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I realize it is hard to believe, but I think even I am swayed by previous concepts of God. As it title kind of speaks for itself, would a God concept make itself known to children born today? Any other thoughts are surely welcome as well.

 

Thanks..

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I realize it is hard to believe, but I think even I am swayed by previous concepts of God. As it title kind of speaks for itself, would a God concept make itself known to children born today? Any other thoughts are surely welcome as well.

As long as there are unanswered questions there will be "god."

 

mwc

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Perhaps I misunderstand your question, but I don’t think a God concept ever made itself known. I think the God concept is presented to children by parents and others. If people didn’t share the fairy tale, the fairy tale would die. So, I guess my answer to your question is... no.

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I realize it is hard to believe, but I think even I am swayed by previous concepts of God. As it title kind of speaks for itself, would a God concept make itself known to children born today? Any other thoughts are surely welcome as well.

 

Thanks..

 

 

I think its a natural assumption of humans to attribute any thing that exists to the work of a designer. So I think there would be belief in a god or gods.

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Guest end3
I was chatting with a friend of mine who is pursuing her doctorate in sociology and has recently spent a lot of time in refugee camps in Africa. She observed tremendous superstition, and correlates it to people needing to feel a sense of order in their lives and making up stories to get that sense of order, of purpose.

 

Did you know that after 9/11, people who were anxious about their safety and the safety of their loved ones, but not in immediate danger, were comforted by symbolic actions, like hanging a flag? In crisis communication classes it is encouraged that leadership get people actively involved in helping themselves and loved ones because it promotes empowerment, which in turn tempers anxiety. Sometimes practical actions are not needed at the moment, in which case it is recommended to suggest symbolic actions, like the flag hanging.

 

I read an article a couple days ago that suggested perception of a spouse was an indicator of marriage longevity. Not the reality of who that spouse is, but perception. In other words, we are comforted by symbolism and fantasy in many realms of our lives. Very little of what or how we understand our lives has anything to do with what is really going on. Have you ever watched a heated conversation about something you feel neutral about, and come to the realization that the other two didn't seem to be speaking on the same subject? That's kinda like what's happening when we interact with "reality". Most of what we think is going on is in our heads.

 

Regarding a specific religion's longevity, my friend spoke of the powerful influence of core understandings in a community, and how hard it is to break from those core understandings. They are perpetuated by the community, especially if they are intermingled with some basic practical principles.

 

Phanta

 

That is really good Phanta...

 

I think I can somewhat relate, as fear, anxiety et. al, can seem to "build" in my life and the only way to make it go away is to go and meet the demand(s) of the task(s) at hand or choose a symbolic something to cast the fear/anxiety to. If my demands were not there, would God be present?

 

Very good,

 

thank you

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I believe we would have a totally different world today. I still think there will always be spiritualism. I certainly think Christianity would be totally different, perhaps more like Universalists instead of fundamentalism. I appreciate personal quests for spiritual enlightenment over out-of-the-box Christianity or some other organized revealed religion. Spirituality should not be a spectator sport.

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See Cargo Cults .

 

I think the first god was invented when, during a frightening storm, Ug left his cave and climbed to the mountain top. Upon returning, Ug, adjusting the bone in his nose, informed his tribe that he had discovered why there were terrible storms. He told them there was a mountain god, and he had spoken to him. The god must be appeased, and if the tribesmen would bring him the finest game they could kill, he would take it to the mountain god, as the god would only speak to him.

 

That scenario has played out time after time until we have umpteen gods and L. Ron Hubbard. Gods and their attendant religions are the path to riches and power for their inventors, and the masses are more than willing to play along for the imagined benefits and for fear of what might happen if they don't.

 

I think we have always had gods and always will, as long as there are frightened, superstitious people and unanswered questions (although sometimes even answering a question with evidence makes no difference to the faithful).

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I think the first god was invented when, during a frightening storm, Ug left his cave and climbed to the mountain top. Upon returning, Ug, adjusting the bone in his nose, informed his tribe that he had discovered why there were terrible storms. He told them there was a mountain god, and he had spoken to him. The god must be appeased, and if the tribesmen would bring him the finest game they could kill, he would take it to the mountain god, as the god would only speak to him.

