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Alan

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Everything posted by Alan

  1. Raven, Your statement, "The Kingdom is within all of us...", I think expands nicely upon my view of the Nativity. This biblical account, along with many others, speak deeply to me about the birth and life of Christ within my internal kingdom, that spiritual temple which I am erecting within myself. - Alan
  2. It has been approximately two years since I last posted in this forum. I remember having excellent conversations with several here, all of which allowed me to see a new view through different lenses. One of my earlier posts included my views of the Nativity. I am posting it here again to generate continued conversation. Peace to all - Alan Original Post: Because of the Christmas season, I have been thinking about the nativity scene and its meaning. I consider the Gospels to present beautiful, meaningful mythologies rather than literal stories. Thus, I have come up with the following thoughts and would love to hear from others their opinions on these ideas: 1. The birth story of Jesus actually portrays how the spirit of Jesus should be born within ourselves. The baby Jesus is a seed of light that radiants love and connection to God. 2. The lowly manger scene depicts that this seed of light can come into the life of all mankind, regardless of their status. 3. The animals represent our 'beastial' desires and emotions that must be subdued in the presence of this light to allow our spirituality to grow. 4. The sheppards represent our daily activities and work tasks that, again, must be subservient to our spirituality. 5. The magi (three wise men) represent the three aspects of who we are: the physical (our bodies), the psychical (our minds), and the spiritual (our souls/light), that seek to re-connect with the Jesus light (the Star in the East) to become whole again with God.
  3. Adi, Wow...this song brings out a lot of emotion in me... Thanks for posting that. Alan
  4. Janet, No, I haven't read that book yet. I will add it to my lengthy list of potentials. BTW, I looked around the Soul Biographies website and there are some really fun and engaging videos there. Thanks, again, for posting the link. Alan
  5. Wow...that's a FANTASTIC video!! Thank you for posting it. From what everyone has posted, it seems our fears of not belonging, our fears of death, our fears of losing a loved one, all stem to a root fear: the fear of being alone. This is one of my greatest fears. Sure, I like to get away, be by myself, and experience life through silence and circumspection, but I know that I will eventually return to my family and friends. Even when I get away, I know that my connection with God is still there and I can feel the Divine Presence within me. But losing all of that is scary. We must have interaction with others in order to express our emotions, exchange ideas, compare experiences, and have a feeling of connectedness. Without God, our lives would serve no purpose and there would be no promise of a better place. Maybe hell is a place of total isolation. Respectfully, Alan
  6. Ada, Beautifully said. I completely agree with your idea of the Christmas standard. How wonderful our lives would be if we all gave birth to love, hope, joy, compassion, and tolerance every day! Your statements about God's Light makes me think of an analogy I once heard. If God is the sun, and we are the moon, then we must strive to be full so as to reflect God's radiance during the darkness of the night. I like to use a paraphrased statement of St Francis of Asissi which says "no amount of darkness can extinguish the light from a single flame". We must be candles in the darkness and strive to keep burning bright every day, not just during the holidays. Alan
  7. Because of the Christmas season, I have been thinking about the nativity scene and its meaning. I consider the Gospels to present beautiful, meaningful mythologies rather than literal stories. Thus, I have come up with the following thoughts and would love to hear from others their opinions on these ideas: 1. The birth story of Jesus actually portrays how the spirit of Jesus should be born within ourselves. The baby Jesus is a seed of light that radiants love and connection to God. 2. The lowly manger scene depicts that this seed of light can come into the life of all mankind, regardless of their status. 3. The animals represent our 'beastial' desires and emotions that must be subdued in the presence of this light to allow our spirituality to grow. 4. The sheppards represent our daily activities and work tasks that, again, must be subservient to our spirituality. 5. The magi (three wise men) represent the three aspects of who we are: the physical (our bodies), the psychical (our minds), and the spiritual (our souls/light), that seek to re-connect with the Jesus light (the Star in the East) to become whole again with God. Alan
  8. Alan

    Perspective On Point 3

