Spritzophrenia

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Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Blessed Are The Sick (Your Voice)

Posted by spritzophrenia on September 30, 2010

Welcome to the first in an occasional series where I specifically seek your feedback. I want to learn, you can guide my thoughts in ways I haven’t considered. Please respond in the comments and tell me what you think, even if it’s “I don’t know”.

[Edit: A good friend told me she wants to comment, but is “not a philosopher or theologian”. That tells me I’ve pitched this too high- I’m sorry. As with all comments here, I don’t expect you to be profound. I’m just happy to hear from you, even if it’s “Hi, what a crappy post. You suck, but I can’t think of anything to say.”

So if you like, just read the first bit and skip the rest.]

Today, I’m sick. Nothing serious, but our topic will lead into a short series about pain, suffering and spirituality; surely a challenge for any path. (Here’s number two in the series.) Atheists have it easy of course, they can just say, “The world sucks, it proves there’s no benevolence in the universe, and that’s all there is to it”. Or do you atheists have something more to offer when we suffer?

What does sickness tell you– if anything– about the transcendent world? How does it affect you: Your meditation, your prayer life, your practice? What is the meaning of life for those who cannot function at the same level as others?

To get your thoughts going, read on. Or just ignore, and go straight to the comments.

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hospital

Ideas

Consider Mental illness,

What we call schizophrenic is, as Joseph Campbell has discussed, called (positively) visionary or mystical in shamanic cultures, hence is valued, not feared or sedated with chemicals.

Shamanic illnesses are no different or ‘special’ than the illnesses of ‘normal’ people. Disease all comes from the same source, shamanic or not. Shamanic healers don’t piece by piece heal, they heal as a whole.

~from mental illness and spirituality

I’m mentally disabled myself, I’ve struggled with depression at times for most of my adult life. Or consider the last time you were laid under by a severe cold:

Psalm 41:3-4
The LORD will sustain him on his sick-bed and restore him from his bed of illness.
I said, O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.

What can we learn about the meaning of life from permanent disability?

The criteria of transcendence and transfiguration also apply to the spiritual development of disabled people, in each case relative to the characteristics of the body which is disabled, transcended, and transfigured. This enables us to conceive of a multiplicity of known and lived human worlds.

This has two advantages. First, the plurality of the human worlds enables us to construct a spirituality of disability which is not based upon a theory of deficiency. As long as disabilities are mainly understood as lacking something, their intrinsic character will be overlooked, and they will be understood as mere exclusions from the big world.

~ from A Spirituality of Disability


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Please Respond

What is the meaning of life for those who cannot function at the same level as others? Do you know someone who’s suffered from chronic illness? Where is g0d in all of this?

Please leave your feedback in the comments. This is YOUR chance to share 🙂

Morbid Angel | Blessed Are The Sick

Posted in agnostic, Emergent, god, hardship, spirituality, Your Voice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments »

I Used To Believe

Posted by spritzophrenia on September 6, 2010

The public image of contemporary philosophers is that their personal stories are all stories of losing faith or of never having had it. The stories in this volume shatter the image. …

… They are stories by contemporary philosophers— many of them world-renowned— of coming to faith or returning, or of enduring in faith. The spiritual journeys narrated were never easy, there’s a lot of suffering and desperation here, and perplexity.”

~ Nicholas Wolterstorff, Yale

Man before Buddha

God and the Philosophers: The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason, features Christian and Jewish theists. One of the longer pieces is Peter van Inwagen’s Quam Dilecta, which tells the story of his rejection of teenage spirituality, twenty years of atheism and his long slow turn to Christianity. He writes with an urbane cynicism that I find amusing:

My attachment to Unitarianism (and its three pillars: the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Neighbourhood of Boston) did not survive my going away to college. That sort of thing is, of course, a familiar story in every denomination, but it’s an easier passage for Unitarians, since it does not involve giving up any beliefs. My wife, who is one of my most useful critics, tells me that this is an unkind remark and ought to be omitted. It seems to me to be an important thing to say, however. I did not experience the crisis of conscience so common among Evangelical or Roman Catholic university students who leave the church. … It is, however, simply a fact that a Unitarian can sever his connection with Unitarianism without changing any of his beliefs.

~ p32

Have you given up a belief? (Perhaps one belief out of many, a scientific belief or belief in humanity, if not a spiritual one.)

