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More Specific Questions For Liberal/universalists Christians


Guest Serene Agnostic Atheist
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Guest Serene Agnostic Atheist

Pondered this all day yesterday and again this morning and this is with me understanding how you read the bible and such and these questions I don't believe have been asked yet of you all, so here it goes...

 

Do you believe that God is perfect? Do you believe that God answers prayers? Do you believe that God heals and protects?

 

The reason I ask is because as a healthy person in the mind, I'm left wondering...What about the severally handicapped? What about the parapolegics, schizophranics, people who are born with horrible and incurable diseases? To broaden this even further...what about those suffering with these horrendous problems who have no access to modern medicine and/or means? What is the purpose of a loving god keeping people who have no chance of help, stay in those kinds of circumstances? Does God not care about them or do you believe that god does not intervene? IOW...and I'm sorry but the only way to put this is to put it bluntly......why does the creator then seem to only care about people who are able to seek it out? Why are the people capable of seeking a god blessed to be happy and everyone else, well...they just stay screwed, not ever knowing love, not ever having peace given to them by god?

 

As an unbeliever, I see these things as a horrible reality, though reality. I can only help so many people. As an unbeliever I can find peace within despite a non-belief of a god, but how does one reconcile this as a believer in god? How do you know that a creator is capable of love? Where is your proof and I'm not talking feelings here, I'm really seeking answers outside of one who is "healthy". What about the children born since the beginning of time, who lived their lives drooling, incapable of running and playing and talking and doing, who lived decades and died the same way? Where is the loving god? Deists claim an unknowable deity, it's easier for me to understand their beliefs as opposed to yours. Perhaps the deity said "bang" and hoped the best for creation and left it at that.

 

Thanks

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Does God not care about them or do you believe that god does not intervene? IOW...and I'm sorry but the only way to put this is to put it bluntly......why does the creator then seem to only care about people who are able to seek it out? Why are the people capable of seeking a god blessed to be happy and everyone else, well...they just stay screwed, not ever knowing love, not ever having peace given to them by god?

:)Hi SAA! I think you answered this question right here...

As an unbeliever, I see these things as a horrible reality, though reality. I can only help so many people.

IMO, God is within us, he is the core of each and every thing. I also believe in an interconnectedness of all living things, therefore a collected consciousness of God reached to its height through empathy, connecting on a deeper level as seeing another as self. The keys to heaven and hell is compassion. These things will hopefully bring out the God within us, to come out of us, so that 'heaven' will eventually be here on earth through us.

 

Additionally, it is my belief that there is a dynamics similar to reincarnation. People may actually choose to come here and do this lifestyle, from another form out of the awareness of consciousness as we know it here. Someone once said, 'it is in the valleys that we learn the most.' It is also kind of like the yin and the yang... it takes opposites to know and appreciate an experience. Opposing forces is often what brings identity to an experience. Creatively overcoming challenges makes us all stronger, and often those afflicted become the most powerful internally!

 

Having said that... I've also been thinking of the many alternative ways of healing that are available to us now that many are unaware of their existence. I was just watching a documentary that was saying how alternative healing has become widely accepted in many countries! The idea came to me to start a thread here to possibly share these ways with each other on this site, since this site is so culturally diverse, quite intellectual, and really likes to help others. It's this working together through empathy and compassion that I believe raises us all to a higher level.

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As an unbeliever, I see these things as a horrible reality, though reality. I can only help so many people. As an unbeliever I can find peace within despite a non-belief of a god, but how does one reconcile this as a believer in god? How do you know that a creator is capable of love? Where is your proof and I'm not talking feelings here, I'm really seeking answers outside of one who is "healthy". What about the children born since the beginning of time, who lived their lives drooling, incapable of running and playing and talking and doing, who lived decades and died the same way? Where is the loving god? Deists claim an unknowable deity, it's easier for me to understand their beliefs as opposed to yours. Perhaps the deity said "bang" and hoped the best for creation and left it at that.

 

Hello SAA:

 

First - I won't even pretend to have all the answers. But, I can tell you how I have come to see these things.

 

When most people hear the word "God" they are thinking of some being outside of us, in the far reaches of the universe - but not within themselves. In this sense - the answer to your question: "Where is the loving god?" would be no where. This god doesn't exist. If the only understanding of god that I had ever been given was some being outside and beyond humanity I would have to say, "No, this isn't so ..". Because of all the reasons you gave above.

 

To me the word "God" means something else. Something akin to what Amanda said:

 

IMO, God is within us, he is the core of each and every thing. I also believe in an interconnectedness of all living things, therefore a collected consciousness of God reached to its height through empathy, connecting on a deeper level as seeing another as self. The keys to heaven and hell is compassion. These things will hopefully bring out the God within us, to come out of us, so that 'heaven' will eventually be here on earth through us.

 

In this way I can look at the Bible verse, "God is Love" and see it as just that LOVE. The energy of LOVE within all, through all, and beyond all. LOVE which is the 1st energy of creation, LOVE which brings order out of chaos (continually and infinetly in the process of bringing order out of chaos).

 

Having said this, I do believe there is such a thing as chaos. I look at my lovely niece who is mentally handicapped and I see LOVE within her - within every cell of her being. I see her ability to convey this LOVE as far superior to most adults I know. And I also see that she was born with a disability that no "loving god" in the far reaches of the universe would ever put upon an innocent child.

 

I see chaos in the world everyday. I see it in the life of my brother-in-law and his wife as they both battle cancer (each of them have cancer and it is questionable whether either of them will survive).

 

I see chaos in the world everyday. I see it in young children who commit suicide. I see it in lives cut short because of accidents. I see it the aftermath of hurricanes and tsunamis. I see it in man made wars and disease.

 

And yet... in all of this LOVE acts. LOVE reaches out from the hearts of people involved - and if there is not physical healing - there is spiritual strength given and recieved. This is where I see "God" acting, day in and day out in an infinite number of ways. I don't expect the chaos to end - it is a natural part of existence.

 

There is chaos in the world.... I accept that.

