Thursday, October 28, 2010

Our Western Conception of God

Today in Buddhism class, we watched a movie on Zen Buddhist "hermits" or ascetics who live in the mountains FAR away from society. They live off only what they need and read and meditate when they are not farming or doing other necessary work to sustain life. They all live completely alone.

I do not know what came over me, but I took a scrap sheet of paper and just started writing. This is what came out: (these are just thoughts, not formed ideas or conclusions by any means)

Maybe, our conception of God as a "being" or any other contained force is just way off.

Almost every religion has this idea that we are all of the earth and will one day return to the earth. Also, almost every religion I have studies is more concerned with what is under the surface. Ideas like desire, meaning, purpose, substance, intention, etc. are all central religious themes.

In the west, we think of God as a contained being that has a home. Heaven or something. But when we talk about and describe God, we use language that beckons transcendence, omnipotence, and more simply; that God is everywhere all at once.

I think, eastern religions have a better, and more logical way to describe God.

Scientifically, we know that heaven is not just beyond Earth's atmosphere, In fact, it is no where to be found so far. (granted we have and never will search every square inch of the universe). But more importantly, do we really think that heaven and God are contained in some space anywhere? I think, in the west we think like that and even talk like we believe that sometimes. Theologically and scientifically, we can throw out the idea that heaven or "where god dwells" is a physical contained space that we will ever be able to see.

God is everywhere? How is this possible unless God is either IN everything, a PART of everything, or God actually IS everything. I suppose, that God could also be in the space in between everything invisible to us.

I don't know.

But any person that uses a conception or rhetoric that makes God out to be trancendent, omnipotent, or all at once everywhere, and uses any other conception or rhetoric that confines God to any sport of space or describes God as a confined being; is in error.

I have no answers.

But just as Eli Wiesel would say, there is just a big question mark hanging over my head.

These are just thoughts. Not meant to persuade anyone but merely to vent what rambles in my mind.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taking the Bible Literally

How to read the Bible? Is a question not so easily answered. One approach is to read the Bible "literally" and well...I do not really know what that means.

The dictionary on my computer defines the word "literal": Taking words in their usual or most basic sense without allegory or methephor. Also literal implies free of exaggeration or distortion.

"This is what taking the bible literally in that sense would mean: A literal reading of the Bible means reinstitution of slavery coupled with the understanding that the slave master has the right to beat his slave without mercy since "the slave is his money" (Exodus 21:21). Children who strike or curse a parent are to be executed (Exodus 21: 15, 17). Those who pay homage to another god "shall be utterly destroyed" (Exodus 22:20). Menstruating women are to be considered unclean (Leviticus 15:19-32). The blind the lame, those with mutilated faces, those who are hunchbacks or dwarfs and those with itching diseases or scabs or crushed testicles cannot become priests (Leviticus 15:19-32). And "if the spirit of jealousy" comes upon a man, the high priest can order the jealous man's wife to drink the "water of bitterness". If she dies, it is proof of her guilt, if she survives, of her innocence (Numbers 5:11-31). Women, throughout the Bible, are subservient to men, often without legal rights, and men are free to sell their daughters into sexual bondage (Exodus 21:7-11)."
-Chris Hedges, American Fascists

Not to mention Jesus call to love our enemies, The ant-Jewish tone of the Gospel, The crazy crazy book of Revelation. The epistles often confusing view of women and slaves. and well...etc.

Is there no way to read the Bible than "literally", as so many right winged conservative christians profess they do?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Story of Stuff and Jesus

What does Jesus have to do with anything political, social, or economic? If you haven't watched this video you freaken need to click it and not move for 20 minutes.

This is what I know: systems either hurt or help people. And Jesus cares about hurting people.

If you do watch this video listen to how Annie Leonard asserts how the systems we live under hurts people, it tells them they are worthless, and it exploits them. Jesus and the Gospels have everything to do with these matters.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sharing your Faith

Pen Gillette, of Pen and Teller, raises some really interesting questions about sharing and not sharing your faith.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The 'Suppression' of Homosexuals, Joel Burns

I have often noted (to myself mostly) that the oppression of homosexuals is a unique form of oppression. As a society, and especially in the mid-west, we are still trying to figure out what we think about the morality of homosexuality. In general we refuse to talk about issues of sexuality in any sort of forum that is unbiased and free of political agenda or religious fervor.

Directly or indirectly young gay men and women are forced to keep any and all feelings of homosexuality inside. This is otherwise known as the "closet".

Hence, why in my mind, the oppression of homosexuals is more of a suppression.

