Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Theology’

Christmas is kind of hard. Especially since, deep-down, I really want to fit in with everyone else… go to a good service or two and sing about baby Jesus, light a candle, or whatever you all do. I want to, but I just can’t. Or even if I do go, I just can’t forget the things that I know… the things that I know and so many of the other smiling faces in the crowd either don’t know or simply refuse to accept.

Through all my years of Christian (yes good old bible school seminary) education, Church history, apologetics, and various other studies I just know that this holiday can’t be taken literally. Although tonight I realized that I can still enjoy it and take it seriously.

I may not believe in god the same way that you all do. I believe that the whole thing is an allegory, meaning to inspire and point us all towards a greater truth… and one that we took far too literally. Believing, or better put “knowing”, that has always been a hang up for me. Especially on this holiday since it centers so much around the telling, re-telling, and proclamation of a ridiculous series of events as a historical fact that I should just accept as though I’m accepting the fact that there is a Europe, or that Abraham Lincoln was a President of the United States.

Tonight though, while in a service, I smiled and felt a certain amount of release and joy as I slowly broke down and started singing along with one of the Christmas hymns. The joy came from knowing that even though I debate the historical accuracy of this whole thing, and even debate the literal existence of a Christ… that I do believe in it conceptually, and that even if to me he was allegory and to you he is literal, that in the end our songs and our prayers are both reaching the same heavens.

For those of you who are new to this concept, and who think that I must be off my rocker for even proposing it; let me take a second to explain some of the basics of what was once called Christianity but now is referred to as heresy… or Gnostic Christianity.

A fact that I learned while studying church history in my minister’s training, was that in the beginning of church history there was already a debate going as to if the New Testament, and especially the story of Christ was to be taken literally or if it was simply a tool to help man “awaken” and be brought closer to god/enlightenment. There was even a point in time where both of these groups of people were still considered Christians and even managed to get along and worship side-by-side.

Now, most churches and religious schools today will state that the literal Christians came first, and that the non-literal “Gnostics” came along much later as Christianity got watered-down and mixed in with other Pagan religions as it spread through Europe and other territories. That is the popular answer, and as it is commonly said… the ones who win the wars get to write the history books.

However, archeologists, scholars and theologians across the globe have not too recently found enough evidence buried deep in the sands of time to support the theory that it was really the opposite that was true. That the Gnostics were the first to call themselves “Christians”, and that it wasn’t until much later that a fundamentalist movement came along, professing a literal, historical belief in the events of what we now call the New Testament.

Gnostics saw Christianity as a fluid, adaptive religion that could embrace any culture and would not only tolerate but incorporate other beliefs as it spread. For it wasn’t the message which was sacred, it was the end result. Jesus was a path to lead us towards the divine, but they saw many paths and never lost sight of the end goal… knowing that you are a Christ, that you are in God and that God is in you.

Historically, we should all be able to agree, that the split between the “Christians” and the “Christians” came to a head when Constantine decided that he wanted to pick a one world religion for the Roman Empire.

His final two choices had boiled down to what we now know as the Gnostics and the fundamentalists who soon after became the Roman Catholic Church. He made his decision, and one faith was elevated and the other cut-down… almost erased from history. Which does make one wonder… who the heck was Constantine, a political figure and ruler to decide our faiths in the first place?

For many years the church painted Constantine as a saint, even literally made him one, a man of God, a devout Christian who encountered God in a holy vision giving him divine direction, making him a messenger of God… an instrument to give direction to His church.

History, real history, paints quite a different picture. Constantine was a cruel and shrewd ruler, who even after his supposed “conversion” was killing wives, going to orgies and up until his death bed considered himself a pagan.

The desire of a one world religion wasn’t spiritually based but politically. Rome had one government, one ruler, and people needed to understand that there were dire punishments for disobeying that ruler, and benefits for obeying him. The religion needed to be the same. One religion, one ruler, some after-world benefit for following it, and some eternal damnation for disobeying. There would be another catch as well… Constantine wished to control this religion as well, setting himself up as the spiritual leader or director of it and its teachings. Total control of the people, both politically and spiritually.

