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Flabbergasted

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Member since: Thu Dec 22, 2005, 05:15 PM
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"Tell me about God, because I'm forgetting..."

I love This story and of course you will gather what you will from it.

I have a friend who grew up in a fundamentalist family in Idaho with his two brothers. All three brothers and the mother eventually ended up completely rejecting their faith and moving to Portland, OR. I love their story but it is not my main point. The father ended up being a big hypocrite and doing the very things he preached against. They shared a story with us one night of another couple with 2 and 4 year old daughters who were fundamentalist as well:

The 4 year old asked the parents to leave the 2 year old's room. Via Toddler-cam the parents viewed the 4 year asking the 2 year: "Tell me about God, because I'm forgetting." Needless to say the response was unintelligible.


I'm going to share some of my perceptions based on this.

1.) I Love the story because it's cute and it begs a lot of questions..
a.) Could they really understand each other? How was a response formulated? Do Children entertain an understanding that adults have forgotten?
b.) Was the Child Indoctrinated from her religion? This is the easiest answer to formulate, but I think it is largely an assumption. A four year old has probably not been introduced to the idea of former life by fundamentalists in this way. This is not typically a Christian doctrine. Pre-life is rarely, if ever emphasized. At four years a clear and concise understanding of an "ADULT" conceptualization of God would be very unusual. But this would still seek for a child's or infant's understanding of God? The knee-jerk reaction would be: "Indoctrination." But this would be hardly more than a need to explain something that is from immediate appearances unexplainable. The explaination then becomes: "imagination." But what motive from a four year old's "ego," would conceptualization of a "loss of connection with 'God" be explained by?
c.) Why did the child ask the parents to leave? Embarrassment or knowing the idea would be rejected by her parents?

2.) I contend that the story encapsulates the idea that God is not a Deity but a symbolization of a state of Oneness as I've described in other threads. It could be argued that her concept was based on adult understanding, but I think this really denies the point. She used the word God because there were no other words available and the word God to a large extent is spiritually arbitrary. Would this occur to a four year old? I think it could. Consciousness is not happenstance but is inherently profound, largely misunderstood, and taken for granted. If consciousness is not happenstance, it must follow that all consciousness is connected.


It is of course possible that the story is a complete fiction as it hearsay, and can be discounted or not? I doesn't vary from my own experiences so I accept it as a cute story with a moral.
Posted by Flabbergasted | Mon Jan 21, 2013, 07:51 PM (0 replies)

God as symbol...

The origins of the word god are not based in historical writings but the oral and cultural traditions of our long forgotten past. This past was allegorical, but the primary driver of mythology was the use of entheogens. The use of entheogens, and likely other forgotten ecstatic, and contemplative, ceremonial techniques, resulted in states of selflessness which further brought those into contact with a state of transcendent oneness: the source of consciousness. A state of non-mind cannot be described by those in the ego. This is the initial understanding of God. God was a word to describe this state which was further anthropomorphized into some religions. Contemplative and mystical traditions maintain a more direct path to this state than some other religions which focus on charity, or group mythology.

This is exemplified by millennia of Abrahamic theologians who described the conceptualization and personalization of god as being a false understanding. Eg consider the word creator: the concept of creator properly understood and conceived can only apply to human beings and can not really be used to describe God. There were those who considered the mind as only being able to describe what god is not or concepts god could only exceed. This is also why the Buddha refused to talk about this state. He literally couldn't do it. The above paragraph, also explains why the Buddha described his teachings as being only a remembrance of the path, that had already been paved. It is also why the first line in the Tao is: "The way that can be named is not the eternal way."

The discussion of faith, fact, proof, perception, conceptualization, personalization and observation are not appropriate ways to understand what God is, and only indicates that the subject is misunderstood.

This is of course only my understanding and I mean no disrespect to anyone's beliefs.
Posted by Flabbergasted | Mon Jan 21, 2013, 03:28 PM (14 replies)

Religion is not the Problem: But is it the Answer...?

I had a talk with a friend: she is spiritual but not religious, like me. I have been contrasting the differences between spirituality and religion and seeking "the synthesis." What is the lowest common denominator?

Our conversation juxtaposed two opposing views: "Spirituality as a subjective path leading to a subjective enlightenment" vs "religion is about controlling people." There are many religions some of which are the exact antithesis of control. In Sufism it can be described in this way: even unto the gates of heaven do you seek another to enter above yourself. In Taoism it is: "To live without motive is to experience the world." There is no end to selflessness.