Like you didn't know Ug. Heck, "Ug" is probably your real name (I just know your ears are huge). :P

 

mwc

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I think the first god was invented when, during a frightening storm, Ug left his cave and climbed to the mountain top. Upon returning, Ug, adjusting the bone in his nose, informed his tribe that he had discovered why there were terrible storms. He told them there was a mountain god, and he had spoken to him. The god must be appeased, and if the tribesmen would bring him the finest game they could kill, he would take it to the mountain god, as the god would only speak to him.

Like you didn't know Ug. Heck, "Ug" is probably your real name (I just know your ears are huge). :P

 

mwc

 

:lmao:

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There are a vast variety of reasons, I think, that a god, gods or a god concept would appear even today. As someone pointed out in this thread, as long as there are questions we don't have answers for, there will be a felt need by people to answer them. But it is not just the need for answers that seems to drive this, it is the need to feel safe and secure. For example, when one does not know what is going to happen when they die, that can generate fear. We don't function well in fear continually, so we need to find ways to remove this fear. That is not easy to do when you cannot find the answer to an unknown that terrifies you. So this answer may take the frame of a being or beings that are greater than you are that have the answers and control the outcome (i.e. going to heaven or hell, reincarnation, etc).

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Did you know that after 9/11, people who were anxious about their safety and the safety of their loved ones, but not in immediate danger, were comforted by symbolic actions, like hanging a flag? In crisis communication classes it is encouraged that leadership get people actively involved in helping themselves and loved ones because it promotes empowerment, which in turn tempers anxiety. Sometimes practical actions are not needed at the moment, in which case it is recommended to suggest symbolic actions, like the flag hanging.

This is fantastic. I will never forget as long as I am alive what Christmastime looked like in 2001 here in the Twin Cities where I live. There were displays of Christmas lights everywhere on homes in ways I'd never seen before, nor since. My impression was clearly that it was related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and that it was people's way of expressing their belief in our way of life. But this really nails it on the head. I could see it and sense it. It was an act of symbolic empowerment. We were driven to empower ourselves - symbolically. Whether that is in blowing up buildings of symbolic significance, or hanging lights in symbolic displays of our beliefs in our cultural identity in response to a symbolic attack against it.

 

Symbols are far more powerful than reality; far more real! - to us. Here's the proof. We live in a reality accessed through symbols. We live in a symbolic reality.

 

I read an article a couple days ago that suggested perception of a spouse was an indicator of marriage longevity. Not the reality of who that spouse is, but perception. In other words, we are comforted by symbolism and fantasy in many realms of our lives.

Every wonder why our culture promotes Romanticism? Perhaps its an attempt to find meaning in others, our mates, through symbolism?

 

Very little of what or how we understand our lives has anything to do with what is really going on. Have you ever watched a heated conversation about something you feel neutral about, and come to the realization that the other two didn't seem to be speaking on the same subject?

:lmao: Hell yes. All the time actually. The whole "religious debate" is really little more than humans arguing about the right use of the symbols to describe the same goddamn thing! It's what I've found has helped me to be able to drop my anger about religion and see beyond the arguments of both sides to see the reality in the middle. Humanity.

 

That's kinda like what's happening when we interact with "reality". Most of what we think is going on is in our heads.

I definitely have found someone who understands how I see things. :)

 

Regarding a specific religion's longevity, my friend spoke of the powerful influence of core understandings in a community, and how hard it is to break from those core understandings. They are perpetuated by the community, especially if they are intermingled with some basic practical principles.

 

Phanta

Wonderful! You may wish to share with your friend this term: Background Mythology. Basic frameworks of perception created through the language we use, laced with culturally specific symbolism. Even our own cultural Enlightenment movement is rooted in a certain perception of reality. It starts with that premise, and attempts to critique it from there. In other words, it's a basic launching point. It assumes a certain position of reality as a basis for its challenge. It's starts at a defined square. But ironically, the alternative reality explored and explained is in relation to those notions, that framework. A background mythology operates as certain assumptions of reality. Those assumptions for this culture have come through Western ideas inherited from the Christian culture, inherited from the Greeks.

 

So when I use the word "truth" in quotes this is why. This explains why I wink at arguments about truth and reality, whether that is from the Christian apologist, or the Religion of Reason. There is a truth that exists, and it's the reality of our mythologies about reality.

 

Wonderful post.

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That is really good Phanta...