 

There is also LOVE within all, through all, and beyond all .... I have hope (and yes - faith) in this. That LOVE truly brings order in the midst of the chaos.

 

My brother-in-law and his wife may be fighting chaos right now, but they are fighting it with love. Will they live? I don't know. Are their lives better because they are loved, yes - indeed they are. They have told us this many times.

 

My niece - will have to live her whole life with a disability. She knows she will never marry - she sees her cousins growing up, going to school, getting jobs, getting married, having children and she knows that this will never be her. She is aware of it and she feels pain because of it. There is chaos in her life. But... she is loved ... and she feels this as well. Because she is loved she grows to the highest place that she can grow. Because she is loved she still smiles, she still laughs and quite frankly she brings more joy into the lives of others than many people without her "disability".

 

But, Amanda is correct, if LOVE is to prevail it must prevail within the hearts of humanity. We are not left without our part in it all.

 

IMO: "God" is not somewhere beyond all this, just watching humanity whither in pain. "God" is the LOVE in the midst of the pain, giving us strength to get up everyday and make a difference in the world, make a difference in the midst of the chaos. :shrug:

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In this way I can look at the Bible verse, "God is Love" and see it as just that LOVE. The energy of LOVE within all, through all, and beyond all. LOVE which is the 1st energy of creation, LOVE which brings order out of chaos (continually and infinetly in the process of bringing order out of chaos).

 

But we can also find in the bible verses that god is a god of hate, impatience, intolerance. Both things are prevalent throughout all people, through all time, so how can we know that this "god" within is meant to be goodness?

 

BTW...I'm so sorry for your brother and his wife, damn, what kind of cancer is it? Also, I have a cousin with down syndrome and she is the sweetest woman that I have EVER known, the epitomy of love. Still though, again, how do we know that "love" IS the ultimate goal of god within?

 

SAA ... I am going to use the word "faith" now. I know that in literalist traditions "faith" means blind adherence to a specific theology. That is not what "faith" is to me. Going back to the Bible:

 

 

Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 

Faith to me, operates somewhat like this:

 

I'm sure you've had times in your life where things on the surface looked rather bleak, but something inside of you felt calm about it all. And you just knew that, despite all outward evidence to the contrary, all would work out in the end. People often explain this type of a situation as having a "gut feeling" about something. We accept this type of "knowing" as quite natural. And this inner knowing is "the substance of things hped for, the evidence of things not seen." wouldn't you say?

 

See.. to me this "inner knowing" of humanity leans consistently towards LOVE. Down through all the ages, through all cultures, within all religions, yes there has been chaos. There have been those who demand political control, their have been those who seek violence, who live in hatred and teach hatred. And somehow, within all of that LOVE still IS. It is still the HIGHEST ideal of humanity - in all the major world religions and without as well. LOVE is the universal quest of the heart - the inner knowing itself that there MUST be something better, something more than meets the eye.

 

I know God is LOVE by this inner knowing - by faith. :)

 

I'm sorry - I'd stay longer and chat. But, I've got to be off for church. I look forward to continuing this discussion though, SAA. I really do. :grin:

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So..."God" is not a "person", but is the "love" within EACH of us?

 

Interesting. But how does that explain those who have NO love within them? Or better still, a "love" distinctly different than what you or I would consider "love"?

 

Some human examples come to mind such as Adolph Hitler, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Jeff Dahmer, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, and Osama Bin Laden. I'm sure that these people would lay some claim to having "love" within them. Perhaps not for their enemies, but surely for friends and family?

 

How does this "God is love within" theology explain them?

 

Remember: The person who kills in the name of "God" has as much FAITH as those who love in "his" name. This equivocating about the nature of "God" and Faith does not solve nor address the problem that Serene brings forth. You people are just comforting yourselves (as usual) with your own tailor-made doctrines and dogmas in an attempt to explain a chaotic, confusing and painfully IMPERSONAL universe. (Which is how humanity got into this religious trap in the first place!)

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Mr. Grinch.

 

It really is good to be in a discussion with you again. :) Thank you for joinning us.

 

So..."God" is not a "person", but is the "love" within EACH of us?

 

Interesting. But how does that explain those who have NO love within them? Or better still, a "love" distinctly different than what you or I would consider "love"?

 

Some human examples come to mind such as Adolph Hitler, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Jeff Dahmer, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, and Osama Bin Laden. I'm sure that these people would lay some claim to having "love" within them. Perhaps not for their enemies, but surely for friends and family?

 

How does this "God is love within" theology explain them?

 

OK... first it's very important that we acknowledge up front that no one has all the answers. The word "theology" bothers me on this level. When I talk to you about my own feelings, do not mistake my own answers for a "theology". The answers I have come to are just individual answers. Sometimes I wish I were like my Grandmother, who was very devout Catholic. She was a wonderfully loving and open minded person - who never pretended to have all the answers.

 

Once - when I was 18-19 years old and thought I had all the answers (none of them Christian in orientation) she and I were having a discussion. We did not agree on anything - and her response was to gently pat my hand and say, "well I don't know and you don't know, but someday we'll all know". Then she got up and went back to kneading her bread dough and ended the converstation. :grin:

 

Now ... all these years later .... I'm still searching for answers....

 

So please ... as we discuss these things .... don't assume I have a theology. My only "theology" is to remain open minded (pun intended).

 

Beyond this let me try to answer your questions about my understanding of "God as Love".

 

To me - in its highest form - LOVE is an energy. It is the first energy of creation. It is an energy which pervades all and makes all whole.

 

We usually think of love as something someone has - that they can choose to give to someone else.

 

But - to me - the core of all this is infinite LOVE. There is no god out in a far off heaven who chooses when and where to despense this love.

 

GOD is LOVE... God is the infinite energy of LOVE. And as such this energy acts like any other energy - it exists. And we exist within it. We can choose to participate in this LOVE, or we can choose NOT to participate. GOD/LOVE does not choose who to shed ITSELF upon - it just IS.

