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re: Belief-O-Matic results (long) Mercury

Posted by lil' jimi on July 14, 2003, at 14:51:25

In reply to re: :: Belief-O-Matic :: ~my ORIGINAL results(!), posted by Mercury on July 13, 2003, at 11:05:12

hi Mercury,

i hear what you're saying about church there ... ... but while we are here at pBab Faith, civility dictates a certain delicacy so we don't oppress the devout, but i'm going to give it a shot ... but you may understand if i sound a tince stilted ... know what i mean?

you have written:
> So my wife and 2 of my kids just took off for church. As usual, I didn't want to attend. She says I will appreciate the fellowship and friendships I would make should I choose to go. I want to be supportive, but I just can't get by the "belief gap". Its a methodist church, and as you can see by my belief-o-matic results (**wink**) I'm no methodist. Despite the various "activities" that this church sponsors, I know that there are only 2 reasons they want us to show up...and that's to "save our soul" and increase the the church income. Not necessarily in that order. I have no use for either of those two things. And I know that by attending I'll be setting myself up for a confrontation I don't want to have.
> Thoughts?
> Mercury

so, yes indeed, i have many thoughts about this ... and stories too ... ... i have been thinking about it ever since it was posted ... ...

first, my story:.

my folks were in the choir and so we went to church every sunday ... a regular routine ... somewhat mindless ... we would never discuss our faith at home, but i would attend sunday school and until i was 8, it was all the theology i had ... ... by 12 i had developed a problem i felt was overwhelming and overlooked ... turns out it was neither, but i was 12 ...

( ... i was brought up and confirmed an Episcopalian.)

actually i had more than one problem ... ... for instance, the observable fact that the vast prepondernace of the congregation were wealthy (to the apparent exclusion of poor or minority folks) would seem to fly in the face of the church's avowed commitment to social justice ... .. ...

... .. ... but the metaphysical issue i had discovered was the more worrisome::

IF God really WAS
all good, all powerful AND Creator of Everything ...
how could evil exist?
how could injustice exist?
how could suffering exist?

evil exists.
suffering exists.

THEREFORE (my 12 year-old logical mind reasoned)
God was either not all good
(and therefore unworthy of our worship)
not all-powerful
(and perhaps could have competitors for our worship?)
not Creator of the universe
(well, okay 2 out of three ain't so bad!)
... ... but any of these options meant we weren't getting the whole story ... ... and this discussion wasn't even taking place ...
... .. ... heck, it wasn't even being noticed!

(we are, of course, told that human's Free Will accounts for the existence of evil ... that God in His magnanimity chose to give us Free Will and apparently in so doing decreased His all-powerful-ness ... ... or set up a Star Trek-like "Prime Directive" or something ... ... so anyway tne existence of Free Will let us humans let evil sneak in the back door, sorta ... ...
... ... this explanation dissatisfied me when i was 12 and still seems a complicated contrivance which does not seem to cover all the forms that evil takes ... ... but i shall not go on ... ... i came to repudiate the whole deal.)

i learned that this "Problem of Evil" is a whole area of discussion in theology ... ... but i also noticed that on its best day, the solutions relied in some form of dualism, which i was beginning to have less faith in ... ...

all of these considerations turned me into a non-believer and then into a rabid atheist ... ...
and i was really obnoxious with it!

thus, the church turned me 'anti-church' at an early age ...

story over, here are my thoughts:

now, there exist hypocrisies and ulterior motives in even the most devout spiritual communities and we find that where unenligthened humans command spiritual authority, often... very often, authority is abused ... and as a buddhist, i know of well-documented cases of such malfeasance in buddhist communities ...

... and these issues become even more revulsive where money becomes involved ...

... ... all of which is my confirmation of my agreement about your feelings ... ...
... and although i had felt church-hostile from 12 to about 25, i don't feel so much that way now ... ... here's why:

as i began to accept mahayana, i, for a long time, ignored my issues with the church (in the christianity sense of The Church) ... and when i came to witness the human imposed weaknesses in non-christian institutions, it became clearer to me that these hypocracies were endemic of all human activity and it was self-indulgent of me to expect this state of affairs to be different in church/spiritual organizations ... ...

(there's a part of my buddhism which insists on the mutually interdependent co-origination of all things ... )

... and it turns out that the solution to these hypocracies is/could/should be more particpation by more people of good will to provide more oversight and more self-regulation/self-restraint ... ... and i have witnessed that this can succeed and that decent christian church alliances can and have done good acts for social justice, working for the downtrodden, the disadvantaged. and opposing oppresion ... ... and raising awareness of important social issues ...

another story:
... the first time i went to my wife's presbyterian church in our neighborhood, i brought few expectations ...
... ... as the sermon began, the pastor said,
"If this BB represnted all of the fire power expended by all of the allies AND axis powers during World War Two .... "

... from a few feet he dropped the BB into a large stainless stell bowl, which caused a loud PING!

he then produced a large steel water pitcher and said,
"... Then this represents the fire power of all of the nuclear weapons of JUST the United States."

... ... then the pastor began to slowly pour the pitcher of BBs into the steel bowl ... hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of PINGS! ... ... it took some time and seemed to last forever.

he then spoke to our need as a congregation to oppose nuclear weapons .... .... he was an old man and he was speaking to a congregation old old people (i was among a small number of younger folks) and he was raising their awareness ...

my thoughts: i think that many a church may be able to benefit by the participation of those us blessed with revealed religion in contrast to the standard prescribed religion ... ... i think there are a very great many people who need a prescibed religion and many many times it is beneficial and helpful for them ... absent the rare direct experience we have had, they can have so little else to believe in ... ... of course there are many dogmatic situations where such participation would not be appreciated ... ... but with my ever so meager understanding of Methodism, they ain't so bad and are remarkably open to innovation ... at least the Methodist clergy i have met were very open-minded ... down right receptive folks ...

... now i have spoken of hypocracies, and i speak now of my own ... .. ... Mercury, i do Not go to church ... ... sorry, folks, i am too lazy, just yet ... ... i have "corrupted" my wife and we no longer participate at her family's local church ... ... because the leadership changed; we asked if we could be married there; we weren't active enough to qualify .... .... they weren't nice about it ...

... ... i'm looking for a buddhist congregation now... well, we are still looking and considering the options ... ... but i had to tell you that although i would encourage you to go with your family to church ... .. we do not go presently.

now if i encounter the folks who want to "save my soul", i ask then why they feel Jesus needs their help with my soul ... ... the bad ones will perservere with some quotations from the scriptures. ... ... then i ask then why their scriptures believe Jesus needs their help ... ... if they haven't quit yet ... .. ... i tell them their scripture must be wrong because Jesus Christ does not need their help to save my soul, thank you for being so concerned ...

and when i find a church i feel i want to support, i will want to contribute financially to their efforts ... ...

i think/feel that we should be able to participate without having to be too confrontational, even if it means having to deliberately give-ground in the name of civility ... ... like we do here sometimes.

i do have one more thought on this, but i am going to consider it some more before i offer it here as it may be impossible to post it AND be civil, if only because it amounts to what others probably should call heresy and i am not sure this can be done without offending ...
... .. ... and i do NOT wish to offend, nor be uncivil ... .. ...

anyway those are my thoughts ... ... i'm an accommodationist ... ... i admit it ... so shoot me! <wink!>

~ jim




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