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Postby Marc Majcher » February 11th, 2011, 8:02 pm

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:
Marc Majcher wrote:
Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:When it's used to bolster an oppressive caste system by tricking the (primarily native, and, coincidentally, darker-skinned) underclass into believing that maybe, just maybe, if they work hard enough and pay proper respect to their betters in this this life, they might just have a shot at being reborn into a higher station, then, well...


i would call that a corruption of the belief system...

And I would call it the origin of the belief system. And you know as well as I do how easily an origin story can be retconned. :P
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » February 12th, 2011, 12:17 pm

Spots wrote:Jordan, the unsolicited ultimatum would be the attacker in any situation, I suppose I agree.

One thing about being a nonbeliever (and it would be great if Brett or somebody could relate their own experience) is that I never became one until I figured out my role in the world AS an atheist.

My brain craves story and it often craves fantasy. When I receive a letter in the mail that says "You just won!" I tend to believe it for a tenth of a second. I also had irrational thoughts after I learned my friend had died. I found myself thinking often about parallel worlds where he still lived & breathed. Because I want to believe. We all want to believe fantastical things, don't we? That's why we used to run around as kids saving the babes from the underground dungeon lords.

Those things are still true for me as an atheist. When I made it official I had to find my role. I had to find a narrative that was still positive that allowed me to function in society & find hope everywhere I looked.

I guess I settled on the role of an educator, of a communicator. As someone who had studied filmmaking & writing, I felt like atheism really meshed with me because I could explore those themes & find narratives to share with others. I knew many atheists were intelligent & had better explanations than I could ever fathom. And that I could act as a go-between because I deal in the abstract. I can dabble in metaphor & make concepts click with a greater number of people. That's ultimately how I made atheism "work" for me.

"Finding your role" may not be necessary for someone who had atheistic parents. I'd be curious to hear. Likewise, I remind myself of my role so that I don't press others too hard. I tell myself "let them find their own narrative, if any".


strangely enough, my own faith has a similar origin. not necessarily my belief in God (that's a strange story of a summer day in my childhood, a mid afternoon shadow and a subtle but vital shift in my perception. lol), but in choosing to become a Christian (and the eclectic mix of other religions i've mixed into it, particularly Buddhism and Taoism). to put it in its simplest terms, and not get into a drawn out anecdote about my "religious history" (though if anyone wants to hear it, feel free to ask)...Christianity had the most resonant and powerful story for me. it FELT true. which is why i've never felt the overt need to convert anyone, i guess. i came to it on my own terms. why would i deny anyone else their own journey? 8)

Marc Majcher wrote:
Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:
Marc Majcher wrote:
Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:When it's used to bolster an oppressive caste system by tricking the (primarily native, and, coincidentally, darker-skinned) underclass into believing that maybe, just maybe, if they work hard enough and pay proper respect to their betters in this this life, they might just have a shot at being reborn into a higher station, then, well...


i would call that a corruption of the belief system...

And I would call it the origin of the belief system. And you know as well as I do how easily an origin story can be retconned. :P


well, i thought i did until it turned out i was the clone of my twin brother's alternate reality cyborg bodyguard who was modeled off of the offspring of two alien civilizations...FROM THE FUTURE!
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Postby B. Tribe » February 14th, 2011, 10:43 am

Spots wrote:and it would be great if Brett or somebody could relate their own experience


Hope you like to read because I like talking about myself!

Religion never really made a whole lot of sense to me. When I was a kid I viewed church as a big, boring place I had to go every Sunday where I first sat in a small room with other kids while an adult told us stories before going into the big room where another adult told adults stories and we all prayed and sang really loud and I would draw instead of paying attention.

My first point of doubt came when I saw how many people only came to church near or on Christmas and Easter. That struck me as hypocritical (although I had to be taught that word). How could they call themselves good Christians if they spent their Sunday mornings sleeping instead of praying, singing and listening to scripture?

The second point came around 5th grade when we were learning Greek history and mythology. I got way into it, reading outside of class well after the assignment was over. I wondered how people could have actually believed that gods lived on top of a mountain and how stupid they must have felt when they climbed to the top and found nothing. But we believed in fantastical stories too. Zeus impregnated mortal women and so did God, albeit in a less horny way. Jonah lived in a big fish? Noah put every animal on a boat? If people used to believe in this Greek stuff, what made Christianity correct? I shelved those questions eventually.

