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Re: My One and Only [Village News, 11-22-12]


Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Issue 48, Volume 16.


Recently, Pastor Elliot expounded on a reputed statement of Jesus, "If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison--your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters . . ." I think it is out of character for Jesus to hate.

The language of Jesus was Aramaic and biblical scholars indicate that the Aramaic term Jesus used was sna, apparently a word of many meanings including, "to hate, to stand up straight, to put out a candle or light, a threshing floor, and to set to one side."

One Aramaic scholar suggests that what Jesus truly said was: "He who comes to me and does not put to one side his father and his mother and his brothers. . Advertisement
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. cannot be my disciple." Is this not more reflective of what we understand to be the character of Jesus?

Jesus certainly knew that anyone who wished to be his disciple might be challenged by their family. We know this because he also indicated, "And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household." Jesus was in opposition to the authorities, and one’s parents might turn their sons or daughters over to them.

None of us know beyond a reasonable doubt what anyone said two thousand years ago. We can only go by our own judgment of the documents at hand, and those were written from hearsay and memory, interpretation, and many translations. That said, for me, Jesus was above hatred.

Thomas S. Evans


 

28 comments

Comment Profile ImageJon Monday
Comment #1 | Friday, Nov 30, 2012 at 7:08 pm
I like the theory that Jesus had separate and distinct teachings for his monastic followers and those who had families and lived as householders.

From that point of view, we can better reconcile several of the teachings of Jesus.

For instance, "For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." Matthew 19:12

I'm not sure, but this may be where the Catholics derive their celibacy rules for their monastics.

Another one that only makes sense to me, from this point of view, is Mathew 19:21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

Not a good idea for families with kids - but makes sense for monastics.

Other teachings are more family friendly, like Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. ..." Something that all religions express and support, that's a good teaching for monastics and householders alike.
Comment Profile ImageRedneck Bill
Comment #2 | Sunday, Dec 2, 2012 at 11:06 pm
Actually Jon, the origin of celibacy among Catholic priests has nothing whatsoever to do with Christ's teachings or anything in the bible.

Celibacy originated in the 12th and 13th centuries. Up until that point, priests could and did marry and had families. But the impetus for initiating celibacy was the fact that as priests died, they would leave the wealth the church considered its property, to their heirs. This may very well be when the term ixnay originated.

More recently, in light of the sex abuse scandal, as well as the precipitous drop in the number of priests, there has been discussion of removing the celibacy requirement for priests. But the Vatican is very similar to the Republican party. It is comprised of a bunch of old, out of touch white men who think they are God's representatives on earth. So rather than allow priests to be married, the Vatican continues to insist on celibacy, while the number of priests dwindles and dwindles.

But the Holy Spirit may just be at work here after all. The pope, his excellentness Benedict, has said often he would prefer to have fewer Catholics. So with fewer priests to minister, it follows there must be fewer Catholics. Wahlah!

Of course if you look at Christ's life and delve into his teachings, you see He was all about inclusiveness. Other than being old, out of touch white men who think they are God's representatives on earth, I have no idea how the Vatican could have come up with the notion including fewer rather than more people is in line with anything Christ taught. But then I believe God is a black woman so I may see things a bit differently.

As for the bible, well, people seem to be able to justify all kinds of un-Christian actions based on what they find there. But as it turns out, those who put the bible together may have left some parts out. In 1946 in Egypt something called the gnostic gospels were discovered. They contained all sorts of heresy, including references to Mary Magdelene as not only a priest/disciple, but as Christ's wife. I'm sure if there was bible editing going on, it was for our own good. I mean women priests? Come on.

These old men will take the Church to their graves before they allow priests to marry or women to become priests. How sad.
Comment Profile ImagePink
Comment #3 | Monday, Dec 3, 2012 at 9:14 am
It is a fairly simple teaching really. What Christ meant was that in order to follow Him, you must be able to leave your old life behind and love Him more than you do yourself or your family. Now we all know how much we love our children and to love God even more than that is a powerful love indeed. Christ wasn't a black woman RB, but he was, most probably, a very dark skinned Jewish man with dark hair and dark eyes, if he had been blond and blue eyed as some artists portray him he would have stuck out like a sore thumb. God is spirit. He loves us all, all colors, all nationalities, all women and men, He especially loves the children. "Suffer the little children to come unto me". I love God and try my best to live up to His commandments. To unto others is a particular favorite. Please RB, I know you are a believer, stop blaming God for the evil that men do. The other "guy" is in charge of evil. Peace.
Comment Profile ImageJon Monday
Comment #4 | Monday, Dec 3, 2012 at 6:05 pm
To Redneck Bill,

You're wrong about the origin of celibacy. It actually predates Christinity within the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, lived in various cities but congregated in communal life dedicated to asceticism, voluntary poverty, daily immersion, and abstinence from worldly pleasures - including celibacy.

