Thursday, June 23, 2005

the sweetness of the kiss

the poisonous venom
of disunity can be
passed from one
believer to the next
in the context
of a holy kiss

no matter how one
spits and rinses
the aftertaste remains
and the effects
of the venom are
still to some
degree felt
in one's very bones

(much less one's heart.)

the sweetness of the kiss is lost.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

finding neo

Bigbro said:
Fundamentalism is about 'not needing an explanation.'

Oh, sure, there are those weekly explanations of a particular scripture that is pretty much explained the same way it was explained the last time the subject came up, but that's merely repetitiveness. Rote helps one not forget a lesson so as that lesson never changes regardless of the century in progress.

It all comes down to not needing an explanation. Not having to muddle about with explanations makes it all that much easier for everyone involved. Kind of like going to a Halloween party where no one wears masks

well, i'm afraid that i have to beg to differ with a couple different things here. i don't think that fundamentalism is as much about not needing an explanation as it is about presuming that a literal interpretation of scripture is the only explanation worth considering. this is probably why there is this whole problem with the weekly 'explanations' being all the same. it would be hard to take anything non-literal to fundamentalist masses without someone crying 'foul!'

i also disagree with the idea that not having to muddle about with explanations makes it all that much easier for everyone involved. it is the ethnocentric presumption that no one has to explain anything or be somehow intellectually and spiritually accountable to anyone or anything else that results in so much really bad theology. people make wild logical leaps from idea to idea, like neo in the matrix- as if denying the fact that there is gravity and believing that it has no hold upon him will, in fact, release him from its causal grip. arguing that spirituality need not be in any way connected to the physical world causes me to ask 'why do we have to bother with physical existence then?'

the 'merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream' approach to the interrelation of our spiritual and physical existences is probably only easy on those who subscribe to it. it drives a lot of other people crazy on both sides of the line drawn by Jesus in the sand. it is as much a source of frustration to those who, although holding to a faith in the same means of approaching God, differ from its spin on conclusive evidence, as it is to those who do not hold to this faith at all.

nobody likes being judged, or having their faith relationship (or non-relationship for that matter) with God through Christ presumed about, and a hardline of faith against a really fuzzy line of logic or reason can blur many things that are worth talking about in favour of details that become huge arguments for general disbelief. since we discovered in the garden, figuratively or literally, that to truly understand the difference between good and evil we simply needed to experience a little bit of evil first hand (and thus seperate ourselves from the holy realm, driving a necessary chasm between the temporal physical and the eternal spiritual forever) and then deal with the consequences of our decision-making, we've wrestled with the apparent disparity between our intellectual capacity for reason and the whole of existence which appears to be not only very very big but, at times, very unreasonable as well.

where it goes all wrong for me is when there are rectifiable differences that are stubbornly ignored. you find a neo in the most surprising places, often wearing some very familiar faces.

a bunch of us were all grappling with an entirely different issue the other day when a dear friend of mine surprised me by launching some SCUD missile logic into an otherwise really engaging round-the-table discussion. he said 'i have trouble with people who say that they believe the bible as long as it agrees with science... i believe science as long as it agrees with the bible, no further.' from here he shared his belief that the whole carbon-dating process is an atheist conspirator's distraction and that the earth is only six thousand years old and so on.

now, this guy is awesome and i love him dearly, but because i knew that we'd just get into an argument that would go round and round and take over the meeting from there on, i left it alone in spite of the fact that i vehemently disagreed with his position. what made me uncomfortable was the feeling in me that, because i was silent, those around the table would think i agreed. easier for everyone else? maybe, but that collective ease came at the price of my own personal peace.

you see, recently i posted a bit on 'five things i don't get.' this was one that almost made my top 5 list:
why people see creation theories and evolution theories as diametrically opposed and in all ways contradictory. a theory can't prove or disprove God. it can only strengthen your faith in its hypothesis.

but here's where the "darwin/TRUTH" picture above comes in. i very strongly agree with this image, but not in the way my friend thinks, judging from my silence that day. you see, i think truth is a way bigger fish than any one theory, and that, if we are to cut open the TRUTH fish, we'll probably find the partially digested remains of the darwin fish inside its entrails. some of the theory will have made truth stronger, and some of it will have already become deep-sea excrement.

once again, the challenge for me is to be able to tell the difference, being careful to clean the fish thoroughly before i throw it onto my barBQ wrapped in foil to be cooked and served to my friends as a the maincourse of a well-balanced meal.

disclaimer: i know that it sounds like i'm doing a lot of judging of my own here... please forgive me for this. i have not yet found a way to articulate objections objectively.