 

As far as people like... " Adolph Hitler, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Jeff Dahmer, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, and Osama Bin Laden". I don't have a complete answer for you. I only have the partial answer that I have come to. First of all these people - were very highly likely - not psychopathic, hateful infants and small children. What happened in their lives? Why did they end up where they were, when other people who have gone through troubling and violent life experiences can rise above them? I don't know - I really don't know. :shrug:

 

But ... I think it's safe to say that - as children - these people did not say to themselves, "I think I'm going to grow up to be a terrorist". Something happened between the innocence of young childhood to their adulthood. And whatever happened most-likely had nothing to do with LOVE. When parents choose NOT to participate in LOVE and abuse children, then why is anyone surprised when the child becomes a criminal. One look at the statistics of child abuse amongst those who end up in prison will tell you there is an extremely high correlation between child abuse and adult psychopathic behaviors. But, at the core of the human experience (as can be seen in any small child) is an openness - a full willingness to give and receive LOVE.

 

Remember: The person who kills in the name of "God" has as much FAITH as those who love in "his" name. This equivocating about the nature of "God" and Faith does not solve nor address the problem that Serene brings forth. You people are just comforting yourselves (as usual) with your own tailor-made doctrines and dogmas in an attempt to explain a chaotic, confusing and painfully IMPERSONAL universe. (Which is how humanity got into this religious trap in the first place!)

 

Yes.... I am utterly aware of this. Deeply and Sadly aware of this. All I can say is please look at my earlier definition of "faith". There is a difference between a blind adherence to theology and a connection with an inner knowing.

 

Also ... as I mentioned earlier. If LOVE is energy within which we can all participate, then it is also energy within which we can all choose NOT to participate. This, too, is part of the human picture. Not a very pretty part, but part of the overall picture as well. :shrug:

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Hi, guys. Really key question.

 

I think the love is energy thing is a nice way of speaking, but I don't see what we gain by saying there is a god out there. To me it seems like a hypostatization of human ideals. We can conceive of something greater than, more wonderful than ourselves, and we humanify it to some greater or lesser degree and think it's an entity. The universe itself is greater and more wonderful than we are. Within that universe, some species, including our own, show behavior that we call love. That's the farthest I see the need to go. I think the liberal christian in the end has many counterexamples to face, just as the fundy does, even though the liberal isn't saddled with the hopeless task of taking every statement in the bible as literally true.

 

Even in more pantheistic systems, like vedanta, I don't see what's the point of saying there's a god out there. The universe evolves in the sense that it seems to be expanding, species on earth evolve -- that's as much as I know.

 

I used to believe in many tenets of vedanta, so I am very sympathetic with non-fundy takes on religion. I can believe that the brain/mind have powers known to few of us. I still don't see where adding a god or gods to the mix rests on anything verifiable or falsifiable.

 

I manage every so often to encounter someone and we exchange actions that display love. I get glimpses of transcendence in nature, art, the imagination. That's really great. It gives joy. What's wrong with me if I don't attribute those experiences to god? I think, nothing is wrong.

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Mr. Grinch.

 

It really is good to be in a discussion with you again. :) Thank you for joinning us.

:thanks:

You're most welcome, Open_Minded. However, I wouldn't go so far as admitting to "joining" you, as I still prefer lurking in the back drop, deigning not to involve myself in many "religious" conversations. As interesting as you all are, I find the subject of religion/"God" frustrating. Even maddening. My head has not been hurting as much since I stopped :banghead: with religious people.

 

But, since I have stepped into this bear trap :grin: , I'd like to add one of my unique observations that may make you go, "Hmmm".

 

I think the trouble people like me and SAA have with people like you and Amanda, is that you are unwittingly "moving the goal posts" on us. By that I mean it is like having been playing a game of football, where everyone involved knows and accepts the rules of the game, only to have someone new come along and redefine the parameters of the game AND expect the rest of us to now adjust to these changes.

 

O_M, you and Amanda possess this "unique" version/vision of Christianity, that not even your Church embraces. You bring in new definitions of terms for "God" and "faith" that for 2,000 years no one else has used. You're changing the rules of the game on us after we've completed three quarters and now we're expected to forget the rules we've all agreed upon to play the final quarter?

 

This isn't cool. You can't change the meaning of words just to fit YOUR interpretations, and then expect us to call it "good". It's too late in the "game" for this.

 

(Serene, if I'm making a muddle of this, just say so, and I'll butt out.)

 

O_M, I don't begrudge you your religious views or your interpretations. Whatever gets you through the night is fine with me. I just don't believe that what you have hold of here can be legitimately called "Christianity". Historically the Church has rejected your views as gnosticism, a form of heresy. THESE ARE THE RULES OF THE GAME WE ALL HAVE BEEN FORCED TO ACCEPT. It's unreasonable to change the playing field now. (Especially since we unbelievers are ahead on points! :lmao: )

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Amanda and OM, I find your views very interesting and even good... but why do you adhere to the label "Christianity"? Granted, maybe Christian ideas have influenced your beliefs, but for the same reasons as Grinch, I find it rather odd that you still classify yourselves as Christians. The ideas in Christianity that you seem to relate to are by no means exclusive to Christianity. So why keep the label?

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I think the term God has become too weighed down with "baggage". As a person with a gnostic viewpoint, to me god is the ultimate reality, the Mystery from which we come. There is no god "out there", I believe we are all in it, unfolding from it. How do we know it is ultimately good? All beings move towards happiness and away from suffering; everything we do is motivated by the desire to feel good......how that manifests depends on who we think we are.

 

If we think we are isolated individuals, then that manifests in what is good for me and mine.

If we know we are expressions of the One (and so is everyone else) then we work towards the good for all.

 

To be "lost" is to be lost in separateness , ignorant of the One reality. To be saved (or "made permanent", as the original word meant) is to realise our true nature (and discover the kingdom of heaven within, and know the power of the ressurection)

 

Looking at it like this stops the bullshit that is preached of a God who is a person who will make the people of Toronto fall down laughing, give Joyce Meyer a parking spot etc. but leave people suffering terrible torment, such as cancer.

