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Showing content with the highest reputation since 05/20/2018 in all areas

  1. 1 point
    I'm going to try and describe my perspective on the 'I' versus 'i' - not as two sides of the same coin, as Rom suggested, but more like the way we 'experience' the world - as a function of consciousness (I know, Rom - bear with me). With the human brain bombarded by so much data through our senses every second, our consciousness can process only a small part of it by comparison - even in those rare moments when our awareness is fully in the present, as opposed to pulling up data from memory, imagining possibilities or manipulating abstract concepts. So the mind manages a seamless awareness of the universe by focusing only on a small section at a time, and then generically renders the periphery with memory, knowledge, guesswork, systematic grouping and gross simplification. If we think of our awareness or consciousness as a camera lens on a satellite, then we can focus in as the 'i' (the experiencing self) or focus out towards an experience of the 'I' (the experiencing universe) - but not consciously experience both simultaneously, because in order to fully understand or experience the unfolding 'I' as it is, the mind must let go of a number of concepts as illusion, including language, thought, time, objective reality and the 'i'. When the mind or consciousness returns from this experience to regain its 'control' of language, meaning and a concept of 'self' (illusory though they may be), any communication of this subjective experience is going to be insufficient. This is because thinking and writing/talking about what is a holistic experience of the unfolding 'I' must rely on simultaneous recognition of subsets of the 'I' that have been compartmentalised by the mind or defined by language, but appear to overlap, coalesce, contradict and disappear in the holistic experience of the 'I'. As an example, the notion of 'decay' is irrelevant when you consider that there is no loss experienced in the unfolding 'I' - 'decay' is a term defined by the illusion that each subset exists independent of each other: that a decaying apple or a body in a casket, including the 'life' that was once evident and the , is not simply an illusory subset of the 'I' but 'something' or 'someone' 'existing' in its own right, leading to the thought-defined experience that the 'person' who has 'died' is lost and their body decaying, instead of 'living' eternally as a subset of the unfolding 'I' that exists as a 'person' only in the communication of our shared subjective experience.... The 'I' that is conceived as I write this - that each 'i' conceives mentally - is also incomplete in that the subjective experiences we each have of the universe (including our first hand and second hand knowledge or understanding), are limited by the 'i'. We can imagine or speculate on the experiences of others based on the information we currently have, but even the most observant, imaginative and empathic human being cannot fully experience the pinpoint focus of every 'i' that has ever experienced the universe. And so it helps me, at least, to recognise that a complete awareness of the 'I' remains beyond the 'i', but its potentiality exists in every interaction with the universe - that I can approach a more complete and accurate awareness of the 'I' through my connection with others, my attempts to understand their subjective experiences and my recognition that, within that diversity from my own experiences, lies the experience of the 'I' that is missing from my own.
  2. 1 point
    Sorry, Rom - I don't believe in summaries How did I form a belief that Jesus was born of a virgin? By trusting the source (parents, teachers, clergy, books, etc). I had an almost cloistered childhood - 'beliefs' were synonymous with facts. How did I lose that belief? By holding it up to logic and knowledge. I wouldn't at first - instead I tucked it away unchallenged for years, safeguarded as a connection to my family and culture. This is imperfectly simplified, but I think losing a belief is a conscious action to reject information that was previously trusted - it doesn't just happen when you're exposed to accurate and conflicting information. The mind is surprisingly adept at holding conflicting ideas safely apart from each other...one tied to logic and the other to emotion, for instance.
  3. 1 point
    Joseph, thormas and Rom, I'm reminded of the blind men surrounding the elephant. Rather than comparing and discarding different positions in search of the one truth, you at least recognise that we're attempting to integrate limited, sometimes contradictory and/or overlapping subjective experiences - communicated from different positions - into one holistic understanding. If what at first thought couldn't possibly be flat, broad and solid as well as long, cylindrical and hollow can eventually be conceived of as two limited experiences of one large elephant, then there is certainly hope for these discussions yet... In the meantime, you have all provided plenty of food for thought, and the fact that I more or less agree with so much of what each of you have said at any one time is not only rather confusing for me, but also suggests to me that, yes - you are perhaps not far apart at all. Certainly much closer than those blind men... Cheers
  4. 1 point
    Well, let me preface this by saying I am not a theist, I don't take the bible literally, so that includes a literal understanding of A&E and the sin brought into the world by their specific action. Also, I believe in the theory of evolution and do not believe we were created perfect and then fell. Nor do I believe we are 'separate' from God, theistically understood (ala A&E and sin) or that in the same vein, we need saving from sin - again understood theistically - which, to me, it seems, you are referring. Let me add, I am (non formal religious) Christian, believe “God”Is (again not a supreme being in his heaven, judging actions and keeping score, etc.,) and, to your point, I believe we can speak intelligibly about ‘sin.’ Some contemporary theologians use the conception of the Greek Fathers, such as Irenaeus (200 years before Augustine), concerning the gradual movement of the human being from an 'initial site of immaturity" which contrasts with Augustine's fall from the original state of righteousness (perfection). So, there were different views early on. Sadly, the Western, Roman expression and Augustine prevailed. Many define sin as self-centeredness or selfishness (also depicted in the Eden story) and further that the original, actually the only sin is self-centeredness. And it shows itself in numerous ways: simply, I lie for me, I lust for me, I kill for me, I dishonor another for me, I am envious of another for me and on and on. And, it seems evident that selfishness is the act of man and so it can be said that selfishness ‘enters’the world when 'man' steps forward in the process of evolution (which could dovetail with ‘possibility’stake). Now, Spong, among others, notes that early man, of necessity was self-centered: it was survival and he had to look out for and protect #1. Makes sense! However, as man progressed, it can be asked if the circumstances have changed and looking out for # 1 has taken on a life beyond survival (difficult subjects include slavery, colonization, western expansion, re-settling native populations, Nazism, Henry VIII, Trump, or simply Cain and Abel). Others speak of individual and communal self-centeredness (both are witnessed in the examples cited) that all newborns are born into. Leaving religion to the side for a moment, there is something to the idea that we are born into self-centeredness: it ‘marks' all men and women. And, at its worst, it destroys life, community and is devoid of ‘humanity.’There seems to be an awareness of this reality: of a killer, a terrorist, or someone who rapes a child, we say, "what a monster" or "he's inhuman" or she is an animal”or "he is evil incarnate." And of the cop or fireman on 911 or a soldier who saved his buddy, a woman who dies giving birth, knowing the risk, we often hear: "the finest human being I've ever known" or “the best of us”or “what an incredible person" or "this guy is someone to live up to." The truly self-centered, the most selfish among us, who care nothing for others, we strip of humanity (the monster) and those who give to others, who have concern for others, the most loving among us, we heap humanity on then (the best of us). One definition of sin is 'missing the mark' and the mark is to become (truly) human, understood/defined as self-less, compassionate or loving. And to the degree we are selfish, to that degree we miss the mark, we 'fail' to (self-) actualize, we fail to become (truly) human. Obviously, the term human here connotes more than species. So, can self-centeredness be called sin? From the Christian perspective, the answer is yes! And if we talk of being saved from sin, we start with Baptism: properly understood, is an orientation away from self-centered behavior and toward self-less-ness. There is no magic washing of sin; it is symbol and the human community (parents, godparents, community) is the essential element in the nurturing of a child away from self-centeredness and toward selflessness (compassionate concern or, apologies, love). This locus of love is essential for a truly human life. Is sin separation from God? Well, self-centeredness or sin is seen as separation from the possibility of our best self: we are off the mark. Then, before we get to God, the question is how can this separation be overcome? Simple, as shown, by becoming less and less selfish - or to put it in a positive light: by becoming more and more self-less, by becoming more loving. Finally, Christianity believes that God is Love. So, are we separated from God and is God necessary for salvation; do we need to be saved? If God is Love and if love or loving is what enables us to be truly human, then until we love, it could be said that self-centeredness is the textbook opposite of and separation from love. From the Christian perspective, self-centeredness (sin) is separation from love (God). It can be said we need to be saved from sin, which, in this scenario simply means, we need to be healed of selfishness, and, thereby, made whole, i.e. human. What is a whole human being? The fireman on 911, the mother who gives here all on a daily basis, the man who tries to be compassionate and concerned for those in his life, even the stranger, the kid who decides not to be a bully: all are on the way to wholeness (in the Christian understanding). BTW, it is not a consistent process and sometimes we simply do a lousy job of being human: two steps forward, one back, one step forward, four back and on and on. So, is God necessary for salvation? To become whole or human, one becomes selfless, one loves (and, thereby, selfishness, the only sin, is overcome). One must 'embody' love, one must 'become love;' one must allow love to become flesh, which simply means to reside, to be expressed in their flesh, in their lives. This is the 'incarnation' of Love; this is the incarnation of God. Man cannot be human without love; man cannot be human without God. God/Love is necessary for man to be whole (i.e. salvation although I actually never use this terminology anymore because it gets in the way, given its historical baggage). In Christianity, even if there were no sin, God would still be one with man (and this too is captured in the story of Eden). The Lover always wants to be one with the Beloved: even when man was not ‘separated’from God in Eden, God is with/for man: it is what love is; it is what love does. I always thought the very best reason to have a child is simply love. It is pure gift, so another, yet to be, might be and have life. We, hopefully, or the best of humanity, do not create life so it worships us, to obey us, to be a little us, so we can bask in our glory; we love, we create so the beloved may have life and the desire is always to be with/for the beloved as it moves to and lives fully. In the Christian perspective, properly understood, this is the reason for creation. It is Letting Be (which is God). Please note, you asked for a Christian explanation and what I have tried to do is give you an explanation based on a more contemporary take on Christianity.
  5. 1 point
    God only grudgingly allowed the selection of a king of Israel. Prophets, priests and judges yes but it was the arrogance of Israel which demanded a king. See 1 Samuel 12.