Is it possible to have a spiritual life without beliefs? Perhaps we could say that Buddhism is also a practice that requires no intellectual assent. But is this, in fact, the case?

Respond

? What do you think?

“In yourself, believe. It’s alright”, sing the phenomenal King‘s X. There’s a live version here, with an inspiring message— recommended. Or, you can listen to

King’s X – Believe. Belief Lyrics.

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Posted in agnostic, Christianity, Emergent, Judaism, music, Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

Who Am I to Tell You Anything?

Posted by spritzophrenia on August 20, 2010

Are there some journeys that should never be started? There are people who know me in real life who might sneer on hearing I’m seeking higher reality again. These are people I’ve hurt, lied to, or (think they) know my failings. I’m far from perfect. Even when I turned my back on a religious path, I’ve been a hypocrite in my new path. I’ve criticised other views on this very blog, it’s only fair I turn the lens on myself.

I Was Wrong

I started this journey not wanting to share much about me. Spritzophrenia was supposed to be about the ideas and conclusions, not my self. I’m not that interesting, I’m not that worthy. But the stories are inseparable, and I’m really not proud of some chapters. I feel distress at my own ethical off-the-wagon times. Oh there’s been plenty of failure, moral turpitude, poverty, despair and general crapness in my life: Hear my confession.

I hurt people. I cut off contact with my parents and one of my sisters for a year when they annoyed me and let me down. I’ve lied, and lied again about important things. I’ve broken promises. I’ve stolen. I owe good people money, and don’t know when I will repay it. I may be on a slippery slope to alcoholism. I was once so angry and frustrated I attacked my girlfriend’s car with a chair, smashing a light.

Others question my motives, sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly. I once overheard a conversation about me getting on my “high horse”. I’d always thought I came across as fairly humble? I wrote earlier about how hard this is for me.

While I think one should be measured by one’s own conscience, it doesn’t really matter which moral code you measure me against. I’ve broken most of the ten commandments. I don’t walk in the eightfold path, I’m deeply attached. Insofar as the golden rule suffices for Secular Humanism, I ain’t been golden. Insofar as the “Love God and love other people” of Jesus, nope. Even Augustine’s “Love god and do what you want” leaves me wanting.

Though I can point to reasons, philosophies and religious paths that enticed me, I make no excuses. My atheism, nihilism and Satanism were nascent anyway, the labels became convenient excuses. I might have been bad even if I embraced Hasidism. Sometimes I thought my actions and thoughts were ‘right’ at the time, only to be confounded by them, sometimes years later. I take responsibility for what I’ve done and I’m reaping what I’ve sowed.

I Walk The Line Between Good and Evil

I recommend listening to Alien Sex Fiend’s I walk the Line.

more below

This apple’s rotten to the core

Get up, off your knees

Get down on the floor

You wouldn’t listen [to me], and I don’t blame ya

I’m already in the gutter, next stop is the drain

[Full lyrics.] I note one can still make nice cider from rotten apples.

Are We Moral?

Some will no doubt point to my christian past and infer an over-inflated sense of guilt. But to be perfectly honest, I didn’t have much guilt when I was a Christian— it gave me a sense of freedom from guilt.

I think we have an inflated idea of how good people are. A piece in the NZ Listener some years back indicated just how common white collar crime is; good moral people just like us are cheating on their taxes and their spouses. I’m not worried about whether lying is equivalent to murder, it’s the general point I’m driving at. What does it take to be a moral person? To always do good? Do good most of the time? What percentage of good makes us a good person? Is there such a thing as one’s “character”? “We’re good people. We just do bad things.” (Larry Norman)

The idea that the christian g0d wants to help us escape our tendency to damage, looks on the money. (If she exists.) The phrase so often quoted by evangelists “All have sinned, and fallen short” seems to ring rather more true than we might like to admit. Christians— the ones who know their theology at least— don’t claim we are as bad as we possibly can be. Only that we are distorted. Like a drop of ink in a glass of water discolours the whole thing.

“If I believed in God, if I believed in sin, this is the place I’d be sucked straight to hell.” (~ Dexter, Season 2 Episode 2) Some think believers parade triumphantly into heaven. I think many of us will crawl there, relieved and surprised.

