Sunday, October 4, 2009

Above and Beyond Christianity: a summation

Hidden Worship
Nov. 21/07

Depending on how one defines “worship”, in some cases it can be restricted to only conscious and deliberate acts while in other definitions one can worship without being aware of it.

I have found in many Christians' cases their definition toggles back and forth between the two, depending on what the topic is. For example, one must choose to follow and worship Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, to surrender their will and life through a confession of faith. This must be a conscious and deliberate act. It is not acceptable (or even conceivable) that this may occur unconsciously. But they will most certainly allow unconscious worship; a good example being the statement that everybody worships something. A materialistic secular-atheist may unknowingly worship money or material goods, while never being able to consciously acknowledge it.

I think “worship” (as a verb) incorporates both conscious and unconscious forms, and by no means in the above listed strict or limited ways.


By the age of 20 I had given up on institutional religion, abandoned Christianity, and revolted against the concept of God that I held and understood at that time. For all practical purposes, becoming atheistic.

Ten years later I had an epiphany of sorts; an eye-opening experience that revealed a different and truer “image” or concept of God. Although this was most definitely a step away from atheism and towards theism, it was by no means necessarily Christian in and of itself.

Four years after this I took the church-hosted Alpha Course- sort of giving the Christianity I had abandoned 14 years ago a second chance. I had dedicated myself to be completely open and, more importantly, open minded.

Early on, and throughout the course, I repeatedly came across issues or problems, but, in the spirit of legitimate second chances and open mindedness, I overlooked them, didn't dwell on them, or simply “filed” them away.

At one point, I even came to the belief that the most important question everybody should explore and address was, ”Who was Jesus?” Once this question was honestly engaged by anyone they would be left with few options; a madman, a liar, the devil himself, or... God. (the option of a morally good man and wisdom teacher simply wasn't an option).

Although I saw through this at the time, I also buried it deep beneath my open mindedness, and it would be this point, all these 6 to 7 years later, that brings me back to my initial topic of “hidden worship”.

Many Christians unconsciously worship the bible.

...Yeah, I know... ouch.

In chapter 2 of The Alpha Course Manual, the author attempts to establish Jesus’ status as God by appealing to human reason and using logic. He does this by quoting C.S. Lewis,

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher” he’d either be insane or else he’d be the “devil from hell”. “You must make your choice,” he writes. Either Jesus was and is the Son of God, or else He was insane but, C.S. Lewis goes on, “Let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” The Alpha Course Manual, pg. 10

The Alpha Course begins this process of educating by offering up logical possibilities as to Jesus’ status.

What this point really is saying is the same thing that Sherlock Holmes said in The Sign of Four:

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

My problem lies in its methodology (and even possibly in its potential of manipulation).

They are appealing to our logic to accept the only possibility left – no matter how incredible it may seem to the modern mind, while deliberately sidestepping an equally possible answer. That the gospel stories themselves could be opinions or partially fabricated stories by unknown authors, or written as response to other wittings, or even influenced or tainted by previously established doctrines.

Like Sherlock Holmes said, once we have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable (or undesirable), must be the truth.

Although the Alpha Course is attempting to educate or teach, what it is beginning is the process of indoctrination; teaching what to think rather than how to think. I don't believe it is intentional, but I do believe it is a byproduct of Bible-worship; the bible being believed to be unquestionable.

The books of the Old Testament are listed chronologically. However, the books of the New Testament are not. The four gospels come first, followed by the Pauline Epistles and other shorter letters. I've wondered why. The fact of the matter is that all of Paul's letters chronologically occur first and therefore outdate the gospels. One conclusion I've come to is that Christianity as we have it today is based upon a Pauline construct. I believe Paul made Jesus Christian. However, Jesus (Yeshua) preached and taught “the Kingdom of God”, but what he got was the Church. The gospels (not only written significantly after Paul's letters and the beginning of the established orthodox doctrine, but even after his death) may very well have been tainted by this Pauline Christianity. There is significant evidence of editing and additions and tampering, possibly for doctrinal purposes. (1 John 5:8, the endings of Mark, etc.). But, again in the spirit of fairness and open mindedness, it is also possible that they were not.