Another point happened when I was about 13 or so. I didn't have any friends in my stupid little town. I started spending time with the Pastor at my church. She was super nice to me and actually listened to my problems. Shortly after we got close, the church transferred her out. They had some fairly arbitrary rule about moving Pastors from church to church pretty much at random. Some Pastors stayed for years while others might be there for one or two. That busted me up pretty bad, but it wasn't her leaving that put doubt in me. Later I found out she'd been in a car accident and suffered brain damage that wiped out big chunks of her memory. Apparently she had very faint recollections of her time at my church. I couldn't figure out why someone who'd dedicated their life to service to God could be abandoned by him, made to suffer both physically and mentally. For what? For what purpose?

Prayer always seemed sort of stupid as well. I'd say things out loud or to myself and just feel silly. Nothing ever came of the prayers, no matter how selfish or altruistic. I never took it seriously.

In my late teens I discovered music outside of the pop garbage that I hated or the classical music that I had put behind me. Those bands said it was okay to be angry or depressed, that you could create from these things. Many of those bands questioned the existence of God or were outright 'blasphemous'. Things started to fall into place. It was okay to question, decide and reject both organized religion and the concept of God. So I did.

I rejected more than just religion, rejecting modern society and it's expectations. I became a nerdy punk, escaping from reality through role-playing games while fighting against it with spikes and skulls. Over time I calmed the fuck down and found/created a place in the world I could fit into. I became less angry and more intellectual in my atheism, which is where I am now.

Everything makes more sense when you remove the supernatural and replace it with facts. It's simpler and kinder and more understandable. Why do people do good/bad things? Look at what evolution geared us toward and you find the answers. How do we ignore or positively direct our base desires? By using our intelligence and self-awareness. I have made some pretty awful mistakes in my life, but they're my mistakes and I don't have to fear punishment in the afterlife for the simple act of being human. I also don't have to curry favor in order for eternal rewards. We can be responsible for our own lives and do the right things for the right reasons.
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Postby KathyRose » February 15th, 2011, 3:08 am

B. Tribe wrote:Everything makes more sense when you remove the supernatural and replace it with facts. It's simpler and kinder and more understandable. Why do people do good/bad things? Look at what evolution geared us toward and you find the answers. How do we ignore or positively direct our base desires? By using our intelligence and self-awareness. I have made some pretty awful mistakes in my life, but they're my mistakes and I don't have to fear punishment in the afterlife for the simple act of being human. I also don't have to curry favor in order for eternal rewards. We can be responsible for our own lives and do the right things for the right reasons.

Herein lies the crux of the matter... how do you know what is "right?" I agree that belief in a God (or Gods) is not essential to knowing what's right. I wouldn't, however, credit the knowing to human "intelligence" and "self-awareness."

Awareness extends beyond Self. That Greater Awareness enables you to feel empathy, love, trust and compassion. Religions attribute this greater awareness to God. I prefer to think of it as the Tao, which - by its nature - cannot be precisely defined, and yet can be sensed. That, I posit, is how you "know" what is right. In your gut. Is that a "supernatural" phenomenon? No more so than gravity, which also existed before Newton defined its laws scientifically.

I don't believe in God as a supernatural entity, an anthropomorphic diety, the Creator, the Punisher, the Man with the Plan, the fathomless wishing well in the sky. But I know without a doubt that there are forces at play in the universe that we may never comprehend or even consciously detect, and I'm okay with that. I find the mystery of it exciting and wondrous, and I'm filled with delight that there is much more to our existence (and beyond it) than what we can ever hope to understand.

As for using "intelligence" to determine what is right... fat chance! Humans are far too clever at rationalizing whatever they want to do. That's human nature.
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Postby Spots » February 15th, 2011, 3:33 am

KathyRose wrote:As for using "intelligence" to determine what is right... fat chance! Humans are far too clever at rationalizing whatever they want to do. That's human nature.