 

I think I can somewhat relate, as fear, anxiety et. al, can seem to "build" in my life and the only way to make it go away is to go and meet the demand(s) of the task(s) at hand or choose a symbolic something to cast the fear/anxiety to. If my demands were not there, would God be present?

 

Very good,

 

thank you

Very good indeed End. Now you begin to see the key to the meaning of "We create God in our own image", and "We are God". This is what is meant.

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Oh, I definitely am going to enjoy conversations with you. As our own Brother Jeff here on the site likes to say, "Glory!" :HaHa:

 

Now, here's a question for you: do some stories serve certain practical purposes better than others? In other words, are some symbolic understandings more compatible with reality (and I do believe there is a "reality" separate from our understanding of it)?

Do some stories serve certain practical purposes better than others? Yes, I believe so. I'd say that the context is what demands evolving a more appropriate myth to support us in practical matters. The Christian myth is, at the end of the day underlying all of it, a support for a practical use. The form it takes really depends on the needs of the society (or the individual within that society) at that time and what they are trying to accomplish. This is why you can see the Christian myth as one which evolved in stages to become this sort of onion skin wrapped around its various inner layers, with each of those inner layers being separate stories created for various communities needs as ways to support themselves symbolically.

 

The issue we see today with the whole challenge to the myth of Christianity, I see as society finding the myth inadequate in its inherited form to be able to support us in this context of a growing global society. It's symbols, understood traditionally are weak, or outright a hindrance to what society is being driven to in this context. Ironically, Christianity began with a global vision itself, opening up the door that made it possible to be inclusive of others through the notion of "the Kingdom of God" which was really more a social vision - like Humanism. But as things changed in society and the Temple was destroyed and the Jews rejected these ideas and its followers, they drew into themselves and the meaning of it changed into a more exclusive mythology. The word "sinners", took on the meaning of the rejected of God, as opposed to its original significance, for instance.

 

The Christian myth in its current form struggles to adapt its symbolic message for a number of factors, and the fact that it is, is evidenced in the backlash reaction of an increase in fundamentalism. They are symptomatic phenomena resulting from an imploding middle, like shock waves.

 

Finally, are we humans really better off stripped of our symbolic understandings? We here often call Christian myth-followers foolish, but isn't symbolic understand and meaning-making helpful in experiencing life as meaningful and fulfilling?

This is the philosophical argument I always make, that we cannot and do not function without creating these sort of mythological framework from which we operate. This is why I have an interest in the studies of Semiotics, mythology, language as truth, etc. Even the current shift towards Rationality and Science, themselves are taken as mythologies in how people hold them up symbolically as beacons of truth and light for society. It's the same thing as holding up religious faith as the beacon of light and truth. It's competing social visions with each creating a system of symbols and stories (histories) which promote and validate their chosen paths value.

 

The argument of one being right, and the other being wrong, is in fact a product of that "background mythology" I mentioned. It's dragging that mindest of exclusive truth staight out of the later evolved Christian world view seen in its mythologies, and applying it right back at them in a reaction to it. "No, this is the truth!". Same thing.

 

I see that we are both rational and "symbolic" - abstract, conceptual, lofty, visionary, "spiritual". These are not things which come as the result of reason and rationality, they come from something else in us. Our irrational desires for meaning, purpose, significance, hope, love, faith, etc. Two sets of systems, confused and bewildered in how to find a mythology to support both. That's our real struggle today, and the rest of the debate is symptoms of that core problem.

 

I'm going to speak on a fear of mine, and that is the more I strip my understanding of myths and fantasy and address "reality", isn't that the less I am then able to diffuse anxiety? How is this good?

 

This is important.

That's a very good question. I don't know the answer. I can say that for myself, it's been a process of trying to find ease and comfort with embracing that "faith" side of myself without falling victim to abandoning rationality and get sucked into nonsense. But I'm much smarter and wiser than I was as a youth who did fall victim to that in my desire to understand the significance of that in myself. I believe it is possible to have both without a violation of either: one being that you have "faith" at the expense of reason - a life based on denial of reality; the other being that you have "reason" at the expense of "faith" - a life likewise based on denial of reality (hence the Vulcan/Human myth of Mr. Spock to symbolize that).

 

I'd say it's inevitable that some system will emerge by the sheer forces of evolution alone. The reality that is in us, will struggle to find a new definition, a new framework of language that supports us in this new situation, just like the Jesus movement was a response to its environment at its time. As Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park says, "Life will always find a way." :)

 

 

Great discussion! I look forward to your response.