Government is about controlling people as well: by it's very design. In fact religion and sect describe the functional role of political party perfectly: A group of people that have a comparative notion of idyllic government/religious role, and the best road to arrive at this goal. The extension is: individual results may vary. "Many paths to god." Juxtapose this idea against an individualist notion of government role and spiritual function. ie Imagine if everyone was expected to offer their own subjective rule on (x issue), and specifically issue their own governmental voice, outside of any wisdom and counsel provided by others. It is an impossible and ridiculous notion. Some people would master this act, while most others would not have the first clue. Hence, the difference between the spiritual and the religious on an individual basis. The spiritual and political masters are going to attract a following which will many times lead to sect, religion, party and government.

Government and religion can and are used for the will of the few against the mindlessness of the mass. This is an entirely different cultural phenomenon then the subjective experience and needs of small groups and individuals. It is just a fact that there are those that have no qualms with harnessing any vehicle for their own design. And it will remain a cultural phenomenon that a group is the cultural manifestation of a need and has it's roots in the individual.

Posted by Flabbergasted | Sat Jan 12, 2013, 05:11 PM (95 replies)

All Religion is about only one simple concept:


A return to Oneness.

And you can verify this with one simple exercise.

Be One.

Posted by Flabbergasted | Thu Jan 10, 2013, 10:24 PM (80 replies)

Any cartoonists looking for an idea...

I'm not an artist, but I think this would be great satire...

It could be one, or multiple screens...

It would be called "If Jesus were like his Father"

The screen, or screens, would contain scenes of Jesus telling his disciples to go forth and, instead of spreading his word or make disciples, "kill every man in (insert land, town etc) rape and enslave the women, stone the gays, etc. There are a number of possible other frames stemming from this. A funny one would be Jesus scolding a woman in the kitchen, " You know I don't like my steak with any dairy products." One of the scenes would have Peter saying to Judas, "I like this guy", to which judas replies, "He's got to be stopped."

Let me know if you do it. I'd like to see how it comes out. Wondering if it has been done already?
Posted by Flabbergasted | Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:08 AM (1 replies)

"Atheists...do not have a position that needs either "support" or "faith"? Another way of saying

this it is self evident that god does not exist, and no evidence exists that "it" does.

Atheism is a belief that is supported by contentions that its own preconceived notions about god are fictitious.

Further I dispute that atheism is self-supported and in fact contend that it is irrational. Nothing in atheism would suggest that an abundance of matter should contain life, should be expected to contain life, or would actually have a mechanism that would evolve this life much less formulate the conditions to make this life occur. Lets step even farther. "If" you believe in the Big Bang Theory, where did this matter and energy originate and where did the spark of life come from. A swirling super-heated mass of immensely pressurized matter would not contain life so why would it be assumed that life would pop up at all, much less formulate into incredibly complex biological systems. Evolution is frankly not a very satisfying answer including natural selection. (Not to suggest I don't believe in evolution. I do) The process to evolve must be premeditated in some way. Assuming, or taking for granted, that single celled organisms would form in the first place, why would you therefore conclude that they "evolve" at all. To maintain their own species? Where does the "program" or mechanism to evolve the species originate? Why would there be a mechanism at all? If natural selection is the vehicle, where did natural selection come from? To an atheist a pile of rocks is a pile of rocks; why would anything self formulate from a pile of rocks? Where does intelligence come from? Why would a single celled organism evolve into an incredibly complex system capable of questioning its own existence? Expand further: this universe goes forever in all directions, an incredible collection of immensely complex systems that we have not even begun to understand.

I dispute your contention that most atheists do no believe that science supports their position. Historically science and atheism have been bedfellows contradicting church teachings for centuries. Refer to this article...

http://www.investigatingatheism.info/science.html

I'm glad you have framed your argument in this way because it was exactly the point I was trying to make: The tyranny of belief.
Additionally the remainder of your argument points out the existence of preconceived notions.

Presupposing that a belief in theism automatically precedes from a belief in a religious text or pantheon is a fiction, although widespread. The point you missed from my reply is: "dogma will not survive intact." From this statement you would draw the conclusion: theism at it's essence does not need to arise from the descriptions of God, and the gods of the pantheon, as described in any religious or historical text. Simple theism, as I am defining it, rejects all anthropomorphism as an attempt to describe the indescribable and most of what is included in religious and historical texts is lack of understanding, historical revision, and outdated belief systems.

There is no solid irrefutable indication that god influences us in any judgmental way. This is a preconceived notion that God is other or separate. There are those in the Christian faith who insist that events in their life are directed by god. I don't think it explains all available data and I don't believe in the cliches "god works in mysterious ways, and god has a plan".

I actually have a lot of misgivings about using the word at all. This word has been used for centuries to describe anything from idols, to a force. I am unable to use this word in an analytic way without a preconception by others as to what the word would mean and my context for using it hence your belief that I must be describing what must amount a man in the sky.

The real question at this point is what is god then? It's a really challenging question to answer. I think of god as being both the source, creation and force. On the other hand understanding these concepts with the mind is impossible because they are beyond dualism. But really beyond all that god is experienced.

I offer up this analogy: An alien space ship is found on planet earth and a group of atheists and dogmatic theists are sent to provide explanations. The atheists study the ship and conclude that the ship just happens to be here. The dogmatic theists conclude that a massive humanoid being put the space ship here.

Thanks for your reply.











Posted by Flabbergasted | Tue Jan 1, 2013, 05:45 PM (1 replies)

Parkology

Parkology

The study of parkology (which for some reason spellcheck claims is a misspelling) is a relatively old science despite beliefs to the contrary. One needs look no further than the invention of the wheel, to discover references to this obscure but important study. In fact parkology was simultaneously invented with the wheel, by people hoping to make their life "just that much simpler". Sadly the entire feat "backfired", no pun intended, for the necessitated study of parkology, easily outweighed any apparent gains attained by the wheel.

The parking lot has revealed a microcosm of personal self-interest psychology. Here you have a plethora of options: each space filling with the property and self interest of one a mere moment before someone else decided this was the perfect spot.

Parking lot methodology is never clear cut. Algorithms to date are inadequate, and true parking masters rarely share their secrets. Surprisingly there appears to be a peculiar phenomenon of late, in which the "best" parking spots are left unfilled. Early theories on this phenomenon, revealed a kind of altruistic vision to help an unidentified class of people. It has never been fully understood who this group is, or why they are so valued, because most of these spaces remain unfilled for near infinite amounts if time, frustrating the pursuits of others, wondering why they have been unable to lure this special class into these spots. Various incentives, including colorful signs and impressive decals, have not helped attract this obviously important group. Further study has seemingly identified this group to be a mixture of the mobile challenged and those who appear to have no mobility challenges whatsoever. It is, to date, unknown why this mix exists or how to get into this group.

The bare bones parkology process appears to be as follows: parking lot is accessed and analyzed, competition is judged on merit, size, shape, and, apparently, value of vehicle, and a moral ideal is created dependent on conditions. The first and, apparently, only hard and fast rule, is to park as close as possible to trading counters, so as to trade for inane knick-knacks in the least amount of time possible--it is unknown why productivity is essential in this pursuit. It is theorized that a peculiar race may be involved and those who exit the parking lot quickest may win a prize or commendation of some kind. Securing the rights, safety and personal property of self while withholding the safety, and rights of others is of the highest moral value. It appears that an estimate is generated of the amount of time required to wait patiently to park while others impatiently wait behind for overwhelming amounts of time--one theory explains that this is a kind of mating ritual. Another attests that it is a display of mockery, somewhat similar to the displays observed of the posterior of certain primates or the extension of specific phalanges. Some believe, that there may be a time limit rule involved in how long a car may be idle, due to certain displays of what appears to be righteous indignation, followed by unrighteous displays of teeth gnashing.

The position of the vehicles themselves appear to have very few rules despite reports of what appears to be a parking framework consisting of white lines laid out in a type of grid akin to certain sporting events. This lends credence to the race theory. It is unknown why cross line parking, uncentered parking and obnoxiously diagonal parking is so prevalent despite it seeming to frustrate the pursuits of other parkers, and causing what appears to be malicious damages to these vehicles. It is wondered if perhaps the vehicles are not considered to be as valued as originally postulated. Also unknown is why obscenely large vehicles are observed in especially small parking spaces, apparently designed for smaller vehicles. This appears to be another mating ritual, as studies have indicated these vehicles are for compensatory purposes. It also has seemed irrational why these obviously oversized vehicles would be used at all. It is theorized that certain fuels are considered too plentiful and these individuals perform a service by burning this fuel off as rapidly as possible, as to protect others and later generations.

In certain special parking lots a device, consisting of a over-sized non-motorized wheeled container, that appears to be used for the movement of knick-knacks from the trading counters is utilized. For an unknown reason some people carefully stack these devices into a special corral apparently designed for this purpose, while others let them roll across the parking lot and crash into other cars, or simply leave them in the parking spaces themselves. It is theorized that this may be part of the race but this doesn't seem to adequately explain all available data. It is more likely that this is a display of animosity designed to protect parking claims. Another peculiar observation, has noted a privileged group that, apparently, own their own knick-knack transport devices. This special group is often observed trading large numbers of peculiar air-filled containers, for far fewer liquid-filled containers. Few theories have been devised to explain this strange behavior, but one attests that these individuals are involved in a kind of special social ritual of unknown function. This group appears to be protected in some way because few people are seen near them, and those that are, rarely for long.

The parking resource is at times a scarce commodity, and at other times completely unused. Such a revolving, time sensitive, resource seems odd. It is like there is a certain availability of gold in the area, and the gold will be entirely mined by evening, only to be resupplied each morning by a group of happy go lucky leprechauns yet few rainbows have been observed in the area.

This concludes this report.






Posted by Flabbergasted | Sun Dec 30, 2012, 04:46 PM (0 replies)

Gods were superseded by Religious Teachers...

I found this to be a interesting insight from the book "A History of God", a scholarly work by Karen Armstrong. It is written defining an era of transition from polytheistic roots to Buddhism, Hinduism.


In the seventeenth century bce, Aryans from what is now Iran had invaded the Indus Valley and subdued the indigenous population...Like the Babylonians, the Aryans were quite aware that their myths were not factual accounts of reality but expressed a mystery that not even the gods themselves could explain adequately. When they tried to imagine how the gods and the world evolve from primal chaos, they concluded that nobody---not even the gods---could understand the mystery of existence.

...

The religion of the Vedas did not attempt to explain the origins of life,...(but) instead to help people come to terms with the wonder and terror of existence.


...

By the eighth century bce changes ...meant the old Vedic religion was no longer relevant. The ideas of the indigenous population that had been suppressed in the centuries following the Aryan invasions surfaced and led to a new religious hunger. The revived interest in karma, the notion that ones destiny was determined by ones own actions, made people unwilling to blame the gods for irresponsible behavior of human beings. Increasingly the gods were seen as symbols of a single transcendent Reality.

...

Sacrifice and liturgy were not enough: they wanted to discover the inner meaning of these rites. We shall note that the prophets of Israel felt the same dissatisfaction. In India the gods were no longer seen as other beings who were external to their worshippers; instead men and women sought to achieve an inward realization of truth.


The gods were no longer very important in India. Henceforth they would be superseded by the religious teacher, who would be considered higher than the gods. It was a remarkable assertion of the value of humanity and the desire to take control of destiny: it would be the great religious insight of the subcontinent. The new religions of Hinduism and Buddhism did not deny the existence of the gods, nor did they forbid the people to worship them. In their view, such repression and denial was damaging. Instead, Hindus and Buddhists sought new ways to transcend the gods, to go beyond them.


The part that I find most interesting in this passage, is the idea that gods as a concept were superseded by religious teachers, whereas in Abrahamic religions, gods progressed to God. You can see a vast range of ideas stemming from this. An important related idea is Judaism progressed, so to speak, to Christianity which in a sense is a religious teacher being God. Also we typically see the gods as being the source of religion, as well as above and beyond man, whereas this flips both concepts on their head.

It is also interesting to note the Babylonians and Aryans concluded that even the gods could not understand the mystery of existence. Today this idea is still around, but takes the form of the cliche, "God works in mysterious ways": whereas god is the bearer of an unrevealed mystery. This is perhaps a stretch but interesting to ponder.
Posted by Flabbergasted | Fri Dec 28, 2012, 02:36 AM (4 replies)

Prediction: in the next few years we will see a mass murder epidemic...

When Barack Obama mourned the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown CT and vowed action on gun control, I saw it as a shot across the bow in a David vs Goliath struggle. The public at large is not thrilled about further gun regulation, 300,000,000 guns are owned by millions of owners, extensive lobbying efforts exert pressure on our govt, media and populace, and millions of our citizens liken any talk of gun control to be the beginning of a tyrannical government. Hardly a scenario that would breed a successful perspective. Even formation of a goalpost seems like a monumental task.

I also saw his actions to be quite threatening to the "tyrannical government" types. I imagined individuals and groups discussing how a bullet could take care of this "problem" as they stockpiled thousands of new rifles and hyperbolic volumes of ammo. I silently fear our president will become a martyr.

On the other hand, I see a very keen and savy political calculation. I know that Obama saw the eyes of his daughters in that classroom, saw the anguish of grief stricken parents, and wanted to find a solution. But he wasn't weighing insurmountable odds. He has his eyes on the future.

My prediction: In the next few years we will see a mass shooting epidemic unimagined by this countries populace and unheard of in western civilization. I think this is what Obama is imagining. He is not looking at the current scale tipped against him but imagining a scenario where he does nothing and pays the consequences of inaction. Weighing this he has no choice but to call for action. He correctly chose the tipping point and will carefully seize opportunities to exert pressure on the senate as public pressure mounts.

The NRA senses the writing on the walls as well. They are caught between the recognition of the high ground and calls to capitilize on a fearful public with an unquenchable desire to play the hero. They cannot win but they will make a mint and that is winning.
Posted by Flabbergasted | Mon Dec 24, 2012, 03:20 PM (16 replies)

The self defense myth.

I spent some time today near Santa Monica pier with my family glancing around on a busy, cold, cloudy, Cali day. Not fearfully, i thought about mass shootings as I had throughout the day. I considered what would happen if a shooting started? What would people do? What if there was a "defender" with a concealed weapon? Worse yet what if there were several? In a populated area a firearm has much less of a defensive advantage then in a lightly populated, controlled scenario. It's hard to keep calm amidst a throng of panicking people. Which one is the shooter? Is that guy with the gun my friend or my enemy?

I live in the city but grew up in the country but not in an especially conservative area. I grew up with several rifles and a shotgun unlocked in my parents bedroom. Yes, this was foolish, but hardly unusual. My parents didn't lock their house until we moved out; it was just not considered necessary.

I now live in Portland OR, a relatively safe city. I have never once felt that my life was threatened in any situation. Even after a shooting left two dead a half block from our first home in a drug shooting, we didn't feel threatened. A dog gave us a relative assurance of an escape if someone broke in. And that was and is the plan: escape. The only experience I have had in Portland with a handgun is with a friend who decided to carry his handgun with him around the city. I was never quite sure what his reasoning was. As it ended his roommate accidentally shot him in the leg near his groin.

We are lucky. Their are of course cities with much higher violent crime rates and indeed these city's have likely more guns than my relatively safe little neighborhood. Many gun homicides are related to drugs and gangs.

And yet despite these circumstances I cannot imagine that a gun is a practical tool to carry around with you especially in the city. For example on that pier, escape is the best course of action. In the city and other areas woman and men carry mace for protection. I'm not suggesting that there are fee guns in cities for personal protection but it is just not something that is open or discussed for obvious reasons.

Now juxtapose the reality of the rural dweller. With much lower crime rates across the board where does the need for a concealed weapon come in much less a stock of assault rifles or a concealed weapon. In a dire situation couldn't you carry mace. Are you really safer with that loaded gun in your bedroom or less so? Consider that the FBI counted an average of 213 legitimate self defense homicides per year from 2005-10.

It all has it's root in authority. A gun is much more likely to be used against an acquaintance than a stranger. Why? The guy with the gun has the authority in a dispute. People who feel the need for a ccw are in essence self deputizing. A gun makes you lord over your domain, king of your castle, sheriff in these here parts. No one can tell you what to do. You are free to "stand your ground". If the govt comes to "take away your freedoms" your guns will be blazing. Carrying a hand gun is not about self defense but about belief defense and ego protection.

Consider this in another way, on a broader scale consider: the idea of protection from a tyrannical government. If proponents of this idea really considered the reality in the highly unlikely scenario that the government takes over, guns are not very effective against helicopters and jets. In fact if these people were really serious they would aim for SAMs, antitank weaponry, and automatic weaponry none of which is possibly and practical to get. The idea of any firearm owned today used against the military is like a child claiming his BB gun is an effective tool against bad guys. Perhaps I should say toy gun because at least a BB gun can take out an eye. These same people support the unending expansion of our military and bow to authorities such as police. The imaginary antagonist at the end of the barrel is not a police officer or a member of the military.

The real question here is WHO is the authority. Is he or she a republican or a democrat, a liberal or a conservative, black or white, good or bad. Do your BELIEFS need to be protected or not. It's not a rational thought process. We are not dealing with well thought out scenarios and countermeasures. We are dealing with fear and how we regain authority over it. And there you have it. At the very bottom of this you have the f word. Who do you Fear?

I'm not suggesting that a weapon is never about defense in a rural area and guns are never a practical tool for urban dwellers but we should consider that the firearm debate is not about self defense really. It's about authority and fear.
Posted by Flabbergasted | Sun Dec 23, 2012, 01:03 PM (18 replies)
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