Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Unchanging God

One of the great tenets of Christianity is the "unchanging god" - the same yesterday, today and tomorrow - his character is solid and is never indecisive, always full of love, mercy and justice. We can count on him because he is always constant, in every way.

The truth though, is a bitter pill to swallow, a pill that most christians refuse to acknowledge.

For those christians who see god as totally loving and full of grace, they have had to shed the idea of the "monster god" of the Old Testament, and to do that, there's a large problem. 

To make god really as good as we say, we have to cherry pick the bible. God should be good of course, and we know that, however fundamentalists and traditional christians are trapped in the idea that you have to adhere to the entire bible, which is impossible, so you end up like the Jews - creating a god in your own image, and a nasty one at that.

Even the new testament has a lot of the old nasty god in it, which we have to tiptoe around to make a much better religion than the bible presents.
In reality, the christianity that most sane people like is one we have constructed out of morals and ethics far superior to those of biblical times.

However we don't see it that way. We use the term "doctrines" to describe the new beliefs that we stitch together from these cherry picked scriptures. I spent years doing this myself, and could justify it all with "scholarly exegesis".

I think this is actually a good thing, as we outgrow the primitive tribalistic god of the bible, but lets just call it for what it is - we are creating/modifying god into our own image - an image that reflects our evolving spiritual understanding, morals and love. 

The day will come when we see the bible for what it really is rather than worship it as a god actually speaking to us. Perhaps the only hold that traditional christianity will have over people is the fear of the unknown - what happens when we die. This is the last bastion of fear that we can be threatened with, and the last thing we need to come to terms with before shedding the old and walking in real love and unity as the beautiful creatures we really are.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Meme Me

Memes everywhere - silly, ugly, bigoted, ignorant, wise, profound, cats, you name it.

It seems our world is slowly being reduced into simple bite size chunks of information. This can be a great way to attract our attention and provoke us to read, research and ruminate, in order to grow and become better humans. On the other hand, it does little to expand our knowledge and broaden our perspectives, as most people either give it a quick glance, instantly decide if it agrees with their current paradigm and perhaps click the appropriate emoticon.

I've resisted the urge to create my own for this reason. It's too easy to be taken out of context and for people to put their own spin on it. However, that's exactly what we all do with just about everything we are exposed to - we see it through OUR eyes and interpret it through OUR paradigm.

It's only when we take the time and are really willing to hear and see, exercising empathy and a willingness to be open to change and growth, that the barrage of memes can be of any real use. Sure, they can help as little reminders to things we already know and agree with, but not when it comes to something that needs to be assessed and processed before passing any judgement on.

We see political, religious, philosophical and social memes, and quickly judge based on the rhetoric that we are already embracing, rather than looking at the deeper story, the context, trying to put aside our biases. But the meme is not designed for that. It's designed to be a fast and often aggressive tool to fire up emotions, divide and polarise.

I am constantly finding myself pausing to reflect on the endless meme stream, making an effort not to judge and allow myself to be swayed by unfounded claims, unchecked "facts', fear-mongering and hate speech. It's not easy!

I now usually post memes with the intention that they will be pondered and perhaps used to inspire further research. I always hope that people will realise that one tiny meme does NOT constitute the entirety of my intelligence, wisdom, experience or biases and react accordingly.

Except for cats. There's always cats.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Sup Jim?

I've been posting some confronting stuff lately and getting flack for my attitudes - so here's the story... 

I've slowly been leaving the fold of christianity, and in the process, posting heaps of stuff online (Facebook mostly) about the journey. I get very provocative, poking holes in doctrines and theologies as I continue to process, and get lots of "hate mail" because of it.

I make fun of stuff, I present radical views, controversial ideas, even some pretty offensive stuff. I stir up the pot of religion, no matter what's in there or who gets offended by the smell.

I've been accused of being arrogant, rude, judgemental, (and heretical of course) and I can't deny any of that. Sometimes I look at my comments and think "Jim, you really stuffed that up!". But hey, I'm human, fallible, growing and learning to "live loved". I am who I am, and I'm accountable, open, honest and strive for complete integrity in every area of my life. You can correct me and challenge me, and I'll always listen. And I've even admitted to being wrong and apologising (at least once I'm sure).

But what the heck am I on about? Be assured that nothing I say should be taken as personal offence (yes, I've been pretty hacked off with individuals who should know better, lol). I know all too well that each of us believes what we believe because of very real personal experience. No one picks up a belief system because it just seemed like a good idea at the time (well, hopefully).

So here's my biggest dilemma in terms of christianity (and religion in general). Do I simply say "believe whatever you want, it's all good". Or maybe "believe whatever you want, but if it affects other's negatively, then you should be aware of that and examine what you believe closely". Or perhaps I should present the whole underlying psychology and spirituality of christian theology as nothing more than a construct that meets deep human needs, being neither good or bad in itself, as long as we are aware of that fact. Maybe I should be brutal and stuff the consequences. Or maybe I should just quietly post pictures of dinner and cat memes.

The problem is I see the validity of each point of view. The thing that influences me the most, of course, is my own experience with the abuse that I and countless others, have experienced because of our sexuality. But that isn't the whole story by any means. Aside from that, millions
 of us have simply seen a far bigger picture than the one christianity paints. A picture that can't be "unseen" and that makes the christian world very small.

As many of you know, I loath dogma in any form and see it as one of the most destructive elements of human thought and behaviour. Even the philosophies and science I explore for bigger and better answers are always open to change.

I will not fit into any box anyone tries to label me with. And I hope for the day when all of us refuse to join a system of dogma that is in any way exclusive, denying our intrinsic oneness and unique individuality.

If you don't like what I say, then fair enough. But don't be surprised if I challenge you, and possibly be offensive in the process. If you can't handle having your beliefs questioned then they aren't worthy of your acceptance in the first place.

Life is tough and we all look for comfort, safety, security, love and acceptance - but this should never be at the cost of reason, logic, integrity and honesty in everything. We are worth more than that. We are love incarnate, but a species who, over countless generations, have lost sight of that, and have ended up creating endless religions to understand what went wrong and how to fix it. It's time to grow up!

And believe it or not, I do love you all - even you fundies who get up my nose!!