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I need to jump in to put a couple thoughts out there for OM and Amanda to ponder, which hopefully, might bring some light to SAA's questions. First how I see this:

 

OM, you used the word Chaos to describe something destructive. But don't you think that that is a very reflective of cultural conditioning from a Christian perspective? Why is it "bad"? Why is "love" good, and "death" bad? Isn't death a part of how Life works? How is it then "bad" or "chaos"?

 

To addresses Grinches objections (and I know them well, since likewise I see a lot of me in you too!), about Hitler and Osama in society, also "changing the goal posts". I don't see society as being comprised of 50 percent good and 50 percent bad. But rather I see the majority of people are driven towards cooperation. This is so because of the self-interested benefit from doing so. Everything that supports that effort is called "good", and everything that works against that goal is called "bad".

 

Everyone is driven by self-interest, but then you will always have those who take the quicker route to realizing gains by bypassing society and grabbing their piece at the expense of cooperation as they are driven through greed (why religious laws always condemn greed). A society cannot support everyone doing this. If a government collapses, you will have the rise of warlords, but you can only have some many at the top. The rest are working through cooperation.

 

All that to say: that the good and bad are in all of us, but societies promote the "good" for its own benefit. Labeling something "good" is a charged word to motivate people towards cooperation. Labeling something "bad" motivates away from pure self-interest and greed because it is harmful to the society which exists for the benefit of many.

 

Where OM appears to be falling into a trap, is that the system that society sets up as guardians of the sacred words, viz., "Religion", makes these words such as "good" unquestionable and absolute. The rules need to be clear and unquestionable, and not muddled down with things like questions of moral relativism. But the reality is, bad is neither always bad, nor good always good.

 

I may be wrong OM, and you are just using these words because it is the language we have, but I seemed to sense a certain "good versus bad" meaning in what you said? I'm sure you have some wonderful thoughts to add. :grin:

 

As far as the goal posts changing: Christianity has not always been the same. It has always evolved to adapt itself to the societies in which it was a part. (Village gods become saints, etc). It's a basic principle of surviving changing market forces. What OM is doing, and what I so greatly admire, is taking the leading edge in our society for the long overdue evolution of the Christian church in America. Our immigrant forbearers have been stuck on traditional old-world ways of religion, but our society is evolving tremendously. The rise of fundamentalism in this country is part of the evolution. It won't last, but groups like what OM is trying is being supported by liberal church bodies in order to survive the 21st century.

 

Religion must change or it will die. Religion is a creation of society for its own needs, and if it as an institution doesn't change to continue to meet those needs, it will be abandoned for something else.

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SAA ... I understand the spirit in which you are asking these questions. So... please do not feel as though you must apologize. They are excellent questions.

 

I'm not confused by people wanting a better world, I'm not confused that people have it within themselves to be loving and kind and generous. I am not confused by their being bad people in the world. What I AM confused with are people who hold beliefs saying that everyone has the same spirit, a "love" type spirit dwelling within ALL people, when they don't.

 

SAA if one is to look at LOVE as energy - pure energy which is aware of itself and all that it pervades - then there isn't one single cell that is without this energy. Scientists are studying the foundational energy of the universe. They are spending untold hours and dollars on a search for understanding of this energy. In the Leaving Jesus thread we had a bit of a discussion about this. An excerpt follows:

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=5588&st=80 go to post #83

 

Following is a link some may want to explore:
http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/

 

This link is to the Quantum Consciousness website. The website is a home site of Stuart Hameroff, a physician and researcher at the The University of Arizona Medical Center. Following is an excerpt from his site explaining a bit about Stuart:

 
I spent twenty years studying how computer-like structures called microtubules inside neurons and other cells could process information related to consciousness. But when I read The emperor’s new mind by Sir Roger Penrose in 1991 I realized that consciousness may be a specific process on the edge between the quantum and classical worlds. Roger and I teamed up to develop a theory of consciousness based on quantum computation in microtubules within neurons. Roger’s mechanism for an objective threshold for quantum state reduction connects us to the most basic, “funda-mental” level of the universe at the Planck scale, and is called objective reduction (OR). Our suggestion for biological feedback to microtubule quantum states is orchestration (Orch), hence our model is called orchestrated objective reduction, Orch OR.

 

"Mind and intelligence are woven into the fabric of the universe" - Freeman Dyson

 

In recent years I have concluded that such a connection to the basic proto-conscious level of reality where Platonic values are embedded is strikingly similar to Buddhist concepts, and may account for spirituality
.

 

Stuart Hameroff worked with Roger Penrose. For those of you who don't know - Roger Penrose worked with Stephen Hawkings.

 

Again - as you look at and discuss this site - please keep the overall line of this discussion in mind.

 

1.
I fully recognize the subjectivity of my point of view.

2. Referring this site is not an attempt to "prove" the existence of God. Stuart Hameroff thinks this line of research "may account for spirituality". I believe that anything infinite is beyond full human understanding. But I accept his position as it is, recognizing point 1 above

3. I do not feel that everything on this website is fact and I fully accept that much of what Stuart and Roger are studying now and theorizing about may be disproved in the future. But, this is the whole point of inquiry -both on scientific as well as philisophical and spiritual level

4. I enjoy following this type of research because there is wonder in it. It is not something that I feel will yield any concrete results anytime soon, but it is fascinating.

 

That is the sole reason I'm finding it hard to understand you guys and your belief in a god/spirit within, etc.. Also, "God" as had been the definition since ancient times is represented by deities and you all are now saying "No, god is within." :twitch:

 

See... that is a major problem. Just because the definition of God that we are exposed to in popular culture is anthropomorphic (humanized) doesn't make it the only definition. Within every mystic tradition is an understanding of the sacred that transcends definition. It's just that most people prefer theology over admitting that the sacred is ultimately beyond full understanding. So... throughout human history the sacred has been minimized into a humanized being up in the sky.

 

Sorry, but even though you all have a kinder and gentler version of god, it's still based on faith using your own experiences and nothing that can be proven.