To add to this: The human brain, perhaps the most advanced organ ever created in any organism ever -- is still very much flawed. Yes, we use cognitive dissonance to justify our actions no matter how dastardly.

One reason why is the communication between the r-complex, the limbic, and neocortex regions of our brains.

Natural selection has no method of backtracking. The R-Complex is a very erroneous brain in itself. It acts on impulse, on only the basest desires. It is argued that when a person is sleep deprived the R-Complex takes the wheel.

You lose your inhibitions and out come your ritualistic, sexual, and aggressive desires. You go into self preservation mode. For instance you would be more likely to eat your roommate's sandwich. Whereas the rational you would never think to do such a thing.

The limbic system and the neocortex act as inhibitors, they are evolutionary responses to having this flawed R-complex. Limbic for emotion & the neocortex for reason (in rudimentary terms), these parts of the brain are not found outside of mammals. And the neocortex is only found among only the highest functioning mammals.

Yes, humans have emotion. Humans have logic. These concepts were invented coinciding with the evolution of particular inhibitors in our brains. I simply find this fascinating. (it's even theorized that dreams exist to trick the r-complex into thinking it's still in control, to pacify it so that we can live our days comfortably using our neocortex without interruption*)

Reason is still virginal in the history of biology, let alone the concept in itself. Carl Sagan postulated that future humans would evolve even bigger brains if possible. (with the size of women's hips being one limiting factor) Another theory is that society, acting via corporations and governments, is now a form of evolution. Since evolution depends heavily on individuals enduring their given environment I tend to agree.

No matter what, the story continues to be told. We aren't simply contrived beings plucked from obscurity and placed on Earth. We are ever-changing, ever learning beings. The story continues and I find a lot of hope in that, no matter if the masses always seem to drag so far behind in myths and legends.

Humans are vastly more interesting because of their flawed brains.


Image


* I will not make that argument here, but I love the idea.
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Postby B. Tribe » February 15th, 2011, 11:23 am

KathyRose wrote:Herein lies the crux of the matter... how do you know what is "right?" I agree that belief in a God (or Gods) is not essential to knowing what's right. I wouldn't, however, credit the knowing to human "intelligence" and "self-awareness."

Awareness extends beyond Self. That Greater Awareness enables you to feel empathy, love, trust and compassion. Religions attribute this greater awareness to God. I prefer to think of it as the Tao, which - by its nature - cannot be precisely defined, and yet can be sensed.


So you credit Awareness, Greater Awareness and the Tao for these behaviors? The Tao, as you describe it, has a circular definition which means it can't be refuted. It cannot be precisely defined, but can be sensed. Sensed how? It's not visual, auditory, touch, tase, or smell it. So it's attributed to a sixth sense?

From what I understand about the human brain, it developed resources to handle different functions. These various functions have combined, unknowingly, to create many of the non-sensory and mystic experiences that humans have. I 'feel' like my mind is separate from my body, but there's no evidence to support this feeling. There is evidence to support why I 'feel' this way. So I put my 'feeling' aside in favor of the facts.

KathyRose wrote:That, I posit, is how you "know" what is right. In your gut.


Higher primates show rudimentary social behaviors that include judgment of 'right' and 'wrong'; essentially, actions that are detrimental to the group. These judgments are then encouraged for 'right' behavior and punished for 'wrong'. That's why we know what is right. It's hard-wired into our brains. That doesn't prevent us from doing 'wrong', but it explains why we often feel strange or bad for breaking basic 'rules' of humanity.

KathyRose wrote:Is that a "supernatural" phenomenon? No more so than gravity, which also existed before Newton defined its laws scientifically.


As you describe it, it is supernatural as it doesn't conform to any basic rules or laws. It is scientific not because it's unknowable but because the behavior actually IS knowable and much is known already. It's quantifiable, testable, and supported by evidence. Aberrations are also accounted for by individual brain functioning. You describe this vague non-supernatural but unknowable force in the universe that guides our actions. If it's unknowable, then how can you 'know' it's there? That's subjective and open to bias.