Only those who are broken can accept being whole.

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Have you ever hurt someone by following your beliefs, or in spite of them?

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Posted in Christianity, ethics, hardship, personal, personal development, spirituality | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments »

Mixed Nuts

Posted by spritzophrenia on August 16, 2010

Today’s Spritzophrenia Street is brought to you by the letter Orange, and the number Fish. It’s a wild, rollicking ride through what I’m currently reading, so lets get started.

The Laughter of God

I will argue that [science and spirituality] not only can coexist within one person, but can do so in a fashion that enriches and enlightens the human experience. Science is the only reliable way to understand the natural world, and its tools when properly utilized can generate profound insights into material existence. But science is powerless to answer questions such as “Why did the universe come into being?” “What is the meaning of human existence?” “What happens after we die?”

Meditation

continued…

One of the strongest motivations of humankind is to seek answers to profound questions, and we need to bring all the power of both the scientific and spiritual perspectives to bear on understanding what is both seen and unseen. The goal of this book is to explore a pathway toward a sober and intellectually honest integration of these views.

First, I should explain how a scientist who studies genetics came to be a believer in a God who is unlimited by time and space, and who takes personal interest in human beings. Some will assume that this must have come about by rigorous religious upbringing, deeply instilled by family and culture, and thus inescapable in later life. But that’s not really my story.

~ Francis Collins The Language of God (Free Press, 2006) p 6,7

We now move from the sublime to the ridiculous – but perhaps the ridiculous can be spiritually helpful too?

I believe that people who have a good sense of humor are usually intuitive people in general. Show me someone who has no sense of humor, and I will show you a very stiff, boring person with no insight whatsoever.

~ Warren Shiller quoted in Romy Shiller Who Knew (Trafford, 2010) p 32

Could a sense of humour mark the kind of intuition that helps along the spiritual path?

You may have heard the recent news that the bones of John the Baptist have allegedly been found. Barth’s Notes has an amusing piece— amusing because of the language and feisty-ness of the Bulgarian officials, who it seems need tourist dollars. Hence they’re eager to proclaim authenticity. The evidence seems pretty flimsy to me, see Rollston Debunks Stupid John the Baptist’s Bones Claim.

Sorry Bulgaria, writing as someone who is open to the idea that faith could be a valid way of life, “faith” in the face of clear evidence to the contrary is not faith— it’s dogmatism and idiocy.

Speaking of idiocy, Insane Clown Posse’s track Miracles. Thanks to Marty Atheist Climber for alerting me. Mysteries do not prove impossibilities, especially when it appears we aren’t to try and figure them out. I do like some ICP, particularly Let’s Go All The Way, but check these lyrics:

Water, fire, air and dirt
F**king magnets, how do they work?
And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist
Y’all motherf**kers lying, and getting me pissed

Bahahaha! While perhaps it’s a metaphorical point they’re trying to make, it does come across as celebrating ignorance. Even better, today Marty tweeted me the hilarious SNL spoof of the song:

Eat, Pray, Lust

Following on from the allegations about Eat, Pray, Love

Sex between gurus and disciples is common, sociologists and other experts say. The New Yorker magazine reported in November 1994 that female followers of deceased Swami Muktananda, the man who made Chetanananda a swami, had sex with them. Many devotees later left after learning about the sexual allegations.

~ from here.

I’ve had this in my notes for some time. Now I realise Swami Muktananda is the one who guru-fied Liz Gilbert’s Gurumayi Chidvilasananda (formerly Malti Shetty). Another book in my current pile is a biography about following a guru:

All of the people whom [guru Paul Brunton, alias P.B.] had chosen… as his disciples were singularly favoured. They were to be at the center of the salvation of the universe. There could be no greater honor. This was a universe as simply organised as a boy’s adventure story. I found a similar atmosphere when I read Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings years later.

[P.B.] is not an egregious example of a false prophet. The story I have to tell about him is not an exposé in the classic sense, although I have nothing against such exposés. Tales by insiders of what really goes on in these cults are not only fascinating gossip, they are instructive of the kind of world this spirituality builds. … I was able to observe, especially in me and my father and in Paul Brunton, the clash, the romanticism, and the ultimate tragedy of these attempts to escape the imperfections of the human condition. I was a direct participant, and I did not escape its consequences.