 

I agree - it can't be proven in the sense that 2 + 2 = 4 can be proven. But, I hope you'll understand that I take great comfort and joy in the mystical wisdom writings of all traditions. Writings that cross boundries of time, culture and world view.

 

How then is this any different than being down on fundyism and their views?

 

Because, typically those involved in a mystical approach to spirituality are open to other ways of spirituality. The interfaith movement in this world is being led by mystics from all major world religions. Typically, those involved in a mystical approach to spirituality are educated about their particular sacred literature and do NOT read it literally. Typically those involved in a mystical approach to spirituality are not blind adherents to a specific theology.

 

If you all believe that it is one's spiritual walk that brings them closer to god and heaven....how does that work with the person as I explained earlier, how can a person who can't even use the bathroom, talk, run and be their WHOLE LIFE supposed to find this glorious path available to all?

 

Here... SAA ... you need to define what you mean by "spiritual walk". You may also want to take another view at the Leaving Jesus thread. Antlerman and I discussed this in that thread. This is very important to - because I don't want you (or anyone else) to think that there is only one way to "know" sacredness. I truly believe we all connect with the SACRED in our own way. I've a brother who is a scientist. When I listen to him talk about what he is researching there is no doubt in my mind that he is connecting with the infinite SACREDNESS that I call "God". (There is no doubt in his mind either :) )

 

To me the experience of SACREDNESS is quite natural. Muscians connect with it, so do artists. Nature is a way of connecting with SACREDNESS, so is being in the presence of a pure child. By definition SACREDNESS is infinite and unlimited. Who am I - or anyone else - to define the ways in which a person can connect with this. SAA ... that quest within your soul that prompts you to ask me the questions you are asking.... to me that is a SACRED quest. It is holy because you are looking to understand, to be more aware.

 

But... you ask about people "who can't even use the bathroom, talk, run and be their WHOLE LIFE supposed to find this"? As I said earlier... I don't even pretend to have all the answers. I also do believe there is chaos. I have known one person that would be in this category. When he was alive... his life was not without love. But... I would be lying if I said that I understood his (and his family's) suffering. :shrug:

 

Open_Minded...just so you know, I have a hard time debating people I like, please do not take any of this as a personal attack.

 

Don't worry, SAA. I don't take it personally. I know you are trying to learn. So am I :) With these discussions we both learn. ;)

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Religion must change or it will die. Religion is a creation of society for its own needs, and if it as an institution doesn't change to continue to meet those needs, it will be abandoned for something else.

So friggen true!

 

I think Mr. Grinch said it best, and the way I would have liked to say it, but help me out here. I don’t understand why OM and Amanda would consider themselves Christians? If that is actually what they consider themselves to be. And I don’t mean this in a Chris de Vidal way, but to me, it seems what you believe is not really what Christian's claim to stand for, but simply what you borrow from their religion. Actually, it sounds more like some forms of Gnosticism. I have no problem with that; it’s just that your beliefs aren’t supported by mainstream Christianity.

 

In other words, I don’t see the purpose of your "Jesus" or why believing in him makes any difference mor so than any other form of philosophy known to man.

 

Just me thinking out loud ...

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Religion must change or it will die. Religion is a creation of society for its own needs, and if it as an institution doesn't change to continue to meet those needs, it will be abandoned for something else.

So friggen true!

 

I think Mr. Grinch said it best, and the way I would have liked to say it, but help me out here. I don’t understand why OM and Amanda would consider themselves Christians? If that is actually what they consider themselves to be. And I don’t mean this in a Chris de Vidal way, but to me, it seems what you believe is not really what Christian's claim to stand for, but simply what you borrow from their religion. Actually, it sounds more like some forms of Gnosticism. I have no problem with that; it’s just that your beliefs aren’t supported by mainstream Christianity.

 

In other words, I don’t see the purpose of your "Jesus" or why believing in him makes any difference mor so than any other form of philosophy known to man.

 

Just me thinking out loud ...

I'm not sure if you were asking me this question? First I wouldn't call myself a Christian, (for one thing I'm an atheist :grin: ), but what I would call a Christian is this: Anyone who uses Jesus Christ as the center of their mythology.

 

I personally would call OM and Amanda Christians for this reason, but of course they are not obligated to my definition. I know Amanda prefers to not use the term because of all the negative connotations it has in today's society, and I respect that. I think what is correct to say is that they are not "traditional Christians," whatever that even really means since it's never been just one set of beliefs from day one. Personally I would call people like OM, transitional or neo Christianity, or better still "Open Minded Christians" (pun intended).

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OM, you used the word Chaos to describe something destructive. But don't you think that that is a very reflective of cultural conditioning from a Christian perspective? Why is it "bad"? Why is "love" good, and "death" bad? Isn't death a part of how Life works? How is it then "bad" or "chaos"?

 

Well... I can see your point Antlerman. And there may be truth to it. But when I was writing I specifically chose the word "chaos" instead of "evil" becaue I did not want to get into labeling of "good" and "bad".

 

To me.. chaos... is something outside our comprehension of order. A child - like my niece - who is born with downs syndrome - her birth is outside what is expected by humanity. It is neither "good" or "bad". But... it can feel chaotic. In her first days on this earth it felt quite chaotic, like many children with downs syndrome, she was born with heart problems. She spent the first 3 months of her life in the hospital. 100 years ago she would not have lived. This is not an unusual story. Modern medicine has made it possible for children born with these disabilities to live.

 

Now... we could get into a long and complicated discussion about the moral dimension of the decisions that are available to humanity in these areas. I can tell you - from 1st hand experience - that no one in our family ever thought twice about the medical decisions that were made to keep my niece living those first months. We've never thought twice about the operation she had to have to live. And all these years later (22 years to be exact) our lives are better because she is a part of our family. But have those years been free of chaos? No... they most definitely have not.

 

My brother-in-law and his wife (who both have cancer at the same time) are feeling chaos in their lives right now. 100 years ago the medical procedures that they are taking advantage of would not have been available and we would have buried them both this past year. Now is this situation morally "good" or "bad". No, it is not. It is beyond those categories, it FEELS chaotic.