Gravity isn't the same thing as 'knowing' something without proof. We had evidence of gravity and it's behaviors before it was mathematically defined. It worked because it worked. People 'knew' about gravity but didn't really think about it in scientific terms. There is no evidence for this non-supernatural but ethereal guiding moral force you speak of. It's not testable or provable; it must be supernatural in origin because there is no evidence like there was with gravity. This force requres faith instead of with reason.

KathyRose wrote:I don't believe in God as a supernatural entity, an anthropomorphic diety, the Creator, the Punisher, the Man with the Plan, the fathomless wishing well in the sky. But I know without a doubt that there are forces at play in the universe that we may never comprehend or even consciously detect, and I'm okay with that. I find the mystery of it exciting and wondrous, and I'm filled with delight that there is much more to our existence (and beyond it) than what we can ever hope to understand.


I agree with you in spirit here, but you're nearing religious praise of these unknowable forces. We do have evidence and theories about human behavior, about why we act the way we do, and none of the volumes include any evidence of non-biological influences. To go back to gravity as an example; it was an unknown force that pulled on us and kept us on the ground. That 'force' was later defined by physics. These 'unknowable' forces still must conform to physical laws. All evidence of human biology conforms to physical principles that we do currently understand. The brain is still a mystery in a lot of ways, but we haven't found a node or segment or section that doesn't conform to what we do understand about the physical world we exist in. The brain doesn't break any rules. The mysteries are more of 'why' than 'how'.

KathyRose wrote:As for using "intelligence" to determine what is right... fat chance! Humans are far too clever at rationalizing whatever they want to do. That's human nature.


When a lion kills a rivals cubs so that he can then impregnate the females of the pride, we think that's pretty awful, but we understand it's part of their nature. If a person does something like that, we, as a group, understand it's horrific and deserves punishment. We use our collective intelligence to create, agree, and enforce that punishment. That individual who does the awful act is not using his intelligence for anything outside of rationalization.

You can also get large groups of people to do awful things. I would say that those things happen by bypassing the intelligent part of the brain and going to the emotions or base desires. The intelligence then rationalizes the behavior so the individual can survive the guilt.

Where I believe intelligence DOES assist in guiding what's right and wrong is in two parts; the individual and the community. The individual can use his intellegence to override base, destructive desires. The community uses it's collective intelligence to communicate, agree on, create and enforce a system of reward for those who use their individual intelligence and punish those who do not conform to that system. If only it was that simple...
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Postby KathyRose » February 15th, 2011, 12:08 pm

Spots wrote:The human brain, perhaps the most advanced organ ever created in any organism ever -- is still very much flawed . . . Limbic for emotion & the neocortex for reason (in rudimentary terms), these parts of the brain are not found outside of mammals. And the neocortex is only found among only the highest functioning mammals.

The most ironic flaw is believing in human "superiority" over all other living creatures. :wink: My gosh - we're so egocentric, we create God mythologies in our image!

Every single one of us creates the world in which we live through the stories we choose to tell ourselves. ("I live in a wonderful city." "My job sucks." "You're smart and beautiful." "I'm not.") Some people mistake these stories for "reality."

The only things we have in common with each other are measurable, indisputable facts, and some of those are iffy - e.g. the passage of time is measurable, but how we each experience it is subjective.

The problem is, our ridiculously complex brains compel us to function according to values, beliefs and desires, which vary from person to person. All purely rational, unbiased bets are off. We have to make up stories (mythologies, theories, societal rules) to guide our actions, or we would be paralyzed with confusion, indecision and despair. Phenomena like language, government and religion are the stories that we (occasionally) agree upon in order to co-exist.

Some people require richly detailed and convoluted stories, with ourselves - of course - in the prinicipal role. Some people dodge responsibility for their choices by putting a Supreme Being in charge. But those poor "inferior" creatures with undeveloped brains don't seem to have this problem with life at all.

Why should one form of existence seem superior to another?
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » February 15th, 2011, 12:41 pm

hey, now...some of us are plenty skilled enough at dodging responsibility without having to put it all on God. ;)
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Postby Spots » February 15th, 2011, 8:16 pm

KathyRose wrote:our ridiculously complex brains compel us to function according to values, beliefs and desires, which vary from person to person. We have to make up stories to guide our actions, or we would be paralyzed with confusion, indecision and despair.