Now out of the two primary choices, which fits the criteria best? Gnostics do not believe in a “heaven” or a “hell”, and could really care less if someone was Gnostic or not. The point was to help people find enlightenment, unleash the true good of the inner man, and adapt the message to something new if the current flavor doesn’t work for you.

The others, on the other hand… fit the criteria perfectly.

But what does this mean for me if I truly believe this? Does this mean that I can’t call myself Christian? Because the Gnostics sure didn’t have a problem with calling themselves that. Can I not enjoy church? They founded the church. Can I not enjoy Christmas? Communion? Easter? What do you think the Gnostics did during those holidays? I’m sure they worshiped right there alongside the rest — knowing full well that even though we may disagree on certain specifics, dogma, or theologies… that their worship and prayers are too making their way to their object of worship.

Am I declaring myself a Gnostic? No. No I am not. And neither would they, for in the end although some did die for their beliefs, many instead just simply adapted again… as I adapt and learn from this wealth of spiritual knowledge that is available to me from not only this one culture but so many, many more.

I like their attitude though, but I see no need for saying that I am any one thing when my attitude and beliefs are fluid, able to learn, able to change, able to appreciate all that is out there, and always, always focused on the end-goal… knowing god and self. Knowing that the form, the message holds nothing sacred for me, but that the quest itself IS sacred.

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

When you sit and meditate, given long enough, you get a lot of time for self evaluation and reflection. Some would even argue that is the whole point; where, as one of the many fringe benefits. Regardless, I had one of those moments the other day and now it’s stuck in my mind like a sliver I just can’t seem to pick or an itch that I just can’t seem to scratch.

The realization was a simple question and answer session. Why am I looking, trying so hard to find a brand of religion that I can call my own and agree with 100%? Why am I going to church again, when clearly my theology, if known to these people would set me apart from them as a heretic? Why am I looking for that perfect teacher, temple, religion, practice… so I can find a home and finally call myself a Zen Buddhist in the _____ tradition, or brand myself as a Vedantic, a Mahayana or Gnostic?

Is my motive to find “truth”, god, and enlightenment; or is it that other word previously mentioned in my jumble of thoughts: home? Home. What is my greater desire? Could it be that somewhere along the way my quest changed, or was this it from the very beginning; some primordial need that I was seeking to meet without even knowing it?

Maybe I want to “be” something because I want a religious home, a community of fellow believers to practice with and be a part of — friends, family, teachers, community support and a sense of belonging. Could it be that this natural instinct, something that goes so far back in our genes as pack animals, is so strong that I would even trade finding the truth to fulfill it?

If I found a community that accepted me in, would I not look over all kinds of flaws, short-comings, and differences to hold onto my new found family? Would I play the part of a good Christian, Buddhist or really anything to keep my friends and my newly found social structure of comfort? How long would it take before I even forgot that I didn’t fully agree with what I was being told, and fall into some self delusion?

I can even seen now how cults do so well in bringing people into the fold and how they get such a strong hold on their lives. Soon they are enveloped in it as a community; they find a new family, friends, social activities, a girlfriend, a teacher… everything they always wanted. Everything I want. Now that’s a scary thought.

It’s not easy, that feeling of never fitting in. It’s deep-seeded, and brings back painful memories from childhood that best be forgotten. And what would I give up in order to make that go away?

Now here is the painful truth. If someone were to come to me and offer me belonging; a mate, friends, a community, but their asking price was for me to give up truth… I would be tempted to take the offer.

Look deep inside yourself. Would you? Have you already? It is probably more common than we think.

Knowing this, having this realization, has actually helped me out a lot. I have to be careful in my actions and double check my actions. I had to stop and really decide, am I looking for truth or am I looking for a place to fit in?

I decide I wanted truth. I hope I find community, but I must remind myself what my decision, what the true cry, or at least the loudest cry of my heart is.

This is also a liberating realization, for without the pressure of needing to find that perfect religion I am now freer to take from and enjoy many of them as they come to me. Without having to define myself so specifically I no longer have to so limit and define god, spirit and enlightenment… who I supposed to be limitless anyway.