 

But the reality is, bad is neither always bad, nor good always good.

 

Antlerman ... I am in complete agreement with you.

 

As far as the goal posts changing: Christianity has not always been the same. It has always evolved to adapt itself to the societies in which it was a part. (Village gods become saints, etc). It's a basic principle of surviving changing market forces. What OM is doing, and what I so greatly admire, is taking the leading edge in our society for the long overdue evolution of the Christian church in America. Our immigrant forbearers have been stuck on traditional old-world ways of religion, but our society is evolving tremendously. The rise of fundamentalism in this country is part of the evolution. It won't last, but groups like what OM is trying is being supported by liberal church bodies in order to survive the 21st century.

 

Thank you Antlerman... I sincerely mean that. I've said this before and I will say it again, "we all have our pieces of the puzzle to bring to the table".

 

The church will change because of pressure. The state of the world applies pressure - religion (all religions) no longer have the luxury of going to a specific corner of the world and pretending that it has the only TRUE answer. Change happens because people like yourselves put pressure on from the outside. But, change also happens because people like myself put pressure on from within.

 

Religion must change or it will die. Religion is a creation of society for its own needs, and if it as an institution doesn't change to continue to meet those needs, it will be abandoned for something else.

 

The only thing I would change about that statement is: "Religion must change or humanity will die". Take a look at all the wars that involve religion, take a look at 9/11. Humanity has now reached the point where we are quite capable of creating an armageddon. :(

 

Wow... everyone... I'm typing answers and new posts are coming in before I can get it all on the board. :lmao:

 

I think Mr. Grinch said it best, and the way I would have liked to say it, but help me out here. I don’t understand why OM and Amanda would consider themselves Christians? If that is actually what they consider themselves to be. And I don’t mean this in a Chris de Vidal way, but to me, it seems what you believe is not really what Christian's claim to stand for, but simply what you borrow from their religion. Actually, it sounds more like some forms of Gnosticism. I have no problem with that; it’s just that your beliefs aren’t supported by mainstream Christianity.

 

In other words, I don’t see the purpose of your "Jesus" or why believing in him makes any difference mor so than any other form of philosophy known to man.

 

Just me thinking out loud ...

 

Thunderbolt seems to have summarized a major theme of questioning here... so let me address that.

 

1st I have answered this in the Silly Putty thread...http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=5088&hl=Silly%20Putty&st=40 page 3; post #60.

 

Beyond what I said in the Silly Putty thread... I can only tell you all that I went many years of my life NOT considering myself Christian. Then I had an experience in which the TRINITY became VERY, VERY real to me. From that moment on... the ONLY label I could apply to myself was "Christian".

 

I experience the infinite, sacred, oneness as "WORD made Flesh" in and through all of life. Keeping in mind that labels are NOT the end all and be all of what a person can be, what else can I call myself.

 

Jesus is very real to me. There is no way of proving whether he walked the earth, or not. But, it is not the historical Jesus (which by the way no one will ever fully define) that I feel connected to. It is Jesus - THE WORD MADE FLESH. It is the Alpha and the Omega, the I AM, the LOGOS that I feel connected to, and that I experience ... daily I experience this.

 

Please do not assume that because these are my experiences that I feel they should be yours, or anyone else's experiences. I do not feel this way. As I've stated above, who am I, or anyone else for that matter, to define how someone should experience the sacred? :shrug:

 

O_M, I don't begrudge you your religious views or your interpretations. Whatever gets you through the night is fine with me. I just don't believe that what you have hold of here can be legitimately called "Christianity". Historically the Church has rejected your views as gnosticism, a form of heresy. THESE ARE THE RULES OF THE GAME WE ALL HAVE BEEN FORCED TO ACCEPT. It's unreasonable to change the playing field now.

 

Mr. Grinch, I don't begrudge you your views either. Whatever gets you through the night is fine with me as well. ;)

 

What I have hold of here cannot legitimately be called "Christianity" in the sense that you have known "Christianity". I agree with you. But... it can be called Christianity within the contemplative/meditative tradition of Christianity. The mystic branch of Christianity has deep historical roots. Yes... they've always been in the minority, but they have been present within Christianity from the earliest years.

 

:lmao: We make the literalists nervous, Mr. Grinch. And the wonderful thing is - that the contemplative branch of Christianity is finally working itself into the mainstream. As Antlerman said, we are pushing the envelope. :shrug:

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I respect both of these two wonderful people and am grateful that both Open_Minded and Amanda are here. However, I'm having trouble STILL and I'm sorry, maybe this is just too deep of discussion for me.

SAA, don't be hard on yourself. I don't think this is "too deep" for you. You and I are products of Western thinking, and a lot of these concepts have some Eastern themes to them. It's kind of like having to break a conditioned way of always looking at the same thing. In fact, my journey through deconversion has been all about unlearning the limits of such an entirely closed system as traditional Christianity. It's been how many years now!!??

 

BTW, I respect where OM, et al are going, but it's not something I personally am able to adopt because of past experience and all that connotation stuff. I just really respect it because I see it as incredibly more healthy for the society we live in than traditional forms of Christian can offer the world anymore.

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I respect both of these two wonderful people and am grateful that both Open_Minded and Amanda are here. However, I'm having trouble STILL and I'm sorry, maybe this is just too deep of discussion for me.

 

SAA ... please do not give up on this discussion. I have wished for this type of discussion ever since I came to this board. You are asking some excellent questions and making excellent points.

 

The goal here does not have to be that we all see things the same way. The goal can be something as simple as increased awareness and understanding of each other. ;)

 

I am learning from your questions... I really am.

 

I've been involved in interfaith/interspiritual dialog for sometime now (at my church). This type of discussion is very difficult. It is difficult NOT because people involved are not "deep" enough, but because our individual experiences are so subjective.

