Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Nothing To Say

I'm really not posting here anymore. I don't have much to say. Life is life. I'm living it. I am comfortable with where I am while realizing there is always more around the corner.

I may decide to post again in the future. If you have been lurking let me know ya by saying something. If you still want to keep in touch, hit me up on facebook.

Peace and adventure in your journey!

R

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Risking Life and Living Fully

It's taken me 40 years to get comfortable in my own skin. It's been a long process full of bad choices, dead ends, and stupid mistakes. Although there are some things I may regret, I 'm not sure I would change a thing.

When I first became a Christian I thought the spiritual life was additive. I needed to do more. More service. More church. More Bible. More worship. More knowledge. More thought. More tithing. More... Because these things, of course would make me a "better" person.

Looking back, I'm not sure what the "more" was fueled by. Perhaps illusions of perfection? Judging my insides by the outsides of others? Institutional standards and social expectations? Probably a combination of these and some issues to which I'm still blind. Nevertheless, while the intentions were good, the results were not. Underneath I maintaned a fairly constant low level of anxiety as I tried to be someone who I was not.

My take on spirituality is different these days. I see it and experience it as a subtractive process. Less trying and striving. Less organization. Fewer preconceived notions. Less social pressure. Less judgment. Less outside influence. As the minus signs multiply I find myself left with someone who is more authentically "me". Free to risk life, trusting God to work in all of my imperfections until, as Thomas Moore puts it, "they reveal the secret of my nature."

I'll finish with a couple quotes.

"He who would lead a Christlike life is he who is perfectly and absolutely himself." -Oscar Wilde

"A perfect person would be someone without blemish, but the perfected person is someone who has really lived. You can usually tell if a person has lived life fully, just as you can glimpse the hollowness in someone trying to be perfect. -Thomas Moore

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Jesus as god and man

I've thought about writing out a "Christology" but it's just tedious and boring. Like we need more theological BS divorced from everyday experience, right? To be honest, I am resistant to solidify any of my beliefs. I've seen my belief systems change so much that I hold everything pretty loosely at this point. Additionally, I just can't find a way, or a reason, to attempt to reason away the mystery. So, instead I'll start throwing some thoughts out there and see what sticks to the wall.

According to the creeds and traditions Jesus is fully man and fully God. IMO misunderstanding these two beliefs causes a lot of unnecessary grief. In practice, as a fundamentalist Christian, I really couldn't grasp either one, and judging from most Christians that I know, neither do they. Let me see if I can explain my point, as convoluted and incomplete as it might be.

I don't think most people have a problem with Jesus being an actual historical figure. Although there are some people who would argue the point,
I'll take it as fact. So if Jesus was "fully man" he would be experiencing life as "fully" as any man has, or ever will. He would be experiencing and seeing life from a "God perspective".

I think Jesus was serious when he implied his "Godhood". I probably interpret it different than most. A man doesn't go out to the desert with no food or water for 30 days for jollies. He was on a mission, searching...just as other ascetics and mystics had done before him (John the Baptist perhaps being his contemporary example.) It appears that what he experienced in the desert changed his life in a deep, meaningful and drastic way.

It is clear that Jesus thought he was one with God. I think its possible that Jesus was borrowing language from the Hebrew scriptures to describe the state of consciousness that he experienced in the desert, and continued to experience throughout the rest of his life. The Gospel of John is fairly straight forward about this. Joh 10:30 I and the Father are one! In Western culture you aren't supposed to say this kind of thing. They call you a heretic, throw you in the nut-house, run you out of town, or crucify you.

But, here is what is interesting in this discussion. Humans have been experiencing different states of consciousness for as long as we know. It's been called cosmic consciousness, God consciousness, satori, awakening, Self-realization, born again, etc. Jesus was not first, nor the last to claim "I am-ness". Is it at least possible that this is what was happening to Jesus? Is it at least possible that Jesus was trying to interpret his experience using the culture, language and religion he was familiar with?

Most Christians think that Jesus was fully God and therefore in the back of our mind we know we can never do or experience what Jesus did. Alan Watts says that we put Jesus on a pedestal and throw him "upstairs", because he is "fully God" and we are not. Once we do that he can never be an example of transformation simply because he is not like us. Instead he is elevated to the role of a cosmic Christ that destroys the power of sin that hovers over the universe. Perhaps we imagine that he had special knowledge and revelation. As a result, transformation is either given lip-service, ignored, or reduced to external morality. Apparently Jesus had other ideas.

I think Jesus was serious when he claimed that he was God. However, I don't think there is a good reason to think that he limited Godhood to himself. Jesus knew that his experience of "oneness" was something we could all experience. In fact, it seems Jesus confirms he is not the only "god". Please notice that italicized "the" is not in the original Greek.

Joh 10:33 The Jews answered him, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
Joh 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods?
Joh 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken),
Joh 10:36 say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

I don't think this view strips Jesus of his Godhood either. I think it confirms it. But it does not restrict Godhood to Jesus. He invites us into his view, experience of life, and oneness with the Father.

Joh 17:21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.

Jesus was sent into the world to preach a gospel of radical transformation. This transformation takes place when we "open our eyes", when we are "born again", when we experience the "kingdom of heaven". Jesus experienced a different worldview, state of consciousness, whatever you want to call it, and pointed the way to a new way of living to which he invited all people. A worldview where we see our brother as our self. Where we experience the power of God moving threw us that we can neither direct or fully understand. Fully engaged in this world while seeing it from a completely different perspective. Aware of the eternal in everything we see and do. Seeing the secular and spiritual as one. Intellect and senses working in harmony. Where the natural is a mystery and mystery is natural. Our feet firmly rooted in the earth and our hands lifted toward heaven. Fully embracing who we are and what life asks of us. To experience all of life and reality as one. Perhaps we are all capable of being sons of God.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

FU Arthritis.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lessons From the Garden

I whipped this up at work the other night as I thought about what I have learned from being more aware of nature, and my part as a being not separate from it. It's some poor fruit that I offer to the world.

Lessons from the Garden


I dig my hands
Into the warm earth
I plant hope
And wait
Nestled safely in her dark womb
Nourished by decay
Drinking the sky
Reaching for the sun
To fill her veins with life
She hopes and waits

The morning sun on my back
Sweat pours from my creased forehead
As I tend, and hope, and wait
She dances to the rhythms
Dark and light
Breeze and calm
Inhaling death
Exhaling life
The song is nothing
And everything

Rainbows born from the earth
Flower and fruit
Triumphantly exploding into being
Given freely,
Completely,
Sacrificially
To the world

Dancing to the rhythm
She falls
Fully spent
Plowed under as
Nourishment for the next

Red and ripe
Realized hope
Drips down my chin
I thank the earth
And sky
And sun
And wind
From which, I to, am made
As I dance to the same song

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dying Well

Sometime ago I posted about my coworker who has terminal cancer. He seems to be deteriorating and his latest scan confirmed it. We had a tearful chat this evening.

So, here is my question:

How does one help someone "die well"?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bible Altitude


I know that when someone has an “alternative” view of the Bible, or Jesus, it freaks some people out. It freaks the institutionalized church out so bad they call it “heresy”. In my opinion, heresy is just a stigmatized label placed on alternative views in order to control the masses, so I don’t pay much attention. In reality, what the church calls heresy is just another opinion that appears dangerous to those with a vested interest in power or money.

I have an alternative view (read: not the view of those in charge of institutional Christianity) of the Bible and Jesus that I would like to throw out there. The only way I can make sense of it is to see it as poetic, allegorical, mystical. It’s not new. Alan Watts had a very similar view in the 60’s and it jives with mine pretty well. If you wish to “push back” in a respectful way, I don’t mind at all. I’ll start with some general thoughts about the Bible and how I see it.

My interpretation of the Bible has changed over time. I began reading it as a new Christian, full of wonder, awe and zeal. It was special. It was an inerrant book of magic spoken by God threw his people for the good of all humanity (at least those that lived in the Bible belt which was my world at the time). Then I went to Bible college and took some classes. There the Bible was dissected in ways I didn’t know was possible. Textual, historical, and source criticism replaced magic. The Bible, for all intent and purpose, was worshiped as a fourth person of the Trinity. I finished my degree at a more “liberal” school that taught it was infallible (good for everything we need to know to live a “pleasing life”), which at least allowed a little room for science. I was trained in a particular way of reasoning in order to come to the same conclusions as the professor, and I was pretty good at it. However, there were to many hoops to jump threw, to many leaps of unnecessary faith, to much sterility, to much systematic theory divorced from reality.

I think one can look at the Bible from different altitudes. I was taught in college to look at the Bible from a microscopic point of view. Each word should be researched in the original language etc. When I was new to the Bible I looked at it from a higher altitude. I read chapters and books to get the main point etc, or tried to the get the overall point of the New Testament or Old Testament.

However, what if one pulled back to a higher altitude and viewed the Bible compared to other sacred texts (having an open mind might help too)? You might say that there is simply no comparison, the Bible is true and all other sacred texts are false. In my opinion, this would be like an astronomer saying there simply is no planet that compares to the Earth, so we must quit looking. Or, a scientist in the medical profession who says penicillin is the best thing ever, so lets not research further. The world is just to big and diverse for this kind of attitude in my opinion.

From this point of view the Bible is not unlike other sacred texts. It has a creation story, historical information, a metaphysical framework, mythology, heroes and villains, saints and rascals.

Here is an excerpt from Egyptologist, Sir Wallis Budge:

According to the writings of the Egyptians, there was a time
when neither heaven nor earth existed, and when nothing had
being except the boundless primeval water, which was,
however, shrouded with thick darkness. In this condition, the
primeval water remained for a considerable time, notwithstanding
that it contained within it the germs of the things,
which afterwards came into existence in this world and the
world itself. At length, the Spirit of the primeval water felt the
desire for creative activity, and having uttered the word, the
world sprang straightway into being in the form which had
already been depicted in the mind of the Spirit before he
spake the word which resulted in its creation.


And this from The Egyption Book of the Dead:

God is One and alone, and none other exists with
Him; God is the One, the One who has made all things.
He is eternal and infinite; ... He has endured for
countless ages, and He shall endure to all eternity.
God is a spirit, a hidden spirit, the Spirit of spirits,
the Divine Spirit.

He is a mystery to His creatures, and no man knows
how to know Him. His names are innumerable; they are
manifold, and no one knows their number.
God has made the universe, and He has created all
that is in it; ... He has stretched out the heavens and founded
the earth. What His heart conceived came to pass straightway,
and when He had spoken, His word came to pass, and it shall
endure forever.

God, Himself, is existence; He lives in all things, and
lives upon all things. He endures without increase or diminution;
He multiplies Himself millions of times, and He
possesses multitudes of forms and multitudes of members.

God is life, and through Him only man lives. He gives life to
man, and He breathes the breath of life into his nostrils.

God is merciful unto those who reverence Him, and
He hears those who call upon Him. He protects the weak
against the strong, and He hears the cry of him that is bound
in fetters. ... God knows those who know Him; He rewards
those who serve Him, and He protects those who follow
Him.


Considering these writings, which are a great example of monotheism, predate Judaic scripture, I would say it is not a far leap from this story to the creation story of Genesis.

Let’s play the “what if” game. What if the first few chapters of Genesis, and the perhaps the rest of the OT, were just a way that the Hebrews tried to describe life as they saw it? What if it is no different than any other culture that was trying to make sense of life and created a story to do so? What makes the creation story of Genesis better, or more accurate, or more useful than any of the other creation stories? Have you taken the time to read other creation stories to see what is similar?

Please keep in mind, this is no scholarly study. It's just one example of what I've found in my study. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind. It's just a glimpse of why I've changed how I choose to view and use the Bible. I'll throw some different points of view out there about Jesus in the future....