So what am I then? Nothing really. A seeker, a finder, a good man, and just another crazy mixed-up human being trying to figure this thing out, and trying to enjoy as much of the process as possible along the way.

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

You know, I’d like to have faith in something. In fact, I have faith that there is some kind of spiritual part to this world — that it is just not all what we can see and feel, but that makes this whole thing even more frustrating. Because since I believe that there is something out there, it’s hard for me not to know what it is. I want to slap a name and a face on the thing and put it in a little box I can carry around with me! Who knows though, maybe thats the point? Maybe you just can’t really put such human restrictions on such a limitless thing?

I’m in Texas now, still searching, and I must admit that I am a bit lonely out here. I have no family here, and it’s always been hard for me to make friends. I’m not stand-offish or anything like that — just… different.

I heard online that there was some church out here that had a very large singles scene for people about my age and so I went there hoping that maybe with such a huge “dating pool” it would be easier for me to meet people. And yes, I totally went to a church to check out chicks. However, it didn’t take me long to correct that mindset and push that out of my head once I realized that was what I was doing. Once I realized it, I laughed at myself and decided to just concentrate on the sermon and figured that maybe experiencing God was much more worth anticipating than getting a wink or two out of the crowd.

Who knows though, maybe that was where I went wrong? Because the last thing an unprepared pastor would ever want, if they knew what’s good for them, is someone like me actually paying attention to what they are preaching.

I’ll be blunt. Crass even. The place was big, but as well all know it’s not the size that matters but if you know how to use it. You know, I have been celibate now for three years, but before that I did my share of sleeping around. During that time I met this really cute girl at a New Years party, no I don’t remember her name, and we hooked up. It was pretty good sex, even though she was a bit taller than my average, but when we were done she said something to me that was supposed to be a compliment but it sure rubbed me the wrong way for a while… enough that I forgot her name and never called her back.

She told me that some of the other guys she had been with before me were “bigger” than me, but that they were unable to please her, but I was able to give her not one but multiple orgasms… and then she said that whole “not the size that matters but how you use it” thing to me. Not exactly what a guy wants to hear after a moment like that.

Now, looking back I see it as a compliment… although my ego sure as hell would still rather have been told that I was both the biggest and the best. Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter much now anyway. I don’t even have sex anymore. And no, it’s not “for life’ or anything like that. I just decided a few years ago that I was being a slut and promised myself that I would not have sex again unless I fell in love, and I just haven’t fallen in love.

Now back to the church service.

I was stopped several times by people, greeted I guess, and all of them just only talked to me about how big the church was. Asking me if I was intimidated at how big the church was, impressed at how big it was, or how awesome it was to find/have a church so big. Little did they know, that for starters… I have seen bigger. And more importantly, I have seen much, much smaller who knew how to “use it” and impressed me far greater. I’ve experienced God in a circle of three in a home prayer group. I have had visions and experiences sitting on a cold floor of a rented gym with a Buddhist Master. I have seen the poor be generous and the ugly beautiful.

No, size won’t impress me. I have nothing against size or big screen tv’s and operation budgets that would feed a third-world country… but that is not what is going to make me think that you have any bit more of your act together than I do.

Now I didn’t talk to these people enough to know what kinds of lifestyles they lived, their personal integrity, walk and what kind of a difference their church made in giving back to the poor and charity, but I did stay to listen to their preaching and that I can judge. I can judge their theology and based off that I knew pretty clear that this was just not a good place for me.

The theme of the sermon was supposed to be on Self Deception. Note the words “self deception”. But the text used was on Matthew 7. That whole “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” passage.

So let’s break it down. There was worship, your typical emotionally charged songs talking strangely about God’s love and mercy and his insatiable blood lust that must be appeased before he condemns us all to death. Then, the funny skit, announcements, and then appealing to people to give more money to various programs. Now comes the sermon — your standard “I have a theme that I want to work and I’m going to now pick through the bible to come up with a passage I can use that will kind of fit it” kind of deal. You start off with a funny, personal story, to warm the crowd up; much like my size of my penis story but much more G or PG rated.

As for the sermon itself… the scripture used was both out of content and not a theology that I can agree with. The first part is not that debatable, while the second is a topic of debate that has been in the church since it’s beginnings.