 

The language we use to define what we experience is very limiting. The same word can mean different things to different people. And so, very often, the work of interspiritual dialog is to get underneath the language. And that just simply takes time and patience. ;)

 

I do not feel, in any way, insulted by your questions. I feel honored that you think you can ask me, and I feel in the presence of someone who is indeed "deep". You wouldn't have thought of the questions, nor started the thread if you weren't capable of the discussion. ;)

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Please don't think I'm trying to give you a hard time, I respect you very much and you know this, however I still have more questions. How do we know though that the "God" within in people is a god of goodness though? How do we know that the god within isn't actually "evil" and therefore we are going against an evil gods will and that is why it is hard for people to be good? How do we know that good is what god wants? There is much evil in this world and I dare say that, IMHO, sad as it is...evil seems to have the upper hand and evil will win out in the end (via Nuclear war). I'm speaking violent wise of course, people who want to control others; how they feel, what they can do, who they are.

 

See, to people who aren't having their children ripped away by The Lord's Liberation Army in Africa (the Army who teach 5yo boys to rape and kill people), or born into a brothel in India, or whose children aren't part of a violent gang here in the states....people tend to take a "God is good" approach to life. Do you believe that people in those situations see a good god? People who are tortured, beaten and raped on a daily basis in the name of a god? Looking at nature, how do we know that godliness is peace and not violence? We have severe weather patterns but we also have peaceful places. The world was created in a violent way. Am I making any sense? I sure hope so...LOL

:)Hi SAA! Wow! I left for awhile today and am surprised at how many responses there are to this thread. Mr. Grinch may think I'm moving the bar on how I believe, and I will say that I have changed my thinking here immensely since I've been here... so maybe it is because I'm evolving and learning here. :wink: I, for sure, don't know everything! All I can contribute is my opinion I have right now.

 

I think at the core of all of us, we have a part that loves and cares about us very much. Additionally, if all our basic needs are met, we seem to enter into a stage of self-actualization (Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs). This is where we have the ability to grasp concepts of altruistic thinking. Perhaps these first selfless thoughts were identified as God speaking to them, and to some degree.... maybe it is. The word 'name' has a meaning as the way to know and identify someone. I know you be SAA, and you know me by Amanda. IMO, to know God is to know what is sacred... Hallowed be thy name... and we are defining that as time continues. I think, perhaps even by natural adaption and selection/DNA, that we struggle to impart in the world a sense of what is to be held sacred. This bar seems to change with the evolution of societies. Acts as you described above are done out of fear, out of selfishness, and certainly are NOT to be held sacred by the masses, but abhorred. I think these actions are waning in the world. We don't do crucifixions, nor burn witches, human rights for prisoners, etc..

 

Again, I think it is beneficial to realize there is a higher power within us, that is available to us, and there for us to tap into to overcome challenges in our life. Atheist seem to understand this concept more than "Christians". Ye too are gods. It is much more empowering to realize that what we need is in us, and works through us, to bring what is sacred out of us. Blaming God is to blame our self. End complacency so that we can have real peace. If it is their problem, it is our problem... while realizing our own limits and boundaries and respecting others' cultures and rights. This is easier said than done, however worth the effort, IMO.

 

As for physically/mentally/emotionally challenged people... I think they can handle it much more than we give them credit. If anything... what they can't handle, is that we can't handle it!!! It is our opinions and attitudes that makes their state worse for them. I'd like to see some affirmative actions taken to produce these people more mainstream into society. More education to how to cope with their situations, so that ALL are comfortable and self assured. I'm really tired of all these movies that portray the "pretty" people as the good guys and others that have something "wrong" with them as the bad people. Shrek was a wonderfully delightful breath of fresh air. Ahhhhhhh.....

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I'm not sure if you were asking me this question? First I wouldn't call myself a Christian, (for one thing I'm an atheist :grin: ), but what I would call a Christian is this: Anyone who uses Jesus Christ as the center of their mythology.

Hey Anlterman, no, I KNOW what you are, but thanks for making it clear.

:-)

 

Also, saying that way makes sense, and why they could "claim" the label, although, I need to mulls this over some more.

 

OM & Amanda, thanks for further explaining your Jesus.

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...........

I feel like even though you are kind people that basically it's "Well, you may not believe you have god within, and that's okay, you still do whether you acknowledge it or not." It grinds me in the same way as a fundy who says, "Well you may not believe in eternal hell, but your going there regardless" I probably feel grinded because for so long Christianity has said, this is how it is! Believe it or not! :HaHa:

Or how about another gem? The atheist says, "I don't believe in god", then the Christian replies, "That's alright. He believes in you."

 

That one always makes me roll my eyes and gag.

 

If MY belief is pointless, then so is your religion. John Calvin would then be right. Only "God's will" matters. Whether it be the "God" outside of our senses, or this Newly Minted "God is love" within all of us. (Except those who are obviously defective. :shrug: )

 

Either way you slice it, it is all subjective revelation/speculation. (I prefer to call it Nonsense.) No one KNOWS anything, so everyone may as well zip it.

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If anything, god within could also very well mean "evil, violent and cruel". In that case though, you all change it to something that you don't understand. Now god is within but is being rejected. This is why your beliefs aren't registering well with me, I'm saying you can't have it both ways. You cannot say that god/nature are only applied to good things. If anything, it forces one to admit that nature can also be cruel and violent and if you want to call nature god/spirit then that is the reality..god equals the bad things too. With that I can agree, in nature, it is a fact that there is good bad and in-between. But I can't just pick the good things in nature and call it a "Natural" thing that all possess, I have to accept that it is also "Natural" in nature for things to happen that are "bad".

:)SAA, I think all things are parts of God, and everything has a purpose. The yin and yang, opposing forces define an experience. Hopefully these experiences cause a progression of understandings that cause world decisions to be at harmony and respectful to ALL living things. It is the insightful sense of empathy and compassion without being enabling, using these tools of science, in an altruistic manner that may be the consciousness of 'God' manifesting... and hopefully we are refining our beliefs into this direction which may be producing the power of God. Maybe there is no good and evil but only beliefs that are closer to these goals than others. Perhaps there is the motivation out of fear, ignorance, and 'ego' that causes violence, and moving out of fear/ego/ignorance base to educated atruistic foundations becomes the more acceptable/comfortable motivating factor. However, if we never knew of this fear based method... we could never appreciate and support the other with the dedication and vitality to truly make it as impactful as we're able. Of course, I do see a lot of credibility in the concepts of Tao... in that to define it, limits it. Yet, to convey an idea we may need to express it in words and moreso in action... or what other means do we have to even consider and share the concept?

