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Showing posts from January, 2009

Spirituality without religion

February 21, 2009
Among the presentations coming up for me is one exploring common ground between enlightened Christians and enlightened atheists. Helping me to do this are atheists who respect religion while criticizing its negatives, the same negatives observed by thoughtful Christians.

The blogger ddjango offers a good example of spiritual atheism or secular spirituality. He invited me to write a guest post, but I'm afraid my post On Enlightenment on ddjango’s site became excessively abstract.
Wondering whether it would speak to most people, I asked a friend to read it and tell me what she thought. Her answer is gratifying:AHHHH, Jeanette!! You give me such comfort!!! I loved reading your guest blog...and, in my opinion, the entry is a great deal like your book in that the reader must be a committed reader. He/she must be dedicated to learning, looking for answers and/or support for confusing thoughts that exist in himself/herself. Definitely NOT looking for an easy read. I…

Bible beauty & ugliness

Some Bible passages contain beauty unsurpassed among the greatest spiritual writings of all time. One that withstands prosperous times and scarcity is Mathew 6: 19-34, which begins, “Do not lay up for yourselves an earthly treasure. Moths and rust corrode; thieves break in and steal.” It tells us not to worry about our livelihood, and holds up as examples the birds of the air and lilies of the field—“not even Solomon in all his splendor was arrayed like one of these.” We’re told, “Let tomorrow take care of itself. Today has troubles of its own.”

These lines speak to me of the Eternal Now, and no wonder. The Nazarene to whom they are attributed had a mystical connection with what he termed the Reign of God. This passage has fed me for years, and today it has particular consoling relevance for our country and the world.

But the Bible also contains passages that horrify our more evolved consciousness of today. Genesis 19 tells the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, well known because it ends wit…

Obama's hope

Hope flowing in the country from Obama’s inauguration feeds me despite my natural inclination to say “not so fast” to hope. I surrendered to the lure of radio and television yesterday recording the ebullient throngs in D.C.

Obama himself is the one who dampened expectations, as he has ever since he was elected. Soberly he reminded us of the “nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.” When he declared that the challenges will be met, I thought, “addressed, not met.” We don’t know what our efforts will accomplish.

And it is OUR efforts. Like JFK he obliged all Americans to do the work of creating change. Our economic crisis he attributed to “not only greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices.” Yes, for example, to stop plundering and polluting the earth

After the inauguration address, a conservative asked to comment on it objected to Obama’s advocacy of soft power. But…

Jesus, an uncommon guy

We are the only ones who have ultimate truth? Preposterous.
As early as grade school I realized that no religion could be “the one true church.” I questioned the claim in the creed, “the ONLY son of God,” which Jesus himself refutes when he tells his disciples to become sons of God (Mt 5:45, Lk 6:35).

Most devotees of Jesus are unaware that he was a rebel who jolted people out of conventional beliefs. The gospels are fun to read if you can rid your mind of ponderous dogmatic pronouncements. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus is a very human hero challenged by family as well as neighbors and enemies. He pushes listeners to see ordinary things in new ways.
• Love your enemies. (Lk 6:27, Mt 5:44)
• Damn you hypocrites who worry about appearances but cover up the rot inside.
• When someone hits you on the cheek, offer the other one. If someone takes your coat, offer your shirt. (Lk 6:29, Mt 5:39-40 This meant going naked except for a loin cloth.)
• Samaritans (comparable to Muslims in our soc…

Grace & spirituality, Part 2 (Guest Post)

Those of you familiar with my conversation with Jeanette know that I'm an atheist; I do not believe in an anthropomorphic, creative entity called "God." I think that all the universe is natural - there is no "supernatural." But I also think that there is spirit, human spirit being part of that. And to me, spirit is tangible, natural, a function of the universal matter, light. I experience it, I can hear it, see it, feel it. It is a matter of attention and perception. Scientists, even atheist scientists, will someday identify how it works.

Carl Jung, many years ago, spoke of observing “synchronicity”. He also posited the notion of the “collective unconscious”. I happen to think that there also exists a "collective sub-conscience," a universal knowing of yin and yang that connects us all to each other and everything else. It is in those places, I believe, that we find spirituality. I don't think that believing these things are molecular and sub-atom…

Gaza & spirituality (guest post)

Gaza 2

Over 800 Palestinian deaths, half of them civilians, many children. In Israel 13 deaths, 3 civilians. That’s the news—800 to 13. But every news report mentions Hamas rockets as if they had some kind of equivalence to the slaughter achieved by Israeli weapons funded by American taxpayers.

Again, the Senate and House passed resolutions of support for Israel, overwhelmingly, their usual knee-jerk dance following the slaughter of innocent Palestinians. Senate majority leader Harry Reid defended it as expressing “the will of the State of Israel and the will of the American people." Notice which came first, and we need to tell Congress that it’s not our will!

There are cracks in the formerly impenetrable wall of support for Israel. Read Few speak up in Congress for hopeful developments. Here’s a short excerpt. Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat and Lebanese-American, told Reuters:When these events occur, there's almost a knee-jerk reaction of Congress that endorses 1,000 percent …

Gaza

Many Arab Muslims think American Christians are their enemies. Feeding this belief is the U.S. government’s consistent siding with Israel against Palestinians. When Bill Clinton tried to broker peace in 2000, he did not simply propose ideas for settling differences to the two sides. He first gave Israel a chance to veto the proposals before bringing them to the table. This imbalanced approach in 2000 was consistent with decades of favoritism toward Israel—in military, economic, political and, perhaps most important, propaganda support. The current Bush administration outdid all previous lopsided approaches.

The dogged and unrealistic wish of Hamas for an end to the state of Israel can be understood if we recall nineteenth century America. Then some Native American braves refused to accept the reality of overwhelming white military supremacy. Today members of Hamas—Native Palestinians—refuse to accept the reality of overwhelming Israeli military supremacy. To expand this analogy, vastly…