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

five plus one

the challenge has been out there in the blogosphere to identify the five things you just don't get. okay, i’ve thought about it and here are five of mine (not in order of importance…)

1) why it is so difficult for people to stop doing things that they know from first-hand experience only lead to personal pain.

2) why people perceive negativity and cynicism as indicators of greater intelligence.

3) why, having been given dominion over all the earth, people still see each other as the final frontier, setting out to conquer their fellows rather than celebrating the diversity of others and reaping the benefits to be gained from valuing one another.

4) why people seem to always put faith and reason on opposite sides of a theosophical continuum. we need to be able to do battle in both arenas and know, in fact, which fights are being held where.

5) why it is so difficult for people to converse with others of differing perspective without trying to either sell them something they don’t want (or see the need for) or convince them to move... in other words, without turning the conversation into one of those battles mentioned above. there would probably be a lot more interesting conversation taking place if people knew that their perspective was going to be respected even by those who held different views. we might all actually become smarter and wiser.

(6) why i am better at writing these words than living them.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

thomas edison and original sin

icarus reflects upon the philosophical meanderings that are part of his higher education from time to time:
While sitting in my leftist infested American Foreign Policy class, my professor, also a jaded communist, keeps pronouncing that human nature is evil. He says it so much that the rest of the class has now begun the practice of finishing his sentence for him. "Things are bad because human nature is...class? 'Evil!' That's right, evil, very good."

so why is it that we always get this one wrong? i think it's because we need to place the blame for all manner of calamity resulting from the poor stewardship of our free will on somebody or something other than ourselves. it must be in our nature to be evil- this absolves us of both guilt and responsibility.

however, when i dig back into the creation story told in the first couple chapters of the first book of the bible, i find some wording that is troublesome if i am to subscribe to this doctrine of inherent evil. quite frankly, i can't get past it:

sorry for the lengthy quote that ensues. i just don't want to break up the context too much...
then God said, 'let us make man in our own image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.

so God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

so God blessed them and said to them, 'be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves along the ground.'

then God said 'i give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. they will be yours for food.

and to all the beasts of the earth and the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground- everything that has the breath of life in it- i give every green plant for food.' and it was so.

and God saw all that he had made and it was very good.
(genesis 2.26-31)

okay, here's my little point- the main reason why i just can't buy the 'evil human nature' deal: the bible holds that God, upon looking at all he had made (which incidently culminated with the creation of beings capable of relationship with him) did not say that it was 'fine', or 'acceptable' or 'sufficient for the timebeing,' he said that it was 'very good'- that what he had just finished working on was, in his view, superior to everything he had already created so far and called simply 'good.' if we look at the bit where he envisions humankind for the first time, we see that people were planned to be and realized in the image or likeness of God. i guess this and the 'it is very good' remark tell us more about God than about man.

if evil were natural, then God would have looked at something inherently evil and, upon declaring it 'very good' would have been declaring himself inherently evil as well, as man is said to be in the image of God.

although a lot of people like to see God as a cosmic spoilsport (all the fun stuff is seen as illegal- whole nother blog there), or a cranky king (bringing down harsh retribution upon any who fall short of being perfect in thought or deed) or a vain and needy emotional and spiritual being (creating beings for the sole purpose of worshiping himself), all of these are better examples of man creating God in his own image, than the other way round.

no, i believe that what is natural has been replaced by that which is flawed and unnatural: a soul corruption that has spread through our species through both nature and nurture, along with that pesky thing called 'free will.'

so we went from 'very good' to 'worth dying for' with one bad decision.

either way, i can't swallow the idea that we are naturally evil... if we were we'd hardly be worth all the fuss. it would make more sense for God to act in the manner of thomas edison upon inventing yet another lightbulb that failed to work... just put humankind in a box, log it away as yet another way to NOT create a recipient of his greatest love and attention, and start all over again.

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