    Jake, I am a lurker here, and have been for some time. I try to scan the new posts as readily as my busy schedule will allow. Unfortunately, I typically don't stop and post a comment when I read something I consider open and thought-provoking. Your post, however, has truly moved me. Your thoughts regarding Point 3 are very similar to my own. I have always considered Communion to be one of the most beautiful and meaningful sacraments of Christianity. However, an event in my life changed my feelings towards Communion as practiced by the church I attended as a young man. I was raised Missouri-Synod Lutheran. In that denomination, there is no open Communion. During my confirmation classes, my pastor explained to me that only those who understood the true meaning (aka the MS Lutheran accepted doctrine) of Communion are allowed to have Communion. This confused me, but being the impressionable youth that I was, I accepted his teachings. My father passed away in 2000. At that time, I was not a regular church-goer. However, my brothers and their wives wanted to honor our mother by attending a church service the following Sunday after my father's funeral. The pastor came to my Mother's home Saturday to make sure we were okay, and of course, make sure that we were attending church the next morning. He questioned my brother's wife about her religious up-bringing. She was raised Seventh Day Adventist. All I can say is that the pastor chose his words carefully. He essentially told her, in no uncertain terms, that she would not partake of Communion and that she should listen closely to his sermon. My brother and his wife did not go to church that Sunday. Neither did I. I could not believe the negativity and outright elitism projected by that pastor! My Mother has forgiven me for not attending the service and, after numerous conversations with her, I feel she understands my feelings towards the church. With all of that said, I want to pass on to you my support of your ideas regarding Communion and offer some ideas I've had regarding the body and blood of Christ. What if we consider the bread, aka the body, to represent the 'substance' of our lives. That is, what if we look at it as representing all of the physical, hard-copy, stuff that we encounter and surround ourselves with on a daily basis. This would not only include our personal bodies, but also the tangible things around us including the trees, rocks, water, and other physical items of our existence. Then, what if we consider the wine, aka the blood, to represent the 'fluid' of our lives. That would be our mental and spiritual aspects including our thoughts, ideas, emotions, dreams, and other non-physical aspects of our existence. If we consider the body and blood to represent all of these things, then I see Jesus Christ as permeating all that we are and experience. The Last Supper is more meaningful to me because it is not a dour pretense to His death, but rather, a statement of his living everyday in our lives. His scriptual statements of "do this as often as you eat/drink of it in remembrance of Me" takes on a meaning that we should strive to see His teachings in in our everyday lives. Furthermore, I totally agree that Communion should be shared by all with the intent that we are coming together to celebrate the existence and our connection with the one true God. Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts and inspiring me to offer my own. Alan
  9. Joseph, Thank you for posting the above link. Your thoughts are well presented and they have given me much more to think about. Alan
  10. Joseph, That is a very interesting point of view regarding love. I have been thinking about your comments for some time and offer mine as follows: I believe that G_d exists. I believe that all things are part of G_d. I know that both good and evil exist. Therefore, good and evil are part of G_d. The Book of John says that G_d is love Therefore, love is made up of aspects of G_d including good and evil. Is this consistent with your ideas of love? Alan
  11. FOLLOW UP - After reading my post, I realize I didn't give my thoughts on the Sacrament/Symbolism issue. I have a hard time with the word Sacrament. Christianity is generally accepted as having two Sacraments: Baptism and Communion. Both of these are supposed to impart Grace into our lives. My questioning/confusion comes from the term Grace. What does this term truly mean? I don't believe in an external, separate God entity that 'looks down upon us' or acts outside of ourselves. With that said, the term Grace doesn't make sense to me because it implies getting something from outside of myself. So, I guess I would consider Baptism to be a Symbolic ritual in our physical lives to give us understanding of what we need to do with our internal spiritual life. I'm not sure that really conveys my thoughts, but it's a start. Alan
  12. Jake, Great topic. I haven't posted to this forum in a long time, and so this is a chance for me to get back into it. I consider Baptism to be a symbolic ritual that gives us a physical connectedness with a spiritual event. Immersion of the physical body into water, followed by the emmanation of the body back into air, is a great way to give a physical feeling and understanding of how our spiritual body is cleansed/changed by our mystical Baptism with Diety. This version of Baptism refers to the full immersion version, not the symbolic touching of water to the forehead of babies. I never quite understood the value of baby Baptisms in this regard. Baptism is a very old ritual not limited to Christianity. There is evidence of Baptism/immersion rituals as far back as Mesopotamia and in numerous cultures around the world. I consider it to be a valuable procedure for those who understand its implications. Much like other accepted church sacraments, I think Baptism has been 'dumbed-down' to make it more digestable to the masses and its deeper, mystical meaning has been lost. Alan
