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Re: Religion


quote:

bricklayer wrote:

I have been reluctant to get into this conversation because my view of religion and my efforts to practice it are very different from the general view of what religion is and what it means to practice it.




Yeah, me, too.

Well, let's start with the basics. I come from a long line of Scots-Irish Presbyterians. My grandfather, who married the minister's daughter, said he was a Presbyterian by birth, by marriage, and by choice. He was a Past Master of his Masonic Lodge and thought Catholics were evil but Jews were OK. He expected his family to hold the same views.

My first husband was Lutheran. In order to marry into his family I had to go through adult catechism and become Lutheran. I did that. Lutherans were sort of OK with my grandfather, although he thought some of their beliefs were just a little too close to Catholics' beliefs. As time went by I remember trying to say only the parts of the Nicene Creed I truly did believe. There was less and less I could say until I couldn't say any of it.

After our divorce I was not part of any religion, and spent many years as an agnostic, leaning atheist. But that was never satisfactory to me, either. It has always seemed to me that it is just as incredible to think there is a God as it is to think there isn't.

Much of Christianity turns me off. It was possible in the Ancient Near East to claim that this or that important person was born of a virgin; Christ's birth is not unique in that regard. Christians like to claim that the coming of Christ fulfilled the prophesy, but it doesn't. One aspect of the prophesy is that the Christ Child would be of the House of David. Joseph was of the House of David, but he wasn't the father. Mary wasn't of that House. And, of course, the word used to describe Mary as a virgin simply means "young woman." It doesn't get into her pants.

When I was in my Master's program at Seattle Pacific University, a Free Methodist school (ain't nuttin' "free" about those guys), I was required to take a religion course. I took Psalms, given that I like poetry. Well, it's hard to figure out what's going on in them without studying a bit more of what was going on when they were written. So I started digging into that. Then I went to see a Presbyterian minister to see if I was any more comfortable with my childhood religion. Good grief, he had one bit of overbearing Christian mythology after another. I was completely turned off. Calvinists. Ugh.

My (now late) husband and I were longtime friends with a Jewish family who invited us to Passover at their house every year. They were good friends with their rabbi and his family, who also attended. After the Presbyterian disappointment I made an appointment to see him, and was fascinated by what he had to say. He told me I was welcome to take a year-long class he taught in Judaism and, if I were interested in converting, I was required to take it. I took the class. About halfway in I realized I wanted to convert. Then I had to learn to read and speak Hebrew. Further, he did conversions only once each year and that year's was six months away.

So, with three months to go in my Master's program (the thesis writing period) and six months to go to learn Hebrew, I applied myself to both tasks. I got my Master's one week in early June and converted to Judaism the next.

My husband died two years later, and I just lost it. I stopped going to services. I stopped functioning on a number of levels, in fact. Life was just a haze.

Eleven years ago I moved from Seattle to Bellingham. There is one synagogue in town, and I joined it. I attended fairly regularly for about three years, but I never really felt like I belonged there. I stopped going.

A couple who lives across the street from me are both ministers at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) here in town. That sounded very fundy to me, but as I have gotten to know them I've found they are really quite liberal. Gary, the husband, poses the kinds of questions that interest me: ethical dilemma questions. And I like how he chews over the factors that may lead to an answer. So now the nice Jewish girl goes to a Christian church a couple of times a month. Who'da thunk.

And now I'm chuckling at one of Barry's comments: "I meant there either IS a God, or there IS NOT. A spiritual realm of fuzzy dimensions does not preclude a God that created it." Schrodinger's God?*

(Sorry for the length.)


*Schrödinger's famous thought experiment, usually called "Schrödinger's cat," poses the question, "when does a quantum system stop existing as a superposition of states and become one or the other?" (The cat is either dead or alive and, given that we can't tell, we have to assume it's both.)

Last edited by Miz Robbie, 10/6/2017, 7:12 pm


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10/6/2017, 7:01 pm Link to this post PM Miz Robbie
 
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Re: Religion


What a fascinating journey, Robbie.
10/6/2017, 7:33 pm Link to this post PM bricklayer
 
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Re: Religion


Thanks, Brick. I suspect it was a whole lot more than anybody wanted to know, but I couldn't figure out how to shorten it.

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10/6/2017, 7:58 pm Link to this post PM Miz Robbie
 
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Re: Religion


quote:

Bellelettres wrote:
A biggie is to believe a God who ordered his people to kill other people, even their little children, younger than the age of accountability, is a God of love who extends love and grace to everyone.