To Pink, I think we agree on theological issues (at least as far as you go in your comment), but one reason I like my interpretation of the words of Christ, is that I don't have to guess what He really meant. Otherwise, it seems to me, that we want to take the direct words of Christ literally, except these passages.

Many biblical scholars think Jesus came from the Essenes, since many of the stories in the Dead Sea Scrolls pre-date Jesus.
Comment Profile ImageRedneck Bill
Comment #5 | Monday, Dec 3, 2012 at 8:42 pm
Jon,

I meant the origin of celibacy within the Catholic Church. Not the origin of celibacy itself.

Pink,

If you reread what I wrote you will see that I said God is a black woman, not Christ. I'm sure I learned from the same catechism as you, and was taught that Christ is God's son.

I always throw the "God is a black woman" in there because it challenges many peoples tolerance. Everyone's perception of who or what God is is probably different. For me, He is love.

Nothing I wrote suggests I blame God for anything. I thank Him every day for blessing me beyond my wildest dreams. My problem is with the knuckleheads in Rome determined to take the church Christ started to their graves.
Comment Profile ImagePink
Comment #6 | Tuesday, Dec 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm
I know RB and I agree with you. God is spirit and that means, in my opinion, He is all of us, black, white, brown and all the colors in between. I can't explain it very well but that is my opinion and my faith. I know that God is indeed love because I feel the wonderful presence of that love everyday. I also believe that Christ, His son, was His great gift to us, He is the light by which I walk. I am a Catholic and don't hold with all the teachings either, but I know that there are good priests and bad priests. They are men and men are falable. No women priests yet but hey, at least we have female altar servers. That would never have happened in our day!! (-: My son actually wanted to be a priest but alas he likes women too much.....
Comment Profile ImageRedneck Bill
Comment #7 | Wednesday, Dec 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm
That's pretty funny because I was on the fast track to become a priest as well. But the all boys Catholic high school allowed me to see the light in more ways than one. Ironically, many of the best priests at the high school, the ones who had the ability to really connect and teach the meaning of Christianity, ended up leaving to get married.

I was even asked to become a deacon at one point, and while I enjoyed the ministries I was involved in, I realized I couldn't be a vocal critic of the direction the Church has taken and still minister.

I have family and close friends who are or were priests and religious. I can't begin to tell you how profound my respect is for them. How they actually live the Gospel. How they work tirelessly in the trenches with the poor and forgotten and troubled. How they give their entirety for the benefit of others as Christ taught.

And yet the hierarchy of the Church finds issues to attack them on. I have absolutely zero, none, nada, respect for the administration of the Catholic Church.

But I know God is not a Catholic. In fact I'm pretty sure when I meet Him and ask, He'll tell me the Catholic Church has besmirched His good name. As you said, the people running the Church are human. But to claim to be the descendants of the origin of the Catholic Church, the church Christ started, holds them to a higher standard in my view. At the very least, it seems to me they should employ a wee bit of Christ's love and tolerance in their decision making. Benedict's statement that it's better to have fewer but "better" Catholics tells me all I need to know about his Christianity.

I have often wondered whether in the early centuries, when there were 3 different popes, all claiming to be the "true" pope, if we didn't end up picking the wrong one to follow.

Religion aside, I know what I need to do to be a Christian. I at least try, although I often fail miserably on here. I wish I was as good as some of the others who post at not getting personal and striking back. But I'm not there yet.
Comment Profile ImageJon Monday
Comment #8 | Wednesday, Dec 5, 2012 at 2:05 pm
I heard of a Catholic priest who came to holy man of my religion, and said he had lost his faith. The holy man told him to get a red letter bible and just read the words of Christ - and forget the institutions of Christianity.

It worked for him. He didn't leave the church, but gained a renewed energy for his personal religious practices, and helped him to communicate the true message of Christ to his parishioners.

That holy man also had a perspective on celibacy that helped: Many Catholic nuns and priests consider it a holy sacrifice - something of worldly pleasures to give up, in order to show their commitment to their faith.

No question that it is an extraordinary act that shows commitment (I'm sure it's not easy for anyone, especially these days), but the holy man's point of view was that it was more like an athlete giving up certain foods or behaviors in order to perform better and allow them to achieve their goal.

He says there is a spiritual energy that can be channeled toward spiritual realization of God, or it can be spent through sexual release. Not that sex is bad, but it's not helpful in attaining a certain level of identification with God, which allow the priests to better minister to their parishioners as a representative of God.
Comment Profile ImagePink
Comment #9 | Wednesday, Dec 5, 2012 at 2:45 pm
I agree RB. A lot of evil was done in the name of God which wasn't sanctioned by God. I attend the Catholic Church regularly but I do not consider myself a "religious" person. I am a person of faith. I know that there are many good decent priests who truly take their vows to heart and do their best to live a Christ-like life. I believe that God does hold them to a higher standard because they are supposed to be His standard bearers, when they fail (as men do) they show God in a bad light and cause their followers to stumble. They (and all of us) will be held accountable for that. We are all supposed to show His love to all our brothers and sisters and I know that I fail miserably at that at times (my apologies Jon and Mike W) (-:

I believe that we can all agree that the greatest person of faith in our time was a Catholic woman. Mother Theresa. Members of my family were at her Beatification in Rome. I was told that you could feel the presence of God in the crowd that day.

Thank you for your comments as well Jon. God works His wonders in many ways and through many venues.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Comment Profile ImageMom of lots
Comment #10 | Wednesday, Dec 5, 2012 at 3:21 pm
I love reading this discussion as I am a Catholic convert.
Comment Profile ImageJon Monday
Comment #11 | Wednesday, Dec 5, 2012 at 9:22 pm
Amen about Mother Theresa - a saint in her lifetime.

I think if we explored a little, Pink, RB, and Mom of Lots - all of us - we would find that we have a surprising amount in common on these kinds of subjects - and no apologies necessary. All in earnest, if not always in good wit and humor.

Personally, I'm on a quest to rehabilitate the word Religion for those on the left who can't bring themselves to declare that they're religious. Teh word "Spiritual" is OK, but not Religious. But I think it's just because of the association with the inevitable failures and hypocrisy of the institutions of religion that is objected to - not religion itself. At least that's how I see it.

Certainly no one on the left argues against the message of Christ as something that's good to live by.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Comment Profile ImagePink
Comment #12 | Thursday, Dec 6, 2012 at 9:45 am
I feel the need to clarify that the reason I do not consider myself "religious" is because, in my opinion, religion itself can be used for evil devices as well as good. I call myself a person of faith because I believe with all my heart that God is real and that He gave His only son, Jesus Christ, as a gift of salvation for all of us. I accept that on total and complete faith, I do not require proof positive in order to do it. Faith, in itself, is a belief in things unseen. I I have felt His presence in my life, it is a warmth that is hard to describe, and He sustains me. When times are bad He carries me. Thank you for listening. Peace and goodwill to all. Please remember the poor and needy this holiday season and throughout the new year.
Comment Profile ImageJon Monday
Comment #13 | Thursday, Dec 6, 2012 at 11:28 am
To Pink:

It's too bad that the word religion has acquired such a bad reputation (although well deserved). For me, the meaning of the word religion is simply the methodology we use (whether through institutions or on our own) to seek God in our lives. Nothing more or less.

For fun, in this holiday season, let's see how much we can agree with. I'll list several things that are essential to my religion, Vedanta, that I think are universal to religion (or spirituality or faith):

There is Godhead, Supreme Being, Creator, Source of all Creation that all of existence comes from.

Each person possesses an eternal soul, a spark of the Divine.

There is a moral code, path, Tao, or righteousness that pervades the universe, and when we are in alignment with that code, our awareness of that Divine Being increases, and when we go against that alignment, we move away from that Divine Being.

Within each person there is a desire to seek awareness of that higher purpose, higher meaning, Divine Being. And, all seeking of sense-pleasure, greed, lust, and selfishness is but a mis-direction of the in-born desire to seek the Divine Being. We seek fulfillment, but only get it when we're right with the Divine Being.

Our view of why bad thing happen in the world is analogous to the light the sun provides. Some will use the light to make a forgery while another will use the light to read scriptures. The light is not to blame. It's what we do with it that changes.

My view of faith is, to quote Gerald Heard (a fellow Vedantist):

Faith is not believing something which our intelligence denies. Faith is the resolve to place the highest meaning on the facts which we observe.
Comment Profile ImageMike H
Comment #14 | Thursday, Dec 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm
Hi Jon,
Buddhism doesn't require belief in a supreme being. Also, why doesn't your supreme being like sense-pleasure and lust?
Comment Profile ImageJon Monday
Comment #15 | Thursday, Dec 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm
Hi Mike,

These are the discussions I really enjoy. The political dialog is work - I think of it as just the tax I pay for living in society.

I have it on good authority from Buddhist friends, (one who is a senior Zen Roshi for over 40 years), that the perception that Buddha taught that there is no Supreme Being is false, derived from the teaching of self-responsibility and not defining God in terms that other religions speak of: Clear Light of the Void, etc.

The easiest way to poke the hole in the notion that Buddhism is a God-less religion is to talk about reincarnation and the soul. Where does the soul come from but God? What natural mechanism accounts for reincarnation?

The existence of the Soul and a belief in reincarnation is solidly in Buddhism's theology, but how to explain that without a Divine Creator?

They say empty the mind, and God will fill it.

The answer comes from fully realized Buddhists who say there is, in fact, a Divine Being, but that fact shouldn't replace our need to take responsibility for our own actions.

Buddha was a Hindu reformer - as Christ was a Jewish reformer (in both cases, also much more than that). What Buddha revolted against was people blaming God for their actions or thinking by offering things to gods would save them. Buddha delivered a system of helping people to realize that they must do the right thing, or suffer the consequences of their actions.

This is built into Buddha's The Four Noble Truths:

1. In life there is suffering.

2. The origin of suffering is our own actions and attachments.

3. It is possible to eliminate suffering.

4. There is a path or method to eliminate suffering

And then there is the description of the method - the Eight Fold Path, to eliminate suffering:

1. Right Understanding
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

Of course, there are many books on each of these actions; how to actually put them into practice. But, basically, they all point to a compassionate moral life.

Here's another list of Buddhist goals:

The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.

Their point is that following these principles will lead to the experience of the Clear Light of the Void, which is often compared to the experience of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Jewish mystical experiences of God.
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Comment Profile ImageJon Monday
Comment #16 | Thursday, Dec 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm
Mike - Regarding your question about sense pleasures and lust.

It's not so much that God doesn't like pleasurable things, but those things can be an impediment and distraction to God realization.

Lust, on the other hand, like anger, greed, and other selfish feelings are an impediment not only to a spiritual life (I'd say religious life), but disturbs the mind.

If we get stuck on these things, which many people do, we are doomed to suffer - as those desires eventually turn to dust, at the end of our lives if not before. In our tradition, it's a matter of sorting things into what will bring lasting peace of mind vs. what will bring temporary pleasure.

I think living in the presence of God is very pleasurable in a very concrete sense. Much more sustainable than living a worldly life, as it doesn't depend on external circumstances.
Comment Profile ImagePINK
Comment #17 | Thursday, Dec 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm
Interesting and very well put Jon. Much like the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments. I see nothing wrong with posting both of these philosophies in public places, especially government buildings. It wouldn't hurt politicians, on both sides of the isle, to be reminded daily that they are held to a higher authority. Thou shalt not steal, bear false witness, and the greatest quality is seeking to serve others sounds like words to live by to me, and for the life of me I can't understand why anyone, even committed athiests, would be offended by them.

I don't believe in reincarnation Jon, I believe that I have a soul and that when I die I will be in the presence of my Lord and Savior. That is His promise to me and He wouldn't say it if it weren't so. I also believe that in order to find God we must truly seek Him in our own way, you have your path and I have mine. Only God knows our hearts.
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Comment Profile ImagePink
Comment #18 | Thursday, Dec 6, 2012 at 7:02 pm
I just wanted to add Jon that I don't believe that faith is blind. It is something that you "see" with your heart, not your eyes.
Comment Profile ImageRedneck Bill
Comment #19 | Thursday, Dec 6, 2012 at 8:43 pm
Thank you Pink for not calling me a "bad" Catholic. (Although I kind of like the term "Burger King Catholic." You know, have it your way.)

Thanks Jon for the input on reading Christ's teachings. As for celibacy, I agree with you that it can be one way to develop a deeper relationship with God. But it is only one of many. What is sad is the elimination of very spiritual leaders as priests because of this requirement. I think it should be voluntary. I also think women should be priests.

My journey of faith has been a winding one. Actually that's not true either. I have always believed, always had strong faith, but it seems I have also always struggled with the Catholic Church. I read something a long time ago in a book that was very meaningful to me. It said you should worship God the way you were taught. I accepted it then, and was able to maybe not so much forgive the Catholic Church, but I moved on. The period of very active involvement followed. Of course there was one of the best priests I've ever met leading the way.

A number of things have since followed which make it very hard for me as a Catholic. The tolerance we all showed for the sex abuse scandal was absurd in my opinion. (All it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing.) But the combination of some of our bishop's decisions coupled with the Church's treatment of nuns (Google Nuns on the Bus) leads me to believe I no longer have a place at the table. And that is painful. Catholicism is MY faith tradition and I miss it.

I believe the God I worship wants me to learn and be happy, among other things. And so I think I'm given circumstances to teach me things I need to learn. The fact that there has been a bend in the road on my journey is part of the process.
Comment Profile ImagePink
Comment #20 | Friday, Dec 7, 2012 at 9:21 am
Ha-Ha RB. I'm not sure what a "good" Catholic is, and I'm pretty sure I'm not one. (-: I do attend Mass weekly, and sometimes during the week as well, but I consider myself a Christian first and Catholic second. There are some wonderful teachings in the church and I love the Mass, but like you I abhor the way the scandal was handled. I know that for every bad priest there are 10 good ones but that does not excuse what happened. I believe that God will judge those men far harsher than the bishops did. I no longer tithe the way I used to, I give a minimal amount to the church and the rest I donate to other charities as my heart dictates. The Fallbrook Animal Sanctuary, the local food bank, PVA, Pregnancy Resource Center and abused women's shelters, just to name a few. My son, who didn't become a priest, is very involved with the social justice league in his parish and works to eradicate human trafficking. We all do what we can in this life. Peace.
Comment Profile ImageJon Monday
Comment #21 | Friday, Dec 7, 2012 at 11:48 am
To Pink:

I think faith is always based on something, and in one sense, faith is the adoption of a "Working Hypothesis" in our lives that God exists and that we want to be headed in the direction of God. In another sense, as one holy man of our order was quoted 150 years, "Does faith have eyes?" - meaning it's always a leap of "blind faith", not strictly based on logic and self interest.

But, it sounds like everyone here is getting encouragement for their faith through the living presence of God.

Here is my Working Hypothesis:

* There is a Godhead or Ground of all Existence, which cause and sustaining force of all that we see as the universe.

* That the Godhead is both transcendent and immanent. Meaning that God is both personal and beyond this reality.

* That it is possible for human beings to love, know and, become identified with the Ground.

* That to achieve this unitive knowledge, to realize this Supreme identity, is the final end and purpose of human existence.

* That there is a Path, Law, Commandments, or Dharma, which must be obeyed, a Method, Tao, or Way, which must be followed, if men are to achieve their final end.

These simple principles underlay all religions and the religious quest.

I'm very interested in the overlap between Catholics, Vedantists, and Buddhists - as they all have similar practices (not on the surface, but in the meaning of worship, the role of monastics (men and women), and the duties of householders).

All three groups require celibacy for their monastic orders and requires a moral and ethical behavior. Vedanta and Buddhists allow both men and women to be priests - I predict that Catholics will allow this in the coming decades.

All three group honor ritual worship as part of their services and practices (including prayer beads).

All three groups talk about a transformation in our personal lives through our practices and faith that will bring us into communion with God.

My question for you Christians here, can you conceive of God being attainable through other religions? The Pope says yes, although with the caveat that it is through Christ's mercy that other faiths can lead to God.
Comment Profile ImagePink
Comment #22 | Friday, Dec 7, 2012 at 1:39 pm
I have to agree with the Pope on this one Jon. I believe that only God knows our hearts. He, and only He will sort us all out in the end. Christ said "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one goes to the Father but through Me". I believe that His eternal love encompasses us all if we truly follow Him.
Comment Profile ImageJon Monday
Comment #23 | Friday, Dec 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm
I love these discussions. Thank you for participating.

Now a small confession: it was the Catholic Church that totally turned me off to Christianity. As I was growing up, my family was completely non-religious. Not anti-religious, but especially my father who was an electrical engineer, felt that science held all the answers to the problems of mankind.

While I respected science and all it has done to improve the lot of humanity (medical science, health sanitation, exploration of our universe, explanation of how God's creation works), but science can't explain the religious urge or speak to where the universe comes from.

On the other hand, I was always religious and prayed at night and attended various churches and temples looking for a connection - but found nothing that really felt compelling or even logical.

In seventh grade I has a girl friend who was Catholic and she invited me to attend and participate. The thing that really turned me off was the claim of being an exclusive path to God. This made no sense to me, and I used the example that a young girl growing up in China three thousands years ago (or even today), who was charitable all her life - praying to God in the tradition she was brought up in, being a saint - would go to Hell just because she never heard of Jesus Christ or accepted Him as her personal savior.

It was the end our our simple and innocent relationship.

I figured that God wasn't that stupid, and that Churches just made that claim to attract and hold onto members, who didn't think too deeply.

The thing about John 14:6 (the source of the phrase, "no one goes to the Father but through Me") is that Sri Krishna and Lord Buddha almost verbatim say the same thing, hundreds of years before Christ (I can dig out the quote if you want). Along with such statements as "I have come to deliver the righteous from sin and provide laws to live by". Both Buddha and Krishna offer salvation from sin and everlasting peace (though with slightly different vocabularies).

It wasn't until I read the Vedanta scripture, the Bhagavad Gita that I encountered and understood a systematic religion that reconciles these seeming differences in the religions. It's explains the competing claims religions make in this way: God takes a human body from time to time to deliver a new religion, in order to address a particular time and place. They are all true, and should be followed by each person in their own faith - all of which have different methods.

The analogy is given that the experience of God (or heaven if you like) is a mountain top, and the various religions are different paths to get there, as established by God in human form. From the perspective from the mountain top, we can see how the different paths merge at the same goal.

The failure of the 60s, it seems to me, was that people who were "spiritual seekers" often took a little of this religion and a little of that religion, mixed in with a smattering of what feels good.

For me, being religious (or spiritual) is a vocation with a purpose and goal. And you should stick with your path, whatever it is, rather than take up the path of another, or worse, invent a bastardized version that mixes instructions from the various religions. Christian scholar Huston Smith calls that "cafeteria religion", where we tend to take what we like, rather than what we need. Smith also points out the benefit of the exclusive claim, to keep people from diluting their core path.

I also understand that religious institutions of all faiths have corrupting factors and have individuals who do harm to the reputations of the institutions.

It's OK by me if Christians want to believe that salvation comes to Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists through the grace of Christ. In fact I agree, but see Christ as an aspect of God, who takes form from time to time to remind us of the goal of life and how to live.

Those theological conversations happen all the time at interfaith meetings, and are healthy for world peace and human progress. We all should see other humans as children of God, deserving of our charity, empathy, and good will.

Merry Christmas (btw - our tradition celebrates Christmas)
Comment Profile ImagePink
Comment #24 | Friday, Dec 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm
I can understand why you were turned off by the priest saying that when you were young. I felt the very same way at 12 or 13 when I spent the night with a protestant friend and attended church with her the next morning (my parents were always very open minded about me going to another church if I wasn't home to go to mine) anyway, the minister based his entire sermon on the belief that all Catholics were going to hell because "they" supposedly worshiped the Pope. Well that was news to me. I thought that it was a pretty silly sermon. I wasn't turned off of God but I was certainly turned off of protestantism. However, as I matured I realized that some Catholics said the same about other religions as well. My parents raised me to believe that God has a big enough heart for everybody. That is one reason I prefer faith over religion. I don't want to put myself in a box. In my opinion man does a lot of evil in the name of "religion". 911 is a good example of that, so were the crusades. I do believe that there is a heaven and a hell, but I don't believe that God wants anyone to go to hell, sadly though, some people choose to go on their own. Thank you for listening to me. God bless.
Comment Profile ImageJon Monday
Comment #25 | Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 1:28 am
To Pink and all,

After reading the whole thread again, I have to ask your forgiveness. I get way too wordy - even for my taste. My News Year's resolution will be to minimize the pontificating.

Have a blessed Christmas.
Comment Profile ImagePink
Comment #26 | Saturday, Dec 8, 2012 at 10:17 am
Not necessary Jon. I know I kid you a lot about writing novels when a paragraph will suffice but I have found this thread both interesting, enjoyable and enlightening. A blessed Christmas to you as well.
Comment Profile ImageMike W
Comment #27 | Tuesday, Dec 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm
Well there is a lot of love on this thread, I guess because we are finally seeing more of what we have in common now that the big fight is over. Like many here I happened to be born into a Catholic Family and I came to believe it to be the one and only true religion, at least for a short time. But I suppose like the rest, common sense and little inconsistencies kept cropping up which led me to search elsewhere and I soon left all religion behind and went on a more intense quest for truth and spiritual light to find my personal way forward which eventually led to my own death … Not my physical death obviously, but the death of my ego, which I have no doubt is the same experience, I saw my life pass before my eyes, only not as imagined but inconsequential bits and pieces in random order which showed me that most everything I believed was not only wrong but unimportant and meaningless, and more important “I” was not “me.” Was I the one observing me and all that was happing, who is the observer ? So it was not my death I was experiencing but my birth and my search for divinity and self began anew, without skipping ahead, but at the beginning, the first step to knowledge we were all given, Nature.

That was in the late 60’s about the time Cleve Backster conducted his now famous experiment in which he attached a polygraph machine to a plant and was amazed to see that it was alive and was reading out in much the same way human polygraph readouts would display. Backster went on to experiment with biocommunication in plant and animal cells, which led to his theory of "primary perception."

What a revelation it was to me, a lost soul adrift in a sea of lost souls, to find this beautiful connect we have to all that is, that even plants have the ability to sense the thoughts and moods of humans, they display signs of 'stress' when other plants or animals are harmed. They remember those who have harmed other plants and begin to become 'stressed' by there presence. These plants are alive in ways that modern science is only beginning to understand. Yet many of the world’s ancient masters of many creeds spoke frequently and emphasized the interconnected oneness of all life. This became my new religion, that everything is connected to an underlying common energy, mind or source. The one source... "The ALL" (God)

Since the Greeks, philosophers have been thinking about 'the ghost in the machine', 'The small man within the small man', etc. Where is 'I', the person who uses his brain? Who is it that realizes the act of knowing?

As saint Francis of Assisi once said; “What we search for is the one who sees”

PS … No apologies necessary here Pink

Peace, Love and Happy Holidays to all...
Comment Profile ImagePink
Comment #28 | Tuesday, Dec 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm
Thank you Mike. In light of the terrible tragedy that occurred last week in Connecticut, I think we all have to believe and realize that life is a very fragile existence. There has to be more than this. I have been praying constantly for the families of those precious children and adults who lost their lives in a nano second in time. My heart goes out to them and cries out to God. I know that in the situations we all ask "why", but there is no answer that we can fathom. I truly believe that those precious little souls were instantly in the warm arms of a loving Savior. If there can be any good that come's out of a tragedy of this magnitude, I hope that we can pass some sensible gun control laws. Not ban them entirely because we know that banning things never work out well. Look at alcohol during prohibition or drugs today. I also hope and pray that people with mental disorders can get the help they need, hopefully medically but even if it is just incarceration. How many people live in this country and walk our streets today that have the same issues that this young man in Newtown had? Something has to be done. When is enough enough? I did not vote for President Obama as you know, but I have a tremendous respect for the way he handled this terrible tragedy. First as a father, secondly as our president. His heart was broken. We cannot continue to let incidents like this be in vain. Peace.

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