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Everything posted by FireDragon76

  1. Messianics in my experience are generally preaching a fundamentalist evangelicalism, not appreciably different from the sort of thing I've already come to reject, just packaged with Judaica.
  2. I recently found this video. There's some interesting food for thought: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=what+is+causing+decline+in+ELCA%3f&view=detail&mid=8A7DB7202884B61943988A7DB7202884B6194398&FORM=VIRE It's good that some people are thinking about these issues. I know I have. What's frustrating is when you are in a congregation where the pastor simply doesn't care about the relevance of the religion. That is offensive to somebody like me who values their own time. Coddling octagenarians is all fine and dandy but misunderstanding and refusing to listen to younger people who come to church is simply unacceptable, it's organizational suicide. Plus, I'm not sure that the trend towards individualism can be halted, or that it even should be. People have just lost faith in the Christian narrative of the world. There are some real alternatives to the loneliness Pr. Baumann talks about, such as practicing mindfulness, that doesn't require a community. Perhaps that is the spirituality of the third millenium. We have to find new practices and new stories that center our lives and that cannot be swindled away by con-men.
  3. I finally came to the realization a few months ago that I'm done with my church (conservative ELCA congregation). I do not agree with evangelicalism approach to spirituality anymore, even in a relatively tolerant, quasi-mainline form. There's too much potential toxic religious ideas there. So, I'm not sure what I do now... if I consider myself Buddhist or just become a religious none. It's a new thing for me. I accept the conclusions, more or less, of the Jesus Seminar, especially Marcus Borg's views on the subject. I'm not a pure skeptic, but I am a pragmatist and since I don't have a realist view of God, I would need a really good reason to remain identified as a Christian. I suppose my worldview is Jungian, something closer to that. I'm not a materialist, nor am I inclined towards scientism. I just don't accept the dogmatism and anti-intellectualism that's part and parcel with evangelicalism.
  4. What does "the Way is many and yet one" mean? This sort of thing is very vague, and also not demonstrated very well by real life experience. Jesus believed in the Hebrew God. How exactly does atheism fit in with that? I am not saying the Christian Church shouldn't welcome everybody, but Christians have a right to identify their own religion as theistic, and it's arguably intellectually dishonest to think otherwise. Prayer and communion with a personal God has been a consistent aspect of Christian practice since the beginning. A radical reinterpretation of Christian faith along New Age or Eastern religious lines begs the question of why be Christian at all? As Thich Nhat Hanh has demonstrated, one can be committed to a religion like Buddhism and still appreciate Jesus' teachings without committing oneself to a Christian identity.
  5. I'm familiar with the notion of "Progressive Christianity" from following the Progressive Christian channel on Patheos. The ethos of the 8 points seems more like new age sentiments, in comparison. There's insufficient explanation of the connection to Jesus of Nazareth or what he taught.
  6. Frankly, the eight points sound more like Unitarianism than Christianity.
  7. I'm suggesting many people here don't necessarily express the types of sentiments that would find a home in an actual mainline Protestant churches. Most mainline denominations in the US are still committed to theism, and even Trinitarianism, as part of their identity; it's in their liturgy and in their hymns, and even in some cases as part of their code of canon law. https://www.christianpost.com/news/episcopal-priest-defrocked-after-refusing-to-recant-muslim-faith.html
  8. That's more or less been my experience as well.
  9. You can be a Unitarian Universalist without giving a whit about Jesus, but it would be difficult to conceive of a "Christianity" without Jesus.
  10. Well, when people are talking about "the universe" instead of God, that's generally how UU's talk.
  11. Progressive Christianity still defines itself as Christian in some way, UU generally does not.
  12. UU's and progressive Christians seem subtly different. UU spirituality is much more individualistic... and doesn't pretend to be Christian.
  13. Watch the Star Trek: the Next Generation episode "Darmok" some time, and you get a clue into this.
  14. The creation-Creator distinction is a kind of dualism.
  15. Muslims and Jews get along just fine without doing so, so I don't see why it is necessary. I don't see the author of the Gospel of John anthropomorphosizing God- that would be a distortion of the doctrine of the incarnation. The notion of connecting ones religious teacher to the transcendent, what the doctrine of Incarnation is really about, is a common intuition across religions. And that's all that's occurring in the Gospel according to John.
  16. It seems to me, on doing more reading, that the simplest explanation for Jesus resurrection is that it is in fact an after death communication. An ADC is neither an hallucination nor a fabrication, since they occur in psychologically healthy, normal people. The best evidence for this seems to be the apostle Paul himself, the earliest New Testament Christian witness we have. Paul seems disinterested in what modern day evangelicals think of as a "bodily resurrection". 1 Cornithians 14:45 is evidence enough for this, but there are other passages where Paul makes it clear that Jesus' and believers' existence after this life is qualitatively different from this life. (1 Corinthians 15:50). The only way evangelicals can explain Paul's words and reconcile them with their own perspective is to twist them beyond the usual meaning (even N.T. Wright engages in this sort of thing). I know from my own research, these sorts of stories aren't unique to Christianity, either. In Tibetan Buddhism, stories of gurus or monks bodies disappearing are known and even said to occur into the present day, and this phenomenon has been studied by the Jesuit priest and Tibetan scholar, Fr. Francis Tiso. Now that I have reached this currect perspective, I am trying to think about the implications for my own spiritual life. I am quite alienated from my conservative ELCA parish with its evangelical message- I don't think the message of relentless human brokenness and unworthiness particularly wholesome. I went to therapy for years to try to heal from emotional pain and to recognize in myself a capacity for self-love, and to have that message eroded seems problematic. I've noted some improvements in my life as I distance myself from this kind of spirituality and I resume practicing meditation and adopting a perspective that is more open to humanistic Buddhists and mindfulness teachers (like Thich Nhat Hanh or Tara Brach). So, I am not sure exactly where I go from here. I still think believing in God can be helpful for many people, but I'm no longer in agreement with the evangelical emphasis on sin and unworthiness, and the inner passivity and guilt that seems to result from it.
  17. Bodhidharma, the monk who was said to have brought the Zen tradition to China from India, was once asked what was the highest holy truth he had learned from years of meditation. "Vast emptiness and nothing sacred". The notion of "the Sacred" is frequently a descriptor in a dualistic worldview, typically of a certain notion of transcendence. The point of Mahayana Buddhism is that Dharmakaya (the eternal body of all the Buddha's wisdom) is immanent in the world, not separated from it. Dao doesn't correspond to western concepts of God. People don't pray to Dao, nor is Dao itself loving. Dao is just the all-pervading principle behind the world of the "Ten Thousand Things" (phenomenal world) and the source of wisdom and virtue.
  18. This is an article by Tom Wright on Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet and what that imagery actually meant in the first century: http://ntwrightpage.com/2016/04/04/apocalypse-now/ Schweitzer understood the image of "the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven" literally, and concluded that Jesus was a mistaken apocalyptic prophet, as the space-time universe did not end. Wright argues that imagery was never meant to be understood literally in the first place by first century Jews.
  19. Buddhists implicitly believe in a person (pudgala) surviving physical death, without ascribing complete permanence to that person. There was a somewhat unorthodox (and now extinct) school called the Pudgalavadans that stated this implicitly, but most Buddhists considered that too much like the Hindu explanation to accept the implicit reality, and preferred to simply remain silent on the topic. In some ways, the Buddhist view of the person is similar to Whitehead's Process metaphysics. We can acknowledge persons as real without ascribing to them a particular unchanging essence. It does seem that the actual historical Buddha, based on the reasonable conclusions of scholarship, accepted beliefs like reincarnation, at least provisionally, because they were so widespread, and he saw some benefit in believing that our actions have consequences for the future. But in terms of dogmatic belief... that was foreign to his ethos of self-inquiry.
  20. Jesus didn't preach about loving yourself, really. It was implicit in the life-affirming stance of his culture and religion. His time is not necessarily our time. We've had 1,000 years of deconstruction of traditional cultural belonging, religious quarrels and the resulting cynicism, and as a result, many people experience alienation... ever from themselves. Anatman in Buddhism, at least what I'm familiar with, doesn't mean "I" perish at death. It's more like there never really was an "I" to begin with. This is something difficult and obscure to understand, though. It's why there's koans like "What was your face before your mother and father were born?"
  21. God's essential being cannot be visualized- that's the most basic teaching in most Abrahamic religions. Islam and Judaism in particular are explict that God is more dissimilar to a human being than similar. When body parts are described for God, it is understood analogically.
  22. As somebody with a Buddhist past and who has returned to meditating daily as my refuge... I find the idea that a non-Christian cannot relate to God as a useful concept, and that we must instead be "protected" from it through language, rather paternalistic (even the concept of sacredness, for instance, isn't very helpful, since it is not necessarily found in some religious worldviews/philosophies). Look at somebody like Thich Nhat Hanh, for instance. He is definitely a Buddhist but is capable of understanding the concept of God and its significance for Christians. He doesn't see the need, when talking to Christians, to mince words and pretend Christians believe in something they don't.
  23. I think this kind of mysticism can be easily misunderstood . It is not atheism in the usual sense. Just like how a Zen master might give a sharp rebuke to a student who merely parrots an answer to a koan without genuine understanding, we need to be cautious about misapplication of a mystical realization such as what Eckhart is expressing. Yes, that's closer to the truth. He's speaking of mysticism. He's not countenancing modern atheist cynicism. He's saying you have to go beyond even your concept of God. But that still necessitates having a concept in the first place and taking it seriously more than simply saying "This God stuff is merely wishful thinking".
  24. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, primarily. Lately I've been trying to study more of Langdon Gilckey's thought.
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