When Andrew was about 5, my mother-in-law bought him a Children's Bible. He was very excited to begin reading his new book. Before long, he was in my office, looking sober.

"Mom? Noah's Ark. I didn't really think about it before, but...did God really kill ALL of those millions of people?"

Ummmm.... [Because Brett and I had agreed years before that he would be in charge of the boys' religious instruction] Let's talk about that with Dad when he gets home from work. See if you can find another nice story.

A bit later, he's back in my office, wide-eyed. "Did God REALLY tell Abraham to kill his son? And Abraham was REALLY going to do it???"

Yikes. More of "Let's ask Dad." And I sent him off again. He returned a third time, with the page open to Sodom and Gomorrah.

I took the book away from him.

Who PUTS those kinds of stories in a CHILDREN'S Bible, for heaven's sake??? I get Noah, but even my five-year-old could see the broader implications beyond giraffes marching two-by-two and a pretty rainbow.

Bottom line, the contradictions always bothered me.... As is the phrase, always spoken with pride, "We're God-fearing folks."

Why are you afraid of God?

Maybe they read a Children's Bible....

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Lis

Just one voice.... Singing in the darkness....
10/6/2017, 10:30 pm Link to this post PM JustLis
 
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Re: Religion


quote:

bigbarry2u wrote:

Lis, I did not mean to imply that if you have doubt you are out of the conversation.

I meant there either IS a God, or there IS NOT. A spiritual realm of fuzzy dimensions does not preclude a God that created it.

Christians in particular, but probably most people of faith went through dark periods of time when they felt that they had to subvert truths that did not line up with their understanding of God.

Galilleo was persecute as a heretic for suggesting the Earth was not the center of the universe. Maybe they somehow lived in fear that their religion would be proven false.

Some say science and religion are at odds with each other, but I disagree. I believe both, in their sincerest form, are in pursuit of the truth. They are just coming at it from different perspectives.

Stephen Hawking, as brilliant a physicist there has ever been, has gone back and forth in his beliefs that there is a God, and that there is not a God. At last check, I believe he was in the "no God" camp. In his "Brief History of Time" he postulates that science has advanced pretty far in the discovery of "the what", but does not get far into "the why".

And Lis, to be clear, I don't think you will burn in hell. And I don't judge you at all. You seem like a really great person with terrible political views. emoticon :P

I assure you I don't sit here thinking, "oh well, doesn't matter because she is going to hell, etc."

I don't know how all that works. Jesus said "no one comes to the Father except through me". Some people could use that as the bat with which to beat people over the heads spiritually, but is it possible that Jesus has more than one way, say, the Baptist way, or the Catholic way, to do this?

Is it possible a Buddhist dies only to find his deity in the other realm saying "good job, now let me tell you what happens next."

I just believe we should pursue God. Having faith does not mean not having doubts or questions.



I appreciate your comment about science and religion not being incompatable. I don't think they're incompatable, either. Some seem to see science as a threat to faith. I sometimes wonder, too, if it is fear that their religious tenets will be proven false. My mind immediately goes to the Creation Museum, where people lived with the dinosaurs and evolution doesn't happen. I buy scientific conclusions over faith here. But that is not to say that Adam and Eve didn't happen first and THEN there was evolution beyond that. It's possible.

Thanks for your belief that I won't rot in hell. emoticon

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Lis

Just one voice.... Singing in the darkness....
10/6/2017, 10:37 pm Link to this post PM JustLis
 
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Re: Religion


Robbie, thank you for sharing your story. You have clearly given faith and issues a lot of thought. emoticon

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Lis

Just one voice.... Singing in the darkness....
10/6/2017, 10:39 pm Link to this post PM JustLis
 
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Re: Religion


quote:

bricklayer wrote:

I have been reluctant to get into this conversation because my view of religion and my efforts to practice it are very different from the general view of what religion is and what it means to practice it.

The first part of the differences that I will speak of is the fact that I see religion as comprised of two parts, the outer side, exoteric, and the inner side, esoteric. The vast majority of the misgivings about religion, in my view, are about the outer side, which is regarded as the whole of it. The inner or esoteric side is seldom addressed and seldom understood.

The other difference is that is that I see religion as a teaching in psychology and every word spoken and written has an inner(psychological) and outer(practical) side. Practicing religion to me, in that context,is striving to understand the inner content of the words. The parables, the Sermon on the Mount provide a vast amount of opportunity to seek the inner meanings of what is written. The Old Testament also presents those opportunities.

I know, out there, right?



Not "out there," Brick. Thank you for sharing it. I wonder if you could explain more.... The exoteric and esoteric.... Are you talking about the outside as the outer expression of faith (going to church) versus the inner faith (exploring your belief system)? I'm not sure I understand....

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Just one voice.... Singing in the darkness....
10/6/2017, 10:42 pm Link to this post PM JustLis
 
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Re: Religion


quote:

Miz Robbie wrote:
A couple who lives across the street from me are both ministers at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) here in town. That sounded very fundy to me, but as I have gotten to know them I've found they are really quite liberal.



Brett is a member of a Disciples of Christ church, too. I was very surprised that a conservative guy like him was comfortable in such a liberal church. Come to find out, he was far more liberal than he was willing to admit. emoticon

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Lis

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10/6/2017, 11:20 pm Link to this post PM JustLis
 
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Re: Religion


This is one of my sleepless nights. That is, I went to bed at 5:26 and slept a while and woke up at 9:20 and got up at 10:46 to drink some cocoa and see if you all are still talking about religion.

What a rich variety of religious experience you have had. I'm so glad I found this board.

Robbie, your post wasn't long enough for me. I'm envious of the many sides of religion you have seen. My best friend is Jewish. She attends synagogue in Seattle, but lives by the spirit of the law instead of the letter. Schrodinger's God? (You funny woman.)

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen," Brick. (Or, as Mark Twain put it, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so.") Do you know Ivan Illich's distinction between the church as "she" and the church as "it"?

Lis, it hadn't occurred to me before that people grow up to be god-fearing because the Bible stories they read when they are children are so gruesome. That must explain why religion had its claws into me emotionally long after I had abandoned it intellectually.

Barry, I love that poster of Jesus. It must really annoy him to see the truth he uttered "twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools."

Hawk and Susie, it's great to be able to take the good things from our Christian religion and shed the bad things without guilt. I'm crazy about that priest that blessed that cricket. Is he a Franciscan? Jesuits are pretty neat, too, some of them.

Last edited by Bellelettres, 10/7/2017, 2:35 am
10/7/2017, 2:19 am Link to this post PM Bellelettres
 
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Re: Religion


quote:

Miz Robbie wrote:

Thanks, Brick. I suspect it was a whole lot more than anybody wanted to know, but I couldn't figure out how to shorten it.



Not at all, Robbie. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every word.
10/7/2017, 7:21 am Link to this post PM bricklayer
 
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Re: Religion


quote:

JustLis wrote:

quote:

bricklayer wrote:

I have been reluctant to get into this conversation because my view of religion and my efforts to practice it are very different from the general view of what religion is and what it means to practice it.

The first part of the differences that I will speak of is the fact that I see religion as comprised of two parts, the outer side, exoteric, and the inner side, esoteric. The vast majority of the misgivings about religion, in my view, are about the outer side, which is regarded as the whole of it. The inner or esoteric side is seldom addressed and seldom understood.

The other difference is that is that I see religion as a teaching in psychology and every word spoken and written has an inner(psychological) and outer(practical) side. Practicing religion to me, in that context,is striving to understand the inner content of the words. The parables, the Sermon on the Mount provide a vast amount of opportunity to seek the inner meanings of what is written. The Old Testament also presents those opportunities.

I know, out there, right?



Not "out there," Brick. Thank you for sharing it. I wonder if you could explain more.... The exoteric and esoteric.... Are you talking about the outside as the outer expression of faith (going to church) versus the inner faith (exploring your belief system)? I'm not sure I understand....



I'll try to provide an example of the inner and outer content of a concept. In its outer meaning, "Thou shalt not steal", is obvious, don't take something that doesn't belong to you. Psychologically speaking, stealing is ascribing to oneself attributes that one does not possess, such as righteousness, justifications for false pride. But it is extremely difficult to encapsulate such a concept.

Maurice Nicoll's book, "The New Man", is available on Kindle and Amazon and you can download a sample. If you're interested he can shed more light on what I'm clumsily trying to illustrate.

10/7/2017, 7:35 am Link to this post PM bricklayer
 
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I'm very much interested in knowing the rationale for that concept, Brick: That a false self-image is a stolen one? Does this apply to thinking you're worse than you are as well as thinking you're better? I downloaded a sample of Nicoll's book.

In one of the yards on the street back of my house is a weathered wooden Cross with letters printed on it which say, "I drove the nails." I remember my feeling of horror and revulsion when I first saw it.
10/7/2017, 7:55 am Link to this post PM Bellelettres
 
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Re: Religion


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Bellelettres wrote:

I'm very much interested in knowing the rationale for that concept, Brick: That a false self-image is a stolen one? Does this apply to thinking you're worse than you are as well as thinking you're better? I downloaded a sample of Nicoll's book.

In one of the yards on the street back of my house is a weathered wooden Cross with letters printed on it which say, "I drove the nails." I remember my feeling of horror and revulsion when I first saw it.



Yes, Belle. It applies to false personality which has positive and negative traits, none of them acquired intentionally, none of them acquired as a result of genuine effort. One of the cardinal principles of the system of ideas that Nicoll teaches is non-judgmental self observation. The words, "Judge not lest thou be judged", taken internally speaks to judging ourselves internally, and cautions against it. Psychologically speaking it is a lesson in non-identification.
10/7/2017, 8:21 am Link to this post PM bricklayer
 
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Re: Religion


The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24)

quote:

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.



I was in church a few weeks back, and the pastor was preaching on this passage. I listened to his sermon but my heart was elsewhere.

I had a young friend, 20 years old, that had just passed away. He had testicular cancer, and he beat it pretty easily with chemo. However, the chemo had a bad effect on his lungs, and eventually his lungs turned essentially to chalk and he died.

He went into the hospital shortly before Harvey, but never woke up to hear the tales.

Anyway, I struggled with his death because I felt like I had done all the things I was supposed to do via prayer. Jesus teaches that if you pray with faith, pray in his name, pray as if it has already been done, pray without ceasing -- that God will hear your prayer and give you what you want.

From Luke:

quote:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”



This boy was surrounded with prayer, and we prayed confidently. I mean, I honestly had no doubt he was going to be okay. I was essentially praying to God thanking him for what I knew was already being done.

And then the gut punch when he took a turn for the worse. And a few weeks later died.

So, as I said, I struggled. I think I wanted God to be like a magic trick, where I knew the secret of how it was done. I don't know. I just wanted that boy healed.

In his obituary, the boy's mother said "God knew he could not get the healing he needed here on earth, so he brought him home to heaven where he could get all he needed."

I think sometimes I forget that while we may be fully absorbed on death, God is not. For him, it is like a house guest passing from the den to the dining room; a very thin veil between our realm and eternity.

So, back to the story of the walk to Emmaus:

Here were two people, followers of Jesus. He was in their very midst and they did not recognize him. They thought they knew what was what. Undoubtedly they were well-versed in scripture, the laws of Moses, and the prophesies of the Messiah.

And they were blind to what was happening right in front of them. Jesus had to explain it all for them to understand something they already thought they well knew.

Hearing this passage just reminded me that we can study the Bible, discuss it amongst friends, pray for understanding-- but it does not mean that we will every fully comprehend it all. And we can do great harm the moment we believe we have all the answers.

In that regard, we are all children. Keen observers. Poor interpreters.

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I thought growing old would take longer.
10/7/2017, 9:16 am Link to this post PM bigbarry2u
 
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Re: Religion


quote:

bigbarry2u wrote:


Jesus teaches that if you pray with faith, pray in his name, pray as if it has already been done, pray without ceasing -- that God will hear your prayer and give you what you want.

From Luke:

quote:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”





I think this is where much of religion has gone wrong. This is the God-as-Santa-Claus version of faith. And when God doesn't give us what we've prayed so earnestly for, we're told it's our own fault because we're not good enough people. So we feel guilty that our lack of goodness caused the death of someone who should have been able to have a long life.

Really, we're not that powerful. We don't cause the death of a worthy person through our own lack of worthiness. And this is where I tend to wash my hands of religion.

Last edited by Miz Robbie, 10/7/2017, 9:41 am


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10/7/2017, 9:40 am Link to this post PM Miz Robbie
 
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So let's discuss prayer. This will be my opportunity (although not my only opportunity) to offend almost everyone.

What is the purpose of prayer? Is it to ask God for something? Is it right for me to suggest to God that I know how to run a better Universe than He does, and He should listen to me? If God knows all things and has a purpose for everything, then why should He alter His plans to suit my preferences?

And why do we "gather in prayer" and ask others to join in? This often happens when someone is ill, and an entire congregation will pray for that person. Is there strength in numbers? Does God count the house? ("Oh, sorry, there are only six of you praying for Joe. I'm underwhelmed.")

When our "thoughts and prayers" are with the families of those taken in a violent act, such as the Las Vegas shooting, exactly what kind of prayers are they? What are we supposed to be asking God to do?

And when those near a devastating event, such as the hurricanes of late, are still alive after the event is over and they say they prayed to God throughout and God saved them, did God have it in for those who perished?

If one believes God has ordered the Universe perfectly according to His plan, a plan we do not know or understand, then it seems to me the only prayer is "Thy will be done" and its purpose is to remind the person offering that prayer that everything is done according to God's will.

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10/7/2017, 10:04 am Link to this post PM Miz Robbie
 
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But that is my point. I think we all intuitively know that God is not Santa Claus, nor is he in a box that we can whip out and apply liberally when the situation requires.

But I do believe in the power of prayer. When people pray for each other and with each other, it creates a supernatural bond. Our community was made stronger because we all pulled together, pooling our hearts, minds and passions for a common, shared cause.

That the one item we thought we wanted most did not happen does not diminish the power of the moment. I have seen the same thing in Harvey. Many prayed for the rain to stop, for homes and lives to be spared.

In both cases, what prayer did do was help anguishes to ease, and when you get down to it, that's pretty significant.

If we did not have storms, we would not appreciate the beauty of calm day. If we did not have death, we would not appreciate the beauty of life.

It would be easy to thank God when things work out, and blame yourself or others when they do not.

But that is not faith. That is apologism.

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10/7/2017, 10:05 am Link to this post PM bigbarry2u
 
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I suspect you hadn't seen my post immediately above yours and were responding to my post above that one, but you answered both of them very well.

If I'm reading you correctly, prayer is a communal activity providing bonding and comfort to that community.

And that's a very good answer. Thank you.

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10/7/2017, 10:08 am Link to this post PM Miz Robbie
 
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I think it is more than that, but certainly inclusive of it.

When someone says "our thoughts and prayers are with you", I think it is frequently a lie. It is something to say.

But if you really spend time in prayer, meditating on the needs of the individual you are praying about, I do believe that God speaks to you about what you can do to help. Pondering an individuals plight with God can only help. Doing so collectively can only help more.

Do I understand it? No, and I can't explain it.

But I bear witness to it.



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10/7/2017, 11:03 am Link to this post PM bigbarry2u
 
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Brick, I read the sample of Nicoll’s “New Man” and found it very interesting. It’s a good, long sample, which gives a good, round description of Nicoll’s thesis. My first thought was that it supports the idea that fiction can be truer than nonfiction, because fiction takes you into the mind of the characters who are making the account. It gives you better understand about WHY what happened happened.

I’ve known for a while that you can’t TELL anyone anything and make them believe it. What you say has to touch something they already know intuitively. That’s why I’ve always resisted the idea that religion is entirely something imposed from the outside. It’s something that arises from within. What you know inside can certainly be distorted and confused by indoctrination from the outside, but the distortion can’t be set in stone, witness those who make of childhood religious fear and guilt love and compassion as they trade innocence for experience. This makes Nicoll’s approach to religion through psychology seem valid to me.

It was interesting to find in this sample that Nicoll knew Carl Jung. I googled and found that “The New Man” was published in 1950, two years before Jung’s book, “Answer to Job.” “Answer to Job” is the most healing thing I’ve ever read about Job. It fell short of causing me to forgive God for what he did to Job, but it opened a crack in my heart wide enough to grudgingly admit that even God is entitled to a chance at redemption.

I googled and found a long review of Jung’s book. Here’s a paragraph from the review, and a link for anyone who is interested in reading more of it:

Jung, like Job, bows before the ultimate mystery, but not before he has waded into the ages-old spiritual conundrums: When we talk about God, we are creating God, psychologically speaking, and we are, yet again, talking about ourselves in a way, or at least within our human epistemological limitations. In Jung's terms, we can only apprehend or try to comprehend God through our own, limited psyches. Jung famously (famously in Jungian circles anyway) said about his belief in God, I know. I don't need to believe. I know. But he may not have been so sure. He seemed to be sure that God existed - he was not agnostic -- but Answer to Job is his further and continued wrestling with God's very essence. God exists, but what is he like? Answer to Job is the Answer from Jung, and it does not fit traditional Christian preconceptions.

http://tinyurl.com/y9vztoq6
10/7/2017, 11:17 am Link to this post PM Bellelettres
 


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