This is just so dangerous. Everything about our society that creates a need for the closet has to change. That doesn't mean that you have to agree that homosexuality is "right" or not a sin but it does mean that you hate with all your might any rhetoric, tone, or method that might make a young teenager hang himself in his back yard because "what he feels" is wrong without ever being able to discuss it openly and freely to figure out just what it is that he is feeling.

What conservative right winged evangelicals who openly and loudly call homosexuality evil, wrong, and sin need to stop and think deeply about is how their rhetoric and methods are creating a climate that says bullying is okay and causing young people to think of themselves as evil and wrong. When in fact the very Bible that so many look to to become so confident that homosexuality is a sin says that we are ALL created in the image of God, that Jesus died and was resurrected as a display of how much he loves ALL of humanity, and that each of us (young and old) have the potential and capacity be awesome, even Christ like.

So think hard, think hard about any sort of rhetoric and methodology of preaching that creates bullying of young homosexuals and a climate that makes young people first turn inside and hide, and then eventually escape completely by taking their own lives.

I am only 21, how could I all ready have such a complicated issue like homosexuality figured out to the point that I can deem it with absolute certainty evil and a sin?

But what I do know with the up most certainty from the bottom of my heart is that creating and perpetuating a society that suppresses young people to the point that they are committing suicide at an alarming rate is absolutely positively evil and a sin.

All of these comments were inspired by this clip. This guys is a courageous and brave man to risk his political career to stand up to a terrible climate of suppression plaguing are American society.

And here is great article by Jim Wallis (modern day prophet to some, heretic to others) on his take on bullying and homosexuality.

Soccer Commentating

I have always admired the way English broadcasters announce futbol games. I have often noted how (compared to dull American commentators like my least favorite Chris Collinsoworth) their use or poetic prose and an arsenal of grammar (that never makes it into the daily english of an average american) makes it just so much more enjoyable to listen to.

Maybe it is just that they are English and say bloody hell, brilliant, etc... OR maybe it is them making up for a game that is just as exciting as other sports but just not for ever minute of the ninety it is played. Maybe it is a combination of both.


I want to expand my grammar and comment on the daily happenings of life like this guy here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gordan Drops 26

Gordan dropped 26 points on the Lakers the other night in a pre-season game.

I also came across this picture that captures one of my favorite moments in last years tournament. I remember being terribly nervous for this game thinking how terrible it would be to go out in the first round. Who knew we would find ourselves playing for the national championship?

This is seriously probably the sickest CLEAN come from behind breakaway block I have ever seen.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bobby Kennedy on Peace.

"God has given us a complicated world in which we sometimes choose between peace and goodness. The only place to find true peace is inside ourselves. It is a product of faith and surrender to God."
-Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why do the Awesome Die Young?

Why does everybody who is freaken way ahead of their time, prophetic, and really out to change the world get killed (always mysteriously and never without conspiracy)?

MKL, Tupac, JFK, Malcolm X, Bobby Kennedy, etc. I am sure there are hundreds of others I am forgetting.

Anyways have some words of wisdom from one of these folks.

"Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly, process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, and quietly building new structures."
-John F. Kennedy Jr.

(Repost) Collusion

Many moons ago I posted this on my blog. I post it again here to remind myself that well... I suck. I tell myself every day not to let myself be controlled by things out of my control and better yet not to create or invite conflict. But I do it all the time.

Here is what I posted a long time ago:

Here is a new word for everyone to learn and put into practice...

A conflict where the parties are inviting the very things they're fighting against.

See the word conflict in its essence is "passive", it is something that happens to us. Conflict for example, may be in result of a simple misunderstanding.

On the other hand,

The conflicts that I have noticed in my life have overwhelmingly not been conflict at all, and instead I have invited the very thing that I find myself frustrated with, fighting against, or arguing at.

Step back from your life and see what you find of the conflicts in your life. Are they conflicts or really collusion?

Doesn't the solution for conflict totally change when we look at it in this light?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gangs/Tupac Video... Prophetic?

I am taking a senior seminar on Peace, Violence, and Youth. It has been facinating and engaging so far but this week we were assigned to read the book A World of Gangs by John M. Hagedorn. This may be the most interesting and intriguing book I have read in my 3.25 years at Butler. Urban life is terribly interesting to me and the Hagedron does an awesome job of showing the history of gangs, the current state of gangs, and defining what exactly is a gang. He touches on everything from the Irish gang that created in the Chicago Dailey polotical machine to current African American gangs and how they are influenced by hip hop. If you have work in urban setting this would be an invaluable resource or at least you would find it really interesting.

Anyways it reminded me of this video I saw this summer of an interview with Tupac. It is amazing to me how well spoken, articulate, and wise he is on all matters having to do with well... Politics. If you are using the running definition of politics that is the study of who gets what, when, and where.

He is borderline prophetic.