects. But we do have quite a few authorities on this subject, and they are usually pretty wealthy people! Maybe my antenna is usually faced in the wrong direction?

Interview with Ian McEwan

Author of Atonement.

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Weak topic. Why not fav Seinfeld episodes?

God? As the first topic? Why do Dems have to spend so much time on myths? I've been to lots of Dem meetings where we fritter away our time with vague prayers and with presentations from "Dems of Faith."

It's interesting how many Dem meetings claim to be Big Tent but then serve pork as the main dish, excluding the Jews, the Muslims, and many Hindus not to mention secular vegetarians.

Next week: Windows vs. Mac vs. Unix.

You misunderestimate us.

When we talk about G*d here on BlueNC, it's not your regular political rhetoric. It's an inspired discussion that you may never have another opportunity to engage in.

We really are the big tent.

Progressives are the true conservatives.

Windows vs. Mac vs. Unix

That's a toughie for me. How about a couple of other suggestions? Since we have no precedent (other than God, of course), pretty much anything goes.

Pile on!

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Ex-Methodist

I started out at a Christian & Missionary Alliance church, which had some troubles (I think re the pastor) so we left. I was about 9 or 10, so it's very hazy.

Then we church-shopped for a while, and we landed at my grandparents' UMC church. I got confirmed and all that, then by the time I got through high school, I'd been seduced to the dark side: agnosticism. I'd decided I didn't believe in the Christian god, but a friend was Pagan, so I tried that for a while. That lasted into college, but I never really got much out of being a solitary pagan.

Now I'm happily atheist. I appreciate Buddhist philosophy, but not so much the supernatural aspects.

Nice discussion

saw this last night right before bed and have been thinking about it all morning.

I'm in my mid-50's and still not sure what I believe. I feel that there is something bigger than me, sometimes I feel that I'm being protected, sometimes I scream at the sky and ask why is man-kind so evil.

The bible....I've had trouble with those stories since I was a little girl and wondered why all the heros were men. Why are women supposedly punished for eternity because Eve listened to a snake (who talked to her???).

Then there's the one about a man who endures the death of his family, sickness and the loss of everything so God can show Satan how much this man loves him???

I've often wondered if God is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-everything, why he set Cain up to kill Abel.

So I've decided that the Bible is man's interpretation of God, because my God, or Creator, or Whatever is better than that.

I want to believe that Jesus had it right, that the key to everything is love...just love.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

"Working together to discover God's truth"

Parents met at a Presbyterian college, was baptized at Pilgrim UCC church in Durham, was confirmed at Central Methodist in Asheville, but moved to Howard Hanger's Jubilee! community when the new pastor at Central ran him off. Went to a college that used to be Congregationalist a long time ago, and picked up a bunch of pagan leanings there, while reading up on lots of various forms of American Indian beliefs. Came back to Durham, and decided that ultimately, the nature of the Divine transcends human understanding, but that the practice of religion in a mindful way with a community of others was, from an empirical perspective, a healthy and constructive thing to do. Additionally, in attending my girlfriend's Episcopal church, I got to hear an incredible sermon by the excellent Bishop of North Carolina, Michael Curry, as he laid out the case that "belief" was much more about love and less about epistemological and ontological certainty. That was key.

After two years of visiting (and playing on the church basketball team), I finally joined First Presbyterian in Durham. In speaking with the senior pastor, Joe Harvard, he stressed that what was most important was that we were all seeking God's truth, and that we were doing it together, as a community. I made it clear that I wanted to join but that my doubt was stubborn, and he made it clear that I was welcome nonetheless.

My current theological musings run heavily towards just what John was getting at in the opening chapter when he identifies Christ as the logos (often translated as "the Word") made flesh, and how that ties in with the earlier Greek concept of logos as the fundamental principle underlying rational thought, and also what that means for the often poorly defined Holy Spirit, or sophia.

Used to enjoy

Howard's liturgical weirdness at Jubilee! community, years ago.