Some people require richly detailed and convoluted stories, with ourselves in the prinicipal role. Some people dodge responsibility for their choices by putting a Supreme Being in charge.


Exactly. When I simplified my beliefs down (from having hazy expectations of a god granting me an afterlife) to the simple idea of personal narratives, I felt as though I was placing responsibility on my own shoulders. I was embracing the 19 years of mixed mythology I had been placed in contact with. Those mixed messages of myth & science melded into my story as a permanent fixture I no longer had to rebel against. I could accept it as part of me.

And reversely, I felt the need to listen to other peoples' stories with respect. Not worry about "truth" but only "personal truth", because as you said everyone has different values, desires, and environmental challenges. There is no such thing as a definite truth, beyond the individual. Belief & logic are no exception.
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Postby Spots » February 15th, 2011, 9:48 pm

KathyRose wrote:The most ironic flaw is believing in human "superiority" over all other living creatures. :wink: My gosh - we're so egocentric, we create God mythologies in our image!


To be fair we create god mythologies in every shape imaginable. The two most common are the Sun god and the Earth Mother.

AMUN RA- Egyptian Sun god
APOLLO - Roman Sun god
MERODACH - Babylonian Sun god
KINICHAHAU - Mayan Sun god
INTI - Incan Sun god
TONATIAH - Aztec Sun god (Teotl)
SHAMASH - Semitic Sun god
MITHRA - Avestan Sun god
AMA-TERASU NO OHOKAMI - Shinto Sun goddess

GAIA - Greek Earth mother
DEMETER - Greek Earth mother
ISIS - Egyptian Earth mother
CERES - Roman Earth mother
CENTEOTL - Aztec Earth mother (see also Toci)
NINLIL - Babylonian Earth mother
FREYJA - Norse Earth mother
NINSUN - Mesopotamian Earth mother
ASHTART - Syrian Earth mother
ASHERAH - Semitic Earth mother
ANANN - Celtic Earth mother
DON - Welsh Earth mother
DEA MATRONA - Gaul Earth mother
NERTHUS - Germanic Earth mother
UMAI - Turkish Earth mother

Even the Virgin Mary is a descendant of the Earth mother. Try to imagine the virgin birth as a simple allegory for the Earth providing us the harvest.

Image

I don't think I have to explain Yahweh's connection as the Sun god. It's no coincidence that Christians worship him on Sunday.

Since discovering this analogy, the relationship between God, Mary, and Jesus has made more sense than ever.
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Postby KathyRose » February 15th, 2011, 10:45 pm

Spots wrote:
KathyRose wrote:our ridiculously complex brains compel us to function according to values, beliefs and desires, which vary from person to person. We have to make up stories to guide our actions, or we would be paralyzed with confusion, indecision and despair.

Some people require richly detailed and convoluted stories, with ourselves in the prinicipal role. Some people dodge responsibility for their choices by putting a Supreme Being in charge.


Exactly. When I simplified my beliefs down (from having hazy expectations of a god granting me an afterlife) to the simple idea of personal narratives, I felt as though I was placing responsibility on my own shoulders. I was embracing the 19 years of mixed mythology I had been placed in contact with. Those mixed messages of myth & science melded into my story as a permanent fixture I no longer had to rebel against. I could accept it as part of me.

And reversely, I felt the need to listen to other peoples' stories with respect. Not worry about "truth" but only "personal truth", because as you said everyone has different values, desires, and environmental challenges. There is no such thing as a definite truth, beyond the individual. Belief & logic are no exception.

