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Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Rational Superstition For Christians

I am Christian because I became aware of my own sense of spirituality through the study of Christian lessons in the Methodist churches I attended. As a kid I always wondered about the miraculous events as told in the Bible and whether or not they were literally true or just spiritually meaningful.  However, unlike those children surrounded by Christian fundamentalists, as I grew up I was given the leeway to ponder these questions along with my family, friends, and Sunday school companions. When I became an adult I set aside any notion that my Christian beliefs had to depend upon superstitions that were irrational.  The practical Christian lessons I learned have helped me deal faithfully with all the events I have experienced in life.

When you are allowed to develop your own awareness of the spiritual realities of life, then life itself can become its own ever-evolving miracle and fundamentalist dogma fades into the nothingness from which is was imagined.

Do we humans have a sense that there is a perfect relationship possible between ourselves, and the ultimate truth and power of the universe? Yes, of course we do. Our intelligence is part of that reality and we are capable of observations, rational thought, communication, recalling memories, and considering the unknown through imagination. These traits are what made our human evolution possible and so successful.

Do we also have instinctive, self-centered drives for sex, self-preservation, and survival?  Of course we do. We are human animals and these foundational traits are embedded in our DNA. This fact is what gives the idea of original sin a sense of validity, but it, in fact, has nothing to do with the Adam and Eve story found in Genesis. That’s an imaginative story of explanation, not a history of human events. When we humans try to explain something beyond our current state of knowledge, we tend to create fantasy explanations and superstitions.

Ancient civilizations were impacted by natural disasters and warring conflicts among the various tribes, clans, towns, or nations. Always sensing there was a higher order into which everyone’s lives fit, they created stories suggesting that this higher order was one or more gods who were unhappy with imperfect humans so they punished or rewarded us as they deemed appropriate, based on our behavior. Their desires to influence this higher power created the superstitions that have been handed down for generations. The logic seemed to be, if humans sacrificed something of personal value to the gods or performed these or those rituals, that would appease the appropriate god's anger and the storm or volcano or drought, or attacks by neighboring tribes would end. When the crises did end, whatever was done prior to that our ancestors felt was the effective rite and they’d be prompted to do the same things again, when necessary.

Superstitious behavior is simply part of what we are and we need to learn how to deal with that.  My solution is simple. Let’s be superstitious about what really occurs in the world and not about what we imagine to be cosmic super forces intervening in our world events. The human mind and soul has a spark of the divine in it, however you wish to describe it, and we are neither hapless nor helpless. How we view anything determines its impact on our lives. If you view yourself as an unworthy and perpetual sinner, that kind of thinking will draw your attention toward more and more opportunities to sin, whatever that means to you. If you view yourself as one in tune with the evolving realities of the universe, that will draw your attention toward new and more wondrous spiritual discoveries, day by day. Whatever is the focus of your mind and heart becomes the expression of your life. 

For me, this, itself, is superstitious belief, but a superstitious belief in which I have developed faith. Time and again I have witnessed angry discussions that were tamed immediately by words of empathy and love. I have witnessed the moods of people racked with fear, doubt, or personal loss uplifted by someone else who simply cared about them.  I am fully rooted in the superstition of offering unconditional love. Even in the midst of those who reject love and remain angry or cruel, I believe it is my role and an opportunity for everyone else facing such individuals to offer them a chance to see and feel differently. Everything in the teachings of Jesus points in this same direction.

So, you might ask, if I am like St. Paul and believe that Jesus was “…born of a woman, born under the law…” (Galatians 4:4)  like all other humans, then how can events like Christmas be meaningful?   Well, Christmas is extremely meaningful to me for two main reasons.

One, Christmas stories do not have to be historically true to be effective and spiritually inspiring. I have no problem realizing that Jesus led such an exemplary life that his followers wanted to glorify his birth, life, and death. Let’s remember that 90% of the population at the time was pagan and the culture of the Greco-Roman pantheons of gods were known, worshipped and appeasing them was not only important, but also part of the legal system. There were numerous religious/political leaders (separation of church and state was an unknown concept at that time) who claimed to be divine and born of virgins so we should not be surprised that the writings about Jesus sound very much like writings of other leaders of his time.

Two, since it was through the stories and lessons of Christianity that I became aware of my own sense of spirituality, the Christmas stories were a big part of that.  The Christ child will always symbolize to me the birth of divine thoughts in my own mind and heart for which I must provide protection and a place to grow. The Christmas star is the light of the teachings that lead me to love, peace, knowledge, and wisdom.  The wise men indicate those of other cultures and faiths who are also seeking the same birth of love in their hearts. Mary and Joseph provided loving, protective care to the Christ child and what child at Christmas time, hearing these stories, is not going to feel and believe in the security and warmth of that love? Jesus became an eternal living expression of light and love and every Christmas is another chance to rededicate my life to this same purpose.