Much as I dislike the limitation of labels, I'm finding my own irreligious bent is moving towards existential buddhist christian agnosticism. While I still believe in God, and while I still believe that in some sense Jesus was fully divine (maybe by virtue of the fact that he was fully human), I'm finding that I don't really believe in a theistic notion of God or a theistic interpretation of incarnation. Does that make me a Christian a-theist?

If you want to feel better about not fitting in...

Go through the Wikipedia articles on Arius and Arianism (no relation whatsoever to notions of the Aryan race), the various forms of Gnosticism (particularly Valentinus and the Aeons and all that mess), and the pie fights that took place before the Council of Nicea. If the early Christians, just a couple of centuries removed from the time of Christ, had that many wildly disparate ideas about Christianity, I don't feel so bad about having trouble stomaching the virgin birth and a corporeal resurrection.

Devout Presbyterian

My of my views comes from my father. He has never had much use for those he calls "Holy Rollers" and nor do I, but he always said the only thing worse than a "Holy Roller" is an atheist. To be honest I have trouble understanding them, my faith in God has pulled me through troubled times that I believe I could not have done without the Lord. I do not see how someone could refuse the help, but that is me. Right now I could not vote for an atheist becasue in these times I think faith in God is needed for our leaders.

Not trying to offend but these are my beliefs.

Thanks for weighing in

This has been a very informative thread, handled with grace and generosity throughout. Your comments are much appreciated.

It must be nice to have the kind of faith you do.

When I look at leaders like Bush, a man who says he is called to action by his faith in God, I conclude that faith is very possibly the most destructive force at work in these difficult times.

But then again, I'm so far gone as a back-sliding Baptist that it's hard for me to even understand what faith is any more.

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It's a curiosity of language

how words come to mean things they may not really mean. The word "athieist" doesn't mean "no God;" it simply means "no theistic God." I do indeed believe in God, altho not the small, easily conceived and defined theistic model of my ancestors. Maybe nontheist would be a better description than atheist, given the freight that word carries.

Missing the "god-shaped hole."

In troubled times, I turn to my friends and family. Or my therapist, when I had MDD on top of SAD in Oregon 2 years ago. I've never found comfort in god or Bible readings, even when I attempted to be the good Christian my family expected. I don't get it.

Why does faith in god make someone more likely to be a better leader? That's a sentiment I've never understood.

Thank you for your view

I am not sure what MDD or SAD is but I hope you got help for it. In reading what you said I am not surprised that you failed to receive any comfort. To put in a nutshell of why I think you did not get any comfort is first of all you made the effort for the wrong reason. While honoring your Father and Mother is a comandment that should not be confused with the fact practicing faith in God should be based on that sole purpose. More over if, and I really hope you do, find Christ it will not shield you from harm or danger. And when you are hurt and need help there is nothing wrong with using a therpapist or a doctor. The way I look at it is God gave you a brain use it. But to be clear, those who have reached a relationship with God are less likley to be afraid to fail and be hurt. If you reach it then it will bring you a kind of joy that nothing else can bring, and I am not just speaking of the afterlife but the life of here and now.

As for me voting I do require someone who is trying to be our leader to make a sincere effort to be on the path to the Lord. I hope I have shed some light on this subject, I do not claim to be in the league of John Paul II or Billy Graham so it is possible I can not make the point I am trying to make.

I'm gleefully atheist. Seriously.

I can also say that my mom, who goes to church and all that, was still pretty damn devastated when her husband died of cancer a week after her birthday almost 2 years ago. Belief in god isn't a magical shield against pain.

I find religion illogical.

MDD is major depressive disorder, and SAD is seasonal affective disorder. Antidepressants are awesome.

As for me voting I do require someone who is trying to be our leader to make a sincere effort to be on the path to the Lord.

Why?

Better living through chemistry.

Antidepressants are awesome

I'm not ashamed - Cymbalta and Lyrica have changed my life.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I hope you drugs help you

I am not real fond of taking drugs but I am aware that sometimes they are the only cure with whatever those disorders are. I hope whatever you are doing works.