I am left only with the idea that the truth of the Rabbi Yeshua of Nazareth is so enmeshed and coddled as to be inaccessible, hidden and even unknowable. I am fully aware that many Christians will argue that the Bible is inerrant and without contradiction and that any perceived contradiction is the fault of the reader who doesn't fully understand...
... there's not much to say to this. This is a statement of belief, not fact. It is also an admission to the abandonment or lack of objectivity and willingness to learn.

This is unconscious worship


Coming to this conclusion leaves me with two problems:

1) The first is the Incarnation; whether Jesus was literally God.
Where at one point in time a few years ago I believed this was a critical question all needed to explore, I am now of the belief that it is a question that not only should be left unanswered, but shouldn't be asked at all. Mu.

Must he be literally God incarnate? I've stopped asking this question. I think the answer to that question hinges solely on choice, is inconclusive, but damningly divisive and destructive. I have come to leave it unanswered.

When we force the question of, "Was Jesus literally God" to be answered, we begin a journey down a path that cannot end in any other way but intolerance, discrimination, suffering, and a counterfeit religion. It ceases to be authentic – and some might argue – even valid

How do I, personally, come to terms with it? I am perfectly content (if I may use that word) in accepting Yeshua as a mortal man (even perfect man) – and wisdom teacher – who, through his life, presented a perfect or near perfect representation of the nature of God. God incarnate in metaphor. I don't (and believe, can't) look any farther. (This isn't denying Christ but rather avoiding Christolatry [Matthew 19:17, to some degree could suggest this position. Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God...”]). [And on a side note, to the Evangelical who would tell me this is the difference between Hell and Salvation, I say Jesus' core message was never “worship me or burn”].

I suppose by many definitions I am by no means even Christian.

2) The second problem embraces exactly where I stand right now.
Although to many my path could have led to atheism, in my case it most certainly did not. It does not diminish my belief in God at all. But when faced with the issue of following the will of God, the question must be asked, how am I to know the will of God? And again, in a certain and odd way, we return to the topic of “worship”.

I believe, as I've mentioned earlier, that it is completely possible and likely that we “worship” both consciously and unconsciously.

I don't and never have believed we should pray or worship Yeshua, but rather God as presented through Yeshua. I also believe it is completely possible and probable that people can unconsciously worship this same God.

Just as an atheist can unconsciously worship material goods so too can this atheist worship the God of Yeshua through action and practice... or Jew, or Buddhist, or Muslim, or Confucian, etc.

Yeshua said he was the way (to the Kingdom I presume). He never said he was in the way and he never said he was the destination.

Could the Kingdom of God exist in a completely non-Christian or Christ-ignorant community or society? Maybe a better way of asking this question is to ask, is Yeshua's way present in non-Christian or Christ-ignorant societies or communities?

I believe it is.

I (also) believe the critical flaw in most Christian-based systems is that they have made Yeshua the goal or the destination, rather then the path. They have failed to successfully answer the question of what that destination is.

To call this belief an Anonymous Christianity would not only be insulting to these people, but technically incorrect, but it gives the basic idea. (Yes, I am a religious pluralist by some definitions. No, I don't believe all religions lead to God.)

I am left wondering where am I to journey from here? I suppose following some sort of path of religious tolerance or even pluralism, but ultimately I know it involves moving past Christianity.

Moving Past Christianity (Originally posted as Finale)
July 4/09

Am I searching for happiness? Well, yes, of course I am – we all are. I'd be lying to say otherwise. But I don't believe searching out God has much to do with happiness.

Christianity never offers that. Joy possibly, but not happiness. What does the Christian seek? Or have they found everything they seek so that they seek nothing? Ultimately I think the Christian seeks God's approval, or possibly to be found worthy of God (whether manifested by the desire to be a servant to others or of God or to become more Christlike.)