~Jeffrey Masson My Father’s Guru: A Journey through Spirituality and Disillusion (Harper Collings, 1993) p xiv, xv

Things Mistaken for Meditation

Another misguided notion about meditation is that it’s about becoming enlightened.

You can’t become enlightened. It’s not possible.

You can’t become enlightened for the same reason that you can’t come into contact with Truth: you’re already here, immersed in it. It’s like trying to become human, or searching high and low for air.

When we search for enlightenment, we’re like a fish searching for water or a bird seeking the sky. Enlightenment isn’t something you can pursue. And, anyway, you don’t need to, because it’s already right where you are. Meditation is not about straining or striving for some special state of mind. It’s about letting our habitual striving drop away and simply experiencing what’s present before we make anything of it.

~ Steve Hagen Meditation: Now or Never (HarperOne, 2007) p 21

I’ve begun a very basic practice of meditation, after I get up in the morning. I’ve been quietly pleased with my progress so far, no doubt this is the ‘beginners luck’ that most new practices enjoin. Perhaps I’ll report back sometime, if this blog is about searching for higher reality it will pay me to occasionally record such things.

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Tell me in the comments

Which of the above tickled your buttons? Have a great day y’all.

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Posted in Buddhism, Christianity, cosmology, God, Hinduism, humor, humour, personal development, Science, spirituality | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Anne Rice: I Quit Christianity!

Posted by spritzophrenia on July 30, 2010

Reactionary. News-driven. That’s what I try not to be. Atheist friend Marty tweeted this yesterday, and I read Anne’s Facebook page. Today I see Matthew at Jesus Needs New PR has blogged it, so with thanks and apologies Matt, I’m yoinking yours. Even though I’m highly interested, I’ve got other work to finish today. What’s Cool?

***

Anne Rice announces on Facebook that she’s quitting Christianity!

Yesterday on Facebook, Anne Rice updated her status…

“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

Anne Rice

And then later, she updated her status again…

As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

Currently her status is…

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. ” Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew comments:
I love Anne Rice!

However, I do hope this new “non-Christian, Christ-centered non-Christianity Christianity” that she’s embracing will lead her to stop writing books about Jesus. Wow. Have you read them? They’re so boring in my opinion. Oh, I still buy them. But I don’t read them. (Stupid, I know.)

***

All I’ll add is there’s a lot of other people like her, some of whom I know personally. This is the kind of belief I eventually chose, and probably would choose again if I go back to a faith based on Y’shua. Maybe without the vampire stories 😉

You get multiple updates from me today, you lucky lucky people.

[Update: Rice also writes in part, “My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But …” You can read the rest at JesusNeedsNewPr]

So what are your thoughts on her status? Or you can check out What’s Cool?

Posted in agnostic, Christianity, hardship, life, Sociology, spirituality | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Evolution, Creation and Christianity

Posted by spritzophrenia on July 24, 2010

I had to laugh at this genuine tweet from today, “The Theory of Evaluation is a lie that is passed off as TRUTH.” A comment on a YouTube video also amused me: “Brian, do you realise how creationist your idea is?” Oh noes – A new insult!

Evolution and God cartoon

Do you groan when the so-called creation versus evolution debate comes up? I do. What pushes my buttons most is the popular impression there is only one Christian perspective on science and the Bible.

This post is a plea for charity, and a plea for awareness that there are multiple views of how God might have generated the world, held by genuine people of faith[1], and by genuine scientists. I’m tired of having the alternatives shouted down. Hopefully it’s only a minority who proclaim that if you’re not with them, you’re not a true believer ™ .

While I often call myself an open agnostic, today I’m wearing my “Let’s assume Christianity is true” hat. If you’re not really interested, just stop reading here and enjoy the music:

La Roux | In For The Kill (Skream remix)

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I’ve never accepted the earth is young. There is a grandeur to the thought of the Spirit brooding over the eons of Earth, patiently coaxing her into life, exulting in each step and life form. Billions of years for God’s work of art to coalesce. Mainstream science teaches an ancient universe, but there are also many deeply committed Christians who agree.

Evangelical theologian Bernard Ramm wrote of his “conviction that the fundamental problem of Christianity in biology is not really evolution but a philosophy of biology” [2]. I suspect many secular biologists could also do with a good philosophy of biology, an area too easily neglected in the grinding process of long lab hours while earning one’s PhD. While now over fifty years old, Ramm’s “epochal work” is still worth a read as a foundation to thinking in this area.