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Opinions please:

 

If I saw a strange craft silently hover 50 feet above the ground, illuminating trees and casting shadows. If it was only 100 yards away from me. If I saw it slowly rise and then silently leave so fast as to disappear almost instantaneously, would it be rational for ME to believe in flying saucers?

 

I submit it would be a rational conclusion based on what is perceived as direct observation. It would also be rational to consider that regardless of the presumed event perception, the more likely conclusion would be a psychological explanation, in light of the extensive evidence showing our penchant for fooling ourselves with faulty observation and memory and the way we know the brain works to fill in the blanks.

 

So, would both conclusions be "rational?"

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Opinions please:

 

If I saw a strange craft silently hover 50 feet above the ground, illuminating trees and casting shadows. If it was only 100 yards away from me. If I saw it slowly rise and then silently leave so fast as to disappear almost instantaneously, would it be rational for ME to believe in flying saucers?

 

I submit it would be a rational conclusion based on what is perceived as direct observation. It would also be rational to consider that regardless of the presumed event perception, the more likely conclusion would be a psychological explanation, in light of the extensive evidence showing our penchant for fooling ourselves with faulty observation and memory and the way we know the brain works to fill in the blanks.

 

So, would both conclusions be "rational?"

 

It would be rational for your mind to believe in flying saucers, because you really believed you saw it. It would be irrational, and denying one's self to deny and try to 'forget' that it happened. Now, many other factors can occur through this experience; which should be medically checked out, as other factors can cause hallucinations. But, if there are no signs of hallucinations, then even on a rational mental setting, I would assume that the rational mind represented would make the seen object, 'the saucer in the sky', a rational conclusion.

 

Now, this doesn't mean that the seen saucer becomes rational in the social aspect, just on the personal aspect. Now, what would be even more complicated is if the saucer spoke to you and said, "Lo....I am coming soon to destroy the Earth, tell everyone that the saucer will return, and they must believe in the saucers to live", ..." Lo...I will give you saucer powers upon high to accomplish this task"

 

Now, this changes everything, with the same principle as above, yet now you have a 'will' from the saucers, and you then become a nutcase to society, instead of just a guy that saw a saucer. :grin:

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Now, this doesn't mean that the seen saucer becomes rational in the social aspect, just on the personal aspect.

 

Yes, that's how I framed it. What is a rational conclusion for me regarding the experience may not be a rational conclusion for anyone else. This doesn't address the question of whether the UFO actually exists or not.

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Guest end3
Thanks for the reply, Antlerman. We do seem to be similarly-minded in our understanding of things.

 

This is fantastic. I will never forget as long as I am alive what Christmastime looked like in 2001 here in the Twin Cities where I live. There were displays of Christmas lights everywhere on homes in ways I'd never seen before, nor since. My impression was clearly that it was related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and that it was people's way of expressing their belief in our way of life. But this really nails it on the head. I could see it and sense it. It was an act of symbolic empowerment. We were driven to empower ourselves - symbolically. Whether that is in blowing up buildings of symbolic significance, or hanging lights in symbolic displays of our beliefs in our cultural identity in response to a symbolic attack against it.

 

Symbols are far more powerful than reality; far more real! - to us. Here's the proof. We live in a reality accessed through symbols. We live in a symbolic reality.

 

What an interesting example. I do think we look to be empowered within reality, as End mentioned ("I think I can somewhat relate, as fear, anxiety et. al, can seem to "build" in my life and the only way to make it go away is to go and meet the demand(s) of the task(s) at hand..."), but so much is out of our control--nature, the actions of others, the systems we are part of-- that most of our empowerment must be inside our own heads ("or choose a symbolic something to cast the fear/anxiety to."). Take the 9/11 example yet again. Many people with emergency response training descended upon the city: a practical action. When they were turned away, they would have had to depend on symbolic action for anxiety diffusion: they stood ever-ready to "serve". Civilians rushed to give blood, more than could have ever been needed by those hurting in NYC. A practical gesture was transformed into a symbolic one, sustained long after it had become impractical as an action for helping others. Why? Because it was still useful in anxiety diffusion via empowerment (the sense we have some influence over our circumstances). As we mentioned earlier, flags appeared everywhere, comforting many, but rebuilding no buildings, stopping no blood from flowing. After Katrina, interest in the disaster preparedness class I administer surged, even though I live quite far away from New Orleans in a part of the U.S. that gets very few major disasters. We had booths at various fairs, walked amongst the crowds handing out flyers. As time passed, a shift in the response to us occurred: far fewer people approached the booths, and instead of being drawn to the crowd minglers, people began to avoid eye contact with us. It was fascinating.