But as far as my understanding is limited to, these two goals – divine approval and divine worthiness - have, by implication of the cross, already been accomplished. God has already shown His approval for the human race. The divine has already found us worthy. The only purpose the Christian may seek is entrance to a heaven of the Afterlife – which, to me, would seem to reek of spiritual hedonism and most selfish causes. I feel almost as if it is a carrot dangled before my face. Happiness is never promised, Joy is. What is joy in the face of adversity, but passive resignation?
The truth is offered, not as a process but rather as the completed and final product.

Over the past 8 years I have found that Christianity faces some of its most difficult questions and problems with the poor and self-serving methodology of the Anti-Theory. And when it doesn’t use an anti-theory, is takes its answer by distorting something far out of its Jewish context.


The four canonized gospels were written significantly after the rest of the New Testament books. Is there any way of knowing whether they were written as a supplement to the Pauline Epistles and possibly influenced or tainted by them? Are the four canonized gospels historically accurate or are they a rewritten and reinterpreted history?

I am at a point where I believe the evidence is inconclusive. Although I believe Jesus is the Truth (whether literally or through metaphor), I no longer believe he is ‘accessible’ through the bible. It is because of the canonized bible that he has become isolated in a hidden and inaccessible part of history.

I have come to believe the New Testament is a product of what would become mainline Christianity and Christians of the early church. The 1st-Century Church was not a product of the New Testament. I no longer believe the early church was shaped by the New Testament, but that only a certain 'branch' shaped it. I’ve come to believe various other ‘branches’ were simply snuffed out – they lost the ‘competition’.


I needed to ask myself a question:
Do I believe in God?
Let's not be sidetracked here. I am not asking whether I believe in Church (or Synagogues, or Temples, or Mosques); I'm not questioning whether I believe in Religion or the organized institution. I don't.
But do I believe in God?

That's not really the important question. (Even demons believe in God, they just don't obey God). Belief in itself really isn't the question or issue. The real question is, Do I want to be obedient to God?
But how is one to know the will of God, most especially without Religion?

I've come to the conclusion that I am a Religious Pluralist.
I do not believe all religions lead to God... I believe no religion leads to God.

God is not a nationalist. God does not suffer from Tribalism. That is a human affliction.
I have chosen to seek out God's word, wherever it may be found – I have chosen to find God's Spirit wherever it might lead – I have chosen to find God's wisdom wherever it may thrive.

I realize there are some inherent difficulties with this perspective. I have hoped more than ever to attempt to explore these difficulties, without beginning with a preconceived notion.
It had become draining.

I am seeking out the truth; little to do with happiness or approval or worthiness.
But seeking the truth for what purpose? I don't believe the truth is a goal but a process, a journey. And I am beginning to believe that is where Christianity ends for me.

In its attempt to become the only truth, Christianity has effectively made what actual truth it possesses inaccessible at worst and only 'knowable' through 'faith' at best. If it were only willing to compromise its exclusivity to the truth, this might not have been the case.

The proof is in the pudding. Christianity is no longer a world sweeping religion.

I think I am at a point where I need to move past Christianity. I realize this might sound like an arrogant statement. I realize one can spend two lifetimes studying the bible and Christian history and doctrine, but I am not speaking of moving beyond some sort of academic knowledge.

I have had Christians imply to me that family members (wife and children) will not be saved.
I have lost friends through Christianity, having hedged themselves slowly away from the world in hopes of maintaining “Holiness” and “Purity”.
I have been “un-invited” to a Christian 'coffee-house' kind of discussion group before – ostracized from any further contact. Told not to phone or email.
I have enjoyed warmer welcomes and hospitalities from secular and even atheist friends of mine. To be honest, I prefer the company I find out there in the “spiritual wilderness” more than I do behind church doors.

I am beginning to believe that Christianity is a religion that failed; that Christ was the God who failed through his followers.

I believe God encompasses and reveals His truth to all people in all cultures. The moment we feel justified in defending God (like an omnipotent deity needs our defense) is the same moment we abandon God and fall victim to idolatry; creating God in our own image and defending our concept of the god we hold.

Aug. 28/09

I can carry Taoist values, as reflected through certain martial arts - dichotomies often existing in harmony, not at the expense of one another.

I can learn the tranquility of the Buddhist, to let go of issues that cause stress, as there is a time and place for passivity.

I can value, revere, and worship the divine
directly through Nature, paralleling paganism.

I am free to hold Christian and monotheistic metaphoric truths to further understand the incomprehensible and hope to love others better, without the trappings of
literalism, tribalism and legalism.

I can appreciate and accept Catholicism’s veneration of the Virgin Mary as a manifestation of the much needed yet unaddressed divine-feminine.

I can see the symbolic power and beauty of Orthodox icons and not suffer from idolatry.

Because of the Gnostics, I hope to be free of the addictive nature of
historicity and religiosity.

I need not abandon the open-eyed skepticism of the Humanist, Atheist, or Agnostic on watchful guard for liars, “words of knowledge”, cheats, spiritual frauds, “prophetic gifts”, and charlatans.


I am Woven; a living tapestry of identities, languages, cultures, and faiths.
A piece of burlap; Strong and tightly bound, yet unbound in my liberty.
I am not a subject of the lowest common denominator. I am a gestalt. The unweaving of one part is the undoing of the whole.

What the
Religionist must call purification – the purging of alien practices and ways – is to become unwoven. A single thread is easier to capture than a richly woven tapestry.

The lost, the forgotten, the abused, the broken, the abandoned, the common, and the mundane; we are woven.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Review of Mark Townsend's “The Path of the Blue Raven”.

I've decided to go out on the limb with this review, so to speak, in hopes of capturing a certain essence of this book. The author, Mark Townsend is honest - sometimes brutally so - and raw, and it is this that I hope to relate in my choice of quotes.

The picture of the God Mark Townsend has learned to see is simply marvelous! He speaks of Jesus thus,

“It's a marvelously messy and muddled up picture of a 'god who meets us in the shit' – divinely intertwined with the animal muck! How native! How Celtic! How wonderful!

“And what about the wandering preacher's final hours? Well the story tells of a gruesome experience – one load of shit after another. He was betrayed, rejected, beaten, spat upon, humiliated and then killed in the ugliest way possible. And the period between birth and death was not much better. He was misunderstood, called names, chased out of town, viewed with suspicion and cursed with a group of total misfits who kept getting it wrong. This is the god-image who lives in the gutter rather than at the top of the ladder.”
(pg. 51)

“... the divine is not separate from us, the divine is not afraid of darkness and messed up humans. The symbolic god-man Jesus shows us how to find the beauty – the hidden treasure – by looking right beneath our feet. If there is one phrase I could use to sum up the glory of the whole Christian gift it is Transfigured Shit. Honest and real spirituality is not primarily concerned with making folk 'good' but 'true'...” (pg. 52)
I cannot count how many times I've heard a Christian tell me that God doesn't change his mind; that God is immutable... yet paradoxically (or maybe hypocritically) they whole-heartedly believe the Crucifixion somehow changed God's mind – that mankind was doomed, wallowing in its damnation – then, because of some sort of satisfied blood lust, changed His mind. Yet this is a good and loving God?! It just doesn't jive. It never did.

“The sacrificial love displayed on the cross does not change God's mind about us(as the so called objective views of the Atonement). The spectacle of the cross changes us not God! How? By displaying costly love rather than brutal judgment.

“If we see Jesus as a literal, perfect offering, a human blood sacrifice, then we have no choice but to view God as wrathful, and who needs his mind changing by having Jesus pay the price for our sins. He dies, we get let off the hook!

“But if we see the symbol of the god-man Jesus hanging on a tree as a selfless act of love, joining humankind at its ugliest, lowest, shittiest place, and not retaliating with any sense of hatred of revenge, than there is more chance of our own view of God being changed. We might even fall in love with such a loving God rather than being terrified of Him”.
(pg. 79)
This book at first struck me as meandering and without a direction, until I realized the journey itself was the direction. That I had been conditioned over countless books and authors to expect to be preached to, expecting to be told how things are. It was a forgone conclusion that I was going to be told what to think. I was pleasantly surprised.

Interestingly enough the last person I met who gave me “permission” to question, explore, and grow was a baptist youth minister who has since left ministry. (Never my pastor, but always my good friend).

Now I've “met” Mark Townsend, a Church of England priest who also has left ministry. Mark Townsend, through “The Path of the Blue Raven” also gives this same sort of “permission” to question, explore, and grow in our spirituality. But he does more than just this. It is an invitation and a fearless one full of innocence and absolute wonder of a truly jaw-dropping God! It is refreshing, comical at times, painful at others, and always truthful. Mark seems to demonstrate little fear with leaving himself transparent and vulnerable. There are numerous moments when I felt he was telling my story, so closely I could relate.

Definitely a book worth the read!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Plagued by Passover

As both a Jew and a rabbi the week before Passover is for me one of the most painful times of the Jewish liturgical year. While my friends are cleaning their homes of chumetz, the foodstuffs and products forbidden to Jews during Passover, and preparing for their Passover Seders commemorating our people's exodus from Egypt, I find myself agonizing over the terrible misfortune this week held for the ancient Egyptians.

This past Wednesday at sundown, the anniversary night before our exodus from slavery, Jews all over the world gathered to celebrate our god and good fortune. Yet that very night is the anniversary of a horrifying mass murder as well. That night our god slaughtered thousands upon thousands of innocent first-born Egyptians boys and men to make a point: that Yahweh alone is God (Exodus 7:2-5). As the Ten Plagues are read during the Seder Jews diminish the wine in their cups so as to take no joy in Egyptian suffering, but this is an insufficient gesture in the face of the needless horrors inflicted upon the ancient Egyptians.

The plagues in general and the tenth plague in particular are examples of collective punishment unparalleled until the time of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the Holocaust was not punishment but genocide). It was Pharaoh, not the Egyptian people who enslaved the Hebrews. It was Pharaoh, not the Egyptian people, who ordered the death of the newborn Hebrew boys. The murder of the first-born sons of Egypt, the innocent along with the guilty, is not an act of justice, but of madness perpetrated by a god whose thirst for blood, both human and animal, seems endless. Is this the god I race out of Egypt to follow?

Those of you who are Christians may imagine you have escaped the clutches of this brutal god, following instead the Prince of Peace who made love his creed (Matthew22: 37-39), and the hallmark of his followers (John 13:34-35). But who is the god behind Good Friday? Is it not the same god whose thirst for blood can only be slaked by the murder of his Son? Isn't this what Jesus' death ransoms us from: a god who demands blood, whether it is the blood of Jesus or of all humanity? Isn't Jesus' death supposed to ransom us from eternal damnation? And even if it does, the god who creates such insanity remains unchallenged. While the Easter resurrection may prove the truth of the Son, it does nothing to change the nature of the Father who sent him. Indeed, the very notion that failure to accept Jesus as one's Lord and Savior results in eternal damnation makes plain to anyone with the eyes to see and the ears to hear that the god of the Passover is unrepentant and unchanged, and that his followers, by whatever name, are still trapped in a system of unsurpassed brutality.

Why? Because the gods we worship have nothing to do with God, and everything to do with us. We create god in our image. The god we create is the god we desire, and the god who sanctions our desires. And what we desire above all else is to impose our will on the world that we might grasp what we want when we want it. We create a murderous god along with a way to shield ourselves from being murdered even as we stand idle while the murder of "the other" is done in our name and by our hands washed clean by our god who revels in it.

I am ashamed of the silence of Moses in the face of Egyptian horror. I am ashamed of the willingness of Jesus to be the Lamb of God, to die for us rather than challenge the cult of death his Father relishes.

What we need today is not another Moses leading his people to freedom over the corpses of their neighbors. What we need is not another Jesus who submits his will to god's will and takes his place upon the cross (Matthew 26:39). What we need today is the Abraham who dared to confront God's madness and injustice, insisting that the Judge of all the world act justly (Genesis 18:25). What we need is the indignation of the Hebrew prophets whose God has no need of blood and death, and desires only justice, compassion, and humility (Micah 6:8). But we will not get what we need; we will only get what we are. And what we are is a species enslaved to enslaving others whether in this world or the next.

My prayer for this Passover Week and Easter Sunday is not one of praise and thanksgiving, worshipping the god of my own insanity. My prayer is this: "May steadfast love and faithfulness meet, may righteousness and peace kiss" (Psalm 85:10), and may humanity be free of gods that we might at last hear the call to justice and compassion for all life that is the hallmark of the true God.

Plagued by Passover was written for Passover and Easter by Rabbi Rami Shapiro.
Rabbi Rami is widely recognized as one of the most creative figures in contemporary American Judaism. A graduate of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he also holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Union Graduate School. An award-winning poet, liturgist, and essayist, his prayers are included in worship services across the denominational spectrum of American congregations.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Back Cover of the Bible

[Please allow me to apologize to Roman Catholics first. I do not write this particular post against Catholicism nor Catholics. I have the utmost respect for them, myself having come from this background. Any apparent antagonism against Catholicism is illusionary at most. I express my following opinion and thoughts simply due to the fact that I have began my 'journey' - if you will - from a Catholic paradigm which I no longer hold. It is simply part of my story].

The Back Cover of the Bible

As in all religions, Catholicism also has its source material and its source authority structure. In Catholicism there is Holy Scripture and there is Holy Tradition. Both are authoritative.

Holy Scripture is the bible. That one is pretty straight forward.
Holy Tradition – for all intent and purposes – includes any rulings of the various Church Councils (believing to have also been divinely revealed, guided, inspired, and protected), and Papal Infallibility (also divinely revealed, guided, and inspired). In short, after Jesus Christ, divine revelation began and continues to this day.

(It is obvious to me that the Church (capital “C”) has come off the rails at some point.
Although I am sure we will all share this particular opinion, I think I have a perspective no other within our group does, and thus can bring a very different 'angle'. Although not Catholic, I come from a Roman Catholic background, was essentially brought up through a Catholic education system, and was left with little options (at least in my earlier years) at viewing all things theological or spiritual through a Catholic lense.)

The next question becomes when did the Church come off the rails? It's really a rhetorical question. I'm not interested in pursuing this line of thought. But the point itself is important.

Maybe a better question should be, where is the dividing line between Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition? Well, that one isn't a rhetoric question and it's easy to answer. That dividing line is clearly the back cover of the bible.

...Going off on a slight tangent; Martin Luther never wanted to do away with the Catholic Church or make it defunct; only correct certain problems. He created a Frankenstein's monster, didn't he? He, more or less, gave birth to the Protestant Reformation.

The Reformation realized that the Church had come off the rails and rather than become bogged down with attempting to determine when, dropped the “cutting edge” down at that clean decisive point between Holy Tradition and Holy Script; the bible's back cover. Done away with was Holy Tradition and Papal Infallibility in an attempt to return to the original, the first century church.


1) The bible is not a book. It is a library of books wrapped in a man-made cover. (Couldn't it be said that this “man-made” cover was divinely revealed through a church council (Holy Tradition)?)

2) Holy Tradition (and church history) did not begin after the back cover of the bible, but began within the confines of the bible.

3) The Protestant Reformation had in effect removed the validity of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility from all Popes (including the first Pope, Peter) yet allows “Papal Infallibility” under the disguise of Biblical Inerrency to apply to Paul's writings.

I personally am of the opinion that the Rabbi Yeshua of Nazareth preached the Kingdom of God but got the Church instead... or maybe it was that Yeshua preached the Kingdom of God but the Church preached Jesus...?

So we go back past the Pauline Epistles and directly to the Gospels themselves.

...and here lies the problem. The Gospels were all written significantly after the Epistles by members of the first century church.

I find myself in a dilemma. I find myself at a dead end with no obvious way forward.
The way forward would seem to me to be to listen to where God's voice leads?