So what are some Christian views on science and scripture? Years ago, I concluded there are about seven major approaches that are held, depending on how we categorise and name them. Each have theological views about how to interpret Genesis and scientific views about how the natural world came to be.

However, after much wrestling with this post, I decided to abandon any attempt to create the Mother of All Summaries, and concentrate on a few ideas that interest me right now. There’s a useful comparison table here which unfortunately still neglects some views. Here’s another useful summary.

Let’s start with
Old Earth Views
Putting it simply, the evidence from geology and a number of other sources for dating the universe is overwhelming. For the purposes of this post I’m going to take this as a given. One of these Old-Earth creation views is:

Theistic Evolution
There are plenty of Christians who accept biological evolution in some form, and reconcile it with their faith. Even Bible-believing born-again types. See for example, Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose?, Karl Giberson’s Saving Darwin, many of the eminent scientists in this book and an increasing number of other books. There are some common responses concerned with the outcomes of theistic evolution – for example, Does it destroy belief in a literal Adam and Eve?, and Doesn’t Genesis teach there was no pain and suffering until the fall, and therefore evolution cannot have been the mechanism? I don’t think these need be problems (see here), and I was skeptical about evolution for many years. I’m sure you want to know whether I’m still skeptical now, right? Let me know if you want me to post about this. Keepin’ this short, remember?

Some will immediately demonise anyone who even suggests theistic evolution, and argue for some kind of atheist conspiracy theory. I’m not an atheist, remember? A few of these people are probably in the Intelligent Design movement. I hesitate to mention Intelligent Design as I’m out of touch with it. It may be better categorized as a social-political movement rather than a distinct new interpretation. Broadly speaking, Intelligent Design proponents believe in an old Earth and may not require literal interpretations of Genesis, which is at least a step in the right direction, in my view. Speaking of which, …

Non-Literal Interpretations
I once hosted a talk by a friend who is both a working scientist with a PhD in chemistry and a Pentecostal minister. He proposed that a good look at the literary forms in Genesis reveals interesting things. These approaches can be loosely lumped together as the Literary Framework view.

This view says that Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 give a figurative framework— a topical and non-sequential account of creation—but not necessarily an historical account of the order of the creative process. And so it tells us we have structure— we have order in the account of Genesis Chapter One, but the structure does not correspond to the historical order. We are not to take the structure literally, yet we are not to hear a non-literal or a mythological reading of the text.” from Dr Guy Waters’ Four Prominent Interpretations .

I want to mention UK physicist Alan Hayward‘s “Fiat creation” idea because it hasn’t had enough attention in my view [2]. I’d prefer to use another name as “Fiat creation” is also used by other viewpoints. Also, I can’t help thinking about Italian cars.

Fiat car

Maybe we could call it
Spoken Word Creation?
I’m writing this from memory and summarising Hayward’s more elegant prose. As I recall, Hayward notes that the original Hebrew of Genesis doesn’t have punctuation (and certainly not verse numbers) and so scholars infer where to put punctuation as a part of the translation process. This also includes deciding where poetic or liturgic language appears. Modern translations usually lay out poetry in a slightly different format to indicate this – see the Psalms, for example.

Hayward suggests it is conceptually possible to read Genesis 1 as if it includes parentheses. For example:

And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.
(God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. )
And there was evening, and there was morning— the first day.

And God said, Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.
(So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse sky. )
And there was evening, and there was morning— the second day.

And God said, Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear. And it was so.
(God called the dry ground land, and the gathered waters he called seas. And God saw that it was good.)
Then God said, Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds. And it was so.
(The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.)
And there was evening, and there was morning— the third day.

The phrases in bold above are what God spoke over the six day period. The passages I’ve put in parentheses are a comment on the fiats, so to speak. There are much more elegant treatments of the poetry in Genesis 1, but hopefully you get the point.

This interpretation focuses on the idea that what God speaks, will inevitably happen. It does not require the outcome to occur immediately. In other words, the Genesis account is focused on God’s speaking (“fiats”), not on how the results of God’s spoken will are worked out through history. Interestingly, this view allows a believer to affirm that God created in a literal six days. It is the six days of God speaking that is the focus, the details of how it actually came to be can be left to science.