The question I have is why do so many feel that Christian, or any religious superstitions must be related to irrational beliefs? Why is it so important that Jesus, for example, be born of a virgin, or that he be the genetic son of God, or that he arose physically alive after dying from crucifixion? Why are irrational miracles more important than the rational miracles we experience every day in life?  Life itself is a miracle because we cannot scientifically explain it or create it ourselves. Happiness, joy, and trust also perform miraculous feats in the lives of those who bring them into their way of being. 

Changing our attitudes can completely alter our world-views and move us toward a unity of love and acceptance. Most homilies you’ve ever heard in church point to the importance of the practical demonstration of your spiritual beliefs in the life you live. Why is this not considered divine intervention in the affairs of mankind? Every time I witness loving righteousness in the actions of those around me, I’m in awe and no other proof seems necessary or even important. Let’s honor the perfection we each strive to express and not debate the various religious paths that inspired our individual journeys. God is great enough to hold all things, all thoughts, and all actions within the boundaries of eternal truth.

The only practical superstition that Christians or any other people of faith need to believe can be stated as follows: 

To the extent we rely upon the spiritual reality of God for loving insights to guide our lives, we will be led toward fulfillment and often in ways beyond our understanding.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Metaphysical Perspective Of The 2016 Presidential Election

The spirit of truth and love is within each one of us. It is the purest reality of our being and it is our life journey to discover how to express and use this unending source of knowledge, wisdom, and peace. Even though one’s spiritual journey is a singular, inner experience, it fits so perfectly with the spiritual enlightenment evolving within others, that when together, regardless of our diverse spiritual or religious backgrounds, we feel joined in a collective unity of mind and action.

So, how does all this change when our nation elects a president based on a campaign of extreme negativity, vulgarity, and violence focused towards those who appear different?  The beauty of eternal truth is that it doesn’t change, because it can’t change, because it is always present in potential.

We cannot force others to seek that inner inspiration of truth and love to guide their own lives. And, certainly, there are times when human, fear-induced thinking results in the rejection of love and empathy as necessary components to the solutions of human problems. The results of the 2016 presidential election appear to speak to this very point.

Yet, nothing is really changed. Love still counts. Love still wins. In fact, it is only love that wins in ways that will lift everyone. We are not required to fight back in anger or aggression towards those who feel anxious or fearful of a perceived loss of power or privilege. It is our responsibility to simply live life open to the spirit of truth and love, and to realize by so doing we make real in every moment of eternity that we touch, the presence and power of God.

When it is your time to speak or act, be vulnerable, dare greatly to be your highest self, and any fear or hatred in your midst, will be diminished by your love. This holds true no matter your political viewpoint.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Profession of Faith

I don't know what I don't know, but I accept the unknown as Love and hold to that 
with all my faith and being. 

"Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect."  Matt 5:48

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Knowing God

I've known God since I was a young kid. But what I knew and continue to know about God has nothing to do with experiencing God as a human-like personality with supernatural powers who alters the universe or history as a reward or punishment for human behavior. My communication with God does not result in mystical words spoken to me or by me, visions, or the witnessing of mysterious, unexplained phenomena. These sorts of things reflect a desire for superstitions, and I have no such desire. I accept life exactly as it presents itself.

To me, God has been a personal companion, always available to nudge me toward truth and understanding whenever I need and seek it out. God is Truth, manifesting all that is and can be at our individual levels of understanding.  I am part of that Truth and can communicate freely with it, because everything I am and will become emerges only from what has always been possible.

What I have come to understand about God is that God is not about religion. God is most clearly experienced in the miracle of life itself, and through expressions of love. Religions may be about human concepts of God, but the reverse is simply not true.

So, does this mean religions are useless or wrong? I do think religions are wrong if they seek to strictly define God through traditions, myths, creeds, rituals, or dogma. However, any religion that helps you learn how to experience and participate in God's presence is certainly not useless. Religions and centers of worship provide excellent opportunities for personal spiritual growth. Supportive spiritual communities can help you discover ways to face whatever is unknown to you with confidence in the presence of God. You'll never know all the answers, but  you will always have faith that what you do know and believe, as you keep yourself open to learning, fits perfectly with whatever the final answers actually are.

God is experienced on a personal level and cannot be captured within the creeds of corporate religions. That does not mean that individuals cannot be moved to a God experience of their own through devotion to creeds or by participating in rituals of organized religions, because many are. What it does mean, however, is that the personal experience of God's presence and Truth is the real journey and is more important than surrendering to external pressures to conform to church teachings and dogma.