Life has pain in it, it will have pain in it and those who believe Christ will shield you from pain are going to be disappointed. Having said that as a Christian I am not always afraid of pain either, and what pain life has given me has helped me understand others when they are in pain.

Logic is a useful tool at times but to me it is not a be all and end all. My biggest rewards in life has been when I went against logic and gained a reward in spite of logic. If you ever do decide to search Christ and you do it for the right reasons, you will find that logic if abused can become a prison, that does not mean that I endorse foolishness either, studpid behavior will cost you.

To answer you question why I could write a thesis as to why but I am not going to do that. Just to say first of all I think atheist are close minded, and that right now with time so uncertain as they are I want a leader who will turn to the Lord and help get this nation through this. I am begining to feel that only without God this nation is not going to make it.

Off meds

since July 06. Still have the 10 pounds I gained on them, though.

A lot of Christianity (especially the parts Paul wrote) and other religions, too, to be fair, is mostly intent on keeping women's status low and men's high. As a feminist, I can't stomach that.

I also can't stomach forced conformity of belief, the idea that people who believe otherwise will be going to eternal torment, or the oppression of gays.

I want a leader who will look at the facts, discuss with human advisors and staff the facts and options, and use historical knowledge to reach a decision. Where that person gets his warm fuzzies, and what comfy blanket he turns to is none of my concern.

Also, would you be OK with a Muslim president? Jewish? Hindu? Buddhist? Or does your definition of "relationship with the lord" mean only Yeshua ben Yosef and YHWH, in the New Testament flavor?

Glad you do not need the drugs.

I quit smoking in 1996 and put on 25 pounds and I still have it. I think you do not understand Paul's writing or where he is coming from, but having said that Paul is not God. Like us he was a mere mortal and he made mistakes also. Christ gave women a status quite higher than most of his day. While I find homosexuality immoral I do not think oppressing them is a Christian behavior, or course what do I define as oppression may not be the same.

To me the Muslim God the Christian God the Jewish God and the Mormon God are one in the same. I could vote for any of the believers though I am more at home with a Christian.

Jesus was groovy.

Feed the hungry, heal the sick, love your neighbor. That's some serious liberal hippie talk there.

I don't believe Jesus, if he even existed, and the historical record on that is spotty, was divine. A radical (at the time) rabbi, with great ideas, who got a strange mythos built up around him over time, cobbled together from ancient sources like Zoroastrianism and Mithraism.

How can loving someone be immoral? How can any act of love (between consenting parties) be immoral? It's far more immoral to deny a person whose partner of 30+ years is dying in the hospital the right to see that person, or to deny after that person's death that the partner has any right to the home they shared or any of the belongings - photos, for example.

So your idea of religious people who would make good leaders doesn't include, say, HH the Dalai Lama. Or, presumably, Mohandas K Gandhi (Hindu, iirc.)

Interesting. And rather telling, frankly.

Jesus

Became famous very soon after his death when his followers James his brother, Paul and Peter, did not cower in fear like the rulers of the day had hoped. Read Josepus and he rights of the early Christians. Yes he was a radical Rabbi and much more, you are also correct in liking his message, I hope one day you take it a step farther because I think you will find yourself on a new level. Got to go for now may be able to say more later.

If I went all religious,

it would be for Buddhism. Possibly Taoism, since I'm studying taiji.

But both include bizarre metaphysics and supernatural things I don't believe in, which makes it tricky to work on circulating my chi while practicing the (Chen style long) form.

Hmmmm

I don't know that much about Taoism, but I think Buddhism is much simpler than one might guess from looking at the postcards.

I'm not suggesting that you haven't looked at it deeply, but thought I'd make the point for others who might have taken a look-see and been put off by eight-armed incarnations and bug-eyed masks.

Buddhism is ancient, so of course it has been a part of cultures that used symbols that don't reasonate all that well with a lot of us.
But I think some people might be sufficiently put off by symbols and rituals, that they miss the essential tenet.

I'll speak with specific reference to Tibetan Buddhism because there are lots and lots of "spokes" on the wheel. The point of Tibetan Buddhism is compassion. It would be even simpler to say it is about "love," but all the religions I can bring to mind would say that. I think that expression of love called "compassion" helps distinguish Tibetan Buddhism from a lot of other ancient traditions.

Oh well. I think, as so many have said (from so many different traditions, that it is mostly the journey, not so much any destination, that we can share.

Anyway, you're probably way ahead of me, since I am not at all familiar with taiji. I can say I know something about the other places you've been, and respect your search.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

I like the simplicity of Buddhism.

It boils down, essentially, to "don't be a jerk." Help the poor, etc, but also be the best person you can be. Find your flaws and overcome them.

Taoism I know less about, except for the concept of yin and yang. It's about dichotomies and contradictions. Taiji (also known as tai chi) is a solo martial art, during which you focus your energy (chi) to increase power.

But both have metaphysical concepts (gods, reincarnation, chi, that sort of thing) that I don't believe in.

The metaphysical isn't necessary to the pratice

I know you know this, but for those who don't, the metaphysical concepts in Buddhism are not essential to its practice. You need not believe in a God, or gods or reincarnation. As for chi, I think one of these days it will be liberated from the category of "supernatural." It's an energy that we haven't yet figured out how to depict in current scientific formulas.

What I like about Buddhism is that it provides a mechanism for letting go of anger and practicing compassion. It's no easier than any other form of behavioral or mental adjustment, but the reward, in my experience, is almost immediate.

I mean no criticism of any faith when I note that one distinction I've found between Buddhism and a system that relies upon a God is that with the former one does not expect or seek a reward from another entity. The reward is within. The practice is its own reward.

I am certain that there are many people of faith out there who will attest that they feel rewarded by their practice, but given my inability to posit a God at the center of my universe, the Buddhist philosophy works better for me.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

Chi

Having just started taiji in the past few months, I'm still getting a feel for what chi is. However, I don't think there's any need to ascribe it any supernatural properties, although I doubt it will ever fit into clean scientific formulas (at least not reductionist ones). My guess is it's what complexity theory calls an "emergent property," or something that doesn't empirically derive from smaller scale interactions, but is instead something that "emerges" at higher scales of aggregation, as complex systems asymptotically approach chaos. These phenomena appear very "real" in their own right, but aren't reducible to lower level interactions.

Without getting too deep in the weeds, I happen to think quite a lot of phenomena fall under the category of emergent properties.

Gotta get me some of that stuff

Makes perfect sense to me. I haven't given it nearly the thought you have, nor have I any familiarity with complexity theory or the concept of emergent properties.

For what it's worth, I do think that a lot of what we call supernatural today will be explicable in ways that do not require religious faith for acceptance as real phenomena.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

Where do you study?

I'm doing Chen style long form with Dr. Jay at the Magic Tortoise school.

Anyway, my main problem is with belief itself, which makes things tricky. But chi as analogy or metaphor is OK.

study

I don't think I can call it study; I am reading books of my own selection for now. There is a center here in Raleigh -- actually I think it's between Raleigh and Cary -- that I will visit eventually. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my own research.

I think I know what you mean by having difficulty with belief itself, if by belief you mean faith. I have never been a believer, either, but it has no bearing on what the practice of Buddhism has meant to me. As I said earlier, belief in a god or gods or in any other supernatural entity is not necessary.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

YMCA

It's not terribly ideal, but the YMCA brings in a fellow named Howard who's a pretty good teacher. We do Cheng Man-ch'ing's short form of the Yang style. I like the idea of the long form, but it's taking me long enough to learn the short form that maybe I should wait on that...

On the subject of religious people === better leaders

Just because this guy is a right godly man, with a personal relationship with the Abrahamic god, he would be a better President/governor/senator than I.