In the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I got to say about that”.

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This post is a plea for charity, and a plea for awareness that there are multiple views of how God might have generated the world, held by genuine Christians, and by genuine scientists[4]. I’d like to hear your opinion. Here’s my comment guidelines.

Notes
1. My apologies to Jews, Muslims and other theists, I’m limiting myself to Christian creation views here. Many of the theistic creation views held by Jews and Muslims seem to be comfortable with an old earth and evolution. All three faiths have Genesis in common, although it’s reported many Muslims regard Genesis as a corrupted version of God’s message.
2. Ramm p 179
3.Alan Hayward | Creation and Evolution: Rethinking the Evidence from Science and the Bible (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2005) seems to be a reprint of Hayward’s 1995 work which I understand did not receive the attention it deserved in the USA because he heavily criticises young earth creation theories. Though slightly out of date now, I still believe it’s one of the best books written about this topic.
4. You could look at the UK Christians in Science Association and the far-too-short Wikipedia list.

Posted in Biology, Christianity, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Rejecting God Is Justified?

Posted by spritzophrenia on July 21, 2010

Why should you love God if she forces you to live through pain and doesn‘t keep her promises? I watched The Rapture last night. It’s the story of a bored, hedonistic woman who finds faith, and eventually loses it again.

Some reviews claim The Rapture is the best movie of 1991, and that lead actor Mimi Rogers deserves an Oscar. I’m not sure about that, but I did find it compelling. It’s an independent film, and I had to ignore the intermittent “made for TV” ambience. However, this film is not trying to convince you to follow a particular religion. Sure, the concept of “the rapture” is a common christian idea that true believers are caught up to heaven when Jesus returns. From my experience the ethos portrayed in the film is a fairly fringe kind of pseudo-Christianity, but I don’t think that’s the main point. The Rapture is asking bigger questions about belief in general, some of which will sit very well with atheists. One commenter wrote they’ve seen the film 10 times and they’re still not sure what to make of it.

Edit. The Rapture is not an easy or pleasant movie experience – don’t get it for a romantic first date.

The video below contains scenes from the movie, I’m not sure why the Foo Fighters soundtrack, but it’s a great song and worth watching for that alone. You can download the movie on BitTorrent if your local DVD store doesn’t have it.

Also see 10 Must-See Spiritual Movies.

Posted in agnostic, Christianity, hardship, movies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Booklust

Posted by spritzophrenia on July 16, 2010

Like interesting quotes? Here’s a random selection from my latest pile from the library:

[In] the novel Mindscan, in the future we will become immortal by first scanning our brains. … To ensure the mental health of the people undergoing mind transfer, Mindscan scientists find that these artificial brains must be pre-installed in robotic bodies before the person wakes up.

Clifford Pickover A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality: Extraordinary people, alien brains and Quantum Resurrection (Thunders Mouth Press, 2007) p94

writing

The presumption of atheism which I want to discuss is not a form of presumptuousness. Indeed, it might be regarded as an expression of the very opposite, a modest teachability.

Anthony Flew The Presumption of Atheism (Elek/Pemberton, 1976) p13

If we take the concept of embodiment seriously, then there cannot be any mental concept without its physical expression.

Anne Forest God in the Machine: What Robots Teach us about humanity and God (Plume, 2004) [She talks about a concept of embodiment I’d already thought of. Exciting!] P 105

The important thing to note is that all appeals to an infinite number of different universes as an escape from the conclusion of a divinely designed universe are forms of the gambler’s fallacy.

Hugh Ross The Creator and the Cosmos (Navpress, 3rd ed, 2001) [Um… ok? Astronomer, not a young earth creationist.]

I think evolution is true. The process, as I reflect on it, is an expression of God’s creativity, although in a way that is not captured by the scientific view of the world. … Science provides a partial set of insights that, though powerful, don’t answer all the questions.

Karl Giberson Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution (HarperOne, 2008) [Former fundamentalist young-earth creationist tells his story.] p216

“The Spirit (God himself in his relationship to the world) also works in the creation and preservation of the world. Man is not forsaken by God. Otherwise he would live in a complete hell. … People create somewhat sanctified [social] structures, and those structures force people to conduct themselves in a somewhat sanctified manner. … Tying in with … that work, the Spirit works through sanctified people as instruments of love.”