Now his point in the sermon what that self deception was bad, and that there were certain Christians in their church who were under the false impression that they were doing good as Christians, but that Jesus never really “knew them”. He even took it so far as to say that this not only applies to people who are not “saved” and think they are by being “good people” but this also applies to actual Christians who just are not close enough to Jesus that he REALLY knows them well. For both of these people the end result is the same (in his opinion) — that you get cast into a lake of fire.

Now as heartwarming as this sermon is, I must point a few things out that I think are a bit off. First, Matthew 7 is a warning to false teachers and false prophets, and Jesus is talking about condemning them. There is no “self deception” here, since he is warning the false teachers as to how if they deceive people they will be punished. The scripture used here was taken out of context and for this reason alone the message should be considered null and void.

My second disagreement is a difference in actual theology, and is open for debate. I personally can’t see where in the Christian scriptures there is enough proof to support the theory that someone who was “saved” can then become “un-saved” and go to hell. I have seen enough scripture to sway me more towards the “once saved always saved” school of thought, but please understand that what was being preached here was neither of these options. What was being preached here was some weird middle ground where a person is/was honestly “saved” but just didn’t do good enough after their salvation to get “really close” to Jesus, and so they go to hell anyway. Now where is that exactly in the Bible? I studied theology and there isn’t even a name for that particular theological stance… namely because it’s kinda outrageous.

I left that night laughing to myself about Christian theology in general. How primitive it actually is, how despite all the new sound systems and flashing lights, it still really is such a primitive practice. We gather and form a group and incite ourselves with drum beats and repetitious chants to induce some kind of a spiritual state, and hopefully call down the presence of a god. We then get to hear of a great god who is gentle, kind and loves us with all of his heart. It is a great love that is both pure and overwhelming, and nothing is greater than this love… nothing except this gods insatiable demand for vengeance, blood sacrifice, and a desire to send us all to a fiery grave. Seriously, which is greater? The love or the blood lust? Because if the love were greater then why would the blood sacrifice have to be fulfilled before the love can show? It is only because the blood is the greater of the two.

Now this god of love and blood out of his love does not want to have to kill us all, but must be appeased so he demands blood sacrifice. We tried animals, but that just wasn’t strong enough to appease his wrath, and killing people was out of the question since that was listed as one of his sins he hates us for anyway. So what are we to do?

Finally an answer comes! We must kill a god in oder to finally appease god. The trick is though, that this god already made it quite clear that there is only one god… so I guess we are screwed on that one. But wait! Now there is a second god, his “son” which was hiding in the wings all these thousands of years that he just forgot to mention. He will come down to earth and we can sacrifice him, eat his flesh and drink his blood and all will be well. Phew! What a relief.

If in today’s day-and-age we found a bunch of aboriginal people dancing around in grass skirts and worshiping this kind of a religious system we laugh at their supposed ignorance and unsophisticated beliefs. Who knows, maybe one day some more intelligent people will come to see us all and make some kind of a documentary on our primitive beliefs and practices we just can’t seem to shake the hold off of?

Or is it the opposite? Is all religion following some basic theme or pattern that we just seem to choose to ignore? We dress it up and put a new face on it every century tow, but all-in-all… here we are, still covering in front of some great Spirit, trying to call it down, appease it, gain its favor, and come to some kind of peace of mind in this crazy world.

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

e1242913021“Christian” is a social phenomena that has permeated every aspect of our Western culture, and I hold little doubt that as adamant as we Westerners tend to be about keeping the term tied to our identities, as best we can, there are similar modes of thought going on in other cultures clinging to their common, comfortable, and socially accepted titles of Buddhist, Islamic, or Jewish; while, in all truth they are walking in clearly different religious, social, or philosophical path.

I have even seen the opposite to be true, intellectuals who have been born and bred in the homes or classrooms of professors and great minds to be atheist, humanist, or at the very least practical agnostics; who, despite their social peer pressure to keep this intellectual title deep-down are very spiritual and have a secret faith in God, gods, or some kind of Universal Mind or consciousness.