Be true to what feels right to you and the way you experience life. Always seek guidance from a higher perspective than your immediate personal cares and you will be led toward better, more loving, and more practical answers. Creeds, religions, and spiritual leaders, all can help, but the final decisions need to be what makes sense to you based on your accumulated experiences and knowledge at that point in your life. Religious institutions are best viewed as stepping stones along your path of spiritual growth, not as end-points of your journey.

God is ultimate Truth, so more can always be learned that will draw you closer to God, your personal companion, forever.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Angel Of Your Heart

         Here are the lyrics of a song, the melody of which, has yet to be written. I thought of these lyrics one Christmas season while listening to the beautiful singing of our soprano soloist in church. Even though it is not actually a song until a composer puts music to the words, I still soar with the message and somehow feel a rhythm and melody, anyway.  I enjoy reading through it each Christmas season and am happy to share it with you this year.



 The Angel Of Your Heart

   
V. 1  Always when life troubles you
            Seek the peace that angels do,
            And through the work of letting go,
            Feel the love of God inflow.
            I'll bring the peace you seek inside,
            But only when there is no pride.
            So open wide your heart to see
            The sign of hope you seek from me.

    V. 2  I only move when called anew

            To heal your life as love can do.
            It is your choice to seek me out
            Even when you have a doubt.
            For having faith is not to know,
            But to seek the way to go.
            Each journey starts with your desire
            To raise your thinking even higher.

    V. 3  Let my voice of love renew

            All the hopes in life you're due.
            Let my song of joy resound
            Making life your holy ground.
            Let my theme of harmony
            Lead you where your life should be.
            Let the dream of troubles past
            Be subdued by love, at last.

Chorus: I am the angel of your heart

             And only soar when you take part.
              I am the angel of your mind
             To search for pathways new to find.
              I spread my wings upon your word
             To let you know that God has heard.
              I am the angel of your soul,
              I am, when Love's your only goal.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

God, Faith, And Reality

When we talk about God we are giving a name to our awareness of the great unknown that underlies the creation and progression of all of reality. Being aware that there must be some kind of ultimate truth prompts humans to create religious systems that attempt to describe in detail the nature, actions, and requirements of God. However, most of what the word “God” must represent lies beyond our human capacity to understand, much less describe. This means that religions must be recognized as human institutions created by human minds in efforts to help guide and influence human behavior. 

However, just because humans attempt to do an impossible task does not mean that task is not worth the effort. Whatever we learn through our scientific, philosophic, and religious efforts must, inevitably, bend toward the truth of ultimate reality or none of our conclusions would lead to meaningful outcomes. Gradually, humans have come to many accurate conclusions about life and the nature of our universe, and have made significant progress over the ages.

However, it is important to remember that what we know of what is true, whether scientific or spiritual, is gradually discovered from a common sharing of personal experiences. Scientific knowledge, for example, comes from shared results of independent investigations, unfettered by personal bias.  This is true even though scientists’ personal biases (hypotheses) are often the catalyst for initiating specific scientific investigations. However, scientists accept the final objective conclusions of their studies because when observed results are verified as true, that tells them that their alternate hypotheses are false. Truth is always what it demonstrates itself to be.

Likewise, spiritual knowledge and faith come from an honest and open personal searching unrestricted by religious doctrine. Still, that does not mean that religious dogma cannot be instructive and useful in facilitating personal spirituality. However, developing an inner, private sense of the spiritual is always more important than surrendering to institutional pressures to profess beliefs in specific religious doctrines.  Those who seek truth from the depths of their own being tend to be in greater harmony with everyone else than those committed to believing proscribed religious teachings. Even Jesus taught that life is more important than doctrine.

So, if sacred books and religious institutions are man-made and thereby limited and biased, how can we most directly and naturally experience God, the Infinite to which they all refer? One possibility is through a basic understanding of the statement, “God is love.” Similar to the word “God,” the word “love” is nearly impossible to define. Yet, when love is in our midst we are usually aware of it and recognize it as it touches our hearts and minds.  The statement, “God is love” seems to make obvious sense and when thought or spoken it can affect our attitude, even in the face of evil.


Perhaps within the deepest meanings of God and love, brought together, we are provided a doorway whereby we can experience pure spiritual truth while still fully aware of our immediate physical reality. This seems true to me based on experiences I have had. So, until I understand God and love with even greater clarity, I will assume that whenever anyone brings an attitude of love into any human encounter that, that creates a moment for everyone there to experience God’s presence and influence.  If the statement, “God is love,” means anything, it means that; when God, faith, and reality merge into full human awareness.