  13. I have finished Harvey's book and just wanted to offer these comments: The first section of the book focuses on Harvey's interpretation of the historical/radical Jesus. The author did a great job of presenting some alternative interpretations of Christ's parables and actions. I enjoyed this section immensely and thought what a great way to start the book. The second section focused on the Mystical Christ, and in particular, Harvey's interpretation of his own mystical Christ experience. This section was difficult to follow and I'm sure I missed many of his key points. However, he did offer up some interesting points of view regarding his internal Path to become one with Christ. He then follows up with a section on Christ and the Sacred Feminine. Very interesting...but I feel he tried to pack way too much information in this section without wrapping up all his points and arguments into a unifying theme. The final section presents actual practices and meditations that can be used in a daily practice of connecting with Christ. This section could easily be a stand alone hand book and I may end up purchasing the book with the exclusive intent of trying some these methods. Overall, Son of Man was interesting reading. I appreciate Harvey's insights and recommend this book to those that are interested in a unique approach to the Mystical Christ. Alan
  14. I'm feeling this way about the book "Son of Man" that I'm currently reading (see my list above). The author is making some very bold statements about his method of finding Christ or, as he says, becoming 'Christed'. He essentially is prescribing a method of becoming like Christ via his direct communication with Christ. I'm having a hard time digesting some of his thoughts, but will finish the book anyway. There have been some interesting points of view and I hope he will provide a few more. Alan
  15. Joseph: Wonderful stuff! Thank you. I sense a touch of Eckhart Tolle in your response (watching the mind without judgement or thought). I see you have even suggested his book in my recommended books post. I enjoyed his "Power of Now". I agree with you and him that we need to look at our minds from a non-emotional, non-judgemental stance. The steps seem so easy, yet so hard to take. I spent 35 years letting my mind control my surroundings and have spent the last 6 trying to free myself. I take baby steps daily...I rejoice in my little accomplishments. Thank you again, Joseph, for reminding me how to reveal that which I already have. I consider your posts to be some of the best reading on this Board. Keep it up! Alan
  16. Joseph: Wow...that's a tough one... To me, it means finding true peace. If I had that, I would be at a place where I would not want more or less. I would be able to laugh freely, love openly, and would find pleasure in all around me. I would have profound love with everyone around me and with God. All of my wants and needs would be fulfilled. How do we get there again?? Alan
  17. Very well said. Money is our way of benchmarking our achievements in the physical world. We live in a global economy, thus, barter systems and other means of localized trade are no longer applicable. Money is a way of guaging our position on the 'materialistic highway' of life. It is just a convenient way to track individual, physical progress. We will always have a money system. Pure equality of all in the physical world is not humanly possible if we rely soley on our physical self. God has given each of us unique talents and skills and the ability to compete with each other for limited resources. Our built in free will is what drives us to be better than the next guy, and unfortunately, results in people taking advantage of others. I think humanity puts little effort to advance along the 'spiritual highway' of life because we don't have a convenient way to track our progress in that realm. It is individualistic, and thus, is not comparitive to others by a spiritual money system. It is not man-made, as is our physical world, and thus, is far more complex to make advancement. Furthermore, I cannot take advantage of your spiritual progress in order to advance my own. Pure equality will only be achieved if humanity will temper physical advancement with spiritual advancement. Because our world is so focused on physical advancement, this utopian idea is not going to happen anytime soon. Alan
  18. McKenna: Thanks for the additions. Those are also on my list to read eventually. I, too, was having a hard time trying to remember the books I've read. My computer access is at my office, so I had a difficult time remembering titles. I'm sure I've left out a few but I will post an addendum if I come up with more. Alan
  19. I justed wanted to pass along a brief list of some books that I have found very thought provoking. Most have been recommended by those of you here. Thank you. Your positive comments led me to read some very good stuff. In no particular order... Reading the Bible Again for First Time, Marcus Borg: This was my first reading by a PC author. His presentation of precritical naivete/critical thinking/postcritical naivete made me think hard about what I accepted and believed. It was this book that caused me to realize that I was a PC. Maybe not his best or most well-known work, but definitely a Borg classic. Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell: Wow...this book was not what I initially expected it to be. His writing and presentation style really pull the reader into his thoughts. It was a fast read and I was dissapointed when it was done. Why Christianity Must Change or Die, John Shelby Spong: What can I say. Most everyone here knows this classic. A must read for any PC. Ethics for the New Millennium, Dalai Lama: I bought this book 7 years ago and have read it 4 times. Every time I read it, I find more words to live by. Highly recommended. Living Buddha, Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hanh: Beautiful. I love his heart-felt comparisons between the Buddhism he promotes and his understanding of Christianity. Some of his interpretations are based on Fundamentalist concepts, but overall, I enjoyed his points of view. Son of Man: The Mystical Path to Christ, Andrew Harvey: Currently reading this one. So far (first 100 pages or so) seems to be pretty good. Harvey's writing style and thought process is very intense. There are few 'easy thoughts' in this one. I have a list of numerous other books that have been recommended on this Forum. I will get to all of them eventually. Alan
  20. Soma: Thank you, but you give me more credit than I deserve. Every day is a challenge for me in my marriage. I am just fortunate to have found a woman who is very giving, understanding, and who accepts me for who I am. Alan
  21. THAT IS HILLARIOUS!!! Thank you for posting the link! Alan
  22. Wayfarer: This is a timely topic for me. I have so much to say, so please forgive my long post. Here we go... Like you, I have a completely different view of Christianity than my wife. She is my second wife and she is a proud evangelical Christian who doesn't understand why I don't want to accompany her and her children (I am the step-father of her 7 children) to the Assembly of God church on Sundays. My wife is from a large family (she is 1 of 15 children) and the majority of her family is either Assembly of God are some other evangelical group. The matriach of the family, my mother-in-law, thinks that 'I am lost' and she makes it her goal to remind me of this on a regular basis. Oh, by the way, I am also a very active Freemason, which according to my mother-in-law and numerous in-laws, is a Satanic cult and I am esssentially doomed to burn in the fires of hell forever if I continue my evil ways. So, with all of that said, I will just say in the words of Bill Clinton "I feel your pain"... I have a limited group of close friends who I can confide in. This, unfortunately, does not include my wife. I have tried to discuss my beliefs with her. It did not lead to a productive discussion. To this day, I regret ever having told her some of my thoughts. However, we both agree to disagree. I love my wife. Period. She has helped me to become a better person. I was mentally abused by my first wife over a 17 year marriage. My current wife has had to deal with many issues that I have brought into our relationship. However, she has shown me a better marriage over our last 4 years together than I ever had in my previous marriage. Although we do not agree on our Christian points of view, she exemplifies the true meaning of love by her actions towards me, towards our children, and towards others. Although she will not admit it, I think she is far more progressive in her ideals than she is willing to say. It is through our actions that we promote our true beliefs. Like you, I cringe at the thought of our children sitting through the guilt trip on Sunday morning. But remember, many of us on this forum have been brought up that way and we haven't turned out too bad. I was raised as a Missouri-Synod Lutheran (hard to get much more fundamental than that). I only started questioning my true Christianity after I had went through a very difficult time with my first wife. Personally, I don't think the teachings of the evangelical/fundamentalist church are that influential on our children's demeanor. I have seen them be far more open-minded and far more accepting to their peers than they ever were taught to be in their Sunday school lessons. For example, 2 years ago our teenage daughter's best friend announced she is a lesbian. This girl is very close to our family and is like another daughter to my wife and I. Our teenage daughter defended her friend's decision to not only the harsh criticism of her high school peers but also to the 'inquisition' of my mother-in-law. I was so proud of my daughter...and absolutely amazed by her actions. It is actions that teach, not our words. That was a tough time for our family. But the example that our teenage daughter made spoke volumes to her younger siblings. They may hear how homosexuality is wrong in Sunday school, but they saw the real meaning of love and acceptance in their home. Every day, Wayfarer, I am faced with difficult issues as being the step father of this large family. My wife and children have went through hell...literally. Her first husband, who is the father of 4 of our kids, was an alcoholic. He has distanced himself from his children and makes no effort to communicate with them. My wife's second husband, who brought 2 children into the relationship and fathered 2 more with her, was a child molester and is currently in prison. I will not try to convey the harm that these two men have brought into my wife and children lives. Nonetheless, I think our kids are turning out just fine. I try to live by a saying that is a paraphase of what Saint Francis of Assisi once said: No amount of darkness can extinguish the light from a single flame If your actions burn like that single flame, you will ignite the candle within those around you. Sincerely, Alan
  23. Joseph: Thank you for your kind comments. It took me several re-writes to limit my thoughts and finalize my post. I enjoy your idea of the non-emotional God of Love. This concept blends well with my belief that we cannot fully comprehend God with the limits imposed upon us in this present reality. Emotions, like words, are just symbolic ways for us to interact with our surroundings. Because you and I both agree that Love has no opposite, I think it is wrong to categorize it as a human emotion. We live in a world of opposites and our minds need this balance in order to maintain a healthy equilibrium. We use the word Love to convey our thoughts of caring and special feelings towards each other, but the concept of a God of Love is much deeper than this. Jesus was also limited to trying to express his thoughts and ideas by the words and emotions known to his listeners. I think he used the word Love because it was the best choice available to convey a concept that cannot be put into words. I feel I have strayed from the original intent of the this thread. So, to bring it back around, I think the idea of a violent and unjust God is a completely human created idol. It worked well for the tribal society of the time and allowed the religious leaders to have an artificial control over their followers. I see this same line of reasoning when I hear the exclusionary words of the fundamentalists and evangelicals. I think if Jesus were living with us here today, he would be battling this accepted idol on a daily basis much as he did 2000 years ago. Alan
  24. Being new here, I am coming late to this conversation but I have decided to make some comments. First of all, thank you, Russ. Your thoughts above are fully in-line with my current beliefs. Words, whether they be spoken tradition or else written down, are exclusively symbols created by the human mind to rationalize and explain our observations to others. I cannot explain to you in words how a rose smells. Unless you have smelled a rose, my verbal description would not do it justice. You must experience the rose for yourself and develop your own mental interpretation of that rose's characteristic aroma. The next time I refer to a rose, you would then have a pleasing mental imprint (as long as you like the smell of roses) of what I was talking about and would likely have a similar idea of what my words are trying to convey. Like the smell of a rose, none of us can put our definition of God into words. Unlike the rose, however, each of us has a completely different mental imprint of God. What matters in the long run is that each of us finds our internal connection to God in a way that is most comfortable for each of us. I like to think about Jesus' saying that God is love. To me, he is not saying that God is a loving God, which would imply that God also has lesser attributes such as apathy or worse, vengeance. Rather, I interpret Jesus' statement that God acts through our lives by the Love that we spread. The unjust God of the Bible is an idol created by the authors of the Bible stories and texts to give those authors a comfort zone to explain their actions and the actions of others around them. Furthermore, I believe that these attributes were given to God by the story tellers in order to captivate and keep the interest of the story-tellers audience. Everyone listening to these stories can easily relate to a vengeful and unjust God figure because each of us is more in tune with these emotions in ourselves. I don't know about you, but I have a very difficult time spreading love. My mind has an easier time justifying anger than it does love. I think that is why the Bible authors have created the unjust God idol. It is easier to describe a God that meshes with our own emotional attributes. Humanity has proven itself to be very good at promoting a variety of emotions except love. I think the true challenge that Jesus' has given us as his followers is to promote love exclusively, which is the most difficult challenge of all. Alan
  25. Thank you all for the warm welcome! Alan
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