I know a professor of computer science who is an adamant atheist, and practices a humanist Zen Buddhism that focuses on ethics, discipline and being at peace mentally in this life, but with no promise of nirvana nor enlightenment. That doesn’t surprise me that much and that holds no great contradiction.  However, what surprised me with him occurred one day while we were talking about our differing practices over some tea after meditation. I casually stated that I wasn’t Christian and I watched as his jaw dropped and an look of shock fell over his face. “What do you mean you are not Christian? I’m a Christian” he said.

Confused I got him to break down certain aspects of his belief system. He is atheist, Buddhist, does not believe in any kind of an afterlife, nor God the Father, and he believes that there was a Jesus but that he was just a man, not the Son of God, and that when he (Jesus) died he simply decayed and decomposed like the rest of us. And where exactly does the title “Christian” come into play?

His defense was that he agreed with the basic principles, ideals, morality, social constructs, and felt akin to the myths and inspirational stories that appeal to the better nature of us all that come from the Bible. And that as a Westerner he identifies with the label of Christian since this is a Christian nation and culture.

As a Bible scholar, though an non-believing one, I tried to explain the biblical criteria for calling yourself Christian, but that didn’t get me too far. Eventually I just dropped the subject, and went on to enjoying his great company and our friendship. I filed the conversation in the back of my brain to ponder upon a later date and went on with life. It wasn’t until the other week, where I was having a conversation with a sociology professor about gay rights that this past conversation was triggered back into play with some kind of clarity.

While discussing the gay rights movement we happened along the tangent of how difficult it is to “come out of the closet” as they say. The professor asserted that it is so counter culture to do so that one risks alienating themselves from everything they consider comforting. They risk losing identity as a straight “normal” person. They risk losing family, friends, their church, their social status… all kinds of things that we, as pack animals, tend to hold dear. It was then that the whole Christian thing made sense to me.

We hold onto the label for the same reasons. We do not want to risk the alienation or the discomfort or being different from the norm and the acceptable. Even mentally we can not escape the guilt and the oppression of feeling bad about ourselves for rejecting a Christ that we do not even really believe in. So instead we practice our New Age, Buddhism, Atheism, or other philosophy or religion and tag onto it the hyphenated “Christian” to form some kind of ease in our minds about the whole ordeal.

Please understand that this is not an attack against Christianity. To the contrary, it is out of a great respect and understanding of the religion that I defend its integrity in stating that I, and many who still cling to the term, are not Christian. Let those who are pure in their faith be free to practice without us others confusing people as to what the religion truly is, and let those who in their hearts want nothing to do with their God be free from the social shackles of thinking that they have to keep identifying with the religion.

Through my own personal studies I came to a very logical conclusion that there was never at any time a historical Christ figure that lived and died and rose again. However, even if you believe there was some kind of a man who was a great leader, sage, reincarnation of the Buddha, or prophet, but was not the Son of God, you still can’t fit your square peg into the clearly defined round hole of the Christian faith. Once I depersonalized my concept of “God” from the old, grey haired king sitting on his throne in heaven surrounded by his worshipping angles; into a broader, more universal concept of “energy” or an interconnectedness of all things… I left the fold. As soon as I opened up to the idea of their being many paths to experiencing and communing with this life force I immediately validated all religions and alienated myself from all of them at the same time – since just about all of them hold true the statement that they are the only path.

So I am nothing and I am everything, and I have to learn to be comfortable with and accept the fact that I just do not fit in quite well with my current society. It is unfamiliar, it is unsettling, disturbing at first… but it is also liberating!

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

tree of knowledge

It took me a while to understand the whole “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” bit in the bible. I mean, what the heck is so wrong about “knowledge” anyway? Not being able to wrap my head around it, I simply just consigned myself to thinking that it was not the tree that caused all this disorder in life, but that it was the act of disobedience. That it could have really been anything up there; a banana, bicycle, country music, or walking on the cracks of a sidewalk. Later, when I got into studying theology, I opted for the view that there was no “tree” at all, but the whole the whole story was figurative — that Adam and Eve just represented mankind, and that them eating the fruit was just a metaphor for them “falling” in general. In fact, most bible scholars that I know now all tend to take the story this way these-days; that there was no literal garden, no talking snake, no literal tree of knowledge, and that it all just symbolizes mankind being tempted to go against God.

But even if that is the case… then why a Tree of Knowledge? What is the importance of such a thing? Is there any?

I would like to propose that there IS an importance to this tree. That is is not just something to be taken as a stand-in for any-old act. That there is a reason that it is something that gave to mankind the knowledge of good and evil. Why? Because this is the birth of contrasts and opposites. This is the birth of distinguishing or perceiving something as good and another as evil; one thing as pleasant and another as unpleasant; right and wrong, this verses that, man and woman, me and you, us and them… to cut-it-short: this was the beginning of objectification — this was the birth of self-awareness.

If you take most regions or heritages “Beginnings” stories back far enough they have some kind of a similar account or notion to them. I know that in Taoism they paint the picture of a time where mankind lived in a peaceful “Eden-like” state with all of creation, and that they fell from this when they started to distinguish themselves as other-than and greater-than the rest of the animals and nature. In Kabbalah it describes more of a vast organism of Spirit in which some of the working parts became self-aware and forgot their roles in the organism — thus creating a vacuum. Picture it like a bunch of cells that make up a larger organism that somehow become aware of themselves and consider themselves to be apart from each-other, and the organism that they make up… then spreading like a cancer.

Once we set one thing apart as good, we create evil. Once we set one thing apart as beautiful, we create the ugly.

If you believe in the message of the bible, then I would hope that you can at least agree that the goal is to one-day return to this state of peace that comes from no objectification; that comes from a dying to “self” or better put: self-awareness. Maybe you think that one day Jesus or God will come down to the earth and set-up a new one that returns us all to the state of blissful Eden. Although there is an increasing thought in even Christian circles that maybe they have missed the point here; that maybe the “kingdom” IS actually here now (as Jesus said quite blankly) and it is just up to us to become aware of it.

Take  most of these religions and strip them of all their metaphor which somehow along the way became taken as sacred, true, or actual, and they all become very close to the same. They all start to sound a whole lot like Zen — atleast in goal, if not practice.

And how do we accomplish this loss of awareness — this return to Singularity?

Well, some pray for something else to give it to them, others fast, some punish their bodies or go through extreme acts of asceticism, some try drugs or other intoxicants; Christ (and also later the Apostle Paul) describe it as allowing our thoughts, our minds, our awareness… to be changed by “truth” and light that comes from hearing the gospel and especially that which comes to us (is revealed to us) by the Spirit which will enlighten us when we take enough time to stop and listen.

In Zen it is all about stopping and listening. We sit-down, shut up, and listen for it. Although in our case there is no Spirit outside of us penetrating us with something, or giving us anything — it was just us and in us all along.

Come to think about it though… as a Christian isn’t the Spirt (or God) in you (so, a part of you), and you are in it (so, a part of it) as well?

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

imaginary friend by creativethursday.com

imaginary friend by creativethursday.com

I did finish my read of The Future of an Illusion by Sigmund Freud as promised, and I have actually decided to read it over again, more carefully, a second time and now a third time. It is going to take me some time to gather all of my commentaries on it, but I plan on doing a chapter-by-chapter record of my thoughts/ideal concerning his points to share with you all online here. Which is funny since I complain about teachers giving me their opinions on books, telling me what they “mean”, and here I am about to do the same thing.

However, I now understand (thanks to this book) that it is not the fact that teachers are presenting me “short truths” in school, which in this book Freud refers to as dogma, that is upsetting me. Especially since that is basically what all people do when educating in such a setting. This is normal, and acceptable.

No, the issue is that if a person conducts research and comes to a conclusion that, say for example, the earth is round — you (as the student) can then now without taking all the same steps of discovery share in this realization (dogma, or short truth) that the earth is round in shape. But! (Yes there is a but.) But, you (as the student)  should always be able to reproduce the same result yourself if you wanted to.

So if you could sail around the world, travel to space, fly around it, etc… sooner or later you should be able to come to the same conclusions as the ones you were taught, as short truths (dogma), if you were so inclined. We are told there is a country of France, but have you been there? We take it on good faith that we are not being lied to, but in truth any lesson you are told in short you should be able to see for yourself in real life; meaning, you should be able to go to France and see it.