 

I observe prayer to a personal deity as yielding many benefits, including relaxation and inward reflection. It is also a comfort, part of this symbolic inner reality. End asked, "If my demands were not there, would God be present?" My guess is no, because there would be no need for something against which to diffuse our fears about our own helplessness. If we had greater influence on reality, we simply would not feel the urge to create God.

 

As I compose this post, the term "symbolic interactionism" comes to my mind. It's the title of a book I failed to read for a sociology class I didn't pay much attention in many years ago. I dug the book up and am delighted that a quick scan of the table of contents seems to speak on this topic (maybe I paid more attention in class than I thought!). I'm going to spend some time reading it and will share anything interesting that I find with you.

 

I read an article a couple days ago that suggested perception of a spouse was an indicator of marriage longevity. Not the reality of who that spouse is, but perception. In other words, we are comforted by symbolism and fantasy in many realms of our lives.

Every wonder why our culture promotes Romanticism? Perhaps its an attempt to find meaning in others, our mates, through symbolism?

 

Sure, and in all different ways: people's stories about their pairing (or multipairing) are all different.

 

Now, here's a question for you: do some stories serve certain practical purposes better than others? In other words, are some symbolic understandings more compatible with reality (and I do believe there is a "reality" separate from our understanding of it)? Finally, are we humans really better off stripped of our symbolic understandings? We here often call Christian myth-followers foolish, but isn't symbolic understand and meaning-making helpful in experiencing life as meaningful and fulfilling?

 

I'm going to speak on a fear of mine, and that is the more I strip my understanding of myths and fantasy and address "reality", isn't that the less I am then able to diffuse anxiety? How is this good?

 

This is important.

 

Very little of what or how we understand our lives has anything to do with what is really going on. Have you ever watched a heated conversation about something you feel neutral about, and come to the realization that the other two didn't seem to be speaking on the same subject?

:lmao: Hell yes. All the time actually. The whole "religious debate" is really little more than humans arguing about the right use of the symbols to describe the same goddamn thing! It's what I've found has helped me to be able to drop my anger about religion and see beyond the arguments of both sides to see the reality in the middle. Humanity.

 

Oh, interesting. I'm going to think on that for a while.

 

You may wish to share with your friend this term: Background Mythology. Basic frameworks of perception created through the language we use, laced with culturally specific symbolism. Even our own cultural Enlightenment movement is rooted in a certain perception of reality. It starts with that premise, and attempts to critique it from there. In other words, it's a basic launching point. It assumes a certain position of reality as a basis for its challenge. It's starts at a defined square. But ironically, the alternative reality explored and explained is in relation to those notions, that framework. A background mythology operates as certain assumptions of reality. Those assumptions for this culture have come through Western ideas inherited from the Christian culture, inherited from the Greeks.

 

Oh, interesting. Yes, this is what I've been thinking on. Now I have a term for it.

 

Thanks again for writing.

 

Cheers!

 

Phanta

 

I am starting to think the "relationship" I have with God is the relationship that Phanta and you, AM, are describing, one of interaction between the "symbolic" and myself. This would be a relationship that is truely our own, and no wonder unity is so hard to come by. This same thing also rings a bell with Hans' story about his life after the crisis with his son.

 

So where do you find God, if at all, after this view "makes itself known" :) ?

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Opinions please:

 

If I saw a strange craft silently hover 50 feet above the ground, illuminating trees and casting shadows. If it was only 100 yards away from me. If I saw it slowly rise and then silently leave so fast as to disappear almost instantaneously, would it be rational for ME to believe in flying saucers?

 

I submit it would be a rational conclusion based on what is perceived as direct observation. It would also be rational to consider that regardless of the presumed event perception, the more likely conclusion would be a psychological explanation, in light of the extensive evidence showing our penchant for fooling ourselves with faulty observation and memory and the way we know the brain works to fill in the blanks.

 

So, would both conclusions be "rational?"

No. To conclude it was a UFO based on your interpretation of the event without anymore to go on than similarities to ideas bantered about in unsupported popular lore, would be irrational (other than technically it was since you were unable to identify it - UFO doesn't have to mean spaceship). It may raise some questions as well it should, but there is insufficient data to conclude anything. To do that, is irrational and a leap of faith.

 

In the second option, you are not really concluding anything inasmuch as you said it was a more likely "conclusion". In context what you are saying is that one is a more likely explanation, not conclusion. This is an act of rationality, and the exercise of critical thinking. A good thing to keep one from making conclusions about things with insufficient information.

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Antlerman,

 

There's a lot to think about in your posts.

Take as long as you wish. I sort of opened the gates of thoughts in my last response.

 

The word "sinners", took on the meaning of the rejected of God, as opposed to its original significance, for instance.

 

Would you mind expanding on that? I'm ignorant of it.

Originally the Jews would have understood "sins" to mean simply the transgressions of particular commandments. Paul expanded its meaning in the singular to be some universal condition of mankind as a sort of force, a state of being that condemned everyone as separated from God. This creation of an idea was to put all mankind without excuse before God because of a condition of nature.

 

That was not the case prior to Paul. His very act of mythmaking impaled humanity in its wake with this notion of an "evil" nature, IMO. All that misery just to make an argument supporting his belief in a new idea, which he was helping to create. I doubt he understood how deeply damning that would become to those born under a culture, born out of the myths he helped to create.

 

Our irrational desires for meaning, purpose, significance, hope, love, faith, etc.

 

Do you really mean "irrational" here? If so, how do you mean it?

 

Phanta

Meaning, purpose, hope, faith, etc, are not rational beliefs. They aren't rational conclusions based on any logical train of thought, but a choice of view based on desires from the "heart". It's not really that they are anti-rational, as there is a certain emotional logic to them. But they aren't a product of rational processes of thought. Faith really is the "evidence of things not seen, the assurance of things hoped for." This really has nothing to do with a god-belief or some doctrine of some religion. It's a human, existential thing.

 

People, even the most rational, critical thinker, engage in irrational beliefs. That exists in the heart of human existence as an integral part of our functionality. We attempt to build supports or rationalizations for these choices of "faith" or desire, but we still believe and act upon these beliefs lacking real, all out, concrete evidence. We love to idealize evidence and reason, but we don't live like this.

 

This is what I mean by "irrational". There is however a certain logic to it. Human logic. Which I suppose you could call an oxymoron. :)

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I'm going to speak on a fear of mine, and that is the more I strip my understanding of myths and fantasy and address "reality", isn't that the less I am then able to diffuse anxiety? How is this good?

This is important.

 

Let me try and address this by sharing a dream I had about two years ago.

 

This was a vivid dream. I still remember colours, sounds and what I was thinking in my dream.

 

I am a fan of hard sci-fi (i.e. not Star Trek or Star Wars novels, although those are fun to read in the hammock in summer) so this explains the setting. But the premise of the dream is something I will never forget.

 

I was exploring a new planet, looking around, taking notes of the flora and fauna and resource potential. But in my dream, I did not have any knowledge of God at all. I mean, it was like I had never even heard of or considered the concept of "God" or any kind of supernatural higher being. There simply wasn't one.

In my dream, I was not anxious and did not want for anything. There was no god, and more to the point, no conception of god at all. It was a powerful feeling and I still remember it. I was content, at peace.

 

After the dream I woke up profoundly shaken, and at the time thought perhaps God had given me the dream to show me how pointless existence would be without him. Now I don't interpret it as a dream of a pointless existence; I remember that feeling of contentment and peace with longing.

 

My point is, if you dig down and really examine your understanding of myths and fantasy, yes, you may undermine the things which hold up your understanding of the world around you. But do you really want to base your personality on things you must accept are myths? It might be painful, but you might find something else, deeper, more solid, to use as a foundation, some hard chunk of knowledge or understanding, or a better understanding of what you call The Way.

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Is a lot of this from the Mack book?

 

Phanta

There is information from Mack's work I draw off of, namely the critical research into Christian origins through the eyes of social theory applied to textual and form criticism. It's a model I find scholarly and elegant in its explanatory powers. But largely these are "my own" thoughts, going back quite some time, which is I why I've recently found Mack very appealing. I wasn't aware of him until recently.

 

Actually I can almost pinpoint the beginning of these thoughts in my post-Christian life. It was some years back when I was with a friend of mine who likewise de-converted from Christianity, from the same church I attended. We graduated Bible College together. I kidded him one day about his saying "I'm so glad I know the truth now", remarking to him, "I remember you saying that same thing when we were in school together." His response to that is what began all this for me. He said in seriousness, "But the difference between then and now, is that now I really DO have the truth!"

 

That really struck me, and I've carried that with me ever since. It's what led me down the road of understanding the nature of how we perceive and respond to notions of truth, how we arrive at that conclusion, which was in fact just as real to him as a "believer" as it was as an atheist. I began to see how people use words as vehicles of inner ideas and impressions that gave form and life to them, gave them "reality". As a musician who writes music, I could see this existential expression in the language of music within myself, with harmonics, overtones, harmonies, etc all having correspondence with the connotations and subtle nuances of words. This led to looking a myth as a form of language which expresses these same sorts of "musical" impressions (for lack of a better word right now). I made some attempt at fleshing out some of my thoughts about it back in this thread here: Link

 

So anyway, I find Mack appealing because he, and other scholars like him, really give some great insights into Christian origins through ethnography. Human nature, social behaviors, etc are the "real truth", as my friend would say. :) There is a reality that exists outside humans, but anything we call reality is intrinsically tied to the limits of our perceptions, and the restrictions or potentials of our language. It's the latter, the potentials of language that I find myself rebuffing against literalists, both religious and rationalist who place limits on it. Reality, once defined, is closed, and the language we use to describe it creates the boundaries of our universe for us and either limits or frees the spirit.

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3) The independent self Transition ing to an independent self is the major transition of adult life. Only 25 percent of adults in our culture complete this journey. To make this transition we no longer ignore or distort the call of the soul. We face the fact that following our own path often means disappointing others, risking failure, and/or otherwise contradicting the norms that "link me to society and make me (as a socialized self) worthwhile and valuable."

 

This transition is particularly difficult because to make this journey, I have to let go of how I have come to define myself. I let go of the deeply held beliefs that my worth and value is tied up with what I do. I am no longer defined by cultural expectations. Now, I configure a self from the inside out for the first time." Vision springs from within. Action becomes an authentic expression of an emerging sense of inner purpose.

 

Leaders at this level begin to share power. it is no longer perceived as "letting go" of control but of gaining power by sharing it. The development of self and others is prized. Organizations are structured on high-performing, self-managing teams. Leadership is shared but not yet a true partnership. Creativity and critical decision making is developed and expected at all levels of the organization.

 

Good stuff Phanta,

 

Thank you for the effort. I think I must be in the beginnings or middle of stage three as I wake up these days not giving a darn about structure, of what I should be or expected to be......also this makes for a specific disdain for our minister who is sure his truth is necessary for everyone.

 

Again, thanks for the pen.

 

End3

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And hopefully, as we age, our tolerances and understandings grow and expand. My understanding seems....chaotic. Fragile. Too big to start with to be helpful in functioning. Self-contradictory. Confused. I'm confused. I agree with everything you are saying, but I believe it from a deeply wounded and limited place.

 

Phanta

I think the only thing I can say to this is that what truth really is, as we explore this perspective and that perspective, this way or that way, is that somewhere in the middle of it, is our own sense of self found where the lines of our paths cross over each other. It's in there, that we find what is unique to us. And it's coming to terms with it, getting to know it, and gaining confidence in it. There is no path you should follow "over there" or anywhere else. It's the inner path that's your own. It's not something you really look for, but it emerges of need.

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Your interpretation of your dream, the meaning you made out of it, changed. What do you make of that?

 

All I can say is that maybe it never meant anything at all, and its only meaning is whatever I choose to give it.

 

I also think, "How can I be with another in love?" My story is so different from those around me. Who else is touching the part of the elephant I'm at? Anyone? I feel alone. I'm scared. Is it safe to keep moving forward on my own? Is it good? I see those people over there, all hovering around the tail, telling jokes, those at the trunk, chanting in tongues, those at the foot, squatting close to the ground, intent on cleaning out the nails. Support is good. Where are my people?

 

I liked your analogy, but it makes one assumption: that people are clustering in different areas to explore the "elephant" and fitting themselves into cliques and stereotypes. I think people would be moving around all over the place to check it out, and some might be sitting somewhere else refusing to believe there's an elephant at all.

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