Truth Claims

God is so exalted beyond the capacities of mortal men that it is impossible to describe God or even hint at the nature of God's essence. Consequently it is impossible for humans – even scholars and theologians – to capture God's glory in words. All descriptions then are limited by the viewpoint of the making them. No matter how hard a person strives for knowledge of the divine the only achievement will be better knowledge of one's own self.

Using the metaphor of a compass: No matter how far the compass travels, it is only going around the point at its center and, similiarily, however much men may strive and achieve within the realms of spiritual knowledge, ultimately they are only achieving a better and greater knowledge of themselves (or of the Absolute manifested within themselves), not of any exterior Absolute.

[I know this sounds like monism, which would seem to contradict a dualistic belief. (Dualism says, “there are fundamental differences between the human and the divine”. Monism says, “there are no fundamental difference between the human and the divine”.)

We must give up the rational laws of non-contradiction and the excluded middle.

The apparent contradiction arises only because of our limited capacity which prevents us from seeing them both as correct. This can be intuited but not known conceptually or logically.]

Understood this way, all theology is partial and relative (hence the theory of relativism which effectively deals with conflicting truth claims between the religions).

All religions are equally valid in that they embody equally valid human responses to the divine (although we shouldn't rule out that some small religions and cults may be false).

The different religions reflect different stages in a single process, namely, the progressive unfolding of religious truth. Differences between the various religions are regarded as a functions of the different social conditions and receptive capacity of individuals that prevailed at the time and place that these religions first appeared.

Religions truth is not absolute but relative.
Divine revelations is progressive, not final.


"The true spiritually achieved one respects the natural spiritual world without having to personify it with a white or purple robe or a gold crown. That is junk. It is really childish. It is not true. Religions fight each other over the conceptual level of life. Once you formalize God with a certain shape and color and robe, you fight over what is in your mind as opposed to what is in someone else's mind. At the true spiritual level, conceptual vision is both all right and all wrong, until you reach the subtle essence...
...There is no separate "God" in the realm of integral truth."

Hua-Ching Ni

Ultimately, when we attempt to force God into a pre-defined box, we are completely in error. Our perceptions of who or what God is is extremely cultural in nature.
Rather then attempting to force God into a preconceived box of definitions we attempt to force others into following these preconceptions is when human suffering, misery, and pain begins.
To me, this is the process of religious conversion.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lewis Black's ”me of little faith”

I've always enjoyed a comedian's perspective on certain things.
My father had given me a book for Christmas; Lewis Black's me of little faith and I am just reading it now.
Lewis Black says this,

“Can't you just practice what Jesus preaches and live a good and upright life? Isn't that spiritual enough? What if you did do that and because you didn't believe in God, he sent you to hell? Well, for me that would sure justify not believing in him in the first place, especially if he's going to be such a prick”.
Lewis Black, ”me of little faith”.

An interesting question. A question I'm sure many wonder.
Any thoughts, opinions, comments?

(And the answer, “the bible says so”, isn't really a good answer, is it?)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spiritual but Not Religious

I used to know an older Presbyterian Elder and his wife who would say this.
“We're spiritual but not religious”. It was a conversation opener. Unfortunately it was also a bait and switch tactic to lure you into their 'religion'.

Maybe we should ask the questions, ”What does it mean to be spiritual”? and ”What does it mean to be religious”? What is really at the core of these ideas?

I think religion is about fear.
Fear of pain.
Fear of misery.
Fear of suffering.
Fear of death.
Religion is about control. Attempting to control these fears, or our attempts at gaining control over others through use of these fears.

Religion without fear is tradition. I don't see tradition as harmful.

I think spirituality is about compassion. What Karen Armstrong says is ”that universal principle of empathy and respect at the core of all major religions”; the reason why Yeshua said his yoke was light (Matthew 11:30).

I think spirituality should accomplish solace for the individual and install compassion towards others.

It isn't difficult for me to imagine what spirituality might look like without religiosity. But it is incredibly difficult for me to imagine what spirituality would look like without compassion. I suppose it would be little more than spiritual masturbation. Maybe that's what religion is. Just another addiction. Porn for the soul.