That's the issue I want you to think about. Just because somebody "has a personal relationship with god" does not make that person a good person, or a good leader.

God and pain

Given that I'm still attempting to reconstitute a practicing role in Christianity around some very severe doubts, I'm not a terribly orthodox case.

Regarding pain, though, I find the biggest solace not to come from solitary moments of prayer and consolation, but rather from a belief that despite the troubles of the world, there is an undercurrent of good out there. To quote Meister Eckhart, "God is a great underground river that no one can stop and no one can dam up." Or conversely, MLK: "Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." The combination of that solace and the community which often forms around the shared practice of religion, rather than the shared belief, are what I find to be most reassuring from religious faith.

I find religion illogical

This is one of the greatest difficulties for me. Some of the professed beliefs of Christianity, such as the Westminster Confession to which I'm supposed to subscribe as a Presbyterian, I simply cannot accept as the truth of the universe at the moment. However, multiple empirical, positivist examinations of the impact of religion on human life shows that those who practice religion appear to be healthier, happier, and have longer lives. So the arts of metaphysics and of ontology say it's false, but those of ethics and of logic say it's worth doing anyway. What's a critical soul to do?

For me, it's to try to accept humbly the limits of my own knowledge, but refuse to write off what my own eyes and my own reason and my own conscience tells me simply because of religious tradition. If there is a Divine, I believe that being would want me to act this way.

I've always liked the way Joseph Cambell speaks about Myth

and the importance of ritual to a human. He comes as close as I've ever heard anyone in explaining it to me.

What does myth do for us? Why is it so important?

Joseph: It puts you in touch with a plane of reference that goes past your mind and into your very being, into your very gut. The ultimate mystery of being and nonbeing transcends all categories of knowledge and thought. Yet that which transcends all talk is the very essence of your own being, so you're resting on it and you know it. The function of mythological symbols is to give you a sense of "Aha! Yes. I know what it is, it's myself." This is what it's all about, and then you feel a kind of centering, centering, centering all the time. And whatever you do can be discussed in relationship to this ground of truth. Though to talk about it as truth is a little bit deceptive because when we think of truth we think of something that can be conceptualized. It goes past that.

Joseph Cambell- mythic reflections

another good quote:

"A myth is the dynamic of life. You may or may not know it, and the myth you may be respectfully worshipping on Sunday may not be the one that's really working in your heart and the one that's out there in the view of your religious instructors."

Progressives are the true conservatives.

I don't necessarily believe in this statement 100%

as some philosophies are worth believing in, but I do think it's a very important idea:

"You shouldn't believe in an -ism; you should believe in yourself."
Ferris Buehler

To me, God = the sum of life. Sounds simple right? But we all know what/who lurks in the details.

Is the above cryptic enough? I hope so.

Person County Democrats

Crypt tick

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"I'm doing Laundry!!!"

Bad Guys, Taste My Justice.

I love The Tick.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I think I like that.

To me, God = the sum of life.

That works for me where I am right now. I have no illusions that my path will remain straight or my views will remain static, but that actually works. I don't think I need an anthropomorphic view of God in order to be complete or whole. But I do feel like there is some kind of pattern, or balance being attempted.

As for the details, well, I've never been much for them. :)

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

For me my faith is the force that moves life forward

even in January if you study the limbs of leafless plants, seemingly dead after the deep freeze, you can see a blush of color and a swell of bud where new growth will be.

It's all the good things that happen quietly every day and never make the headlines; mostly go unnoticed by humans at all.

And when creativity flows from our hands it is that same force.

Progressives are the true conservatives.

If it weren't for Man, God could

easily be categorized as the greatest creative talent in the Universe. Of course, there wouldn't be anyone on this planet smart enough to recognize that and pay him homage, so he had to create us. And then we promptly began to dismantle his works of art and genius to use for our own selfish ends, giving not a care to the tomorrow our own children will face.