Hendrikus Berkhof Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Study of the Faith (Revised ed.) (Eerdmans, 1986) p 512 [Theology text which has some useful notes on my thinking around experience and g0d for an article I‘m working on.]

Everything I see – the water, the log-wrecked beach, the farm on the hill, the bluff, the white church in the trees – looks overly distinct and shining. (What is the relationship of color to this sun, of sun to anything else?) It all looks staged.

Annie Dillard Holy The Firm (Perennial, 1977) [Pulizter Prize Winner] p49

Leave all these things alone: silence or speech, fasting or eating, solitude or company, and the like, and don’t bother about them; you don’t know what they mean, and it’s not worth your while trying to find out. … This grace will certainly never come to us through keeping strict silence [etc] … If we are to have this grace it has to come from within, from God…

From A Much Needed Letter on Moderation In Spiritual Impulses in Charles Crawford (trans) The Cell of Self-Knowledge: Early English Mystical Treatises (Crossroad, 1981)

The theoretical distinction between substances and modes is between those things that can exist on their own and don’t depend on anything else for their existence (substances), and those that cannot exist on their own and depend on substances for their existence (modes).

Cardinal, Hayward, Jones The Meditations [of] Rene Descartes (Hodder Murray, 2006) p67 [Well-done philosophy text to accompany D’s famous work.]

Magic seeks different satisfactions from science. It is best seen as a highly developed gesture language, not depending on hypotheses or evidence, or seeking causal explanations as does science. So there is no progress in magic as there is in science.

Heaton, Groves Understanding Wittgenstein (Ikon, 2005) p 124

Posted in agnostic, Christianity, ethics, Philosophy, writing | Tagged: , , | 15 Comments »

The Great Leveller

Posted by spritzophrenia on July 8, 2010

From the website run by his wife:

John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies”

David Burge fell asleep in the Lord Jesus Christ last night (Sunday, July 4, 2010). David was surrounded by his family during the last moments of his battle with leukaemia.

He was only 42. Only the most hard-hearted would sneer at the hope of another life. David, I miss you and I love you. You were my friend, my schoolmate from age 10, a deep thinker and good guy.

David Burge

===

Strangely, I was thinking about the fear of death the other day. The fear of death has never been a biggie for me. My friend Nathan cited it as the key thing that made him want to become a christian. He was regularly afraid of death as a teenager. These days Nathan is still a great guy, but is now an atheist, as I understand him.

I was nearly 41 when I first felt the fear of death, just a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t doing much, just walking up my path. Oh, I’d been afraid of dying before. A particularly harrowing moment rock climbing, or on top of a mountain in a storm. Yeah, I was scared of dying. But I wasn’t scared of being dead. This time it was actually experiencing being dead which scared me. How weird that it should come upon me when I was doing nothing.

I think of the poignant moment in Blade Runner, when the android Roy states it is his “Time To Die”.

At university, a member of the atheist club suggested that as we have no fear contemplating our non-existence before birth, so it makes sense to have the same lack of fear contemplating our non-existence post death. This has stuck with me and makes a lot of sense.

I recently found out this argument can be traced all the way back to Epicurus, a favourite philosopher of mine. Apparently there are good arguments against it too, but I don’t know what they are.

Either way, death is the great leveller. It has a way of making us stop and reflect, and this is a good thing.

I hope to see you again, Dave.

Posted in agnostic, Christianity | Tagged: , , , , | 20 Comments »

More God-Botherer Music

Posted by spritzophrenia on July 4, 2010

My mouth turns down when I hear the term ‘christian music’ these days. That’s unfortunate, as there’s actually some good stuff out there musically and thematically. My first pick you might find surprising, it’s aggressive. Argyle Park was controversial, rare, and introduced me to Industrial music. The story I heard is that “Violent” is about a pastor who disappointed them in some way. “Liars can’t be trusted, but who doesn’t lie?”

Completely different, here’s Julie Miller with “All My Tears”. I love her voice, and the simplicity of this. Even tho I was postchristian when I heard this, it still brought tears to my eyes.

I think we’re nearly done with music week.

PS: Check out a guest post I just did for Agnostic Pentecostal.

Posted in Christianity, music | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »