I am "non-religious", not an atheist as some suppose, since after reading what I have written many wonder if I believe in "God", I just don't have a name for the concept, "God", nor do I have an origination story or theological mystery tour to stretch your faith. (I have no proof of what I believe and I wonder if my belief in "God" is supportable as I have increasing doubts.) I just can't accept an inflexible point of view that says, "I know what you need, and I know what you should know and here it is, you can have it too." Religionists present yet another obstacle to finding "truth" as they claim to have succeeded exclusively in finding it.
Having been a part of the religious scene for years it is clear to me how easily duped we are to believe in something we have no proof of, has caused an abundance of divisions, and "territorialized" people into believers and non-believers.
Furthermore, my belief in "God" equates to the larger perspective which includes an awareness of "God" in everything. I speculate at times whether or not consciousness is "God" So, my belief in "God" does not necessarily match up to the Christian/Judaeo tradition of a being existing somewhere in the beyond or in one's "heart". If there is a "God" he/she/it could be anywhere and in anything.
Though I believe in God, it is not a belief in the God of Scripture. Too many “holes” in Scripture to satisfy my inquiring mind. It may indeed point me in the right direction but I find it not only unreliable but full of plagiaristic thought and re-writing of some of history’s interesting solutions. I much prefer to trust the minds of men and women who conjecture on the basis of what we now know of our universe than those men and women who trust the minds of ancient spiritual guides who, in turn, contributed to a book allegedly “inspired” by God. It is all unprovable, either side of this argument, but I prefer to invest most of my thinking in current ideas rather than those that show little support in logic. Do I hear an "Amen"?
Thinking out loud…”Leading from behind” has been criticized as a baseless leadership style by many who contend that leadership is only possible when the person leading is in front and knows all, e.g. Benghazi or “Fast and Furious.” Front and center leadership is militaristic in style and so is widely touted as a preferred form of leadership by the many who have been in the armed forces. It assumes the leader knows all or is to be informed of all and is responsible for all under his/her leadership and must be able to recount the details of failure or success as if they were endowed with superhuman qualities. Leading from behind has been criticized by the right wing press as if it were a dysfunctional form of leadership. If so, the Scriptures would need to be rewritten. “…a phrase I’ve borrowed from none other than Nelson Mandela. In his autobiography, Mandela equated a great leader with a shepherd: ‘He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.’” –Linda Hill in the Harvard Business Review, May 5, 2010. In this case the Shepherd is alleged to know all, having superhuman qualities.
The illustration cited above serves as a metaphor for what or who a leader can be. If we take any qualities of personhood from Scripture this one surely should be included as a model for the person as leader. Leading from behind is what any leader can do while facilitating the possibility for persons to test their abilities and ideas with the leader’s support. Granted, we did not elect a pastor as President. But we did elect a person who prefers to lead from behind. A biblical model tweaked for Presidential leadership seems appropriate.
What is it about having to dig up the past to justify the present? The Obama past is recounted with cynicism, exaggeration, and distorted recounting along with a parallel of lies that are meant to confound/confuse the masses. If it is stated by the President then it must be true! How infantile is that? We have learned not to trust the President’s word, on anything, especially having to do with politics and a host of concerns/needs the public has a right to be informed about.
There is nothing wrong with the term “Liberal” or that one is “Conservative.” They are merely terms that help us understand one another’s position on various issues impacting our nation. (And they are not just political issues.) Unfortunately, to justify their/our position, each makes a case in the negative about the other which rarely convinces anyone. Showing people how wrong they are encourages deeper entrenchment. That is why we are so divided over our government. We are prone to “face” someone with their wrong headed approaches to problems that plague us all and we tend to be convinced that if the “other side” would only listen to us and our position all would be improved. It will never happen.
