Friday, 30 November 2012

14.

At the gay marriage demonstration last Saturday we were addressed by a 14 year old schoolgirl who had come out to her peers.

She spoke sadly of the way that the word gay was used by the students at her school.
She said it meant lame.
"That's so gay."

She also spoke of being called a faggot and the homophobia of her generation.
She said that many young people at her school were locked in the closet out of fear.

During her speech the crowd was very quiet and you could sense the shock and sympathy.

When I got home I felt frustration at not being able to reach these young people.
How could I help from so far away?

So I decided to write a message here for them to read:

You must never think of yourself as lame or sick.

It may seem incredible at the moment but everyone else is wrong and we are right about the naturalness and goodness of our homosexuality.
It took me 30 years to realize this.
But it is absolutely true.

When you are attacked or abused by others it is best to think of them as driven by fear.
Homophobia means fear of homosexuals.
If you can think of them as ignorant and fearful it may help you to maintain your own self-image as a loving and worthwhile individual.

It is also important that you know that there are older people who love and support you.
It is so easy to feel alone.
There is a whole community of gay people who have worked through these issues and emerged better, stronger people for it.

My prayer is that you will do the same.

And when you see Christians on the television telling you that you are condemned by God don't believe them.

There are plenty of progressive Christians who support and affirm gay people.

God loves you.
He accepts you as you are.
You are welcome at His table.
You will enter into Heaven when you die.
And you will partake of Eternal Life.

You have nothing to fear from God.
Cry out to Him.
And He will hear.

Don't let fear win.

You are beautiful, unique people.
Each and every one of you.

Know that you are loved.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Homosexuality and Spirituality.

Most people seem to think that homosexuality and spirituality are not compatible - that one cancels out the other.

This is caused by prejudice regarding homosexuality - that homosexuals are in some way more sexual or promiscuous than heterosexuals.

This is not the case.

Homosexual sexual activity is the same as heterosexual sexual activity.
The only differences are due to prejudices and stereotyping.

Homosexual people are as spiritual or otherwise as heterosexual people.

Being homosexual does not preclude you from a spiritual life.

For male homosexuals the image of God as a loving Father - in many cases the loving father they never had - is very appealing.

I feel quite comfortable with this image of God.

The practices of devotion to God and trust in God which derive from the Christian mystical tradition and reflect Islamic Sufism are quite compatible with this image of God.

Practices of non-violence and pacifism combine with prayer and contemplation to love God and draw near to Him.

Once contact has been made we can develop our relationship with God - growing closer in love and trust.

Paradoxically this brings us closer to the people around us as we realize that all people are our brothers and sisters.

"'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'"  Matthew 25:40 (NRSV)


(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.)

Sunday, 25 November 2012

God Loves Gays.

Contrary to the fundamentalist view that God hates fags, which we see emblazoned across their signs and billboards, God loves and supports gay men and women as a persecuted minority.

The fact that the people persecuting gays and lesbians are members of Churches is irrelevant.
The Churches have been wrong before: the Crusades, the Inquisition, Nazi Germany, and now same sex attracted people.....

In fact more crimes have been committed in the name of God than in any other name.

Perhaps if they looked more closely at Islamic fundamentalism they might see themselves.
But perhaps not!

God loves gay and lesbian people.

He invites us to His table.

We are welcome in Heaven.

And we partake of Eternal Life.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Secret.


The great secret of our time is that since the 1960s rock stars have been selling their souls to the devil and practicing black magic and Satanism in their music.

This has now spread to sports, movies, and novels as well as T.V. and advertising.

It now forms a web of evil which spans the media.

The internet is less affected because it is less controlled.
Individuals post their ideas on the internet and some may be involved in Satanism.
But on the whole the internet is more democratic.

Once you know what to look for it is easier to uncover.
(See What to Avoid, October 2012)

But this does not mean that they are right.

There is no devil in reality.
No hell to go to.

So they will fail in their purpose.
But their sins remain.
The damage done.

In reality there is only God's love.

Photo Credit: tempo via Compfight cc

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Facts.

No matter what your beliefs or worldview, sooner or later you will be confronted by the facts.