D'accord!
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Postby Spots » February 16th, 2011, 3:46 am

I try to fit my Episcopalian upbringing into my narrative. I try to find historical context, I try to find understanding with the choices that were made by my ancestors. I really do. But try as I might I cannot come up with a good analogy for this next part:

The Holy Trinity. I've never been able to make heads or tails of this relationship. In my opinion it's one of the most convoluted mythologies in the history of mythology... considering the claim that this is monotheism. (Malarkey)

Image

So we have ONE intangible "God" that consists of:

1. Intangible "The Father" which is wholly separate from...

2. Intangible "The Holy Ghost" which is wholly separate from...

3. Tangible "The Son" which when all 3 combined equals...

ONE single God. What is this, the power rangers? For centuries, hundreds of separate cultures thrived with multitudes of gods. Native Americans had numerous gods. Greeks had multiple gods. Most cultures had numerous, numerous gods to explain the unexplainable: namely different forms of pain. When you need a new god just add it alongside the others. We need a god of "I stepped on a thorn." OK boom, now we have 57 gods. No big deal. Modern Shinto still has hundreds of gods (my favorite is Temmangu, the god of school boys). The Greek and Roman gods were allowed to have human desires and feelings. They were allowed to feel pride, guilt, jealousy. They had flaws & they stole each other's girlfriends and horses. They were easy to empathize with, to feel compassion for. They were my kind of people.

But the Holy Trinity? Holy crap. Convoluted wishy washy nonsense. It's as if the whole model were structured as a workaround excuse so we could slide Jesus in there while not messing up the hierarchy of things. Really?

So we kept adding excuse after excuse-mumbo-jumbo-word-filth so that we can have Jesus but also keep God as God, rather than be a god? This never jived for me. The Holy Trinity defies monotheism but will never own up to it. Is Jesus 1/3 God or is he 1 god? The God of the old testament was an asshole. But suddenly you add Jesus and he's nice? He can't be both. Does Jesus have different opinions from the father? A separate conscience? One is compassionate while the other not so much? The son convinced the father, right? So he's not the same. OH BUT HE IS THE SAME.

Whatever.

That was your first mistake, Christianity. Pastors have their hands full just interpreting this word filth week after week. Ask a different pastor you'll get a different answer. In a way it's more genius because the confused congregation needs all the more guidance. That's not so much a world religion sharing an understanding as it is verification that my theory of personal narratives exist even within one single denomination. Everybody hears what they want to hear.
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Postby Spots » February 16th, 2011, 6:57 am

B. Tribe wrote:Religion never really made a whole lot of sense to me. When I was a kid I viewed church as a big, boring place I had to go every Sunday where I first sat in a small room with other kids while an adult told us stories before going into the big room where another adult told adults stories and we all prayed and sang really loud and I would draw instead of paying attention.


That's exactly what it is. Thanks for sharing!

Brett, you weren't the only one kneeling at his pew every week with a confused look on his face. I looked up at my mom, I looked over to my brother. Even the man singing in baritone behind me. The only ones who were sure of themselves were the ones holding the gold collection plates. At 20 churches across Tennessee, everywhere I looked I saw opportunists.

I once vomited while being inducted into the Presbyterian church by its council. Yeah, my mom was single & took a job at a state park. She picked me up every weekend & we would drive an hour to this church. She convinced me to become a member which meant Sunday school. So during the interview my stomach became uneasy. I think I was suffering social anxiety. I excused myself and ran toward the bathroom. I didn't make it & I vomited down the vestibule of the chapel. Before leaving the room I had blurted, "It's not because I'm nervous." (it was) and as I came out of the bathroom I found my mother mopping up my mess. They had ordered her to do so. There she was in her Sunday best next to a yellow slosh bucket. Because of me.

Now, the church never asked me back. They never even acknowledged the incident or that I had attempted an interview. During the car ride home my mom comforted me by saying, "It's OK Jesse. I'll never make you do that ever again." She never did.

Her motivation behind joining the church was a social reward anyway. She had a crush on a major political figure who was a member of that church. Nowadays, she admits that the whole congregation played dress up just to impress that one man. To sit near him. To get photos. Disgusting. It may have been humiliating at the time. But if there was ever one moment of divine intervention in my life -- it was that time I vomited on that church.