The goal of a democracy is to work with and manage a wide variety of opinions while seeking to implement the majority view. All of this is done while trying to respect the views of the minority. A very tough job. If, in the middle of majority implementation one is criticized the party criticized tends to put up barriers to communication so as to deflect the arrows of discontent. There must be a better way than crossing swords each time we disagree on how to run our government. I believe open communication and compromise are tools that can make this happen. Without them it is impossible to move forward. We need to listen to each other. Barbs, expressing frustration and discontent with someone else’s position, accomplish little.
I have recently come to the conclusion that I am a rationalist, a cognitive realist. I have come to see the world less clearly than I once did when I thought I knew what there was needed to know and I trusted that reality. Things have changed for me. And, I might add, for some of my acquaintances. Life and its issues are not so simple. Having discoursed with some of divergent opinions regarding politics and religion one wrote that he was bored with the conversation as it had basically reached its end. I disagree as the conversation around religion and politics seems to have merely scratched the surface. When it comes to cognition I can’t expect much in return as reputations are on the line. FB is an open forum that does not lend itself to disagreements or disagreeable discussions as most are fearful of how they might appear if dabbling in non-accepted kinds of thinking. I’m too old and past my prime to concern myself with that. Take this diatribe, and any of my other short diatribes, as coming from a senior citizen who has chosen to question a few of the “realities” of life. I am a seeker of truth and find that truth can burn into the soul’s imaginations and cause it to question life-long held suppositions.
I am reminded of a quote I have pondered off and on for many years. (For clarification, the quote comes from a liberal theologian’s point of view.) If counseled to suspend reason, as I often am told to do, I respond with this quote: “I am convinced that a God the mind rejects will never be a God the heart can adore.”
-John Shelby Spong, Jesus for the Non-Religious
If I am to be true to my person I must acknowledge that God made my mind. Yet, If God is perceived as unable to handle my puny questions about His universe and my realities I cannot serve that god. It/He/She must be the wrong one. There has to be another to whom I can turn. The God most of us have served is a God we have been told about, and most of us sadly accept that idea without question. We have been told that the Bible is the way to truth and we do not question that as we are told that it is because the Bible says it is so. That may be sufficient for most but it is not sufficient for me. (I have been told: “Ed you’ve got to have faith!”)
So, I am a seeker of God, not because the Bible tells me so but because I am on the lookout for reasons, both cognitive and spiritual, to experience Him. The real “Him” not the imagined Him, not the church Him, not even your Him. But Him who would accept and answer my questions without judging me as wrong for asking or ridiculing me in front of my peers, or assigning me to the Devil’s playground for having questions most don’t seem to have.
“1776” by David McCollough should be a must-read for all Americans. Admittedly, I am a fan of McCollough’s books but this one is very special as it makes clear what unbelievable sacrifices were asked of Washington’s army. Midst great political opposition, both here and abroad, with troops ill-equipped to wage war, little money, food and clothing, it never appeared that they would win any war, and they didn’t for long periods of time. Far outnumbered by naval and ground troops, there really was no hope. With the largest cities at the time captured or threatened by the British and a shrinking and far outnumbered army, Washington was able to inspire his army to do what was thought impossible. I recommend this book, a Pulitzer prize winner, to anyone. It will make you proud to be an American!
I avoid proving someone’s faith in God is wrong, choosing to believe in God is a personal decision and one I do not wish to interfere with. What I object to is the assumption that one’s thinking or faith is the absolute truth without so much as taking the time to surf the thoughts of those who believe otherwise. That seems arrogant to me.
I do not say there is no God, only that the existence of God cannot be intellectually proven and appears to be out of our reach. God may indeed exist but God’s existence is unprovable, proving God exists is probably intellectually superior to human understanding and awareness.
There may be God but an acceptable definition of God is difficult to concretize as there are many views of a divine being. There may be no God and that idea is also unprovable. So, with both the existence of God and the non-existence of God as possibilities, and there is no proof of either, we are left to speculate.
Many speculate on the idea of God coming from a particular religion usually called their faith. I no longer hold to faith, as I believe there is much more than the story religion or faith tells us. Personally, I would go so far as to say religion is dead for me. Spirituality is what I try to understand. There is a big difference. However, neither religion nor spirituality can be proven. So, we are left to speculate and some speculate so much so that they end up crystallizing their thinking into religion. Somehow that brings comfort to them, as it appears most religious are horrified at the idea that once this life ceases to exist there is nothing beyond the grave. As a result, they lose a basic curiosity about their world and a sense of what it is like to be present now and in its place believe they have found truth and a supposed eternal future. That is regrettable and unfortunate, as the proofs of that kind of thinking do not exist. Taking the speculative road appears ingenuine to me as it is based on faith and not reason.
The kind of rhetoric that makes its case over and over again begins to thin the more emotional it becomes. Though I agree there are reasons to be appalled at the state of affairs in the media, justification for its lack of reporting has little to do with ignoring a story but more to do with readership. Stories about abortion trials, for example, grisly as they are, tend to be reported in the tabloids, not usually in the main stream media. This has always been the case. If you want the gory detail about any horrific story you go to the tabloids. Most media generalize their stories. An abortion trial is no exception. When the story broke a few years back we were all appalled yet it was widely reported among many sources. To single out the liberal press as if they were in some kind of collusion to cover up this trial is absurd. No leading publication, albeit leaning to conservative or liberal, made an effort to detail the story. When seizing upon a story that fits your ideals it is far too easy to roast the opposition while ignoring one’s own complicity. The sheer volume of links posted on this site do not lend an argument any more credence.
Though I did not see the President make as strong a case for gun control as I had wished, it was my hope that an airing of these issues would move us along in a more positive direction for both sides. Without a representation from those who flagellate the American public with rationalizations for no more gun control or innovation we are left to view the NRA as a cowardly but disturbing organization who flaunts their membership power but gives very few reasons for us to leave them and their members alone with their guns. I am unashamedly against handguns in the hands of the average citizen. That said, I wish to hear firm arguments made that are convincing to leave the 2nd Amendment alone and intact. Who among the NRA leadership is capable of a debate under controlled circumstances? My suspicion is that no one is able as they are blinded by their fear of external control. It is time to put away our playthings and get to work on preservation of values that allow us to modify guns and weaponry to protect us from their tyranny.
When demonization is directed at various public officials, such as Obama and Clinton, it is clear that one feels threatened by their activity or, as in Clinton’s case, potential activity as President. It is always about fear of change or a threat to the current behavioral regimen that is threatened by realignment of values. A Progressive approach to life and living gives rise to new ways of thinking and being. It often forces us to look at our ways of thinking and our prejudices, some of which were formed by legislative and religious bodies no longer as influential amongst the general populace. The social pendulum appears to be seriously swinging toward a liberal POV and that is threatening to the many who are shaken by change as if the very ground they walk on is trembling. Change is inevitable. The frequency, duration and intensity of change is what distinguishes one kind of change from another. There is a tectonic shift going on among the social plates known to be stable in our past but now taking on the current momentum stirred up by the desire to drop religious pretenses to piety through social behavior. Rules of order and appropriate behavior are now encouraged to be innate rather than external as religion and certain philosophical approaches are questioned as to their veracity, value and ultimate effectiveness.
Voddie is very articulate, learned, and persuasive. So, why is this issue an issue for the church? I know of no one who advocates the extinction of his, or anyone else’s, thoughts on homosexuality as long as they remain within the confines of the church community. Additionally, I know of no Christian heterosexual marriage hurt by the concept of someone’s homosexuality. It is a useless issue for the church to fight. For the non-believer it matters little what Christians believe. As long as the political system allows for religions to express their concerns they have a right to protest and preach their beliefs, even influence the political system, but not impose their beliefs on the electorate. So, go ahead and castigate the homosexual, claim that what they do is sin. That is your prerogative. But do not expect me, or anyone else to live under the hammer of forceful compliance.