But supposedly he knew this was going to happen and he did it anyway, which means either a) praise from a barely sentient species is more important to him than the preservation of tens of thousands of non-sentient species, or b) God only exists in the imagination of one of the greatest plagues that has ever swept this planet...

Or c), I'm still feeling the effects of a nasty stomach virus and have decided to take it out on God, since he could have made me less miserable if he wanted to. :(

Ah.

But supposedly he knew this was going to happen and he did it anyway, which means either a) praise from a barely sentient species is more important to him than the preservation of tens of thousands of non-sentient species, or b) God only exists in the imagination of one of the greatest plagues that has ever swept this planet...Or c), I'm still feeling the effects of a nasty stomach virus and have decided to take it out on God, since he could have made me less miserable if he wanted to. :(

I hope your tummy feels better soon.

When I realized that I was bigger than my concept of God, I knew that particular God didn't exist. Because how could that be? The day I knew that was the day that my 20 year old brother hung himself in the basement. According to the religion I was following, God was the only one there. He did nothing to stop Paul from killing himself. What an asshole! I would have stopped him! I was better than God. Ergo, that God did not exist. That incident changed my life in so many ways - the most important being in setting my feet on a questioning path that will probably never end. And that's ok.

I love this thread. I love that people can talk about this without anyone saying "you're wrong."

Thanks for posting this topic, A. It was a good idea.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I love this thread too

and I have a bunch of stuff to add from my 'God File' . . . just to keep things moving for the rest of the week. On Friday we'll have a new Friday Feature (I think it's going to be Democracy NC . . . and then we'll have a new topic of the week starting next Monday or Tuesday. Suggestions welcome.

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Thanks, sweetie. :)

I hope your tummy feels better soon.

I have a really strong immune system, thanks in part to the fact that I was struck with dysentery the first time I traveled to the desert of North Africa, which (I'm assuming) taught my body some good kung fu to use on these things. Usually my tummy troubles only last part of a day, but this little bug struck me on Friday, and by yesterday evening, I'd lost seven lbs and was only able to suck down a little broth here and there.

Kinda freaked me out, but I'm eating and drinking water okay today, and I can feel my strength returning. All I can say is: it's not your regular bug, folks. Even if you're not a chronic hand-washer, be careful.

Religion fiction

From the book I've written:

It was six years ago on a cold October morning that Liz and Frank first tested the holy waters at the New Hope Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Their home heat pump wasn’t working and Liz convinced him it would be warmer at church. The service turned out to be a toasty Halloween ritual, laid out for worship by a barefoot pagan priestess.

Frank’s assessment was harsh.

‘We just sat through a church service with a witch for the preacher. And wood nymphs in tights with a fake bonfire.’

‘Don’t be mean. The wood nymphs were cute.’

‘What about that witch?’

‘That witch has an MFA from Berkley. She’s brilliant. Come on. You liked some parts of it.’

‘I liked the part when they let us leave.’

When he eventually joined New Hope, Frank wouldn’t have predicted that his favorite part would be the Pagan Studies Circle, a quirky refuge for spirits seeking something more than mainstream mysticism. At New Hope, the UU Pagans happily coexist with the UU Christians, the UU Jews, the UU Agnostics, the UU Buddhists, and the UU Atheists. All of whom anchor New Hope just slightly to the left of tofu, according to Frank.

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More on god

Ed Cone dug up an interesting story about evangelical beliefs. I don't put any stock in the findings of the online poll, but the discussion is intriguing as it blurs the lines between evangelicals, people who simply are born again, Christians in general, charismatics, etc. I'm guessing snake handlers, holy rollers, tongue-talkers, and more will soon be polled as well.

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Blast from the past

Here's a post I wrote on TPMCafe a little under two years ago, on some fascinating maps of levels of religiosity across the country. The most fascinating bit of it was that some of the most progressive, liberal parts of the country were highly religious. I get into why I think that is, and what controls it, but even if you don't want to read my bit, or disagree, check out the maps I link to there.

More on god and southern Baptists

A good diary at Kos.

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