Corporate bosses will be confronted by the fact that God treats us all equally.

Fundamentalists will be confronted by the fact that there is no hell because God does not punish us.

Satanists will be confronted by the fact that there is no Satan only Gods love.

God is real and He loves us.

These are the facts.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Alienation.

The epidemic of our time is alienation.

This is caused by the coldness of our society, scientific mindsets, and the breakdown of relationships.

The number of one person households is at an all time high.
The older generation are almost all divorced.
And the younger generation are cautious of commitment.

This is good for the economy but disastrous for society.

There is no community.

Individuals are expected to look after themselves.

Our scientific education teaches us that all around us is dead matter, God is absent, and life has no meaning.

Add to this the negative effects of Satanism in the media and entertainment, especially rock music to which the young are plugged in day and night, and you have a very bleak picture indeed.

The new paradigm is teaching us that all life is interconnected.
We are not alone.
Even if we are isolated and lonely we are still connected to all the life around us.

The new paradigm also teaches that God is immanent - within everything around us.

We are surrounded by love.

Add to this that God wishes us to open our hearts and to give love to others and you have a very warm picture indeed.

Alienation is fear.
Fear of others, fear of strangers, fear of authority, fear of society.

The new paradigm teaches us that God is our Father and all people are our brothers and sisters.

Once we realize this our fear leaves us and we are able to live again.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Sexual Cosmology.

If we insist on characterizing nature as feminine and re-animating the dead matter of science with female sexual energy, we run the risk of excavating an ancient sexual cosmology that is riddled with dangers.

Not the least of these is the problem of homosexuality.  Where does the homosexual fit into this heterosexual system.  It leaves no place for homosexuals.

While it is true that the patriarchal religions have led to a desecration of the earth the answer does not lie in feminizing nature.

During the second millennium B.C.E. the patriarchal gods displaced the earth mothers as the dominant deities.  This is typified by Marduk's slaying of the female monster Tiamut (nature) and his founding of Babylon (the archetypal city = civilization).

In the Bible God says to the newly created Adam and Eve "'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.'"  Genesis 1:28 (NRSV)
This passage has resulted in humans subduing nature.  And has been tragically acted out, especially by western Europeans, as an injunction to dominate and control nature, resulting in the present ecological crisis.

Western industrialists plunder the earth for profit.

Indian yogis characterize all human sexual energy as feminine (shakti) and God's energy as masculine.
This is a strong structural element of homophobia in India - homosexuality is unnatural there.
Once again we are projecting a human trait - male sexuality onto God.
Once again we are generalizing into dualistic thinking.

Rather than characterizing the sky god as male and the earth god as female we need a model which represents the diversity of sexualities in nature.

God is much more than male and female.

The only homosexual cosmology in the Bible is in the second creation story where the sole male Adam loves his Father God.

Jesus' love for his Father is homosexual but it is noticeable that when his disciples crested a Church it was given a female nature because God was male.

Once again humans are projecting their own characteristics, in this case male and female sexualities, onto God  and His Church.

So are all male priests and ministers in a homosexual relationship with God?

You can see the problems that this kind of cosmology creates.

God is all sexualities and more.
It is foolish to restrict God's nature to male or female or even androgynous.

Sexual cosmology is very neat and convenient but it is basically wrong.

Suffice to say that we don't know.
God's nature is too vast and diverse to characterize as male or female.

For the moment it is a mystery.

(See He, August 2012)


(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.)  

Monday, 19 November 2012

Aboriginal Reconciliation.

Were there to be reconciliation in Australia between the white Europeans and the Aboriginal people, not only would some of the wealth and ease of Australian white culture need to be transferred to the Aboriginal people, but some of our European cultural conventions, which cause Aboriginal people (and many white people) to feel alienated and alone, would need to be reconsidered.

Such things as: profit motive, consumerism, materialism, pragmatism, cynicism, work ethic, and the nuclear family.

These things cause our society to be harsh, especially to outsiders - immigrants, Aboriginal people, and minorities.  Our society is cold, hard, tough, and exclusive.