So my real issue with what I am being told to believe or not believe in church or bible school is not that it is dogma, but that it can not in any way be substantiated. In fact, in most cases, to question their teachings is “sin”. Furthermore, every time I do dare to question or try to replicate their findings I find them to be falsified or highly inaccurate. It would be like hopping on a plane and then finding out that there really is no France, no Germany, that the earth is still flat, and then wondering why you still need to keep on listening to your geography teachers.

I am glad that Freud put my frustrations into words for me, and helped me understand what it was that I was actually upset about here. I should not be opposed to “short answers” of knowledge that someone else took the time to look into and prove, and I can get a basic understanding of. I can then choose to take this basic understanding and expound upon it — if I so desire. What is frustrating is when all the dogma you are being fed can not be taken any further in practice or validation beyond the class-room (as in nobody could produce for me a Trinity to observe). It is even harsher when you can research it some and find out that many of the facts, history, stories, or claims were falsified; or atleast contradict history and it’s scholars (as in church history, authorships, or findings).

Instinctual, or Intuitive, Religion

Anyway, so I feel OK now about writing my own commentary for you all, and I am glad to have greater clarification as to what was bothering my with the “knowledge” that has been handed to me as-of-late. Give me some time to get it all down.

In the mean-time I wanted to share a quick thought (before it escapes me) on human instincts and religion. Please look at these comments as “food for thought” and nothing more for now; since they are still ruminating in my head.

So Freud equates religion to a neurosis in this book, and for a justifiable reason as far as his logic carries him. One definition of neurosis is (in paraphrase) a human or a group of humans creating an ideal for themselves that they could never live up to. If one were to look at religion as an external ideal that imposes standards or beliefs on us that we could never fully realize, but only cause anxiety, fear, guilt, and shame — then this is a very fitting assessment.

What I am wondering though is: how this fits in with his belief that man created religion? How can we speak of religion, and especially its morals, as something outside of the scope, want, nature, or ability of man and then at the same time state that man came up with the concept?

Is it in our nature to dream of things, create things, or have ideals that we can never accomplish? Would we create speech if we lacked the ability to vocalize? Why would we envision written language if we lacked the ability deep down to communicate? It would not happen. We do not long for creating things that we can not attain. It is not in our nature to long for things that can not be fulfilled. If we are feeling lonely it is because there is a void there that can be filled. If we hunger — there is food. Any instinctive thirst has a counterpart that can quench it.

I will concede that there are non-natural desires or ideals that have no counterpart, but I wonder if religion is or is not one of them? Especially when it comes down to moral ideals. Never-mind the gods; Freud even states that the ideals are not natural for man, but they were made by man naturally were they not?

I know his argument that if we took a child and raised him in seclusion without religion, he would never come up with the idea of a God, god, or gods on his own. That is a very good argument, but the hole that I see in it is simply that this experiment already took place in our own history. Trace our roots far back enough, and sooner or later someone came up with the notion of God… without it being imposed on him or her. If we invented this, then there had to have been a point where it did not exist and we thought it up… so your child in seclusion did already create a God… maybe even the one that you are rejecting right now.

The only other possibilityI can see is that the concept was imposed on mankind from an external force. This option would go along a lot better with the notion of it being un-natural, imposed, and an ideal that we can not attain; however, the external force would probably have to be… a god of some kind.

I would assume that this argument would eventually go down the road of: “Well those old humans were “primitive”, and knew very little. We are saying that a modern man would never come up with a religion on their own.” So basically, that our stupid ancestors did not understand birth, death, sex, storms, nature, etc — so they invented gods to take the anxiety away. We however, would not do this since we know more about nature and science. So a child raised in seclusion, but with science, would not invent a religion.

I do not know if I quite agree with this train-of-thought. For one, I do not think that we give our ancestors enough credit of intelligence; furthermore, I think we give ourselves too much credit for ours. Finally, many and most religions went beyond “appeasing the gods of nature” and went into things quite more esoteric, relational, or transcendental.