Ah.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » February 16th, 2011, 10:27 am

Spots wrote:I try to fit my Episcopalian upbringing into my narrative. I try to find historical context, I try to find understanding with the choices that were made by my ancestors. I really do. But try as I might I cannot come up with a good analogy for this next part:

The Holy Trinity. I've never been able to make heads or tails of this relationship. In my opinion it's one of the most convoluted mythologies in the history of mythology... considering the claim that this is monotheism. (Malarkey)

Image

So we have ONE intangible "God" that consists of:

1. Intangible "The Father" which is wholly separate from...

2. Intangible "The Holy Ghost" which is wholly separate from...

3. Tangible "The Son" which when all 3 combined equals...

ONE single God. What is this, the power rangers? For centuries, hundreds of separate cultures thrived with multitudes of gods. Native Americans had numerous gods. Greeks had multiple gods. Most cultures had numerous, numerous gods to explain the unexplainable: namely different forms of pain. When you need a new god just add it alongside the others. We need a god of "I stepped on a thorn." OK boom, now we have 57 gods. No big deal. Modern Shinto still has hundreds of gods (my favorite is Temmangu, the god of school boys). The Greek and Roman gods were allowed to have human desires and feelings. They were allowed to feel pride, guilt, jealousy. They had flaws & they stole each other's girlfriends and horses. They were easy to empathize with, to feel compassion for. They were my kind of people.

But the Holy Trinity? Holy crap. Convoluted wishy washy nonsense. It's as if the whole model were structured as a workaround excuse so we could slide Jesus in there while not messing up the hierarchy of things. Really?

So we kept adding excuse after excuse-mumbo-jumbo-word-filth so that we can have Jesus but also keep God as God, rather than be a god? This never jived for me. The Holy Trinity defies monotheism but will never own up to it. Is Jesus 1/3 God or is he 1 god? The God of the old testament was an asshole. But suddenly you add Jesus and he's nice? He can't be both. Does Jesus have different opinions from the father? A separate conscience? One is compassionate while the other not so much? The son convinced the father, right? So he's not the same. OH BUT HE IS THE SAME.

Whatever.

That was your first mistake, Christianity. Pastors have their hands full just interpreting this word filth week after week. Ask a different pastor you'll get a different answer. In a way it's more genius because the confused congregation needs all the more guidance. That's not so much a world religion sharing an understanding as it is verification that my theory of personal narratives exist even within one single denomination. Everybody hears what they want to hear.


if i may take a swing at defending and explaining the filth that i believe in...;)

it's actually not that new a concept. the Hindus have, on the surface, multiple gods. but if you dig into the cosmology, it becomes clear that they are all aspects and facets of the same basic entity, Brahma.

so God exists in these three forms as aspects of the same divine energy: the Father, who is the creative force, the progenitor, external to the world, the transcendent model. the Son, who is the redemptive force, the Word taken the flesh, the divine begetting itself and experiencing humanity subjectively, teaching and offering himself up as a sacrifice to Himself. and the Holy Spirit, the sustaining force, divinity at work in the world, the intercessionary will, the immanent model. so they are themselves while also being part of this larger whole (which is why it is not a far leap for me to say that we are ALL aspects of that divinity, while still remaining ourselves. we are all individuals. we are all one. this is not a contradiction.).

a few examples that have helped me wrap my head around and meditate on this...

water flows and is water. water freezes and is ice. water evaporates and is steam. they are all still water, just in different forms with different properties and functions.

from a mythic perspective...a phoenix lays its egg. it catches fire. the ashes nourish the egg. the phoenix is born from the egg. the phoenix is the bird as it is the egg as it is the fire. it was always all of these things. in African folklore (to pick the easiest example), Anansi is sometimes depicted as a spider, sometimes as a man, sometimes as some totemic man with spider like qualities (or vice versa). if you ask someone whether Anansi is a spider or a man, the answer is usually "yes." it depends on what the story calls for. ;)

Neil Gaiman offers up a good analogy for it in Sandman when Morpheus talks about a jewel, and how you only stare at one facet at a time and how it's cut so finely and catches the light just so that you could mistake the facet for the jewel itself, but you turn your head, the light changes and another facet is seen.

or...one face, wearing three masks and all of life is one big divine harlequinade. 8)

God is one. God is three. God is many. God is all. God is none. it's all in your perspective.
Sweetness Prevails.

-the Reverend
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » February 16th, 2011, 10:31 am

i also find it interesting that at least two of the non-believers in this discussion were raised in church, while the one vocal believer in the discussion was not. not sure what that says about all of us, but i just find it interesting. ;)
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