Reconsideration of these ideas can be brought about by listening.
Listening to the stories of Aboriginal people.
Hearing their cries for help.
Seeing their tears.

We must begin to see value in Aboriginal people.

Perhaps their wealth lies in their spirituality (something which is not highly valued in Australian or any western culture).

Hearing their cries of disconnection from the land is a beginning.

This would not only benefit Aboriginal people but white people as well.

When do our bare feet touch the earth?

When do we hear the silence of the bush?

We are surrounded by things of our own making:
radios, T.V.s, C.D. players, movies.....
There is constant chatter to distract us.

We are afraid of silence.
It makes us feel alone.

We are afraid of nature.
We try to tame it and control it.

Aboriginal people commune with nature.
This is the dreaming.
Nature is not their enemy but their mother.

This is the connection to the land which has been severed by white colonialists.

Perhaps a return to mother nature may help with the process of reconciliation.

White men and women live in an alien landscape.
Their cities and towns resemble Europe.
Europe is their home not Australia.

So while we live our lives in our little boxes with our manicured gardens of European flowers and trees we cannot be truly Australian.

We must place our bare feet on the red Australian earth to become truly Australian.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Aboriginal - European.

Aboriginal people describe the presence of God in nature.

We Europeans look at our environment - brick walls, tarred roads, steel and glass skyscrapers, houses like little boxes....
and our scientific education teaches us that this is dead (dead matter).
The white man seeks to impose his will on nature - everything is controlled, organized, ordered according to our will, our needs.

But it is not dead.

Each item from nature has been fashioned according to a man's or woman's creativity and is therefore alive - in its essence from nature.
                                      - infused with creative energy.
So each item - a wall, a road, a building.....has a history of being taken from nature and fashioned according to an individual's creativity - reflecting that individual's ideas and feelings.

We are co-creators with God.

Our creativity reflects out thinking.

If we think differently our creations will be different.

Our creativity can make beauty that can be seen, heard, or felt.
It can be wise and compassionate, uplifting, or revelatory.
It can also be depressing, even violent if expressed negatively.

Like energy that can be creative or destructive.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Human Fulfilment.

When we first embark on the quest for human fulfilment we think this means the realization of our desires.

So what is essentially a spiritual quest becomes a search for pleasure.

When we realize that pleasure does not always bring fulfilment we begin to see a deeper perspective of life.

The things that are fulfilling are the things of love - relationships, family, children.....

Work and achievement, creative activity all pale into insignificance when compared to love.

"And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."  1 Corinthians: 13:2 (NRSV)

The "pursuit of happiness" which is enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence is usually a quest for pleasure and possessions.

It is ironic indeed that our personal fulfilment comes from unselfishness and becoming more other oriented.


(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.)

Friday, 16 November 2012

Holistic Thinking.

Holistic - emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts.

Were we to think of the universe holistically what would that mean?

The universes are part of a whole.
These parts are interdependent.
Stars and black holes are not the only parts.
There are clouds within which stars are formed from the dust of older stars.

Everything is alive.

God is within everything.

The attractive force which causes the stars to form is love.

Everything is interdependent, ecological, symbiotic.

"No man is an island." - John Donne.

Even isolation is caused by interdependence - fear and insularity in others.
Prejudice and negative stereotyping are cause by fear.

If God is our Father then everyone is our brother or sister.

If one of the organs of the body is not working properly then the whole organism is affected.

This is true also of society - each individual has his or her own job to do, according to their gifts.  But if they are not doing it properly then the whole society suffers.

We are all parts of a whole - parts of society, parts of humanity, parts of the nature, parts of the earth, parts of the universe, parts of God.

Like a fish in the sea.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Dualistic Thinking.

We see dualistic thinking in science.
Theories of anti-matter and black holes etc..
This is an attempt to balance everything out.

There is dualistic thinking in the Bible, especially in the Gospel of John.
It appears in most religions.
Dualistic thinking in religion is an attempt to explain life's pain.
Religious dualism is false.
There is no Satan, no dark forces.
There is only one God and He is good.

God is everything, everywhere and more.....

What would it mean if we thought holistically.
God (good) would be everywhere, everyone.....

"God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good."  Genesis 1:31a (NRSV)

Evil is a generalization, a label.
It covers the truth :
That there are reasons for everything.

Suffering is caused by sin.
Sin is caused by fear.
So everything and everyone is forgivable.


(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Life.

The consummation of love is sex.

Sex leads to the creation of new life.

This new life forms in the womb and then is born into the world as a separate entity.

The new entity then grows until about the age of 26 when it is fully formed.

From then the individual matures - grows stronger, more self assured until about the age of 60.

After the age of 60 the individual begins to age - become wiser, more stable, more perspicacious, the sexual passions diminish allowing the individual to become more peaceful.

As he or she nears the end the soul begins to prepare for the life to come.

Death is a door into another life.

"The universe has an orientation to the creation of life.
Life has an orientation to wholeness (health).
The soul has an orientation towards love."
- Durham Smith PCNV 22/7/2012.

The speaker was challenged by a man who said that from the age of 26 we are dying.
He identified with the Hindu god Siva - one of the triune godhead - Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Siva (the destroyer).

This is the theory of entropy.
Entropy must always increase.

I submit that entropy is a scientific fiction.
It looks at life the wrong way.

But this death, this decay is a concept rather than a fact.
Entropy is an effect rather than a force.

It is looking at things the wrong way round.

We should be looking for positives in maturing and ageing rather than calling them death.

Maturing and ageing are part of life and as such are positive stages of life not decay and death.

Death is a moment not a force.

This is the trap of dualistic thinking :
That everything has its opposite.

But the universe is holistic :
There is one God.

Life is abundant, irrepressible.
After a bushfire new life springs up, ancient seeds germinate.
After a drought new life appears in the waters, ancient eggs come to life.

The universe has an orientation towards life not death.

The mistake that people make is to conceptualize the negative then to objectify it as a fact.

But death is not a force.
Nor is it a place.
Death is no thing.

Death is a moment at most.

Dualism is false.

The universe is holistic.

Life abides in everything.

God is immanent - within everything.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

When Called Upon.

At a meeting of the Progressive Christian Network of Victoria, in response to the speaker's words about God intervening in her life, Lorraine Parkinson said that help had come from God "when called upon".

This was significant.
It was consistent with my own experience.
Nothing happened until I called upon God in distress.
Then there was an answer.

This may happen in order for it to be clear that it is God responding to the cry for help.
And this may bring us into relationship with God.

People who experience a hint or a nudge in the right direction, perhaps a warning, may already be in relationship with God.

This is my experience.
God responds "when called upon".

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Wattle.

In what sense am I and my writing Australian?

My writing is intensely anti-anti-authoritarian - a noted Australian character trait.  It is rebellious and revolutionary - the wild colonial boy - I do have  a tinge of red in my beard - but this is Irish - I have some Irish ancestors.

My writing is Christian with constant references to the Bible - Old and New Testaments - but this is British or European -  ancestors again.

My writing is socialist with roots in the French Revolution and Marxism - I have some French ancestors.

My theology is universalist with relevance to any culture.  The mind, the heart, the body all these things are universal.

But in what sense am I Australian?

Australia is an old country - the oldest place on earth - our mountains are rounded and worn down by millennia of wind and rain.  Our land is flat and vast.  Our rivers are old and slow.  Our trees are evergreen.  Our animals are marsupials - unique and strange.

But our society is new, post-enlightenment, modern.  We live in cities where the earth is covered over and the trees are European - deciduous and colorful.  Our culture was British, now it is American - a sit-com culture full of dark shadows and violence, superficial and glib.

The wattle is yellow - bright and profuse.  Our wildflowers are small but abundant. Our trees are old and wizened, tall and strong, their roots go deep into the earth.

In Aboriginal spirituality the spirit sinks down into the ground in true Antipodean fashion.
European spirits rise up into the sky and God is above.

Aboriginal art shows the ground as seen from above with a strong inward dimension. This can be expressed as within - like the Hopi Indians of America.
Aboriginal spirituality goes deeper, deeper within, and deeper into the earth.

This is Australian spirituality of the land.

The only Biblical reference which might be of some help is when Moses encounters God on Mount Sinai.  God tells him to take off his sandals because he is walking on holy ground.

"'Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.'"  Exodus 3:5 (NRSV)

This is closely related to Aboriginal spirituality - sacred sites.

The feet are also important to Aboriginal people - when dancing their sacred dances they stamp their feet on the earth, as if to penetrate deeper into the earth.

In post-modern Australia sinking into the earth is descending into the unconscious.

A strong sense of the bush and the sacredness of the wilderness is typically Australian.

Australia's sporting colors are gold and green - the colors of the wattle trees.

Gold is the color of the sun or light.  Green is the chlorophyll which absorbs the light.  So these national colors have something to do with light or enlightenment.  They are solar and life-giving.

Yellow is a very positive color.  Green is calming, healing.

The eucalyptus in the gum trees is an intoxicating drug.  Koala bears, which eat the gum leaves, are very casual and slow.  Australians are known for being laid back and casual "She'll be right mate, no worries."

It is the opposite of European angst and the British stiff upper lip - the Antipodes again.

Australians are very impatient with anyone who pussyfoots around or procrastinates "Have a go you mug" or of anyone who is not quite "true blue" (blue is the color of a working man's singlet).

But an Australian man and his mates can be quite intolerant of anyone who is different - homosexuals, immigrants, aboriginals.....and he can also be misogynistic.

The dominant western culture is male, secular, and materialist.
The media is violent, negative, and biased.  Their language is brutal and glib.  They win by violence and rule through fear.  In this respect they resemble the old aristocracy.
Perhaps that is what they aspire to be :
The plutocrats, the multi-national corporations, the board of directors.

But their culture is cynical, pragmatic, and criminal (until they get caught, then they blame an underling and claim ignorance.)

And we all work for them.
They own everything.

But somethings gotta give.
We cannot continue like this.

A new idealism is appearing on the internet - organisations dedicated to social reform and international justice.  They are independent and supported by thousands of anonymous donors.
This is the idealism of Aquarius beginning to manifest.  It is bubbling up from the unconscious and no one can stop it.
It is international and immediate, fraternal and altruistic.
It challenges the plutocrats and politicians.
And it is growing quickly.
Every day there are more - more web sites, more supporters.
The plutocrats are powerless to stop it.
The politicians are almost relieved to bow to their ideals.

This is the beginning of revolutionary global change.

It begins.....


(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.)

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Magic.

In school our children are being taught maths and sciences without the humanities - languages, history, art and literature.....

This is combined with our oppressively rationalist (left brain), materialist society to repress the imaginative (right brain) nature altogether.

At present young people's repressed spirituality is being expressed as a fascination with magic and witchcraft.

Unfortunately this can lead to negative spiritual states and may lead to the dark side.

Many books are available which teach people these practices.

This may lead to dabbling in black magic and Satanism which is rife in the rock music and entertainment industries.

Unfortunately, if they succumb to the dark side, the Satanists will claim their souls and try to cast them into hell.

So we should be ready to rescue them if this happens.

The likelihood of this happening is tempered, however, by the fact that God does not damn people for something which is not their fault.

Even if they try to sell their souls they cannot go to hell because there is no hell to go to.

And, in the end, there is no Satan only God's love.  

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Prejudice.

What we think of as ourselves is partially created by the perceptions of others.

"'The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.'"  John 3:8a (NRSV)

Prejudice and stereotypes in the collective unconscious affect us by projecting negative images upon us.  These negative images can produce negative behavior in line with the prejudice or stereotype.  It is not necessary for these projections to be conscious or manifest.

So what we think about people matters.
If we are thinking negatively about someone this may cause them to behave in a negative fashion.

Of course this is only when our thinking is untrue or false.
If what we are thinking is true then it will have a lesser effect.

But people who are prejudiced think that what they are thinking is true.
So it is better to think positively about people and see the good in them.

This is not to delude ourselves or pretend that bad is good, only to excuse and offer forgiveness.

Then we can value the good in everyone.


(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.)  

Friday, 9 November 2012

Astrology.

Before you say,"We're Christians, we don't believe in astrology" it may be profitable to take a look at the Bible and the New Testament in particular.

According to the theory of precession of the vernal equinox the Old Testament was written in the Age of Aries.
There are many references to rams, ram's horns (the shofar), blood sacrifice, the color red, war, beginnings (Abraham, Adam and Eve), the letter A,  Palestine etc..

But it is in the New Testament that we really find astrological symbols from the sign of Pisces :
fish*, fishermen, nets, water (baptism). the sea (Galilee), Jerusalem, boats, feet (washing), wine, vines, vineyards, spirits (evil), The Holy Spirit, faith, healing, prayer.....  

Not only this but the sign opposite Pisces - Virgo - which forms a duality with Pisces, is also featured :
the Virgin Mary, the virgin birth, hair-splitting arguments (the bane of Christianity), earth parables (seeds, growth, harvesting etc.).

So when I say that we are entering the Age of Aquarius (the Water Carrier) and point out the symbols of that sign :
homosexuality, equality, freedom, socialism, revolution, Russia, Sweden, feminism, humanism, charity, crystals, rainbows, rain, clouds, the sky, stars, drinking water, earthquakes, the new, the future, technology, space travel, the internet, mental illness, brain plasticity, genius.....
I am justified in suggesting that God is working through these symbols in a new way.

Astrology itself is ruled by Aquarius.

*The fish was an early symbol of the Christian community.  

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Darkest Hour.

It has been said that God returns with a new revelation when the world is at its darkest.

The world is dark now.

The official culture of the world is secular rational economic materialism.

This is superficial, left-brain only, unsatisfying, and imposed.

Add to this the evil anti-currents in the popular entertainment and it is dark indeed.

The spirits of human beings will not allow this to continue.  A rear guard action, rising from the unconscious, will force a crisis if the right-brain, imaginative, depth dimension is not addressed.

Economic rationalism is a failure.

We must find another way.

It is at this point, when the souls of the world are ripe, that God manifests among us.

God's hand is moving.

As yet there is no contact between Progressive Christianity and the general public, although social justice is a meeting point.

This is Aquarius manifesting.

We must find a way for this manifestation to reach the surface.

The crisis in religion is symptomatic of the situation.
If the deep psychic needs of individuals are not met then negative manifestations will appear - like the sexual abuse scandals in the Churches.

These needs are to do with the imaginative, artistic, religious side of human nature.
Their repression is manifest as overwork and lack of creative outlets, obsession with sport, celebrity culture, shopping, and magic.

We need a new spirituality.

This must be given official recognition or it will be forced down into the unconscious where it will cause psychosis and may manifest negatively as violence or anti-social behavior.

So the new spirit of freedom (symbolized by the internet) must find positive, sanctioned, outlets in our society or Aquarius is doomed to fail.

If not a new Church then what?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Pleasure.

When we are young we experience pleasure and it makes us feel better.
We then assume that more pleasure will make us feel better still.

What actually happens is that our bodies and minds become addicted to the thrills of pleasure and we experience ecstatic highs followed by bleak, depressive lows.

Rock music has been shown to stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain.  We become addicted to this pleasure.  Drugs have a similar effect.  It is significant that a lot of rock music contains orgasmic guitar crescendos and dirge-like melodies.

Classical music has a different effect.  Much classical music puts the mind into an alpha state or meditative equilibrium.

Most of us spend our lives alternating between these peak experiences and despairing lows which we cure by another episode of pleasure in order to experience that high again.

This is the great illusion.

It is not that pleasure is bad.  It is just not the answer it appears to be.

Through the practice of yoga detachment that we are able to reduce the highs and lows and gain some equilibrium.

It is when we discover love, however, that the picture changes.

At first our moods are dependent on the presence or absence of the loved one (the beloved).

When we discover that giving love is even more satisfying than receiving love we gain some control over our moods.
The more love we give the more love there is to give.

If we them expand the theater of our love to include everyone we experience a stable well-being.

Finally, when, through the practice of prayer and contemplation, we make contact with the divine we discover that God is intimately involved with love.

When we become established in this marriage our anxieties recede.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Karma.

The law of karma obeys our notion of natural justice - rewards for good behavior and punishment for bad behavior.

When this does not happen in life we project it into future lives giving rise to the idea of reincarnation.

The principle of natural justice does not seem to apply in life.

Job says,""Why do the wicked live on.....and no rod of God is against them.'"  Job 21:7a,9b (NRSV)

Perhaps these ideas are not universal laws at all.

Paul says to waive judgment according to understanding.

But life is not chaos.

There are constancies - day and night, summer and winter, light and dark etc..

Newton's laws apply.

But even Newton's laws break down with the very small (atoms) and the very large (galaxies).

So where does that leave us?

We have free will to make choices.
But even our free will is conditioned by our experience.

We make mistakes.

In human experience the chances are that if we treat people badly they will treat us badly in return.

But this is not a law.

People may choose to return good for our bad behavior.

So laws and rules are not what govern our lives, they are merely guidelines for our well-being.

The cause and the purpose of life is love.


[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.]

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Laws.

It is the nature of the human mind to seek to find patterns.
These patterns are often condensed into rules which are said to be universal.
When rewards and punishments are attached to these rules we have the laws*.

How many books have been written which claim to outline the laws of human experience.
They would  even legalize love.

Laws make us feel secure.  They are certain and unchanging.  We are in control.

This is the nature of the legalistic religion of the Pharisees.
This is also the nature of fundamentalism in religion.
It makes us feel secure.

Jesus broke the law of the Jews on several occasions and said, "'The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath.'"  Mark 2:27 (NRSV)
By which he meant that humanity's wellbeing and happiness was more important than the rules.

So do not get hung up on the laws and the rules.
They may not be as important as we think.

Making rules is one of the ways that we make sense out of life.

But God does not obey our rules.
God is unpredictable.
We cannot control God.

The ten commandments are not laws to be rewarded or punished.
They are guidelines for living.

The laws were made for humankind, not humankind for the laws.

*Metaphysical laws not policing


(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the  National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Spirituality.

What do people mean when they say, "I'm not religious but I'm spiritual"?

I believe they are stating, like the hippies of the 1960s and 1970s, that they do not subscribe to the moralistic, sex-phobic, hypocritical Christology of the western Churches.  The fear-guilt manipulation of the conservative establishment.
But they do believe in God and they do agree with most of Jesus' teachings of forgiveness and compassion.

Their image of God, and indeed of Jesus, is quite different from the orthodox traditional images: the angry, harsh, judgmental God and the Lamb without spot who became a human blood sacrifice to take away the sins of the world, which were inherited from Adam and Eve.
They don't believe we are fallen and in need of redemption.  To them this is pure Machiavellian manipulation.

So what do they mean when they say that they are spiritual?

I believe they mean that they are idealistic.
These are the non-materialistic ideals of the hippies: equality, non-violence, socialism, compassion, forgiveness, a healthy attitude to the body and sexuality, and the redistribution of wealth.
This is combined with green values of preservation and protection of the environment: the great cathedral of nature.

This vaguely connects with God as a benevolent, creative force.  And Jesus as a spiritual teacher rather than a dying deity.

So this fits perfectly with Progressive Christianity: original blessing, a benevolent God, the historical Jesus, social  justice, and ecology.

But Church!?

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Open Our Hands.

Open our hands to the poor and the destitute.

Open our hands to the sick and the needy.

Open our hands to do what others are afraid to do.

Open our hands to God's work in the world.

Open our hands to those who are paralyzed with fear.

Open our hands to our enemies.

Open our hands to help.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Open Our Hearts.

Open our hearts to the least and the last in our world.

Open our hearts to the sick and the suffering.

Open our hearts to the marginalized and the outcast.

Open our hearts to God.

Open our hearts to those who attack out of fear.

Open our hearts to our enemies.

Open our hearts to everyone.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Open Our Eyes.

Open our eyes to the poverty and suffering around us.

Open our eyes to the corruption and exploitation in our world.

Open our eyes to the lies and propaganda in the media.

Open our eyes to see God more clearly.

Open our eyes to the injustice that motivates crime.

Open our eyes to the fear that motivates our enemies.

Open our eyes to the truth.