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I'm throwing a reply out here before I finish reading the thread so I hope I'm not repeating something.

 

SAA, you asked how we can know this god that is within us is a god of love? My answer would be because it is the natural state of everyone. We are born in this state. It is not only love but joy and peace also. It is our integrety. What person desires to be in pain and to be unhappy all the time? We can look at children and see that they only want to play and have fun...to be happy.

 

Now, if I were to believe that everyone is born evil, then I would expect to see all children clawing and screaming as their natural state. I would expect to see people going home to get uptight instead of wanting to relax. It is only by living and not understanding that we are all one is where the harm enters. It is this dualist nature that we adhere to that causes evil to exist in the first place. It does not exist without us being a cause of it. It is something that it observable, IMO.

 

People that are born with disabilities are not the result of an evil act. There is no god that causes anything, IMO. It is just our nature to want to love and be loved and it is our egos and fear that stops it.

 

Edited: Not a thought out response so I removed it.

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Jesus is very real to me. There is no way of proving whether he walked the earth, or not. But, it is not the historical Jesus (which by the way no one will ever fully define) that I feel connected to. It is Jesus - THE WORD MADE FLESH. It is the Alpha and the Omega, the I AM, the LOGOS that I feel connected to, and that I experience ... daily I experience this.

OK, I was thinking about this some more. How do you experience this Jesus? What is that nature of this experience? I know it's hard to explain these things, but please try, as it might clue me in some more about how it's different for you.

 

Thx for entertaining my questions.

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But see, this is where you are losing me. You say that god is in all things but why then, is it only the good things that you say are "the consciousness of god manifesting? I'm totally lost, it still appears to me, picking and choosing what one wants god to hopefully be, not necessarily what god "if there is one" is. Couldn't "god" just as easily be the manifestation of evil? How do you know, for sure that god is the manifestation of good?

 

Just a quick post. I think God is in us and this is the term I would use for the love or good feelings that OM / amanda talk about. BUT I think there is an opposite side as well - if you want to you can also 'tune' into the 'bad' stuff within yourself. The stuff that produces negativity and leads to anger and hate etc.

 

Both sides are in everyone and how different people react to them is unique to them.

 

The bible does talk about satan / devil etc and I have no idea what that means apart from the fact that not everything we can 'feel' is good. There is a negative side which God is not in complete control of (he admits this as well - otherwise why sin / the devil / temptation etc How could it be possible for an angel to fall?)

There is a responsibility for each of us to seek out the positives

 

The spiritual thread that OM and amanda talk about is their view on what i see see as their battle (maybe not the right word) against inner negativity and negativity they see in the outside world - including among Christians. They are focusing on the positives which takes a big effort and is more than just thinking good thoughts - its being able to feel good feelings which is not straight forward

 

This 'dark' side does not account for the Tsunami's and earthquakes - these are natural and part of life. Neither good or bad in themselves Not sent by God or the Devil. Its the issues within us that are the key. How we respond to things that do happen in life - in a positive or a negative way

 

And this is how i see Jesus. Showing a 'way' that concentrates on what is inside a person. He is not the only way but his teachings do tune in to 'God' and how to master the negative / positives inside ourselves

 

Hope that did not distrupt the flow of the topic! :scratch:

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Hi, guys. Really key question.

 

I think the love is energy thing is a nice way of speaking, but I don't see what we gain by saying there is a god out there. To me it seems like a hypostatization of human ideals. We can conceive of something greater than, more wonderful than ourselves, and we humanify it to some greater or lesser degree and think it's an entity. The universe itself is greater and more wonderful than we are. Within that universe, some species, including our own, show behavior that we call love. That's the farthest I see the need to go. I think the liberal christian in the end has many counterexamples to face, just as the fundy does, even though the liberal isn't saddled with the hopeless task of taking every statement in the bible as literally true.

 

Even in more pantheistic systems, like vedanta, I don't see what's the point of saying there's a god out there. The universe evolves in the sense that it seems to be expanding, species on earth evolve -- that's as much as I know.

 

I used to believe in many tenets of vedanta, so I am very sympathetic with non-fundy takes on religion. I can believe that the brain/mind have powers known to few of us. I still don't see where adding a god or gods to the mix rests on anything verifiable or falsifiable.

 

I manage every so often to encounter someone and we exchange actions that display love. I get glimpses of transcendence in nature, art, the imagination. That's really great. It gives joy. What's wrong with me if I don't attribute those experiences to god? I think, nothing is wrong.

I heard it said, "If the word God bothers you, don't use it." Call it the Universe or the Powers that Be. We are speaking of the same thing. :grin:

 

 

I think the term God has become too weighed down with "baggage". As a person with a gnostic viewpoint, to me god is the ultimate reality, the Mystery from which we come. There is no god "out there", I believe we are all in it, unfolding from it. How do we know it is ultimately good? All beings move towards happiness and away from suffering; everything we do is motivated by the desire to feel good......how that manifests depends on who we think we are.

 

If we think we are isolated individuals, then that manifests in what is good for me and mine.

If we know we are expressions of the One (and so is everyone else) then we work towards the good for all.

 

To be "lost" is to be lost in separateness , ignorant of the One reality. To be saved (or "made permanent", as the original word meant) is to realise our true nature (and discover the kingdom of heaven within, and know the power of the ressurection)

 

Looking at it like this stops the bullshit that is preached of a God who is a person who will make the people of Toronto fall down laughing, give Joyce Meyer a parking spot etc. but leave people suffering terrible torment, such as cancer.

Thank you dibby...you said what I have been trying to say. :thanks:

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