I would argue (although at this time without sufficient proof) that an awareness of something existing that is greater than ourselves (flesh or the temporal) is intuitive, or instinctual. I wonder if it is this way because, as in all of our other natural hungers, it can be fulfilled? I acknowledge that many (if not all) of our current religions have abused, added on to, darkened, and twisted our natural curiosity or longing for the divine into something else — something to control, manipulate, or mislead us; yet does that negate the fact that something greater exists?

I would like to do some research on Intuitive Religion and see where it take me. I had some brief encounters with this concept when studying Shamans and other more ancient, tribal practices. I am sure it does not end there though. Heck, look at Job (in the O.T. Bible); according to most scholars (who are not biased by the actual religion itself) they conclude that Job was not a Jew, in fact there was no such race yet (and obviously too early to be a Christian). This book pre-dates Moses, the Law, temples, practices, churches, priests, etc. Take all of that in, and then realize that Job was seen by God as a spiritual man, a holy man, just and upright. Job was the “priest” of his own home/family, knew God, and pleased him.

Not that I believe in the story, but it does point out that the concept of religion before and without “religion” exists in the history (or heritage) of many different cultures at various times. I believe it should be looked into further.

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

honda logoMy Father thought me a basic principle when buying a car that I have learned to apply to all aspects of my life; that when you see commercial after commercial from other auto manufacturers comparing themselves to, or stating how they are better than another vehicle (which was at that time a Honda), that you should probably check out the Honda.

It is a pretty simple rule-of-thumb to follow. If this is the standard, or the thing by which everyone is trying to state that they are better than, it would be good to check out the thing itself and see what all the fuss is about; and in most cases the object by which all other are trying to compare themselves to as better is better in itself than these other objects.

In theology or philosophy we take many classes in which we get brief statements of other thoughts and ideas that are instantly discredited before moving on to another subject. Most of my counterparts seem to be quite content in simply being told how the Ford that they are driving is better than a Honda, but I for one prefer to take as many things out for a test-drive as I can. Although I must admit that at certain times this process gets a bit muddled, or confusing, due to the fact that after a while all these things seem to perform very similar functions more than they have their difference.

I suppose that a main difference is that I consider myself to be searching for truth instead of simply studying to reassure myself that my particular religion, thought, or belief system is the correct one. I am not trying to gain knowledge to validate or expand on my knowledge of a certain God, but I am simply looking for truth — no matter where that takes me. This allows my studies to be very fluid, or organic and nature, and I am not encumbered by a tendency to have to ignore, be offended by, or stumble over things that do not line up with my belief system that I come across in my studies. There is no knowledge or truth that causes my faith to stumble, since I seek truth itself; therefore my faith can adapt without losing itself.

I recently had a class that briefly covered Sigmund Freud. We read a simple book by a religious author discrediting Freud, and focusing mainly at poking holes in Freud’s The Future of an Illusion. This book was specifically targeted because of comparisons between religion and neurosis, as well as statements comparing strict religious upbringings to certain forms of mental or emotional abuse — resulting in fear, guilt, shame, and other feelings of inadequacies.

This author is younger, less educated, less accredited, less accomplished, and less recognized than the man’s whose very large body work he is attacking; therefore in keeping with the wisdom given to me by my dad when I was a child looking for my first car — I am going to have to check out the Honda. Which in this case would mean that I am going to have to read for myself The Future of an Illusion.

I picked up a copy of it today from my local bookstore, and I will share with you all any insights I get from the book after I have gone over it a bit. One thing that I will point out already is that Freud takes careful time to mention that his definition of Illusion does not mean falsehood or lies, and that just because something is illusion it does not mean that it is necessarily in error, false, or unhealthy.

Anyway, I will post more on this when I have something more to say on the matter. In the mean-time, consider applying the “Honda principle” to your own life and see how it goes. I challenge you to stop just taking someone else’s word on a matter, and try checking out the very things they are comparing to. Instead of reading a book on why Taoism is wrong — read the Tao Te Ching for yourself. Do you fear Muslims? Well go talk to one. Read the works of Søren Kierkegaard for yourself instead of getting your teacher’s notes on existentialism. Even if you come to the same opinion… own it. Own your opinion.

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »